Niccolò Machiavelli.

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late. For conlidering ti\e frailty and (hortnefs of iiff, and to how
many common and natural fliocks it is expofed, methinks we fnould
not fpend fo great a part of it in fquabbles about matuiity, in idle-
nefs and education.*' — Philipde Comines lays, '* it is obfervable that
all men whoever became iliultrious, or performed great a6Viojis, be-
gan very young ; and that this is owing either to education or the
grace of Gad." Lib. L chap. x. And Sir William Tempk feems to be
of the fame opinion, though indeed he allows a longer fpace for it.
** When I was younger than I am, fays he, and tliercby a worfe Judge
of age, I have often laid that what great thing foever a man propoled
to do in his life, he Ihould think of atchieving it by that time he is
fifty years old. Now I am approaching that: agelamiliil more of that
opinion than I was before, and that no man rides to the end of ihat
Stage without feeling journey in all parts, whatever dillinctions
are made betwixt the mind and the body, or betwixt judgment and
memory. And though I have known fome few, who perhaps might
be of ule in council upon great occafions till after threefcore and ten,
and have heard that tlie two late Minifters in Spain, the Counts of
Caftriglio and Pignoranda, were fo till foiu'fcore ; yet I will not an-
fwer that the conducf of public affairs under their Miniftry has not
fometimes tailed of the lees of old age. I obferve in this AlTembly at
Nim.eguen from fo many feveial parts of Cliriiler.dom, that of one
and twenty AnibaiTadors, tliers are but three above fifty years old j
which feen.s an argument of my opinion being in a manner general.
Nor can I think the period ill calculated, at lead: for a General of Ar-
mies, or Minifter of State in times or fcenes of great adfion, when
the care of a State or an Army ought to be as conftant as the Chymiirs
fire to make any great produdion ; for if it goes out, but for an
hour, perhaps the whole operation fails. Now I doubt whether any
man after fifty be capable of fuch conftant application of thought,

O 4 that

200 Political Discourses, &c. Book I.

that they decreed them the honour of a triumph in the
flower of their youth.

anj' more than of long and violent labour and exercife, wMch that
certainly is, aitd of the nneft parts. Befides, no man that fenfibly
feels the decays of age and his life wearing off, can figure to himfelf
thofe imaginary charms in riches and praife, that men are apt to do
in the warmth of their blood i and thofe are the ufual incentives to-
wards the attempt of great dangers, and fupport of great trouble and
pains. To confirm this by ^examples, I have heard that Cardinal Ma-
zarine, about five and fifty, found it was time to give over; that the
prefent Grand Vizier, who pafiTes for one of the greateft men of that
Empire, or of this age, began his Miniilry about eight and twenty ;
and the greateft which I have obferved, was that of Mr. de Witt, who
began at three and thirty and lafted to forty-eight, and could not, I
believe, have gone on many years longer at that height, even if he
had not come to that fatal end." See the Efiay upon curing the Gout
by Moxa.





L I V Y.


Secretary of State to the Republic of Florence.

L 203 ]



EN generally praife former ages, and find fault
with the prtfcnt, though fometimes without
realon : nay, fo partial are they to Antiquity, that
they not only admire things long fince pail, the know-
ledge of which, has been handed down to them by
Hiftory, but fondly prefer the times they remember
themielves in their youth, to thofe they live in when
they are grown old *. Now when they happen to be
miitaken in this point (as they often are) I think the
deception may be accounted for feveral ways.

In the firfl place, the truth of things fo very re-
mote cannot be certainly and preeifely known, fince
many events which might entail infamy upon thofe
times are almoft buried in filence, whilft others, that
may contribute to immortalize their glory, are fet in
the faired and fullefl light. For fo obfequious are

• See the Note upon Zancbi del Pino, Hift. Flor. book IV. See
alfo the fourth of Sir Thomas Pope Blount's EfTays, ** concerning the
^ntients, the refpeil that is due to them j and that we (hould not
too much enflaveourfelves to their opinions:" and his fifth EfTay, the
fubjeil of which is^ " whether the men of this prefent age are any way
inferior to thofe of former age?, either in refpe6l of virtue, learning,
or long life."



