« PreviousContinue »
camped upon a hill with 400,000 men, discovered the army of the Romans, being not above 14,000 marching towards him, he made himself merry with it, and said, “ Yonder men are too many for an embassage, and too few for a fight:" but before the sun set, he found them enough to give him the chase with intinite slaughter. Many are the examples of great odds between number and courage ; so that a man may truly make a judgment, that the principal point of Greatness in any State, is, to have a race of military men.
Neither is money the sinews of war (as it is trivially said), where the sinews of men's arms in base and effeminate people are failing. For Solon said well to Croesus, (when in ostentation he showed him his gold) “Sir, if any other come,
that hath better iron than you, he will be master of all this gold.” Therefore let any Prince or State think soberly of his forces, except his militia of natives be of good and valiant soldiers. And let princes on the other side, that have subjects of martial disposition, know their own strength, unless they be otherwise wanting unto themselves. As for mercenary forces (which is the help in this case), all examples show, that whatsoever Estate or Prince doth rest upon them," he may spread his feathers for a time, but he will mew them soon after." T'he blessing of Juda and Isachar will never
meet, That the same people or nation should be both the lion's whelp, and ass between burthens :" neither will it be, that a people over-laid with taxes, should ever become valiant and martial. It is true, that taxes levied by consent of the state, do abate men's courage less, as it hath been seen notably in the excises of the Low Countries; and in some degree, in the subsidies of England: for you must note, that we speak now of the heart, and not of
So that although the same tribute and tax, laid by consent, or by imposing, be all one to the purse, yet it works diversely upon the courage: so that you may conclude, “that no people overcharged with tribute, is fit for empire."
Let States that aim at Greatness take heed how their nobility and gentlemen do multiply too fast. For that maketh the common subject grow to be a peasant, and base swain, driven out of heart, and in effect but a gentleman's labourer : even as you may see in coppice woods. “ If you leave your staddles too thick, you shall never have clean underwood, but shrubs and bushes.” So in countries, if the gentlemen be too many, the commons will be base : and you will bring it to that, that not the hundred poll will be fit for an helmet; especially as to the infantry, which is the nerve of an army: and so there will be great population and little strength. This which I speak of, hath been no where better
seen, than by comparing of England and France ; whereof England, though far less in territory and population, hath been nevertheless an overmatch; in regard the middle people of England make good soldiers, which the peasants of France do not. And herein the device of King Henry the Seventh (whereof I have spoken largely in the history of his life) was profound and admirable, in making farms and houses of husbandry, of a standard ; that is, maintained with such a proportion of land unto them, as may breed a subject to live in convenient plenty, and no servile condition; and to keep the plough in the hands of the owners and not mere hirelings.' And thus indeed you shall attain to Virgil's character which he gives to ancient Italy:
“A land powerful in arms, air formed for fertility of soil.”
Neither is that state (which, for any thing I know, is almost peculiar to England, and hardly to be found any where else, except it be perhaps in Poland) to'be passed over-I mean the state of free servants and attendants upon noblemen and gentlemen, which are no ways inferior to the yeomanry for arms: and therefore, out of all question, the splendour and magnificence, and great retinues, and hospitality of noblemen and gentlemen received into custom, doth much conduce unto martial great
ness : whereas, contrariwise, the close and reserved living of noblemen and gentlemen, causeth a penury of military forces.
By all means it is to be procured, that the trunk of Nebuchadnezzar's tree of monarchy be great enough to bear the branches and the boughs; that is, that the natural subjects of the Crown or State bear a sufficient proportion to the stranger subjects that they govern. Therefore all States that are liberal of naturalization towards strangers, are fit for empire. For to think that a handful people can, with the greatest courage and policy in the world, embrace too large extent of dominion, it may hold for a time, but it will fail suddenly. The Spartans were a nice people in point of naturalization; whereby, while they kept their compass, they stood firm ; but when they did spread, and their boughs were become too great for their stem, they became a windfall upon the sudden. state was in this point so open to receive strangers into their body, as were the Romans; therefore it sorteth with them accordingly, for they grew to the greatest monarchy. Their manner was to grant naturalization (which they called “ the right or freedom of the city'), and to grant it in the highest degree; that is, not only " the right of exercising commerce, the right of marrying a citizen, the right of inheritance," but also the right of voting,"
and “ the right of receiving honours.” And this not to singular persons alone, but likewise to whole families; yea, tu cities, and sometimes to nations. Add to this their custom of plantation of colonies, whereby the Roman plant was removed into the soil of other nations; and putting both constitutions together, you will say, that it was not the Roinạns that spread upon the world, but it was the world that spread upon the Romans; and that was the sure way of Greatness. I have marvelled sometimes at Spain, how they clasp and contain so large dominions with so few natural Spaniards: but sure the whole compass of Spain is very great body a tree, far above Rome and Sparta at the first: and besides, though they have not had that usage to naturalize liberally, yet they have that which is next to it; that is, to employ, almost indifferently, all nations in their militia of ordinary soldiers : yea, and sometimes in their highest commands. Nay, it seemeth at this instant, they are sensible of this want of natives, as by the Pragmatical Sanction, pow published, appeareth.
It is certain, that sedentary and within-door arts, and delicate manufactures, (that require rather the finger, than the arm) bave in their nature a contrariety to a military disposition. And generally all warlike people are a little idle, and love danger better than travail : neither inust they be too much