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A Persistent Nationality
by [?]

It would be a curious question to inquire how far these old and ingrained Etruscan ideas may have helped to modify and colour the gentler conceptions of primitive Christianity. Certainly, one must never for a moment forget that Rome was at bottom nearly one-half Etruscan in character; that during the imperial period it became, in fact, the capital of Etruria; that myriads of Etruscans flocked to Rome; and that many of them, like Sejanus, had much to do with moulding and building up the imperial system. I do not doubt, myself, that Etruscan notions large interwove themselves, from the very outset, with Roman Christianity; and whenever in the churches or galleries of Italy I see St. Lawrence frying on his gridiron, or St. Sebastian pierced through with many arrows, or the Innocents being massacred in unpleasant detail, or hell being represented with Dantesque minuteness and particularity of delineation, I say to myself, with an internal smile, ‘Etruscan influence.’

How interesting it is, too, to observe the constant outcrop, under all forms and faiths, of this strange, underlying, non-Aryan type! The Etruscans are and always were remarkable for their intellect, their ingenuity, their artistic faculty; and even to this day, after so many vicissitudes, they stand out as a wholly superior people to the rough Genoese and the indolent Neapolitans. They have had many crosses of blood meanwhile, of course; and it seems probable that the crosses have done them good: for in ancient times it was Rome, the Etrurianised border city of the Latins, that rose to greatness, not Etruria itself; and at a later date, it was after the Germans had mingled their race with Italy that Florence almost took the place of Rome. Nay, it is known as a fact that under Otto the Great a large Teutonic colony settled in Florence, thus adding to the native Etrurian race (especially to the nobility) that other element which the Tuscan seems to need in order that he may be spurred to the realisation of his best characteristics. But allow as we may for foreign admixture, two points are abundantly clear to the impartial observer of Tuscan history: one, that this non-Aryan race has always been one of the finest and strongest in Italy; and the other, that from the very dawn of history its main characteristics, for good or for evil, have persisted most uninterruptedly till the present day.