Read HOW THE GREAT SANCHO PANZA TOOK POSSESSION OF HIS ISLAND of Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote , free online book, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, on


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.

  We see that governors, though otherwise fools, are sometimes
  directed in their decisions by the hand of God.

  Time is ever moving; nothing ever can impede his course.

  An understanding in the beginning is often an effectual cure
  for those who are indiscreetly in love.

At eleven o’clock Don Quixote retired to his apartment, and finding a lute there, he tuned it, opened the window, and, perceiving there was somebody walking in the garden, he ran over the strings of the instrument; and, having tuned it again as nicely as he could, he coughed and cleared his throat; and then, with a voice somewhat hoarse, yet not unmusical, he sang the following song, which he had composed himself that very day: ­



  Love, a strong, designing foe. 
    Careless hearts with ease deceives;
  Can thy breast resist his blow,
    Which your sloth unguarded leaves?

  If you’re idle you’re destroyed,
    All his art on you he tries;
  But be watchful and employed,
    Straight the baffled tempter flies.

  Maids for modest grace admired,
    If they would their fortunes raise,
  Must in silence live retired: 
    ’Tis their virtue speaks their praise.

  The divine Tobosan fair,
    Dulcinea, claims me whole;
  Nothing can her image tear! 
    ’Tis one substance with my soul.

  Then let fortune smile or frown,
    Nothing shall my faith remove;
  Constant truth, the lover’s crown,
    Can work miracles in love.


  Love, with idleness combined,
  Will unhinge the tender mind: 
  But to few, to work and move,
  Will exclude the force of love. 
  Blooming maids that would be married,
  Must in virtue be unwearied;
  Modesty a dower will raise,
  And be a trumpet of their praise. 
  A cavalier will sport and play
  With a damsel frank and gay;
  But, when wedlock is his aim,
  Choose a maid of sober fame. 
  Passion kindled in the breast,
  By a stranger or a guest,
  Enters with the rising sun,
  And fleets before his race be run: 
  Love that comes so suddenly,
  Ever on the wing to fly,
  Neither can nor will impart
  Strong impressions to the heart. 
  Pictures drawn on pictures, show
  Strange confusion to the view: 
  Second beauty finds no base,
  Where a first has taken place: 
  Then Dulcinea still shall reign
  Without a rival or a stain;
  Nor shall fate itself control
  Her sway, or blot her from my soul: 
  Constancy, the lover’s boast,
  I’ll maintain whate’er it cost: 
  This, my virtue will refine;
  This will stamp my joys divine.


  Love, with idleness is friend,
  O’er a maiden gains its end: 
  But let business and employment
  Fill up every careful moment;
  These an antidote will prove
  ’Gainst the pois’nous arts of love. 
  Maidens that aspire to marry,
  In their looks reserve should carry: 
  Modesty their price should raise,
  And be the herald of their praise. 
  Knights, whom toils of arms employ,
  With the free may laugh and toy;
  But the modest only, choose
  When they tie the nuptial noose. 
  Love that rises with the sun,
  With his setting beams is gone: 
  Love that guest-like visits hearts,
  When the banquet’s o’er, departs: 
  And the love that comes to-day,
  And to-morrow wings its way,
  Leaves no traces on the soul,
  Its affections to control. 
  Where a sovereign beauty reigns,
  Fruitless are a rival’s pains, ­
  O’er a finished picture who
  E’er a second picture drew? 
  Fair Dulcinea, queen of beauty,
  Rules my heart, and claims its duty,
  Nothing there can take her place,
  Naught her image can erase. 
  Whether fortune smile or frown,
  Constancy ’s the lover’s crown;
  And, its force divine to prove,
  Miracles performs in love.