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introduced cabinet counc ls; a remedy worse than 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 do should declare 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
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 beside 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 weakness 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 dependencies by his council except where there hath been either
an overgreatness in one counsellor, or an overstrict 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 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,
“ Principis est virtus maxima nusse suos." And, on the other side, counsellors should not be too speculative into their sovereign's per
The true composition of a counsellor is, rather to be skilful in his master's business than in his nature; 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 inore free, but opinion before others is inore reverend. In privaie, 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, and of the inferior sort rather in private, to preserve freedom; of the greater, rather in consort, to preserve respect. It is in vain for princes to take counsel concerning matters, if they take no counsel likewise concerning persons; for all matters are as dead images; and the life of the execution of affairs resteth in the good choice of persons : neither is it enough to consult concerning persons,“ secundum genera,” as in an idea of 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, especially the books of such as themselves have been actors upon the stage.
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 ccuncil. It were better that in causes of weight the matter were propounded one day, and not spoken to till 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 pei sons 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, mintmen, 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 tribunitious 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 substance; for at a long table, a few at the upper end, in effect, sway all the business ; but in the other form there is more use of the counsellors' opinions that sit lower. A king, when he presides in council, let him beware how he opens his own inclination 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."
FORTUNE is like the market, where, many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall; and, again, it is soinetimes like Sibylla's offer, which at first offereth the commodity at full, then consumeth part and part, and still holdeth
up the price; for occasion (as it is in the common verse) turneth a bald noddle after she hath presented her locks in front, and no hold taken; or, at least, turneth 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 seern 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 be 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 conie 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 begiunings of all great actions to Argos with his hundred eyes, and the ends to Bria