Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/30

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minds—was with Machiavelli strictly secondary. He saw small despotic states harried by their petty tyrants, he saw republics worn out by faction and hate. Machiavelli himself had faith in free republics as the highest type of government; but whether you have republic or tyranny, matters less, he seems to say, than that the governing power should be strong in the force of its own arms, intelligent, concentrated, resolute. He might be said to be for half his time engaged in examining the fitness of means to other people's ends, himself neutral. But then, as nature used to be held to abhor a vacuum, so the impatience of man is loth to tolerate neutrality. He has been charged with inconsistency because in the Prince he lays down the conditions on which an absolute ruler, rising to power by force of genius backed by circumstances, may maintain that power, with safety to himself and most advantage to his subjects; while in the Discourses he examines the rules that enable a self-governing state to retain its freedom. The cardinal precepts are the same. In either case, the saving principle is one: self-sufficiency, military strength, force, flexibility, address,—above all, no half-measures. In either case, the preservation of the state is equally the one end, reason of state equally the one adequate and sufficient test and justification of the means. The Prince deals with one problem, the Discourses with the other, but the spring of Machiavelli's political inspirations is the same, to whatever type of rule they apply—the secular state supreme; self-interest, and self-regard,