1. When one surveys all the various forms of government, without partiality for one's own country, one does not know which to approve of; there are better and worse features in all of them. The most reasonable and the safest attitude is to consider that under which one was born the best of all, and to submit to it.
2. Neither art nor science are needed to practise tyranny, and the policy which consists merely in shedding blood is unintelligent and lacks all subtlety; it encourages us to kill those whose life is an obstacle to our ambition, which a man born cruel does without difficulty. This is the most horrible and the crudest way of maintaining or extending one's power.
3. It is an old and well-tried policy of States to let their people be lulled amid festivities and entertainments, luxury, pomp and pleasure, vanity and indolence; to let them satisfy themselves with emptiness and relish frivolity; by means of which indulgence, what great strides are made towards despotism!
4. Under a despot, patriotism does not exist; other things take its place: self-interest, fame, the service of the ruler.
5.Any attempt to introduce change and innovation into a State must consider not so much the measures themselves as the timing of them. There are circumstances under which one is aware that one dare not attempt too much against the people; and others in which it is clear that one must not spare them too much. Today you may deprive a certain city of its freedom, its rights, its privileges; but tomorrow do not even dream of altering its shop signs!
6.When the populace is excited, one cannot conceive how calm can be restored; and when it is peaceful, one cannot see how calm can be disturbed.
7. There are certain ills in the State which are endured because they avert or prevent greater ills. There are others which are evil only because of the way they have become established, and which, spring ing originally from some abuse or undesirable custom, are less harmful in their consequences and in practice than a juster law or a more rational tradition. There are some sorts of ill which can be corrected by change or innovation, yet this is in itself an ill, and a very dangerous one. There are other sorts which are hidden and buried deep like filth in a cesspool, I mean they are shrouded in shame, secrecy and darkness; they cannot be probed and disturbed without exhaling poison and infamy; the wisest men sometimes doubt whether it is better to know these ills or to remain ignorant of them. A State must sometimes tolerate an evil of some magnitude, when it averts a million petty ills or misfortunes which would all be inevitable and irremediable. There are some ills of which every individual complains, which nevertheless are in the public interest, even though the public consists of all these individuals. There are personal ills which contribute to the well-being and advantage of each family. There are others which afflict, ruin or dishonour particular families, but which tend to the well-being and safety of the State and of the machinery of government. Other ills overthrow States, and on their ruins build up new States. And others again have been known to undermine the foundations of great empires and make them vanish from the earth, so as to vary and renew the face of the universe.
8. Of what advantage is it to the State for Ergastus to be rich, to have a lively pack of hounds, to set the fashion in carriages and in dress and to enjoy an abundance of unnecessary things? Where the interest and welfare of the people are concerned, does the individual count? Nations can more easily endure slight burdens by knowing that these relieve their ruler, or enrich only him; they do not feel beholden to Ergastus for improving his own fortune.
9. War has its antiquity in its favour; it has existed throughout the ages, for ever filling the world with widows and orphans, depriving families of their heirs and slaying brothers in a single battle. Young Soyecourt! I mourn the loss of your virtue, your modesty, your mind which was already mature, penetrating, lofty and sociable; I grieve at this untimely death which unites you with your intrepid brother and snatches you from that Court at which you had made so brief an appearance: a dreadful misfortune, but a common one! In all ages men, for the sake of some small patch of ground, have agreed among themselves to despoil each other, to burn, slay, slaughter one another; and to do this more ingeniously and more surely, they have invented fine rules which are known as the art of war, and with the practice of which they have associated glory or an enduring reputation; and ever since, from one century to the next, they have been improving their methods of mutual destruction. The injustice of our primitive forefathers was the sole source of war, and of the necessity under which they found themselves to acquire rulers who would fix their rights and their claims. If man, content with what he had got, had been able to abstain from seizing his neighbour's possessions, he would for ever have enjoyed peace and liberty.
