Sondag, Maart 18, 2018

Machiavelli se brief aan Francesco Vettori - 10 Des 1513

I rise in the morning with the sun, and I go off to a wood of mine which I am having cut down, where I stop for two hours to see what was done the day before and to talk to the oodcutters who always have some trouble at hand, either among themselves or with their neighbours.

Leaving the wood I go to a spring and thence to some bird-traps of mine. I have a book with me, Dante or Petrarch or one of the minor poets, Tibullus, Ovid or the like. I read about their amorous passions and their loves, I remember my own, and dwell enjoyably on these thoughts for a while. Then I go on to the road and into the tavern. I talk to the passers-by, I ask what news of their villages, I hear all sorts of things, and observe the various tastes and ideas of men. In the meanwhile it is time for dinner, and with my folk I eat what food this poor farm and miserable patrimony of mine provides. 

When I have eaten I go back to the tavern. Here I find the host and usually a butcher, a miller and a couple of kiln men. With them I degrade myself playing all day at cricca and tric-trac, and this gives rise to a thousand arguments and endless vexations with insulting words, and most times there is a fight over a penny, and we can be heard shouting from as far away as San Casciano. 

And so, surrounded by these lice, I blow the cobwebs out of my brain and relieve the unkindness of my fate, content that she trample on me in this way to see if she is not ashamed to treat me thus.

When evening comes I return home and go into my study, and at the door I take off my daytime dress covered in mud and dirt, and put on royal and curial robes and then decently attired I enter the courts of the ancients, where affectionately greeted by them, I partake of that food which is mine alone and for which I was born; where I am not ashamed to talk with them and inquire the reasons of their actions; and they out of their human kindness answer me, and for four hours at a stretch I feel no worry of any kind; I forget all my troubles, I am not afraid of poverty or of death. 

I give myself up entirely to them. And because Dante says that understanding does not constitute knowledge unless it is retained in the memory, I have written down what I have learned from their conversation and composed a short work de Principatibus ...

And his biographer, Ridolfi, adds: "In such a mixture of happiness and unhappiness of dream and reality, of base things and greatness, wholly resembling the man himself, The Discourses and The Prince had their origin.

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