Niccolò Machiavelli.

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under the Decemvirate, how liable men are to be
debauched, kt their firft principles and education be
ever fo gco;L If the example of the young Nobility,
whom Appius took for his guards, and corrupted to
fuch a degree, that they became friends to Tyranny
and fupporters of his ufurpation, merely for the fake
of lucre, and indulo;inor themfelves in their licentious
defires, was not fufficienr, we raight add that of
Quintus Fabius, one of the Decemviri of the fecond'
creation, who though a virtuous and good man be-
fore, was fo blinded by ambition, and feduced by the
cunning of Appius, that he feemed totally to have
changed his natural difpofition, and became as bad
as the other f. A due confideration therefore of hu-
man frailty (hould teach all LegiQators, either in King-
doms or Commonwealths, to make the moft effeftual
provifions they can to bridle the appetites and pairions
of mankind, and to deprive them of all hopes of im-
punity when they violate the laws of their country.

* Cromwell excelled mod other Tyrants in this fort of Policy.

f Virum egregium olim domi militiaque Decemviratus Collegseque
ita mutaveranr, ut Appii quam fui liioiiis malltt eile. Liv. lib. HI,
cap, xii. — A fatal but ulual confequence of p©vYer, wiiich is too ofteu
extitfcd to opprefs others. ,

Vol. III,. J. CHAE

146 Political Disccurses upon Book I.


^hat thofe who fight out of a pr'mcipk of honour make the
bejl ami moft faithful Soldiers »

ROM what has been related above concernlno;
the Decemviri, it may likewife be remarked how-
great a difference there is betwixt Soldiers that are
v/ell affeded to their Commanders, and fight for their
own glory, and thole that are led into the field againft
their inclination, and fight only to gratify the ambi-
tion of others. For though the Roman armies were
almoft always vi6lorious when commanded by Confuls,
yet under the condndl of the Decemviri, they were
never fuccefsful. From hence alfo we i?)ay difcern
one of the reafons at leafl, why forces are ^^o little to
be depended upon who have no other motive to fight
than their pay, which is by no means fufiicient to fe-
cure their fidelity, or to make them fo much your
friends as to lay down their lives for you. For Sol-
diers whofe hearts are not warmly affeded in the caufe
and interefts of thofe for whom they fight, will make
but a very feeble refiftance if vigoroufly attacked :
and fince this fort of aiTe6lion and emulation is not
to be found, or indeed expected in Mercenaries, thofe
that govern Kingdoms and Commonwealths ought
above all things to fortify them.felves with the love
and eftcem of their own Soldiers, as in fad all thofe
have ever done who have performed the greateft ex-
ploits. The Roman armies had not loft their ancient
valour under the reign of the Decemviri ; but as they
were but coldly afi^eded towards them, tliey did not
exert themfelves with their ufual Spirit, nor fucceed
in the manner they had been wont to do. But when
the Decemvirate was abolifhed, and they had reco-
vered their liberties, they fought courageoiidy again
Jike i\xt men in the defence of their country -, and
8 . conic-

Chap. XLIV. The First Decad of Livy. 147
coniequently their enterprizes were crowned with
glory and luccels as before ^.


That a vniltitude zviihotit a Head can do hut littk-, and
that they fidoiild not threaten to make an illitfe of power y
before they haz'e obtained it^

UPON the violence that had been offered to Vir-
ginia-!-, ^'"^^ Plebeians of Rome having taken
arms and retired to Mons Sacer, vvhere they were
joined by the army, the Senate fent to demand the
reafon of that SecefTion, and by what authority the
Soldiers had abandoned the camp : and fo great was

