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playing at fence; Caracalla for driving chariots, and the like. This seemeth incredible unto those that know not the principle, that the mind of man is more cheered and refreshed by profiting in small things than by standing at a stay in great. We see also that kings that have been fortunate conquerors in their first years, it being not possible for them to go forward infinitely, but that they must have some check or arrest in their fortunes, turn in their latter years to be superstitious and melancholy; as did Alexander the Great, Dioclesian, and in our memory Charles the Fifth, and <thers for he that is used to go forward, and findeth a stop, falleth out of his own favour, and is not the thing he was.
To speak now of the true temper of empire, it is a thing rare and hard to keep; for both temper and distemper consists of contraries: but it is one thing to mingle contraries, another to interchange them. The answer of Apollonius to Vespasian is full of excellent instruction. Vespasian asked him, what was Nero's overthrow? he answered, Nero could touch and tune the harp well, but in government sometimes he used to wind the pins too high, sometimes to let them down too low; and certain it is, that nothing destroyeth authority so much as the unequal and untimely interchange of power pressed too far, and relaxed too much.
This is true, that the wisdom of all these latter times in princes' affairs, is rather fine deliveries, and shiftings of dangers and mischiefs, when they are near, than solid and grounded courses to keep them aloof: but this is but to try masteries with fortune; and let men beware how they neglect and suffer matter of trouble to be prepared; for no man can forbid the spark, nor tell whence it may come. The difficulties in princes' business are many and great; but the greatest difficulty is often in their own mind; for it is common with princes (saith Tacitus) to will contradictories; "Sunt plerumque regum voluntates vehementes, et inter se contrariæ;" for it is the solecism of power to think to command the end, and yet not to endure the mean.
Kings have to deal with their neighbours, their wives, their children, their prelates or clergy, their nobles, their second nobles or gentlemen, their merchants, their commons, and their men of war; and from all these arise dangers, if care and cireumspection be not used.
First, for their neighbours, there can no general rule be given, (the occasions are so variable,) save one which ever holdeth; which is, that princes do keep due sentinel, that none of their neighbours do overgrow so (by increase of territory, by embracing of trade, by approaches, or the like) as they become more able to annoy them than they were; and this is generally the work of standing counsels to foresee and to hinder it. During that triumvirate of kings, King Henry the Eighth of England, Francis the First, king of
France, and Charles the Fifth emperor, there was such a watch kept that none of the three could win a palm of ground, but the other two would straightways balance it, either by confederation, or, if need were, by a war; and would not in any wise take up peace at interest: and the like was done by that league (which Guicciardini saith was the security of Italy) made between Ferdinando, king of Naples, Lorenzius Medicis, and Ludovicus Sforsa, potentates, the one of Florence, the other of Milan. Neither is the opinion of some of the schoolmen to be received, that a war cannot justly be made, but upon a precedent injury or provocation; for there is no question, but a just fear of an imminent danger though there be no blow given, is a lawful cause of a war.
For their wives, there are cruel examples of them. Livia is infamed for the poisoning of her husband; Roxalana, Solyman's wife, was the destruction of that renowned prince, Sultan Mustapha, and otherwise troubled his house and succession; Edward the Second of England's queen had the principal hand in the deposing and murder of her husband. This kind of danger is then to be feared chiefly when the wives have plots for the raising of their own children, or else that they be advoutresses.
For their children, the tragedies likewise of dangers from them have been many; and generally the entering of fathers into suspicion of their children hath been ever unfortunate. The destruction of Mustapha (that we named before) was so fatal to Solyman's line, as the succession of the Turks from Solyman until this day is suspected to be untrue, and of strange blood; for that Selymus the Second was thought to be suppositious. The destruction of Crispus, a young prince of rare towardness, by Constantinus the Great, his father, was in like manner fatal to his house, for both Constantinus and Constance, his son, died violent deaths; and Constantius, his other son, did little better, who died indeed of sickness, but after that Julianus had taken arms against him. The destruction of Demetrius, son to Philip the Second of Macedon, turned upon the father, who died of repentance: and many like examples there are, but few or none where the fathers had good by such distrust, except it were where the sons were up in open arms against them; as was Selymus the First against Bajazet, and the three sons of Henry the Second king of England.
