eBooks Cube


Don Quixote, then, having risen to his feet, trembling from head
to foot like a man dosed with mercury, said in a hurried, agitated
voice, "The place I am in, the presence in which I stand, and the
respect I have and always have had for the profession to which your
worship belongs, hold and bind the hands of my just indignation; and
as well for these reasons as because I know, as everyone knows, that a
gownsman's weapon is the same as a woman's, the tongue, I will with
mine engage in equal combat with your worship, from whom one might
have expected good advice instead of foul abuse. Pious, well-meant
reproof requires a different demeanour and arguments of another
sort; at any rate, to have reproved me in public, and so roughly,
exceeds the bounds of proper reproof, for that comes better with
gentleness than with rudeness; and it is not seemly to call the sinner
roundly blockhead and booby, without knowing anything of the sin
that is reproved. Come, tell me, for which of the stupidities you have
observed in me do you condemn and abuse me, and bid me go home and
look after my house and wife and children, without knowing whether I
have any? Is nothing more needed than to get a footing, by hook or
by crook, in other people's houses to rule over the masters (and that,
perhaps, after having been brought up in all the straitness of some
seminary, and without having ever seen more of the world than may
lie within twenty or thirty leagues round), to fit one to lay down the
law rashly for chivalry, and pass judgment on knights-errant? Is it,
haply, an idle occupation, or is the time ill-spent that is spent in
roaming the world in quest, not of its enjoyments, but of those
arduous toils whereby the good mount upwards to the abodes of
everlasting life? If gentlemen, great lords, nobles, men of high
birth, were to rate me as a fool I should take it as an irreparable
insult; but I care not a farthing if clerks who have never entered
upon or trod the paths of chivalry should think me foolish. Knight I
am, and knight I will die, if such be the pleasure of the Most High.
Some take the broad road of overweening ambition; others that of
mean and servile flattery; others that of deceitful hypocrisy, and
some that of true religion; but I, led by my star, follow the narrow
path of knight-errantry, and in pursuit of that calling I despise
wealth, but not honour. I have redressed injuries, righted wrongs,
punished insolences, vanquished giants, and crushed monsters; I am
in love, for no other reason than that it is incumbent on
knights-errant to be so; but though I am, I am no carnal-minded lover,
but one of the chaste, platonic sort. My intentions are always
directed to worthy ends, to do good to all and evil to none; and if he
who means this, does this, and makes this his practice deserves to
be called a fool, it is for your highnesses to say, O most excellent
duke and duchess."

"Good, by God!" cried Sancho; "say no more in your own defence,
master mine, for there's nothing more in the world to be said,
thought, or insisted on; and besides, when this gentleman denies, as
he has, that there are or ever have been any knights-errant in the
world, is it any wonder if he knows nothing of what he has been
talking about?"

"Perhaps, brother," said the ecclesiastic, "you are that Sancho
Panza that is mentioned, to whom your master has promised an island?"

"Yes, I am," said Sancho, "and what's more, I am one who deserves it
as much as anyone; I am one of the sort- 'Attach thyself to the
good, and thou wilt be one of them,' and of those, 'Not with whom thou
art bred, but with whom thou art fed,' and of those, 'Who leans
against a good tree, a good shade covers him;' I have leant upon a
good master, and I have been for months going about with him, and
please God I shall be just such another; long life to him and long
life to me, for neither will he be in any want of empires to rule,
or I of islands to govern."

"No, Sancho my friend, certainly not," said the duke, "for in the
name of Senor Don Quixote I confer upon you the government of one of
no small importance that I have at my disposal."

"Go down on thy knees, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "and kiss the feet
of his excellence for the favour he has bestowed upon thee."

Sancho obeyed, and on seeing this the ecclesiastic stood up from
table completely out of temper, exclaiming, "By the gown I wear, I
am almost inclined to say that your excellence is as great a fool as
these sinners. No wonder they are mad, when people who are in their
senses sanction their madness! I leave your excellence with them,
for so long as they are in the house, I will remain in my own, and
spare myself the trouble of reproving what I cannot remedy;" and
without uttering another word, or eating another morsel, he went
off, the entreaties of the duke and duchess being entirely
unavailing to stop him; not that the duke said much to him, for he
could not, because of the laughter his uncalled-for anger provoked.

