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Ovid, or one of that sort. I read the tales of their loves, I recall the memory of my own, and am happy for a while with these thoughts. Then I go to the road-side public house; I talk with the passers-by, ask them the news of their villages, hear many things from them, and reflect on the different tastes and fantasies of men. This brings about the dinner-hour, when I come home and eat with my people such food as my poor estate and miserable patrimony afford. After dinner I return to the publichouse, where I usually find united the host, a butcher, a miller, and a lime-kiln man. I put myself on a level with them for the rest of the day, and we play at cards and tric-trac. A thousand disputes arise among us—a thousand quarrels not unaccompanied by abuse. In general all this is about the winning or the losing of a farthing; and yet we make noise enough to be heard as far off as at San Casciano. By thus plunging myself in this low life, I quiet the effervescence of my brain, and give free course to the malignancy of Fortune, letting her tread me under foot, in order to see whether at last she will not be ashamed of so doing.” Those who have been in the habit of most incorrectly considering the great Niccolo Machiavelli merely in the light of a crafty politician, and the advocate of an atrocious tyranny which his soul loathed, and against which it was his object to put mankind on their guard, will no doubt be much surprised at all this simplicity of taste, naïveté, familiarity, and bonhommie ; but the letters of the Florentine secretary are full of these qualities, and also abound with merry stories and lively remarks that would fill a volume of choice Table-Talk. .
At the very time, however, that Niccolo wrote the letter we have quoted from, he was employed on the works which have immortalized his name; and the political treatise called “Il Principe” (The Prince), by which he is best known to foreigners, was among the number of these. He trifled away his days, but his nights he gave to intense study. We hardly know where to look for so vivid a picture of devotion to learning, of reverence to the master-minds of antiquity, and a complete absorption in their works, as is contained in this same letter to the ambassador Wettori. The practice of dressing himself for his studies, as if he were really going to meet the sages of old in body as well as in spirit, and enjoy a personal intercourse with Plato and Thucydides, and Livy and Tacitus, and the warriors and statesmen of Greece and Rome, appears to us to be a peculiarly delicate trait of character.
“When evening closes in,” he continues, “I return home, and shut myself up in my study; but, before entering there, I cast off, on the threshold, my rustic dress covered with mud and dirt, and put on clothes fit for courts and senates, * and thus decently attired I enter the ancient courts of the ancient men, where, being by them affectionately received, I feed on that food which solum is mine, and for which I was born. I do not blush to discourse with those sages, and ask them the motives of their actions; and they, in their benevolence, answer my questions. Then, for an interval of four hours, I feel notedium, no annoyance; I forget all my sorrows, I cease to dread poverty, death does not terrify me; I transfuse the
* “Mimetto panni reali e curiali.”
whole of myself into books and times that are past. And, as Dante says, “No one acquires a science unless he retains what he is taught,” so have I noted down all that store of knowledge which I have collected in these conversations with the ancients; and have composed a little work on princely governments, in which I penetrate the subject as profoundly as I can, discussing what a principality is, how many kinds there are, how they are acquired, how kept, how lost; and if any poor speculation of mine ever pleased you, this should not displease you.”
Machiavelli lived for nearly fourteen years longer; but, though he was recalled to Florence, and even employed on some important missions, he died at last in that poverty which nothing but his love of letters and research had made supportable. He left a widow and five children. A letter of his son Pietro's, which has been preerved, concludes with this short and sad sentence: “Our father has left us in extreme poverty, as you know.”
LXXXVII. PRESSING TO DEATH,
In a number of Oliver Cromwell's Newspaper, “The Perfect Account of the Daily Intelligence,” dated April 16th, 1651, we find this horrid instance of torture:
“Mond. April 14th-This session, at the Old Bailey, were four men pressed to death that were all in one robbery, and, out of obstinacy and contempt of the court, stood mute and refused to plead; from whence we may
WOL. II. T
perceive the exceeding great hardness some men are
LXXXVIII. A MERCIFUL SCHOOL-MASTER,
THE Reverend William Budworth, vicar of Brewood, and the very learned master of the free grammar-school of Brewood, has been honourably distinguished among the pedagogues of the last century on account of the mildness of his discipline. It is quaintly said, “he never once in his life sent a boy home with anything like a piece of buckram attached to his posteriors, common as it was with those famous tutors Osbalston Ad
Busby.”—Nichols' Literary Anecdotes of the XVII**
Century. In the context to this passage, however, Mr. Nichols says that Budworth was a prey to hypochondriasis s that when the fit was on him, he was meekness itself; but that, “on the convalescent turn, a different change of temper took place, and he would chastise pretty severely.” We must regret that the unseemly and disgraceful
system of school punishment here alluded to is not yet wholly superseded; and that the amount of torture a boy receives is still left to depend on the moods and turns of his master's health and spirits.
LXXXIX. THE NEW REMEDIES.
“IN spite of the opposition of the physicians of the seventeenth century,” says Magendie, “in spite of the celebrated decree of the parliament which proscribed tartar emetic, in spite even of the witty sarcasms of Guy Patin, the utility of antimonial preparations has long been recognised; in this instance, at least, prejudice yielded to evidence.”
The new remedies of our own days, of which some have established their reputation, and others are still struggling for existence, have not had the same difficulties to contend with, which antimony so happily surmounted. They have not been opposed by acts of parliament, nor by pointed sarcasms; but then they have had two other adversaries almost as formidable, the first being the force of habit, and the second the natural repugnance which every one feels to give remedies where a mistake in the fraction of a grain might be highly damgerous. Nevertheless, in many instances, the merits of the new remedies have triumphed over every obstacle, as Magendie observes in the preface to the eighth edition of his Formulary. “Le sort des substances inscrites dans les premières éditions de cet ouvrage est désormais assuré ; vieilles habitudes, routine, répugnances, tout a disparu devant la vérité simple et utile.” (The destiny of the substances mentioned in the early editions of this work is