TABLE OF CONTENTS
FOREWORD: EXAMINATION OF THE PRINCE OF MACHIAVEL
Machiavel's The Prince is to ethics what the work of Spinoza is to faith. Spinoza sapped the fundamentals of faith, and drained the spirit of religion; Machiavel corrupted policy, and undertook to destroy the precepts of healthy morals: the errors of the first were only errors of speculation, but those of the other had a practical thrust. The theologians have sounded the alarm bell and battled against Spinoza, refuting his work in form and defending the Divinity against his attack, while Machiavel has only been badgered by moralists. In spite of them, and in spite of its pernicious morals, The Prince is very much on the pulpit of policy, even in our day.
I will defend humanity against this monster which wants to destroy it; I dare to oppose Reason and Justice to sophism and crime; and I ventured my reflections on Machiavel's Prince, chapter by chapter, so that the antidote is immediately near the poison.
I always have regarded The Prince as one of the most dangerous works which were spread in the world; it is a book which falls naturally into the hands of princes, and of those who have a taste for policy. It is all too easy for an ambitious young man, whose heart and judgement are not formed enough to accurately distinguish good from bad, to be corrupted by maxims which inflame his hunger for power.
If it is bad to debase the innocence of a private individual, whose influence on the affairs of the world is minimal, it is much more to pervert some prince who must control his people, administer justice, and set an example for their subjects; and must, by their kindness, magnanimity and mercy, be someone to be looked up to.
The floods which devastate regions, the fire of the lightning which reduces cities to ashes, the poison of the plague which afflicts provinces, are not as disastrous in the world as the dangerous morals and unrestrained passions of the kings: the celestial plagues last only for a time, they devastate only some regions, and these losses, though painful, are repaired. But the crimes of the kings are suffered, for a much longer time, by the whole people.
The kings have the capacity to do good when they have the will. In the same way they can also make evil. The lives of the people are sometimes pitiable, and they have very good reason to fear abuse of the sovereign power, when their goods are in prey when the prince's avarice asserts itself. Their freedom is at the mercy of his whims; their peace and security are vulnerable to his ambition and perfidy; and their very lives are subject to his cruelties! Machiavel's advice, if followed uncritically by a prince, may lead to real tragedies in the real world.
I should not finish this foreword without saying a word to people who believe that Machiavel wrote what the princes are, and not what they should be; or that, as has been said by many people, it is a satire.
Those who pronounce that Machiavel's Prince is a typical sovereign were undoubtedly swayed by the examples of some bad princes, which never leave the memory once their cruelties are seen or experienced. Or they may conclude this from the record of the contemporaries of Machiavel, quotes by the author, and the life of some tyrants who were the very opposite of human. I request these critics to think, that just as the seduction of power hunger is sometimes overwhelming, it is also possible to deploy more than one virtue to resist it. Thus, it is not astonishing that, among all princes, his is the bad one among the good. The Roman Empire did suffer under emperors such as Nero, Caligula, or Tiberius, but the universe greets with joy the virtues of Titus, Trajan, and Antonin.
There is a real injustice in concluding that the rotten apples are representative of all of them.
One should preserve in the history only the names of the good princes, and let those of the others die forever, along with their indolence, their injustices and their crimes. The books of history would be less accurate, but humanity would profit: a prince's reward for their virtue would be the honor of living in history, to see their names and examples live in the future centuries until eternity. The book of Machiavel would not infect any more the schools of policy; people would scorn its contradictions; and the world would be convinced that the true policy of the kings, founded only on justice, prudence and kindness, is preferable in any direction to the disjointed and arbitrary system, full of horror, that Machiavel had the effrontery to present to the public.
CHAPTER I: WHAT A STRONG PRINCE REALLY IS, AND HOW ONE CAN REACH THAT POINT
When one wants to reason correctly, it is necessary to start by looking further into the nature of the subject upon which one wishes to speak. It is necessary to go to the source, to know, as much as one can, the first principles of that subject; it is easy then to deduce and progress from them, and to see the consequences which can follow. Before listing the differences of the States, Machiavel should have, in my opinion, examined the origin of princes, and to discuss the reasons why free men would choose to live under Masters.
Perhaps it would not have been appropriate in a book, where the author proposes to codify crime and tyranny as good policy, to make mention of what would refute it. Machiavel would have had the bad grace to say that the people found necessary, for their own good and preservation, to have judges to settle their disputes; guards to protect them and their worldly goods against their enemies; a sovereign power to join together all their varied interests into one common interest: it seems reasonable to assume that they initially chose the ones whom they believed to be the wisest, most equitable and most disinterested, the most valiant and the most human, to control them.
It is thus the justice (one would have to say) which must be the main responsibility of a sovereign. Since it is the prime interest of the many people whom they control, they must give it priority over any other interest of their own. What then becomes of Machiavel's recommendations of naked self-interest, self-aggrandizement, unleashed ambition and despotism? The sovereign, far from being the absolute Master of the people which are under his domination, is only the first servant.
As I proposed to refute in detail these malignant principles, I will speak about them as the contents of each chapter provides me the occasion to.
I must, however, note that what I said of the way sovereigns come into being, makes the action of the usurper even more atrocious. It is not only his violence; he shows utter contempt for the people that he rules, and treats them like animals: the usurper will sacrifice, both all the goods of "his" people and their very lives, to appease his tyrant's whims and avarice. There are only three legitimate ways to become Master of a country: succession; choice of the people which have the capacity; or conquest as a result of war. It should be clear as to which manner Machiavel covertly recommends.
I request the reader to remember these remarks on the first chapter of Machiavel, since they are the bedrock upon which all my following reflections will stand.
CHAPTER II: HEREDITARY PRINCIPALITIES
People have a certain respect for all that is old, up to and including superstition; and when their heritage has the power that antiquity also has on them, it does not create a stronger yoke: they carry this tradition relatively easily. Thus I am far from disputing Machiavel on a point everyone will grant to him: hereditary kingdoms are easiest to control.
I add only that the hereditary prince will be strengthened in their possession by the intimate connection between them and the more powerful "family" of their State, to whom the majority of princes are indebted. For some, its good is so inseparable from its sovereign House, irregardless of the current Chief Tenant, that it is quite possible, and sometimes necessary, that the continuity of the State demands that the dynasty of the Prince be replaced by another. Their fall might be the continuation, one both certain and necessary.
Nowadays, the many troops and the powerful armies that the princes hold on foot, in peace as in war, still contribute to the security of the States; they contain the ambition of the princes that control territories next to each other. Naked swords hold those of the others in the sleeve.
But it is not enough that the prince is, as Machiavel says, di ordinaria industria, merely in it for the pay. You would think that he would like to make his people happy. Content people will not think of revolting; happy people fear losing a prince who is at the same time their benefactor. Such a sovereign cannot be afraid of losing his power. The Dutchmen would never have revolted against Spain if the tyranny of the Spaniards had not gone to such an enormous excess so that the Dutchmen saw overturning the system they were used to as the lesser of two evils.
The kingdom of Naples, and that of Sicily, passed more than once from the hands of the Spaniards to those of the emperor, and the emperor to the Spaniards; the conquest was always very easy, because the rule of both were very severe; these people always hoped to find liberators in their new Masters.
How different are the Neapolitan kingdoms from the Lorraine ones! When the latter are obliged to change rulers in midstream, all the inhabitants of the Lorraines are in tears; they regret to lose the good part of their duke, whose family for so much of this century had possession of this flourishing country. The most notable of this part is their kindness, and the suspicion arises that the now-gone duke deserves to be held up as an example of a king. The memory of the deposed Duke Léopold was still so revered in Lorrains, that when his widow was obliged to leave Lunéville, all the people threw themselves to their knees ahead of her, and she had to stop the horses on several occasions. As her exile proceeded, only groans were heard, and only tears were seen. There was neither triumph nor joy in the eyes of the people victorious.
CHAPTER III: MIXED PRINCIPALITIES
The fifteenth century, where Machiavel lived, was one where cruelty was normal: then, the disastrous glory of the conquérans was preferred, and these striking actions which by their size impose a certain respect. Now, gentleness and fairness win respect, and is considered good statecraft; I see that people prefer a humane ruler to one with the qualities of a conqueror, both bad and good. The insanity which praised and therefore encouraged the cruel passions, which caused the upheaval of the world, is gone.
I ask: what can sustain a man that seeks power for the sake of power? And what incentives can such a man, intent on raising his own power on the misery and the destruction of other men, offer others? How can these others believe that the misery will only be suffered by only the "losers"? The new conquests of a sovereign do not make the States which he has already more opulent or rich; the people do not benefit from it, and he is mistaken if he thinks that expanding his borders will satisfy him. How many princes, at the urging of their Generals, conquer provinces which they never see? These conquests are in some way imaginary; they have only little reality for the princes who made them. Why create so many unhappy people, to satisfy what amounts to the imagination of only one man, who often does not deserve to be put in the history books anyway?
But let us suppose that this conqueror subjects everyone to his domination. Once he effects this well subjected world, will he be able to control it? A very large prince he may be, but his rule may be on the way to "very limited." Will he even be able to retain his new provinces even in name? Expanding the size of his territory will not be useful in covering over his State's true smallness: it will only highlight it.
It is not the size of the country which the prince controls that gives him glory. More miles of ground will not bring him fame; the contrary assumption is the philosophy of a surveyor, not a sovereign.
The error of Machiavel on the glory of the conquérans could be a result of his time, but his spite makes this explanation incomplete. There is nothing more dreadful than certain of the means that he proposes to preserve conquests; if you examine them carefully, there will not be one of them which is reasonable or right. "It is enough," this malicious man tells us, "to extinguish the line of the defeated Prince." Can one read this without quivering with horror and indignation? It is to stomp on all that is saintly and regal in the world; it is to permit those who have the interest to take the path of all crimes. What if an ambitious usurper seized violently the States of a Prince: does this give him the right to assassinate, to poison? To murder wholesale? But this same conqueror, acting as Machiavel recommends, introduces a precedent into the world which can lead only to ruin: another more ambitious and more "skilful" than him, will use it in retaliation, will invade his States, and will kill him and all of his own "line" with the same kind of cruelty with which he killed his predecessors. The century of Machiavel provides all too many examples of it. Does one not see the pope Alexander VI deposited in a certain meadow for his crimes; his abominable bastard César Borgia stripped of all that he had invaded, and dying miserably; Galeazzo Sforza assassinated in the sanctity of the church of Milan; Ludovico Sforza, the usurper, dying in France in an iron cage; the princes of York being destroyed by the Lancasters in turn; the Greek emperors assassinating one after the other until the only beneficiary of their crimes were the Turks, who exterminated the low power of them all? So today among the Christians, there is less talk of revolution; the principles of healthy morals are becoming more widespread. The people cultivate their spirit more; they are less wild. Perhaps is this an obligation that a Prince shares with the men of letters which polished Europe.
The second maxim of Machiavel is, "for the Prince who acquires [a new Province] to go and live there in person". This is not cruel, and appears even rather good in some circumstances. But one must consider that the majority of the States already held by the large princes need the same thing. They cannot move and thus give up the center without the entire State feeling the effects: they are the Prime Movers in this body. Thus, they cannot leave the center without the ends languishing.
The third maxim of policy is, "to send colonies of loyal subjects from your old land into one or two places in the conquered territory, so that these may become, as it were, the keys of the Province". This will be used to ensure fidelity of them.
The author bases this on the practice of the Romans; but Machiavel does not say that the Romans could not substitute colonies for legions: had not both been sent, they would have lost their conquests soon. He also does not mention any methods beyond these colonies and legions - that Rome could have used diplomacy. The Romans, in the happy time of the republic, were the wisest brigands who ever afflicted the ground; they preserved with prudence what they acquired with injustice. But finally, the fate of any usurper affected them in turn: Rome had its day in the shade as an oppressed State.
Let us see if these colonies - for the establishment of which Machiavel gives license to his students to commit so many injustices - are as useful as the author says. Either you send strong colonies into the newly-conquered country, or you send weak ones there. If these colonies are strong, you depopulate your State considerably, and you drive out a great number of your new subjects, which decreases your forces. If you send weak colonies into these conquered countries, they will not fulfill their duties very effectively there. You will have made those whom you drive out unhappy, without much compensating profit.
A prince thus might as well send troops into the country that has just been conquered - if these troops are disciplined and commanded well, they will not impose too much upon the people, nor will they overload the cities where they have been garrisoned. This policy is better, but it could not be known at the time of Machiavel. The sovereigns did not maintain large armies; these troops were for the majority only one cluster of gangsters: the ordinary mudfoot lived only for violence and plunder. They did not know what a standing army permanently serving under one flag was, nor its function in guarding and preserving peace; nor were the soldiers professionals.
"The Prince who establishes himself in a new Province whose laws and language differ from those of his own people, ought also to make himself the head and protector of his weaker neighbours, and try to weaken the stronger," thus sowing dissention among them, in order to raise or lower those which he finds useful. This is the fourth maxim of Machiavel, and was made use of by Clovis, the first barbarian king who ended up converting to Christianity. It was imitated by some princes not less cruel; but what a difference there would be if an honest man would be the mediator of these small princes, who would settle their differences in a friendly way, who would gain their confidence by his probity, and by the marks of a complete disinterestedness in their contentions, would deliver impartial judgements! His prudence would make him the father of his subjects, and not their oppressor; he would be their protector, not their destroyer!
Unfortunately, it is a fact that princes who try to raise other princes with violence, end up destroying themselves: our century has provided two examples. One is that of Charles XII, who raised Stanislaus on the throne of Poland, and the other is more recent. [And a third one was coming too - DMR.] I conclude thus that those who use the methods of the usurper never deserve glory, that assassination is always detested by at least some people, that the prince who uses injustice and violence to rule their new subjects, drains any potential loyalty to him on the part of these subjects. There is no gain; it is not possible to profit by the crime - and all those who would defend "ethical" usurpation, argue more badly than Machiavel. To turn the art of reasoning against the good of humanity is to be wounded, or die, by the sword which is given to us only for self-defense.
CHAPTER IV: WHY THE KINGDOM OF DARIUS DID NOT RISE AFTER THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER, WHO HAD CONQUERED IT.
For judging the cultures of the nations properly, they should be compared with each other. Machiavel does so in this chapter: a parallel of the Turks and the French, very different in habits, manners and opinions. He examines the reasons which make the conquest of the first empire difficult to make, but easy to preserve; just as he notices what can contribute to subjugating of France without sorrow - and why the keeping of it would lead to continual disorders, unceasingly threatening the new sovereign.
The author considers these things from only one point of view. He does not discuss the structure each governments has: he appears to believe that the power of the empire of Perses and the Turks was founded only on the general slavery of these nations, and on the single rise of only one man who is the absolute ruler. He is of the idea that a despotism without restriction, established well, is the surest means that a prince has to ensure reign without disorder, and resist its enemies vigorously.
In Machiavel's time, one still regarded the king of France as a large Prince and its nobles like small ones, who shared in some manner the power of a prince, which gave place to divisions, strengthened the parties, and fomented frequent revolts. I do not know, however, if the King is as exposed to being dethroned by his nobles as Machiavel seems to think: only one king of France was - and this occurred in 761. The difference that there is between them is that a Turkish emperor is usually strangled by the Janissaries; and that the kings of France who perished this way were assassinated by monks, or monsters that started as monks. But Machiavel speaks, in this chapter, of general revolutions: he guessed at some of the underground springs of the river, but it seems to me that he missed the principal ones.
The difference of the climates, the peoples' diets, and their level of education, establish a total difference between their way of living and of thinking - like the difference between an Italian monk and a Chinese scholar. The temperament of the English, stout-hearted but hypochondriacal, is completely different from the proud courage of the Spanish; and the French have as little resemblance to the Dutch as the promptness of a monkey-cry has with the phlegm of a tortoise.
It was noticed from time immemorial that the custom of the Eastern people was a spirit of constancy in their practices and their old habits, of which they are almost never depart. Their religion, different from that of Europeans, still obliges them in some way, for fear of trouble visiting their Masters, the company of not to consort with those which they call the infidel; and to avoid carefully all that could pollute their religion and upset the structure of their government. Here is what, in their countries, makes for security of the throne, rather than that of the monarch: the Emperors are often dethroned, but the empire is never destroyed.
The customs of the French nation are very different from those of the Moslems, and are completely, or at least partly, the cause of frequent revolutions in this kingdom. Lightness and inconstancy make the character of this pleasant nation; the French are anxious, libertines, and very inclined to be bored of all; their love for change appears even in the most serious things. It appears that these hated and esteemed cardinals of the French, who successively controlled this empire, used to their benefit the maxims of Machiavel to lower the powerful nobles, and also used the knowledge of these customs of the nation to divert those frequent storms, of which the lightness of the subjects has threatened the sovereigns unceasingly.
The purpose of the policy of the cardinal of Richelieu was only to lower the large ones, to raise the power of the king, and to make this the basis for governing the entire country; it succeeds there so well, that today there do not remain any more vestiges in France of the power of the lords and the noble ones, which the kings claimed that the large barons misused.
The Mazarin cardinal walked on the traces of Richelieu. The oppositions try to resist, but he succeeds; he stripped, moreover, the Parliament of its prerogatives, an institution once strong that is only a phantom today; Louis truly is the State. The Parlement has what it still sometimes thinks of as rights, but after trying to use them, it usually ends up making repentance for this error.
The same policy which carried the King's ministers to the establishment of an absolute despotism to France, also taught them to distract the nation by using its lightness and inconstancy, to make it less dangerous: a thousand frivolous occupations, the trifles and the pleasures, was given in exchange for their rights and their power. The strengths of these same kind of men who had fought the Grand Caesar such a long time ago, which so often tugged their leashes under the emperors, who invited the foreigners in during the time of the Valois dynasty, which leagued against Henri IV., which secretly resisted after being smacked down - these French, I tell you, are now using their strengths to follow the torrent of fashion, and have changed, very carefully, their tastes almost continuously: to scorn today what they have admired yesterday, to put this inconstancy and frivolousness in the discharge of their duties, to change their mistresses, residences, amusements and even their hobbies. But France's powerful armies, and a very large number of fortresses, ensure that the French Sovereign will possess the throne forever, and they do not have anything to fear now concerning internal wars or their neighbors invading France.
