Shakespeare/Francis Bacon parallels in the Anti-Machiavel of Innocent Gentillet (1576):
Bacon: Dramatic poesy, which has the theatre for its world, would be of excellent use if well directed. For the stage is capable of no small influence both of discipline and of corruption. Now of corruptions in this kind we have enough; but the discipline has in our times been plainly neglected. And though in modern states play-acting is esteemed but as a toy, except when it is too satirical and biting; yet among the ancients it was used as a means of educating men’s minds to virtue.
Gentillet: After Solon had seen Thespis’ first edition and action of a tragedy, and meeting with him before the play, he asked if he was not ashamed to publish such feigned fables under so noble, yet a counterfeit personage. Thespis answered that it was no disgrace upon a stage, merrily and in sport, to say and do anything. Then Solon, striking hard upon the earth with his staff, replied thus: “Yea but shortly, we that now like and embrace this play, shall find it practiced in our contracts and common affairs.” This man of deep understanding saw that public discipline and reformation of manners, attempted once in sport and jest, would soon quail; and corruption, at the beginning passing in play, would fall and end in earnest.
Bacon: If a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune; for though she is blind, she is not invisible.
Fortune is painted blind, with a muffler afore her eyes, to signify to you that Fortune is blind; and she is painted also with a wheel, to signify to you, which is the moral of it, that she is turning, and inconstant, and mutability, and variation; and her foot, look you, is fixed upon a spherical stone, which rolls, and rolls, and rolls. In good truth, the poet makes a most excellent description of it: Fortune is an excellent moral.
Gentillet: By this description of Machiavelli is evidently seen that he thinks what the poets wrote for fables concerning fortune is the very truth. For the pagan poets have written that fortune is a goddess who gives good and evil things to whom she will. And to denote that she does this inconsiderately and without judgment, they wrap her head in a cloth, lest with her eyes she sees and knows to whom she gives; so that she never knows unto whom she does good or evil. Moreover, they describe her standing upright upon a bowl, to denote her inconstancy, turning and tossing from side to side.
Bacon: Things will have their first or second agitation. If they be not tossed upon the arguments of counsel, they will be tossed upon the waves of fortune.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Gentillet: Fortune may be compared to a great flood which nothing can resist, when it overflows its banks with great inundations. But when it remains in its ordinary course, or when it overflows not without measure, the force thereof may easily be resisted by levies, ditches, ramps, and other like obstacles. So fortune is sometimes so unmeasurable in violence that no virtue can resist her, yet virtue may afterward repair the evils which that overflowing violence of fortune has brought. It may also very well resist fortune which is moderate and not too violent, as the forces thereof shall not hurt.
Bacon: Constancy is the foundation on which virtues rest.
Gentillet: I will then presuppose that constancy is a quality which ordinarily accompanies all other virtues; it is, as it were, of their substance and nature.
Two Gentlemen of Verona: O Heaven, were man but constant, here were perfect…
Measure for Measure: It is virtuous to be constant in any undertaking.
I can add colours to the chameleon,
Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
And set the murderous Machiavel to school.
Henry VI, Part III
Gentillet: Machiavelli then was not anything deceived, when thinking to lead a prince unto a sovereignty of wickedness, he furnishes him with inconstancy and mutability as the winds. For as soon as the prince shall clothe himself with Proteus’ garments, and has no hold nor certitude of his word, nor in his actions, men may well say that his malady is incurable, and that in all vices he has taken the nature of the chameleon. At the hands of such a prince who is inconstant, variable in his word, mutable in actions and commands, there is nothing to be hoped for but evil, disorder, and confusion.
Coriolanus: Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.
Gentillet: When Coriolanus saw them arrive, and after his mother and wife fell down on their knees weeping, then nature forced and burst that hard and obstinate courage of his, a peace was made, and he ceased to war upon his own country.
Bacon: It is much true which was anciently spoken: A place showeth the man, and it showeth some to the better, and some to the worse.
Gentillet: And we see but too much by experience that the old proverb is true, honors change manners.
Bacon: Prosperity discovers vice, adversity discovers virtue.
Gentillet: Adversity also is a true touchstone to prove who are feigned or true friends, for when a man feels labyrinths of troubles fall on him, dissembling friends depart from him, and those who are good abide with him, as said the poet Euripides: Adversity the best and certain’st friends doth get, prosperity both good and evil alike doth fit.
