Introductory: Spanish Travel
( Originally Published 1919 )
HISTORY and tradition have conspired to hinder Spanish travel. The ordinary assumption seems to be that the Spaniard is a sort of bewhiskered pirate, partial to bloodshed, haughty in demeanor, intolerant of innovation, anxious only for doubloons and pieces of eight, more at home on the quarter-deck of a galleon than anywhere else, and burning with a consuming passion to convert the world to the Roman Catholic religion by rack and wheel if need be. The gruesome tales of the Spanish Main and the Inquisition die extremely hard, and as a result many seem to hesitate over embarking on a journey through the land of the Most Catholic Kings ; or, having become fixed in the determination to voyage thither, set out with inward fear and trembling concerning what they shall find. Such, at any rate, was our own experience and such our apprehensions,. mitigated only by the knowledge that many had visited Spain and had returned, not unscathed merely, but actually professing to have found both pleasure and profit in their contact with this austere and intolerant race.
The unpleasant conflict between Spain and the United States which culminated in 1898 has unquestionably hindered Americans more than others from visiting the peninsula, fearful lest the bitter memories of unsuccessful war should crop out to mar the pleasures of the journey by subjecting the visitor himself to occasional contumely at the hands of the conquered. It deserves to be said, then, that nothing could be farther from the truth than any such assumption concerning the Spanish people as a whole, even as representing their personal feelings toward those with whom their government was so recently at war. The statement that one is an " American " is almost invariably taken by the native as meaning South American; and when one goes farther and specifies the United States as his native land, it seems to cause no resentment. If our own experiences were a fair criterion, and that they were so we judge from the common testimony of other similarly circumstanced visitors, it would be hard to find a more courteous or a more considerate people. Making due allowance for the slight rudenesses of certain individuals here and there, and for differences of national opinion as to what is and what is not acceptable conduct, differences which one always meets with in foreign travel, and surely as often in Paris as in Madrid, it remains true that Spain is quite as easy and quite as safe a country to travel in as any other. The only marked incivility that we ourselves met with in Spain was shown by an American woman !
To be sure, it is apparently a common notion among Spanish cavaliers that to stare at an attractive woman is a species of compliment, and the practice is frequently resented by those who do not regard it in the same light. In some cities, and more especially in Madrid, impertinent young men occasionally do annoy unescorted women in very disagreeable ways, although doubtless with no more than a mildly mischievous intent. As for the dangers of robbery and theft, these are probably no greater in Spain than in any other Mediterranean country, despite the prevalence of signs everywhere warning the traveler to "beware of pickpockets." In short, one who guards his possessions with ordinary care, and who pursues the even tenor of his way in a self-respecting manner, runs no more risk of loss or of molestation than he would run in Rome, and would in most cases be in infinitely less danger of either than he would be in Naples.
Begging, to be sure, is extremely common, and the only wise course is to ignore it as far as possible. The children are by far the worst offenders, often urged on shamelessly by their mothers to demand money of passers-by when possibly they would omit to do it of their own volition. But in the main no such urgence is necessary, as every child regards the appearance of a stranger as the signal for a plea for cinco centimos, or a perrita, or a limosnita, which are the various common forms of demanding the smallest of the Spanish coins. According to all traditions, the traveler in refusing to present alms should always adopt the piously courteous form, "Pardon us for God's sake, brother." But I suspect that this stately phrase is swiftly dropping into disuse with the steady increase of visitation by less polite foreigners. Whether this growing contact with the world outside will likewise, in its turn, impair the natives' own inborn courtesy and habit of elaborate circumlocution remains to be seen. If it does so, it will be a pity, for the high-sounding language of even the people of lowly station has its picturesqueness. That a good deal of it has already passed away, however, is highly probable. Too many visitors now come to Spain whose acquaintance with the language is rudimentary. The vocabulary of the ordinary traveler is restricted to the great essentials of food, drink, and lodging, and will not bear the strain of high-flown compliment or of profound obeisance that gushes so freely from those to the manner born. It requires a certain degree of facility to beseech the worshipful porter to do you the great favor of bearing a hand with your portmanteau, and few of us possess it.
