A wise ruler ought never to keep faith when by doing so it would be against his interests.
You must welcome change as the rule but not as your ruler.
The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
In politics a capable ruler must be guided by circumstances, conjectures and conjunctions.
Catherine the Great
If you rely on political factions to promote men to office, the people will work to develop instrumental relationships and will not seek to be useful with regard to the law. Thus, a ruler who mistakes reputation for ability when assigning offices will see his state fall into disorder.
A ruler makes use of the majority and neglects the minority, and so he does not devote himself to virtue but to law.
The intelligent ruler makes the law select men and makes no arbitrary appointment himself; he makes the law measure merits and makes no arbitrary judgment himself.
A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.
The intelligent ruler does not value people who are of themselves good without rewards and punishments. Why is that? The laws of the state cannot be neglected, and it is not one man who is being ruled.
A ruler of men faces two possible misfortunes: if he employs the worthy, the ministers will use worthiness as a pretext to rob their ruler of his power, but if he promotes men recklessly, his affairs will be neglected, and he will not prevail.
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