Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote
by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
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The ox that is loose is best licked.

Sancho, who had been attentive to the student's discourse, said: "Tell me, sir—so may heaven send you good luck with your books—can you resolve me—but I know you can, since you know every thing—who was the first man that scratched his head? I for my part am of opinion it must have been our father Adam."

"Certainly," answered the scholar; "for there is no doubt but Adam had a head and hair; and, this being granted, he, being the first man in the world, must needs have been the first who scratched his head."

"That is what I think," said Sancho; "but tell me now, who was the first tumbler in the world?"

"Truly, brother," answered the scholar, "I cannot determine that point till I have given it some consideration, which I will surely do when I return to my books, and will satisfy you when we see each other again, for I hope this will not be the last time."

"Look ye, sir," replied Sancho, "be at no trouble about the matter, for I have already hit upon the answer to my question. Know, then, that the first tumbler was Lucifer, when he was cast or thrown headlong from heaven, and came tumbling down to the lowest abyss."

"Sancho," quoth Don Quixote, "thou hast said more than thou art aware of; for some there are who bestow much labor in examining and explaining things which when known are not worth recollecting."

I am thoroughly satisfied that all the pleasures of this life pass away like a shadow or dream, or fade like a flower of the field.

Patience, and shuffle the cards.

We are all bound to respect the aged.

Tell me thy company and I will tell thee what thou art.

Whatever is uncommon appears impossible.


"You must know, gentlemen, that in a town four leagues and a half from this place, a certain alderman happened to lose his ass, all through the artful contrivance (too long to be told) of a wench his maid-servant; and though he tried every means to recover his beast, it was to no purpose. Fifteen days passed, as public fame reports, after the ass was missing, and while the unlucky alderman was standing in the market-place, another alderman of the same town came up to him, and said, 'Pay me for my good news, gossip, for your ass has made its appearance.'

"'Most willingly, neighbor,' answered the other; 'but tell me—where has he been seen?'

"'On the mountain,' answered the other; 'I saw him there this morning, with no panel or furniture upon him of any kind, and so lank that it was grievous to behold him. I would have driven him before me and brought him to you, but he is already become so shy that when I went near him he took to his heels and fled to a distance from me. Now, if you like it we will both go seek him; but first let me put up this of mine at home, and I will return instantly.'

"'You will do me a great favor,' said the owner of the lost ass, 'and I shall be happy at any time to do as much for you.'

"In short the two aldermen, hand in hand and side by side, trudged together up the hill; and on coming to the place where they expected to find the ass, they found him not, nor was he anywhere to be seen, though they made diligent search. Being thus disappointed, the alderman who had seen him said to the other, 'Hark you, friend, I have thought of a stratagem by which we shall certainly discover this animal, even though he had crept into the bowels of the earth, instead of the mountain; and it is this: I can bray marvellously well, and if you can do a little in that way the business is done.'

"'A little, say you, neighbor?' quoth the other, 'before Heaven, in braying I yield to none—no, not to asses themselves.'

"'We shall soon see that,' answered the second alderman; 'go you on one side of the mountain, while I take the other, and let us walk round it, and every now and then you shall bray, and I will bray; and the ass will certainly hear and answer us, if he still remains in these parts.' 'Verily, neighbor, your device is excellent, and worthy your good parts,' said the owner of the ass.

"They then separated, according to agreement, and both began braying at the same instant, with such marvellous truth of imitation that, mutually deceived, each ran towards the other, not doubting but that the ass was found; and, on meeting, the loser said, 'Is it possible, friend, that it was not my ass that brayed?'

"'No, it was I,' answered the other.

"'I declare, then,' said the owner, 'that, as far as regards braying, there is not the least difference between you and an ass; for in my life I never heard anything more natural.'

"'These praises and compliments,' answered the author of the stratagem, 'belong rather to you than to me, friend; for by Him that made me, you could give the odds of two brays to the greatest and most skilful brayer in the world; for your tones are rich, your time correct, your notes well sustained, and cadences abrupt and beautiful; in short, I own myself vanquished, and yield to you the palm in this rare talent.'

"'Truly,' answered the ass owner, 'I shall value and esteem myself the more henceforth, since I am not without some endowment. It is true, I fancy that I brayed indifferently well, yet never flattered myself that I excelled so much as you are pleased to say.'

"'I tell you,' answered the second, 'there are rare abilities often lost to the world, and they are ill-bestowed on those who know not how to employ them to advantage.'

"'Right, brother,' quoth the owner, 'though, except in cases like the present, ours may not turn to much account; and even in this business, Heaven grant it may prove of service.'

"This said, they separated again, to resume their braying; and each time were deceived as before, and met again, till they at length agreed, as a signal, to distinguish their own voices from that of the ass, that they should bray twice together, one immediately after the other. Thus, doubling their brayings, they made the tour of the whole mountain, without having any answer from the stray ass, not even by signs. How, indeed, could the poor creature answer, whom at last they found in a thicket, half devoured by wolves? On seeing the body, the owner said, 'Truly, I wondered at his silence; for, had he not been dead, he certainly would have answered us, or he were no true ass; nevertheless, neighbor, though I have found him dead, my trouble in the search has been well repaid in listening to your exquisite braying.'

"'It is in good hands, friend,' answered the other; 'for if the abbot sings well, the novice comes not far behind him.'

"Hereupon they returned home hoarse and disconsolate, and told their friends and neighbors all that had happened to them in their search after the ass; each of them extolling the other for his excellence in braying. The story spread all over the adjacent villages, and the devil, who sleeps not, as he loves to sow discord wherever he can, raising a bustle in the wind, and mischief out of nothing, so ordered it that all the neighboring villagers, at the sight of any of our towns-people, would immediately begin to bray, as it were hitting us in the teeth with the notable talent of our aldermen. The boys fell to it, which was the same as falling into the hands and mouths of a legion of devils; and thus braying spread far and wide, insomuch that the natives of the town of Bray are as well known and distinguished as the negroes are from white men. And this unhappy jest has been carried so far that our people have often sallied out in arms against their scoffers, and given them battle: neither king nor rook, nor fear nor shame, being able to restrain them. Tomorrow, I believe, or next day, those of our town will take the field against the people of another village about two leagues from us, being one of those which persecute us most: and I have brought the lances and halberds which you saw, that we may be well prepared for them."

The hypocrite who cloaks his knavery is less dangerous to the commonwealth than he who transgresses in the face of day.

He who only wears the garb of piety does less harm than the professed sinner.

I had rather serve the king in his wars abroad, than be the lackey of any beggarly courtier at home.

There is nothing more honorable, next to the service which you owe to God, than to serve your king and natural lord, especially in the profession of arms, which, if less profitable than learning, far exceeds it in glory. More great families, it is true, have been established by learning, yet there is in the martial character a certain splendor, which seems to exalt it far above all other pursuits. But allow me, sir, to offer you a piece of advice, which, believe me, you will find worth your attention. Never suffer your mind to dwell on the adverse events of your life; for the worst that can befall you is death, and when attended with honor there is no event so glorious. Julius Caesar, that valorous Roman, being asked which was the kind of death to be preferred, "That," said he, "which is sudden and unforeseen!"

Though he answered like a heathen, who knew not the true God, yet, considering human infirmity, it was well said. For, supposing you should be cut off in the very first encounter, either by cannon-shot or the springing of a mine, what does it signify? it is but dying, which is inevitable, and, being over, there it ends. Terence observes that the corpse of a man who is slain in battle looks better than the living soldier who has saved himself by flight; and the good soldier rises in estimation according to the measure of his obedience to those who command him. Observe, moreover, my son, that a soldier had better smell of gunpowder than of musk; and if old age overtakes you in this noble profession, though lame and maimed, and covered with wounds, it will find you also covered with honor; and of such honor as poverty itself cannot deprive you. From poverty, indeed, you are secure; for care is now taken that veteran and disabled soldiers shall not be exposed to want, nor be treated as many do their negro slaves, when old and past service, turning them out of their houses, and, under pretence of giving them freedom, leave them slaves to hunger, from which they can have no relief but in death.

There are often rare abilities lost to the world that are but ill-bestowed on those who do not know how to employ them to advantage.

Who reads and travels much, sees and learns much.

It is the prerogative of God alone to truly comprehend all things. To Him there is nothing past or future. Everything is present.

There is nothing that Time, the discoverer of all things, will not bring to light, even though it be hidden in the bowels of the earth.

Length begets loathing.

Heaven is merciful, and sends relief in the greatest distress.

Affectation is the devil.

Heaven help every one to what is their just due, but let us have plain dealing.

When choler once is born, The tongue all curb doth scorn.

When a brave man flies, he must have discovered foul play.

