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them eminent either in active or in contempla- from it. But they no longer produce their tive life, and fitted them either to govern or to wonted effect. Virgil advises the husbandmen instruct mankind.
who removes a plant from one spot to another Every age and every nation has certain to mark its bearings on the cork, and to place characteristic vices, which prevail almost uni- it in the same position with regard to the difversally, which scarcely any person scruples ferent points of the heaven in which it forto avow, and which even rigid moralists but merly stood. A similar care is necessary in fainily censure. Succeeding generations poetical transplantation. Where it is neglectchange the fashion of their morals, with their ed, we perpetually see the flowers of language, hats and their coaches; take some other kind which have bloomed on one soil, wither on of wickedness under their patronage, and won another. Yet the Golden Ass is not altogether der at the depravity of their ancestors. Nor is destitute of merit. There is considerable inthis all. Posterity, that high court of appeal genuity in the allegory, and some vivid colourwhich is never tired of eulogizing its own jus- ing in the descriptions. tice and discernment, acts, on such occasions, The Comedies deserve more attention. The like a Roman dictator after a general mutiny. Mandragola, in particular, is superior to the Finding the delinquents too numerous to be all best of Goldoni, and inferior only to the best punished, it selects some of them at hazard to of Molière. It is the work of a man who, if bear the whole penalty of an offence in which he had devoted himself to the drama, would they are not more deeply implicated than those probably have attained the highest eminence, who escape. Whether decimation be a con- and produced a permanent and salutary effect venient mode of military execution, we know on the national taste. This we infer, not so not: but we solemnly protest against the intro- much from the degree, as from the kind of its duction of such a principle into the philoso- excellence. There are compositions which phy of history.
indicate still greater talent, and which are In the present instance, the lot has fallen on perused with still greater delight, from which Machiavelli: a man whose public conduct was we should have drawn very different conclu apright and honourable, whose views of mo- sions. Books quite worthless are quite harm rality, where they differed from those of the less. The sure sign of the general decline of persons around him, seem to have differed for an art is the frequent occurrence, not of de the better, and whose only fault was, that, hav- formity, but of misplaced beauty. In general, ing adopted some of the maxims then generally tragedy is corrupted by eloquence, and comedy received, he arranged them more luminously, by wit. and expressed them more forcibly than any The real object of the drama is the exhibi. other writer.
tion of the human character. This, we conHaving now, we hope, in some degree ceive, is no arbitrary canon, originating in cleared the personal character of Machiavelli, local and temporary associations, like those we come to the consideration of his works. which regulate the number of acts in a play, As a poet, he is not entitled to a very high or syllables in a line. It is the very essence place. The Decennali are merely abstracts of of a species of composition, in which every the history of his own times in rhyme. The idea is coloured by passing through the me. style and versification are sedulously modelled dium ef an imagined mind. To this fundaon those of Dante. But the manner of Dante, mental law every other regulation is suborlike that of every other great original poet, was dinate. The situations which most signally suited only to his own genius, and to his own develope character form the best plot. The subject. The distorted and rugged diction mother tongue of the passions is the best style which gives to his unearthly imagery a yet The principle, rightly understood, does not more unearthly character, and seems to pro- debar the poei from any grace of composition. ceed from a man labouring to express That There is no style in which some man may not, which is inexpressible, is at once mean and under some circumstances, express himself. extravagant when misemployed by an imitator. There is therefore no style which the drama The moral poems are in every point superior. rejects, none which it does not occasionally That on Fortune, in particular, and that on Op- require. It is in the discernment of place, of portunity exhibit both justness of thought and time, and of person, that the inferior artists fertility of fancy. The Golden Ass has no- fail. The brilliant rodomontade of Mercutio, thing but the name in common with the Ro- the elaborate declamation of Antony, are, mance of Apuleius, a book which, in spite of where Shakspeare has placed them, natural its irregular plan and its detestable style, is and pleasing. But Dryden would have made among the most fascinating in the Latin lan. Mercutio challenge Tybalt, in hyperboles as guage, and in which the merits of Le Sage and fanciful as those in which he describes the Radcliffe, Bunyan and Crébillon, are singularly chariot of Mab.—Corneille would have repre. united. The Poem of Machiavelli, which is sented Antony as scolding and coaxing Cleoevidently unfinished, is carefully copied from patra with all the measured rhetoric of a fune the earlier Cantos of the Inferno. The writer ral oration. loses himself in a wood. He is terrified by No writers have injured the Comedy of Eng monsters, and relieved by a beautiful damsel. land so deeply as Congreve and Sheridan. His protectress conducts him to a large mena- Both were men of splendid wit and polished gerie of emblematical beasts, whose peculiari- taste. Unhappily they made all their charac. ties are described at length. The manner as ters in their own likeness. Their works bear well as the plan of the Divine Comedy is care- the same relation to the legitimate drania fully imitated. Whole lines are transferred which a transparency bears to a painurg. 2a
ent a manner.
