Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. IX.: Whether Monarchy coming up to the Perfection of the Kind, coms not short of the Perfection of Government, and has not som Flaw in it. In which is also treated of the Balance of France; of the Original of a landed Clergy; of Arms, and their Ki - The Oceana and Other Works
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CHAP. IX.: Whether Monarchy coming up to the Perfection of the Kind, coms not short of the Perfection of Government, and has not som Flaw in it. In which is also treated of the Balance of France; of the Original of a landed Clergy; of Arms, and their Ki - James Harrington, The Oceana and Other Works 
The Oceana and Other Works of James Harrington, with an Account of His Life by John Toland (London: Becket and Cadell, 1771).
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Whether Monarchy coming up to the Perfection of the Kind, coms not short of the Perfection of Government, and has not som Flaw in it. In which is also treated of the Balance of France; of the Original of a landed Clergy; of Arms, and their Kinds.
ON monarchy I have said, that wheras it is of two kinds, the one by arms, the other by a nobility; for that by arms, as (to take the most perfect model) in Turky, it is not in art or nature to cure it of this dangerous flaw, that the Janizarys have frequent interest, and perpetual power to raise sedition, or tear the magistrat in pieces. For that by a nobility, as (to take the most perfect model) of late in Oceana, it was not in art or nature to cure it of that dangerous flaw, that the nobility had frequent interest and perpetual power by their retainers and tenants to raise sedition, and levy war:Chap. IX. whence I conclude that monarchy reaching the perfection of the kind, reaches not the perfection of government, but must still have some dangerous flaw in it.
This place (tho I did not intend by it to make work for a tinker) could not be of less concernment, than it proves to the prevaricator, who, as if he were oblig’d to mend all, falls first to patching with a monarchy by arms, then with a monarchy by a nobility: at length despairing, throws away each, and betakes himself with egregious confidence, to make out of both a new monarchy, which is neither. By observation of these three flourishes, the present chapter may be brought into some method.Consid. p. 46. The first blow of his hammer, or that wherby he intends the flaw or hole in monarchy by arms shall henceforth be mended and tite, is this: that the guards of the kings person be not increas’d beyond the necessity of security: that they be not suffer’d to stagnat at court, but be by a perpetual circulation drawn out upon service; and chiefly that they consist not of one entire body united under the same head, but be divided into distinct partys and commands; as we may see in France, where tho (in proportion to the extent of their dominions) the king’s guards be more numerous than those of the Roman or Turkish emperors, yet being divided into distinct bodys of French, Scots and Switzers, under their several colonels and captains, they have never bin the authors of any the least sedition. And in Turky of late years they begin to learn the art of poising the Janizarys by the Spahys, and so have frequently evaded the danger of their mutinys. Which fine work at first view gos upon this false ground, that the foundation of monarchy by arms is laid upon the prince’s guards or the court militia, wheras monarchy by arms consists in no other balance than the prince’s being sole landlord, which, where imperfect, as it was in that of the Roman emperors, the empire is the most troubl’d; and where perfect, as in Turky, the empire is less seditious. For that which he says of France, it relates to monarchy by a nobility; and therfore is not to be confounded, according to this method, with this, but refer’d to the next branch.
As to monarchy by arms, tho it be true that the balance of dominion in any of the three kinds may be said to be natural, in regard of the effect; yet seeing God has given the earth to the sons of men, that of a sole landlord, as Turky, is not so natural in the cause or foundation, as the Timars, and therfore requires the application of som kind of force, as the Janizarys, who are not the root of the government, that being planted in the earth of the Timars, or military farms and colonys (for that the Janizarys are not the foundation of this empire, which was founded long before, is plain, in that this order was not introduc’d till Amurath the Second) but the dragon that lys at that root, and without which the fruit would fall into the mouths of the Timariots by way of property (as when the knights fees granted first for life, became afterwards hereditary in Oceana) which would cause such a fall from monarchy, that it would becom, as we have seen, the rise of popular power (the lots, in case this should happen, of the Timariots, little differing from those divided by Joshua to the children of Israel) wherfore when this happens in the Turkish monarchy, it is at an end. And that this dos not happen, tho there be divers other concurrent policys, I would have any man shew me, how it could be but for the Janizarys. Otherwise it is plain that the Janizarys being a flying army, on wing at all games, and upon all occasions, are not so much the guard of the prince, as of the empire; which ruin’d, the prey falls to the Timariots, as those that are in possession, except these be ruin’d too, who being all horse, and far greater in number than the Janizarys that are foot, would (in case the aw of the prince, and the policy of the government which holds them divided, were broken) be invincible by the Janizarys, who nevertheless by these aids can easily contain them. Whence the sedition of the Janizarys, like that of a nobility, may be dangerous to the prince, but never threatens the throne; wheras the sedition of the Timariots, like that of a people, would be more against the throne than the prince. These things consider’d, and in them the nature, constitution, or disease of monarchy by arms, we may consult the more rationally with the considerer upon the applications or remedys by him offer’d, which are three.
First,That the guards of the king’s person be not increas’d beyond the necessity of security. But of what security, that of his person, or of his empire, or of both? for speaking of a monarchy by arms, in this latter sense only it is true: and if so, then this singular maxim of state (Frustra fit per plura, quod fieri potest per pauciora) might have bin spar’d (Cela s’en va sans le dire, comme les heures de nostre curè.)
Secondly,That they be not suffer’d to stagnat at court, but be by a perpetual circulation drawn out upon service; for if there be not perpetual service, it should seem, men might be apt to think that government was instituted for peace as well as war. I add no more than is imply’d in his words, which as to this of Turky have chanc’d well; where not the stagnation of the Janizarys only, but of the court it self (which by the institution should always be in exercise of arms) is the cause of that present decay, so perceivable in this empire. But the prince sitting still or stagnating, to what the circulation of the Janizarys (whose alienation from the government, or intelligence with the Timariots, must needs be of dangerous consequence) could tend, should have bin thought on: otherwise to expose the empire to danger for the safety of the prince, is no cure of the government.
