Page images
PDF
EPUB

which commonly is done when the people is the reformer.

XVIII. OF TRAVEL.

Travel in the younger sort is a part of education; in the elder a part of experience. He that travelled! into a country before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel. That young men travel under some tutor or grave servant, I allow well j so that he be such a one that hath the language, and hath been in the country before; whereby he may be able to tell them what things are worthy to be seen in the country where they go, what acquaintances they are to seek, what exercises or discipline the place yieldeth. For else young men shall go hooded, and look abroad little. It is a strange thing, that in sea-voyages, where there is nothing to be seen but sky and sea, men should make diaries ; but in land-travel, wherein so much is to be observed, for the most part they omit it; as if chance were fitter to be registered than observation. Let diaries therefore be brought in me. The things to be seen and observed are: the courts of princes, especially when they give audience to ambassadors; the courts of justice while they sit and hear causes: and so of consistories ecclesiastic: the churches and monasteries, with the monuments which are therein extant: the walls and fortifications of cities and towns, and so the havens and harbours: antiquities and ruins; libraries, colleges, disputations, and lectures, where any are; shipping and navies; houses, and gardens of state and pleasure near great cities; armories, arsenals, magazines, exchanges, burses, warehouses, exercises of horsemanship, fencing, training of soldiers, and the like; comedies, such whereunto the better sort of persons do resort; treasuries of jewels and robes, cabinets and rarities: and to conclude, whatsoever is memorable in the places where they go. After all which, the tutors or servants ought to make diligent inquiry. As for triumphs, masks, feasts, weddings, funerals, capital executions, and such shows, men need not to be put in mind of them; yet are they not to be neglected. If you will have a young man to put his travel into a little room, and in short time to gather much, this you must do; first, as was said, he must have some entrance into the language before he goeth. Then he must have such a servant, or tutor, as knoweth the country, as was likewise said. Let him carry with him also some card or book describing the country where he travelleth, which will be a good key to his inquiry. Let him keep also a diary. Let him not stay long in one city or town; more or less as the place deserveth, but not long: toy, when he stayeth in one city or town, let him change his lodging from one end and part of the town to another, which is a great adamant of acquaintance. Let him sequester himself from the company of hi6 countrymen, and diet in such places *here there is good company of the nation where he travelleth. Let him, upon his removes from one place to another, procure recommendation to some person of quality residing in the place whither he

removeth ; that he may use his favour in those things he desireth to see or know. Thus he may abridge his travel with much profit. As for the acquaintance which is to be sought in travel, that which is most of all profitable, is acquaintance with the secretaries and employed men of ambassadors; for so in travelling in one country, he shall suck the experience of many. Let him also see and visit eminent persons in all kinds, which are of great name abroad; that he may be able to tell how the life agreeth with the fame. For quarrels, they are with care and discretion to be avoided: they are commonly for mistresses, healths, place, and words. And let a man beware how he keepeth company with choleric and quarrelsome persons; for they will engage him into their own quarrels. When a traveller returneth home, let him not leave the countries where he hath travelled altogether behind him; but maintain a correspondence by letters with those of his acquaintance which are of most worth. And let his travel appear rather in his discourse than in his apparel or gesture; and in his discourse, let him be rather advised in his answers than forward to tell stories: and let it appear that he doth not change his country manners for those of foreign parts; but only prick in some flowers of that he hath learned abroad, into the customs of his own country.