Jelicate touches; no hues imperceptibly fad- Nicias is, as Thersites says of Patroclus, a ing into each other; the whole is lighied up fool positive. His mind is occupied by no with an universal glare. Outlines and tints strong feeling; it takes every character, and are forgotten, in the common blaze which retains none; its aspect is diversified, not by illuminates all. The flowers and fruits of the passions, but by faint and transitory semblances intellect abound; but it is the abundance of a of passion, a mock joy, a mock fear, a mock jungle, not of a garden--unwholesome, be- love, a mock pride, which chase each other: wildering, unprofitable from its very plenty, like shadows over its surface, and vanish as rank from its very fragrance. Every fop, soon as they appear. He is just idiot enough every boor, every valet, is a man of wit. The to be an object, not of pity or horror, but of very butts and dupes, Tattle, Urkwould, Puff, ridicule. He bears some resemblance to poor Acres, outshine the whole Hôtel de Rambouil- Calandrino, whose mishaps, as recounted by let. To prove the whole system of this school Boccaccio, have made all Europe merry for absurd, it is only necessary to apply the test more than four centuries. He perhaps resein. which dissolved the enchanted Florimel-to bles still more closely Simon de Villa, to whom place the true by the faise Thalia, to contrast Bruno and Buffulmacco promised the love of the most celebrated characters which have the Countess Civillari.* Nicias is, like Simon, been drawn by the writers of whom we speak, of a learned profession; and the dignity with with the Bastard in King John, or the Nurse in which he wears the doctoral fur renders his Romeo and Juliet. It was not surely from absurdities infinitely more grotesque. The want of wit that Shakspeare adopted so differ-jold Tuscan is the very language for such a
Benedick and Beatrice throw being. Its peculiar siinplicity gives even to Mirabel and Millamant into the shade. All the most forcible reasoning and the most brilthe good sayings of the facetious hours of Ab- liant wit an infantine air, generally delightful, solute and Surface might have been clipped but to a foreign reader sometimes a little ludifrom the single character of Falstaff without crous. Heroes and statesmen seem to lisp being missed. It would have been easy for when they use it. It becomes Nicias incomthat fertile mind to have given Bardolph and parably, and renders all his silliness infinitely Shallow as much wit as Prince Hal, and to more silly. have made Dogberry and Verges retort on We may add, that the verses, with which each other in sparkling epigrams. But he the Mandragola is interspersed, appear to us knew, to use his own admirable language, that to be the most spirited and correct of all that such indiscriminate prodigality was “from the Machiavelli has written in metre. He seems purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first to have entertained the same opinion; for he and now, was, and is, to hold, as it were, the has introduced some of them in other places. mirror up to Nature."
