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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 4

Of a King

Of a King.

1.A King is a mortal God on earth, unto whom the living God hath lent his own name as a great honour; but withal told him, he should die like a man, lest he should be proud, and flatter himself that God hath with his name imparted unto him his nature also.
2.Of all kind of men, God is the least beholding unto them; for he doth most for them, and they do ordinarily least for him.
3.A king that would not feel his crown too heavy for him, must wear it every day; but if he think it too light, he knoweth not of what metal it is made.
4.He must make religion the rule of government, and not to balance the scale; for he that casteth in religion only to make the scales even, his own weight is contained in those characters: "Mene mene, tekel upharsin"—("He is found too light, his kingdom shall be taken from him.")
5.And that king that holds not religion the best reason of state, is void of all piety and justice, the supporters of a king.
6.He must be able to give counsel himself, but not rely thereupon; for though happy events justify their counsels, yet it is better that the evil event of good advice be rather imputed to a subject than a sovereign.
7.He is the fountain of honour, which should not run with a waste pipe, lest the courtiers sell the water, and then (as papists say of their holy wells) it loses the virtue.
8.He is the life of the law, not only as he is "lex loquens" [the tongue of the law] himself, but because he animateth the dead letter, making it active towards all his subjects, "præmio et pœoena" [by reward or punishment].
9.A wise king must do less in altering his laws than he may—for new government is ever dangerous—it being true in the body politic, as in the corporal, that "omnis subita immutatio est periculosa" [every sudden change is dangerous]: and though it be for the better, yet it is not without a fearful apprehension; for he that changeth the fundamental laws of a kingdom, thinketh there is no good title to a crown but by conquest.
10.A king that setteth to sale seats of justice, oppresseth the people—for he teacheth his judges to sell justice—and "precio parata precio venditur justitia"—[the administration of justice, when bought for money, is sold for money].
11.Bounty and magnificence are virtues very regal, but a prodigal king is nearer a tyrant than a parsimonious—for store at home draweth not his contemplations abroad; but want supplieth itself of what is next, and many times the next way—a king herein must be wise, and know what he may justly do.
12.That king which is not feared is not loved; and he that is well seen in his craft must as well study to be feared as loved; yet not loved for fear, but feared for love.
13.Therefore, as he must always resemble him whose great name he beareth, and that as in manifesting the sweet influence of his mercy on the severe stroke of his justice sometimes, so in this not to suffer a man of death page 11 to live; for, besides that the land doth mourn, the restraint of justice towards sin doth more retard the affection of love, than the extent of mercy doth inflame it; and sure where love is [ill] bestowed, fear is quite lost.
14.His greatest enemies are his flatterers; for though they ever speak on his side, yet their words still make against him.
15.The love which a king oweth to a weal public, should not be restrained to any one particular; yet that his more special favour do reflect upon some worthy ones, is somewhat necessary, because there are few of that capacity.
16.He must have a special care of five things, if he would not have his crown to be but to him "infelix felicitas" [an infelicitous happiness].

First, that "simulate sanctitas" [simulated holiness] be not in the church; for that is "duplex iniquitas" [twofold iniquity].

Secondly, that "inutilis æquitas" [unprofitable equity] sit not in the chancery: for that is "inepta misericordia" [foolish mercifulness].

Thirdly, that "utilis iniquitas" [profitable iniquity] keep not the exchequer: for that is "crudele latrocinium" [cruel robbery].

Fourthly, that "fidelis temeritas" [faithful temerity] be not his general; for that will bring but "seram pœoenitentiam" [mistimed repentance].

Fifthly, that "infidelis prudentia" [unfaithful prudence] be not his secretary, for that is "anguis sub viridi herba" [a snake under the green grass].

To conclude: as he is of the greatest power, so he is subject to the greatest cares, made the servant of his people, or else he were without a calling at all.

He, then, that honoureth him not is next to an atheist, wanting the fear of God in his heart.