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236
MACHIAVELLI


the state machinery. He was by no means indifferent to private virtue, which indeed he judged the basis of all healthy national existence; but in the realm of politics he postponed morals to political expediency. He held that the people, as distinguished from the nobles and the clergy, were the pith and fibre of nations; yet this same people had to become wax in the hands of the politician their commerce and their comforts, the arts which give a dignity to life and the pleasures which make life liveable, neglected-their very liberty subordinated to the one tyrannical conception. To this point the segregation of politics from every other factor which goes to constitute humanity had brought him; and this it is which makes us feel his world a wilderness, devoid of atmosphere and vegetation. Yet some such isolation of the subject matter 'of this science was demanded at the moment of its birth, just as political economy, when first started, had to make a rigid severance o wealth from other units. It is only by a gradual process that social science in its whole complexity can be evolved. We have hardly yet discovered that political economy has unavoidable points of contact with ethics.

From the foregoing criticism it will be perceived that all the question s whether Machiavelli meant to corrupt or to instruct the world, to fortify the hands of tyrants or to lead them to their ruin, are now obsolete. He was a man of science-one who by the vigorous study of his subject matter sought from that subject matter itself to deduce laws. The difficulty which remains in judging him is a difficulty of statement, valuation, allowance. How much shall we allow for his position in Renaissance Italy, for the corruption in the midst of which he lived, for his own personal temperament? How shall we state his point of departure from the middle ages, his sympathy with prevalent classical enthusiasms, his divination of a new period? How shall we estimate the permanent worth of his method, the residuum of value in his maxims? After finishing the Principe, Machiavelli thought of dedicating it to one of the Medicean princes, with the avowed hope that he might thereby regain their favour and nnd public employment. He wrote to Vettori on the subject, and Giuliano de' Medici, duke of Nemours, seemed to him the proper person. The choice was reasonable. No sooner had Leo been made pope than he formed schemes for the aggrandizement of his family. Giuliano was odered and refused the duchy of Urbino. Later on, Leo designed for him a duchy in Emilia, to be cemented out of Parma, Piacenza, Reggio and Modena. Supported by the power of the papacy, with the goodwill of Florence to back him, Giuliano would have found himself in a position somewhat better than that of Cesare Borgia; and Borgia's creation of the duchy of Romagna might have served as his model. Machiavelli therefore was justified in feeling that here was an opportunity for putting his cherished schemes in practice, and that a prince with such alliances might even advance to the grand end of the unification of Italy. Giuliano, however, died in 1506. Then Machiavelli turned his thoughts towards Lorenzo, duke of Urbino. The choice of this man as a possible Italian liberator reminds us of the choice of Don Micheletto as general of the Florentine militia. To Lorenzo the Principe was dedicated, but without result. The Medici as yet at all events, could not employ Machiavelli, and had not in themselves the stun' to found Italian kingdoms. Machiavelli, meanwhile, was reading his Discorsi to a select audience in the Rucellai gardens, fanning that republican enthusiasm which never lay long dormant among the Florentines. Towards the year 1 519 both Leo X. and his cousin, the cardinal Giulio de' Medici, were much perplexed about the management of the republic. It seemed necessary, if possible, in the gradual extinction of their family to give the city at least a semblance of self-government. They applied to several celebrated politicians, among others to Machiavelli, for advice in the emergency. The result was a treatise in which he deduced practical conclusions from the past history and present temper of the city, blending these with his favourite principles of government in general. He earnestly admonished Leo, for his own sake and for Florence, to found a permanent and free state system for the republic, reminding him in terms of noble eloquence how splendid is the glory of the man who shall confer such benefltsupon a people. The year 1 520 saw the composition of the Arte della gnerra and the Vita di Caslruccio.

