[ Boar-riders Spear Dragon Throats ]

Gesta Grayorum

The First Counsellor, advising
the Exercise of War

  MOST excellent Prince: Except there be such amongst us, as I am fully persuaded there is none, that regardeth more his own greatness under you than your greatness over others, I think there will be little difference in choosing for you a goal worthy your virtue and power. For he that shall set before him your magnanimity and valour, supported by the youth and disposition of your body; your flourishing Court, like the horse of Troy, full of brave commanders and leaders; your populous and man-rife provinces, overflowing with warlike people; your coffers, like the Indian mines when that they were first opened; your storehouses and arsenals, like to Vulcan's cave; your navy like to an huge floating city; the devotion of your subjects to your crown and person, their good agreement amongst themselves, their wealth and provision; and then your strait and unrevocable confederation with these noble and honourable personages, and the fame and reputation without of so rare a concurrence, whereof all the former regards do grow; how can he think any exercise worthy of your means but that of conquest? For in few words, what is your strength, if you find it not? your fortune, if you try it not? your virtue, if you show it not? Think, excellent Prince, what sense of content you found in yourself, when you were first invested in our state; for though I know your Excellency is far from vanity and lightness, yet it is the nature of all things to find rest when they come to due and proper places. But be assured of this, that this delight will languish and vanish; for powers will quench appetite and satiety will induce tediousness. But if you embrace the wars, your trophies and triumphs shall be as continual coronations, that will not suffer your glory and contentment to fade and wither. Then when you have enlarged your territories, ennobled your country, distributed fortunes, good or bad, at your pleasure, not only to particulars but to cities and nations; married the computations of times with your expeditions and voyages, and the memory of places by your exploits and victories; in your later years you shall find a sweet respect into the adventures of your youth; you shall enjoy your reputation; you shall record your travels; and after your own time you shall eternise your name, and leave deep footsteps of your power in the world. To conclude, excellent Prince, and most worthy to have the titles of victories added to your other high and deserved titles, Remember, the divines find nothing more glorious to resemble our state unto than a warfare. All things in earnest and jest do affect a kind of victory; and all other victories are but shadows to the victories of the wars. Therefore embrace the wars, for they disparage you not; and believe that if any Prince do otherwise it is either in the weakness of his mind or means.



The Second Counsellor, advising
the Study of Philosophy

    It may seem, most excellent Prince, that my Lord which now hath spoken did never read the just censures of the wisest men, who compared great conquerors to great rovers and witches, whose power is in destruction and not in preservation; else would he never have advised your Excellency to become as some comet or blazing star, which should threaten and portend nothing but death and dearth, combustions and troubles of the world. And whereas the governing faculties of men are two, force and reason, whereof the one is brute and the other divine, he wisheth you for your principal ornament and regality the talons of the eagle to catch the prey, and not the piercing sight which seeth into the bottom of the sea. But I contrariwise will wish unto your Highness the exercise of the best and purest part of the mind, and the most innocent and meriting conquest, being the conquest of the works of nature; making this proposition, that you bend the excellency of your spirits to the searching out, inventing, and discovering of all whatsoever is hid and secret in the world; that your Excellency be not as a lamp that shineth to others and yet seeth not itself, but as the Eye of the World, that both carrieth and useth light. Antiquity, that presenteth unto us in dark visions the wisdom of former times, informeth us that the [governments of] kingdoms have always had an affinity with the secrets and mysteries of learning. Amongst the Persians, the kings were attended on by the Magi. The Gymnosophists had all the government under the princes of Asia; and generally those kingdoms were accounted most happy, that had rulers most addicted to philosophy. The Ptolemies in Egypt may be for instance; and Salomon was a man so seen in the universality of nature that he wrote an herbal of all that was green upon the earth. No conquest of Julius Caesar made him so remembered as the Calendar. Alexander the Great wrote to Aristotle, upon the publishing of the Physics, that he esteemed more of excellent men in knowledge than in empire. And to this purpose I will commend to your Highness four principal works and monuments of yourself: First, the collecting of a most perfect and general library, wherein whatsoever the wit of man hath heretofore committed to books of worth, be they ancient or modern, printed or manuscript, European or of the other parts, of one or other language, may be made contributory to your wisdom. Next, a spacious, wonderful garden, wherein whatsoever plant the sun of divers climates, out of the earth of divers moulds, either wild or by the culture of man brought forth, may be with that care that appertaineth to the good prospering thereof set and cherished: This garden to be built about with rooms to stable in all rare beasts and to cage in all rare birds; with two lakes adjoining, the one of fresh water the other of salt, for like variety of fishes. And so you may have in small compass a model of universal nature made private. The third, a goodly huge cabinet, wherein whatsoever the hand of man by exquisite art or engine hath made rare in stuff, form, or motion; whatsoever singularity chance and the shuffle of things hath produced; whatsoever Nature hath wrought in things that want life and may be kept; shall be sorted and included. The fourth such a still-house, so furnished with mills, instruments, furnaces, and vessels, as may be a palace fit for a philosopher's stone. Thus, when your Excellency shall have added depth of knowledge to the fineness of [your] spirits and greatness of your power, then indeed shall you be a Trismegistus; and then when all other miracles and wonders shall cease by reason that you shall have discovered their natural causes; yourself shall be left the only miracle and wonder of the world.



