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those princes who have not been over scrupulous in this point, have done great things, and proved too hard for those who have been superstitiously exact. To explain this, you must understand, that there are two ways of contending, by law and by force. The first is proper to men, the second to beasts : but as the one is frequently insufficient, recourse must be had to the other. It belongs there. fore to a prince to understand both, when to make use of the rational, when of the brutal way. And this is recommended by ancient writers, when they tell us that Achilles and other princes were committed to the education of Chiron the centaur, who was to keep them under his discipline, chusing them a master 'half man and half beast. Seeing then it is of such importance to a prince to take upon him the nature and disposition of a beast, of the whole flock he ought to imitate the lion and the fox; the fox to find out snares, and the lion to drive away the wolves. They who keep wholly to the lion have not a true idea of themselves. A prince therefore, that is wise and prudent, cannot and'ought not to keep his word, when the doing so is to his prejudice. Were all men virtuous, this doctrine need not be taught; but since they are wicked and not likely to be punctual with you, you are not obliged to any such strictness with them. Nor was there ever a prince at a loss for lawful pretence to justify his breach of promise. I'might instance in many inodern examples, and shew how confederations and treaties of peace have
been broken by the infidelities of princes, and how he who best personated the fox had the better suc
It is however of great consequence to disguise your inclination and play the hypocrite : and so simple are men in their temper, and so submis sive to their present necessities, that he who is neat and dexterous in his collusions shall never want people to practise them upon. I cannot forbear an example : Alexander VI. never practised, or thought of any thing, but cheating, and never wanted matter to work upon; and though no man ever promised with more solemn asseveration, or confirmed his promises with more oaths and imprecations, or observed them with less scrupulousness, yet well knowing the world he never miscarried.
A prince therefore is not obliged to have in reality the good qualities we have mentioned; but it is necessary to have them in appearance. Nay, I will venture to affirm, that having them actually and employing them upon all occasions, they are exkremely prejudicial; whereas having them only in appearance they turn to good account. It is honourable to seem mild, and merciful, and courteous, and religious, and sincere, and indeed to be so, provided your mind be so rectified and prepared, that upon occasion you can act quite con'trary: A prince, especially if come but lately to the throne, cannot observe with strictness all that is esteemed virtuous in men; he must sometimes, for the preservation of his state, practise things inhuman, uncharitable, and irreligious ; it is therefore convenient that his mind be at his cominand, and flexible to all the puffs and variations of his fortune: not forbearing to be good, when he has it in his choice, but knowing how to be evil whenever there shall be necessity.
Ib. ch. xviii.
Let us compare what the historians of all
ages have said concerning the courts of monarchs ; let us recollect the conversation and sentiments of people of all countries, in respect to the wretched character of courtiers, and we shall find, that these are not mere airy speculations, but things confirmed by a sad and melancholy experience.
Ambition joined to idleness, and business to pride ; a desire of obtaining riches without labour, and an aversion to truth; fattery, treachery, perfidy, violation of engagements, contempt of civil duties, fear of the prince's virtues, hope from his weakness, but above all a perpetual ridicule cast upon virtue, are, I think, the characteristics by which most courtiers in all ages and countries have been constantly distinguished.
MONTESQUIEU. Spirit of Laws, b. xii, cb. xxii.
From the lips of your courtiers you have heard, and hereafter you will much oftener hear, the grossest flattery. Should you do that which the son of your slave could at any time have done better than yourself, they will affirm that you have performed a most extraordinary act. Should you obey your pasa
sions, they will affirm, you have done well. Should you pour forth the blood of your subjects as a river does its waters, they will pronounce, you have done well. Should you tax the free air, they will assert, you have done well. Should you, powerful as you are, become revengeful, still would they proclaim, you had done well.
So they told the intoxicated Alexander, when he plunged his dagger into the bosom of his friend. Thus they addressed Nero, when he assassinated his mother.
MIRABEAU. Memorial to tbe King of Prussia,
When Waller was young he had the curiosity to go to court ! and he stood in the circle and saw James dine ; where, among other company, there sat at table two bishops, Neile and Andrews. The king proposed aloud this question : Whether he might not take his subjects money, when he needed it, without all this formality of parliament ? Neile replied, God forbid you should not : for you are the breath of our nostrils.
HUME. History of England, vol, vi, Þ: 75
THE most lofty titles, and the most humble postures, which devotion has applied to the supreme Being, have been prostituted by flattery and fear to creatures of the same nature with ourselves. The mode of adoration, of falling prostrate on the ground, and kissing the feet of the emperor, was borrowed by Dioclesian from Persian servitude ; but it was continued and aggravated till the last age of the Greek monarchy, Excepting only on Sundays, when it was waved from a motive of religious pride, this humiliating reverence was exacted from all who entered the royal presence. In his transactions of business, Liutprand, bishop of Cremona, asserted the free spirit of a Frank, and the dignity of his master Otho. Yer his sincerity cannot disguise the abasement of his first
* The preceding article related to the effect of courts, as they tend to deprave the prince to whom they are an appendage; the present article relates to their moral effects upon courtiers themselves, the persons of whom they are composed.