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A study of country life in the province of Santander in the works of José Mará de Pereda

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A Thesis
Presented to
the Faculty of the Department of Spanish
The University of Southern California
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Arts
Evelyn 'Winifred Weldon
June 1940
UMI Number: EP65405
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UMI EP65405
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This thesis, w ritten by
u n d e r the d i r e c t i o n o f h . 3 T F a c u l t y C o m m i t t e e ,
a n d a p p r o v e d by a l l its m e m b e r s , has been
presented to a n d accepted by the C o u n c i l on
G r a d u a t e S t u d y a nd Research in p a r t i a l f u l f i l l ­
m e n t o f the re q u ire m e n ts f o r the degree o f
D ean
F aculty C om m ittee
Chairm an
B i o g r a p h y .................
Simplicity in l i v i n g ...........
Peasants and poverty ........................
W o m e n .....................................
Modern innovations ..........................
Critical e s t i m a t e ............................
R e a l i s m .......................
D e s c r i p t i o n .....................
Physical characteristics
S e t t i n g ...............
Female characters
Love of native l o c a l i t y ......................
The i n d i a n o .................................
The jandalo...................................... 49
The hidalgo .
.................................. 53
The .patriarch . . . .
.......................... 60
The peasant ...................................... 64
The m i s e r .................
CUSTOMS AND D I V E R S I O N S ............................ 73
Fairs and m a r k e t s.............................. 73
La r o b l a ......................................75
H a r v e s t ........................................76
The deshoja.................................... 77
La c a bana...................................... 80
Religious customs................................ 82
La r o m e r l a .................................... 82
Romerla del C a r m e n .....................
. •
Fiesta de San J u a n ...........
Fiesta de San R o q u e ............................ 92
Good F r i d a y .................................
Social c u s t o m s .................................. 96
General types of diversion
The t e r t u l l a .................................. 98
La m a g o s t a ................................... 103
Christmas festivities
. 105
RELIGION.......................................... 123
In the h o m e ..........
Attitude toward d e a t h .....................
R o s a r y ........................................ 125
Belief in power of p r a y e r .................... 127
Religious superstition ......................
Attitude toward p r i e s t s .........
C O N C L U S I O N S ...................................... 133
Tiie purpose of this thesis is to present a study of
some of the aspects of country life in the province of
Santander as exemplified in the novels and essays of Jos6
Maria de Pereda.
Pereda’s own life, spent largely in
Santander and the mountain town of Polanco, kept him in
intimate touch with both the sea-folk and the rustics about
whom he wrote.
In Polanco he lived the life of a country
gentleman, enjoying his association with the peasants, but
remaining an aristocrat.
In describing the people, characteristics have been
selected which appear to be more or less general, and which
are at the same time marked or peculiar to the region, such
as their stoicism and their love for their own districts.
Outstanding types which have been presented are the indiano,
and the j&ndalo, returned fortune-hunters from America and
Andalusia respectively; the hidalgot or grandee whose wealth
has diminished but not his pride; the patriarch, a benign
father who is the backbone of many a town; and the honest,
God-fearing peasant, whom complacent society likes to consider
Many of the customs and diversions are centered about
farming, the chief occupation of the district.
Some of those
described are the harvest on a large estate, a husking-bee,
and a cabana, a communal enterprise, where the stock is
gathered together and driven to higher pastures when the feed
below is exhausted.
Examples of the customs connected with
the church are a typical romerla, or pilgrimage to a shrine
at a distance from the town, which is of the nature of an all­
day picnic.
The importance of the patron saint of a town has
been shown, and the elaborate ceremonies celebrating his
feast day have been presented.
The appearance of a group of
penitents bearing huge crosses at a Good Friday devotion is
an unusual sight.
Outstanding social customs in Pereda1s
works are the tertulia, or regular gathering in some kitchen
or store to exchange ideas, courting, weddings, and funerals.
There are interesting descriptions of a magosta, or chestnut
roast, and a Christmas Eve feast.
Some of Pereda*s ideas that seem significant are the
contrast between the wholesomeness of country life and the
artificiality of life in Madrid; his love and admiration for
the simple, untutored peasant; his attitude toward women; his
objection to the inroads of civilization in his pastoral dis­
trict; his antipathy for politics; and his deep reverence for
his religion.
Jose Maria de Pereda y Porrua was born in Polanco, a
small town in the province of Santander, in 1833.**" His mother
was a woman of high ideals and lofty tastes.
She read a great
deal from the works of Santa Teresa, Father Rivadeneira, and
other religious and classic authors, the result being that her
letters and her language were unusually pure.
was of a high type and very pious.
His father, too,
This peaceful home was a
fine example of noble customs and charitable deeds, and doubt­
less served as Pereda’s model when he described the homes of
some of the patriarchs in his works, such as don Roman Perez
de la Llosia, in Don Gonzalo Gonzalez de la Gonzalera.
brother of his mother became a member of a preaching order in
Returning, he went to France, where he became so
fluent in French that he preached in that language also, gain­
ing an enviable reputation as an orator.
Jose Maria was the last of the twenty-two children in
the family, of which nine survived.
The second son, Juan
Agapito, went to America and made enough money to save the
^ Marcelino Menendez y Pelayo, and others, "Biografia
de Pereda,,f in Jose Maria de Pereda, Obras Completas (tercera
edicion; Madrid: Libreria General de Yictoriano Suarez, 1922)
XVII, 309 ff.
family from a financial crisis.
He took a great interest in
the young Jos6 Maria, and insisted that the family move to
Santander when the boy was old enough to attend school.
later Juan Agapito returned from America, he repaired the old
family home at Requejada, where he lived the life of a gentle­
man farmer, doing a great deal to improve conditions among
the peasants.
After attending school in Santander, Jos£ Maria was
sent to Madrid to prepare for the military training school at
At first the boy resisted the invitations of his
companions to attend the theatre and applied himself diligently
to his studies.
Soon, however, he began to follow the example
of his friends and every night he was to be found at the
theatre and caf6s.
He devoted a great deal of time to read­
ing all the plays and novels he could acquire.
Although he
seemed to be enjoying himself immensely, after two years he
suddenly became homesick, abandoned the idea of a military
career, packed his things in haste, and retired to Santander.
His stay in Madrid had given him a hatred for corrupt politics,
which he was to express later ih: his novel, Pedro S&nchez, and
an interest in newspaper writing, which brought forth his first
literary effort.
A couple of years after his return to Santander, Pereda
found himself affiliated with a group of his former schoolmates,
who urged him to write.
His first venture was a sketch for a
journal then being published in Santander, called La Abeja
He continued writing similar articles, and in
I864 published the collection called Sscenas Montafiesas. Dur­
ing this first epoch he wrote many more cuadros de costumbres.
He went to Madrid as a representative at Parliament, where he
became completely disillusioned with politics and decided to
retire to Polanco.
Only the pleas of his good friend Men6ndez
Pelayo kept him from abandoning his literary career at that
He wrote a few plays which were unsuccessful, but his
sketches were making him famous.
Pereda*s continued success gave him impetus to work
more diligently than ever, and he was soon in the field of the
novel, El Buey SueIto, published in 1878, placing him in a
class with the great novelist P§rez Gald6s.
During this
period he wrote five of his long novels, one of them, Pedro
Sdnchez, ranking with the best in modern Spanish literature.
He was now at the height of his talent and wrote his
best novels, Sotileza, a story of the fisher-folk of Santander;
Penas Arriba, dealing with the peasants in the mountains; La
Puchera, a happy combination of the sea and the land; and
In 1898 he was admitted to the Academia Hspahola, and
in 1903 he received the cross of Alfonso XII.2
in Polanco.
2 Ibid., XVII, 363
He died in 1906
Simplicity in living*
Pereda spent most of his life
in the Montana because he loved the country and the simplicity
of the customs.
He never traveled outside of Spain, but he
had read a great deal about other countries, and felt that no
place in the world could be more beautiful than Santander:
Yo no he visto las noches del B6sforo, ni las de
Mpoles, ni otras cien noches m&s que los poetas
melenudos y los touristas de hoy han hecho celebres
en los teatros, libros y salones; pero si he observado que en todos y cada uno de esos euadros fant&sticos y encantadores entran, eomo elementos componentes,
los que ahora estamos admirando: . . .
De donde yo
deduzco que en Venecia, en N&poles 6 en Gonstantinopla,
podrd haber noches podticas hasta donde td quieras,
pero no m&s que las de Santander.3
In a large city like Madrid, one is lost in the crowd,
while in the mountains he is a distinct personality.
cided Marcelo after his return to Madrid.
So de­
". . . qu6 soy yo,
qu6 represento, qud papel hago, qu§ pito toco en medio de
estas masas de gente?’*^
The city does not lend itself to the contemplative life
as does the country, and one’s experiences depend upon how much
one reflects, rather than upon the variety of things seen.
3 Jos§ Maria de Pereda, "Pasa-Calle," Obras Completes.
VI, 4S9.
^ Josd Maria de Pereda, "Penas Arriba,w Obras Completes,
XV, 619.
. . ♦ la experiencia del mundo no consist© en
el ntimero de eosas que se han visto, sino en el
ndmero de cosas sobre que se ha reflexionado; . . .5
The country is more meaningful than the city with all
its confusion; M. . ♦ dice mucho menos la ciudad con sus
estruendos, que la agreste naturaleza con su meditabunda
Those who have never smelled the hay in the fields,
nor seen the breeze blowing the bright skirts and kerchiefs
of the women as they toil, nor heard the rustling of the corn­
stalks and the singing of the reapers have missed a great
Peasants and poverty. Although he was an aristocrat,*
Pereda understood and admired the working people.
He loved
the simple, honest peasants who lived their life without show
or pretense.
In order to harmonize with their background they
should remain rustic and untutored, he thought.
As soon as
they tried to be like city people they lost their charm.
of his best characterizations are these quaint peasants, whom
he describes with real warmth of feeling.
He says of Pachin
Gonz&lez, "Pachin, por mozo, por inteligente, y por blando y
5 Jos6 Maria de Pereda, "De Tal Palo Tal Astilla,"
Obras Completas, IV, 12A.
6 Ibid-, IV, 121.
7 Pereda, "Pachin Gonz&lez," Obras Completas. VIII, 129.
noble de corazbn, aunque inculto aldeano, . . ."8
He de­
scribes a young girl who meets her sweetheart one warm evening
of fall: "Ella joven, suelta de movimientos, vestida de percal
y sin m&s adorno ni abrlgo en la cabeza que una eabellera
negra y abundante, graeiosamente peinada; . . .
He had no sympathy with those who tried to climb to a
higher social level.
Seldom did he permit one of his charac­
ters successfully to accomplish that.
In nearly every case
the ambitious one encounters only rebuffs and heartaches for
his pains, and decides that he is much better off in the
society to which he was born,
Eon Gonzalo Gonzdlez de la
Gonzalera is a long novel devoted largely to that theme.
Gonzalo is an indiano who gives evidence of having acquired
money and a certain amount of finish, but even the better
class peasants refuse to accept his hospitality.
In El Sabor
de la Tierruca, Nisco, a peasant boy, has been a playmate of
Pablo, the only boy in the upper circle in the town.
gets the idea that he can marry Pablo’s sister, but is advised
of the utter folly of attempting to span the gulf which lies
between the two families.
Pablo tells him,
Td, con tu chaqueta, tus rizos y tus labranzas, con
el hacha en la raano 6 bailando en el corro en mangas
de camisa, eres un mozo como no hay otro en estos
8 Ibid., XVII, 66.
9 Pereda, "Pasa-calle," Obras Completas. IV, 470.
lugares; pero 6chate encima de repente una levita y
arrimate k una sehora, y hasta los muchachos te correr&n;
porque todo esto que has aprendido y antes no sabias,
si te levanta mucho sobre los de tu condici6n, te deja
todavia k cien leguas de lo que pretendes.l°
Honest poverty is no drawback if people accept it as
their lot.
Children should be told that they are poor, and
then they will not covet wealth:
Ser pobre y honrado es la mayor de las virtudes; y el
pueblo, para ser virtuoso, aecesita, antes que derechos
y titulos pomposos que le ensoberbezcan, pan que le
alimente y fe que le resigne al trabajo.ll
The really unfortunate ones are those who are poor and have
to try to conceal it, as do many of the impoverished grandees
who have a title or family name to live up to.12
Pereda pre­
ferred the sight of a hovel in the brambles to that of a
crumbling old mansion, unhappy symbol of former grandeur:
"♦ ♦ . iQ,u6 tristes son en una aldea esos vie jos testimonios
de fenecidas prosperidades campestresJ"13
He thought the sight of a group of happy peasants sing­
ing at their work or making merry at a spinning-bee was more
beautiful than a masterpiece painted by Ooya or Theniers.
1° Jos& Maria de Pereda, "El Sabor de la Tierruoa,"
Obras Completas« X, 193.
H Jos§ Maria de Pereda, "Arroz y gallo muerto," Obras
Completas, V, 345.
12 j0s§ Maria de Pereda, "Pedro Sdnchez," Obras
Completas» XIII, 6.
13 pereda, "HI Sabor de la Tierruca," Obras Completas.
X, 91-92.
ellas vienen exhibi£ndose millares de bellezas vigorosas, de
ingenios peregrines, de tipos y escenas que hubieran envidiado,
para su gloria, los pinceles de Goya y de Theniers; . . .*•14
Fereda disliked the middle-class people because he
said they were dissatisfied with their own station in life and
were constantly trying to imitate the aristocracy n. . . clase
media que, por horror innato & su propia mediania, vive en
perpetuo remedo aristocratico; • . •
Women* He liked simple, modest women who spent their
time in the home performing housewifely duties, never attempt­
ing to use any talent they might possess in other ways.
praises dona Mtirta in ge Tal Palo Tal Asti 11a for this quality:
Cierto, ciertisimo, que la ti.ltima de los Rubtircenas
tenia mucho talento, y evidente y comprobado que no lo
mostrti jamtis elevtindose k las cumbres de la filosofia,
ni k otras alturas en que las mujeres se hacen ridieulas,
y se marean muy k menudo los hombres, sino bajtindose k
los prosaicos pormenores de la vida dom^stica.1®
The women men wish to marry are not the ones who dress up in
showy clothes and parade the streets, but the modest girls who
stay home and cook and sew and never go out except when abso­
lutely necessary.
^4 j0s§ Maria de Pereda, *A1 amor de los tizones,*' Obras
Completas, VI, 403.
ibid., VI, 39516 pereda, "De Tal Palo Tal Astllla," Obras Completas.
IV, 118, 119.
. • . es de las ma&res que ereen . . . , que los hombres
cuando tratan de easarse, no se fijan en las mujeres si
6stas no se les meten k todas horas por los ojos; que
prefieren una ehiea pizpireta y vana, muy emperejilada
y oompuesta en la call©, aunque en casa no tenga pan
que comer ni camisa que ponerse, k una joven modesta,
que sepa coser y no saiga k la ealle mks que lo puramente preciso.i?
He could not understand how women, ordinarily so modest,
could tolerate what they did while dancing.
Here men hold them
closely, squeeze^ them, even step upon them without causing of­
. . . , pues, contando con la agitaci6n y la bulla
de la fiesta, no es posible establecer un limite k los
puntos de contacto ni amohonar el cuerpo para decir al
hombre: aqui no se toea.18
He pondered over whether, if he had a wife and daughters, he
would ever permit them to dance.119
Modern innovations.
Pereda was very conservative and
regretted the inroads modern civilization was making in his
idyllic Montana.
In several instances his characters bewail
the advent of the locomotive.
. . . invadi^ronnos aquellas y otras tales en alegre
y regoeijado tumulto; huy6 de las arboledas el pastoril
y rdstico caramillo; y las virgenes comarcas sometiSronse
al imperio del invasor trashumante, que, sin imprimirlas
Jose Maria de Pereda, rtEl buen pano en el area se
vend©.w Obras Completas. VI, 108-109.
Josk Maria de Pereda,,,1tEsbozos y rasguhos,w Obras
Completas, VII, 107.
Ibid., VII, 110.
la cultura de que §1 alardea, les quit6, eon la tranquilidad que era su mayor bien, euanto de pintoresco y
atractivo eonservaban: el amor & sus costumbres indigenas,
el color de localidad, el sello de raza.20
He hated to see the old customs disappear— the parading around
the plaza in the evening, the women looking in shop windows at
night, the girls singing as they returned from the fountain
balancing a jug of water on their heads,
Cuando atim cree distinguir mi vista en lontananza
los hombres y las cosas que se van, despues de haber
pasado entre ellos los mejores afios de mi vida, no
es dado a mi coraz6n negarles un earifioso adi6s de
He had no use for politics because he felt
there was so much farce and corruption.
He said that laws
which were made to promote justice could be misinterpreted
until they actually favored the criminal.
evil the ttmal nuevo.f,22
He called this
Parliament was a farce: "— Es una
Aqui no hay mis que ambiciones personales, con
las que es imposible todo gobiernp.—
He thought it a grave mistake for city politicians to
attempt to introduce government reforms in the Montana where
20 Pereda, 'Pedro S&nchez," Obras Completas, VIII, 14*
21 Pereda, ”Pasa-calle,11 Obras Completas, VI, 467.
22 Pereda, "Penas Arriba,” Obras Completas, XV, 279 ff.
23 Jos6 Maria de Pereda, "Los hombres de Pr6," Obras
Completas, I, 170.
their old patriarchal rule had always been so successful.
Laws should be made to conform with the customs and life of
the district.
The laws of Madrid would not be good in the
mountain towns.
The gentleman of Provedano said,
T6mate, en el concepto que m&s te plazea, lo que en
buena y estricta justicia te debemos de nuestra pobreza
para levantar las cargas comunes de la patria; pero
dejanos nuestros bienes eomunales, nuestras sabias ordenanzas, nuestros tradicionales y libres concejos; en
fin (y diciendolo k la modo del dia), nuestro autonomia municipal, y Cristo con todos.^4
Pereda was a devout Catholic, and in his
works the church is always shown in a favorable light.
many cases he brings out the fact that only their faith keeps
these people happy when earning a livelihood is so difficult.
There can be no real happiness on earth without religion.
The setting of most of Pereda1s works is the province
of Santander in northwestern Spain, referred to by the author
as the Montana.
This is the most northerly province of
Castilla la Vie3a, and lies on the Cantabrian Sea between
Oviedo and Vizcaya.
Throughout Spain’s stormy history it has
undergone many changes of rule, boundary, and title; and only
since 1806 has it been a separate province with the city of
24* Pereda, "Feftas 'Arriba,” Obras Completas. XV, 259.
Santander as its capital.
The 174 kilometers of coastline are broken by many
estuaries, promontories, capes, and bays, Santander being
beautifully situated on the largest of these.
Small islands
and reefs add to the picturesqueness of the scene, but afford
no protection against the sudden and violent storms which
batter the coast in winter.
The many coves provide excellent
bathing beaches, and summer finds many visitors from Madrid
and other metropoli crowding the resorts.
Pereda describes the ruggedness of a part of the
coastline in La Puchera:
iLabor de titanes! Brimero, el penasco abrupto,
recio y eompacto de la costa. Alii k golpe y mks
golpe, contando por cdmulos de siglos la faena, se
abri& al fin ancho boquete, irregular y dspero, como
franqueado k empellones y embestidas. Al desquiciarse
los penascos de la ingente muralla, algo cay6 hacia
afuera que result6 islote mondo y escueto, y m6s dd<
otro tanto hacia dentro, en dos mitades casi iguales,
que vinieron k ser k modo de contrafuertes & esconzados de la enorme brecha.2°
The province is entirely mountainous, for the Cantabrian
cordillera, really a branch of the Pyrenees, is a series of
mountains rather than a single range.27
Many of the peaks at­
tain a great height, and their tops are lost in the clouds.
Encyclopedia Universal Ilustrado. LIV, 202-203.
2^ Jos§ Maria de Pereda, t?La Puchera,** Obras Completas,
XI, 5.
27 Enclclopedia Universal Ilustrado» XI, 22.
Lo qu© habia entre la loma d© estecerro y el ©spacio
limitado por las Penas d© Europa, no era posible descubrirlo, porque lo bajo quedaba oculto por ©1 cerro, y lo
alto me lo tapaba una neblina qu© andaba cerniendose en
jirones. de quebrada ©n quebrada y de boquete en bo­
quete. 2°
Some of tiie lower valleys are broad and fertile, pre­
senting a pastoral scene for an artist to reproduce.
variety of crops are raised, cattle graze on the slopes, and
the many streams are full of fish.
. . . ,
surcada de
siempre lo
una extensa vega de praderas y maizales,
regatos y senderos: aqu611os arrastr&ndose
por las hdmedas hondonadas: estos buscando
firme en los seeos altozanos.29
While the scenery in the higher sections is more inspir­
ing, earning a livelihood presents a greater problem.
valleys are narrow, and the little farms often lie tilted on
a steep slope.
ITinter comes early, and the task of feeding
the cattle when snow lies on the ground is often a hard one.
Traveling over the narrow trails which existed in Pereda1s
time is hazardous, especially in winter.
Life in these towns
is a simple affair, earning a bare living requiring most of
the time and energy of all but a very few who own more profit­
able property in other places.
A contrast between the valleys and the highlands is
admirably drawn in Pehas Arriba:
28 Pereda, HP e M s Arriba,” Obras Completas, XV, 41-42.
29 Pereda, ”E1 Sabor de la Tierruea,” Obras Completas,
X, 25-26.