The Third Counsellor, advising
Eternizement and Fame by Buildings and Foundations

    My Lords that have already spoken, most excellent Prince, have both used one fallacy, in taking that for certain and granted which was most uncertain and doubtful; for the one hath neither drawn in question the success and fortune of the wars, nor the other the difficulties and errors in the conclusions of nature. But these immoderate hopes and promises do many times issue forth, those of the wars into tragedies of calamities and distresses; and those of mystical philosophy into comedies of ridiculous frustrations and disappointments of such conceipts and curiosities. But on the other side, in one point my Lords have well agreed; that they both according to their several intentions counselled your Excellency to win fame and to eternise your name; though the one adviseth it in a course of great peril, and the other of little dignity and magnificence. But the plain and approved way, that is safe and yet proportionable to the greatness of a monarch, to present himself to posterity, is not rumour and hearsay, but the visible memory of himself in the magnificence of goodly and royal buildings and foundations, and the new institutions of orders, ordinances, and societies; that is, that [as] your coin be stamped with your own image, so in every part of your state there may be somewhat new, which by continuance may make the founder and author remembered. It was perceived at the first, when men sought to cure mortality by fame, that buildings was the only way; and thereof proceeded the known holy antiquity of building the Tower of Babel; which as it was a sin in the immoderate appetite of fame, so it was punished in the kind; for the diversities of languages have imprisoned fame ever since. As for the pyramids, the colosses, the number of temples, colleges, bridges, aqueducts, castles, theatres, palaces, and the like, they may show us that men ever mistrusted any other way to fame than this only, of works and monuments. Yea even they which had the best choice of other means. Alexander did not think his fame so engraven in his conquests, but that he thought it further shined in the buildings of Alexandria. Augustus Caesar thought no man had done greater things in military actions than himself, yet that which at his death ran most in his mind was his building, when he said, not, as some mistake it, metaphorically, but literally, I found the city of brick but I leave it of marble. Constantine the Great was wont to call with envy the Emperor Trajan, wallflower, because his name was upon so many buildings; which notwithstanding he himself did embrace in the new founding of Constantinople, and sundry other buildings; and yet none greater conquerors than these two. And surely they had reason; for the fame of great actions is like to a landflood which hath no certain head of spring; but the memory and fame of buildings and foundations hath, as it were, a fountain in an hill, which continually feedeth and refresheth the other waters. Neither do I, excellent Prince, restrain my speeches to dead buildings only, but intend it also to other foundations, institutions, and creations; wherein I presume the more to speak confidently, because I am warranted herein by your own wisdom, who have made the first-fruits of your actions of state to institute the honourable Order of the Helmet; the less shall I need to say, leaving your Excellency not so much to follow my advice as your own example.



