Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  V. Wherein Is Finished the History of the Shepherdess Marcela, with Other Accidents

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

The Second Book

V. Wherein Is Finished the History of the Shepherdess Marcela, with Other Accidents

BUT scarce had the day begun to discover itself by the oriental windows, when five of the six goatherds arising, went to awake Don Quixote, and demanded of him whether he yet intended to go to Chrysostom’s burial, and that they would accompany him. Don Quixote, that desired nothing more, got up, and commanded Sancho to saddle and empannel in a trice; which he did with great expedition, and with the like they all presently began their journey. And they had not yet gone a quarter of a league, when, at the crossing of a pathway, they saw six shepherds coming towards them, apparelled with black skins, and crowned with garlands of cypress and bitter enula campana. Every one of them carried in his hand a thick truncheon of elm. There came likewise with them two gentlemen a-horseback, very well furnished for the way, with other three lackeys that attended on them. And, as soon as they encountered, they saluted one another courteously, and demanded whither they travelled; and knowing that they all went towards the place of the burial, they began their journey together. One of the horsemen, speaking to his companion, said, ‘I think, Mr. Vivaldo, we shall account the time well employed that we shall stay to see this so famous an entertainment; for it cannot choose but be famous, according to the wonderful things these shepherds have recounted unto us, as well of the dead shepherd as also of the murdering shepherdess.’ ‘It seems so to me likewise,’ quoth Vivaldo; ‘and I say, I would not only stay one day, but a whole week, rather than miss to behold it.’ Don Quixote demanded of them what they had heard of Marcela and Chrysostom. The traveller answered that they had encountered that morning with those shepherds, and that, by reason they had seen them apparelled in that mournful attire, they demanded of them the occasion thereof, and one of them rehearsed it, recounting the strangeness and beauty of a certain shepherdess called Marcela, and the amorous pursuits of her by many, with the death of that Chrysostom to whose burial they rode. Finally, he told all that again to him that Peter had told the night before.

This discourse thus ended, another began, and was, that he who was called Vivaldo demanded of Don Quixote the occasion that moved him to travel thus armed through so peaceable a country. To whom Don Quixote answered: ‘The profession of my exercise doth not license or permit me to do other. Good days, cockering, and ease were invented for soft courtiers; but travels, unrest, and arms were only invented and made for those which the world terms knights-errant, of which number I myself (although unworthy) am one, and the least of all.’ Scarce had they heard him say this, when they all held him to be wood. And, to find out the truth better, Vivaldo did ask him again what meant the word knights-errant. ‘Have you not read, then,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘the histories and annals of England, wherein are treated the famous acts of King Arthur, whom we continually call, in our Castilian romance, King Artus? of whom it is an ancient and common tradition, in the kingdom of Great Britain, that he never died, but that he was turned, by art of enchantment, into a crow; and that, in process of time, he shall return again to reign, and recover his sceptre and kingdom; for which reason it cannot be proved that, ever since that time until this, any Englishman hath killed a crow. In this good king’s time was first instituted the famous order of knighthood of the Knights of the Round Table, and the love that is there recounted did in every respect pass as it is laid down between Sir Launcelot du Lake and Queen Genever, the honourable Lady Quintaniona being a dealer, and privy thereto; whence sprung that so famous a ditty, and so celebrated here in Spain, of, “Never was knight of ladies so well served as Launcelot when that he in Britain arrived,” etc., with that progress so sweet and delightful of his amorous and valiant acts; and from that time forward, the order of knight went from hand to hand, dilating and spreading itself through many and sundry parts of the world; and in it were, famous and renowned for their feats of arms, the valiant Amadis of Gaul, with all his progeny until the fifth generation; and the valorous Felixmarte of Hircania, and the never-duly-praised Tirante the White, together with Sir Bevis of Hampton, Sir Guy of Warwick, Sir Eglemore, with divers others of that nation and age; and almost in our days we saw, and communed, and heard of the invincible and valiant knight, Don Belianis of Greece. This, then, good sirs, is to be a knight-errant; and that which I have said is the order of chivalry: wherein, as I have already said, I, although a sinner, have made profession, and the same do I profess that those knights professed whom I have above mentioned; and therefore I travel through these solitudes and deserts, seeking adventures, with full resolution to offer mine own arm and person to the most dangerous that fortune shall present, in the aid of weak and needy persons.’

