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Women of the Romance Countries By John R. Effinger Characters: 38618

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


The Women of Modern Spain

Spain, in all the days of her history, has been conspicuous among all other continental countries for the number of women who have wielded the sovereign power, and the reasons for this fact are not far to seek perhaps. In both Germany and Italy there has been little of national life or government in the broadest sense of the word until a very recent date, the custom of the empire has given male rulers to Austria, the illustrious Catherine of Voltaire's day has been the one woman to achieve prominence in Russia, and in France the ancient Salic law did not allow women to ascend the throne; so that, all in all, by this process of exclusion, it is easy to see that in Spain alone the conditions have been favorable for woman's tenure of royal office. A scrutiny of the list of Spanish monarchs reveals the fact that in all the long line there are no names more worthy of honor than those of Berenguela and Isabella the Catholic, and that, irrespective of sex, Isabella stands without any formidable rival as the ablest and most efficient ruler that Spain has ever had. The right of woman's accession to the Spanish throne was seriously threatened, however, early in the eighteenth century with the advent of the French Bourbons. Young Philip V., acting under French influences in this affair, as he did continually in all his various undertakings, had induced the Cortes to introduce the French Salic principle; and for the greater part of the century this law was allowed to stand, although nothing happened to test it severely. By way of comment on this circumstance, it is interesting to note that this young king, Philip V., who had been instrumental in barring women from the succession, was, by tacit confession, unequal to his own task, and found his wisest counsellor in the person of the clever Princess Orsini. Spanish feeling and Spanish custom in regard to this matter were so strong, however, that Charles IV., when he came to the throne in 1789, had prevailed upon the Cortes to abolish the Salic law and to restore the old Castilian succession. While this was done secretly, a decree to this effect had never been issued, and legally the Salic law was still in force when Charles's son, Fernando VII., approached his last days. Fernando had been unlucky with his wives, as the first three proved to be short-lived, and the fourth, Maria Cristina, Princess of Naples, presented him with two daughters and no sons.

It happened that, before the birth of these daughters, Fernando had been induced by his wife to attack the Salic law and to restore the Castilian rule of succession, and in this way the elder princess, who was to become Isabella II., had a clear claim to the throne from the time of her birth. The person most interested in opposing this action was Don Carlos, brother of Fernando, who was the rightful heir in the event of his brother's death under the former procedure. When the fact became known that Don Carlos had been dispossessed in this way by the machinations of Maria Cristina, he and his followers put forth every effort to induce Fernando to undo what he had done; but all to no avail, and in 1833, when the king died, Maria became regent during the minority of the youthful Isabella. For the next seven years Spain was in a turmoil as the result of the continual revolts which were raised by the friends of Don Carlos, and Maria for a time had much trouble in making headway against them.

The political game she was playing gave her strange allies during these days, for she was naturally in favor of an autocratic government, after the manner of the old régime; but as Don Carlos had rallied to his standard the clerical and conservative parties of the country, Maria was forced, as a mere matter of self-protection, to make friendly advances to the growing liberal forces in society, which had been brought into permanent existence by the success of republicanism in France. In spite of this nominal espousal of the liberal cause, Maria was continually trying to avoid popular concessions and to retain unimpaired the despotic power of the monarchy, but she was soon forced to see that, in appearance at least, she must pretend to advance the popular cause and give her subjects more extended privileges. Accordingly, she issued a decree in 1834 establishing a new constitution and creating a legislature composed of two chambers; but there was more pretence than reality in this reform, and the dissatisfaction of the liberals increased as the queen-regent's real purposes became more clearly understood. Fortunate in having at the head of her armies a great general, Espartero, Maria finally succeeded in dispersing and exhausting the Carlist armies; but then differences arose between the queen and Espartero over the rights of the chartered towns, which she was endeavoring to abolish; and the popular sentiment was so in favor of the liberal side of the discussion, that a revolution was threatened and Isabella was forced to seek safety in flight. For three years the general-statesman ruled, until the majority of the Princess Isabella was declared in 1843, and in that same year Espartero was forced into exile, as he had become unpopular on account of his friendship for England. With this change in governmental affairs, Maria Cristina was allowed to return to Madrid, and she and her daughter, the new queen, Isabella II., controlled the destinies of the country. A husband was found for Isabella in the person of her cousin, Francis of Assis, but he was a sickly, impotent prince, with no vigor of mind or body, and the married life of this young couple was anything but happy. The country meanwhile continued in a state of unrest, and there were frequent revolutionary outbreaks. Isabella was no less unreliable than her mother had been, and her capricious manner of changing policy and changing advisers was productive of a state of lawlessness and disorder in all branches of the government which daily became more shameful. This shifting policy in matters of state was equally characteristic of the queen's behavior in other affairs. Dissatisfied with her pitiful husband, she soon abandoned her dignity as a queen and as a woman, in a most brazen way, and her private life was so scandalous as to become the talk of all Europe. But the court was kept in good humor by the lavish entertainments which were given; the proverbial Spanish sloth and indifference allowed all this to run unchecked, for a time at least; and the sound of the guitar and the song of the peasant were still heard throughout the land.