10. People living peacefully at home, in the bosom of their families, and in the shelter of a great city where they have nothing to fear either for their property or for their life, breathe fire and bloodshed, think only of wars, ruins, burnings and massacres, fret impatiently if the armies in the field fail to encounter one another, or if, once face to face, they do not join battle, or if, when at last they clash, the battle is not bloody enough and there are less than ten thousand men en-gaged. These people even go so far as to forget their most precious interests, peace and security, in their passion for change and their delight in strange or sensational things. Some would be willing to see the enemy once again at the gates of Dijon or Corbie, to see chains and barricades set up, for the sole pleasure of telling or hearing the news.
11. Demophilus, on my right hand, laments, crying: 'All is lost, the State is done for; at any rate it's on the road to ruin. How can we hope to resist so powerful and so general a coalition? By what means can we withstand so many mighty enemies unaided, let alone conquer them?' There has never been anything like this in our kingdom's history; a hero, Achilles himself, would succumb. He then refers enthusiastically to Olivier le Daim and Jacques Coeur. 'Those were real men,' he says, 'real statesmen.' He next retails his news, which is the gloomiest and most disastrous conceivable: now, part of our army has been lured into an ambush and cut to pieces; now, a number of troops besieged in a castle have surrendered unconditionally to the enemy and have been put to the sword; and if you tell him that the rumour is unconfirmed and untrue, he does not listen to you, he adds that General So-and-so has been killed, and although the truth is that this general is only slightly wounded, and you assure him of this, he laments his death, he expresses pity for the widow, the children, the State and for himself: he has lost a good friend and a powerful protector. He says that the German cavalry is invincible; he turns pale at the mere mention of the Emperor's cuirassiers.
'If they attack such and such a place,' he goes on, 'they'll raise the siege. Either we shall stay on the defensive without joining battle; or if we fight, we're bound to lose; and if we lose, the enemy's at our gates.'
Demophilus lends that enemy wings to reach the heart of the kingdom; he hears the warning bells of cities ring out, and cries of alarm; he worries about his goods and his lands; where is he to take his money, his belongings, his family? where shall he take refuge? in Switzerland or in Venice?
But on my left hand, Basilides has suddenly raised an army of three hundred thousand men; he won't concede a single brigade; he has the list of squadrons and battalions, of generals and officers; he hasn't forgotten the guns or the impedimenta. He has complete control of all these troops; he sends so many to Germany, so many to Flanders; he reserves a certain number for the Alps, rather fewer for the Pyrenees, and sends what he has left across the seas. He knows how all these armies will march, what they will do and what they won't do; you'd think he enjoyed the monarch's or the Minister's confidence. If the enemy have just lost a battle where some nine or ten thousand of their men have been left on the field, he reckons thirty thousand, neither more nor less; for his figures are always definite and certain, as befits a well-informcd man. If he learns one morning that we have lost some paltry village, not only does he promptly put off the friends he had previously invited to dinner, but he himself does not dine that day, and if he eats supper, he has no appetite for it. Should our troops be laying siege to a strong, regularly fortified place, well stocked with provisions and munitions, having a stout garrison with a courageous commander, he declares that this town is, in places, weak and inadequately fortified, that it is short of powder, that its governor lacks experience and that it will capitulate after a week of entrenched siege. Another time he rushes up panting excitedly, and after pausing to take breath, he declares:
'Here's wonderful news: they're defeated, we've beaten them hollow; the general, the officers, most of them at least, are all killed, they've been wiped out. It's been a great massacre,' he goes on, 'and you must admit that we've played a very clever game.'
He sits down and takes a deep breath after telling his news, the only thing wrong with which is that there has certainly not been any battle. He declares, moreover, that such and such a prince has given up the League and deserted his confederates, and that another is preparing to follow the same course; he firmly believes the popular rumour that a third is dead: he can tell you the place where he is buried; and when people are undeceived, in market places and in the back streets, he still maintains that it is so. He has it from a reliable authority that T. K. L. is making great progress against the Emperor; that the Grand Signior is powerfully armed, and does not want peace, and that his Vizir is about to appear yet again at the gates of Vienna. He claps his hands and jumps for joy at this event, which he does not doubt. The triple Alliance is a sort of Cerberus to him, the enemy a set of monsters to be destroyed. He talks of nothing but laurels, palms, triumphs and trophies. He says in familiar conversation: Our august Hero, our great Potentate, our invincible Monarch. Try, if you can, to make him say simply:
'The King has many enemies, they are powerful, they are united, they are embittered: he has defeated them, I hope he will always succeed in defeating them.'