CHAPTER V: HOW IT IS NECESSARY TO CONTROL THE CITIES, OR THE PRINCIPALITIES, WHICH ARE CONTROLLED BY THEIR OWN LAWS BEFORE THEY WERE CONQUERED
It is not, according to Machiavel, an unmixed benefit to preserve a free State which one has conquered - but it is to destroy it. It is the surest means not to fear a revolt. An Englishman had the insanity to kill himself a few years ago in London; on his table was found a note where he justified his action, which said that this way, he would never become sick again. Here is the case of a prince who ruins a State not to lose it. I do not speak about humanity with Machiavel, for it would desecrate the species; one can refute Machiavel without appeal to ideals. And also destroy the heart of his book, this devil-god of his policy, and the crime it advocates.
You say, Machiavel, that a prince must destroy a newly-conquered free country, to secure it; but I reply, why was this conquest undertaken in the first place? You will say to me that it is to increase the conqueror's power, and to make himself more formidable. It is what I wanted to hear, to prove to you that following your maxims achieves the opposite - because of the costs of this conquest, and the ruin of the country which could compensate for the losses. You will acknowledge that a ransacked country, deprived of inhabitants, could not by its possession make a prince powerful. I believe that a monarch who yearns to possess the vast deserts of Lybia and Barca would not be considered too frightening by the others, and that a million panthers, lions and crocodiles are not worth a million subjects, rich cities, navigable ports filled of vessels, industrious citizens, troops, and all that produces a country worth usurping. Everyone concurs that the force of a State does not consist in the extent of its borders, but in the number of its inhabitants. Compare Holland with Russia; you see only marshy and sterile islands in the former, which rise from the center of the ocean: a small republic which is only 48 miles length by 40 wide. But this small body is the very nerve-center of the region: immense people live in it, and these industrious people are both powerful and rich. They shook the yoke of the Spanish domination, which was then the most formidable monarchy of Europe. The trade of this republic extends to the ends of the world; and new trade appears almost immediately; it can maintain in times of war an army fifty thousand men, without counting a many and well maintained fleet.
Throw now your eyes on Russia; these is an immense country which is presented to your sight. It is a world similar to the universe...when it was drawn from chaos. This country borders on one side the grand Tartary and the Indies; on another, the Black Sea and Hungary. Its borders extend to Poland, Lithuania, and Corland; Sweden is the terminal on the side of the North-West. Russia can fit three hundred Germanies in its width, and more than five hundred in its length; the country is fertile out of corns and provides all the food products necessary for life, mainly around Moscow, and towards the small Tartary; however with all these advantages it contains at most only fifteen million people.
This nation, whose influence is only beginning to appear in Europe, is hardly more powerful than Holland in troops of sea and ground, and is much lower to them in riches and resources.
The force of a State does not consist in the extent of a country, nor in the possession of a vast loneliness, or of an immense desert of any terrain, but in the richness of its people, and their number. The interest of a prince is thus to populate a country, to make it flourish, and not to devastate it and to destroy it. If the spite of Machiavel makes for horror, its reasoning makes for pity, the kind a ruler feels for his overly patriotic surveyors - or for the man who can justify every action as a success. This august diplomat would have profited more if he had learned to reason well, the better to teach his policy for monsters.
It seems to me that a prince who would conquer a republic - after having had a just cause to make war - would also be satisfied to punish it, and to return its freedom; few people think this way. But for those who have other sentiments, they could preserve the possession of it, by establishing strong garrisons in the principal places of their new conquest, and leaving the people their freedom.
We humans are foolish in many ways: we want to conquer all as if we had all time, as if our lives did not have any end. Thus, our real time passes too quickly, and often when one believes that they are working only for themselves, they are in fact working for unworthy or ungrateful successors.
CHAPTER VI: NEW STATES THAT THE PRINCE ACQUIRES BY HIS VALOR AND HIS OWN WEAPONS
If the men were without passions, it would be forgivable to see Machiavel try to give some to them; he would be the new Prometheus bringing celestial fire to breathe life into robots. But no man is without passions. When they are moderated, they are the heart of the enterprise; but when the brake is stripped from them, they are its destruction.
Of all the sentiments which enslave our heart, none could be more disastrous for those which feel the impulse, one most contrary to one's humanity and which carries the risk of one becoming hostile to the entire world, that a ambition put out of order, than an aching desire for false glory.
A private individual who has the misfortune to have been born with this lust for power, is more miserable than mad. He is dulled to the present, and exists only in future or imaginary times; nothing in the world can satisfy him, and the drunken ambition which has mastered him always adulterates the softness of his pleasures with bitterness.
An ambitious prince is more unhappy than a private individual; because his madness, being proportioned to his position, is vaguer, more disobedient, and more insatiable. If honors and grandeur are used as food, he acquires the passion of those private individuals: his provinces and kingdoms nourish his ambition for more; and as it is easier for a prince to obtain funds and employment to conquer kingdoms, this power hunger of the little people can be satisfied by mere ceremony - but not that of the princes.
Machiavel proposes to them the examples of Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, Thesus, and Hero; one can enlarge easily this catalogue by other founders of sects, like Mohammed in Arabia, of Mango Kapac in the Americas, of Odin in the north, of so much more sectarians in all the globe. The Jesuits of Paraguay should have a small place in this list, which can for only be glorious for them, putting them in the number of the legislators.
The bad faith with which the author uses these examples deserves to be pointed out: it is wise to discover all the smoothness and tricks of this seducer.
Machiavel shows ambition only in its beauty (if it has any at all); he speaks only about the ambitious which were assisted by fortune - but he keeps a silence, that is truly deep, about those which were the victims of their passions. This gives his work a bias towards imposing them on the world; one could not see easily that Machiavel plays, in this chapter, the role of apologist for the crime.
Why does Machiavel speak of the first legislator of the Jews, the first monarch of Athens, the conqueror of Medea, the founder of Rome, all of whom succeeded beyond question, and not add the example of some head of a new party or sect which failed, to show that if this ambition makes some arrive, it makes even more lose? What of Jean de Leyde, head of the Anabaptists, whose "success" consisted of being tortured, burned and hung in an iron cage in Munster? If Cromwell were happy, was his son not dethroned? Did he not see the exhumed body of his father being carried to the gibbet and scorned? Did not at least three or four Jews, whose names we know, who said "I am the Messiah!" and perish in the torments? And didn't the last end up being a kitchen servant of a lord after having been done in by the Moslems? Pepin the Short deposed the French King in the year 781 with the approval of the pope Stephen III - Pepin's own servant-turned-master. The Pope wanted Pepin dethroned as well: wasn't he assassinated with the same approval? Can you not count more than thirty heads of sects, and more than a thousand others who wished to be so, who finished by violent deaths, leaving only failure?
It seems to me also that Machiavel was rather unwise in placing Moses with Romulus, Cyrus and Theseus. Either Moses was inspired by God, or he was not. If he were not (which we cannot assume is true), then Moses was a mere tool of God, used as the poets employ a deus ex machina when they cannot create a believable outcome. If you continue to evaluate Moses as a mere human, he could not have been very skillful: he led the Jewish people down a forty-year path, which they very easily could have completed in six weeks. He secured very little benefit from the enlightenment of the Egyptians: in this criterion, he was much lower than Romulus, Theseus, and the other heroes. If Moses was inspired by God, as is usually assumed, one can treat him only like the blind servant of the divine absolute power. Why would the Conductor of the Jews be lowered to the status of a mere mortal man, and lumped in with the founder of the Roman Empire, the monarch of Perses and the heroes who did their deeds by their own will and their own forces - that Moses did not do without the assistance of God? Either Moses is a True Prophet or he isn't. If he is, why lump him in with conquerors, great though they are? And if he isn't, why not use the same standards used for the other great warriors when judging him?
I acknowledge, in general and without reservation, that one can use genius, courage, vision and flair for administration to put the men which we have just listed in the same category; but I do not know if the trademark of "virtuous" is appropriate to all of them. Their valor and their vision are shared by both heroes and highwaymen; the difference between them is that the conqueror is a famous robber, and the ordinary robber is an obscure conqueror. One receives the String of Laurels for the price of his violences, and the other is awarded the Rope of the Hangman.
It is true that the new faith which one will want to introduce, or innovations that are more worldly, will have to surmount a thousand obstacles, and that a prophet at the head of an army will be more persuasive than if he fought only with arguments.
It is true that the Christian religion, when supporting itself only by arguments, was both weak and oppressed, and that it extended over Europe only after having spread much blood. It is not less true that one who has the power to change the course of events is also able to introduce his opinions and innovations with little sorrow. How many religions, how many sects were introduced both easily, and loosely! There is nothing that works better than fanaticism to push innovations, and it seems to me that Machiavel uses a tone, when discussing this matter, that is too decisive.
It remains to me to make some reflections on the example of Hero of Syracuse, that Machiavel proposes as a role model for those which will rise by the help of their friends and their troops.
Hero demolished both his friends and his soldiers, who had helped him in the execution of his plans; he found new friends, and raised other troops. I say, in spite of Machiavel and of the ingrates, that this policy of Hero is very bad, and that it is much more prudent to trust the troops which have tested and known value, and have friends whose loyalty has also been tested. The new and unknown ones are also unsafe. I leave the reader to push this reasoning further; all those who detest ingratitude, and who truly value friendship, will not remain neutral on this matter.
I must, however, inform the reader to pay attention to the different direction that Machiavel takes with these words that are not mistaken: without the occasion the virtue vanishes. This means, according to him, that without favorable circumstances the cheating ones and the bold ones could not make use of their talents. Machiavel judges only by the results of the crime: this explains the darkness of this author.
It seems to me in general, to conclude this chapter, that the only occasion where a private individual can without crime rise to the throne, is when it is in an elective kingdom, or when he saves his fatherland.
Sobieski in Poland, Gustave-Vasa in Sweden, Antoninius in Rome: here are heroes of these two kinds. César Borgia is the role model of the Machiavellians: mine is Marcus Aurelius.
CHAPTER VII: NEW PRINCIPALITIES THAT ONE ACQUIRES BY THE FORCES OF OTHERS OR BY LUCK
Compare the prince of M. de Fénélon with that of Machiavel. You will see in one the character of an honest man: kindness, justice, equity, all the virtues, in a word, practiced to an eminent degree; it seems that the first has a pure heart, which says that wisdom is appointed to take care of the government of the world. You will see in the other the degenerate: cheating, perfidy, treason and all the crimes. The latter is a monster, in a word, that Hell itself would be sorry to produce. But if it seems that our nature approaches that of the angels by reading Télémaque, it appears that it approaches the demons of hell when one reads Machiavel's Prince. César Borgia, duke of Valentino, is the model on which the author bases his prince, and he has the impudence to propose for a "good" example to those which rise in the world by the help of their friends or their weapons. It is thus very necessary to know who César Borgia was, in order to form an idea of Machiavel's hero, and of the author who praises him.
There is no crime that César Borgia did not commit. He assassinated his brother, his rival in glory and love, and almost ended up with his own sister; he massacred the Swiss that were ruled by the Pope - his father - for revenge against some Swiss individual which had offended his mother; he stripped rich cardinals and men of their wealth to appease his cupidity; he removed Romagne, duke of Urbino and one of César's mentors and patrons, and replaced him with the dead-cruel d'Orco as his under-tyrant; he assassinated, by a dreadful treason in Sinigaglia, some princes, whose "crime" was that they stood in his way; he bedded, and misused, a Venetian lady. What cruelties were not the result of his? Who could count all his crimes? Such was the man that Machiavel prefers to all the great geniuses of his time, and to the heroes of antiquity, and of which he finds the life and actions make a good example for those that fortune favors.
But I must tackle Machiavel in greater detail, so that those which think like him do not find more hiding places, and there does not remain any hope of dismissal out of hand, with their spite.
César Borgia based his plan for self-aggrandizement on the dissention of the princes in Italy. "To usurp all the goods of my neighbors, they should be weakened, and to weaken them, they should be scrambled:" such is the logic of the amoral.
Borgia wanted to be ensured of support: it was necessary thus that Alexander VI granted an annulment of marriage to Louis XII, so that he lent his help to his blood son. This reflects so much of the Church officers' policies at the time that they deployed on the earth: they thought only of their own interests, and of the World, when they appeared the most attached to that of God. If the marriage of Louis XII were likely to be broken, the Pope should jump on top of this by having it broken, and search later for a justification; if this marriage were not likely to be broken, then the head of the Roman Church should not interfere, irregardless of the opinions of the entire Trinity.
Borgia's success also required turning men into creatures. Therefore, he diligently corrupted them, after being corrupted himself by the Urbino faction. But let us stop listing the crimes of Borgia, and shift to his corruptions; this because they at least have some false resemblance to the benefits. Borgia wanted to demolish a few Princes of the houses of Urbino, Viteltozo, Oliveto di Fermo etc, and Machiavel says that he had enough prudence to make them come to Sinigaglia, where he made them perish through treason.
To misuse the good faith of men, to use of the tricks of the infamous, to betray, perjure, to assassinate: here are the actions that the doctor of degeneracy calls "prudent." But I ask whether it is prudent to show how aloyal one can be, how faithless, and how easily one can lie? If you reverse good faith and the oath, what are the assurances that you will keep the fidelity of your men? Do you set good examples of treason? If you in turn fear to be betrayed, do you teach assassination? To fear the hand of your disciples? Is this "prudence" not the slinking of a coward?
Borgia establishes cruel d'Orco as governor of Romagne, for quelling some disorders; Borgia punishes, with cruelty, others that are less morally defective than him. He is the most violent of the usurpers, the falsest of the perjurers, the cruelest of the assassins and the poisoners. He condemns to the most dreadful tortures some swindlers, hustlers, who did no more than copy the character of their new Master in miniature, and according to their small capacity. The King of Poland, whose death has just caused so much disorder in Europe, acted much more justly and nobly towards his Saxon subjects despite some degeneracy of his own.
The laws of Saxony declare that adultery deserves a severed head. I will not discuss the origin of this barbaric law, which appears more suitable for Italian jealousy than German patience.
An unhappy transgressor of this law was condemned, and King Augustus was to sign the death sentence: but Augustus was sensitive to love and had humanity. He gave a royal pardon to the criminal, and abrogated a law which he secretly broke himself.
The justice of this king shows a sensitive and human man; César Borgia punished only as a wild tyrant. Borgia puts cruel d'Orco over parts of his Principality, who had filled his master's intentions so perfectly, and then, to ingratiate himself to the people, punishes d'Orco himself for "his" cruelty. The weight of tyranny is never stronger when the tyrant wears the cover of innocence, and oppression is done by using gray areas in the laws.
Borgia, pushing this precaution until beyond the death of the pope his father, started by exterminating all those from whom he had stripped of their goods, so that the new Pope could not make use of them against him. See the cascading of the crime: to provide for the expenditure, it is necessary to have goods; to have some, it is necessary to strip the owners of them; and to enjoy it with security, they should be exterminated. This is the reasoning of a beast which preys on humanity.
Borgia, in order to poison some cardinals, invites them to supper with his father - their boss. The cardinals then slipped both father and son poisoned beverages. Alexandre VI dies of it; Borgia escapes, to an unhappy life: worthy wages of poisoners and assassins.
This is the prudence, skill and "virtue" that Machiavel is never weary of advocating. The famous bishop of Meaux, the celebrated bishop of Nimes, the eloquent panegyrist of Trajan, had not praised their hero more than Machiavel does for César Borgia. If the praise that he dishes out was only a footnote, or merely rhetorical, one could praise Machiavel himself for his restraint by hating his choice, but it is all the opposite: it is a serious recommendation of policy which must pass to his readers. It is a very serious work. Machiavel is so arrogant, that to grant any praise to this most abominable monster, which would make Satan himself vomit on the ground, is to justify his cold blood, and his hatred of mankind.
CHAPTER VIII: THOSE WHO BECAME PRINCES BY CRIMES
I will proceed to use only the proper words of Machiavel, to confute him. What could I say of him that would be more atrocious, if not that he gives here the rules for those whose crimes increase with their power? It is the title of this chapter.
If Machiavel teaches crime, if he offers a cirriculum of faithlessness in a university of traitors, it would not be astonishing that he discusses matters of this nature; but he speaks of all. An author, in his publication, communicates to the universe, and he addresses himself principally to those men that are the most virtuous, since they are destined to govern the others. What could add more to the infamy and insolence of the world than to teach them treason, perfidity and murder? It better for the human race if the example of the several men that Machiavel does himself a pleasure to recount, of d'Agathocle, d'Oliveto and of course Fermo, that people remain unaware of them.
The life of an Agathocle, an Oliveto and a Fermo as a role model is capable of developing in a person their aptitude for amorality - this dangerous germ that it contains for our faith that sprouts with ignorance of the good. How many young people have spoiled their spirit by the reading of such anti-ethics in novels, that neither see nor think any more than a Gandalia or Médor? There is something contagious in this manner of educating, if it is allowed for me to express it thus: it is a virus passed from one spirit to the other. The extraordinary man, this king-adventurer, worthy of the ancient honor of chivalry, this hero vagabond, of which all the virtues, pushed to a certain excess, collapse into vices - Charles XII of Sweden, in a word - carries since his innocent childhood the potential of Alexander the Great in himself; and several persons that knew this Alexander-Of-The-North well, know that he was the Quinte-Curce that ravaged Poland. Stanislaus was the legitimate heir according to the customs of succession: but the battle d'Arbelles, and the defeat of Pultava, was the electoral recount that prevailed.
