Quoted from the author's "Foreword."
"ARCHEOLOGICAL research has revealed to us that what one would expect to be the fairest and happiest region of the earth — the sunny yet not torrid belt that stretches from Portugal and Morocco to the south of China — is a crowded cemetery of dead empires. We now know that the great old empires of Egypt and Mesopotamia, of Greece and Rome, are but four lines of a mighty necrology. Every year almost we extend the range of the dead civilizations of Asia; and from Alexandria to Troy, round the shores of the beautiful sea, we trace the graves of a hundred once virile and artistic cities. Where goats now browse hungrily on barren hills of Asia Minor was, less than two thousand years ago, Pliny's "noblest city of Asia," Pergamus, with a superb library and culture; and the white ribs of other noble Greek-Roman cities gleam on the sands of the Syrian and Algerian deserts. Under the rustic poverty of Crete we discover the remains of stately palaces and well-ordered towns of more than three thousand years ago, and princely relics of Greek and Saracen art shine futilely upon the dull
eyes of Sicilian peasants. In America the ruins of scores of remarkable cities, from Teotihuacan to Chichen-Itza, tell how often even there the race laboriously attained that
height of wealth, wisdom, and refinement which we call civilization, only to slip back into the morass of barbarism."
"It seemed to me, when I wandered amongst these tombs of earlier kingdoms, that no other was so pathetic in its historical reminder as that of what is called the Moorish, though really Arab, civilization of medieval Spain. Here was an exquisitely artistic and very enlightened kingdom deliberately and horribly hacked to pieces on the very threshold of what the historian calls Modern Times. And this is only part of the tragedy. For this civilization which the Spaniards, with strange pride in their vandalism, thrust into the cemetery of dead empires was one of the happiest, most prosperous, most advanced in fine feeling and culture that had yet appeared on the earth: one that was nearer to us in its ideals and its scientific methods than the Greek-Roman or any other had been; one, indeed, that in its best phases approached more closely to the true standard of a wisely-ordered life than the majority of us do to-day."
"The Spaniards did not merely destroy nearly every monument of this great civilization. By burning almost the whole of its literature, which had filled hundreds of elegant libraries of from 50,000 to 500,000 volumes, they succeeded in banishing from the mind of Europe even the
memory of a splendour the reflection of which had at one time reached the remoter provinces of England, France, and Germany. As a result of this an entirely false conception of the development of European civilization has dominated our literature."