By these reasons of Don Quixote’s the travellers perfectly perceived that he was none of the wisest; and knew the kind of folly wherewithal he was crossed, whereat those remained wonderfully admired, that by the relation of the others came to understand it.

And Vivaldo, who was very discreet, and likewise of a pleasant disposition, to the end they might pass over the rest of the way without heaviness unto the rock of the burial, which the shepherds said was near at hand, he resolved to give him further occasion to pass onward with his follies, and therefore said unto him, ‘Methinks, sir knight, that you have professed one of the most austere professions in the world; and I do constantly hold that even that of the Charterhouse monks is not near so strait.’ ‘It may be as strait as our profession,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘but that it should be so necessary for the world, I am within the breadth of two fingers to call it in doubt; for, if we would speak a truth, the soldier that puts in execution his captain’s command doth no less than the very captain that commands him. Hence I infer, that religious men do with all peace and quietness seek of Heaven the good of the earth; but soldiers and we knights do put in execution that which they demand, defending it with the valour of our arms and files of our swords; not under any roof, but under the wide heavens, made, as it were, in summer a mark to the insupportable sunbeams, and in winter to the rage of withering frosts. So that we are the ministers of God on earth, and the armies wherewith He executeth His justice; and as the affairs of war, and things thereunto pertaining, cannot be put in execution without sweat, labour, and travail, it follows that those which profess warfare take, questionless, greater pain than those which, in quiet, peace, and rest, do pray unto God that He will favour and assist those that need it. I mean not therefore to affirm, nor doth it once pass through my thought, that the state of a knight-errant is as perfect as that of a retired religious man, but only would infer, through that which I myself suffer, that it is doubtlessly more laborious, more battered, hungry, thirsty, miserable, torn, and lousy. For the knights-errant of times past did, without all doubt, suffer much woe and misery in the discourse of their life; and if some of them ascended at last to empires, won by the force of their arms, in good faith, it cost them a great part of their sweat and blood; and if those which mounted to so high a degree had wanted those enchanters and wise men that assisted them, they would have remained much defrauded of their desires, and greatly deceived of their hopes.’ ‘I am of the same opinion,’ replied the traveller; ‘but one thing among many others hath seemed to me very ill in knights-errant, which is, when they perceive themselves in any occasion to begin any great and dangerous adventure, in which appears manifest peril of losing their lives, they never, in the instant of attempting it, remember to commend themselves to God, as every Christian is bound to do in like dangers, but rather to do it to their ladies, with so great desire and devotion as if they were their gods—a thing which, in my opinion, smells of Gentilism.’ ‘Sir,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘they can do no less in any wise, and the knight-errant which did any other would digress much from his duty; for now it is a received use and custom of errant chivalry, that the knight adventurous who, attempting of any great feat of arms, shall have his lady in place, do mildly and amorously turn his eyes towards her, as it were by them demanding that she do favour and protect him in that ambiguous trance which he undertakes; and, moreover, if none do hear him, he is bound to say certain words between his teeth, by which he shall, with all his heart, commend himself to her: and of this we have innumerable examples in histories. Nor is it therefore to be understood that they do omit to commend themselves to God; for they have time and leisure enough to do it in the progress of the work.’

‘For all that,’ replied the traveller, ‘there remains in me yet one scruple which is, that oftentimes, as I have read, some speech begins between two knights-errant, and from one word to another their choler begins to be inflamed, and they to turn their horses, and to take up a good piece of the field, and, without any more ado, to run as fast as ever they can drive to encounter again, and, in the midst of their race, do commend themselves to their dames; and that which commonly ensues of this encountering is, that one of them falls down, thrown over the crupper of his horse, passed through and through by his enemy’s lance; and it befalls the other that, if he had not caught fast of his horse’s mane, he had likewise fallen; and I here cannot perceive how he that is slain had any leisure to commend himself unto God in the discourse of this so accelerate and hasty a work. Methinks it were better that those words which he spent in his race on his lady were bestowed as they ought, and as every Christian is bound to bestow them; and the rather, because I conjecture that all knights-errant have not ladies to whom they may commend themselves, for all of them are not amorous.’

‘That cannot be,’ answered Don Quixote; ‘I say it cannot be that there’s any knight-errant without a lady; for it is as proper and essential to such to be enamoured as to heaven to have stars: and I dare warrant that no history hath yet been seen wherein is found a knight-errant without love; for, by the very reason that he were found without them, he would be convinced to be no legitimate knight, but a bastard; and that he entered into the fortress of chivalry, not by the gate, but by leaping over the staccado like a robber and a thief.’