Some idea of the social life in Madrid at this time can be obtained from the following charming description of an afternoon ride in one of the city parks, written in September, 1853, by Madame Calderon de la Barca: "This beautiful paseo, called Las Delicias de Ysabel Segunda, had been freshly watered. Numbers of pretty girls in their graceful amazones galloped by on horseback, with their attendant caballeros. Few actual mantillas were to be seen. They were too warm for this season, and are besides confined to morning costume. Their place was supplied either by light Parisian bonnets or by a still prettier head-dress, a veil of black lace or tulle thrown over the head, fastened by gold pins, and generally thrown very far back, the magnificent hair beautifully dressed. Certainly this appeared to me the prettiest head-dress in the world, showing to the greatest advantage the splendid eyes, fine hair, and expressive features of the wearers. I was astonished at the richness of the toilettes, and M-- assured me that luxury in dress is now carried here to an extraordinary height; and to show you that I am not so blinded by admiration for what is Spanish as not to see faults, at least when they are pointed out to me, I will allow that French women have a better idea of the fitness of things, and that there is an absence of simplicity in the dress of the Spanish women which is out of taste. I allude chiefly to those who were on foot. The rich silks and brocades which trail along the Prado, hiding pertinaciously the exquisitely small feet of the wearers, would be confined in Paris to the élégantes who promenade the Bois de Boulogne or the Champs-Elysées in carriages. Here the wife and the daughter of the poorest shopkeeper disdain chintz and calico; nothing short of silk or velvet is considered decorous except within doors. But, having made this confession, I must add that the general effect is charming, and as for beauty, both of face and figure, especially the latter, surely no city in the world can show such an amount of it."

In spite of the general tone of gayety which was pervading Madrid in these days of the early fifties, many of the members of the older nobility, conservative to the core, were holding somewhat aloof from the general social life of the time. Society had become too promiscuous for their exclusive tastes, and they were unwilling to open their drawing rooms to the cosmopolitan multitude then thronging the capital. Details of this aristocratic life are naturally somewhat difficult to obtain, but this same sprightly Madame Calderon de la Barca, through her connection with the diplomatic corps at Madrid, was able to enter this circle in several instances, and her chatty account of a ball given by the Countess Montijo, one of the leaders in this exclusive set, if not one of its most exclusive members, is not lacking in interest: "A beautiful ball was given the other night at the Countess Montijo's. She certainly possesses the social talent more than any one I ever met with, and, without the least apparent effort, seems to have a kind of omnipresence in her salons, so that each one of her guests receives a due share of attention. The principal drawing room, all white and gold, is a noble room. The toilettes were more than usually elegant, the jewels universal. The finest diamonds were perhaps those of the Countess of Toreno, wife of the celebrated minister. The Countess of Ternan-Nu?ez and the Princess Pio (an Italian lady), wore tiaras of emeralds and brilliants of a size and beauty that I have never seen surpassed. The Duchess of Alva was, as usual, dressed in perfect taste, but, alas! I am not able to describe. It was something white and vapory and covered with flowers, with a few diamond pins fastening the flowers in her hair. I observed that whenever a young girl was without a partner, there was the hostess introducing one to her, or if any awkward-looking youth stood neglected in a corner, she took his arm, brought him forward, presented him to some one, and made him dance. Or if some scientific man, invited for his merits,-for her parties are much less carefully winnowed than those of the aristocracy in general,-stood with his spectacles on, looking a little like a fish out of water, there was the countess beside him, making him take her to the buffet, conversing with him as she does well upon every subject, and putting him so much at his ease that in a few minutes he evidently felt quite at home." Such a description as this must inevitably lead to the reflection that charming as the Countess Montijo may have been, she was in no way peculiar or remarkable except in so far as she represented the highest type of a polished, tactful Spanish hostess, for in every civilized modern country there are women of this class who excite general admiration.