Such a style, too firm and positive for Demophilus, is neither pompous nor exaggerated enough for Basilides; his head is full of very different phrases: he is busy composing the inscriptions for the arches and pyramids which are to adorn the capital for a triumphal entry; and as soon as he hears that the armies are face to face, or that a fortress has been invested, he has his robes taken out and hung up to air so that they'll be all ready for the Cathedral ceremony.
12. The crucial issue, in any matter which brings together in one city the plenipotentiaries or agents of Kings and States, must indeed require lengthy and extraordinary discussion, if it is to take up more time not merely than its preliminaries, but than the business of settling rank and precedence, and other ceremonies.
The Minister or plenipotentiary is a chameleon, a Proteus. Sometimes, like a skilful card-player, he betrays neither mood nor temperament, whether so as to give no scope for conjecture nor allow his intentions to be read, or so as to prevent any of his secret thoughts from escaping him in a moment of passion or weakness. Sometimes, again, he knows how to assume the character that best befits the designs he harbours and the critical situation in which he finds himself, and to appear that which it suits his interest to have others think him. Thus, in a powerful position, or in a weak one which he is anxious to disguise, he will be firm and inflexible, to prevent others from wishing to obtain much from him; or he will be compliant, to provide them with opportunities to make requests and to ensure the same licence for himself. On some other occasion, either he will be secretive and impenetrable, to conceal the truth while declaring it, because it is important to him to have said it and not to have had it believed; or else he will be frank and open, so that when he conceals that which must not be discovered, people will none the less imagine that they know all there is to be known, and that he has spoken the whole truth. Again, he may either appear lively and talkative, whether in order to make others talk, or to stop them telling him what he does not wish or is not supposed to know, or to say a great many unimportant things that qualify or contradict one another so as to confuse fear and trust in men's minds, or to cover himself, should he have let slip some opportunity, by putting forward another suggestion; or else, in order to oblige others to talk, he will be cold and taciturn, he will listen at great length and, when he speaks, he will be listened to; he will speak with authority and weight, and his promises or threats will impress and shake men's minds. He will open up and speak first, so that, by discovering the antagonisms, contradictions, intrigues and cabals among foreign ministers concerning the proposals he has made, he can take the necessary steps and be ready with his answer; and on another occasion he will speak last, in order not to speak in vain, to be definite, to know exactly on what he can depend for his own and his allies' interest, to know what he must ask for and what he can obtain. He is adept at speaking in clear, explicit terms; he is even more adept at speaking ambiguously, in an involved manner, at using equivocal words and expressions which he can emphasize or tone down according to the circumstances and his own advantage. He asks for little when he does not wish to give much; he asks for a great deal in order to get a little and to be sure of getting it. He begins by demanding small things, which he afterwards declares are of no consequence, and which do not preclude him from asking for something greater; and he avoids, on the other hand, gaining an important point at the start if it should prevent him from securing several others which are of less consequence but which, taken all together, outweigh the first. He asks too much, in order to be refused, so that he may be entitled by right, or as a point of honour, to refuse that which he knows he will be asked for and is unwilling to grant: taking as much care to exaggerate the enormity of the request, and if possible to secure an admission that he is right not to comply with it, as he does to belittle the arguments advanced for not conceding what he insistently demands; equally concerned with extolling and magnifying in others' minds the small concessions he has made, and with openly disparaging those that are offered to him. He makes spurious proposals, but unexpected ones, which arouse mistrust, and force his opponents to reject what they would gain nothing from accepting, and which meanwhile provide him with an opportunity to make exorbitant requests, and put those that refuse them in the wrong. He grants more than is asked of him, in order to get more than he will give. He resists repeated solicitations, prayers and entreaties over some trivial issue, in order to quench his petitioners' hopes