But his chief remedy remains: This court militia must not consist of one intire body united under the same head, but be divided under several colonels, captains, partys, brigades, and distributed to several quarters. As if this were a cure, there were any army that could be mutinous: but where he says, not united under the same head, he intimats perhaps divers generals, and divers armys; now such are the Turkish Beglerbegs, and the provinces under their governments. That these therfore be kept divided, so that not any two of them can lay their heads together without having them cut off, nor any son succede the father in government, requires that there be always a sufficient force (distinct from the interest of the Timariots and Beglerbegs) united, and still ready upon occasion of this service; and the Janizarys with the spahys or court-horse being united, are no more than sufficient for this service. Wherfore if these also were so divided as therby to be weaken’d, they could not be sufficient for this service; and their division, except such as might weaken them, would be of no security to the prince. That the provinces, under this aw, are less apt to rebel, than the court guards to mutiny, is no wonder; but the court guards being cur’d by the prescription of this physician, of the possibility of mutiny, which without weakening them is impossible, the provinces, if liberty, or riches, or power be desirable, would never indure the yoke of this government. Wherfore it being inavoidable in the Turkish empire, that either the Janizarys, or the Timariots may do what they list (in regard that whether of them be able to give law to the other, must at the same time be able to give law to the prince; and to bring them to an equal balance, were to make a civil war, or at least to sow the seed of it) the native wound of monarchy by arms remains incur’d and incurable. What more may be don for monarchy, founded upon a nobility, coms next to be try’d. In this the considerer gives his word, that there never rises any danger to the crown, but when either a great part of the soverain power is put into the hands of the nobility, as in Germany and Poland (where it should seem by him, that the electors and the gentry do not put power into the hands of the emperor, or king, but the emperor or king puts power into the hands of the electors or gentry) or when som person or family is suffer’d to overtop the rest in riches, commands, and dependence, as the princes of the blood and Lorrain, not long since, in France; and of old theMontfortsandNevilsin England.Consid. p. 47. The first of these he declares to be a vicious government, and a monarchy only in name: the second he undertakes shall easily admit of this remedy; that the great ones be reduc’d (decimo sexto) to a lesser volum, and level’d into an equality with the rest of their order.
His putpin is pretty: the emperor puts power into the hands of the electors; and the king of Poland puts power into the hands of the gentlemen: which governments therfore (and all such like, as when the king of England did put power into the hands of the barons, at such a time as he was no longer able to keep it out of their fingers, by which means the antient and late government of king, lords and commons, was restor’d) are vicious constitutions, and monarchys only in name: such as he will not meddle with, and therfore let them go. Well; but where is the patient then? if these be not monarchys by nobility, what do we mean by that thing? or what government is it that we are to cure? why such a one, where som person or family is suffer’d to overtop the rest in riches, commands, and dependence, as the princes of the blood and Lorrain, not long since, in France; and of old theMontfortsand theNevilsin England. So then the same again (for these are no other) upon recollection, are those that admit of this easy cure. Let the great ones be reduc’d to a lesser volum, and level’d with the rest of their order. But how? if they be the weaker party, they are not the great ones; and if they be the stronger party, how will he reduce them? put the case a man has the gout, his physician dos not bid him reduce his overtopping toes to the volum of the other foot, nor to level them to equality with the rest of their order, but prescribes his remedys, and institutes the method that should do this feat. What is the method of our Æsculapius;point de novelle; or where are we to find it? e’en where you please. The princes of the blood, and of Lorrain in France; theMontfortsand theNevilsin England, overtop’d not their order by their own riches or power, but by that of the party, which for their fidelity, courage, or conduct, intrusted them with the managing of their arms or affairs. So the prince that would have level’d them, must have level’d their party; which in case the controversy be upon the right, or pretended right of the nobility in the government, which commonly makes them hang together, may com to the whole order: what then?Consid. p. 49. why then, says he, the prince must preserve his nobility weighty enough to keep the people under, and yet not tall enough in any particular person to measure with himself: which, abating the figure, is the same again; and so I have nothing to answer but the figure. Now for this, the prince himself is no otherwise tall, than by being set upon the shoulders of the nobility; and so if they set another upon the same shoulders (as in Henry the 4th or the 7th, who had no titles to the crown, nor could otherwise have measur’d with the prince) be he never so low, he coms to be tall enough in his particular person to measure with the prince, and to be taller too, not only by those old examples, but others that are younger than our selves, tho such (the nobility having not of late bin weighty enough to keep the people under) as derive from another principle, that of popular balance. A prince therfore preserving his nobility weighty enough to keep the people under, must preserve in them the balance of that kind of empire: and the balance containing the riches, which are the power, and so the arms of the nation; this being in the nobility, the nobility, when willing, must be able to dispose of the king, or of the government. Nor under a less weight is a nobility qualify’d to keep down the people, as by an argument from the contrary. Henry the 7th having found the strength of his nobility, that set him in a throne to which he had no right, and fearing that the tide of their favour turning, they might do as much for another, abated the dependence of their tenants, and cut off their train of retainers; which diminution of their weight, releasing the people by degrees, has caus’d that plain or level into which we live to see the mountain of that monarchy now sunk and swallow’d: wherfore the balance of the nobility being such as failing, that kind of monarchy coms to ruin; and not failing, the nobility, if they join, may give law to the king, the inherent disease of a monarchy by a nobility remains also uncur’d and incurable.