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
As You Like It
Bacon: God has, in fact, written two books, not just one. Of course, we are all familiar with the first book he wrote, namely Scripture. But he has written a second book called creation.
Bacon: Base natures, if they find themselves once suspected, will never be true.
Gentillet: For the best fortress that is, is not to be thought evil by subjects; and if a prince is once thought so, there is no fortress that can save him.
Bacon: The reverence of a man's self is, next religion, the chiefest bridle of all vices.
Gentillet: Behold then the consequence of that most wicked and detestable doctrine of that wicked atheist; which is to bring all people to a spite and a mockery of God and his religion, and of all holy things, and to let go the bridle to all vices and villainies.
Bacon: For the laws of Lycurgus, Solon, Minos, and others of ancient time, they are not the worse because grammar scholars speak of them.
Gentillet: So is there great need of some Lycurgus or Solon to make those laws, men’s wits are so wild, and their spirits so marvelously plentiful and fertile to bring forth contentions and differences, and so easily to dissent from each other.
Romeo and Juliet: Justice but murders, pardoning those that kill.
Gentillet: For a prince ought well to consider when, how, to whom, and why he pardons a fault, because it is not clemency but cruelty when a prince may do justice and does it not, as Saint Louis said.
Bacon: Fresh justice is sweetest… Laws are made to guard the rights of the people, not to feed the lawyers.
Gentillet: And as we see that the greed of wicked magistrates is cause of the length of law cases, because they desire that the parties who plead before them should serve their turn as a cow for milk, it follows that the poor people are pillaged and eaten to the bones by those horseleeches. Also contrary, when the magistrate hates greed, he will dispatch and hasten justice to parties, and not hold them long in law, neither pillage and spoil them; a thing bringing great comfort and help to the people.
Bacon: Anger is a kind of baseness, as it appears well in the weakness of whose subjects in whom it reigns.
Gentillet: This vice of cruelty, proceeding from the weakness of those who cannot command their choler and passions of vengeance, and suffer themselves to be governed by them, never happened in a generous and valiant heart, but rather always in cowardly and fearful hearts.
Bacon: Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.
Gentillet: And if it were lawful for everyone to use vengeance, that would be to introduce a confusion and disorder into the commonwealth, and to enterprise upon the right which belongs to the magistrate, unto whom God has given the sword, to do right to everyone and to punish those who are faulty, according to their merits.
Bacon: Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the Third of France; and many more.
Gentillet: Moreover, he exercised part of his cruelties in the revenge of the good emperor Pertinax, which was a lawful cause; yet withal he had in himself many goodly and laudable virtues, as we have in other places rehearsed.
Bacon: He conquers twice, who restrains himself in victory.
Gentillet: The clemency of a prince is the cause of the increase of his domination. Hereupon we read a memorable history of Romulus, who was so clement, soft, and gentle towards the people he vanquished and subjugated, that not only many individuals but the whole multitude of people submitted themselves voluntarily and unconstrainedly under his obedience. The same virtue was also the cause that Julius Caesar vanquished the Gauls; for he was so soft and gracious to them, and so easy to pardon, and used them every way so well, far from oppression, that many of that nation voluntarily joined themselves unto him, and by them he vanquished the others. When Alexander the Great made great conquests in Asia, most commonly the citizens of all great cities met him to present him with the keys of the towns; for he dealt with them in such clemency and kindness, without in any way altering their estates, that they liked better to be his than their own.
Bacon: A civil war is like the heat of a fever; but a foreign war is like the heat of exercise, and serveth to keep the body in health.
Gentillet: Therefore a foreign war seems not to be very damaging, but something necessary to occupy and exercise his subjects; but domestic and civil wars must be shunned and extinguished with all our power, for they are things against the right of nature, to make war against the people of their own country, as he that does it against his own entrails.” The prince also ought to consider, that by civil wars he more weakens himself and his subjects in one year, than by a foreign war he can do in thirty; civil wars also are without comparison more ruinous and dangerous than foreign wars are.
Bacon: There is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer. For there is no such flatterer as is a man's self.
