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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the number of its citizens; and, in that cale, fuch a
Kins: and fuch a Senate would have contributed
but little to its domeftic peace and union. Wliofo-
ever then intends to found a new Common- wealth,
fhould firil confider, whether he would have it extend
its dominion, or be content wirh a narrow territory
of its own : becaufe, in the firll cafe, he ought to
imitate the Romans, and make the belt provifion he
can againft divifions., if it is not in his pov>/er intircly
to prevent then-^-, for, without a great number of
men, and thofe too well difciplined, no Republic can
ever make any conqueff^, or, if it could, it would
«ot be able to keep poffeffion of them. In the fecond


Chap. VI. The First Decad of Livy. 27

cafe, he fhoiild follow the example of the Spartans
and Venetians ; but he miift ufe all pofTible means to
prevent new acquifitions, becaufe conquefts are gene-
rally deftru(5live to fucii feeble Common-wealths ;
and, indeed they proved fo, both to Sparta and Ve-
nice : the former of which, having reduced almofl all
Greece, difcovered its weaknefs upon a very flight oc-
cafion. For Thebes rebc-lling at the infligation of
Pelopidas, fcvtral other cities likewile revoirtd, and
at lali; qiiiie overturned the Lacedemonian Govern-
ment. The Venetians alfo, after they had made
them.felves mafters of the greater part of Italy, rather
by artitice and dint of money, than arms, prefuming
too much upon their llrength, loft almoft ail in one
battle that they had ever acquired before ^.

For mv own pare, I am of opinion, that if any one
would found a Comm.on- vvealth, which fhould fubfift
for a Ions; time, it would be the beft v/av to form its
interior conftitution after the model ot Sparta ; and
to build the capital in a firong and inacceiTible fitua-
tion, like that of Venice : that fo it might not be in
the power of an enemy to crufh it on a fudden. Be-
fides which, care fhould be taken on the other hand,
to hinder it from growing fo great and powerful, as
- to become form/idable to its neighbours; for the com-
mon motives that induce people to make war upon a
State, are either 'the defire of conquering it, or the
fear of being conquered by it themfelves. But both
thofe caufes are exftinguilhed by the precautions juft
now recommended : becaufe, if its natural fituation
makes it difficult to be affauited (as I prefuppofe) and
it is pretty well provided for its defence, it will fel-
dom or never happen, that any one will have the har-
dinefs to attet«pt it : and if it is content with its own
territory, and every one fees it has no ambitious views,
others will have no cccafion to make war upon it for
their ov;n prefervation, efpecially if its laws and con-
ititution are fuch as will not allow ic to enlarge its do-

^ In the year J 509, at Agaadal, near the river Adda.


28 Political Discourses upo^ Book L

minion ^, And, I verily believe, if things could be
balanced in this manner, it would be far the bed model
of government for any State that defired to live in
quiet and tranquillity. But, as the affairs of this world
are perpetually fiu6luacing, and nothing continues long
in the fame condition, all States mull of courfe grow
either better or v/orfe in timef; neceffity often forc-
ing men to do fuch things, as their reafon difap-
proves : foy when a State is founded that might

* " This reafoniKg (fays the above cited Author of the EjVimate of
** the manners and principles of the thnes. Vol. II. Seft. ii.) is applied by
*« Machiavel to Sparta and Venice : I need not point out to the Reader.
** how much more applicable it is to Britain : in foine refpeits, per-
** haps, there is no time nor country delivered down to us in Story,
*' in which a wife man would fo much have wiihed to have lived, as
*' in our own. If it be afked in what refpe6ts ? Let us do juftice to our
*^' age and country in every regard. A political Conftitution, luperior
*< to all that Hillory hath recorded, or prefent times can boaft : a
«' Religious Eftablifliment which breathes univerfal Charity and Tole-
** ration : a Separation from the Continent that naturally fecures us
<f' from the calamities of Invafion and the temptation of Conqueft ; a
*' Climate fertile in the fubftantial comforts of life : a Spirit of liberty
« yet unconquered : a general Humanity and Sincerity beyond any
<* nation upon Earth -. an adminiftration of juftice that hath filenced
** envy. Thefe are Bleffings which every Engliihman feels, andough't
«* to acknowledge. Search through all the moft admired periods of
«* the moft admired Countries, the moft flouriflimg a-ras of Greece,
" Italy, or France J aiKi tell me, if, in any of thefe, fuch an Union
*« can be found ? A volume might be written in proof and difplay of
«* this fuperiority."