To retire is not to fly. The valor which has not prudence for its basis is termed rashness, and the successful exploits of the rash are rather to be ascribed to good fortune than to courage.

Other men's pains are easily borne.

He who errs and mends, Himself to Heaven commends.

Those who sin and kiss the rod, Find favor in the sight of God.

If you obey the commands of your lord, You may sit as a guest at his board.

In this world there is nothing but plots and counter-plots, mines and countermines.

A good paymaster needs no surety; and where there is plenty, dinner is soon dressed.

Often the hare starts where she is least expected.

I have heard it said that the power called Nature is like a potter, who, if he can make one beautiful vessel, can in like manner make two, three, ay, and a hundred.

Wit and gay conceits proceed not from dull heads.

Every man must speak of his wants wherever he may be.

Modesty is as becoming a knight-errant as courage.

The master is respected in proportion to the discretion and good breeding of his servants.

Who sets up for a talker and a wit, sinks at the first trip into a contemptible buffoon.

The weapons of gownsmen, like those of women, are their tongues.

Keep company with the good, and you will be one of them.

Not where you were born, but where you were bred.

Well sheltered shall he be Who leans against a sturdy tree.

An affront must come from a person who not only gives it, but who can maintain it when it is given; an injury may come from any hand.

He who can receive no affront can give none.

One must live long to see much.

He who lives long; must suffer much.

To deprive a knight-errant of his mistress is to rob him of the eyes with which he sees, the sun by which he is enlightened, and the support by which he is maintained. I have many times said, and now I repeat the observation, that a knight-errant without a mistress is like a tree without leaves, a building without cement, and a shadow without the substance by which it is produced.

Possessing beauty without blemish, dignity without pride, love with modesty, politeness springing from courtesy, and courtesy from good breeding, and, finally, of illustrious descent: for the beauty that is of a noble race shines with more splendor than that which is meanly born.

Virtue ennobles blood, and a virtuous person of humble birth is more estimable than a vicious person of rank.

I must inform your graces that Sancho Panza is one of the most pleasant squires that ever served a knight-errant. Sometimes his simplicity is so arch, that to consider whether he is more fool or wag yields abundance of pleasure. He has roguery enough to pass for a knave, and absurdities sufficient to confirm him a fool. He doubts everything and believes everything; and often, when I think he is going to discharge nonsense, he will utter apothegms that will raise him to the skies. In a word, I would not exchange him for any other squire, even with a city to boot; and therefore I am in doubt whether or not it will be expedient to send him to that government which your grace has been so good as to bestow upon him, although I can perceive in him a certain aptitude for such an office; so that, when his understanding is a very little polished, he will agree with any government, like the king with his customs; for we know by repeated experience that great talents and learning are not necessary in a governor, as there are a hundred at least who govern like gerfalcons, though they can hardly read their mother tongue. Provided their intention is righteous and their desire to do justice, they will never want counsellors to direct them in every transaction, like your military governors, who being illiterate themselves, never decide without the advice of an assessor. I shall advise him corruption to eschew, but never quit his due, and inculcate some other small matters that are in my head, which, in process of time, may redound to his own interest as well as to the advantage of the island under his command.

The customs of countries, or of great men's houses, are good as far as they are agreeable.

"Faith, madam," quoth Sancho, "that same scruple is an honest scruple, and need not speak in a whisper, but plain out, or as it lists; for I know it says true, and had I been wise, I should long since have left my master but such is my lot, or such my evil-errantry, I cannot help it,—follow him I must. We are both of the same town; I have eaten his bread; I love him, and he returns my love; he gave me his ass-colts. Above all, I am faithful, so that nothing in the world, can part us but the sexton's spade and shovel; and if your highness does not choose to give me the government you promised, God made me without it, and perhaps it may be all the better for my conscience if I do not get it; for fool as I am, I understand the proverb, 'The pismire had wings to her sorrow;' and perhaps it may be easier for Sancho the squire to get to heaven than for Sancho the governor. They make as good bread here as in France, and by night all cats are gray. Unhappy is he who has not breakfasted at three, and no stomach is a span bigger than another, and may be filled as they say, with straw or with hay.

"Of the little birds in the air, God himself takes the care; and four yards of coarse cloth of Cuenza are warmer than as many of fine Segovia serge; and in travelling from this world to the next, the road is no wider for the prince than the peasant. The Pope's body takes up no more room than that of the sexton, though a loftier person, for in the grave we must pack close together whether we like it or not; so good-night to all.

"And let me tell you again that if your highness will not give me the island because I am a fool, I will be wise enough not to care a fig for it. I have heard say the devil lurks behind the cross; all is not gold that glitters. From the plough-tail Bamba was raised to the throne of Spain, and from his riches and revels was Roderigo cast down to be devoured by serpents, if ancient ballads tell the truth."

None shall dare the loaf to steal From him that sifts and kneads the meal.

An old dog is not to be coaxed with a crust.

No man is ever a scholar at his birth, and bishops are made of men, not of stones.

There is a Judge in heaven who knows the heart.

A good name is better than tons of gold.

"And you, Signor Panza, be quiet and leave the care of making much of Dapple to me; for being a jewel of Sancho's, I will lay him upon the apple of my eye."

"Let him lie in the stable, my good lady," answered Sancho, "for upon the apple of your grandeur's eye neither he nor I are worthy to lie one single moment,—'slife! they should stick me like a sheep sooner than I would consent to such a thing; for though my master says that, in respect to good manners, we should rather lose the game by a card too much than too little, yet, when the business in hand is about asses and eyes, we should step warily, with compass in hand."

"Carry him, Sancho," quoth the Duchess, "to your government, and there you may regale him as you please, and set him free from further labor."

"Think not, my lady Duchess," quoth Sancho, "that you have said much, for I have seen more asses than one go to governments, and therefore, if I should carry mine, it would be nothing new."


The Duke and Duchess were extremely diverted with the humors of their two guests; and resolving to improve their sport by practising some pleasantries that should have the appearance of a romantic adventure, they contrived to dress up a very choice entertainment from Don Quixote's account of the Cave of Montesinos, taking that subject because the Duchess had observed with astonishment that Sancho now believed his lady Dulcinea was really enchanted, although he himself had been her sole enchanter! Accordingly, after the servants had been well instructed as to their deportment towards Don Quixote, a boar-hunt was proposed, and it was determined to set out in five or six days with a princely train of huntsmen. The knight was presented with a hunting suit proper for the occasion, which, however, he declined, saying that he must soon return to the severe duties of his profession, when, having no sumpters nor wardrobes, such things would be superfluous. But Sancho readily accepted a suit of fine green cloth which was offered to him, intending to sell it the first opportunity.

The appointed day being come, Don Quixote armed himself, and Sancho in his new suit mounted Dapple (which he preferred to a horse that was offered him) and joined the troop of hunters. The Duchess issued forth magnificently attired, and Don Quixote, out of pure politeness, would hold the reins of the palfrey, though the Duke was unwilling to allow it. Having arrived at the proposed scene of their diversion, which was in a wood between two lofty mountains, they posted themselves in places where the toils were to be pitched; and all the party having taken their different stations, the sport began with prodigious noise and clamor, insomuch that between the shouts of the huntsmen, the cry of the hounds, and the sound of the horns, they could not hear each other.

The Duchess alighted, and with a boar-spear in her hand, took her stand in a place where she expected the boars would pass. The Duke and Don Quixote dismounted also, and placed themselves by her side; while Sancho took his station behind them all, with his Dapple, whom he would not quit, lest some mischance should befall him. Scarcely had they ranged themselves in order when a hideous boar of monstrous size rushed out of cover, pursued by the dogs and hunters, and made directly towards them, gnashing his teeth and tossing foam with his mouth.

Don Quixote, on seeing him approach, braced his shield, and drawing his sword, stepped before the rest to meet him. The Duke joined him with his boar-spear, and the Duchess would have been the foremost had not the Duke prevented her. Sancho alone stood aghast, and at the sight of the fierce animal, leaving even his Dapple, ran in terror towards a lofty oak, in which he hoped to be secure; but his hopes were in vain, for, as he was struggling to reach the top, and had got half-way up, unfortunately a branch to which he clung, gave way, and falling with it, he was caught by the stump of another, and here left suspended in the air, so that he could neither get up nor down.

Finding himself in this situation, with his new green coat tearing, and almost in reach of the terrible creature should it chance to come that way, he began to bawl so loud and to call for help so vehemently, that all who heard him and did not see him thought verily he was between the teeth of some wild beast. The tusked boar, however, was soon laid at length by the numerous spears that were levelled at him from all sides, at which time Sancho's cries and lamentations reached the ears of Don Quixote, who, turning round, beheld him hanging from the oak with his head downwards, and close by him stood Dapple, who never forsook him in adversity,—indeed, it was remarked by Cid Hamet, that he seldom saw Sancho Panza without Dapple, or Dapple without Sancho Panza, such was the amity and cordial love that subsisted between them!