XIX. OF EMPIRE.

It is a miserable state of mind to have few things to desire, and many things to fear: and yet that commonly is the case of kings, who being at the highest, want matter of desire, which makes their minds more languishing: and have many representations of perils and shadows, which make their minds the less clear. And this is one reason also of that effect which the Scripture speaketh of, "that the king's heart is inscrutable." For multitude of jealousies, and lack of some predominant desire, that should marshal and put in order all the rest, maketh any man's heart hard to find or sound. Hence it comes likewise, that princes many times make themselves desires, and set their hearts upon toys; sometimes upon a building; sometimes upon erecting of an order; sometimes upon the advancing of a person; sometimes upon obtaining excellency in some art, or feat of the hand; as Nero for playing on the harp; Domitian for certainty of the hand with the arrow; Commodus for playing at fence; Caracalla for driving chariots; and the like. This seemeth incredible unto those that know not the principle, That the mind of man is more cheered and refreshed by profiting in small things, than by standing at a stay in great. We see also, that kings that have been fortunate conquerors in their first years, it being not possible for them to go forward infinitely, but that they must have some check or arrest in their fortunes, turn in their latter years to be superstitious and melancholy: as did Alexander the Great, Dioclesian, and in our memory Charles the Fifth, and others; for he that is used to go forward, and findeth a stop, fnlleth out of his own favour, and is not the thing he was.

To speak now of the true temper of empire: it is a thing rare and hard to keep; for both temper and distemper consist of contraries. But it is one thing to mingle contraries, another to interchange them. The answer of Apollonius to Vespasian is full of exrellent instruction: Vespasian asked him, what was Nero's overthrow P He answered, Nero could touch and tune the harp well, but in government sometimes he used to wind the pins too high, sometimes to let them down too low. And certain it is, that nothing destroyeth authority so much as the unequal and untimely interchange of power pressed too far, and relaxed too much.

This is true, that the wisdom of all these latter times, in princes' affairs, is rather fine deliveries, and shiftings of dangers and mischiefs, when they are near; than solid and grounded courses to keep them aloof. But this is but to try masteries with fortune: and let men beware how they neglect and suffer matter of trouble to be prepared; for no man can forbid the spark, nor tell whence it may come. The difficulties in princes' business are many and great; but the greatest difficulty is often in their own mind. For it is common with princes, saith Tacitus, to will contradictories. "Sunt plerumque regum volnntates vehementes, et inter se contrarite." For it is the solecism of power, to think to command the end, and yet not to endure the mean.

Kings have to deal with their neighbours; their wives; their children; their prelates or clergy; their nobles; their second nobles or gentlemen; their merchants; their commons; and their men of war; and from all these arise dangers, if care and circumspection be not used.

First, for their neighbours, there can no general rule be given, the occasions are so variable, save one, which ever holdeth; which is, that princes do keep due sentinel, that none of their neighbours do overgrow so, by increase of territory, by embracing of trade, by approaches, or the like, as they become more able to annoy them, than they were. And this is generally the work of standing counsels, to foresee and to hinder it. During that triumvirate of kings, King Henry the Eighth, of England; Francis the First, king of France; and Charles the Fifth, emperor, there was such a watch kept, that none of the three could win a palm of ground, but the other two would straightways balance it. either by confederation, or if need were by a war: and would not in any wise take up peace at interest. And the like was done by that league, which, Guiceiardine saith, was the security of Italy, made between Ferdinando, king of Naples; Lorenzins Medices, and Ludovicul Sforza, potentates, the one of Florence, the other of Milan. Neither is the opinion of some of the schoolmen to be received, that a war cannot justly be made but upon a precedent injury, or provocation. For there is no question but a just fear of an imminent danger, though there be no blow given, is a lawful cause of a war.

For their wives, there are cruel examples of them. Livia is infamed for the poisoning of her husband; Koxolana, Solyman's wife, was the destruction of that renowned prince, Sultan Mustnpha; and other

wise troubled his house and succession : Edward the second of England his queen had the principal hand in the deposing and murder of her husband. This kind of danger is then to be feared, chiefly, when the wives have plots for the raising their own children, or else that they be advowtresses.