Nevertheless, I should most certainly advise the intending voyager in Spain to make some attempt to acquire a working vocabulary of Spanish, even if it must be confined to a few useful nouns and a very few common adjectives, numerals, and set phrases. Spain is not yet as full of linguists as the more frequented countries are, and now and then, if one leaves the beaten track, or finds one's self in a quandary on the street, a little learning in the Castilian tongue will be found to be anything but a dangerous thing. It is of vast assistance, also, in understanding the guides and sacristans who inevitably escort the wondering traveler through dim cathedrals and the mazes of the ancient palaces. It will also be found helpful if one knows some-thing of the curious pronunciation of certain letters in the Spanish alphabet in order to render one's naming of streets and places intelligible to the Spanish ear. It will probably surprise many to discover that it is emphatically not a musical language, as commonly spoken to-day even by natives of Andalusia. It retains too many of the gutturals bequeathed by the Moors to have the liquid smoothness of the Italian. The crude climate of the greater part of Spain has not improved the quality of the native voice. And yet those who admire the language would have us believe that "God created the world in Spanish ; Eve was beguiled by the serpent in Italian ; and Adam begged pardon in French !"
The common Spanish coin is the peseta, a sort of meek and lowly franc. The worth of it varies appreciably from day to day, very much as the Greek drachmas do, the average value being something like eighteen cents of our money. There is the usual Mediterranean necessity to be constantly on the watch for false coin without the Italian safeguard of looking at the date. The sound of the metal is the one criterion, and every shop-keeper maintains a marble block on which to test his money. In the more considerate shops the testing may be postponed until the customer is on his way out, but he will hardly fail to hear the clinking of silver as he departs. The more common custom is to bounce the several pieces brazenly under the purchaser's very noseand no offense intended. You are expected to do the same with your change.
Common as the pesetas and two-peseta pieces are, they are almost equaled in volume of circulation by the nimble, but heavy, duro, a five-peseta coin resembling our silver dollar in size and ponderosity. The absence of any bank bills for the lower denominations makes this unwieldy coin extremely common ; and the traveler setting out properly equipped for a day's sight-seeing must carry on his person a weight almost comparable to that borne by Charles V of blessed memory, when cantering calmly into battle. For not only will his pocketbook be bulging with duros, but his change-pockets will be loaded down with great store of centimos, copper coins of the size of pence and ha'pennies, which latter are most useful for paving the way with good intentions on the part of a hungry population. Most of the Spanish gold has gone long ago to join the national myths. The country that once furnished all Europe with that precious metal no longer has enough to bless herself with, and must be content with a sadly debased and wildly fluctuating silver currency. An English sovereign, which commands twenty-five francs, will generally call for twenty-eight pesetas in Spain.
The ever-watchful guidebooks warn the visitor against entering into religious or political discussions with the natives, a very wise, but eminently superfluous bit of advice in view of the paucity of the average traveler's linguistic equipment. Very few, I imagine, are capable of doing much more than to bargain for the necessities of life, or to demand agua caliente of hotel attendants, and therefore run little risk of being drawn into voluble and superheated discussions over the Carlists, or the need of a republican form of government. Much more reasonable is the advice to preserve a respectful and decorous demeanor in the churches during mass, needless as such admonition ought to be. The zeal of Spain for the Catholic faith is still intense, and while a Castilian may not be more royalist than the King, he is frequently rather more Catholic than the Pope. It does not please him that heretical tourists, guidebook in hand, should wander noisily about his cathedrals, drowning the "blessed mutter of the Mass" with their clatter and babble. And yet, if Catholic Spain still regards the Protestant foreigner as little better than a heathen, as very likely she does, there is little outward and visible indication of it to-day.
