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amiable and accomplished young man, whose early death Machiavelli feelingly deplores. After partaking of an elegant entertainment, they retire from the heat into the most shady recesses of the garden. Fabrizio is struck by the sight of some uncommon plants. His host informs him that, though rare in modern days, they are frequently mentioned by the classical authors, and that his grandfather, like many other Italians, amused himself with practising the ancient methods of gardening. Fabrizio expresses his regret that those who, in later times, afTected the manners of the oht Romans, should select for imitation their most trifling pursuits. This leads to a conversation on the decline of military discipline, and on the best means of restoring it. The institution of the Florentine militia is ably defended; and several improvements are suggested in the details.
The Swiss and the Spaniards were, at thai time, regarded as the best soldiers in Europe. The Swiss battalion consisted of pikemen, and bore a close resemblance to the Greek phalanx. The Spaniards, like the soldiers of Rome, were armed with the sword and the shield. The victories of Flaminius and ^Einilius over the Macedonian kings seem to prove the superiority of the weapons used by the legions.
The same experiments had been recently tried with the same result at the battle of Ravenna, one of those tremendous days into which human folly and wickedness compress the whole devastation of a famine or a plague. In that memorable conflict, the infantry of Arragon, the old companions of Gonsalvo, deserted by all their allies, hewed a passage through the thickest of the imperial pikes, and effected an unbroken retreat, in the face of the gendarmerie of De Foix, and the renowned artillery of Este. Fabrizio, or rather Machiavelli, proposes to combine the two systems, to arm the foremost lines with the pike, for the purpose of repulsing cavalry, and those in the rear with the sword, as being a weapon belter adapted for every purpose. Throughout the work, the author expresses the highest admiration of the military science of the ancient Romans, and the greatest contempt for the maxims which had been in vogue amongst the Italian commanders of the preceding generation. He prefers infantry to cavalry; and fortified camps to fortified towns. He is inclined to substitute rapid movements, and decisive engagements, for the languid and dilatory operations of his countrymen. He attaches very little importance to the invention of gunpowder. Indeed he seems to think that it ought scarcely to produce any change in the mode of arming or of disposing troops. The general testimony of historians, it must be allowed, seems to prove, that the ill-constructed and ill-served artillery of those times, though useful in a siege, was of little value on the field of battle.
Of the tactics of Machiavelli we will not venture to give an opinion; but we are ccr tain that his book is most able and interesting As a commentary on the history of his times it is invaluable. The ingenuity, the grace, ami the perspicuity of the stvle, and the eloquence and animation of particular passages, must give pleasure even to readers who laUe no interest in the subject.
The Prinre and the Discourses on Livy were written after the fall of the republican government. The former was dedicated to the young Lorenzo de Medici. This circumstance seems to have disgusted the contemporaries of the writer far more than the doctrines which have rendered the name of the work odious in later times. It was considered as an indication of political apostasy. The fact, however, seems to have been, that Machiavelli, despairing of the liberty of Florence, was inclined to support any government which might preserve her independence. The interval which separated a democracy and a despotism, Soderini and Lorenzo, seemed to vanish when compared with the difference between the former and the present state of Italy; between the security, the opulence, and the repose which it had enjoyed under its native rulers, and the misery in which it had been plunged since the fatal year in which the first foreign tyrant had descended from the Alps. The noble and pathetic exhortation with which the Prinre concludes, shows how strongly the writer felt upon this subject.
The Prinre traces the progress of an ambitious man, the Discourses the progress of an ambitious people. The same principles on which in the former work the elevation of an individual are explained, are applied in the latter to the longer duration and more complex interests of society. To a modern statesman the form of the Discourses may appear to be puerile. In truth, Livy is not a historian on whom much reliance can be placed, even in cases where he must have possessed considerable means of information. And his first Decade, to which Machiavelli has confined himself, is scarcely entitled to more credit than anr chronicle of British kings who reigned before the Roman invasion. But his commentator is indebted to him for little more than' a few texts, which he might as easily have extracted from the Vulgate or the Decameron. The whole train of thought is original.