Don Quixote hastened to the assistance of his squire, who was no sooner released than he began to examine the rent in his hunting suit, which grieved him to the soul, for he looked upon that suit as a rich inheritance.

The huge animal they had slain was laid across a sumpter-mule, and after covering it with branches of rosemary and myrtle, they carried it, as the spoils of victory, to a large field-tent, erected in the midst of the wood, where a sumptuous entertainment was prepared, worthy of the magnificence of the donor. Sancho, showing the wounds of the torn garments to the Duchess, said: "Had hares or birds been our game, I should not have had this misfortune. For my part I cannot think what pleasure there can be in beating about for a monster that, if it reaches you with a tusk, may be the death of you. There is an old ballad which says,—

"'May fate of Fabila be thine, And make thee food for bears or swine.'"

"That Fabila," said Don Quixote, "was a king of the Goths, who, going to the chase, was devoured by a bear."

"What I mean," quoth Sancho, "is, that I would not have kings and other great folks run into such dangers merely for pleasure; and, indeed, methinks it ought to be none to kill poor beasts that never meant any harm."

"You are mistaken, Sancho," said the duke, "hunting wild beasts is the most proper exercise for knights and princes. The chase is an image of war: there you have stratagems, artifices, and ambuscades to be employed, in order to overcome your enemy with safety to yourself. There, too, you are often exposed to the extremes of cold and heat; idleness and ease are despised; the body acquires health and vigorous activity: in short, it is an exercise which may be beneficial to many and injurious to none. Besides, it is not a vulgar amusement, but, like hawking, is the peculiar sport of the great. Therefore, Sancho, change your opinion before you become a governor, for then you will find your account in these diversions."

"Not so, i' faith," replied Sancho, "the good governor and the broken leg should keep at home. It would be fine, indeed, for people to come after him about business and find him gadding in the mountains for his pleasure. At that rate what would become of his government? In good truth, sir, hunting and such like pastimes are rather for your idle companions than for governors. The way I mean to divert myself shall be with brag at Easter and at bowls on Sundays and holidays; as for your hunting, it befits neither my condition nor conscience."

"Heaven grant you prove as good as you promise," said the duke, "but saying and doing are often wide apart."

"Be that as it will," replied Sancho, "the good paymaster wants no pawn; and God's help is better than early rising, and the belly carries the legs, and not the legs the belly,—I mean that, with the help of Heaven and a good intention, I warrant I shall govern better than a gos-hawk. Ay, ay, let them put their fingers in my mouth and try whether or not I can bite."

"A curse upon thy proverbs," said Don Quixote, "when will the day come that I shall hear thee utter one coherent sentence without that base intermixture! Let this blockhead alone, I beseech your excellencies, He will grind your souls to death, not between two, but two thousand proverbs, all timed as well and as much to the purpose as I wish God may grant him health, or me, if I desire to hear them."

"Sancho Panza's proverbs," said the duchess, "though more numerous than those of the Greek commentator, are equally admirable for their sententious brevity."

He who has been a good squire will never be a bad governor.

A bad cloak often covers a good drinker.

When a friend drinks one's health, who can be so hard-hearted as not to pledge him?

God's help is better than early rising.

Flame may give light and bonfires may illuminate, yet we may easily be burnt by them; but music is always a sign of feasting and merriment.


As the agreeable music approached, they observed that it attended a stately triumphal car, drawn by six gray mules covered with white linen, and upon each of them rode a penitent of light, clothed also in white, and holding a lighted torch in his hand. The car was more than double the size of the others which had passed, and twelve penitents were ranged in order within it, all carrying lighted torches,—a sight which at once caused surprise and terror. Upon an elevated throne sat a nymph, covered with a thousand veils of silver tissue, bespangled with innumerable flowers of gold, so that her dress, if not rich, was gay and glittering. Over her head was thrown a transparent gauze, so thin that through its folds might be seen a most beautiful face; and from the multitude of lights, it was easy to discern that she was young as well as beautiful, for she was evidently under twenty years of age, though not less than seventeen. Close by her sat a figure, clad in a magnificent robe reaching to the feet, having his head covered with a black veil.

The moment this vast machine arrived opposite to where the duke and duchess and Don Quixote stood, the attending music ceased, as well as the harps and lutes within the car. The figure in the gown then stood up, and throwing open the robe and uncovering his face; displayed the ghastly countenance of death, looking so terrific that Don Quixote started, Sancho was struck with terror, and even the duke and duchess seemed to betray some symptoms of fear. This living Death, standing erect, in a dull and drowsy tone and with a sleepy articulation, spoke as follows:—


Merlin I am, miscalled the devil's son In lying annals, authorized by time; Monarch supreme, and great depositary Of magic art and Zoroastic skill; Rival of envious ages, that would hide The glorious deeds of errant cavaliers, Favored by me and my peculiar charge. Though vile enchanters, still on mischief bent, To plague mankind their baleful art employ, Merlin's soft nature, ever prone to good, His power inclines to bless the human race.

In Hades' chambers, where my busied ghost Was forming spells and mystic characters, Dulcinea's voice, peerless Tobosan maid, With mournful accents reached my pitying ears; I knew her woe, her metamorphosed form, From high-born beauty in a palace graced, To the loathed features of a cottage wench. With sympathizing grief I straight revolved The numerous tomes of my detested art, And in the hollow of this skeleton My soul enclosing, hither am I come, To tell the cure of such uncommon ills.

O glory thou of all that case their limbs In polished steel and fenceful adamant! Light, beacon, polar star, and glorious guide Of all who, starting from the lazy down, Banish ignoble sleep for the rude toil And hardy exercise of errant arms! Spain's boasted pride, La Mancha's matchless knight, Whose valiant deeds outstrip pursuing fame! Wouldst thou to beauty's pristine state restore The enchanted dame, Sancho, thy faithful squire, Must to his brawny buttocks, bare exposed, Three thousand and three hundred stripes apply, Such as may sting and give him smarting pain: The authors of her change have thus decreed, And this is Merlin's errand from the shades.


"What!" quoth Sancho, "three thousand lashes! Odd's-flesh! I will as soon give myself three stabs as three single lashes, much less three thousand! The devil take this way of disenchanting! I cannot see what my buttocks have to do with enchantments. Before Heaven! if Signor Merlin can find out no other way to disenchant the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, enchanted she may go to her grave for me!"

"Not lash thyself! thou garlic-eating wretch!" quoth Don Quixote; "I shall take thee to a tree, and tie thee naked as thou wert born, and there, not three thousand and three hundred, but six thousand six hundred lashes will I give thee, and those so well laid on that three thousand three hundred hard tugs shall not tug them off. So answer me not a word, scoundrel! for I will tear thy very soul out!"

"It must not be so," said Merlin; "the lashes that honest Sancho is to receive must not be applied by force, but with his good-will, and at whatever time he pleases, for no term is fixed; and furthermore, he is allowed, if he please, to save himself half the trouble of applying so many lashes, by having half the number laid on by another hand, provided that hand be somewhat heavier than his own."

"Neither another hand nor my own," quoth Sancho, "no hand, either heavy or light, shall touch my flesh. Was the lady Dulcinea brought forth by me that my posteriors must pay for the transgressions of her eyes? My master, indeed, who is part of her, since at every step he is calling her his life, his soul, his support and stay,—he it is who ought to lash himself for her and do all that is needful for her delivery; but for me to whip myself,—no, I pronounce it!"

No sooner had Sancho thus declared himself than the spangled nymph who sat by the side of Merlin arose, and throwing aside her veil, discovered a face of extraordinary beauty; and with a masculine air and no very amiable voice, addressed herself to Sancho: "O wretched squire, with no more soul than a pitcher! thou heart of cork and bowels of flint! hadst thou been required, nose-slitting thief! to throw thyself from some high tower; hadst thou been desired, enemy of human kind! to eat a dozen of toads, two dozen of lizards, and three dozen of snakes; hadst thou been requested to kill thy wife and children with some bloody and sharp scimitar,—no wonder if thou hadst betrayed some squeamishness; but to hesitate about three thousand three hundred lashes, which there is not a wretched school-boy but receives every month, it amazes, stupefies, and affrights the tender bowels of all who hear it, and even of all who shall hereafter be told it. Cast, thou marble-hearted wretch!—cast, I say, those huge goggle eyes upon these lovely balls of mine, that shine like glittering stars, and thou wilt see them weep, drop by drop, and stream after stream, making furrows, tracks, and paths down these beautiful cheeks! Relent, malicious and evil-minded monster! Be moved by my blooming youth, which, though yet in its teens, is pining and withering beneath the vile bark of a peasant wench; and if at this moment I appear otherwise, it is by the special favor of Signor Merlin, here present, hoping that these charms may soften that iron heart, for the tears of afflicted beauty turn rocks into cotton and tigers into lambs. Lash, untamed beast! lash away on that brawny flesh of thine, and rouse from that base sloth which only inclines thee to eat and eat again, and restore to me the delicacy of my skin, the sweetness of my temper, and all the charms of beauty. And if for my sake thou wilt not be mollified into reasonable compliance, let the anguish of that miserable knight stir thee to compassion,—thy master, I mean, whose soul I see sticking crosswise in his throat, not ten inches from his lips, waiting only thy cruel or kind answer either to fly out of his mouth or to return joyfully into his bosom."

