Read THE GOVERNOR IN A RAGE. of Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote , free online book, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, on

The history relates that Sancho Panza was conducted from the court of justice to a sumptuous palace, where in a great hall he found a magnificent entertainment prepared.  He had no sooner entered than his ears were saluted by the sound of many instruments, and four pages served him with water to wash his hands, which the governor received with becoming gravity.  The music having ceased, Sancho now sat down to dinner in a chair of state placed at the upper end of the table, for there was but one seat and only one plate and napkin.  A personage, who, as it afterwards appeared, was a physician, took his stand at one side of his chair with a whalebone rod in his hand.  They then removed the beautiful white cloth, which covered a variety of fruits and other eatables.  Grace was said by one in a student’s dress, and a laced bib was placed by a page under Sancho’s chin.  Another, who performed the office of sewer, now set a plate of fruit before him; but he had scarcely tasted it, when, on being touched by the wand-bearer, it was snatched away, and another containing meat instantly supplied its place.  Yet before Sancho could make a beginning it vanished, like the former, on a signal of the wand.

The governor was surprised at this proceeding, and looking around him, asked if this dinner was only to show off their sleight of hand.

“My lord,” said the wand-bearer, “your lordship’s food must here be watched with the same care as is customary with the governors of other islands.  I am a doctor of physic, sir, and my duty, for which I receive a salary, is to watch over the governor’s health, whereof I am more careful than of my own.  I study his constitution night and day, that I may know how to restore him when sick; and therefore think it incumbent on me to pay especial regard to his meals, at which I constantly preside, to see that he eats what is good and salutary, and prevent his touching whatever I imagine may be prejudicial to his health or offensive to his stomach.  It was for that reason, my lord,” continued he, “I ordered the dish of fruit to be taken away, as being too watery, and that other dish, as being too hot and over-seasoned with spices, which are apt to provoke thirst; and he that drinks much destroys and consumes the radical moisture, which is the fuel of life.”

“Well, then,” quoth Sancho, “that plate of roasted partridges, which seem to me to be very well seasoned, I suppose will do me no manner of harm?”

“Hold,” said the doctor, “my lord governor shall not eat them while I live to prevent it.”

“Pray, why not?” quoth Sancho.

“Because,” answered the doctor, “our great master Hippocrates, the north star and luminary of medicine, says in one of his aphorisms, Omnis saturatio mala, perdicis autem pessima; which means, ’All repletion is bad, but that from partridges the worst.’”

“If it be so,” quoth Sancho, “pray cast your eye, signor doctor, over all these dishes here on the table, and see which will do me the most good or the least harm, and let me eat of it without whisking it away with your conjuring-stick; for, by my soul, and as Heaven shall give me life to enjoy this government, I am dying with hunger; and to deny me food ­let signor doctor say what he will ­is not the way to lengthen my life, but to cut it short.”

“Your worship is in the right, my lord governor,” answered the physician, “and therefore I am of opinion you should not eat of these stewed rabbits, as being a food that is tough and acute; of that veal, indeed, you might have taken a little, had it been neither roasted nor stewed; but as it is, not a morsel.”

“What think you, then,” said Sancho, “of that huge dish there, smoking hot, which I take to be an olla-podrida? ­for, among the many things contained in it, I surely may light upon something both wholesome and toothsome.”

Absit!” quoth the doctor, “far be such a thought from us.  Olla-podrida! there is no worse dish in the world.  Leave them to prebends and rectors of colleges or lusty feeders at country weddings; but let them not be seen on the tables of governors, where nothing contrary to health and delicacy should be tolerated.  Simple medicines are always more estimable and safe, for in them there can be no mistake, whereas in such as are compounded all is hazard and uncertainty.  Therefore, what I would at present advise my lord governor to eat, in order to corroborate and preserve his health, is about a hundred small rolled-up wafers, with some thin slices of marmalade, that may sit upon the stomach and help digestion.”

Sancho, hearing this, threw himself backward in his chair, and looking at the doctor from head to foot very seriously, asked him his name and where he had studied.  To which he answered, “My lord governor, my name is Doctor Pedro Rezio de Aguero; I am a native of a place called Tirteafuera, lying between Caraquel and Almoddobar del Campo, on the right hand, and I have taken my doctor’s degrees in the university of Ossuna.”

