Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/19

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is apt to afflict members of Opposition, and he longed to be back in the business of the State. So he dedicated his book to Lorenzo, in the hope that such speaking proof of his experience and capacity would induce the destroyers of the freedom of his city to give him public employment. His suppleness did not pay. Nothing came of the dedication for several years. Then some trivial duties were found for Machiavelli, and one important literary task was intrusted to him, the history of Florence. This he completed and dedicated to Leo X. in 1527. To the same period belongs a comedy which some have described as worthy of Aristophanes, and hardly second to the Tartufe of Molière. Like Bacon and some others who have written the shrewdest things on human conduct and the arts of success, he had made a sorry mess of his own chances and gifts. It is always interesting to watch how men take the ill-usage of the world and the miscarriages of life. Machiavelli's was one of those grave intellects, apt for serious thought, yet which easily turn to levity, console themselves for failure by mockery of themselves, and repay Fortune with her own banter. This is the vein of the brilliant burlesque and satire with which this versatile genius diversified his closing days. Still, with indomitable perseverance he clung to public things, and he now composed the dialogues on the Art of War, to induce his countrymen to substitute for mercenary armies a national militia—to-day one of the organic ideas of the European system. Amo la patria mia più dell' anima, he wrote