f To this purpofe, Montaigne fays very juftly, Vol. IIL Chap. ii.
** Though the features of ihe pi6lures I draw alter and vary, there is
<* ftill a Hkenefs, The univerfe is but one perpetual motion, in
** which all things are inceflantly wheeled about'} the Rocks of
<* Caucafus, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Earth itfelf is fo, both by a
*' general motion, and a particular one of its own. Conftancy itfelf
«' is no other than a more languid motion. J cannot be fure of my
<« objeft : 'tis always difturbed and ftaggering by a natural giddinefs,
" I take it at the point it is in at the inltant when I confider it. I do not
«* paint its being, I paint its pafiage; not a pafiage from one century to
** another, or from one feven years to another feyen^ but from day to
'* day, from minute to minute. I mull accommodate my Hiftory to the
*' time 5 I may foon change not only my fortune, but my intentional fb.
" It is a true colour of various and changeable accidents and of ima-
*^ ginations, that are wavering, and (bmetimes contrary. Whether
«' it be that I am not then the man I was, or that I lay hold on the
<* fubjecls with other circumftances and confiderations ; fo it is, that
" perhaps I may plainly contradift myfclfj but, as Demades faid, I
** do not contradidl the truth. Could my Soul once take fure foot-
" ing, I would then fpeak definitively and peremptorily; but, as it
" i-':, it is always ka;ning and making trial."


Chap. VI. The First Decad of Livt.' 29

continue firm and indiffoluble for a long courfe of
years, provided it did not attennpt to extend its do-
minion, and it afterwards becomes abfolutely necef-
fary to do fo, its firft principles and foundatiorts
beinor deftroved, it mufl: foon fall to ruin. On the
other hand, if fortune fhould be fo propitious to it,
that it (hould have no occafion to engage in any war,
the inhabitants would then degenerate into idlenefs^
and from idlenefs into effeminancy and fadlion ; which
two evils together, or indeed either of them alone,
would be fuiiicient to caufe its deilruclion. How-
ever, fince it is hardly pofTible, I think, to balance
things fo exadly, or to obferve fo juft a medium as
J have been fpeaking of above, it is the beft way to
have a particular regard in the conftitution of a Re-
public to what feems moft honourable^ and to make
fuch provifions, that if it fliould ever become necef-
fary to enlarge its empire, in may be able to keep
pofTeffion of what it fhall acquire. Upon the whole,
therefore, I fhould chufe to form a Common-wealth
upon the Roman model, rather than upon that of the
other States abovementioned (fince it is impolTible to
obferve a due medium betwixt them) and to bear
with the diflenfions that mud arife betwixt the Senate
and Plebeians, as an inconvenience altogether necef-
fary in a people that would emulate the grandeur of
the Romans -, for, befides the reafons already aiHgned
to fhew the advantage of having Tribunes for the
confervation of the public liberties, it is eafy to fee
the benefit that mud accrue to a Common-wealth
from the povver thofe officers had, amongft other
privileges, of freely impeaching fuch as were thought
culpable -, of which I Ihall fpeak more particularly in
the next Chapier,

C H A P,

^o Political Discourses upon Book L

CHAP. vir.

