CONCERNING THINGS FOR WHICH MEN, AND ESPECIALLY PRINCES, ARE PRAISED OR BLAMED

CHAPTER XV: CONCERNING THINGS FOR WHICH MEN, AND ESPECIALLY
PRINCES, ARE PRAISED OR BLAMED
It remains now to see what ought to be the rules of conduct for a prince towards subject
and friends. And as I know that many have written on this point, I expect I shall be
considered presumptuous in mentioning it again, especially as in discussing it I shall
depart from the methods of other people. But, it being my intention to write a thing which
shall be useful to him who apprehends it, it appears to me more appropriate to follow up
the real truth of the matter than the imagination of it; for many have pictured republics
and principalities which in fact have never been known or seen, because how one lives is
so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what
ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation; for a man who wishes to
act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so
much that is evil.

CONCERNING THINGS FOR WHICH MEN, AND ESPECIALLY
PRINCES, ARE PRAISED OR BLAMED


Hence it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and
to make use of it or not according to necessity. Therefore, putting on one side imaginary
things concerning a prince, and discussing those which are real, I say that all men when
they are spoken of, and chiefly princes for being more highly placed, are remarkable for
some of those qualities which bring them either blame or praise; and thus it is that one is
reputed liberal, another miserly, using a Tuscan term (because an avaricious person in our
language is still he who desires to possess by robbery, whilst we call one miserly who
deprives himself too much of the use of his own); one is reputed generous, one rapacious;
one cruel, one compassionate; one faithless, another faithful; one effeminate and
cowardly, another bold and brave; one affable, another haughty; one lascivious, another
chaste; one sincere, another cunning; one hard, another easy; one grave, another
frivolous; one religious, another unbelieving, and the like. And I know that everyone will
confess that it would be most praiseworthy in a prince to exhibit all the above qualities
that are considered good; but because they can neither be entirely possessed nor
observed, for human conditions do not permit it, it is necessary for him to be sufficiently
prudent that he may know how to avoid the reproach of those vices which would lose him
his state; and also to keep himself, if it be possible, from those which would not lose him
it; but this not being possible, he may with less hesitation abandon himself to them. And
again, he need not make himself uneasy at incurring a reproach for those vices without
which the state can only be saved with difficulty, for if everything is considered carefully,
it will be found that something which looks like virtue, if followed, would be his ruin;
whilst something else, which looks like vice, yet followed brings him security and
prosperity.