‘Yet, notwithstanding,’ replied the other, ‘I have read (if I do not forget myself) that Don Galaor, brother to the valorous Amadis de Gaul, had never any certain mistress to whom he might commend himself; and yet, for all that, he was nothing less accounted of, and was a most valiant and famous knight.’ To that objection our Don Quixote answered: ‘One swallow makes not a summer. How much more that I know, that the knight whom you allege was secretly very much enamoured; besides that, that his inclination of loving all ladies well, which he thought were fair, was a natural inclination, which he could not govern so well; but it is, in conclusion, sufficiently verified, that yet he had one lady whom he crowned queen of his will, to whom he did also commend himself very often and secretly; for he did not a little glory to be so secret in his loves.’

‘Then, sir, if it be of the essence of all knights-errant to be in love,’ quoth the traveller, ‘then may it likewise be presumed that you are also enamoured, seeing that it is annexed to the profession? And if you do not prize yourself to be as secret as Don Galaor, I do entreat you, as earnestly as I may, in all this company’s name and mine own, that it will please you to tell us the name, country, quality, and beauty of your lady; for I am sure she would account herself happy to think that all the world doth know she is beloved and served by so worthy a knight as is yourself.’ Here Don Quixote, breathing forth a deep sigh, said: ‘I cannot affirm whether my sweet enemy delight or no that the world know how much she is beloved, or that I serve her. Only I dare avouch (answering to that which you so courteously demanded) that her name is Dulcinea, her country Toboso, a village of Mancha. Her calling must be at least of a princess, seeing she is my queen and lady; her beauty sovereign, for in her are verified and give glorious lustre to all those impossible and chimerical attributes of beauty that poets give to their mistresses, that her hairs are gold, her forehead the Elysian fields, her brows the arcs of heaven, her eyes suns, her cheeks roses, her lips coral, her teeth pearls, her neck alabaster, her bosom marble, ivory her hands, and her whiteness snow; and the parts which modesty conceals from human sight, such as I think and understand that the discreet consideration may prize, but never be able to equalize them.’ ‘Her lineage, progeny, we desire to know likewise,’ quoth Vivaldo. To which Don Quixote answered: ‘She is not of the ancient Roman Curcios, Cayos, or Scipios; nor of the modern Colonnas, or Ursinos; nor of the Moncadas or Requesenes of Catalonia; and much less of the Rebelias and Villanovas of Valencia; Palafoxes, Nucas, Rocabertis, Corelias, Alagones, Urreas, Fozes, and Gurreas of Aragon; Cerdas, Manriquez, Mendoças, and Guzmanes of Castile; Lancasters, Palias, and Meneses of Portugal; but she is of those of Toboso of the Mancha; a lineage which, though it be modern, is such as may give a generous beginning to the most noble families of ensuing ages. And let none contradict me in this, if it be not with those conditions that Cerbino put at the foot of Orlando’s armour, to wit:

  • “Let none from hence presume these arms to move,
  • But he that with Orlando dares his force to prove.”’
  • ‘Although my lineage be of the Cachopines of Laredo,’ replied the traveller, ‘yet dare I not to compare it with that of Toboso in the Mancha; although, to speak sincerely, I never heard any mention of that lineage you say until now.’ ‘What!’ quoth Don Quixote ‘is it possible that you never heard of it till now?’

    All the company travelled, giving marvellous attention to the reasons of those two; and even the very goatherds and shepherds began to perceive the great want of judgment that was in Don Quixote: only Sancho Panza did verily believe that all his master’s words were most true, as one that knew what he was from the very time of his birth; but that wherein his belief staggered somewhat, was of the beautiful Dulcinea of Toboso; for he had never heard speak in his life before of such a name or princess, although he had dwelt so many years hard by Toboso.