When he had done laughing, he said to Don Quixote, "You have replied
on your own behalf so stoutly, Sir Knight of the Lions, that there
is no occasion to seek further satisfaction for this, which, though it
may look like an offence, is not so at all, for, as women can give
no offence, no more can ecclesiastics, as you very well know."

"That is true," said Don Quixote, "and the reason is, that he who is
not liable to offence cannot give offence to anyone. Women,
children, and ecclesiastics, as they cannot defend themselves,
though they may receive offence cannot be insulted, because between
the offence and the insult there is, as your excellence very well
knows, this difference: the insult comes from one who is capable of
offering it, and does so, and maintains it; the offence may come
from any quarter without carrying insult. To take an example: a man is
standing unsuspectingly in the street and ten others come up armed and
beat him; he draws his sword and quits himself like a man, but the
number of his antagonists makes it impossible for him to effect his
purpose and avenge himself; this man suffers an offence but not an
insult. Another example will make the same thing plain: a man is
standing with his back turned, another comes up and strikes him, and
after striking him takes to flight, without waiting an instant, and
the other pursues him but does not overtake him; he who received the
blow received an offence, but not an insult, because an insult must be
maintained. If he who struck him, though he did so sneakingly and
treacherously, had drawn his sword and stood and faced him, then he
who had been struck would have received offence and insult at the same
time; offence because he was struck treacherously, insult because he
who struck him maintained what he had done, standing his ground
without taking to flight. And so, according to the laws of the
accursed duel, I may have received offence, but not insult, for
neither women nor children can maintain it, nor can they wound, nor
have they any way of standing their ground, and it is just the same
with those connected with religion; for these three sorts of persons
are without arms offensive or defensive, and so, though naturally they
are bound to defend themselves, they have no right to offend
anybody; and though I said just now I might have received offence, I
say now certainly not, for he who cannot receive an insult can still
less give one; for which reasons I ought not to feel, nor do I feel,
aggrieved at what that good man said to me; I only wish he had
stayed a little longer, that I might have shown him the mistake he
makes in supposing and maintaining that there are not and never have
been any knights-errant in the world; had Amadis or any of his
countless descendants heard him say as much, I am sure it would not
have gone well with his worship."

"I will take my oath of that," said Sancho; "they would have given
him a slash that would have slit him down from top to toe like a
pomegranate or a ripe melon; they were likely fellows to put up with
jokes of that sort! By my faith, I'm certain if Reinaldos of Montalvan
had heard the little man's words he would have given him such a
spank on the mouth that he wouldn't have spoken for the next three
years; ay, let him tackle them, and he'll see how he'll get out of
their hands!"

The duchess, as she listened to Sancho, was ready to die with
laughter, and in her own mind she set him down as droller and madder
than his master; and there were a good many just then who were of
the same opinion.

Don Quixote finally grew calm, and dinner came to an end, and as the
cloth was removed four damsels came in, one of them with a silver
basin, another with a jug also of silver, a third with two fine
white towels on her shoulder, and the fourth with her arms bared to
the elbows, and in her white hands (for white they certainly were) a
round ball of Naples soap. The one with the basin approached, and with
arch composure and impudence, thrust it under Don Quixote's chin, who,
wondering at such a ceremony, said never a word, supposing it to be
the custom of that country to wash beards instead of hands; he
therefore stretched his out as far as he could, and at the same
instant the jug began to pour and the damsel with the soap rubbed
his beard briskly, raising snow-flakes, for the soap lather was no
less white, not only over the beard, but all over the face, and over
the eyes of the submissive knight, so that they were perforce
obliged to keep shut. The duke and duchess, who had not known anything
about this, waited to see what came of this strange washing. The
barber damsel, when she had him a hand's breadth deep in lather,
pretended that there was no more water, and bade the one with the
jug go and fetch some, while Senor Don Quixote waited. She did so, and
Don Quixote was left the strangest and most ludicrous figure that
could be imagined. All those present, and there were a good many, were
watching him, and as they saw him there with half a yard of neck,
and that uncommonly brown, his eyes shut, and his beard full of
soap, it was a great wonder, and only by great discretion, that they
were able to restrain their laughter. The damsels, the concocters of
the joke, kept their eyes down, not daring to look at their master and
mistress; and as for them, laughter and anger struggled within them,
and they knew not what to do, whether to punish the audacity of the
girls, or to reward them for the amusement they had received from
seeing Don Quixote in such a plight.