For their prelates, when they are proud and great, there is also danger from them; as it was in the times of Anselmus and Thomas Becket, archbishops of Canterbury, who with their crosiers did almost try it with the king's sword; and yet they had to deal with stout and haughty kings, William Rufus, Henry the First, and Henry the. Second. The danger is not from that state, but
where it hath a dependance of foreign authority; their greatness, or derogation to their sufficiency,
or where the churchmen come in and are elected, not by the collation of the king, or particular patrons, but by the people.
to rely upon counsel. God himself is not without, but hath made it one of the great names of his blessed Son, "The Counsellor." Solomon hath pronounced that, " in counsel is stability." Things will have their first or second agitation: if they be not tossed upon the arguments of counsel, they will be tossed upon the waves of fortune; and be
For their nobles to keep them at a distance it is not amiss; but to depress them may make a king more absolute, but less safe, and less able to perform any thing that he desires. I have noted it in my History of King Henry the Seventh of Eng-full of inconstancy, doing and undoing, like the land, who depressed his nobility, whereupon it came to pass that his times were full of difficulties and troubles; for the nobility, though they continued loyal unto him, yet did they not co-operate with him in his business; so that in effect he was fain to do all things himself.
For their second nobles, there is not much danger from them, being a body dispersed: they may sometimes discourse high, but that doth little hurt; besides, they are a counterpoise to the higher nobility, that they grow not too potent; and, lastly, being the most immediate in authority with the common people, they do best temper popular commotions.
For their merchants, they are "vena porta;" and if they flourish not, a kingdom may have good limbs, but will have empty veins, and nourish little. Taxes and imposts upon them do seldom good to the king's revenue, for that which he wins in the hundred, he loseth in the shire; the particular rates being increased, but the total bulk of trading rather decreased.
For their commons, there is little danger from them, except it be where they have great and potent heads; or where you meddle with the point of religion, or their customs, or means of life.
reeling of a drunken man. Solomon's son found the force of counsel, as his father saw the necessity of it: for the beloved kingdom of God was first rent and broken by ill counsel; upon which counsel there are set for our instruction the two marks whereby bad counsel is for ever best discerned, that it was young counsel for the persons, and violent counsel for the matter.
The ancient times do set forth in figure both the incorporation and inseparable conjunction of counsel with kings, and the wise and politic use of counsel by kings: the one, in that they say Jupiter did marry Metis, which signifieth counsel; whereby they intend that sovereignty is married to counsel; the other in that which followeth, which was thus: they say after Jupiter was married to Metis, she conceived by him and was with child, but Jupiter suffered her not to stay till she brought forth, but eat her up; whereby he became himself with child, and was delivered of Pallas Armed, out of his head. Which monstrous fable containeth a secret of empire, how kings are to make use of their council of state: that first, they ought to refer matters unto them, which is the first begetting or impregnation; but when they are elaborate, moulded, and shaped in the womb of their council, and grow ripe and ready to be brought forth, that then they suffer not their coun
For their men of war, it is a dangerous state where they live and remain in a body, and are used to donatives, whereof we see examples incil to go through with the resolution and direction, janizaries and pretorian bands of Rome; but trainings of men, and arming them in several places, and under several commanders, and without donatives, are things of defence and no danger.
Princes are like to heavenly bodies, which cause good or evil times; and which have much veneration, but no rest. All precepts concerning kings are in effect comprehended in those two remembrances, "memento quod es homo," and "memento quod es Deus, or vice Dei;" the one bridleth their power, and the other their will.
XX. OF COUNSEL.
THE greatest trust between man and man is the trust of giving counsel; for in other confidences men commit the parts of life, their lands, their goods, their children, their credit, some particular affair; but to such as they make their counsellors they commit the whole: by how much the more they are obliged to all faith and integrity. The wisest princes need not think it any diminution to
as if it depended on them; but take the matter back into their own hands, and make it appear to the world, that the decrees and final directions (which, because they come forth with prudence and power, are resembled to Pailas Armed) proceeded from themselves; and not only from their authority, but (the more to add reputation to themselves) from their head and device.
Let us now speak of the inconveniences of counsel, and of the remedies. The inconveniences that have been noted in calling and using counsel, are three: first, the revealing of affairs, whereby they become less secret; secondly, the weakening of the authority of princes, as if they were less of themselves; thirdly, the danger of being unfaithfully counselled, and more for the good of them that counsel, than of him that is counselled; for which inconveniences, the doctrine of Italy, and practice of France, in some kings' times, hath introduced cabinet councils; a remedy worse than the disease.
