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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pened, that an afpiring Citizen has availed himfclf of
calumnies, to gratify his ambitious views : for if he
is oppofed by any other perfon of weight and power
in the State, he immediately afperfes him, and puts
himfelf at the head of the Plebeians, v^hom he con-
iirms in the bad opinion of his adverfary, which he
had inftilled into them before ; and thus fecures their
fulfrages and intereil to promote his own defigns ; of
this feveral inflances might be produced, but 1 ,{hall
content myfelf with one only

When the Florentine army laid fiege to Lucca,, un-
der the command, of their CommiilTary Giovanni Guic-
ciardini ; whether it was owing to ill fortune or bad
conducl, he could not make himfclf Mailer of that
City. However it might be, he was charged with be-
ing corrupted by the Lucchefe •, which calumny be-
ing induftrioufly propagated by his enemies, enraged
him to fuch a degree, that it almoil drove him to mad-
nefs : and though he offered to put himielf into the
hands of a Magiftrate till he (hould be brought to a
' trial, yet he never could entirely wipe off the impu-
tation, becaufe there were no laws in that Common-
wealth to which he might have recourfe for his jufti-
fication. Hence arofe a m.ortal enmity betwixt Guic-
ciardini's friends (who confided of the greater part
of the Nobility), and thofe that wanted to fee a change
of Government ^ ; which animofities, and others of

* See. the Hiftory of Florence. Book iV. towards the end.

D 3 the

58 Political Discourses upon Book I.

the like nature daily increafing, at lafl: cnckd in the
tctal detlrudion of the Republican Government

Manlius Capitolinus then being a Calumniator and
not a fair Accufcr, the RomafiS have (lievvn us by their
example, how fuch people ought to be puniflned : iov
they (hould be obliged to bring a formal accufation,,
inftead of fpreading private calumnies; and reward-
ed (at lead not punifhed), in cafe they make good
their charge; if not, to be dealt with as Ivlanlius
was ^.


♦ Tenes or Tennes, who ga^e name to the Ifie of Tenedo?, made
a Law there, that a inan fliould always ft-md behind the Judge with
an axe in his liand, ready to cut off the head of any pericn immedi-
ately, who fhould be convicted of a faifjty. Ex Heraclide de polit.js.
Others fay he ordered an Executioner to {land with an axe lifted up
behind the Accufers, to put thofe to death directly that Hiould he found
guilty of falfe accufalions- Suidas in voce Trva^i-c fi.voja;7roj. This puts
one in mind of a Maxim which a French Civilian of the Sixteenth
Century has commented upon. It imports, that a man who takes
upoji him to attack the Religion which has been eilablifhed for Teveral
ages, ought not to be heard but upon this condition, that he Oiall be
capitally puniihed. if he does not convince the people, his own
pajticular opinion is truer than that of the Public. " Qiii antiqua,
** legitima, atque ordinaria facra, audet in controverfiam adducere,
*' eum non audiendum efTe, nili periculo fui capitis, fi non perluadcat
** veriorem efie fuam fententiam." Petius ^.todius decretorvmi. lib. I.
p. xviii. Paris 1573. 8vo. He quotes upon this occahon a rem-^rkable
example from Jofephus Book XII Chap. vi. of his Jewifli Antiqui-
ties. '* The Jews and Samaritans having had a contefl in thr City of
'* Alexandria, upon the queftion, whether the Temple of Jeru/alem
was prefeiable to that of Gerazim, the caufe was brought before
the Council of Ptoiemy Philometer King of Egypt : and before it
was argued, it was determined, that the Advocates of that party,
which fhould lofe the point, fhould be condemned to die. The A(i ■
** vocate of the Jews Ipoke firft, and lb clearly pioved the juiVice of
** his caufe, that a decree was made agreeable to his de/irej fb that
** Sabbeus and Theodofius, the two Advocates of the Samaritans,

