That Flatterers are to be avoyded.
I will not omit one principle of great inportance, being an errour from which Princes with much difficulty defend themselves, unlesse they be very discreet, and make a very good choice; and this is concerning flatterers; whereof all writings are full: and that because men please themselves so much in their own things, and therein cozen themselves, that very hardly can they escape this pestilence; and desiring to escape it, there is danger of falling into contempt; for there is no other way to be secure from flattery, but to let men know, that they displease thee not in telling thee truth: but when every one hath this leave, thou losest thy reverence. Therefore ought a wise Prince take a third course, making choyce of some understanding men in his State, and give only to them a free liberty of speaking to him the truth; and touching those things only which he inquires of, and nothing else; but he ought to be inquisitive of every thing, and hear their opinions, and then afterwards advise himself after his own manner; and in these deliberations, and with every one of them so carrie himself, that they all know, that the more freely they shall speak, the better they shall be liked of: and besides those, not give eare to any one; and thus pursue the thing resolved on, and thence continue obstinate in the resolution taken. He who does otherwise, either falls upon flatterers, or often changes upon the varying of opinions, from whence proceeds it that men conceive but slightly of him. To this purpose I will alledge you a moderne example. Peter Lucas a servant of Maximilians the present Emperor, speaking of his Majesty, said that he never advised with any