« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
foully done, or flags of truce dishonoured: the battle-shock of two heroic foes, the dusk-complexioned and the fair, of North and South, of Europe and the East, the false God and the True.
Nevertheless, the nobleness these champions of the Faith displayed towards the Islamite, they quashed complacently in merely interchristian dealing. The petty kings who made a common cause against the Mohammedans, in the intervals of their crusade turned promptly to, and tricked as well as battered one another. The intrigues of such local sovereigns and their constables and officers-these in their own opinion as good as their masters, and often with a trustier vassalage-their bickerings for this dowry or that, or that or this inheritance, would fill a library and be dry literature to boot. Yet from this effervescent fount, tinged with the virtues and the vices of the Moor, springs modern Spain.
Spain of to-day consists of forty-eight provinces, including the Canary Islands. The distribution is political merely, and it is always well to bear in mind the older kingdoms (regions, principalities, or counties, as the case may be) of Cataluña, Aragón, Andalusia, Castile (Old and New), Extremadura, León, Navarra, Vizcaya, Valencia, Murcia, Galicia, and Asturias.
The Catalán is only half a Spaniard. His traditions are from over the Pyrenees, and the old Count-Kings of Barcelona were thoroughly Provençal in speech and sympathies, and in their way of living. The Cataláns are, and always have
been, a nation of the warrior and trader combined, and the uncommercial proclivities of Spain at large, and the attempts of the rest of the Peninsula to exploit too far the toilsomely acquired wealth of Cataluña, have bred more than one grave rebellion. Among themselves Cataláns of all classes speak Catalán invariably, and stoutly claim for it the dignity of a language. It is, in fact, of great antiquity and some merit and distinction, possesses a stable literature, and shows but little tendency to be supplanted by Castilian.
Cataluña of to-day is a people of workmen, or of workmen who have risen to be capitalists. In many a dingy fábrica the master labours among his operarios, blue-bloused as they, his meals and tastes as simple as their own. His men rise with the lark, and work sturdily till nightfall. They earn a tolerable wage, and spend but part of it. A drunkard is rare, but socialism-and worse, anarchy, abounds. Perhaps it is because the Catalán workman knows. himself to be the prime factor of his city's prosperity, and has acquired just sufficient learning to be dangerous, that he commonly goes too far, exaggerates his fitting self-esteem, and turns anarchist, so that Barcelona may be said to be the world's academy of this morbid creed. Apart from these disastrous leanings he is an excellent clothweaver, hatmaker, builder, carpenter, or ironworker-and taking one thing with another his commonwealth has reason to be proud of him.
Subsequently to setting down the above short estimate of this fine people, I have unearthed the Descripción General de España of Verdejo Páez-a