Gentillet: And above all, men ought well to engrave in princes’ minds that notable answer that Phocion made unto the king Antipater, who had required something of him which was not reasonable. “I would, sir, do for you service all that is possible for me, but you cannot have me both for a friend and a flatterer.” As if he would say that they be two things far different, to be a friend and to be a flatterer, as in truth they are.
Bacon: The coward calls himself a cautious man; and the miser says, he is frugal.
Gentillet: And it helps to this persuasion that the flatterer always takes for the subject of his praises those vices which are in alliance and neighborhood with their virtues. For if the prince is cruel and violent, he will persuade him that he is magnanimous and generous, and such a one as will not put up with an injury. If the prince is prodigal, he will make him believe that he is liberal and magnificent, that he maintains an estate truly royal, and one that well recompenses his servants. If the prince is overgone in lubricities and lusts, he will say he is of a humane and manly nature, of a jovial and merry complexion, and of no saturnine complexion or condition. If the prince is covetous and an eater of his subjects, he will say he is worthy to be a great prince as he is, because he knows well how to make himself well obeyed. Briefly, the flatterer adorns his language in such sort that he will always praise the prince’s vice by the resemblance of some virtue near thereunto. For most vices have a likeness with some virtue.
Bacon: Avoid not only the fault, but the suspicion. Whosoever is found variable, and changeth manifestly without manifest cause, giveth suspicion of corruption. Therefore always when thou changest thine opinion or course, profess it plainly, and declare it, together with the reasons that move thee to change; and do not think to steal it.
Gentillet: But as Livy says, it ordinarily comes that such people have spirits and faith as mutable as their fortune, they used the matter otherwise than what they promised the king... This mutability then of manners, which is seen in many natures of men, is the cause that is so hard for a prince to know how to elect good men for his counsel, and that in that point it is very uneasy to teach a prince how to behave himself therein.
Bacon: And, certainly those degenerate arts and shifts, whereby many counsellors and governors gain both favour with their masters and estimation with the vulgar, deserve no better name than fiddling; being things rather pleasing for the time, and graceful to themselves only, than tending to the weal and advancement of the state which they serve.
Gentillet: First, there are those our ancient Frenchmen called janglers, which signifies as much as a scoffer, a trifler, a man full of words, or as we call them, long tongues, who by their jangling and babbling in rhyme or in prose give themselves to please great men, in praising and exalting them exceedingly, and rather for their vices than for their virtues.
Hamlet: He wants not buzzers to infest his ears without pestilent speeches of his father's death.
Bacon: When the prince is one who lends an easy and credulous ear without discernment to whisperers and informers, there breathes as it were from the king himself a pestilent air, which corrupts and infects all his servants. Some probe the fears and jealousies of the prince, and increase them with false tales...
Gentillet: A marmoset, according to the language of our elders, is as much to say a reporter, murmurer, whisperer of tales behind one’s back in princes’ and great men’s ears, which are false, or else not to be reiterated or reported... These people are worse, and far more perilous than plain railers, scoffers, jesters, or janglers; for carrying the countenance of good servants and friends, they make the prince believe that they serve him as spies, to mark and seek out the designs, evil purposes, and carriages of his secret enemies, so that he may not unawares be surprised by them, and that no evil may come unto him. And because, according to Comines, princes are almost all suspicious for doubts and fears that are put into their heads by advisers, they easily believe marmosets and reporters.
Bacon: He of whom many are afraid, ought himself to fear many... He that injures one, threatens many.
Gentillet: Moreover, cruelty is always hated by everyone; for although it be not practiced upon all individuals, but upon some only, yet those upon whom it is not exercised cease not to fear when they see it executed upon their parents, friends, allies, and neighbors. But the fear of pain and punishment engenders hatred; for one can never love that whereof he fears to receive evil, and especially when there is a fear of life, loss of goods, and honors, which are the things we hold most precious.
Bacon: Everyone wishes that to be destroyed which he fears.
Merchant of Venice: Hates any man the thing he would not kill?
Antony and Cleopatra: In time we hate that which we often fear.
Gentillet: And of that which we hate, we by the same means desire the loss and entire ruin, and search out, procure, and advance it with all our power.
Richard III: Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end.
