Niccolò Machiavelli.

The works of Nicholas Machiavel ... : translated from the originals : illustrated with notes, annotations, dissertations, and several new plans on the Art of war (Volume 3) online

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be indulged with impunity, and a privilege to com-
mit any crime afterwards, his infolence would foon
grow infupportable and inconfiltent with all civil go-

It is highly necefiary, therefore, for the difcourage-
ment of bad men, to reward thofe that are good, as
the Romans always did : and, though a State jfhould
be poor, and cannot afford to give any confiderable
reward to the hiofhefl degree of merit, vet it fhould
always {hew icfelf grateful, and give as much as it is
able : for any little prefent or favour that is conferred
as a reward for virtuous adions (though of the mod:
important fervice) vv^ill always be confidered by the
receiver as great and honourable. The flories of
Horatius Codes and Mucius Scaevola, are generally
known x, the formrcr of whom alone, bravely main-
tained the bridge over the Tiber, againll the enemy,
v^ho wanted to pafs it, till the bridge was cut down
behind him, and their pafTage obftrudled ; and the
latter went to the camp of Porfcnna, King of the
Tufcans, with a defign to afifaflinate him ; but mif-
taking his man, he thruil his own hand into a fire,


§i "Political Discourses UPOTT Book 1*

and held it there till it was entirely burnt away, to
Ihew the courage and refolution of the Romans : for
which extraordinary fervices, each of them was re-
warded with two acres of land *. The example of
Manlius Capitolinus is no lefs remarkable, who, hav-
ing driven away the -Gauls from the Capitol, which
they had befieged, was recompcnfed for it by his fel-
low-citizens with a prefent of a fmaH quantity of
corn; which, according to the neceflity of the times,
was looked upon as an honourable and adequate re-
ward. But the fame ManUus, either out of envy or
ambition, afterwards endeavouring to excite fedition
and tumults in the City, and to make himfelf too po-
pular, v/as thrown headlong from the Capitol, which
he had relieved with fo much glory and reputation,
without the leaft regard to the merit of his former
adtions. %

c n A p. XXV.

Whoever would reform the Government in a free State^
ought to retain the (hadow at leaft of its ancient Cuf-
toms and Inftitutions,

IN order to reform a Government in fuch a manner
as to make it not only firm and permanentp but
agreeable to the people, the Reformer ought to keep
up the fhadow and form at leaft of its ancient cuftoms
and inftitutions, that fo the multitude may be as lit-
tle aware as poflible of the innovations, though the

* Machlavel fays, *' due fi mora dl terra per ciafcuKo''"' The words
of Livy are as follows, " Turn Codes, Tibej-ine Pater, inquit, te fanc-
" te precor^ hac arma & hunc mditem fropltio fiumine accipias : ita fie
** armntus in Tiberim defiluit, multi'que fuper incidentjbus telis in-
" columis ad fuos tranavit ; rem aufir^ plus fainae habituram ad polte-*
*' ros, quam fidei. Grata erga tantam virtu' cm, civitas fuit : i^atua
" in coniitio pofita; agri quantum uno die curcumaravit datum : pri-
" vata quoque inter publicoshonores ftndia eminebant : nam in niagf-
*' na inopia, pro domefticis copiis unufquifque ei aliquid, fraudans fe
** ipi'e vidtu luo, contiilit '' — <* Patres C. Mucio virtutis caula trans
** Tiberim agrum dono dedcre, quae poltea funt Mucia prata appel-
" lata." Liv. lib. II, cap. x. xiii.