** were put to deaih." One might liere oblerve that Jofcpdus has

rot mentioned whether the Samaritan Advocates fpoke at all or not.
This might lead one to think, that Sentence was given without their
being heard. It is not probable, however, that Ptolemy would be
guilty of fuch a piece of injultice. Jolephus therefore has violated the
laws of Hi/toiy — >— The abovementioned Civilian, prefently after,
cites the Law of Zaleucus, by which, all thofe that propofed any in-
novations, were obliged to do it wr.h a rope about their neck j that
ib, if they did not prevail for the abrogation of the old cuftoms, they
might be hanged upon the fpot ; and concludes with a wifh that there
was the fame law in France, He thinks that this would have pre-
vented thofe factions and confulions, which the defir e of novelty had




Chnp. IX. The First Decad of Livy. 39


l^hat only cne pcrfou JJjoidd he concerned, cither In founding
a new Siate^ or r>iaking a tborcngh reform in an old cne,

IT may be thought perh.ips that I have entered too
far into the Roman Hillory, before I make any
mention either of the very Founders themfelves of
that Republic, or the laws they made relating to Re-
ligion and Military difcipline. Not to keep thofe in
fufpence any longer, who may defire fom>e informa-
tion in thefe matters, I fay, that many miay pofTibly
think it a bad precedent in Romulus, the founder of
a State, to kill his own brother fird, and afterwards
to connive at the death of Titus Tatius the Sabine,
whom he had adociated with himfelf in the govern-
ment •* ; as any of his own Subjeds, if prompted by


occafioned in tint Kingdom. '* Quibns omnino rationibus atque con-
*' ditionibus, fi nos pra-'ferrim in boc tempore ureremur, quo is de-
*' mum nihil fcire, & illiberaiis efle dicitiir, cui non placent ablur-
•* djlTim^i quEEque, modo rectntiiTima ; non ita plane res incertas eflent
** ac tiirbulents, neque tarn multi mu'.tarum partium, faCtionum,
** opinionum, audVores evaderent : cum fuo (altem periculo eo difce-
** rent amare, colere, pacera parriarnque, leges ac Mrigiftratus, quce
** odio fane prcllquuntur." It is evident be would bave had tbe dif-
pute betwixt tbe Popiih Clergy and the Pjotcftants, determined like
that of Al';xandria, But was there a Tribunal in France like that
of the King of Egypt ? The latter confifted of perfons who were nei-
ther Jews nor Sam^iritans j and the conteiiding parties inight there-
foie expc£l an imp.irtial judgment. Luther and Calvin and their fol-
lowers could norpionfi/e thtnifelves the fame thing j fmce the fame
perfons who would have been their Judges, were likewife parties. So
that neither tbe Laws of Zaiencus, nor that of the King of Tenedos,
nor laftly the pradiee of the Romans either can or ought to be ex-
tended to matters of jeli^ion.— — Manlius was thrown headlong from
the Capitol.

* Af"ter tbe deaih of Remus, a war having been commenced be-
twixt the Sabines and Romans, upon the rape of the Sabine virgins,
Tatius, the genejal of the former, made himfelf mafter of the Capi-
tol, and otherwife foharrafled the Romans, that Romulus was obliged
to come upon terms with them, and nor only to incorporate them
into his new State, but to admit Tatius to an equal (hare in the So-
vereignty. Five years afterwards, however, as they were offering fa-
crifice together at Lavinium, an infurre6lion was raifed, as iome fay
l^y the contrivance of Romulus, in which Tatius loft his life.— Upon