Aside from fears based on a mistaken notion of the character of the people, there appears to be a popular fallacy that traveling in Spain is not a matter lightly to be undertaken, that it is beset with peculiar drawbacks and hardships, and that it is certain to entail unusual expense. As for the latter consideration, that varies, as always, with the temperament, habits, desires, and ideas of the individual, and depends to no small degree also on the season. It is probably a fair statement that the costs of a journey in Spain are likely somewhat to exceed the expenses of a similar journey in Italy, unless one is possessed of an abundance of time. Given the latter, with a consequent immunity from rapid changes of base and costly railway journeys at too frequent intervals, and Spanish travel will be found far from expensive for those of modest tastes, particularly if one be wise in choosing the season for one's visit. As for the discomforts and hardships, of which so much has been made by earlier writers, these are beginning to disappear and with the lapse of time will doubtless cease altogether to be worth considering. The diligence has now almost entirely disappeared and one is no longer forced to rely upon it save for journeys quite apart from any track that the ordinary visitor is likely to frequent. Nevertheless, in part because of the native hostility to-ward all radical innovation and the obstinate notion that traditional Spanish ways are of necessity better than any other ways, and in part also be-cause of unfamiliarity with the demands of visitors from other lands, one will unquestionably find, here and there, a good deal that is primitive and some things that are decidedly uncomfortable when judged by the more exacting modern standards. It is always well to bear in mind Lord Byron's celebrated dictum, not yet outlawed in Spain, whatever may be the truth of it elsewhere, "Comfort must not be expected by folk that go a-pleasuring."
As I look back now upon our experiences in Spain, however, I have no recollection of anything in the least unpleasant in the matter of our accommodation. On each occasion we were in the country before the season for the heaviest volume of travel, and by the same token it was not yet balmy weather, so that we soon learned the shortcomings of the Spanish nation in the heating of its houses. But though nights were chill, the beds were invariably provided with heavy blankets, and were in themselves almost always soft and comfortable; and with the aid of the brasero, of which more here-after, the indoor intervals of the waking day were made very tolerable. Nor are our recollections of the Spanish food any less agreeable, although our anticipations had conjured up a sufficiency of horrors ; and I may say with perfect truth, after a some-what varied experience in many Mediterranean countries, that in Spain one fares quite as well as in any other land, if not rather better. Garlic, of course, one must expect. Chocolate, nearly always "tinct with cinnamon" and often made heavy and pasty with flour, forms the staple of the morning meal. In many places goat's milk is the only milk to be had. But if any general criticism were to be made of the Spanish fare which we encountered in our journeys, it would not be that there was any scarcity of palatable food, but on the contrary that there was, if anything, too great an abundance.
Whatever is true at other seasons, it may at least be stated that in the early spring the ordinary inns of Spain are not merely comfortable, and generally reasonable in price, but also admirably clean. It was only here and there, in the somewhat less frequented towns, that we came upon a rather uncomfortable primitiveness, chiefly manifested in the sanitary arrangements of inland hotels, a respect in which there is often much room for improvement. But in the cities and towns more commonly touched by the tide of travel, the Spaniard has come to know what is expected by the foreigner, and he provides as well as any sensible traveler could well desire.
We had been warned, as everybody else has been, of the unsatisfactory character of the Spanish rail-ways, their lack of comfortable cars, their slow train , their delays, and their many curious features ; but after traversing the country from south to north, and after traveling by many different lines we were forced to the conclusion that these difficulties had either passed away or had been grossly exaggerated ; and we ended by voting the Spanish railways, with all their faults, fairly comfortable and reasonably efficient. The fares are undoubtedly high, and the time required to cover even moderate distances is often great. Corridor trains s are far from numerous, and in the provision of conveniences for the traveler, both on trains and at stations, the Spaniards still have a great deal to learn. But improvements are slowly coming, and already the various lines boast occasional trains de luxe that, even a fastidious traveler will admit, compare very well with the service in other countries.
