Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/13

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raised the questions to which Machiavelli gave such daring point. On the medallion that commemorates him in the church of Santa Croce, are the words, Tanto nomini nullum par elogium, So great a name no praise can match. We only need to think of Michelangelo and Galileo reposing near him, in order to realise the extravagance of such a phrase, and to understand that reaction in his favour has gone as intolerably far as the old diatribes against him.

It may be doubted whether in this country Machiavelli has ever been widely read. Thomas Cromwell, the powerful minister of Henry VIII., the malleus monachorum, told Cardinal Pole that he had better fling aside dreamers like Plato, and read a new book by an ingenious Italian which treated the arts of government practically. Cromwell in his early wanderings had been more than once in Italy, and he was probably at Florence at the very time when Machiavelli was writing his books at his country farm.6 But a more shining figure in English history than Cromwell, was even more profoundly attracted by the genius of Machiavelli, and this was Bacon. It was natural that his vast and comprehensive genius should admire the extension to the sphere of civil government, of the same method which he was advocating in the investigation of external nature. 'We are much beholden,' he said, 'to Machiavel and others that wrote what men do, and not what they ought to do.' The rejection of a priori and abstract principles, and of authority as the test of truth, the substitution of chains of