The contemporaries of the author were not This digression will enable our readers to blind to the merits of this striking piece. It understand what we mean when we say that, was acted at Florence with the greatest sucin the Mandragola, Machiavelli has proved cess. Leo the Tenth was among its admirers, that he completely understood the nature of and by his order it was represented at Rome. the dramatic art, and possessed talents which The Clizia is an imitation of the Casina of would have enabled him to excel in it. By the Plautus, which is itself an imitation of the lost correct and vigorous delineation of human na- Kaapsupera of Diphilus. Plautus was, unquesture, it produces interest without a pleasing ortionably, one of the best Latin writers. His skilful plot, and laughter without the least am- works are copies; but they have in an extrabition of wit. The lover, not a very delicate ordinary degree the air of originals. We inor generous lover, and his adviser the parasite, finitely prefer the slovenly exuberance of his are drawn with spirit. The hypocritical con- fancy, and the clumsy vigour of his diction, to fessor is an admirable portrait. He is, if we the artfully disguised poverty and elegant lanmistake not, the original of Father Dominic, guor of Terence. But the Casina is hy no the best comic character of Dryden. But old means one of his best plays; nor is it one Nicias is the glory of the piece. We cannot which offers great facilities to an imitator. call to mind any thing that resembles him. The The story is as alien from modern habits of follies which Molière ridicules are those of life, as the manner in which it is developed affectation, not those of fatuity. Coxcombs from the modern fashion of composition. The and pedants, not simpletons, are his game. lover remains in the country, and the heroine Shakspeare has indeed a vast assortment of is locked up in her chamber during the whole fools; but the precise species of which we action, leaving their fate to be decided by a speak is not, if we remember right, to be found foolish father, a cunning mother, and two knathere. Shallow is a fool. But his animal spi- vish servants. Machiavelli has executed his rits supply, to a certain degree, the place of task with judgment and taste. He has accomcleverness. His talk is to that of Sir John modated the plot to a different state of society, what soda-water is to champagne. It has the and has very dexterously connected it with effervescence, though not the body or the fla- the history of his own times. The relation
Slender and Sir Andrew Aguecheek of the trick put on the doating old lover is ex are foo!s, troubled with an uneasy consciousness of their folly, which, in the latter, pro
* Decameron, Giorn. viii, Nov. 9.
+ Nothing can be more evident than that Paulus Joduce: a most edifying meekness and docility, vius designates the Mandragola under the name of the an in the former, awkwardness, obstinacy, Nicias.
We should not have noticed what is so perand confusion. Cloten is an arrogant fool, rectly obvious, were it not that this natural and palpable
misnomer has led the sagacious and industrious Bayle Osric a fops'ish fool, Ajax a savage fool; but into a gross error.
quisitely humorous. It is far superior to the conduct of those who were intrusted with the corresponding passage in the Latin comedy, domestic administration. The ambassador had and scarcely yields to the account which Fal- to discharge functions far more delicate than staff gives of his ducking.
transmitting orders of knighthood, introducing Two other comedies without titles, the one tourists, or presenting his brethren with the in prose, the other in verse, appear among the homage of his high consideration. He was an works of Machiavelli. The former is very advocate, to whose management the dearest inshort, lively enough, but of no great value. terests of his clients were intrusted; a spy, clothThe latter we can scarcely believe to be ed with an inviolable character. Instead of genuine. Neither its merits nor its defects re- consulting the dignity of those whom he repre. mind us of the reputed author. It was first sented by a reserved manner and an ambiguprinted in 1796, from a manuscript discovered ous style, he was to plunge into all the inin the celebrated library of the Strozzi. Its trigues of the court at which he resided, to disgenuineness, if we have been rightly informed, cover and flatter every weakness of the prince is established solely by the comparison of who governed his ernployers, of the favourite hands. Our suspicions are strengthened by the who governed the prince, and of the lacquey circumstance, that the same manuscript con- who governed the favourite. He was to contained a description of the plague of 1527, pliment the mistress and bribe the confessor, which has also, in consequence, been added to to panegyrize or supplicate, to laugh or weep, the works of Machiavelli. Of this last compo- to accommodate himself to every caprice, to sition the strongest external evidence would lull every suspicion, to treasure every hint, to scarcely induce us to believe him guilty. No- be every thing, to observe every thing, to endure thing was ever written more detestable, in mat- every thing. High as the art of political inter and manner. The narrations, the reflec- trigue had been carried in Italy, these were tions, the jokes, the lamentations, are all the times which required it all. very worst of their respective kinds, at once On these arduous errands Machiavelli was trité and affected—threadbare tinsel from the frequently employed. He was sent to treat Ragfairs and Monmouth-streets of literature. with the King of the Romans and with the A foolish school-boy might perhaps write it, Duke of Valentinois. He was twice ambassaand, after he had written it, think it much finer dor at the court of Rome, and thrice at that of ihan the incomparable introduction of the De France. In these missions, and in several cameron. But that a shrewd statesman, whose others of inferior importance, he acquitted himearliest works are characterized by manliness self with great dexterity. His despatches form of thought and language, should at nearly sixty one of the most amusing and instructive colyears of age, descend to such puerility, is ui- lections extant. We meet with none of the terly inconceivable.