Would it be allowed for me to go down from such a great example to the least? It seems to me that when the history of the human spirit is discussed, and the differences of conditions and of the States disappearing, the kings are revealed as only men, and that all men are of equal souls. And that some events cannot be explained as responses to sense impressions, or as mere adjustment to conditions weighing on the human spirit.
All England saw what had arrived in London a few years ago: a rather poor comedy under the title of The Robbers, in which the audience took turns playing the beggar: the subject of this part was the "moral flexibility" and shamelessness of robbers. This was found when many people realized, when coming out of these performances, that their rings, snuffboxes and watches were gone. The author made disciples so promptly, that they even practiced his lessons in the floor. This proves enough, it seems to me, how pernicious it is to promote bad examples from the authority of a stage.
The first reflection of Machiavel on Agathcole and Fermo lists what kept these two at the head of their small States, in spite of their cruelties. The author attributes this to them committing these cruelties selectively: to be prudently barbaric and to exert tyranny responsibly means, according to this policy, to carry out all in one blow, and at this time commit all violence and all the crimes that such a prudent usurper judges to be useful to his interests.
Just assassinate those whom you suspect and are wary of, and those who declare themselves your enemies, if only by behavior; but do not drag out your revenge. Machiavel approves actions similar to Sicilian vespers, with their frightening massacres like St Bartholomew's, where cruelties which make normal people vomit were inflicted. This monster does not dismiss out of hand the horror of these crimes provided one executes them in a manner which disciplines and pacifies the people, which frightens at the time the new prince's honeymoon period. It gives this advice for the reason that the ideas which are refuted by successive and continuous cruelties, during this brief period, disappear more easily from the public mind. Machiavel considers it not that bad to kill a thousand people in one day, or to assassinate by intervals. During this brief period.
It is not yet easy to confute the dreadful morals of Machiavel until his falseness and insincerity is also seen.
Firstly, it is false, as Machiavel reports it, that Agathocle enjoyed in peace the fruit of his crimes. He was almost always at war against Carthage; he was even obliged to give up in Africa. The Cathaginian army massacred his children after his departure; and he himself died of a poisoned chalice that his grandson made him take. Oliveto di Fermo perished by the betrayal of Borgia, and thus got paid worthy wages for his crimes. It was one year after his own usurpation, and his fall appears as if it was accelerated by the same method which Machiavel holds out as a preventative: di Fermo's Achilles heel was the hatred of the public.
This example of Oliveto di Fermo was not quoted by the author, since the ending "does not prove anything." Machiavel would like his stories of crime to end with everyone living happily ever after, and stories they are. He gives many exciting rationales for his policies, but we look in vain for him to produce arguments that agree with sense impressions of our own.
But let us suppose that these crimes can be made with perfect security, and that a tyrant can degenerate with impunity. Even if he need not fear a tragic death, he will not see the contempt of mankind as conducive to his glory - and he will not be able to completely choke the interior testimony of his conscience which gnaws at him. He will not be able to only impose silence on this quiet yet powerful voice which men hear on the king's throne: he will not be able to avoid this disastrous melancholy which will strike his imagination, which will be his own torturer in this world. His tit-for-tat.
One reads the life of Denys, Tiberius, Nero, of a Louis XI., a tyrant such as Basilowitz, etc: it will be seen that these monsters, both furious and foolish, finish their worldly time in the most unhappy way. The cruel man is of a misanthropic temperament, and is a man of moods, oscillating from quiet brooding to sudden explosions. If a man like this does not fight this unhappy provision of his soul during his youth, under no circumstances could he avoid becoming furious - and foolish. There are those who would leave it up to God, but to ensure justice on the earth, and not fob it off to the Divinity, it is mandatory that people know both virtue and its benefits, since the virtues lead to unity among them, not the war of all against all. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to conserve them, and show that crime can only return misfortunes and destruction, including of the criminal himself. Who is the last victim of his crimes.
CHAPTER IX: CIVIL PRINCIPALITIES
There is no feeling more central to our being than the desire for freedom. From people that are most organized to those that are most barbarian, all are penetrated by it; because, as we are born without chains, we demand to live without constraint. It is this spirit of independence and pride which produced so many great men in the world, and who gave place to the republican governments, which establish a species of equality between the men, and bring them closer to a natural state.
Machiavel gives, in this chapter of good maxims of policy, advice to those who rise to supreme power by the assent of the heads of a republic. Here is almost the only case where it is possible to be both a prince and an honest man; but unfortunately this case almost never arrives. The republican spirit, wary of losing his freedom, looks with suspicion upon all that could take it away, even if this worry might be false to fact, and revolts against the very idea of a Master. One knows in Europe of the people which shook the yoke of their tyrants to enjoy independence; but one does not know any free ones that subjected themselves to a voluntary slavery.
But several republics have fallen back into despotism; it even appears that it is an inevitable misfortune which awaits them all.
How could a republic resist, for all time, every cause which undermines its freedom? How could it always contain the ambition of the would-be princes which it also nourishes? How could it withstand for long the seductions of the usurper, the practical deaf person, and the corruption of its members, as long as self-interest will be all-powerful in men? How can it hope to always win, or even leave with honor, every war which it will have to support? How will it be able to prevent these annoying economic situations that come with its freedom, these moments critical and decisive - these and other chances from which arise both the courageous ones and the corrupt? If the troops are ordered by loose and timid heads, it will become the prey of its enemies; and if they have as the head of their soldiers men that are vigorous and bold, these same men, after having been vital in the war, will be dangerous in peace.
Almost all of the republics rose from of the pit of tyranny to the roof of freedom, and, after sinking back, almost all have echoes of this earlier freedom in their new slavery. Those same Athenians who, in the time of Demosthenes, threw out Philip of Macedonia, crawled in front of Alexander. These same Romans, who detested the royalty after the expulsion of the kings, patiently suffered at the end of a few centuries all cruelties from their emperors; and these same English who sent Charles I to his death, because he encroached on their rights, folded the nobility of their courage under the proud power of their new masters. These are thus not histories of republics which gave themselves Masters by their free choice; but of new and especially alert tyrants, helped of some economic situation advantageous to them, who subjected the people against their will.
Just as people are born, live a time, and die by diseases or old age, in the same way republics are formed, flower a few centuries, and perish finally by the audacity of a citizen, or by the weapons of their enemies. All has their period; all empires, and largest monarchies even, have only so much time: the republics feel continually that this time will arrive, and they look at any too-powerful family as the carriers of a disease which will give them the blow of death.
One will never persuade republicans, that are really free, to put on a Master's leash. I mean the best Master, because they will always say to you that it is to better to depend on the laws than whim of one very human man.
CHAPTER X: HOW IT IS NECESSARY TO MEASURE THE FORCES OF ALL THE PRINCIPALITIES
Since the time when Machiavel wrote his political Prince, the world is so extremely changed that it is almost unrecognizable any more to someone of his century. If some skilful captain of Louis XII appeared nowadays, he would be entirely disorientated: he would see that one makes war with innumerable armies, all of which are maintained during peace as in war; in his time, to strike the great blows and to carry out the large campaigns, a mere blitz was all that was required, and the troops were dismissed after the finished war. Instead of the suit of iron, the lance, and the mobile cannon with wheels, he will find the military uniform, the rifle and the bayonet, and many new methods for besieging, for battling, and for the logistics necessary to support these new strategies. This last art is just as necessary now as it was then to beat the enemy, and such a captain would have a great store of knowledge in this area....
What if Machiavel himself could see the new shape of the body politic of Europe, including the many large princes who appear now in the world that were not there then, if he could see the power of the firmly established kings, the new manners of diplomacy, and the balance of power that is the foundation of the alliance of some weighty princes to oppose the ambitious, and the purpose of which is accepted by the world?
All these things produced a so general and so universal a change, that they make the majority of Machiavel's maxims inapplicable to our modern policy. It is what this chapter shows. I will now bring some examples of them.
Machiavel supposes that a prince whose country is extensive, which is rich in money and troops, can be supported by its own forces, without the assistance of any ally, against the attacks of its enemies.
It is what I dare to contradict. I say even more, and I advance that a prince, dreaded though he is, could not resist at least one of his most powerful enemies, and that he must have the help of some allies. If the most formidable, the most powerful prince of Europe, Louis XIV., finds himself on the point of succumbing in the war of the Spanish Succession, and if a change of alliance can add to his strength in such an amount so as to overpower his enemy, the Sun King, the sovereign who has declared the nation of France to be himself, would negotiate a treaty of alliance very quickly.
One says, and this is repeated without much reflection, that the treaties are useless, since all points of the bargain are almost never honored, and that princes are not more scrupulous in these matters in our century than in any other. I answer those who think this, that I do not doubt that they cannot find examples of both old and current princes who did not fill their commitments exactly; but this does not change the fact that it is always very advantageous to make treaties. Allies that you make could be as much your enemy as your helper - but you can always reduce your commitments to an exact neutrality.
Machiavel speaks then about the principini, of the sovereigns in miniature, who having only small States, cannot put an army in the field. The author dwells much on what they must do to strengthen their capital, in order to be locked up there with their troops in times of war.
The Italian princes, about which Machiavel speaks, are only hermaphrodites: half sovereign and half private individual. They play the role of the grand lord only with their servants. Some better advice to them would be, this seems to me, to deflate the grand opinion which they have of their size, of the extreme veneration that they have for their old and illustrious people, and of the fact-proof zeal that they have for their armoury. The judicious person knows that it is good to appear in the world only as a lord who governs well without this zeal, to put aside the stilts on which their pride climbs up, to maintain at most only one guard sufficient to drive out the robbers of their castle, in case their imperious poverty has left enough of their subjects sufficiently famished to go to their Imperiator on a grand crusade to seek the holy food; and to put aside the rampart, the wall, and all that would give the appearance of a fortified mighty town to their residence.
Here are the reasons. The majority of the small princes - I mean those of Germany - are ruined by excessive expenditure, out of proportion to their incomes, due to the intoxication of their vain opinion of their "true" size and power; they dig below the bottom of their pockets to support the honor of their noble house, and they take by vanity the path of misery, and the bankrupt's surrender. There is not one of these juniors, from a back-water line, who does not think himself to be something similar to Louis XIV. He builds his Versailles; he has his mistresses; he maintains his armies.
There is currently a certain prince, a distant relative of a grand noble family, who, in a burst of grandeur, maintains, with his service, an army sufficient for the needs of a large king in a Principality so small that one wonders if some of them have to be billeted in a neighboring State. His army should perhaps be strong enough to win a battle in the theatre of Verona.
I said in the second place that the small princes wish to strengthen their residence, and the reason is very simple: they do not want to be besieged by a large neighbor. The stronger are of the habit of interfering with the affairs of the weaker, often with good intentions, but can also offer a bargain to their little partners which it is not prudent to refuse. Instead of the spread of blood, two strokes of a pen can often finish their quarrels.
What else would the small Prince use their fortresses for except self-defense? Despite the above judgement, they would rather be in a position to support a campaign the length of that against Troy versus their small enemies, even though they would not last as long as Jericho against the armies of a powerful monarch. If a large war is fought in their vicinity, they must remain neutral or be completely ruined; and if they embrace the party of one of the belligerent powers, their capital merely becomes an outpost of its prince.
The description that Machiavel gives us of the imperial cities of east Germany is very different from what they are now; a detonator would be enough, and even a mere explosion from the emperor's mouth, to fell these cities. They are all poorly fortified, the majority with old walls flanked in some places by large towers, and surrounded by ditches that collapsed grounds have almost entirely filled. They have few troops, and those which are there, are badly disciplined: their officers are mostly the rejects of Germany, or old people who are not any more in a position to be useful. Some of the imperial cities have a rather good artillery, but that would not be enough to oppose the emperor, who has the habit of making them rather often smell their weakness. In a word: to make war, to fight battles, to attack or defend the fortresses, is only the business of the large sovereigns; and those which want to imitate them without having their power, resemble has that which make the noise of the thunder and believe themselves to be Jupiter.
CHAPTER XI: ECCLESIASTICAL PRINCIPALITIES
I do not see battles in the ancient history of priests who become sovereign. It seems to me that of all the people of which we have any knowledge at all, however little, there are only the Jews which had a succession of despotic pontiffs. It is not astonishing that only in the most superstitious and most ignorant of all the cruel nations, those which were with the head of the religion finally usurped the ruling of the State; but everywhere else, it seems to me, the priests have interfered with its functions. They sacrificed, they received wages, they had some prerogatives: but they neither informed nor controlled, and it is, I believe, because they had neither dogmas for dividing the people, nor the power to twist the ones they had. There was never on their premises a war of religion.
When Europe in the decline of the Roman Empire, it was an anarchy of barbarians. All was divided into a thousand small sovereignities: many bishops were made princes, and it was the bishop of Rome which gave the example. It seems that under these ecclesiastical governments the people had rather happy lives; because of the elective princes, the princes raised with their sovereignity in an enlightened age, princes whose limited powers, like those of the ecclesiastics, confine them to managing their subjects, to treating them gently - if not by religion, then at least by policy.
It is certain, however, that no countries see more begging than those of the priests. It is there that one can see a touching table of all human miseries; not of the poor that the liberality and alms of the sovereigns attract to their principality, or those repugnant ones who stick to the rich person and who crawl when following opulence; but the spiritual starvelings, that the charity of their sovereign deprives of the necessary spine to prevent corruption and the abuses that the people have a habit of overlooking when times are good.
Undoubtedly, the laws of Sparta, where the money was defended, is the source of the principles upon which the majority of these ecclesiastical governments are based, except for this difference: the prelates tax private wealth very progressively. Happy, they say, are the poor, because they will inherit the kingdom of heaven: and as they want everyone to be saved, they take special care to make everyone poor.
Nothing should be more edifying than the history of the heads of the church and the vicars of Christ; one tells oneself that examples of irreproachable and holy manners will be found. It is all the opposite, however: there are only obscenities, abominations, and sources of scandal; and one could not read the life of the popes without hating more than once their cruelties and their faithlessness.
One sees there the holy ambition applied to increase their temporal and spiritual power, their occupational avarice passing the goods to the people in their families: to enrich their nephews, their mistresses, or their bastard, the son that ecclesiastical law says they have no right to.
Those who are unreflective will find it surprising that the people suffer this sovereign oppression with docility and patience, that they do not open the eyes to the defects and excesses of the ecclesiastics, and that they endure of a beardless face what they would not suffer from a crowned face of laurels. This phenomenon appears less strange to those which know the capacity of superstition in the average person, and of fanaticism in the human spirit. They know that religion is an old machine, which will never disappear: one which was used from time immemorial to ensure the fidelity of the people, and to apply a brake on the innate impulsivity of human reason; they know that the theologian's catalogue of errors can make men's minds more penetrating, and that there is nothing more humanizing than the policy that puts Heaven and Hell, God and Devil, above us all: one that we must consider when pursuing our intentions. As well, it is true that even religion, this purest source of all our goods, often becomes, by a too deplorable abuse, the origin and the principle of our evils.
The author notices, very judiciously, what contributed most to the rise of the Saint-in-Chief. He gives, as the principal example of it, the skilful control of Alexander VI., of this pontiff who pushed cruelty and ambition to enormous excess, and whose knowledge of justice dovetailed quite peaceably with his own interest. If it is true that he is one of the more soulless men which ever wore the tiara, that is to say the one who strengthened the temporal power of the Papacy the most, then what does one have to think of the heroes of Machiavel?
His praise to Heaven of Leo X. is the conclusion of this chapter. The ambition, the vices and the irreligion of this pope are rather known, thanks to a certain German monk. Machiavel does not praise Leo for those qualities, but courts him: such sovereigns deserve such courtiers. If he praised Leo X. only as a splendid prince and restorer of the arts, it would be all right; but Machiavel praises his policy.
CHAPTER XII: WHAT MAKES UP A STRONG MILITIA, AND WHAT THE ARMY MERCENARY IS WORTH
All is varied in the universe. The characters of men differ; and nature establishes the same variety, if I may express myself this way, in the temperament of the States. I understand in general that the temperament of a State consists of its situation, its size, the number and customs of its people, its trade, its traditions, its laws, its strengths and weaknesses, its wealth and its resources.
This difference of nations is very delicate. It is also infinite, when one digs down into all the details; and, just as the doctors do not have any magic potion which can cure all diseases, and given these above complexities, counsels of statecraft could not prescribe general rules, whose application can be used in all shapes of government. They certainly could not survive the objections.
This reflection leads into the examination of the feelings of Machiavel concerning foreign troops and mercenaries. The author entirely rejects the use of them, being based on examples for which he claims to prove that these troops were harmful to the States which used them, and that they were not advantageous to them.
It is almost a certainty, and this Machiavel's evidence shows in general, that the best troops of a State are the regulars. One could support his gut feeling by the examples of the valorous resistance of Leonidaes to Thermopyles, and especially speak of the swift growth of both the Roman Empire and the Arabs. This maxim of Machiavel can thus be appropriate to all the wealthier nations, to provide a sufficient number of soldiers, loyal to the flag, for their defense. I am persuaded, like the author, that the typical State has been badly served by mercenaries, and that the fidelity and the courage of the established soldiers in the country are much greater than those of hired troops. The main danger for a State is to let its subjects languish, and to let those who would otherwise be stout-hearted warriors become effeminized by faith-eroding luxury. In time, this weariness of the world of war, and ignorance of what it takes to be a soldier, will make their neighbors much happier, and friendlier.
The reader might have noted that the State which is born in civil war has a strength infinitely above any enemy of a similar size; because all its citizens are soldiers in that war, merit independent of favor will flourish, and all the nation's talent for war will develop. This is the greatest of all war games, and the men that have gone through it will later deploy great skill and courage.
There are cases which seem to ask for an exception to this rule. If the kingdoms or of the empires do not produce enough men to meet the State's needs for the armies, and if war for them is continual, this need obliges it to resort to the mercenaries, as the single means of compensating for the defects of the State.
