Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 2.djvu/722
elder; but the elder is not so much a cause as simply an antecedent of the younger. Both revivals were literary and interpretative, both were imitative and re-creative; but they differed in spirit, and they differed also in province and in results. There was a revival of letters which could not possibly become a reformation of religion, and there was a revival which necessarily involved such a reformation; and the two revivals must be distinguished if the consequences are to be understood.
The roots of the difference may be found, partly, in the minds that studied the literatures, and partly in the literatures they studied, though even here the qualities, the interests, and the motives of the minds only stand the more clearly revealed. The difference is better expressed by a racial than by a temporal distinction; the term "race," indeed, as here used does not denote a unity of blood, which can seldom if ever exist, but unities of language, inheritance, association, and ideas. In this sense, the Catholic South was in speech, in custom, in social temper, in political and municipal institutions distinctly Latin; and for similar reasons the Protestant North may be termed Teutonic. Now of these two the Latin race was in thought the more secular, while the Teutonic was the more religious; but as regards custom and institutions the Latin peoples were the more conservative, while the Teutonic were the more inclined to radical change. And this is a difference which their respective histories may in some measure explain. The Latin race, especially in Italy, was the heir of the Roman Empire, still a vivid memory and a living influence; its monuments survived, its paganism had not utterly perished; its gods were still named in popular speech; customs which it had sanctioned and dreams which it had begotten persisted, having refused, as it were, to undergo Christian baptism. Italy was to the Latins as much a holy land as Palestine had been to the Crusaders, with graves and relics and shrines lying in every valley and looking out from every hill; and these appealed all the more to the imagination since ecclesiastical Rome was a reality and imperial Rome a memory and a dream. The Eternal City was like a desolate widow who yet tarried and yearned for the return of the Caesar who had been her spouse.
And if Rome lived in the dust of her ancient roads and the ruins of her temples, the Italian peoples and States seemed singularly suggestive of Greece. Their republics and tyrants, their civic life and military adventurers, their rich cities with their colonies and commerce, their rapid changes of fortune, their swift oscillations from freedom to bondage and from bondage back to freedom, their love of art and of letters, their mutual jealousies and ambitions were Greek rather than Roman; indeed at certain moments they might almost make us feel as if ancient Greece had risen from the dead and come to live upon the Italian soil. Here then the Renaissance could not but be classical: not the product of some accident like the capture of a city or the fall of an ancient dynasty,