Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/59

This page has been validated.

from the idea of Necessity, and joined with Machiavelli's principle of the excellence of virtù. This principle is represented under a great variety of aspects; sometimes in the energy of a single heroic character, as in Tamburlaine; sometimes in the pursuit of unlawful knowledge, as in Faustus; again, in The Jew of Malta, in the boundless hatred and revenge of Barabas; in Guise plotting the massacre of the Huguenots out of cold-blooded policy; and in Mortimer planning the murder of Edward II. from purely personal ambition. Incidentally, no doubt, in some of these instances, the indulgence of unrestrained passion brings ruin in its train; but it is not so much for the sake of the moral that Marlowe composed his tragedies, as because his imagination delighted in the exhibition of the vast and tremendous consequences produced by the determined exercise of will in pursuit of selfish objects.'—P. 405.

The reader will remember that Machiavelli speaks the prologue to The Jew of Malta, with these two lines:—

'I count religion but a childish toy,
And hold there is no sin but ignorance.'

It is not denied by Herr Meyer or others, that Marlowe had studied Machiavelli in the original, and Mr. Courthorpe seems to make good his contention that it was Marlowe's conception of M.'s principle of virtù that revolutionised the English drama.

4 'Old Nick is the vulgar name of the Evil Being in the north of England, and is a name of great antiquity. We borrowed it from the title of an evil genius among the ancient Danes,' etc. etc. On the line in Hudibras, 'We may observe that he was called Old Nick many ages before the famous, or rather infamous, Nicholas Machiavel was born.'—Brand's Popular Antiquities, ii. 364. (Ed. 1813.)

5 See Tommasini, i. 27-30. Our excellent Ascham declares that he honoured the old Romans as the best breeders and bringers up for well-doing in all civil affairs that ever was in the world, but the new Rome was the home of devilish opinions and unbridled sin, and one of the worst patriarchs of its impiety was Machiavelli.—Schoolmaster (1563-8), Mayor's Edition, 1863, p. 86. Fuller, quoted in Mayor's note, expresses a better opinion of Machiavelli, and says that 'that which hath sharpened the pens of many against him is