Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/39

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resting on a block with a blood-stained axe by the side of it. His captains, beginning to penetrate Cæsar's designs, and fearing that he would seize their petty dominions—like the leaves of an artichoke, as he said—one by one, revolted. Undaunted, he gathered new forces. Fresh bands of mercenaries flocked to the banners of a chief who had money, skill, and a happy star. The conspirators were no match for him in swiftness, activity, or resources; they allowed him to sow the seeds of disunion among them; he duped them into making a convention with him, which they had little thought of keeping. Everybody who knew his revengeful and implacable spirit was sure that the conspirators were doomed. When Machiavelli came near one of them he felt, he says, the deadly odour of a corpse. With many arts, the duke got them to meet him at Sinigaglia. He received their greetings cordially, pressed their hands, and gave them the accolade. They all rode into the town together, talking of military things. Cæsar courteously invited them to enter the palace, then quitted them, and they were immediately seized. 'I doubt if they will be alive to-morrow morning,' the Florentine secretary wrote without emotion to his government. They went through some form of trial, and before daybreak two of them were strangled, and two others shared the same fate as soon as Cæsar knew that the Pope had carried out his plans for making away by poison with the Cardinal who headed the rebellious faction at Rome.

Let us pause for a moment. One of the victims of