The wavering policy of the capricious Isabella was somewhat strengthened in 1856, when the long-suffering people, unable to countenance for a longer time the universal corruption which existed in all branches of the government, rose in such threatening revolt, under the leadership of O'Donnell, that the queen was forced to give heed. The revolt counted among its supporters members of all political parties, who were now banded together from motives which were largely patriotic, and so great was their influence that Isabella was forced to accept their terms or lose her crown. For a few years there was an increased prosperity for Spain, but the improvement could not be of long duration, so long as the government remained under the same inefficient leadership. Finally, the end came in 1868, when there broke forth a general revolution which was but the forcible expression of the real and genuine spirit of discontent which was to be found among all classes of the people. The navy rebelled at Cadiz, and the fleet declared for the revolution, and then, to take away Isabella's last hope of support, certain popular generals, who had been sent into exile, returned, and led the royal troops against the hated sovereign. In the face of this overwhelming array of hostile forces, the queen crossed the Pyrenees as a fugitive, and when she went she left her crown behind her. After five years of upheaval, which descended at times to complete anarchy, with the advantage resting now with the conservatives and now with the liberals, the crown was finally offered to the son of the dethroned queen, who, as Alfonso XII., began his reign under most auspicious circumstances. With his unlooked-for death in 1886, his wife and widow, Maria Cristina, was left as the regent for her unborn son, who has so recently attained his majority. This Maria was a most careful mother, who devoted herself with the utmost fidelity to the education of her son; and her conception of this duty was so high and serious that she practically put a stop to the social life of the court, that she might give herself unreservedly to her important task. With what success, the future alone can tell, but, in the meanwhile, there is but one opinion as to her personal worth and character.

