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them. The answer of Apollonius to Vespasian is full of excellent instruction ; Vespasian asked him, “ What was Nero's overthrow ?" 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." "The wills of kings are generally violent, and contradictory the one with the other.” For it is the solecism of power, to think to command the end, and yet not 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 centinel, that none of their neighbours do overgrow so (by increasing of territory, by embracing of trade, by approaches, or the like), as they become more able to annoy them, than they were. This is generally the work of standing councils to foresee and to hinder it. During that Triumvirate of Kings, King Henry VIII. of England, Francis 1. King of France, and Charles V, 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, Guicciardini saith, was the security of Italy) made between Ferdinando king of Naples, Lorenzius Medicis, and Ludovicus Sforza, potentate, the one of Florence, the other of Milan. Neither is the opinion of some of the school-men to be received ; war cannot justly be made but upon a precedent
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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 II. 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 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 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 II. 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 son 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 to Philip II. 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 brought up in open arms against them; as was Selymus I. against Bajazet, and the three sons of Henry II. 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 Rufus, Henry I. and Henry II.
The danger is not from that State, but where it hath a dependance 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 ; (the name of a vein in the human frame which gathers and conduct the blood to the most vital parts) 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 he wins in the hundred, he looseth 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 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 Ja