On the peculiar immorality which has rendered the Prinre unpopular, and which is almost equally discernible in the Discourses, we • • have already given our opinion at length. We •."* have attempted to show that it belonged rather to the age than to the man; that it was a partial taint, and by no means implied general depravity. We cannot, however, deny that it is a great blemish, and that it considerably diminishes the pleasure which, in other respects, those works must alford to every intelligent mind.
ft is, indeed, impossible to conceive a more healthful and vigorous constitution of the un derstanding than that which these works indicate. The qualities of the active and the contemplative statesman appear to have been blended, in the mind of the writer, into a rare and exquisite harmony. His skill in the detail? of business had not been acquired at the expense of his general powers. It had not rendered his mind less comprehensive, but it had served to correct his speculations, and to
impart to them that vivid and practical character which so widely distinguishes them from the vague theories of most political philosophers.
Every man who has seen the world knows that nothing is so useless as a general maxim. If it be very moral and very true, it may serve for a copy to a charity-boy. If, like those of Rochefoucauld, it be sparkling and whimsical, it may make an excellent motto for an essay. But few, indeed, of the many wise) apophthegms which have been ultere.l. from the time of the Seven Sages of Greece to thai of Poor Richard, have prevented a single fool ish action. We give the highest and the most peculiar praise to the precepts of Machiavelli, when we say that they may frequently be of real use in regulating the conduct, not so much because they are more just or more profound than those which might be culled from othei authors, as because they can be more readily applied to the problems of real life.
There are errors in these works. But they are errors which a writer situated like Machiavelli could scarcely avoid. They arise, for the most part, from a single defect which appears to us to pervade his whole system. In his political scheme the means had been more deeply considered than the ends. The great principle, that societies and laws exist only for the purpose of increasing the sum of private happiness, is not recognised with sufficient clearness. The good of the body, distinct from the good of th« members, and sometimes hardly compatible with it, seems to be the object which he proposes to himself. Of all political fallacies, this has had the widest and the most mischievous operation. The state of society in the little commonwealths of Greece, the close connection and mutual dependence of the citizens, and the severity of the laws of war, tended to encourage an opinion which, under such circumstances, could hardly he called erroneous. The interests of every individual were inseparably bound up with those of the state. An invasion destroyed his cornfields and vineyards, drove him from his home, and compelled him to encounter all the hardships of a military life. A peace restored him to security and comfort. A victory doubled the number of his slaves. A defeat perhaps made him a slave himself. When Pericles, in the Peloponnesian war, told the Athenians that if their country triumphed their private losses would speedily be repaired, but that if their arms failed of success, every individual amongst them would probably be ruined,' h«i spoke no more than the truth. He spoke to men whom the tribute of vanquished cities supplied with food and clothing, with the luxury of the bath and the amusements of the theatre, on whom the greatness of their country conferred rank, and before whom the members of less prosperous communities trembled; and tc men who, in case of a change in the public fortunes, would at least be deprived of every comfort and every distinction which they enjoyed. To be butchered on the smoking ruins of their city, to be dragged in chains to a slave-market, to see one child torn from them to dig in ihe quarries of Sicily, and another to guard the harems of Persepolis; those were the frequent and probable cousequenr.es of national calamities. Hence, among the Greeks, patriotism became a governing principle, or rather an ungovernable passion. Both their legislators and their philosophers took it for granted that, in providing for the strength and greatness of the state, they sufficiently provided for the happiness of the people. The writers of the Roman empir». lived under despots into whose dominion a hundred nations were melted down, and whose gardens would have covered 'he little commonwealths of Phlius and Platoea. Vet they continued to employ the same language, and to cant about the duty of sacrificing every thing to a country to which they owed nothing.
* Thucydideil, it. M
Causes similar to those which had influenced the disposition of the Greeks, operated powerfully on the less vigorous and daring character of the Italians. They, too, were members of small communities. Every man was deeply interested in the welfare of the society to which he belonged—a partaker in its wealth and its poverty, in its glory and its shame. In the age of Machiavelli this was peculiarly the case. Public events had produced an immense sum of money to private citizens. The northern invaders had brought want to their boards, infamy to their beds, fire to their roofs, and the knife to Iheir throats. It was natural that a man who lived in times like the:e should overrate the importance of those measures by which a nation is rendered formidable to its neighbours, and undervalue those which make it prosperous within itself.
