« PreviousContinue »
sad and serious manner, there is not in all the politics a place less handled, and more worthy to be handled, than this of fame. We will, therefore, speak of these points. What are false fames, and what are true fames, and how they may be best discerned; how fames may be sown and raised ; how they may be spread and multiplied ; and how they may be checked and laid dead; and other things concerning the nature of fame. Fame is of that force, as there is scarcely any great action wherein it hath not a great part, especially in the war. Mucianus undid Vitellius by a fame that he scattered, that Vitellius had in purpose to remove the legions of Syria into Germany, and the legions of Germany into Syria ; whereupon the legions of Syria were infinitely inflamed. Julius Cæsar took Pompey unprovided, and laid asleep his industry and preparations by a fame that he cunningly gave out, how Cæsar's own soldiers loved him not; and being wearied with the wars, and laden with the spoils of Gaul, would forsake him as soon as he came into Italy.2 Livia settled all things for the succession of her son Tiberius, by continually giving out that her husband Augustus was upon recovery and amendment; 8 and it is a usual thing with the bashaws to conceal the death of the Grand Turk from the janizaries and men of war, to save the sacking of Constantinople, and other towns, as their manner is. Themistocles made Xerxes, king of Persia, post apace out of Græcia, by giving out that the Grecians had a purpose to break his bridge of ships which he had made aihwart Hellespont. There be a thousand such
1 Tac. Hist. ii. 80.
2 Cæs. de Bell. Civ. i. 6.
like examples, and the more they are, the less they need to be repeated, because a man meeteth with them everywhere; therefore, let all wise governors have as great a watch and care over fames, as they have of the actions and designs themselves.
II.—OF A KING. 1. A KING is a mortal God on earth, unto whom the living God hath lent his own name as a great honor ; but withal told him, he should die like a man, lest he should be proud and flatter himself, that God hath, with his name, imparted unto him his nature also.
2. Of all kind of men, God is the least beholden unto them; for he doth most for them, and they do, ordinarily, least for him.
3. A king that would not feel his crown too heavy for him, must wear it every day ; but if he think it too light, he knoweth not of what metal it is made.
4. He must make religion the rule of government, and not to balance the scale ; for he that casteth in religion only to make the scales even, his own weight is contained in those characters : “ Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin : He is found too light, his kingdom shall be taken from him.”
5. And that king that holds not religion the best reason of state, is void of all piety and justice, the supporters of a king.
6. He must be able to give counsel himself, but not rely thereupon; for though happy events justify their counsels, yet it is better that the evil event of
good advice be rather imputed to a subject than a sovereign.
7. He is the fountain of honor, which should not run with a waste-pipe, lest the courtiers sell the water, and then, as Papists say of their holy wells, it loses the virtue.
8. He is the life of the law, not only as he is Lex loquens himself, but because he animateth the dead letter, making it active towards all his subjects premio et pæna.
9. A wise king must do less in altering his laws than he may; for new government is ever dangerous. It being true in the body politic, as in the corporal, that omnis subita immutatio est periculosa; and though it be for the better, yet it is not without a fearful apprehension ; for he that changeth the fundamental laws of a kingdom, thinketh there is no good title to a crown, but by conquest.
10. A king that setteth to sale seats of justice, oppresseth the people; for he teacheth his judges to sell justice; and pretio parata pretio venditur justitia.
11. Bounty and magnificence are virtues very regal, but a prodigal king is nearer a tyrant than a parsimonions ; for store at home draweth not his contemplations abroad, but want supplieth itself of what is next, and many times the next way. A king therein must be wise, and know what he may justly do.
12. That king which is not feared, is not loved ; and he that is well seen in his craft, must as well study to be feared as loved; yet not loved for fear, but feared for love.
13. Therefore, as he must always resemble Him whose great name he beareth, and that as in manifesting the sweet influence of his mercy 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 fill] 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 overstrained to any one particular; yet that his more especial favor 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 but to him infelix 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 seram poenitentiam.
Fifthly, that infidelis prudentia be not his secretary; for that is anguis sub viridi herba.
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 honoreth him not is next an athea ist, wanting the fear of God in his heart.
III.—ON DEATH. 1. I HAVE often thought upon death, and I find it the least of all evils. All that which is past is as a dream ; and he that hopes or depends upon time coming, dreams waking. So much of our life as we have discovered is already dead; and all those hours which we share, even from the breasts of our mothers, until we return to our grandmother the earth, are part of our dying days, whereof even this is one, and those that succeed are of the same nature, for we die daily; and, as others have given place to us, so we must, in the end, give way to others.
2. Physicians, in the name of death, include all sorrow, anguish, disease, calamity, or whatsoever can fall in the life of man, either grievous or unwelcome. But these things are familiar unto us, and we suffer them every hour; therefore we die daily, and I am older since I affirmed it.
3. I know many wise men that fear to die, for the change is bitter, and flesh would refuse to prove it; besides, the expectation brings terror, and that exceeds the evil. But I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death; and such are my hopes, that if Heaven be pleased, and nature renew but my lease for twenty-one years more, without asking longer days, I shall be strong enough to acknowledge without mourning, that I was begotten mortal. Virtue walks not in the highway, though she go per alta ; this is strength and the blood to virtue, to contemn things that be desired, and to neglect that which is feared.
4. Why should man be in love with his fetters, though of gold ? Art thou drowned in security ? Then I say thou art perfectly dead. For though