and quell any thought of making more substantial demands; or, should he let himself be persuaded to yield on that point, he invariably lays down conditions which enable him to share the profit and advantage with those to whom he has conceded it. He upholds the interests of an ally, directly or indirectly, if he can further his own aims thereby. He speaks of nothing but peace, alliances, general agreement and the public interest; and in fact he is thinking only of his own interests, that's to say those of his master or his State. At one moment he reconciles some who were hostile to one another, and at another he spreads discord between others who were united. He intimidates the strong and powerful, he encourages the weak. He first brings together in their common interest several weak parties against a stronger one, to make the balance equal; then he joins the former himself in order to tip the scale, and he makes them pay dearly for his protection and friendship. He knows how to bribe those with whom he has dealings; and, by skilful manoeuvring, in shrewd and devious ways he makes them aware of the special advantages, the profit and honour they may hope to gain by a certain compliance which offends neither their mandate nor the intentions of their masters. Nor does he wish to seem proof against such suggestions himself; he lets it be seen that he is not indifferent to his own fortune, by which means he invites proposals that betray to him his rivals' most secret plans, their deepest designs and their ultimate resources; and he turns this to good account. When certain issues are finally settled, if he should be the loser he makes an outcry, if the gainer an even louder one, forcing those he has defeated on to the defensive, in self-justification. His conduct has been planned by the Court, every step he takes is premeditated, the slightest advances he makes are laid down for him; nevertheless he acts, on difficult and controversial issues, as though he were yielding of his own accord, spontaneously, in a spirit of compromise; he even ventures to promise the company that he will get the suggestion approved, without fear of being repudiated. He spreads false rumours as to the extent of his responsibility, being meanwhile armed with special powers which he reveals only as a last resort, and in circumstances when it would be dangerous not to make use of them. His intrigues are always directed towards securing substantial and essential results, to which he is always ready to sacrifice petty details and imaginary points of honour. He is imperturbable, with a fund of courage and patience; untiring himself, he wears out others and drives them to discouragement. He prepares and steels himself to endure delays and postponements, reproaches, suspicions and mistrust, difficulties and obstacles, convinced that time alone, and the course of events, will bring things and lead men's minds to the desired position. He goes so far as to feign a secret interest in having the negotiations broken off, when he most ardently desires to have them continued; and if on the contrary he has explicit orders to interrupt them at all costs, he seeks to attain that end by pressing for their continuation and conclusion. If some great event should occur, his attitude becomes more rigid or more flexible according to whether that event seems favourable or unfavourable to him; and if by dint of great foresight he is able to anticipate it, he urges haste, or temporizes, according to whether the State he works for has more to fear or to hope from it; and the needs of that State determine his conditions. He is guided by considerations of time and place, of circumstances, of his own strength or weakness, of the genius of the nations he is dealing with, the temperament and character of the men with whom he is negotiating. All his plans, all his maxims, all the subtleties of his policy are directed towards a single end, which is not to be taken in, while taking in other people.
13. The national character of the French requires a certain gravity in their ruler.
14. A Prince often suffers from being overburdened with his own secrets, owing to the danger of revealing them: his greatest joy is to meet a reliable confidant who relieves him of them.
15. A King lacks only the delights of private life; he can find consolation for so great a loss only through the charm of friendship and the loyalty of his friends.
16. A King who is worthy of the name takes pleasure in becoming less kingly on occasion, leaving the stage, discarding robe and buskins and playing a more familiar role with somebody he trusts.
17. Nothing does a prince more honour than the unpretentiousness of his favourite.
18. A favourite is a man without dependants; he has no association, no attachment; he may be surrounded by relatives and sycophants, but he is in no way bound to them; he is detached from everything, and lives in isolation.
