Page images

on the severe stroke of his justice sometimes, so in this not to suffer a man of death to live; for, besides that the land doth mourn, the restraint of justice towards sin doth more retard the affection of love than the extent of mercy doth inflame it; and sure where love is [ill] bestowed, fear is quite lost.

14. His greatest enemies are his flatterers; for though they ever speak on his side, yet their words still make against him.

15. The love which a king oweth to a weal public should not be restrained to any one particular; yet that his more special favour do reflect upon some worthy ones is somewhat necessary, because there are few of that capacity

16. He must have a special care of five things, if he would not have his crown to be put to him “infelis felicitas :)

First, that “simulata sanctitas” be not in the church ; for that is “duplex iniquitas :"

Secondly, that “inutilis æquitas" sit not in the chancery: for that is “inepta misericordia :"

Thirdly, that utilis iniquitas” keep not the exchequer : for that is “crudele latrocinium :"

Fourthly, that “fidelis temeritas" be not his general : for that will bring but “ penitentiam :”

Fifthly, that “infidelis prudentia“ be not his secretary : for that is “anguis sub viridi herbâ."


To conclude; as he is of the greatest power, so he is subject to the greatest cares, made the servant of his people, or else he were without a calling at all.

He, then, that honoureth him not is next an atheist, wanting the fear of God in his heart.


We will speak of nobility first as a portion of an estate, then as a condition of particular persons. A monarchy, where there is no nobility at all, is ever a pure and absolute tyranny, as that of the Turks; for nobility attempers sovercignty, and draws the eyes of the people somewhat aside from the line 1oyal : but for democracies they need it not; and they are commonly more quiet, and less subject to sedition, than where there are stirps of nobles, for men's eyes are upon the business, and not upon the persons; or if

upon the persons, it is for the business? sake, as fittest, and not for flags and pedigree. We see the Switzers last well, notwithstanding their diversity of religion and of cantons; for utility is their bond, and not respects. The united provinces of the Low Countries in their government excel; for where there is an equality the consultations are more indifferent, and the payments and tributes more cheerful. and potent nobility addeth majesty to a mon

A great

arch, but diminisheth power; and putteth life and spirit into the people, but presseth their fortune. It is well when nobles are not too great for sovereignty nor for justice; and yet maintained in that height, as the insolency of inferiors may be broken upon them before it come on too fast upon the majesty of kings. A numerous nobility causeth poverty and inconvenience in a state, for it is a surcharge of expense; and, besides, it being of necessity that many of the nobility fall in time to be weak in fortune, it maketh a kind of disproportion between honour and means.

As for nobility in particular persons, it is a reverend thing to see an ancient castle or building not in decay, or to see a fair timber tree sound and perfect; how much more to behold an ancient noble family, which hath stood against the waves and weathers of time? for new nobility is but the act of power, but cient nobility is the act of time. Those that are first raised to nobility are commonly more virtuous, but less innocent than their descendants; for there is rarely any rising but by a commixture of good and evil arts : but it is reason the memory of their virtues remain to their posterity, and their faults die with themselves. Nobility of birth commonly abateth industry; and he that is not industrious envieth him that is ; besides, noble persons cannot go much higher: and he that standeth at a stay when others rise can hardly avoid motions of envy. On the other side, nobility ex.


tinguisheth the passive envy froin others towards them, because they are in possession of honour. Certaivly, kings that have able men of their nobility shall find ease in employing them, and a better slide into their business ; for people naturally bend to them as born in some sort to command.


SHEPHERDS of people had need know the calendars of tempests in states, which are commonly greatest when things grow to equality; as natural tempests are greatest about the equinoctia; and as there are certain hollow blasts of wind and secret swellings of seas before a tempest, so are there in states :

“ Ille etiam cæcis instare tumultus
Sæpe monet, fraudesque et operta tumescere bella."

Libels and licentious discourses against the state, when they are frequent and open ; and in like sort false new. often running up and down, to the disadvantage of the state, and hastily embraced, are amongst the signs of troubles. Virgil, giving the pedigree of Fame, saith she was sister to the giants :

“ Illam terra parens, ira irritata deorum,
Extremam (ut perhibent) Ceo Enceladoque sororem

Æneid, IV. 177. As if fames were the relics of seditions past ; but they are no less indeed the preludes of se

ditions to come. Howsoever he noteth it right, that seditious tumults and seditious fames differ no more but as brother and sister, masculine and feminine; especially if it come to that, that the best actions of a state, and the most plausible, and which ought to give greatest contentment, are taken in ill sense, and traduced : for that shows the envy great, as Tacitus saith, “conflata, magna invidia, seu bene, seu male, gesta premunt." Neither doth it follow, that because these fames are a sign of troubles, that the suppressing of them with too much severity should be a remedy of troubles ; for the despising of them many times checks them best, and the going about to stop them doth but make a wonder long lived." Also that kind of obedience, which Tacitus speaketh of, is to be held suspected : “Erant in officio, sed tamen qui mallent mandata imperantium interpretari, quam exequi ;” disputing, excusing, cavilling upon mandates and directions, is a kind of shaking off the yoke, and assay of disobedience; especially if, in those disputings, they which are for the direction speak fearfully and tenderly, and those that are against it audaciously.

Also, as Machiavel noteth well, when princes, that ought to be common parents, make themselves as a party, and lean to a side; it is as a boat that is overthrown by uneven weight on the one side : as was well seen in the time of Henry the Third of France; for first himself entered league for the extirpation of

« PreviousContinue »