The Fourth Counsellor, advising
Absoluteness of State and Treasure

    Let it not seem pusillanimity for your Excellency, mighty Prince, to descend a little from your high thoughts to a necessary consideration of your own estate. Neither do you deny, honourable Lords, to acknowledge safety, profit, and power to be of the substance of policy, and fame and honour rather to be as flowers of well ordered actions than as good ends. Now if you examine the courses propounded according to these respects, it must be confessed that the course of wars may seem to increase power, and the course of contemplations and foundations not prejudice safety. But if you look beyond the exterior you shall find that the first breeds weakness and the latter nurse peril. For certain it is during wars your Excellency will be enforced to your soldiers and generally to your people, and become less absolute and monarchical than if you reigned in peace; and then if your success be good, that you make new conquests, you shall be constrained to spend the strength of your ancient and settled provinces to assure your new and doubtful, and become like a strong man that by taking a great burden upon his shoulders maketh himself weaker than he was before. Again, if you think you may intend contemplations with security, your Excellency will be deceived; for such studies will make you retired and disused with your business, whence will follow a diminution of your authority. As for the other point, of erecting in every part of your state something new derived from yourself, it will acquaint your Excellency with an humour of innovation and alteration, which will make your reign very turbulent and unsettled; and many times your change will be for [the] worse, as in the example last touched of Constantine, who by his new translation of his estate ruinated the Roman Empire. As for profit, there appeareth a direct contrariety between that and all the three courses; for nothing causeth such a dissipation of treasure as wars, curiosities, and buildings; and for all this to be recompensed in a supposed honour, a matter apt to be much extolled in words, but not greatly to be prized in conceipt, I do think it a loser's bargain. Besides that many politic princes have received as much commendation for their wise and well-ordered government as others have done for their conquests and glorious affections; and more worthy, because the praise of wisdom and judgment is less communicated with fortune. Therefore, excellent Prince, be not transported with shows. Follow the order of nature, first to make the most of that you possess, before you seek to purchase more. To put the case by a private man (for I cannot speak high), if a man were born to an hundred pounds by the year, and one show him how with charge to purchase an hundred pounds more, and another should show him how without charge to raise that hundred pounds unto five hundred pounds, I should think the latter advice should be followed. The proverb is a country proverb, but significative, Milk the cow that standeth still; why follow you her that flieth away? Do not think, excellent Prince, that all the conquests you are to make be foreign. You are to conquer here at home the overgrowing of your grandees in factions, and too great liberties of your people; the great reverence and formalities given to your laws and customs, in derogation of your absolute prerogatives: these and such-like be conquests of state, though not of war. You want a Joseph, that should by advice make you the only proprietor of all the lands and wealth of your subjects. The means how to strain up your sovereignty, and how to accumulate treasure and revenue, they are the secrets of your state; I will not enter into them at this place: I wish your Excellency as ready to [desire] them, as I have the means ready to perform them.



