The English have long feared the influence of the Continent, even if in recent years the Pope and machinating Jesuits have been largely replaced in the demonology by Jacques Delors and interfering EC bureaucrats. Mrs Thatcher’s warnings about Brussels have a familiar ring when you read of the Elizabethan fear of Rome:
‘In the Elizabethan Protestant’s blurred image of the Papal city, Jesuits, assassins, Machiavelli’s politics, Venetian harlotry, the influence of Spanish overlords in Milan and Naples, all seemed constituent elements in a power menacing the life, liberty and salvation of your Protestant Englishman.’
And yet, there was a contradiction here: an Englishman’s education had imbued his spirit with the grandeur of classical Rome, and the advances of the Renaissance were regarded as essential to the proper training of poet, artist, architect and physician.
John Stoye’s dense and scholarly study, originally published in 1952 and now reissued in a revised edition, describes the origins of the Grand Tour in the years from the Stuart accession to the Restoration, years during which the conservative view of all foreign practices as ‘dangerous, heretical and immoral’ was