Nothing is more remarkable in the political trea'ises of Machiavelli than the fairness of mind which theyindicate. It appears where the author is in the wrong almost as strongly as where he is in the right. He never advances a false opinion because it is new or splendid, because he can clothe it in a happy phrase or defend it by an ingenious sophism. His errors are at once explained by a reference u> the circumstances in which he was placed. They evidently were not sought out; they lay in his way and could scarcely be avoided. 8uch mistakes must necessarily be committed by early speculators in every science.
In this respect it is amusing to compare the Prinrt and the DUcounti with the Spirit of haws. Montesquieu enjoys, perhaps, a wider celebrity than any political writer of modern Europe. Something he doubtless owes to his merit, but much more to his fortune. He had Ihe good luck of a valentine. He caught the eye of the French nation at the moment when k was waking from the long sleep of political and religious bigotry, and in consequence he became a favourite. The English at that time considered a Frenchman who talked about constitutional checks and fundamental laws, as a prodigy not less astonishing than the learned pig or the musical infant. Specious but shallow, studious of'effect, indifferent to truth, eager to build a system, but careless of collecting those materials out of which alone a sound and durable system can be built, he Voi. I—A
I constructed theories as rapidly and as slightly 1 as card-houses—no sooner projected than completed—no sooner completed than blown away —no sooner blown away than forgotten. Machiavelli errs only because his experience, acquired in a very peculiar state of society, could not always enable him to calculate the effect of institutions differing from those of which he had observed the operation. Montesquieu errs because he has a fine thing to say and is resolved to say it. If the phenomena which lie before him will not suit his purpose, all history must be ransacked. If nothing established by authentfe testimony can be raked or chipped to suit his Procrustean hypothesis, he puts up with some monstrous fable about Siam, or Bantam, or Japan, told by writers compared with whom Lucian and Gulliver were veracious—liars by a double right, as travellers and as Jesuits.
Propriety of thought and propriety of diction are commonly found together. Obscurity and affectation are the two greatest faults of style. Obscurity of expression generally spring: from confusion of ideas; and the same wish to dazzle, at any cost, which produces affectation in the manner of a writer, is likely to produce sophistry in his reasonings. The judicious and candid mind of Machiavelli shows itself in his luminous, manly, and polished language. The style of Montesquieu, on the other hand, indicates in every page a lively and ingenious, but an unsound mind. Every trick of expression, from the mysterious conciseness of an oracle to the flippancy of a Parisian coxcomb, is employed to disguise the fallacj of some positions, and the triteness of others. Absurdities are brightened into epigrams; truisms are darkened into enigmas. It is with difficulty that the strongest eye can sustain the glare with which some parts are illuminated, or penetrate the shade in which others are concealed.
The political works of Machiavelli derive a peculiar interest from the mournful earnestness which he manifests, whenever he touches on topics connected with the calamities of his native land. It is difficult to conceive any situation more painful than that of a great man, condemned to watch the lingering agony of an exhausted country, to tend it during the alternate fits of stupefaction and raving which precede its dissolution, to see the symptoms of vitality dissappear one by one, till nothing is left but coldness, darkness, and corruption. To this joyless and thankless duty was Machiavelli called. In the energetic language of the prophet, he was "mad for the sight of his eyes which he saw,"—disunion in the council, effeminacy in the camp, liberty extinguished, commerce decaying, national honour sullied, an enlightened and flourishing people given rver to the ferocity of ignorant savages. Though his opinions had not escaped the contagion of that political immorality which was comni m among his countrymen, his natural dispositiou seems to have been rather stern and impetuous than pliant and artful. When the misery and degradation of Florence, and the foul outrage which he had himself oustained roused bis mind, the smooth craft of his profession ani his nation is exchanged for the honest bitterness of scorn and anger. He speaks like one sick of the calamitous times and abject people among whom his lot is cast. He pines for the strength and glory of ancient Rome, for the fasces of Brutus and the. sword of Scipio, the gravity of the curule chair,and the.bloody pomp of the triumphal sacrifice. He seems to be transported back to the days, when eight hundred thousand Italian warriors sprung to arms at the rumour of a Gallic invasion. He breathes all the spirit of those intrepid and haughty patricians, who forgot the dearest ties of nature in the claims of public duty, who looked with disdain on the elephants and on the gold of Pyrrhus, and listened with unaltered composure to the tremendous tidings of Cannae. Like an ancient temple deformed by the barbarous architecture of a later age, his character acquires an interest from the very circumstances which debase it. The original proportions are rendered more striking, by the contrast which they present to the mean and incongruous additions.
