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Duties of Kings, and all the Supreme Power, as Lawgivers.

1. Princes of the people, and all that have legislative power, must provide useful and good laws for the defence of property, for the encouragement of labour, for the safeguard of their persons, for determining controversies, for reward of noble actions and excellent arts and rare inventions, for promoting trade, and enriching their people.

2. In the making laws, princes must have regard to the public dispositions, to the affections and disaffections of the people, and must not introduce a law with public scandal and displeasure; but consider the public benefit, and the present capacity of affairs, and general inclinations of men’s minds.159159Omittenda potius praevalida ct adulta vitia, quam hoe adsequi, ut palam fiat, quibus flagitiis impares simus.—Tacit. For he that enforces a law upon a people against their first and public apprehensions, tempts them to disobedience, and makes laws to become snares and hooks to catch the people, and to enrich the treasury with the spoil and tears and cures of the commonalty, and to multiply their mutiny and their sin.

3. Princes must provide, that the laws be duly executed, for a good law without execution is like an unperformed promise: and therefore they must be severe exactors of accounts from their delegates and ministers of justice.

4. The severity of laws must be tempered with dispensations, pardons, and remissions, according as the case shall alter, and new necessities be introduced, or some singular accident shall happen, in which the law would be unreasonable or intolerable, as to that particular. And thus the people, with their importunity, prevailed against Saul in the case of Jonathan, and obtained his pardon for breaking the law which his father made, because his necessity forced him to taste honey; and his breaking the law, in that case, did promote that service whose promotion was intended by the law.

5. Princes must be fathers of the people, and provide such instances of gentleness, ease, wealth, and advantages, as may make mutual confidence between them; and must fix their security under God in the love of the people; which, therefore, they must, with all arts of sweetness, remission, popularity, nobleness, and sincerity, endeavour to secure to themselves.

6. Princes must not multiply public oaths without great, eminent, and violent necessity; lest the security of the king become a snare to the people, and they become false, when they see themselves suspected; or impatient, when they are violently held fast: but the greater and more useful caution is upon things than upon persons; and if security of kings can be obtained otherwise, it is better that oaths should be the last refuge, and when nothing else can be sufficient.

7. Let not the people be tempted with arguments or disobey, by the imposition of great and unnecessary taxes: for that lost to the son of Solomon the dominion of the ten tribes of Israel.

8. Princes must, in a special manner, be guardians of pupils and widows, not suffering then persons to be oppressed, or their estates imbeciled, or in any sense be exposed to the rapine of covetous persons; but be provided for by just laws, and provident judges, and good guardians, ever having an ear ready open to their just complaints, and a heart full of pity, and one hand to support them, and the other to avenge them.

9. Princes must provide, that the laws may be so administered that they be truly and really an ease to the people, not an instrument of vexation: and therefore must be careful, that the shortest and most equal ways of trials be appointed, fees moderated, and intricacies and windings as much cut off as may be, lest injured persons be forced to perish under the oppression, or under the law, in the injury, or in the suit. Laws are like princes, those best and most beloved who are most easy of access.

10. Places of judicature ought, at no hand, to be sold by pious princes, who remember themselves to be fathers of the people. For they that buy the office will sell the act;160160Chi compra il magistrato, forza e, che vendra la giustitia. and they that, at any rate, will be judges, will not, at any easy rate, do justice; and their bribery is less punishable, when bribery opened the door by which they entered.

11. Ancient privileges, favours, customs, and acts of grace, indulged by former kings to their people, must not, without high reason and great necessities, be revoked by their successors, nor forfeitures be exacted violently, nor penal laws urged rigorously, nor in light cases; nor laws be multiplied without great need; nor vicious persons, which are publicly and deservedly hated, be kept in defiance of popular desires; nor anything that may unnecessarily make the yoke heavy and the affection light, that may increase murmurs and lessen charity; always remembering, that the interest of the prince and the people is so enfolded in a mutual embrace, that they cannot be untwisted without pulling a limb off, or dissolving the bands and conjunction of the whole body.

12. All princes must esteem themselves as much bound by their word, by their grants, and by their promises, as the meanest of their subjects are by the restraint and penalty of laws;161161Nalla lex (civilis) sibi soli conscientiam justitiaw suae debet, sed cis a quibus obsequim expectat—Tertul. Apolget. and although they are superior to the people, yet they are not superior to their own voluntary concessions and engagements, their promises and oaths, when once they are passed from them.

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