Without venturing a prediction as to the probable future for Spain in the history of the world, the fact remains that in recent years the country has advanced greatly from many points of view, so far as its domestic affairs are concerned. There has been a remarkable commercial activity, railroads have opened up much of the country which had been cut off from the main currents of life from time immemorial, and the widespread use of electricity for lighting and for motive power is perhaps unexcelled in any other European country. The greatest question now confronting Spain is, in the opinion of many, the question of popular education, and here there is continual advancement. As might be expected in a country like Spain, where southern, and in some cases semi-Oriental, ideas must of necessity exist with regard to women, their education has not yet made great progress, although the question is being considered in a most liberal and enlightened spirit. No movement in this day and generation can be successfully brought to an issue unless it can be shown that there is some general demand for the measures proposed, and until very recently in Spain there was general apathy with regard to the education of women. For many years girls have been carefully instructed in two things, religion and domestic science, and for neither of these things was any extended course of study necessary. The parochial schools, with all their narrowness, prepared the maiden for her first communion, and her mother gave her such training in the arts of the housewife as she might need when she married and had a home of her own to care for. These two things accomplished, the average middle-class Spaniard, until a very recent day, was utterly unable to see that there was anything more necessary, or that the system was defective in any way. But the modern spirit has entered the country, and an organized effort is now being made to show the advantages of a higher education and to furnish the opportunity for obtaining it. In this work of educational reform among Spanish women, an American, Mrs. Gulick, the wife of an American missionary at San Sebastian, has played a leading part. Organizing a school which was maintained under her supervision, she has been quite successful in what she has accomplished, and believes that she has "proved the intellectual ability of Spanish girls." Her pupils have been received in the National Institute, where they have given a good account of themselves; and a few of them have even been admitted to the examinations of the University of Madrid, where they have maintained a high rank. Mrs. Gulick is not the only leading exponent of higher education for Spanish women, however, as the whole movement is now practically under the moral leadership of a most competent and earnest woman, Emilia Pardo Bazan, who understands the wants of her fellow countrywomen and is striving in every legitimate way to give them the sort of instruction they need. Free schools exist in all the cities and towns for both boys and girls, and recent attempts have been made to enact a compulsory education law. Numerous normal schools have been established in the various cities, which are open to both men and women, and the number of women teachers is rapidly increasing. Secular education is far more advanced and far more in keeping with the spirit of the times than is the instruction which is to be found in the schools conducted by the teaching orders. The girls in the convents are taught to adore the Virgin in a very abstract and indefinite way, and are given very little practical advice as to the essential traits of true womanhood. A remarkable article, written recently in one of the Madrid papers by one who signed himself "A Priest of the Spanish Catholic Church," says, apropos of this very question: "Instead of the Virgin being held up to admiration as the Mother of Our Lord and as an example of all feminine perfection, the ideal woman and mother, the people are called upon to worship the idea of the Immaculate Conception, an abstract dogma of recent invention...." This Madonna worship is one of the characteristic things in the religious life of Spain, and everywhere La Virgen, who is rarely if ever called Santa Maria, is an object of great love and reverence. There are many of these Virgenes scattered throughout the country, and each is reverenced. Many of them are supposed to work miracles or answer prayers, and their chapels are filled with the votive offerings of those who have been helped in time of trouble. Not the least pathetic among these offerings are the long locks of hair tied with ribbons of many colors, which have been contributed by some mother because her child has been restored from sickness to health. Women are more devout than the men in their observance of religious duties, although the whole population is religious to an unusual degree so far as the outward forms are concerned, but the real religion which aims at character building is little known as yet.

With regard to the general position of women in Spain, and their influence upon public life, which as yet is not of any considerable moment, Madame L. Higgin, in her recent volume upon Spanish life, writes as follows: "As a rule, they take no leading part in politics, devoting themselves chiefly to charitable works. There is a general movement for higher education and greater liberty of thought and action among women, and there are a certain limited number who frankly range themselves on the side of so-called emancipation, who attend

socialistic and other meetings, and who aspire to be the comrades of men rather than their objects of worship or their play-things. But this movement is scarcely more than in its infancy. It must be remembered that even within the present generation the bedrooms allotted to girls were always approached through those of their parents, that no girl or unmarried woman could go unattended, and that to be left alone in a room with a man was to lose her reputation. Already these things seem dreams of the past; nor could one well believe, what is, however, a fact, that there were fathers of the upper classes in the first half of the last century who preferred that their daughters should not learn to read or write, and especially the latter, as it only enabled them to read letters clandestinely received from lovers and to reply to them. The natural consequence of this was the custom, which so largely prevailed, of young men, absolutely unknown to the parents, establishing correspondence or meetings with the objects of their adoration by means of a complacent doncella with an open palm, or the pastime known as pelando el pavo (literally, "plucking the turkey"), which consisted of serenades of love songs, amorous dialogues, or the passage of notes through the reja-the iron gratings which protect the lower windows of Spanish houses from the prowling human wolf-or from the balconies. Many a time have I seen these interesting little missives let down past my balcony to the waiting gallant below, and his drawn up. Only once I saw a neighbor, in the balcony below, intercept the post and, I believe, substitute some other letter."