“Then, hark you,” said Sancho in a rage, “Signor Doctor Pedro Rezzio de Aguero, native of Tirteafuera, lying on the right hand as we go from Caraquel to Almoddobar del Campo, graduate in Ossuna, get out of my sight this instant, or, by the light of Heaven, I will take a cudgel, and, beginning with your carcass, will so belabor all the physic-mongers in the island, that not one of the tribe shall be left! ­I mean of those like yourself, who are ignorant quacks.  For those who are learned and wise I shall make much of and honor as so many angels.  I say again, Signor Pedro Rezio, begone, or I shall take the chair I sit on and comb your head to some tune; and if I am called to an account for it when I give up my office, I shall prove that I have done a good service in ridding the world of a bad physician, who is a public executioner.  Body of me! give me something to eat, or let them take back their government, ­for an office that will not find a man in victuals is not worth two beans.”

On seeing the governor in such a fury the doctor would have fled out in the hall had not the sound of a courier’s horn at that instant been heard in the street.  “A courier from my lord duke,” said the sewer (who had looked out of the window), “and he must certainly have brought despatches of importance.”

The courier entered hastily, foaming with sweat and in great agitation, and pulling a packet out of his bosom, he delivered it into the governor’s hands, and by him it was given to the steward, telling him to read the superscription, which was this:  “To Don Sancho Panza, Governor of the Island of Barataria.  To be delivered only to himself or to his secretary.”

“Who is my secretary?” said Sancho.

“It is I, my lord,” answered one who was present, “for I can read and write, and am, besides, a Biscayan.”

“With that addition,” quoth Sancho, “you may very well be secretary to the emperor himself.  Open the packet and see what it holds.”

The new secretary did so, and having run his eye over the contents, he said it was a business which required privacy.  Accordingly, Sancho commanded all to retire excepting the steward and sewer; and when the hall was cleared, the secretary read the following letter: ­

“It has just come to my knowledge, Signor Don Panza, that certain enemies of mine intend very soon to make a desperate attack, by night, upon the island under your command; it is necessary, therefore, to be vigilant and alert, that you may not be taken by surprise.  I have also received intelligence from trusty spies, that four persons in disguise are now in your town, sent thither by the enemy, who, fearful of your great talents, have a design upon your life.  Keep a strict watch, be careful who are admitted to you, and eat nothing sent you as a present.  I will not fail to send you assistance if you are in want of it.  Whatever may be attempted, I have full reliance on your activity and judgment.

“Your friend,


“From this place, the 16th of August, at four in the morning.”

Sancho was astonished at this information, and the others appeared to be no less so.  At length, turning to the steward, “I will tell you,” said he, “the first thing to be done, which is to clap Doctor Rezio into a dungeon; for if anybody has a design to kill me, it is he, and that by the most lingering and the worst of all deaths, ­starvation.”

“Be that as it may,” said the steward, “it is my opinion your honor would do well to eat none of the meat here upon the table, for it was presented by some nuns, and it is a saying, ’The devil lurks behind the cross.’”

“You are in the right,” quoth Sancho, “and for the present give me only a piece of bread and some four pounds of grapes, ­there can be no poison in them, ­for, in truth, I cannot live without food, and if we must keep in readiness for these battles that threaten us, it is fit that we should be well fed, for the stomach upholds the heart and the heart the man.  Do you, Mr. Secretary, answer the letter of my lord duke, and tell him his commands shall be obeyed throughout most faithfully; and present my dutiful respects to my lady duchess, and beg her not to forget to send a special messenger with my letter and bundle to my wife Teresa Panza, which I shall take as a particular favor, and will be her humble servant to the utmost of my power.  And, by the way, you may put in my hearty service to my master, Don Quixote de la Mancha, that he may see that I am neither forgetful nor ungrateful; and as to the rest, I leave it to you, as a good secretary and a true Biscayan, to add whatever you please, or that may turn to the best account.  Now away with this cloth, and bring me something that may be eaten, and then let these spies, murderers, and enchanters see how they meddle with me or my island.”

A page now entered, saying, “Here is a countryman who would speak with your lordship on business, as he says, of great importance.”

“It is very strange,” quoth Saneho, “that these men of business should be so silly as not to see that this is not a time for such matters.  What! we who govern and belike are not made of flesh and bone like other men!  We are made of marble-stone, forsooth, and have no need of rest or refreshment!  Before Heaven and upon my conscience, if my government lasts, as I have a glimmering it will not, I shall hamper more than one of these men of business!  Well, for this once, tell the fellow to come in; but first see that he is no spy, nor one of my murderers.”

“He looks, my lord,” answered the page, “like a simple fellow, and I am much mistaken if he be not as harmless as a crust of bread.”

“Your worship need not fear,” quoth the steward, “since we are with you.”

“But now that Doctor Pedro Rezio is gone,” quoth Sancho, “may I not have something to eat of substance and weight, though it were but a luncheon of bread and an onion?”

“At night your honor shall have no cause to complain,” quoth the sewer; “supper shall make up for the want of dinner.”

“Heaven grant it may,” replied Sancho.