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When the war began it was difficult for us to adapt ourselves to the peculiar position in which our fatherland seemed suddenly placed; it was hard for us to grasp the fact that so many nations openly declared against us, while even those whom we had considered friendly were not for us. We did not realize during the long years of peace that marked the development of the German Empire that we were an isolated nation, depending only upon ourselves; or, to put it more accurately, we had forgotten it, because we had scarcely thought of war as an imminent necessity. We did know, however, that in case of a great European war, we would be hemmed in between two powerful enemies; but we had seen the time when a military campaign offered us the most favorable prospects pass by unutilized, and so we had accustomed ourselves to the pleasant thought that we could continue indefinitely to live in peace. Russia's fleet had been crushed in Asia, and a great part of her army had been annihilated; victorious Japan was inclined in our favor; France's faulty equipment had been the laughingstock of home and foreign parliaments; but there was no
The Moroccan crisis past, and still there was no war. But what military events do we find in the history of the other great European powers during our forty-four years of peace? England conquered Egypt and the Boer
1 A lecture delivered on March 10, 1915, in the Aula of the Mommsen Gymnasium at Charlottenburg.
Republic; France gained Tunis, Indo-China and a large section of Morocco; Russia added Northern Manchuria and Mongolia to her territory. Meanwhile Germany confined herself to increasing her colonial strength by treaties and agreements, and other purely peaceful means. Therefore we, the uninitiated, thought that there would be no war, and during half a century we taught ourselves to think of the earth as a land of brothers.
And then suddenly the war came, and we were almost driven to regard the fact that every one was opposed to us as a joke, in order to grasp it. But what we had not realized our ancestors knew a hundred years ago. Most of all, Fichte knew it when he definitely divided the world into two parts-Germany and foreign countries—two parts dissimilar in size but equally closed to one another. This theory must have an underlying meaning which we should do well to study. In fact, the question touches the present generation more closely than it did our ancestors since it is we who have come to feel the full force of this cleavage. Surely the whole world could not hate us merely because they were interested in Russia's obtaining Constantinople, or in France's taking back Alsace-Lorraine. It is not credible that industrial and commercial considerations alone could have led the nations to side definitely with our opponents; for it is England that cramps foreign trade in the world market. And could it be true that Prussian militarism really disturbs the whole world so greatly? On the contrary, is not this the case with English navalism? And yet again, it can not be mere journalistic agitation which has caused the perilous union of the nations against us; even tho this seed has fallen upon very fertile soil. No, it is certain that even today Fichte is right; that the opposition which he pointed out has a fundamental and not an accidental significance; that the individuality of the deepest mental and spiritual qualities of all the nations must be in proportion to such a cleavage; and that to other racial groups these qualities must seem strange, and, in times of disturbance, hostile. I do not mean to say that these dif
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ferences in characteristics have caused the war, but only that, from one point of view, they explain the grouping of the nations.
Last February, as we read in the newspapers, there was held at the Sorbonne in Paris, a convention of scholars from the nations fighting against us, and of numerous peoples who felt bound to them; a body of men of intellectual distinction, such as the Italian historian Ferrero. The unanimous opinion of the meeting was that the nations represented composed the group of peoples who are the exponents of that distinctive form of western civilization which they intend to make world-wide. The name of "Latin civilization" was decided upon to designate it. "This Latin culture is already identical with universal civilization," they said; "it has only one enemy, German culture, and this must be crushed." In this division of mankind into two parts we find a confirmation of Fichte's theory, but his term “foreign countries" is more closely defined by the conception of "Latin civilization.”
We need not ask whether this conception is a reality. We know it as a historical power of the first rank; which twice in the world's history has proved itself a vigorous pioneer, and which has shown such breadth that, in these two epochs, the peoples who are not members of the Latin group, seem most dependent upon it.
