Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/18

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of the men of old, where they receive me with love, and where I feed upon that food which only is my own and for which I was born. I feel no shame in conversing with them and asking them the reason of their actions. They, moved by their humanity, make answer; for four hours' space I feel no annoyance, forget all care; poverty cannot frighten, nor death appal me. I am carried away to their society. And since Dante says "that there is no science unless we retain what we have learned," I have set down what I have gained from their discourse, and composed a treatise, De Principatibus, in which I enter as deeply as I can into the science of the subject, with reasonings on the nature of principality, its several species, and how they are acquired, how maintained, how lost. If you ever liked any of my scribblings, this ought to suit your taste. To a prince, and especially to a new prince, it ought to prove acceptable. Therefore I am dedicating it to the Magnificence of Giuliano.'14

Machiavelli was not meant either by temperament or principle to be a willing martyr. Not for him was the stern virtue of Dante, who accepted lifelong exile rather than restoration with dishonour, content from any corner of the earth to wonder at the sun and the stars, and under any sky to meditate all sweetest truths (le dolcissime verità). Not for the ambitious and practical politician was the choice of Savonarola, who, at the moment when Machiavelli was crossing the threshold of public life, had perished at the stake, rather than cease from his warnings that no good could come to Florence save from the fear of God and the reform of manners. Nobody had in him less of the Stoic; his private character was not more austere than the Italian morality of his day; his purse was painfully lean; his active and restless mind suffered from that 'malady of lost power' which, they say,