How necejfary it is for the prefervation of Liberty Jn a
Common-'uiieaith ^ that any Criminal may he freely ac^
cufcd, with impunity to the Accufr*

NOTHING can be of greater importance to the
fafety of the State, than a power lodged in the
hands of thofe that are appointed Guardians of its
liberties, to accufe fuch perfons as violate the iaws of
their Country, either betbre the people, or the Ma-
gifirates, or fome Council that takes cognizance of
fuch offences •, for it produces two very falutary ef-
feds. In the fird place, the Citizens, being awed by
thefe accufations, feldom dare attempt any thing
againft the State : and if they {}iO^ they are prefently
brought to punifhment, without any refpe(5t of per-
fons *. In the next, a pafiage is opened for the eva-
cuation of fuch humours as are common in all great:
cities : for when thefe humours cannot difcharge'
themfelves through a proper channel, they are apt
to take fome other courfe, that may be fatal to the
Common-wealth •]-. It is of the utmod confequence,


* of this we may fee Tully's Tenfe in many parts of his wcjks ; let
the following Iviflice. " Accufatores multos cile in civitate utile eft,
** ut rnetu contineatur aiidacia." Pro. Sex. Rcfc. Amer, " Facile
•• omnes patimur t^t quamplurimos accufatores, quod innocens (i
«* accufatus fit, abfolvi poTelt ; pocens nifi accufatus fuerit, condem-
*' naii non poteft Utiiius eft autem abfolvi innocentem, quam no-
** ctntein caufam non ciicere." IbuU '* Nihil mali eft, canes ibi
** q«atn-oliirimos efie ubi per-multi cbfeivandi, raultaque fervanda
♦• liMit."' Ibid.

+ Machiavel might here -have added another falutary efFe*5l from
the abovcmentioned great authority, viz. the particular care of one's
cvvn condu6i. *' Omncs qui alteruni, nullis impulfj inimicitiis, nuHa
** privatim la;fi injuria,. n\illo prsemio addu6li in iudicium Reipublicas
*< caufavocant, piovidere debent, non folum quid oneris in prxftntia
** tollant, fed etism quantum in omnem vitre negotii fufcipere co-
** nentur. Legem enim fibi ipfi dicunt innocennae, continentias, vir-
^''tutumqne omnium, qui ab altero ratlonem vitae repofcunt .• atque
'**■ eo magis. fi id, ut ante dixi,faciunt nulla re commoti alfa, nifi utili-
*• tate communi. Nam qui fibi hoc fumpfit ut corrigat mores alio-
" rum, ac peccata repi ehendat, quis hulc agrwfcat, li qua in re ipfe

«* ab

Chap. V!I. The First Decad o? Livy. gf

therefore, to the welfare and repofe of every Repubic,
that a legal provifion be made, to give vent to ihefe
fermentations : of v/hieh many proofs may be ad-
duced, particularly the cafe of Corioianus, as it is
related by Livy. The Roman Nobility being exaf-
perated at the Plebeians, who they thought had gained
too much autlioriry by the creation of IVibunes to
fupport their claims upon all occafions ; and the city
labouring under fuch a fcarcity of provifions, at the
fame tim.e, that the Senate was forced to fend to
Sicily for corn ; Corioianus, who was a bitter enemy
to the popular fadion, fuggeded to the Nobility,
that they had then a fair opportunity of humbling
the Plebeians, and depriving them of the authority
they had ufurped, to the great prejudice of the No-
bles, by refufing to let them have any fhare of the
corn that was to be imported. But this advice com-
ing to the ears of the people, they were fo enraged a£
Corioianus, that they raifed a tumult, and, falling
upon him, as he came out of the Senate- houfe,
would certainly have torn him to pieces, if the Tri-
bunes had not internofed their authority, and ci^ed
him no anfvver the charge that was brought againft

** ab reliffione officii declinarit ? Qnapropter hoc ma?-is ab omnibus
*• ejuimodi civis laud-mdiis ac dilii;endas eil, qui noii folum reipu-
*' blicae civem inipiobum removet, verum etiam (cipfuin ejufmodi
*' fore profitetur ac prceftar, ut fibi non inodo comniuni voluntate
•' virtutis atqne ofHcii, ied etiam, ur quadam magis necelTaria ratione
•' reile fit honefltque vivendum.