The balance of France.These are points to which I had spoken before; but somthing concerning France and foren guards was mumbled by the prevaricator in a wrong place, while he was speaking of Turky, where there is no such thing. This, left I be thought to have courted opposition for nothing, shall open a new scene; while I take occasion in this place to speak first of the balance of the French monarchy, and next of the nature and use of foren guards.
The whole territory of France except the crown lands, which on this account are not considerable, consists of three shares or parts, wherof the church holds one, the nobility another; and the presidents, advocats, other officers of the parlaments, courts of justice, the citizens, merchants, tradesmen, the treasurers, receivers of the customs, aids, taxes, impositions, gabels, all which together make a vast body, hold a third: by how equal portions I am sorry that I do not know, nor where to learn: but this is the balance of the French monarchy, to which the peasant holding nothing, but living (tho in one of the best countrys of the world) in the meanest and most miserable condition of a laborer, or hynd, is of no account at all.
The partys that hold the balance in a territory are those of whom the government does naturally consist, wherfore these are call’d estates; so the clergy, the nobility, and the commons, are the three estates of France. Tho the third, because the peasant partaking not of the balance can (in relation to government) be of no account, is not call’d the commons, but only the third estate: wheras the yeomanry and gentry in England having weigh’d as well in the balance as the church and the nobility, the three estates of England (while the monarchy was in vigor) were the clergy, the nobility, and the commons.Grotius de imp. sum. pot. circa sacra. c. 2. f. 4.The consent of nations evinces that the function of the clergy, or priest, except where otherwise determin’d by law, appertains to the magistrat. By this rightNoah, Abraham, Job,with the rest of the patriarchs, instructed their familys, or sacrific’d. There seems to have bin a kind of commonwealth in Canaan, whileMelchizedecwas both king and priest. Such also wasMoses,till he consecratedAaron,and conser’d the preisthood upon the Levits, who are expresly said to succede to the firstborn, that is to the patriarchs, who till then exercis’d that function. Nor was it otherwise with the Gentils, where they, who had the soverain power, or were in eminent magistracy, did also the priestly office (omnino apud veteres qui rerum potiebantur, iidem auguria tenebant: ut enim sapere, sic divinare, regale ducebant, saysCicero;andVirgil, Rex Anius, rex idem hominum, Phoebique facerdos.) You find the heros, that is princes, in poets, sacrificing. The Ethiopian, Egyptian, Lacedemonian kings did the like. In Athens constantly and in Rome, when they had no kings, occasionally they elected a rex sacrorum, or king priest. So that a free people had thus far power of electing their priests, is not deny’d by any man.Original of a landed clergy. This came, it should seem, to be otherwise establish’d by the law in Egypt, where the priests (whose lands Joseph when he bought those of the people did not buy) being great landlords,Gen. 47. 22. it may be to the third of the whole territory, were one of the three estates of the realm. And it is clear in Scripture that the people, till they sold their lands, became not servants to Pharaoh.Xenoph. in Orat.de Ages. While Agesilaus was in Egypt they depos’d their king, which implys the recovery of their balance; but so, seeing they set up another, as withal shews the balance of the nobility to have bin predominant. These particulars seem to com near to the account of Diodorus Siculus, by whom the balance of Egypt should have stood thus:L. 1.the whole revenue was divided into three parts, wherof the priest had the first, the king had the second, and the nobility had the third. It seems to me that the priests had theirs by their antient right and title, untouch’d by Joseph; that the kings had all the rest by the purchase of Joseph; and that in time, as is usual in like cases, a nobility came thro the bounty of succeding kings to share with them in one half. But however it came about, Egypt by this means is the first example of a monarchy upon a nobility, at least distributed into three estates by means of a landed clergy, which by consequence came to be the greatest counsillors of state, and, fitting religion to their uses, to bring the people to be the most superstitious in the whole world.
Were it not for this example, I should have said, that the indowment of a clergy or religious order with lands, and the erecting of them into an estate of the realm or government, were no antienter than the Goths and Vandals, who introducing a like policy, which to this day takes place throout the Christian world, have bin the cause;
First, Why the clergy have bin generally great counsillors to kings, while the people are led into superstition?
Secondly, By planting a religious order in the earth, why religion has bin brought to serve worldly ends?
And, thirdly, by rendring the miter able to make war; why of latter ages we have had such a thing as war for religion, which till the clergy came to be a third state or landlords, was never known in the world:Thucyd. l. 1. for that some citys of Greece, taking arms upon the usurpation or violation of som temple, have call’d it the holy war; such disputes having bin put upon matter of fact, and not of faith, in which every man was free, came not to this account. Moseswas learn’d in all the learning of the Egyptians; but a landed clergy introduced he not in Israel: nor went the apostles about to lay any such foundation of a church. Abating this one example of Egypt, till the Goths and Vandals, who brought in the third estate, a government, if it were inequal, consisted but of two estates; as that of Rome, whether under the kings or the commonwealth, consisted of the Patricians and Plebeians, or of the nobility and the people. And an equal commonwealth consists but of one, which is the people: for example of this you have Lacedemon and Venice, where the people being few, and having many subjects or servants, might also be call’d a nobility, as in regard of their subjects they are in Venice, and in regard of their helots or servants, they might have bin in Lacedemon. That, I say, which, introducing two estates, causes division, or makes a commonwealth inequal, is not that she has a nobility, without which she is depriv’d of her most special ornament, and weaken’d in her conduct, but when the nobility only is capable of magistracy, or of the senat; and where this is so order’d, she is inequal, as Rome But where the nobility is no otherwise capable of magistracy, nor of the senat, than by election of the people, the commonwealth consists but of one order, and is equal, as Lacedemon or Venice.