Chap. XXV, The First Decad of Livy; 9^
new ordinances fhould be wholly different from the
old ones : for the generality of mankind not penetrat-
ing very far into things, are often amufed with the
fhadow as much as the fubftance, and fometimes in-
deed exterior appearances make a deeper ImprefTion
upon them than realities. The Romans, therefore,
being fenfible of this in the infancy of their Com-
monwealth, and having created two Confuis initead
of one King, thought proper to allow them but twelve
Lidors, that fo they might not exceed the number of
thofe that were wont to attend upon their Kings. Be-
fides, as there ufed to be an anniverfary Sacrifice at
Rome, which could not be celebrated by any perfon
but the King himfelf, the Romans, fearing the peo-
ple would orherwiie wifh for Kings again, created an
Ofticer, whom they called. Rex SacrificuluSy or a fore
of Mafier of the Ceremonies (but in fubordination to
their Pontifex Maximus^ or High Prieft) who was to
prefide- at that foiemnity -, by which expedient, the
people were well fatisfied with the manner of the Sa-
crifice, and did not at all repine at the expulfion of
Kings, becaufe their ancient forms and cuftoms feemed
ftill to be kept up.

This method, therefore, ought to be obferved by
every one that would cancel old Inftitutions, and ef-
tablifh a new and free government •, for mankind be-
ing naturally averfe to any alterations in their laws
and cuftoms, care Ihould be taken that fuch an inno-
vation fhould retain as much as pofTible the refem-
blance at lead of their ancient conftitution : and if
the Magiflrates fhould differ from the former, either
in power or number, or the duration of their autho-
rity, the fame Names and Titles however fliould be
continued. This courfe, I fay again, muft be fol-
lowed by thofe that would introduce a new and fa-
tisfad:ory kind of government into any State, whether
a Monarchy or a Republic^ s but for thofe that want

• Thus our King Edward VI. at the Reformation, leaving much of
the exterior untouched, the people were in a great meafure (boner re-
conciled to it than perhaps they otherwife would have been.


5^4 Political t)iscouK:sEs upont Book L

to found an abfolnte Government, or Tyranny, (as
it is called by political writers) they mull make a tho-
rough alteration in every thing, as we ihail fhevv in
the next Chapter.


^hat a new Prince muft change every thing in a State
which he has feized upon hy force^

WHOEVER makes himfelf Mafler of a State,;
and defigns to form a government that Ihal^
neither be a free Kingdom nor yet a Republic, but
altogether abfoiute, will find it his fureft way to alter,
every thing in it from top to bottom, in order to fup-
port himfelf; efpecially if he perceives his founda-
tions are weak and unliable, as probably he may do,
being a new Prince. That is, he mufl: create new
Magiftrates in every City, give tlrem new titles, make
choice of new perfons, confer new authority, advance
the poor, impoverifh the rich, '' fill the hungry with
*' good things, and fend the rich empty away," as
David did when he became a King. Befides this, he
muft build new Cities, demoliili the old ones, and
tranfport the inhabitants of the country from one
place to another : in fhort he mufl: turn every thing
in it upfide down in fuch a manner, that no-body fhali
enjoy either honours, or riches, or authority, or pri-
vilege of any kind, but what is immediately derived
from him. Philip of Macedon, the Father of Alex-
ander the Great, may ferve him for a pattern : of
whom the Hiftorians fay, that he removed the people
he conquered from one Province to another, as Shep-
herds remove their fiocks •, and yet,- by proceeding in
this manner, from a petty Prince he became Mafler
of all Greece. But nothing furely can be more bar-'
barous than fuch a condu6t, nothing more diredly op-
pofite to the ends of all civil government, or unwor-
thy not only of a Chriflian, but of any one who has
6 the

Chap. XXVII. The First Decad of Livy. 93
the lead fpark of humanity left in his heart. Every
one therefore ought to abhor it, and chufe rather to
live like a private man, than to make himfelf an ab-
folute Prince, or rather a Tyrant, by the deftrudlion
of fo many thoufand innocent people. Neverthelcfs,
he that determines to tranfgrels the bounds of virtue
and moderation, muft of necclTity be obliged to take
this courfe, in order to fecure himfelf: but the gene-
rality of mankind being neither perfectly good nor
wholly evil, are apt to halt betwixt both, and take a
middle way -, which is produdlive of the moll fatal
Gonfequences, and will never enable them to execute
any thing great, as fhail be fhewn in the following