* " With regard to Fleets and Armies," fays the Author of the
Eftimate of the Manners and Principles of the times, vol. II. fedt^
vi. " another Truth offers itielf to obfervation. Here the "love of Glo-
ry is necefi'ary in the Leaders, as a motive to great and daring Enter-
prizes. But amongft the inferior ranks, the fear of Ihame will gene-
rally be of fufiicient influence to compel them to their Duty. The
reafon is evident : for, with regard to the Leaders, as it is impodible
to point out to them the particular track of their Duty in every in-
ftance ; fo their condccl muft be left in general to the determinations
of their own mind. Great adions v;ill naturally be attended with
glory ; but the mere omifnoa of great a6lions, where peremptory or-
ders are not given, is not necelTarily attended vvitli fhame. It is the
love of Gloiy only therefore, that can urge a Leader to great and
dangerous attempts. But Vv'ith regard to the inferior ranks, there the
particular track of Duty is pointed out, uhicli is only this, *"■ obey
" the commands of your Leader." Under tliis circumitance no eva-
fion can take place : evei'y man mufl obey, or Infamy overtakes him 3
and thus the fear of fhame becomes fiifficient. This diiiindtion will
clearly account for that ftrange difference of conduct in our BritiHl
troops during the lad, as well as the prefent war. It has been remark-
ed, that at fometimes they have fougiit like Lions, and at others have
been as tiniorou? as Hares. Ti^eir bravery in particuhr inliances, has
been brought as a proof againft the exiitence of the Ruling Princi-
ple of Eflemijiacy which juns through this woik. But whoever
views this matter, according to tiie diitinftions here jiointed our, will
at once Ice the veil drawn off- from this myf^erious appearance of
things. Where did our troops diftinguifli their Valour ? was it not at
Dettingen ? at La Feldt ? and above all, on the dreadful field of Fon-
tenoy, vvhere honeff Fame forfook tlie Standard of the V.ctor, and
wept over the Banners 01 the retreating Englifh ? Kui\ who weie their
Leaders upon thefe important days ? They weie fuch as were infpired
and a^luated by the generous love of glory,"

t Appius had made a forcible attempt to ravifn her.

L 2 the

148 ^Political Discourses upon Book T.

^he reverence in which the multitude Hill held the
authority of the Senate, that as they had no Head
over them, no particular peribn would prelbme to
return an anfwer : for though, as Livy fays, there
was matter enough for an anlvver, yet no body cared
to deliver it. From whence we may obferve how
weak a thing a multitude is without a Head.

But Virginius (the father of Virginia) being av/are
of this delet!:!, had the addrefs to get twenty n^iitary
Tribunes created with power to treat and confer vvith
the Senate : after which they defired that Valerius
and Horatius might be fent to them, to whom they
would com.municate what they had to fay. Thefe
two Senators, however, refufed to go upon any fuch
errand, except. the Decemviri would firil abdicate
their authority : wliich being at lad complied v/ith,
they went to the people, who demanded that tlieir
Tribunes (liould be reftored, that appeals to then:b
from the Sentence of any magiilrate llionld be al-
lowed of, and that the late Decemviri fliould be de-
livered up to them, whom they would burn alive.
The two firft requefts were approved by Valerius and
Horatius •, but they could not help condemning the
lad as Savage and inhuman, telling them, " crudeli-
'' tatis odio, in crudelitacem ruicis y' whilft you
*' abhor cruelty in others, you would be guilty of the
'' highefl degree of barbarity yourkives ;" and advif-
ing them to drop all further mention of the Decem-
viri at that time, that fo they niight attend more cf-
fe6lually to the recovery of their own liberty and au-
thority, after which, they might find fufTicienc means
to take proper fatisfaclion. IJence we may learn»
how weak and imprudent it is to afk for a thing, and
to declare at the fame time, that we dcfii2:n to make a
bad ufe of it as foon as obtained : certainly in luch a
cafe a man fliould conceal his bad intentions, at lead
till he has fucceeded in his follicitations, which he
ought by all nutans to make his firil and principal en-
deavour. If a perfon had a upon the life of
another, would it not be fullicicnc to Uy to him,

*' pi ay

Chap. XLV. The First Decad of Livy. 14^
*' pray lend me your Sword," without telling him you
intended to kill him wich it ; fmce when you have got
the Sword in your hand, you may do what you pleafe
with it ?


^hat it is a had precedent to break a new Law ; efpecially
in the hegifiator bimfelf : and that it is very dangerous
for thofe that govern Siates to multiply injuries and re-
peat them every day.

WH E N the public tranquility was reflored at
Rome, and the ancient form of Government
reeilabliriied, Appius was cited by Virginius to an-
Iwer for his mifclemcanou'rs before the people ; and
making Ins appearance in themidft of a great number
of the NobiUty, he was immediately ordered toPrifon.
Upon this, he protefced againft it, and appealed to the
people: but Virginius infilled that he v/ho had abolifhed
all appeals, was notvvorthy of being indulged in one
himfclf, or of being allowed to implore the prote6tion
of a people v^iicm he had fo grievoully injured. But
Appius replied, that they who had been lb zealous to
re tfiabliili that privilege, ihould not be the firft to
break it. After all, however, he was commjitted to
prifon^ and killed himfelf before his trial cam.e on.