Gentillet: A similar punishment happened by the judgment of God to that cruel king Richard III of England… that king, who despaired otherwise to be maintained in his estate, gave battle to the Earl and was slain fighting, after he had reigned about a year…. By these examples it seems to me that a prince may easily judge, if he is of any judgment, how pernicious and damnable the doctrine of Machiavelli is, to instruct a prince to be cruel. For it is impossible that a cruel prince should long reign, but we ordinarily see that the vengeance of God, by violent means, follows cruelty pace by pace.
Bacon: The ill that a man brings on himself by his own fault is greater; that which is brought on him from without is less. The reason is because the sting and remorse of the mind accusing itself, doubleth all adversity... So the poets in tragedies do make the most passionate lamentations, questioning, and torturing of a man's self... where the evil is derived from a man's own fault, there all strikes deadly inwards, and suffocateth.
Gentillet: Men may see how an evil conscience leaves a man never in quiet. This wicked man, knowing that by his cruelty he had procured the hatred of his subjects, the wrath of God, and the enmity of all the world, was tormented in his conscience as of an infernal fury, which ever after fretted his languishing soul in the poor infected and wasted body.
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.
Bacon: In place there is license to do good and evil; whereof the latter is a curse: for in evil the best condition is not to will; the second not to can. But power to do good is the true and lawful end of aspiring. For good thoughts (though God accept them) yet towards men are little better than good dreams, except they be put in act; and that cannot be without power and place, as the vantage and commanding ground. Merit and good works is the end of man's motion; and conscience of the same is the accomplishment of man's rest.
Gentillet: True it is that a man must distinguish the virtue, and what is good, from vice and the evil which resembles it. For ambition is a vice which comes very near the desire of good reputation, which good men ought to have. If then a man travails and takes pains to come to some estate and greatness by all lawful and unlawful means, and uses it fiercely and to his own commodity, rather than to the profit of the commonwealth, we confess that our religion teaches us to fly and despise such honors. But when a man maintains himself by all honest and lawful means in a good reputation, although by such means he aspires to some estate and dignity whereof he feels himself capable to use it well, and to serve God and the commonwealth therein, we say that by our Christian religion there is not forbidden us such an affectation of honor, and that we may lawfully say we ought to seek and pursue such honor.
A beastly ambition, which the gods grant thee t'
attain to! If thou wert the lion, the fox would
beguile thee; if thou wert the lamb, the fox would
eat three: if thou wert the fox, the lion would
suspect thee, when peradventure thou wert accused by
the ass: if thou wert the ass, thy dulness would
torment thee, and still thou livedst but as a
breakfast to the wolf: if thou wert the wolf, thy
greediness would afflict thee, and oft thou shouldst
hazard thy life for thy dinner: wert thou the
unicorn, pride and wrath would confound thee and
make thine own self the conquest of thy fury: wert
thou a bear, thou wouldst be killed by the horse:
wert thou a horse, thou wouldst be seized by the
leopard: wert thou a leopard, thou wert german to
the lion and the spots of thy kindred were jurors on
thy life: all thy safety were remotion and thy
defence absence. What beast couldst thou be, that
were not subject to a beast? and what a beast art
thou already, that seest not thy loss in
Timon of Athens
Gentillet: Machiavelli has not yet handled a discourse more worthy of his sufficiency than this. For he teaches by this maxim the manner to be a beast, and especially how a prince should in all his behavior use himself like a beast. Think you, I pray, that to teach how being a man, you may imitate a beast, is a small matter? I know well that our Machiavellians will say that herein is hidden a secret of philosophy, and that Machiavelli means that a prince should be as subtle as a fox, and violent like a lion; not that he must go with four feet, or that he must dwell in the deserts of Arabia, or in holes in the woods, or commit other such like actions as the fox and lion do. I am content to agree to them this moral sense, and that their master meant here to declare some singular and memorable doctrine; let us now come to examine it. He says then, when a prince cannot fight like a man, that is, by reason, he ought to fight like a beast, that is, to use force and subtlety. To this I answer that a prince in his quarrel has either reason or right on his side, or else he has them not. If not, he ought not to fight against any man, for each war ought to have its foundation upon reason, as elsewhere we have showed. If the prince has reason on his side, and his opponent refuses to come to reason, then the prince may justly constrain him by force of arms. And this is not called fighting like a beast, or a lion, but as a man using reason; who employs his own corporal force, and the force of his horses, of his armies and walls, and of all other things offensive and defensive, to serve for instruments and means to execute what reason commands and ordains.
