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Chapter 22

CHAPTER XXII

CONCERNING THE SECRETARIES OF PRINCES

The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and
they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince.
And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his
understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when
they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise,
because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them
faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion
of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.

There were none who knew Messer Antonio da Venafro as the servant of
Pandolfo Petrucci, Prince of Siena, who would not consider Pandolfo to
be a very clever man in having Venafro for his servant. Because there
are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself;
another which appreciates what others comprehended; and a third which
neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first
is the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless.
Therefore, it follows necessarily that, if Pandolfo was not in the
first rank, he was in the second, for whenever one has judgment to
know good and bad when it is said and done, although he himself may
not have the initiative, yet he can recognize the good and the bad in
his servant, and the one he can praise and the other correct; thus the
servant cannot hope to deceive him, and is kept honest.

But to enable a prince to form an opinion of his servant there is one
test which never fails; when you see the servant thinking more of his
own interests than of yours, and seeking inwardly his own profit in
everything, such a man will never make a good servant, nor will you
ever be able to trust him; because he who has the state of another in
his hands ought never to think of himself, but always of his prince,
and never pay any attention to matters in which the prince is not
concerned.

On the other hand, to keep his servant honest the prince ought to
study him, honouring him, enriching him, doing him kindnesses, sharing
with him the honours and cares; and at the same time let him see that
he cannot stand alone, so that many honours may not make him desire
more, many riches make him wish for more, and that many cares may make
him dread chances. When, therefore, servants, and princes towards
servants, are thus disposed, they can trust each other, but when it is
otherwise, the end will always be disastrous for either one or the
other.

Niccolo Machiavelli

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