Now though without doubt Appius defcrvcd the fe-
verefi punifnmcnt, yet it was a thing of very danger-
ous confequence for the Roman people to violate their
own laws, and efpecially one that was fo laiely made :
for J chiink there cannot be a more dangerous prece-
dent in a commonvv'ealth than to eftablifh laws, and
not obferve them •, ej'pecially if they are firft difpenfed
with by the LepiHators themfelves. A reform in the
Sfate having taken place at Florence in the beginning
of the year 1495, by the alTiftance and advice of Fri-
ar Girolamo Savonarola (whole writings give fufncient
proof of his learning, abilities, and Spirit), a new law

L 3 was

150 Political Discourses UPON Book I.

was made for the further fecurity of the Citizens, by
virtue of which they were allowed to appeal to the
people from any Sentence paffed in matters of State,
either by the Council of eight, or the Signiory. But
notwithilanding this law, which he had lolliciied with
fuch earneftnefs, and obtained with fo much difnculty,
five Citizens who had been condemned to death by the
Signiory, and deiigned to appeal to the people were
idenied that privilege : a circumiiance that hurt the
Friar's reputation more than any thing eife that could
pofiibly have befallen him -, for if this law was of fuch
importance as he pretended, it ought to have been
flrictly obferved ; if nor, why was it prelTed with fuch
importunity? This was the moie taken notice of be-
caufe he never made the lead mention of the violation
of the law in any of his Sermons or harangues, though
he afterwards delivered many to the people, nor ei-
ther condemned orexcufed thofe that had broke it, for
fince it ferved his osvn purpofes, he knew not how to
condemn it, and as to an excufe, there was no pofllbi-
lity of making any ; v/hich fort of behaviour fully
difcovering the partialiryand ambitionof his heart, en-
tirelv ruined his reputation, and loaded him with infa-
my and reproach*.

It likewife creates great difguft in a State when the
Citizens are terrified every day with fredi profecutions ;
as it happened at Ronie after the expiration of thcDe-
cemvirate, for not only all the Decemviri, but fo ma-
nyotherCitizens were accufed and condemned at differ-
enttimes, that the Nobility v/ere in the utmoflconfter-
nation, and began to apprehend there would be no end
of thele feverities, till their whole order was extin-
guifned ; and this manner of proceeding would cer-
tainly have excited great 'troubles and inconveniencies,
if they had not been forefeen and prevented by Mar-
cus Duellius one of the Tribunes, who publiflicd an
cdi6L, prokibiting every one eitiier to cite or accu!e
^ny iioman Citizen during the fpace of a year j by


See Chap, vi. of the Prince, and tlie Notes upon it.


Chap. XLVI. The First Decad of Livv. 151

which a(5l of moderation, the Nobility were delivered
from all further difquietude and apprehenfion. From
hence it appears, how dangerous it is either for a Prince
or aCommonweakh to keep their fubjecfts in continual
fear and alarm by daily executions. Indeed nothing
can be more prejudicial to their interell:* : for when
men begin to dread theie evils, thev will naturally en-
deavour to fecure theml'elves at all events, and become
bolder and more determined to attempt a change of
government. Upon luch occafions therefore, it is the
bed way either to punifh no body at all, or to finifh
the executions at once, and afterwards to give the peo-
ple no occafion to fear any thing further •, that fo they
may live lecurely and quietly "f.


^hat men ufualJy rife from one degree of amoition toanotler\
endeavouring in the firjt plare to Jecure themfeh'es from
opprejfon, and afterwards to oprref> others,

AFTER thepeople of Rome had not only recovered
their liberty and former power, but were become
Itrongerandftill more fecure under the proredion of ma-
ny new laws, it might have been expeiled they v/ould
at laft have enjoyed fome repofej yet it happened quite
contrary, and every day produced new tuniults and dif-
fenfions. The reafon of which, according to Livy, was
that the Nobility and Plebeians being at perpetual vari-
ance, when one fide was humbled, the other grev^ info-
lent j when the populace v^ere content the young Nobility

♦ Witnefs-the cafe of our King James II. who terrified and difgnft-
ed his Subjects to the laii: dcgi ec, by the iinrer.lonable nunilier of i'-X-
ecutions which he ordered in the weft of England at different times
upon the Duke of Monmoutli's affair.

f As the Emperor Auguftus did, who after a mod cruel profcrip-
tion and a multitude of Executions, prefently became loremiirkabiy in-
dulgent and merciful to his Subje6>s, that he afterwards reigned in
peace and fecurity all his life, and has been more extolled than almoll
any other Emperor.

