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Bacon and Machiavelli


Guest Ryan Murtha
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Guest Ryan Murtha

Bacon and Machiavelli are frequently mentioned together and Bacon has sometimes been seen as Machiavellian. Those who know him through his writings might disagree, and I think Bacon's response to the Florentine philosophy is more nuanced; from the 1577 edition onward, Anti-Machiavel bears a dedication "for kinred" to Francis Hastings and Edward Bacon, half-brother of Francis Bacon. I believe Francis composed the book whilst at Cambridge. It has extensive parallels with The Anatomie of the Minde, also 1576, the year Bacon left Cambridge, and the Anatomie states it was written at university. 

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning:

As for evil arts, if a man would set down for himself that principle of Machiavel, “That a man seek not to attain virtue itself, but the appearance only thereof; because the credit of virtue is a help, but the use of it is cumber”… or that other protestation of L. Catilina, to set on fire and trouble states, to the end to fish in droumy waters, and to unwrap their fortunes…

Anti-Machiavel:

As for peace, these people never like it, for they always fish in troubled water, gathering riches and heaps of the treasures of the realm while it is in trouble and confusion.

We should not then see France to be governed and ruled by strangers, as it is; we should not feel the calamities and troubles of civil wars and dissentions, which they enterprise to maintain their greatness and magnitude, and to fish in troubled water.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning:

Machiavel had reason to put the question, “which is the more ungrateful towards the well-deserving, the prince or the people?” though he accuses both of ingratitude. The thing does not proceed wholly from the ingratitude either of princes or people; but it is generally attended with the envy of the nobility; who secretly repine at the event, though happy and prosperous, because it was not procured by themselves.

Anti-Machiavel:

But I must say that sometimes such changes have been procured upon envy, rather than upon just complaint against those who governed; and such envies often proceed when kings govern themselves by men of base hand, as they call them, for then princes and great lords are jealous.

 

Bacon, “Of Seditions and Troubles”:

Also, as Machiavel noteth well, when princes, that ought to be common parents, make themselves as a party, and lean to a side, it is as a boat that is overthrown by uneven weight on the one side… For when the authority of princes is made but an accessary to a cause, and that there be other bands that tie faster than the band of sovereignty, kings begin to be put almost out of possession.

Anti-Machiavel: 

For if he nourishes partialities among his subjects, he cannot possibly carry himself so equally towards both parties, but in them both will be jealousy and suspicion. Each party will esteem the other to be more favored, whereupon he will hate his prince, and by that means it may come to pass that the prince shall be hated by both parties; and so both the one and the other shall machinate his ruin, which he can hardly shun, having all their evil wills.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning:  

But that opinion I may condemn with like reason as Machiavel doth that other, that moneys were the sinews of wars; whereas (saith he) the true sinews of the wars are the sinews of men’s arms, that is, a valiant, populous, and military nation; and he voucheth aptly the authority of Solon, who when Croesus shewed him his treasury of gold said to him, that if another came that had better iron he would be master of his gold.

Anti-Machiavel:  

And although Machiavelli in a certain place where he speaks of war, maintains that the common saying is false, that money is the sinews of war; this hinders not, but what we say may be true…

The great treasures of king Croesus of Lydia incited him to war against king Cyrus of Persia and Media, to his own destruction.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning: 

So in the fable that Achilles was brought up under Chiron the Centaur, who was part a man and part a beast: expounded ingeniously but corruptly by Machiavel, that it belongeth to the education and discipline of princes to know as well how to play the part of the lion in violence and the fox in guile, as of the man in virtue and justice.

Anti-Machiavel: 

But should we call this beastliness or malice, what Machiavelli says of Chiron? Or has he read that Chiron was both a man and a beast? Who has told him that he was delivered to Achilles to teach him that goodly knowledge to be both a man and a beast?

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning: 

Concerning want, and that it is the case of learned men usually to begin with little and not to grow rich so fast as other men, by reason they convert not their labours chiefly to lucre and increase; it were good to leave the common place in commendation of poverty to some friar to handle, to whom much was attributed by Machiavel in this point, when he said, that “the kingdom of the clergy had been long before at an end, if the reputation and reverence towards the poverty of friars had not borne out the scandal of the superfluities and excesses of bishops and prelates.”

Anti-Machiavel:

These mendicants then, being obliged and restrained unto poverty by a solemn vow which they made at their profession in their orders, they are so annexed, united, and incorporated in it and with it, that never after they could be never so little separated or dismembered, what diligence or labor soever they used to do it. Hereof they have found themselves much troubled and sorrowful, for howsoever gallant and goodly the Theorique of Poverty is, yet in practice they have found it a little too difficult and hard.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning:  

And therefore the form of writing which of all others is fittest for this variable argument of negotiation and occasions is that which Machiavel chose wisely and aptly for government; namely, discourse upon histories or examples… And it hath much greater life for practice when the discourse attendeth upon the example, than when the example attendeth upon the discourse. For this is no point of order, as it seemeth at first, but of substance. For when the example is the ground, being set down in an history at large, it is set down with all circumstances, which may sometimes control the discourse thereupon made and sometimes supply it, as a very pattern for action; whereas the examples alleged for the discourse’s sake are cited succinctly and without particularity, and carry a servile aspect toward the discourse which they are brought in to make good.