The Fifth Counsellor, advising him
Virtue and a gracious Government

    Most excellent Prince, I have heard sundry plats and propositions offered unto you severally; one to make you a great Prince, another to make you a strong Prince, and another to make you a memorable Prince, and a fourth to make you an absolute Prince. But I hear of no invention to make you a good and a virtuous Prince; which surely my Lords have left out in discretion, as to arise of your own motion and choice; and so I should have thought, had they not handled their own propositions so artificially and persuadingly, as doth assure me their speech was not formal. But, most worthy Prince, fame is too light, and profit and surety are too low, and power is either such as you have or ought not so to seek to have. It is the meriting of your subjects, the making of golden times, the becoming of a natural parent to your state; these are the only [fit] and worthy ends of your Grace's virtuous reign. My Lords have taught you to refer all things to yourself, your greatness, memory, and advantage; but whereunto shall yourself be referred? If you will be heavenly you must have influence. Will you be as a standing pool that spendeth and choketh his spring within itself, and hath no streams nor current to bless and make fruitful whole tracts of countries whereby it runneth? Wherefore, first of all, most virtuous Prince, assure yourself of an inward peace, that the storms without do not disturb any of your repairers of state within. Therein use and practise all honourable diversions. That done, visit all the parts of your state, and let the balm distill everywhere from your sovereign hands, to the medicining of any part that complaineth. Beginning with your seat of state, take order that the faults of your great ones do not rebound upon yourself; have care that your intelligence, which is the light of your state, do not go out or burn dim or obscure; advance men of virtue and not of mercenary minds; repress all faction be it either malign or violent. Then look into the state of your laws and justice of your land; purge out multiplicity of laws, clear the incertainty of them, repeal those that are snaring, and press the execution of those that are wholesome and necessary; define the jurisdiction of your courts, repress all suits and vexations, all causeless delays and fraudulent shifts and devices, and reform all such abuses of right and justice; assist the ministers thereof, punish severely all extortions and exactions of officers, all corruptions in trials and sentences of judgement. Yet when you have done all this, think not that the bridle and spur will make the horse to go alone without time and custom. Trust not to your laws for correcting the times, but give all strength to good education; see to the government of your universities and all seminaries of youth, and to the private order of families, maintaining due obedience of children towards their parents, and reverence of the younger sort towards the ancient. Then when you have confirmed the noble and vital parts of your realm of state, proceed to take care of the blood and flesh and good habit of the body. Remedy all decays of population, make provision for the poor, remove all stops in traffic, and all cankers and causes of consumption in trades and mysteries; redress all -- But whither do I run, exceeding the bounds of that perhaps I am not demanded? But pardon me, most excellent Prince, for as if I should commend unto your Excellency the beauty of some excellent Lady, I could not so well express it with relation as if I showed you her picture; so I esteem the best way to commend a virtuous government, to describe and make appear what it is; but my pencil perhaps disgraceth it; therefore I leave it to your Excellency to take the picture out of your wise observation, and then to double it and express it in your government.



The Sixth Counsellor, persuading
Pastimes and Sports

    When I heard, most excellent Prince, the three first of my Lords so careful to continue your fame and memory, methought it was as if a man should come to some young prince as yourself is, and immediately after his coronation be in hand with him to make himself a sumptuous and stately tomb. And, to speak out of my soul, I muse how any of your servants can once endure to think of you as of a prince past. And for my other Lords, who would engage you as deeply in matters of state, the one persuading you to a more absolute, the other to a more gracious government, I assure your Excellency their lessons were so cumbersome, as if they mould make you a king in a play, who, when one could think he standeth in great majesty and felicity, he is troubled to say his part. What! nothing but tasks, nothing hut working-days? No feasting, no music, no dancing, no triumphs, no comedies, no love, no ladies? Let other men's lives be as pilgrimages, because they are tied to divers necessities and duties; but princes' lives are as progresses, dedicated only to variety and solace. And [as] if sour Excellency should take your barge in a summer evening, or your horse or chariot, to take the air; and if you should do any the favour to visit him; yet your pleasure is the principal, and that is but as it falleth out; so if any of these matters which have been spoken of fall out in the way of your pleasure, it may be taken, but no otherwise. And therefore leave your wars to your lieutenants, and your works and buildings to your surveyors, and your books to your universities, and your state-matters to your counsellors, and attend you that in person which you cannot execute by deputy: use the advantage of your youth: be not sullen to your fortune; make your pleasure the distinction of your honours, the study of your favourites, the talk of your people, and the allurement of all foreign gallants to your Court. And in a word, sweet sovereign, dismiss your five counsellors, and only take counsel of your five senses.
[@ Bacon, Works VIII, 332-42]