Machiavelli, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 391 pages of information about Machiavelli, Volume I.
ideas of war and politics run through and across an almost imaginary tapestry.  He seems to have intended to illustrate and to popularise his ideals and to attain by a story the many whom his discourses could not reach.  In verse Machiavelli was fluent, pungent, and prosaic.  The unfinished Golden Ass is merely made of paragraphs of the Discorsi twined into rhymes.  And the others are little better.  Countless pamphlets, essays, and descriptions may be searched without total waste by the very curious and the very leisurely.  The many despatches and multitudinous private letters tell the story both of his life and his mind.  But the short but famous Novella di Belfagor Arcidiavolo is excellent in wit, satire, and invention.  As a playwright he wrote, among many lesser efforts, one supreme comedy, Mandragola, which Macaulay declares to be better than the best of Goldoni’s plays, and only less excellent than the very best of Moliere’s.  Italian critics call it the finest play in Italian.  The plot is not for nursery reading, but there are tears and laughter and pity and anger to furnish forth a copious author, and it has been not ill observed that Mandragola is the comedy of a society of which The Prince is the tragedy.

[Sidenote:  The End.]

It has been said of the Italians of the Renaissance that with so much of unfairness in their policy, there was an extraordinary degree of fairness in their intellects.  They were as direct in thought as they were tortuous in action and could see no wickedness in deceiving a man whom they intended to destroy.  To such a charge—­if charge it be—­Machiavelli would have willingly owned himself answerable.  He observed, in order to know, and he wished to use his knowledge for the advancement of good.  To him the means were indifferent, provided only that they were always apt and moderate in accordance with necessity, A surgeon has no room for sentiment:  in such an operator pity were a crime.  It is his to examine, to probe, to diagnose, flinching at no ulcer, sparing neither to himself or to his patient.  And if he may not act, he is to lay down very clearly the reasons which led to his conclusions and to state the mode by which life itself may be saved, cost what amputation and agony it may.  This was Machiavelli’s business, and he applied his eye, his brains, and his knife with a relentless persistence, which, only because it was so faithful, was not called heroic.  And we know that he suffered in the doing of it and that his heart was sore for his patient.  But there was no other way.  His record is clear and shining.  He has been accused of no treachery, of no evil action.  His patriotism for Italy as a fatherland, a dream undreamt by any other, never glowed more brightly than when Italy lay low in shame, and ruin, and despair.  His faith never faltered, his spirit never shrank.  And the Italy that he saw, through dark bursts of storm, broken and sinking, we see to-day riding in the sunny haven where he would have her to be.

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Machiavelli, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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