Impressions of Spain by Albert Frederick Calvert
Introductory — Madrid — El Escorial — Barcelona — On the east coast — A peep into Murcia — Toledo and Córdova — The Castiles — Granada and the Alhambra — Seville — In southern Andalusia — The Basque provinces — In northern Spain — Bull-fighting — The Picture Gallery, Madrid — Viva el Rey — Mining.
There is a character in current drama who devoted his whole life to the writing of a book. He called it a “pamphlet,” because he had intended it to be a pamphlet when he started on his task, but in its completed state the work filled three mighty folio volumes. Although the present volume has not attained such gargantuan proportions, it is considerably longer than I had thought to make it. It is not put forward as an exhaustive or profound study of Spain and the Spaniards, but as a simple record of impressions of people I have met and places I have visited during a series of many journeyings in different parts of that greatly interesting and much misunderstood country. These impressions were meant, in the beginning, to form a small collection of sketches and appreciations; and, although the number has increased beyond the limits of my original intentions, the design and scope of the book have not been revised or amplified. The result of this desultory system of working is a string of disconnected chapters—the first fruits of fugitive note-book jottings collected over a period of several years—rather than a concentrated and comprehensive survey of the subject as a whole.
But the system was also fraught with an unforeseen technical difficulty, as I discovered when I came to arrange my illustrations. The photographs that I acquired—sometimes singly and sometimes in batches—during my frequent visits to Spain, increased out of all proportion to the “increasing purpose” of my manuscript, and in the end I was confronted with the alternative options of leaving out a great many of my most recent and best pictures of Granada and the Alhambra, or of publishing them en masse at the back of the volume.
The fact that I am even now engaged in gathering material and making notes for a work upon the Alhambra, which I hope shortly to publish, tempted me to hold these surplus illustrations in reserve. But I have hopes that the fragmentary nature of my material, and, in many cases, lack of style and finish in its transcription, may be atoned for by the variety and charm of the pictorial side of the book; and, with this desideratum in my mind, I decided to reproduce the overflow pictures in the form of an appendix.
To the many friends in Spain who have assisted me in my work, with counsel, information, practical aid, and inexhaustible hospitality, and particularly to Messrs. Hauser and Menet, Messrs. Laurent and Co., and Señor Garzon, the photographic artists who have supplied me with pictures beyond those I took myself, and favoured me with permission to reproduce them, I wish to tender my sincere and grateful thanks.
It may be that my personal relations with the Spanish people have been more fortunate than that of some other authors, whose books on Spain I have seen; but in a somewhat wide experience of countries and men, I have never met their equals in courtesy and true consideration to the stranger within their gates. I have encountered all sorts and conditions of men in the sunny South, the black North, and the thriving East of the kingdom, and from each and every one I have received nothing but kindness and good-will. I have written enthusiastically in the following pages about the Spaniards, for in every Spaniard I have met I feel that I have a friend.