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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 voluntates vehementes, et inter se contrariæ;" for it is the solecism of power to think to command the end, and yet not to endure the means.
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 war; and would not in any wise take up peace at interest: and the like was done by that league (which Guicciardine saith was the security of Italy) made between Ferdinando, king of Naples, Forenzius Medices, and Ludovicus Sforsa, 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; Roxalana, Solyman's wife, was the destruction of that renowned prince, Sultan Mustapha, and otherwise troubled his house and succession; Edward the Second of England's 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 of
their own children, or else that they be advoutresses.
For their children, the tragedies likewise of 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 Selymus the Second was thought to be supposititious. The destruction of Crispus, a young prince of rare towardness, by Constantinus the Great, his father, was in like manner fatal to his house, for both Constantinus and Constance, his sons, died violent deaths; and Constantius, 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 of Philip the Second of Macedon, turned upon the father, who died of repentance and many like examples there are, but few or none where the fathers had good by such distrust, except it were where the sons were in open arms against them; as was Sel ymus 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 Beckett, 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 Rufus, Henry the First, and Henry the Second. The danger is 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 by 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 cooperate 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 to the king's revenue, for that
which he wins in the hundred, he loseth in the shire; 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 medule 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 bands of Rome; but trainings of men, and arming of 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.
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