D 4. this

46 Political Discourses upon Book L

ambition and define of Command, might plead the
example of their Prince, in difpatching fuch as en-
deavoured to oppofe or impede their defigns. And
indeed their opinion would feem juft and reafonable,
if the motives were not to be confidered which in-
duced Romulus to a6l as he did. For it muft belaid
down as a general rule, that it very feldom or never
happens that any Government is either well founded
at firil, or thoroughly reformed afterwards, except the
plan be laid and condudted by one man only, v;ho
has the fole power of giving all orders, and making
all laws that are necelTary for its eftablirnment. A
prudent and virtuous Founder of a State therefore,
whofe chief aim it is to promote the v^elfarc of many,
yather than to gratify his own ambition ; to make
provifion for the good of his country, in preference
to that of his Heirs or Succeflbrs, ought to endea-
vour by all means to get the fupreme authority wholly
jnto his own hands : nor will a reafonable man ever
condemn him for taking any meafures, even the moft
extraordinary, if they are neccfTary for that purpofe :
the means indeed may feem culpable^ but the end will
juftify them, if it be a good one, as that of Romulus
was, and will always be admitted as a fufficient ex-

this paiTage, one E. Dacres, who translated Machiavers Political Dif-
courfes, in the year 1636, fays as follows, *' Without quellion the end
«« was annbition, Royalty admitting no companion : of whom to free
*' himfelf, it Teems, that Romulus ftood not much upon how lawful
<* means he ufed, for Cain-like, he flew his brother, and confented to
^- Titus Tatius liis death, without doubt, for venturing to take part
«* in the authority." And touching this, it may be Machiavel will
fpeak truer, near the latter end of his eighteenth chapter of this book,
■where he fays, '* Becaufe the relloring of a city to civil and politique
<< government pre-fuppofes a good man ; and by violence tp become
^< Prince of a Common wealth, pre-fuppoles an evil man, for this
*< ca-iife it fliall very feldom come to pafs, rhat a good man will ever
f« ftrive to make hirnfelf Prince by mifchievous ways, although his
«* ends therein be all good ; nor will a wicked man, by wicked means
'^ attaining to be Prince, do good, nor ever comes it into his heart to
** ufe that authority well, which by evil means he came to." And fo
at the very end of the fame eighteenth chapter he concludes, " That
"' though the intent were not good, there might be a fair colour fet
\' upon" it by a good fuccefs." Whereby our Politician, however he
"svinds and turns, comes at length to difcover his evil ground, ** Jus
^ regnandi gratia violandura.eit, aliis in rebus jpietatum colas."


Chap. IX. The First Decad of I ivy. • 41
cufe y for he is only blameable who ufes violence to
throw thinc^s into confufion and dillradion, and not
he who does' it to ellabliih peace and good order *.
But a LegiOator ought likewile to be fo provident and
difintereited as not to leave the authority he has af-
fumed as an inheritance to another: for men being
naturally more prone to evil than good, his SuccefTor
perhaps may be tempted by ambition to abufe that
power which he himfelf made a wife and virtuous ufe
of. Befides, it is further to be confidered, that al-
though it is the mofl: proper that one man alone fiiould
form the firll model, yet any Government that he
fhall eftabiifli will be but of fhort duration if it de-
volves upon a fmgle perfon : but if it is transferred
to many it will be much better, becaufe many will be
interefied in the maintenance of it. For as it is not
convenient that the multitude fliould be concerned in
laying the foundations of a government ; fmce the di-
verfity of their opinions would not fuffer them to agree
in what may be moil for its good : fo when things
are once fettled upon fome good and advantageous
bottom, they will hardly ever all agree to aban-
don it.

That Romulus therefore was excufable for putting
to death both his brother and the other aflbciate in his
government : and that what he did v;as not out of
motives of ambition, but for the public good, plainly
appears from his eftablifhing a Senate foon after they
were dead, according to the refolutions of which he
afted in all things, referving only to himfelf the pri-
vilege of calling the Senators together, and of com-

• Human Policy feems to be at great variance with found reafon and
true religion in this point: for the bell Cafuifts fay," Bonitasintentionis
** non fufficit ad bonitatem aclus, i. e. A good end does not juftify bad
" means to corapafs it;" but the Jefuits fay othervvife. The Maxim, how-
ever,^ " Let us do evil, that good may come," is utterly difclaimed by
one of much higher authority than either of them — A fharper, perhaps,
may avail himfelf of tricks and finefi'esfor a while, but a fair and good
player will have the advantage at the long run. Let any one confider
ihe condu6t of Henry HL of France, as it is related by Davila, and he
will foon be convinced how fatal fuch nieafures prove in the end ; and
that ^* iionefty, according to the old prgverb; is the belt Policy."