nat very few me7i can refolve to be either perfeclly good^

or totally bad,

POPE Julius II. marching with an army in the year
1505, to drive the Bentivogli out of Bologna,
of which that family had been Sovereigns a hundred
years ; determined at the fame time to wrefl: Perugia
alio out of the hands of Giovanni Paolo Eaglioni,
who had ufurped that State; and in Pnort to difpofTefs
airthofe that had feized upon any territories belong-
ing to the Church. When he arrived therefore at Pe-
rugia \v\i\\ this defign, which was well known to every
one, he did not wait till his army came up to fupporc
him, but immediately entered the City attended only
by his train and a very flender guarcl, though Bag-
lioni v/as there in perfon with a good body of troops
which he had got together for his defence. In this
manner, proceeding with the fame bokinefs and im*
petuofity that he did in all other things, he put himfelf
entirely into the hands of his enemy ; whom yet he
brought out of the City with him, and left another
Governor of his own appointn'^ent there to account



gS Political Discourses upon Book J.-

for the revenues of that State to the Church. Upon-
which, all wife and confiderate men could not help
being furprized at the temerity of the Pope, and the
pufillanimity of Baglioni : wondering how it (hould
come to pafs, that the latter did not take the oppor-
tunity of fecuring his enemy, as he might have done
with great reputation to himfelf, when he had him
fairly in his power, and of filling his coffers not only
"with the Ipoils of his Holinefs, but of his train too,
in which were all the Cardinals with their equipages,
and an immenfe booty of treafure and jewels. For
it feemed hardly credible that he fhould be reftrained
by religious motives ^ becaufe they thought a man
who had been fo wicked as to commit incefl with his
own Sifter, and to murder feveral of liis coufins and
nephews to make his way to the Sovereignty, would-
have eafily digefted any other fcruple of conlcience.
They concluded therefore, that as few men can re-
folve to be abfolutely good, fo it fometimes happeiis
that others cannot prevail upon themfelves to become
thoroughly abandoned, even though they mjght ac-
quire thereby a confiderabie degree of fame ; for
when a bafe action feems to carry a certain air of mag-
nanimity or gencrofity, they know not how to attempt
it *. Thus Bagiioni, who had made little account of

* Mr. Bayle H^ys that the Pha^nomena in the Hiftory of man puzzle
Philofophers, as much as the Phasnomena in Natural Hiftory, and
that few a6t according to th<;ir own principles. The Mahometans,
according to thcii- principles, are obliged- to make ufe of force to de-
ftroy all other Sy Items of Religion : and yet they have tolerated them
for feveral ages. *' When you meet with infidels, fays Mahomet ia
the ninth Chapter of the Alcoran, kill them, cut off their heads, or
make them pril'oners, and bind them till they have paid their ranfom :
be not afraid to perfccute them till they have laid down their arms,
and fubmitted to you." For all this, it is certain that the Saracens
foon left off thofe violent methods, and that the Greek. Churches have
maintained themfelves under the yoke of Mahomet to this day. They
have their Patriarchs, their Metropolitans, their Synods, their Difci-
piine, and their Monks, — On the other hand, Chriilians were com-
manded only to preach and initruft : notwithltanding which, many
Chriftian nations have extirpated thoCe who were not of their perfua-
lion with fiicaiid fword, time out of mind, and done nothing but perfe
cute, thioiigh tlie Gofpel abfolutely forbids it. One may be certain
that if the Chriltiaus of the Weft had borne i'way in Afia, in the room


Chap. XXVIII. The First Decad of Livv, 97
Jnceft and Parricide, knew not how, (or to fpeak
more properly) had not the Spirit to attempt a thing
(even when he had fo ji^flifiable and fair an occalion)
for which every body would have admired his cou-
rage, and extolled hirn to the fkies : as he would have
been the firft that had fliewn the Cardinals hqw little
refped thofe deferved who lived and domineered like
them, by an adtion of fuch Eclat as would effedu-
ally have extinguifhed all infamy, and fecured hinn[
agamft any future danger.