But for a politician commend me to the considerer, he will have Rome to have bin an equal commonwealth, and Venice to be an inequal one, which must be evinc’d by wiredrawing. For having elswhere, as has bin shewn, admitted without opposition that the balance of empire is well divided into natural and provincial, the humor now takes him to spin that wedg into such a thred, as by entangling of these two, may make them both easy to be broken.Consid. p 16. 69. 70. Hereto he betakes himself in this manner. As Mr.Harringtonhas well observ’d (p. 37.) where there are two partys in a republic with equal power (as in that of Rome, the people had one half, and the nobility had the other half) confusion and misery are there intail’d. For remedy wherof, or to avoid this, there can be no way but to make the commonwealth very inequal.
In answer to this, there will need no more than to repeat the same things honestly. Mr. Harrington speaks of the national balance of empire (p. 37) to this sense: Where the nobility holds half the property, or about that proportion, and the people the other half (the shares of the land may be equal; but in regard the nobility have much among few, and the people little among many, the few will not be contented to have authority, which is all their proper share in a commonwealth, but will be bringing the people under power, which is not their proper share in a commonwealth; wherfore this commonwealth must needs be inequal. And except by altering the balance, as the Athenians did by the sisacthia, or recision of debts; or as the Romans went about to do by an agrarian, it be brought to such an equality, that the whole power be in the people, and there remain no more than authority to the nobility) there is no remedy but the one (with perpetual feud) will eat out the other, as the people did the nobility in Athens, and the nobility the people in Rome. Where the carcase is, there will be the eagles also; where the riches are, there will be the power. So if a few be as rich as all the rest, a few will have as much power as all the rest; in which case the commonwealth is inequal, and there can be no end of staving and tailing, till it be brought to equality. Thus much for the national balance; for the provincial, there power dos not follow property, but the contrary: this the prevaricator having acknowleg’d, lets slip, to the end he may take a gripe of Venice, which (because the three or four thousand of which originally consisted, and now consists that whole government, having acquir’d provinces, and increase of their city by later comers, do not admit these to participation of power) he says is an inequal commonwealth. He will be a mill-horse, whether the cake be dow or not; for this is to draw in a circle: and Rome, which by his former arguments should have bin equal, by this again must be inequal, seeing Rome as little admitted her provinces into the body of the commonwealth, as dos Venice. This clash is but by way of parenthesis; to return therfore to the business in present agitation.
The estates be they one, or two, or three, are such (as was said by virtue of the balance) upon which the government must naturally depend. Wherfore constitutively the government of France (and all other monarchys of like balance) was administer’d by an assembly of the three estates; and thus continu’d till that nation being vanquish’d by the English,Charles the 7th was put to such shifts as, for the recovery of himself in the greatest distress, he could make. To which recovery, while the estates could not be legally call’d, he happening to attain without them, so order’d his affairs, that his successors, by adding to his inventions, came to rule without this assembly; a way not suting with the nature of their balance, which therfore requir’d som assistance by force, and other concurring policys of the like nature, wherof the foren guards of that monarchy are one; the great baits alluring the nobility another; and the emergent interest of the church a third.
To begin with the last of these; the church (except it be in a war for religion, as when they join’d with the princes of Lorrain, and what party of the French nobility were made, or they could make against the king of Navar) are not of themselves so hot at hand, or promt to arms: but the king being (to use their word) no heretic, thro their great apprehension of the third estate, as that which is most addicted to the Protestant religion, may be confident they will never side with the people. So by this emergent interest or accident he has the church sure enough.
For the nobility, which is exceeding gallant, this change has the greatest baits; for wheras the church being not spar’d, the third estate is laden, and the peasant overladen with taxes, the nobility is not only at better ease in this regard, but for the greater or more considerable part, receives advantage by it: the king having always, whether in peace or war, a great cavalry, than which there is no better in the world for the exercise, entertainment, and profit of the nobility: governments of citys, castles, provinces in abundance, which he rarely distributes to any other. The greater nobility are marechals, generals; the less officers in the armys, specially of the horse, the emoluments wherof they receive also in time of peace; and many of this order being pensioners, taste of the king’s liberality, without taking pains, or having any imployment at all. By which both that France is a monarchy by a nobility, and how she holds her nobility, is apparent.
Now the church and the nobility standing thus ingag’d to the king, by which means he has two parts of the balance to one, it is demonstrable that the government must be quiet. Nor, seeing the church for the reason shewn is sure enough, coms the government (since the Protestant citys and holds were demolish’d) to be otherwise disquieted than by the flying out of the nobility, which, whenever it happens in any party considerable, either for the number, or the interest, causes the crown to shake; for it seldom coms to pass upon this occasion, but the third estate, or som part of it, takes arms immediately. In which place it is worthy to be observ’d, that wealth, according to the distribution of the balance, has contrary motions. The third estate in France having riches, and those laden with taxes, com to have somthing to lose, and somthing to save: which keeps them in continual fear or hope. The nobility holding to the king, the third estate has somthing to lose, which withholds them from arms thro fear; but the nobility flying out, the third estate has somthing to save, which precipitats them into arms thro hope: wheras the peasant having nothing to save or to lose, to hope or to fear, never stirs. The case standing thus, the sufficiency of the French politician (since the masterpiece of cardinal Richlieu, in demolishing those walls of the Protestants, which had otherwise by this time bin a refuge for the third estate, and perhaps overturn’d the monarchy) lys altogether in finding for the nobility work abroad, or balancing them in such sort at home, that if a party flys out, there may be a stronger within to reduce it, or at least to be oppos’d to it. In this case, left the native interest of the nobility, since the assemblys of the three estates were abolish’d, might cool the remaining party, or make them slower in the redress of such disorder or discontents than were requisit, the king is wisely provided of foren guards; which being always in readiness, and not obnoxious to the native interest, may upon like occasions be of more expedition and trust. Being com thus to foren arms, which is the point I more especially propos’d to myself in the present discourse, one objection in relation to what has bin already said, seems to interpose itself. Seeing France, while it is not govern’d by the assembly of states, is yet of the same balance it was when govern’d by the assembly of states; it may be said that a government of the same balance may admit of divers administrations.
