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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 149 pages of information about The Prince.
but if he had survived after becoming so, and had not moderated his expenses, he would have destroyed his government.  And if any one should reply:  Many have been princes, and have done great things with armies, who have been considered very liberal, I reply:  Either a prince spends that which is his own or his subjects’ or else that of others.  In the first case he ought to be sparing, in the second he ought not to neglect any opportunity for liberality.  And to the prince who goes forth with his army, supporting it by pillage, sack, and extortion, handling that which belongs to others, this liberality is necessary, otherwise he would not be followed by soldiers.  And of that which is neither yours nor your subjects’ you can be a ready giver, as were Cyrus, Caesar, and Alexander; because it does not take away your reputation if you squander that of others, but adds to it; it is only squandering your own that injures you.

And there is nothing wastes so rapidly as liberality, for even whilst you exercise it you lose the power to do so, and so become either poor or despised, or else, in avoiding poverty, rapacious and hated.  And a prince should guard himself, above all things, against being despised and hated; and liberality leads you to both.  Therefore it is wiser to have a reputation for meanness which brings reproach without hatred, than to be compelled through seeking a reputation for liberality to incur a name for rapacity which begets reproach with hatred.

CHAPTER XVII —­ CONCERNING CRUELTY AND CLEMENCY, AND WHETHER IT IS BETTER TO BE LOVED THAN FEARED

Coming now to the other qualities mentioned above, I say that every prince ought to desire to be considered clement and not cruel.  Nevertheless he ought to take care not to misuse this clemency.  Cesare Borgia was considered cruel; notwithstanding, his cruelty reconciled the Romagna, unified it, and restored it to peace and loyalty.  And if this be rightly considered, he will be seen to have been much more merciful than the Florentine people, who, to avoid a reputation for cruelty, permitted Pistoia to be destroyed.(*) Therefore a prince, so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the reproach of cruelty; because with a few examples he will be more merciful than those who, through too much mercy, allow disorders to arise, from which follow murders or robberies; for these are wont to injure the whole people, whilst those executions which originate with a prince offend the individual only.

     (*) During the rioting between the Cancellieri and
     Panciatichi factions in 1502 and 1503.

And of all princes, it is impossible for the new prince to avoid the imputation of cruelty, owing to new states being full of dangers.  Hence Virgil, through the mouth of Dido, excuses the inhumanity of her reign owing to its being new, saying: 

     “Res dura, et regni novitas me talia cogunt
     Moliri, et late fines custode tueri."(*)

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