42 Political Discourses upon Book I.

manding their Armies in time of war. A proof of
this we have from what happened afterwards, when
the Romans recovered their liberties by the expuifion
of the Tarquins : at which time they made no change
in their firll conftitution •, except that inftead of one
King for life, they annually created two Confuls :
which {hews that the firft inftitutions of that State
were rather calculated for a free Republican Govern-
ment, than the fupport of abfolute and tyrannical
power. To confirm what I have laid down, I mig^ht
quote many more examples, as thofe of Mofes, l.y-
curgus, Solon, and other Founders of Kingdoms and
Republics, who, by afiuming the lole power were en-
abled to make excellent laws for the government of
their refped:ive States ; but it is here unnecelTary, as
they are already fo well known : I fhall therefore add
only one more, which, though not fo brilliant and il-
luftrious perhaps as the reft, is yet wonhy of being
confidered by thofe that would form a good eltablifn-
ment. Agis, King of Sparta, being dtfirous to re-
duce his Subjedls to the obfervation of the laws that
had formerly been given them by Lycurgus, for
want of which he perceived they had lofi: much of
their ancient virtue, and confequendy their power and
command, was killed, before he could accomplifhed
his defign, by the tphori *, who lufpe6ted that he
wanted to introduce tyranny and make himfelf abfo-
lute Lord over them. But Cleomenes, his SuccefTor,
being determined to purfue the fame defign by fom^
papers that Agis left behind him, from which he per-
ceived that his intention was only to reform the 5tate;
and finding he could not do his country that Service,
any way but by taking the Government wholly into
his own hands, (as the malevolence and oppofuion of
a few, often prevent one man from doing a public
good) he took a proper opportunity, and caufed not

* Magiftrates at Sparta, like the Tribv.nes at Rome. The people
ufed to appeal from their King to them, as the Romans did from their
Confuls to the Tribunes: at tirft they were tbofeii to be afilitants to
the King j but in a fliort time their authority grew much greater
than his.


Chap. X. The First Decad of Livy. 43

only the Ephori, but all others that were capable of
obftruding his meafurcs, to be put ro death, and af-
terwards rcllored the laws of Lycurgus to their for-
mer vigour and authority. A reiblution that would
have retrieved the glory of Sparta, and given as much
reputation to Cleoments as Lycurgus himfelf had ac-
quired, if the overgrown power of the Macedonians,
and the feeble condition into which the other Repub-
lics of Greece were then fallen, had not prevented it*
For being fuddenlv invaded by the Macedonians, be-
fore it had gained ftrength enough to defend itfelf ;
and having no allies that were capable of giving it
any aflillance, it was forced to fubaiit, and that great
and laudable defign proved abortive in the end. Thefc
things being duly confiuered, 1 conclude, that in or-
der to found a State, one perfon alone fhould have
all the power vefled in him •, and that Romulus was
excufable, at lead, in putting Remus and Tatius to


If thofe that found States defrve praife ; others that in-
troduce Tyranny ought to be held in detejlation,

OF all men that are praife- worthy, thofe are mofl
fo that have made Religion and Divine worfhip
their chief care ; and, in the next place, thofe that
have founded Kingdoms or Republics. After whom
we may .reckon great Commanders, who have either
enlarged their own dominion or that of their Country,
To thefe we m.ay add Learned men of all kinds, that
have excelled in their feveral profefTions. And laflly,
all eminent Artificers and Mechanics, of whom the
number is infinite, deferve fome fhare of commen-
dation. On the contrary, thofe wretches are worthy
of nothing but infamiy and deteftation, who extirpate
Religion, fubvert Kingdoms and Common-wealths,
make war upon Virtue, Merit, Letters, Arts, Sci-

