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ble, containeth a Secret of Empire; how Kings are to make use of their Counsel of State. That first, 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 suffer 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 resembled to Pallas Armed) proceeded from themselves : 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 using 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 less of themselves. Thirdly, the Danger of being unfaithfully counselled, and more for the good of them that counsel, than of him that is counselled. For which Inconveniences, the Doctrine of Italy, and Practice of France, in some 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 necessary, that he that consulteth what he should do, should 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 person, 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 some Affairs, which require extreme Secrecy, which will hardly go
beyond one or two Persons, besides the King: neither are those Counsels unprosperous : for besides the Secrecy, they commonly go on constantly in one Spirit of Direction, without Distraction. But then it must be a prudent King, such as is able to grind with a Hand-Mill; and those inward Counsellors 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 Majesty 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 soon found, and holpen.
For the last Inconvenience, that Men will Counfel with an Eye to themselves ; certainly, Non inveniet Fidem super terram, is meant of the Nature of Times, and not of all particular Persons; there be, that are in Nature, faithful, and sincere, and plain, and direct; not crafty, and involved : Let Princes, above all, draw to themselves such Natures. Besides, Counsellors are not commonly so united, but that one Counsellor keepeth Sentinel over another ; so 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 nofle fuos. And on the other side, Counsellors should not be too speculative, into their Sovereign’s Person. The true Composition of a Counsellor, is rather to be skilful in their Master's Business, than in his Nature; for then he is like to advise him, and not to feed his Humour. It is of singular use 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 consort, 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 Counsel likewise concerning Persons: for all Matters are as dead Images ; and the Life of the Execution of Affairs, resteth in the good Choice of Persons. Neither is it enough to confult concerning Persons, fecundum Genera, as in an Idea, or Mathematical Description, what the Kind and Character of the Person should be ; for the greatest Errors are committed, and the most Judgement is shown, in the choice of Individuals. It was truly said ; Optimi Consiliarii mortui; Books will speak plain, when Counsellors blanch. Therefore it is good to be conversant in them ; specially the Books of such, as themselves have been Actors upon the Stage.
The Councils, at this Day, in most places, are but familiar Meetings; where Matters are rather talked
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 Consilium. So was it done, in the Commission of Union, between England and Scotland; which was a grave and orderly Assembly. I commend set Days for Petitions : for both it gives the Suitors more certainty for their Attendance ; and it frees the Meetings for Matters of Estate, that they may Hoc agere. In choice of Committees, for ripening Business, for the Council, it is better to choose Indifferent Persons, than to make an Indifferency, by putting in those, that are strong, on both sides. I commend also standing Commisfions; as for Trade ; for Treasure ; for War; for Suits; for some Provinces : for where there be divers particular Councils, and but one Council of
Estate, (as it is in Spain) they are in effect no more, than Standing Commissions ; save that they have greater Authority. Let such, as are to inform Councils, out of their particular Professions, (as Lawyers, Seamen, Mintmen, and the like) be first heard, before Committees ; and then, as Occasion serves, 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 square 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, sway all the Business: but in the other Form, there is more use of the Counsellors' Opinions, that fit lower. A King, when he presides in Council, let him beware how he opens his own Inclination too much, in that which he propoundeth : for else Counsellors will but take the Wind of him; and instead of giving free Counsel, sing 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 some
times like Sybilla's Offer ; which at first offereth the Commodity at full, then consumeth part and part, and still holdeth up the Price. For Occasion (as it is in the common Verse) turneth a