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is danger, when the commonalty trouble the water, and the nobility step in.
It is a perilous weakness in a state to be slow of resolution in the time of war. To be irresolute in determinations is both the sign and the ruin of a weak state. Such affairs attend not time. Let a wise statesman therefore abhor delay, and resolve rather what to do, than advise what to say. Slow deliberations are symptoms either of a faint courage, or weak forces, or false hearts.
It is dangerous for a prince to use ambitious natures, but upon necessity, either for his wars, or to be skreens for his dangers, or to be instruments for the demolishing insolent greatness. And that they may be the less dangerous, let him choose them rather out of mean births than noble; and out of harsh natures, rather than plausible. And always be sure to balance them with those that are as proud as they
In a mixed monarchy, if the hierarchy grow too absolute, it is wisdom in a prince rather to redress it, than suppress it. All alterations in a fundamental government bring apparent dangers; but too sudden alteration threatens inevitable ruin. When Aaron made a molten calf, Moses altered not the
government, but reproyed the governor.
Before thou build a fortress, consider to what end. If for resistance against the enemy, it is useless. A valiant army is a living fortress. If for suppressing the subject, it is hurtful. It breeds jealousies, and jealousies beget hatred. If thou hast a strong army to maintain it, it adds nothing to thy strength. If thy army be weak, it conduces much to thy danger. The surest fortress is the hands of thy soldiers: and the safest citadel is the hearts of thy subjects.
It is a princely alchemy, out of a necessary war, ta extract an honorable peace; and more beseeming
the majesty of a prince, to thirst after peace, than conquest. Blessedness is promised to the peacemaker; not to the conqueror. It is a happy state, whose prince hath a peaceful hand, and a martial heart, able both to use peace, and to manage war.
It is a great oversight in a prince, for any res. pects, either actively or passively, to make a foreign kingdom strong. He that gives means to another to become powerful, weakens himself, and enables him to take the advantage of his own weak
When the humours of the people are stirred by discontents, or popular grief, it is wisdom in a prince to give them moderate liberty to evaporate. He that turns the humour back too hastily, makes the wound bleed inwardly, and fills the body with malignity,
If thou be ambitious of honour, and yet fearful
of the canker of honour, envy, so behave thyself, that opinion may be satisfied in this, that thou seekest merit, and not fame: and that thou attributest thy preferinent rather to providence, than thy own virtue. Honour is a due debt to the observer; and who ever envied the payment of a debt? A just advancement is a providential act; and who ever envied the act of providence?
Let states that aim at greatness, beware lest new gentry multiply too fast, or grow too glorious. Where there is too great a disproportion betwixt the gentry and the common subject, the one grows insolent, the other slavish. When the body of the gentry grows too glorious for a corslet, then the heads of the vulgar wax too heavy for the helmet.
Century 3. Chap 9.
Gaze not on beauty too much, lest it blast thee; nor too long, lest it blind thee; nor too near, lest it burn thee. If thou like it, it deceives thee; if thou love it, it disturbs thee; if thou lust after it, it
destroys thee. If virtue accompany it, it is the heart's paradise. If vice associate it, it is the soul's purgatory. It is the wise man's bonfire, and the fool's furnace,
These are a few specimens only of the great number of excellent maxims to be found in this little book. It well deserves to be re: printed.