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Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). Don Quixote, Part 1.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

The Second Book

III. Of That Which Passed between Don Quixote and Certain Goatherds

HE was entertained very cheerfully by the goatherds; and Sancho, having set up Rozinante and his ass as well as he could, he presently repaired to the smell of certain pieces of goat-flesh, that stood boiling in a kettle over the fire; and although he thought, in that very moment, to try whether they were in season to be translated out of the kettle into the stomach, he did omit it, because he saw the herds take them off the fire, and, spreading certain sheepskins, which they had for that purpose, on the ground, lay in a trice their rustical table, and invited the master and man, with very cheerful mind, to come and take part of that which they had. There sat down round about the skins six of them, which were all that dwelt in that fold; having first (using some coarse compliments) placed Don Quixote upon a trough, turning the bottom up. Don Quixote sat down, and Sancho stood to serve the cup, which was made of horn. His master, seeing him afoot, said, ‘Sancho, to the end thou mayst perceive the good included in wandering knighthood, and also in what possibility they are which exercised themselves in any ministry thereof, to arrive briefly to honour and reputation in the world, my will is, that thou dost sit here by my side, and in company with this good people, and that thou beest one and very selfsame thing with me, who am thy master and natural lord; that thou eat in my dish and drink in the same cup wherein I drink; for the same may be said of chivalry that is of love, to wit, that it makes all things equal.’ ‘I yield you great thanks,’ quoth Sancho; ‘yet date I avouch unto you, that so I had therewithal to eat well, I could eat it as well, or better, standing and alone, than if I sat by an emperor. And besides, if I must say the truth, methinks that which I eat in a corner, without ceremonies, curiosity, or respect of any, though it were but bread and an onion, smacks a great deal better than turkey-cocks at other tables, where I must chew my meat leisurely, drink but little, wipe my hands often, must not neese nor cough though I have a desire, or be like to choke, nor do other things that solitude and liberty bring with them. So that, good sir, I would have you convert these honours that you would bestow upon me, in respect that I am an adherent to chivalry (as I am, being your squire), into things more essential and profitable for me than these; and though I remain as thankful for them as if they were received, yet do I here renounce, from this time until the world’s end.’ ‘For all that, thou shalt sit; for the humble shall be exalted.’ And so, taking him by the arm, he forced him to sit down near himself.