This seclusion of the young girls is in itself a sufficient comment upon the sentiments of honor and duty which are current among the male portion of the population, and it is plain that this condition of affairs can find little betterment until the nation finds new social ideals. Such conditions as these are medi?val, or Oriental at best, and it is to be hoped that the newer education which is now influencing Spain may help to bring about a better and saner view of the social intercourse of men and women. As a direct result of the general attitude, the men upon the streets of a Spanish city will often surprise a foreigner by their cool insolence in the presence of the women they may happen to meet. Her appearance is made the subject for much audible comment, and such exclamations as Ay! que buenos ojos! Que bonita eres! [Oh! what fine eyes! How pretty you are!] are only too common. The woman thus characterized will modify her conduct according to the necessities of the situation; and if her casual admirer happens to be young and good-looking and she herself is not averse to flattery, she will reward him with a quick smile. In any case, the whole matter is treated as an ordinary occurrence, as it is, and no insult is felt where none is intended. Such remarks are but an expression, which is oftentimes na?ve, of the admiration which is felt at the sight of unusual feminine charms. The incident simply goes to show that everywhere in Spain there is tacit recognition of the general inferiority of women. In the laboring and peasant classes, where the women work with the men, such lapses from the conventional standard of good manners would not cause so much comment; but under these circumstances the dangers and the annoyances are not so great, as these women of the people, with their practical experience in life, ignorant as they may be, are often more competent to take care of themselves than are their more carefully educated sisters in polite society who have been so carefully fenced from harm.

Many of the objectionable features of Spanish life which spring from these long-standing notions in regard to women are bound to disappear as both men and women become more educated, and in several particulars already encouraging progress has been made. Marriage laws and customs may always be considered as telling bits of evidence in the discussion of any question of this nature, and in Spain, as the result of modern innovations, the rights of the woman in contracting the marriage relation are superior to those enjoyed elsewhere on the continent or even in England. In the old days, the mariage de convenance was a matter of course in educated circles, and the parents and relatives of a girl were given an almost absolute power in arranging for her future welfare. Now, as the result of an enlightened public sentiment, which is somewhat unexpected in that it is in advance of many other social customs, there is a law which gives a girl the right to marry the man of her choice, even against her parents' wishes. No father can compel his daughter to marry against her will; and if there is any attempt to force her in the matter, she is entitled to claim the protection of a magistrate, who is empowered by law to protect her from such oppression. If the parents are insistent, the magistrate may take the girl from her father's house and act as her guardian until the time of her majority, when she is free to marry according to her own fancy. Nor is any such rebellious action to be construed as prejudicial to the daughter's right to inherit that portion of her father's estate to which she would otherwise have a legal claim. Madame Higgin relates the following cases which came within the range of her personal experience: "In one case, the first intimation a father received of his daughter's engagement was the notice from a neighboring magistrate that she was about to be married; and in another, a daughter left her mother's house and was married from that of the magistrate, to a man without any income and considerably below her in rank, in all these cases the contracting parties were of the highest rank."

With regard to the wedding service, customs have changed greatly during the course of the last century. It was natural that Spain, in common with all other Catholic countries, should have given the Church entire control of the marriage sacrament for many years, and it was not until the republicanism of the nineteenth century forced a change that the civil marriage was instituted as it had been in France. While not compulsory, the religious service is almost always performed, in addition to the other, except among the poor, who are deterred by the cost of this double wedding; and sometimes the religious service is held at the church and sometimes at the home of the bride. It was generally the custom in the church weddings for all the ladies in the wedding party, including the bride, to dress in black; but there was finally so much opposition to this sombre hue at such a joyous occasion, that the fashionable world within recent times has made the house wedding a possibility, and at such a function there was no limit to the brilliant display possible. The English and American custom of taking a wedding journey immediately after the ceremony is not common in Spain, and the Spaniards, in their conversation and sometimes in their books, are not slow to express their opinions with regard to the matter, insisting that it is much preferable to remain at home among friends than to "expose themselves to the jeers of postilions and stable boys," to quote a line from Fernan Caballero's Clemencia. In spite of this firmly rooted opinion, however, that the national customs are best, and in this particular it seems indeed as if they were more reasonable, the wedding journey is slowly being adopted in what they call "el high life," and it may some day become one of the fixed institutions of the land, as it is with us. All this is but another proof of the fact that fashions are now cosmopolitan things, and that among the educated and wealthy classes in all countries there are often many more points of resemblance than are to be found between any given group of these cosmopolites and some of their own fellow countrymen taken from a lower class in society.