mod writers to the fortune of a Conqueror, that m
order to render his vidories more glorious, they not
only exaggerate his own exploits, but magnify even
the conduct and bravery of his enemies in fuch a man-
ner, that whoever fnali chance to read the hiftory
either of the Conqueror or the Conquered, in fucceed-
ing times, cannot help being filled with wonder at
fuch men and fuch times, and therefore mull na-
turally be led to praife and admire them. Befides,
as either envy cr fear are the common motives of ha-
tred amongft mankind, thofe two powerful caufes
bting extinguiflied by time, cannot affecl ancient-
trani'adlions, which ri*j longer excite either jealoufy or
apprehenfion in any one. — On the contrary, in affairs
that we fee and tranfacl ourlelves, of which we have
fo Intimate and perfed a knowledge, that no circum-
ftance can be concealed fi-om us, and wherein v/e
find many thino;s that either hurt or difeuft, as well
as lome that pkafe us, we are forced to give the pre-
ference to Antiquity, even when, in reality, it de-
ferves not the fame degree of glory and praife. I
would not here be underftood to fpeak of arts and
fciences, the progrefs or ftandard of which is fo well
known, that it is not in the power of rime either to
add to, or detra6t any thing from their doe credit:
I Ipeak only of things that relate to the lives and
actions of m.en, the evidence of whofe merit is noc
fo clear.

I fay then, that nothing Is more common than this
cullom of praifing the pad, and finding fault with
the prefent times. It cannot be faid, however, that
thofe who do fo are always in the wrong; nay, they
muft of necellky fometimes have reafon on their fide :
for, fince the affairs of this world are perpetually
ebbing and flowing, every thing muft have its vicif-
fitude of better and worfe. A City, or State, for in-
itance, which has been reformed and new modelled
upon good Principles, by fome wife and able Legif-
lator, will continue to fiourifli and increaf^ for a con-



fiderable time under thefe falutary infticutions. Thofe
then, that happen to be born there during that pe-
riod, and yet cannot help giving the preference to for-
mer times, are certainly guilty of an error; and that
error is owing to the caufes 1 have juft now affigned.
But others who live afterwards in the fame City or
State, v/hen it is upon the decline, and things grow
worfe and worfe every day, cannot juftly be accufjd of
an error in pafTing fuch a judgment.

When I confider the courfc of thefe thincrs with
myfelt, I am apt to think the world has always been
pretty much the fame, and thaCythere hath at all times
been nearly the fame portion of good and evil in it;
but that this good and evil have fometimes changed
their ftations, and pafifed from one City or Province
to another ; as we may fee from the hiilory of thof:?
ancient Kingdoms and Empires, the dominion of
which has been transferred from one to another ac-
cording to the variation of their manners and cuf-
toms, whilil the face of ihQ world in general has itill
continued the fame. Thus virtue, v/hich once feem-
ed to have fixed icfelf in AfTyria, afterwards removed
its feat into Media, from thence into Perfia, and at.
laft came and fettled amongft the Romans : and li
there has been no other Empire fince the Roman of
fo long duration, or where the virtue of the whole
world feems to have been colledied into one mafs, it
has neverthelefs been diilributed and parcelled ouc
amongft fcveral nations, as France, Turkey, Egypt,
fome time ago, and Germany at preient ; but firfb
and above all amongft the Saracens, who performed
fuch wonderful exploits, and conquered fo many
States, that they utterly deftroyed the Empire of the
Romans in the Eaft. In all thefe nations then, after
the ruin of the Roman Empire, there was, and ftill
is in fome of them, that portion of virtue which I
have been fpeaking of, and in fuch a degree as juftly
merits praife and admiration. So that the man who

7 happens

A ^


happens to be born there, and takes upon him to pre-
fer pad times to the prefent, is furely miftaken in his
computation: but another that lives in Italy, and is
not a Tramontane in his heart, or in Greece, and is
not a Turk, has fafficient reafon to bewail his lot in
falling into fuch times, and to extol thole of his An-
ceftors, in which, indeed, he will find many things
truly enviable ^ whilft in the prefent he meets with
nothing but extreme mifery, infamy, and contempt;
no regard to religion, laws, good order or difcipline ;
but every thing corrupted and polluted to the laft de-
gree of abomination: and fo much the (harper will
be his regret and the higher his deteftation, when he
fees thofe that fit " pro tribunali, in the judgment
" Seats," who demand nothing lefs than adoration, and
who are cloathed with power and authority to corredt
vice in others, the mod profligate and abandoned
members of the ftate*.

