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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 391 pages of information about Machiavelli, Volume I.
the more credit in our dayes, by reason of the great alteration of things, which we have of late seen, and do every day see, beyond all humane conjecture:  upon which, I sometimes thinking, am in some parte inclind to their opinion:  neverthelesse not to extinguish quite our owne free will, I think it may be true, that Fortune is the mistrisse of one halfe of our actions; but yet that she lets us have rule of the other half, or little lesse.  And I liken her to a precipitous torrent, which when it rages, over-flows the plaines, overthrowes the trees, and buildings, removes the earth from one side, and laies it on another, every one flyes before it, every one yeelds to the fury thereof, as unable to withstand it; and yet however it be thus, when the times are calmer, men are able to make provision against these excesses, with banks and fences so, that afterwards when it swels again, it shall all passe smoothly along, within its channell, or else the violence thereof shall not prove so licentious and hurtfull.  In like manner befals it us with fortune, which there shewes her power where vertue is not ordeind to resist her, and thither turnes she all her forces, where she perceives that no provisions nor resistances are made to uphold her.  And if you shall consider Italy, which is the seat of these changes, and that which hath given them their motions, you shall see it to be a plaine field, without any trench or bank; which had it been fenc’d with convenient vertue as was Germany, Spain or France; this inundation would never have causd these great alterations it hath, or else would it not have reach’d to us:  and this shall suffice to have said, touching the opposing of fortune in generall.  But restraining my selfe more to particulars, I say that to day we see a Prince prosper and flourish and to morrow utterly go to ruine; not seeing that he hath alterd any condition or quality; which I beleeve arises first from the causes which we have long since run over, that is because that Prince that relies wholly upon fortune, runnes as her wheele turnes.  I beleeve also, that he proves the fortunate man, whose manner of proceeding meets with the quality of the time; and so likewise he unfortunate from whose course of proceeding the times differ:  for we see that men, in the things that induce them to the end, (which every one propounds to himselfe, as glory and riches) proceed therein diversly; some with respects, others more bold, and rashly; one with violence, and th’other with cunning; the one with patience, th’other with its contrary; and every one of severall wayes may attaine thereto; we see also two very respective and wary men, the one come to his purpose, and th’other not; and in like maner two equally prosper, taking divers course; the one being wary the other head-strong; which proceeds from nothing else, but from the quality of the times, which agree, or not, with their proceedings.  From hence arises that which I said, that two working diversly, produce the same effect:  and two equaly
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