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Niccolo Machiavelli
The Prince 24
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CHAPTER XXIV

WHY THE PRINCES OF ITALY HAVE LOST THEIR STATES

The previous suggestions, carefully observed, will enable a new prince
to appear well established, and render him at once more secure and
fixed in the state than if he had been long seated there. For the
actions of a new prince are more narrowly observed than those of an
hereditary one, and when they are seen to be able they gain more men
and bind far tighter than ancient blood; because men are attracted
more by the present than by the past, and when they find the present
good they enjoy it and seek no further; they will also make the utmost
defence of a prince if he fails them not in other things. Thus it will
be a double glory for him to have established a new principality, and
adorned and strengthened it with good laws, good arms, good allies,
and with a good example; so will it be a double disgrace to him who,
born a prince, shall lose his state by want of wisdom.

And if those seigniors are considered who have lost their states in
Italy in our times, such as the King of Naples, the Duke of Milan, and
others, there will be found in them, firstly, one common defect in
regard to arms from the causes which have been discussed at length; in
the next place, some one of them will be seen, either to have had the
people hostile, or if he has had the people friendly, he has not known
how to secure the nobles. In the absence of these defects states that
have power enough to keep an army in the field cannot be lost.

Philip of Macedon, not the father of Alexander the Great, but he who
was conquered by Titus Quintius, had not much territory compared to
the greatness of the Romans and of Greece who attacked him, yet being
a warlike man who knew how to attract the people and secure the
nobles, he sustained the war against his enemies for many years, and
if in the end he lost the dominion of some cities, nevertheless he
retained the kingdom.

Therefore, do not let our princes accuse fortune for the loss of their
principalities after so many years' possession, but rather their own
sloth, because in quiet times they never thought there could be a
change (it is a common defect in man not to make any provision in the
calm against the tempest), and when afterwards the bad times came they
thought of flight and not of defending themselves, and they hoped that
the people, disgusted with the insolence of the conquerors, would
recall them. This course, when others fail, may be good, but it is
very bad to have neglected all other expedients for that, since you
would never wish to fall because you trusted to be able to find
someone later on to restore you. This again either does not happen,
or, if it does, it will not be for your security, because that
deliverance is of no avail which does not depend upon yourself; those
only are reliable, certain, and durable that depend on yourself and
your valour.


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