But to return to my difcourfe ; I fay that though
human judgment is frail, and may err in determining
whether the pad or prefent times are the better, efpe-
cially in things of which it cannot have fo perfedt a
knowledge on account of their great antiquity, as of
others that have fallen under their immediate notice ;
yet that will not excufe men who deceive themfelvesy
and indifcriminately prefer the times and tranfadions
that happened when they were young, to thole which
they experience when they are grown old, fince they
have feen both one and the other with their own eyes :
nor would they be of that opinion, if the judgment,
appetites, and pafTions of men, continued the fame all
their life long. But as thefe vary, though the times
may not, it is impoflible they fliould fee the fame
things in the fame light in their old age that they did
in their youth, when their views and inclinations are
in a manner totally changed. For fince our judgment

• The Popes and Cardinals are here meant, it is fuppofed.


T H E P R E F A C E. 507

and prudence iifually increafe as our bodily vigour de-
clines, thofe things which Teemed tolerable, or per-
haps good, when we were young, muft necefTarily ap-
pear evil, and probably inlupportable, when we are
grown old : To that inftcad of carping at the times,
we ought to lay the fault upon our own judgment.
Befides, our defires being infatiable (as nature fuffers
us to wifh for every thing, tho' fortune allows us to
obtain but few things) the mind of man is continually
diflatisfied, and apt to grow weary of what it pofTefTes :
from whence it comes to pafs that we defpife the pre-
fent times, whilft we commend the pad, and wifh for
the future, though we have no reafonable motive for
fo doing. I know not therefore, whether I may not
deferve to be numbered amongft thofe who deceive
themfelves in this manner, for having been too liberal
in my panegyrics in thefe Difcourfes, upon the antient
times and exploits of the Romans, whilftl have fpoke
fo harfhlyofonr ov^n * : and indeed if the virtue of
the one as well as the wickednefs of the other, had
not been as clear as the fun, I fiiould have been m.ore
fparing both of my praife and cenfure, that fo 1 might
not feem to have fallen into that error myfelf which I
fo freely condemn in others. But the cafe being fo
plain that nobody can deny it, 1 (hall make fo fcruple
of declaring my opinion without any referve concern-
ing both the pail and prefent times, in order to excite
fuch young n^en as may chance to read my works, to
imitate the virtues of the one, and avoid the vices of
the other, whenever their fortune (hall call them out
into action : for certainly it is the duty of a good man
to point out what is great, virtuous, and praile-worthy
to others, though perhaps either the adverfity of his
fortune, or the malignity of the times, will not fuffer
him to execute it himfelf : that fo when many are in-
ilructvd in what they ought to do, fome of them per-

• Efpecially in the Art of War.


^o8 T H E P R E F A C E.

haps, to whom Heaven is more propitiouSj may be
blefled with an opportunity of bringing it to ef-
fe6t. Having therefore (hewn in the firft book,
how the Romans proceeded in their interior efta-
blifhments, 1 fhall in the next, confider the mea-
fures they took to augment and extend their dominion

1^ O L 1-




L I V Y.




Whether the grandeur of the Roman Empire may he a*
fcrihed to the Virtue^ or good Fortune of that people,

LUTARCH, a very grave author, and many
others, are of opinion, that the Romans were
more indebted to their good Fortune than their
Virtue for the extenfivenefs of their Empire : and
amongft other reafons which. he aOighs to confirm the
truth of this, he fays they plainly acknowledge ic
themfelves, in having ereded more Temples to For-
tune than to any other of their Deities. Livy him-
felf feems to incline to this way of thinking : fince he
very feldom introduces any Roman fpeaking of vir-
tue, but he makes him fay fomething of Fortune
alfo. But I confefs I am not of that opinion myfcif ;
nor do I think it can be properly fupported : becaufc
if no other Commonwealth ever made fo great apro-
grefs as the Roman, it is well known that no other
Commonwealth was fo well conftituted for that pur-
pofe : for as the valour and excellent difcipiine of
their Soldiery were the chief caufes of their acauiring
Vol. HI. P * fo

210 Political Discourses ijpon Book IF.

fa extenfive a dominion •, fo their wife condudl and
the inftitutions eftablifhed by their firft Lawgivers,
were means of preferving what they got, as we fhall
Ihew more at large in the following Difcourfes. It
is objecled indeed by fuch as take the other fide of the
queflion, that it mud neceflarily be owing to the ia-
fluence of Fortune, rather than the efFe6t of Wifdom
or Virtue, that the Romans never had two wars of
any great importance upon their hands at the fame
time. For they had no quarrel with the Latins, till
they had fo thoroughly fubdued the Samnites, that
they were obliged to enter into a war for the defence
and protedion of that people : nor were they engaged
with the Tufcans till they had conquered the Latins,
and reduced the Samnites to the laft extremity, by
the frequent vidories they had gained over them- l.
whereas if any two of thefe States had confederated
againft them at firfl, whilft thofe States were yet firm
and unbroken, without doubt the Rom^ans mull have
been in great danger of being utterly ruined in the
very infancy of their State.