The goatherds did not understand that gibberish of squires and knights-errant, and therefore did nothing else but eat and hold their peace, and look on their guests, that tossed in with their fists whole slices, with good grace and stomachs. The course of flesh being ended, they served in on the rugs a great quantity of shelled acorns, and half a cheese, harder than if it were made of rough-casting. The horn stood not the while idle; for it went round about so often, now full, now empty, much like a conduit of Noria; and in a trice it emptied one of the two wine-bags that lay there in the public view. After that Don Quixote had satisfied his appetite well, he took up a handful of acorns, and, beholding them earnestly, he began to discourse in this manner: ‘Happy time, and fortunate ages were those, whereon our ancestors bestowed the title of golden! not because gold (so much prized in this our iron age) was gotten in that happy time without any labours, but because those which lived in that time knew not these two words, ‘thine’ and ‘mine’; in that holy age all things were in common. No man needed, for his ordinary sustenance, to do ought else than lift up his hand, and take it from the strong oak, which did liberally invite them to gather his sweet and savoury fruit. The clear fountains and running rivers did offer them these savoury and transparent waters in magnificent abundance. In the clefts of rocks and hollow trees did the careful and discreet bees erect their commonwealth, offering to every hand, without interest, the fertile crop of their sweetest travails. The lofty cork-trees did dismiss of themselves, without any other art than that of their native liberality, their broad and light rinds; wherewithal houses were at first covered, being sustained by rustical stakes, to none other end but for to keep back the inclemencies of the air. All then was peace, all amity, and all concord. As yet the ploughshare presumed not, with rude encounter, to open and search the compassionate bowels of our first mother; for she, without compulsion, offered up, through all the parts of her fertile and spacious bosom, all that which might satisfy, sustain, and delight those children which it then had. Yea, it was then that the simple and beautiful young shepherdesses went from valley to valley and hill to hill, with their hair sometimes plaited, sometimes dishevelled, without other apparel than that which was requisite to cover comely that which modesty wills, and ever would have, concealed. Then were of no request the attires and ornaments which are now used by those that esteem the purple of Tyre and the so-many-ways-martyrised silk so much, but only certain green leaves of burdocks and ivy intertexed and woven together; wherewithal, perhaps, they went as gorgeously and comely decked as now our court dames, with all their rare and outlandish inventions that idleness and curiosity hath found out. Then were the amorous conceits of the mind simply and sincerely delivered, and embellished in the very form and manner that she had conceived them, without any artificial contexture of words to endear them. Fraud, deceit, or malice had not then meddled themselves with plainness and truth. Justice was then in her proper terms, favour daring not to trouble or confound her, or the respect of profit, which do now persecute, blemish, and disturb her so much. The law of corruption, or taking bribes, had not yet possessed the understanding of the judge; for then was neither judge, nor person to be judged. Maidens and honesty wandered then, I say, where they listed, alone, signiorising, secure that no stranger liberty, or lascivious intent could prejudice it, or their own native desire or will any way endamage it. But now, in these our detestable times, no damsel is safe, although she be hid and shut up in another new labyrinth, like that of Crete; for even there itself the amorous plague would enter, either by some cranny, or by the air, or by the continual urgings of cursed care, to infect her; for whose protection and security was first instituted, by success of times, the order of knighthood, to defend damsels, protect widows, and assist orphans and distressed wights. Of this order am I, friends goatherds, whom I do heartily thank for the good entertainment which you do give unto me and my squire; for although that every one living is obliged, by the law of nature, to favour knights-errant, yet notwithstanding, knowing that you knew not this obligation, and yet did receive and make much of me, it stands will all reason that I do render you thanks will all my heart!’

Our knight made this long oration (which might have been well excused), because the acorns that were given unto him called to his mind the golden world, and therefore the humour took him to make the goatherds that unprofitable discourse; who heard him, all amazed and suspended, with very great attention all the while. Sancho likewise, held his peace, eating acorns, and in the meanwhile visited very often the second wine-bag, which, because it might be fresh, was hanged upon a cork-tree. Don Quixote had spent more time in his speech than in his supper; at the end whereof one of the goatherds said, ‘To the end that you may more assuredly know, sir knight-errant, that we do entertain you with prompt and ready will, we will likewise make you some pastime by hearing one of our companions sing, who is a herd of good understanding, and very amorous withal, and can besides read and write, and play so well on a rebec, that there is nothing to be desired.’ Scarce had the goatherd ended his speech, when the sound of the rebec touched his ear; and within a while after he arrived that played on it, being a youth of some twenty years old, and one of a very good grace and countenance. His fellows demanded if he had supped; and, answering that he had, he which did offer the courtesy, said, ‘Then, Anthony, thou mayst do us a pleasure by singing a little, that this gentleman our guest may see that we enjoy, amidst these groves and woods, those that know what music is. We have told him already thy good qualities, and therefore we desire that thou show them, to verify our words; and therefore I desire thee, by thy life, that thou wilt sit and sing the ditty which thy uncle the prebendary made of thy love, and was so well liked of in our village.’ ‘I am content,’ quoth the youth; and, without further entreaty, sitting down on the trunk of a lopped oak, he tuned his rebec, and after a while began, with a singular good grace, to sing in this manner:

