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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 101, August 1, 1891   By:

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PUNCH,

OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 101.

August 1, 1891.

THE PRINCE.

( A LETTER FROM NICOLA PUNCIO MACHIAVELLI TO THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS VITTORIO EMANUELE, SON OF UMBERTO, KING OF ITALY. )

I.

There never was, nor is at this day, any man in the world who is not either a Prince or not a Prince. Seeing, therefore, that your Highness appertains of right to the class of them that are Princes, and being ambitious to present to your Highness that which should have the chiefest value in your eyes, I could not (though pondering much) deem anything more precious than the knowledge of men and of governments which I have learned through a space of half a hundred years. Forasmuch as your Highness hath travelled over stormy seas to the island of the British folk, I do presume to present to your Highness, as being one that seeketh wisdom, the ripe fruit of my knowledge, in order that your Highness may suck thereout such advantage as those who love your land chiefly desire both for yourself and for them to whose government you shall in the future be called.

II. HOW A PRINCE IS TO GAIN REPUTATION.

To begin, then, I say it would be advantageous to be accounted both liberal and of a like nature unto other men that are not Princes. For although the majority of mankind be penurious and apt to hoard their money, and although in their assembly the British make a show of niggardliness, imputing it to themselves for a virtue, nevertheless, if they discern in a Prince such inclinations as they praise in themselves, no nation was ever quicker to blame or decry. For each holds in private that while he himself is generous, the rest are mean and covetous. Therefore, I counsel you let your conduct in the bestowal both of snuff boxes, which no man at this day uses, and of scarf pins, which are a delight to many, be so ordered that men may think of you as one that with a true generosity performs such acts as each of them, were he a Prince, would perform as well.

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Likewise if there be those who wish to read unto you addresses of loyal welcome, it is not well to flout them publicly by showing signs of sleep; since it is the fashion of municipalities and Mayors to hold themselves to be of high importance, and a wise flattery of this self deception well becomes you. And in replying, let your speech be both short and homely. The present German Emperor came lately among this people, and, having spoken aloud of the kindness of his Grandmamma, at once the hearts of all of them that are or hope to be grandmammas, or have themselves possessed a grandmamma, were moved to him so that he was accounted one of themselves from that time forth.

Again, how honourable it is for a Prince to be outspoken, candid, and truthful, I suppose everybody understands. Nevertheless, experience has shown in our times that those Princes who have not pinned themselves up to that excess of truth speaking, have not alone secured the love of their subjects, but have been held up as patterns of a royal wisdom and virtue. For in the assemblages of the great that shall be gathered in your honour, and in the banquets and receptions wherewith it is customary to overwhelm a Prince, there must often be those surrounding him, and holding converse with him, whose absence would cause him joy rather than sorrow, on account of their exceeding pompous dulness. Yet it is well at such times for a Prince to conceal his feelings, and, though he be flattened with tedious ceremony, to keep both a cheerful countenance and a pleasant tongue, as of one to whom life offers a succession of the proudest and happiest moments. There is a Prince at this time in being (but his name I shall conceal), who can often have nothing in his mind but sorrow and depression, so many are his labours and so great is the number of the foundation stones he lays; and yet, had he revealed either the one or the other by speech or gesture, they had robbed him before this of his power and reputation.

III. OF THE WEARING OF UNIFORMS... Continue reading book >>


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