Castelvines y Monteses (Cosens)/Introduction

Castelvines y Monteses  (1869)  by Lope de Vega, translated by F. W. Cosens


MR. J. O. Halliwell kindly lent to me some time since a copy of "Romeo and Juliet, a Comedy written by that celebrated Dramatic Poet, Lopez de Vega, contemporary with Shakespeare, and built upon the same story on which that greatest Dramatic Poet of the English Nation has founded his well known Tragedy: London, printed for William Griffin, at Garrick's Head in Catherine Street, Strand; 1770" [Price 1s.]. 8vo. Pp. 30.

Knowing something of Lope de Vega's "Castelvines y Monteses," I was interested to learn how the anonymous translator had treated his original; upon referring to the text I found that, in addition to the alteration of the name of the play, the dramatis personæ had all been rechristened, so that Castelvines were printed Capulets, and Monteses, Montagues, the Roselo Montes of Lope de Vega, Romeo Capulet, and Julia Castelvin Juliet Montague; further examination resulted in the discovery that the translator, "To render his work more familiar to the English reader, has printed it under the title of the English Play, from which it scarcely differs in anything except the catastrophe and some scenes that have no manner of connection with the main subject; these scenes indeed occur frequently, and for that reason the editor has not translated the Spanish comedy from beginning to end, but contented himself with giving a general plan of Lopez de Vega's piece and a translation of such scenes only as answer to others in Shakespeare's tragedy."

Here follows a specimen of the "general plan":—

"These two old gentlemen, the heads of the Capulet faction, come forward and declare they should both be charmed to see their children smitten with each other, because they propose to make a match between them. Things don't succeed quite to their mind; Octavio falls in love with Juliet, but Juliet does not like Octavio, and contents herself with returning him a polite answer."

Lope's poetry is thus treated:—


"Did you remark that young gentleman who talked to me? What a charming youth, my dear Celia, and how happy must the woman be who attaches him to her?"

Such appearing to me eminently unsatisfactory, and a very traitorous rendering of the original, I have attempted a more faithful translation of the complete play.

To those interested in Shakespeariana it may be of value to note how two great contemporary dramatists treated the same story for the stage. It is to be regretted that the work has not been undertaken by other than an amateur hand, being worthy a better fate, but unfortunately the fact remains that it could never prove commercially profitable to a competent translator or publisher. I have chosen the best available text, that of Don Juan Eugenio Hartzenbusch, a most carefully collated edition, and published by Rivadeneyra in his Biblioteca de Autores Españoles, Madrid, 1860.

F. W. C.

Thornton Road,
Clapham Park,
March, 1869.