" Furem aliquem, aat rapacem accufaris ? vitanda tibi femper erit
*' oinnis avaritias fufpicioi maleftcuin quempiam adduxeris aut crii-
•* delem ? cavendum ffirt (eniper, nequain le afperioraut inhumanior
*' fiiiiTe videare ; corruotoiem aut adulteruni ? providendum ddi-
*' genter, ne quod in vita vertigium libidiiiis appareat. Omnia poH-
** tremo, quae viiuiicaris in altero, tibi ipfi vehementer fugienda funt.
*' Etenim non modo accufitor, ftd ne ohjurgator quidem ferendus
** eft, qui quod in alteio viriiun reprehendit, \:\ eo ipfo deprehendi-

** tur." In Verrem. oral. VIII. in viit, - " Moniii ilium, queni

** plane dilijio, ut cum alfus accufalTet, caufius viveret.*' Epifr. £>.i
Attic. Lib. VI i. <' Cognofce ex me quam mvdta effe oporteat in eo,
*' qui alteram accufat. Pi imusii inte^^ritatem atque innocentiam fm-
** gularem. Nihil eii enim quod minus ferendum fit, quam ratio-
*' nem ab altero vitGE- repolcere eimi, qui non poflit i'uds reddei'e,
" Deinde acculatorem firmum vemmque elfe oportet.'" Di'*

ionira^ Ccedl See the Note conceniing Inforniers, Ihji, Flor. lib. II,

towai^s the end.

2 • hinn.

^i Political Discourses ufotj Book IV

him. From hence we may obferve the luility or
rather abfolute neceffity of making proper laws in a
Common-wealth, to difiipate the choier and refent-
ment, arifing from the hatred of the multitude to a
fmgle perfon , which, if not diverted by fome fuch
method, would take a different turn, and prove
much more prejudicial to the State. And though,
indeed, it may fometimes happen, that a citizen is
unjuftly punifhed by the Magiflrates, yet the Com-
mon-wealth will be but little, or not at all hurt by
it -, becaufe it is done neither by private violence, nor
foreign affjftance, which are the bane of liberty; but
under the fandtion of laws, and by public authority,
which, having their due bounds prefcribed them,
cannot injure the Community.

To prove what I have aflerted by examples, this
of Coriolanus may ferve for one of ancient date ; and
let any one confider, v/hat confufion it mufl have
Gccafioned in the Roman government, if he had been
killed in a tumultuary manner: for that would have
been an acl of private revenge i and violence of
that kind always makes individuals afraid of each
other ; fear puts them upon providing for their de-
fence, and in order to defend themfelves they mull
form parties; and parties at laft turn to fadion^^
which generally end in the ruin of a State ; but, by
the interpofition of -public authority, all thefe evils
were prevented. As to modern inftances of the bad
confequences of not providing the people with iome
legal means of venting their rage againft any of their
fdiow-citizens, we have feen feveral in our own
times, and one in particular at Florence, in the cafe
ofFrancifco Valori, who being a leading man, was
fufpedcd by many who knew his pride and ambition^
oT a defign to feize upon the Government himfelt t
and, as they had no other way to prevent it, but by
fetting up another fadion againft him -, Valori, wh.i
had nothing to fear on his fide, but fome popular
commotion, began to fortify himfelf with partizans
and followers, to defend him in cafe of need. . On


Chap. VII. The First Decad of LIvy. ^^

the other hand, thofe that oppofed him being utterly
unprovided with any lawful method of dealing with
. him, refolved to have recourfe to arms ; fo thar^
though he might have eafily been cut oft in the or-
dinary way of juftice, without hurting any one elfe^
if their laws had been properly calculated for it^
many other eminent citizens fuffered as well as him-
felf, I might likewife alledge what happened in the
fame City, with regard to Pietro Soderini 5 which
was entirely owing to the want of due means, to call
a powerful and ambitious citizen to account: becaufe
eight Signiors only (and there were no more in that
Republic) were not fufficient for that purpofe, which
required a greater number of judges 5 as a few are
liable either to be corrupted, or over-awed by a maa
in power. But had fuch neceflary provifions been
made, the citizens might either have accufed him
with fecurity, if he deferved it, and fatiated their
fury, without calling in a Spanifh army to their
affiftance ; or, if he did not deferve it, they would
not have dared to proceed againfl: him in that manner,
left he alfo fhould have accufed them in their turn :
and thus that conteft might have been ended, which
caufed fo much tumult and diforder.

