Get Your Free Goodie Box here

La Moza de Cántaro by Lope de Vega - HTML preview

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.







( Docteur de l'Université de Grenoble)

Professor of Romance Languages in West Virginia University NEW YORK




















The vast number of the works of Lope de Vega renders the task ofselecting one of them as an appropriate text for publication verydifficult, and it is only after having examined a large number of theworks of the great poet that the editor has chosen La Moza de Cántaro,not only because it is one of the author's most interesting comedies,but also because it stands forth prominently in the field in which he ispreëminent—the interpretation of Spanish life and character. It too isone of the few plays of the poet which have continued down to recenttimes in the favor of the Spanish theater-going public,—perhaps in theend the most trustworthy critic. Written in Lope's more mature years, atthe time of his greatest activity, and probably corrected or rewrittenseven years later, this play contains few of the inaccuracies andobscure passages so common to many of his works, reveals to us much ofinterest in Spanish daily life and in a way reflects the condition ofthe Spanish capital during the reign of Philip IV, which certainly wasone of the most brilliant in the history of the kingdom.

The text has been taken completely, without any omissions ormodifications, from the Hartzenbusch collection of Comedias Escogidasde Lope de Vega published in the Biblioteca de Autores Españoles and,where it varies from other texts with which it has been compared, thevariation is noted. The accentuation has been changed freely to conformwith present usage, translations have been suggested for passages ofmore than ordinary difficulty and full notes given on proper names andon passages that suggest historical or other connection.

Literarycomparisons have been made occasionally and modern forms or equivalentsfor archaic words and expressions have been given, but usually thesehave been limited to words not found in the better class of dictionariescommonly used in the study of such works.

The editor is especially indebted to Sr. D. Eugenio Fernández for aid inthe interpretation of several passages and in the correction ofaccentuation, to Professor J. D. M. Ford for valuable suggestions, andto Sr. D. Manuel Saavedra Martínez, Professor in the Escuela Normal deSalamanca, for information not easily accessible.

M. S.




The family of Lope de Vega Carpio was one of high rank, if not noble,and had a manor house in the mountain regions of northwestern Spain. Ofhis parents we know nothing more than the scanty mention the poet hasgiven them in his works. It would seem that they lived a while at leastin Madrid, where the future prince of Spanish dramatists was born,November 25, 1562. Of his childhood and early youth we have no definiteknowledge, but it appears that his parents died when he was very youngand that he lived some time with his uncle, Don Miguel del Carpio.

From his own utterances and those of his friend and biographer,Montalvan, we know that genius developed early with him and that hedictated verses to his schoolmates before he was able to write. Inschool he was particularly brilliant and showed remarkable aptitude inthe study of Latin, rhetoric, and literature. These school days wereinterrupted once by a truant flight to the north of Spain, but atAstorga, near the ancestral estate of Vega, Lope, weary of the hardshipsof travel, turned back to Madrid.

Soon after he left the Colegio de los Teatinos, at about the age offourteen, Lope entered the service of Don Jerónimo Manrique, Bishop ofÁvila, who took so great an interest in him that he sent him to thefamous University of Alcalá de Henares, where he seems to have spentfrom his sixteenth to his twentieth year and on leaving to have receivedhis bachelor's degree. The next five years of his life are shrouded inconsiderable obscurity. It was formerly believed, as related byMontalvan, that he returned from the University of Alcalá to Madridabout 1582, was married and, after a duel with a nobleman, was obligedto flee to Valencia, where he remained until he enlisted in theInvincible Armada in 1588, but recent research[1]has proved the case tobe quite otherwise. It would seem that, on leaving the University about1582, he became Secretary to the Marqués de las Navas and that for fouror five years he led in Madrid a dissolute life, writing verses andfrequenting the society of actors and of other young degenerates likehimself and enjoying the favor of a young woman, Elena Osorio, whom headdressed in numberless poems as "Filis" and whom he calls "Dorotea" inhis dramatic romance of the same name. In the latter work he

relatesshamelessly and with evident respect for truth of detail many of hisadventures of the period, which, as Ticknor says,

"do him little creditas a young man of honor and a cavalier."