It may be well at this point to say a word or two about the Spanish railways in detail, lest other in-experienced visitors fall into some of the pitfalls that we ourselves fell into for want of a warning word . To outward view, the railroads of Spain look much like other European lines, save that the unusually wide gauge of the tracks is at once apparent to t e eye. The cars themselves are not noticeably wider, however, than in other countries, and are di-vide into the usual three classes. As between these classes there is rather more difference than is the case in Italy. That is to say, there is far more difference between the first and second classes in the way of comfort. The third-class coaches will probably be patronized very little by voyagers from outside Spain, these cars being comfortless and almost in-variably crowded. The second class may be used sparingly for journeys of moderate length by day, and the newer additions to this class of rolling-stock afford a very fair measure of comfort. But it cannot be denied that the first-class carriages do offer by far the greatest advantages, and I should certainly advise the use of them for any journey exceeding two or three hours in length, especially in southern Spain. There are people who affect to find huge delight in riding third, because of the interesting contact with the natives to be gained thereby. But this is a pleasure confined to those thoroughly familiar with the language, and the ordinary visitor cannot hope to share it. As a general rule, then, the traveler will wisely ride in the first-class cars ; and with the discount made possible by using a kilometric ticket the cost will not exceed the cost of the usual second-class tickets.
The speed of the trains is seldom great. It commonly averages very little over thirty miles an hour on the fastest expresses, while the slow mixed trains rarely get above a fifteen-mile rate. In either case there are likely to be very extended stops at stations, in part for the exigencies of travel and in part for the convenience of passengers. Also, I suspect, it enables the more easy maintenance of schedule time by affording some leeway at stopping points. As matter of fact, I have met with very few instances of delay beyond scheduled times of arrival and departure in all our Spanish journeying.
The chief pitfall for the unwary traveler is to be found in the fact that certain trains run only on specified days,- a fact which the time-table does not always make sufficiently clear. Hence, in studying the published guides of the railways, even the best "official" ones, which may be bought at any bookstore for fifty centimos, one must make sure not only that a train is scheduled to go at a specified hour, but also that it is specified to run on the desired day. This intermittent peculiarity is by no means confined entirely to the trains de luxe. It extends to the humble "mixed" trains, as we occasionllly discovered to our sorrow. Certain of the faster and more luxurious trains are limited in their nature, taking only as many passengers as they can seat, and for passage by such trains an extra, or " supplemental," ticket is required, costing ten per cent of the regular fare in addition thereto. Such trains are best boarded only at large terminals, for the reason that they are very likely to be full,in which case the wayfarer may be able to obtain ad fission to them neither for love nor even for money, as we also discovered to our sorrow on an occasion which shall be described in its proper place.
One other thing advisable to bear constantly in mind is the curious custom of closing the ticket offices five minutes or more before the arrival of the train is to be expected. This precludes the purchase of a ticket at the last moment, or the belated ex-change of kilometric coupons ; and as there is very likely to be a considerable throng about the ticket window, it is highly desirable to be early on the scene, even if one has no heavy luggage to be weighed and registered.
The kilometric ticket referred to above is also a thing that ought to be well understood before starting, since its use is productive both of economy and comfort. It will be found very wise for the traveler intending to visit Spain to provide himself before starting from home with a small unmounted photo-graph of himself, or his party in a group, the photo-graph being not more than two inches square and showing the portraits clearly. The possession of this photograph in advance will save valuable time on arriving in Spain, for the kilometric ticket must be sent for and is issued by very few central offices. On landing, the application accompanied by the picture may be dispatched by any hotel proprietor or tourist agent, and in three or four days the kilometric book will be returned, properly stamped. They are issued in different sizes, the larger denominations being available for several persons but the persons must be a " family," or business associates. The maximum number is, I believe, seven people, and any number less than the seven may use it. Of course, in determining what denomination of ticket to purchase it is important to a certain the total number of kilometres likely to b traversed, as well as the number of the passengers. One must not be discouraged by the feign d ignorance of tourist agencies respecting such tickets, but should stoutly insist on having the ticket sent for without delay. The saving on a long journey, even including some portions of road on v which kilometrics are not available, may total a third of the ordinary expense.