That we find out the cause of this effect,
Or, rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause,
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus
Bacon: The end of our Foundation is the knowledge of Causes, and secret motion of Causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of Human Empire, to the effecting of all things possible.
Man is the helper and interpreter of nature. He can only act and understand in so far as by working upon her or observing her he has come to perceive her order. Beyond this he has neither knowledge nor power. For there is no strength that can break the causal chain: Nature cannot be conquered but by obeying her. Accordingly those twin goals, human science and human power, come in the end to one. To be ignorant of causes is to be frustrated in action.
Gentillet: And first I oppose against him almost all of the ancient philosophers, who have maintained that nothing happens, nor is done, without some efficient cause, although unknown to us. True it is that they make a distinction of causes, for they say that God is the first cause, which holds in action all other inferior causes (which they call second causes), and makes them work their effects. And although often in this distinction of causes they attribute some things to second causes which they should attribute to the first alone, yet notwithstanding they refer all things to God mediately or immediately. Very true it is that sometimes they use that name of fortune, applying themselves to the manner of speech used among the people; but there never was philosopher so beastly that ever thought her to be any goddess. But when the ancient philosophers say anything comes by fortune, or by adventure, or contingency, they mean that the efficient cause of such a thing is unknown. For that is their doctrine and manner of speech, to say that a thing happens or chances by fortune, and contingently, when they know not the cause thereof.
Bacon: There are and can be only two ways of searching into and discovering truth. The one flies from the senses and particulars to the most general axioms, and from these principles, the truth of which it takes for settled and immovable, proceeds to judgment and middle axioms. And this way is now in fashion. The other derives axioms from the senses and particulars, rising by a gradual and unbroken ascent, so that it arrives at the most general axioms last of all. This is the true way, but as yet untried.
Gentillet: Aristotle and other philosophers teach us, and experience confirms, that there are two ways to come unto the knowledge of things. The one, when from the causes and maxims, men come to knowledge of the effects and consequences. The other, when contrary, by the effects and consequences we come to know the causes and maxims... The first of these ways is proper and peculiar unto the mathematicians, who teach the truth of their theorems and problems by their demonstrations drawn from maxims, which are common sentences allowed of themselves for true by the common sense and judgment of all men. The second way belongs to other sciences, as to natural philosophy, moral philosophy, physic, law, policy, and other sciences, whereof the knowledge proceeds more commonly by a resolute order of effects to their causes, and from particulars to general maxims, than by the first way; although it is certain that sometimes they also help themselves both with the one and the other way.
Bacon: So likewise in the person of Solomon the king, we see the gift or endowment of wisdom and learning, both in Solomon’s petition and in God’s assent thereunto, preferred before all other terrene and temporal felicity. By virtue of which grant or donative of God Solomon became enabled not only to write those excellent parables or aphorisms concerning divine and moral philosophy, but also to compile a natural history of all verdure, from the cedar upon the mountain to the moss upon the wall (which is but a rudiment between putrefaction and an herb), and also of all things that breathe or move. Nay, the same Solomon the king, although he excelled in the glory of treasure and magnificent buildings, of shipping and navigation, of service and attendance, of fame and renown, and the like, yet he maketh no claim to any of those glories, but only to the glory of inquisition of truth; for so he saith expressly, “The glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the king is to find it out;” as if, according to the innocent play of children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide His works, to the end to have them found out; and as if kings could not obtain a greater honour than to be God’s playfellows in that game; considering the great commandment of wits and means, whereby nothing needeth to be hidden from them.
Gentillet: Solomon was a king most wise, and a great philosopher; for he asked wisdom from God, who gave it in such abundance that besides being ignorant of nothing a prince should know to govern his subjects well, he also knew the natures of plants and living creatures, and was so cunning in all kinds of philosophy that his knowledge was admired through all the world. His prudence and wisdom made him so respected by all the great kings, his neighbors, that they esteemed themselves happy to do him pleasure and have his amity. By this means he maintained his kingdom in so high and happy a peace, that in his time his subjects made no more account of silver than of stones, they had such store. And as for himself, he held so magnificent an estate, that we read not of any king or emperor that did the like.
Bacon: It is true, that taxes levied by public consent, less dispirit, and sink the minds of the subject, than those imposed in absolute governments.