Don Quixote, here putting his finger to his throat, "Before Heaven!" said he, "Dulcinea is right, for I here feel my soul sticking in my throat like the stopper of a crossbow!"

"What say you to that, Sancho?" quoth the duchess.

"I say, madam," answered Sancho, "what I have already said, that as to the lashes, I pronounce them."

"Renounce, you should say, Sancho," quoth the duke, "and not pronounce."

"Please your grandeur to let me alone," replied Sancho, "for I cannot stand now to a letter more or less. These lashes so torment me that I know not what I say or do. But I would fain know one thing from the Lady Dulcinea del Toboso, and that is, where she learnt her manner of asking a favor? She comes to desire me to tear my flesh with stripes, and at the same time lays upon me such a bead-roll of ill names that the devil may bear them for me. What! does she think my flesh is made of brass? or that I care a rush whether she is enchanted or not? Where are the presents she has brought to soften me? Instead of a basket of fine linen shirts, night-caps, and socks (though I wear none), here is nothing but abuse. Every one knows that 'the golden load is a burden light;' that 'gifts will make their way through stone walls;' 'pray devoutly and hammer on stoutly;' and 'one take is worth two I'll give thee's.' There's his worship my master, too, instead of wheedling and coaxing me to make myself wool and carded cotton, threatens to tie me naked to a tree and double the dose of stripes. These tender-hearted gentlefolks ought to remember, too, that they not only desire to have a squire whipped, but a governor, making no more of it than saying, 'Drink with your cherries.' Let them learn,—plague take them!—let them learn how to ask and entreat, and mind their breeding. All times are not alike, nor are men always in a humor for all things. At this moment my heart is ready to burst with grief to see this rent in my jacket, and people come to desire that I would also tear my flesh, and that, too, of my own good will. I have just as much mind to the thing as to turn Turk."

"In truth, friend Sancho," said the duke, "if you do not relent and become softer than a ripe fig, you finger no government. It were good indeed, that I should send my islanders a cruel flinty-hearted governor; one who relents not at the tears of afflicted damsels, nor at the entreaties of wise, awful, and ancient enchanters, and sages. In fine, Sancho, either you must whip yourself, or let others whip you, or be no governor."

"My lord," answered Sancho, "may I not be allowed two days to consider what is best for me to do?"

"No, in no wise," quoth Merlin; "here, at this instant and upon this spot, the business must be settled: or Dulcinea must return to Montesinos' cave, and to her former condition of a country wench; or else in her present form be carried to the Elysian fields, where she must wait till the number of lashes be fulfilled."

"Come, honest Sancho," quoth the duchess, "be of good cheer, and show gratitude for the bread you have eaten of your master Don Quixote, whom we are all bound to serve for his good qualities and his high chivalries. Say, yes, son, to this whipping bout, and the devil take the devil, and let the wretched fear; for a good heart breaks bad fortune, as you well know."

"Hark you, Signor Merlin," quoth Sancho, addressing himself to the sage; "pray will you tell me one thing—how comes it about that the devil-courier just now brought a message to my master from Signor Montesinos, saying that he would be here anon, to give directions about this disenchantment; and yet we have seen nothing of them all this while?"

"Pshaw!" replied Merlin, "the devil is an ass and a lying rascal; he was sent from me and not from Montesinos, who is still in his cave contriving, or rather awaiting, the end of his enchantment, for the tail is yet unflayed. If he owes you money, or you have any other business with him, he shall be forthcoming in a trice, when and where you think fit; and therefore come to a decision, and consent to this small penance, from which both your soul and body will receive marvellous benefit; your soul by an act of charity, and your body by a wholesome and timely bloodletting."

"How the world swarms with doctors," quoth Sancho, "the very enchanters seem to be of a trade! Well, since everybody tells me so, though the thing is out of all reason, I promise to give myself the three thousand three hundred lashes, upon condition that I may lay them on whenever I please, without being tied to days or times; and I will endeavor to get out of debt as soon as I possibly can, that the beauty of my lady Dulcinea del Toboso may shine forth to all the world; as it seems she is really beautiful, which I much doubted. Another condition is, that I will not be bound to draw blood, and if some lashes happen only to fly-flap, they shall all go into the account. Moreover if I should mistake in the reckoning, Signor Merlin here, who knows everything, shall give me notice how many I want or have exceeded."

"As for exceedings, there is no need of keeping account of them," answered Merlin; "for when the number is completed, that instant will the lady Dulcinea del Toboso be disenchanted, and come full of gratitude in search of good Sancho, to thank and even reward him for the generous deed. So that no scruples are necessary about surplus and deficiency; and Heaven forbid that I should allow anybody to be cheated of a single hair of their head."

"Go to, then, in God's name," quoth Sancho; "I must submit to my ill fortune: I say I consent to the penance upon the conditions I have mentioned."

No sooner had Sancho pronounced his consent than the innumerable instruments poured forth their music, the volleys of musketry were discharged, while Don Quixote clung about Sancho's neck, giving him, on his forehead and brawny cheeks, a thousand kisses; the duke and duchess, and all who were present, likewise testified their satisfaction. The car now moved on, and in departing the fair Dulcinea bowed her head to the duke and duchess, and made a low curtesy to Sancho.

By this time the cheerful and joyous dawn began to appear, the flowerets of the fields expanded their fragrant beauties to the light; and brooks and streams, in gentle murmurs, ran to pay expecting rivers in their crystal tribute. The earth rejoiced, the sky was clear, and the air serene and calm; all, combined and separately, giving manifest tokens that the day, which followed fast upon Aurora's heels, would be bright and fair. The duke and duchess, having happily executed their ingenious project, returned highly gratified to their castle, and determined on the continuation of fictions which afforded more pleasures than realities.


If I have been finely lashed, I have been finely mounted up: if I have got a good government, it has cost me many good lashes. This, my dear Teresa, thou canst not understand at present; another time thou wilt.

Thou must know, Teresa, that I am determined that thou shalt ride in thy coach, which is somewhat to the purpose, for all other ways of going are no better than creeping upon all fours, like a cat. Thou shalt be a governor's wife; see then whether anybody will dare to tread on thy heels. I here send thee a green hunting-suit which my lady duchess gave me; fit it up so that it may serve our daughter for a jacket and petticoat. They say in this country that my master Don Quixote is a sensible madman and a pleasant fool, and that I am not a whit behind him. We have been in Montesino's cave, and the sage Merlin, the wizard, has pitched upon me to disenchant the Lady Dulcinea del Toboso, who among you is called Aldonza Lorenzo. When I have given myself three thousand and three hundred lashes, lacking five, she will be as free from enchantment as the mother that bore her.

Say nothing of this to anybody; for, bring your affairs into council, and one will cry it is white, another it is black. A few days hence I shall go to the government, whither I go with a huge desire to get money; and I am told it is the same with all new governors. I will first see how matters stand, and send thee word whether or not thou shalt come to me.

Dapple is well, and sends thee his hearty service; part with him I will not, though I were made the great Turk. The duchess, my mistress, kisses thy hands a thousand times over. Return her two thousand; for, as my master says, nothing is cheaper than civil words. God has not been pleased to throw in my way another portmanteau and another hundred crowns, as once before; but take no heed, my dear Teresa, for he that has the game in his hand need not mind the loss of a trick,—the government will make up for all. One thing only troubles me: I am told if I once try it I shall eat my very fingers after it; and if so, it will not be much of a bargain, though, indeed, the crippled and maimed enjoy a petty canonry in the alms they receive; so that, one way or another, thou art sure to be rich and happy. God send it may be so, as He easily can, and keep me for thy sake.

Thy husband, the governor, SANCHO PANZA. From this Castle, the 20th of July, 1614.


After a thousand courtly compliments mutually interchanged, Don Quixote advanced towards the table, between the duke and duchess, and, on preparing to seat themselves, they offered the upper end to Don Quixote, who would have declined it but for the pressing importunities of the duke. The ecclesiastic seated himself opposite to the knight, and the duke and duchess on each side.