Some time after the Prince of Naples, who is now the King of Italy, had attracted the favorable comment of all thinking people for his determination not to wed until he married for love, a similar occurrence in Spain revealed the fact that Maria Cristina, the queen-regent, was determined to accept the modern and sensible notion of marriage for one of her own children, and thus incidentally to give to her people in general the benefit of a powerful precedent in such matters. Mention has already been made of the fact that, according to certain laws, a Spanish girl may now refuse to marry at her parents' dictation; but, in spite of the fact that such laws exist, it cannot be said that they are often called into play, for the daughter is still in such a state of childish dependence upon her father and mother, that any such step as described, which amounts to nothing more or less than a revolt against parental authority, would fill her with dismay and would prove more than she would dare to attempt. The laws upon the statute books indicate that there is a public appreciation of the fact that marriage should not be a matter of coercion, but among the people in general the old idea is still more powerful, and Spanish daughters are married daily to the husbands chosen by their match-making mothers or aunts. In the face of this popular custom, and in spite of the fact that royal marriages, on account of their somewhat political character, have generally been made without regard to sentiment, the queen-regent decided that her oldest daughter, the Princess of Asturias, should marry the man she loved. There were various worldly, or rather political, reasons against the proposed alliance; but Maria brushed them all aside and allowed the whole affair to progress in a natural way, as there seemed to be nothing in the proposed alliance which gave her cause for alarm. Here are the facts in the case. Among the playfellows of the little King Alfonso XIII. there were two distant cousins, the sons of the Count of Caserta, and between the elder, Don Carlos, and the young princess a warm attachment soon sprang up which led to a betrothal, with the queen's consent. At once there was a protest which would have intimidated a person of weaker character. It was pointed out that Don Carlos the youth was the son of a man who had been chief of staff to the Pretender Don Carlos, who had been responsible for so much of the disorder in Spain within the last quarter of a century; and although Caserta and his sons had taken the oath of allegiance to Alfonso XIII., it was feared that in some way this marriage might give the Pretender a new claim upon the government, and that in future years it might lead to renewed domestic strife. Furthermore, it was alleged that the Jesuits, who are known conservatives and legitimists everywhere, and who had been accused of sympathizing with the Pretender's claims, were behind this new alliance, and, as the work of their hands, it was popularly considered as a matter of very doubtful expediency. But the queen persisted in her course, entirely without political motives, so far as anyone has been able to discover, and preparations for the wedding were begun in earnest.

Then it was that the affair began to assume a more national and more serious character. The liberal party, which was in power and which naturally looked with suspicion upon anything tainted with conservatism, decided to oppose the marriage, and the prime minister, who was no other than the great Sagasta, allowed the queen to understand plainly that the whole affair must be dropped. Maria Cristina informed her prime minister that her will was to be law in the matter, and that she was unwilling to allow any sort of governmental interference. The marriage now precipitated a national crisis, Sagasta and all the members of his cabinet resigned their portfolios of office, and the queen was left to form a new ministry. She appointed the new members from the ranks of the conservative party, and, now without cabinet opposition, the marriage was celebrated. Then the storm arose again: there were riots and disturbances in most of the large cities; the Jesuits, who were made responsible for this turn of affairs, were openly attacked, even in Madrid. It was even claimed that the young king's confessor belonged to the hated order, and everywhere there were fears expressed that the government might soon be delivered up to the Carlists. This impression was only increased when the conservative ministry suspended the constitutional guarantees and assumed to rule with unlimited authority. This move was simply taken, it appears, as a matter of extreme necessity under the circumstances, as the queen and her advisers were determined to keep the upper hand and make no concession under such riotous pressure. Finally, as the disorder was unabated, and it became evident that the cabinet could never gain public confidence, Sagasta, by dint of much persuading, was again induced to become prime minister, and with his return peace was restored and the revolution which was surely threatening was averted.

So ended this memorable contest wherein the queen seemed almost willing to sacrifice her son's crown that she might humor her daughter's whim, and a satisfactory explanation of the whole affair which would be convincing to all the parties concerned is doubtless difficult to make. In the absence of any political motives which can be proved or rightfully suspected, it would seem that Maria Cristina, even though a queen, had been making a most royal battle for the idea that marriage should be a matter of inclination and not a matter of compulsion; and her heroic measures to carry out her ideas cannot fail to produce a great impression upon liberal Spain, as soon as the scare about the Jesuits and the Carlists has had time to subside.