For their children: the tragedies likewise of the dangers from them have been many: and generally, the entering of the fathers into suspicion of their children hath been ever unfortunate. The destruction of Mustapha, that we named before, was so fatal to Solyman's line, as the succession of the Turks, from Solyman until this day, is suspected to be untrue, and of strange blood; for that Solymus the second was thought to be supposititious. The destruction of Crispus, a young prince of rare towardness, by Constantius the Great, his father, was in like manner fatal to his house ; for both C'onstantinus and Constans, his sons, died violent deaths; and Constantinus his other son did little better; who died indeed of sickness, but after that Julianus had taken arms against him. The destruction of Demetrius, son to Philip the second of Maccdon, turned upon the father, who died of repentance. And many like examples there are ; but fewornone where the fathers had good by such distrust, except it were where the sons were up in open arms against them; as was Solymus the first against Bajazet: and the three sons of Henry the Second, king of England.

For their prelates, when they are proud and great, there is also danger from them: as it was in the times of Anselmus and Thomas Becket, archbishops of Canterbury, who with their crosiers did almost try it with the king's sword; and yet they had to deal with stout and haughty kings, William Hufus, Henry the first, and Henry the second. The danger i3 not from that state, but where it hath a dependence of foreign authority; or where the churchmen come in, and are elected, not by the collation of the king or particular patrons, but hjr the people.

For their nobles; to keep them at a distance it is not amiss; but to depress them, may make a king more absolute, but less safe; and less able to perform any thing that he desires. I have noted it in my " History of king Henry the seventh of England," who depressed his nobility; whereupon it came to pass that his times were full of difficulties and troubles: for the nobility, though they continued loyal unto him, yet did they not co-operate with him in his business. So that in effect he was fain to do all things himself.

For their second nobles; there is not much danger from them, being a body dispersed. They may sometimes discourse high, but that doth little hurt: besides, they are a counterpoise to the higher nobility, that they grow not too potent: and lastly, being the most immediate in authority with the common people, they do best temper popular commotions.

For their merchants, they are vena porta; and if they flourish not. a kingdom may have good limbs, but will have empty veins, and nourish little. Taxes and imposts upon them do seldom good lo the king's revenue, for that that he wins in the hundred, he loseth in the shire j the particular rates being increased, but the total bulk of trading rather decreased.

For their commons, there is little danger from them, except it be where they have great and potent heads; or where you meddle with the point of religion, or their customs, or means of life.

For their men of war, it is a dangerous state where they live and remain in a body, and are used to donatives, whereof we see examples in the janizaries,.and pretorian bauds of Rome; but trainings of men, and arming them in several places, and under several commanders, and without donatives, are things of defence and no danger.

Princes are like to heavenly bodies, which cause good or evil times; and which have much veneration, but no rest. All precepts concerning kings are in effect comprehended in those two remembrances: "Memento quod es homo;" and "Memento quod es Deus," or "vice Dei:" the one bridleth their power, and the other their will.

XX. OF COUNSEL.

The greatest trust between man and man is the trust of giving counsel. For in other confidences, men commit the parts of life; their lands, their goods, their children, their credit, some particular affair; but to such as they make their counsellors, they commit the whole: by how much the more tliey are obliged to all faith and integrity. The wisest princes need not think it any diminution to their greatness, or derogation to their sufficiency, to rely upon counsel. God himself is not without: lut hath made it one of the great names of his Uessed Son, •' the Counsellor." Solomon hath pronounced, that "in counsel is stability." Things will have their first or second agitation; if they be not tossed upon the arguments of counsel, they will be tossed upon the waves of fortune; and be full of inconstancy, doing and undoing, like the reeling of a drunken man. Solomon's son found the force of counsel, as his father saw the necessity of it. For the beloved kingdom of God was first rent and broken by ill counsel; upon which counsel there are set, for our instruction, the two marks whereby bad counsel is for ever best discerned: that it was young counsel, for the persons; and violent counsel, for the matter.