Whence it came to pafs that the Romans were not fo un*
grateful as the Athenians to their Citizens,

WHoever reads the hiftories of Republics will
find in them all fome degree of ingratitude
to their Citizens ; but lefs of it at Rome than at
Athens, or perhaps in any other Commonwealth;
The reafon of this I take to be, that the Romans had
not fo much caufe to be jealous of their Citizens as
the Athenians. For at Rome no man ever invaded
the liberty of others, from the expulfion of their
Kings to the of Marius and Syila: fo that there
was no great occafion for jealoufy or any apprehen-
fion of that kind j and confequently ail punifliment
was unnecelTary. But the cafe v/as far otherwife at
Athtrns : for that State being deprived of its liberty
by Pifidratus, when it was in its moll flourifhing con-
dition, under a pretence of advancing it to a ilill
higher pitch ; as foon as the Citizens recovered it,
and began to reflect upon the bitternefs of their fuf-»
fcrings, whilfl they were fubje<5l to a tyrannical go-
of ilie Saracens and Turks, the lead traces of the Greek Church would
not have been left at this day ; and that they would not have tolerated
Mahoraetanifm, as the Infidels have tolerated Chriftianity there. The
Keader, if he pleafes, may fee much more to this purpofe in the Note
AAi under the word Mahomet I. in Bayle's Didiionary. But the
comparifon is truly (hocking.

Vol. III. H vernment,

98 Political Discourses upom Book I.

vernment, they gave a full loofe to their revenue, and
punifhed not only the real crimes cf their Citizens,
but even the leaft fliadowor appearance of them ; for
which many excellent men were put to death, and ma-
ny banifneu ; and from hence arofe the cuilom of
Oftracifm *, and many other forts of rigorous. puniPn-
ments, vv^hicli were inflicted from time to time upon
the mod confiderable of their Subjects. Very juft
therefore is the obfervation of fome writers upon po-
vernment, that thofe who have recovered their liber-
ties, are always more rigid than others who have only
preferved them f.

* See the Notes upon the fourth Book of the Hiftory of Florence.

-J- There are two Letters preferved in Laertius, which fliew the feiife
the Athenians had of their Sufferings under Pifiitratus ; the firllruns
thus. " Epimenides to Solon. — Be of good comfort, my friend j for
«' if Pififtratus was Ruler of Athenians inured to fervitude and void
<* of difcipline, his Government perhaps might be perpetual. Thofe
<■« however that are now in fabje6lion to him, are not men of bafe
<* mindsj but fuch as being mindful of Solon's inftruftions are afliam-
<* ed of their bondage, and will not bear bis tyranny long. But
" though Pififtratus fhould make himfelf Mailer of the State, I hope,
** it will not delcend to his children ; for it is hard for free perfons,
*' brought up under excellent Laws, to fufrer bondage. As for you,
** do not wander about, but haiten to me in Crete ; where no Tyrant
** Vv'ill be troublefome to you. If in travelling up and down, you
** fhould chance to meet with any of his friends, I fear, they will do-
*« you a mifchief '" — This feems to be in anfvver to the following Epif-
tle to Epimenides. — *' Solon to Epimenides. — Neither are my Laws
** likely to be of any fervice to the Athenians, nor have you advan-
*' taged the City by Luftration. For Divine Rites and Law-givers
** alone cannot benefit States : it is of great confequence of what
*' mind thofe are who Jead the common people. Divine Rites and
" Laws are profitable, if well directed : if ill, they are of no fervice.
** Neither are thofe Laws which I gave in any better condition ; thofe
*' perfons who had the care of the Commonwealth not preventing
" Pififtratus from making hiniielr a Tyrant, and thereby mortally
*' wounding it, w-hich they would not believe when I foretold ir. The
<^ Athenians chofe rather to give credit to his flatteries, than to me
" who told them the truth. They faid I was mad. Laying down
** my arms therefore before the Citadel, I declared that 1 was wifer
*' than thofe who could not fee that Pililtratus was aiming at Ty-
<' ranny; and more refolnte than fach as durlt not afiert the liberty
<« of theii- Country. At laft I left my Country with this farewell.
*' O my Country ! behold Solon ready to aliitt thee in word or deed.
** But I am thought mad, it feems. I am forced therefore to abandon
*' thee, though I love all my Countrymen, but Piliibatus. Let them
** be his friends, if they like it." " For you know, my Friend, by
** what artifice he obtained the Government. He beguii with flatter-
** ing the common people; and then wounding himfeif, he came to