At length the damsel with the jug returned and they made an end of
washing Don Quixote, and the one who carried the towels very
deliberately wiped him and dried him; and all four together making him
a profound obeisance and curtsey, they were about to go, when the
duke, lest Don Quixote should see through the joke, called out to
the one with the basin saying, "Come and wash me, and take care that
there is water enough." The girl, sharp-witted and prompt, came and
placed the basin for the duke as she had done for Don Quixote, and
they soon had him well soaped and washed, and having wiped him dry
they made their obeisance and retired. It appeared afterwards that the
duke had sworn that if they had not washed him as they had Don Quixote
he would have punished them for their impudence, which they adroitly
atoned for by soaping him as well.

Sancho observed the ceremony of the washing very attentively, and
said to himself, "God bless me, if it were only the custom in this
country to wash squires' beards too as well as knights'. For by God
and upon my soul I want it badly; and if they gave me a scrape of
the razor besides I'd take it as a still greater kindness."

"What are you saying to yourself, Sancho?" asked the duchess.

"I was saying, senora," he replied, "that in the courts of other
princes, when the cloth is taken away, I have always heard say they
give water for the hands, but not lye for the beard; and that shows it
is good to live long that you may see much; to be sure, they say too
that he who lives a long life must undergo much evil, though to
undergo a washing of that sort is pleasure rather than pain."

"Don't be uneasy, friend Sancho," said the duchess; "I will take
care that my damsels wash you, and even put you in the tub if

"I'll be content with the beard," said Sancho, "at any rate for
the present; and as for the future, God has decreed what is to be."

"Attend to worthy Sancho's request, seneschal," said the duchess,
"and do exactly what he wishes."

The seneschal replied that Senor Sancho should be obeyed in
everything; and with that he went away to dinner and took Sancho along
with him, while the duke and duchess and Don Quixote remained at table
discussing a great variety of things, but all bearing on the calling
of arms and knight-errantry.

The duchess begged Don Quixote, as he seemed to have a retentive
memory, to describe and portray to her the beauty and features of
the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, for, judging by what fame trumpeted
abroad of her beauty, she felt sure she must be the fairest creature
in the world, nay, in all La Mancha.

Don Quixote sighed on hearing the duchess's request, and said, "If I
could pluck out my heart, and lay it on a plate on this table here
before your highness's eyes, it would spare my tongue the pain of
telling what can hardly be thought of, for in it your excellence would
see her portrayed in full. But why should I attempt to depict and
describe in detail, and feature by feature, the beauty of the peerless
Dulcinea, the burden being one worthy of other shoulders than mine, an
enterprise wherein the pencils of Parrhasius, Timantes, and Apelles,
and the graver of Lysippus ought to be employed, to paint it in
pictures and carve it in marble and bronze, and Ciceronian and
Demosthenian eloquence to sound its praises?"

"What does Demosthenian mean, Senor Don Quixote?" said the
duchess; "it is a word I never heard in all my life."

"Demosthenian eloquence," said Don Quixote, "means the eloquence
of Demosthenes, as Ciceronian means that of Cicero, who were the two
most eloquent orators in the world."

"True," said the duke; "you must have lost your wits to ask such a
question. Nevertheless, Senor Don Quixote would greatly gratify us
if he would depict her to us; for never fear, even in an outline or
sketch she will be something to make the fairest envious."

"I would do so certainly," said Don Quixote, "had she not been
blurred to my mind's eye by the misfortune that fell upon her a
short time since, one of such a nature that I am more ready to weep
over it than to describe it. For your highnesses must know that, going
a few days back to kiss her hands and receive her benediction,
approbation, and permission for this third sally, I found her
altogether a different being from the one I sought; I found her
enchanted and changed from a princess into a peasant, from fair to
foul, from an angel into a devil, from fragrant to pestiferous, from
refined to clownish, from a dignified lady into a jumping tomboy, and,
in a word, from Dulcinea del Toboso into a coarse Sayago wench."

