Page:Machiavelli, Romanes Lecture, 2 June 1897.djvu/33

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empire that continued his name. If you follow the history of the empire, you will then know with a vengeance what is the debt of Rome, Italy, and the world, to Cæsar.

Nobody has stated the argument against the revolutionary dictator more clearly or tersely than Machiavelli. He applauded the old Romans because their policy provided by a regular ordinance for an emergency, by the institution of a constitutional dictator for a fixed term, and to meet a definite occasion. 'In a republic nothing should be left to extraordinary modes of government; because though such a mode may do good for the moment, still the example does harm, seeing that a practice of breaking the laws for good ends lends a colour to breaches of law for ends that are bad.' Occasions no doubt arise when no ordinary means will produce reform, and then you must have recourse to violence and arms: a man must make himself supreme. But then, unfortunately, if he make himself supreme by violence, he is probably a bad man, for a good man will not climb to power by such means. No more will a bad man who has become supreme in this way be likely to use his ill-gotten power for good ends. Here is the eternal dilemma of a State in convulsion.24

He forbids us in any case to call it virtue to slay fellow-citizens, to betray friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; such practices may win empire, but not glory. A prince who clears out a population—here we may think of James I. and Cromwell, and the authors of many a sweeping