One finds, then, certain expedients which cause the majority of difficulties. These are the ones which Machiavel finds so vicious in this species of militia. One must mix carefully the foreigner with the national, to prevent them from forming a rogue unit, and to treat them with same discipline and with the same fidelity; and make especially sure that the number from abroad does not exceed the number of the nationals.
There is a king of the north, of which the army is made up of this kind of mix, and who is not less powerful nor less formidable. The majority of the European troops are made up of both nationals and mercenaries; those who cultivate their ground, and those which live in the cities, who protect themselves with the help of a certain tax that they pay for the maintenance of the troops which must defend them, do not go any more to war. The regular soldiers are made up only of the lowest class of the people, of drifters which like idleness better that work, of those connoisseurs of vice which seek in the troops license and impunity, of young scatterbrains, gifted in disobedience to their parents, who enroll themselves on a whim: all these have as little inclination and attachment for their Master as the foreigners. How these troops are different from these Romans who conquered the world! Desertions, if frequent nowadays in all the armies, were something unknown among Romans. These men, who fought for their family and their home, the Roman middle-class, despite all the luxuries they had in life, did not think of betraying by a coward's desertion.
What makes for security of the large princes of Europe, is that their troops are almost evenly matched: no side has an overwhelming advantage over the others. Only the Swedish troops are middle-class, and peasants and soldiers, at the same time; but when they are in the field, almost nobody remains in the interior of the country to plow the ground. Thus their power is not at all formidable, since they cannot wage war for long without ruining themselves more than their enemies.
This takes care of the mercenaries. As for the way in which a large prince must make war, I agree with the feeling of Machiavel. A large prince must take control of his troops, to remain in his army as if it was his residence; his interests, duty, glory, all hinge on the outcome there. Just as he is the head of distributive justice, he is also the guard and the defender of his people; he must treat the defense of his subjects as his most important ministry, which he must for this reason entrust only to himself.
His interests also seem to necessitate going to the field with his army, since all of his person is required: then, the consulting and the execution are followed with an extreme speed. Besides, his presence puts an end to the disagreements of his Generals, so disastrous to the armies and so contrary to the interests of the Master; it also puts the prince in command of the logistics, the ammunition and the war supplies, without which even César himself at the head of one hundred thousand combatants would be nothing, ever.
As it is the prince who must fight the battles, it would seem that he also would direct the execution of it, and to communicate by his presence the spirit of valor and confidence to his troops; he is there, at their head, to set an example.
But, one will say, everyone was not born to be a soldier, and many princes have neither the talent, experience, nor the courage necessary to command an army. This is true, I acknowledge it, but this objection does not embarrass me much because it is always possible to lend one's ears to the Generals of the army, who are usually eager to give their best advice. The prince has only to take this advice, and the war itself will be always run better than if the Generals are under the supervision of a ministry, which might not understand the army, whose staff can have agendas of their own, and often puts the more skilful General out to pasture to bolster its own capacity.
I will finish this chapter, after discussing two sentence of Machiavel which appeared very singular to me. "[The Venetians] had found [in Carmagnola] a most valiant and skilful leader when, under his command, they defeated the Duke of Milan, but when they saw him slack in carrying on the war, they made up their minds that no further victories were to be had under him. Because they feared losing what they had gained, they could not discharge him: they were forced to put him to death."
I have to admit that I lack the fineness of mind to understand why rulers that kill one of their formerly good generals do not deserve the label of betrayers, poisoners, or assassins. We can see how this Professor of Criminogenesis sees a worthy course of study in word-laundering, to make the guiltiest actions sound innocent by softening the terms.
The Greeks had the habit of using para-phrases when they spoke about death, because they could not face without a secret horror the terrors of their demise. Machiavel para-phrases crimes, because his heart may have revolted against his spirit. He does not quite have the courage to put the execrable morals that he teaches into a form suitable for certification as a textbook.
It certainly makes for a sad situation when someone blushes at the thought of exposing their thoughts and true feelings, as if such unveiling was the same as stripping all the clothes off their body. Even the ancient Moses would have much to say about this.
CHAPTER XIII: AUXILIARY, MIXED, AND REGULAR TROOPS
Machiavel pushes his hyperbole to an extreme point when recommending that a careful prince would like better to perish with his own troops than to overcome with foreign help.
I think that a man in danger of being entombed would not lend his ear to the speeches of those which would say to him that it would be unworthy of him of owe his life to others, and that it is better to perish than to embrace the cord or the stick that others throw to him to save him. This reflection shows to us that the first priority of men is that of self-preservation, and the second is that of their well-being; this entirely destroys the paralogism that is the hallmark of the author.
By looking further into this maxim of Machiavel, one will perhaps find that it is only extreme jealousy which is enough to inspire the princes: it is, however, the jealousy of these same princes towards their Generals or auxiliaries that makes them impatient, afraid to share their glory; to consider these very prejudicial to their interests. An infinity of battles were lost for this reason; and small jealousies often made things worse for the princes than the higher numbers and advantages of their enemies.
A prince should not, undoubtedly, make war only with auxiliary troops; but he must be auxiliary himself, and be in a position to give as much help as he receives. Here is what prudence dictates: put yourself in a position where you fear neither your enemies nor your friends, but when you made a treaty, stick to your word. As long as the Empire, England and Holland were in alliance against Louis XIV, as long as princes Eugene and Marlborough were well-linked, they were victorious; but the moment that England gave up its allies, Louis XIV was raised up.
The powers which can do without mixed or auxiliary troops are well to exclude them from their armies; but as few princes of Europe are in this situation, I believe that they do not risk anything with the auxiliaries, as long as the number of the nationals their is higher.
Machiavel wrote only for small princes, and I acknowledge that I hardly see in him but small ideas; it does not have anything large nor true, because he is not an honest man.
Who fights only by himself is only weak; who jointly does it with others is strong.
In the war of 1701, the allies against France, the company of three kings of the North, stripped Charles XII of part of his States in Germany, was carried out jointly with main troops of different States, joined together by alliances. In the war of the year 1734, that France started under the pretext of supporting the rights of this king of Poland who was both elected and dethroned, was made by the French and the Spaniards joined to the Savoyard forces.
What remains in Machiavel, after so many examples, and what his allegory of the weapons of Saul, which David refused because of their too-heavy weight, reduced to? It is only the counsel of the whipped cream. I acknowledge that the auxiliaries inconvenience the princes sometimes; but I ask whether similar inconveniences would be too burdensome when cities are to be gained, and provinces?
About these auxiliaries, he seeks to throw his venom on the Swiss ones which are in the service of France. I must say a small word on the subject of these brave troops; because it is undoubtable that the French have won more than one battle by their help, that they have returned some services in the building of the empire, and that if France should declare its independence from the Swiss and the Germans, which are useful in its infantry, its army would be much less frightening than it is now.
This deals with the errors of judgment: let us examine the morals. The bad examples that Machiavel proposes to the princes are the kind of spites which cannot be passed back to him. He pleads in this chapter that Hero of Syracuse believed that his auxiliary troops were equally dangerous to keep or to dismiss, and cut them into parts. The reader will discover a similarity of method when they look for the substance in the history books, and will consequently be made indignant to discover what was abstracted from in a book that was specifically written for the instruction of princes.
Cruelty and barbarity are often fatal to private individuals, thus they have horror for the majority of them; but the princes, that providence placed so far from the vulgar's destiny, have less aversion to these, as they do not have the usual consequences to fear. You would think that those whose destiny is to command should be propagandized the most concerning all the abuses that they can wage with their much greater power. Long before the consequences work their way up to these future leaders.
CHAPTER XIV: EDUCATION FOR THE PRINCE CONCERNING WAR
There is a species of pedantry common to all the trades, which comes only from avarice and the intemperance from those which practice them. A soldier is a pedant when he is a little too meticulous, or when he breaks free from all routine and jumps into Don Quixotism.
The enthusiasm of Machiavel here exposes the prince to the ridiculous. He so extremely exaggerates the matter, for he wants his prince to not only be a soldier, that he flies into A-plus Quixotism, for he lacks the imagination to deal with the battle fields, entrenchments, manners of guarding places, of lining up his soldiers and sending them to the attack.
A prince fills only half of his vocation if he specializes only in the trade of war: it is obviously false that he should only be a soldier; one can remember what I said on the origin of the princes to the first chapter of this work. They are judges of the institutions, and if they are truly general, this is but one of their responsibilities. Prince Machiavel is like the gods of Homer, which are depicted as very robust and powerful, but never balanced. This author is unaware of the catechism of justice: he knows only self-interest and violence.
The author never represents any but small ideas; his spine only straightens when he embraces subjects appropriate for the policy of small princes. Nothing is weaker than the reasons which he uses to recommend hunting to the princes; he is in the opinion that the princes will learn by this means to know the situations and the passages of their country.
If a king of France, if an emperor wanted to acquire by this manner the knowledge of his States, he would need as much time, in the course of his hunting, that all the universe employs in the change of one epoch to another.
This insight allows me to enter into a greater detail on what happens during the chase, a matter which will be like a species of digression. Since this pleasure is the almost general passion of the noble ones, of the large lords and the kings, especially in Germany, it seems to me that it deserves some discussion.
Hunting is one of these sensual pleasures which works up the body and which does nothing for the spirit: it is a burning desire to pursue some animal, and a cruel satisfaction in killing it. This recreation makes the body both exercised and refreshed, and leaves the spirit in a waste land and without culture.
The hunters will undoubtedly reproach me that I take these things too seriously, that I seem to be too severe a critic, and that I am like the minister who, having the privilege to speak in the pulpit, also has the gift of pronouncing that what seems good there is the good, without listening to people who walk down different paths.
So, I will not be stuck up in that way: I will plead in good faith the reasons which the connoisseurs of hunting give when asked. They will say to me initially that hunting is the noblest pleasure of men, and the most traditional: that patriarchs, and even many great men, were hunters; and that while undertaking the chase, men continue to exert on the animals this same right that God condescended Hmself to give to Adam.
What is venerable is not necessarily better, especially when it is pushed too far down a pathway that tends to narrow as it progresses. Great men were impassioned for hunting, I acknowledge it; they too have both weaknesses and foibles. It might be better for us to imitate their strengths, not their pettiness.
The patriarchs chased, this is truth. Just as it is true that they married their sisters, and that polygamy was respected in their time. Good patriarchs that indulged in the chase lived in cruel centuries: they were very coarse and very ignorant; they was idle people whose leisure turned into an annoyance. To kill the time which appeared always too long to them, they took their troubles to the hunt; they lost in the woods, with the chase of animals, the time which they could not pass in the company of reasonable people.
I ask: are these examples to be imitated? Must coarseness instruct courtesy? Why are the enlightened centuries not to be used as a role model for the others, but the limited ones are? Why must we make our virtues out of their necessities?
Whether Adam received dominion over the animals or not, I am not seeking; but I know quite well that we are crueler, and there is more of the raptor in us that in those same animals, and that we govern this alleged empire with great tranny. If something gives us an advantage over the animals, it is undoubtedly our reason, and the average enthusiast of hunting has their brain furnished only with horses, dogs and, very strongly, of animals. They are sometimes very coarse, and it is to be feared that they might end up seeing their fellow man as they regard the animals. Or, at least, that the cruel habit to wage suffering with indifference might dull their compassion for those members of, a Martian biologist would say, the same species as they themselves are. Is this the pleasure which one praises the nobility for? Is this the most worthy occupation for a thinking being?
One might object that hunting is good for the health, that the facts clearly show that those which engage in the chase die old, that for a large lord it is an innocent pleasure, and is appropriate at that station: since it spreads out their magnificence, dissipates their sorrow, and that in time of peace it prepares, by simulating war. Against the beast being chased on their lands.
It is not my purpose to condemn a moderate exercise; I just note that this exercise is not necessary for the intemperate. There are few princes who have lived longer than the cardinal of Fleury, or the cardinal of Ximenes, or the last pope: these three men were not hunters. Besides, is it necessary to choose your passions simply on the basis that they promise a long life? The monks usually live longer than other men; should we therefore all become celibate and move into cloisters?
It does not pay a man to exist until the age of Methuselah by making his days indolent and useless. The more this is reflected upon, the more the reflector will desire to undertake meaningful and useful actions, and the more they will have lived.
Moreover, hunting is, of all the recreations, the one which is least appropriate to princes who want to express their magnificence in a hundred ways. It is a much better activity for their subjects, and if the abundance of game ruins a campaign, having many destroy these animals could be very useful, enough to pay the hunters a bounty for this. The princes should only occupy themselves with command and control: this will give them more knowledge, and all the more ability to acquire the judgement necessary for their profession, and to act well in consequence.
I must especially add, in answer to Machiavel, that it is not necessary to be a hunter to be a great captain. Gustave-Adolph, Henri Turenne, Marlborough, Prince Eugene, whose fame as men and skilful Generals is beyond dispute, were not hunters; we do not read that César, Alexandre, or Scipion were that either.
One can use the bracing activity of the walk to make more judicious reflections and more solid judgements on the various situations of a country relative to the art of war. Partridges, dogs, coaches, stags, a pack of all kinds of animals, and the heat of hunting, do tend to distract you. A large prince that waged the second campaign against the Moslems in Hungary, was likely, if he went hunting, to have the beast captured - namely himself, in the hands of the Turks. One might make a case for recommending the hunt to the armies - because it causes much disorder in their steps. There is no need to identify whose armies.
I thus conclude that it is forgivable if princes go hunting, provided that it is only seldom, that it is a vacation from their more serious work, and if they sometimes leave sad. I do not want to prohibit or proscribe any honest pleasure; but to hone the care necessary to control wisely, to make the State flourish, to protect its subjects, to see successes in all the nation, is undoubtedly the greatest pleasure of the man in charge of the State. Those that prefer others cannot be very happy in their work.
CHAPTER XV: WHAT MAKES MEN, AND ESPECIALLY PRINCES, PRAISED OR BLAMED
The painters and the historians have this in common between them: they must both copy nature. The first comb through the features and the colours of men; the second, their characters and their actions. Painters who paint only monsters and devils are hardly the norm.
Machiavel represents the universe like a hell, and all the men like the damned; it would be said that this policy wanted to cast all mankind into the pit by a singular hatred, and that he took up the task to destroy our virtues, perhaps with the goal of making our souls more similar to his.
Machiavel advances that it is not possible to be completely good in this world without perishing: so, much of mankind is both degenerate and corrupt. I myself say that, in order not to perish, it is necessary to be both good and careful. Men are usually neither completely saintly, nor completely predatory; but both the lovers of virtue and the haters of humanity, as well as the regular variety of sinner, will all agree to live under a powerful, just and skilful prince. I would like better to wage war with a tyrant than with a good king, to fight a Louis XI. or an Emperor Domitian, rather than a Trajan, because the good king will also have been useful to his subjects, and they know it: the subjects of the tyrant will join my troops. If I go to Italy with ten thousand men against an Alexander VI., half of Italy will be for me; if I enter there with forty thousand men against Innocent XI., all Italy will raise itself, to drive me out. A good and wise king was never dethroned in England, even by large armies, and all its bad kings succumbed to "usurpers" who begin their campaign with four thousand regular troops. There is no gain to be had by being malicious with misanthropes, but there is by being virtuous and intrepid with them; you will make your people virtuous like you, neighbors will want to imitate you, and the humanity-haters will scramble from the light.
CHAPTER XVI: LIBERALITY AND ECONOMY
Two famous sculptors, Phidias and Alcamenes, each carved a statue of Minerva, and the Athenians wanted to choose the most beautiful, to place it on the top of a column; both were presented to the public. That of Alcamenes gained the most votes; the other, said one judge, was too coarsely worked. Phidias was not disconcerted by the judgement of vulgar, and asked, seeing as the statues had been made to be placed on a column, that both be raised; then that of Phidas won the vote.
Phidias owed his success to the study of optics and perspective. Rules of proportion must also be observed in policy. The differences of the places put different meanings in the maxims; applying one of them generally would make it a bad one. What would be admirable for a large kingdom would not be appropriate for a small State. The luxury which is born from abundance and which makes the riches circulate through all the veins of a State, makes a large kingdom flower; it is this kind of principality which both maintains industry, and multiplies the needs of the poor.
If some skilful policy were wanted to rein in the luxury of a great Empire, this Empire would fall into economic languor, but the same policy would perish a small State; the money that leaves the country in greater abundance in such a State would not re-enter there in the same proportion. The result would be to drain this delicate body of consumption, and it would not fail to starve. It is thus an essential rule for any policy never to confuse the small States with the large ones, and this is where Machiavel sins seriously in this chapter.
The first fault that I must reproach him with is that he takes the word "liberality" in a too vague a direction; he does not distinguish enough liberality from prodigality. A prince, he tells us, to make large things, must be liberal and also must pass for it. I do not know any hero who was not. To display avarice says to the men: do not expect anything of me; I will reward your services badly. This extinguishes the heat with which any subject naturally serves their prince.
Undoubtedly it is only the thrifty man who can be liberal: it is only him which prudently controls his expenditure that can make good on others'.
One knows the example of Francis I, King of France, whose excessive expenditure was partly the cause of his misfortunes. The pleasures of Francis absorbed the resources of his glory; this king was not liberal, but spendthrift, and at the end of his life he became miserly: instead of being a good spender, he put treasures in the trunks; but they were treasures that did not circulate, which are necessary for a full income. Any private individual and any king who does nothing but pile up and bury money, understands nothing of the art of enrichment: it is necessary to make the money circulate to be really rich. The Medicis obtained the sovereignty of Florence only because large Cosmo, the patriarch of the family, himself a simple merchant, was skilful and liberal. Very miserly is a narrow genius, and I believe that the cardinal of Retz is right when he says that in the great affairs of State one never should look at his money. The sovereign thus puts himself in a position to acquire much of it by supporting the trade and manufactures of his subjects, so that he will have a much fatter chest in the future. And will be liked and esteemed - provided he does not become a waster by overspending.