To which I need make no other answer, than to put you in mind, that while this government was natural, or administer’d by the assembly of states, it is celebrated by Machiavel to have bin the best order’d of any monarchy in the world; and that what it is, or has bin of later times, you may believe your own eys or ears.
Of arms, and their kind.There be yet, before I can com to foren guards, som previous considerations. All government, as is imply’d by what has bin already shewn, is of these three kinds: a government of servants: a government of subjects; or, a government of citizens. The first is absolute monarchy, as that of Turky: the second aristocratical monarchy, as that of France: the third a commonwealth, as those of Israel, of Rome, of Holland. Now (to follow Machiavel in part) of these, the government of servants is the harder to be conquer’d, and the easier to be held: the government of subjects is the easier to be conquer’d, and the harder to be held. To which I shall presume to add, that the government of citizens is both the hardest to be conquer’d, and the hardest to be held.
My author’s reasons, why a government of servants is the hardest to be conquer’d, com to this, that they are under perpetual disciplin and command, void of such interests and factions, as have hands or power to lay hold upon advantages or innovation; whence he that invades the Turk must trust to his own strength, and not rely upon disorders in the government, or forces which he shall be sure enough to find united.
His reasons why this government being once broken, is easily held, are, that the armys once past hope of rallying, there being no such thing as familys hanging together, or nobility to stir up their dependents to further reluctancy for the present, or to preserve themselves by complacence with the conquerors for future discontents or advantages, he that has won the garland has no more to do but to extinguish the royal line, and wear it ever after in security. For the people having bin always slaves, are such whose condition he may better, in which case they are gainers by their conqueror; but can never make worse, and therfore they lose nothing by him. Hence Alexander having conquer’d the Persian empire, he and his captains after him could hold it without the least dispute, except it arose among themselves. Hence Mahomet the Second having taken Constantinople, and put Palæologus the Greec emperor (whose government was of like nature with the Persian) together with his whole family, to the sword, the Turc has held that empire without reluctancy.
On the other side, the reasons why a government of subjects is easilier conquer’d, are these: That it is supported by a nobility so antient, so powerful, and of such hold and influence upon the people, that the king without danger, if not ruin to himself or the throne (an example wherof was given in Hen. 7th of England) can neither invade their privileges, nor level their estates; which remaining, they have power upon every discontent to call in an enemy, as Robert count of Artois did the English, and the duke of Guise the Spaniard into France.
The reasons why a government of subjects being so easily conquer’d, is nevertheless the harder to be held, are these: That the nobility being soon out of countenance in such a case, and repenting themselves of such a bargain, have the same means in their hands wherby they brought in the enemy, to drive him out, as those of France did both the English and the Spaniard.
For the government of citizens, as it is of two kinds, an equal or an inequal commonwealth, the reasons why it is the hardest to be conquer’d, are also of two kinds; as first, the reasons why a government of citizens, where the commonwealth is equal, is hardest to be conquer’d, are, that the invader of such a society must not only trust to his own strength, inasmuch as the commonwealth being equal, he must needs find them united, but in regard that such citizens, being all soldiers or train’d up to their arms, which they use not for the defence of slavery, but of liberty (a condition not in this world to be better’d) they have more specially upon this occasion the highest soul of courage, and (if their territory be of any extent) the vastest body of a well disciplin’d militia that is possible in nature: wherfore an example of such a one overcom by the arms of a monarch, is not to be found in the world. And if som small city of this frame has happen’d to be vanquish’d by a potent commonwealth, this is her prerogative, her towers are her funeral pile, and she expires in her own flame, leaving nothing to the conqueror but her ashes, as Saguntum overwhelm’d by Carthage, and Numantia by Rome.
The reasons why a government of citizens, where the commonwealth is inequal, is, next the former, the hardest to be conquer’d, are the same, with this difference, that tho her peace be not perfect within, her condition is not to be better’d by any thing without. Wherfore Rome in all her strife never call’d in an enemy; and if an enemy upon occasion of her strife, and hopes of advantage by it, came without calling, he presented her with her most soverain cure, who had no leisure to destroy her self, till having no enemy to find her work, she became her own.
Nor is there any example that a government of this kind was ever subdu’d by the arms of a monarch; tho som indeed may be found that have call’d or suffer’d foren princes or force to com in, as Holland by marriages of their prince, and Genoa thro her factions, as those of the Fiesci and Adorni.Guic. l. 11.
To conclude this part as to the reasons why a government of citizens so acquir’d or possest, as thro marriage, or faction, is the hardest to be held, there needs no more than that men accustom’d to their arms and their liberties will never indure the yoke. Wherfore the Spaniard, tho a mighty king, no sooner began in Holland, a small commonwealth, to innovat or break her orders, than she threw him off with such courage and disdain, as is admirable to the world. And somwhat of the like kind did Genoa by the help of her Doria in the vindication of her liberty from France.
To com by this farthest way about as I think the nearest way home: arms are of of two sorts, proper or improper; that is, native or foren.Proper and improper arms.
Proper and native arms are, according to the triple nature of government, of three kinds; servants in arms, as the helots in Lacedemon, the timariots and janizarys in Turky; subjects in arms, as the horse in France, and the seaguards or forces in Venice; or citizens in arms, as those upon the Lexiarcha in Athens, of the Moræ in Lacedemon, and the legions in Rome.
Improper or foren arms are of two sorts; auxiliarys, and mercenarys.
Auxiliarys are such as are supply’d by virtue of som league, as were those of the Latins and Italians to the Romans; and those of the cantons of Swiss (except Zuric) to the king of France: or they may be such as are occasionally lent freely, or let forth for mony by one state to another, the latter wherof differ not much from mercenarys.