 

Anti-Machiavel:

Yet although the maxims and general rules of the political art may somewhat serve to know well to guide and govern a public estate, whether a principality or free city, yet they cannot be so certain as the maxims of the mathematicians, but are rules rather very dangerous, yea pernicious if men cannot make them serve and apply them unto affairs as they happen to come; and not to apply the affairs unto these maxims and rules. For the circumstances, dependencies, consequences, and antecedents of every affair and particular business, are all for the most part diverse and contrary; so that although two affairs be like, yet men must not therefore conduct and determine them by one same rule or maxim, because of the diversity and difference of accidents and circumstances.

 

Bacon, Novum Organum:  

There are and can be only two ways of searching into and discovering truth. The one flies from the senses and particulars to the most general axioms, and from these principles, the truth of which it takes for settled and immovable, proceeds to judgment and middle axioms. And this way is now in fashion. The other derives axioms from the senses and particulars, rising by a gradual and unbroken ascent, so that it arrives at the most general axioms last of all. 

Anti-Machiavel: 

Aristotle and other philosophers teach us, and experience confirms, that there are two ways to come unto the knowledge of things. The one, when from the causes and maxims, men come to knowledge of the effects and consequences. The other, when contrary, by the effects and consequences we come to know the causes and maxims… The first of these ways is proper and peculiar unto the mathematicians, who teach the truth of their theorems and problems by their demonstrations drawn from maxims, which are common sentences allowed of themselves for true by the common sense and judgment of all men. The second way belongs to other sciences, as to natural philosophy, moral philosophy, physic, law, policy, and other sciences…

 

Bacon, “Of Discourse”: 

It is good, in discourse and speech of conversation, to vary and intermingle speech of the present occasion with arguments, tales with reasons, asking of questions with telling of opinions, and jest with earnest...

Anti-Machiavel: 

For as Cato says, amongst serious things joyous and merry things would be sometimes mixed. 

 

Bacon, New Atlantis: 

The reverence of a man's self is, next religion, the chiefest bridle of all vices.

Anti-Machiavel:

Behold then the consequence of that most wicked and detestable doctrine of that wicked atheist; which is to bring all people to a spite and a mockery of God and his religion, and of all holy things, and to let go the bridle to all vices and villainies.

 

Bacon, De augmentis scientiarum: 

Constancy is the foundation on which virtues rest.

Anti-Machiavel: 

I will then presuppose that constancy is a quality which ordinarily accompanies all other virtues; it is, as it were, of their substance and nature.

 

Bacon, “Of Adversity”: 

Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.

Anti-Machiavel: 

Adversity also is a true touchstone to prove who are feigned or true friends, for when a man feels labyrinths of troubles fall on him, dissembling friends depart from him, and those who are good abide with him, as said the poet Euripides: Adversity the best and certain’st friends doth get, prosperity both good and evil alike doth fit.

 

Bacon, “Of Great Place”:

It is much true which was anciently spoken: A place showeth the man, and it showeth some to the better, and some to the worse.

Anti-Machiavel:

And we see but too much by experience that the old proverb is true, honors change manners.

 

Bacon, “Of Suspicion”:

But this would not be done to men of base natures; for they, if they find themselves once suspected, will never be true.

Anti-Machiavel:

For the best fortress that is, is not to be thought evil by subjects; and if a prince is once thought so, there is no fortress that can save him.

 

Bacon, Apophthegms New and Old: 

Mr. Bettenham used to say, that riches were like muck: when it lay upon an heap, it gave a stench, and ill odour; but when it was spread upon the ground, then it was the cause of much fruit.

Bacon, “Of Riches”: 

Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit.

 

Anti-Machiavel: 

Briefly, it is neither good nor profitable for a prince to heap up great treasures and riches enclosed in one place. And what then? must a sovereign prince be poor? No, but contrary, he has need to be rich and very opulent, for otherwise he shall be feeble and weak, and cannot make head against his enemies; but his riches and treasures must be in the purses and houses of his subjects.

 

Bacon, “Of Riches”: 

Men leave their riches either to their kindred, or to the public; and moderate portions prosper best in both. A great state left to an heir, is as a lure to all the birds of prey round about to seize on him, if he be not the better stablished in years and judgment.

Anti-Machiavel: 

For it is neither good nor profitable that a prince treasures up heaps of riches; for it serves for a bait to draw unto him enemies, or to engender quarrels and divisions after him; and we often see that princes’ great treasures are causes of more evil than good.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning: 

It is true, that taxes levied by public consent, less dispirit, and sink the minds of the subject, than those imposed in absolute governments.