As to secrecy, princes are not bound to commu nicate all matters with all counsellors, but may
"secundum genera," as in an idea or mathematical description, what the kind and character of the person should be; for the greatest errors are committed, and the most judgment is shown, in the choice of individuals. It was truly said, "optimi consiliarii mortui :" " books will speak plain when counsellors blanch;" therefore it is good to be conversant in them, specially the books of such as themselves have been actors upon the stage.
extract and select; neither is it necessary, that he | affairs resteth in the good choice of persons: neithat consulteth what he should do, should declare ther is it enough to consult concerning persons, what he will do: but let princes beware that the unsecreting of their affairs comes not from themselves and, as for cabinet councils, it may be their motto, "plenus rimarum sum :" one futile person, that maketh it his glory to tell, will do more hurt than many, that know it their duty to conceal. It is true there be some affairs which require extreme secrecy, which will hardly go beyond one or two persons besides the king: neither are those counsels unprosperous: for, besides the secrecy, they commonly go on constantly in one spirit of direction without distraction: but then it must be a prudent king, such as is able to grind with a hand-mill; and those inward counsellors had need also be wise men, and especially true and trusty to the king's ends; as it was with King Henry the Seventh of England, who in his greatest business imparted himself to none, except it were to Morton and Fox.
For weakening of authority the fable showeth the remedy: nay the majesty of kings is rather exalted than diminished when they are in the chair of council: neither was there ever prince bereaved of his dependancies by his council, except where there hath been either an over greatness in one counsellor, or an over strict combination in divers, which are things soon found and holpen.
For the last inconvenience, that men will counsel with an eye to themselves; certainly, "non inveniet fidem super terram," is meant of the nature of times, and not of all particular persons. There be that are in nature faithful and sincere, and plain and direct, not crafty and involved: let princes, above all, draw to themselves such natures. Besides, counsellors are not commonly so united, but that one counsellor keepeth sentinel over another; so that if any do counsel out of faction or private ends, it commonly comes to the king's ear: but the best remedy is, if princes know their counsellors, as well as their counsellors know them :
The councils at this day in most places are but familiar meetings, where matters are rather talked on than debated; and they run too swift to the order or act of council. It were better that in causes of weight the matter were propounded one day and not spoken to till the next day; "in nocte consilium :" so was it done in the commission of union between England and Scotland, which was a grave and orderly assembly. I commend set days for petitions; for both it gives the suitors more certainty for their attendance, and it frees the meetings for matters of estate, that they may "hoc agere." In choice of committees for ripening business for the council, it is better to choose indifferent persons, than to make an indifferency by putting in those that are strong on both sides. I commend, also, standing commissions; as for trade, for treasure, for war, for suits, for some provinces; for where there be divers particular councils, and but one council of estate, (as it is in Spain,) they are, in effect, no more than standing commissions, save that they have greater authority. Let such as are to inform councils out of their particular professions (as lawyers, seamen, inintmen, and the like) be first heard before committees; and then, as occasion serves, before the council; and let them not come in multitudes, or in a tribunitius manner; for that is to clamour councils, not to inform them. A long table and a square table, or seats about the walls, seem things of form, but are things of sub"Principis est virtus maxima nosse suos." stance; for at a long table a few at the upper end And on the other side, counsellors should not be in effect sway all the business; but in the other too speculative into their sovereign's person. The form there is more use of the counsellors' opinions true composition of a counsellor is, rather to be that sit lower. A king when he presides in counskilful in their master's business than in his na-cil let him beware how he opens his own inclination ture; for then he is like to advise him, and not to feed his humour. It is of singular use to princes if they take the opinions of their council both separately and together; for private opinion is more free, but opinion before others is more reverend. In private, men are more bold in their own humours, and in consort, men are more obnoxious to - others' humours, therefore it is good to take both; FORTUNE is like the market, where many times, and of the inferior sort rather in private, to preserve if you can stay a little, the prices will fall; and freedom; of the greater, rather in consort, to pre- again, it is sometimes like Sibylla's offer, which serve respect. It is in vain for princes to take at first offereth the commodity at full, then concounsel concerning matters, if they take no coun- sumeth part and part, and still holdeth up the price; sel likewise concerning persons; for all matters for occasion (as it is in the common verse) turneth are as dead images; and the life of the execution of a bald noddle after she hath presented her locks
too much in that which he propoundeth; for else counsellors will but take the wind of him, and, instead of giving free counsel, will sing him a song of " placebo."