  • ‘I know, Olalia, thou dost me adore!
  • Though yet to me the same thou hast not said;
  • Nor shown it once by one poor glance or more,
  • Since love is soonest by such tongues bewray’d.
  • ‘Yet, ’cause I ever held thee to be wise,
  • It me assures thou bearest me good will;
  • And he is not unfortunate that sees
  • How his affections are not taken ill.
  • ‘Yet for all this, Olalia, ’tis true!
  • I, by observance, gather to my woe;
  • Thy mind is framed of brass, by art undue,
  • And flint thy bosom is, though it seem snow.
  • ‘And yet, amidst thy rigour’s winter-face,
  • And other shifts, thou usest to delay me,
  • Sometimes hope, peeping out, doth promise grace;
  • But, woe is me! I fear ’tis to betray me.
  • ‘Sweetest! once in the balance of thy mind,
  • Poise with just weights my faith, which never yet
  • Diminish’d, though disfavour it did find;
  • Nor can increase more, though thou favoured’st it.
  • ‘If love be courteous (as some men say),
  • By thy humanity, I must collect
  • My hopes, hows’ever thou dost use delay,
  • Shall reap, at last, the good I do expect.
  • ‘If many services be of esteem
  • Or power to render a hard heart benign,
  • Such things I did for thee, as made me deem
  • I have the match gain’d, and thou shalt be mine.
  • ‘For, if at any time thou hast ta’en heed,
  • Thou more than once might’st view how I was clad,
  • To honour thee on Mondays, with the weed
  • Which, worn on Sundays, got me credit had.
  • ‘For love and brav’ry still themselves consort,
  • Because they both shoot ever at one end;
  • Which made me, when I did to thee resort,
  • Still to be neat and fine I did contend.
  • ‘Here I omit the dances I have done,
  • And musics I have at thy window given;
  • When thou didst at cock-crow listen alone,
  • And seem’dst, hearing my voice, to be in heaven.
  • ‘I do not, eke, the praises here recount
  • Which of thy beauty I so oft have said;
  • Which, though they all were true, were likewise wont
  • To make thee envious me for spite upbraid.
  • ‘When to Teresa, she of Berrocal,
  • I, of thy worth, discourse did sometime shape:
  • “Good God!” quoth she, “you seem an angel’s thrall,
  • And yet, for idol, you adore an ape.
  • ‘“She to her bugles thanks may give, and chains,
  • False hair, and other shifts that she doth use
  • To mend her beauty, with a thousand pains
  • And guiles, which might love’s very self abuse.”
  • ‘Wroth at her words, I gave her straight the lie,
  • Which did her and her cousin so offend,
  • As me to fight he challenged presently,
  • And well thou know’st of our debate the end.
  • ‘I mean not thee to purchase at a clap,
  • Nor to that end do I thy favour sue;
  • Thereby thine honour either to entrap,
  • Or thee persuade to take courses undue.
  • ‘The Church hath bands which do so surely hold,
  • As no silk string for strength comes to them near;
  • To thrust thy neck once in the yoke be bold,
  • And see if I, to follow thee, will fear.
  • ‘If thou wilt not, here solemnly I vow,
  • By holiest saint, enwrapt in precious shrine,
  • Never to leave those hills where I dwell now,
  • If ‘t be not to become a Capucine.’
  • Here the goatherd ended his ditty, and although Don Quixote entreated him to sing somewhat else, yet would not Sancho Panza consent to it; who was at that time better disposed to sleep than to hear music; and therefore said to his master, ‘You had better provide yourself of a place wherein to sleep this night than to hear music; for the labour that these good men endure all the day long doth not permit that they likewise spend the night in singing.’ ‘I understand thee well enough, Sancho,’ answered Don Quixote; ‘nor did I think less, but that thy manifold visitations of the wine-bottle would rather desire to be recompensed with sleep than with music.’ ‘The wine like us all well,’ quoth Sancho. ‘I do not deny it,’ replied Don Quixote; ‘but go thou and lay thee down where thou pleasest, for it becomes much more men of my profession to watch than to sleep. Yet, notwithstanding, it will not be amiss to lay somewhat again to mine ear, for it grieves me very much.’ One of the goatherds, beholding the hurt, bade him of good cheer, for he would apply a remedy that should cure it easily. And, taking some rosemary-leaves of many that grew thereabouts, he hewed them, and after mixed a little salt among them; and, applying this medicine to the ear, he bound it up well with a cloth, assuring him that he needed to use no other medicine; as it proved after, in effect.