Anti-Machiavel: 

It is certain that a prince may well make war and impose taxes without the consent of his subjects, by an absolute power; but it is better for him to use his civil power, so should he be better obeyed.

 

Anti-Machiavel:

[T]rue charity is joined unto faith, pity, and all other virtues…

Bacon, Advancement of Learning:  

But these be heathen and profane passages, having but a shadow of that divine state of mind which religion and the holy faith doth conduct men unto, by imprinting upon their souls Charity, which is excellently called the bond of Perfection, because it comprehendeth and fasteneth all virtues together.

Anti-Machiavel: 

But I must say that the Christian religion has launched and entered far deeper into the doctrine of good manners than the pagans and philosophers have done. For proof hereof I will take the maxim of Plato, that we are not only born for ourselves, but that our birth is partly for our country, partly for our parents, and partly for our friends. Behold a goodly sentence we can say no other; but if we compare it with the doctrine of Christians, it will be found maimed and defective. For what mention does Plato make of the poor? Where and in what place of this notable sentence does he set them? He speaks not at all of them; briefly, he would have it that our charity should be first employed towards ourselves, which they have well marked and followed who say that a well ordered charity begins with himself. But this is far from the doctrine which Saint Paul teaches the Christians when he says that charity seeks not her own; and also that which Christ himself commands, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Secondly Plato places our love towards our country, thirdly our love towards our parents, and lastly our friends. And what becomes of the poor? Let them do as they can, for Plato’s charity stretches not to them.

 

Bacon, Speech on taking his seat in Chancery:

I will promise regularly to pronounce my decree within few days after my hearing and to sign my decree at the least in the vacation after the pronouncing, for fresh justice is the sweetest, and to the end that there be no delay of justice, nor any other means-making or laboring, but the labour of the counsel at the bar.

Anti-Machiavel:

And as we see that the greed of wicked magistrates is cause of the length of law cases, because they desire that the parties who plead before them should serve their turn as a cow for milk, it follows that the poor people are pillaged and eaten to the bones by those horseleeches. Also contrary, when the magistrate hates greed, he will dispatch and hasten justice to parties, and not hold them long in law, neither pillage and spoil them; a thing bringing great comfort and help to the people.

 

Bacon, “Of Counsel”:

The wisest princes need not think it any diminution to their greatness, or derogation to their sufficiency, to rely upon counsel. God himself is not without, but hath made it one of the great names of his blessed Son; The Counsellor. Salomon hath pronounced that “in counsel is stability.”

Anti-Machiavel:  

For a prince, however prudent he is, ought not so much to esteem his own wisdom as to despise the counsel of other wise men. Solomon despised them not, and Charles the Wise always conferred of his affairs with the wise men of his council.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning:

But this appeareth more manifestly, when kings themselves, or persons of authority under them, or other governors in commonwealths and popular estates, are endued with learning. For although he might be though partial to his own profession, that said “then should people and estates be happy, when either kings were philosophers, ore philosophers kings”; yet so much is verified by experience, that under learned princes and governors there have ever been the best times.

Anti-Machiavel:

I am content to presuppose that it is certain that there cannot come a better and more profitable thing to a people than to have a prince wise of himself; therefore, said Plato, men may call it a happy commonwealth when either the prince can play the philosopher, or when a philosopher comes to reign there.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning: 

For howsoever it hath been ordinary with politic men to extenuate and disable learned men by the names of Pedantes; yet in the records of time it appeareth in many particulars, that the governments of princes in minority (notwithstanding the infinite disadvantage of that kind of state) have nevertheless excelled the government of princes of mature age, even for that reason which they seek to traduce, which is, that by that occasion the state hath been in the hands of Pedantes. For so was the state of Rome for the first five years, which are so much magnified, during the minority of Nero, in the hands of Seneca, a Pedanti: so it was again for ten years space or more, during the minority of Gordianus the younger, with great applause and contentation in the hands of Misitheus, a Pedanti: so was it before that, in the minority of Alexander Severus, in like happiness, in hands not much unlike, by reason of the rule of the women, who were aided by the teachers and preceptor.

Anti-Machiavel:  

This may yet be better showed by the examples of many princes who have been of small wisdom and virtue, and yet notwithstanding have ruled the commonwealth well by the good and wise counsel of prudent and loyal counsellors wherewith they were served; as did the emperor Gordian the Young, who was created emperor at eleven years of age. Many judged the empire to be fallen into a childish kingdom, and so into a weakness and a bad conduction; but it proved otherwise, for this young emperor Gordian espoused the daughter of a wise man called Misitheus, whom he made the high steward of his household, and governed himself by his counsel in all his affairs; so that the Roman Empire was well ruled so long as Misitheus lived… I will not here repeat the example of the emperor Alexander Severus, who came to the empire very young, and under whom the affairs of the commonwealth were so well governed, by the means of good counsellors, as above said.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning:  

[T]he writing of speculative men of active matter for the most part doth seem to men of experience, as Phormio’s argument of the wars seemed to Hannibal, to be but dreams and dotage.

