« ZurückWeiter »
The first remedy, or prevention, is to remove, by all means possible, that material cause of sedition whereof we speak, which is, want and poverty in the estate ; to which purpose serveth the opening and well-balancing of trade; the cherishing of manufactures; the banishing of idleness; the repressing of waste and excess, by sumptuary laws; the improvement and husbanding of the soil; the regulating of prices of things vendible; the moderating of taxes and tributes, and the like. Generally, it is to be foreseen that the population of a kingdom (especially if it be not mown down by wars,) do not exceed the stock of the kingdom which should maintain them: neither is the population to be reckoned only by number; for a smaller number that spend more and earn less, do wear out an estate sooner than agreater number that live lower and gather more: therefore the multiplying of nobility,* and other degrees of quality, in an over proportion to the common people, doth speedily bring a state to necessity; and so doth likewise an overgrown clergy, for they bring nothing to the stock; and, in like manner, when more are bred scholars than preferments can take off.
It is likewise to be remembered, that, forasmuch as the increase of any estate must be upon the foreigner (for whatsoever is somewhere gotten, is somewhere lost,) there be but three things which one nation selleth unto another; the commodity, as nature yieldeth it; the manufacture; and the victure, or
. See note H at the end.
carriage; so that, if these three wheels go, wealth will flow as in a spring tide. And it cometh many times to pass, that “ materiam superabit opus," that the work and carriage is more worth than the ma
terial, and enricheth a state more; as is notably seen 1 in the Low Countrymen, who have the best mines above ground in the world.
Above all things, good policy is to be used, that the treasure and monies in a state be not gathered into few hands ; for, otherwise, a state may have a great stock, and yet starve: and money is like muck, not good except it be spread. This is done chiefly by suppressing, or, at the least, keeping a strait hand upon the devouring trades of usury, engrossing, great pasturages, and the like.
For removing discontentments, or, at least, the danger of them, there is in every state (as we know) two portions of subjects, the nobles and the commonality. When one of these is discontent, the danger is not great; for common people are of slow motion, if they be not excited by the greater sort; and the greater sort are of small strength, except the multitude be apt and ready to move of themselves : then is the danger, when the greater sort do but wait for the troubling of the waters amongst the meaner, that then they may declare themselves. The poets feign that the rest of the gods would have bound Jupiter, which he hearing of, by the counsel of Pallas, sent for Briareus, with his hundred hands, to come in to his aid: an emblem, no doubt, to show how safe it is for monarchs to make sure of the goodwill of common people.
To give moderate liberty for griefs and discontentments to evaporate (so it be without too great insolency or bravery,) is a safe way : for he that turneth the humours back, and maketh the wound bleed inwards, endangereth malign ulcers and pernicious imposthumations.
The part of Epimetheus might well become Prometheus,in the case of discontentments, for there is not a better provision against them. Epimetheus, when griefs and evils flew abroad, at last shut the lid, and kept hope in the bottom of the vessel. Certainly, the politic and artificial nourishing and entertaining of hopes, and carrying men from hopes to hopes, is one of the best antidotes against the poison of discontentments : and it is a certain sign of a wise government and proceeding, when it can hold men's hearts by hopes, when it cannot by satisfaction ; and when it can handle things in such manner as no evil shall appear so peremptory but that it hath some outlet of hope : which is the less hard to do; because both particular persons and factions are apt enough to flatter themselves, or at least to brave that, they believe not.
Also the foresight and prevention, that there be no likely or fit head whereunto discontented persons may resort, and under whom they may join, is a known, but an excellent point of caution. I understand a fit head to be one that hath greatness and reputation, that hath confidence with the discontented party, and upon whom they turn their eyes, , and that is thought discontented in his own particular ; which kind of persons are either to be won and reconciled to the state, and that in a fast and true manner; or to be fronted with some other of the same party that may oppose them, and so divide the reputation. Generally the dividing and breaking of all factions and combinations that are adverse to the state, and setting them at distance, or, at least, distrust amongst themselves, is not one of the worst remedies ; for it is a desperate case, if those that hold with the proceeding of the state be full of discord and faction, and those that are against it be entire and united.
I have noted, that some witty and sharp speeches, which have fallen from princes, have given fire to seditions. Cæsar did himself infinite hurt in that speech,“ Sylla nescivit literas, non potuit dictare ;" for it did utterly cut off that hope which men had entertained, that he would at one time or other give over his dictatorship. Galba undid himself by that speech,“ legi a se militem, non emi;” for it put the soldiers out of hope of the donative. Probus, likewise, by that speech,“ si vixero non opus erit am
plius Romano imperio militibus ;" a speech of great despair for the soldiers, and many the like. Surely princes had need in tender matters and ticklish times, to beware what they say, especially in these short speeches, which fly abroad like darts, and are thought to be shot out of their secret intentions ; for as for large discourses, they are flat things, and not so much noted.
Lastly, let princes, against all events, not be
without some great person, one or rather more, of military valour, near unto them, for the repressing of seditions in their beginnings; for without that, there useth to be more trepidation in court upon
the first breaking out of troubles, than were fit; and the state ruuneth the danger of that which Tacitus saith,“ atque is habitus animorum fuit, ut pessimum " facinus auderent pauci, plures vellent, omnes
paterentur:" but let such military persons be assured, and well reputed of, rather than factious and popular; holding also good correspondence with the other great men in the state, or else the remedy is worse than the disease.
XVI. OF ATHEISM. I had rather believe all the fables in the legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind; and, therefore, God never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion ;* for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it
may sometimes rest in them, and go no further ; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity :
: nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism doth most demonstrate religion ; that is the school of Leucippus, and Democritus, and
# See note I at the end.