Sancho was present all the while, in amazement to see the honor paid by those great people to his master; and, whilst the numerous entreaties and ceremonies were passing between the duke and Don Quixote, before he would sit down at the head of the table, he said: "With your honor's leave I will tell you a story of what happened in our town about seats."

Don Quixote immediately began to tremble, not doubting that he was going to say something absurd. Sancho observed him, and, understanding his looks, he said: "Be not afraid, sir, of my breaking loose or saying anything that is not pat to the purpose. I have not forgotten the advice your worship gave me awhile ago about talking much or little, well or ill."

"I remember nothing, Sancho," answered Don Quixote; "say what thou wilt, so as thou sayst it quickly."

"What I would say," quoth Sancho, "is very true, for my master, Don Quixote, who is present, will not suffer me to lie."

"Lie as much as thou wilt for me, Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "I shall not hinder thee; but take heed what thou art going to say."

"I have heeded it over and over again, so that it is as safe as if I had the game in my hand, as you shall presently see."

"Your graces will do well," said Don Quixote, "to order this blockhead to retire, that you may get rid of his troublesome folly."

"By the life of the duke," quoth the duchess, "Sancho shall not stir a jot from me. I have a great regard for him, and am assured of his discretion."

"Many happy years may your holiness live," quoth Sancho, "for the good opinion you have of me, little as I deserve it. But the tale I would tell is this—

"A certain gentleman of our town, very rich and of a good family,—for he was descended from the Alamos of Medina del Campo, and married Donna Mencia de Quinnones, who was daughter to Don Alonzo de Maranon, knight of the order of St. James, the same that was drowned in the Herradura, about whom that quarrel happened in our town, in which it was said my master Don Quixote had a hand, and Tommy the mad-cap, son of Balvastro the blacksmith, was hurt. Pray, good master of mine, is not all this true? Speak, I beseech you, that their worships may not take me for some lying prater."

"As yet," said the ecclesiastic, "I take you rather for a prater than for a liar; but I know not what I shall next take you for."

"Thou hast produced so many witnesses and so many proofs," said Don Quixote, "that I cannot but say thou mayst probably be speaking truth; but, for Heaven's sake, shorten thy story, or it will last these two days."

"He shall shorten nothing," quoth the duchess; "and to please me, he shall tell it his own way, although he were not to finish these six days; and, should it last so long, they would be to me days of delight."

"I must tell you, then," proceeded Sancho, "that this same gentleman—whom I know as well as I do my right hand from my left, for it is not a bow-shot from my house to his—invited a husbandman to dine with him,—a poor man, but mainly honest."

"On, friend," said the chaplain, "for, at the rate you proceed, your tale will not reach its end till you reach the other world."

"I shall stop," replied Sancho, "before I get half-way thither, if it please Heaven! This same farmer coming to the house of the gentleman his inviter—God rest his soul, for he is dead and gone; and, moreover, died like an angel, as it is said,—for I was not by myself, being at that time gone a reaping to Tembleque."

"Prithee, son," said the ecclesiastic, "come back quickly from Tembleque, and stay not to bury the gentleman, unless you are determined upon more burials. Pray make an end of your tale."

"The business, then," quoth Sancho, "was this, that, they being ready to sit down to table,—methinks I see them plainer than ever."

The duke and duchess were highly diverted at the impatience of the good ecclesiastic, and at the length and pauses of Sancho's tale; but Don Quixote was almost suffocated with rage and vexation.

"I say, then," quoth Sancho, "that, as they were both standing before the dinner-table, just ready to sit down, the farmer insisted that the gentleman should take the upper end of the table, and the gentleman as positively pressed the farmer to take it, saying he ought to be master in his own house. But the countryman, piquing himself upon his good breeding, still refused to comply, till the gentleman, losing all patience, laid both his hands upon the farmer's shoulders, and made him sit down by main force, saying, 'Sit thee down, clod-pole! for in whatever place I am seated, that is the upper end to thee.' That is my tale, and truly I think it comes in here pretty much to the purpose."

All things are not alike, nor are men always in a humor for all things.

Leave fear to the cowardly.

A stout heart quails misfortune.

Letters written in blood cannot be disputed.

If you seek advice about your own concerns, one will say it is white and another will swear it is black.

Nothing is so reasonable and cheap as good manners.

He is safe who has good cards to play.

Avarice bursts the bag, and the covetous governor doeth ungoverned justice.

The law's measure Is the king's pleasure.

The game is as often lost by a card too many as one too few; but a word to the wise is sufficient.

Come, death, with gently-stealing pace, And take me unperceived away, Nor let me see thy wished-for face, Lest joy my fleeting life should stay.

The tyrant fair whose beauty sent The throbbing mischief to my heart, The more my anguish to augment, Forbids me to reveal the smart.

When a thing is once begun, it is almost half finished.

When the heifer you receive, Have a halter in your sleeve.

Delay breeds danger.

Who sits in the saddle must get up first.

There is nothing so sweet as to command and be obeyed.

It is a pleasant thing to govern, even though it be but a flock of sheep.


The duke and duchess being so well pleased with the afflicted duenna, were encouraged to proceed with other projects, seeing that there was nothing too extravagant for the credulity of the knight and squire. The necessary orders were accordingly issued to their servants and vassals with regard to their behavior towards Sancho in his government of the promised island. The day after the flight of Clavileno, the duke bade Sancho prepare, and get himself in readiness to assume his office, for his islanders were already wishing for him as for rain in May. Sancho made a low bow, and said: "Ever since my journey to heaven, when I looked down and saw the earth so very small, my desire to be a governor has partly cooled: for what mighty matter is it to command on a spot no bigger than a grain of mustard-seed; where is the majesty and pomp of governing half a dozen creatures no bigger than hazel-nuts? If your lordship will be pleased to offer me some small portion of heaven, though it be but half a league, I would jump at it sooner than for the largest island in the world."

"Look you, friend Sancho," answered the duke, "I can give away no part of heaven, not even a nail's breadth; for God has reserved to Himself the disposal of such favors: but what it is in my power to give, I give you with all my heart; and the island I now present to you is ready made, round and sound, well-proportioned, and above measure fruitful, and where, by good management, you may yourself, with the riches of the earth, purchase an inheritance in heaven."

"Well, then," answered Sancho, "let this island be forthcoming, and it shall go hard with me but I will be such a governor that, in spite of rogues, heaven will take me in. Nor is it out of covetousness that I forsake my humble cottage and aspire to greater things, but the desire I have to taste what it is to be a governor."

"If once you taste it, Sancho," quoth the duke, "you will lick your fingers after it; so sweet it is to command and be obeyed. And certain I am, when your master becomes an emperor, of which there is no doubt, as matters proceed so well, it would be impossible to wrest his power from him, and his only regret will be that he had it not sooner."

"Faith, sir, you are in the right," quoth Sancho, "it is pleasant to govern, though it be but a flock of sheep."

"Let me be buried with you, Sancho," replied the duke, "if you know not something of every thing, and I doubt not you will prove a pearl of a governor. But enough of this for the present: to-morrow you surely depart for your island, and this evening you shall be fitted with suitable apparel and with all things necessary for your appointment."

"Clothe me as you will," said Sancho, "I shall still be Sancho Panza."

"That is true," said the duke; "but the garb should always be suitable to the office and rank of the wearer: for a lawyer to be habited like a soldier, or a soldier like a priest, would be preposterous; and you; Sancho, must be clad partly like a scholar and partly like a soldier; as, in the office you will hold, arms and learning are united."

"As for learning," replied Sancho, "I have not much of that, for I hardly know my A B C; but to be a good governor, it will be enough that I am able to make my Christ-cross; and as to arms, I shall handle such as are given me till I fall, and so God help me."

"With so good an intention," quoth the duke, "Sancho cannot do wrong."

Here they were joined by Don Quixote, who understanding the subject of their conversation, and the short space allotted to Sancho to prepare for his departure, took the squire by the hand, with the duke's permission, and led him to his apartment, in order to instruct him how to behave in his office. Having entered the chamber he locked the door, and obliging Sancho to sit down by him, spoke to this effect, in a grave and solemn tone:—

"I return infinite thanks to Heaven, friend Sancho, for having ordained that, before I myself have met with the least success, good fortune hath gone forth to bid thee welcome. I, who had balanced the remuneration of thy service in my own prosperity, find myself in the very rudiments of promotion; while thou, before thy time, and contrary to all the laws of reasonable progression, findest thy desire accomplished: other people bribe, solicit, importune, attend levees, entreat, and persevere, without obtaining their suit; and another comes, who, without knowing why or wherefore, finds himself in possession of that office to which so many people laid claim: and here the old saying is aptly introduced, 'A pound of good luck is worth a ton of merit.' Thou, who, in comparison to me, art doubtless an ignorant dunce, without rising early or sitting up late, or, indeed, exerting the least industry: without any pretension more or less than that of being breathed upon by knight-errantry, seest thyself created governor of an island as if it was a matter of moonshine.