19. A notable resource for a man who has fallen out of favour with his Prince is to live in retirement. It is to his advantage to disappear, instead of lingering in society clad in the remnants of his lost favour, and playing a very different role from that which he once sustained. In solitude, on the contrary, the glamour of his life will be preserved; dying, so to speak, before decay overtakes him, he will leave of himself only a brilliant image and a delightful memory.
A finer resource for the disgraced favourite than to vanish into seclusion and be heard of no more, would be to earn high praise by flinging himself, if possible, into some lofty and generous enterprise, which would enhance or at least restore his reputation, and justify his former favour; which would make men pity him in his fall, and lay part of the blame for this upon his stars.
20. I have no doubt that a favourite, if he have any strength and nobility of character, must often find himself embarrassed and disconcerted by the baseness, the pettiness, the flattery, the unnecessary solicitude and frivolous attentions of those who pursue him, follow him around and attach themselves to him like contemptible parasites, and that he must make amends to himself in private for such irksome bondage by laughter and mockery.
21. Men in authority, ministers, favourites, will you let me tell you this? do not depend on your descendants to keep your memory green and make your name endure; titles pass away, favour vanishes, dignities are lost, riches are scattered and worth degenerates. You have children who are worthy of you, it is true, who indeed are capable of sustaining your success; but can as much be promised of your grandsons? If you don't believe me, look, just for once, at certain men whom you never look at, whom you despise: they had grandfathers to whom you, great as you are, merely succeed. Acquire virtue and humanity ; and if you ask me: ' What shall we gain thereby?' I shall reply: 'Humanity and virtue.' Then, masters of the future, and independent of your posterity, you are sure of lasting as long as the kingdom; and when there comes a time that men are shown the ruins of your mansions, perhaps merely the site where they once stood, the thought of your praiseworthy deeds will be still fresh in the minds of your countrymen; they will gaze eagerly at your portraits and medallions; they will say:
'This man, whose picture you are looking at, spoke to his master freely and forcefully, and was more afraid of doing him harm than of incurring his displeasure; he enabled him to be good and beneficent, to speak of his cities as My good city, and of his people as My people. This other, whose image you behold, uniting strong features with a grave, austere and majestic air, grows in reputation year by year; the greatest politicians suffer by comparison with him. His great design was to consolidate the prince's authority and the safety of the nation by lessening the power of the great: neither factions nor conspiracies, nor treachery, nor the danger of death, nor his own infirmities could deflect him from it. He found time, as well, to begin a task which was carried on and completed by one of our best and greatest princes, the extinction of heresy.'
22. The subtlest and most specious trap ever laid for great nobles by their business advisers, or for kings by their ministers, is the advice they give them to discharge their debts and get rich. An excellent counsel: a useful, fruitful maxim, a Peruvian goldmine, at least for those who have hitherto succeeded in teaching it to their masters.
23. Subjects are highly fortunate when their prince admits into his confidence, and chooses as his ministers, the very men whom they would have proposed to him had they been empowered to do, so.
24. The study of details, or a diligent attention to the slightest needs of the State, is an essential part of good government, which has in fact been too much neglected of late by kings and ministers, but which cannot be too earnestly wished for in any ruler who lacks it, nor too highly valued in one who possesses it. What can it profit the welfare and happiness of a nation that the prince should establish the bounds of his empire beyond the lands of his enemies, that he should turn their realms into provinces of his kingdom; that he should prevail over them in siege and in battle, and that they should not feel safe from him in the open plain or in the strongest bastion; that nations should appeal to one another and form leagues to protect themselves and check him; that their leagues should fail to check his triumphant progress; that their last hopes should be dashed by the restoration of the King's health, which enables him to enjoy the pleasure of seeing his royal grandsons maintain or advance his fortunes, take the field, capture redoubtable fortresses and conquer fresh States; command veteran and experienced captains, by right less of their birth than of their natural talent and wisdom; follow in the august footsteps of their victorious father, imitate his goodness, his readiness to learn, his equity, his vigilance, his intrepidity? What good, in a word, would it do me or the whole nation, for the prince to be fortunate and crowned with glory, by his own achievements and those of his family, and for my country to be powerful and formidable, if I myself, anxious and unhappy, lived there oppressed or destitute? if, although safe from the inroads of the enemy, I found myself exposed to murderous attacks in the city squares and streets, while darkness brought with it the dread of being robbed and cruelly done to death not in dense forests but at that city's crossroads? if public safety, order and cleanliness had not made life so delightful in our towns, where we enjoy not only abundance but all the pleasures of society; if, weak and unsupported, I lived on my small farm under threat from a powerful neighbour, and if no provision had been made to defend my rights against his outrages; if I had not at my disposal so many teachers, and excellent teachers, to educate my children in the arts and sciences which are to ensure their promotion some day; if the development of commerce had not enabled me to wear clothes of good material and eat wholesome food, and buy these at small cost; if, in short, thanks to the Prince's careful efforts, I were not as satisfied with my own fortunes as he must be, by reason of his virtues, with his own?