€&lld,--me decia,— la llanura abierta, los campos
amenos, el sol radiante, los frutos, las flores, la
6gloga, el idilio de la vida; aqui’la bravura salvaje,
la lobreguez de los abismos, el silencio mortal de la
soledad; alii, el hombre, rey y sefior de la tierra
fertil; aqui, siervo infeliz, sabandija miserable de
sus riscos escarpados y de sus moles infecundasJMO
The best works of Jose Maria de Pereda are his pictures
of life and customs in the small mountain towns and the seacoast about Santander.
He knew and loved everything about his
native province— the landscape, the people, the history, the
traditions, the customs, and thus was well fitted to embody
in his own work the change from articulo de costumbres to
He n ^ e d to contrast the beauty and peace of a patri­
archal village in the Montana with the corruption and falsity
of a big city.
Several of his characters go to Madrid to at­
tend school as he himself had done, and are unhappy and home­
sick for the Montana.
The political novel, Pedro S&nchez, is
not as realistic as those written about the country folk.
regional is Pereda that even his rustic characters lose their
charm when they become a bit urbane or attempt to step out of
their social class.
3° Pereda, f,Pefias Arriba,” Obras Completas. XV, 42-43*
^ George Tyler Northup, An Introduction to Spanish
Literature, p. 368.
His style is particularly well suited to this genre
since he excells in description and dialogue, while plot is
of secondary importance.
Much of his work consists of articles,
hut even some of the novels are little more than a series of
pictures loosely hound together by plot.
Pereda did not have
to resort to any particular literary devices or excess phrase­
ology, since a natural, unaffected style is entirely in keep­
ing with his subject.
To quote one of his critics, his style
is "natural, rohusto, colorido, vivo, sin el menor amaneramiento
de escritor
e r u d i t o . " 3 2
He made no study of writing, his only
teachers being the Spanish classics and nature itself.
Pereda is more realistic than other "costum-
bristasft in that he does not conceal any of the harshness or
ugliness to be found in the section he pictures.
He has been
criticized for this as being disloyal to the Montana.
It hurt
him to be accused of such a fault, and in the prologue to
Tipos % Paisajes he answers by saying that he merely copies
nature, and nature is not perfect:
Retratista yo, aunque indigno, y esclavo de la verdad,
al pintar las costumbres de la Montaha, las copi6 del
natural; y como este no es perfect©, sus imperfecciones
salieron en la c o p i a . 3 3
32 Julio Gejador y Frauca, Historia de la lengua y
literature castellana, p. 312.
33 jos6 Maria de Pereda, "Tipos y Faisajes," Obras
Completas. Prologue, VI, 7.
He had no liking for "fingidas arcadias,** where peasant char­
acters and rustic scenes are idealized and their language
He had the rare ability to depict simple people
naturally, yet clothe them in fantasy, as Perez Gald&s so
aptly expresses it:
. . . aquella admirable destreza para reproducir lo
natural, aquel maravilloso poder para combiner la verdad
con la fantasia y aquella forma llena de vigor y hechizo,
He breaks away from convention by introducing the com­
mon people and their speech into literature and making them
appear admirable.
It is for this ability that Pereda is con­
sidered a realist:
. . . tratando de Pereda, todos dirdn undnimes que es
realista; pero muchos negar&n, y yo con ellos, que deba
eontdrsele entre los naturalistas, por mds que algunos de
sus procedimientos de trabajo se asemejan k los que emplea
y preconiza la novfsima e s c u e l a . 3 5
His success in using the language of the mountaineers placed
Pereda among the more realistic writers.
As his great admirer,
Pdrez Gald6s, says,
Si no poseyera otros
nombre en primera linea
troduciendo el lenguaje
fundidndolos con arte y
retdricos mks eminentes
mdritos, bastaria k poner su
la gran reforma que ha hecho, inpopular en el lenguaje literario,
conciliando formas que nuestros
consideraban incompatibles.36
34 Benito Pdrez Gald&s, in the prologue to Peredafs
HB1 Sabor de la Tierruca,** Obras Completas, X, 7.
33 Marcelino Mendndez y Pelayo, in the prologue to
Pereda*s ^Los Hombres de Pr6,fl Obras Completas, I, lxvii.
36 Pdrez Gald&s, op. cit., pp. 10-11.
his very best.
In the realm of description Pereda is at
His picture of the lofty mountains and the
majestic panoramas could only be written by one who is himself
inspired, as his beloved character Father Sabas is in Pefias
Arriba, Mendndez y Pelayo praises his descriptive powers as a
, . , tesoro de lengua, no con afectada y mecaniea
correecidn, sino con toda la riqueza, gala, harmonia, y
color del habla de nuestra Montana, pasada por el tarniz
de un gusto privilegiado aunque amante siempre de lo mds
Through the eyes of Marcelo, a city youth who has never
been any closer to the mountains than Santander, he pictures
the magnificent view from the top of a peak.
To the south lies
the beautiful Camp6o valley, the Castilian plains, and the
lonely, bare monoliths of the Puerto de Marras.
To the west
are the amazing peaks of Peha Sagra and the Picos de Europa,
separated by the Deva River.
Beyond can be seen a section of
To the north and the east the vista appears infinite;
and like a wide blue girdle at the horizon lies the Cantabrian
Sea, the peaceful bay of Santander to the right, and the small
islands dotting the irregular shoreline.
sparkles like diamonds.
The sun on the water
19A todo esto, el sol, hiridndolo con
sus rayos, sacaba de las superficies de aquellos golfos, rias,
y ensenadasj, haces de chispas, como si vertiera su luz sobre
Mendndez y Pelayo, op. cit.. p. Ixvii.
llanuras empedradas d© diamantes.
After a snowstorm the view is completely changed*
mountains appear three times as high, all sharp lines have
been rounded off, familiar landmarks have been obliterated:
Parecia que las montahas del contorno habian triplicado su altura, y la unidad de color de todas eilas con
la redondez de formas que les daba la acumulacidn de la
nieve sobre sus naturales y bruscas asperezas, cambiaba
& mis ojos todos los t^rminos y todas las lineas del
panorama que tan conoeido me era. . . . Arboledas, senderos, canadas, todo habia desaparecido, 6 debajo de la
nieve. 6 por los engahos de la luz sin claro— obscuro;
• • •
One valley described by Mareelo is a vast plain plagued
with scabs and tumors.
The huge piles of stones are like
loathsome warts on an immense, leprous skin.^
The immensity of the landscape appealed to the author.
He frequently uses the words huge, titanic, gigantic, colossal,
and vast.
A trail between rocky cliffs seems to be the result
of the crumbling of a colossal wall built by titans to reach
heaven: "Esta salida era la resultant© de algo asi como desmoronamiento de una colosal muralla construlda por titanes para
escalar nuevamente al cielo.”^
He tells of a defile between
two mountains which are so huge that they seem not to fit in
38 Pereda, ”Fenas Arriba,” Obras Completes, XV, 195*
39 Ibid., p. 395.
4-° Ibid., pp. 43-45.
Ibid., p. 48.
this world.
Two immense mountains united at the base are
like gigantic twins.
toward the west.
Pena Sagra extends its "lomos eolosales”
The Picos de Furopa are "enormes" and touch
the very heavens.43
In his descriptions Pereda appeals to the various
senses, especially to the auditory.
He brings out the gran­
deur and the solitude by emphasizing the silence: "tenian por
complement© de su grandiosidad y hermosura el silencio imponente y la augusta soledad de las salvages alturas de mi
observatorio. "44
The church bells toll for funerals, fiestas, weddings,
and other services.
In "La Hoguera de San Juan,** this sound
is an important element in the description.
Then comes the
din of ,firecrackers, children shouting, people singing, musi­
cians playing.^
In the church on Good Friday, one can hear the priest
chanting, the people saying the stations of the cross, coins
dropping on the plate.46
quently mentioned.
The sound of wooden shoes is fre­
They make a great clatter on church floors
42 Ibid., p. 191.
Ibid* > P* 41.
44 Ibid., p. 197.
4 5 Pereda, "De Tal Palo Tal Astilla," Qbras Gompletas.
IV, 335 ff.
46 Pereda, "Pachin Gonzdlez," Qbras Completes, XVII, 288.
and paving stones.
People sing and yell as they work and
The markets are a hubbub of a multiplicity of noises—
sellers calling their wares, customers bargaining, buyers
trying out bells and instruments, animals making their various
Barking dogs and howling children announce the arrival
of a newcomer in town.
Music accompanies every festival,
rivers roar in their canyons, the thunder reverberates through
the valleys, the wind howls in the trees, and the dry husks of
the corn rustle like paper as the dew dries in the heat of the
He uses color skillfully in description.
The field is
a tapestry of greens in geometric patterns.
HI cual tapiz era un complete muestrario de verdes
formado con retazos geometricos de todas las formas
imaginables, zurcidos en el rads caprichoso desorden:
el verde seco de los prados sin segar; el pajizo de los
recidn segados; el aterciopelado jugoso, en variedad de
matices, de las hfimedas regatadas; el verde sucio de los
bardales; el gris de las mimbreras que festoneaban a
trechos los regatos . . . hasta el negro lustroso de los
maizales, algo menos intenso en las alturas que en las
hondonadas. V7
The sun pours torrents of color on the landscape: "El
sol esplendoroso derramaba sobre el paisaje torrentes de color
y de vida; . . ."4-8
The sky is a scene of rosy color at twi­
light ". . . y fud perdiendo el cielo las tintas sonrosadas
4*7 ibid., pp. 128-129.
4*® Pereda, "De Tal Palo Tal Astilla," Qbras Completas,
IV, 229.
del crep&seulo . . . . ”^9
Fiestas and markets are always a riot of color, costumes
of the people, the decorations of the panderetas. the array of
merchandise, the sunlight through the trees.
The light made
by the flames of the bonfire on St. John’s Eve gave rich color­
ing to the surrounding people and objects.
The church is be­
decked with colored paper and ribbons for fiestas.
are dressed in gay robes and shawls.
The statues
The peasant’s fiesta
dress is an array of many bright hues.
Because of this use of color and life in his descrip­
tions, as well as for the subjects he chooses, Pereda has been
compared to the great painters of Spain.
”Cada novela de
Pereda es una galeria de cuadros: paisajes, escenas, y
r e t r a t o s . ”5°
Because of using popular, colorful subjects, he is called the
C d n t a b r o , ”51
his realism.
and is compared to Yel&squez because of
Of his description of the bonfire for the St.
John’s day celebration, Men^ndez y Pelayo says, ”La luz de
aquella hoguera era la luz de Rembrandt.”^2
49 Ibid. , p. 338.
50 Cgsar Barja, Libros y autores modernos (Madrid:
Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, 1924), p. 355*
53- Jos§ Montero, Pereda: glosas £ contentarios de la vida
Z il®. los libros del ingenloso hidalgo montan§s (Madrid ? Imprenta
del Institute Hacional de Sordo mudos y de ciegos, '1919), p. 3.
52 Men6ndez y Pelayo, op. cit., p. lxvii.
Second only to his descriptions are Pereda1s
He successfully uses the quaint dialect of the
*tmontaneses,t and their expressive interjections and idioms.
He never employs the poetic language of the pastoral, but the
strong, earthy language which matches the characters.
It has
been described as a ". • . torrente de lengua no aprendida en
los libros sino sorprendida y arrancada de labios de las
gentes; . . .
The conversations between Garpio and Gori6n, grave
peasants in Don Gonzalo Gonzdlez de la Gonzalera, are always
They take their simple affairs very seriously and
have long discussions, each one mentioning the others name
in nearly every speech.
— Di tu sentir, Gorio, que yo no te encultare el
mio • • •
— Pues, ya que te empenas, digote, Carpio, que, de
tres dias acd, no sd de qud mano viene el viento, al
auto de conocer & los hombres.
— <Diceslo, G-orio, por esas voces que han salido de
la taberna?
— Andando, Carpio. . . .54
Si 8abor de la Tierruca. Catalina uses very vigorous
language on Hisco, her erstwhile suitor, who has jilted her to
try to marry in a social class above him.
She accuses him of
53 Ibid., p. lxxix.
54 Josd Marid de Pereda, *Don Gonzalo Gonzdlez de la
Gonzalera,” Qbras Completas, III, 226-227.
putting on airs:
**— iSube, sube, que chimeneas mas altas ban
c a i d o i M 55
Dozens of examples of spirited and convincing dialogue
can be cited.
The speeches between 11 Lebrato and his son
and between La Galusa and her nephew in La Fuohera; those of
Macabeo and don Sotero in De Tal Palo Tal Astilla, are only a
few of the outstanding ones.
ffemale characters. Except for his peasants and fisherwomen, Pereda*s female characters conform more or less to his
standards for women.
They are religious, modest, and obedient
to the mandates or wishes of the men of the family.
Thus they
are all more or less alike and lack the warmth and individuality
of the masculine characters.
Pereda seems to understand the
nature of the lower class women, for Sotlleza and Pilara are
good delineations, but Agueda, In6s, Magdalena, and the others
of the upper class lack the personality to make them remembered
as characters, although they are the type of women whom Pereda
should have known best.
Pereda was at first acclaimed a great novelist, perhaps
the greatest since Cervantes, but time has placed him in the
ranks as primarily a
Although he is still
very popular in his own region, modern readers would find it
55 pereda, ”11 Sabor de la Tierruca,” Qbras Completes,
rather monotonous to read through the lengthy descriptions
and masses of detail.
He will probably always be read by
those who love Spain.
Barja, 0£. cit. , p. 375*
The montaneses described in the following pages are
those who live in the remote mountain villages.
Since they
have little contact with the outside world, their customs,
speech, and appearance have remained unchanged through the
Such is not the case with the inhabitants of the larger
towns and cities, where opportunities for education and travel
are greater; therefore they tend to be more or less like the
people of any other Spanish city.
No attempt to analyze them
in detail has been made, but several characteristics which
figure prominently in Pereda1s works have been selected in
this paper.
The people in Pereda’s Montana are a splendid physical
type, perhaps one of the best and purest to be found in all
This is due in great part to the strenuous physical
activity the country demands as well as to the simplicity of
their diet and customs.
A visitor, impressed by them, remarks,
La raza es de lo m&s sano y hermoso que he conocido en
Espaha, y yo creo que son partes principalisimas de ello
la continua gimnasia del monte, la abundancia de la leche
y la honradez de las contumbres pdblicas y domesticas.
1 Jos6 Maria de Pereda, f1Pehas Arriba,11 Qbras Completes,
XV, 140. Since all the works cited in this chapter are by
Pereda, and are included in the same set, only the name of the
story and the volume and page number will be cited hereafter.
They are short and stocky, and robustness is a desir­
able characteristic in
women as well as in men, for they too
work in the fields.
youngman prefers to marry a plump,
husky girl.
Speaking of Pilara, Quilino says,
. . . iaquella robustez de carnes y aquel mirar de ojos
... y aquellos...J iRecongrio, c6mo me gustan a mi las
mozas grandes y de gtiena colorJ »Mealampo, congrio, me
alampo por ellasJ Y cuanto mis grandes, mejor que mejor
Blue eyes and fair skins predominate, and the simplicity
and monotony of their life has made them all look and act more
or less alike.
In one town all the young men wear red under­
shirts and the older ones green ones.
shavfls crossed exactly alike.
The women wear similar
Their faces bear the same ex­
pression of mildness and slight surprise, as if the grandeur
of the scenery kept them in constant wonderment.
. . . ; todos y todos andaban, hablaban y se movian con la
misma parsimonia, y en todas las caras, viejas y. juveniles,
se notaba la misma expresibn de bondad con cierto matiz de
sobresalto, como si la visi6n de las grandes moles a cuya
sombra viven aquellas gentes, las tuviera amendrentadas y
The environment also fosters bravery.
Marcelo, a blasi
Madrileno visiting his uncle in the Montana, accompanies a
party on a bear hunt and is amazed at their fearlessness.
2 La Puchera, XI, 106.
3 Penaa Arriba. XV, 137-138.
entrance to the bear’s cave is reached by a narrow ledge
jutting out over a sheer precipice.
Marcelo is trembling with
fear, but the mountaineer, Chisco,
says that all that is neces­
sary is to remain calm.
importante era que no le
,f. . . lo
faltara & nadie la serenidad; en teniendola todo lo dera&s
corria de cuenta de 61.
Pepazos goes forth in a snowstorm to recover some mares
which have run away into the high mountains.
It is a very
dangerous and even foolhardy errand, but he is confident in
his ability to combat the elements.
”. . . ; pero era, tras
de poco avisado, muy terco, nada aprensivo y confiadoeon exceso en su robustez de encina; . . . ”5
Bravery and heroism are so common that they cause little
Pito rescues Chisco from a ledge in the mountains
where a fierce gust of wind hasswept him and rendered him un­
pect it.
No one even praises him, nor does he appear to ex­
That he only did what any friend would have done
him seems to be his attitude:
. . . , y veia, por dltimo, al noblote Pito Salees volando
por los aires y jug&n&ose la vida en aquel arranque brutalmente sublime, por el intento solo de salvar la de su
amigo, que de seguro hubiera heoho una barbaridad id6ntica
por 61; . . .6
> P* 373.
^ Ibid., p. 397.
^ Ibid., p. 432.
These people are happy to work hard, and prove their
mettle when they leave for the Indies to make their fortunes.
"De lo cual se deduee que la honradez, la eonstaneia y laboriosidad de un montahes, son tan grandes como su
a m b i c i 6 n . w7
The amusing thing is that hardships agree with them
better than does a life of ease.
couple suddenly acquire wealth.
One happy, hard-working
They quit work and lie around
on stacks of mattresses eating and drinking all the rich foods
and wine they can find.
Gradually they lose their strength
and sensibilities and finally die in their beds.?
Certain characteristics are more or less general among
the people of the Montana. regardless of background or educa­
Of these none seemed to Pereda deeper nor more wide­
spread than their love for their own locality.
is considered a requisite of a true montanes.
In fact this
"Como buen mon-
tahAs, sentia muy vivo en su pecho el santo amor A la patria."9
Many live and die without even setting eyes on their capital,
Those who do leave for one reason or another return
some time if possible, if only in time to die at home.
7 "A las Indias," Escenas Montanesas. V, 7S.
8 "Para Ser Buen Arriero," Tipos % Paisajes. VI, 49 ff.
9 "Dos Sistemas," Tipos £ Paisajes, VI, 19.
Celso, although well enough off to have traveled, has been to
Santander only four times in his whole life*
He has not been
more than two leagues away from Tablanca twelve times.
away, he enjoys neither food nor sleep.
Out of sight of the
mountain peaks to which he is accustomed, he sees no beauty in
the scenery.
Even the ocean seems insignificant compared with
his own broad valley.
He tells his nephew,
!fLa verdad, Marcelo, • . . cada uno k lo suyo, y eon
su cada cual . . . . hay en este valle gentes que se oaen
de viejas sin haber salido de el mks alia de lo que corre
de una alendd un perro con asma. Y se morir&n tan satisfechas eomo si murieran de jartura del mundo que tti conoces: igual que ha de pasarme k mi en el dia de mahana."10
Nor is don Celso the only one whose mood changes com­
pletely when he is away.
Pablo Prezanes is a bright, energetic
lad in Cumbrales, but when he goes to Madrid to attend the
University, he becomes dull and listless, and trembles before
the professors.
On the streets he seems preoccupied and goes
along bumping into people and walking into carriages.
confusion sicken him.
At inns he is stifled.
The noise
He drops off to sleep at the theatre.
His thoughts are always on Cumbrales—
the oak tree under whose branches he used to sit, the bench,
all the scenes he knows and loves so well.
He can picture all
the activities taking place as the various seasons roll around.
He tells his friend that the longer he is away, the more desir­
able home becomes.
tt. . . , lo tengo yo metido en el alma, con
10 ffcnas Arriba, XV* 10A
la rara condici6n de que cuanto mis me alejo de ello, mis
hermoso lo veo. . . .
Neluco Oelis has also gone to Madrid to study.
He and
Marcelo have quite an argument as to which offers more satis- .
faction, the big cities or the mountains.
Beluco grants that
the theatres, restaurants, and Casino have their place, but
one can not live a full life with only those things.
not provide for the spiritual life.
They do
The mountains with their
simple, rustic people are a better place to live in.
Man can
never equal nature in the art, poetry, and music which are all
about one in the mountains.
• . . , encuentro yo cada dia, cada hora, cada momento,
el himno sublime, el poema, el cuadro, la armonia,insuperables, que no se han escrito, ni pintado, ni compuesto, ni sohado todavia por los hombres, porque no
alcanza ni alcanzard jamds d tanto la pequenez del ingenio: el arte supremo, en una palabra. . . .12
Don Pedro Nolasco spends two long years in Madrid and
Valencia, but he becomes so homesick that he has to return to
the Montana.
There he remains feeling like a king in a palace,
and intending never to set foot out of the town again. ^
Frovedano lives a well-educated old hidalgo who has written
many books of great erudition.
He has studied the history of
the Montana as far back as the eleventh century.
Si Babor de la Tierruca, X, 3&.
12 Penas Arriba, XV, 159.
13 Ibid., XV, 183-184.
He has
written many scholarly and critical articles for newspapers
and magazines, all praising and honoring his province, ,f. . .
, todos ellos enderezados al bien y a la mayor gloria de la
provincia, . . .
Sometimes the peasants are forced to go to other prov­
inces in the slack season to augment their meagre income, but
their only interest away lies in the business for which they
have gone*
Although they remain for months, their mode of
and dress never changesin theslightest, ff. . .
si s61o tuvieran
ojos y coraz&nparaver
ysentir el terruho
Don Lope, hidalgo in Don Gonzalo» has never left his
native valley.