XXI. OF DELAYS.
objections. I knew a counsellor and secretary, that never came to Queen Elizabeth of England with bills to sign, but he would always first put her into some discourse of estate, that she might the less mind the bills.
The like surprise may be made by moving things when the party is in haste, and cannot stay to consider advisedly of that is moved.
If a man would cross a business that he doubts some other would handsomely and effectually move, let him pretend to wish it well, and move it himself, in such sort as may foil it.
in front, and no hold taken; or, at least, turneth | discourse, that he be not too much awake to make the handle of the bottle first to be received, and after the belly, which is hard to clasp. There is surely no greater wisdom than well to time the beginnings and onsets of things. Dangers are no more light, if they once seem light; and more dangers have deceived men than forced them; nay, it were better to meet some dangers half way, though they come nothing near, than to keep too long a watch upon their approaches; for if a man watch too long it is odds he will fall asleep. On the other side, to be deceived with too long shadows, (as some have been when the moon was low and shone on their enemies' back,) and so to shoot off before the time; or to teach dangers to come on by over early buckling towards them, is another extreme. The ripeness or unripeness of the occasion (as we said) must ever be well weighed ; and generally it is good to commit the beginnings of all great actions to Argos with his hundred eyes, and the ends to Briareus with his hundred hands; first to watch, and then to speed; for the helmet of Pluto, which maketh the politic man go invisible, is secrecy in the council, and celerity in the execution; for when things are once come to the execution, there is no secrecy comparable to celerity; like the motion of a bullet in the air, which flieth so swift as it outruns the eye.
XXII. OF CUNNING.
The breaking off in the midst of that, one was about to say, as if he took himself up, breeds a greater appetite in him, with whom you confer, to know more.
And because it works better when any thing seemeth to be gotten from you by question, than if you offer it of yourself, you may lay a bait for a question, by showing another visage and countenance than you are wont; to the end, to give occasion for the party to ask what the matter is of the change, as Nehemiah did, " And I had not before that time been sad before the king."
In things that are tender and unpleasing, it is good to break the ice by some whose words are of less weight, and to reserve the more weighty voice to come in as by chance, so that he may be asked the question upon the other's speech; as Narcissus did, in relating to Claudius the marriage of Messalina and Silius.
In things that a man would not be seen in himself, it is a point of cunning to borrow the name of the world; as to say, "The world says," or "There is a speech abroad."
I knew one that, when he wrote a letter, he would put that which was most material in the postscript as if it had been a bye matter.
We take cunning for a sinister, or crooked wisdom and certainly there is a great difference between a cunning man and a wise man, not only in point of honesty, but in point of ability. There be that can pack the cards, and yet cannot play well; so there are some that are good in canvasses and factions, that are otherwise weak men. Again, it is one thing to understand persons, and another thing to understand matters; for many are per- I knew another that, when he came to have fect in men's humours, that are not greatly capa-speech, he would pass over that that he intendble of the real part of business, which is the con- ed most: and go forth and come back again, stitution of one that hath studied men more than and speak of it as of a thing that he had almost books. Such men are fitter for practice than for forgot. counsel, and they are good but in their own alley: turn them to new men, and they have lost their aim; so as the old rule, to know a fool from a wise man, "Mitte ambos nudos ad ignotos, et videbis," doth scarce hold for them; and, because these cunning men are like haberdashers of small wares, it is not amiss to set forth their shop.
It is a point of cunning to wait upon him with whom you speak with your eye, as the Jesuits give it in precept; for there be many wise men that have secret hearts and transparent countenances; yet this would be done with a demure abasing of your eye sometimes, as the Jesuits also do use.
Another is, that when you have any thing to obtain of present despatch, you entertain and amuse the party with whom you deal with some other
Some procure themselves to be surprised at such times as it is like the party that they work upon, will suddenly come upon them, and to be found with a letter in their hand, or doing somewhat which they are not accustomed, to the end they may be opposed of those things which of themselves they are desirous to utter.