Anti-Machiavel:  

Herein it falls out to Machiavelli as it did once to the philosopher Phormio; who one day reading in the Peripatetic school of Greece, and seeing arrive and enter there Hannibal of Carthage (who was brought thither by some of his friends, to hear the eloquence of the philosopher), he began to speak and dispute with much babbling of the laws of war and the duty of a good captain, before this most famous captain, who had forgotten more than ever that proud philosopher knew or had learned. When he had thus ended his lecture and goodly disputation, as Hannibal went from the auditory one of his friends who had brought him there asked what he thought of the philosopher’s eloquence and gallant speech. He said, “Truly I have seen in my life many old dotards, but I never saw one so great as this Phormio.”

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning:

For Machiavel noteth wisely, how Fabius Maximus would have been temporizing still, according to his old bias, when the nature of war was altered and required hot pursuit.

Bacon, Apophthegms New and Old:   

Fabius Maximus being resolved to draw the war in length, still waited upon Hannibal’s progress, to curb him; and for that purpose, he encamped upon the high grounds. But Terentius his colleague fought with Hannibal, and was in great peril of overthrow. But then Fabius came down the high grounds, and got the day. Whereupon Hannibal said, That he did ever think, that that same cloud that hanged upon the hills, would at one time or other, give a tempest.

Anti-Machiavel:  

Seeing this, the Roman Senate sent against Hannibal Fabius Maximus, who was not so forward (and it may be not so hardy) as Flaminius or Sempronius were; but he was more wise and careful, as he showed himself. On his arrival he did not set upon Hannibal, who desired no other thing, but began to coast him far off, seeking always advantageous places. And when Hannibal approached him, then would he show him a countenance fully determined to fight, yet always seeking places of advantage. But Hannibal, who was not so rash as to join with his enemy to his own disadvantage, made a show to recoil and fly, to draw him after him. Fabius followed him, but upon coasts and hills, seeking always not the shortest way, but that way which was most for his advantage. Hannibal saw him always upon some hill or coast near him, as it were a cloud over his head; so that after Hannibal had many times essayed to draw Fabius into a place fit for himself, and where he might give battle for his own good, and yet could not thereunto draw him, said: “I see well now that the Romans also have gotten a Hannibal; and I fear that this cloud, which approaching us, still hovers upon those hills, will one of these mornings pour out some shower on our heads.”

 

Bacon, “Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates”: 

A civil war, indeed, is like the heat of a fever; but a foreign war is like the heat of exercise, and serveth to keep the body in health.

Anti-Machiavel: 

Therefore a foreign war seems not to be very damaging, but something necessary to occupy and exercise his subjects; but domestic and civil wars must be shunned and extinguished with all our power, for they are things against the right of nature, to make war against the people of their own country, as he that does it against his own entrails.

 

Bacon, “Of Unity in Religion”:

But we may not take up the third sword, which is Mahomet’s sword, or like unto it; that is, to propagate religion by wars or by sanguinary persecutions to force consciences…

Bacon, “Advertisement Touching a Holy War”: 

I was ever of opinion, that the Philosopher’s Stone, and a Holy War, were but the rendez-vous of cracked brains…

Anti-Machiavel:

But here may arise a question, if it is lawful for a prince to make war for religion, and to constrain men to be of his religion. Hereupon to take the thing by reason, the resolution is very easy; for seeing that all religion consists in an approbation of certain points that concern the service of God, it is certain that such an approbation depends upon the persuasion which is given to men thereof. But the means to persuade a thing to any man is not to take weapons to beat him, nor to menace him, but to demonstrate to him by good reasons and allegations what may induce him to a persuasion.

 

Bacon, “Of the Vicissitude of Things”:

Surely there is no better way to stop the rising of new sects and schisms, than to reform abuses; to compound the smaller differences; to proceed mildly, and not with sanguinary persecutions; and rather to take the principal authors by winning and advancing them, than to enrage them by violence and bitterness.

Anti-Machiavel: 

It is then very much expedient, if a man means to gather fruit, and do good by his speech, to use gentle and civil talk and persuasions, especially if he has to do with a prince or great man, who will not be gained by rigor (or as they say, by high wrestling), but by mild and humble persuasions.

 

Anti-Machiavel:  

For that cynical liberty of some philosophers, who knew not how to reprehend and show men’s faults but by taunts and bitter biting speeches, are not to be approved; as did that fool Diogenes, who ridiculously and triflingly talked with king Alexander the Great as if he had spoken to some simple burgher of Athens. And Callisthenes, whom Alexander led with him in his voyage into Asia, to instruct him in good documents of wisdom; who indeed was so austere, hard, and biting in all his remonstrances and reasonings, that neither the king nor any others could take in good part anything he taught.