His greatest delight is to climb a mountain,
sit on a ledge overlooking the river, smoke, and throw sticks
into the torrent below.
He loves tramping over the trails,
and only a cloudburst can keep him indoors.
Bon Silvestre is a conservative hidalgo.
He decides at
the age of forty to take his first trip to Madrid.
There he
meets with only disillusionment, for he keeps comparing the
capital with the Montana.
He goes to the zob, and opines that
his own back yard contains as much of interest.
At the Retiro
Ibia., XV, 250.
15 Ibid., XV, 139-140.
Don Gonzalo Gonzdlez de la Gonzalera,
III, 75 ff*
he can find neither shade nor grass to equal that of his vil­
The Prado is as barren as the Sahara.
He decides
Madrid is only an illusion.-**7 He visits Parliament, and when
he compares the reviews in the newspapers with the actual
speeches, he says that if his town only had a good editor, it
would have fine orators too.
**— iC&scarasi— dijo,— pues con
un buen redactor, tambi^n habria oradores en el ooncejo de mi
Don Sabas, the saintly priest of Tablanca, is inspired
by the grandeur of the mountains.
In a tertulia he is any­
thing but brilliant in his speech; in church he is a bit more
expansive; but in the heights of the mountains he really fj-nds
His whole body seems to be lifted by the contempla­
tion of nature.
"Aquel su modo de saborear la naturaleza que
le circundaba, hinch6ndose de ella por el olfato, por la vista
y hasta por todos los poros de su cuerpo; . . .
The most uncultured of peasants has the same fierce
love for the Montana.
Chisco, servant of don Celso, tells
Marcelo that the valley he lives in is little less than heaven
w. . . Por dltimo, ya verd lo que es el nuestru vayi; y si no
r,Suum Quique,” Escenas Montanesas, V, 213-214.
18 Ibia., V, 213.
19 Penas Arriba. XV, 132-133.
le paez puntu menos que la gloria, no se yo lo que sea cosa
Like the majority of more or less primitive people, the
Montaneses in Pereda*s works are very superstitious, and know
dozens of charms and signs.
They believe in fortune tellers,
witches, quacks, and ghosts.
The waxing and waning moon plays
a great part in affairs, as does the time of cutting one*s
Certain numbers and days are lucky.
If one sees a weasel in the attic he must say at once,
M. . . villeria, Dios te bendiga de noche y de dla,** or his
cattle would be killed.21
Fortune tellers are held in high
repute, because, as don Baltasar says, **. . . porque nunca
fallaba la palabra de una adivina, cu&nto m&s la de dos.”22
The spirits of the dead often return to give counsel.
Elias reports numerous visits from the ghost of his sister.
She beckons him out of his bed at night and leads him out to
the spot where a pirate*s treasure is hidden.
She tells him
not to try to find it, as it is not destined for him.2^
20-Ibid.. XV, 46.
21 La Puchera. XI, 68.
22 Ibid., XI, 178.
2? Ibid., XI, 167 ff.
The people in Ferojales believe the heretic Peharrubias
to have come from the infernal regions, since he and his ret­
inue have appeared suddenly in a fierce lightening storm.24
When he leaves town rather abruptly a month later, they be­
lieve that the devil has carried him away again.
Many years
later his son comes back to occupy the family home.
He is a
doctor, and performs experiments with fowls and animals.
is witchcraft, and many tales are whispered about unGanny
happenings in the big house.
Strange lights are seen in the
Once a green ray escapes and reaches to the bell
tower of the church, whence the bats fly out puffing as if
they have been summoned to a meeting.
Strange noises are
heard above the din of the chickens and dogs.
These things,
plus the damning fact that he is a professed heretic, prove
beyond doubt that he is a devil.
He has been given the hated
nickname t,Pateta,n which is worse than the name of Satan him­
No one knowing his reputation would dream
services, for this would be contrary to the laws of
ofasking his
A quack is often called for illness in preference to a
medical doctor.
Some of the practices theyuse are
Don Baltasar, in La Puchera,
calls one in when his wife is
2© t&l ^Q-lo tal Astilla, IV, 65-66
Ibid., IV, 79-80.
26 La Puchera, XI, 75 ff.
First she makes a potion of lizards* tails and horse­
flies fried in oil and puts it into a tea made with rue.
is strained through a blanket which has been used over and
over again, and allowed to settle for two days and nights.
The patient is given a pint and a half of this loathsome
beverage before breakfast, and another pint between dinner
and supper.
Another treatment given by a
saludador 1 is to
exhale into the patient’s mouth and nostrils, breath laden
with the odor of onions and aguardiente, a powerful liquor.
Another quack makes Cruz sit up while she stands behind her
with her knee against her back and pulls her shoulders back
forcibly until her bones creak and she cries out in pain.
Then the quack poultices her chest and back, and orders her
to lie absolutely prone for fifteen days.
By far the most malicious practice in their supersti­
tion is that of attaching the name of witch to some old woman.
Sometimes the person is a derelict who can hope for little
respect or mercy in her old age, but very often the victim is
a good and virtuous soul whom poyerty and misfortune have
rendered ugly and perhaps eccentric.
These women live a life
of real martyrdom.
In an article entitled "Las Brujas,*1^
called "La Mirue11aft is described.
a good woman
The number of evil qualities
"Las Brujas," Tipos £ Baisajes, VI, 147 ff*
she is supposed to possess is amazing.
She belongs to a band
who meet every Saturday night from twelve until dawn.
gather around a hawthorne bush and are presided over by the
devil himself in the guise of a goat.
The conclave is for
the purpose of reporting on all their evil business of the
week, making plans for the week to come, and receiving powders
and instructions for further mischief.
tional broomsticks.
They ride the tradi­
Before taking off, they rub themselves
with a black oil and repeat the following magic words:
Sin Bios y sin Santa Maria,
ipor la chimenea arribaJ2#
Being possessed of the devil, as they all are, La
Miruella smells of sulphur.
Even the grapes in her yard taste
of it, and if Christians eat them they forthwith burst.
a cow becomes sick, it is because she has touched it with her
stick when passing on a narrow street.
She is to blame when
cattle get loose, and stables are subsequently daubed pro­
fusely with crosses to break the evil spell.
A young girl be­
comes ill shortly after having been seen to leave La Miruella’s
There is no doubt that she is bewitched.
If a dog
howls at night, the witch is calling someone from his grave.
She causes husbands to become drunkards and mistreat their
She sucks people’s blood while they sleep.
28 Ibid., VI, 177.
casts a spell on little children and they become afflicted
with sore eyes.
She puts a curse on pregnant women.
cites family quarrels.
She in­
She causes thunderstorms and droughts.
In short, she is responsible for every evil or misfortune
which occurs.
There are many charms against the evils of these witches.
Some people wear garlic or wild olive about the neck in a lit­
tle bag.
The sight of a crucifix or the sign of the cross
causes a witch to retreat in defeat, as does the name of Jesus.
Even the vicinity of her dwelling is dangerous, and no one
ventures to pass her house nor touch her belongings.
"La R&mila," in El Sabor de la Tierruca,^9 ^as been in
good circumstances, but after her husband dies, she can not
support herself.
She takes up her abode in an abandoned shack
which she rarely leaves except to go to church or to the home
of the family who supply her with money to live on.
She be­
comes thin, bent, and toothless; and then she acquires the
name of witch.
Like "La Mirue11a," she is blamed for all the misfor­
tunes of the town.
Tablucas, a superstitious peasant, tells a
fantastic story which has everyone in town afraid to step out
at night for weeks.
He says that one night he had heard a
loud knock at the door, and a voice at the keyhole saying,
El Sabor de la Tierruca, X, 103 ff•
Whoever goes out this night or tries to find out who is
knocking will die."30
and peeked out*
He had climbed up to an attic window
On the garden wall he saw a huge white dog,
which must have been "ella mesma*"31
Even the bravest youths in town are afraid to pass by
the street after hearing about this apparition, and go blocks
out of their way to avoid the vicinity.
The frightened
family put crosses on the windows and doors during the day,
and at night they tremble with fear.
Even some of the neigh­
bors lock themselves in "por si acaso."32
are under suspicion, lest one be La Mmila.
All unknown dogs
Ho one else ever
sees the dog on the wall, but none doubt the story, for several
report other phenomena in the locality.
At last Tablucas sum­
mons enough courage to take a shot at the object.
The next
morning some branches of a shrub are found lying on the street,
but there is no evidence of a dog.
The day before this epi­
sode, some rogues had administered a severe beating to La
so the marks-seen upon her person constitute ample
proof that she was the dog, and that Tablucas had hit his
30 Ibid., X, 162.
31 Ibid., X, 164.
32 I S M * « X, 228.
This reference is to the fourth
One day a quarrel among some young men develops into a
serious brawl.
Not even the priest is able to stop it, and
many people are being hurt.
ing La R&mila.
Finally someone thinks of blam­
She has begun it, so only she can stop it.
delegation rushes to her hut.
They threaten to drag her to
the scene of the fight if she doesn’t put a stop to it.
poor woman has to think fast.
In desperation she tells them
to go back and she will stop the fight.
If she does;not, she
says, they can do with her as they please.
get sufficient time to escape.
Thus she hopes to
The men comply, and the ele­
ments fortunately save the poor old woman.
A terrific storm
comes up, dispersing the crowd forthwith, and proving that
the witch has used her magic once
A so-called witch in La Puchera, called Ttha Hurci6gala,
dies of a beating.
against disease.
The people have considered her proof
They think she was killed by other witches
out of resentment, because mortal hands would have been in­
capable of rendering such treatment as she has received.34
33 Ibid., X, 339 ft.
3** La Puchera, XI, 393.
A type which creates great excitement in the villages
of the Montana, and one appearing frequently in the works of
Pereda, is the indiano, an adventurer who has gone to the
Indies to seek his fortune.
He always reappears with pomp
and ceremony, displaying either real or feigned wealth.
Nearly all the young boys have an ardent desire to follow his
Stories of privations and dangers seem only to
whet their appetite, and they will willingly set off to
America in a boat made of a lemon peel, each confident of. be­
ing the fortunate one to "strike it rich.11
Don Apolinar
goes to Cuba, and struggles thirty years
to amass enough money to make the proper showing upon his
Treinta ahos pas6 en la obscuridad de un ronoso tugurio
sin aire, sin descanso, sin libertad y mal alimentado, con
el pensamiento fijo constantemente en el norte de sus
^ Jos§ Maria de Pereda, "Dos Sistemas, Tipos % Paisajes
Qbras Completas, VT, 17.
Since all the works cited in this chapter are by
Pereda, and are included in the same set of volumes, only the
name of the story and the volume and page number will be cited
Andres is a lad fired with the desire to go to the
His parents consult an indiano, who gives the boy-
scant encouragement.
Seeing that his parents are determined
to send him anyway, he agrees to write a letter of recommen­
dation, and guarantees the payment of the boy’s passage.
family sell their corn hurriedly and at a loss to buy the
necessary equipment; they would have parted as gladly with
the bed and even the home if it had been necessary.
On the day the ship is to sail a scene of great commo­
tion awaits them at the dock: the activity of loading provi­
sions for a long trip, sailors getting the ship ready, over
a hundred youths leaving their family and friends.
hilaration of the adventure has now given place to sadness.
Many are weeping as they bid parents and friends goodby,
realizing that they might never meet again.
Like many another
fond mother, Andres’mother makes haste to inspect the quarters
her son is to occupy on the ship.
She is shocked when she sees
the place he is to sleep in, and rushes tearfully to the cap­
tain with the last bit of money she possesses, begging a better
berth for her son.
The sympathetic captain calms her apprehen­
sion by telling her what he tells every mother who confronts
him with the same plea.
As soon as they are out to sea, he
will see that Andres has a place in the first cabin, ^nd she
heaves a sigh of relief.
The final farewell is necessarily sad.
Even the stolid
father has tears streaming down his face, and the heartbroken
mother is too full of emotion to speak.
But with a strength
born of a life of hardship, they bear up stoically, and wave
the ship out of sight,
A1 perderla de vista no cay6 la pobre aldeana exdnime
sobre las losas del Muelle, porque Bios ha dado & estas
criaturas una fuerza y una fe tan grandes como sus infortimios.2
Ant6n de Brezales^ worked six years as a clerk to save
enough to go to America,
For fifteen years he labored there
to accumulate some money, with
and turned it into a fortune.
which he gambled successfully,
He returns to his home town in
the Montana, the possessor of ships, plantations, stocks— in
faet everything in the shape of worldly goods he can wish for.
He is the envy of every poor person in town.
He can have any
political position that he wishes, even that of mayor.
But the fact remains that he is horribly uncultured.
He knows nothing of music, therefore dislikes it.
pletely ignorant of literature.
He is com­
He subscribes to three maga­
zines in Madrid, but reads none of them.
His ambition is to
be great, and he loves to know people from Madrid.
Ho one in
town is good enough to marry his daughter, because she has had
2 !tA las Indias,** Escenas montahesas, Y, 953
Bubes de Hstio, XV, 52 ff.
and comfort.
His house is extremely showy, but lacks taste
Pereda describes him as "el tipo de la vulgari-
dad enriquecida . . . vulgar de pelo y de orejas, y de pies,
y de bigotes, y de espaldas, y de ojos, y de ropa . .
Don Apolinar is forty-five before he has accumulated
fifty thousand dollars in America.
After contemplating the
situation from all angles, he decides to return to Santander,
where he can invest his money and be a person of importance.
In Cuba he charters a ship, loads it with sugar and coffee,
and makes a safe and speedy crossing, fifty days then being
record time.
He makes his appearance in the garish style of
indianos— black frock coat, trousers and vest of white drill,
patent leather shoes, Panama hat, gaudy silk kerchief at the
neck, and a heavy gold chain across his
His choice of cargo has been a fortunate one,
sugar and coffee can be sold in Santander at his own price.
He receives a royal welcome, is admitted to the "best" houses,
and is greeted enthusiastically by the general populace.
is thenceforth referred to as "el indiano del azdcar."^
After a visit to his home town, where he dispenses much
largesse, he settles in Santander and begins to seek a proper
^ Ibid., IV, 52.
5 »Dos Sistemas,” Tipoa
6 Ibid., VI, 22.
Paisajes. VI, 21.
wife to share his fortune♦
Marrying an "indiano rico” is
quite the thing to do, so he has no trouble in securing a
beautiful girl for a spouse.
This matter settled, he turns
his thoughts to the business of buying and selling.
He is
extremely conservative, and for the most part supervises all
transactions personally.
Don Apolinar is only one of many such inhabitants of
These indianos are as a rule simple, uncultured
men, though noble in character and quite canny in business.
They are
. . . indianos mds 6 menos antiguos; sencillos en sus
gustos, vulgares en sus formas, afanosos, pero nobles,
en su profesi6n, ricos easi todos, e ignorantes sin
casi, como se dejaba ver en la sencillez primitive de
la poblaci6n cuyo sosten y principal objeto eran ellos
Sometimes these wanderers remain in America until they
are very old, but they never lose the urge to return to the
old country to spend their last years.
A long-forgotten
indiano is the uncle of Paula, in "Para Ser Buen Arriero.”^
He suddenly appears at his niece’s home simply but richly
dressed, and impresses his simple countrymen by his dress, his
speech, his manner, and his recklessness with money.
nEs fino
7 Ibid., VI, 22.
"Fara Ser Buen Arriero," Tipos jr Paisajes, VI, 55-
d© habla y noblote en su genial, y maneja ochentines como
Don RomualdolO is the talk of the town because there
is so much mystery connected with him*
He has suddenly ap­
peared from nowhere, and has taken half a floor at the finest
His age is baffling.
Some aver that he is over fifty,
others think him quite young.
Within fifteen days of his ar­
rival he knows everyone in town, but makes a point of asso­
ciating only with the village dandies.
tatious appearance.
He makes a very osten­
He has a luxurious coach for grand
occasions and a two-wheeled runabout for ordinary usage.
owns a beautiful silver-mounted harness.
He rides a trotter,
using a Mexican saddle and costume, although the customary
habit in Spain is the European.
He loves to show off his
horsemanship before a crowd, dropping his hat and recovering
it at full gallop.
For walking he sports a great variety of
fancy frilled shirts.
finest quality.
His suits are of drill or wool of the
He has dozens of watches and chains and rings,
different ones for every occasion.
In dressing for a formal
affair, he concentrates his efforts on his waistcoat: n. . .
era, como si dij6ramos, su plaza p&blica adoquinada con
9 ^ i d .. ¥1, 55.
10 Booetos al Temple, VIII, 184 ff.
11 Ibid., VIII, 184.
No one can ascertain for certain where he was born,
but he says that all the world is his homeland.
At times he
admits that he is from a poor family in an aldea of the
He is loud in speech and laughter, and his accent
is that peculiar to Mexicans.
a local girl within a year.
He boasts that he will marry
This statement causes the great­
est of furores, because it is very much the vogue to marry a
rich indiano.
The theater is packed when he is present.
Certain masses hitherto unpopular become crowded if it is
known that don Romualdo is to be there.
The walks are fre­
quented at so-called unfashionable hours if he takes a fancy
to stroll then.
In due time he settles his attentions upon a certain
girl named Enriqueta, who is probably the one girl in town in­
dependent enough to spurn him.
He dresses in his finest clothes
and drives past her house fourteen times.
This failing to bring
her to her window, he arrays himself in formal attire and drives
past in an open carriage.
Nothing daunted by her indifference,
he dons the showy Mexican costume and gallops past on his horse,
dipping down to pick up his hat, and showering the crowd of
children with coins.
Then he hits upon another plan, which finally succeeds.
He calls upon Enriqueta1s father, don Serapio, whose finances
at the moment are tottering.
Don Romualdo suavely mentions
vast sums of money as if they are mere pittances.
He offers to
restore don Serapio*s credit with absolutely no investigation
as to his security.
When he becomes engaged to Enriqueta he suffers the
usual fate of the indiano who ceases flirting, and settles
down to court one girl.
The jealous townspeople invent vari­
ous uncomplimentary tales about him: he smells bad; he is a
pig; his hair is false, also his teeth, and even his nose.’ He
is a thief; he has been in jail; he is even then a fugitive
from a penal colony.
t1ln aquella ciudad se decia todo eso y
mucho m&s de cada indiano rieo y pretendiente, en cuanto dejaba de mariposear y se fijaba en una sola mujer para easarse
con ella.*^
Don Gonzalo, the son of a poverty-stricken drunkard,
sees absolutely no future for himself unless he can get rich
in America.
He communicates this to his sister.
De padre, s61o podemos esperar hambre, palizas, y
miseria; su mala fama ha de perseguirnos en el pueblo,
y nadie en 61 ha de abrirnos las puertas con buena
voluntad; estamos viviendo como de milagro, y esto no
puede durar; hay que tomar un partido, y muy pronto.
Creo que t& debes irte por los pueblos del valle en
busca de un amo a quien servir, mientras yo me voy por
el mundo, que es m&s grande.^3
He earns money for his passage, and leaves with nothing
but the clothes on his back and a couple of extra shirts.
12 Ibid., VIII, 227.
^■3 Don G-onzalo G-onzalez de la Gonzalera. Ill, 106 ft.
twenty years tie works in a miserable hole, seeing the sun
only on Sundays.
in to buy.
He meets no one except the people who come
Fortunately his life as a child has trained him
to bear hardships, or he might have given up.
By the end of
twenty years he has accumulated enough for his purposes.
only wish is to return to his native land dressed like a gen­
tleman, and be respected and accepted by the hidalgos and ad­
mired by the peasantry.
He hopes to build a big house, own a
great deal of land, marry the most eligible girl in town, in­
troduce modern customs, and reform the thinking of the people.
Perhaps his name will reach Madrid and he will be honored with
a title.
In order to prepare himself properly for the triumphant
return he goes to New York, where he remains fifteen days try­
ing to pick up the manners and customs of a big city.
goes to England to finish his shopping.
worry about his name.
Then he
There he begins to
He thinks Hi colds Gonzdlez isnft very
He remembers a second name, Gonzalo.
Don Gonzalo
Gonzdlez is a bit better, but it lacks the sonorousness of the
long names of the grandees he has known.
It occurs to him that
he can add "de la G-onzalera,w making it the high-sounding title
"Don Gonzalo Gonzdlez de la G-onzalera.,f He feels now that he
is ready to descend upon his town.
Don Gonzalo is meticulous in his dress.
His suit is of
the finest material, his shoes of shiny patent leather, his
fancy vest and shirt-bosom very glossy and enhanced by a heavy
gold watch chain*
on each side.
His hair is curly, and he wears ringlets
He wears a high-crowned hat.
In his right hand
he carries a gold-headed cane; in the left, which rests
against his thigh, he holds a pair of gloves.
His facial ex­
pression is as studied as his dress, for he wears a perpetual
smile of smugness.
He moves like a fastidious child, marking
each step with his cane and looking from side to side as if
seeking someone upon whom to bestow his smile.
He has tried
so hard to speak correctly that he has overdone it and says
such things as "frido*1 forvfrio,w and "cacado” for "cacao.
Much to his surprise and disappointment, he receives
no sign of welGome when he arrives except a visit from a poor
old woman who brings him a couple of sickly chickens.
ually, however, his old friends begin calling upon him, and he
has the pleasure of donning his frock coat to return their
Upon beholding the erstwhile waif in such royal at­
tire, the old women bless themselves and murmur, ftjBendito sea
el Senor que tanto puedei”-^
Sometimes a montah^s ventures down to Andalusia where
Ibid., III, 115.
