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the state of Rome before the civil war:
" Hence at that time a voracious and rapid increase of Usury, and a war arose useful to the objects of the multitude." This same
“ multis utile Bellum" is an assured and infallible sign of a State disposed to Seditions and Troubles. And if this poverty and broken estate in the better sort, be joined with a want and necessity in the mean people, the danger is imminent and great; for the rebellions of the belly are the worst. As for discontentments, they are in the politic body like to humours in the natural, which are apt to gather preternatural heat, and to inflame. And let no prince measure the danger of them by this, whether they be just or unjust: for that were to imagine people to be too reasonable, who do often spurn at their own good : nor yet by this, whether the griefs whereupon they rise, be in fact great or small; for they are the most dangerous Discontentments, where the fear is greater than the feeling: “ There is moderation in their sorrow, but not so in their apprehension." Besides, in great oppressions, the same things that provoke the patience, do withall mate the courage; but in fears, it is not so. Neither let any prince or state be secure concerning Discontentments because they have been often, or have been long, and yet no peril hath ensued: for as it is true, that every va
pour or fume doth not turn into a storm ; so it is nevertheless true, that storms, though they blow over divers times, yet may fall at last; and, as the Spanish proverb noteth well, “ The cord breaketh at last by the weakest pull.”
The causes and motions of Seditions, are innovation in religion, taxes, alteration of laws and customs, breaking of privileges, general oppression, advancement of unworthy persons, strangers, dearths, disbanded soldiers, factions grown desperate; and whatsoever, in offending people, joineth and knitteth nem in a common cause.
For the remedies: there may be some general preservatives, whereof we will speak; as for the just cure, it must answer to the particular disease, and so be left to counsel rather than rule.
The first remedy or prevention is, to remove by all means possible that material cause of Sedition, whereof we speak; which is want and poverty in the estate. To which purpose serveth the opening and well-balancing of trade, the cherishing of manufactures, the banishing of idleness, the repressing of waste and excess by sumptuary laws, the improvement and husbanding of the soil, the regulating of prices of things vendible, the moderating of taxes and tributes, and the like. Generally it is to be foreseen, that the population of a kingdom (especially if it be not mown down by wars) do not exceed the stock of the kingdom which should maintain them. Neither is the population to be reckoned only by number; for a smaller number that spend more, and earn less, do wear out an estate sooner than a greater number that live lower, and gather more. Therefore the multiplying of Nobility, and other degrees of quality, in an over proportion to the common people, doth speedily bring a State to necessity : and so doth likewise an overgrown Clergy, for they bring nothing to the stock: and in like manner, when more are bred scholars than preferments can take off.
It is likewise to be remembered, that forasmuch as the increase of any estate must be upon the foreigner; (for whatsoever is somewhere gotten, is somewhere lost). There be but three things which one nation selleth unto another : the commodity as nature yieldeth it; the manufacture, and the victure or carriage: so that if these three wheels
go, wealth will flow as in a spring-tide. And it cometh many times to pass, that “ the manufacture will cost more than the materials ;” that the work and carriage is more worth than the materials, and enricheth a state more: as is notably seen in the Low Countrymen, who bave the best mines above ground in the world,
Above all things good policy is to be used, that the treasure and moneys in a State be not-ga
thered into few hands. For otherwise a State may have a great stock, and yet starve. is like muck, not good except it be spread. This is done chiefly by suppressing, or at the least keeping a straight hand upon the devouring trades of Usury, Ingrossing, great Pasturages, and the like.
For removing Discontentments, or at least the danger of them, there is in every State (as we know) two portions of subjects, the Nobles and the Commonalty. When one of these is discontent, the danger is not great; for common people are of slow motion, if they be not excited by the greater sort; and the greater sort are of small strength, except the multitude be apt and ready to move of themselves. Then this is the danger, when the greater sort do but wait for the troubling of the waters amongst the meaner, that then they may declare themselves. The Poets feign, that the rest of the Gods would have bound Jupiter; which he hearing of, by the counsel of Pallas, sent for Briareus with his hundred hands, to come in to his aid. An emblem no doubt, to show how safe it is for Monarchs to make sure of the good-will of common people.
To give moderate liberty for griefs and discontentments to evaporate (so it be without too great insolency or bravery), is a safe way. For he that turneth the humours back, and maketh the wound bleed inwards, endangereth malign ulcers, and pernicious imposthumations.
The part of Epimetheus might well become Prometheus in the case of Discontentments; for there is not a better provision against them. Epimetheus, when griefs and evils flew abroad, at last shut the lid, and kept Hope in the bottom of the vessel. Certainly the politic and artificial nourishing and entertaining of hopes, and carrying men from hopes to hopes, is one of the best antidotes against the poison of discontentments. And it is a certain sign of a wise government and proceeding, when it can hold men's hearts by hopes, when it cannot by satisfaction;, and when it can handle things in such manner, as no evil shall appear so peremptory, but that it hath some outlet of hope: which is the less hard to do, because both particular persons and factions are apt enough to flatter themselves, or at least to brave that which they believe not.
Also the foresight and prevention, that there be no likely or fit Head, whereunto discontented persons may resort, and under whom they may join, is a known, but an excellent point of caution. I understand a fit Head to be one that hath greatness and reputation, that hath confidence with the discontented party, and upon whom they turn their