We may conclude then, that when foreign aid is
called into a Republic by any party, it is owing to
a bad conftitution, and that they have no legal way
to purge off thofe ill humours that are fo natural to
mankind •, for which, the only remedy is to appoint
a great number of judges out of the moft reputable
citizens to receive all accufations in a legal manner.
This method was fo well eftablifhed and obferved ac
Rome, that in all the difTenfions which happened be-
twixt the Patricians and Plebeians^ neither the Senate,
nor the People, nor any particular citizen ever
thought of availing themfelves of foreign affiftance:
for as they had a remedy at home, they had no oc-
cafton to feek for one abroad. And though the ex-
amples already cited may fuffice to evince the truth
and necelTity of what I have laid down, I will yet

Vol. III. D produce

34 Political Discourses upon Book f,

produce another out of Livy, who tells us, that one
Lucumo having debauched the Sifter of Aruns at
Clufium (one of the principal cities of Etruria at
that time), Aruns not being able to revenge himfelf on
fo powerful a delinquent, had recoorfe to the Gauls
for affiftance (who were then in pofTelTion of that pare
of Italy now called Lombardy), and encouraged them
to lay fiege to Clufium^ by reprefenting the advantage
they might reap to themfelves from fuch an expedi-
tion, at the fame time that they procured him redrefs
- for the injury he had fuftained. Now if Aruns could
have had juftice done him at home, he would not have
applied to foreigners for it.

But if legal a:cufations are fcrviceable to a Repub-
lic, calumnies are no lefs dangerous and pernici-
ous 1 as we Ihall endeavour to (hew in the followin^^


'That Calumnies are as pernk'ous. as legal Accufatlons ere
fcrviceable to a Conmion wealth*

THOUGH Furius Camillus was fo highly re-
vered for his valour in delivering his Country
from the yoke of the Gauls, that no Roman Citizen
of what rank foevcr, thoucrhc it any diininurion cither
to his dignity or reputation to give him the prece-
dence : yet iVIanlius Capitolinus (ib called, becaule he
faved the Capitol) who thought he had done as much
for his Country as Camillus, and was in no wife infe-
rior to him in military abilities, could not bear to fee
fuch extraordiny honours conferred upon him. Full
of envy, therefore, and perceiving he could make no
impreflion upon the Senate, he applied to the people ;
amongft whom he fcattered various afperfions and in-
finuations to the prejudice of Camillus; particularly,
that the ranfom money which v;as colieifted for the
Gauls, but had not been appropriated to that ufe,


Chap. VIII. The First Degad of Livv. 35

was didributed amongd fome few Citizens ; and char,
if it could be recovered out of their hands, it would
be of szrcat advantage to the people, who n:iight ap-
ply it "rither to lefTcn the public taxes, or difcharge
their private debts. Thefe fuggeftions had fuch an
efFtcft upon the people, that they began to form ca-
bals, and at laft to raife tumults in the City ; which
giving great oITeiice to the Senators, who thought
they might prove of dangerous confequence, they
appointed a Bidator to enquire into the matter, and
to call Maniius to account for his behaviour. This
Magiftrate accordingly cited Manlius to appear im*
mediately, and anlwcr to the charge exhibited againft
" him in a public aflembly ; whither the Didator com-
ing in the m.idft of the Nobility, and Manlius fur-
rounded by the Plebeians, the latter was defired to de-
clare in whofe hands the money was, which he had
fpoken of-, bccaufe the Senators were as dcfirous to
be informed of that as the people. But Manlius, in-
(tead of anfwering particularly to the quedion, en-
deavoured to evade it, by faying, he had no occafion
to inform them of what they already knew fo well
themlelves •, upon which, the Di6lator fenc him di-
re6lly to prifon.