1 5
I b i d - »
1 1 1 »
1 2 1 *
opportunities for making money are greater than at home and
the odds not so great as in America.
turers are called jandalos.
These returned adven­
Like the indiano,
the j&ndalo
bursts in upon his simple town with great fanfare.
He usually
gallops up on a gayly caparisoned horse, firing a gun, and
scattering money freely about.
His costume is probably a
curious combination of the Andalusian and the regional one;
calau^s, or Andalusian hat; a wide black sash, tight
trousers, and short jacket.
He has wide black sideburns, and
he spits between his t e e t h , ”. . . k eaballo, entre rumbo y
alamares, escupiendo por el colmillo, y, k creer lo que ellos
mismos aseguraban, sembrando el camino real de pahuelos de seda
y onzas de oro.H^
M]pl Sevillano” is the nickname of one of these charac­
ters in 11 Sabor de la Tierruca.
In his belt he carries a
knife, which his hand is always caressing.
He boasts about
all the people he has killed with it for some slight offense,
such as brushing past his elbow, refusing to step off the side­
walk when he wishes to pass, or daring to look twice at any
woman to whom he has taken a fancy.
Hveryone in Cumbrales
fears him, although no one has ever witnessed any of this
butchery, nor has he ever been known to participate in any of
the serious brawls which frequently arise at fairs and church
Sabor de la Tierruca, X, 152.
He tries to court all the nice girls in town, but
is repulsed by one after another.
In a poem entitled "El Jluadalo, " ^ Pereda presents one
of these picturesque fellows.
Like the others, this j&ndalo
returns in time for the biggest event of the year, la Fiesta
de San Juan.
His horse has mountings of real Carthusian iron
and is decorated from head to tail with fancy braid.
He him­
self is an imposing figure with a cartridge belt over his
black sash and a gun tied to his saddle with a green band.
As he journeys home he stops now and then, removes his
Andalusian hat, and inhales great gusts of the pure mountain
Approaching a roadside inn, he calls loudly to the inn­
He tells him of the "Paradise” he has come from, or­
ders drinks for them both.
He says that his father’s troubles
are now over, as he has enough money so that they should eat
only white bread and good food, and drink good wine.
buy a light chaise.
He will
He leaves money at the inn to buy drinks
for the men who are supposed to be following with a pack train
carrying his baggage.
The innkeeper fails to be greatly im­
pressed, and as the j&ndalo gallops dramatically away, he
murmurs, ”— ^(pucha bulla, pocas nueces; mucha paja, poco trigo.^’^
Jdndalo,” Escenas Montahesas. V, 319 ff
1S Ibid. , V, 32/p.
He rides into his native town discharging his gun,
throwing firecrackers into the air, and singing couplets.
Word of his great wealth spreads like wildfire, and the whole
town rushes out to see him.
He receives a royal welcome, and
after exchanging greetings, he hastens home, where an affec­
tionate reunion takes place.
He gives presents to all his
family, assuring them that these things were nothing to com­
pare with what he has in his luggage for them.
Soon neighbors
begin calling, a fine feast is set out, and wine and conversa­
tion flow freely.
It is after midnight when the last guests
leave, and the j&ndalo has spent a great deal of money.
He attends the Fiesta of San Juan enveloped in a long
sheepskin cape, although the day is extremely hot.
money freely and goes about showing off.
He spends
He pretends to have
forgotten places, people, and even the language of the town he
has but recently left, and enjoys strolling about recalling
For a month he goes from fair to fair and fiesta to
fiesta, recounting the marvels of Andalusia and the wonders he
has beheld in his travels.
By August his pockets are empty and he has to sell his
horse; his suit is transparent from many brushings; his shoes
are twisted out of shape, and neither polish nor bacon rind will
hide the cracks in them; he changes from cigars to cigarettes;
only on Sundays does he eat white bread and drink wine; he goes
occasionally to the fields to work, on the pretense of being
In September his father tells him he will have to work
if he wishes to eat, for he has spent his last cent*
his Andalusian accent for that of his own province*
He drops
Those who
have applauded his return so enthusiastically now make a laugh­
ing stock of him.
He ,admits that he has done nothing more
in Andalusia than sell wine, and that it has taken
all his savings to make his impressive return.
Two years later this same person buys a donkey and again
bids farewell to his home town, once more to try his luck in
Y dos otonos, en fin,
despues de lo referido,
con unos calzones pardos,
un chaquetin de lo mismo,
una camisa de estopa
y zapatos con clavillos,
sali6 otra vez de su pueblo
montado sobre un borrico,
para volver & la tierra
de la villa y del olivo
A ganar otros seiscientos
con los azares sabidos.19
A dominant characteristic of the Spanish nature is pride,
and nowhere is it more clearly exemplified than in the ease of
the impoverished hidalgos who fight so bravely to carry on the
traditions of their illustrious ancestors in the face of want
and the rising tide of modern innovations.
19 Ibid., V, 331.
Gradually they are
forced to face facts as they really are, and by the end of the
nineteenth century many of these families have opened their
doors to the wealthy merchants, jdndalos, and indianos*
it is pretty hard to convince some of the most conservative
that times have changed.
Be que ya pas6 nuestro tiempo, de que sobra
en el mundo, y es una quimera sonar en alianzas y menos
en restauraciones; de que no hay mds remedio que entregarse d diserecidn.20
They begin to see the folly of preventing their daugh­
ters* marrying these rich men, if they are of good character,
since it means saving the family from want.
After all, they
reason, the outside world does not take their traditions as
seriously as they do.
— «^ud objeto tiene estos sacrificios, quidn me los
agradeee, quidn los recompensa? 2El mundo? El mundo 6
no los ve, 6 se rle de ellos; porque, crealo usted, don
" “'
’ran muchos actos que d
Although Pereda puts many of these characters into
humorous situations, he has a great deal of sympathy with their
Bon Robustiano Tres-Solares y de la Galzada22 is one
of the last to hold out for these ancient principles.
all he has left of the former glory of his illustrious family
20 "Blasones y Talegas,” Tipos _y Paisa.ies» TI, 293
Ibid., VI, 294.
22 Ibid., VI, 217 ff.
Is the green wool coat with black velvet buttons, the yellow
leather waistcoat, the watch chains sans the watches, the
threadbare black trousers, the pair of shoes which have been
mended twelve times, and the silver-mounted cane, which he
wears for festive occasions.
For ordinary wear he has a faded
coat which has practically disintegrated, a cotton vest, wellworn trousers, a broad-brimmed black hat lined with rubber,
and a pair of peasant sandals for rainy weather.
For grand
occasions he brings out a blue cape with a collar of nutria
fur, and a huge red silk umbrella, trimmed with yellow metal.
solariega, olr manor house, is in a dreadful state
of disrepair.
In its heyday it was a veritable mansion, and
it is still called ”el palacio” by the townspeople.
The lower
floor consists of the scabies, the storerooms, and the wide
The second floor is divided into two wings by a long
passageway, at the end of which is the kitchen.
The south wing
contains the bedrooms, which are sparingly furnished with a
high-backed bed, a chair, and a clothes-raek.
a holy picture adorn the walls.
A crucifix and
In this wing is the sala de
ceremonias— the "best” parlor, Ysrhich is reserved for the most
dignified occasions.
Bon Robustiano loves to explain how his
ancestors sat there to receive the homage of their subjects.
All serious affairs are handled in this room, the solemnity en­
dowing it with a spirit bordering on the religious.
The furni­
ture is worn and wormeaten, though it has evidently been ^uite
elegant in its day, carved in deep relief.
Two pictures, so
faded as to be practically unrecognizable, are said to be
exact replicas of two of don Hobustiano’s grandparents.
The north wing contains the same number of rooms.
is a parlor for ordinary use, but little;by little the elements
have taken their toll, and don Robustiano is no longer able to
fill the gaps in the walls and ceilings, so that this part of
the house is uninhabitable in inclement weather.
The attic is
in a lamentable condition;- . but houses one of the prize heir­
looms of the family— two pieces of rusty armor which were used
in the battle of San Quintin.
There are the usual balconies on each side of the house,
a crest in deep relief over each door, and at one corner a
small, vine-covered embattled tower.
Don Robustiano is very exemplary in his religion, and
attends high mass regularly.
saints every night.
He reads from the lives of the
He feeds his soul also by reading over his
lengthy pedigree, his pride waxing as his fortunes wane.
knows the history and coat of arms of all the grandees in the
He is a slave to tradition, loving, respecting, hat­
ing where his ancestors have.
He goes to great lengths not to
associate with anyone beneath him socially.
If one of these
should make so bold as to call, his daughter responds from her
hiding-place, "He is not at home.*"
If the person remains, she
adds, "And he won't be back for a month.1"
If the visitor is
determined, she then says, "There is no one at home, and don
Robustiano has carried the key with him.™
Her father, watch­
ing the procedure anxiously, tells her to run upstairs and re­
main absolutely quiet, though the door be broken down.23
Don Robustiano frequently plays host to the illustrious
men of the town, and amuses himself by explaining the histori- ,
cal significance of his coat-of-arms, and bragging about his
These men listen obligingly as they might listen
to the patter of the rain, but fail to be impressed.
Most of
the time he sits alone on the porch and muses and yawns.
When he is going on a trip he arises early and dresses
He always repeats explicit directions to the
page who is to accompany him on the manner in which he is to
deport himself.
When don Robustiano is ready to dismount, the
boy is to remove his hat, step forward, grasp the bridle and
stirrup, and thereby assist his master to dismount lest he make
an undignified scene by falling in the dust.
Guidado con olvidarse de los requisites de costumbre;
sobre todo, k la llegada al parador. Alii, ya lo sabes,
fuera el sombrero y en seguida mano al estribo y al bocado. Yo, aunque viejo, soy bastante dgil, y si no hay
correspondeneia y aiixilio en los movimientos, puedo llevarme detrds la silla al desmontar; iy a fe que haria la
triste figura un hombre de mis circunstancias rodando por
el suelo k los pies de su caballo.1 Por lo demds, distancia respetuosa siempre . . . y lo que te he repetido mil
Ibid., VI, 231
Ibid., VI, 238
On unfrequented roads the page is permitted to exchange
a few remarks with his master, but in towns or on the main
highvray he must address him only in eases of urgent necessity,
and then use the title of sehor don.
Don Robustiano assumes a
most dignified posture while riding.
He sits absolutely erect,
his right hand resting on his thigh, his left hand holding the
reins waist high, eyebrows arched, lips contracted.
He appears
utterly unconcerned with his surroundings, but returns the sal­
utations of other travelers.
The page trots along at his side,
carrying his master*s coat and umbrella.
Don Robustiano has a daughter, Yerdnica, who has been
reared in this stilted atmosphere of false pride.
He has had
no outside contacts except with an old woman who gains entrance
because she is willing to perform errands which are beneath don
Robustiano and his daughter.
Yer&niea has not been permitted
to attend school because she would have to be in contact with
other girls of the town; consequently the little training she
has received was at home, and she reads and writes poorly.
is never allowed to attend church picnics, parties, or fiestas
of any kind.
Her father gives her dreadful reports of the con­
duct of the young people at these gatherings.
To prove his
point, he permits her to watch a public fiesta from her garden
She spends practically her entire life in the house, ,f.
. . eon el escaso pan de cada dia, los ehismes de la vecina, y
las declamaciones de su padre. . . .^25
25 Ibid., VI, 229.
She has been brought up to be as proud and haughty as
her father, and must always be addressed as "dona Ver6nica,"
M. . . antes perdonaba k sus convecinos el agravio de una bofetada que el que la llamasen k secas Ver6nica, y no dona
V e r 6 n i c a . S h e has to mend socks, tend the fire, and work
in the garden when she can do so unobserved.
She attends
church religiously, but always keeps her eyes east modestly
downward so that she will not feel obliged to speak to anyone*
Every night she reads from El Aho Cristiano.
Small wonder that
this girl has grown up to be shy, suspicious, and completely
De este modo la pobre chica pas6 por su nirxez y llego
al colmo de su juventud sin una amiga, sin una compahera de
juegos & inocentes confideneias; sin haberse reldo una sola
vez con expansion; sin poder deleitarse con el recuerdo de
una mala travesura; sin un deseo vehemente, sin una alegria
completa, sin una pena, y lo que es peor, sin poder darse
cuenta de su propio ear&eter ni\del de los demas.^/
Like many another who considers himself superior to those
who work, don Robustiano reserves his good manners for his
Ant6n, son of a wealthy jandalo, speaks to Yerdnica on
her way from church one day.
Don Robustiano observes the inci­
dent and is furious,at the youthTs presumption in addressing
the daughter of an hidalgo.
26 Ibid., VI, 219-220.
27 Ibid.. VI, 227-228.
Because Yer6nica herself does not
die of the shame of it, he considers her disgraced, and or­
ders "her to her room.
Trembling with indignation, don
Robustiano kneels before the portraits of his grandparents,
and weeps hot, bitter tears.
His humiliation knows no bounds
when Ant6n's father gains entrance to
his sonfe case*
el. palacio
and pleads
Don Robustiano uses very bad language on the
good-natured Toribio, calling him b&rbaro, animal, and even
Toribio offers to put Don Robustiano in a position
of financial ease if he will accept Anton as his son-in-law.
Verbnica, after weighing the situation carefully, thinks
the idea a very good one.
Don Robustiano tells a friend of the
terrible humiliation to which he has been subjected.
He is
told that many of the old families are bowing to the new order
of things and accepting these new-rich people into their
Don Robustiano is finally convinced, so he reluc­
tantly gives his consent to the marriage.
It is years, however,
before he completely accepts these .i&ndalos on equal terms.
A role played by members of Pereda’s own family was that
of father or patriarch to the peasants, so it is natural that
Pereda presented this type in various works.
usually inherits
The patriarch
the position from his father before him, and
considers it an almost sacred duty to leave an heir who will"
look after his flock when he is gone.
This honor and responsibility
naturally falls upon the wealthiest and most important citizen
in town.
His house is the scene of a nightly tertulia, or
meeting, where all decent folk can congregate and discuss
problems of local interest.
The house is open at any time for
them to come with their problems.
His home is the stopping
place for any notables who might be passing through the valley,
including church dignitaries.
For these occasions an abun­
dance of fine linens and silver is brought out of the great
chests where they are stored.
Don Celso Ruiz de Bejos in Fenas Arriba is a perfect
example of the patriarch.
The people of Tablanca love and
respect him because he rules not in an authoritative manner,
but as a kindly and interested father.
”. . . no k la manera
authoritaria y despdtica de las tradiciones feudales, sino k
la patriarcal y llanota de los tiempos b i b l i e o s . A s a young
man he has enjoyed vigorous physical exercise such as chopping
down trees or scaling mountain peaks.
Even after his health
begins t;o fail there is an unmistakable strength of spirit in
the vivacious eyes and sensitive mouth. He has a dominating
personality and is the central figure of any group, f*. . . el
alma y el centro de todo cuanto le rodeaba, con su energia indomable, sus cuchufletas singular!simas, . . . *29
28 Penas Arriba, XV, 142
29 Ibid., XV, 302.
Although he
is very muph of an idealist, he sees the practical
things, too.
side of
He can assert his authority over the most incor­
rigible of his subjects.
He is wiseand intelligent in the
handling of his fields, which always seem to yield
dant crops than the average.
more abun­
He seems perfectly endowed with
the requirements of a successful patriarch.
As Marcelo, his
nephew, sees it,
Pertenecia don Celso a una casta de hombres, muy contados, que poseen, como un don de Dios, el instinto de
ver el lado prdctico de todas las cosas, y la virtud de
imponerse, sin aparatos retdricos ni artificios teatrales,
k las muchedumbres m&s ind6eiles, y de arrastrarlas hasta
los dltimos extremos de lo h e r 6 i c o . 3 0
At the nightly tertulia held in his kitchen, the rela­
tionship between don Celso and the townspeople is very evident.
They are like one big happy family of varying aptitudes and
interests, bound together by the wisdom and love of the father.
. . . aquella familiaridad carihosa, aquella rara, pro­
funda, intima trabaz6n efectivaehtre todos ellos y mi tio
. . . mks que un organismo de miembros subordinados al imperio de la cabeza, me parecia una familia con todas las
comunes variedades de aptitudes y temperamentos, unida por
el amor desinteresado, tan propio y natural entre todos sus
miembros y gobernada por la experieneia, la abnegacibn y la
sabiduria del p a d r e . 31
Don Celso is fully aware of his responsibilities and
He realizes that all people are not saints and that it
takes unlimited patience to handle them.
30 Ibid., XV, 255.
31 Ibid., XV, 297.
He knows that there
are ungrateful ones among M s followers, but he feels that
these are the very ones perhaps who most need his guidance.
He explains the situation to Marcelo:
Topards de vez en cuando, hasta con desagradecidos, y
verds que dste es el tropiezo que mds duele y el que mas
oblige & eerrar los ojos para seguir adelante con el deber
que uno tiene con Dios y con sus buenas-intenciones; y
obrando asi, hasta llegards d mirar d esos desdiehados
eomo d hijos que mds necesitan, por sus flaquezas, del
amor y de la vigilancia del p a d r e . 32
There is a sort of contract between the patriarch and
the people, in which .the services each renders the other are
not considered favors, but natural functions of the combination.
— La gran obra . . . de la casona de Tablanea, desde
tiempo inmemorial, ha sido la unificacibn de miras y de
voluntades de todos para el bien comdn. La casa y el
pueblo han llegado d formar un solo cuerpo, sano, robusto,
y vigoroso, cuya cabeza es el sehor de aqudlla. Todos son
para dl y d'l es para todos, eomo la cosa mds natural y
necesaria. Preseindir de la casona, equivale d decapitar
el cuerpo; y asi resulta que no se toman por favores los
muchos y constantes servicios que se prestan entre la una
y los otros, sino por actos funcionales de todo el organismo
. . . .33
Don Celso’s sons have died in infancy, and the only male
descendant is Marcelo, the son of Celso’s dead brother.
Celso summons him to Tablanea to persuade him to assume the
traditional responsibility of the family after his death.
Marcelo soon finds that the succession is the chief subject of
conversation wherever he goes.
32 Ibid., XV, 273.
33 ibid.. XV, 167-168.
Everyone hopes that Marcelo will like the Montana well
enough to remain.
He is told of another town where strife and
discord have arisen among people who are governed by politi­
cians instead of by a real father.
It is good to see a town
like Tablanea where peace reigns and everyone is well clothed,
and no one is hungry.
"Daba gusto aquella hermandad de unos
con otros y aquel ayuntamiento sin deudas, y aquel vecindario
sin hambre y bien vestido.**34
Tio Celso wills the bulk of his estate to Marcelo, with
the one request that the Ruiz de Bejos property be passed on
intact as it has come to him.
A wide variety of characteristics is found among the
peasants in the works of Fereda.
A great many are the simple,
industrious, religious individuals we like to think of as peas­
ants; but there are also many who are lazy, dishonest, ungrate­
ful, and irreligious.
Of the former type, Juan Fedro and his son, Fedro Juan,
called el Lebrato, and el Josco respectively, are fine examples.
El Lebrato is a happy, talkative person, who goes gayly about
his work, while el Josco is quiet and brusque in his manner.
They are both willing to work hard and never expect any easy
Ibid., 2HT, 211.
m oney .
For example , there are ever-eurrent rumors that the
many eaves on the rocky seacoast contain great treasures hid­
den in bygone days by pirates.
Every now and then some hope­
ful person loses his life by trying to reach these nearly in­
accessible caves to find the treasures.
Mo one knows this
coast better than el Lebrato. yet when asked why he does not
try to find the hidden gold, he answers that he is one of
those who were born to work hard for his living so that others
can get theirs more easily.
M. . . y s6lo creo en que soy de
los que nacieron pa jalar de la vida en beneficio de otros que
la tienen bien
In order to make the barest kind of living these two
have to work at farming in the proper season and at fishing the
rest of the time.
"Asi, y por el estilo, se ganaba ordinaria-
mente la puchera el bueno de Juan Pedro, el Lebrato; y tan
alegre y eampante eomo si no hubiera vidas mas regalonas en el
jn harvest time they went to work for don Baltasar,
the big landowner of the town.
For two weeks they toil early
and late, receiving no pay except their meals.
The relationship between el Lebrato and his son could
well serve as an example to other families.
They have confi­
dential talks in the kitchen, al Lebrato doing most of the
35 La Puchera, XI, 192-193
36 Ihid., XI, 498.
talking, for Pedro Juan is extremely shy, and his father has
always to encourage him to express himself.
him to have confidence in God's goodness.
El Lebrato teaches
He tells him not to
speak ill of people, even though they do him harm.
El Josco feels for the first time his lack of words when
he falls in love with Pilara.
He can face any physical dangers
with utter calm, but he can never get up the necessary courage
to speak to
He laments his plight to his father.
Pedro offers to do what
is entirely good form in the Montaha,
speak for his son, but Pedro Juan can not agree to that.
also refuses to allow the village priest to intercede for him.
He is disgusted with himself.
Finally he sets a deadline.
will give himself until harvest time.
Then he will be with
Pilara every day, as she always serves as his alcaldadora, or
helper, in loading the hay on the carts.
his tongue by then.
If not, his father has carte blanche to do
anything he wishes in the matter.
el agosto . . . .