In the light of the recent information cited above, we know also thatLope's career immediately after 1587 was quite different from what hiscontemporary Montalvan had led the world long to believe. In the Proceso de Lope de Vega por libelos contra unos Cómicos, it is shownthat the poet, having broken with

"Filis," circulated slanderous verseswritten against her father, Jerónimo Velázquez, and his family. Theauthor was tried and sentenced to two years' banishment from Castile andeight more from within five leagues of the city of Madrid. He began hisexile in Valencia, but soon disobeyed the decree of banishment, whichcarried with it the penalty of death if broken, and entered Castilesecretly to marry, early in 1588, Doña Isabel de Urbina, a young womanof good family in the capital.

Accompanied by his young wife, hedoubtless went on directly to Lisbon, where he left her and enlisted inthe Invincible Armada, which sailed from that port, May 29, 1588. Duringthe expedition, according to his own account, Lope fought bravelyagainst the English and the Dutch, using, as he says, his poems writtento "Filis" for gun-wads, and yet found time to write a work of eleventhousand verses entitled la Hermosura de Angélica. The disastrousexpedition returned to Cadiz in December, and Lope made his way back tothe city of his exile, Valencia, where he was joined by his wife. Therethey lived happily for some time, the poet gaining their livelihood bywriting and selling plays, which up to that time he had written for hisown amusement and given to the theatrical managers.

Of the early literary efforts of Lope de Vega, such as have come downto us are evidently but a small part, but from them we know something ofthe breadth of his genius. In childhood even he wrote voluminously, andone of his plays, El Verdadero Amante, which we have of this earlyperiod, was written at the age of twelve, but was probably rewrittenlater in the author's life. He wrote also many ballads, not a few ofwhich have been preserved, and we know that, at the time of hisbanishment, he was perhaps the most popular poet of the day.

The two years following the return of the Armada, Lope continued to livein Valencia, busied with his literary pursuits, but in 1590, after histwo years of banishment from Castile had expired, he moved to Toledo andlater to Alba de Tormes and entered the service of the Duke of Alba,grandson of the great soldier, in the capacity of secretary. For hisemployer he composed about this time the pastoral romance Arcadia,which was not published until 1598. The remaining years of hisbanishment, which was evidently remitted in 1595, were uneventfulenough, but this last year brought to him a great sorrow in the death ofhis faithful wife. However, he seems to have consoled himself easily,for on his return to Madrid the following year we know of his enteringupon a career of gallant adventures which were to last many years andwhich were scarcely interrupted by his second marriage in 1598 to DoñaJuana de Guardo.

Aside from his literary works the following twelve years of the life ofLope offer us but little of interest. The first few years of the periodsaw the appearance of La Dragontea, an epic poem on Sir FrancisDrake, and Isidro, a long narrative poem on the life and achievementsof San Isidro, patron of Madrid. These two works were followed in 1605by his epic, Jerusalén Conquistada, an untrustworthy narration of theachievements of Richard Cœur-de-Lion and Alfonso VIII in the crusadeat the close of the twelfth century. Lope left the service of the Dukeof Alba on his return to Madrid, or about that time, and during the nextdecade held similar positions under the Marqués de Malpica and the Condede Lemos, and during a large part of this period he led a more or lessvagabond existence wherever the whims of his employers or his owngallant adventures led him. About 1605

he made the acquaintance of theDuque de Sessa, who shortly afterwards became his patron and socontinued until the death of the poet about thirty years later. Thecorrespondence of the two forms the best source for the biography ofthis part of Lope's career. From 1605 until 1610 he lived in Toledo withhis much neglected wife, of whom we have no mention since their marriagein 1598. But in 1610 they moved to Madrid, where Lope bought the littlehouse in what is now the Calle de Cervantes, and in this house the greatpoet passed the last quarter of a century of his long and eventful life.

