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THE PROHEME OF NICHOLAS MACHIAVELL,
Citezein and Secretarie of Florence, upon his booke of the Arte of Warre, unto Laurence Philippe Strozze, one of the nobilitie of Florence.
There have Laurence, many helde, and do holde this opinion, that there is no maner of thing, whiche lesse agreeth the one with the other, nor that is so much unlike, as the civil life to the Souldiours. Wherby it is often seen, that if any determin in thexercise of that kinde of service to prevaile, that incontinent he doeth not only chaunge in apparel, but also in custome and maner, in voice, and from the facion of all civil use, he doeth alter: For that he thinketh not meete to clothe with civell apparell him, who wil be redie, and promt to all kinde of violence, nor the civell customes, and usages maie that man have, the whiche judgeth bothe those customes to be effeminate, and those usages not to be agreable to his profession: Nor it semes not convenient for him to use the civill gesture and ordinarie wordes, who with fasing and blasphemies, will make afraied other menne: the whiche causeth in this time, suche opinion to be moste true. But if thei should consider thauncient orders, there should nothing be founde more united, more confirmable, and that of necessitie ought to love so much the one the other, as these: for as muche as all the artes that are ordeined in a common weale, in regarde or respecte of common profite of menne, all the orders made in the same, to live with feare of the Lawe, and of God should be vaine, if by force of armes their defence wer not prepared, which, well ordeined, doe maintain those also whiche be not well ordeined. And likewise to the contrarie the good orders, without the souldiours help, no lesse or otherwise doe disorder, then the habitacion of a sumptuous and roiall palais, although it wer decte with gold and precious stones, when without being covered, should not have wherewith to defende it from the raine. And if in what so ever other orders of Cities and Kyngdomes, there hath been used al diligence for to maintain men faithfull, peaceable, and full of the feare of God, in the service of warre, it was doubled: if for in what man ought the countrie to seke greater faith, then in him, who must promise to die for the same? In whom ought there to bee more love of peace, then in him, whiche onely by the warre maie be hurte? In whome ought there to bee more feare of GOD, then in him, which every daie committyng himself to infinite perilles, hath moste neede of his helpe? This necessitie considered wel, bothe of them that gave the lawes to Empires, and of those that to the exercise of service wer apoincted, made that the life of Souldiours, of other menne was praised, and with all studie folowed and imitated. But the orders of service of war, beyng altogether corrupted, and a greate waie from the auncient maners altered, there hath growen these sinisterous opinions, which maketh men to hate the warlike service, and to flie the conversacion of those that dooe exercise it. Albeit I judgeing by the same, that I have seen and redde, that it is not a thyng impossible, to bryng it again to the auncient maners, and to give it some facion of the vertue passed, I have determined to the entente not to passe this my idell time, without doyng some thyng, to write that whiche I doe understande, to the satisfaction of those, who of aunciente actes, are lovers of the science of warre. And although it be a bold thing to intreate of the same matter, wher of otherwise I have made no profession, notwithstanding I beleve it is no errour, to occupie with wordes a degree, the whiche many with greater presumpcion with their deedes have occupied: for as muche as the errours that I maie happen to make by writing, may be without harme to any man corrected: but those the whiche of them be made in doyng cannot be knowen without the ruine of Empires. Therefore Laurence you ought to consider the qualitie of this my laboure, and with your judgement to give it that blame, or that praise, as shall seeme unto you it hath deserved. The whiche I sende unto you, as well to shewe my selfe gratefull, although my habilitie reche not to the benefites, which I have received of you, as also for that beyng the custome to honour with like workes them who for nobilitie, riches, wisedome, and liberalitie doe shine: I knowe you for riches, and nobilitie, not to have many peeres, for wisedome fewe, and for liberalitie none.