Perhaps he can loosen
n— Be jerne tan siquiera hasta
— Si alii no lo arreglo de por mi mesmo, M -
galo ust6 eomo quiere. . . , & haga de mi carna de sereha, que
seria lo mejor,
ation seems
c o l e s J f,3 7
the two are trapped
by the tide in a cave.
so hopeless that el Lebrato would have despaired had
not his love for his son given him the necessary courage to try
37 Ibid., XI, 309
to escape.
El Josco as usual says nothing in this grave crisis,
but is undaunted at the task they have before them of climbing
the treacherous eliff in the dark.
his valor.
El Lebrato praises him for
w— Asi me gustan los hombres, Fedro Juan: en los
apuros gordos, poca palabra y mucho
c o r a z 6 n . w38
When the fa­
ther becomes exhausted and begins losing his foothold, Fedro
Juan carries him on his back, saying that he is as light as a
Juan Fedro is not found wanting when called upon to show
his real worth.
In6s, daughter of the man who owns nearly all
the property in town, including the very house in which el
Lebrato lives, has run away from her father, who has imprisoned
her in her room.
and assistance.
She goes straight to el Lebrato for shelter
Although he knows he is risking the very roof
over his head, he does not hesitate a minute in taking Ines in.
"Fero los hombres de bien son pa las ocasiones, y lo primero es
lo primero; y Dios mos ve k toos y k cada uno."29
Macabeo, en De Tal Falo Tal Astilla, is one of the faith­
ful, sincere servants one loves to think of as representative
of the real peasant.
When dona Marta, his mistress, is dying,
he sets out in a blinding storm to fetch a doctor from another
The trip must be made over a dangerous mountain trail.
38 Ibid., XI, 494.
39 ibid., XI, 549.
Further peril lies in the fact that the doctor is a professed
Macabeo reaches home wet, tired, and hungry; but
unmindful of these physical discomforts, he remains disconso­
lately at the bedside of his dying mistress.
When she passes
away he weeps like a child, then kneels in prayer.
Doha Agueda becomes the head of the house after her
mother’s death.
One day she calls Macabeo to her, saying she
has a big favor to ask of him.
His answer comes without a
second’s hesitation, T,I am yours to command.”
ust6 el cuchillo: corte por donde quiera.*’^
11--La carne soy;
The order is to
go to a distant town and notify her uncle that there is urgent
and immediate need of his coming to her assistance.
can be made in five days.
The trip
Macabeo allays her fears by assuring
Agueda that he will bring the uncle if he has to carry him on
his back.
True to his word, the two return dramatically at the
eleventh hour to snatch Agueda and her sister from the very
clutches of an assailant.
For his faithful services in their household, Agueda
tells Macabeo that she wishes to make him one of the richest
peasants in all the vicinity, giving him, among other things,
the land he is renting.
Macabeo is overcome and says that he
does not deserve such largesse.
He repeats that he will always
be ready to serve her, even to the point of laying down his
4-° De Tal Palo Tal Astilla. IV, 177.
. . . pero es el easo que, viendome ya tan pagado, el
dia en que uste me pida la vida entera porque la necesite,
yo mismo he de creer, al d&rsela, que la doy a ouenta de
lo recibido; y eso no tendria graeia maldita.41
Although he cannot be compared with F6rez Gald6s, who
is generally considered the best portrayer of the miser type
in Spanish literature, particularly in his Torquemada series,
Fereda presents several examples of avaricious people who try
to become rich by deceitful means.
In De Tal Palo Tal Astilla,
don Sotero, trusted guardian of two young orphan girls, tries
to gain control of their fortune by marrying his profligate
nephew to one of the girls.
La Galusat crafty servant in La
Fuchera, attempts a similar plan.
The most prominent miser character in Fereda's works,
however, is don Baltasar, protagonist in La Fuchera.
He is
really a j&ndalo , but his tactics upon returning to the Montaha
are so different from the majority, that it is difficult to
associate him with those colorful characters.
After twenty
years in Seville he reappears, saying that he has not made any
money and is barely able to subsist.
He goes about accumulat­
ing farms, houses, and granaries, using the name of his father,
41 Ibid. , IV, 432.
who, as everyone knows, has nothing.
Then he begins lending
money, figuring the interest so that soon many of the peasants
are virtually his slaves, owing him their earnings far in ad­
El Lebrato explains to his son how don Baltasar does
. . . Yerks t(x la cuenta: cuarenta duros jueron los
emprestaos por §1
cuatro ahos haee; no ha pasao dende
estonces una mala peseta de su mano k la mia; nusotros
le damos cada aho un guen qxik de la ganancia de la pesca,
y con t6o u con ello
subela trampa k mks de sesenta
duros k la hora presente, dispu^s de pagao por parte el
total de rentas y aparcerias, por tierras, casa, embarcaciones y ganao.^2
Don Baltasar has a clever way of getting possession of
He never solicits, but sooner or later the owner
comes to him.
He pleadspoverty,
saying that
has nothing left after he has fed the members
He consents to try to
he is poor and
of his household.
gather together enough money merely as a
Soon the property is
his at his
own price:
. . . Y al fin, arahado dos de aqui y cuatro de all&, y
haciendo un sacrifieio por el gusto de hacer un favor, y
perdiendo un poco cada uno, se quedaba con la finca, que
no necesitaba.^3
The richer don Baltasar becomes, the more avaricious he
He is always whining that he has barely enough to live
He dresses very modestly and eats sparingly.
He never
goes to the tavern, and the only recreation he permits himself
is a few games of cards or ninepins on Sunday afternoons.
42 IS Puehera. XI, 117-118
4-3 Ibid. , XI, 89.
arises early and works until late, tending to his own affairs
because he will trust no one else*
He is never quiet a moment,
but rushes from the kitchen to the yard, to the cellar, etc.,
in order to supervise everything personally.
He is more of a
slave to his property than are any of his employees.
After his fortune is well established, don Baltasar sud­
denly appears with a bride, Gruz, a beautiful young girl from
a neighboring town, fairly well educated and of a sweet, com­
passionate nature.
It is a matter of a very short time for
the smile to leave her face and her head to droop, under kon
Baltasar1s harsh treatment.
He gives her hard work to do and
will not let her have even a small coin to spend as she wishes.
Bon Baltasar shows his penuriousness at harvest time.
Since he owns a third of the crops of the town, he has to hire
a good deal of extra help.
He chooses only the strongest and
most diligent of his tenants, who do not dare to complain when
he pays them nothing but their meals, although other employers
pay a half peseta a day besides.
He has the food and wine
measured out and knows exactly how much each one eats and drinks;,
watching to see that no one gets more than his share.
The food
is so poor that if the workers were not very hungry they could
not eat it.
It consists of half-putrid codfish; mangy, spoiled
mutton or a calf killed just before it dropped dead of starva­
tion; coarse bread made of Indian corn; and sour wine of a very
inferior quality.
To counteract the taint of the rotten codfish
and meat don Baltasar brews a strong, caustic sauce.
the reapers have blistered their mouths on that, they are un­
conscious of the sourness of the wine.
Don Baltasar himself works harder than anyone else.
is at the field with a rake on his shoulders at sunup when the
reapers arrive, to show them which fields to do first.
He al­
ways begins the first row about a foot over the line of his
neighbor1s property.
He rushes about, goading the men to work
He dashes from one place to another to see how things
are going.
He goes to the kitchen to see how the cooking is
If he thinks there isnft enough in the big ket­
tles, he adds more water.
Then he hurries to the barn to see
that there is no loitering in the semidarkness of the hayloft.
For a week and a half he works at this feverish pitch, scarcely
eating or sleeping, especially if in this way he is able to
add an extra load of hay to the day’s work.
Despite don Baltasar’s shrewdness, his greed for money
finally costs him his life.
The ever-present rumors of pirates’
treasures hidden in a cave prey upon his mind.
Slipping away
alone one day, he climbs the almost perpendicular cliff, losing
his footing and falling to his death on the jagged rocks below.
Fairs and markets *
In the Montana the chief diversions
described in Pereda*s works are attending fairs, markets, and
All one has to do is to take a calendar, let his
finger rest willy-nilly on a date, and he will be sure to find
he has hit upon a saintfs day, sufficient reason for a romeria,
or upon a market or fair day.
The villa is the meeca for all the surrounding towns
one day a week, when market day is held.
One of the busiest
and most exciting markets is the one held after the new corn
is harvested, for then every man feels rich and can indulge in
a few luxuries denied him the rest of the year.
At no other
time are there such swarms of people, such a variety of mer­
chandise on tempting display, or such perfect weather.
. . y
cada mercado es entonces una fiesta en que toman mucha parte
las gentes desocupadas del contornq.”^
Besides laying in sup­
plies for the week, these country people find the diversion of
attending the market most stimulating.
This is especially true
^ Jos§ Maria de Pereda, f,Bl Sabor de la Tierruca,** Obras
Completas, X, 2U7 .
Since all the works cited in this chapter are by Pereda
and all are from the same set, citations hereafter will be made
by merely giving the name of the book and the volume and page
for those of the upper classes, who are denied the privilege of
many of the social affairs attended by the peasants.
Scores of commodities are laid out in the huge plaza,
which is surrounded by big buildings with columned porticoes,
where counters have been erected.
Behind these are stores
where all kinds of drygoods are spread out.
On the ground in
compact little piles are the products of many a mile around,
the sellers squatting on the ground behind them.
The streets
leading to the plaza are full of shops, and even the little
niches formed by badly aligned buildings are utilized for
A bit farther away are the grain and fruit markets,
and in another section the livestock.
The noise set up by all the various merchants, the
crowds of buyers, and the animals, is deafening.
Publicibase & gritos la mercancia; A gritos se regateaba, y k gritos se la ofrecian mis barata desde otro
puesto al comprador indeciso; k gritos se pedia paso
donde, contra toda ley, no le habia; k gritos se quejaba quien no podia apartarse k un lado por falta de
terreno para moverse; k gritos se saludaban las gentes,
y k gritos se citaban, y k gritos se entendian; el ferretero tocaba con el martillo una palillera sin fin sobre
la mayor de sus sartenes; cacareaban los gallos; gemlan
los cabritos amontonados; gruhlan los cerdos que pasaban,
a rempujones, de mercado de los de su especia desdichada;
resonaban las pandeteras probadas por mozas de buena mano,
y los dalles, heridos contra las piedras; roznaba el
paciente burro del pasiego atado A un pilar de los soportales, libres sus lomos por entonces de la carga que su
dueho publicaba a voces un poco mas alii; sonaban las
campanulas de un puesto de ellas, sacudidas una A ,una
por el aldeano que buscaba un par bien acordado, cuando
no zarandeaba con toda su fuerza un collar cargado de
esquilones * . . ehirriaba el eje del carro que pasaba
cargado de maiz; aullaba el perro, perseguido k puntapiis,
por el queso robado o por el pan mordido; cantaba el
ciego al son de la ronca gaita, y el lazarillo al de su
pandereta, berida k punetazo seco; sonaba el martillo
del herrador, y el mazo del hojalatero . . . y, en fin,
la campana del reloj cuando callaban las de la iglesia.2
La robla.
1025 is la
An amusing custom dating back at least to
r o b l a .3
wordis probably a corruption of the
word robra, a bill of sale signed by the tavernkeeper to seal
a bargain already legally consummated.
The event
b o
ingly described in Escenas Montanesas takes place in the mar­
ket, where a pair ofoxen are being bartered.
that a sale is to bemade is
The mere hint
enough to draw an eager crowd,
who press forward to watch the appraiser examine the animals.
After the customary bargaining and final agreement on a price,
the buyer peels off various layers of wrappings and extracts
the proper amount of money.
Then comes the real excitement,
the custom of eohar la robla, or to be more lucid, moistening
the bargain, molar el trato.
The delighted spectators boister­
ously congratulate one another upon the successful sale, and
one of them is sent by the new owner of the oxen to buy a
quantity of red wine.
This is speedily fetched in an enormous
With great care and solemnity the host dispenses the wine
in a white clay cup.
the first sip.
To the appraiser goes the honor of taking
He gallantly toasts the good health of the party
2 Ibia.» 2, 254-255.
3 "La Robla,” Esoenas Montanesas, V, 51 tt.
and of the pair of animals which are the inspiration of this
The mug then passes around from one to another until
the wine is finished, the conversation and noise increasing
with each round.
Hot wishing to appear less generous than
his partner in the transaction, the former owner sends out
for a like amount of wine, and the process is repeated.
When this is gone, the oxen are driven away and the
crowd falls in behind.
By now all have reached a state of in­
ebriation where they are bumping heads as they try to get under
way, and the conversation becomes garbled.
to make love to someone else’s wife
The appraiser tries
butno one cares, for all
is fair in love and war— and the robla.
In August the fields of don Baltasar, wealthy
landowner In La Puchera.^ are full of activity.
has a helper called an alcaldadora. Pedro
skillful of don Baltasar*s reapers.
bare neck, chest, and forearms.
Juan is the most
He is a husky fellow with
He wears cotton trousers,
which are held in place by a black sash.
Each reaper
Pilara is his alcalda<
She is the perfect type of big, wholesome peasant girl.
She wears a short red serge skirt, a jerkin of blue stripes,
multicolored shawl crossed in front and held in place by her
apron, and a hat with colored streamers.
She stands up in the
cart and catches the hay in mid-air as Pedro Juan tosses it to
^ LzL ffuchera. XI, 301 ff.
She shows her skill by not letting a single straw fall
When the cart is piled high, Pedro Juan drives it to
the barn where the hay is stored in the loft.
The last week in October is harvest-time for the corn
crop, and carts with high side-boards invade the cornfields.
Each family has a particular plot, and they fill baskets with
the ripe ears, emptying them into the cart.
The oxen pull the
creaking cart across the fields to the barn, where the corn is
stored in the loft.
By the end of a week all the corn has
been gathered and the farmers cut down the bare stalks with a
In the establishment of a well-to-do farmer, Pedro
Mortera in El Sabor de la Tierruca, who owned a great deal of
property, the gathering of the harvest is an exciting
There is the incessant sound of creaking axles, the rustle of
the corn-husks rubbing together as they fall into piles, the
clatter of feet rushing up and down stairs, and the chattering
and singing of the workers who have been hired for this busy
The deshoja.
Following a time-honored custom, don Pedro
inaugurates this task by having a public husking-bee, or una
deshoja in the attic of his house.
Anyone is welcome to attend,
but for the most part the participants are the young folks.
^ ii Sabor de la Tierruca, X, 194 ff*
Before eight o ’clock over fifty people have gathered
in the huge attic, which has been lighted by three big lan­
terns hung on posts*
The workers sit in a circle around an
enormous pile of corn.
As they deftly rip off the husks, the
girls sing couplets and the boys answer with their customary
slow ballads.
All is bustle and merriment as the ears fill
the big baskets, the pile of corn dwindling as the stack of
leaves behind them mounts higher.
Occasionally some over-
enthusiastic youth punctuates the singing with a loud warwhoop.
As the evening wears on, signs of fatigue begin to ap­
The singing and yelling cease and conversation becomes
more subdued and of a general nature.
The talk inevitably
turns to the R&mila, the town witch, and then to other witches
and their machinations.
It is nearly midnight when the last of the corn has
been husked.
Servants enter bearing baskets of roasted chest­
nuts and a huge jug of aguardiente, a strong liquor.
A curious
thing is that the unmarried girls do not partake of this strong
beverage, although the married ones do.
Refreshments over,
they make a very noisy departure, singing ballads in praise of
the various members of the family, who are lined up at the door
to bid them a gracious farewell.
Once outside the house they
give way to loud shouting and singing, a reaction no doubt to
the comparative control they have exercised while under the
master’s roof.
Don Silvestre is another rich peasant who holds a pub13-0 deshoja.6
The noise of the workers can be heard all over
the house, until don Silvestre appears, when an embarrassed
silence falls over the circle.
He passes among them with a
friendly word here and there and the tension is relieved.
first, conversation is concentrated in little groups.
are telling stories, some gossiping, some singing, and some
discussing the harvest.
The young men take advantage of the
rare opportunity to tickle or sieze the girls, and a quick
punch administered usually means that some erring hand has
grabbed an ankle instead of an ear of corn.
Sometimes when the hilarity is at its height comes the
cry of la mona, a cue for great yelling and squealing on the
part of the girls, and an attitude of defense on the part of
the boys.
The mona is a little sack or protuberance which
grows on some of the corn stalks, and when dry, the material
inside becomes a black, sticky powder.
Whoever is lucky enough
to find one of these, carefully conceals the fact until he has
a chance to catch some victim unaware, then smear this powder
on his face, to the great amusement of all the others.
like this are one reason for the popularity of the desho.ja, for
the young people ordinarily have little chance to cut up
^ ^Suum Guique,” Escenas Montanesas, V, 225 ff.
Some of the towns have a community enter­
prise called the Frao-Concejo.
Tio Celso is very proud to tell
his nephew from Madrid all about this feature of Tablanea.
There is a common field whose crops are divided equally among
all the townspeople.
He says, "Es de todos y cada uno de estos
vecinos un caudal de hierba que se reparte por adra todos los
anos, . . ."7
The words por adra mean
"according to the popu­
lation of the town.”
La cabana.
An ancient custom which is in the nature of
a communal affair is the cabana.8
Since the food stored for
the cattle in August lasts only until about May, the people of
certain highland towns take their stock or cabana at this time
to the uplands to graze until October.
Each town has its
alcalde de cabana who has charge of affairs relating to this
The owners of the stock share jointly the expenses.
A week or more before Saint Anthonyfs Day, June thir­
teenth, a shepherd goes from house to house to brand the stock
which will form the cabana.
One iron brands the horn with the
name of the town; another brands the initials of the town on
the right rump.
The handsomest cow is selected for the honor
of wearing the town bell, and a peasant will go to any lengths
to have one of his animals chosen.
On Saint Anthony’s day the
^ Penas Arriba, XV, 105-106.
8 "El dia 4 de octubre," Escenas Montanesas, V, 352 ff.
shepherds, with a bull and their dogs, repair to an appointed
place where the cabana is organized.
It takes three days of
climbing to reach the pastures.
On October fourth the spot from where they have started
presents a scene of intense excitement, for on that date the
cattle are to return.
The whole town turns out in fiesta at­
tire, and great is the suspense to see how the cattle have
fared and which cow wears the bell.
As the cabana draws near,
the crowd surges up to the fence and forms a lane through which
the stock pass.
Each person seeks out his own, ^hich he praises
loudly, at the same time making derogatory remarks about those
of his neighbor.
Drawing up the rear are the dogs, the calves,
the bull, and the shepherds, usually carrying a newborn calf on
their shoulders.
When all have passed through the gate, the
eager crowd rushes in to inspect their stock at close range.
After an hour, the town council holds a meeting at this
same place for the purpose of hearing any grievances the owners
may have*
One man complains that his cow has come back very
The shepherd agrees, but explains that that cow has such
a perverse nature that she insisted upon running away to some
barren cliff when she should have been grazing.
Another says
that he has kept his calf home to wean it so that the mother
could get fat, but she has come back thinner than ever, and has
not gone dry.
He has heard rumors that she was being milked,
and butter made and sold in the town.
The shepherd takes the
stand and affirms that no butter has been sold, that only one
trip to town has been made, and that the reason the cow has
not gone dry is that another calf had been sucking each night,
unbeknownst to them until the night before they left.
Next a
woman tries to take the floor, but she is silenced and told
that women have no voice there unless called upon.
She tries
to insist that an inferior cow has been substituted for the
one she sent, but she is hooted out of the assembly and called
a cheat.
The shepherds then present a detailed account of the
pasturing, and an hour later each neighbor starts home with
his stock,
. . . contemplindolas de paso con tanto deleite como (acept&ndome la comparaci6n que voy a hacer, en gracia a que es
la pura verdad), como el que puede sentir un padre delante
del hijo predilecto que vuelve de la Universidad k pasar
con 61 las vacaciones.9
La romerla.
Regardless of which saint is being honored,
romerias all over Spain are more or less similar; they begin
with a religious ceremony and end with a picnic, at which the
young people wear themselves out dancing and jumping about,
and the older ones sit back and watch and r e m i n i s c e . T h e r e
9 Ibid., V, 368.
10 Don Gonzalo Gonzalez de la Gonzalera. Ill, 63 tt.
are girls in lalack serge dancing to the sound of the zampona,
a rustic flute, and the tabor.
There are games such as play­
ing at bullfighting, using knives as horns and a club for a
Children are wallowing about in the dust of the plain.
The valley is probably covered with flowers and verdure and
its paths crowded with happy young folks.
Near every fiesta ground there is a grove of oaks where
all the picnickers gather sooner or later.
The young men wear
their finest trousers, colored slippers, and full-sleeved
shirts which have been freshly laundered and ironed for the
They carry their jackets over their shoulders until
it grows cold enough to wear them.
The girls carry a white
kerchief, beneath whose folds is a spray of carnation or mar­
Always the most charming and gifted girls are selected
to play the panderetas, to sing, and to dance the traditional
dances, which they do in a modest and graceful fashion.
CQ^° de bolos, or ninepins court, is an indispensible
part of every fiesta and a crowd always gathers around it.
the wine-barrel, with its corresponding array of crockery,
stands the food canteen.
There is chicken, stewed meat, squabs,
codfish, smoked sausage, lamb pies, cakes, candies, lemonade,
and a variety of fruit.
This spot too is a very popular one,
especially with the children.
On the day of the romeria, the figure of the saint whose
day is being celebrated is on desplay in the hermitage all day.
