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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

And Spain has surrendered to the lottery


The lottery, which has its

agencies in every hamlet and city of Spain, is government owned and operated, paying some of the highest prizes offered in the world at the present time. Few human passions are so strong as that of gambling, and Spain has surrendered to the lottery. The poor people welcome this insidious system, believing it to be almost the only avenue of advance to the envied ease of the wealthy, and invest their spare savings in a ticket. Hope and even expectation of getting a lucky number have come to be a national disease. A third abettor of the aristocracy is the bull-fight. It is not the cruelty, but rather the corrupting influence of this sport which should occupy those who protest against it. The game is so emotional, so wildly exciting, that it grips the people to the exclusion of almost every other interest; in Seville, one can almost be certain, if he hears men quarreling at the top of their voices, that they are disputing the merits of this bull-fighter or that, for that is the absorbing factor in life, every hour in the day, in every day of the year. Men who have caught the fever of the bull-fight rarely have interest in national reform; they do not want it, as it might sweep away the sport which is the major part of their life. A fourth factor would seem to be the extensive character of charitable enterprises. Thousands depend upon the unused food of the army, and line up each day to receive it. Enormous sums are also provided by the church or by charitable organizations to enable
the poor to get meals free or at slight cost. The object, no doubt, is benevolent, but the result is that many men will not work. Especially is this true in the mild climate of southern Spain, where not a few contrive to exist without homes to sleep in and on the dispensations of charity. A fifth factor is the extreme poverty of the masses. Wages are unthinkably low. Men who can barely keep body and soul together are not the ones who agitate reform. A sixth aid in the maintenance of things as they are is the lack of a good public school system. Schools are inadequate and teachers poorly paid. Few Spaniards get beyond the primary grade, and many do not even go that far. The need of education is undoubtedly the _sine qua non_ of any effective Spanish advancement. To change the form of government, without an accompanying or a preliminary instruction of the masses, would be, as a French writer puts it, "to change the label of a bottle, without transforming the contents." It is also necessary if any appreciable reform is to be made in the social and economic system of the country. None realizes this better than the men who, like Altamira, Azc?rate, Costa, Giner de los R?os, Posada, and Unamuno, stand for the new Spain, as distinct from the old,--for a country which shall break with the past to the extent which may be required in order to place itself in the current of modern world progress. Their ideal is not impossible of achievement, despite the forces which are against them, for the Spanish people, at bottom, are admirable material, still virile and altogether sane.

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

[Sidenote: Writers on the history of Spain whose works are in Spanish, French, and German.]


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