From hence we may obferve how deteflable fuch
calumnies ought to be, not only in all ixtt States, but
in every civil Society ; and how necefTary it is to pu-
nifh thole that are guilty of them, without partiality
or refped: of perlons. And certainly no method fo
effcdual can be taken to prevent or fupprefs them, as
to encourage legal accufations as much as pofTible ;
fince they are ro lefs detrirnxntal than fuch accufa-
tions are ferviceable to a Common-v/ealth. For there
is this difference betwixt them, that a Calumniator
calls in no teftimony or evidence to prove the truth
of what he fays •, fo that it is in any man's power to
abuie another ; but an Accuier muft produce wit-
nefTcs and fubilantial proofs to fupporc his charge *.


* ** Aliud eft maleciicere, a]iud accufare. Accufatio crimen defi-
** derat, rem ut defiuiat, honiinem ut notet, argumento prober, tefte

Da «* con-

g6 Political DisccrRSES ufo'n Book f»

Accufations are lodg-ed before Mag-iftrates, or Coun-
cils, or AlTemblies of the people : but Calumnies arc
whifpered about in holes and corners ; and it always
happens that Calumnies prevail mod in thofe States^
■where there are the fcwcft accufations, and the go-
vernment is kail: difpofed to encourage them.

A founder of a Republic therefore ought to make
fuch laws and provifions, that any one citizen may fe-
curely accufe another, and to fee that they are duly
and iiriftly cbferved : after which, he fhould punifh
Calumniators with the utmoft rigour ; who indeed
would have no reafon to complain of it, when they
had an opportimity of openly and fafely accufing thole
v;hom they had bafeiy flandered in private. Where
this is not duly attended to^ p;reat diforders mud al-
ways enfue ; for Calumnies inftead of making men
betrer, only ferve to irritate and provoke them ; and
when they are thus exafperared, they naturally endea-
vour to revenge themfelves, as they will rather be
apt to hare, than fiand in any fear of thok: that have
aiperfed them. Excellent provilions were made ae
-Rome for this purpofe, as we have faid before; and
very poor ones, or in fa<5i: none at all, at Florence :
accordingly the former Republic reaped great advan-
tage from them, and the latter fulfered much by thac
negledl. For whoever reads the Hillory of our Com-
mon-vv'ealth v;ill fee how many afperfions have been
call at all times, upon thofe that were employed in the
management of its moif important affairs-, one b-ing
charged with embezzling the public money, another
with being bribed by the enemy to lofe a battle, or
raife a fiege j and a third with being too ambitious y

♦' confirment. M?.]edi6lio autem nihil habet, propofiti, praeter cort-
•* tumeliam.'" Cic. pro M. Cislio orat. XIII. in init. " Qtiid eft
** enim minus, non dico Oratoris, led hominis, quam id objicere ad-
** verfario, quod iile li verbvO negarit, longius progredi non poiJit qui
" objecerit ?" Philip. II. Add to thtle the words of Ladaniius.
** Turpe eff honiinem ingeniofum dicere id, quod li neges, probare
" non point."* Inllit. Divin. lib. II. cap. xxviii. The Reader, if
he pleafes, may fee two excellent difcouifes upon this Tubjeft, in the
45111 and 594th Numbers of the Spectator, and a DilTcrtation upon
defainatory Libels, by Mr. Bajlc.

4 \vhicli

Chap. VIIT. The First Decad of Livy. ^"'y
vvliich occafioned endlefs animofities, divifions, fac-
tions, and finally the ruin of that State. But if pro-
per care had been taken at Florence to encourage le-
gal accufations againft fuch Citizens as were fuppofed
to be »uiky of any crime, and to punifh Calumnia-
tors, all thefe evils might have been prevented •, for
ihofe Citizens, whether acquitted or condemned,
would not have had it in their power to hurt the State,
and fewer people would have been expofed to Accu-
sations than Calumnies : becaule, as I juil now laid,
,it is a much eafier thing to calumniate, than to m.ain-
tain a juft accufation. It has likewife fometimes hap-

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 4 of 44)