Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/51

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from theology, by a divorce from ethics also? He was laying down some maxims of government as an art; the end of that art is the security and permanence of the ruling power; and the fundamental principle from which he silently started, without any doubt or misgiving as to its soundness, was that the application of moral standards to this business, is as little to the point as it would be in the navigation of a ship.

The effect was fatal even for his own purpose, for what he put aside, whether for the sake of argument or because he thought them in substance irrelevant, were nothing less than the living forces by which societies subsist and governments are strong. A remarkable illustration occurred in his own century. Three or four years before all this on secular and ecclesiastical princedoms was written, John Calvin was born (1509).41 Calvin, with a union of fervid religious instinct and profound political genius, almost unexampled in European history, did in fact what Machiavelli tried to do on paper; he actually created a self-governed state, ruled it, defended it, maintained it, and made that little corner of Europe both the centre of a movement that shook France, England, Scotland, America, for long days to come, and at the same time he set up a bulwark against all the forces of Spanish and Roman reaction, in the pressing struggles of his own immediate day. Florence, Geneva, Holland, hold as high a place as the greatest States of Europe in the development of modern civilisation; but anybody with a turn for