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conscience, because to any one who considers their origin they have all been founded on violence-with the exception of republics in their own country, and not elsewhere. I do not except from this rule the Emperor, and still less the priests, whose violence is double, as they coerce you at once with arms temporal and spiritual.'
Machiavellic macim of affected reticence. "A prince, or he who is engaged in great affairs, not only should keep secret things which it is well should not be known, but should besides caution himself and his ministers to keep silence on things even the least and seemingly the least important, except those which it is well should be known. Thus your acts and intentions not being known to those about you, or to your subjects, men stand ever in suspense and as it were amazed, and every little motion and step of yours is observed.'
Machiavellic maxim of fair public pretests. One of the greatest good fortunes men can have is to have fair occasion to show that they have been moved by pure regard to the public weal in those things, which they do to promote their own proper interest. It was that which made glorious the enterprises of the Catholic King which, while they were all entered on for his own grandeur or security-often seemed engaged in either for the extension of the Christian faith, or for the defence of the Church.'
Machiavellic maxim of Bide your time.' ' A governor of nations should guard as much as possible against showing hatred to any one, or taking vengeance of any displeasure done to him, since it brings too much odium on him to employ the public arm against private injuries. Let him only take patience and bide his time, since it is impossible that he should not frequently find occasion to effect the same end justifiably and without imputation of rancour.'
Machiavellic maxim to be observed by princes. 'Let princes take care not to lead their subjects into the next degree to liberty, since men naturally desire to be free, and no one ordinarily continues content with his position, but every one always seeks to advance beyond that in which he finds himself, and these appetites have more power with men in general than the memory of the goodfellowship that prince has shown them, or the benefits received at his hands.'
The painstaking and patriotic editor of the volumes before us indulges largely, in his introductory chapters, in elaborate parallels between the two last public men of Italy in the sixteenth century—Machiavelli and Guicciardini—who could properly be called so, as still speaking the language of Italian public sentiment. And very curious are some of the parallels he finds for them in ancient history. "To Guicciardini,' he says, 'must be conceded the primacy of profound political intuition; to Machiavelli subtle penetration into the arcana imperii, and vital forces of states, as well as into the no less intricate mysteries of the human heart. The former concentrated all his faculties upon one focus; he might be entitled, by no fanciful analogy, the Cato of writers, as the latter might be designated as the Alcibiades.'
Neither Alcibiades nor Cato, so far as history tells of them, can well be conceived by any but a modern Italian imagination to have furnished parallels on any one point of character to Machiavelli and Guicciardini-unless it should be said that the loose morality of the Athenian Eupatrid might, in some measure, be attributed to the life and writings of the Florentine popolano. But Guicciardini and Cato! Which Cato ? Not that one, at any rate, by whom the proud memorial was merited
• Victrix causa Diis placuit, sed victa Catoni.' All the pains taken by our editor (who also edited, some years back, such of the official and other writings of Machiavelli as had remained unpublished) to wash perfectly white the political ethics of both are pains utterly thrown away. If he had urged that Machiavelli merely generalised his maxims of politics from an unexaggerated induction of the most successful strokes of State-craft and State-crime—that Guicciardini had no other course open to his ardour for action and advancement than to spend his last years in the service of bad masters, to whom he tendered as good counsel as they would take-he would have pleaded fair excuse for their shortcomings of the more elevated moral standards set up in later times; though, in truth, later times have not always been entitled to write . AntiMachiavels,' especially when royal fingers held the pen. And the Parisian dispensers of European reputation, in the days of Frederick and Catherine, never flattered more grossly sovereigns whose ways of acquiring or extending power would assuredly have taxed Machiavellic cynicism to excuse them—even in Machiavelli's age—than by ascribing to them pure and exalted abhorrence of Machiavellic doctrine,
In point of style, the perfect unaffectedness and directness of thought and utterance certainly may be admitted to set the antique classic stamp on Machiavelli's writings. It is the mappnoia of old Greece transferred to the troubled and lurid dawn of modern Italy. For the rest, it must be acknowledged that the main scope of Machiavelli's public acts and writings was that of Italian independence by Italian arms under Italian leadership. Small blame to an Italian patriot who had seen the soil of Italy twice overrun and twice soaked in the blood of its sons
by foreign invasion, if he gave precedence, as a first political necessity, to arms over laws—or rather, was ready to affirm that the conditions of success in arms were the best criterion of national laws as suited to national needs of first urgency. The native military organization which, with good beginnings of efficiency, his practical measures as well as theoretical tractates were framed to restore to Florence-nay, the despotic power which, in the most obnoxious of his writings to moral censure, he was content to offer to any Italian prince who would but take the lead in overthrowing questo barbaro dominio, might fairly be said to form parts of one system, conceived, with whatever alloy of moral obliquity or personal ambition, in one clearly, discerned and consistently-pursued public interest. It is indeed undeniable that in the Prince'-- which is, however, in this respect, no fair sample of his political writings at largethe sole moral of Machiavelli's doctrine of princely policy is, • If you want to hold your own, or usurp what is not your own, at this day in Italy, you must not be too particular about observing the established distinctions between virtue and vice, good faith and ill faith, mercy and cruelty, &c., &c.; though you must take care, at the same time, to keep as much credit as you can for those virtues which in politics you cannot always afford to exercise. Now, this was only telling the great
age what they knew before, and what the great men of that age, and ages before and after, needed no rules to teach them. Nor was the policy of princely and diplomatic plots and perfidies exclusively Italian in those ages, however Lord Macaulay might please himself and his readers with his trenchant and telling contrasts between Northern rude valour and Southern polished artifice. The policy of the Borgias and the Medici might be more shameless in some traits, but could scarcely be more coolly or deliberately perfidious or, on occasion, murderous than the Tudor policy which fomented anarchy in Scotland, or the Spanish policy which kindled revolt in the Netherlands. Nor, at an earlier period, had a Ferdinand the Catholic of Spain, or a good King Louis XII. of France, anything to learn from Machiavellian doctrine in the line of perfidy; nay, it was precisely from the practices of such potentates, cismontane or transmontane, that Machiavelli deduced the maxims which shocked the world when set before it in the abstract, though in the concrete they had escaped especial censure, as tacitly-understood neces sities of king-craft or pope-craft. What was characteristic of Machiavelli was his vehement earnestness of purpose, and straightforward explicitness of expression, not his perfidy. That was the sinister stamp of the whole State policy of the sixteenth century.