The ancient times do set forth in figure both the incorporation and inseparable conjunction of counsel with kings, and the wise and politic use of counsel by kings: the one, in that they say Jupiter did marry Metis, which signifieth counsel; whereby they intend, that sovereignty is married to counsel; the other in that which followeth, which was thus: they say after Jupiter was married to Metis, she conxcived by him, and was with child, but Jupiter Buffered her not to stay till she brought forth, but eat her up; whereby he became himself with child, and was delivered of Pallas armed out of his head. Which monstrous fuble containelh a secret of em

pire; how kings are to make use of their council of state: that, first, they ought to refer matters unto them, which is the first begetting or impregnation j but when they are elaborate, moulded and shaped in the womb of their council, and grow ripe and ready to be brought forth, that then they suffer not their council to go through witli the resolution and direction, as if it depended on them; but take the matter back into their own hands, and make it appear to the world, that the decrees and final directions, which, because they come forth with prudence and power, are resembled to Pallas armed, proceeded from themselves, and not only from their authority, but, the more to add reputation to themselves, from their head and device.

Let us now speak of the inconveniences of counsel, and of the remedies. The inconveniences that have been noted in calling and using counsel are three. First, the revealing of affairs, whereby they become less secret. Secondly, the weakening of the authority of princes, as if they were less of themselves. Thirdly, the danger of being unfaithfully counselled, and more for the good of them that counsel, than of him that is counselled. For which inconveniences the doctrine of Italy, and practice of France, in some kings' times, hath introduced cabinet councils: a remedy worse than the disease.

As to secrecy, princes are bound to communicate all matters with all counsellors, but may extract and select. Neither is it necessary, that he that consulleth what he should do, should declare what he will do. But let princes beware, that the unsecreting of their affairs conies 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 do more hurt than many 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 tw o persons besides 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 weakening of authority, the fable showcth 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 dependences by his council, except where there hath been either an over-greatness in one counsellor, or an over-strict 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 do 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 noaae suos."

And on the other side, counsellors should not be too speculative into their sovereign's person. The true composition of a counsellor is rather to be skilful in their 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 more free, but opinion before others is more reverent. In private, 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 or 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, specially 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 council. It were better, that in causes of weight the matter were propounded one day, and not spoken to till the 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 persons, 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 providences; 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, mint-men, 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 ow n inclination too much in that which he propoundeth: for else counsellors will but take the wind of him, and instead of giving free counsel, sing him a song of Placebo.

XXI. OF DELAYS.

Fortune is like the market, where many times if you can stay a little, the price will fall. And again, it is sometimes 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 welMo time the beginnings and onsets of things. Dangers are no more light, if they once seem 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 he 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 come 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 beginnings of all great actions to Argus with his hundred eyes, and the ends to Briareus with his hundred hands; first to watch, and then to speed. For the helmet of Pluto, which maketh the politic man go invisible, is secrecy in the counsel, and celerity in the execution. For when things are once come to the execution, there is no secrecy comparable to celerity; like the motion of a bullet in the air, which flieth so swift as it outruns the eye.

XXII. OF CUNNING.

We take cunning for a sinister or crooked wisdom. And certainly there is great difference between a cunning man and a wise man; not only in point of honesty, but in point of ability. There be that can pack the cards, and yet cannot play well; so there are some that are good in canvasses and factions, that are otherwise weak men. Again, it is one thing to understand persons, and another thing to understand matters; for.many are perfect in men's humours, that are not greatly capable of the real part of business; which is the constitution of one that hath studied men more than books. Such men are fitter for practice than for counsel; and they arc good but in their own alley: turn them to new mea and they have lust their aim: so as the old rule to know a fool from a wise man, "Mitte ambos nndos ad ignotos, et videbis," doth scarce hold for them. And because these cunning men are like haberdashers of small wares, it is not amiss to set forth their shop.

It is a point of cunning, to wait upon him with whom you speak with your eye; as the Jesuits give it in precept; for there be many wise men that have secret hearts and transparent countenances. Yet this would be done with a demure abasing of your eye sometimes, as the Jesuits also do use.

Another is, that when you have any thing to obtain of present despatch, you entertain and amuse the party with whom you deal with some other discourse; that he be not too much awake to make objections. I knew a counsellor and secretary, that never came to queen Elizabeth of England with bills to sign, but he would always first put her into some discourse of estate, that she might the less mind the bills.

