The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

Never let any Government imagine that it can choose perfectly safe courses; rather let it expect to have to take very doubtful ones, because it is found in ordinary affairs that one never seeks to avoid one trouble without running into another; but prudence consists in knowing how to distinguish the character of troubles, and for choice to take the lesser evil.

A prince ought also to show himself a patron of ability, and to honour the proficient in every art. At the same time he should encourage his citizens to practise their callings peaceably, both in commerce and agriculture, and in every other following, so that the one should not be deterred from improving his possessions for fear lest they be taken away from him or another from opening up trade for fear of taxes; but the prince ought to offer rewards to whoever wishes to do these things and designs in any way to honour his city or state.

Further, he ought to entertain the people with festivals and spectacles at convenient seasons of the year; and as every city is divided into guilds or into societies,(*) he ought to hold such bodies in esteem, and associate with them sometimes, and show himself an example of courtesy and liberality; nevertheless, always maintaining the majesty of his rank, for this he must never consent to abate in anything.

 (*) "Guilds or societies," "in arti o in tribu." "Arti" were
 craft or trade guilds, cf. Florio: "Arte . . . a whole
 company of any trade in any city or corporation town." The
 guilds of Florence are most admirably described by Mr
 Edgcumbe Staley in his work on the subject (Methuen, 1906).
 Institutions of a somewhat similar character, called
 "artel," exist in Russia to-day, cf. Sir Mackenzie Wallace's
 "Russia," ed. 1905: "The sons . . . were always during the
 working season members of an artel. In some of the larger
 towns there are artels of a much more complex kind—
 permanent associations, possessing large capital, and
 pecuniarily responsible for the acts of the individual
 members." The word "artel," despite its apparent similarity,
 has, Mr Aylmer Maude assures me, no connection with "ars" or
 "arte." Its root is that of the verb "rotisya," to bind
 oneself by an oath; and it is generally admitted to be only
 another form of "rota," which now signifies a "regimental
 company." In both words the underlying idea is that of a
 body of men united by an oath. "Tribu" were possibly gentile
 groups, united by common descent, and included individuals
 connected by marriage. Perhaps our words "sects" or "clans"
 would be most appropriate.

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