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by foreign invasion, if he gave precedence, as a first political necessity, to arms over laws—or rather, was ready to affirm that the conditions of success in arms were the best criterion of national laws as suited to national needs of first urgency. The native military organization which, with good beginnings of efficiency, his practical measures as well as theoretical tractates were framed to restore to Florence-nay, the despotic power which, in the most obnoxious of his writings to moral censure, he was content to offer to any Italian prince who would but take the lead in overthrowing questo barbaro dominio, might fairly be said to form parts of one system, conceived, with whatever alloy of moral obliquity or personal ambition, in one clearly, discerned and consistently-pursued public interest
. It is indeed undeniable that in the Prince'-- which is, however, in this respect, no fair sample of his political writings at largethe sole moral of Machiavelli's doctrine of princely policy is, • If you want to hold your own, or usurp what is not your own, at this day in Italy, you must not be too particular about observing the established distinctions between virtue and vice, good faith and ill faith, mercy and cruelty, &c., &c.;. though you must take care, at the same time, to keep as much credit as you can for those virtues which in politics you cannot always afford to exercise.' Now, this was only telling the great. men of his age what they knew before, and what the great men of that
ages before and after, needed no rules to teach. them. Nor was the policy of princely and diplomatic plots and perfidies exclusively Italian in those ages, however Lord Macaulay might please himself and his readers with his trenchant. and telling contrasts between Northern rude valour and Southern polished artifice. The policy of the Borgias and the Medici might be more shameless in some traits, but could scarcely be more coolly or deliberately perfidious or, on occasion, murderous than the Tudor policy which fomented anarchy in Scotland, or the Spanish policy whịch kindled revolt in the Netherlands. Nor, at an earlier period, had a Ferdinand the Catholic of Spain, or a good King Louis XII. of France, anything to learn from Machiavellian doctrine in the line of perfidy; nay, it was precisely from the practices of such potentates, cismontane or transmontane, that Machiavelli deduced the maxims which shocked the world when set before it in the abstract, though in the concrete they had escaped especial censure, as tacitly-understood necessities of king-craft or pope-craft. What was characteristic of Machiavelli was his vehement earnestness of purpose, and straightforward explicitness of expression, not his perfidy. That was the: sinister stamp of the whole State policy of the sixteenth century.
Guicciardini himself wrote of his Florentine compatriot, not that his public ends were ambiguous, but that his temper naturally ran to extremes in the choice of means.
This was a reproach he himself was in no danger of incurring. It was not in his nature to take extreme views, nor, indeed, was it in his nature to postpone his personal success as a statesman to any general views whatever. All Guicciardini's thoughts and feelings, when unreservedly expressed, as in the 'Ricordi' before us, are imbued with a strong and pervading tinge of his own personality. His views of life and politics are always taken from the central point of his own family or individual interest—using the word 'interest,' however, not in any low or sordid sense. The habitually and naïvely self-regarding temper, generated too. naturally by such times as those in which his lot was cast, is curiously illustrated in the following passage of his "Ricordi :'
*All cities, all States, all kingdoms are mortal; everything either by nature or accident terminates and finishes some time or other. A . citizen, therefore, who finds himself doomed to survive his country, need not so much grieve at its downfall and deplore its ill fortune as his own, since that has happened to his country which necessarily had to happen ; but the special misfortune is his to whom it falls to be born in an age when that catastrophe had to take place.'
The final extinction of Florentine liberties drew after it the shelving of Guicciardini the statesman—the making of Guicciardini the historian. He owed to his last year or two of retirement the reputation his name retains with posterity. When Duke Cosmo's jealous tyranny honoured by excluding from public trust and employment all whose political habits had been formed in less servile times, the discarded statesman had no • Majesty's Opposition' to fall back upon-save the silent closet opposition of the historian, with posterity for audience. There is a sense of worth indicated in the worthy employment of years of enforced leisure: that sense must be recognised in Guicciardini, as it must in Clarendon, whatever exceptions may be taken by criticism or party to the self-estimate of either.
Our motive for selecting a comparatively small portion of the voluminous publication before us for our special subject has been that these family, autobiographical, and political ‘Ricordi' are the portion of that publication in which Guicciardini is, for the first time, presented in undress to posterity, divested of the style académique of his more elaborate writings. If the plain unvarnished self-portraiture of the man and statesman is to be found anywhere in his writings, it is to be found here. We have here direct from the fountain-head those judgments of the men and things of his day, which are elsewhere diffused and dilutech
in studied sentences, or set speeches put in the mouths of leading characters. We have waded with honest anguish and an aching head' through the awful tedium of the formal pleadings and discourses, pro and con, in these ten volumes, on all those questions and transactions in which the great historian was implicated—as through a series, long drawn out, of “Suasoriæ' and • Controversiæ,' on the model of Seneca Rhetor.* These, with diplomatic and official despatches, swell out the bulk of the work, we think, disproportionately to their present value. An exception must be made in favour of the two books of Dialogues
Del Reggimento di Firenze,' which will be found in the second volume, and which testify to the author's sincere public spirit, however dashed with self-seeking. The interlocutors of these imaginary conversations are four of the most eminent public men of the last period of Florentine freedom-Bernardo del Nero, Piero Capponi, Pagolantonio Soderini, and Piero Guicciardini, the father of our historian. Each of them supports his genuine character as speaker or listener, and the air of freedom still breathes through their unrestrained utterances Bernardo del Nero in these Dialogues signalises that source of weakness and danger to Florence, which Machiavelli devoted his best efforts to remedy. Our city,' says Bernardo, 'as every one knows, was once armed-once carried on all her military enterprises by aid of the arms of her own subjects—by aid of these won many victories and had many successes, which should have seemed to invite her rather to devote herself entirely to military exercises, than to disarm, as she has done, and make use in her
wars of hired soldiers. The cause for this change must either , have been the jealous exclusion from command by the people of
the nobles who had military rank and reputation (this was the main cause alleged by Machiavelli to have enfeebled Florence] or from the people addicting themselves too exclusively to arts and merchandize. However this may have been, the mode of making war by mercenaries has been most pernicious, and during the long period it has already prevailed in Florence has led her citizens into ways of life, and made them contract habits
* Guicciardini's full- dress tendency to a certain formal prolixity has been quaintly illustrated by the preference expressed by Boccalini's Lacedæmonian, for condemnation to galley-rowing for life, building up between two walls, and finally flaying alive, rather than reading the interminable tall talk and little wars between Florence and Pisa.