L 4 besan

i^lt Political Discourses upo^T Book I^

began to abule them ; nor was it in the power of the
Tribunes to provide any effcditual remedy for this, as
they were liable to be infulted themfelves. The No-
bility, on the other hand, though they could not help
being fenfible, that the younger part of their order
were too arbitrary and licentious, yet if the bounds of
decency and good order were to be tranfgrelfed either
by one fide or the other, chofe rather that their own
fhould be the trefpafTer than that of the Plebeians. So
that theimmoderatederireofpreferving their refpe-flive
privileges, was the caufe that when either fadion pre-
vailed, they oppreiTed the other-, for it generally hap-
pens, that whilft men are guarding againfl: violence
themfelves, they begin to encroach upon others, and
when they pull a dagger out of their own breafb, en-
deavour to plunge it into their neighbour's; as if they
muft of neceffjty either injure or be injured.

From heiiCe we may obferve (amongfl: other things)
in what manner Republics are at lalt diffolved, how
natural a tranfition there is from one degree of ambi-
tion to another, and that what Salluft fays in the per-
jbn of Juligs Crefar is very jufl, '* quod omnia mala
'' exempla, boms initiis orta funt ; that all diforders
and abufes arife from good beginnings." Ambitious
.Citizens in all Gommonwealths, make it their princi-
pal bufmefs, as 1 faid before, not only to defend themr
felves againil private violence, but the authority oi the
Magiftrates ; for which purpofe, they endeavour to
cultivate friendfhips and dependencies by ways feem-
ingly honeft and honourable; as by lendmg money to
ihofe that are poor, or protecting the weak and help-
iefs, againfl the oppreffor and extortioner; all which
carrying a fair and good appearance, the people are
eafjly deluded and take no care to prevent the con-
fequences till it is too late, and not only private Citi-
zens but even the Magiftratts themfelves begin to (land
in awe of them*. After they have arrived at this

** Stich was the conclu6l of Cofimo c!e' Medici nnd his pofterity ; by
\rincli tbey at lalt m:ide thetiifelves Sovereigns of Tuicany. See the
, |"our Uil Books of" the Hiltory of Florence.

' height

Ovap.XLVIL The First Decad of Ltvy. 155
lieighc wichouc any oppofition, it becomes very dan-
-eeroLis to meddle wit!i them, tbr reafon-^. whijh 1 have
given before, in difcourfing on the folly and impru-
dence of endeavouring to eradicate an evil that is
grown :o too great a head in a Comnionvv'eahh ; fo
that when things are once come to this pafs, you rnuft
either endeavour to pull them down again, which can-
not be done without the utmoft hazard of utter ruin
to the State ; or you mult patiently fubmit t) lofe your
liberties, except their death, or fome other accident
fliould chance to deliver you. For when they perceive
both the people and Magifl: rates are afraid of them
and their friends, they will jbon begin to domineer and
play the tyrant. A Comrnonweakh therefore ought
above all things, to take timely care to prevent its
Citizens from doing evil under the appearance of good ;
and that they may not becom^e fo popular as to preju-
dice the State inOead of advancinor its welfare: but
of this v«/e fl:iall treat more at large in another placc^^


though the people ere fomc times mifiaken in general poiftts^
yet they fcldom or never err in particulars,

TH E people of Rome, as I faid before, growing
weary of their Conluls, and defirous to have
them cholen out of the Plebeians for the future, or at
leaft fome bounds prefcribed to their power ; tne No-
bility, in order to prevent their Authority from, being
debafed either way, took, a middle courfe, and con-
fented that four Tribunes with Confular power fl:iOuld
be eleded indiMerently out of the Patricians and Ple-
beians. The people were pretty well fatisfied, ima-
gining that in confeqi^ence of this, the ConTuhliip
y/ould at lalt be utterly abolifneJ, and they fhould
have an equal lliare in the adminiftration. Lutitwas

• See Ciiap. lii.


154 Political Discourses upon Book I,

very remarkable that at the creation of thefe Tribunes
when they had it in their power and every body exped-
ed thev would have chofen them ont of the Plebeians,
they were ail eledted out of the Nobility. Upon which
Livy fays, "• quorum commitiorum eventus docuit,
*' alios animos in contentione libertatis 6^ honoris, alios
•• fecundum depofita certamina in incorrupto judicio
*' effe ; the event of this election Oiewed that the peo-
*' pie were of one mind in their contefls for liberty
*' and honours, and of another when thole conteits
*' were over, and their judgment grown cool again."