"God bless me!" said the duke aloud at this, "who can have done
the world such an injury? Who can have robbed it of the beauty that
gladdened it, of the grace and gaiety that charmed it, of the
modesty that shed a lustre upon it?"

"Who?" replied Don Quixote; "who could it be but some malignant
enchanter of the many that persecute me out of envy- that accursed
race born into the world to obscure and bring to naught the
achievements of the good, and glorify and exalt the deeds of the
wicked? Enchanters have persecuted me, enchanters persecute me
still, and enchanters will continue to persecute me until they have
sunk me and my lofty chivalry in the deep abyss of oblivion; and
they injure and wound me where they know I feel it most. For to
deprive a knight-errant of his lady is to deprive him of the eyes he
sees with, of the sun that gives him light, of the food whereby he
lives. Many a time before have I said it, and I say it now once
more, a knight-errant without a lady is like a tree without leaves,
a building without a foundation, or a shadow without the body that
causes it."

"There is no denying it," said the duchess; "but still, if we are to
believe the history of Don Quixote that has come out here lately
with general applause, it is to be inferred from it, if I mistake not,
that you never saw the lady Dulcinea, and that the said lady is
nothing in the world but an imaginary lady, one that you yourself
begot and gave birth to in your brain, and adorned with whatever
charms and perfections you chose."

"There is a good deal to be said on that point," said Don Quixote;
"God knows whether there he any Dulcinea or not in the world, or
whether she is imaginary or not imaginary; these are things the
proof of which must not be pushed to extreme lengths. I have not
begotten nor given birth to my lady, though I behold her as she
needs must be, a lady who contains in herself all the qualities to
make her famous throughout the world, beautiful without blemish,
dignified without haughtiness, tender and yet modest, gracious from
courtesy and courteous from good breeding, and lastly, of exalted
lineage, because beauty shines forth and excels with a higher degree
of perfection upon good blood than in the fair of lowly birth."

"That is true," said the duke; "but Senor Don Quixote will give me
leave to say what I am constrained to say by the story of his exploits
that I have read, from which it is to be inferred that, granting there
is a Dulcinea in El Toboso, or out of it, and that she is in the
highest degree beautiful as you have described her to us, as regards
the loftiness of her lineage she is not on a par with the Orianas,
Alastrajareas, Madasimas, or others of that sort, with whom, as you
well know, the histories abound."

"To that I may reply," said Don Quixote, "that Dulcinea is the
daughter of her own works, and that virtues rectify blood, and that
lowly virtue is more to be regarded and esteemed than exalted vice.
Dulcinea, besides, has that within her that may raise her to be a
crowned and sceptred queen; for the merit of a fair and virtuous woman
is capable of performing greater miracles; and virtually, though not
formally, she has in herself higher fortunes."

"I protest, Senor Don Quixote," said the duchess, "that in all you
say, you go most cautiously and lead in hand, as the saying is;
henceforth I will believe myself, and I will take care that everyone
in my house believes, even my lord the duke if needs be, that there is
a Dulcinea in El Toboso, and that she is living to-day, and that she
is beautiful and nobly born and deserves to have such a knight as
Senor Don Quixote in her service, and that is the highest praise
that it is in my power to give her or that I can think of. But I
cannot help entertaining a doubt, and having a certain grudge
against Sancho Panza; the doubt is this, that the aforesaid history
declares that the said Sancho Panza, when he carried a letter on
your worship's behalf to the said lady Dulcinea, found her sifting a
sack of wheat; and more by token it says it was red wheat; a thing
which makes me doubt the loftiness of her lineage."