A for the question of seasons, it is always to be remembered that Spain is an Atlantic as well as a Mediterranean country, and possesses a great variety of climatic conditions within its rather restricted territory. The climate of the Spanish riviera is commended by those who have visited it i midwinter as being admirably even and comfortable, while the climate of the great inland plateau, even in the mild months, is berated with equal fervor as toasting by day and frigid by night. Much of the interior of the kingdom is a bleak and lofty desert, with an altitude of several thousand feet above the sea, intersected by ranges of snow-clad mountains, so that the spring months may be cold indeed. Southern Spain, on the contrary, affords pleasant lowlands and early verdure. The summer is everywhere too hot for comfort. The win ers, in most of Spain, are too cold, and the hones are but poorly heated. For ourselves, we chose April for our first visit, seeking to average conditions between south and north; but after the various experiments I incline to believe that the best time is early May, working northward with the season. Of course, there is much of interest to be seen by visiting such cities as Seville in Holy Week; the great drawbacks being the presence of crowds and the difficulty of seeing such pictures and altar-pieces as pious custom dictates shall be shrouded in purple cloaks until after Easter.
Winter travel in Spain is unquestionably the least expensive, owing to the naturally lower rates demanded for hotel accommodation at that time. It is said to be not at all uncommon to find very considerable houses willing to make rates as low as six or seven pesetas per day during the colder months, whereas at other seasons the same hostelries would ask fully double, and perhaps treble, that sum for the same accommodation. The discomfort of winter in Spain, however, is universally agreed to be great. The heating facilities of even fairly large hotels are often hopelessly inadequate, and it is only in the comparatively few that are actually heated by steam that comfort is to be had. I say "actually heated" advisedly, for not every proprietor advertising that luxury always has it to offer. We met with one who announced such facilities as part of the attractions of his house, and who doubtless believed in all honesty that the kettles of boiling water with which he adorned his tiny stoves afforded the luxury of which his business cards made so much !
Doubtless the great volume of Spanish travel to-day still enters by the north, through the great main gateways of Irun and Port-Bou at the frontiers of France. The American voyager, however, will probably find it preferable to enter by the southern port of Algeciras and proceed northward as far as he desires, or his time permits. At present it is a common practice for those sailing to the Mediterranean to " stop over a steamer " at Gibraltar and spend the intervening week or so in visiting the southern cities of Granada, Seville, and Ronda only. Needless to say, this can hardly be called seeing Spain. The southern districts, while interesting and beautiful to a commanding degree, are far from being characteristic of the whole. They are warmer, more fertile, less gloomy than the great interior plateau. The broad vega of Granada bears no resemblance to the boundless deserts and bleak upland plains of Castile. Seville has little in common with Madrid. In fact, the traveler who con-tents himself with Andalusia will depart possessed of Moorish, rather than Spanish, memories. The Moor has left an indelible impress on the land, despite his more than four centuries of absence. His graceful architecture has been perpetuated, though with steadily lessening success, until one wearies of horseshoe arches and arabesques. If Christianity has triumphed over Islam, it has not always seen fit greatly to alter or amend the temples made with Mohammedan hands. The campanile of the huge cathedral at Seville is still the Moorish Giralda tower. Cordova worships to this day in a slightly modified, but thoroughly spoiled, mosque. Throughout all southern Spain the dark figure of the resourceful Moor looms large, ghostly though it be after all these years of expulsion.