Chap XXVIII. The First Decad of Livv. 5^9
There things then being duly confidered, there will
appear no great reafon either to condemn the condu6b
of the Athenians in this point, or to applaud that of
the Romans ; fince the former vve.-e neccflitated to
ad as they did, by various exigencies and accidents
which happened in their State. For whoever exa-
mines the matter to the bottom, may be convinced,
that if the Romans had once been deprived of their
liberties as the Athenians were, they would neither
have been kfs jealous of them afterwards, nor more
merciful in punilliing their Citizens than the others :
of which vv'e may be afTured from v;hat happened after
the expulfion of the Kings to Colhiinus and P. Va-
lerius •, the former of whom (though he had been very
adtive in aiferting the liberties of his Country) was
icnz into exile upon no other account, but becaufe he
bore the name of Tarquin : and the latter very nar-
rowly efcaped the fame punifhment, only for having
built a houfe upon Mount C^elius ; from whence it
was apprehended that he had fomje defign upon the
liberties of the Public. One may naturally conclude
therefore, that if the Romans were fo fufpicious and
fevere in thefe two examples, they would have been
as ungrateful to their Citizens as ever the Athenians
were, had they been injured by them in like manner
before their Em.pire was firmly eftabliihed. But that
we may have no occafion to return to this Subject
hereafter, it fhall be more thoroughly difcufled in the
next Chapter.

«' F-lisea, pretending be hn.d received thofe wounds from his Enemies,
*< and defired a guard of four hundred young men arsned with hal-
<« herds ; which they, paying no regard to my remonftrances, iimpiy
"granted him. After this he dilfolved the popular Government. I
*< endeavoured to have refcued the poor people from mercenary fervid
*' tude } but they are now all flaves to Pifiltratus." Laert. in vita


*£-';r —

iod Political Discourses upon Book I,


Whether a Prince or a Commonwealth be generally the more 1


INgratitude ufually proceeds either from avarice or
fulpicion : for when a Prince or a Republic fends
a General upon fome important Expedition, and he
executes it with great honour to himlelf, and reputa-
tion to thofe that employed him, they certainly oughc I
to rev7ard him for it : but if, inftead of doing that,
they either calLier or difgrace him to fave the expence
of a reward, their ingratitude is inexcufable, and will
leave a (lain behind it that can never be wiped out.
Too many Princes however are guilty of this vice ;.
for as Tacitus fays, " Proclivius eft injurias quam be-
*' neficio vicem exolvere ; quia gratia oneri, ultio in
" qu^ftu habetur.'' " Men are naturally more apt
" to return an injury, than to requite a fervice ; be-
" caufe revenge is fweer, and fometimes attended
*' with advantage ; but it is thought troublefome and
" expenfive to difcharge obligations **" But when