mysterious jargon so common in modern stale The little Novel of Belphegor is pleasantly papers, the flash-language of political robbers conceived and pleasantly told. But the extra- and sharpers. The narratives are clear and vagance of the satire in some measure injures agreeably written; the remarks on men and its effect. Machiavelli was unhappily married; things clever and judicious. The conversa and his wish to avenge his own cause and that tions are reported in a spirited and character. of his brethren in misfortune, carried him be- istic manner. We find ourselves introduced yond even the license of fiction. Jonson seems into the presence of the men who, during to have combined some hints taking from this twenty eventful years, swayed the destinies of taie with others from Boccaccio, in the plot of Europe. Their wit and their folly, their sretThe Devil is an Ass—a play which, though not fulness and their merriment are exposed to us. the most highly finished of his compositions, We are admitted to overhear their chat, and to is perhaps that which exhibits the strongest watch their familiar gestures. It is interesting proofs of genius.
and curious to recognise, in circumstances The political correspondence of Machiavelli, which elude the notice of historians, the feeble first published in 1767, is unquestionably violence and shallow cunning of Louis the genuine and highly valuable. The unhappy Twelfth ; the bustling insignificance of Maxicircumstances in which his country was placed, milian, cursed with an impotent pruriency for during the greater part of his public life, gave renown, rash yet timid, obstinate yet fickle, alextraordinary encouragement to diplomatic ways in a hurry, yet always too late ;-the talents. From the moment that Charles the fierce and haughty energy which gave dignity Eighth descended from the Alps, the whole to the eccentricities of Julius ;-the soft and character of Italian politics was changed. The graceful manners which masked the insatiable governments of the Peninsula cease to form an ambition and the implacable hatred of Borgia. independent system. Drawn from their old We have mentioned Borgia. It is impossi. orbit by the attraction of the larger bodies ble not to pause for a moment on the name of which now approached them, they became a man in whom the political morality of Italy mere satellites of France and Spain. All their was so strongly personified, partially blended disputes, internal and external, were decided with the sterner lineaments of the Spanish by foreign influence. The contests of oppo- character. On two important occasions Mas site factions were carried on, not as formerly chiavelli was admitted to his society; once, at in the Senate-house, or in the market-place, the moment when his splendid villany achievbut in the antechambers of Louis and Ferdi- ed its most signal triumph, when he caught in pand. Under these circumstances, the pros- one snare and crushed at one blow all his most perity of the Italian States depended far more on formidable rivals, and again when, exhausted the ability of their foreign agents than on the by disease and overwhelmed by misforiunes,
which no human prudence could have averted, as a stimulant. They turned with loathing he was the prisoner of the deadliest enemy of from the atrocity of the strangers who seemed his house. These interviews, between the to love blood for its own sake, who, not congreatest speculative and the greatest practical tent with subjugating, were impatient to destatesmen of the age, are fully described in the siroy; who found a fiendish pleasure in razing correspondence, and form perhaps the most in- magnificent cities, cutting the throats of eneteresting part of it. From some passages in the mies who cried for quarter, or suffocating an Prince, and perhaps also from some indistinct unarmed people by thousands in the caverns traditions, several writers have supposed a con- to which they had ned for safety. Such were nection between those remarkable men much the scenes which daily excited the terror and closer than ever existed. The Envoy has even disgust of a people, amongst whom, till lately, been accused of promoting the crimes of the art- the worst thai a soldier had to fear in a pitched ful and merciless tyrant. But from the official battle was the loss of his horse, and the exdocuments it is clear that their intercourse, pense of his ransom. The swinish intemperthough ostensibly amicable, was in reality hos-lance of Switzerland, the wolfish avarice of tile. It cannot be doubted, however, that the Spain, the gross licentiousness of the French, imagination of Machiavelli was strongly im- indulged in violation of hospitality, of decency, pressed and his speculations on government of love itself, the wanton inhumanity which coloured, by the observations which he made was common to all the invaders, had rendered on the singular character, and equally singular them subjects of deadly hatred to the inhabifortunes, of a man who, under such disadvan- tants of the Peninsula.