Bacon, “A Proposal for Amending the Laws of England”: 

Callisthenes, that followed Alexander’s court, and was grown in some displeasure with him, because he could not well brook the Persian adoration; at a supper, which with the Grecians was ever a great part talk, was desired, because he was an eloquent man, to speak of some theme; which he did, and chose for his theme the praise of the Macedonian nation; which though it were but a filling thing to praise men to their faces, yet he did it with such advantage of truth, and avoidance of flattery, and with such life, as the hearers were so ravished with it that they plucked the roses off from their garlands, and threw them upon him; as the manner of applause then was. Alexander was not pleased with it, and by way of discountenance said, It was easy to be a good orator in a pleasing theme: “But,” saith he to Callisthenes, “turn your stile, and tell us now of our faults, that we may have the profit, and not you only the praise”; which he presently did with such a force, and so piquantly, that Alexander said, The goodness of this theme had made him eloquent before; but now it was the malice of his heart, that had inspired him.

 

Anti-Machiavel: 

When Alexander the Great departed from Macedonia to go to the conquest of Asia, he had all the captains of his army appear before him, and distributed to them almost all the revenue of his kingdom, leaving himself almost nothing. One of the captains, named Perdicas, said to him: “What then will you keep for yourself?” “Even hope,” answered Alexander.

Bacon, Advancement of Learning: 

Lastly, weigh that quick and acute reply which he made when he gave so large gifts to his friends and servants, and was asked what he did reserve for himself, and he answered, “Hope.”

 

Anti-Machiavel: 

Hereof we read a very remarkable example above others in Alexander the Great, king of Macedon. When he departed from his country to pass into Asia, to make war upon that great dominator Darius, he had with him first in his love among others, Craterus and Hephaestion, two gentlemen, his best friends and servants. Yet they were far different from each other, for Craterus was of a hard and sharp wit, severe, stoic, and melancholic, who altogether gave himself unto affairs of counsel, and indeed was one of the king’s chief counsellors. But Hephaestion was a young gentleman, well complexioned and conditioned in his manners and behavior, of a good and quick wit, yet free of all care but to content and please the king in his sports and pastimes. They called Craterus the king’s friend, and Hephaestion the friend of Alexander, as one that gave himself to maintain the person of his prince in mirths and pastimes, which were good for the maintenance of his health.

Bacon, Advancement of Learning: 

For matter of policy, weigh that significant division, so much in all ages embraced, that he made between his two friends Hephaestion and Craterus, when he said, “that the one loved Alexander, and the other loved the king”; describing the principal difference of princes’ best servants, that some in affection love their person, and others in duty love their crown.

 

Bacon, “A Proposal for Amending the Laws of England”:  

For the laws of Lycurgus, Solon, Minos, and others of ancient time, they are not the worse because grammar scholars speak of them.

 

Anti-Machiavel: 

So is there great need of some Lycurgus or Solon to make those laws, men’s wits are so wild, and their spirits so marvelously plentiful and fertile to bring forth contentions and differences, and so easily to dissent from each other.

 

Bacon, “Of Anger”:

Anger is a kind of baseness, as it appears well in the weakness of whose subjects in whom it reigns…

Anti-Machiavel:

This vice of cruelty, proceeding from the weakness of those who cannot command their choler and passions of vengeance, and suffer themselves to be governed by them, never happened in a generous and valiant heart, but rather always in cowardly and fearful hearts.

 

Bacon, “Of Revenge”: 

Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.

Anti-Machiavel: 

And if it were lawful for everyone to use vengeance, that would be to introduce a confusion and disorder into the commonwealth, and to enterprise upon the right which belongs to the magistrate, unto whom God has given the sword, to do right to everyone and to punish those who are faulty, according to their merits.

 

Bacon, “Of Revenge”: 

Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the Third of France; and many more.

Anti-Machiavel: 

Moreover, he exercised part of his cruelties in the revenge of the good emperor Pertinax, which was a lawful cause; yet withal he had in himself many goodly and laudable virtues, as we have in other places rehearsed.

 

Bacon, History of the Reign of King Henry VII:

After that Richard, the third of that name, king in fact only, but tyrant both in title and regiment, and so commonly termed and reputed in all times since, was by the Divine Revenge, favouring the design of an exiled man, overthrown and slain at Bosworth Field; there succeeded in the kingdom the Earl of Richmond, thenceforth styled Henry the Seventh.

Anti-Machiavel:  

A similar punishment happened by the judgment of God to that cruel king Richard of England, brother of Edward IV…  Yet that king, who despaired otherwise to be maintained in his estate, gave battle to the earl and was slain fighting, after he had reigned about a year. And the earl of Richmond went right to London with his victory, and the slaying of that tyrant; then he took out of the monastery Edward’s two daughters, espoused the elder, and was straight made king of England, called Henry VII, grandfather of the most illustrious queen Elizabeth presently reigning.

 

Bacon, “Of Friendship”:

The like or more was between Septimus Severus and Plautianus. For he forced his eldest son to marry the daughter of Plautianus; and would often maintain Plautianus in doing affronts to his son; and did write also in a letter to the senate, by these words: “I love the man so well, as I wish he may over-live me.”