The visitors enter to say a few prayers and to leave an offer­
ing on the plate before joining the celebrants outside.
Fereda describes a unique feature of a romerla in a
small town in the Montana.11
A parlor is prepared in the city
hall, in a private home, or in some vacant palace, where the
better class people can dance.
vided for the spectators.
Chairs and benches are pro­
Large vessels hold sweetened water,
which is dispensed in a single glass.
On a platform made of
empty boxes sit two blind men playing violins, their lazarillos
(young boys who lead them about) playing triangles or striking
Romerla del Carmen.
Oftentimes a romerla takes the form
of an excursion to some hermitage in a spot at a distance from
the town.
This calls for a great deal of preparation, as a pic­
nic lunch must be prepared; gala costumes must be taken out of
the chests and washed and ironed; the two-wheeled carts must be
fitted with a covered framework and decorated with flowers,
ribbons, and bright paper.
The romerla del Carmen12 is a great favorite with the people
of Santander.
Business is arranged so that nearly everyone can at­
Sailors even plan their trips so that they will be in
port on that day.
The city remains desolate after the noise of
11 Ibid., III, 65 ft.
12 "La romeria del Carmen,” Tipos £ PaisaJes, VI, 111 ft.
the departure has died down, and the few unfortunate souls who
are left behind wait eagerly for the party to return and tell
them all the events of the day.
Early in the morning the loaded carts are lined up on
the road, the one who is there in time to be first feeling
very proud to be in the lead.
Some ride on a mattress or straw
on the floor, and some sit with their feet hanging out the back.
Much good-natured banter passes among the occupants of the var­
ious wagons.
Those fortunate enough to possess a riding horse
have a gay time galloping up and down the line of slowly mov­
ing carts, greeting their friends and showing their riding
A strange sight to be seen is a group of barefooted
sailors carrying oars on their shoulders.
They are probably
on their way to fulfill a promise made to the Virgen of Carmen
during some storm.
After three hours jolting over the rough mountain road,
they reach the hermitage where the celebration is to take place.
Others are arriving from different towns, some barefooted, some
walking on their knees, all toasted by the sun.
After mass in
the little chapel, they group outside and the priest gives a
Then the hampers and boxes of food are opened, and,
there being scarcely any trees in this particular spot, they
sit in the shade of their wagons to eat.
Then comes the colorful part of the romerla— the fiesta.
Such a conglomeration of sounds, colors, odors, and movements.*
Imaginense ustedes todos los colores conocidos en la
quimica y todos los instrumentos m&sicos port&tiles asequibles k toda clase de aficionados y ciegos de profesi6n,
y todos los sonidos que puedan aturdir al humano oido, y
todos los olores de fig6n que puedan aspirarse sin llorar.
. . . y llorando, y todos los brlncos y contracciones de
que es susceptible la musculatura_ del hombre, y todos los
caracteres que caben en una chispa, y todas las chispas
que caben en una agrupaeidn de quince mil personas de ambos sexos y de todas edades y condiciones, de quince mil
personas entregadas k una alegria carnavalesca; imaginense
ustedes estas pequeneces, mds algunos centenares de escualidas caballerias, de parejas de bueyes, de carros del
pais y de varias formas; imaginense, repito, todo
esto; revuelvanlo k su antojo; bdtanlo, agitenlo y sacddanlo k placer; viertan en seguida a la volea el potaje que
results, sobre una pradera extensisima interrumpida k trechos por penascos y bardales, y tendr&n una ligera idea de
la romeria del Carmen en la dpoca k que me r e f i e r o . 1 3
A feature of this particular romerla is for some of the
older men, usually so staid and conservative, to Trcut in” on
the young fellows and cavort around with the pretty girls.
merriment lasts until late afternoon and the trip home is made
almost entirely in the dark.
Fiesta de San Juan.
Each town has its patron saint, and
he is considered a real personage, registered in the town books
like any living citizen.
of account books.
He owns property and has his own set
Saint John is the patron of a town described
in ”Amor y Gallo Muerto.”1^
The mayor has the honor of dress­
ing the statue, keeping lights burning, and decorating both it
and the litter it rests on during celebrations.
The mayor’s
Ibid., VI, 131.
14 "Amor y Gallo Muerto," Escenas Montanesas. V, 339 tt
grandfather has given to San «fuan two irrigated fields which
bring in two hundred reales annually.
To this amount, the
mayor adds about four hundred reales for the care of the
This he is happy to do, for he feels it a privilege
to have the responsibility of the patron saint of the town,
whom he considers a special protector and constant guest in his
So much a part of the family is San Juan that his
clothing is listed with the family wash.
Los panos, los candeleros, las velas del altar del santo,
se encontraban en aquella casa como la ropa y el calzado de
la familia, y hasta en las listas de la colada se leia
siempre, junto al rengl&n, por ejemplo, de los calzoncillos
de mi tio, otro de los panos de San Juan.15
Keeping the image in good condition is no small task.
It must be dusted and the paint touched up frequently.
be repainted every two years.
gilded for the procession.
It must
The litter must be freshly
Fresh flowers must be kept in the
urns and extra decorations furnished for all special occasions.
Saint Joints day is the biggest feast day of this town.
The mayor’s daughters decorate the image.
Over it are two
arches crossed diagonally;
These they bedeck with handkerchiefs
of brightly colored silk.
Over the head of the statue they hang
a multitude of relics, bells, small pillows, and scapulas.
though the sculptor has painted a costume on Saint John, the
girls have thrown a huge Manila shawl over it which reaches to
the feet.
In one hand they place a red and green pompom they
15 Ibid., V, 340
have taken from a cap used by their father when in military
This is a splendid sight to the unsophisticated rus­
tics of the town, although it greatly resembles a Chinese idol.
On the way to church, town notables or anyone with spare
change to toss among the crowds are greeted by dancers who make
arches for them to pass under.
The poor are also given pieces
of meat from the beeves which are hanging in the doorway of the
Before Mass the image of San Juan is carried about the
church in solemn procession by prominent citizens.
Two young
men open the procession by firing shots into the air.
A blind
gaitero, or flutist, accompanies the priest in his chanting,
the faithful giving the customary responses.
discharging of the guns continues.
During Mass the
The mayor has arranged for
a visiting priest to deliver a sermon.
After Mass, the congre­
gation disperses for dinner and a siesta, returning later for
The fiesta takes place in a field near the church.
have been erected for the sale of all kinds of sweet things to
eat--fruit, nuts, and candy.
Dancing is the main diversion,
guitar, pandereta, or gaita being the most common accompaniment.
The older people watching enjoy this part of the program fully
as much as the participants do.
One of the most colorful fiestas held in connection with
a religious ceremony is La Hoguera de San Juan, a bonfire
staged on the eve of Saint John’s day.
This is beautifully
described in De Tal Falo Tal Astilla. ^
Early in the afternoon cartloads of wood begin arriving
for the bonfire, which is to take place in a big open space
near the church.
As soon as the second load has been piled on
top of the first one, the bellringer climbs up into the church
tower and rings the bell.
At the first stroke, the guardian
of the figure of Saint John throws a half-dozen lighted fire­
crackers into the open space where the bonfire is to be.
is the signal that the celebration has officially begun, and
the excited children rush out of school, some to mount the belltower, where they toll the bells incessantly, and others to ca­
vort about the pile of wood, scarcely able to contain them­
selves until it is time to light the fire.
The din thus set up reaches the ears of the peasants
working in the fields, who become so excited that they slash
right and left, cutting as much corn as they do weeds.
young girls are not long in shouldering their hoes and starting
toward town in groups, singing as they trudge merrily along.
The boys follow, taking up the song when the girls stop.
sing a slow, sleepy ballad which seems to go on forever.
length they stop singing and the girls begin again.
And thus
from all four directions the merry singing converges on the
16 De Tal Palo Tal Astilla. IV, 335 ft.
town of Valdeeines.
So infectious is their singing that the
people in the town lay aside their tasks and join the chorus,
until soon the whole district sounds like a vast aviary.
older people working in the fields can resist no longer and
quit their labors and follow the crowd, smiling happily as they
remember other days when they have been the leaders in the fun.
Domestic tasks for the evening are speeded up.
chickens are forced to roost an hour earlier, the livestock is
shut up for the night, the bread is removed half baked from the
Supper is a hurried and miserable Affair, but no one
minds, and gobbles it down.
A single object is in the mind of
everyone in the town— to reach the scene of the bonfire before
When the sun has disappeared behind the mountains and
stars begin to twinkle, up to the bell-tower goes a youth cho­
sen for his ability to toll a masterly stroke.
As the sound
rings out, a great burst of applause resounds through the val­
ley, accompanied by the sound of firecrackers.
This is the
signal for which the children have waited so long.
with lighted sprigs and touch off the bonfire.
They rush
As the flames
rise, the noise increases, bells, fireworks, and cheers, until
everyone is too exhausted to make any more racket.
Then the
church doors are bolted as a sign that the entertainment is to
From the three streets which open onto the scene appear
the musicians, the loveliest and most gifted girls of the town.
They approach in fours, playing their panderetas.
One group
sits down to play, while two long lines of dancers form, the
eager spectators crowding around them as the dust begins to fly.
. . * adids yerba de la braha en aquel tramo, que polvo
fu§ pronto bajo los anchos pies de los danzantes; y adi&s
polvo tambi^n, que en espesa nube se vi& subir mis alto
que las campanas, entre las chispas del rozo que no eesaba
de caer, mata a mata, en el foco enorme de aquella lumbre
Then quite unexpectedly comes the sound of several casta­
nets which, added to the music already being rendered, sends
the crowd into a perfect frenzy of joy and excitement.
One by
one they jump up and join the dancers, and those who are unable
to rise sway in their seats, living over again the days when
they were young.
And so it continues into the night until the
fire has burned down to dying embers.
The bonfire held at this particular time has a unique
While everyone else is trudging wearily home, a group
of about a dozen of the eligible young men in the town convene
at one of the homes, where they have wreaths of fresh flowers
laid out on a bed.
Each one takes a wreath; then out they flock
into the street and parade around singing slow, sentimental bal­
lads and depositing the wreaths at the windows or balconies of
their sweethearts.
Dawn is streaking the sky when, weary and
happy, they crawl into bed.
17 Ibid., IV, 340.
At about the same hour, a group of
mischievous girls are just getting up.
They are provided with
thorny branches which they deposit in the field of any man
they wish to torment. Chagrined indeed is the youth who sees
this unromantic token adorning his cornfield the following dafS
Fiesta de ffan Hoque.
The patron saint of Robleces is
San Roque, and his day is celebrated with as much ceremony as
San Juan's, and in much the same way.
The description of the
procession given in La Bucheraxo is particularly graphic.
ceding the statue of the saint are the singers with the panderetas and the three dancers with tarranuelas.
They are dressed
in white, and are adorned with many silken kerchiefs and strings
of small bells, even in their sandals.
To the rhythm of the
panderetas they go through various motions of straightening up,
stamping, bending over, leaping in the air, and beating time on
their tarranuelas.
They look rather fresh in the morning, but
for the afternoon procession they are covered with dust and
perspiration, although their performance has lost none of its
This noise is augmented by the ringing of bells and the
shooting of fireworks.
G-ood Friday.
In an article entitled "De mis recuerdos,
Pereda gives a very convincing picture of the fervor of the
18 La Puchera. XX, 345 ft.
19 »De Mis recuerdos," Paefain Gonz&lez, XVII, 287 ft.
mountain people in their services on Good Friday.
The district
is a very poor one, where the people work extremely
hard to wrest a meagre living from the soil.
Their miserable
little church stands on a rocky mesa which is rendered more des­
olate looking by scattered patches of brambles and bushes.
It is a quiet and reverent throng that gathers about the
portico on Good Friday.
Inside, the priest is seated with one
of the parishioners before the tenebrae candelabrum, chanting
the Lamentations of Jeremias.
In the main chapel, which gleams
with many lights, is the monumento, or representation of the
The framework above it is trimmed with bright ribbons
and kerchiefs.
The cross lies upon a black cloth, the arms
resting on pillows which are covered with colored ribbons, sil­
ver chains, relics, and tiny pillows.
People flock in to pray.
Many are saying the Stations of the Gross.
From time to time
the drone of the prayers is punctuated by the sound of a copper
coin falling on a plate placed beside the crucifix.
In the
body of the church are the two pasos, or figures to be carried
in the procession.
One paso is composed of three figures—
Christ, tied to a column, and the two scourgers.
These three
large figures make such a heavy weight that eight men are re­
quired to carry the litter.
The other is the single figure of
the weeping Mother, La Dolorosa.
Six men can carry this litter;
When the last light is extinguished in the tenebrae,the
priest closes his book and the children begin to make a terrific
din by banging on pillars, doors, and floors with big sticks
called cachiporras.
rattles to shake.
Others are fortunate enough to possess
Those without benefit of either add to the
racket by pawing the floor with their sabots as they leave the
The appearance of the priest in the portico is the
signal for this part of the ceremony to cease.
asks for men to carry the litters.
The priest then
He thanks them graciously,
and they enter to shoulder their burdens.
Meanwhile two strange figures are making their way la­
boriously up the steep and rocky path which leads to the church.
They wear long, coarse tunics with high hoods and heavy veiling
over their faces.
Each carries a huge, rough cross on his back.
Their bare feet and their garments are daubed with mud, and the
effort with which they trudge along shows that they have trav­
eled far.
They are penitentes, going from town to town saying
the Stations of the Gross.
Where they have started from or
what sin they are atoning for, no one knows for certain, al­
though they have collected a train of followers as they progress.
Even though this is the sixth town on their route, no one has
seen them eat or drink or rest; neither have they been seen to
seek shelter when the noonday storm of rain and hail sent all
others scurrying for cover.
The townspeople watch curiously,
for this is a sight not to be seen every year.
As they reach
the top of the hill, a passageway is opened for the penitents,
who go up to the crucifix and kneel in prayer, still shouldering
the heavy crosses.
The procession is planned to follow the longest and
hardest way around the church, where the path is rocky, uneven,
and overgrown with brambles.
In the lead is a bare-footed man
wearing a discarded clerical robe, his face and head swathed
in a white linen cloth.
He is the Pharisee.
He carries a big cross on his b^ck.
Behind him come the eight men carrying
the judlos» the litter creaking under the weight of the stat­
ues, the iron spikes used to secure them squeaking in their
rusty sockets.
Next comes La Dolorosa, followed by the peni­
tents, the school children, the priest and his attendants, and
finally the congregation.
into the line.
From alleys and streets people pour
Houses and hearths are deserted and a melan­
choly quiet settles over the vicinity.
The only sound to be
heard in the whole town is the impressive chanting of the priest.
The expression of reverence and inspiration written on
the faces of these hard-working peasants is an awe-inspiring
They seem to gather hope and courage at the sight
of the blood which ran from the wounds of the poor, tortured
body of Christ, and of the sorrowful Mother.
Only this faith
can keep them from rebelling against the harsh life that is
their lot.
That those from the outside world would perhaps
find much to amuse them in witnessing such a ceremony, devoid
as it is of all art and luxury, is perhaps true; but to those
who know these people and the harshness of their life it is a
beautiful display of faith and strength.
”, . ♦ la fh sin
nubes, sencilla, profunda, y arraigada; la fuerza poderosa que
traslada los montes, redime los pueblos y dignifica los
hogares. ft20
As pictured by Pereda, diversions in the Montana are
in:proportion to the size of the town.
The pueblo offers very
little in the way of entertainment except social gatherings in
private homes, or in the town tavern or drug store.
The villa
has infrequent functions such as theaters, dances at the Casino,
artistic soirees, and private dances.
Santander, the ciudad,
has restaurants, balls, and other social affairs on a fairly
large scale, especially during the summer, when a part of
Madrid society sojourns there.
General types of diversion.
In the smaller towns the
church is the hub of all social events.
On Sunday, after the
Rosary, the townspeople settle down to enjoy an afternoon of
relaxation and social intercourse which their fatiguing labors
of the week preclude.
The older women drop onto the floor in
groups of four outside the church in the shadow of the walls
and play their card game of brisca.
The men usually gravitate
to the coro de bolos— the bowling alley, and either play or
The young people give over to music and dancing, the
20 Ibid., XVII, 293.
girls beginning with the traditional song:
Para espenzar a oantar
lioeneia tengo pedida
al senor cura primero
y a la senora Josticia.2!
The children usually run off to the fields to play ball.
For the upper-class people in a village there is very
little amusement offered to which their standards permit them
to condescend.
The mere sight of a levita, or frock-coat—
sure sign of a gentleman— in a tavern, is a signal for comment.
Bon Juan de Prezanes tells Pablo, his future son-in-law, some
of the ways in which a gentleman holds himself above a peasant.
He concludes, ff» . . y en la taberna, Pablo, siempre hace un
desdichado papel la levita. f,22
games, unless on holidays.
Pablo must not mingle in their
Under no circumstances is he to
dance with the peasant girls.
He will have to confine his
social contacts to those of his own status.
This might mean
virtually an isolated existence, for in many of these small
towns there is only one family of the hidalgo class.
The girls fare even worse.
the streets alone.
They are never allowed on
Their only diversion is going to the villa
to market once a week.
Small wonder they make a fete of it 2
All week they are busy compiling the list of articles to buy.
They sally forth early in the morning, and by noon have the
21 gi Sabor de la Tierruca» X, 282.
22 Ibid., X, 112.
large baskets overflowing.
Then they wander about, taking
mental note of all the products for sale, for half the fun is
in telling the events of the day to those who have remained
at home.
Villavieja, setting for JUL Primer Yuelo, is a villa.
Here are offered more diversions for the better class people.
Four balls a year are held.
There are literary-artistic
soir§es, where young men read poetry and young ladies play the
In addition, private parties in the homes help to keep
the young folks amused.
Walking is a favorite form of amusement.
During the
week the strollers have, carte blanche t but of a Sunday or a
holiday, rigorous hours and places are adhered to.
a brave soul like Nieves, who has been reared in Sevilla, is a
law unto herself.
She tramps over hill and dale early in the
morning and late in the afternoon, as the spirit moves her.2^
One might think that near the seacoast bathing would be
very popular, but, strange to say, it is taken up only by those
who have been away to Madrid.
As in most European countries at
that time, men and women bathe in separate places, and there
are dressing rooms on wheels to be rolled out into the ocean
for those who do not choose to dress at home.
The tertulia.
Chief among diversions is the tertulia.
23 A1 Primer Vuelo. XVI, 219.
This is a regular gathering for the purpose of exchanging
These meetings might be held in a private home, in a
drugstore or other shop, in the tavern, or in any other place
where people can gather and converse in comfort.
One of the most famous tertulias described by Pereda is
that held in the kitchen of the venerable Tio Celso in the
town of Tablanca.
The glow of the huge fireplace reaches to
the farthest corners of the room.
There are benches all around
the kitchen for the tertulianos to use, and a big armchair for
tio Celso.
When the weather is cold, the cozy room is crowded
to overflowing.
H. . . y ver&s acudir gente a esta cocina,
hasta haber noche de no caber en estos bancos, cada cual con su
avio y con su tema . . . toda gente montuna, por de contadoJ
puros jastialones."2^
In winter the kitchen of don Rom&n Perez de la Llosia,
noble patriarch of the town of Coteruco, is for many years the
scene of a tertulia.
At a certain hour, from all the streets
converging on the little plaza in front of his house, appear
dark figures, their approach having been announced for some mo­
ments by the clop-clop of their wooden shoes on the cobble­
stone streets.
Upon reaching the gate, they enter without ut­
tering a sound, cross the courtyard, leave their shoes in a neat
row against the wall, and in their escarpines, or thin-soled
24 Penas Arriba, XV, 61.
shoes, file up the stairs and along the long, dim passageway
to the kitchen.
Upon entering they break the long silence by
repeating these words: "Dios sea en esta casa.n2^
They take seats on the long stone benches lining the
A census of the group would disclose about fifty pres­
ent, since everyone in the town is welcome, except those who
drink to excess or are otherwise worthless, or those who mis{
treat their wives.
This means that nearly every citizen of
Goteruco ean be found here at night.
So general is the attend­
ance that the tax collector finds it very convenient to make
his collections here.
Naturally the conversation revolves about the occupa­
tions of the day— the stock, the crops, and the various other
One man reads a letter from his son whom don Homdn
had helped to send to America to seek his fortune.
But when
the subject of national politics is brought up, don Bom&n be­
comes serious and nips the conversation in the bud.
ject is taboo.
This sub­
”. . . Y por dltimo, ya sabe usted que he pro-
hibido solemnemente que en mi cocina se hable de politics, ni
se mencione cosa que con ella se roce. . . .”26
At nine-thirty
the tertulianos file out, and don Rom&n bolts the door for the
^°n Gonzalo Gonz&lez de la G-onzalera, III, 21.
26 Ibid., III, 30.
A particular form that the tertulia takes in the kitchen
of tio Selmo is the M i a , so called because the women take
their distaffs for spinning.
Tio Selmo and his good wife have
decided that there should be more to life for these poor people
than working hard all day and then retiring "with the chickens."
So as soon as the harvests are gathered in the fall, the thing
to do is to go to tio Selmo *s tertulia.
The only seamstress in
town attends, as does the best dancer; an ex-soldier who might
have become a high-ranking officer had not the Montana drawn
him back; the town erudite, who can read, write, and cipher;
and others of equal renown.
"Es decir, lo mds escogido de la
buena sociedad del barrio.
Not having at his command the resources of don Silvestre
nor tio Celso, tio Selmo could not build his kitchen so well.
