Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/21

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THE ROMANCE OF MEXICO

CHAPTER I

THE AWAKENING OF SPAIN

All ages have their pervading spirit. In the fifteenth century it was, in Western Europe, a spirit of unrest, of curiosity, of adventure. Twice before in the history of the world had the same phenomenon been seen on a gigantic scale, and on all three occasions the sea had been the path along which men had passed in their craving to o'erleap the baffling bounds of the world they knew. It had tempted the Greeks to sift the fabled wonders of their day, from Colchis in the stormy east to the pillars of Hercules in the stormy west, to face the rising sun in their search for the golden fleece, and to pursue him as he set behind the garden that glowed with the golden apples of the Hesperides. It had allured the wild Northmen along its frozen margin, westward and southward to a land where the grape ripened in the open air, eastward to the outpost of European civilisation, to take service in the Emperor's Varangian guard at Constantinople. And now again, when all memory of the New World discoveries of these hardy rovers

I