The next few years following this return to the capital were madesorrowful to Lope by the sickness and death of both his wife and hisbeloved little son, Carlos Félix, in whom the father had founded thefondest hopes. Then it was that Lope, now past the fiftieth year of hisage, sought refuge, like so many of his contemporaries and compatriots,in the protecting fold of the Church. Before the death of his wife hehad given evidence of religious fervor by numerous short poems and inhis sacred work, los Pastores de Belén, a long pastoral in prose andin verse relating the early history of the Holy Family. Whether Lope wasinfluenced to take orders by motives of pure devotion or by reasons ofinterest has been a question of speculation for scholars ever since histime. From his works we can easily believe that both of these motivesentered into it; in fact he says as much in his correspondence with theDuque de Sessa. Speaking of this phase of the poet's life,Fitzmaurice-Kelly says: "It was an ill-advised move. Ticknor, indeed,speaks of a 'Lope, no longer at an age to be deluded by his passions';but no such Lope is known to history. While a Familiar of theInquisition the true Lope wrote love-letters for the loose-living Duquede Sessa, till at last his confessor threatened to deny him absolution.Nor is this all: his intrigue with Marta de Navares Santoyo, wife ofRoque Hernández de Ayala, was notorious." But later, speaking of thosewho may study these darker pages of Lope's career, he adds: "If theyjudge by the standards of Lope's time, they will deal gently with amiracle of genius, unchaste but not licentious; like that old Dumas,who, in matters of gaiety, energy and strength, is his nearest moderncompeer." We may say further that Lope, with no motive to deceive orshield himself, for he seems to have almost sought to give publicity tohis licentiousness, was faithful in the discharge of his religiousoffices, evincing therein a fervor and devotion quite exemplary. Yetneither does his gallantry nor his devotion seem to have ever halted hispen for a moment in the years that succeeded his ordination. Hisdramatic composition of this period is quite abundant and other literaryforms are not neglected.

Two interesting incidents in the poet's life are never omitted by hisbiographers. They are the beatification, in 1620, of San Isidro and hiscanonization, two years later, with their accompanying poet "jousts," atboth of which Lope presided and assumed a leading rôle. Before this timehe was known as a great author and worshiped by the element interestedin the drama, but on both these occasions he had an opportunity todeclaim his incomparable verses and those of the other contesting poets,revealing his majestic bearing and versatility to the great populace ofMadrid, his native city. He was thereafter its literary lion, whose veryappearance in the streets furnished an occasion for tumultuousdemonstration of affection.

The last decade of the life of Lope de Vega saw him seeking no rest orretirement behind the friendly walls of some monastic retreat, butrather was it the most active period of his literary career. Well may wesay that he had no declining years, for he never knew rest or realized adecline of his mental faculties. He did not devote by any means all histime to his literary pursuits, but found time to attend faithfully tohis religious duties and to the cares of his home, for he had gatheredabout him his children, Feliciana, Lope Félix and Antonia Clara, ofwhom the last two and Marcela, in a convent since 1621, were the giftedfruit of illicit loves. In 1627 he published his Corona Trágica, along religious epic written on the history of the life and fate of Mary,Queen of Scots. This work won for him the degree of Doctor of Divinity,conferred with other evidences of favor by Pope Urban VIII. Three yearslater appeared Lope's Laurel de Apolo, a poem of some seven thousandlines describing an imaginary festival given on Mount Helicon in April,1628, by Apollo, at which he rewards the poets of merit.

The work isdevoted to the praise of about three hundred contemporary poets. In 1632the poet published his prose romance, Dorotea, written in the form ofdrama, but not adapted to representation on the stage. It is a veryinteresting work drawn from the author's youth and styled by him as "theposthumous child of my Muse, the most beloved of my long-protractedlife. "[2]

It is most important for the light it sheds on the early yearsof his life, for it is largely autobiographical. Another volume, issuedfrom the pen of Lope in 1634 under the title of Rimas del licenciadoTomé de Burguillos, contains the mock-heroic, La Gatomaquia, thehighly humorous account of the love of two cats for a third.Fitzmaurice-Kelly describes this poem as, "a vigorous and brillianttravesty of the Italian epics, replenished with such gay wit as sufficesto keep it sweet for all time."