25.Eight or ten thousand men are, to a sovereign, like the money with which he buys a fortress or a victory; if he manages to get it for less, if he saves some of his men, he is like the man who bargains and is better aware than another of the value of money.
26. Everything prospers in a kingdom where the interests of the State are identical with those of the Prince.
27. To call a king Father of his people is not so much to praise him as to give him his right name, or to define his function.
28. There is an exchange, or reciprocity, of duties between a sovereign and his subjects: which are the most binding and the most burdensome, I shall not venture to decide. We have to judge between, on the one hand, the strict obligations of respect, succour, service, obedience and dependence, and on the other, the indispensable commitments of goodness, justice, care, defence and protection. To say that a prince is arbiter of men's lives merely means that men, because of their wrongdoing, have naturally had to submit to laws and justice, of which the prince is the depository; to add that he is absolute master of all his subjects' possessions, without discrimination, without argument or account rendered, is the language of flattery, it is the opinion of a Court favourite who will retract his words on his deathbed.
29. When on a fine evening you observe a numerous flock scattered over the hillside, peacefully grazing the wild thyme, or browsing in some meadow on the soft fine grass that has escaped the mower's scythe, the shepherd is standing by his sheep, careful and attentive; he does not let them out of his sight, he follows them, leads them, changes their pasture; if they scatter, he gathers them together; if a hungry wolf appears he unleashes his dog, to drive it away; he feeds his flock, he protects it; dawn finds him out in the fields, and he stays there till sunset; what solicitude, what vigilance, what bondage! Which state seems to you the happier and the freer, the shepherd's or that of his sheep? is the flock made for the shepherd, or the shepherd for his flock? This is a natural picture of a nation and of the prince who governs it, if he is a good prince.
Pomp and luxury in a ruler mean that the shepherd is decked in gold and precious stones, with a golden crook in his hand; his dog wears a golden collar and is fastened with a leash of silk and gold. How can so much gold help his flock, or protect it against the wolves?
30. How fortunately placed is the man who has constant opportunities for doing good to so many thousands! How dangerous is his position, when he runs the continual risk of doing harm to a million!
31. If the most natural, keen and delicious joy available to men on earth is to know themselves loved, and if kings are men, can they ever pay too high a price for the hearts of their subjects?
32. There are few general rules and fixed methods for governing well; time and the circumstances will decide, and it depends on the wisdom and intelligence of those in power; therefore the masterpiece of the human mind would be perfect government; and this would perhaps be an impossible thing, were it not that subjects, having acquired the habit of dependency and submission, do half the work.
33. Under a very great king, those who occupy the highest posts have easy tasks, and fulfil them without difficulty: everything is straightforward; the authority and genius of the prince smooth their path for them, spare them difficulties and make everything prosper beyond their expectations; their merits are those of an underling.