The fire is on the floor within a rectangle formed by three
large oak benches and the stone bench along one wall.
When the tertulianos have all gathered, tia Ramona picks
up the best piece of firewood from the corner and throws it on
the fire.
When it blazes up, the meeting is considered open.
The women hasten to make use of the brilliant light to prepare
their looms and distaffs for spinning; the men their knives and
pieces of wood for carving.
Often they open the tertulia with
saying the Rosary, petitioning for the souls of everybody in
"A1 amor de los tizones," Tipos £ Faisa.ies» VI, A01.
the town.
One sure event of the evening is that Tanasio is called
upon to tell a story.
There is always a great deal of prelim­
inary argument in the selection of one that has not been told
too recently.
During the telling of the story there are many
interruptions and interjections by the audience.
After several
stories have been related, riddles are told and discussed
The conversation then turns to politics, fashions, or
local gossip.
Some begin to play cards— brisca, or flor de cuarenta—
and a portion of the money gambled is left "para pagar la ballena que consume el candil con que se alumbra la hila.^S
the eve of a holy day, the women refrain from spinning, and,
to make the evening more festive, collect a little money and
buy red wine to drink.
In some eases, a few friends gather every afternoon, as
did don Adri&n, his son Leto, don Claudio Fuertes y Le6n, and
don Alejandro Bermhdez Peleches, in the latter*s big house on
the hill.2^
j)0n Alejandro had left his birthplace when a young
How he has returned to spend his remaining days in the
manor house, and he and his old friends discuss all the things
that have happened during the years he was away.
28 it>ia. , x v i , uzu.
29 A1 Primer Vuelo. XVI, 242 ft.
Primer Vuelo,
Pereda describes a tertulia held
in the shop of the tfPapagayo.n
The regular members include
the parish priest and his two assistants, the doctor, the two
attorneys, and a retired shopkeeper.
When they talk, it is
mostly of local politics, but most of the time they sit in
silence and in darkness, the only sign of life visible to any­
one passing the doorway being an occasional spark from a ciga­
rette, or the sound of a chair creaking or a man clearing his
Cuando la tertulia se deja oir un poco desde el soportal, es porque se hacen (rara vez) comentos de alguna noticia politica. Por lo com&n, el mayor ruido es el murmullo acompasado y dormilento que producen los relatos
eruditos y doctrinales del m§dico o del abogado o de los
sehores curas. Tiene este bazar y esta tertulia cierto
color venerable y e s p e c i a l . 30
In De Tal PaloTal Astilla, the tertulia is held in
drugstore at Valdecines. There the druggist, thedoctor,
the schoolmaster gather nightly.
While the druggist concocts
pills, his cotertulianos sit at some distance and gossip, boast,
and quarrel intermittently.
noche, y todas las del
La magosta.
r,Y por fas y por nefas, asi cada
a n o . " 3 1
A magosta32 is a-chestnut roast, a favorite
form of amusement for the energetic young people.
30 ibid., XVI, 58.
De Tal PaloTal Astilla, IV,
32 El Sabor dela Tierruca, X, 265.ff.
chestnuts are bought for the occasion, but often the owners of
the grove permit their children to invite their friends and
roast all the chestnuts which they can get by shaking the trees
or knocking them down
with sticks.
The magosta usually takes place in the evening after
the Rosary.
Everyone is busy and gay.
Such care not to injure
the meat inside the thorny shell.1 Such perseverance to keep
the fire blazing.1 Such diligence in watching the roasting nuts
so that they do not burstJ
And everyone running back and forth,
laughing and talking, and making a very picturesque and lively
When the fire dies down, a pit is made and filled with
chestnuts and the most experienced and skillful hands are left
to watch them, while the others dance to the sound of the ubi­
quitous panderetas, the sauce of every fiesta.
When the chest­
nuts are roasted, the group sits in a circle and begins to eat
them, washing them down with wine which is passed in a wine-bag
from one to the other.
wears on.
The gaiety increases as the evening
It behooves each one to have his wits about him, for
if he is distracted for an instant, some alert funster will
paint a black smudge on his face, to the hilarious amusement
of all the others.
enterrb la
b r u j a , n33
As a closing ceremony of the magosta» f,se
0r the witch is buried.
A chestnut is
buried in the warm ashes and left there.
gins again, the extra men r,cutting in."
Then the dancing be­
At last, the strenu­
ous evening is over and a tired and happy throng wend their
way homeward.
Christmas festivities.
The Christmas season is always
a gala time for the people of the Montana, and the poor save a
long time to be able to have a few delicacies to eat which they
are unable to afford at other times.
Excitement runs high dur­
ing the careful preparation of this feast, everyone in the
family lending assistance.
”. . .
pues la gente de campo de
este pais, sobria por necesidad y por h&bito, goza tanto con el
espectaculo de la cena de Navidad como sabbreandola con el paladar."34
fkere are torrljas (French toast) with sugar and honey
or milk, stewedi.meat, white bread and bread made with a yellow
wheat, butter, eggs, plenty of white wine, and milk.
Their joy in the ceremony of making the delicious torrija
is reflected in their happy faces.
fl. . . en fin, no hay m&s
que ver los semblantes de la familia del tio
good wife, tia Simona, crouched on the floor with the skillet
in her hand, considers herself higher than the Empress of China,
and her occupation more important and difficult than that of an
34 *La noche de Navidad,” Escenas Montanesas, V, 120.
35 Ibid., V, 121.
36 Ioc. cit.
Setting the table is almost as great a rite as the
preparing of the feast.
Ouando cada manjar : ^le puede comer un angel^ de bien
sazonado que estd, como dice la tia Simona, y todos ellos
quedan cuidadosamente arrimados a la lumbre para que se
conserven en buena temperatura, procedese
otra operaci6n
no menos solemne que la cena misma: poner la mesa p e r e z o s a . 37
This mesa perezosa is a long table attached to the wall by an
axle at one end and a bolt at the other.
It is let down only
for very special occasions— the feast day of the patron saint,
Christmas Eve, Hew Year's Eve, Three Kings' Eve, and when there
is a wedding in the house.
Small wonder, then, that the great­
est excitement reigns over this operatiohi
The feast finally over and the table cleared, the family
sit about in great anticipation, chatting noisily.
they hear the sound they are expecting, a clatter on the cobble­
stone pavement and a chorus of shouts.
Here come the marzantes,
a group of a dozen young men who go about on Christmas Eve in­
toning requests in a traditional manner, as follows: First is
heard a falsetto voice asking don Jeromo to fetch the nice ribs
he has put away to cure, the lovely eggs he has gathered, his
puddings, and other things of the kind.
These requests are ac­
companied by lusty shouts from the rest.of the troupe.
second part of the ceremony is to ask the host whether they
should sing or pray.
Pious tio Jeromo selects the latter, but
his Son, recently returned from school, begs that they be
37 Ibia., V, 126.
permitted to sing instead.
So after further shouting they
launch into a long ballad telling the Christmas story.
conclusion, they pray for the happiness and salvation of the
A los de esta casa
Dios les de victoria,
en la tierra gracia
y en el cielo gloria.^©
The good tia Simona gives them half a pudding, and they leave,
shouting with pleasure.
At some homes the marzantes receive no reward for their
entertainment; or worse, they receive a fake pudding filled
with ashes.
Naturally the occupants of such a household re­
ceive no blessing but a curse instead.
The marzantes have
their alternate song to terminate festivities there:
A los de esta casa
s6lo les deseo
que sarna perruna
les cubra los h u e s o s . - * “
When the last echoes have disappeared, the tired family
goes to bed,
. . a buscar en el lecho el fin de tan risueha
y placentera velada.”^
Wooing a sweetheart is often a brave and
picturesque affair.
It is described humorously in "El Trovador
38 ibid., V, 129.
39 ibid.. V, 130.
U° Ibid., V, 131.
one of the Escenas Montanesas.^1
A troubadour appears at the
window of his adored one and sings of the pangs he suffers be­
cause of his .love for her.
cold assails him.
It is late at night and the bitter
He begs her to shed a tear for his plight.
For three years he has been faithful, hoping to overcome her
father's antagonism.
longer contain it.
His love is so great that he can no
He can not sleep, neither can he eat.
health, alas, is breaking under the strain.
He refuses to go
to the corro on Sunday unless she is participating in the dance.
He will wear only the shirt she has embroidered for him.
day he remains indoors weeping, sallying forth at night to sing
his lament at her window.
.At times it seems more than he can
IMira que no puedo m&s
con estos picaros males
que amores llaman las gentes
y yo llamo . . • barrabasesJ^
Finally Nela, the object of such ardent wooing, opens
the window cautiously and begs him to cease, for every' song
costs her a sound thrashing.
As a token, she tosses him a
sprig of matweed grass, which he places tenderly in his jacket.
Thus encouraged, he pleads with her to lean out "pa* lo que
but she answers by slamming the window.
The love-lorn
ME1 Trovador," Escenas Montahesas, V", 287 ff.
Ibid., V, 291.
43 Ibia., V, 292.
suitor still remains, beating on the door and listening for
an encouraging sound from within.
departs, cursing his fate.
There being none, he finally
He pulls his hat down over his eyes,
fastens his jacket, and wends his unhappy way across fields and
through lanes, the sound of his wooden shoes at last dying out
as he enters a thicket.
Some of these untutored mountain youths are very adept
at playing the guitar.
Baratijero plays and sings couplets to
His guitar ". . . propiamente hablaba entre sus manos.”^
Haturally all young men are not troubadours, but they
take their courting seriously nevertheless.
Some are forced
to hire their serenading.
A suitor calls at his sweetheartfs home and is admitted
to the kitchen in the presence of her family, regardless of
whether he is to be accepted or not.
No one is denied the
privilege of calling ". . . pues este favor no se niega jamas
en ninguna cocina montahesa.
There is always a blind man who can play a
bandurria. a Spanish instrument of the lute family.
For a small
sum he will compose suitable words for a serenade to the bride.
First he must know her name and station in life.
If her name
happens to be Mary, the fee is smaller, because this is a
**enas Arriba, XV, 97.
Si Qabor de la Tierruca, X, 135*
common name and there are plenty of verses already composed;
whereas a girl with an unusual name like Alifonsa— unfortunate
is her future spouse, because the serenade costs him extra*
MA1 paso que Alifonsa . . .
Vamos, te aseguro que tengo que
haeer las coplas casi que de^
Oftentimes parents arrange suitable marriages for their
children when they are infants*
Bon Alejandro, wealthy aldeano
in A1 Primer Vuelo,k7 went so far as to arrange with his sister
in Mexico for the marriage of their children when they were in­
So binding does he consider this contract that when his
daughter falls in love with someone else, never having seen her
cousin, he comes near ruining her happiness by attempting to
separate them.
A girl's chances for marriage are always better in pro­
portion to the material things she can contribute to the union.
Nor is this a cause for subterfuge, as one might expect.
a wholesome peasant girl in La Puchera, tells Ines what she will
take to Pedro Juan's when they are married.
Llevaria una buena cama, con su mullida y buenas ropas;
tres sillas de torno; una caldera de cobre; un area de pino
atestd de equipaje; uno de la vista baja, k medio criar, y
una novilla de quince meses, sin contar los trampantojos
que se la jueron arrimando de ack y de alld.^°
kb nIr por lana," Tipos y; Paisajes, VI, 364.
A1 Primer Vuelo, XVI, 424.
La Fuohera. XI, 452.
In 11 Sabor de la Tierruca, Catalina is berating her
sweetheart Nisco for avoiding her, saying that he can never ac­
cuse her of loving him for his possessions, because she will
receive a fine dowry from her father.
"Bienes tiene mi padre
que han de ser mios."^
Marcelo^ tells what his paternal grandmother took to
her marriage; some necklaces; coral pendant earrings; two sil­
ver lockets, one containing a splinter from the "true cross"
and the other a piece of the bone of Saint lelicitas; three
sets of linen; a chain of Cordoban gold; a fancy dress for the
wedding; and a dress for ordinary wear.
Marcelo considers this
a small dowry for one of a noble line, as she was.
In a section of Santander where poor people live crowded
together, a wedding is the incentive for a day-long frenzy of
eating, drinking, dancing, and yelling.
place at daybreak.
The ceremony takes
After breakfast at the bride’s house, the
party flocks into the narrow street.
To the sound of a tabor
they march up one street and down another singing and dancing
and*leaping about.
After a tour of the entire city, they re­
turn for the wedding feast.
They dance in the parlor for a
time, then out to the streets again to repeat the hilarity of
the morning.
About four in the afternoon they enter a tavern,
Si Sabor de la Tierruca, X, 101.
5° Penas Arriba, XV, 13.
where they spend an hour or more dancing.
?/ith seemingly in­
exhaustible vigor, they go shouting and jumping into the
streets again, as fresh as if they were only beginning.
nine-thirty they are still carrying on .-*1
A wedding in a small town in the Montana is no less
At sunrise a procession begins to form near the
bride’s home.
Dressed in their best outfits are the young
women with their gayly decorated panderetas and the young men
with their guns.
The appearance of the nuptial party on the
threshold is the signal for the ceremony to begin.
The girls
sing appropriate songs while the boys shout and fire their
To the rhythm of the panderetas the procession passes
slowly to the church, the girls meanwhile singing the praises
of the betrothed, of the parents who bore them, of the priest,
and of any others deemed worthy of the honor.
boys answer with shouts and salvos.
At intervals the
The procession takes the
longest route to the church, and there is great rejoicing by
the people, who fling open doors and windows to see the happy
throng, augmented as they proceed by children attracted by the
If the bridegroom happens to be from some other town,
his path to happiness is not so easy.
As soon as the proces­
sion is well under way, from divers points appear a half dozen
51 «Pasa-calle,tt Tipos jr Paisajes, VI, 495 ff*
young men leaping and cavorting, howling, discharging guns,
and behaving generally like a pack of savages.
They halt the
march, snatch the bride, and hold her captive until the groom
or his attendant effect her release by the payment of three
duros, which will later be spent on the celebration.
Only by
abiding by this tradition does the groom gain good standing
in the bride’s home town.
At the church door the girls sing farewell to the bride.
A nuptial Mass is celebrated, the ceremony performed, and the
party leaves amid the same fanfare for the groom’s home.
the girls sing to the groom’s mother, asking her to receive
her daughter-in-law and to treat her kindly.
Dressed in her
best, she appears at the door to welcome the bride, takes her
hand, kisses her cheek, and leads her into the house.
The wed­
ding party enters also and takes seats around the parlor in the
order of their importance in the bridal party.
The bride and
groom kneel before his mother, who remains standing, and beg her
pardon if they have offended her in any way.
She grants the
pardon and extends her hands to assistthem to arise.
The best man then confronts the
mother and asks her what
she is giving the bride as a wedding token.
She might denote a
farm, an animal, a piece of furniture, or any other thing in
accordance with her means, and the best man calls upon the as­
sembly to bear witness to her promise.
Thereupon the girls sing
to the health and prosperity of the bride in this
life and to
her glory in the hereafter.
The conclusion of this part of the ceremony takes place
after all have gone out into the street.
The singers bemoan
the sadness which reigns in the deserted house.
The very tiles
of the roof, they lament, wish to weep, and only the lonely
parents remain to console them. A peculiar feature of this
ceremony is that although the groom’s father might be hale and
hearty, it is to the mother only that the attention is directed.
How the procession moves noisily on to the bride’s home.
At the door the singers beg permission for the groom and his
paloma blanca to enter.
The table is set for the wedding feast.
The priest sits in the seat of honor.
The singers do not sit
at the table but watch and continue entertaining.
The bride’s
father blesses the pair, and the party answers, ’’Amen .’1 After
a few words of counsel from the priest, the table is abandoned
by this group.
The singers call the young men, who are in the yard, and
the real party begins.
are merry.
Far into the night they eat, drink, and
When they are all exhausted, the fiesta ends.
An elaborate and costly wedding is described in ’’Blasones
y Talegas.*1^
Ver6nica, daughter of a proud though impoverished
hidalgo, marries the son of Toribio, a wealthy .j&ndalo, who is
so proud of the match his son is making that he spares neither .
52 ’’Blasones y Talegas,” Tipos y Paisajes, VI, 311 ff.
effort nor expense to make this wedding a memorable one.
house is lavishly decorated with festoons of roses and thyme.
The kitchen is a hive of industry, with six of the best cooks
in all the vicinity preparing the feast for the special guests.
In the patio another corps is busy roasting six calves, to be
served to the general populaee, who are to be welcomed.
Toribio is resplendent in the finest apparel.
He is
running from one part of the house to another, nervously giv­
ing orders here, tasting there, and supervising somewhere else.
Ant6n, the groom, is as particular as a girl in his appearance,
patting his hair and viewing his rich and showy clothing in the
The whole town is in the spirit.
The church bells
peal joyously; firecrackers pop; boys shout; gaiteros wander
about the streets playing gay airs; girls are busily engaged
in trimming their panderetas with ribbons and little bells.
At an early hour the party leaves the groom*s house.
group of dancers form an areh under which pass Toribio, his
son, and the mayor’s wife, the alcaldesa.
with panderetas follow.
Twelve girl singers
Then come the young men.
the populace gather along the line of march.
The rest of
The gaiteros play
a traditional tarantela to which the dancers keep time by stamp­
ing gravely.
Ifhen this music ceases, six girls with panderetas
play and sing slowly,
f,De los novios de estas tierras va la flor y nata.**^
53 ibid., VI, 314.
The other six answer,
°Vdlgale el Behor San Roque, Kuestra Sehora le
Y a l g a . "54
Then all the twelve sing the four lines together.
Thus they pass through the crowded streets, the gaiteros
alternating with the panderetas until they reach the home of
Here the men give a loud shout which seems to rever­
berate in the distant mountains.
The girls play the pandere­
Toribio gives three loud raps on the door and sings,
Sol devino de estos valles,
deja el escuro retiro,
que k tu puerta estd el lucero
que va a casarse contigo.55
Yer&nica and her father appear.
She is dressed in a
changeable silk dress and blue satin slippers.
She has a gold
chain about her neck and a wreath of flowers on her head.
Toribio, Ant6n, and the alcaldesa step forward to receive them,
and since all five can not walk under the arch, the bride and
her father are given the honor.
The procession advances to the
church, the noise increasing momentarily.
Here they are met by the priest, the mayor, the school­
master, and all the school children.
The mayor delivers a
flowery speech, of which he seems extremely proud.
The chil­
dren form a double line which reaches to the church door and
Ibid., VI,. 314.
55 Ibid., VI, 316.
sing an appropriate hymn, the words of which have been com­
posed by the teacher.
After the usual ceremony inside the
church, the procession forms again outside, Ant6n now taking
his place under the arch with his bride and her father.
Toribio scatters coins among the crowd assembled outside the
Back at the Zancajo’s home, the special guests are seated
at a large table inside the house, while the dancers and the
remaining guests are served in the yeard.
There are stew,
bread, red wine, and rice and milk in great abundance.
As the
alcohol begins to take effect, the noise and merriment increase.
Soon cries are heard in the yard for los novios, the bridal
They appear on the balcony and delight their audience
by dancing a few measures.
?fhen darkness sets in, huge bont
fires are built in the yard and the fiesta continues unabated.
Toribio, eager to finish the day in a lavish fashion, opens a
barrel of aguardiente.
Late in the evening a final toast is
given to the bride and groom and to their families.
The guests
leave, and silence and order once more settle over the household.
Because of a breach between her father and the citizens
of Goteruco, the celebration attendant upon the wedding of
Magdalena de la Llosia is very simple, considering the standing
this noble family has had for generations.^
Since the groom
Bon Gonzalo Gonz&lez de la Gonzalera, III, All ff.
is a resident of a neighboring town, provisions are made for
him and his family to arrive at the Elosia home the previous
The finest linens and silver are taken from their chests
to adorn the.guest apartments.
The nuptial chamber is arrayed
with all the splendors the family affords.
Early on the wedding day Magdalena dons the bridal
clothes presented by her fiance.
She wears her family jewels.
Her father is arrayed in formal attire and displays huge dia­
monds in his shirt front and precious charms on his watch-chain.
The groom and his family, also of noble ancestry, are dressed
with equal splendor.
After the church services the singers accompany the
party back to the bridefs home.
Magdalena graciously invites
them to enter.
She embraces one who represents the others and
offers them a huge silver tray laden with various kinds of deli­
cate and tempting sweets.
The banquet table is resplendant with
the finest linens and silver accumulated by ten generations of
Perez de la Llosia.
All the traditional dishes of the country
are served, as well as all the latest innovations of the town.
Only the two immediate families and the priest partake of this
dinner, instead of practically everyone in town, as don Rom&n
would have desired.
He, however, is unwilling to be the gainer
even though he was the injured party, and gives a purse full of
gold to the priest to distribute among the needy, saying, w. .
. y esto es el pan de la boda de mi hija.
iQue, eomo pan
bendito, los nutra y los consueleJ
The funeral of a person of importance is the
occasion for a general holiday.
In Be Tal Palo Tal
the funeral of doha Marta is an elaborate one.
A s t i l l a ,58
Hosts of visi­
tors from near and far arrive, some because of sincere grief,
but many, as her old servant Maeabeo opines, for the feast.59
The church is too small to contain the entire congregation.
Fifty priests assemble to sing the solemn requiem mass, each
receiving a generous sum of money afterwards for his partici­
As at weddings, coins are tossed among the crowds who
wait outside for the entourage to pass.
Maeabeo says that a heart of stone would be melted by
such a sad ceremony.