But if the impressions carried away by the visitor of Granada alone are Moorish, those borne home-ward by the more fortunate voyager who journeys throughout the country are likely to prove chaotic. Spain is, in this respect, the most curious of countries. She is a hopeless composite. At the end of the journey one is utterly at a loss if asked to spell out Spanish art in terms of architecture. Spain has been fated. to take her models from others. She has been a generous buyer and an imitative borrower. She has, in consequence, developed no style peculiarly her own, and where she has sought to do so she has too often succeeded only in spoiling what foreigners brought to her door. She has imported Moorish, Gothic, Romanesque, and " renaissance " forms of architecture in chaotic profusion ; and aside from slight and often dubious variations on these themes, she has contributed almost nothing of her own. Her forte seems to have been the stern art of war, exploration, conquest, the pursuit of empire ; and, as a natural consequence, she preferred to engage the service of accomplished aliens to design her palaces and temples, for which she had the money handsomely to pay. Such, at least, I take to be one explanation of the absence of anything one may properly call a distinctively Spanish style. She was a collector rather than an originator in the realm of art and architecture ; a liberal patron rather than a craftsman. And yet she produced a few excellent painters of her own, and at least one consummate artist of pronounced individuality, Velasquez.
I recall listening once to a lecturer who aroused my choler at the outset of his remarks by the seemingly absurd statement, " There is no Spain ! " It is only after returning from that country and setting about now to collect my own scattered recollections of it that I begin to understand this astonishing dictum. Doubtless it was too broadly put ; but it is almost a truth that " there is no Spain " in the sense in which one says there is an Italy, or a Greece. Spain is kaleidoscopic. She is a microcosm. She embodies a little of everything without achieving marked individuality,-even in climate.
Her people well exemplify the same curious trait. The indolent Andalusian under his softer skies is quite a different creature from the haughty Castilian. The alert and businesslike Catalan is different from both, and indeed is hardly entitled to be called a Spaniard at all, even in his own estimation. But at best the Spaniards as a race seem far less light-hearted than their Italian cousins. They have the sterner climate, the higher mountains, the colder waters, the more sterile soil to contend with. Hence the less musical speech, the more strident voice, the greater austerity and more impressive dignity, in place of open-hearted, care-free laughter.
It is not surprising, therefore, to find that the national character and the national life abound in inconsistencies and contradictions. The same nation that exhibits such an unbounded fondness for children and pets, that displays its tenderness in speech in a thousand endearing, caressing diminutives, takes even today a savage delight in bull-fighting, and but recently outgrew the auto-de fe. The heart that scrupulously reveres the forms and ceremonies of religion may in the next moment condone actions quite out of accord with the spirit, and cheerfully content itself with the letter only. I have known of purses stolen in a throng kneeling before the passing Host ! In short, Spain is one vast medley, turn which way you will, north, south, east, west ; and one is tempted to sum it all up by saying that if she has one great distinguishing national characteristic, it is her very lack thereof ! If she has any consistency, it is in being forever inconsistent.
It is to be borne in mind, as one traverses the Spanish peninsula, that Spain is a nation in the nighttime of her existence. She has had her stir-ring day, and for a time at least the sun has set. Of the vast colonial empire of Philip II not a shred remains. Spain is old, and broken, and poor ; her head is bloody but unbowed ! She no longer furnishes the world with gold from her mines but she has still her pride. It was her part to open the way for the westward course of empire, but not to hold sway over it. For the latter task she was as unfit by temperament as she was preeminently qualified for the former. She lived an intensely active life while it lasted, and then fell into what has seemed to many like decay. As a nation she is now reduced almost entirely to her peninsular borders, stripped of her last remnant of maritime glory, and utterly without training for anything like a leadership in commerce. For old Spain never was "in trade." The Spaniard was the valiant chevalier, the hardy explorer, the navigator, the buccaneer, the man of war. With the departure of the time for conquest and the lack of new worlds to conquer came poverty like an armed man, and for the arts of peace the Spanish race found itself pathetically unfit. The New World empire proved too vast to be stable. The governors were neither sufficiently able nor sufficiently scrupulous to bear a wise sway over remote colonies. What was worse, she developed the same insidious weakness and in-capacity for government at home.