* The wealth which tages, had achieved such exploits; who, when had been accumulated during centuries of sensuality, varied through innumerable forms, prosperity and repose was rapidly melting could no longer stimulate his sated mind, away. The intellectual superiority of the opfound a more powerful and durable excitement pressed people only rendered them more in the intense thirst of empire and revenge ;- keenly sensible of their political degradation. who emerged from the sloth and luxury of the Literature and taste, indeed, still disguised, Roman purple, the first prince and general of with a flush of hectic loveliness and brilliancy, the age ;-who, trained in an unwarlike profes-the ravages of an incurable decay. The iron sion, formed a gallant army out of the dregs of had not yet entered into the soul. The time an unwarlike people :-who, after acquiring was not yet come when eloquence was to be sovereignty by destroying his enemies, ac- gagged and reason to be hoodwinked-when quired popularity by destroying his tools;- the harp of the poet was to be hung on the who had begun to employ for the most saluta- willows of Arno, and the right hand of the ry ends the power which he had attained by the painter to forget its cunning. Yet a discerning most atrocious means; who tolerated within eye might even then have seen that genius the sphere of his iron despotism no plunderer and learning would not long survive the state or oppressor but himself;—and who fell at last of things from which they had sprung ;—that amidst the mingled curses and regrets of a the great men whose talents gave lustre to thai people, of whom his genius had been the won- melancholy period had been formed under the der, and might have been the salvation. Some of influence of happier days, and would leave no those crimes of Borgia, which to us appear the successors behind them. The times which most odious, would not, from causes which we shine with the greatest splendour in literary have already considered, have struck an Italian history are not always ihose to which the of the fifteenth century with equal horror. Pa-human mind is most indebted. Of this we may triotic feeling also might induce Machiavelli be convinced, by comparing the generation to look, with some indulgence and regret, on which follows them with that which preceded the memory of the only leader who could have them. The first fruits which are reaped under defended the independence of Italy against the a bad system often spring from seed sown confederate spoilers of Cambray.
under a good one. Thus it was, in some meaOn this subject Machiavelli felt most sure, with the Augustan age. Thus it was strongly. Indeed the expulsion of the foreign with the age of Raphael and Ariosto, of Aldus tyrants, and the restoration of that golden age and Vida. which had preceded the irruption of Charles Machiavelli deeply regretted the misfortunes the Eighth, were projects which, at that time, of his country, and clearly discerned the cause fascinated all the master-spirits of Italy. The and the remedy. It was the military system magnificent vision delighted the great but ill of the Italian people which had extinguishea regulated mind of Julius. It divided with their valour and discipline, and rendered their manuscripts and sauces, painters and falcons, wealth an easy prey to every foreign plunthe attention of the frivolous Leo. It prompted derer. The Secretary projected a scheme alike the generous treason of Morone. It imparted honourable to his heart and to his intellect, for a transient energy to the feeble mind and body abolishing the use of mercenary troops, and of the last Sforza. It excited for one moment organizing a national militia. an honest ambition in the false heart of Pes- The exertions which he made to effect this cara. Ferocity and insolence were not among great object ought alone to rescue his name the vices of the national character. To the from obloquy. Though his situation and his discriminating cruelties of politicians, comniitted for great ends on select victims, the
* The opening stanzas of the Fourteenth Canto of the inoral code of the Italians was too indulgent. Orlando Furioso give a frightful picture of the state of But though they might have recourse to bar- Italy in those times. Yet, strange to say, Ariesto is Larity as an expedient, they did not require it Allies,
speaking of the conduct of those who called themselves
habits were pacific, he studied with intense amiable and accomplished young man, whose assiduity the theory of war. He made himself early death Machiavelli feelingly deplores. master of all its details. The Florentine go- , After partaking of an elegant entertainment, vernment entered into his views. A council they retire from the heat into the most shady of war was appointed. Levies were decreed. recesses of the garden. Fabrizio is struck by The indefatigable minister flew from place to the sight of some uncommon plants. His host place in order to superintend the execution of informs him that, though rare in modern days, his design. The times were, in some respects, they are frequently mentioned by the classical favourable to the experiment. The system of authors, and that his grandfather, like many military tactics had undergone a great revolu- other Italians, amused himself with practising tion. The cavalry was no longer considered the ancient methods of gardening. "Fabrizio as forming the strength