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but then as soon as that was done, and the state settled, instantly he advanced in his expedition against the Parthians.
He was, no doubt, of a very noble mind; but yet such as aimed more at his own particular advancement than at any merits for the common good. For he referred all things to himself; and was the true and perfect centre of all his own actions. By which means, being so fast tied to his ends, he was still prosperous, and prevailed in his purposes; insomuch that neither country, nor religion, nor good turns done him, nor kindred, nor friendship, diverted his appetite, or bridled him from pursuing his own ends. Neither was he much inclined to works of perpetuity: for he established nothing for the future; he founded no sumptuous buildings; he procured to be enacted no wholesome laws; but still minded himself, and so his thoughts were confined within the circle of his own life. He sought indeed after fame and reputation, because he thought they might be profitable to his designs: otherwise, in his inward thoughts, he propounded to himself rather absoluteness of power, than honour and fame. For as for honour and fame, he pursued not after them for themselves; but because they were the instruments of power and greatness. And therefore he was carried on through a natural inclination, not by any rules that be had learned, to affect the sole command; and rather to enjoy the same, than to seem worthy of it. And by this means he won much reputation amongst the people, who are no valuers of true worth: but amongst the nobility and great men, who were tender of their own honours, it procured him no more than this, that he incurred the brand of an ambitious and daring man.
Neither did they much err from the truth who thought him so; for he was by nature exceeding bold; and never did put on any show of modesty, except it were for some purposes. Yet, notwithstanding, he so attempered his boldness, that it neither impeached him of rashness, nor was burthensome to men; nor rendered his nature suspected; but was conceived to flow out of an innate sincerity and freeness of behaviour, and the nobility of his birth: and in all other things he passed, not for a crafty and deceitful person, but for an open-hearted and plain-dealing man. And whereas he was indeed an arch-politician, that could counterfeit and dissemble sufficiently well, and was wholly compounded of frauds and deceits; so that there was nothing sincere in him, but all artificial; yet he covered and disguised himself so, that no such vices appeared to the world; but he was generally reputed to proceed plainly and uprightly with all men. Howbeit, he did not stoop to any petty and mean artifices, as they do, which are ignorant in state employments, and depend not so much upon the strength of their own wits, as upon the counsels and brains of others, to support their authority: for he was skilled in the turnings of all human affairs; and transacted all matters, especially those of high consequence, by himself, and not by others.
He was singularly skilful to avoid envy; and found it not impertinent to his ends, to decline that, though it were with some diminution of his dignity. For aiming at a real power, he was content to pass by all vain pomp and outward shows of power throughout his whole life; till at the last, whether high-flown with the continual exercise of power, or corrupted with flatteries, he affected the ensigns of power (the style and diadem of a king), which was the bait that wrought his overthrow.
This is true, that he harboured the thoughts of a kingdom from his very youth: and hereunto the example of Sylla, and the kindred of Marius, and his emulation of Pompey, and the corruption and ambition of the times, did prick him forward: but then he paved his way to a kingdom, after a wonderful and strange manner. As first, by a popular and seditious power; afterwards, by a military power, and that of a general in war. For there was required to effect his ends—first, that he should break the power and authority of the senate; which, as long as it stood firm, was adverse, and an hindrance, that no man could climb to sovereignty and imperial command. Then the power of Crassus and Pompey was to be subdued and quelled, which could not be done otherwise than by arms. And therefore (as the most cunning contriver of his own fortune) he laid his first foundation by bribes; by corrupting the Courts of Justice; by renewing the memory of Caius Marius, and his party; for most of the senators and nobility were of Sylla's faction: by the law of distributing the fields amongst the common people; by the sedition of the tribunes, where he was the author: by the madness and fury of Catiline, and the conspirators, unto which action he secretly blew the coals! By the banishment of Cicero, which was the greatest blow to the authority of the senate, as might be; and several other the like arts: but most of all by the conjunction of Crassus and Pompey, both betwixt themselves, and with him; which was the thing that finished the work.
Having accomplished this part, he betook himself to the other; which was to make use of, and to enjoy his power. For, being made Proconsul of France for five years, and afterwards continuing it for five years more, he furnished himself with arms and legions, and the power of a warlike and opulent province; as was formidable to Italy.
Neither was he ignorant, that after he had strengthened himself with arms, and a military power, neither Crassus nor Pompey could ever be able to bear up against him; whereof the one trusted to his great riches, the other to his fame and reputation: the one decayed through age, the other in power and authority; and neither of them were grounded upon true and lasting foundations. And the rather, for that he had obliged all the senators and magistrates, and, in a word, all those that had any power in the Commonwealth, so firmly to himself, with private benefits, that he was fearless of any combination or opposition against his designs, till he had openly invaded the imperial power.
Which thing, though he always bare in his mind, and at the last acted it, yet he did not lay down his former person; but coloured things so, that what with the reasonableness of his demands, what with his pretences of peace, and what with the moderate use of his successes, he turned all the envy of the adverse party, and seemed to take up arms upon necessity, for his own preservation and safety. But the falseness of this pretence manifestly appeared; inasmuch as, soon after having obtained