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employeth, and change them often; for new are more timorous and less subtle. He that can look into his estate but seldom, it behoveth him to turn all to certainties. A man had need, if he be plentiful in some kind of expence, to be as saving again in some other: as if he be plentiful in diet, to be saving in apparel: if he be plentiful in the hall, to be saving in the stable, and the like; for he that is plentiful in expences of all kinds will hardly be preserved from decay. In clearing of a man's estate, he may as well hurt himself in being in too sudden, as in letting it run on too long; for hasty selling is commonly as disadvantageable as interest. Besides, he that clears at once will relapse ; for finding himself out of straits, he will revert to his customs : but he that cleareth by degrees induceth a habit of frugality, and gaineth as well upon his mind as upon his estate. Certainly, who hath a state to repair, may not despise small things; and, commonly, it is less dishonourable to abridge petty charges than to stoop to petty gettings. A man ought warily to begin charges, which once begun will continue : but in matters that return not, he may be more magnificent.
XXIX. OF THE TRUE GREATNESS OF
KINGDOMS AND ESTATES. The speech of Themistocles, the Athenian, which was haughty and arrogant, in taking so much to himself, had been a grave and wise observation and censure, applied at large to others.
at a feast to touch a lute, he said, “He could not “ fiddle, but yet he could make a small town a great
city.” These words (holpen a little with a metaphor) may express two differing abilities in those that deal in business of estate ; for, if a true survey be taken of counsellors and statesmen, there may be found (though rarely) those which can make a small state great, and yet cannot fiddle: as, on the other side, there will be found a great many that can fiddle very cunningly, but yet are so far from being able to make a small state great, as their gift lieth the other way; to bring a great and flourishing estate to ruin and decay; 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. There are also (no doubt) counsellors and governors which may be held sufficient, “ negotiis pares," able to manage affairs, and to keep them from precipices and manifest inconveniences ; which, nevertheless, are far from the ability to raise and amplify an estate in power, means, and fortune: but be the workmen what they may be, let us speak of the work; that is, the true greatness of kingdoms and estates, and the means thereof. An argument fit for great and mighty princes to have in their hand; to the end, that neither by over-measuring their
forces, they lose themselves in vain enterprises ; nor, on the other side, by undervaluing them, they descend to fearful and pusillanimous counsels.
The greatness of an estate, in bulk and territory, doth fall under measure; and the greatness of finances and revenue doth fall under computation. The population may appear by musters; and the number and greatness of cities and towns by cards and maps; but yet there is not any thing, amongst civil affairs, more subject to error than the right valuation and true judgment concerning the power and forces of an estate. The kingdom of heaven is compared, not to any great kernel, or nut, but to a grain of mustard seed; which is one of the least grains, but hath in it a property and spirit hastily to get up and spread. So are there states great in territory, and yet not apt to enlarge or command : and some that have but a small dimension of stem, and yet apt to be the foundations of great monarchies.
Walled towns, stored arsenals and armories, goodly races of horse, chariots of war, elephants, ordnance, artillery, and the like ; all this is but a sheep in a lion's skin, except the breed and disposition of the people be stout and warlike. Nay, number (itself) in armies importeth not much, , where the people is of weak courage ; for, as Virgil saith, “ It never troubles a wolf how many the sheep be.” The army of the Persians in the plains of Arbela, was such a vast sea of people, as it did somewhat astonish the commanders in Alex
ander's army, who came to him, therefore, and wished him to set upon them by night ; but he answered, “ he would not pilfer the victory;" and the defeat was easy. When Tigranes, the Armenian, being encamped upon a hill with four hundred thousand men, discovered the army of the Romans, being not above fourteen thousand, marching towards him, he made himself merry with it, and said, “ Yonder men are too many for an ambassage, and “ too few for a fight;" but, before the sun set, he found them enow to give him the chace with infinite slaughter. Many are the examples of the great odds between number and courage : so that a man may truly make a judgment, that the principal point of greatness, in any state, is to have a race of military men. Neither is money the sinews of war (as it is trivially said), where the sinews of men's arms in base and effeminate people are failing ; for Solon said well to Crosus (when in ostentation he shewed him his gold), “Sir, if any other come that hath “ better iron than you, he will be master of all this
gold.” Therefore, let any prince, or state, think soberly of his forces, except his militia of natives be of good and valiant soldiers ; and let princes, on the other side, that have subjects of martial disposition, know their own strength, unless they be otherwise wanting unto themselves. As for mercenary forces (which is the help in this case,) all examples show that, whatsoever estate, or prince, doth rest upon them, he may spread his feathers for a time, but he will mew them soon after.
The blessing of Judah and Issachar will never meet; that the same people, or nation, should be both the lion's whelp and the ass between burdens; neither will it be, that a people overlaid with taxes should ever become valiant and martial. It is true, that taxes, levied by consent of the estate, do abate men's courage less; as it hath been seen notably in the exercises of the Low Countries; and, in some degree, in the subsidies of England; for, you must note, that we speak now of the heart, and not of the purse ; so that, although the same tribute and tax laid by consent or by imposing, be all one to the purse, yet it works diversely upon the courage. So that you may conclude, that no people overcharged with tribute is fit for empire.
Let states, that aim at greatness, take heed how their nobility and gentlemen do multiply too fast; for that maketh the common subject grow to be a peasant and base swain, driven out of heart, and, in effect but the gentleman's labourer. Even as you may see in coppice woods; if you
staddles too thick, you shall never have clean underwood, but shrubs and bushes. So in countries, if the gentlemen be too many, the commons will be base ; and you will bring it to that, that not the hundredth poll will be fit for an helmet; especially as to the infantry, which is the nerve of an army; and so there will be great population and little strength. This which I speak of hath been no where better seen than by comparing of England and France ; whereof England, though far less in territory and