"All this I observe, O Sancho, that thou mayst not attribute thy success to thy own deserts: but give thanks to heaven for having disposed matters so beneficially in thy behalf, and then make thy acknowledgments to that grandeur which centres in the profession of knight-errantry. Thy heart being thus predisposed to believe what I have said, be attentive, O my son, to me who am thy Cato, thy counsellor, thy north-pole and guide, to conduct thee into a secure harbor from the tempestuous sea into which thou art going to be engulfed; for great posts and offices of state are no other than a profound gulf of confusion.

"In the first place, O my son, you are to fear God: the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; and if you are wise you cannot err.

"Secondly, you must always remember who you are, and endeavor to know yourself,—a study of all others the most difficult. This self-knowledge will hinder you from blowing yourself up like the frog in order to rival the size of the ox: if, therefore, you succeed in this learning, the consideration of thy having been a swineherd will, like the peacock's ugly feet, be a check upon thy folly and pride."

"I own I once took care of hogs when I was a boy," said Sancho; "but, after I grew up, I quitted that employment and took care of geese; but I apprehend that matter is not of great consequence, for all governors are not descended from the kingly race."

"No, sure," answered the knight; "and, for that reason, those who are not of noble extraction ought to sweeten the gravity of their function with mildness and affability: which, being prudently conducted, will screen them from those malicious murmurs that no station can escape.

"Conceal not the meanness of thy family, nor think it disgraceful to be descended from peasants; for, when it is seen that thou art not thyself ashamed, none will endeavor to make thee so; and deem it more meritorious to be a virtuous humble man than a lofty sinner. Infinite is the number of those who, born of low extraction, have risen to the highest dignities both in church and state; and of this truth I could tire thee with examples.

"If thou takest virtue for the rule of life, and valuest thyself upon acting in all things conformably thereto, thou wilt have no cause to envy lords and princes; for blood is inherited, but virtue is a common property and may be acquired by all. It has, moreover, an intrinsic worth which blood has not. This being so, if, peradventure, any one of thy kindred visit thee in thy government, do not slight nor affront him; but receive, cherish, and make much of him, for in so doing thou wilt please God, who allows none of His creatures to be despised; and thou wilt also manifest therein a well-disposed nature.

"If thou takest thy wife with thee (and it is not well for those who are appointed to governments to be long separated from their families), teach, instruct, and polish her from her natural rudeness; for it often happens that all the consideration a wise governor can acquire is lost by an ill-bred and foolish woman.

"If thou shouldst become a widower (an event which is possible), and thy station entitles thee to a better match, seek not one to serve thee for a hook and angling-rod, or a friar's hood to receive alms in;[11] for, believe me, whatever the judge's wife receives, the husband must account for at the general judgment, and shall be made to pay fourfold for all that of which he has rendered no account during his life.

"Be not under the dominion of thine own will: it is the vice of the ignorant, who vainly presume on their own understanding.

"Let the tears of the poor find more compassion, but not more justice, from thee than the applications of the wealthy.

"Be equally solicitous to sift out the truth amidst the presents and promises of the rich and the sighs and entreaties of the poor.

"Whenever equity may justly temper the rigor of the law, let not the whole force of it bear upon the delinquent; for it is better that a judge should lean on the side of compassion than severity.

"If, perchance, the scales of justice be not correctly balanced, let the error be imputable to pity, not to gold.

"If, perchance, the cause of thine enemy come before thee, forget thy injuries, and think only on the merits of the case.

"Let not private affection blind thee in another man's cause; for the errors thou shalt thereby commit are often without remedy, and at the expense both of thy reputation and fortune.

"When a beautiful woman comes before thee to demand justice, consider maturely the nature of her claim, without regarding either her tears or her sighs, unless thou wouldst expose thy judgment to the danger of being lost in the one, and thy integrity in the other.

"Revile not with words him whom thou hast to correct with deeds; the punishment which the unhappy wretch is doomed to suffer is sufficient, without the addition of abusive language.

"When the criminal stands before thee, recollect the frail and depraved nature of man, and as much as thou canst, without injustice to the suffering party, show pity and clemency; for, though the attributes of God are all equally adorable, yet His mercy is more shining and attractive in our eyes, and strikes with greater lustre, than His justice.

"If you observe, and conduct yourself by these rules and precepts, Sancho, your days will be long upon the face of the earth; your fame will be eternal, your reward complete, and your felicity unutterable; your children will be married according to your wish; they and their descendants will enjoy titles; you shall live in peace and friendship with all mankind; when your course of life is run, death will overtake you in a happy and mature old age, and your eyes will be shut by the tender and delicate hands of your posterity, in the third or fourth generation.

"The remarks I have hitherto made are documents touching the decoration of your soul; and now you will listen to the directions I have to give concerning thy person and deportment."


Who that has duly considered Don Quixote's instructions to his squire would not have taken him for a person of singular intelligence and discretion? But, in truth, as it has often been said in the progress of this great history, he raved only on the subject of chivalry; on all others he manifested a sound and discriminating understanding; wherefore his judgment and his actions appeared continually at variance. But, in these second instructions given to Sancho, which showed much ingenuity, his wisdom and frenzy are both singularly conspicuous.

During the whole of this private conference, Sancho listened to his master with great attention, and endeavored so to register his counsel in his mind that he might thereby be enabled to bear the burden of government and acquit himself honorably. Don Quixote now proceeded:—

"As to the regulation of thine own person and domestic concerns," said he, "in the first place, Sancho, I enjoin thee to be cleanly in all things. Keep the nails of thy fingers constantly and neatly pared, nor suffer them to grow as some do, who ignorantly imagine that long nails beautify the hand, and account the excess of that excrement simply a finger-nail, whereas it is rather the talon of the lizard-hunting kestrel,—a foul and unsightly object. A slovenly dress betokens a careless mind; or, as in the case of Julius Caesar, it may be attributed to cunning.

"Examine prudently the income of thy office, and if it will afford thee to give liveries to thy servants, give them such as are decent and lasting, rather than gaudy and modish; and what thou shalt thus save in thy servants bestow on the poor; so shalt thou have attendants both in heaven and earth—a provision which our vain-glorious great never think of.

"Eat neither garlic nor onions, lest the smell betray thy rusticity. Walk with gravity, and speak deliberately, but not so as to seem to be listening to thyself; for affectation is odious.

"Eat little at dinner and less at supper; for the health of the whole body is tempered in the laboratory of the stomach.

"Drink with moderation; for inebriety never keeps a secret nor performs a promise.

"In the next place, Sancho, do not intermix in thy discourse such a multitude of proverbs as thou wert wont to do; for though proverbs are concise and pithy sentences, thou dost so often drag them in by the head and shoulders that they look more like the ravings of distraction than well-chosen apothegms."

"That defect God himself must remedy," said Sancho; "for I have more proverbs by heart than would be sufficient to fill a large book; and, when I speak, they crowd together in such a manner as to quarrel for utterance; so that my tongue discharges them just as they happen to be in the way, whether they are or are not to the purpose: but I will take care henceforward to throw out those that may be suitable to the gravity of my office: for, 'Where there's plenty of meat, the supper will soon be complete;' 'He that shuffles does not cut;' 'A good hand makes a short game;' and, 'It requires a good brain to know when to give and retain.'"

"Courage, Sancho," cried Don Quixote; "squeeze, tack, and string your proverbs together; here are none to oppose you. My mother whips me, and I whip the top. Here am I exhorting thee to suppress thy proverbs, and in an instant thou hast spewed forth a whole litany of them, which are as foreign from the subject as an old ballad. Remember, Sancho, I do not say that a proverb properly applied is amiss; but, to throw in, and string together old saws helter-skelter, renders conversation altogether mean and despicable.

"When you appear on horseback do not lean backward over the saddle, nor stretch out your legs stiffly from the horse's belly, nor let them hang dangling in a slovenly manner, as if you were upon the back of Dapple; for some ride like jockeys, and some like gentlemen.

"Be very moderate in sleeping; for he who does not rise with the sun cannot enjoy the day; and observe, O Sancho, industry is the mother of prosperity; and laziness, her opposite, never saw the accomplishment of a good wish.

"This is all the advice, friend Sancho, that occurs to me at present; hereafter, as occasions offer, my instructions will be ready, provided thou art mindful to inform me of the state of thy affairs."