Confidering v;ith myfelf therefore what might be
the reafon of this, 1 think it is becaufe men are more
apt to be miftaken in generals than particulars. 1 he
Plebeians at Rome thought themfelves more wothy
of the Confulfnip than the Nobility, as they were fo
much the more numerous body, and not only bore the
chief burden and hardfliips in all wars, but were the
greateft fupport of public liberty, and contributed
mod: to the aggrandizement of their country ; upon
which, their pretenfions feeming to them in no wafe
nn reafon able, they refolved to afilime that honour at
all events. But when they came to m.ake choice of
proper perfons from among themfelves to fill the Con-
fulfhip, they began to find their weaknefs, and foon
perceived, that no particular man amongll them
v/as equal to what they thought they had deferved
altogether. Afhamed of their incapacity therefore, they
gave their votes for fuch as they knew were really more
v/orthy ; upon. which occafion, Livy cries out in fome
fort of admiration, " hanc modeftiam, squitatemque
*' & altitudinem animi ubi nunc in uno inveneris, qu^e
" tunc populi univerfi fuit ? ^Vhere fhall \ve fee now
" a days that degree of modcfly, equity, and magnani-
*' mityeveninany one one man, which was then fo con-
" fpicuousin a whole people ?" As a further confirma-
tion of this matter, I fliall produce a remarkable proof
from what happened in Capua, after Hannibal had
defeated the Rom.ans at the battle of Cannx. Upon
that overthrow, ail Italy, and t!ie Capuans in particu-
lar -

Chap. XLVII. The First Decad of Livy. 155

lar, becran to rebel againit their Governors, out of
an anciencemulation which fubfifted betwixt the Senate
and the People there. But Pacuvius Calavius being
then firft Magiftrate in thatCity, and feeing the ferment
it was in, hit upon the following expedient to reconcile
the People and Senate. In the firft place, he called
the Senate together, and having reprefenced to them
how implacably they were hated by the people, the dan-
ger they vvere in of being murdered by them, and the
City delivered up to HanJiibal, now the affairs of the
Romans were in fo defperate a condition, told them at
laft that if they would leave things to him, he would
reconcile all differences betwixt them •, but that it was
abfolutely necelfary for their prefervation, that they
fhouid be all locked up together in the Senate houfe,
and delivered up into the hands of the People ; after
which, he would anfwer for their fafety. The Senators
fubmiitting to this, he told the people in a conference
that the time v/as come at lalt when they might fuffi-
ciently humble the Nobility if they pleafed, and, take
a full revenge upon them for the many injuries they
had received at their hands •, for he had them all (hut
np together in his cuflody: but as he imagined they
would not think of leaving the Cicy wholly unprovided
with Magiftrates and Senators, he was of opinion they
fliould create new ones firft to fupply the vacancies, in
cafe they had a mind to difpatch the old ones: for
which purpofe, he had brought a purfe thither with
the names of all the Senators in it, out of which he
defired they would draw them one by one, and he
would take care that every man of them fliould be put
to death immediately, as foon as they had appointed
another in his room.. The drawing accordingly begun,
and upon the f rft name that came out, a great outcry
was fet up of Tyrant, OpprefTor, &c. and Pacuvius
afking whom they would imve to fucceed him, a ge-
neral filence enfued -, after which, one of the Plebeians
was propofed : no fooner was he mentioned however,
but fome burfl out a laughing, others began to hifs,
and others to abufe him, feme in one mianner and fome


1^6 Political Discourses UPON Book I.

in another: fo that in fhort, as they proceeded to name
the others, there was not fo much as one that was
thought worthy of that digniry. Pacuvius therefore,
taking the advantage of this dil'pofition in the people,
told them that fince they did not think it convenient
the City (liould be without a Senate, and could not
agree in the choice of new Senators, they had better
be reconciled to the old ones, who would be fo hum-
bled by the apprehenfions they had been in, that they
might cxpedl to find that moderation as well as abili-
ty in them, which it feemed they could not hope for
in others. A reconciliation accordingly enfued betwixt
them •, and the miftake they had lain under was foon
difcovered, when they came to the difcufiion of par-

The people are likewife often deceived in judging
of the circumftances and fituation of things ; and are
not capable of being difabufed, till they come to view
them more nearly. After the year 1414, moil: of the
the principal Citizens of Florence being driven out of
that City, and no regular Government left, but rather
a licentious fort of mifrule, under which, things fell
into greater confufion every day ; feveral of the popu-
lar party, who faw the Republic could not fubfilf, and
not being able to penetrate into the true caufe, imput-
ed it to the ambition of certain leading men amongd
them, who (as they gave out) fomented thefe diforders,
in order to deprive them of their liberties, and mold
the State into fuch a form, as they bed liked them-
felves : thefe afperfions were induitrioufly propagated
in every part of the City, by perfons who daily abufed
the principal Citizens, both in public and private com-
panies, threatening, that if ever they fliould get into
the Signiory, they would not fail to bring their mil-
deeds to light, and punifh them fevcrely. But after-

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