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rent, and broken by ill Counsell; Upon which Counsell, there are set, for our Instruction, the two Markes, whereby Bad Counsell is, for ever, best discerned: That it was young Counsell, for the Persons; And Violent Counsell, for the Matter.
The Ancient Times doe set forth in Figure, both the Incorporation, and inseparable Coniunction of Counsel with Kings; And the wise and Politique use of Counsell by Kings: The one, in that they say, Iupiter did marry Metis, which signifieth Counsell: Whereby they intend, that Soveraignty is married to Counsell: The other, in that which followeth, which was thus: They say after Iupiter was married to Metis, she conceived by him, and was with Childe; but Iupiter suffered her not to stay, till she brought forth, but eat her up; Wherby he became himselfe 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 Councell of State. That first, they ought to referre matters unto them, which is the first Begetting or Impregnation; But when they are elaborate, moulded, and shaped, in the Wombe of their Councell, and grow ripe, and ready to be brought forth; That then, they suffer not their Councell to goe through with the Resolution, and direction, as if it depended on them; But take the matter backe into their owne Hands, and make it appeare to the world, that the Decrees, and finall Directions, (which, because they come forth with Prudence, and Power, are resembled
to Pallas Armed", proceeded from themselves: And not onely from their Authority, but (the more to adde Reputation to Themselves) from their Head, and Device.
Let us now speake of the Inconveniences of Counsell, and of the Remedies. The Inconveniences, that have been noted in calling, and using Counsell, are three. First, the Revealing of Affaires, whereby they become lesse Secret. Secondly, the Weakning of the Authority of Princes, as if they were lesse of Themselves. Thirdly, the Danger of being unfaithfully counselled, and more for the good of them that coun. sell, then of him that is counselled. For which Inconveniences, the Doctrine of Italy, and Practise of France, in some Kings times, hath introduced Cabinet Counsels; A Remedy worse then the Disease.
As to Secrecy; Princes are not bound to communicate all Matters, with all Counsellors; but may extract and select. Neither is it necessary, that he that consulteth what he should doe, should declare what he will doe. But let Princes beware, that the unsecreting of their Affaires, comes not from Themselves. And as for Cabinet Counsels, it may be their Motto; Plenus rimarum sum: One futile person, that maketh it his glory to tell, will doe more hurt, then many, that know it their duty to conceale. It is true, there be some Affaires, which require extreme Secrecy, which will hardly go beyond one or two persons, besides the K’ing: Neither are those Counsels unprosperous: For besides the Secrecy, they commonly goe on constantly
in one Spirit of Direction, without distraction. But then it must be a Prudent King, such as is able to Grinde with a Hand-Mill; And those Inward Counsellours, had need also, be Wise Men, and especially true and trusty to the Kings Ends; As it was with King Henry the Seventh of England, who in his greatest Businesse, imparted himself to none, except it were to Morton and Fox.
For Weakening of Authority; The Fable sheweth the Remedy. Nay the Maiesty of Kings, is rather exalted, then diminished, when they are in the Chaire of Counsell: Neither was there ever Prince, bereaved of his Dependances, by his Counsell; Except where there hath beene, either an Overgreatnesse in one Counsellour, Or an Overstrict Combination in Divers; which are Things soone found, and holpen.
For the last Inconvenience, that Men will Counsell 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, Faithfull, and Sincere, and Plaine, and Direct; Not Crafty, and Involved: Let Princes, above all, draw to themselves such Natures. Besides, Counsellours are not commonly so united, but that one Counsellour keepeth Centinell over Another; So that if any do Counsell out of Faction, or private Ends, it commonly comes to the Kings Eare. But the best Remedy is, if Princes know their Counsellours, as well as their Counsellours know Them:
Principis est Virtus maxima nosse suos.
And on the other side, Counsellours should not be too Speculative, into their Soveraignes Person. The true Composition of a Counsellour, is rather to be skilfull in their Masters Businesse, then in his Nature; For then he is like to Advise him, and not to Feede his Humour. It is of singular use to Princes, if they take the Opinions of their Counsell, both Seperately, and Together. For Private Opinion is more free; but Opinion before others is more Reverend. In private, Men are more bold in their owne Humours; And in Consort, Men are more obnoxious to others Humours; Therefore it is good to take both: And of the inferiour Sort, rather in private, to preserve Freedome; Of the greater, rather in Consort, to preserve Respect. It is in vaine for Princes to take Counsel concerning Matters, if they take no Counsell likewise concerning Persons: For all Matters, are as dead Images; And the Life of the Execution of Affaires, resteth in the good Choice of Persons. Neither is it enough to consult concerning Per. sons, Secundum genera, as in an Idea, or Mathematicall Description, what the Kinde and Character of the Person should be; For the greatest Errours are committed, and the most Iudgement is shewne, in the choice of Individuals. It was truly said; Optimi Consiliarij mortui; Books will speake plaine, when Counsellors Blanch. Therefore it is good to be conversant in them; Specially the Bookes of such, as Themselves have been Actors upon the Stage.
The Counsels, at this Day, in most Places,
are but Familiar Meetings; where Matters are rather talked on, then debated. And they run too swift to the Order or Act of Counsell. It' were better, that in Causes of weight, the Matter were propounded one day, and not spoken to, till the next day; In Noite Consilium. So was it done, in the Commission of Union, between England and Scotland; which was a Grave and Orderly Assembly. I commend set Daies 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 Businesse, for the Counsell, it is better to choose Indifferent persons, then 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 Warre; for Suits; for some Provinces: For where there be divers particular Counsels, and but one Counsell of Estate, (as it is in Spaine) they are in effect no more, then Standing Commissions; Save that they have greater Authority. Let such, as are to informe Counsels, out of their particular Professions, (as Lawyers, Sea-men, Mint-men, and the like) be first heard, before Committees; And then, as Occasion serves, before the Counsell. And let them not come in Multitudes, or in a Tribunitious Manner; For that is, to clamour Counsels, not to enforme them. A long Table, and a square Table, or Seats about the Walls, seeme Things of Forme, but are Things of Substance; For at a long Table, a few at the upper end, in effect,