The influence of the sentiments which we have described was not apparent in his writings alone. His enthusiasm, barred from the career which it would have selected for itself, seems to have found a vent in desperate levity. He enjoyed a vindictive pleasure in outraging the opinions of a society which he despised. He became careless of those decencies which were expected from a man so highly distinguished in the literary and political world. The sarcastic bitterness of his conversation disgusted those who were more inclined to accuse his licentiousness than their own degeneracy, and who were unable to conceive the strength of those emotions which are concealed by the jests of the wretched-, and by the follies of the wise.
The historical works of Machiavelli still remain to be considered. The life of Castruccio Castracani will occupy us for a very short time, and would scarcely have demanded our notice, had it not attracted a much greater share of public attention than it deserves. Few books, indeed, could be more interesting than a careful and judicious account, from such a pen, of the illustrious Prince of Lucca, the most eminent of those Italian chiefs, who, like Pisistratus and Gelon, acquired a power felt rather than seen, and resting, not on law or on prescription, but on the public favour and on their great personal qualities. Such a work would exhibit to us the real nature of that species of sovereignty, so singular and so often misunderstood, which the Greeks denominated tyranny, and which modified in some degree by the feudal system, re-appeared in the commonwealths of Lombard'.- and Tuscany. But this little composition of Machiavelli is in no sense a history. It has no pretensions to fidelity. It is a trifle, and not a very successful trifle. It is scarcely more authentic than the novel of Bclphejjor, and is very much duller.
The last great work of this illustrious man was the history of his native city. It was writlen by the command of the Pope, who, as chief of the house of Medici, was at that time sovereign of Florence. The characters of Cosmo,
of Piero, and of Lorenzo, are, however, treatet with a freedom and impartiality equally honourable to the writer and to the patron. The miseries and humiliations of dependence, the bread which is more bitter than every other food, the stairs which are more painful than every other assent," had not broken the spirit of Machiavelli. The most corrupting post in a corrupting profession had not depraved the generous heart of Clement.
The history does not appear to be the fruit of much industry or research. It is unquestionably inaccurate. But it is elegant, lively, and picturesque, beyond any other in the Italian language. The reader, we believe, carries away from it a more vivid and a more faithful impression of the national character and manners, than from more correct accounts. The truth is, that the book belongs rather to ancient than to modern literature. It is in the style, not of Davila and Clarendon, but of Herodotus and Tacitus; and the classical histories may almost be called romances founded in fact. The relation is, no doubt, in all its principal points, strictly true. But the numerous little incidents which heighten the interest, the words, the gestures, the looks, are evidently furnished by the imagination of the author. The fashion of later limes is different. A more exact narrative is given by the writer. It may be doubted whether more exact notions are conveyed to the reader. The best portraits are those in which there is a slight mixture of caricature; and we are not aware, that the besl histories are not those in which a little of the exaggeration of fictitious narrative is judiciously employed. Something is lost in accuracy; but much is gained in effect. The fainter lines are neglected; but the great characteristic features are imprinted on the mind forever.
The history terminates with the death of Lorenzo de Medici. Machiavelli had, it seems, intended to continue it to a later period. But his death prevented the execution of his design; and the melancholy task of recording the desolation and shame of Italy devolved on Guicciardini.
