against mens lives, they are seldome found, and sooner fail. But where a Prince is abroad in the field with his army, and hath a multitude of soldiers under his government, then is it necessary that he stands not much upon it, though he be termed cruel: for unless he be so, he shall never have his soldiers live in accord one with another, nor ever well disposed to any brave piece of service. Among Hannibals actions of mervail, this is reckoned for one, that having a very huge army, gathered out of several nations, and all led to serve in a strange countrey, there was never any dissention neither amongst themselves, nor against their General, as well in their bad fortune as their good. Which could not proceed from any thing else than from that barbarous cruelty of his, which together with his exceeding many vertues, rendred him to his soldiers both venerable and terrible; without which, to that effect his other vertues had served him to little purpose: and some writers though not of the best advised, on one side admire these his worthy actions, and on the otherside, condemn the principal causes thereof. And that it is true, that his other vertues would not have suffic’d him, we may consider in Scipio, the rarest man not only in the dayes he liv’d, but even in the memory of man; from whom his army rebel’d in Spain: which grew only upon his too much clemency, which had given way to his soldiers to become more licentious, than was well tollerable by military discipline: for which he was reprov’d by Fabius Maximus in the Senate, who termed him the corrupter of the Roman soldiery. The Locrensians having been destroyed by a Lieutenant of Scipio’s, were never reveng’d by him, nor the insolence of that Lieutenant punisht; all this arising from his easie nature: so that one desiring to excuse him in the Senate, said, that there were many men knew better how to keep themselves from faults, than to correct the faults of other men: which disposition of his in time would have wrong’d Scipio’s reputation and glory, had he therewith continu’d in his commands: but living under the government of the Senate, this quality of his that would have disgrac’d him not only was conceal’d, but prov’d to the advancement of his glory. I conclude then, returning to the purpose of being feard, and belov’d; insomuch as men love at their own pleasure, and to serve their own turne, and their fear depends upon the Princes pleasure, every wise Prince ought to ground upon that which is of himself, and not upon that which is of another: only this, he ought to use his best wits to avoid hatred, as was said.
In what manner Princes ought to keep their words.