To this Don Quixote made answer, "Senora, your highness must know
that everything or almost everything that happens me transcends the
ordinary limits of what happens to other knights-errant; whether it he
that it is directed by the inscrutable will of destiny, or by the
malice of some jealous enchanter. Now it is an established fact that
all or most famous knights-errant have some special gift, one that
of being proof against enchantment, another that of being made of such
invulnerable flesh that he cannot be wounded, as was the famous
Roland, one of the twelve peers of France, of whom it is related
that he could not be wounded except in the sole of his left foot,
and that it must be with the point of a stout pin and not with any
other sort of weapon whatever; and so, when Bernardo del Carpio slew
him at Roncesvalles, finding that he could not wound him with steel,
he lifted him up from the ground in his arms and strangled him,
calling to mind seasonably the death which Hercules inflicted on
Antaeus, the fierce giant that they say was the son of Terra. I
would infer from what I have mentioned that perhaps I may have some
gift of this kind, not that of being invulnerable, because
experience has many times proved to me that I am of tender flesh and
not at all impenetrable; nor that of being proof against
enchantment, for I have already seen myself thrust into a cage, in
which all the world would not have been able to confine me except by
force of enchantments. But as I delivered myself from that one, I am
inclined to believe that there is no other that can hurt me; and so,
these enchanters, seeing that they cannot exert their vile craft
against my person, revenge themselves on what I love most, and seek to
rob me of life by maltreating that of Dulcinea in whom I live; and
therefore I am convinced that when my squire carried my message to
her, they changed her into a common peasant girl, engaged in such a
mean occupation as sifting wheat; I have already said, however, that
that wheat was not red wheat, nor wheat at all, but grains of orient
pearl. And as a proof of all this, I must tell your highnesses that,
coming to El Toboso a short time back, I was altogether unable to
discover the palace of Dulcinea; and that the next day, though Sancho,
my squire, saw her in her own proper shape, which is the fairest in
the world, to me she appeared to be a coarse, ill-favoured farm-wench,
and by no means a well-spoken one, she who is propriety itself. And
so, as I am not and, so far as one can judge, cannot be enchanted, she
it is that is enchanted, that is smitten, that is altered, changed,
and transformed; in her have my enemies revenged themselves upon me,
and for her shall I live in ceaseless tears, until I see her in her
pristine state. I have mentioned this lest anybody should mind what
Sancho said about Dulcinea's winnowing or sifting; for, as they
changed her to me, it is no wonder if they changed her to him.
Dulcinea is illustrious and well-born, and of one of the gentle
families of El Toboso, which are many, ancient, and good. Therein,
most assuredly, not small is the share of the peerless Dulcinea,
through whom her town will be famous and celebrated in ages to come,
as Troy was through Helen, and Spain through La Cava, though with a
better title and tradition. For another thing; I would have your
graces understand that Sancho Panza is one of the drollest squires
that ever served knight-errant; sometimes there is a simplicity
about him so acute that it is an amusement to try and make out whether
he is simple or sharp; he has mischievous tricks that stamp him rogue,
and blundering ways that prove him a booby; he doubts everything and
believes everything; when I fancy he is on the point of coming down
headlong from sheer stupidity, he comes out with something shrewd that
sends him up to the skies. After all, I would not exchange him for
another squire, though I were given a city to boot, and therefore I am
in doubt whether it will be well to send him to the government your
highness has bestowed upon him; though I perceive in him a certain
aptitude for the work of governing, so that, with a little trimming of
his understanding, he would manage any government as easily as the
king does his taxes; and moreover, we know already ample experience
that it does not require much cleverness or much learning to be a
governor, for there are a hundred round about us that scarcely know
how to read, and govern like gerfalcons. The main point is that they
should have good intentions and be desirous of doing right in all
things, for they will never be at a loss for persons to advise and
direct them in what they have to do, like those knight-governors
who, being no lawyers, pronounce sentences with the aid of an
assessor. My advice to him will be to take no bribe and surrender no
right, and I have some other little matters in reserve, that shall
be produced in due season for Sancho's benefit and the advantage of
the island he is to govern."

The duke, duchess, and Don Quixote had reached this point in their
conversation, when they heard voices and a great hubbub in the palace,
and Sancho burst abruptly into the room all glowing with anger, with a
straining-cloth by way of a bib, and followed by several servants, or,
more properly speaking, kitchen-boys and other underlings, one of whom
carried a small trough full of water, that from its colour and
impurity was plainly dishwater. The one with the trough pursued him
and followed him everywhere he went, endeavouring with the utmost
persistence to thrust it under his chin, while another kitchen-boy
seemed anxious to wash his beard.

"What is all this, brothers?" asked the duchess. "What is it? What
do you want to do to this good man? Do you forget he is a

To which the barber kitchen-boy replied, "The gentleman will not let
himself be washed as is customary, and as my lord the and the senor
his master have been."