"Sir," answered Sancho, "I see very well that all your worship has told me is wholesome and profitable; but what shall I be the better for it if I cannot keep it in my head? It is true, I shall not easily forget what you have said about paring my nails, and marrying again if the opportunity offers; but for your other quirks and quillets, I protest they have already gone out of my head as clean as last year's clouds; and therefore, let me have them in writing; for though I cannot read them myself, I will give them to my confessor, that he may repeat and drive them into me in time of need."

"Heaven defend me!" said Don Quixote, "how scurvy doth it look in a governor to be unable to read or write! Indeed, Sancho, I must needs tell thee that when a man has not been taught to read, or is left-handed, it argues that his parentage was very low, or that, in early life, he was so indocile and perverse that his teachers could beat nothing good into him. Truly this is a great defect in thee, and therefore I would have thee learn to write, even if it were only thy name."

"That I can do already," quoth Sancho; "for when I was steward of the brotherhood in our village, I learned to make certain marks like those upon wool-packs, which they told me, stood for my name. But, at the worst, I can feign a lameness in my right hand, and get another to sign for me: there is a remedy for every thing but death; and, having the staff in my hand, I can do what I please. Besides, as your worship knows, he whose father is mayor[12]—and I, being governor, am, I trow, something more than mayor.

"Ay, ay, let them come that list, and play at bo-peep—ay, fleer and backbite me; but they may come for wool and go back shorn: 'His home is savory whom God loves;'—besides, 'The rich man's blunders pass current for wise maxims;' so that I, being a governor, and therefore wealthy, and bountiful to boot—as I intend to be—nobody will see any blemish in me. No, no, let the clown daub himself with honey, and he will never want flies. 'As much as you have, just so much you are worth,' said my grandam; revenge yourself upon the rich who can."

"Heaven confound thee!" exclaimed Don Quixote; "sixty thousand devils take thee and thy proverbs! This hour, or more, thou hast been stringing thy musty wares, poisoning and torturing me without mercy. Take my word for it, these proverbs will one day bring thee to the gallows;—they will surely provoke thy people to rebellion! Where dost thou find them? How shouldst thou apply them, idiot? for I toil and sweat as if I were delving the ground to utter but one, and apply it properly."

"Before Heaven, master of mine," replied Sancho, "your worship complains of very trifles. Why, in the devil's name, are you angry that I make use of my own goods? for other stock I have none, nor any stock but proverbs upon proverbs; and just now I have four ready to pop out, all pat and fitting as pears in a pannier—but I am dumb: Silence is my name."[13]

"Then art thou vilely miscalled," quoth Don Quixote, "being an eternal babbler. Nevertheless, I would fain know these four proverbs that come so pat to the purpose; for I have been rummaging my own memory, which is no bad one, but for the soul of me, I can find none."

"Can there be better," quoth Sancho, "than—'Never venture your fingers between two eye-teeth;' and with 'Get out of my house—what would you have with my wife?' there is no arguing; and, 'Whether the pitcher hits the stone, or the stone hits the pitcher, it goes ill with the pitcher.' All these, your worship must see, fit to a hair. Let no one meddle with the governor or his deputy, or he will come off the worst, like him who claps his finger between two eye-teeth, and though they were not eye-teeth, 'tis enough if they be but teeth. To what a governor says there is no replying, any more than to 'Get out of my house—what business have you with my wife?' Then as to the stone and the pitcher—a blind man may see that. So he who points to the mote in another man's eye, should first look to the beam in his own, that it may not be said of him, the dead woman was afraid of her that was flayed. Besides, your worship knows well that the fool knows more in his own house than the wise in that of another."

"Not so, Sancho," answered Don Quixote, "the fool knows nothing, either in his own or any other house; for knowledge is not to be erected upon so bad a foundation as folly. But here let it rest, Sancho, for, if thou governest ill, though the fault will be thine, the shame will be mine. However, I am comforted in having given thee the best counsel in my power; and therein having done my duty, I am acquitted both of my obligation and promise; so God speed thee, Sancho, and govern thee in thy government, and deliver me from the fears I entertain that thou wilt turn the whole island topsy-turvy!—which, indeed, I might prevent by letting the duke know what thou art, and telling him that all that paunch-gut and little carcass of thine is nothing but a sack full of proverbs and impertinence."

"Signor," replied Sancho, "if your worship really thinks I am not qualified for that government, I renounce it from henceforward forever, amen. I have a greater regard for a nail's breadth of my soul than my whole body; and I can subsist, as bare Sancho, upon a crust of bread and an onion, as well as governor on capons and partridges; for, while we sleep, great and small, rich and poor, are equal all. If your worship will consider, your worship will find that you yourself put this scheme of government into my head. As for my own part, I know no more of the matter than a bustard; and, if you think the governorship will be the means of my going to the devil, I would much rather go as simple Sancho to Heaven than as a governor to hell-fire."

"Before God!" cried the knight, "from these last reflections thou hast uttered, I pronounce thee worthy to govern a thousand islands. Thou hast an excellent natural disposition, without which all science is naught. Recommend thyself to God, and endeavor to avoid errors in the first intention. I mean, let thy intention and unshaken purpose be to deal righteously in all thy transactions, for Heaven always favors the upright design. And now let us go in to dinner, for I believe their graces wait for us."

Without discretion there can be no wit.

O poverty, poverty! I know not what should induce the great Cordovan poet to call thee a holy, unrequited gift. I, though a Moor, am very sensible, from my correspondence with Christians, that holiness consists in charity, humility, faith, poverty, and obedience; yet, nevertheless, I will affirm that he must be holy indeed, who can sit down content with poverty, unless we mean that kind of poverty to which one of the greatest saints alludes, when he says, "Possess of all things as not possessing them;" and this is called spiritual poverty. But thou second poverty, which is the cause I spoke of, why wouldst thou assault gentlemen of birth rather than any other class of people? Why dost thou compel them to cobble their shoes, and wear upon their coats one button of silk, another of hair, and a third of glass? Why must their ruffs be generally yellow and ill-starched? (By the by, from this circumstance we learn the antiquity of ruffs and starch. But thus he proceeds:) O wretched man of noble pedigree! who is obliged to administer cordials to his honor, in the midst of hunger and solitude, by playing the hypocrite with a toothpick, which he affects to use in the street, though he has eat nothing to require that act of cleanliness. Wretched he, I say, whose honor is ever apt to be startled, and thinks that everybody at a league's distance observes the patch upon his shoe, his greasy hat, and his threadbare cloak, and even the hunger that consumes him.

Better a blush on the face than a stain in the heart.

Look not in last year's nests for this year's birds.


And he forthwith imagined that some damsel belonging to the duchess had become enamored of him. Though somewhat fearful of the beautiful foe, he resolved to fortify his heart, and on no account to yield; so, commending himself with fervent devotion to his mistress, Dulcinea del Toboso, he determined to listen to the music; and to let the damsel know he was there he gave a feigned sneeze, at which they were not a little pleased, as they desired above all things that he should hear them. The harp being now tuned, Altisidora began the following song[14]:—

Wake, sir knight, now love's invading, Sleep in Holland sheets no more; When a nymph is serenading, 'Tis an arrant shame to snore.

Hear a damsel tall and tender, Moaning in most rueful guise, With heart almost burned to cinder By the sunbeams of thine eyes.

To free damsels from disaster Is, they say, your daily care: Can you then deny a plaster To a wounded virgin here?

Tell me, doughty youth, who cursed thee With such humors and ill-luck? Was't some sullen bear dry-nursed thee, Or she-dragon gave thee suck?

Dulcinea, that virago, Well may brag of such a Cid, Now her fame is up, and may go From Toledo to Madrid.

Would she but her prize surrender, (Judge how on thy face I dote!) In exchange I'd gladly send her My best gown and petticoat.

Happy I, would fortune doom me But to have me near thy bed, Stroke thee, pat thee, currycomb thee, And hunt o'er thy knightly head.

But I ask too much, sincerely, And I doubt I ne'er must do't, I'd but kiss your toe, and fairly Get the length thus of your foot.

How I'd rig thee, and what riches Should be heaped upon thy bones! Caps and socks, and cloaks and breeches, Matchless pearls and precious stones.

Do not from above, like Nero, See me burn and slight my woe, But to quench my fires, my hero, Cast a pitying eye below.

I'm a virgin-pullet, truly; One more tender ne'er was seen. A mere chicken fledged but newly;— Hang me if I'm yet fifteen.

Wind and limb, all's tight about me, My hair dangles to my feet; I am straight, too:—if you doubt me, Trust your eyes, come down and see't.

I've a bob nose has no fellow, And a sparrow's mouth as rare; Teeth, like bright topazes, yellow; Yet I'm deemed a beauty here.

You know what a rare musician (If you hearken) courts your choice; I dare say my disposition Is as taking as my voice.

