Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/31

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avowed as the single principles of state action; material force the master-key to civil policy. Clear intelligence backed by unsparing will, unflinching energy, remorseless vigour, the brain to plan and the hand to strike—here is the salvation of States, whether monarchies or republics. The spirit of humility and resignation that Christianity had brought into the world, he contemns and repudiates. That whole scheme of the Middle Ages in which invisible Powers rule all our mortal affairs, he dismisses. Calculation, courage, fit means for resolute ends, human force,—only these can rebuild a world in ruins.[1]

Some will deem it inconsistent, that with so few illusions about the weaknesses of human nature, yet he should have been so firm, in what figures in all our own election addresses as trust in the people. Like Aristotle, he held the many to be in the long-run the best judges; but unlike Goethe, who said that the public is always in a state of self-delusion about details, though scarcely ever about broad truths, Machiavelli declared that the public may go wrong about generalities, while as to particulars they are usually right.23 The people are less ungrateful than a prince, and where they are ungrateful, it is from less dishonourable motive. The multitude is wiser and more constant than a prince. Furious and uncontrolled multitudes go wrong, but then so do furious and uncontrolled princes. Both err, when not held back by fear of consequences. The people

  1. See Ferrari's Hist. de la Raison d'Etat, p. 260; de Sanctis, Storia della Let. Italiana, ii. 74-89; Quinet, Révolutions d'Italie, ii. 122.