Machiavelli lived long enough to see the commencement of the last struggle for Florentine liberty. Soon after his death, monarchy was finally established—not such a monarchy as that of which Cosmo had laid the foundations deep in the constitution and feelings of his countrymen, and which Lorenzo had embellished with the trophies of every science and every art; but a loathsome tyranny, proud and mean, cruel and feeble, bigote.' and lascivious. The character of Machiavelli was hateful to the new masters of Italy; and those parts of his theory, which were in strict accordance with their own daily practice, afforded a pretext for blackening his memory. His works were misrepresented by the learned, misconstrued by the ignorant, censured by the church, abused, with all the rancour of simulated virtue, by the minions of a base despotism, and the priests of a baser superstition. The name of the man whose genius had illuminated all the dark places of policy, and to
* Dante Faradiio, Canto xvlt.
The public voice has assigned to Dryden the first place in the second rank of our poets —no mean station in a table of intellectual precedency so rich in illustrious names. It is allowed that, even of the few who were his superiors in genius, none has exercised a more extensive or permanent influence on the national habits of thought and expression. His life was commensurate with the period during which a great revolution in the public taste was effected; and in that revolution he played the part of Cromwell. By unscrupulously taking the lead in its wildest excesses, he obtained the absolute guidance of it. By trampling on laws, he acquired the authority of a legislator. By signalizing himself as the most daring and irreverent of rebels, he raised himself to the dignity of a recognised prince. He commenced his career by the most frantic outrages. He terminated it in the repose of sstablished sovereignty—the author of a new code, the root of a new dynasty.
Of Bryden, however, as of almost every man who has been distinguished either in the literary or in the political world, it may be said that the course which he pursued, and the effect which he produced, depended less on his personal qualities than on the circumstances in which he was placed. Those who have read history with discrimination know the fallacy of those panegyrics and invectives, which represent individuals as effecting great moral and intellectual'revolutions, subverting established systems, and imprinting a new character on their age. The difference between on? man and another is by no means so great a* the superstitious crowd supposes. But the same feelings which, in ancient Rome, produced the apotheosis of a popular emperor, *nd, in modern Rome, the canonization of a devout prelate, lead men to cherish an illusion which furnishes them with something to adore. By a law of association, from the operation of which even minds the most strictly regulated by reason are not wholly exempt, misery disposes us to hatred, and happiness to love, al
though there may be no person to whom our misery or our happiness can be ascribed. The peevishness of an invalid vents itself even on those who alleviate his pain. The good-humour of a man elated by success often displays itself towards enemies. In the same manner, the feelings of pleasure and admiration, to which the contemplation of great events gives birth, make an object where they do not find it. Thus, nations descend to the absurdities of Egyptian idolatry, and worship stocks and reptiles — Sacheverells and Wilkeses. They even fall prostrate before a deity to which they have themselves given the fQrm which commands their veneration, and which, unless fashioned by them, would have remained' a shapeless block. They persuade themselves that they are the creatures of what they have themselves created. For, in fact, it is the age that forms the man, not the man that forms the age. Great minds do indeed react on the society which has made them what they are; but they only pay with interest what they have received. We extol Bacon, and sneer at Aquinas. But if their situations had been changed, Bacon might have been the Angelical Doctor, the most subtle Aristotelian of the schools; the Dominican might have led forth the sciences from their house of bondage. If Luther had been born in the tenth century, he would have effected no reformation. If he had never been born at all, it is evident that the sixteenth century could not have elapsed without a great schism in the church. Voltaire, in the days of Lewis the Fourteenth, would probably havo been, like most of the literary men of that time, a zealous Jansenist, eminent among the defenders of efficacious grace, a bitter assail ant of the lax morality of the Jesuits and the unreasonable decisions of the Sorbonne. If Pascal had entered on his literary career, when intelligence was more general, and abuses at the same time more flagrant, when the church was polluted by the Iscariot Dubois, the court disgraced by the orgies of Canillac. and the nation sacrificed to the juggles of Law; if he had dived to see a dynasty of harlots, an empty treasury and a crowded harem, an army formidable only to those wnom it