Here ended the song of the amorous Altisidora, and began the alarm of the courted Don Quixote, who, fetching a deep sigh, said within himself: "Why am I so unhappy a knight-errant that no damsel can see but she must presently fall in love with me? Why is the peerless Dulcinea so unlucky that she must not be suffered singly to enjoy this my incomparable constancy? Queens, what would ye have with her? Empresses, why do ye persecute her? Damsels from fourteen to fifteen, why do ye plague her? Leave, leave the poor creature; let her triumph and glory in the lot which love bestowed upon her in the conquest of my heart and the surrender of my soul. Take notice, enamored multitude, that to Dulcinea alone I am paste and sugar, and to all others flint. To her I am honey, and to the rest of ye aloes. To me, Dulcinea alone is beautiful, discreet, lively, modest, and well-born; all the rest of her sex foul, foolish, fickle, and base-born. To be hers, and hers alone, nature sent me into the world. Let Altisidora weep or sing, let the lady despair on whose account I was buffeted in the castle of the enchanted Moor; boiled or roasted, Dulcinea's I must be, clean, well-bred, and chaste, in spite of all the necromantic powers on earth."


O thou ceaseless discoverer of the antipodes, torch of the world, eye of Heaven, and sweet cause of earthen wine coolers; here Thymbrius, there Phoebus; here archer, there physician, father of poesy, inventor of music; thou who always risest, and, though thou seemest to do so, never settest,—to thee I speak, O sun! thee I invoke to favor and enlighten the obscurity of the great Sancho Panza; without thee I find myself indolent, dispirited, and confused!

Sancho, then, with all his attendants, arrived at a town containing about a thousand inhabitants, which was one of the largest and best the duke had. They gave him to understand that it was called the island of Barataria, either because Barataria was really the name of the place, or because he obtained the government of it at so cheap a rate. On his arrival near the gates of the town, which was walled about, the municipal officers came out to receive him. The bells rung, and, with all the demonstrations of a general joy and a great deal of pomp, the people conducted him to the great church to give thanks to God. Presently after, with certain ridiculous ceremonies, they presented him the keys of the town and constituted him perpetual governor of the island of Barataria. The garb, the beard, the thickness and shortness of the new governor, surprised all who were not in the secret, and, indeed, those who were, who were not a few. In fine, as soon as they had brought him out of the church, they carried him to the tribunal of justice and placed him in the chair. The duke's steward then said to him, "It is an ancient custom here, my lord governor, that he who comes to take possession of this famous island is obliged to answer a question put to him, which is to be somewhat intricate and difficult. By his answer the people are enabled to feel the pulse of their new governor's understanding, and, accordingly, are either glad or sorry for his coming."

While the steward was saying this, Sancho was staring at some capital letters written on the wall opposite to his chair, and, being unable to read, he asked what that writing was on the wall. He was answered, "Sir, it is there written on what day your honor took possession of this island. The inscription runs thus: 'This day, such a day of the month and year, Signor Don Sancho Panza took possession of this island. Long may he enjoy it.'"

"Pray who is it they call Don Sancho Panza?" demanded Sancho.

"Your lordship," answered the steward! "for no other Panza, besides him now in the chair, ever came into this island."

"Take notice, then, brother," returned Sancho, "that the Don does not belong to me, nor ever did to any of my family. I am called plain Sancho Panza: my father was a Sancho, and my grandfather was a Sancho, and they were all Panzas, without any addition of Dons, or any other title whatever. I fancy there are more Dons than stones in this island. But enough: God knows my meaning: and perhaps, if my government lasts four days, I may weed out these Dons that over-run the country, and, by their numbers, are as troublesome as mosquitoes and cousins. On with your question, Master Steward, and I will answer the best I can, let the people be sorry or rejoice."

About this time two men came into the court, the one clad like a country fellow, and the other like a tailor, with a pair of shears in his hand; and the tailor said: "My lord governor, I and this countryman come before your worship by reason this honest man came yesterday to my shop (saving your presence, I am a tailor, and have passed my examination, God be thanked), and putting a piece of cloth into my hands, asked me, 'Sir, is there enough of this to make me a cap?' I, measuring the piece, answered Yes. Now he bade me view it again, and see if there was not enough for two. I guessed his drift, and told him there was. Persisting in his knavish intentions, my customer went on increasing the number of caps, and I still saying yes, till we came to five caps. A little time ago he came to claim them. I offered them to him, but he refuses to pay me for the making, and insists I shall either return him his cloth, or pay him for it."

"Is all this so, brother?" demanded Sancho.

"Yes," answered the man; "but pray, my lord, make him produce the five caps he has made me."

"With all my heart," answered the tailor; and pulling his hand from under his cloak, he showed the five caps on the ends of his fingers and thumb, saying: "Here are the five caps this honest man would have me make, and on my soul and conscience, not a shred of the cloth is left, and I submit the work to be viewed by any inspectors of the trade."

All present laughed at the number of the caps and the novelty of the suit. Sancho reflected a moment, and then said: "I am of opinion there needs no great delay in this suit, and it may be decided very equitably off-hand. Therefore I pronounce, that the tailor lose the making, and the countryman the stuff, and that the caps be confiscated to the use of the poor: and there is an end of that."

If the sentence Sancho afterwards passed on the purse of the herdsman caused the admiration of all the bystanders, this excited their laughter. However, what the governor commanded was executed, and two old men next presented themselves before him. One of them carried a cane in his hand for a staff; the other, who had no staff, said to Sancho: "My lord, some time ago I lent this man ten crowns of gold to oblige and serve him, upon condition that he should return them on demand. I let some time pass without asking for them, being loth to put him to a greater strait to pay me than he was in when I lent them. But at length, thinking it full time to be repaid, I asked him for my money more than once, but to no purpose: he not only refuses payment, but denies the debt, and says I never lent him any such sum, or, if I did that he had already paid me. I have no witnesses to the loan, nor has he of the payment which he pretends to have made, but which I deny; yet if he will swear before your worship that he has returned the money, I from this minute acquit him before God and the world."

"What say you to this, old gentleman?" quoth Sancho.

"I confess, my lord," replied the old fellow, "that he did lend me the money, and if your worship pleases to hold down your wand of justice, since he leaves it to my oath, I will swear I have really and truly returned it to him."

The governor accordingly held down his wand, and the old fellow, seeming encumbered with his staff, gave it to his creditor to hold while he was swearing; and then taking hold of the cross of the wand, he said it was true indeed the other had lent him ten crowns, but that he had restored them to him into his own hand; but having, he supposed, forgotten it, he was continually dunning him for them. Upon which his lordship the governor demanded of the creditor what he had to say in reply to the solemn declaration he had heard. He said that he submitted, and could not doubt but that his debtor had sworn the truth; for he believed him to be an honest man and a good Christian; and that, as the fault must have been in his own memory, he would thenceforward ask him no more for his money. The debtor now took his staff again, and bowing to the governor, went out of court.

Sancho having observed the defendant take his staff and walk away, and noticing also the resignation of the plaintiff, he began to meditate, and laying the fore-finger of his right hand upon his forehead, he continued a short time apparently full of thought; and then raising his head, he ordered the old man with the staff to be called back; and when he had returned, "Honest friend," said the governor, "give me that staff, for I have occasion for it."

"With all my heart," answered the old fellow; and delivered it into his hand. Sancho took it, and giving it to the other old man, said: "Go about your business, in God's name, for you are paid." "I, my lord," answered the old man; "what! is this cane worth ten golden crowns?"

"Yes," quoth the governor, "or I am the greatest dunce in the world! and now it shall appear whether I have a head to govern a whole kingdom." Straight he commanded the cane to be broken before them all. Which being done there were found in the hollow of it ten crowns in gold.

All were struck with admiration, and took their new governor for a second Solomon. They asked him, whence he had collected that the ten crowns were in the cane. He answered, that upon seeing the old man give it his adversary, while he was taking the oath, and swearing that he had really and truly restored them into his own hands, and, when he had done, ask for it again, it came into his imagination, the money in dispute must be in the hollow of the cane. Whence it may be gathered, that, God Almighty often directs the judgment of those who govern, though otherwise mere blockheads: besides, he had heard the priest of his parish tell a like case; and, were it not that he was so unlucky as to forget all he had a mind to remember, his memory was so good, there would not have been a better in the whole island.

At length, both the old men marched off, the one ashamed, and the other satisfied; the bystanders were surprised, and the secretary, who minuted down the words, actions, and behavior of Sancho Panza, could not determine with himself, whether he should set him down for a wise man or a fool. All the court were in admiration at the acuteness and wisdom of their new governor; all of whose sentences and decrees, being noted down by the appointed historiographer, were immediately transmitted to the duke, who waited for these accounts with the utmost impatience.

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