true; I say that all men, whensoever mention is made of them, and especially Princes, because they are placed aloft in the view of all, are taken notice of for some of these qualities, which procure them either commendations or blame: and this is that some one is held liberal, some miserable, (miserable I say, nor covetous; for the covetous desire to have, though it were by rapine; but a miserable man is he, that too much for bears to make use of his owne) some free givers, others extortioners; some cruell, others pitious; the one a Leaguebreaker, another faithfull; the one effeminate and of small courage, the other fierce and couragious; the one courteous, the other proud; the one lascivious, the other chaste; the one of faire dealing, the other wily and crafty; the one hard, the other easie; the one grave, the other light; the one religious, the other incredulous, and such like. I know that every one will confesse, it were exceedingly praise worthy for a Prince to be adorned with all these above nam’d qualities that are good: but because this is not possible, nor doe humane conditions admit such perfection in vertues, it is necessary for him to be so discret, that he know how to avoid the infamie of those vices which would thrust him out of his State; and if it be possible, beware of those also which are not able to remove him thence; but where it cannot be, let them passe with lesse regard. And yet, let him not stand much upon it, though he incurre the infamie of those vices, without which he can very hardly save his State: for if all be throughly considerd, some thing we shall find which will have the colour and very face of Vertue, and following them, they will lead the to thy destruction; whereas some others that shall as much seeme vice, if we take the course they lead us, shall discover unto us the way to our safety and well-being.
The second blemish in this our Authours book, I find in his fifteenth Chapter: where he instructs his Prince to use such an ambidexterity as that he may serve himselfe either of vertue, or vice, according to his advantage, which in true pollicy is neither good in attaining the Principality nor in securing it when it is attaind. For Politicks, presuppose Ethiques, which will never allow this rule: as that a man might make this small difference between vertue, and vice, that he may indifferently lay aside, or take up the one or the other, and put it in practise as best conduceth to the end he propounds himselfe. I doubt our Authour would have blamd Davids regard to Saul when 1 Sam. 24. in the cave he cut off the lap of Sauls garment, and spared his head; and afterwards in the 26. when he forbad Abishai to strike him as he lay sleeping. Worthy of a Princes consideration is that saying of Abigal to David 1 Sam. 25. 30.
’It shall come to passe when the Lord shall have done to my Lord according to all that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee Ruler over Israel, that this shall be