Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/27

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it is no bad thing to let him suppose that you already think him that which you would have him to be, would have seemed to Machiavelli as foolish for his purpose as if you were to furnish an architect with clay, and bid him to treat it as if it were iron. He will suffer no abstraction to interrupt positive observation.22 Man is what he is, and so he needs to be bitted and bridled with laws, and now and again to be treated to a stiff dose of ' medicine forti ' in the shape of fire, bullet, axe, halter, or dungeon. At any rate, Machiavelli does not leave human nature out, and this is one secret of his hold. He does not argue pale opinions, but passions and interests in all the flush of their action. It is, in truth, in every case,—Burke, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Hobbes, Bentham, Mill, and the rest—always the moralist who interests men most within the publicist. Machiavelli was assuredly a moralist, though of a peculiar sort, and this is what makes him, as he has been called, a contemporary of every age and a citizen of all countries.

To the question whether the world grows better or worse, Machiavelli gave an answer that startles an age like ours, that lives on its faith in progress. The world neither grows better nor worse; in fact it is always the same. Human fortunes are never still; they are every moment either going up or sinking down. But among all nations and states, the same desires, the same humours prevail, and are what they always were. Men are for travelling on the beaten track. Diligently study bygone things, and in every State you will be able to discover the