men of his
Guicciardini himself wrote of his Florentine compatriot, not that his public ends were ambiguous, but that his temper naturally ran to extremes in the choice of means.
This was a reproach he himself was in no danger of incurring. It was not in his nature to take extreme views, nor, indeed, was it in his nature to postpone his personal success as a statesman to any general views whatever. All Guicciardini's thoughts and feelings, when unreservedly expressed, as in the 'Ricordi' before us, are imbued with a strong and pervading tinge of his own personality. His views of life and politics are always taken from the central point of his own family or individual interest—using the word ‘interest,' however, not in any low or sordid sense. The habitually and naïvely self-regarding temper, generated too naturally by such times as those in which his lot was cast, is curiously illustrated in the following passage of his "Ricordi : '
All cities, all States, all kingdoms are mortal; everything either by nature or accident terminates and finishes some time or other. A citizen, therefore, who finds himself doomed to survive his country, need not so much grieve at its downfall and deplore its ill fortune as his own, since that has happened to his country which necessarily had to happen ; but the special misfortune is his to whom it falls to be born in an age when that catastrophe had to take place.'
The final extinction of Florentine liberties drew after it the shelving of Guicciardini the statesman—the making of Guicciardini the historian. He owed to his last year or two of retirement the reputation his name retains with posterity. When Duke Cosmo's jealous tyranny honoured by excluding from public trust and employment all whose political habits had beerr formed in less servile times, the discarded statesman had no • Majesty's Opposition' to fall back upon-save the silent closet opposition of the historian, with posterity for audience. There is a sense of worth indicated in the worthy employment of years of enforced leisure: that sense must be recognised in Guicciardini, as it must in Clarendon, whatever exceptions may be taken: by criticism or party to the self-estimate of either.
Our motive for selecting a comparatively small portion of the voluminous publication before us for our special subject has been that these family, autobiographical, and political ‘Ricordi' are the portion of that publication in which Guicciardini is, for the first time, presented in undress to posterity, divested of the style académique of his more elaborate writings. If the plain unvarnished self-portraiture of the man and statesman is to be found anywhere in his writings, it is to be found here. We have here direct from the fountain-head those judgments of the men and things of his day, which are elsewhere diffused and diluteile
in studied sentences, or set speeches put in the mouths of leading characters. We have waded with honest anguish and an aching head' through the awful tedium of the formal pleadings and discourses, pro and con, in these ten volumes, on all those questions and transactions in which the great historian was implicated—as through a series, long drawn out, of 'Suasoriæ' and •Controversia,' on the model of Seneca Rhetor.* These, with diplomatic and official despatches, swell out the bulk of the work, we think, disproportionately to their present value. An exception must be made in favour of the two books of Dialogues * Del Reggimento di Firenze,' which will be found in the second volume, and which testify to the author's sincere public spirit, however dashed with self-seeking. The interlocutors of these imaginary conversations are four of the most eminent public men of the last period of Florentine freedom-Bernardo del Nero, Piero Capponi, Pagolantonio Soderini, and Piero Guicciardini, the father of our historian.
Each of them supports his genuine character as speaker or listener, and the air of freedom still breathes through their unrestrained utterances Bernardo del Nero in these Dialogues signalises that source of weakness and danger to Florence, which Machiavelli devoted his best efforts to remedy. Our city,' says Bernardo, as every one knows, was once armed-once carried on all her military enterprises by aid of the arms of her own subjects—by aid of these won many victories and had many successes, which should have seemed to invite her rather to devote herself entirely to military exercises, than to disarm, as she has done, and make use in her wars of hired soldiers. The cause for this change must either have been the jealous exclusion from command by the people of the nobļes who had military rank and reputation [this was the main cause alleged by Machiavelli to have enfeebled Florence] or from the people addicting themselves too exclusively to arts and merchandize. However this may have been, the mode of making war by mercenaries has been most pernicious, and during the long period it has already prevailed in Florence has led her citizens into ways of life, and made them contract habits
Guicciardini's full- dress tendency to a certain formal prolixity has been quaintly illustrated by the preference expressed by Boccalini's Lacedæmonian, for condemnation to galley-rowing for life, building up between two walls, and finally flaying alive, rather than reading the interminable tall talk and little wars between Florence and Pisa.
• Instantissimamente supplicò che per tutti gl'anni della sua vita lo condannassero a remare in una galea, che lo murassero trà due mura, e che per misericordia fino lo scorticassero vivo ; perche il legger quei Discorsi senza fine, quei Consigli tanto tediosi, quelle freddissime Concioni, fatte nella presa d'ogni vil colombaia, era crepacuore che superava tutti l'aculei Inglesi, &c.'--Boccalini, Rag. guagli de Parnasso, Cent. I. Ragg. VI.