Machiavel says that liberality will make the prince contemptible: here is the statecraft of a usurer. But this is how a private man must speak when he mixes with princes to give lessons to them.
CHAPTER XVII: CRUELTY AND CLEMENCY, AND IF IT IS TO BE BETTER TO BE LOVED THAN FEARED
The most invaluable deposit which is entrusted between the hands of the princes is the life of their subjects. Their load gives them the capacity to condemn the lawbreakers to death or to forgive them. They are the supreme referees of justice.
The good princes look at this much-sought-after capacity as the heaviest weight of their crown. They know that they are as much men as those who they must judge; they know that wrongs, injustices, insults can be repaired in this world, but that a death sentence which is either unjust or simply mistaken is an irrevocable evil; they only become severe to avoid a more annoying rigor they would see if they act differently. They make these sad resolutions only in some extreme cases. The process is similar to that where a man sees that one of his members is gangrenous. In spite of the tenderness which he has for his own skin, he resolves to cut this part of his body off, to guarantee and to save, at least by this painful operation, the remainder of his body.
Machiavel brings nothing but whimsy to these so grave, therefore serious, therefore significant things. In his lessons, the life of the men is counted for nothing; interest, this only god whom he adores, is counted for all. He prefers cruelty to leniency, and he advises young men, fresh into adulthood, to be more callous than all others: the trophy they are told to seek is the reputation of being cruel.
They are torturers who place the heroes of Machiavel on the throne, and who maintain them there. César Borgia is the hero of this policy when his former servant seeks examples of cruelty.
Machiavel quotes some words that Virgil puts in the mouth of Dido: but this quotation has no context to be taken out of. Virgil makes Dido speak in the same way that somebody else can makes Jocaste speak in the tragedy of Oedipus. The poet tries to put words in the mouths of these characters that are appropriate for drama. It is thus not the authority of Dido, nor the authority of Jocaste, which one can borrow in a book of policy; one needs the example of the great ones, the virtuous ones - the real ones.
Machiavel's policy recommends especially the rigor of severity towards the troops; he opposes the indulgence of Scipion to the severity of Hannibal. And Machiavel prefers the Carthaginian to the Roman, and concludes immediately that this rigor is the motor of command and discipline, and consequently the source of an army's triumph. Machiavel does not act in good faith on this occasion, because he chooses Scipion, the softest of all the Generals regarding discipline, compares him to Hannibal, and supports severity.
I acknowledge that the command of an army cannot be held without severity; how else can the libertines, the cruel, the amoral, the cowards, the overly bold, the coarse and mechanical animals, be kept at their duty if the fear of punishment does not stop them?
All that I request on this subject from Machiavel is of moderation. It is true that the leniency of an honest man can degrade into over-kindness; wisdom shows that severity cannot be dispensed with altogether. But this severity in its rigor is like that of a skilful sailor: one does not see him cutting the sails, nor the ropes, of his vessel when the hatches need to be battened down there by the imminent danger of exposure to the storm or the typhoon.
There are occasions where it is necessary to be severe, but never cruel. I would like better, in battle, to be loved by my soldiers, not feared.
I come now to his most specious argument. It says that a prince, in trusting himself, should also trust fear. It makes him less vulnerable to being manipulated by his subjects, because the majority of the men are prone to ingratitude, fickleness, lying, cowardice and avarice; and that the prince's love of his subjects is a yoke of dependency, that the mischievousness and the lowness of mankind will make him very gullible, and that fear of the punishment ensures far better that their duties will be observed; that acquiring men's benevolence makes them Masters over you, but inducing fear makes you Master over them; thus, a careful prince should depend on himself rather than others.
I do not deny that there are men who are both ingrates and easy liars in the world; I do not deny that severity is not in some moments very useful; but I advise that any king, whose sole method of their policy is securing obedience through fear, will reign over cowards and slaves. He will not be able to expect great actions of or from his subjects, because anything that was accomplished at all was done by fear and timidity, which will always be carried in their characters, even after the source of the cruelty is dead or deposed. I say that a prince who will have the gift of making his subjects love him will reign in their hearts, since these subjects will find it in their own interest to have him for Master. In history there are a great number of examples of grand and history-changing actions which were done by love and attachment. I still say that the fashion of seditions and revolutions appears to be entirely finished nowadays; one sees no kingdom, except England, where the king has anything to fear from his people; and even the English king does not have anything to fear unless he himself raises the storm.
I thus conclude that a cruel prince, safe in his isolation, nevertheless exposes himself to being betrayed by the plain exhaustion of his subjects. Since continual cruelty is unbearable, one living under it soon moves from fear to slothdom. This a magnanimous prince never faces, because kindness is always pleasant; his subjects do not force themselves to like it.
It should thus be wished, for the happiness of the world, that the princes know good, without being too indulgent; so that kindness was always to them a virtue, and never a weakness.
CHAPTER XVIII: SHOULD THE PRINCES KEEP THEIR WORD?
The tutor of tyrants dares to ensure that the princes can deceive the world by their dissimulation; this where I must start to refute.
It is a fact that the public is curious; they are like an animal which sees all, which hears all, and which reveals all that it saw and what it heard. If the curiosity of this public examines the lives of individuals with no responsibilities over them, it is merely for diversion and entertainment; but when it judges character of the princes, it is very much motivated by their own interest. The princes know, far more than other men, the unwritten rules, policies and judgements of the world, including the ones that are in the near future; they are like the different stars in the sky, where the astronomers are inclined to direct their telescopes towards. The courtiers who observe them consider it significant if a mere gesture, a glare, or a glance betrays something that the prince's empty mouth will not reveal, and the people "get to know them" by speculation and guesses. In a word: as the sun cannot cover its spots, no more can the great princes can hide their defects at the bottom of their character to the eyes of so many observers.
So the mask of dissimulation would merely overcast the natural deformity of a prince. He would have to keep this mask up continuously: if he raised it sometimes, if only to breathe, that one occasion will be enough to satisfy the curious ones.
The artifice and the dissimulation will therefore become vain on the lips of this prince; the trick in his speeches and his actions will be useless for him; one does not judge this man on his word anymore. It would be "common" to always call them on it, but if one compares their actions and their speeches, that raised mask will always be in the back of their mind. Falseness and dissimulation, then, simply will not work.
One does not play his own character solely; it is also necessary to play the character that the world wants you to be: but they who think of deceiving the public, are easily deceived themselves.
Sixth-Quint, Philip II, Cromwell, had the reputation of hypocritical men and rule-benders, but never were thought of as virtuous. A prince, skilful that he is, cannot follow all the maxims of Machiavel to give the appearance of virtue to that who does not have it, by laundering crimes which are clean only for him, and those that are lulled to sleep by his image.
Machiavel does not hold up better on the reasons which must carry the princes to cheating with hypocrisy: the clever and false application of the fable of the centaur does not conclude anything. If this centaur had half a human figure and half that of a horse, does it follow that the princes must be crafty and unrestrained? He must really desire well to push his catechism for crime, if he employs such weak arguments, and to seek evidence in the laboratory of fiction.
But here is reasoning falser than all that we saw. The policy says that a prince must have qualities of the lion and fox: a lion to demolish the wolves; a fox to dodge the fisherman's net. He concludes that what these animal tales show is that a prince is not obliged to keep his word. Here is a conclusion without premises: isn't the doctor of crime ashamed of stuttering during his lecture of impiety?
If one wanted to lend probity and common sense to the muddled thoughts of Machiavel, here is the most you can make of them. The world is in part like a play, where there are honest players but also the cheating ones who cheat, so a prince, who must play the part he has been assigned, should not be misled when there: he needs to know how to spot cheating during the play, not to practice similar lessons, but to be alerted when it is his turn to be gulled.
Let us turn now to the examination of this policy. Because all men are wicked, says the author, and because they break their word continually, you are not obliged either to keep yours to them. Here, firstly, is a contradiction: does the author not say, one moment after, that the gifted at deception will always find men simple enough to deceive? How do these two agree: all men are amoral; and you will find among them men who are simple enough to deceive.
It is quite simply false that the world made up only of the amoral. One would have to be a diligent misanthropist not to see that in any group there are many decent people, and that the great number is neither good nor bad. But if Machiavel had not supposed the world to be full of predators, on what would he have based his abominable maxim? Even if we assume that men are as opportunistic as Machiavel wants them to be, it would however not follow that we must imitate them. Mr. Cartouche betrays, robs, assassinates. After much consultation foregone, I conclude from this that Cartouche is a criminal, that one must punish - and not that the judges should use him as a role model for their own conduct. If the world had little honor and virtue, said Charles the Wise, it would be in the princes that one should find the traces of them.
After the author proves the need for the crime, he wants to encourage his disciples by making easier its commission. "But men are so simple," he instructs us, "and governed so absolutely by their present needs, that he who wishes to deceive will never fail in finding willing dupes." Which is reduced to this: Your neighbor is dumb, and you are smart; therefore, it is necessary that you deceive him, because he is stupid! It is the syllogism for which the schoolboys of Machiavel have pledged allegiance to, and has them coiled to strike.
The policy which, as a consequence of its reasoning, increases the ease of crime, promises then the happiness of perfidy; who else would we see as proof of its practicality but the annoying one, César Borgia, the top dog, the gold medal winner of the amorality event, the keeper of the perfidity: this César Borgia, the hero of Machiavel, was very effective at delivering the misery. Machiavel keeps speaking well of him on this occasion: it is necessary, given his starring role in this play; but from where it would have taken him except the criminal register, or the history of the bad popes and Neros? Machiavel assures us that Alexander VI, the falsest man and most impious Pope of his time, always succeeds in his cheatings, because he know perfectly the weakness of man: their credulity.
I wish to assure the reader that this does not demonstrate the gullibility of man, but that some events and certain circumstances sometimes made a success of the intentions of this pope. The contrast of the French and Spanish ambition, the disunion and the hatred of the noble families of Italy, the passions and the weakness of Louis XII, contributed especially to Alexander's success.
Cheating is even provably dumb when it is pushed too far. I quote the authority of a great statesman, Don Louis de Haro, who said, of the Mazarin cardinal, that he had a great predictability in his policy: he always wanted to mislead. This same Mazarin, wanting to employ M. de Fabert in an embarrassing negotiation with the Marshal of Fabert says to him: "Suffer to do it yourself, Monseigneur. I refuse to mislead the duke of Savoy, more especially as the matter concerns only a trifle; I have made it in the world as an honest man, thus I hold my probity for an occasion where the fortunes of France itself would be swayed."
I do not speak in this moment about honesty or virtue, but am considering only the interest of the princes. I say that it is a very bad policy on their part to be cheating, and to deceive the world; they deceive only one time, and then lose the confidence of all.
Lately, a certain power had declared in a proclamation how it was to conduct itself, and later acted in a directly opposite way. I declare that this stratagem is a blow sufficient to entirely alienate others' confidence: the more this advice is followed closely, the coarser the student becomes. The Roman Church, to avoid a similar trap, has fixed the date of qualification for being numbered among the saints at one hundred years after their death. This will erase the memory of their defects, and that of their extravagances perishes with them; the witnesses to their life, and those which could speak against them, do not remain any more; nothing opposes the representation of sanctity that they want to give to the public.
Please forgive me this digression. I know full well that there are annoying compulsions, where a prince cannot prevent himself from breaking his treaties and his alliances, but he must seperate as an honest man from his allies; give them sufficient notice or warning; and, especially, never use those ends that the safety of his people and an emergency need does not justify.
I will finish this chapter by only one reflection. One can't help but notice the kind of servant whose defects merit praise from the hands of Machiavel. It wants the typical king made a born liar, and to crown his dishonesty with hypocrisy; he thinks that people will be both devoted to a prince and revolted from the ill-treatments that they suffer from him. There are people who are of this feeling; for me, it seems that they always have these indulgences for errors of speculation, for they do not wish to pursue the corruption of the heart to its conclusion. People will love more an "unsound" prince who is also an honest man, and who works for their happiness, rather than a "safe" degenerate. This may not be the thoughts of The Prince, but these are the actions which make the men happy.
CHAPTER XIX: THAT IT IS NECESSARY TO AVOID BEING MISTAKEN AND HATED
The hysteria of system-building does not only afflict the philosophers, it also crept into the minds of analysts of policy. Machiavel is infected by it more than anybody. He wants to prove that a prince must be malicious and cheating; these are the sacramental words of his religion. Machiavel has all the spite of the monsters which embanked Hercules, but he does not have the force; therefore, should not one have the bludgeon of Hercules to cut it down - because what is simpler, more natural and more suitable for princes than justice and kindness? I do not think that it is necessary to become exhausted in arguments to prove it. The policy must necessarily lose by supporting the opposite. Because if it advocates that a prince be strengthened on the throne by cruelty, cheating, treachery, etc., this will be malicious for him, yielding a pure loss. He wants to cover a prince who rises on the throne with all these defects, to strengthen his usurpation, but the author gives him advice which will raise all the sovereigns, and all the republics, against him. Because how a private individual can rise to sovereignty, if not by dispossessing a sovereign prince of his States, or by usurping the authority of a republic? Machiavel is not as wise as the princes of Europe. If he came up with a collection of cheatings for the use of robbers, he would not have made a work more treacherous that this one.
I must however give an account of some sham reasoning which is in this chapter. Machiavel claims that what makes a prince odious, is when he seizes wrongfully the goods of his subjects, and making an attempt on the honor of their wives - breaking the ninth and tenth Commandments. It is sure that a prince that is guided by interest, is unjust, violent and cruel, will not be able to miss being hated and becoming odious to his people; but this is not the case for the errantry of Julius Caesar, called in Rome the husband of all the women and the woman of all the husbands; Louis XIV, who loved women much; August I, king of Poland, who was the proud manager of a movable harem. These princes did not know hatred because of their loves; and if Caesar was assassinated, if Roman freedom inserted so many daggers in his side, it was because of Caesar's talent at usurpation, not because of his talent in seduction.
One could support the feeling of Machiavel by objecting that the expulsion of the kings of Rome was really a protest against the adulteries of Lucretia; but I answer that it was not the love of the crown prince Sextus for Lucretia, but the violent and contemptuous manner of this love, which gave place to the rising of the Republic of Rome; as this violence awoke in the perception of the people, other violences made by the Tarquin kings surfaced in their eyes too. The Romans then carried out their revenge for all of these crimes. But I must note in passing that the adventure of Lucretia is not a novel, and thus needs adaptation for it to become one.
I do not say this to excuse the bed-jumping of the princes, for it can be morally bad; I stuck it here to show that this, in and of itself, did not make the sovereigns hated. One glances at how the love lives of the good princes are treated like a forgivable weakness, provided that this is not accompanied by injustices. One can make love like Louis XIV, Charles II of England, like King Augustus; but one should imitate neither Nero nor David.
Here, this seems to me, is a contradiction in form. "The Prince who inspires such an opinion of himself is greatly esteemed, and against one who is greatly esteemed conspiracy is difficult"; and in chapter seventeen the author notes, "since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far better to be feared than loved...since his being loved depends upon his subjects, while his being feared depends upon himself, a wise Prince should build on what is his own, and not on what rests with others." Which of both is the true feeling of the author? He speaks the language of oracles: the patter, it should be said in passing, of the cheating ones.
I must say, on this occasion, that conspiracies and assassinations are almost gone from the world; the princes are safe on this account. These crimes are yesterday's, but Machiavel's analysis of them is very good: there is at most only the fanaticism of some ecclesiastics to worry about, which can commit such a terrible crime only by using their fanaticism. Among the good things that Machiavel identified at the time of the conspiracies, there are some which turn bad in his mouth, like so. "I say that the conspirator has to face distrust, jealousy, and dread of punishment which deter him, while on the side of the Prince there are the laws, the majesty of the throne, the protection of friends, and of the government to defend him; to which if the general good-will of the people are added, it is hardly possible that any should be rash enough to conspire." It seems to me that the political author might not show the best form by speaking about the laws, for his general plan advises only interest, cruelty, despotism and usurpation. Machiavel here makes like the Protestants, who use gladly the arguments of the skeptics to fight the Transubstantiation of the Catholics, and then use the same arguments they heard from the Catholics to fight the skeptics themselves.
Machiavel thus advises with the princes to cultivate goodwill, to stay their hand for this reason, and to also win the benevolence of the surviving nobles and of the people; he is right to advise them to discharge onto others the master-strokes that could attract the hatred of one of these two Estates, and to establish, for this purpose, the magistrates: judges between the people and the nobles. He points to the government of France as an excellent model of this. The friend of despotism and of usurpation of authority now approves of the power that the Parlements of France had in the nation's distant past. It seems to me that if there is a government which one could nowadays propose as the model of wisdom, it would be that of England: there, the Parliament is the referee between the people and the king, and the king has all the capacity to make good but little to make evil.