34. If the responsibility for a single family is too much, if it's quite enough to have to answer for oneself alone, what a weighty burden is that of a whole kingdom! Is a sovereign rewarded for his pains by the pleasure that absolute power seems to give, and by all the fawnings of his courtiers? I consider the painful, uncertain and dangerous ways through which he must sometimes tread to secure public tranquillity; I remember the extreme, but necessary, measures he must often use to achieve a good end; I know he must answer to God Himself for the happiness of his people, that good and evil are in his hands, and that no ignorance can excuse him; and I ask myself: 'Would I like to reign?' Would any man who enjoys some happiness as a private individual give it up for a kingdom? And is it not a heavy burden, for the man whom his hereditary right puts in that position, to be born a king?
35. What gifts from heaven are needed to make a good ruler! His birth must be august, he must have a commanding and authoritative air, a countenance that satisfies the curiosity of subjects cagey to behold their king, and maintains the respect of his courtiers; a perfectly even temper, a great aversion to unkind mockery, or enough sense never to indulge in it; he must neither threaten nor blame, must be slow to anger and yet always obeyed; he needs a winning and subtle wit, a heart that is sincere, open and seemingly transparent enough to win him friends, followers and allies; he must be none the less discreet, deep and impenetrable about his motives and designs; preserve a solemn gravity iii public; combine brevity with exactness and dignity both in his dealings with the ambassadors of foreign princes and in his councils; he must grant favours in a manner so gracious as to be in itself a favour; must know on whom to confer these favours; how to discern the intelligence, talent and temperament suitable for each post and function; how to select his generals and ministers; he must have a Sound, resolute and decisive judgement in affairs, enabling him to recognize the best and fairest course to take; a sense of justice and equity that sometimes leads him, in pursuit of that course, to pass judgement against himself and in favour of his people, his allies or his enemies; a well-endowed and ready memory, reminding him of his subjects' needs, their faces, their names and their requests; vast abilities, not only to cope with external affairs, commerce, principles of government and matters of policy, the extension of the country's boundaries by the conquest of fresh provinces and their protection by a great many impregnable fortresses, but also to concentrate on internal affairs and the details of a whole kingdom, banishing thence any false and suspect form of worship which imperils his sovereignty; abolishing any cruel and impious habits that may prevail there; reforming laws and customs which may have contained abuses; providing cities with greater security and comfort by re-establishing sound administration, and with more brilliance and majesty by splendid buildings; punishing flagrant vices severely; enhancing the prestige of piety and virtue by his authority and ex-ample; safeguarding the Church, its ministers, its rights, its liberties, caring for his people as though they were his children, ever concerned to alleviate their burdens, to lighten their subsidies so as not to impoverish the provinces on which these are levied; he must be endowed with military genius; be watchful, diligent, laborious; have great armies, and Command them in his own person; keep cool in danger, and spare his own life only for the good of his State; set glory and the good of the State above his own life; be must wield an absolute power which leaves no scope for plots, intrigue and cabal, and which diminishes the vast distance sometimes existing between great and small folk, bringing them closer to one another and binding them in equal subjection; he must be so well-informed that he sees everything with his own eyes, acts directly and on his own initiative, his generals, even at a distance, acting only as his lieutenants, and his ministers only as his ministers; profoundly prudent, knowing when to declare war, how to will and how to use his victory; how to make peace, how to break it off; how, on occasion, and when his interest requires, to force his enemies to accept peace; controlling his vast ambition, and knowing the limits to be laid down for conquest; in the midst of enemies, covert or declared, he must find leisure for sport, festivities and entertaimnents, must cultivate the arts and sciences, must form and execute plans for impressive buildings; in short, he must possess a preeminent and powerful genius, which inspires love and respect in his own people, and fear in the foreigner; binding a whole court, and indeed a whole kingdom, into one family, perfectly united under a single ruler, and of whose unity and good understanding the rest of the world stands in awe: these admirable virtues seem to me to be contained within the concept of a sovereign ruler; true, we seldom find them all together in a single individual; too many qualities have to concur, qualities of mind and heart, temperament and outward appearance; and it seems to me that a monarch who combines them all in his own person truly deserves the name of Great.
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