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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Possible down to the year 1808


Obviously,

the plan and the labor of condensing all of the material for a history of Spain constitute in themselves a commendable achievement. In fact, there does not exist in any language of the world today a compendium of the history of Spain reduced to one volume which is able to satisfy all of the exigencies of the public at large and the needs of teaching, without an excess of reading and of labor. None of the histories of my country written in English, German, French, or Italian in the nineteenth century can be unqualifiedly recommended. Some, such as that by Hume, entitled _The Spanish people_, display excellent attributes, but these are accompanied by omissions to which modern historiography can no longer consent. As a general rule these histories are altogether too political in character. At other times they offend from an excess of bookish erudition and from a lack of a personal impression of what our people are, as well as from a failure to narrate their story in an interesting way, or indeed, they perpetuate errors and legends, long since discredited, with respect to our past and present life. We have some one-volume histories of Spain in Castilian which are to be recommended for the needs of our own secondary schools, but not for those of a foreign country, whose students require another manner of presentation of our history, for they have to apply an interrogatory ideal which is different from ours in their investigation of the deeds of another people,--all the more so if that
people, like the Spanish, has mingled in the life of nearly the whole world and been the victim of the calumnies and fanciful whims of historians, politicians, and travellers.

For all of these reasons the work of condensation by Professor Chapman constitutes an important service in itself for the English-speaking public, for it gives in one volume the most substantial features of our history from primitive times to the present moment. Furthermore, there are chapters in his work which belong entirely to him: XXXII, XXXIX, and XL. The reason for departing from my text in Chapter XXXII is given by Professor Chapman in the Preface. As for the other two he was under the unavoidable necessity of constructing them himself. His, for me, very flattering method of procedure, possible down to the year 1808, if indeed it might find a basis for continuation in a chapter of mine in the _Cambridge modern history_ (v. X), in my lectures on the history of Spain in the nineteenth century (given at the Ateneo of Madrid, some years ago), in the little manual of the _Historia de la civilizaci?n espa?ola_ (History of Spanish civilization) which goes to the year 1898, and even in the second part of a recent work, _Espa?a y el programa americanista_ (Spain and the Americanist program), published at Madrid in 1917, nevertheless could not avail itself of a single text, a continuous, systematized account, comprehensive of all the aspects of our national life as in the case of the periods prior to 1808. Moreover, it is better that the chapters referring to the nineteenth century and the present time should be written by a foreign pen, whose master in this instance, as a result of his having lived in Spain, is able to contribute that personal impression of which I have spoken before, an element which if it is at times deceiving in part, through the influence of a too local or regional point of view, is always worth more than that understanding which proceeds only from erudite sources.


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