Anti-Machiavel:

The emperor Severus advanced Plautianus so high, that being great master of his household, the people thought he was the emperor himself, and that Severus was but his great master.

 

Bacon, “Of Friendship”:

Augustus raised Agrippa (though of mean birth) to that height, as when he consulted with Maecenas about the marriage of his daughter Julia, Maecenas took the liberty to tell him, that “he must either marry his daughter to Agrippa, or take away his life: there was no third way, he had made him so great.”

Anti-Machiavel:

And here that manner of electing friends which Augustus Caesar observed is worthy of observation. For he did not easily retain every man in his friendship and familiarity, but took time to prove and find their virtues, fidelity, and loyalty. Those he knew to be virtuous people, and who would freely tell him the truth of all things (as did that good and wise Maecenas), and who would not flatter him, but would employ good will sincerely in the charges he gave them—after he had well proved them, then would he acknowledge them his friends.

 

Bacon, De augmentis scientiarum: 

When the prince is one who lends an easy and credulous ear without discernment to whisperers and informers, there breathes as it were from the king himself a pestilent air, which corrupts and infects all his servants. Some probe the fears and jealousies of the prince, and increase them with false tales…

Anti-Machiavel: 

A marmoset, according to the language of our elders, is as much to say a reporter, murmurer, whisperer of tales behind one’s back in princes’ and great men’s ears, which are false, or else not to be reiterated or reported.

 

Bacon, “Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates”: 

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.

Anti-Machiavel: 

First, there are those our ancient Frenchmen called janglers, which signifies as much as a scoffer, a trifler, a man full of words, or as we call them, long tongues, who by their jangling and babbling in rhyme or in prose give themselves to please great men, in praising and exalting them exceedingly, and rather for their vices than for their virtues.

  

 

Bacon, “Of Friendship”:

So as there is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer; for there is no such flatterer as is a man's self, and there is no such remedy against flattery of a man’s self as the liberty of a friend.

Anti-Machiavel:

And above all, men ought well to engrave in princes’ minds that notable answer that Phocion made unto the king Antipater, who had required something of him which was not reasonable. “I would, sir, do for you service all that is possible for me, but you cannot have me both for a friend and a flatterer.” As if he would say that they be two things far different, to be a friend and to be a flatterer, as in truth they are.

 

Bacon, Ornamenta Rationalia: 

The coward calls himself a cautious man; and the miser says, he is frugal.

Anti-Machiavel: 

And it helps to this persuasion that the flatterer always takes for the subject of his praises those vices which are in alliance and neighborhood with their virtues. For if the prince is cruel and violent, he will persuade him that he is magnanimous and generous, and such a one as will not put up with an injury. If the prince is prodigal, he will make him believe that he is liberal and magnificent, that he maintains an estate truly royal, and one that well recompenses his servants. If the prince is overgone in lubricities and lusts, he will say he is of a humane and manly nature, of a jovial and merry complexion, and of no saturnine complexion or condition. If the prince is covetous and an eater of his subjects, he will say he is worthy to be a great prince as he is, because he knows well how to make himself well obeyed. Briefly, the flatterer adorns his language in such sort that he will always praise the prince’s vice by the resemblance of some virtue near thereunto. For most vices have a likeness with some virtue.

 

Bacon, Ornamenta Rationalia:  

He that injures one, threatens an hundred… he of whom many are afraid, ought himself to fear many.

Anti-Machiavel: 

Moreover, cruelty is always hated by everyone; for although it be not practiced upon all individuals, but upon some only, yet those upon whom it is not exercised cease not to fear when they see it executed upon their parents, friends, allies, and neighbors. But the fear of pain and punishment engenders hatred; for one can never love that whereof he fears to receive evil, and especially when there is a fear of life, loss of goods, and honors, which are the things we hold most precious.

 

Bacon, Ornamenta Rationalia: 

He conquers twice, who restrains himself in victory.

Anti-Machiavel: 

The clemency of a prince is the cause of the increase of his domination. Hereupon we read a memorable history of Romulus, who was so clement, soft, and gentle towards the people he vanquished and subjugated, that not only many individuals but the whole multitude of people submitted themselves voluntarily and unconstrainedly under his obedience. The same virtue was also the cause that Julius Caesar vanquished the Gauls; for he was so soft and gracious to them, and so easy to pardon, and used them every way so well, far from oppression, that many of that nation voluntarily joined themselves unto him, and by them he vanquished the others. When Alexander the Great made great conquests in Asia, most commonly the citizens of all great cities met him to present him with the keys of the towns; for he dealt with them in such clemency and kindness, without in any way altering their estates, that they liked better to be his than their own.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning: 

When Periander, being consulted how to preserve a tyranny newly usurped, bid the messenger report what he saw; and going into the garden, cropped all the tallest flowers; he thus used as strong an hieroglyphic as if he had drawn it upon paper.