Machiavel then enters a great discussion on the life of the Roman emperors, from Marcus Aurelius to the two Gordians, ending with their immediate predecessor Maximinus. He allots the cause of these frequent changes to the venality of the empire, but this is not the only cause there. Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius met a disastrous end without having bought Rome like Didius Julianus. Venality was the final reason to assassinate the emperors, but the true bottom was the shape of government there. The Praetorian guards became like the Mammelus in Egypt, the Jannisaries in Turkey, the Streltsi in Moscow, but Constantine broke the Praetorian Guard skillfully; it was the misfortunes of the empire which exposed its Masters to assassination and poisoning. I will notice that the bad emperors perished violently, but Theodosius died in his bed, and Justinian lived a happy eighty four years. Here is what I insist: it is hard to find cruel princes that are also happy, and Augustus was peaceful only when he became virtuous. The Commodus tyrant, successor of the divine Marcus Aurelius, was put to death in spite of the respect everyone had for his father. Caracalla could not govern well on the throne: this is what caused his cruelty. Alexander Severus was killed by the treason of Maximinius of Thrace, the man who tried to cultivate the image of a giant, and Maximinius, having raised everyone by his cruelties, was assassinated in his turn. Machiavel claims that a low-born Prince is often assassinated as the result of the contempt which others have of his low birth, but this is a great wrong. A high man who has won the empire by his courage and valor does not have parents anymore; one thinks of his capacity, and not of his extraction. Pupienus was the son of a village sherriff, Probus of a gardener, Diocletian of a slave, Valentinian of a rope-maker; they all were respected. The Sforza which conquered Milan was a peasant; Cromwell, who fixed England and made Europe tremble, was the son of a merchant. The Great Mohammed, founder of the most flourishing religion of the globe, was a commercial boy. Samon was a French merchant. Famous Piaf, whose name is still revered in Poland, was elected king with peasant's shoes on his feet; and he was respected during a great number of years. That generals, that ministers and chancellors, are commoners! Europe is made fuller and happier, because these places are given to the deserving. I do not say that to scorn the blood of Wittikind, Charlemagne, and Ottoman; I must, on the contrary, for more than one reason, admire the bloodline of heroes; but I like even more their merit.
One should not forget only Machiavel here has mistaken much, when he believes that in the time of Severus it was enough to spare the soldiers to be supported; the history of the emperors contradicts it. The more an emperor spared the intractable Praetorians, the more he felt their force; it was also dangerous to flatter them, and to ask them to oppress. The troops today need not be feared for any Praetorianism, because all of them are divided into small bodies who watch each other; because the kings have the right to employ and dismiss any of them; and because the force of laws is established. The Turkish emperors are not exposed to the chalk line, because they do not know yet how to make use of this policy. The Turks are slaves of the sultan, and the sultan is the slave of the Janissaries. In Christian Europe, the princes know well that favoring one unit at the expense of all others only causes disastrous jealousies and "independent" interests.
The role model of Severus, suggested by Machiavel for those who would rise with the Empire, is thus quite as bad as that of Marcus Aurelius is advantageous for them, possibly. But how can one urge the emulation of Severus, César Borgia, and Marcus Aurelius at the same time? It would join together wisdom and the purest virtue with the most dreadful opportunism. I have only one more fact to point out: César Borgia, with his so skilful cruelty, had a career that was full of "negative achievements," while Marc-Aurele, this crowned philosopher, always virtuous, never experienced until his death a reverse of fortune.
CHAPTER XX: ARE THE FORTRESSES, AND SEVERAL OTHER THINGS WHICH THE PRINCES OFTEN USE, ARE BENEFICIAL, OR HARMFUL?
Paganism represented Janus with two faces. This meant perfect knowledge of all that has passed and of the future. The image of this god, taken in an allegorical or mythical direction, very well applies to the princes. They must, like Janus, see behind them in the history of all these centuries which have passed, and which provide them salutary lessons of control and having; and they must like Janus see ahead by their penetration, and this spirit of force and judgement which combines all the reports and all the statistics, and divines, in the present situation, that which will, or might, follow.
Machiavel proposes five questions for the princes, especially those which have made new conquests - those whose policy only requires strengthening their possession: it seems directed at counseling hooligans to become more prudent, to combine the past with the future, and to become the servant of reason and justice.
Here the first question: should a prince disarm conquered people, or not?
It is always necessary to correct Machiavel by explaining how much the manner of making war has changed since he wrote The Prince. Now, always-disciplined armies, more or less strong, defend the countries; one would scorn a troop of armed peasants. Sometimes the citizens take up the weapons, and the professionals do not suffer because of it; to prevent any temptation to revolt, one threatens them with the bombardment and the cannon, the "whiff of grapeshot." It appears prudent to disarm the middle-class men of a conquered city, especially if one has something to fear from them. The Romans, who had conquered Great Britain, and who could not hold it in peace because of the turbulent and quarrelsome mood of these people, tried to effeminize them, in order to moderate their belligerent and savage instincts, hoping to succeeds as in Rome itself. The Corsicans are a people as brave and as stout-hearted as these English: they will be overcome, I believe, only by prudence and kindness. To maintain the sovereignty of this island, it appears to me to be essential to disarm the inhabitants, and to soften their manners. I say in passing that one can see from the example of the Corsicans, whose courage and virtue gives to the men their love of freedom, that it is dangerous and unjust to oppress.
The second question rolls on the confidence which a prince must have in his subjects after having become Master of a new State, or in those of his new subjects which helped give him the Principality, and even in those of which he is their legitimate prince.
If you take a city by intelligence, and by the treason of some citizens, it would be very imprudent to trust the traitors, who probably will betray you; one must suppose that those which were faithful to their former Masters, will also be so to their new sovereigns, because they are ordinarily wise spirits, settled men who have a stake in the country, who like order and see any change as harmful. One should not, however, give one's trust lightly to anybody.
But let us suppose one moment that people who are oppressed, and are forced to shake off the yoke of their tyrants, call another prince to control them; I believe that the prince must answer with the same confidence that they showed him, and that if he treats those who entrust him with suspicion, it would be a most unworthy ingratitude which they would not miss seeing, nor would it fade from their memory. William, Prince of Orange, kept until the end of his life his friendship and his confidence with those who had put in his hands the reins of government of England, and those which were opposed to him, exiled themselves from their fatherland, and followed King James. In the elective kingdoms, where the majority of the electors are little more than brigands, and where the throne is venal, I agree with what some say: that the new sovereign should, after his rise, slip a payoff to those who were opposed to him, as this has in fact worked with these electors.
Poland provides us examples of this: the transactions surrounding the throne are so venal that it seems that this purchase is done at the public markets. The King of Poland, by opening his purse, draws from his path any opposition; he is the Master who sways the great families by palatinats, starofties and other gifts which he confers. But the Poles, like others, have on this subject of the benefits a very short memory, so it is necessary to re-water the plants often. In a word, the Republic of Poland is like the barrels of the Danaides daughters, condemned to eternal labor for killing their husbands at their fathers' orders: the most generous king will vainly spread his benefits on them, and will never satisfy them. However, though a king of Poland has many favors to grant, he can spare his resources by concentrating his liberalities only on the occasions where he needs the families which he enriches.
The third question of Machiavel properly looks at the security of a prince in a hereditary kingdom: if it is better that he maintains union or discord among his subjects?
This question could perhaps be relevant in the time of the ancestors of Machiavel in Florence; but in the present I do not think that any prince has adopted any rising rather than mitigating it. I would have only to quote the beautiful, so-known apology of Marcus Agrippa, by which he joins together the Roman people. The republics however must in some way maintain the jealousy between their members; because if no second party watches over the first, the shape of the government changes into monarchy.
There are princes who believe that the disunion of their ministers is necessary for their interests; they think of being misled by a united band of men whose mutual hatred serves as the prince's bodyguard: but if these hatreds produce this effect, they produce also a dangerous strength. If these ministers have to contribute to the service of the prince, they will be thwarted continuously, and they will confuse their particular quarrels with the advantage of the prince and the safety of the people.
Nothing thus contributes any more has the force of a monarchy than the union intimate and inseparable from all its members, and it must be the goal of a prince wise to establish it.
What I have just answered for the third question of Machiavel, can to some extent be used as a solution to his fourth problem; let us examine however, and judge in two words, if a prince must foment factions against himself, or if he must gain the friendship of his subjects.
A prince forges monsters when he fights his subjects, even only a small group of them: this is to be done to the enemies of his country, to overcome them. It is more natural, more reasonable, more human to make friends: happy are the princes who know the softnesses of friendship! Happier are those who deserve the love and affection of their people! Where is the justice in the opposite course?
We now reach the last question of Machiavel: if a prince must have fortresses and citadels, or if he must get rid of them?
In the time of Machiavel the world was in a general fermentation. The spirit of sedition and of revolt reigned everywhere; one saw only factions and tyrants; frequent revolutions made princes build citadels on the heights of the cities, to contain the anxious spirit of the more surly inhabitants.
For a barbarian century, where the men grow weary of destroying each other or where the sovereigns have in their States a more despotic capacity, one need not speak any more about seditions and revolts, and one would say that the rising of the spirit, after having worked enough of its magic, becomes quiet: a Prince has no more need for citadels to ensure the fidelity of the cities and country. It is not these kind of fortifications which will guard against a prince's enemies, and will ensure the strength of the State.
The armies and the fortresses are of equal use for the princes; because if they can oppose their armies to their enemies, they can save this army under the gun of their fortresses in the event of a lost battle; and if the enemy besieges this fortress, this gives them time to regroup and assemble new forces, that they can still, if they pile up them in time, employ to besiege the enemy.
The last wars in Flanders, between the emperor and France, almost became trench warfare because of the multitude of the fortified towns; and of the battles of one hundred thousand men, gained over a hundred and thousand men, were followed only by the capture of one or two cities: the adversary fled to the countryside, and gained time to repair its losses. Then, the enemy reappeared again, and quickly called into question last year's victory. In countries where there are many fortified towns, the armies which cover two ground miles will be at war for thirty years, and will gain, if they are lucky, for price of twenty battles, ten miles of ground.
In open countries, the outcome of two campaigns decides the fortune of the winner, and subjects whole kingdoms to him. Alexander, Caesar, Genghis Khan, Charles XII prolonged their glory so long as they found few fortified places in the countries which they conquered; the winner of India made only two sieges in his glorious shifts; the arbiter of Poland never made any more. Eugene, Villars, Marlborough, Luxembourg, were great captains; but the fortresses blunted the brilliance of their successes. The French know the utility of the fortresses well, because from the Brabant to the Dauphine it is like a double chain of fortified towns. The east border of France on the side of Germany is like the opened mouth of a lion, which presents two lines of menacing teeth: a mouth that will swallow all invading troops. This should be enough to show the use of fortified towns.
CHAPTER XXI: HOW THE PRINCE MUST CONTROL HIMSELF FOR HIM TO BE HELD IN REGARD
This chapter of Machiavel contains both good and bad. I will raise the faults of Machiavel; I will confirm his observations which are good and creditable; and I will then venture my feeling on some subjects which belong naturally to this matter.
The author proposes the example of Ferdinand of Aragon, and Bernard of Milan, as a model for those who want to be characterized by grand enterprises, and rare and extraordinary actions. Machiavel seeks the marvel in the boldness of the enterprises, and in the speed of the execution. That is great, I can say honestly, but is creditable only in proportion as the enterprise of the conqueror is right. "If you win praise by exterminating the robbers," said the Scythian ambassadors to Alexander, "you then yourself become the largest robber of the earth, because you plundered and ransacked all the nations which you overcame; if you are a god, you must do good for the mortals, and not plunder what they have title to; if you are a man, always remember it."
Ferdinand of Aragon was not always satisfied to make war openly; he found his religion useful, like a veil, to cover his intentions. He misused the faith of the sermons; he spoke only about justice, and made only injustices. This is what Machiavel praises him for.
Machiavel pleads in the second place the example of Bernard of Milan, to insinuate to the princes that they must reward and punish in an inspired way, so that all their actions have a character of grandeur. The generous princes will not harm their reputation, especially when their liberality is a continuation of the size of their soul, and not of their self-righteousness.
The kindness of their hearts can make them larger than all the other virtues. Cicero said to Caesar: "You do not have anything larger in your fortune than the capacity to save citizens as well, nor worthier of your kindness as the will to do it ". It would thus be necessary that the sorrows that a prince inflicts always spring from an offence, and that the rewards which he gives are always a reward of service.
But here is a contradiction: the doctor of policy wants in this chapter for his princes to hold their alliances, and in the eighteenth chapter he formally released them from their word. He becomes as a teller of great adventures who says white to the ones, and black to the others.
If Machiavel reasons badly on all that we have just said, he speaks well of the caution which the prince must have when dealing with other princes who are more powerful, who, instead of helping him, could be his destroyer.
It is what every prince of Germany knows, and what the large one uses to estimate his friends and enemies. The Swedes entered Germany's States, when its troops were at rest, to help the Emperor with the bottom of the Rhine in the war which he supported against France. The ministers of this prince, after giving the news of this sudden irruption, advised him to call the czar of Russia for help; but this prince, more penetrating than them, answered that the Muscovites were as bears: better for them to wear their chains, rather than give them to others. He generously took on himself the responsibility of revenge, and he did not take the path of repentance.
If I lived in a future century, I would surely lengthen this article with some reflections which could agree with Machiavel; but is not for me to judge the policies of the modern princes. In the world it is necessary to both know how to speak and how to keep silent.
The matter of neutrality is as well treated by Machiavel as that of the engagements of the princes. Experience showed for a long time that a neutral prince exposes his country to the insults of the two warring factions, that his States become the theatre of the war, and that he always loses by neutrality, without ever having anything solid to gain there.
There are two manners by which a prince can become great: one is that of the conquest, where a warlike prince moves back by the force of his weapons the limits of his domination: the other is that of a good government, when a hard prince makes flower in his States all arts and all sciences, which return to him both matured and more organized.
All this book is filled only with advice geared to the first manner of increasing power. Let us say something of the second: more innocent, just, and quite as useful as the first.
The arts most necessary to life are agriculture, trade and manufactures; those which show the most honor to the human spirit are mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, the eloquence, poetry, painting, music, sculpture, architecture, engraving, and what one hears being given the name of "beautiful arts."
As the countries vary infinitely, there are those whose strength is in agriculture, others in the grape harvest, others in manufactures, and others in trade: these arts can even thrive together in some countries.
The sovereigns who will choose this soft and pleasant manner to increase their power will be obliged to study mainly the culture of their country, in order to know which of these arts will be cleanest and thus has to be pushed, and consequently which they must encourage more. The French and the Spaniards realized that they missed out on trade, and they thus ruminated, for this reason, on the means of ruining that of the English. If they succeed, France will increase its power more considerably than it could not have done by the conquest of twenty cities and a thousand villages; and England and Holland, these two most beautiful countries and the richest of the world, would decay imperceptibly, as a patient who dies of consumption.
The countries whose corns and vines are riches have two things to observe: one is to clear all the grounds carefully, in order to work the least ground with profit; the other is to make easier the flow of goods, cheapening the means of transporting these goods, which will make the same goods cheaper.
As for manufactures of all species, it is perhaps the most useful and advantageous for a State, since by them the nation can provide for the needs and the luxury of the inhabitants, and the neighbors are even obliged to pay tribute to your industry: this makes the money of the country strong, and invite more funds into the country.
I have always convinced myself that the deficit of manufactures had partly caused these extraordinary emigrations from the countries of the north, these Goths, these Vandals, who so often flooded the southernmost countries. In these moved-back times a person not knowing the arts in Sweden, Denmark, and in most of Germany, engages in agriculture or hunting; the arable lands were shared between a certain number of owners, who cultivated them, and whom they could nourish.
But because the human race from time immemorial has often played second fiddle in these cold climates, there has been times where twice more inhabited a country that it could support by tilling: and the young men from good homes emigrated and became mercenaries. They were famous brigands by need; they devastated other countries, and dispossessed some of the Masters. Therefore, one sees in the Byzantine Empire, and in the Occident, these barbarians asking only for ordinary fields to cultivate, in order to provide for their subsistence. The countries of the north are not less people now than then; but as the desire for luxury has very wisely multiplies our needs, the brigandry has turned into to manufacturing, and these arts keep the whole peoples alive, ones which otherwise would be obliged to seek their subsistence elsewhere.
These manners of making a State thrive, are like the entrusted talents. The wisdom of the sovereign must be to put them forward, not push them backward. The surest mark that a country is under a wise and happy government, is when beautiful arts are born in its center; in fact, flowers bloom in a fatty ground and under a happy sky: the dryness, or the breath of the north winds, makes them die.
History illustrates more one reign where the arts flowered under its shelter. The century of Pericles is more famous for the great geniuses which lived in Athens, than by the battles that the Athenians gave its princes. The reign of Augustus is better known for Cicero, Ovid, Horace, Virgil etc., that by the proscriptions of this cruel emperor, who won, after all, most of his reputation thanks to the pen of Horace. The kingdom of Louis XIV is more famous for the school of Corneille, the Racines, Molière, Boileau, Descartes, the Lebruns, Girardon, than by this passage of the Rhine exaggerated so much by the sieges where Louis was in person, and by the battle of Turin that Mister de Martin lost with the duke of Orleans by command of the cabinet.
Kings honor humanity when they distinguish and reward those who are to him men of honor, and when they encourage these higher spirits which drive themselves to improve our knowledge, and who are devoted to the worship of the truth.
Happy are the sovereigns who cultivate these sciences for themselves! Who think like Cicero, this Roman consul, the liberator of his fatherland and father of the eloquence, in this way: The study of the belles-letters form the character of youth, and bring charm to those of advanced age; prosperity is made more brilliant, and adversity receives consolations from them; and in our houses and those of the others, in the voyages and the loneliness, in any time and in all places, they are the civilizer of our life.
Lorenzo de Medici, the great man of his nation, was the peacemaker of Italy, and the restorer of the sciences; his probity reconciled to him the general confidence of all the princes; and Marcus Aurelius, one of the greatest emperors of Rome, was not less the happy warrior than the wise philosopher, and joined the most severe practice of morals to the profession that can forge them. Let us stop by these words: "a king that justice has led, has the world for his temple, and people of the good are his priests and sacrificers."
CHAPTER XXII: SECRETARIES OF THE PRINCES
There are two species of princes in the world: those which see all by their own eyes, and control their States by themselves; and those who rest on the good faith of their ministers, and hand off some control to those who are inspired by the prince's spirit.
The sovereigns of the first species are like the heart of their States; the weight of their government rests on them only, like the world on the back of Atlas: they regulate the interior businesses like the foreign ones; they fill at the same time the stations of first magistrates of justice, of Generals of the armies, of the nations's treasurers. They have, with the example of God (who uses Himself genius higher than that of man to operate His commands), spirits that are both penetrating and tough, to carry out their intentions and to fill in detail what they envisioned; their ministers are, properly, instruments in the hands of wise and skilful Master.
