Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/53

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iii. l), Machiavelli describes how Dominic and Francis in older days kindled afresh an expiring flame. He may have perceived that for Italy in this direction all was over. But if moral force and spiritual force is exhausted, with what hope are you to look for either good soldiers or good rulers?

The sixteenth century in Italy in some respects resembles the eighteenth in France. In both, old faiths were assailed, and new lamps were kindled. But the eighteenth century was a time of belief in the better elements of mankind. An illusion, you may say. Was it a worse illusion than disbelief in mankind? Machiavelli and his school saw only cunning, jealousy, perfidy, ingratitude, dupery, and yet on such a foundation as this they dreamed that they could build. What idealist or doctrinaire ever fell into a stranger error? Surrounded by the ruins of Italian nationality, says a writer of genius, 'he organises the abstract theory of the country with all the energy of the Committee of Public Safety, supported on the passion of twenty-five millions of Frenchmen. He carries in him the genius of the Convention. His theories strike like acts' (Quinet). But energy as an abstract theory is a bubble.

It is true to say that Machiavelli represents certain living forces in our actual world; that Science, with its survival of the fittest, unconsciously lends him illegitimate aid; that 'he is not a vanishing type, but a constant and contemporary influence' (Acton). This is because energy, force, will, violence, still keep alive in the world their resistance to the