    And as they travelled in these discourses, they beheld descending, betwixt the cleft of two lofty mountains, to the number of twenty shepherds, all apparelled in skins of black wool and crowned with garlands, which, as they perceived afterward, were all of yew and cypress. Six of them carried a bier, covered with many sorts of flowers and boughs; which one of the goatherds espying, he said, ‘Those that come there are they which bring Chrysostom’s body, and the foot of that mountain is the place where he hath commanded them to bury him.’ These words were occasion to make them haste to arrive in time, which they did just about the instant that the others had laid down the corpse on the ground. And four of them, with sharp pickaxes, did dig the grave at the side of a hard rock. The one and the others saluted themselves very courteously; and then Don Quixote, and such as came with him, began to behold the bier, wherein they saw laid a dead body, all covered with flowers, and apparelled like a shepherd of some thirty years old; and his dead countenance showed that he was very beautiful, and an able-bodied man. He had, placed round about him in the bier, certain books and many papers, some open and some shut, and altogether, as well those that beheld this as they which made the grave, and all the others that were present, kept a marvellous silence, until one of them which carried the dead man said to another: ‘See well, Ambrosio, whether this be the place that Chrysostom meant, seeing that thou wouldst have all so punctually observed which he commanded in his testament.’ ‘This is it,’ answered Ambrosio; ‘for many times my unfortunate friend recounted to me in it the history of his mishaps. Even there he told me that he had seen that cruel enemy of mankind first; and there it was where he first broke his affections too, as honest as they were amorous; and there was the last time wherein Marcela did end to resolve, and began to disdain him, in such sort as she set end to the tragedy of his miserable life; and here, in memory of so many misfortunes, he commanded himself to be committed to the bowels of eternal oblivion.’ And, turning himself to Don Quixote and to the other travellers, he said, ‘This body, sirs, which you do now behold with pitiful eyes, was the treasury of a soul wherein heaven had hoarded up an infinite part of his treasures. This is the body of Chrysostom, who was peerless in wit, without fellow for courtesy, rare for comeliness, a phoenix for friendship, magnificent without measure, grave without presumption, pleasant without offence; and finally, the first in all that which is good, and second to none in all unfortunate mischances. He loved well, and was hated; he adored, and was disdained; he prayed to one no less savage than a beast; he importuned a heart as hard as marble, he pursued the wind, he cried to deserts, he served ingratitude, and he obtained for reward the spoils of death in the midst of the career of his life: to which a shepherdess hath given end whom he laboured to eternize, to the end she might ever live in the memories of men, as those papers which you see there might very well prove, had he not commanded me to sacrifice them to the fire as soon as his body was rendered to the earth.’

    ‘If you did so,’ quoth Vivaldo, ‘you would use greater rigour and cruelty towards them than their very lord, nor is it discreet or justly done that his will be accomplished who commands anything repugnant to reason; nor should Augustus Caesar himself have gained the reputation of wisdom, if he had permitted that to be put in execution which the divine Mantuan had by his will ordained. So that, Senor Ambrosio, now that you commit your friend’s body to the earth, do not therefore commit his labour to oblivion; for though he ordained it as one injured, yet are not you to accomplish it as one void of discretion; but rather cause, by giving life to these papers, that the cruelty of Marcela may live eternally, that it may serve as a document to those that shall breathe in ensuing ages how they may avoid and shun the like downfalls; for both myself, and all those that come here in my company, do already know the history of your enamoured and despairing friend, the occasion of his death, and what he commanded ere he deceased: out of which lamentable relation may be collected how great hath been the cruelty of Marcela, the love of Chrysostom, the faith of your affection, and the conclusion which those make which do rashly run through that way which indiscreet love doth present to their view. We understood yesternight of Chrysostom’s death, and that he should be interred in this place, and therefore we omitted our intended journeys, both for curiosity and pity, and resolved to come and behold with our eyes that the relation whereof did so much grieve us in the hearing; and therefore we desire thee, discreet Ambrosio, both in reward of this our compassion, and also of the desire which springs in our breasts, to remedy this disaster, if it were possible; but chiefly I, for my part, request thee, that omitting to burn these papers, thou wilt license me to take away some of them. And, saying so, without expecting the shepherd’s answer, he stretched out his hand and took some of them that were next to him; which Ambrosio perceiving, said, ‘I will consent, sir, for courtesy’s sake, that you remain lord of those which you have seized upon; but to imagine that I would omit to burn these that rest were a very vain thought.’ Vivaldo, who did long to see what the papers contained which he had gotten, did unfold presently one of them, which had this title. ‘A Ditty of Despair.’ Ambrosio overheard him, and said: ‘That is the last paper which this unfortunate shepherd wrote; and because sir, that you may see the terms to which his mishaps conducted him, I pray you to read it, but in such manner as you may be heard; for you shall have leisure enough to do it whilst the grave is a-digging.’ ‘I will do it with all my heart,’ replied Vivaldo; and all those that were present having the like desire, they gathered about him, and he, reading it with a clear voice, pronounced it thus.