« Dion Cafiius, in giving a detail of Caligula's crimes, takes notice^
of his ingratitude to Macro and his wife Ennia, whom he had reduc-
ed to the hard necefHty of difpatching themfelves ; though one of
them had been his Miftrefs, and it was owing to the other that he
mounted the throne without any Collegue. He did not content him-
felf with this, however, but bafely traduced Macro's character after
he was dead, and even reproached his memory with crimes, the dit
grace of which reflefted chiefly upon himfelf; for he declared that
Macro Iiad been his Pimp. As Macro, whilft he was Miniller to Ti-
berius, had more than once faved Caligula's life, he took upon him to
give him his advice with much freedom, correding the faults of an
Emperor whom he had created, and inftrufting him in the Dulles that
would tend to his glory and reputation. But Caligula defpifed his
precepts, and boafted that he had no occafion for fuch a Tutor. \\\
this manner Macro drew his hatred upon him to fuch a degree, that
he refolved to get rid of him, and fought only for a plaulible pretence,
which at laft he thought he had hit upon; accufing him of faying eve-
ry where, " Caligula is the work of my hands j he is my creature as
•* much as if 1 had begot him. It was owing to my intreaties that
«* the intended orders of Tiberius to put him to death were three dif-
** ferent times prevented. It was owing to me that he fucceeded alone


Chap. XXIX. The First Decad of Livv. ioi

fuch a General is not rewarded ; or (to fpeak more
properly) when he is difgraced, not out of motives of
avarice, but fulpicion, then his Mafter, whether a

" to the Government after the death of that Prince." Macro lived
but a little while after this, and his whole family was extirpated at
the fame time. — There weie three things then that concurred to Ma-
cro's ruin, any one of which was fufficient to have effedted it. He
had faved Caligula's life, and procured him the Empire of the world j
he boafted of this, and took tlie liberty of reprehending his condu6l.
There are very few men in great power, that can love thofe to whom
they 3ie too much obliged. *' Eeneficia eo ufque laeta iunt (fays Ta-
*♦ citus, Annal. lib. IV. cap. xviii.) dum videntur exfolvi pofle : ubi
*' multum ante\entre, pro gratifi odium rcdditur." A faying which
was apalied to the cold reception Monfieur duPlelils Mornai met with
from Henry IV. of France. See his Life, p 257. One feldom fees
that thofe who have raifed a private perfon to a throne long enjoy his
good graces : they become hateful to him, either becaufe one has an
averfion to men vi-ho think they have a right to demand every thing j
or becaufe they boail too much of their good offices, and complain
that they are not fufficiently rewarded for them. But fuch in general
is the nat\ire of mankind, Caligula therefore, one of the balelt and
moft viciou? of all Princes, could not long bear with a Benefactor, who
fet forth vl-.e important fcrvices he had done him in the ftrongeft light,
and took the freedom of giving him advice as a Tutor. In the fame
manner Abdalla, furnamed Motafeb Billah, who drove the Aglabites
out of Africa, and placed one of the family of AH, named ObeidaU
Jah, upon the throne, was fi^rved by that Prince 5 for he foon after put
]iim to death : and this acl or royal ingratitude has fometimes been
praftifed in other Countries that boall of greater humanity than Afri-
ca. Thus Lord Stanley v.-as reqnited by our Henry VH. The Duke
of Buckingham by Richard RL The Earl of Warwick by Edward IV.
and the Piercies by Henry IV. But it is fometimes dearly paid for.
** The Services which Kings cannot repay,"' fays Father Orleans in his
Revolutions of England, torn. II. p. 296, and the following ; un-
der the year 14.64 " commonly make them ungrateful. A man who
*' has done a great deal for them, feems to have a right to afk a great
*• deal : and whoever has a right to claim all, is troublefome, even
'• when he demands nothing. Edward IV, was indebted to the Earl
*• of Warwick for his Crown : this was a fervice beyond all requital;
** and being attended alfo with many other great exploits, had gained
*' the Earl infinite reputation amongft the people. The King in (hort
*' grev^- jealous of him, and fufp^dling his Subjefls would compare
*' him with the Earl, in the fame manner that Saul was compared with
** David, began to be afraid, lelt they (hould fay in England, as for-
** merly in Ifrael, «' Saul has fiain his thoufantls, and David his ten

Online LibraryNiccolò MachiavelliThe works of Nicholas Machiavel ... : translated from the originals : illustrated with notes, annotations, dissertations, and several new plans on the Art of war (Volume 3) → online text (page 10 of 44)