The spectacle of Spain as she is today is not without its pathos. She is outworn, yet faced with the necessity of beginning life anew. She finds her-self but ill equipped for taking up, in her gray hairs, the drudgery which she spurned in her vigorous youth. And yet it would be serious error to assume that she is cast down. The industrious Catalan is as self-confident and as active in peaceful arts to-day as the citizen of Milan. The farmer of the barren interior is turning with renewed endeavor to the task of making fertile the desert which the Moor so long ago taught him to irrigate. In view of the inherent reluctance of the ancient Iberian race to adopt new ideas and especially new methods, it is perfectly natural that the unlearning of the old and the acquirement of the new should be a some-what slow and painful process; but hopeful critics aver that the present period, so far from being one of progressive decay, is rather one of transition to a new and different life. Everywere, remarks a recent writer,' the cities, instead of declining, are actually filling up. If Spain clings with discouraging persistence to the brasero for her indoor heating, she does not disdain the electric light, nor the use of illuminating gas. One is struck by the number of tall chimneys bearing the dates of their erection since 1900, even in the south. One who attempts to obtain satisfactory photographs of ancient palaces and bridges built by Roman and Moorish hands will be seriously embarrassed to find a point of view which shall serve to conceal the network of electric wires strung by the descendants of the obstinate Iberians ! The danger is not that Spain will die, but that she may barter her birthright of picturesqueness for a mess of pottage.
Nevertheless, she seems fully to realize the value of her glorious past. She is protecting her monuments. Those who had visions of the ultimate destruction of the Alhambra through neglect, as Irving had, would find no sign of it could they return to earth. Monserrat, hiding-place of the Holy Grail, is reached today by a splendid funicular railway and can harbor at a single time five thousand pilgrim guests. Surely the country is awakening to the fact that, in common with other ancient lands that have borne a stirring part in building our modern world, she offers an interest to mankind which may be turned to thrifty account. It will not be in the least surprising if the attraction of foreign travelers shall prove the industrial salvation of Spain. It is natural that interest should be awakened in her. It was under her patronage that our western world was discovered and much of it colonized, as we never can forget. We may owe to Spain very little in the way of modern culture, nothing at all in the line of architecture, and rather less than nothing in the philosophy of government, unless it be a knowledge of what to avoid. But for all that, Spain has figured heavily in our history ; and, although on different lines, she has influenced the world as potently as did Greece or Rome.
Spain cannot offer to her visitors the paradise of Italy, it is true. It is only here and there that she spreads a scene of verdure. Her landscape is a succession of fertile intervales, gray mountain chains, vast and empty deserts, sparse and struggling groves, smooth and wrinkled hills of tawny hue, river beds that are almost dry. Her mountain scenery has an Hellenic quality. It is rugged and gray. It abounds in wild gorges and constricted passes. There is the same profusion of wild flowers and the same dearth of trees that one finds in so many of the mountain districts of Greece. The pine groves are tapped as they are in AEgina. Certain tricks of pronunciation recall the Greek, and Havelock Ellis detects a Greek quality in the national dancing. Where the Athenian peopled his mountain glens with pagan gods and demi-gods, the Spaniard hallows his with legendary appearances of the Saviour, the Virgin, and the glorious company of the apostles. A thousand pretty legends persist. Poplar trees remain in abundance because it is said that God created them first of all trees. Martlets twitter unmolested in the ruins because they plucked the thorns from the dying Saviour's crown. There is no situation in life from the cradle to the grave that the Spaniard cannot fit to a proverb. It is this quaintness, this wealth of legend, this sweet savor of the true romance, that gives to Spain its indescribable and elusive charm.