Gentillet: It is certain that a prince may well make war and impose taxes without the consent of his subjects, by an absolute power; but it is better for him to use his civil power, so should he be better obeyed.
Bacon: Men leave their riches either to their kindred, or to the public; and moderate portions prosper best in both. A great state left to an heir, is as a lure to all the birds of prey round about to seize on him, if he be not the better stablished in years and judgment.
Gentillet: When a prince has the fame to be a great treasurer, does he not give his neighbor occasion to seek means to enterprise upon him to obtain those treasures? Why is it that the Venetians, who if they wanted might be the greatest treasurers in the world, have made a law among them to have no treasure in their commonwealth other than of arms? It is because they know well (as they are wise) that if they heap up treasures of money, they shall but prepare a bait to draw their neighbors on to make war upon them. But wars come too soon, and under the pretext of more occasions than we would, therefore we need no baits to draw them upon us. It is not then best for a prince to be reputed a man full of treasures and silver, as Machiavelli thinks; for money of itself cannot but serve us for a bait to attract and draw upon us those who are hungry and desirous of it.
For it is neither good nor profitable that a prince treasures up heaps of riches; for it serves for a bait to draw unto him enemies, or to engender quarrels and divisions after him; and we often see that princes’ great treasures are causes of more evil than good.
Bacon: Mr. Bettenham used to say, that riches were like muck: when it lay upon an heap, it gave a stench, and ill odour; but when it was spread upon the ground, then it was the cause of much fruit.
Bacon: Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit.
Gentillet: Briefly, it is neither good nor profitable for a prince to heap up great treasures and riches enclosed in one place. And what then? must a sovereign prince be poor? No, but contrary, he has need to be rich and very opulent, for otherwise he shall be feeble and weak, and cannot make head against his enemies; but his riches and treasures must be in the purses and houses of his subjects.
Reports of fashions in proud Italy
Whose manners still our tardy-apish nation
Limps after in base imitation.
Where the world doth thrust forth a vanity-
So be it new, there’s no respect how vile-
That is not quickly buzzed into his ears?
Then all too late comes counsel to be heard,
Where will doth mutiny with wit’s regard.
Gentillet: For besides the examples we read in histories, we know it by experience, seeing at this day all France fashioned after the manners, conditions, and vices of foreigners that govern it, and who have the principal charges and estates. And not only many Frenchmen are such beasts to conform themselves to strangers’ complexions, but also to gaggle their language and disdain the French tongue as a thing too common and vulgar... And this is because they would not advance any other but men of their own nation, and certain bastardly and degenerate Frenchmen, who are fashioned both to their humor and their fashions, and who may serve them as slaves and most vile ministers of their treacheries, cruelties, rapines, and other vices.
Bacon: But it must be remembered all this while, that the precepts which we have set down are of that kind which may be counted and called Bonæ Artes. As for evil arts, if a man would set down for himself that principle of Machiavel, “That a man seek not to attain virtue itself, but the appearance only thereof; because the credit of virtue is a help, but the use of it is cumber”: or that other of his principles, “That he presuppose that men are not fitly to be wrought otherwise but by fear; and therefore that he seek to have every man obnoxious, low, and in straits,” which the Italians call seminar spine, to sow thorns: or that other principle, contained in the verse which Cicero citeth, Cadant amici, dummodo inimici intercidant, as the triumvirs, which sold every one to other the lives of their friends for the deaths of their enemies: or that other protestation of L. Catilina, to set on fire and trouble states, to the end to fish in droumy waters, and to unwrap their fortunes, Ego si quid in fortunis meis excitatum sit incendium, id non aqua sed ruina restinguam: or that other principle of Lysander, “That children are to be deceived with comfits, and men with oaths": and the like evil and corrupt positions, whereof (as in all things) there are more in number than of the good: certainly with these dispensations from the laws of charity and integrity, the pressing of a man’s fortune may be more hasty and compendious. But it is in life as it is in ways, the shortest way is commonly the foulest, and surely the fairer way is not much about.
Gentillet: But in the end it will produce and bring forth some great disorder and confusion, as has sometimes been seen for like actions, for reasons well enough known to wise people. As for peace, these people never like it, for they always fish in troubled water, gathering riches and heaps of the treasures of the realm while it is in trouble and confusion. They always have in their mouths the good maxims of their Machiavelli, to impeach and hinder a good peace.