Mercenarys are soldiers of fortune that have no other trade than their arms, and let out themselves for mony; of such consisted the greatest part of the Carthaginian strength, such is the land force of Venice, and, notwithstanding the antient league of France with those nations, such at this day are the Swiss and Scotish guards (and somtimes a good part of the foot) in France.
MACHIAVEL discourses upon these particulars in his art of war, to admiration: by whom I shall therfore steer.
Where the arms in bulk are proper, and consisting of citizens, they have other trades, and therfore are no soldiers of fortune; and yet because the commonwealth has arms for her trade (in regard she is a magistrat given for the good of mankind, and bears not her sword in vain) they are all educated as well in military as civil disciplin, taking their turns in service of either nature according to the occasion, and the orders of the commonwealth, as in Israel, Athens, Lacedemon, and Rome, which had (if their territorys permitted, and somtimes, as I may say, whether their territorys permitted or no, as in Israel) the vastest, the highest temper’d, and the best disciplin’d militia, that is to be found in the whole compass of story. Som armys of Israel have consisted of three or four hundred thousand men:Plin. L. Æmilio Papo, C. Atilio Regulo Coss.Rome upon the rumor of a Gallic tumult, arm’d in Italy only, without foren aid, seventy thousand horse and seven hundred thousand foot; things in our days (when the Turk can hardly arm half so many) not to be credited.
Hence that a commonwealth, which had not first broken her self, or bin broken by som other commonwealth, should not be found to have bin conquer’d by the arms of any monarch, is not miraculous, but a natural effect of an apparent cause. In this place, or upon this text, divines whom I would desire not to be enemys of popular power, but to give Machiavel his due, shall, if they please, hear him make a goodly sermon, in these words:Arte della Guer. Proem. If antient commonwealths and governments us’d diligence in any other order to make their people lovers of peace, faithful to their country, and to have the fear of God before their eys, they doubl’d it in this of their militia: for of whom should your country expect greater faith, than of such as have offer’d themselves to dy for her? Whom should she indeavour to make greater lovers of peace, than them who only can inslave her by force? In whom should there be greater fear of God, than in such as carry their lives in their hands? This, when lawgivers and captains rightly consider’d, was the cause why soldiers were esteem’d, honor’d, follow’d and imitated above all men in the world; wheras since such orders are broken, and custom is altogether deviated from the course of antient prudence, men are com to detest the iniquity of the camp, and fly the conversation of such as are in arms, as the pestilence. Where the arms in bulk are proper, but consist of subjects, they are the best next; and but the best next, as appears by all examples antient and modern. The arms with which Pyrrhus prince of Epirus invaded the Romans, were of subjects; yet that prince, tho he was not vanquish’d by the Romans, confest their advantage, and gave them over. The Spaniard being a far more potent king than was Pyrrhus, has acknowleg’d as much to the Hollanders, tho a far less commonwealth than Rome: so have the princes of Austria, and of Burgundy, to the Switzers. That the arms of subjects are nevertheless as much superior to the arms of servants, as inferior to the arms of citizens, is as plain; seeing as Alexander, with thirty thousand subjects, vanquish’d Darius, having innumerable slaves; so thirty thousand Christians are at this day a match for any army of Turks: and we see Venice, whose force by sea consists of subjects, to have made him quit that element near as fully to her dominion or empire, as did the Persian to Athens.
To arms that are proper, but consist of servants, all the preeminence that can be given is, that they are better than foren arms; a proof wherof we have in those of Selimus, wherby he conquer’d the Mamalucs; who being but a foren force that held Egypt in subjection, the country was irrecoverably lost, and, for the reasons already shewn, as easily kept.
Improper arms, whether auxiliary or mercenary, where the force of a prince or of a commonwealth consists, for the bulk or greater part, of no other, are the least effectual, and the most dangerous of all. For auxiliarys, or what effect has bin found of them by princes or commonwealths, it was seen in France during the league by the Spaniard; and in Holland during the reign of Queen Elizabeth by the English; but especially in the Goths and Vandals, who having been auxiliarys or mercenarys, rely’d upon by the later emperors, came therby to ruin the Roman empire.
Mercenarys who make their arms their trade, must of all others be the most pernicious; for what can we expect less of such whose art is not otherwise so profitable, than that they should (as Machiavel shews) be breakers of their faith, given up to rapin, enemys of peace and government.
To instance in som commonwealths, that of Carthage after her first war with the Romans, fell thro the rebellion of Spendius and Matho, ringleaders of her mercenarys, into another that was far more dangerous. Of such a dilemma were the arms of this state, that if Hannibal had conquer’d Rome, he must have bin king of Carthage; and not conquering Rome, Carthage was ruin’d. The commonwealth of Milan, trusting herself to F. Sforza and his mercenarys, became the subject of her servant, and he her duke. Nor is Venice, whose land-forces are of the same kind, otherwise in safety as to these, than by her situation. To give some instances of the same nature in princes: the father of F. Sforza being captain of a like mercenary army, forc’d Joan queen of Naples, whom he left disarm’d in the midst of her enemys, to lay herself at the feet of the king of Arragon; and Braccio by such another treachery had plainly possest himself of the kingdom of Naples, had he not bin broken at Aquila, where death intercepted his design. From what has bin said (first of government, and then of arms) if a government of servants be harder to be conquer’d, and easier to be held, then in this foren arms must needs be least necessary, and most dangerous.
If a government of subjects be easier to be conquer’d, and harder to be held, then in this foren arms may be more necessary, but must be less dangerous.
But tho a government of citizens be both hardest to be conquer’d, and hardest to be held, yet as it is again in this regard of two kinds, this cannot be said of each kind alike; wherfore I must distinguish.