The sovereigns of the second command like are plunged, by a defect of this spirit, yes by a natural indolence, into a lethargic indifference. If the State, close to falling into failure by the weakness of the sovereign, must be supported by the wisdom and the promptness of a minister, the prince then becomes a necessary phantom, because he represents the State: all that he does is wish, and this makes for an agreeable style of rulership.
It is not that easy for a sovereign to look further into the character of those potential Ministers he wants to employ in the businesses as it is to advise such a course: because the parties have as much facility for self-disguise in front of their Masters that the princes have in unmasking then. They are very good at dissimulating the interior of their souls with their public image, and the best ones just might have gotten their skills from a book known as The Prince.
After all, if Sixth-Quint could mislead seventy cardinals who should have known better, how much, with stronger reasons, easier is it for a private individual to surprise the sovereign who missed an occasion to penetrate his disguise? A prince of spirit can judge, without sorrow, the talents and the capacity of those who serve him; but it is almost impossible for him to judge well their degree of disinterest and their fidelity.
It was often seen that men, due to change of circumstances, contradict itself, but so do those who give up their honesty and virtue when put to the test. One did not speak badly in Rome about Tiberius, of Nero, of Caligula, before they won the throne: perhaps their amorality would have remained without effect, if it had not been called forth by the occasions which developed the germ of their spite.
We know of men who join to their spirit and proven talents the most ungrateful flexibility, and other talents known to the darkest soul, and we know of others which have all the good qualities of the heart.
The prudent princes usually give preference to those whose qualities of the heart prevail, to employ them in the governing of their country. They also preferred, on the contrary, to use those who have more flexibility as diplomats, to make use of them in negotiations. Because it is not absolutely urgent to maintain the command and justice in their States, it is enough to trust in honesty; and if it is necessary to persuade the neighbors and to forge intrigues, it is known well that probity is not as necessary in the foreign service as the rhetoric and sensitivity.
It seems to me that a prince cannot reward fidelity enough for those which serve him with zeal; there is a certain feeling of justice in us which leads us to this recognition, and which should be followed. But the general interest requires absolutely that the princes reward with as much generosity as they punish with leniency; because the ministers who realize that the virtue will be the instrument of their fortune, will not have recourse to the crime, and they will naturally prefer the benefits of their Master to foreign corruptions.
The way of justice and the wisdom of the world thus agree perfectly on this subject, and it is completely imprudent to put this principle of attachment of ministers to a test that would be dangerous.
Some princes give in to another dangerous defect: they change the ministers whimsically, and they punish with too much rigor the least irregularity of their obedience.
The ministers who work immediately under the eyes of the prince, when they are some time in this place, could not completely disguise their defects to him: the more penetrating the prince is, the more easily he seizes them.
The sovereigns who are not philosophical, who are impatient and want instant results, revolt against the weaknesses of those which serve them. And then they disgrace them, and lose them.
The princes who reason more deeply, know the men better. They know that they all are marked with the stigmata of humanity; that there is nothing perfect in this world; that the great qualities are, so to speak, equilibrated by great defects; and that the man of genius must benefit from all. This is why (if they are relatively incorruptible) they preserve their ministers with their good and their bad qualities and they prefer those who are known thoroughly to the new ones that they could have. It is like a band of skilful musicians, who are sie enough to play with instruments which they know the strengths and weaknesses of, rather than inviting in new ones whose specific talents are unknown.
CHAPTER XXIII: HOW THE FLATTERING ONES SHOULD BE AVOIDED
There is not a book of morals, nor a book of history, where the weakness of the princes for flattery is not harshly censured. It is always urged that the kings like and seek the truth; one wants that their ears are accustomed to hear it, and one is right; but one still wants, according to the habits of men, the little contradictory things: one wants that the princes have enough self-esteem to like glory, to enact great designs, and that at the same time they must be completely indifferent to the wages of their work, and to the benefits. The same principle must push them to both deserve the praise and to scorn it. This is to ask much of humanity: the criterion for honor is that they must be able more which on the others:
Contemptus virtutis ex contemptu fame: contemptible talk breeds a contemptible character.
The princes which were insensitive to their reputation were only the indolent, or the voluptuous abandoned to their weakness; they was composed of cheap matter which no virtue animated. It is true that very cruel tyrants liked the praise; but it was in them an odious vanity - a vice. They wanted the esteem because they deserved the opposite.
In the vicious princes, the flattery is a mortal poison which multiplies the seeds of their corruption; in the princes of merit, the flattery is as a rust which sticks to their glory, and which decreases the shine of it. A man of spirit revolts against the coarse flattery: he pushes back the flattering awkward one. Here is another kind of flattery: the sophistry of the weakest link. A real ruler's rhetoric decreases it: the prince of merit provides arguments for the higher passions, which gives the character of justice to austerity, and turns liberality into plentitude, the two that are so often confused; he sublimates the vices of violation into recreation and honest pleasure. This amplifies especially the defects of the other kind of men, and quietly awards a trophy to those of sterling character.
The majority of the men give into the flattery which justifies their tastes, and which is not a complete lie; they cannot really punish him who says himself to them the good of which they themselves are convinced. The flattery which is based on a solid basis is the most subtle of all; it is necessary to understanding this kind very well, to see the nuance which it adds to the truth. It will not be the kind that comes from poet-historians; it will not honor him with operas whose melody is hyperbole, having insipid forewords and epistles very crawling; it will not daze the hero by a bombastic account of his victories; but it will take the air of feeling, it will slip the flattery in delicately, it will appear honest and naive: perhaps childlike. How could a great man, a hero, how could a prince of such small spirit be annoyed by the speaking of a truth which the promptness of a friend seems to let escape? How could a Louis XIV, who felt that his supreme aloneness impressed men, and who took pleasure in this superiority, be annoyed against an old officer who speaks with trembled and stuttering tongue, and, stopping in the middle of his speech, says to his King: "At least, Lord, I do not tremble in front of your enemies"?
The princes who were men before becoming kings, can remind themselves of what they were, and do not accustom themselves so easily with the condiments of the flattery. Those who have reigned all their life were always nourished by these spices, like the gods, and they would die of lethargy if all praises are taken away.
It would thus be more accurate, it seems to me, to feel sorry for the kings rather than to condemn them; they face the flattering ones, and more than them still, the slanderers, who deserve the judgment and the hatred of the public, just as the enemy princes, who also disguise the truth to them, do. It is mandatory for one to distinguish the flattery from the praise: Trajan was encouraged in his virtue by the commendations of Pliny - but Tiberius was confirmed in his vices by the flatteries of the senators. And it is the job of a prince to distinguish which is which, without seeing the answer later in his history books.
CHAPTER XXIV: WHY THE PRINCES OF ITALY LOST THEIR STATES
The fable of Cadmus, who sowed the teeth of the dragon that he had just overcome, and from which he reaped warriors who destroyed themselves, is emblematic of what were the Italian princes of the time of Machiavel. The perfidies and the treasons, passed along from one to the other, ruined them all. This is what you see in the history of Italy from the end of the fourteenth century until the beginning of the fifteenth: cruelties; seditions; violence; leagues for undertakings of mutual destruction; usurpations; assassinations - in a word, an enormous assembly of crimes, whose dramatic adaptation would be a play of horrors.
If, from the example of Machiavel, one resolved to reverse justice and humanity, one would upset the entire universe: the flood of the crimes would reduce, in double time, this continent to a vast loneliness. It was the iniquity and the cruelty of Italy's princes which made them lose their States, just as the false principles of Machiavel will undoubtedly cause the loss for those which have the madness, or amorality, to follow his lead.
I do not disguise anything; the plain cowardice of some of these princes of Italy, when added to their spite, has also contributed to their loss; the weakness of the kings of Naples, it is sure, ruined them; but I also suspect that when it comes to making policy, you can spin all the fine words you want, you can argue, design great systems, plead the most excellent of examples, employ all possible subtleties, but you will be obliged to return to simple justice, in spite of your own self.
I request from Machiavel what he means by these words: "For the actions of a new Prince [meaning a usurper] are watched much more closely than those of an hereditary Prince; and when seen to be good are far more effectual than antiquity of blood in gaining men over and attaching them to his cause. For men are more motivated by things present than by things past, and when they find themselves well off as they are, they enjoy their good fortune and seek no further..."
Does Machiavel suppose that, of two equally valorous and wise men, a whole nation will prefer the usurper to the legitimate prince? Would they pay heed to a sovereign without virtues and a kidnapper valiant, one full with his kind of capacity, and how would they? It may not be that the first assumption is that of the author, for such a theory is opposed to the most elemental notions of a grown citizen's common sense. It would be quite an effect without cause to see a preference in the people that favors a man whose campaigning for the throne is one of plain violence, and has no preferable merit over that of the legitimate sovereign.
It could not be the second assumption also, because the same quality of spirit that lets me know what a usurper is when I see one, acknowledges to me that the violent action by which he raises his power is an injustice.
What can a person of any station expect from a man who begins with the crime, if not a violent and tyrannical government? It is the same for any man of any rank who marries, and sees on the very same day an infidelity done by his wife. I do not think that such actions give a forecast which predicts that the wife will be virtuous for the remainder of her life; nor does my breadth of knowledge give me this thought.
Machiavel pronounces his judgment in this chapter. He says clearly that without the love of the people, the affection of the world, and a well disciplined army, it is impossible for a prince to be supported on the throne. The truth seems to force its way into him, this homage, with little to separate him from the theologists of the fallen angels who then recognize God while still blaspheming Him: the reinvention of the infidel into a heretic.
Here is what consists of a contradiction. To gain the affection of the people and the world at large, it is necessary to have funds of virtue; it is necessary that the prince is benevolent, and to have those qualities of the heart in him that give the capacity to discharge the functions of his new load.
Shouldering this load is like assuming all others: the men who wish to employ themselves this way never obtain the confidence if they are not just and enlightened. The corrupt man always wishes to be a man of good character, just as those unable to control themselves often prefer to be someone more careful. How in the name of God can it be that the least burgermeister, the least alderman of a town, needs to be an honest man and a hard worker if he wants to keep his rickety seat, but that royalty would be the only position where the one full of vice would be the authority? To gain the subjects' hearts, one must act as I have counseled and not like Machiavel: the teacher, in the course of this work, of injustice, cruelty, raw ambition, and confining one's care to the aid and assistance of one's own hunger for power.
His own policy is now uncovered. The policy that let a dangerous man pass for a great one in Machiavel's own century. This century is gone, but his abominable maxims still live: nobody had answered them in form, they prefer to cover the eyes. From this, many policies follow, ones that have something to hide.
Happy would we be that if we could entirely destroy the Machiavellianism in the world! I have shown some of the inconsistencies, but it is up to those who control the world to convince it: they are obliged to cure the public of the false idea that policy, which should be only be a system of wisdom, is nothing more than a house of frauds. It is up to them to banish the complexities and the bad faith of the treaties, and to return the vigor to honesty and frankness, which I need hardly say is a bargain of mutual advantage between the sovereigns. It is for them to show that they are as not the glorious enviers of their neighbors' provinces: are they not also jealous of the preservation of their own States? The prince that wants it all, is like a stomach which wants all the food and drink on the table, that does not think it will be unable to digest them, and in implementing this ambition, vomits. The prince who limits himself to good government is like a man who eats moderately, and whose stomach digests properly.
CHAPTER XXV: HOW MUCH INFLUENCE FORTUNE HAS IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE WORLD, AND HOW ONE CAN RESIST IT
The question about the freedom of man is one of these problems which push the reason of the philosophers to its end, where they often drew from the anathemas of the mouth of the theologians. The partisans of freedom say that, if men's wills are not free, God acts in them, that it is God which, through them, makes the murders, the flights and all the crimes; this is obviously opposed to holiness.
In the second place, if supremacy implies being the Father of the defects, and the authors of iniquities takes this as the Next Testament, one will not be able to punish the culprits any more, and there will be neither crimes nor virtues in the world. However, as under no circumstances would anyone think of this dreadful dogma without seeing in it all sorts of contradictions, one could take a better path when declaring oneself for the freedom of man.
The partisans of the peremptory necessity of determinism say, on the contrary, that God would be worse than a blind workman, and that He works in the darkness if, after creating the world, He had been unaware of what was to be done there: a clock- and watchmaker, they say, knows and can control the action of the least wheel in each of them, since they make the movement that was designed by him, and each goes to its assigned destination: and would God, this infinitely wise being, be a mere witness, curious and impotent, of humanity's actions? How would this same God, whose structures support a whole set of commands and who controls all with certain immutable and constant laws, let any person at all enjoy independence and freedom? If this is so, then it would not be God any more that would control the world, but the whim of the independent and free spirits. Then, it is necessary to choose between the creator and the creature, which of both is the robot? It is more reasonable to believe that this contradiction is where both our weakness and our power reside: thus the reason and passions are like invisible chains, by which the hand of Providence leads mankind, to contribute to the unfolding of events that, in His eternal wisdom, knows how they conclude; who, were He to arrive in the world, would see that each individual fulfilled his destiny.
It is like, by avoiding the whirlpool of Charybdis, one approaches too close to the she-monster Scylla; the philosophers mutually push themselves into abyssmal nonsense, while the theologians work their tight grip in a dark room, and then condemn themselves to be human, and show charity to their fellow creatures. These parties are trapped in a war without victory, like where the Carthaginians and the Romans once found themselves. When Carthage saw the Roman troops in Africa, they carried the torch of the war to Italy; and when Rome wanted to save itself from Hannibal, who was right on their doorstep, they sent Scipion to the head of the legions, and the legions to besiege Carthage. The philosophers, theologians, and the majority of the heroes of the argument, have the genius of the French nation: they attack vigorously, but they are lost if they are reduced to the defensive war, for they cannot defend. This is what makes the beautiful spirit say that God is the father of all religions, since He had given all of them weapons that are similar: each human being is given their own corner, and only that. This question about the freedom and predestination of man, is transported by Machiavel from metaphysics to policy. It is, however, a land which is very foreign for him, one which he seems unable to offer constructive counsel; because in policy, instead of reasoning if we are free or if we are not, if fortune and chance can do something completely out of the blue, which we humans cannot anticipate, we should only think of improving our penetration and our prudence.
Fortune and Chance are meaningless words, which all known evidence shows that their source is the times of deep ignorance in which humanity's role in the world was to stagnate, the time when one gave vague names to the effects whose causes were unknown.
What is called vulgarly the "fortune of Caesar" properly means all the human factors which support the plans of the ambitious. What one understands by the "misfortune of Cato," for in fact unexpected misfortunes did arrive to him, is a sideswipe where the effects followed the causes so suddenly, the subject's prudence could neither pre-empt them nor fight them.
What is meant by "the chance," is nothing more than the "roll of the dice," in all its forms. The chance, says one, made my dice yield twelve rather that seven. To break up this phenomenon physically, it would be necessary to have good-enough instruments to see precisely the way in which one inserted the dice in the horn; to measure the exact force of all movements of the hand, and that of the hand turning the horn: all of these forces which are transferred to the dice, and their exact quantity: these are the causes which, taken together, we call "chance."
As long as we are only men, with instruments, senses and minds that are limited, we will never be higher in certain of these areas than what is called the blows of fortune. We must let life rapture us every now and then, and gather what knowledge we can, sometimes randomly, according to events. Even if we were to overcome this chaos, our lives are simply too short for us to see all, and our spirits too narrow to combine them.
Clearly, we will all face events which are impossible, even with all the wisdom of humanity as our ally, to envisage. Here is an example of such an event, which caused Crémon to be routed by Prince Eugene. He and his company made a plan with all the prudence conceivable, and carried it out with infinite care. Here is how this design failed: the prince was let into the city at dawn, travelling through a sewer which was opened to him by a priest with whom he had struck a deal; Crémon would have infallibly become Master of the place, had two unexpected things, which he could not know, arrived.
Firstly, a Swiss regiment, which was to drill the same morning, had all the weapons that Crémon had concluded were not there, and held him back until the remainder of the garrison was assembled. In the second place, the guide who was to let in the forces of the Prince de Vaudemont had a pass-key to the city, which was to be given to Crémon, missed the agreed-upon path, with the result that this detachment arrived too late.
The second event which I want to use to illuminate, is that of a particular peace that the English made with France towards the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. Neither the Ministers for the Emperor Joseph, nor the greatest philosophers, nor the most skilful statesmen, could have suspected that a pair of gloves would change the boundary-drawing of Europe: this, however, happened literally.
The duchess of Marlborough had the position of Grand Mistress of Queen Anne in London, while her husband won in the campaigns of the Brabant a double harvest of laurels and riches. This duchess supported by her favor the party of the hero, and the hero supported the credit of his wife by his victories. The Tory party, which was opposed to them, and which wished peace, could not do anything while the duchess was so close to the ear of the queen. She lost this favor by a cause that was frivolous: the queen had a pair of gloves, and the duchess had the same brand at the same time; her impatience to have them made her urge the glove-check man to serve her before the queen. Anne, however, wanted to have her gloves too: a lady, Mrs. Mashin, who was enemy of Milady Marlborough, informed the queen of all that had occurred, and dwelled on it with such an amount of malignity, the duchess went from that moment from the queen's favorite to an indolent not worthy of Her Majesty's support any more. The glovekeeper completed the undermining of this princess by telling Anne the history of the gloves, which he spun with all possible blackness. This simple pettiness was sufficient to put all opinions in fermentation, and to season all that must accompany a disgrace. The Tories, with the marshal of Tallart at their head, prevailed in this change of court, which became a laurel of their own.
The Duchess of Marlborough was disgraced a short time afterwards, and with her fell the Whig party, and that of the Emperor's allies. Such is the playpen of events, which sets the stage for the most serious things of the world; and providence laughs at the wisdom and greatness of the highest man. Frivolous and sometimes ridiculous causes often change the fortune of the States and of whole monarchies.