It is a point of cunning to let fall those words in a man's own name which he would have another man learn and use, and thereupon take advantage. I knew two that were competitors for the secretary's place, in Queen Elizabeth's time, and yet kept good quarter between themselves, and would confer one with another upon the business; and the one of them said, that to be a secretary in the declination of a monarchy was a ticklish thing, and that he did not affect it: the other straight caught.
up those words, and discoursed with divers of his friends, that he had no reason to desire to be secretary in the declination of a monarchy. The first man took hold of it, and found means it was told the queen, whose hearing of a declination of monarchy, took it so ill, as she would never after hear of the other's suit.
There is a cunning, which we in England call "The turning of the cat in the pan;" which is, when that which a man says to another, he lays it as if another had said it to him; and to say truth, it is not easy when such a matter passed between two, to make it appear from which of them it first moved and began.
Some have in readiness so many tales and stories, as there is nothing they would insinuate, but they can wrap it into a tale; which serveth both to keep themselves more in guard, and to make others carry it with more pleasure.
XXIII. OF WISDOM FOR A MAN'S
An ant is a wise creature for itself, but it is a shrewd thing in an orchard or garden; and certainly men that are great lovers of themselves waste the public. Divide with reason between self-love and society; and be so true to thyself, as thou be not false to others, especially to thy king and country. It is a poor centre of a man's actions, himself. It is right earth; for that only stands fast upon his own centre; whereas all things that have affinity with the heavens, move upon the centre of another, which they benefit The referring It is a way that some men have to glance and of all to a man's self, is more tolerable in a sovedart at others by justifying themselves by ne- reign prince, because themselves are not only themgatives; as to say, "This I do not;" as Tigel-selves, but their good and evil is at the peril of the linus did towards Burrhus, "Se non diversas public fortune: but it is a desperate evil in a serspes, sed incolumitatem imperatoris simpliciter vant to a prince, or a citizen in a republic; for spectare." whatsoever affairs pass such a man's hands, he crooketh them to his own ends, which must needs be often eccentric, to the ends of his master or state: therefore let princes, or states, choose such servants as have not this mark; except they mean their service should be made but the accessary. That which maketh the effect more pernicious is, that all proportion is lost; it were disproportion enough for the servant's good to be preferred before the master's; but yet it is a greater extreme, when a little good of the servant shall carry things against the great good of the master's; and yet that is the case of bad officers, treasurers, ambassadors, generals, and other false and corrupt servants; which set a bias upon their bowl, of their own petty ends and envies, to the overthrow of their master's great and important affairs: and, for the most part, the good such servants receive is after the model of their own fortune; but the hurt they sell for that good is after the model of their master's fortune and certainly it is the nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs; and yet these men many times hold credit with their masters, because their study is but to please them, and profit themselves; and for either respect they will abandon the good of their affairs.
It is a good point of cunning for a man to shape the answer he would have in his own words and propositions; for it makes the other party stick the less.
It is strange how long some men will lie in wait to speak somewhat they desire to say; and how far about they will fetch, and how many other matters they will beat over to come near it: it is a thing of great patience, but yet of much
A sudden, bold, and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man, and lay him open. Like to him, that, having changed his name, and walking in Paul's, another suddenly came behind him and called him by his true name, whereat straightways he looked back.
But these small wares and petty points of cunning are infinite, and it were a good deed to make a list of them; for that nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise.
But certainly some there are that know the resorts and falls of business, that cannot sink into the main of it; like a house that hath convenient stairs and entries, but never a fair room : therefore you shall see them find out pretty looses in the conclusion, but are no ways able to examine or debate matters and yet commonly they take advantage of their inability, and would be thought wits of direction. Some build rather upon the abusing of others, and (as we now say) putting tricks | upon them, then upon soundness of their own proceedings: but Solomon saith, "Prudens advertit ad gressus suos stultus divertit ad dolos."
Wisdom for a man's self is, in many branches thereof, a depraved thing: it is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house somewhat before it fall: it is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out the badger who digged and made room for him: it is the wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour. But that which is specially to be noted is, that those which (as Cicero says of Pompey) are, "sui amantes, sine rivali,” are many times unfortunate; and whereas they have all their times sacrificed to themselves, they become in the end themselves sacrifices to the inconstancy of fortune, whose wings they thought by their self-wisdom to have pinioned