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Every transient gleam of their own poor rushlight has been hailed in resounding phrases as the bright sunshine which was to be the final goal.
Introduction xiii The people in the meanwhile, inexperienced in the phenomena of progress, have readily taken flowing oratory for noble deeds, and flickering candles for the day's effulgence ; only to give way to bitter disappointment and paroxysms of rage when they have learnt the truth, and have been forced to toil upward again still in the twilight. The squabbles and corruptions of politicians, the folly and blindness of those who sat in high places, have done their worst ; but those who have patience to read to the end the story here told will see that in the course of the century the Spanish nation, in spite of all, has advanced, and is still advancing, though slowly, towards the material prosperity and enlightened freedom which is the right of all civilised peoples.
Galicia is, even to-day, more nearly allied to Portugal 4 Spanish Life than to Spain, and it was only in 1668 that the independence of the former was acknowledged, and it became a separate kingdom.
With all rights now equalised, the inhabitants of the remaining provinces of Spain differ as widely from one another as they do from the sis- ter kingdom, while the folklore of Asturias and of the Basque Provinces is very closely allied with that of Portugal.
Even in those days, however, too many tourists spent their time amongst the dead cities, remnants of Spain's great past, and came back to add their quota to the sentimental notions current about the romantic land sung by Byron.
, since when I have never ceased to follow closely the incidents of the contemporary history of Spain.
Whether they always acknowledge it or not, is another question.
To hit the happy medium, and to draw from a tour in Spain, or from a more prolonged sojourn there, all the pleasure that may be derived from it, and to feel with those who, knowing the country and its people intimately, love it dearly, a remembrance of its past history and of its strange agglomeration of nationalities is abso- lutely necessary ; nor can any true idea be formed of the country from a mere acquaintance with any one of its widely differing provinces.
past, and their people liable to con- scription, on a par with all the other parts of Spain.
Every student of history knows that the era of Spain's greatness was that of Los Reyes Catolicos, Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, when the wonderful discovery and opening up of a new world made her people dizzy with excitement, and seemed to promise steadily increasing power and influence.