« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
ble, containeth a Secret of Empire; how Kings are to make use of their Counsel of State. That firft, they ought to refer Matters unto them, which is the first Begetting or Impregnation; but when they are elaborate, moulded, and shaped, in the Womb of their Council, and grow ripe, and ready to be brought forth; that then, they fuffer not their Council to go through with the Resolution, and Direction, as if it depended on them; but take the Matter back into their own Hands, and make it appear to the World, that the Decrees, and final Directions, (which, because they come forth with Prudence, and Power, are refembled to Pallas Armed) proceeded from themfelves: And not only from their Authority, but (the more to add Reputation to themselves) from their Head, and Device.
Let us now speak of the Inconveniences of Counfel, and of the Remedies. The Inconveniences, that have been noted in calling, and ufing Counsel, are three. First, the Revealing of Affairs, whereby they become less Secret. Secondly, the Weakening of the Authority of Princes, as if they were lefs of themselves. Thirdly, the Danger of being unfaithfully counselled, and more for the good of them that counsel, than of him that is counfelled. For which Inconveniences, the Doctrine of Italy, and Practice of France, in fome Kings' times, hath introduced Cabinet Councils; a Remedy worse than the Disease.
As to Secrecy; Princes are not bound to communicate all Matters, with all Counsellors; but may
extract and select. Neither is it neceffary, that he that confulteth what he fhould do, fhould declare what he will do. But let Princes beware, that the unfecreting of their Affairs, comes not from themselves. And as for Cabinet Councils, it may be their Motto; Plenus rimarum fum: one futile perfon, that maketh it his glory to tell, will do more Hurt, than many, that know it their Duty to conceal. It is true, there be fome Affairs, which require extreme Secrecy, which will hardly go beyond one or two Persons, befides the King: neither are those Counfels unprofperous: for befides the Secrecy, they commonly go on constantly in one Spirit of Direction, without Diftraction. But then it must be a prudent King, such as is able to grind with a Hand-Mill; and those inward Counfellors had need also, be Wise Men, and especially true and trusty to the King's Ends; as it was with King Henry the Seventh of England, who in his greatest Business, imparted himself to none, except it were to Morton, and Fox.
For Weakening of Authority; The Fable fheweth the Remedy. Nay the Majefty of Kings is rather exalted, than diminished, when they are in the Chair of Council: neither was there ever Prince, bereaved of his Dependencies, by his Council; except where there hath been, either an Overgreatness in one Counsellor, or an Overstrict Combination in divers; which are Things foon found, and holpen.
For the laft Inconvenience, that Men will Counfel with an Eye to themselves; certainly, Non in
veniet Fidem fuper terram, is meant of the Nature of Times, and not of all particular Perfons; there be, that are in Nature, faithful, and fincere, and plain, and direct; not crafty, and involved: Let Princes, above all, draw to themselves such Natures. Befides, Counsellors are not commonly fo united, but that one Counsellor keepeth Sentinel over another; fo that if any do Counsel out of Faction, or private Ends, it commonly comes to the King's Ear. But the best Remedy is, if Princes know their Counsellors, as well as their Counsellors know Them:
Principis eft Virtus maxima noffe fuos.
And on the other fide, Counsellors fhould not be too fpeculative, into their Sovereign's Perfon. The true Compofition of a Counsellor, is rather to be skilful in their Master's Bufinefs, than in his Nature; for then he is like to advise him, and not to feed his Humour. It is of fingular ufe to Princes, if they take the Opinions of their Council, both separately, and together. For private Opinion is more free; but Opinion before others is more reverent. In private, Men are more bold in their own Humours; and in confort, Men are more obnoxious to others' Humours; therefore it is good to take both and of the inferior Sort, rather in private, to preserve Freedom; of the greater, rather in confort, to preserve Respect. It is in vain for Princes to take Counsel concerning Matters, if they take no Counfel likewife concerning Perfons: for all Matters are as dead Images; and the Life
of the Execution of Affairs, refteth in the good Choice of Perfons. Neither is it enough to confult concerning Perfons, fecundum Genera, as in an Idea, or Mathematical Defcription, what the Kind and Character of the Perfon fhould be; for the greatest Errors are committed, and the most Judgement is shown, in the choice of Individuals. It was truly faid; Optimi Confiliarii mortui; Books will speak plain, when Counsellors blanch. Therefore it is good to be converfant in them; specially the Books of fuch, as themselves have been Actors upon the Stage.
The Councils, at this Day, in moft places, are but familiar Meetings; where Matters are rather talked on, than debated. And they run too swift to the Order or Act of Council. It were better, that in Causes of weight, the Matter were propounded one day, and not spoken to, till the next day; In Nocte Confilium. So was it done, in the Commiffion of Union, between England and Scotland; which was a grave and orderly Affembly. I commend fet Days for Petitions: for both it gives the Suitors more certainty for their Attendance; and it frees the Meetings for Matters of Eftate, that they may Hoc agere. In choice of Committees, for ripening Business, for the Council, it is better to choose Indifferent Perfons, than to make an Indifferency, by putting in those, that are strong, on both fides. I commend alfo ftanding Commiffions; as for Trade; for Treafure; for War; for Suits; for fome Provinces: for where there be divers particular Councils, and but one Council of
Eftate, (as it is in Spain) they are in effect no more, than Standing Commiffions; fave that they have greater Authority. Let fuch, as are to inform Councils, out of their particular Profeffions, (as Lawyers, Seamen, Mintmen, and the like) be first heard, before Committees; and then, as Occafion ferves, before the Council. And let them not come in multitudes, or in a tribunitious manner; for that is, to clamour Councils, not to inform them. A long Table, and a fquare Table, or Seats about the Walls, seem Things of Form, but are Things of Substance; for at a long Table, a few at the upper end, in effect, fway all the Business: but in the other Form, there is more use of the Counsellors' Opinions, that fit lower. A King, when he prefides in Council, let him beware how he opens his own Inclination too much, in that which he propoundeth for elfe Counsellors will but take the Wind of him; and instead of giving free Counsel, fing him a Song of Placebo.
XXI. Of Delays.
ORTUNE is like the Market; where many times, if you can stay a little, the Price will fall. And again, it is fometimes like Sybilla's Offer; which at first offereth the Commodity at full, then confumeth part and part, and still holdeth up the Price. For Occafion (as it is in the common Verfe) turneth a