The national amusements of Spain, as they affect the whole people, may be reduced to two, bull-fighting and dancing. While women never take part in the contests of the arena, they are none the less among the most interested of the spectators, and the Plaza de Toros on a Sunday is the place to see their wonderfully brilliant costumes. With regard to Spanish dancing, as a popular amusement it is almost universal, and rarely are two or three gathered together but that the sound of the tambourine, guitar, and castanets is heard and the dance is in full swing. Much has been written about some of these national dances, and often the idea is left in the mind of the reader that they are all very shocking and indecent, but this is hardly the fact. Certain dances are to be seen in Spain to-day, among the gypsies, which have come down practically unchanged from the Roman days, when Martial and Horace were enchanted by the graceful motions of the dancing girls of their time; and these are undoubtedly suggestive in a high degree, and are not less objectionable than the more widely known Oriental dances which have recently made their advent into the United States; but these dances are in no way national or common. They are rarely seen, except in the gypsy quarter of Seville, and there they are generally arranged for money-making purposes. In short, they are no more typical of Spanish dances than the questionable evolutions of the old Quadrille at the Moulin Rouge were representative of the dances of the French people, and it is time that the libel should be stopped. The country people and the working classes dance with the enjoyment of children, and generally they sing at the same time some love song which is unending, and sometimes improvised as the dance proceeds.

In athletic matters it cannot be said that Spanish women are very active, and in this they are somewhat behind their brothers, who have numerous games which test their skill and endurance. Though the bicycle is well known now in Spain, the Spanish women have not adopted it with the zest which was shown by the women of France, and it is doubtful if it will ever be popular among them. Horseback riding is a fashionable amusement among the wealthy city women, but their attainments in this branch of sport seem insignificant when compared to the riding of English and American women. The Spanish riding horse is a pacer rather than a trotter, and this cradle-like motion is certainly better suited to the Spanish women. Few, if any, of them aspire to follow the hounds, a ditch or a gate would present difficulties which would be truly insurmountable, and they never acquire the ease and grace in this exercise which are the mark of an expert horsewoman.

The dark beauty of the Spanish women has long been a favorite theme, and there is little to say on that subject which has not been said a thousand times before, but no account of them would be complete without some word in recognition of their many personal charms. In the cities, the women, so far as their dress is concerned, have lost their individuality, as the women of other nations have done, in their efforts to follow the Parisian styles; but there is still a certain charming simplicity of manner which characterizes the whole bearing of a Spanish lady, and is quite free from that affectation and studied deportment which are too often considered as the acme of good breeding. This almost absolute lack of self-consciousness often leads to acts so na?ve that foreigners are often led to question their sense of propriety. But with this na?veté and simplicity is joined a great love for dress and display. Madame Higgin says on this subject: "Spanish women are great dressers, and the costumes seen at the race meetings at the Hippodrome and in the Parque are elaborately French, and sometimes startling. The upper middle class go to Santander, Biarritz, or one of the other fashionable watering places, and it is said of the ladies that they only stop as many days as they can sport new costumes. If they go for a fortnight, they must have fifteen absolutely new dresses, as they would never think of putting one on a second time. They take with them immense trunks, such as we generally associate with American travellers; these are called mundos (worlds)-a name which one feels certain was given by the suffering man who is expected to look after them. In the provinces, however, among the women of the peasant class, Parisian bonnets are neither worn nor appreciated; the good and time-honored customs in regard to peasant dress have been retained, and there rather than in the cities is to be seen the pure type as it has existed for centuries, unaffected and unalloyed by contact with the manners and customs of other nations."

It is difficult to say what the condition of Spanish women will be as the years go by, but it is at least certain that they will be better educated than they are to-day, and better able to understand the real meaning of life. Now they are often veritable children, who know nothing of affairs at home or of the world abroad, somewhat proud of their manifest charms and ever ready for a conquest; but with a better mental training and some enlarged conception of the real and essential duties in modern life, the unimportant things will be gradually relegated to their proper position, and the whole nation will gain new strength from an ennobled womanhood.

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