We should not then see France to be governed and ruled by strangers, as it is; we should not feel the calamities and troubles of civil wars and dissentions, which they enterprise to maintain their greatness and magnitude, and to fish in troubled water.
Bacon: Lastly, weigh that quick and acute reply which he made when he gave so large gifts to his friends and servants, and was asked what he did reserve for himself, and he answered, ‘Hope.’
Gentillet: When Alexander the Great departed from Macedonia to go to the conquest of Asia, he had all the captains of his army appear before him, and distributed to them almost all the revenue of his kingdom, leaving himself almost nothing. One of the captains, named Perdicas, said to him: “What then will you keep for yourself?” “Even hope,” answered Alexander.
Bacon: For matter of policy, weigh that significant division, so much in all ages embraced, that he made between his two friends Hephaestion and Craterus, when he said, ‘that the one loved Alexander, and the other loved the king’; describing the principal difference of princes’ best servants, that some in affection love their person, and others in duty love their crown.
Gentillet: Hereof we read a very remarkable example above others in Alexander the Great, king of Macedon. When he depated from his country to pass into Asia, to make war upon that great dominator Darius, he had with him first in his love among others, Craterus and Hephaestion, two gentlemen, his best friends and servants. Yet they were far different from each other, for Craterus was of a hard and sharp wit, severe, stoic, and melancholic, who altogether gave himself unto affairs of counsel, and indeed was one of the king’s chief counsellors. But Hephaestion was a young gentleman, well complexioned and conditioned in his manners and behavior, of a good and quick wit, yet free of all care but to content and please the king in his sports and pastimes. They called Craterus the king’s friend, and Hephaestion the friend of Alexander, as one that gave himself to maintain the person of his prince in mirths and pastimes, which were good for the maintenance of his health.
Bacon: When Periander, being consulted how to preserve a tyranny newly usurped, bid the messenger report what he saw; and going into the garden, cropped all the tallest flowers; he thus used as strong an hieroglyphic as if he had drawn it upon paper.
Gentillet: Machiavelli, meaning to show that his purpose tends and aims only to instruct a prince in all sorts of tyranny, gives him here a precept which Thrasibulus the Milesian gave to Periander, a tyrant of Corinth, and Tarquin the Proud gave to his son Sextus. Periander, having tyrannously obtained the crown of Corinth where he had no right, fearing some conspiracy against him, sent a messenger to ask advice of his great friend Thrasibulus, so to be assured master and lord of Corinth. Thrasibulus made him no answer by mouth; but commanding the messenger to follow him, he went into a field full of ripe corn, and taking the highest and most eminent ears there, he bruised them between his hands and wished the messenger to return to Periander, saying no more unto him. As soon as Periander heard of bruising the most ancient ears of corn, he presently conceived the meaning thereof; to wit, to overthrow and remove all the great men of Corinth who suffered any loss and were grieved at the change of the state; as indeed he did.
Bacon: So in the fable that Achilles was brought up under Chiron the Centaur, who was part a man and part a beast: expounded ingeniously but corruptly by Machiavel, that it belongeth to the education and discipline of princes to know as well how to play the part of the lion in violence and the fox in guile, as of the man in virtue and justice.
Gentillet: But should we call this beastliness or malice, what Machiavelli says of Chiron? Or has he read that Chiron was both a man and a beast? Who has told him that he was delivered to Achilles to teach him that goodly knowledge to be both a man and a beast? Xenophon says that Chiron was Jupiter’s brother (so great a man he makes him), full of great knowledge and of all virtue, generosity, piety, and justice. Nay he says further, that Asclepius, Nestor, Amphiaraus, Peleus, Telamon, Theseus, Ulysses, Castor, Pollux, Aeneas, Achilles, and almost all great persons who the Greeks place among their gods, learned the virtues whereby they have obtained immortal praise and the reputation to be gods, from him. He says also that Chiron was not in the time of Achilles, but long before; but because Achilles was instructed and nourished in his discipline, virtue, and manner of life, men say he was Achilles’ instructor. True it is that the poets have called him a centaur, because he took great pleasure in riding horses and in hunting, which are exercise well befitting a prince. But although he loved horses, and the exercise of knighthood, yet was he never esteemed to hold anything of a beast, but rather of the divinity, as being endowed with all excellent virtues, which bring men near God and take them farthest from beasts. And therefore the beastly malice of Machiavelli is seen, in perversely abusing the example of that valiant and generous prince Achilles, to persuade a prince not to stick to govern himself after the imitation of beasts; this is false and devised, for Chiron rather held of divinity, than of a beast, neither was Achilles instructed but in all heroic virtues. And we do not read that he ever used any foxlike subtlety or unlawful policy, or any other thing unworthy of a magnanimous prince, well nourished and instructed in all high and royal virtues.
