Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/24

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THE ROMANCE OF MEXICO

might she not thus win countless heathen hordes to the faith she loved so well? "I will assume the undertaking," said she, "for my own crown of Castile, and am ready to pawn my jewels to defray the expenses, if the funds in the treasury shall be found inadequate." So it was Spain at last which sent Columbus forth on the broad and perhaps boundless ocean. And to Spain, therefore, fell the lion's share of the treasures of the New World.

To the Englishman of to-day Spain is not a land of energy or of progress. It is not to her that he turns to mark history in the making, nor to seek guidance in his heavy task of world-wide dominion. She is to him the land of rugged mountain and of silver stream, of castle-crowned rock and of old-world city, of races mediæval in feeling or Eastern in thought, a land attuned to the music of the guitar, to the strains of which the mind wanders dreamily back over the vanished pageantry of a glorious past. For Spain, most westerly of European countries, lies under the blight which has for centuries sapped the energies of the East. Her glance, like that of the Orient, is directed backwards, and drugged with indolent pride in what has gone, she has lost zest to strive for what is to come. But on the day that Isabella, first queen of united Spain, turned from receiving the submission of Granada, the last strong-hold of her country's age-long oriental foes, to give to the ardent Genoese her mandate to explore the Occident, no people of Europe faced the widening future with higher hope or loftier courage.

Of a strange nature was the vigour which Spain

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