• Instantissimamente supplicò che per tutti gl'anni della sua vita lo condannassero a remare in una galea, che lo murassero trà due mura, e che per misericordia fino lo scorticassero vivo; perche il legger quei Discorsi senza fine, quei Consigli tanto tediosi, quelle freddissime Concioni, fatte nella presa d'ogni vil colombaia, era crepacuore che superava tutti l'aculei Inglesi, &c.'--Boccalini, Ragguagli de Parnasso, Cont. I. Ragg. VI.
50 contrary to martial enterprise, that now, if any youth talks of going to the wars, he becomes in a manner infamous.'
Another exception to the charge of tediousness which, not having the fear of Italian readers before our eyes, we have ventured to bring against good part of the stuffing' of the ten volumes before us, must be made in favour of the Storia Fiorentina,' which fills the third volume, and which may be considered as forming a sequel (though written earlier) to Machiavelli's 'Storie Fiorentine,' and an introduction to Guicciardini's great work, the famous (and tedious) · Istoria d'Italia. Of the style of this hitherto unpublished prelude to his larger history it may be enough to say that, like that of his • Ricordi,' it has none of the conventional dignity of history. In this respect Guicciardini here stands in contrast with his later self, as arrayed in the ample academical robes of the classic historian. In the political doctrine deducible from his Florentine history he so far contrasts with Machiavelli that, while Guicciardini, as Signor Canestrini remarks, confined his desires to a better-regulated government for Florence, and freedom for Italy, Machiavelli invoked the intervention of a Prince, an allpowerful Dictator, who, by whatever means—so they were efficacious-should succeed in the great enterprise of expelling the strangers who were tearing Italy in pieces. Guicciardini's historical style, in his first manner,' differs from Machiavelli's in that indescribable quality in which the prose of minds allprosaic differs from the prose of poets. Guicciardini was an acknowledged master of prose-Machiavelli may rank with poets—and it would be difficult to find in the highest-wrought tragic descriptions of the historian such vivid images of the misery of the times which saw the sack of Rome, as in the following six lines of Machiavelli's Capitolo dell' Ambizione.'
. Sempre son le lor facce orrende e scure,
E l'aria d'urli, singulti e sospiri.' We have given credit for painstaking as well as for patriotism to the experienced editor of these volumes. But there is one particular in which he fails to satisfy the fair and reasonable requirements of modern readers. He has neither favoured them with full tables of contents to each volume, nor with a general index to all the ten volumes. These are omissions too familiar in Italian as in German publications of bulk and weight. Signor
Canestrini sends his readers voyaging through whole volumes without rudder or compass to find the passages he has thought worth noting in his Preface. We have been tempted, in executing our critical function on this occasion, to wish that editorial delinquencies of this description could be visited with some of those severities of mediæval political justice so frequena in Florentine history. Qualche tratto di fune would be no more than condign punishment for the neglect of editors to provide readers with those mere mechanical facilities for finding what they want in voluminous works like these, which no French and no judicious English editor ever fails to furnish.
Art. V.-Hansard's Parliamentary Debates. 1871. IT T is with some regret that we again find ourselves compelled
to call attention to the present condition of the Navy. This great service, so justly popular with our countrymen, is too noble to be discussed in any manner that can at all affect its just reputation; but we feel sure that it is not the fault of the Navy itself, but of its administration, which has done so much in the last two years to destroy its efficiency and to make England alarmed for its ancient renown.
If, however, we approach this subject with some regret, we confess that the feeling of dismay is still more overpowering as we examine the violent administrative changes which have been made, and their result upon the general condition of the fleet; since Mr. Gladstone has been Prime Minister. Last year * we pointed out in some detail many of the changes which we considered unwise. In January a contemporary, in an article whiclı had a strong savour of an official origin, admitted the general truth of our facts, but endeavoured to diminish their force by some admixture of fables. He further premised that if we only waited to see the results of Mr. Childers's policy, the development would produce for us the cheapest and most efficient navy in the world. We have waited, and we now propose to examine the result of this year's administration and its effect upon our maritime supremacy.
If it had been possible, we should have preferred to adhere to the arrangement suggested by Mr. Childers, and to have examined first the results of the changes and reductions made in the Board of Admiralty and the subordinate naval establishments, then the policy as to fleets and men, and lastly the policy
* See 'Q. R.' vol. cxxix. p. 392, 8c99.