44 Political Discourses UPON Book I,

cnces, and every thing elfe that is ufeful or honourable
to mankind \ in which rank are the prophane, the ty- I
rannical, the ignorant, the idle, the diflblute, and ^
debauched. Now certainly there can be no man liv-
ing, whether wile or fimple, good or bad, but muft
praife the one, and condemn the othei*, if at liberty
to fpcak his mind. Neverthelefs., the generality of
mankind, deluded by afalfe appearance of what feems
good and great, fuffer themfelvcs either wilfully or ig-
norantly to foliov/ the example of thofe that deferve
the higheft degree of reproach inilead of admiration,
Tv^ho when they might have founded a Kingdom or -a
Common-v^^ealth to their immortal honour, become
tyrants ; not ccnfidering what glory, what reputation,
what fecurity, tranquillity, and peace of mind they
forfeit by fuch a m.anner of proceeding; and, to
'what infamy, abhorrence, remorfe, difquietude, and
to how many dangers and alarms they expofe ihem-
felves. Every man that reads and confiders the Hif-
tory of former times, whether he be a fubjecl of a
Common-wealthj or one that has advanced himfelf to
Sovereignty, would certainly chufe, if a Republican,
to have been Scipio rather than Julius Csefar-, if a Prince,
rather to have been Agefilaus, Timoleon, or Dion,
than Nabis, Phalaris, or Dionyfuis •, for he cannot
iielp feeing how highly the former were admired and
revered, and how much the latter were condemned
and abominated by all good men. He will likewife
fee, that TimiOleon and the others had as^much autho-
rity in their refpedtive States, as either Phalaris or
Dionyfius had in theirs, and lived with infinitely more
comfort and fecurity. We ought not to be dazzled
with Csefar's falfe glory, when we behold him fo
inuch extolled by fome writers ; for thofe writers
were either fo corrupted by his good fortune, or over-
av/ed by the long continuance of his power, that they
durft not fpeak truth. But, if thofe Hiflorians had
been under no rcftraint, without doubt they would
have fpokcn as freely of him, at lead, as others have
done of Catiline \ for Cxfar was certainly the more


Chap. X. The First Decad of Livy. 4^

wicked of the two, if one man that adually commits
a crime, is worfe than another, who only intended it.
Such a Reader may alfo obferve, what Eulogies they
beftow upon Brutus •, for, as they durft not fpeak im-
partially of Cse/'ar, on account of his pov/er, they
were forced to content themfelves with magnifying
his adverfary. Let it be confidered likewife, by all
fuch as have changed Republics into abfolute govern-
ments, in what fccurity thofe Emperors lived, who
after Rome became an Empire^ fliridlly obferved the
laws of their country, and reigned like good Princes;
in comparifon of thofe that behaved in a differenc
manner : and they will find that Titus, Nerva, Tra-
jan, AdriUn, Antoninus, and Marcus Aureiius, had
no occafion either for Prsetorian b-ands or legions to
guard them 5 becaufe their own goodnefs, and the
affedlions both of the Senate and people were a fuifi-
cient defence to thofe Princes. On the contrary, it
may be remarked, that the moft powerful armies,
both in the eauern and weftern parts of the Empire,
were not able to fecure Caligula, Nero, Vitellius, and
feveral other bad Emperors, againft fuch enemies as
their wicked and tyrannical government had created
them. Now, if the reigns of thefe different Empe-
rors be v/ell confidered, they may ferve as excellent
lefTons to any other Prince, who is defirous not only
to avoid infamy, but to immortalize his name, to live
in fecurity, and free from dangers and alarms : for of
twenty-fix Emperors, who reigned betwixt the time
of Julius Ca^far and Maximin, fixteen v/ere murdered,
and ten only died a natural death. But if fome of
thofe that happened to be murdered were good Princes
(as Galba and Pcrtinax were) their death was owing
to the corruption which their PredecefTors had intro-
duced amongll the Soldiery : and, if any one of thofe
that died a natural death was a bad Prince (as Severus
was) it may be attributed to fuch a degree of good
fortune and valour, as are feldom incident to the fame
perfon. One may further learn from the hiftory of
the Roman Emperors, upon what fouPidation a Mo-