The first of these is a methodical treatise, setting forth Machiavelli's views on military matters, digesting ' his theories respecting the superiority of national troops, the meiiiciency of fortresses, the necessity of relying upon infantry in war, and the l

comparative insignificance of artillery. It is strongly coloured with his enthusiasm for ancient Rome; and specially upon the topic of artillery it displays a want of insight into the actualities ofvmodern warfare. We may regard it as a supplement or appendix to the Principe and the Discorsi, since Machiavelli held it for a fundamental axiom that states are powerless unless completely armed in permanence. The peroration contains a noble appeal to the Italian liberator of his dreams, and a parallel from Macedonian histor, which, read by the light of this century, sounds like a prophecy of Fiedmont. The Vila di Caslruccio was composed at Lucca, whither Machiavelli had been sent on a mission. This so-called biography of the medieval adventurer who raised himself by personal ability and military skill to the tyranny of several Tuscan cities must be regarded in the light of an historical romance. Dealing freely with the outline of Castruccio's career, as he had previously dealt with Cesare Borgia, he sketched his own ideal of the successful prince. Cesare Borgia had entered into the Principe as a representative figure rather than an actual personage; so now conversely the theories of the Principe assumed the outward form and semblance of Castruccio. In each case history is blent with speculation in nearly the same proportions. But Castruccio, being farther from the writer's own experience, bears weaker traits of personality. In the same year, 1520, Machiavelli, at the instance of the cardinal Giulio de' Medici, received commission from the officers of the Studio pubblico to write a history of Florence. They agreed to pay him an annual allowance of Ioo florins while engaged upon the work. The next six years were partly employed in its composition, and he left a portion of it finished, with a dedication to Clement VII., when he died in 1527. In the Historic fiorentine Machiavelli quitted the field of political speculation for that of history. But, having already written the Discorsi and the Principe, he carried with him to this new task of historiography the habit of mind pro er to political philosophy. In his hands the history of Florence became a text on which at fitting seasons to deliver lessons in the science he initiated. This gives the work its special character.. It isnot so much a chronicle of Florentine affairs, from the commencement of modern history to the death of Lorenzo de' Medici in 14 2, as a critique of that chronicle from the point of view adopted by 3/Iachiavelli in his former writings. Having condensed his doctrines in the Principe and the Discorsi, he applies their abstract principles to the example of the Florentine republic. But the History of Florence is not a mere political pamphlet. It is the first example in Italian literature of a nationa biography, the first attempt in anylliterature to trace the vicissitudes of a people's life in their logical sequence, deducing each successive phase from passions or necessities inherent in preceding circumstances, reasoning upon them from general principles, and inferring corollaries for the conduct of the future. In point of form the Florentine History is modelled upon Livy. It contains speeches in the antique manner, which may be taken partly as embodying the author's commentary upon situations of importance, partly as expressing what he thought dramatically appropriate to prominent personages. The style of the whole book is nervous, vivid, free rom artifice and rhetoric, obeying the writer's thought with absolute plasticity. Machiavelli had formed for himself a prose style, equalled by no one but by Guicciardini in his minor works, which was far removed from the emptiness of the latinizing humanists and the trivialities of the Italian purists.. Words in his hands have the substance, the self-evidence of things. It is an athlete's style, all bone and sinew, nude, without superfluous, flesh or ornament.

It would seem that from the date of Machiavelli's discourse to Leo on the government of Florence the Medici had taken him into consideration. Writing to Vettori in 1 SI 3, he had expressed his eager wish to “ roll stones ” in their service; and this desire was now gratified. In 1 521 he was sent to Carpi to transact a petty matter with the chapter of the Franciscans, the chief known result of the embassy being a burlesque correspondence with Francesco Guicciardini. Four years later, in 1525, he received a rather more important mission to Venice. 5 But Machiavelli's public career was virtually closed; and the interest of his biography still centres in his literary work. We have seen that already, in 1504, he had been engaged upon a comedy in the manner of Aristophanes, which is now unfortunately lost. A translation of the Andria and three original comedies from his pen are extant, the precise dates of which are uncertain, though the greatest of them Was first printed at Rome in 1524. This is the M antlragola, which may be justly called the ripest and most powerful play in the Italian language.

The plot is both improbable and unpleasing. But literary criticism is merged in admiration of the wit, the humour, the vivacity, the satire of a piece which brings before us the old life of Florence in a succession of brilliant scenes. If Machiavelli hadany moral object when he composed the Mandragola, it was to paint in glaring colours the corruption of Italian society. It shows how a