Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/32

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are fickle and thankless, but so are princes. 'As for prudence and stability, I say that a people is more prudent, more stable, and of better judgment than a prince.' Never let a prince, he said—and perhaps we might say, never let a parliament of united kingdoms—complain of the faults of a people under his rule, for they are due either to his own negligence, or else to his own example, and if you consider a people given to robbery and outrages against law, you will generally find that they only copy their masters. Above all, and in any case, the ruler, whether hereditary or an usurper, can have no safety unless he founds himself on popular favour and good-will. This he repeats a hundred times. 'Better far than any number of fortresses, is not to be hated by your people.'

It is then to the free Roman commonwealth that Machiavelli would have his countrymen turn. He found the pattern that he wanted in that strong respect for law, that devotion to country, that unquailing courage, that energy of purpose, which has been truly called the essence of free Rome. Modern Germans, for good reasons of their own, have taken to praise him, but Machiavelli has nothing to do with that most brilliant and illustrious of living German scholars, who idolises Julius Cæsar, despatches Cato as a pedant, and Cicero as a coxcomb. You will hardly find in Machiavelli a good word for any destroyer of a free government. Let nobody, he says, be cheated by the glory of Cæsar. Historians have been spoiled by his success, and by the duration of the