To what caufe foever it might be owing, it is cer-
tain, that the Romans were never involved in two
wars of any confequence at once : on the contrary it
appears, that when a frefh war broke out,^ they al-
ways put an end to any they happened to be engaged
in at that time, and never began one till they had
concluded another. This may be particularly ob-
fcrved throughout the whole feries of their difputes
with other nations ; for not to mention thofe they
were concerned in before Rome was taken by the
Gauls, we do not find they had any other enemies to
deal with but the ^qui and Volfci, whilft thofe two
nations were in a condition to cope with them. When
they were vanquidied, a war was commenced with
the Samnites •, and though it is true the Latins revolt-
ed from the Romans before that war was entirely con-
cluded, yet before any hoftilities were committed,
the. Samnites had entered into a confederacy with the
Romans, and afiifted them with their forces to chaf-


Chap. I. I'he First Dec ad of Livv. 211

tife the infolcnceof the Latins. -After they were re-
duced, the war with the Samnites was revived, in
which they were defeated in many battles. That
being concluded, a quarrel enfued with the Tufcans ;
at the end of which, the Samnites were encouraged
to try their fortune once more with the Romans, by
the arrival of Pyrrhus with an army in Italy ; but he
being driven back again into Greece, the firft Punic
War begun, which was hardly ended when the Gauls
On both fides of the Alps combined againft the Ro-
mans, and coming to an engagement with them were
routed with very great flaughtei* betwixt Popolonia
and Pifa, in the place where the Tower of St. Vincenzo
iiow (lands. When this was over, they had no war
of any great importance during the next twenty years;
as they had no enemies to give them any trouble ex-
cept the Ligures ^, and fome few of the Gauls that
Were left in Lombardy : fo that they were in a great
meafure at peace till the fecond Punic war, in which
Italy was engaged for the fpace of fixteen years. This
being concluded with great glory, the Macedonian
War broke out ; at the end of which, another hap-
pened with Antiochus in Afia -, who being fubdued,
there was no Prince nor Republic left in the whole
World that was able either feparately, or in conjunc-
tion with others, to make head againll the Romans.-
But whoever confiders their condudt and manner of
proceeding in their wars, even before this lall decifivc
ftroke, will find great virtue and confummate pru-
dence mixed with their good fortune ; fo that the
caufe of their fuccels is ealily difcovered. For it is
mod certain that when any State has acquired fo high
a degree of reputation, that all its neighbours (land
in awe of it, no one will venture to attack it fingly,
except compelled by downright neceillty : frona
whence it mud come to pafs, that it will always have
it in its choice to be at war with which foever it plcafes,
and to keep fair with the reft by proper means, who

• Now called the Genoefe.

F 2 being

212 Political Discourses upon Book If*

being partly afraid of its power, and partly lulled inta
fccurity by the methods it may take to amufe them^
will eafily be prevailed upon to fit quiet and content-
ed. As to others that are more powerful^ but at fuch
a diftance that they have little or no commerce with
it,, they will not give themfelves much trouble about
people that are fo remote, and in whofe concerns they
feem to be in no wife interefted : in which error they ge-
nerally continue till the next houfe to them is in flames^
and then they have no refource left to truft to but
their own forces, which will not be fufficient to oppofe
an enemy who by that time is become irrefiftible.

I might here obferve how the Samnites flood by
like unconcerned Spectators, whilft the Romans fub-
dued the ^qui and Volfci i but for the fake of bre-
vity I fhall confine myfelf to the example of the Car-
thaginians alone, who were in very great power when*
the Romans were engaged in the war with the Sam-
nites and Tufcans, as they were then in pofieffion of
all Africa,, Sicily, Sardinia, and part of Spain. But
trufting in their own (Irength, and fccure, as they
i-magined, by their great di(tance from the Romans,-
they never thought either of attacking them at that
time, or of fending any fuccours to the Samnites or
Tufcans : on the contrary (as it ufually happens to
growing States) they rather feemed to favour their en-
terprizes by courting their friendfiiip and entering in-
to an alliance v/ith them ; not perceiving their error
till the Romans had conquered all the people betwixt
Rome and Carthage^ and were grown ftrong enough
to difpute the pofiefiion of Sicily and Spain too with^
the Carthaginians themfelves. What happened to the .
Carthaginians, happened likewife to the Gauls, to
Philip of Macedon, and to Antiochus, every one of
them being fully perfuaded, that as the Romans were
fo embroiled in wars with other nations, they would"
certainly be fubdued by thofe nations at lall, or if
they were not, that they (hould have time enough to
make fufficient provifion for their fafety, by war at
lead, if nut by other means. I am of opinion there-