Bacon: Fabius Maximus being resolved to draw the war in length, still waited upon Hannibal’s progress, to curb him; and for that purpose, he encamped upon the high grounds. But Terentius his colleague fought with Hannibal, and was in great peril of overthrow. But then Fabius came down the high grounds, and got the day. Whereupon Hannibal said, That he did ever think, that that same cloud that hanged upon the hills, would at one time or other, give a tempest.
Gentillet: Seeing this, the Roman Senate sent against Hannibal Fabius Maximus, who was not so forward (and it may be not so hardy) as Flaminius or Sempronius were; but he was more wise and careful, as he showed himself. On his arrival he did not set upon Hannibal, who desired no other thing, but began to coast him far off, seeking always advantageous places. And when Hannibal approached him, then would he show him a countenance fully determined to fight, yet always seeking places of advantage. But Hannibal, who was not so rash as to join with his enemy to his own disadvantage, made a show to recoil and fly, to draw him after him. Fabius followed him, but upon coasts and hills, seeking always not the shortest way, but that way which was most for his advantage. Hannibal saw him always upon some hill or coast near him, as it were a cloud over his head; so that after Hannibal had many times essayed to draw Fabius into a place fit for himself, and where he might give battle for his own good, and yet could not thereunto draw him, said: “I see well now that the Romans also have gotten a Hannibal; and I fear that this cloud, which approaching us, still hovers upon those hills, will one of these mornings pour out some shower on our heads.” Briefly, the prudence and wisdom of Fabius brought more fear and gave more ado unto Hannibal than all the Roman forces, which yet were not small.
The Rape of Lucrece: Lucius Tarquinius, for his excessive pride surnamed Superbus, after he had caused his own father-in-law Servius Tullius to be cruelly murdered, and, contrary to the Roman laws and customs, not requiring or staying for the people's suffrages, had possessed himself of the kingdom… the people were so moved, that with one consent and a general acclamation the Tarquins were all exiled, and the state government changed from kings to consuls.
Gentillet: For Tarquin, who enterprised to slay his father-in-law king Servius Tullius, to obtain the kingdom of Rome, showed well by that act and many others that he was a very tyrant. His end was also such as commonly tyrants have; for he was driven from his kingdom, which he had unduly and unjustly usurped, and was compelled to pass the rest of his days in great poverty, as a private person banished from Rome with all his children.
When Tarquin the Proud saw that he had so behaved himself as to utterly lose the amity of his subjects, he then resolved to cause himself to be obeyed by fear. He took to himself the knowledge of capital cases against great men, which before pertained to the Senate, to make himself the better feared and obeyed; and so he put to death those he thought good under certain pretexts and colors, thinking thereby the better to assure his estate. But how did he assure it? Thus, he so practiced this doctrine of Machiavelli, that he became extremely hated by all men, in such sort that his subjects not being able to bear his tyranny, drove him out of his kingdom, where he miserably died.
Bacon: But men must know, that in this theatre of man's life it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers on.
Gentillet: And as for what he says, that the Christian religion promises not paradise but to idle and contemplative people, he shows well that he never knew what the Christian religion meant; for it commands us to travail and not to be idle, and every man loyally to exercise his vocation. Very true it is, that among Christians there must be some contemplatives, that is to say, studious people who give themselves to holy letters in order to teach others. But we do not find by the documents of that religion that there is allowed any idle contemplation of dreamers, who do nothing but imagine dreams and toys in their brains; but a contemplative life of laboring studious people is only approved, who give themselves to letters to teach others. For after they have accomplished their studies, they ought to put in use and action that which they know, bringing into an active life that which they have learned by their study in their contemplative life.
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