Anti-Machiavel: 

Periander, having tyrannously obtained the crown of Corinth where he had no right, fearing some conspiracy against him, sent a messenger to ask advice of his great friend Thrasibulus, so to be assured master and lord of Corinth. Thrasibulus made him no answer by mouth; but commanding the messenger to follow him, he went into a field full of ripe corn, and taking the highest and most eminent ears there, he bruised them between his hands and wished the messenger to return to Periander, saying no more unto him. As soon as Periander heard of bruising the most ancient ears of corn, he presently conceived the meaning thereof; to wit, to overthrow and remove all the great men of Corinth who suffered any loss and were grieved at the change of the state; as indeed he did.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning:   

And the virtue of this prince, continued with that of his predecessor, made the name of Antoninus so sacred in the world, that though it were extremely dishonoured in Commodus, Caracalla, and Heliogabalus, who all bare the name, yet when Alexander Severus refused the name because he was a stranger to the family, the Senate with one acclamation said, Quomodo Augustus, sic et Antoninus: in such renown and veneration was the name of these two princes in those days, that they would have had it as a perpetual addition in all the emperors’ style.

Anti-Machiavel:  

The very name of Antoninus was also so reverenced and loved by all the world, from father to son in generations after him many successive emperors caused themselves to be called Antonys, that rather they might be beloved of the people, though that name did not belong to them, nor were of the race or family of Antoninus; as did Diodumenus, Macrinus his son and companion in the empire, and as also did Bassianus and Geta, Severus’ children, and Heliogabalus, they were all surnamed Antoninus. But as this name appertained not to them, so they held nothing of the virtues of that good emperor, with whose name they decked themselves.

 

Bacon, “Charge against Somerset”: 

So it appeareth likewise in Scripture, that the murder of Abner by Joab, though it were by David respited in respect of great services past, or reason of state, yet it was not forgotten.

Anti-Machiavel: 

For the last example of this matter, I will set down that of Joab, David’s nephew and constable, unto whom he did great services. Yet David commanded his son Solomon that he should put to death his cousin Joab, because of his perfidy.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning: 

So likewise in the person of Solomon the king, we see the gift or endowment of wisdom and learning, both in Solomon’s petition and in God’s assent thereunto, preferred before all other terrene and temporal felicity.  By virtue of which grant or donative of God Solomon became enabled not only to write those excellent parables or aphorisms concerning divine and moral philosophy, but also to compile a natural history of all verdure, from the cedar upon the mountain to the moss upon the wall (which is but a rudiment between putrefaction and an herb), and also of all things that breathe or move.  Nay, the same Solomon the king, although he excelled in the glory of treasure and magnificent buildings, of shipping and navigation, of service and attendance, of fame and renown, and the like, yet he maketh no claim to any of those glories, but only to the glory of inquisition of truth; for so he saith expressly, “The glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the king is to find it out”; as if, according to the innocent play of children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide His works, to the end to have them found out; and as if kings could not obtain a greater honour than to be God’s playfellows in that game; considering the great commandment of wits and means, whereby nothing needeth to be hidden from them.

Anti-Machiavel: 

Solomon was a king most wise, and a great philosopher; for he asked wisdom from God, who gave it in such abundance that besides being ignorant of nothing a prince should know to govern his subjects well, he also knew the natures of plants and living creatures, and was so cunning in all kinds of philosophy that his knowledge was admired through all the world. His prudence and wisdom made him so respected by all the great kings, his neighbors, that they esteemed themselves happy to do him pleasure and have his amity. By this means he maintained his kingdom in so high and happy a peace that in his time his subjects made no more account of silver than of stones, they had such store. And as for himself, he held so magnificent an estate, that we read not of any king or emperor that did the like.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning:  

Dramatic poesy, which has the theatre for its world, would be of excellent use if well directed. For the stage is capable of no small influence both of discipline and of corruption. Now of corruptions in this kind we have enough; but the discipline has in our times been plainly neglected. And though in modern states play-acting is esteemed but as a toy, except when it is too satirical and biting; yet among the ancients it was used as a means of educating men’s minds to virtue.

Anti-Machiavel: 

After Solon had seen Thespis’ first edition and action of a tragedy, and meeting with him before the play, he asked if he was not ashamed to publish such feigned fables under so noble, yet a counterfeit personage. Thespis answered that it was no disgrace upon a stage, merrily and in sport, to say and do anything. Then Solon, striking hard upon the earth with his staff, replied thus: “Yea but shortly, we that now like and embrace this play, shall find it practiced in our contracts and common affairs.” This man of deep understanding saw that public discipline and reformation of manners, attempted once in sport and jest, would soon quail; and corruption, at the beginning passing in play, would fall and end in earnest.