Broken in health and disappointed in some of his fondest dreams, thegreat poet was now rapidly approaching the end of his life. It isbelieved that domestic disappointments and sorrows hastened greatly hisend. It would appear from some of his works that his son, Lope Félix, towhom he dedicated the last volume mentioned above, was lost at sea thesame year, and that his favorite daughter, Antonia Clara, eloped with agallant at the court of Philip IV. Four days before his death Lopecomposed his last work, El Siglo de Oro, and on August 27, 1635, aftera brief serious illness, the prince of Spanish drama and one of theworld's greatest authors, Lope Félix de Vega Carpio breathed his last inthe little home in the Calle de Francos, now the Calle de Cervantes. Hisfuneral, with the possible exception of that of Victor Hugo, was thegreatest ever accorded to any man of letters, for it was made theoccasion of national mourning. The funeral procession on its way to thechurch of San Sebastian turned aside from its course so that the poet'sdaughter, Marcela, might see from her cell window in the convent of theDescalzadas the remains of her great father on the way to their lastresting-place.



The theater of the Golden Age of Spanish letters occupies a positionunique in the history of the theaters of modern Europe, for it ispractically free from foreign influence and is largely the product ofthe popular will. Like other modern theaters, however, the Spanishtheater springs directly from the Church, having its origin in theearly mysteries, in which the principal themes were incidents taken fromthe lives of the saints and other events recorded in the Old and the NewTestament, and in the moralities, in which the personages were abstractqualities of vices and virtues. These somewhat somber themes in timefailed to satisfy the popular will and gradually subjects of a moresecular nature were introduced. This innovation in England and Francewas the signal for the disappearance of the sacred plays; but not so inSpain, where they were continued several centuries, under the title of autos, after they had disappeared in other parts of Europe.

The beginnings of the Spanish secular theater were quite humble and mostof them have been lost in the mists of time and indifference. Therecognized founder of the modern Spanish theater appeared the same yearColumbus discovered the New World. Agustín Rojas, the actor, in his Viaje entretenido, says of this glorious year: "In 1492, Ferdinand andIsabella saw fall the last stronghold of the Moors in the surrender ofGranada, Columbus discovered America, and Juan del Encina founded theSpanish theater." Juan del Encina was a graduate of the University ofSalamanca and lived at the time mentioned above in the household of theDuke of Alba at Alba de Tormes. It was here that, before selectaudiences, were first presented his early plays or Églogas. The playsof Encina, fourteen in number, were staged and constitute the modestbeginnings of a movement that was to develop rapidly in the next twodecades. A contemporary of Juan del Encina, Fernando de Rojas,published in 1498 his famous dramatized romance, La Celestina, which,while it was not suited for representation on the stage, was a work ofgreat literary merit and had remarkable influence on the early drama.About the same time a disciple of Juan del Encina, Gil Vicente, foundedthe Portuguese theater and made notable contributions to Spanishletters, for he seems to have written with equal facility in the twoidioms. Perhaps the greatest dramatic genius of the period, BartoloméTorres Naharro, while he wrote in Spanish, passed the greater part ofhis life in Italy, where he published at Naples in 1517 an edition ofhis plays entitled Propaladia. He, first of Spanish authors, dividedhis plays into five acts, called jornadas, limited the number ofpersonages, and created a plot worthy of the name.