"Yes, I will," said Sancho, in a great rage; "but I'd like it to
be with cleaner towels, clearer lye, and not such dirty hands; for
there's not so much difference between me and my master that he should
be washed with angels' water and I with devil's lye. The customs of
countries and princes' palaces are only good so long as they give no
annoyance; but the way of washing they have here is worse than doing
penance. I have a clean beard, and I don't require to be refreshed
in that fashion, and whoever comes to wash me or touch a hair of my
head, I mean to say my beard, with all due respect be it said, I'll
give him a punch that will leave my fist sunk in his skull; for
cirimonies and soapings of this sort are more like jokes than the
polite attentions of one's host."

The duchess was ready to die with laughter when she saw Sancho's
rage and heard his words; but it was no pleasure to Don Quixote to see
him in such a sorry trim, with the dingy towel about him, and the
hangers-on of the kitchen all round him; so making a low bow to the
duke and duchess, as if to ask their permission to speak, he addressed
the rout in a dignified tone: "Holloa, gentlemen! you let that youth
alone, and go back to where you came from, or anywhere else if you
like; my squire is as clean as any other person, and those troughs are
as bad as narrow thin-necked jars to him; take my advice and leave him
alone, for neither he nor I understand joking."

Sancho took the word out of his mouth and went on, "Nay, let them
come and try their jokes on the country bumpkin, for it's about as
likely I'll stand them as that it's now midnight! Let them bring me
a comb here, or what they please, and curry this beard of mine, and if
they get anything out of it that offends against cleanliness, let them
clip me to the skin."

Upon this, the duchess, laughing all the while, said, "Sancho
Panza is right, and always will be in all he says; he is clean, and,
as he says himself, he does not require to be washed; and if our
ways do not please him, he is free to choose. Besides, you promoters
of cleanliness have been excessively careless and thoughtless, I don't
know if I ought not to say audacious, to bring troughs and wooden
utensils and kitchen dishclouts, instead of basins and jugs of pure
gold and towels of holland, to such a person and such a beard; but,
after all, you are ill-conditioned and ill-bred, and spiteful as you
are, you cannot help showing the grudge you have against the squires
of knights-errant."

The impudent servitors, and even the seneschal who came with them,
took the duchess to be speaking in earnest, so they removed the
straining-cloth from Sancho's neck, and with something like shame
and confusion of face went off all of them and left him; whereupon he,
seeing himself safe out of that extreme danger, as it seemed to him,
ran and fell on his knees before the duchess, saying, "From great
ladies great favours may be looked for; this which your grace has done
me today cannot be requited with less than wishing I was dubbed a
knight-errant, to devote myself all the days of my life to the service
of so exalted a lady. I am a labouring man, my name is Sancho Panza, I
am married, I have children, and I am serving as a squire; if in any
one of these ways I can serve your highness, I will not he longer in
obeying than your grace in commanding."

"It is easy to see, Sancho," replied the duchess, "that you have
learned to he polite in the school of politeness itself; I mean to say
it is easy to see that you have been nursed in the bosom of Senor
Don Quixote, who is, of course, the cream of good breeding and
flower of ceremony- or cirimony, as you would say yourself. Fair be
the fortunes of such a master and such a servant, the one the cynosure
of knight-errantry, the other the star of squirely fidelity! Rise,
Sancho, my friend; I will repay your courtesy by taking care that my
lord the duke makes good to you the promised gift of the government as
soon as possible."

With this, the conversation came to an end, and Don Quixote
retired to take his midday sleep; but the duchess begged Sancho,
unless he had a very great desire to go to sleep, to come and spend
the afternoon with her and her damsels in a very cool chamber.
Sancho replied that, though he certainly had the habit of sleeping
four or five hours in the heat of the day in summer, to serve her
excellence he would try with all his might not to sleep even one
that day, and that he would come in obedience to her command, and with
that he went off. The duke gave fresh orders with respect to
treating Don Quixote as a knight-errant, without departing even in
smallest particular from the style in which, as the stories tell us,
they used to treat the knights of old.

Don Quixote by Migeul de Cervantes
Romance Literature - Spanish
Nabou.com: the big site