In this occasion, the cattiness of women saved Louis XIV. from a step which even his wisdom and his power could not prevent a possible downfall, and obliged his allies to make peace in spite of him.
These whirlpools of events arrive, but I can freely confess that they occur seldom, and that their transcendence of humanity is not sufficient to discredit prudence and penetration; they are like diseases which sometimes ravage the health of men, but who do not prevent them from enjoying, most of the time, the advantages of a robust temperament.
It is thus necessary that those which must control the world, must also cultivate their penetration and their prudence but it is not sufficient; because if they want to captivate fortune, it is necessary that they learn how to fold their temperament when Fate has the higher hand, which is very difficult.
I speak in general only about two basic kinds of temperament: that of a bold promptness, and that of a circumspect slowness; and as these moral causes may have an organic cause, it is almost impossible for a prince to be so strong a Master of himself that he can display all colors, like a chameleon. Centuries ago, the times supported the glory of the conquerors, and of these bold men and enterprisers who seem born to implement extraordinary changes in the universe, the revolutions and the wars. I do not know which spirits of giddiness and distrust confuse the sovereigns, and provide a conqueror the occasions to benefit from their quarrels. There never was a Fernando Cortez who, in the conquest of his Mexico, was not supported by a civil war of the Native Americans.
Other times, when the world was less agitated, it appeared to want to be governed only by mildness, or it made necessary that prudence and circumspection be used; it is a species of happy calm in the policy, one which usually succeeds the storm. This is when the negotiations are more effective than the battles, and than it is necessary to gain by the pen what one could not acquire by the sword.
For a sovereign to benefit from all these different situations, it would be necessary that he learned to conform to time like a skilful pilot. If a general were both bold and circumspect, by the way, he would be almost untamable. Fabius undermined Hannibal by the patience of his campaigns; this Roman did not ignore the continued deficits of the Carthaginians, of money and recruits, and that without fighting it was enough to see Hannibal's army quietly melt away, to make it perish, so to speak, of hemophilia. The policy of Hannibal, so contrary to Fabius, required fighting: his power was only from force of accident, so it was necessary to seize with all speed every possible advantage; he could only consolidate through terror of his actions both brilliant and sharp, and by the resources which he drew from his conquests.
In the year 1704, if the Elector of Bavaria and the marshal of Tallart had not left Bavaria to pounce on Bleinheim and Hochstedt, they would have kept under control all of Suabe; because the Elector's and Marshal's allied forces were not able to remain in Bavaria because they lacked food: they would have been obliged to withdraw themselves towards Mein, and to separate. It was the lack of circumscription, which the Elector instinctively trusted at the height of any battle, which will be remembered with shame for the German nation, which depended on him to preserve it. This imprudence was punished by the total defeat of Franqais and the Bavarians, and by the loss of Bavaria itself, and of all this country which is between the top of the Palatinate and the Rhine.
One usually does not speak about the bold ones which Fortune has favored with a liquidation, one speaks only about those which were assisted by fortune. It is like dreams and prophecies; between the thousand which were false and that one forgets, one recalls the chosen few which unfolded correctly. The world should judge effects by their causes, and not of the causes by their effects.
I thus conclude that a people risks much with a bold prince - that he is a continual danger which, one way or another, threatens them. The circumspect sovereign, even though he is not cut out for the great exploits, seems born for the administration of good government. The first ventures, but the other preserves.
All species of great men need to have the winds of time blowing in their favor, without which all their talents are more crippling than advantageous for them. Any reasonable man, and mainly those which the Spirit has molded to control others, should make a plan of control as well reasoned - and as bounded - as a geometrical demonstration; to follow their system in all circumstances, always keep it as the base of their subsequent actions, and never to deviate from their goal. Using this, they could spring back from setbacks and bad luck, from the routing of their plans, and would also help others to carry out the projects which they themselves might have achieved - for the good of their State.
But who are these princes for whom we claim the double talent? They will be only men, and the winds of history will show, truly and plainly, that it is impossible for these favored ones to satisfy as many duties that they think they can: even these gems among rulers will be dragged down too. It is better to be ruled by the mythical phoenix, and/or the unifier with a spirit of a metaphysician, than by the philosopher-king of Plato. It is right that the people are satisfied with the efforts of honest sovereigns who try for perfection and fail. The most accomplished of them will be those which will move away more than the others from The Prince of Machiavel, and his ideal of the philosopher-liar. It is right that the typical subject supports their ruler's defects when they are counterbalanced by his qualities of the heart, and by good intentions and character; we are obligated to remember, without a failure of our own heart, that there is no-one perfect in the world, and that error and weakness are shared by all people. The happiest country is that where this mutual forgiveness and charity between the sovereign and his subjects spread this softness onto the country, without which lives are weighed down by a load which grows imperceptibly heavier with time, until the world becomes a valley of bitternesses, and not a theatre of joys.
CHAPTER XXVI: VARIOUS KINDS OF DIPLOMATIC NEGOTIATIONS, AND REASONS WHICH GIVES ONE THE RIGHT TO MAKE WAR
We have seen in this work the falseness of the reasoning by which Machiavel claimed to give us the keys to change, by presenting to us degenerates - plain criminals - who know well how to wear the masks of great men.
I made my efforts to tear off this veil of virtue which exposes the face of a skull, in which Machiavel has wrapped it, and for defabulating the world of error which so many people inhabit concerning the policy of princes. I said to the kings that their best policy consist of exceeding their subjects in virtue, so as to eliminate as much as possible the rust of hypocrisy, to stop condemning in others what they authorize for themselves. I said that it was not enough to bring brilliant actions to the world to establish their reputation, but that it is necessary for these actions to tend to the happiness of mankind.
I add to this two other discussions of principle: a glance at the negotiations of diplomacy, and war - specifically, what kind one can, to the eyes of God, call justified.
The prince's foreign Ministers and diplomats are privileged spies, who take care to influence or even control the sovereigns to whom they are sent. They must penetrate the foreign ruler's intentions, look further into their steps, and envisage their actions in order to inform their Masters of them in time. The principal object of their mission is to reinforce the links of good will between the sovereigns; but instead of being the peacemakers, they are often the agents of war. They employ the flattery, tricks and seductions, to tear off the secrecies of the State they are in to their fellow ministers at home: they win the weak ones over by their statements, the proud ones by words that soothe, and the interested parties by their gifts. It is true that they sometimes act as if their only restraint is what they can get away with; this is because they sometimes have to "sin to win," and they are thus assured impunity. While on foreign soil.
The best protection against the artifices of these spies, whom the princes must take in, is just rule. When the subject of the negotiation becomes more significant, this is where the princes have the greatest need to supervise and review the conduct of their ministers, in order to see that some rain of Danaides does not erode the power of their virtue.
In these times of crisis, when alliance are treated, it is necessary that the prudence of the sovereigns is more vigilant than it has been in ordinary times. It is necessary that they dissect with close attention the nature of the things which they are promising, so that they can meet their engagements. For the diplomat, faithful as he is to the interests of his country, is at his least restrained during these times.
A treaty must be considered in all its faces, all its consequences must be deduced, and all other actions which would satisfy its spirit, if only approximately, should be considered. What appears to be a real advantage, is often upon close examination a sop, which could encourage the ruin of the State. It is necessary to add to these precautions taking great care to clear up any ambiguous terms: the use of a fussy and fastidious drafter must always precede the policy, so that a fraudulent distinction of the word and the spirit of the treaty cannot take place.
In policy, one should make a list of all the faults which the other princes show when pressured, for the use of those who want to make treaties or alliances; and try to guess at the time when it would be necessary to communicate with them in writing, when they need the time and the calm to make reflections, which could only benefit them. This tends to be better than a railroading, followed by a payback.
Negotiations are not for all accredited ministers; one often sends people of poor character into lands of more fluid custom, where they have to make deals with more flexibility and them yielding to the pressure brings fewer penalties. These are the kind of deals that, if cut by the Master himself, would make his usual negotiating partners wonder if a precedent is being set. The preliminaries of the last peace between the Emperor and France were concluded in this manner, with only the seal of the Empire being affixed to the treaty, with the maritime forces attending: this compromise was done in the residence of a count, the Comte de Neuweid, whose grounds are at the edge of the Rhine.
Victor Amédée, the most skilful prince and most cunning of his time, knew better than anybody how to dissimulate his intentions. Europe was deceived more than once by the smoothness of his tricks; in the midst of all the treaty forging, he met the marshal of Catinat wearing the frock of a monk, and under pretext of doing the Lord's work, withdrew Catinat from the emperor's negotiating table, and made a convert to the work of King Louis out of him. This negotiation between the king and the General was led with as much dexterity as the alliance of France and of Savoy which followed, and appeared to the eyes of Europe like a phenomenon of unexpected and extraordinary policy.
This is here not to justify the conduct of Victor Amédée there, nor does this single example show this man's character; he has done much else. I only wish to highlight his skill and discretion, which, if it is used for an honest end, are absolutely necessary qualities in a sovereign.
It is a general rule that a prince should choose the spirits that are of a more refined character for employment in difficult negotiations. He cannot staff his foreign services only with the crafty ones with talent for intrigue and the flexibility of the weak: the only general qualifications are a talent for reading from the guises of others the secrecies of their heart, so that nothing escapes their penetration, and that all is discovered by the force of reasoning, not by flashes of artistry.
One should not misuse the tricks and the smoothness: they are like handymen. Too frequent use of them blunts your own head, and leaves you dependent on men who, at bottom, are motivated largely by self-regard. And expect you to be, too.
Probity, on the contrary, is useful for all times; it is similar to appliances that are simple and near-indestructible, which are adequate for most tasks, and, if they break down at all, are easier to figure out.
A prince whose frankness is both proven and known, will earn the confidence of Europe infallibly; he will be happy without cheating, and powerful through the path of peace; the good will that will take root in his State will be like a town square, where all the paths of policy must meet. This must be the goal of all his maneuvers.
The peace of Europe is based mainly on the maintenance of the wise balance of power, by which the higher force of a monarchy is counterbalanced by the joined-together power of some other sovereigns. If this balance had suddenly tipped, there would be real fear that it heralded a universal revolution, and that a new Empire will be forged on the remains of the princes whose disunion would make too weak to resist.
The policy of the princes of Europe thus seems to require of them that they never neglect alliances and the treaties by which they can equalize the forces of an ambitious power, and they must be wary of those which want to foster among them the disunion and discord. One must remember this consul who, to show how much the union was necessary, took a horse by the tail, and made useless efforts for tearing it off the beast; but when he plucked away hair by hair after seperating them, the horse was easily deplumed. This lesson is as clear for certain sovereigns nowadays as for the Roman legionnaries: it is only their union which can make them formidable, and to maintain in Europe peace and tranquility. [This was written around the year 1740 - DMR.]
The world would be happier if there means other than that of the negotiations to maintain justice, and to restore peace and good harmony between the nations. One would employ reason instead of weapons, and one would use the code of the debater rather than that of the cut-throat. Meeting plain aggression requires the princes to have recourse to means that are even more aggressive; there are occasions where it is necessary to defend by weapons the freedom of the people against those who want to oppress them by injustice. It is sometimes necessary to obtain by anger what iniquity refuses to mildness; where the sovereigns must stick up for their nation through battles. It is in these particular cases which the paradox, that a good war makes for a good peace, becomes true.
It is now time to discuss war, and what makes one just or unjust. Passions and the ambition of the princes often blur the eyesight to the difference, and paint in the most advantageous colors actions that are simply violent. War is always a last resort; thus, one should make use of it only with pre-caution and with a feeling of despair, and after a thorough examination as to whether one is carried there by an illusion of pride, or by a reason that is solid and essential.
There are defensive wars, and these are the closest to justice. Provided that they are really defensive.
There are wars of interest that the kings are obliged to make, to uphold rights that are being questioned; they plead their case with weapons in hand, and the engagements tend to decide the validity of their reasons.
There are wars of precaution that princes are sometimes wise to undertake. They are offensive with regard to the truth, but they are not the less right. When the excessive size of a power seems close to overflowing, and threatens to absorb the universe, it is prudence to throw sandbags at it, and to stop the stormy course of a torrent while one is still the Master. One sees clouds which gather together a storm which is forming, and the flashes which announce it; and the sovereign that this danger threatens, not being able to entreat the storm, will meet, if he is wise, this storm measure for measure. If the kings of Egypt, of Syria, of Macedonia, had banded together against the Roman power, they would still never have been able to upset these Empires; but a wisely concerted alliance, and a war quickly undertaken, would have deflated Rome's ambitious designs to conquer the universe. Self-defense was the most that these powers could hope for.
It is prudent to prefer the least evils to the greater, as to choose the trustworthy partner over that which is dubious. It is thus better that if a prince engages in an offensive war, when he is the Master, to choose deliberately between the branch of olive and that of the laurel, that he waits until the despairing point, or that a declaration of offensive war is the only thing standing between him and slavery, and his ruin. It is an unquestionable maxim, that it is better to prevent than be prevented: the great men are always good at spotting an imminent fight, and responding by a surgical use of their forces before their enemies implemented plans that would bind their hands and destroy their capacity to retaliate when war becomes open.
Many princes engage in wars for their allies, by living up to their treaties, in consequence of which they were obliged to provide a number of auxiliary troops. No sovereign can do without alliances, as there are none in Europe which can support themselves by their own forces; so they are committed to giving each other mutual help where necessary; this contributes both to their security and to their conservation. The particular event decides which ally draws from the treasury of the alliance. Sometimes an ally gets exactly what they want; other times, they have to settle for a consolation disbursement. Honesty, and the wisdom of the world, requires them also to observe them the faith of the treaties they signed with almost religious devotion: what keeps them inside is the knowledge that they achieve more of their goals through alliances - which make the prince's protection of their people even more effective.
All of these wars, the purpose of which will be only to push back usurpers, to maintain legitimate rights, to guarantee the freedom of the world, and to euchre out the oppressions and violences of the ambitious, will be in conformity with justice. The sovereigns who undertake these ones do not have to reproach themselves over the blood that will be shed; the need makes them act: and in similar circumstances the war is a lesser misfortune than the peace.
This subject naturally leads me to speak about the princes who, by a kind of bargaining known to antiquity, adulterate the blood of their people; their heart cries like an auctioneer whose troops are sold to those who offer the highest subsidies.
The reason and justification for the soldier is for the defense of the fatherland; to rent them out to others, as one would sell mastiffs and bulls for combat, perverts at the same time the goals of trade and war: so it appears to my eyes. It is said that one is not allowed to sell the things necessary to health: what then makes it permissible to sell the blood of the men? Do you hear?
Wars of religion, if in fact they are civil wars, are almost always the continuation of the sovereign's imprudence by other means, a prince who clumsily supported a sect at the expense of a more deserving other, or involve the government too much in the exercise of religion, to the point where differences of conscience begin to resemble the quarrels of the parties, in what is at stake in these disputes. Blending exercise and defense of the faith with defending one's rights and doing one's duty in the State produces sparks that should die out on their own, but which the sovereign, in guiding them to the political stream, is also guiding towards the tinder pile.
To maintain the strength of the civil government, to leave with each subject the freedom of their own conscience, to be always a king and to never play the priest, are the surest means of preserving the State which he is charged with ruling from the storms which the dogmatic spirit of the theologians always seeks to excite. I need hardly discuss what mixing men of State and men of the Churches will lead to.
The foreign wars of religion are the highest height of injustice and nonsense. To leave Aachen to go to convert Saxon with iron in hand like Charlemagne, or to equip a fleet and send them to the Sultan of Egypt to turn him Christian, are quite strange apologetics. The fury of the crusades is passed; God grant that it never returns!
In general: war is the second worst misfortune a prince can experience; it is the policy with the most uncertain result; and its continuation is so ruinous for a country, that the princes cannot reflect enough before declaring one. Violences which the troops commit in an enemy country, are nothing in comparison to the misfortunes which boomerang directly on the States of the princes who enter them into war; it is so serious an act and so consequential to undertake it, I am simply astonished that so many kings took the use of war as an appropriate means of conflict resolution so lightly.
I am convinced that if the monarchs of all ages could be visited by a ghost carrying a table of miseries, one that is true and faithful to all facts, which plagues the people as the result of one declaration of war, they would not be so insensitive to these consequences. Their imagination is not keen enough to represent to them the naturalness, the old-Adam quality, of the evils which they know nothing of, from which they were sheltered from. How will they themselves feel these evils which overpower the people? The deprivation of the youth of the country, the ones whose names and perhaps numbers appear on the recruiting lists? The contagious diseases which defoliate the armies? The horror of the battles, and of these sieges where seeing wide-eyed skeletons in the keep is a sign that you are winning? The ravages of the casualties that enemy iron deprived of some of their members, the instruments of their industry and of their subsistence? How about the breakdowns of the orphans who lost, by the death of their father, the single support and protection of their weakness? Not to mention the loss of men that are useful for the State, the ones that are harvested by Death before their time.
The princes who are in the world to make their subjects happy, should think this over thoroughly before tearing, out of frivolous and vain causes, the door off of hell, and freeing all that humanity has to fear.
The sovereigns who see their subjects as their slaves use them without pity, and see them perish without regret; but the princes who consider themselves to be the first among men that are at bottom equal, and who consider the people as the body of which they are the soul, spare the blood of their subjects.
I request that any sovereigns who are finishing this work do not take offense at the degree of freedom with which I speak to them; my goal is to say the truth, to inspire with virtue, and not to flatter anybody. The good opinion that I have of the princes who reign presently in the world makes me see them as worthy to hear the truth. It is the Nero, the Alexander VI, the César Borgia, the Louis XI, to whom I would not dare to say it: thanks to Providence, we do not have such men among the princes of Europe, and there is no better praise than to say that one is confident enough to indict, in front of them, all the defects which degrade royalty, and which are contrary with the sentiments of humanity and justice.