In a government of citizens, if the commonwealth be not for increase, but preservation only, as Lacedemon, Carthage, Venice, foren arms are both necessary and dangerous; but in a government of citizens, where the commonwealth is both for increase and preservation, as Rome, foren arms are neither necessary nor dangerous.
To repeat the parts of this conclusion, which being brief is obscure, more fully and particularly.
The empire of Turky is of the harder kind to be conquer’d, wherfore the Turk needs not foren guards to defend him, but it is of the easier to be held; wherfore let him take heed of intrusting his person with foren guards, who having a foren interest, may have a foren nation to assist them: and so the person of the prince being in their hands, they have no more to do than to extinguish the royal line; and the empire being easily held, is their own thenceforth with security. Thus the Mamalucs, which were at first foren guards, extinguishing the royal line of the kings of Egypt, came to possess and hold that realm without opposition. Who well considers this point, will never enough admire the policy of the Turc in the creation (as it were) of his Janizarys, free from any national interest that might make them dream of, or desire liberty; and yet so void of all foren interest or knowledge, that they know not what, or who were their country or parents. Hence tho they have interest to murder the Turc, and somtimes do accordingly, they have no further interest in the world but what depends upon the government; and so the empire is safe, tho the prince be in danger: wheras if they were foren guards, or had any native interest, not only the prince, but the empire too, would be in danger, the rest being servants, and such whose condition might be better’d by a change, but could be no worse. Wherfore a government of servants must by no means admit of foren guards or Mamalucs.
But the empire of France, where the nobility are not only subject to fly out, but to call in strangers, may have use of foren guards, which not obnoxious to native interest and factions, as those of the nobility, are the readiest and best help at this lift; yet not dangerous, tho having the prince in their power, because by him they are safe from the nobility, who, were it not for the prince, would be so far from bearing or brooking foren guards, that in case a forener came in upon their call, having the same means to help themselves wherby they brought him in, they would shake the yoke, and the ends why they call’d him in, being satisfy’d or repented of, drive him out again as they did the Spaniards and the English. But if this government being invaded or conquer’d, be so hard to be kept, how much harder being surpriz’d? Wherfore in a government by subjects, foren arms may be more necessary, but must be less dangerous.
In a commonwealth for preservation, as Lacedemon, Carthage, Venice, foren arms are necessary: so Lacedemon, tho able to defend her self by her proper forces against any one city, yet the wars in Greece going much upon leagues and confederats, were forced also to make use of her confederats, and somtimes of her helots.
But as antiently to Carthage, so now to Venice, foren or mercenary forces are essential, because for land-service such a constitution can have no other; yet is this course extremely dangerous, as appear’d by Lacedemon, who (being ever in fear of her helots) when she had acquir’d upon the matter the whole empire of Greece, came, by the rebellion of her confederats, not only to lose all, but likewise to ruin. For Carthage, upon the mutiny of Spendius and Matho, she escap’d, as at other times upon like occasions, very narrowly. That such an accident neither has befaln Venice, nor can befal her, is to be attributed to her situation, by which, in this regard, she is secure: nevertheless, her progress or increase, which by this means either cannot be great, or being great, must render her but the more infirm, is fully barr’d.
To a commonwealth for increase, which always takes in the whole body of the people, foren arms (seeing she abounds above all other kinds of policy, with such as are proper) must needs be the least necessary; and they are the most safe, because never admitting them, but for her mere convenience and frugality in expence of native blood, she receives no such charge of them as can recoil, but must carry point blank, and as vigorously at her proper interest, very near as her proper arms. Thus did the Latin and Italian auxiliarys, of which, join’d with the Roman legions, consisted a consular army.
By thus much it seems that an inference from the success of arms to the perfection of government, and from the perfection of government to the success of arms, should be no fallacious way of disputing.
But this being sweaty work with the considerer, who loves his ease, it is enough to argue thus: The Switz, Scotish, and French guards, have never bin the authors of any sedition, therfore the seditiousness of a nobility may be mended by foren guards: which is, as if one should say, such a physician has never bin the cause of the gout; therfore the gout may be cur’d by such a physician. That foren arms may be well enough apply’d in the case of a seditious nobility, and have som good effects, is not deny’d: but is France therfore cur’d of her sedition, or remains she, notwithstanding her foren guards, the most seditious example in the world? If thus she has not bin, nor be, what has he read of the princes of the blood in former times, or heard of late from them? But if thus she has bin, and be, is it not a fine way of cure, to give us an example of the disease for the remedy? Nor are her guards so void of sedition neither: but the Switzer, if he wants his pay, dares threaten Paris: the Scot, at least of late years, has not bin so bold; but if a prince flys out, the ensigns of the French guards will one way or other be captains, while soldier and officer too follows his affections or interests, which way soever they frame. I should be glad to know when a dragon fell from that court, that it did not bear down stars with his train. But the prevaricator is set upon it: wheras of late years, the Janizarys are known to have bin far more imbru’d in the blood of their princes than ever; he gives us his honest word, that of late years in Turky they begin to learn the art of poising the Janizarys (who are the foot of the prince’s guard) by the Spahys (who are the horse of the same) and so have frequently evaded the danger of their mutinys. At which rate, seeing every army consists of horse and foot, no army could be mutinous. If these had not bin mere flights, and so intended, he might have don well to have shewn us one mutiny of the Janizarys appeas’d by the Spahys. But all the parts of his politics, as was said of those in rhetoric, consist of pronunciation.
Thus the wounds of monarchy, notwithstanding the former, or this last remedy of foren guards, are still bleeding or festering.
