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MACHINE (through Fr. from Lat. form m...

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 238 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MACHINE (through Fr. from Lat. form machina of Gr. µnxavil), any device or apparatus for the application or modification of force to a specific purpose. The term " simple machine " is applied to the six so-called mechanical powers—the lever, wedge, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, and inclined plane. For machine-tools see TooLs. The word machine was formerly applied to vehicles, such as stage-coaches, &c., and is still applied to carriages in Scotland; a survival of this use is in the term " bathing machine." Figuratively, the word is used of persons whose actions seem to be regulated according to a rigid and unchanging system. In politics, especially in America, machine is synonymous with party organization. A stage device of the ancient Greek drama gave rise to the proverbial expression, " the god from the machine," Lat. deus ex machina, for the disentangling and conclusion of a plot by supernatural interference or by some accident extraneous to the natural development of the story. When a god had to be brought on the stage he was floated down from above by a 'yEpavos (crane) or other machine (iz, xavi1). Euripides has been reproached with an excessive use of the device, but it has been pointed out (A.E. Haigh, Tragic Drama of the Greeks, p. 245 seq.) that only in two plays (Orestes and Hippolytus) is the god brought on for the solution of the plot. In the others the god comes to deliver a kind of epilogue, describing the future story of the characters, or to introduce some account of a legend, institution, &c. MACHINE-GUN, a weapon designed to deliver a large number of bullets or small shells, either by volleys 1 or in very quick 1 The French term mitrailleuse, made famous by the War of 187o, reappears in other Latin tongues (e.g. Spanish ametralladora). It signifies a weapon which delivers a shower of small projectiles mstraille—grape or case shot), and has no special reference to its mechanical (hand or automatic) action. MACHICOLATION- bold and plausible adventurer, aided by the profligacy, of a parasite, the avarice and hypocrisy of a confessor, and a mother's complaisant familiarity with vice, achieves the triumph of making a gulled husband bring his own unwilling but too yielding wife to shame. The whole comedy is a study of stupidity and baseness acted on by roguery. About the power with which this picture of domestic immorality is presented there can be no question. But the perusal of the piece obliges us to ask ourselves whether the author's radical conception of human nature was not false. The same suspicion is forced upon us by the Principe. Did not Machiavelli leave good habit, as an essential ingredient of character, out of account? Men are not such absolute fools as Nicia, nor such compliant catspaws as Ligurio and Timoteo; women are not such weak instruments as Sostrata and Lucrezia. Somewhere, in actual life, the stress of craft and courage acting on the springs of human vice and weakness fails, unless the hero of the comedy or tragedy, Callimaco or Cesare, allows for the revolt of healthier instincts. Machiavelli does not seem to have calculated the force of this recoil. He speculates a world in which virtil, unscrupulous strength of character, shall deal successfully with frailty. This, we submit, was a deep-seated error in his theory of life, an error to which may be ascribed the numerous stumbling-blocks and rocks of offence in his more serious writings. Some time after the Mandragola, he composed a second comedy, entitled Clizia, which is even homelier and closer to the life of Florence than its predecessor. It contains incomparable studies of the Florentine housewife and her husband, a grave business-like citizen, who falls into the senile folly of a base intrigue. There remains a short piece without title, the Commedia in prosa, which, if it be Machiavelli's, as internal evidence of style sufficiently argues, might be accepted as a study for both the Clizia and the Mandragola. It seems written to expose the corruption of domestic life in Florence, and especially to satirize the friars in their familar part of go-betweens, tame cats, confessors and adulterers. Of Machiavelli's minor poems, sonnets, capitoli and carnival songs there is not much to say. Powerful as a comic playwright, he was not a poet in the proper sense of the term. The little novel of Belfagor claims a passing word, if only because of its celebrity. It is a good-humoured satire upon marriage, the devil being forced to admit that hell itself is preferable to his wife's company. That Machiavelli invented it to express the irritation of his own domestic life is a myth without foundation. The story has a medieval origin,. and it was almost simultaneously treated in Italian by Machiavelli, Straparola and Giovanni Brevio. In the spring of 1526 Machiavelli was employed by Clement VII. to inspect the fortifications of Florence. He presented a report upon the subject, and in the summer of the same year received orders to attend Francesco Guicciardini, the pope's commissary of war in Lombardy. Guicciardini sent him in August to Cremona, to transact business with the Venetian provvedilori. Later on in the autumn we find him once more with Guicciardini at Bologna. Thus the two great Italian historians of the 16th century, who had been friends for several years, were brought into relations of close intimacy. After another visit to Guicciardini in the spring of 1527, Machiavelli was sent by him to Civita Vecchia. It seemed that he was destined to be associated in the papal service with Clement's viceroy, and that a new period of diplomatic employment was opening for him. But soon after his return to Florence he fell ill. His son Piero said that he took medicine on the loth of June which disagreed with him; and on the 22nd he died, having received the last offices of the Church. There is no foundation for the legend that he expired with profane sarcasms upon his lips. Yet we need not run into the opposite extreme, and try to fancy that Machiavelli, who had professed Paganism in his life, proved himself a believing Christian on his deathbed. That he left an unfavourable opinion among his fellow citizens is very decidedly recorded by the historian Varchi. The Principe, it seems, had already begun to prejudice the world against him; and we can readily believe that Varchi sententiously observes, that " it would have been better for him if nature had given him either a less powerful intellect or a mind of a more genial temper." There is in truth a something crude, unsympathetic, cynical in his mental attitude toward human nature, for which, even after the lapse of more than three centuries, we find it difficult to make allowance. The force of his intellect renders this want of geniality repulsive. We cannot help objecting that one who was so powerful could have been kindlier and sounder if he willed. We therefore do him the injustice of mistaking his infirmity for perversity. He was colour-blind to commonplace succession, at a high rate of fire. Formerly the mechanism of machine-guns was hand operated, but all modern weapons are automatic in action, the gas of the explosion or the force of recoil being utilized to lock and unlock the breech mechanism, to load the weapon and to eject the fired cartridge cases. The smaller types approximate to the " automatic rifle," which is expected to replace the magazine rifle as the arm of the infantry-man. The large types, generically called "pompoms," fire a light artillery projectile, and are considered by many artillery experts as " the gun of the. future." The medium type, which takes the ordinary rifle' ammunition but is fired from various forms of carriage, is the ordinary machine-gun of to-day, and the present article deals mainly with this.
End of Article: MACHINE (through Fr. from Lat. form machina of Gr. µnxavil)
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