^.6 Political Discourses upon Book I.

narchy ought to be built, in order to make it flable
and permanent -, for all the Emperors that fucceeded
to the Imperial dignity by inheritance, proved very
bad, excepting Titus ; and thofe, on the contrary,
who enjoyed it by adoption, were all good Princes,
as might be inllanced in the examples of Nerva, and
the four fucceeding Emperors in particular j but when
the Empire became hereditary, it began to decline
very fail.

Let a Prince then compare the times that happened
betwixt the reigns of Nerva and Marcus Aurclius,
with thofe that went before and thofe that came after,
and then declare in which he would chufc either to
have been born or reigned. For when good Princes
were upon the throne, he will fee them reigning in
fecurity in the midft of their Subjects, peace and
juftice firmly eflabliflied, the Senate in full authority,
the Magiltrates honoured and refpeded, the citizens
enjoying their properties without fear or lufpicion.
Nobility and virtue exalted,- and the world in repofe
and tranquility -, all rancour, licentioulnefs, corrup-
tion and ambition feemed to be extinguifhed in thole
golden times; every man was at liberty both to chufe
and maintain his own opinion *. In fhort, he will
fee the world exulting in all manner of felicity ; the
Princes full of glory, and revered by their people ;
and the people happy and iafe, under the protedion
and paternal aftedion of their Princes.

In the next place, let him examine the reigns of
the other Emperors, and he will find them full of
commotion, difcord, fedition, inhuman murders, af-
fafTinations of Princes both in peace and war, foreign
and domeftic broils, Italy diftraded with daily alarms,
its cities plundered and deflroyed, the metropolis it-
felf burnt, the Capitol demolifhed by its own Citizens,
the temples pulled down, Religion corrupted, the
cities full of adulteries, the Sea covered with Exiles,
and the Shores ftained with blood •, he will fee end-

• " Rara temporum felicitas,*' fays Tacitus, •' ubi fentire qua
velis & quae fentias dicere licet." Hilt. I. liD, I. c. i,


Chap. X. Tpie First Decad of Livv. 4.7

lefs enormities and cruelties in Ronne, and not only
riches and nobility, but even virtue itfelf looked up-
on as a capital offence. He will fee infamous Ac-
cufers and Calumniators rewarded, Servants bribed
to betray their Mafters, Children to rebel againfl their
Parents, and thole that had no Enemies, oppreifed
arid undone by their friends *. Upon fuch an ex-
amination it will appear, what mighty obligations
Rome, Italy, and the whole world lay under to
Julius Cs^far ; and certainly, if a Prince, who reads
theTe tilings, has any principles of humanity in him,
he will not only be deterred from following the ex-
ample of thefe wicked Emperors, but inflamed with
a dcfire of imitating the good. For one that afpires
to famie and reputation in the world would wifh to
fucceed to a corrupted ftate, not utterly to fpoil and
fubvert it, as Caviar did ; but to new-model and re-
form it, like Romulus : and heaven cannot give, nor
man dcGre a more favourable opportunity of acquir-
ing true glory. If it fhould happen, however, that
he cannot efrcdl that reform, without entirely giving
up his power and authority, he v/ould be in fome
me^fure inexcufable vvichouc doubt, in cafe he did
not do that ; but, if he could accomplifh the one
wirhout lolir^g the other, he would be unpardonable

* Machiavel has borrowed this piflure, and many others from Ta-
citus. ♦' Opus aggredlor plenum cafibus, atrox prssliis, dil'cors fe-

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