of an army. The hours expresses his regret that those who, in later which a citizen could spare from his ordinary times, affected the manners of the old Romans, employments, though by no means sufficient to should select for imitation their most trilling familiarize him with the exercise of a man-at- pursuits. This leads to a conversation on the arms, might render him a useful foot-soldier. decline of military discipline, and on the best The dread of a foreign yoke, of plunder, mas- means of restoring it. The institution of the sacre, and conflagration, might have conquered Florentine militia is ably defended; and se. that repugnance to military pursuits, which veral improvements are suggested in the both the industry and the idleness of great details. towns commonly generate. For a time the The Swiss and the Spaniards were, at that scheme promised well. The new roops ac- time, regarded as the best soldiers in Europe. quitted themselves respectably in the field. The Swiss battalion consisted of pikemen, and Machiavelli looked with parental rapture on bore a close resemblance to the Greek phalanx. the success of his plan; and began to hope The Spaniards, like the soldiers of Rome, were that the arms of Italy might once more be for-armed with the sword and the shield. The midable to the barbarians of the Tagus and the victories of Flaminius and Æmilius over the Rhine. But the tide of misfortune came on Macedonian kings seem to prove the superibefore the barriers which should have with-ority of the weapons used by the legions. stood it were prepared. For a time, indeed, The same experiments had been recently Florence might be considered as peculiarly tried with the same result at the battle of fortunate. Famine and sword and pestilence Ravenna, one of those tremendous days into had devastated the fertile plains and stately which human folly and wickedness compress cities of the Po. All the curses denounced of the whole devastation of a famine or a plague, old against Tyre seemed to have fallen on In that memorable conflict, the infantry of Venice. Her merchants already stood afar Arragon, the old companions of Gonsalvo, off, lamenting for their great city. The time deserted by all their allies, hewed a passage seemed near when the sea-weed should over-through the thickest of the imperial pikes, and grow her silent Rialto, and the fisherman wash effected an unbroken retreat, in the face of the his nets in her deserted arsenal. Naples had gendarmerie of De Foix, and the renowned been four times conquered and reconquered, artillery of Este. Fabrizio, or rather Machiaby tyrants equaily indifferent to its welfare, velli, proposes to combine the two systems, to and equally greedy for its spoils. Florence, arm the foremost lines with the pike, for the as yet, had only to endure degradation and ex-purpose of repulsing cavalry, and those in the lortion, to submit to the mandate of foreign rear with the sword, as being a weapon better powers, to buy over and over again, at an adapted for every purpose. Throughout the enormous price, what was already justly her work, the author expresses the highest admira. own, to return thanks for being wronged, and tion of the military science of the ancient to ask pardon for being in the right. She was Romans, and the greatest contempt for the at length deprived of the blessings even of this maxims which had been in vogue amongst the infamous and servile repose. Her military Italian commanders of the preceding generaand political institutions were swept away tion. He prefers infantry to cavalry; and fortogether. The Medici returned, in the train tified camps to fortified towns. He is inclined of foreign invaders, from their long exile. to substitute rapid movements, and decisive The policy of Machiavelli was abandoned; engagements, for the languid and dilatory and his public services were requited with operations of his countrymen.
He attaches poverty, imprisonment, and torture.
very little importance to the invention of gunThe fallen statesman still clung to his pro- powder. Indeed he seems to think that it ject with unabated ardour. With the view of ought scarcely to produce any change in the vindicating it from some popular objections, mode of arming or of disposing troops. The and of refuting some prevailing errors on the general testimony of historians, it must be subject of military science, he wrote his seven allowed, seems to prove, that the ill-construci. books on the Art of War. This excellent worked and ill-served artillery of those times, is in the form of a dialogue. The opinions of though useful in a siege, was of little value or the writer are put into the mouth of Fabrizio the field of battle. Colonna, a powerful nobleman of the Ecclesi- Of the tactics of Machiavelli we will not astical State, and an officer of distinguished venture to give an opinion; but we are cer merit in the service of the King of Spain. He tain that his book is most able and interesting visits Florence on his way from Lombardy to As a commentary on the history of his times his own. domains. He is invited to meet some it is invaluable. The ingenuity, the grace, an! friends at the house of Cosimo Rucellui, an | the perspicuity of the stvle, and the eloquence