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Footprints in Spain (Classic Reprint)

Footprints in Spain (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Footprints in Spain

"Il n'ya plus de Pyrenees!" The historic boast, placed by Voltaire in the mouth of Louis XIV, has never been justified by facts. In the beginning Nature determined her own boundaries, the mountains and the sea. These still retain their ancient significance, and will continue to do so let statesmen shuffle the cards as they may. When all is said and done maps are merely so many scraps of paper. No political upheaval, however momentous, has brought about a corresponding earthquake, not even when Napoleon marched his army across the Alps, the Barbarians sacked Rome, or Constantinople fell to the Muhammadans.

Screened by the formidable barrier of the Pyrenees Spain has worked out her strange and dramatic destiny with comparatively little interference from the rest of Europe, for whom she has remained more or less of a mystery. The veil is now being lifted. Increased facilities of travel are encouraging foreigners to visit the Peninsula, although the decision still entails a certain mental effort not untinged with misgiving. The step into the unknown once taken the majority are surprised to find Spain entirely different to what they had been led to expect. To begin with the atmosphere does not reek of garlic, nor is every dish flavoured with that pungent plant. The stranger need suffer no anxiety as to his personal safety. Gloomy tales of the Inquisition, the record of hair raising adventures with brigands, and grim legends of the vanished Moor have exercised a powerful influence upon his subconscious intellect, and inspired mental pictures of sinister portent. Very probably he had imagined the Spanish gentleman as a silent, proud and unapproachable hidalgo, black haired and dark skinned, his sombrero drawn over beetling brows, and a dagger concealed under the folds of an all enveloping mantle. His ideas of the Spanish lady were romantically vague. Veiled in the bewitching folds of her mantilla she had appealed to him as an ethereal being, the mingled product of Convent and harem, a languid voluptuous beauty seductive as a houri and discreet as a nun.

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