"CorazSn de peha habia que tener para no
llorar con aquellos clamores, que no paecla sino que subian con
el incienso, techo arriba, hasta el mesmo cieloJ . . .**60
Tio Celso is the beloved patriarch of the town of
When he falls ill and it is evident that he is soon
to die, the whole town receives the blow with sadness.
A con­
stant stream of people trudge up the steep and stony street to
inquire as to his condition.
Many remain through the night
Ibid.. Ill, 419.
5s De Tal Palo Tal Astllla. IV, 134 ff.
59 Ibid., IV, 135.
60 Ibid., IV, 136.
talking or dozing in the kitchen, where the venerable old man
has so often presided over the nightly tertulia.
The actual
burial takes place almost immediately after death, with a very
c e r e m o n y . 63-
^he priest, dressed in black vestments,
climbs up the hill to the house.
He is preceded by acolytes
carrying a banner and a large crucifix, chanting the lamenta­
tions of Job as they march.
They enter the house and the cof­
fin is carried to the church for a final farewell.
It is then
laid in the newly opened hole and covered.
Y alld, entre los mustios llorones, en una misera fosa
recien abierta en el suelo, desapareci6 del mundo para
siempre, bajo una capa de tierra que pronto volveria a
cubrir la nieve, un hombre que habia sido hasta aquel dia
el patriarca, el senor, el rey indiscutido e indiscutible
de todo el valle.62
Preparations get under way then for the funeral.
village priest notifies all the other priests in the Arch­
diocese, as well as any others he can reach.
Marcelo, nephew
and heir of tio Gelso, with the aid of friends, writes count­
less letters to relatives, friends, and all the prominent peo­
ple of the province, announcing the demise and the time of the
Elaborate preparations are made for feeding the num­
bers who will be there, for it is the custom to have a big
dinner after the services.
The guests begin arriving early.
61 Penas Arriba. XV, 432 ft.
62 Ibid., XV, 433.
Some have made the
two-day trek from Santander.
Others have been following the
perilous mountain trails all night.
To those who go directly
to the house, cakes and wine are offered.
The long services
begin at ten o'clock, after which invited guests are served a
sumptuous feast at the casona, the big house, of all kinds of
soups, meats, fowl, and desserts.
Death is a matter for the whole town to feel, even if
the deceased is not a person of importance.
In "Las
B r u j a s , " 6 3
a so-called witch is dying from a stoning she has received.
The priest calls upon Felipe,!a young man living near by, to
accompany him to the witches house to administer the last
Felipe goes ahead with the crucifix and a light, a boy
rings a small bell, and any neighbors who can, join the pro­
cession, the men with bared heads, and the women with theirs
covered with a refajo, or short skirt.
carry it.
Those who have a candle
They crowd into the extremely small house.
A small
table has been placed near the miserable couch to serve as an
altar and the priest has covered the walls with some percale
hangings to make the surroundings a bit more worthy of the
El sehor cura habia cuidado tambi6n de revestir las
paredes inmediatas con dos colchas suyas de percal, para
hacer aquella pobre morada rnehos indigna del Huesped que
iba a honrarla.v^
"Las Brujas," Tipos £ Paisajes, VI,
Ibid., VI,
The assemblage is greatly moved by the dying woman’s
forgiveness of all who had wronged her, and the priest siezes
upon this golden opportunity to give a few words of counsel.
Everyone offers to sit up with the body that night, but the
priest feels that he should d o 'it, since he has always been at
hand when she lived.
tfBso me corresponde 4 mi— dijo el buen
cura:— la acompah6 en vida, y no debo abandonarla hasta el
65 Ibid., VI, 198
In the home.
Examples of the piety of these people are
frequent in Pereda's work.
The two chief interests in life in
Montaha are earning the daily bread and religion.
of their faith are seen at every turn, in the homes, in their
customs, in their speech, in their diversions.
Every bedroom
has a crucifix on the wall, a font of holy water, and some
blessed laurel to strew about to keep the devil away.
pictures always occupy a prominent place on the walls.
library in an ordinary home usually consists of Cartas de Santa
Teresa, G-uia de Pec adores, and El Aho Crist iano. A mother
teaches her children that religion is a bond between God and
his creatures that should create a happy situation and not be
a painful duty.
Asi es la fe de los mdrtires: herdiea, invencible, pero
risueha y atractiva: ciega en cuanto k sus misterios, no
en cuanto k la raz6n de que 6stos sean impenetrables y
Attitude toward death.
The faith of a truly religious
person is a source of great consolation when death approaches.
1 Jose Maria de Pereda, ”De Tal Palo Tal Astilla,” Qbras
Completes, IV, 120.
Since Pereda is the only author cited in this chapter,
to avoid unwieldy footnotes citations will be given hereafter
simply as the name of the book, volume number, and page number,
as has been done in previous chapters.
Tio Gleso seems to know when his hour has come, and once his
worldly affairs are in order, he actually welcomes death.
"Antes de morir con el cuerpo, estaba ya en el otro mundo con
el espiritu.
Be Bios era, a Bios iba y solo de Dios esperaba.M^
There is none of the fear of the unknown felt by so many who
have made no provision for an after life.
As he himself says,
. . . te puedo jurar que no me asusta la muerte, porque
soy viejo y cristiano y s§ que ha de venir sin tardar mucho,
y que me toca esperarla confiado en la misericordia de Dios,
como lo espero: . . . si a mi me viviera no m&s que uno
solo de los hijos que Dios me fu6 dando, la muerte de su
padre no seria propiamente muerte, . . . porque la vida de
los que se van retoha en los que se quedan para algo m&s
que llorarlos y rezar por ellos: es un eslab6n trabado en
otro eslab6n . . . vamos, una cadena que nunca se rompe ni
se acaba.3
He comforts his nephew by saying, r,En fin, Dios es Dios, y lo
que El quiera ha de ser, y lo que debe ser. . . .fl^
He tells
the servants that he must leave them, and blesses God’s will
. . iBendita sea la voluntad de Dios por siempre jam&s, am6mH5
In fact, the main prayer of these people is for a good death.
Pedro Holasco says that a good appetite and health with which
to enjoy it are second only to a good death: "Habia qu§ comer
en su casa y salud y buen apetito para comerlo.
2 Pena3 Arriba, XT, 507.
3 Ibid., XT, 310-311.
4- Ibid. , XT, 62.
5 Ibid., ST, 436.
In recta
justicia, que rads habla de pedirle k Bios, si no era la mereed
de una buena muerte*
Ague&a is deeply religious and refuses to marry Fernando,
who has been brought up as a heretic.
cause of her attitude.
He takes his life be­
She accepts the tragic news stoically,
and calmly sets about to find further penance she can do to
atone for his sin.?
In mentioning a deceased person, it is the custom to
utter a prayer for his eternal salvation, w. . . que en gloria
The custom of a family’s gathering to say the
rosary at night seems to be rather general.
Don Rom&n, in Bon
Gonzalo, dismisses the tertulianos in his kitchen and meets his
family and servants in the parlor.for this service.
. . . y amos y criados confundidos en un solo grupo, en
la pieza m&s respetada de la casa, di6se comienzo k ese
piadoso ejereicio, tan arraigado todavia, por fortuna, en
las eostumbres dom^sticas de la familia m o n t a n e s a . 9
Bo much a part of the daily life is this custom of saying
the rosary that tia Simona promised to say it twice to make up
for having missed on a busy Christmas Fve.
ft. . . y mientras
se lamentaba de haber dejado de rezar el rosario por causa del
6 Ibid., XV, 184.
5 De Tal Palo Tal Astilla, IV, 342.
nPara ser buen arriero,” Tipos y Paisajes, VI, 53.
^ Bon Gonzalo Gonzalez de la Gonzalera, III, 529*
jaleo, y jura que al dia siguiente lia de rezar dos. . . .f,i0
Seldom, however, does a busy program interfere with
this devotion.
Andres is preparing to go to America to seek
his fortune, and all the family is assisting.
The ceremony of
the evening rosary is welcomed rather than considered a hin^
drance in the busy day.
"Toda aquella tarde se invirtid en ar-
reglar el equipaje de Andr§s, y al anochecer se rez6 el rosario con m&s devocidn que nunca, . . .
In some homes a tertulia is begun with the recital of
the rosary.^-2
In tio Celso’s kitchen, the servants gather for
rosary before the other tertulianos
arr ive.^
Oftentimes one finds a tiny shrine beside
a trail high in the mountains.
Such a one surprises Marcelo
when he and Chiseo are on a trip.
By the light of a small
lamp can be seen a tiny altar with the image of the Virgen de
las Nieves. With great reverence Ghisco kneels and prays for
the souls of his father, his mother, his grandparents, all of
his relatives, all of Marcelo’s relatives, and finally for all
Christendom. 14*
10 T,La noche de Navidad," Bscenas Montahesas, Y, 131.
"A las Indias," Bscenas Montanesas, Y, 87*
12 "Al amor de los tizones," Tipos y Paisajes, VI, 404.
ffenas Arriba, XV, 307.
Ibid., XY, 54.
Chisco leaves his lantern behind the fence of the
sanctuary, to be picked up on ths return trip; he is most
humble and blesses himself before taking such a liberty.
. . . mas no sin santiguarse antes de meter la mano y
despues de sacarla, ni sin contemplar la imagen con una
veneraci6n que tenia algo de recelosa, eomo si la pidiera,
a la vez de seguridad para la prenda alii depositada, perd6n por lo que pudiera haber de irreverente en su atrevimiento.15
Belief in power of prayer.
faith in the power of prayer.
These people have abiding
When Pito Salces figures out a
way to rescue Ohisco, who has been swept onto a mountain ledge
in a violent snowstorm, he gives all credit to prayers.
ipuchesJ son pa cuando truena, y las oraciones, senor
don Sabas, pa cuando se necesitan eomo ahora mesmu.”16
kisses the priest’s hand, blbsses himself, and starts on the
perilous mission, invoking "Jes&s crucificado."
When Lebrato and his son are caught in a cave on the
shore and the incoming tide threatens to drown them, Lebrato
tells El Josco to pray while he is climbing the cliffs.
faith is combined with common sense, however, for he cautions
his son to be careful to get a secure hold on the rocks, also.-^
Ibid., XV, 190-191.
16 Ibid., XV, 426.
La Puchera. XI, 495.
A party entering a cave to hunt bears makes the sign
of the cross before exposing themselves to the danger, saying,
111A Is mano de Dios.*
Even though one has strayed from the fold, he is always
quick to call upon God in time of need.
The irreligious and
wicked Galusa thanks God when her nephew reports that all is
going well in his courtship of the wealthy In6s. "iBendita sean
las horas del Seriorl . . .
Baltasar, most irreverent of
persons, calls upon God for help and pardon when he is trapped
on a cliff and doomed to die.
He calls out to those who are
trying to save him, f,iDios os enviaJ . . .
Don Ale jo 2 ... .
iHay Diosi ♦ . . iYa creo en El . . . y en su
He always prays to Saint Barbara in a -storm, to Saint Anthony
when he has lost something, and to Saint Rita to aid him to
collect a seemingly impossible debt.^l
Religious superstition.
Religion in the Montana, as de­
picted by Fereda, is tinged with what would be called by less
primitive folk superstition.
A storm is an expression.of Godfs
wrath, and its abatement is a sign that He has been appeased.
ffenas Arriba, XY, 37A.
19 La Puohera, XI, 294.
20 Ibid., X I , 594.
21 Ibid., XI, 67.
When Marcelo agrees to his uncle’s request that he carry on as
father to the people of Tablanca, the storm which has been rag­
ing suddenly slackens.
Tio Celso is certain that this is a
sign of approval from above.
He says, "Mira, hombre: hasta
la ira de Dios parece que se ha ealmado tambien; ya no llueve
tanto ni truena ni rebomba el viento eomo antes."
When a terrific clap of thunder is heard,don Robustiano
exclaims,covering his face
with his hands, "iSanta
His daughter Ver&nica concluded,
— Que en el cielo estds eserita
con papel y agua bendita
en el ara de la Cruz, 23
llbranos, lm6n, Jesds;
Don Robustiano, who is disturbed in prayer by the visit of an
unwelcome guest, says that the storm would have passed if he
had been permitted to pray in peace.
Maeabeo says that he travels*, safely over the treacherous
mountain trails day and night because he forms a cross with his
thumb and index finger.
This also makes it safe to travel with
Dr. Peharrubias, a heretic.
Maeabeo knows that if G-od really
wishes to strike him with a thunderbolt, he can do it as easily
in the house as in the mountains.2^
Penas Arriba, XV, 333.
"Blasones y Talegas," Tipos £ Paisa.jes, VI, 269-270.
2® Ifii PalQ Tal Astilla, IV, 17.
Consecrated laurel is sprinkled about a room to keep
the devil away, for, as tio Celso says, n. . . el demonio no
descansa un punto, y se cuela por el ojo de una cerradura."25
The priest is delayed by a storm, and tio Celso blames the
M. . . Si lo .que hace Satan&s para juncar el diente a
las almas es mueho cuento.1*2^
Don Anacleto fears that trains, an exciting innovation
in the Montaha, threaten God*s omnipotence, and that mankind
will be punished for daring so far.
ft. . . en el ferrocarril
hay algo de amenaza a la omnipotencia de Dios que el mejor dia
va & hacer una que sea sonada, ofendido de tanta temeridad.m2?
Attitude toward priests.
The priests in Pereda1s books
are all fine, spiritual men, worthy of the respect tendered
them; but even if somewhat less worthy, they would be respected
for their position.
Such is the feeling Pito Salces and Chisco
have for don Sabas, priest in Penas Arriba, ,f. . . que tan profundo respeto tenian a don Sabas solamente por ser cura de su
parroquia y hombre de indiscutible competencia, en cuanto se
les alcanzaba & ellos.rf^
Leilas Arriba, XV, 69.
26 Ibid., XV, 498.
2? MLa romeria del Carmen, ** Tipos
ffeftas Arriba, XV, 134.
Paisa jes, VI, 128.
The disrespectful Marcos, who has been attending a
seminary merely because he thinks a priest’s life is an easy
one, cannot but respect the priestly robes.
In a conversation
with don Alejo, who knows exactly Marcofs attitude and doesn’t
mind letting him know, "A mi no puede ofenderme nada de lo que
usted me diga, sehor don Ale jo—
la corona y las canas
le haeen mereeedor de mi respeto. . . .
When In§s flees from her cruel father’s house she calls
immediately for don Alejo to counsel her.
Believing that
divine Providence has assisted her to escape, don Alejo will­
ingly shields
h e r . 30
Later don Baltasar, her father, loses
his mind, and Luca, his distracted servant, runs for the
It is interesting to read that some
conscientious people adhere to paying tithes for the upkeep of
the church.
At don Silvestre’s husking-bee32 the baskets of
corn are chalked up on the wall as they are carried out.
tenth basket is set aside as the diezmo for the church.
this, from each of the other baskets are taken three ears of
corn for the souls in purgatory; two for candles for Saint
^ £i§. i^chera, XI, 250.
30 Ibid. . XI, 5A.8 ft.
31 Ibid., XI, 586.
3^ "Suum Culque," Escenas Montanesas. V, 256.
Anthony, patron saint of stock animals; six for Saint Roque,
mediator in pestilence; and six for Saint Peter, patron of
the town.
This is concrete evidence of don Silvestre’s faith,
and one cannot but admire such a character, ff. . . al contemplar la fe y el placer con que su amigo complia los preceptos
que se le imponian, y las muestras de la caridad que guardaba
siempre en su sencillo
33 Ibid., V, 257
c o r a z 6 n . f,3 3
Jos6 Marla de Pereda is considered by critics to be
the best regionalist of Spain of the latter part of the nine­
teenth century, and one of the most talented in all Spanish
literature in the description of landscape.
While Pereda
could have been a prominent figure in the political life of
Madrid, he preferred to live in Santander, spending most of
his time in his native village, Polanco.
He was intimate with
all the aspects of his surroundings, from the lofty, snow­
capped peaks to the rugged shore, all of which he presents
vividly and forcefully in his sketches.
He is equally noted
for his descriptions of the maritime life of Santander and the
rustic simplicity of the hinterland, the latter phase being
the particular study of this paper.
Pereda understands the psychology of the people of his
province and depicts a wide variety of characters and types,
particularly in his sketches in Tipos jr Faisajes and Bscenas
Montanesas: adventurers, indianos and jdndalos, whose sole
aim is to amass enough wealth to make a dramatic return to
their pueblo; proud grandees, hiding their poverty behind
crumbling walls; patriarchs watching over their flocks like a
benign father; farmers whose happiness lies in doing an honest
day’s work and serving G-od; servants of all dispositions, from
the faithful slave to the crafty schemer who tries to gain
possession of his master’s wealth; misers; priests; and a
variety of women characters, including the persecuted "witch."
Pictures of customs and diversions abound in the works
of Pereda.
Weddings and funerals are occasions in which all
classes of society participate.
Harvest time brings workers
together for a busy three weeks which are enlivened by huskingbees and chestnut-roasts.
Fairs and market days, fiestas
following religious observances, and tertulias, informal
gatherings, are among the chief amusements offered.
Some of
the customs show the fine community spirit developed in these
remote villages— the cabaSa, or common herding of cattle for
winter pasturage, and the Frao-Concejo, a field owned by the
town, the crops of which are shared equally by all.
Pereda’s attitudes are expressed in a kindly way in his
works: his deep reverence for religion, his respect for tradi­
tion, and his love for a patriarcal life based upon the mutual
respect and help of all classes of society; and any innovations
which would tend to jeopardize this harmony are looked upon
by him with alarm.
Throughout the sketches presenting the changing moods
and aspects of nature, the delineation of types and customs,
and the revelation of his attitudes, Pereda employs a style and
diction of great richness and variety, ranging from the pictur­
esque dialogue of the lower classes to the almost classic
descriptions of the amazing scenery of Santander.
Pereda, Jose Maria, "Lbs Hombres de Prb," Qbras Completas,
Vol. I, cuarta edicibn. Madrid: Yiuda e Hijos de Manuel
Tello, 1909.
_______, "El Buely Suelto," Qbras Completas.
Viuda e Kijos de Manuel Tello, 1909.
Yol. II; Madrid:
_______, "Bon Gonzalo Gonzdlez de la Gonzalera," Qbras Com­
pletas. Yol. Ill, cuarta edicion. Madrid: Yiuda 6 Hijos
de Manuel Tello, 1906.
_______, "Be Tal Palo Tal Astilla," Qbras Completas. Yol. IY,
cuarta edicibn. Madrid: Yiuda e Hijos de Manuel Tello,
_______, "Iscenas Montanesas," Qbras Completas. Yol. Y, cuarta
edicibn. Madrid: Yiuda e Hi"jo's de Manuel Tello, 1910.
_______, "Tipos y Paisajes," Qbras Completas. Yol. VI, tercera
edicibn. Madrid: Yiuda b Hijos de Manuel Tello, 1910.
_______, "Esbozos y Rasguhos," Qbras Completas. Yol. VII,
tercera edicion. Madrid: Establecimiento Tipogrdfico de
los hijos de Tello, 1912.
_______, "Bocetos al Temple," "Tipos Trashumantes," Qbras
Completas. Yol. VIII, tercera edicibn. Madrid: Estable­
cimiento Tipogrdfico de los hijos de Tello, 1911.
_______, "Sotileza," Qbras Completas. Yol. IX, cuarta edicibn.
Madrid: Yiuda b Hijos de Manuel Tello, 1906.
_______, "El Sabor de la Tierruca," Qbras Completas. Yol. X,
cuarta edicibn. Madrid: Establecimiento tipogrdfico de los
Hijos de Tello, 1913.
■» "La Puchera," Qbras Completas. Yol. XI, tercera edi­
cibn. Madrid: Yiuda e hijos de Manuel Tello, 1910.
______ , "La Montalvez," Qbras Completas. Yol. XII, tercera
edicibn. Madrid: Yiuda b Hijos de Manuel Tello, 1909-
Pereda, Jose Maria de, ”Pedro Sanchez,” Qbras Completas.
Vol. XIII, tercera edici&n. Madrid: Establecimiento
Tipogrdfico de los Hijos de Tello, 1913*
_______, ”Nubes de Estio,” Qbras Completas. Vol. XIV, ter­
cera edicidn. Madrid: Establecimiento Tipogrdfico de los
Hijos de Tello, 1913.
______”Pehas Arriba,” Qbras Completas. Vol. XV, quinta
edici6n. Madrid: Establecimiento Tipogrdfico de los Hijos
de Tello, 1913.
_______, ”A1 Primer Vuelo,” Qbras Completas. Vol. XVI, cuarta
edici6n. Madrid: Libreri'a General de Victoriano Suarez,
, ”Pachin Gonzalez y Biografia de Pereda,” Qbras Com­
pletas. Vol. XVII, tercera edici6n. Madrid: Libreria
General de Victoriano Sudrez, 1922.
Barja, Cdsar, Libros y autores modernos. Madrid: Sucesores de
Rivadeneyra, 1924.
Bassett, Ralph Emerson, introduction,” Pedro Sdhchez.
Ginn and Company, 1907.
Cejador y Erauca, Julio, Historia de la lengua y literatura
castellana. Madrid: Tipografla de la ”Rev. de arch.;
bibl., ymuseos,” 1915-1922 (1913). Vol. III.
Eguia Ruiz, Constancio, Literaturas y literatos; estudios
contempordneos, primera serie. Madrid: Sdenz de Jubera
Hermanos, 1914.
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