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XXIX. Of the true Greatnefs of Kingdoms and Estates.
HE Speech of Themistocles the Athenian, which was haughty and arrogant, in taking fo much to himself, had been a grave and wife Observation and Cenfure, applied at large to others. Defired at a Feaft to touch a Lute, he faid; He could not fiddle, but yet he could make a fmall Town, a great City. These words (holpen a little with a Metaphor) may exprefs two different Abilities, in those that deal in Bufinefs of Eftate. For if a true Survey be taken, of Counsellors and Statesmen, there may be found (though rarely) thofe, which can make a Small State great, and yet cannot fiddle: As on the other fide, there will be found a great many, that can fiddle very cunningly, but yet are fo far from being able, to make a Small State great, as their Gift lieth the other way; to bring a great and flourishing Eftate to Ruin and Decay. And certainly, thofe degenerate Arts and Shifts whereby many Counfellors and Governors gain both Favour with their Mafters, and Eftimation with the Vulgar, deserve no better name than Fiddling; being things, rather pleafing 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 fufficient, (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 Eftates; 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 lofe themselves in vain Enterprises; nor on the other fide, by undervaluing them, they descend to fearful and pufillanimous Counfels.
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 Greatnefs of Cities and Towns, by Cards and Maps. But yet there is not any thing amongst civil Affairs, more fubject to Error, than the right Valuation, and true Judgement, concerning the Power and Forces of an Eftate. The Kingdom of Heaven is compared, not to any great Kernel or Nut, but to a Grain of Mustard-feed; which is one of the least grains, but hath in it a Property and Spirit, haftily to get up and spread. So are there States, great in Territory, and yet not apt to enlarge, or command; and fome, that have but a small Dimenfion of Stem, and yet apt to be the Foundations of great Monarchies.
Walled Towns, ftored Arfenals 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 ftout and warlike. Nay, Number itself in Armies, importeth not much, where the People is of weak Courage: For (as Virgil faith) It never troubles a Wolf, how many the sheep be. The Army of the Persians, in the Plains of Arbela, was fuch a vast Sea of People, as it did fomewhat astonish the Commanders in Alexander's Army; who came to him therefore, and wished him, to fet upon them by Night; but he answered, He would not pilfer the Victory. And the Defeat was eafy. When Tigranes the Armenian, being encamped upon a Hill, with 400,000 Men, difcovered the Army of the Romans, being not above 14,000, marching towards him, he made himself merry with it, and faid; Yonder Men, are too Many for an Ambassage, and too Few for a Fight. But before the Sun fet, he found them enough to give him the Chafe, with infinite Slaughter. Many are the examples, of the great odds between Number and Courage: So that a Man may truly make a Judgement; that the principal Point of Greatnefs in any State, is to have a Race of Military Men. Neither is Money the Sinews of War, (as it is trivially faid) where the Sinews of Men's Arms in base and effeminate People, are failing. For Solon faid well to Cræfus (when in Oftentation he fhewed him his Gold); Sir, if any other come, that hath better Iron than you, he will be Mafter of all
this Gold. Therefore let any Prince or State, think foberly of his Forces, except his Militia of Natives be of good and valiant Soldiers. And let Princes, on the other fide, that have Subjects of martial Difpofition, know their own Strength; unless they be otherwise wanting unto themselves. As for mercenary Forces, (which is the Help in this Cafe) all Examples fhew; that whatsoever Eftate or Prince doth reft upon them; He may spread his Feathers for a time, but he will mew them foon after.
The Blessing of Judah and Issachar will never meet; That the fame People or Nation, should be both the Lion's Whelp, and the Afs between Burthens: Neither will it be that a People overlaid with Taxes, fhould ever become valiant, and martial. It is true, that Taxes levied by Confent of the Estate, do abate Men's Courage lefs; as it hath been seen notably, in the Excifes of the Low Countries; and in fome degree, in the Subfidies of England. For you must note, that we speak now, of the Heart, and not of the Purfe. So that, although the fame Tribute and Tax, laid by Confent, or by Imposing, be all one to the Purse, yet it works diverfly upon the Courage. So that you may conclude; That no People over-charged 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 Peafant, and bafe Swain, driven out of Heart, and in effect but the Gentleman's Labourer. Even
as you may fee in Coppice Woods; If you leave your ftaddles 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 hundred poll will be fit for an Helmet : especially as to the Infantry, which is the Nerve of an Army and fo there will be great Population, and little Strength. This, which I speak of, hath been no where better feen, than by comparing of England and France; whereof England, though far less in Territory and Population, hath been (nevertheless) an Overmatch; In regard, the Middle People of England make good Soldiers, which the Peasants of France do not. And herein, the device of King Henry the Seventh, (whereof I have spoken largely in the History of his Life) was profound and admirable; In making Farms, and houses of Hufbandry, of a Standard; That is, maintained with fuch a Proportion of Land unto them, as may breed a Subject to live in convenient Plenty, and no fervile Condition; and to keep the Plough in the Hands of the Owners, and not mere Hirelings. And thus indeed, you shall attain to Virgil's Character, which he gives to Ancient Italy.
Terra potens Armis, atque ubere Glebæ. Neither is that State (which for any thing I know, is almoft peculiar to England, and hardly to be found any where else, except it be perhaps in Poland) to be paffed over; I mean the State of