For almost half a century after the publication of the Propaladia theSpanish theater advanced but little, for this was the period when CarlosQuinto ruled Spain and kept the national interest fixed on his militaryachievements, which were for the most part outside of the peninsula. Butabout 1560 there flourished in Spain probably the most important figurein the early history of the national drama. This was the Sevilliangold-beater, later actor and







representations before this time were doubtless limited in alarge measure to select audiences in castles and courts of nobleresidences; but Lope de Rueda had as his theater the public squares andmarket-places, and as his audience the great masses of the Spanishpeople, who now for the first time had a chance to dictate the trendwhich the national drama should take. In his rôle of manager andplaywright Lope de Rueda showed no remarkable genius, but he began amovement which was to reach its culmination and perfection under theleadership of no less a personage than the great Lope himself. Betweenthe two Lopes there lived and wrote a number of dramatic authors ofdiverse merit. Lope de Rueda's work was continued by the

Valencianbookseller, Juan de Timoneda, and by his fellow actors, Alonso de laVega and Alonso de Cisneros. In this interim there took place a strugglebetween the popular and classic schools. The former was defended by suchauthors as Juan de la Cueva and Cristóbal de Virués, while the latterwas espoused by Gerónimo Bermúdez and others. The immortal Cervanteswrote many plays in this period and claimed to favor the classic drama,but his dramatic works are not of sufficient importance to win for him aplace in either party. Thus we find that in 1585 Spain had a divideddrama, represented on the one side by the drama of reason and proportionfashioned after Greek and Roman models, and on the other a looselyjoined, irregular, romantic drama of adventure and intrigue, such as

wasdemanded by the Spanish temperament. Besides the defenders of theseschools there was an infinite variety of lesser lights who wrote allsorts of plays from the grossest farces to the dullest Latin dramas.Before taking up the discussion of the works of the mighty genius whowas to establish the popular drama, it is well to give a brief glance atthe people who presented plays and the places in which they were given.

As has been already observed, the dramas of Juan del Encina and hisimmediate successors were probably presented to limited audiences. It isnot improbable that parts were often taken by amateurs rather than bymembers of regular troupes. However, at an early date there were manystrolling players who are classed in the Viaje entretenido in no lessthan eight professional grades: (1) The bululú, a solitary strollerwho went from village to village reading simple pieces in public placesand living from the scanty collections taken among the audience. (2) The ñaque, two players, who could perform entremeses and play one or twomusical instruments. (3) The gangarilla, group of three or four actorsof whom one was a boy to play a woman's part. They usually played afarce or some other short play. (4) The cambaleo was composed of fivemen and a woman and remained several days in each village. (5) The garnacha was a little larger than the cambaleo and could representfour plays and several autos and entremeses. (6) The bojiganga represented as many as six comedias and a number of autos and entremeses, had some approach at regular costumes, and traveled onhorseback. (7) The farándula was composed of from ten to fifteenplayers, was well equipped and traveled with some ease. (8) The compañía was the most pretentious theatrical organization composed ofthirty persons, capable of producing as many as fifty pieces andaccustomed to travel with dignity due the profession. Of still greatersimplicity were the theaters where these variously classified actorsgave their plays. In the villages and towns they were simply the plazaor other open space in which the rude stage and paraphernalia weretemporarily set up. Quoting from Cervantes, Ticknor says of the theaterof Lope de Rueda: "The theater was composed of four benches, arranged ina square, with five or six boards laid across them, that were thusraised about four palms from the ground. The furniture of the theaterwas an old blanket drawn aside by two cords, making what they called thetiring-room, behind which were the musicians, who sang old balladswithout a guitar." In the larger cities such simplicity cannot beexpected in the later development of the theater, for there the interestand resources were greater. In this respect Madrid, the capital, may beconsidered as representative of the most advanced type. In that city theplays were given in corrales or open spaces surrounded on all sides byhouses except the side nearest the street. By the beginning of theseventeenth century these corrales were reduced to two principalones—the Corral de la Pacheca (on the site of the present TeatroEspañol) and the Corral de la Cruz, in the street of the same name. Thewindows of the houses surrounding these corrales, with the adjoiningrooms, formed aposentos which were rented to individuals and whichwere entered from the houses themselves.

At the end farthest from theentrance of the corral was the stage, which was raised above the levelof the ground and covered by a roof. In front of the stage and aroundthe walls were benches, those in the latter position rising in tiers. Onthe left hand