Machiavelli, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 391 pages of information about Machiavelli, Volume I.

Let no man marvaile, if in the discourse I shall make of new Principalities, both touching a Prince, and touching a State, I shall alledge very famous examples:  for seeing men almost alwayes walk in the pathes beaten by others, and proceed in their actions by imitation; and being that others wayes cannot bee exactly follow’d, nor their vertues, whose patterne thou set’st before thee, attain’d unto; a wise man ought alwayes to tread the footsteps of the worthiest persons, and imitate those that have been the most excellent:  to the end that if his vertue arrive not thereto, at least it may yeeld some favour thereof, and doe as good Archers use, who thinking the place they intend to hit, too farre distant, and knowing how farr the strength of their bow will carry, they lay their ayme a great deale higher than the mark; not for to hit so high with their arrow, but to bee able with the help of so high an aime to reach the place they shoot at.  I say, that in Principalities wholly new, where there is a new Prince, there is more and lesse difficulty in maintaining them, as the vertue of their Conquerour is greater or lesser.  And because this successe, to become a Prince of a private man, presupposes either vertue, or fortune; mee thinks the one and other of these two things in part should mitigate many difficulties; however he that hath lesse stood upon fortune, hath maintain’d himselfe the better.  Moreover it somewhat facilitates the matter in that the Prince is constrain’d, because he hath not other dominions, in person to come and dwell there.  But to come to these who by their own vertues, and not by fortune, attain’d to be Princes; the excellentest of these are Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, Theseus, and such like; and though of Moses we are not to reason, he onely executing the things that were commanded him by God; yet merits he well to be admir’d, were it only for that grace that made him worthy to converse with God.  But considering Cyrus, and the others, who either got or founded Kingdomes, we shall find them all admirable; and if there particular actions and Lawes be throughly weigh’d, they will not appeare much differing from those of Moyses, which he receiv’d from so Sovraigne an instructer.  And examining their lives and actions, it will not appeare, that they had other help of fortune, than the occasion, which presented them with the matter wherein they might introduce what forme they then pleas’d; and without that occasion, the vertue of their mind had been extinguish’d; and without that vertue, the occasion had been offer’d in vaine.  It was then necessary for Moses to find the people of Israel slaves in AEgypt, and oppress’d by the AEgyptians, to the end that they to get out of their thraldome, should bee willing to follow him.  It was fit that Romulus should not be kept in Albia, but expos’d presently after his birth, that he might become King of Rome, and founder of that City.  There was need that Cyrus should find the Persians discontented with the Medes government, and the Medes

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Machiavelli, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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