Excerpt: ...the sinews of war (as it is trivially said), where the
sinews of men's arms, in base and effeminate people, are failing.
For Solon said well to Croesus (when in ostentation he showed him
his gold), Sir, if any other come, that hath better iron, than you,
he will be master of all this gold. There- fore let any prince or
state think solely of his forces, except his militia of natives be
of good and valiant soldiers. And let princes, on the other side,
that have subjects of martial disposition, know their own strength;
unless they be otherwise wanting unto themselves. As for mercenary
forces (which is the help in this case), all examples show, that
whatsoever estate or prince doth rest upon them, he may spread his
feathers for a time, but he will mew them soon after. The blessing
of Judah and Issachar will never meet; that the same people, or
nation, should be both the lion's whelp and the ass between bur-
thens; neither will it be, that a people overlaid with taxes,
should ever become valiant and mar- tial. It is true that taxes
levied by consent of the estate, do abate men's courage less: as it
hath been seen notably, in the excises of the Low Countries; and,
in some degree, in the subsidies of England. For you must note,
that we speak now of the heart, and not of the purse. So that
although the same tribute and tax, laid by consent or by imposing,
be all one to the purse, yet it works diversely upon the courage.
So that you may conclude, that no people overcharged with tribute,
is fit for empire. Let states that aim at greatness, take heed how
their nobility and gentlemen do multiply too fast. For that maketh
the common subject, grow to be a peasant and base swain, driven out
of heart, and in effect but the gentleman's laborer. Even as you
may see in coppice woods; if you leave your stad- dles too thick,
you shall never have clean under- wood, but shrubs and bushes. So
in countries, if the gentlemen be too many, the commons will be
base; and you...
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