- ^ fore,


Cfcap. L The FirstDecad OF Livv. 21^

fore, that any other Prince or people endued with
the fame degree of Virtue or Courage, and obferving
the fame wife meafures, would likewife have the fame
good fortune that the Romans had.

I (hould here have taken ntsjtice of the methods
which that Commonwealth ufed, in order to get foot-
incr in thofe nations which they invaded, if I had not
already difcuffed that point at large in a Treatife called
ihe Prince \ yet I cannot help briefly obferving, that
they always took care to gain over fome powerful
friend in thofe States to their interefl, whofe afliftance
they made ufe of not only to open a paflage into
them at firft, but to keep poflefTion of them after they
were conquered. Thus they availed themfelves of
the Capuans in the territories of the Samnites, of the
people of Camerino in Tufcany, of the Mamertines
in Sicily, of the Saguntines in Spain, of Maflinifla in
Africa, of the Etolians in Greece, of Eumenes and
other Princes in Afia, and of the MalTilians and Edui
in Gaul : and fo dexterous were they both in forming
and conducing fuch alliances, that they never were
at a lofs for friends of that kind, who greatly con-
tributed to facilitate all their enterprizes, and enabled
them both to conquer other nations and afterwards
to retain the dominion over them. Thofe then that
carefully follow the fame Maxims, will always have
much lefs occafion for the afliftance of Fortune than
others that do not : and that there may be no further
room left to doubt that their own Wifdom and Virtue
conduced much more than Fortune to the aggran-
dizement of that Empire, we fliall fliew in the next
Chapter, what fort of people they were whom the
Romans fubdued, and how obftinately they defended
their liberties.

P 3 ' C H A P.

'224 Political Discourses UPON Book II.


tFiih what Nations the Romans were engaged in their
%joars ; and bow objlinatdy tbofe Nations defended their
liberties againji them.

1"^ H E ^xceflive love of liberty, and the obfti-
nacy with which both the neighbouring na-
tions, and fome of thofe that lay at a o;reat diftance
from the Romans, defended it, made it fo difficult tq
conquer them, that it never could have been cfFeded,
without an uncommon degree of virtue and courage^
This is evident from the many and great dangers to
which they expofed themfelves, fometimes to pre-
jerve, and fpmetimes to recover it -, as well as fron>
the fevere revenge they took, when an opportunity
offered, upon thofe that had ufurped it. It likewife
fufficiently appears from Hiftory what grievous evils
and miferies were the confequence of fervitude in many
Nations ap.d States. And though there is but one
nation at prefent that caii boaft of having free Cities
in it*, yer, in ancient times, there was no inftanceof
any which had not fevera-1. We fee for example, how
many free people there were then in one angle of Italy
alone, as the Tgfcans, the Romans, and the Samnites ;
not to rnention many others in all the different parts
of it : but there is nothing at all faid of any Kings,
except thofe that reigned at Rome, and Porfena, King
of Tufcany ; concerning the extinction of whole fa-
inily, though Hiftory is altogether filent, it is certain,
however, that when the Ronians laid fiege to Veii,
Tufcany was not only entirely free itfclf, but ab-
horred the name of King to fuch a degree, that the
people of Veii having eled:ed one for thejr defence,
and demanding the affjltance of the Tufcans againft
^h^ Romans, the former, after much deliberations^

? The Gerpian Eippire.


Chap. II. The First Decad of Livy. 215

abfolutely refufcd to fend them away, whilft they con-
tinued under Kingly Government, and faid, they
fhould not concern themfelves in fupporting a Coun-
try that had already forfeited its liberties.

Now it is eafy to difcern from what caufe this fond-
nefs for liberty in mankind is derived : for experience
(hews us, that no ftate ever ext€nded its dominion,
or increafed its revenues any longer than it continued

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