 

Bacon, Advancement of Learning:  

So again we find that many of the ancient bishops and fathers of the Church were excellently read and studied in all the learning of the heathen… it was the Christian Church, which amidst the inundations of the Scythians on the one side from the north-west, and the Saracens from the east, did preserve in the sacred lap and bosom thereof the precious relics even of heathen learning, which otherwise had been extinguished as if no such thing had ever been.

Anti-Machiavel:  

But now I am desirous to know of this atheist Machiavelli, what was the cause that so many good books of the pagan authors were lost since the time of the ancient doctors of our Christian religion? Was it not by the Goths, who were pagans? For at their so many interruptions and breaking out of their countries, upon Gaul, Italy, and Spain, they wasted and burned as many books as they could find, being enemies of all learning and letters. And who within this hundred years has restored good letters contained in the books of the ancient pagans, Greeks, and Latins? Has it been the Turk, who is a pagan? It is well enough known that he is an enemy of letters, and desires none. Nay contrary, it has been the Christians who have restored them, and established them in the brightness and light wherein we see them today.

 

Bacon, “Of the Colours of Good and Evil”:

So the Epicures say of the Stoics’ felicity placed in virtue; that it is like the felicity of a player, who if he were left of his auditory and their applause, he would straight be out of heart and countenance; and therefore they call virtue bonum theatrale [public good].

Anti-Machiavel:

Briefly, a man may see within man an admirable and well ordained disposition of all the parts, and it brings us necessarily (whether we will or no) to acknowledge that there must be a God, a sovereign architect, who has made this excellent building; and by these considerations of natural things, whereof I do but lightly touch the points, the ancient philosophers, as the Platonists, Aristotelians, Stoics, and others, have been brought to the knowledge of a God and of his providence. And of all the sects of philosophers, there never was any which agreed not hereunto, unless the sect of the Epicureans, who were gluttons, drunkards, and whoremongers; who constituted their sovereign felicity in carnal pleasures, wherein they wallowed like brute beasts.

 

Bacon, “Of Custom and Education”: 

And therefore, as Machiavel well noteth, though in an ill-favoured instance, there is no trusting to the force of nature, nor to the bravery of words, except it be corroborate by custom. His instance is, that for the achieving of a desperate conspiracy, a man should not rest upon the fierceness of any man’s nature, or his resolute undertakings, but take such a one as both had his hands formerly in blood.

Anti-Machiavel:  

Catiline, a man devoid of all virtue and a bundle of all vice, resolving in his brain to be an exceedingly great man or altogether nothing, devised a conspiracy against his country and drew to his league many Roman gentlemen such as himself. Considering that he could not bring to effect his conjuration without declaring and communicating it to the chieftains of his aid, yet fearing that some of them would disclose it, he made them all take a most execrable oath, that thereby might be foreclosed from them all hope of retiring from his side. So he mixed wine with human blood in pots and made all his companions drink of it, and made them swear with an execration that they would never disclose the enterprise, but employ themselves with all their power to execute it. His partners, already culpable of human blood, were so secret that nothing would have been discovered if God had not permitted a harlot called Fulvia to draw certain words out of a conspirator’s mouth, as she demanded of him where he lay the preceding nights. Being drunk, to enjoy his courtesan he disclosed to her that he had been in a company with whom he made an enterprise that would make him rich forever. As soon as Fulvia knew all the conjuration she disclosed it to the consul Cicero. Cicero did what he could to open all the enterprise, but the conspirators held so well their horrible oath that not one of so great a number would ever reveal a word. But yet Cicero found means to know all, by the declaration which the Allobroges made, who Catiline had appointed to furnish him with people for the execution. But the end of Catiline was such that he was slain fighting with a great number of others, and most of his accomplices were executed by justice. Briefly, all who have practiced that wicked doctrine of Machiavelli, to commit outrageous acts to be irreconcilable, their ends and lives have proved very tragedies.

 

Bacon, “Of the Colours of Good and Evil”:

The ill that a man brings on himself by his own fault is greater; that which is brought on him from without is less. The reason is because the sting and remorse of the mind accusing itself, doubleth all adversity... So the poets in tragedies do make the most passionate lamentations, questioning, and torturing of a man's self... where the evil is derived from a man's own fault, there all strikes deadly inwards, and suffocateth.

Anti-Machiavel:

Men may see how an evil conscience leaves a man never in quiet. This wicked man, knowing that by his cruelty he had procured the hatred of his subjects, the wrath of God, and the enmity of all the world, was tormented in his conscience as of an infernal fury, which ever after fretted his languishing soul in the poor infected and wasted body.

 

Bacon, "Notes on the Present State of Christendom":  

The division in his country [France] for matters of religion and state, through miscontentment of the nobility to see strangers advanced to the greatest charges of the realm, the offices of justice sold, the treasury wasted, the people polled, the country destroyed, hath bred great trouble, and like to see more.

Anti-Machiavel:  

Besides the examples we read in histories, we know it by experience, seeing at this day all France fashioned after the manners, conditions, and vices of foreigners that govern it, and who have the principal charges and estates.

 

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