The first of these epochs was the Renaissance, which did away with medieval man, broke thru the narrowness of the prevailing point of view, and loosened the fetters that the church had forged. It moulded modern humanity, set up for it an ideal of cultivated individuality, and confronted the papal power of binding and loosing with a superior type of man, independent and untrammeled. This whole, powerful, new culture was Latin. Dante the Italian stood on the threshold of this great age; Dante the poet who, with a courage unknown in Christian times, dared to picture a Hell, and to create its inhabitants with the strength and freedom of a God. And Dante too was the first to establish the Renaissance as a political movement.
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If Augustine saw in the ancient Roman Empire the consummation of the earthly state which was destroyed by heathendom, so Dante celebrated the Roman people once again as the nation, to which by nature the empire of the world belonged. Rome, as mistress of the earth, was the ideal of the Augustine emperors, which Virgil so concisely exprest: "Let others excel in art, learning and oratory; tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento, hae tibi erunt artes, pacisque imponere morem, parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.” Dante's Rome awaited only a new Augustus, for whom the eternal city, like a noble widow, yearned. The progress of the Renaissance of Latin civilization was like its beginning. The Romans controlled the realm of the newly-awakened interest in antiquity. Cicero and Quintilian were the undisputed masters of style; Virgil was the deified poet; in the halls of the Vatican the plays of Terence and Plautus were acted; Socrates had little influence, Seneca much; it was not Pericles, but rather the Roman emperor who was admired; it was not the Parthenon, but Roman buildings that were valued. Roman antiquity lived again, even the old Roman language lived in a sense, for Lorenzo Valla manufactured a new Latin.
Of course men studied Plato and Aristotle, but the Aristotle of the Renaissance was the single inheritance of scholasticism, whom students either refuted with the teachings of Plato, or tried to free from church control; rather than a real, living power. And Plato's spirit descended upon a single man, Galileo, whom it helped to reach a really modern conception of natural laws. There was no lack of anxious effort to find the way to the originals of Greek poetry and prose, but even Petrarch had to read his Homer in the Latin translation (that of the so-called Pindar of Thebes) and the influence of the learned Greek scholars Pletho and Bessarion and their followers, was confined to a limited intellectual circle. The prevailing culture was not Hellenic. And just as the Latin language had once spread to the peoples of the Latin group because of their submission to Roman rule, so the new movement extended over the
neighboring countries. Machiavelli, the man that wrote about the nobility, was an Italian who wished to picture the rulers that Italy needed in order to become a great nation. Giordano Bruno, a Dominican monk, the first great philosopher of the Renaissance, was also an Italian who discarded the theological belief in a world to come, and—the child of the Sun and of Mother Earth, as he described himself-deified all-powerful nature, and became the first modern Pantheist. Montaigne, the second, was a Frenchman, whose characteristic motto, "I study myself; that is my physics and my metaphysics,” is a mirror of the tendencies of the time. The great geographical discoverers were Portuguese: Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Fernando Magellan. All of these were real men of the Renaissance, and real Latins.
Naturally the effects of this great period were not confined within the boundaries of the realm of Latin culture, and only on the supposition that a culture is necessarily bound to its native soil do other nations dare to name their natural scientists; Copernicus, Tycho Brahe and Newton, by the side of him who surpasses them all. Galileo was the triumph of the Renaissance. His mind shattered the walls of the visible heavens, transported the sun from the centre of the universe, and proclaimed the eternity of the whole. Once again I must repeat that all this was Latin culture, and in so far as the Renaissance can not be limited to a single period of history, but rather represented a mental development which can never be lost, but which will continue to influence mankind forever, in so far these representatives of the Latin group whom I have mentioned are right in regard to the universal mission of their civilization.
The second epoch in which Latin culture exerted a powerful influence was the age of the enlightenment (Aufklärung). In the 18th century, the French mind united with the English to put its stamp upon a period of civilization which in turn was a guide to the whole western world, and which exerted a pronounced influence upon it. One must credit this new form of Latin civilization with having at least