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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Intellectual and emotional traits of Spaniards


Intellectual and emotional traits of Spaniards.]

The keynote to an understanding of Spanish character lies in an appreciation of the fact that Spaniards generally combine an intense individualism and marked practicality with an emotional temperament. Enough has already been intimated with regard to the two first-named traits. As for that of emotionalism it becomes more operative the farther south one goes. Some Spaniards say that the English, who are taken as representative of the northern peoples, are in the forefront of the nations as concerns matters of the _head_, but that the Spaniards lead in _heart_, and they are well content to have it that way. Yet it is far from true that Spaniards are lacking in _head_; rather, they are brilliantly intellectual, and even the man in the street often seems to have a faculty for seeing and expressing things clearly, with little or no study; their logical-mindedness is displayed in the rhetorical skill with which they set forth their opinions. It is true, however, that there is a certain lack of intellectual stamina in Spaniards; they will not use the brains with which nature has abundantly endowed them. Thus, big business and scientific discoveries (except in the practical realm of their applications) have been left to the foreigners. On the emotional, or _heart_, side one encounters numerous evidences. Spaniards are devotedly fond of children,--almost too much so, for they seem unable to refuse them

anything. Thus, a child gets milk by crying, toys galore, and stays up at night until he wants to go to bed; the effects on national discipline are possibly not of the best, but the error, if such it is, springs from the heart. Spaniards, past and present, have been great in emotional expression, in the fields of literature and art. It is a novelty for Americans to find that the educated young men of Spain talk quite as easily about literature and art as they do about women,--and they move from one subject to the other without any marked change in the tenor of the conversation. Spanish crimes are usually the result of an emotional impulse. Similarly, the emotions play rather too prominent a part in the Spaniard's associations with women! Courtesy is almost universal among Spaniards, who will go to considerable personal inconvenience in order to assist a stranger; to be sure, one is not safe in reckoning on the promises to render favors later,--for by that time the impulse may have passed. The Spanish fondness for the bull-fight and the lottery also springs from the emotional stir which goes with them.

[Sidenote: Spanish women.]

The above applies principally to the men. The women should be considered apart, and this is much more necessary in dealing with Spain than it would be in treating of the United States, where women come nearer to having an equal liberty with men. Opinions differ as to the personal appearance of Spanish women, and first impressions of the foreigner are apt to be against them. This is largely because the people of the wealthy or moderately well-to-do classes do not appear in the street nearly so frequently as in the United States or in northern Europe. The women of the working classes toil harder, on the average,

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