But his courage is undaunted (aut viam inveniet aut faciet) he will either mend a government, or make one, by asserting without any example, but with egregious confidence, That the perfection of monarchy is free from those flaws which are charg’d upon it, and that it consists in governing by a nobility, weighty enough to keep the people under, and yet not tall enough in any particular person to measure with the prince; and by a moderat army kept under the notion of guards and garisons, which may be sufficient to strangle all sedition in the cradle:Consid. p. 48, 49. from which mixture or counterpoise of a nobility and an army, arises the most excellent form of monarchical government.
There’s for your learning now, A model which is a short horse, and a legislator that has soon curry’d him. To the parts of it, consisting of a nobility, and in force, I have already spoken severally. I shall now speak to the whole together; that is, to the imagin’d mixture or counterpoise of a nobility and an army; and because there is nothing in nature that has not had a natural effect by som example.
The scale of arms, or of iron, continu’d in the line of William the Conqueror; and the scale of property, or gold, continu’d in the barons of England, and their successors. But in this before the barons wars consisted not the perfection of the monarchy, because it preponderated too much on the side of arms; nor after the barons wars, because the king, putting power (which he could not keep out of their fingers) into the hands of the nobility, it became a vicious constitution, and a monarchy only in name (so says the considerer) therfore the balance being then only even, when neither the king could overbalance or get the better of the barons, nor the barons overbalance or get the better of the king; the perfection of monarchy consisted in the barons wars? Lycurgus the second!
Mark; the king by all means must have a nobility weighty enough to keep down the people; and then he must have an army to hold gold weight with his nobility: as if the nobility in that case would keep down the people, and not fetch them up (as did the barons) into their scale, that so together they might weigh down the army; which sooner or later is the infallible consequence of this phansy, or let it be shewn where it was ever otherwise. To instance in France is quite contrary, where all the considerable officers and commands being in the nobility, or the richer sort of that nation, the balance of arms and of property are not two, but one and the same. There is no way for monarchy, but to have no army, or no other than the nobility, which makes the regulated monarchy, as in France, Spain, &c. or to have an army that may weigh down nobility and people too; that is, destroy them both, which makes the absolute way of monarchy, as in Turky: the wit of man never found nor shall find a third, there being no such thing in nature.
This chapter is already with the longest, and yet I must give you a corollary, pouce de roy, or a piece above measure; relating to a question on which the greenest politician that ever brought his verjuice to the press has spur’d me.
Consid. p. 49, 50.Where he desires to know my opinion of the way of governing by councils, which he confesses he has always thought admirable; he dos not mean such as are coordinat with the prince (which have been seen in the world) but such as those of Spain, purely of advice and dispatch, with power only to inform and persuade, but not limit the prince’s will. For almost all the weaknesses which have bin thought incident to monarchy are by this course prevented; and if there be any steadiness and maturity in the senat of a commonwealth, this takes it all in.
To give my counsil without a fee, and deal sincerely with a prevaricator: let the prince (that is, such a one as his) hold himself contented with his divan, or cabinet. If this be that he means, we are agreed; but if he would have more, I can make no less of his words than a hankering after such councils as I have propos’d, and that these are such as he always thought admirable, such as prevent almost all the weaknesses incident to monarchy, and take in the steadiness and maturity of a commonwealth.
How may we make this agree with that other place, where he says, that there is no frame of laws, or constitution of government, which will not decay and com to ruin, unless repair’d by the prudence and dexterity of them that govern?Consid. p. 68.now that this may not be expected from a monarch, as well as from a senat or assembly of men, he has not yet met with any conviction, but rather finds it reasonable to think that where debates are clearest, the result of them most secret, and the execution sudden (which are the advantages of monarchy) there the disorders of a state will soonest be discover’d, and the necessary remedys best apply’d. In that former place he bethought himself that the debates of Rome were as clear as those of Antiochus, that her results were as secret as those of Philip or Perseus, and of more sudden execution than either of theirs. He doubted it might be true, which is affirm’d by good authors, and commonly enough known, that for the clearness of debate, and secresy of result, the world never saw any thing like the senat of Venice; and that in all appearance they are for execution as quick with the Divan, as the Divan can be with them. Now when all this is don, to banish such generous thoughts without shewing us for what cause, and knock under the table, is sad news. But he shall find me, in any thing that is reasonable, most ready to serve him. To the question then, how such councils as I have propos’d would do with a prince; I answer, truly the best of them, I doubt, but untowardly. One, that is the popular assembly, has no mean, but is either the wisest in nature, or has no brains at all. When affairs go upon no other than the public interest, this having no other interest to follow, nor eys to see withal, is the wisest council: but such ways are destructive to a prince, and they will have no nay. The congregation of Israel, when Rehoboam would not hearken to their advice, depos’d him: and we know what popular councils, so soon as they came to sufficient power, did in England. If a prince put a popular council from this ward, he dos a great matter, and to little purpose; for they understand nothing else but themselves. Wherfore the kings of France and of Spain have dissolv’d all such assemblys. It is true, where a prince is not strong enough to get mony out of them but by their consent, they are necessary: yet then they are not purely of advice and dispatch, but share in the government, and he cannot be meddling with their purses, but they will be meddling with his laws. The senat is of fitter use for a prince, and yet, except he has the way of Tiberius, but a ticklish piece, as appears by Maximinus, who was destroy’d by Pupienus and Balbinus, captains set up against him by this order. To go to the root: these things are not otherwise in prudence or choice than by direction of the balance; where this is popular, no remedy but the prince must be advis’d by the people, which if the late king would have indur’d, the monarchy might have subsisted somwhat longer: but while the balance was aristocratical, as during the great estates of the nobility and the clergy, we find not the people to have bin great or wise counsillors. In sum, if a king governs by a popular council, or house of commons, the throne will not stand long: if he governs by a senat, or a house of lords, let him never fear the throne, but have a care of himself: there is no third, as I have said often enough, but the Divan.