The like surprise may be made by moving things when the party is in haste, and cannot stay to consider advisedly of that is moved.

If a man would cross a business, that he doubts some other would handsomely and effectually move, let him pretend to wish it well, and move it himself in such sort as may foil it.

The breaking off in the midst of that one was about to say, as if he took himself up, breeds a greater appetite in him with whom you confer, to know more.

And because it works better when any thing seemeth to be gotten from you by question, than if you offer it of yourself, yon may lay a bait for a question, by showing another visage and countenance than you are wont; to the end to give occasion for the party to ask what the matter is of the change; as Nehemiah did, "And I had not before that time been sad before the king."

In things that are tender and unpleasing, it is good to break the ice by some whose words are of less weight, and to reserve the more weighty voice to come in as by chance, so that he may be asked the question upon the other's speech; as Narcissus did, in relating to Claudius the marriage of Messalina and Silius.

In things that a man would not be seen in himself, it is a point of cunning to borrow the name of the world; as to say, The world says, or, There is a speech abroad.

I knew one, that when he wrote a letter, he would put that which was most material in the postscript, as if it had been a bye-matter.

I knew another that, when he came to have speech, he would pass over that that he intended most; and go forth, and come back again, and speak of it as of a thing that he had almost forgot.

Some procure themselves to be surprised at such times, as it is like the party that they work upon will suddenly come upon them; and to be found with a letter in their hand, or doing somewhat which they are not accustomed; to the end they may be

apposed of those things, which of themselves they are desirous to utter.

It is a point of cunning to let fall those words in a man's own name, which he would have another man learn and use, and thereupon take advantage. I knew two that were competitors for the secretary's place in queen Elizabeth's time, and yet kept good quarter between themselves, and would confer one with another upon the business; and the one of them said, that to be a secretary in the declination of a monarchy was a ticklish thing, and that he did not affect it: the other straight caught up those words, and discoursed with divers of his friends, that he had no reason to desire to be secretary in the declination of a monarchy. The first man took hold of it, and found means it was told the queen; who hearing of a declination of monarchy, took it so ill, as she would never after hear of the other's suit.

There is a cunning which we in England call, the turning of the cat in the pan; which is, when that which a man says to another, he lays it as if another had said it to him; and to say truth, it is not easy, when such a matter passed between two, to make it appear from which of them it first moved and began.

It is a way that some men have, to glance and dart at others, by justifying themselves by negatives; as to say, This I do not: as Tigellinus did towards Burrhus, "se non diversas spes, sed incolumitatem iraperatoris simpliciter spectare."

Some have in readiness so many tales and stories, as there is nothing they would insinuate, but they can wrap it into a tale; which serveth both to keep themselves more in guard, and to make others carry it with more pleasure.

It is a good point of cunning, for a man to shape the answer he would have in his own words and propositions; for it makes the other party slick the less.

It is strange how long some men will lie in wait to speak somewhat they desire to say; and how far about they will fetch, and how many other matters they will beat over to come near it; it is a thing of great patience, but yet of much use.

A sudden, bold, and unexpected question, doth many times surprise a man, and lay him open. Like to him, that having changed his name, and walking in Paul's, another suddenly came behind him, and called him by his true name, whereat straiglitways he looked back.

But these small wares and petty points of cunning are infinite, and it were a good deed to make a list of them; for that nothing doth more hurt in a state, than that cunning men pass for wise.

But certainly some there are that know the resorts and falls of business, that cannot sink into the main of it; like a house that hath convenient stairs and entries, but never a fair room. Therefore you shall see them find out pretty looses in the conclusion, but are no ways able to examine or debate matters. And yet commonly they take advantage of their inability, and would be thought wits of direction. Some build rather upon the abusing of others, and, as we now say, putting tricks upon them, than upon soundness

« PreviousContinue »