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than the former. While the literature dealing with legislation and with domestic politics in all its branches is exceedingly vast, there is not a single book in the English language, except perhaps the American Federalist, which deals adequately and critically with the science of national organisation and administration. As the nation-builders of England have apparently not recorded their views as to the best form of national organisation, we must turn for information to the great constructive statesmen of the Continent and of the United States.
Richelieu, the great organiser of France, one of the wisest statesmen of all time, stated his views on government in his little-known · Testament Politique.' It was written for the use and guidance of King Louis the Thirteenth, to whom it was dedicated, and for that of his successors and of the future Ministers of France. In Chapter VIII. `Du Conseil du Prince,' which might be translated on the Cabinet,' we read :
Among statesmen it is a much debated question whether it is better that a sovereign should govern the State in person, according to his own views, or whether he should be largely guided by his Council and do nothing without its advice. Either form of government might be advocated in bulky volumes.
The worst government, in my opinion, is one which is entirely in the hands of a sovereign who is so incapable, and at the same time so presumptuous, that he pays no attention whatever to any council. The best government of all is one where the mainspring is the will of the sovereign who, though capable of deciding for himself, possesses so much modesty and judgment that he does nothing unless he is supported by good advice, acting on the principle that several eyes see more than a single one.
A highly-gifted ruler is a great treasure to his State, and an able council in the fullest sense of the word is no less precious. But the co-operation of an able ruler and a good council is of inestimable value because on such co-operation is founded the happiness of States.
There are no doubt only few sovereigns who can govern their States without assistance, but even if there were many such gifted men they should not endeavour to administer it by themselves. . .
Many qualities are required in a good minister, and the most important are four : ability, faithfulness, courage, and industry.
The ability of ministers does not consist in that form of self-conceit which is usually found in pedants. Nothing is more dangerous for a State than men who endeavour to govern it by means of abstract principles drawn from books. Such men have completely ruined States because the rules of the past cannot always be applied to the present, for time, place, and persons differ..
In considering the ability of ministers, two facts are of particular importance. In the first place, men of the greatest natural genius are often more dangerous than useful in handling affairs of State unless they have more lead than quicksilver in their composition. Many men are fertile in good ideas. They abound with original thoughts. However, such men are often so changeable in their plans that in the evening they have abandoned their intentions of the morning. They have so little staying power and logic that they change their good plans as readily as their bad ones, and never steadily pursue any policy. I may say with truth, and I know from experience, that the unsteadiness and changeableness of such people is no less dangerous in the management of national affairs than the ill-will of others.
The second fact which must be borne in mind is that nothing can be more dangerous for a State than to give a position of great authority to men who have not sufficient gifts to guide themselves, but who, nevertheless, believe that they have so much ability that they need not be guided by others. Men of that stamp can neither form a good plan for themselves nor follow the advice of those who might give them good counsel. Hence they commit constantly very great mistakes. One of the greatest vices which a public man may possess is presumption. Although humility is not required in those whose destiny it is to administer a State,
they should possess modesty. Modesty is absolutely necessary to them, especially as the most capable men are often least able to bear with assistance and advice, without which even the ablest men are little fit to govern. Men of the greatest genius, unless possessed of modesty, are so much enamoured with their own ideas that they are apt to condemn the proposals of all other people, even if their views are better than their own Hence their natural pride and their high position are apt to make them altogether unbearable. Even the very
ablest man must often listen to the advice of men whom he believes to be less able. It is prudent for a minister to speak little and to listen much, for one can profit from all kinds of advice. Good advice is valuable for itself, while bad advice confirms the good.
The leading men must be industrious, as I have stated. However it is not necessary that a man directing public affairs should be working unceasingly. On the contrary, nothing is more harmful for him than unceasing labour. The nature of affairs of State makes relaxation necessary, and the more important the office is the more necessary is relaxation. The physical and mental strength of man is limited, and unceasing labour exhausts both in little time. It is necessary that those who manage affairs of State should make these their principal pre-occupation, and that they should devote to them their whole mind, their whole thought, and all their strength. Their greatest pleasure should consist not in their amusement, but in their success. Statesmen directing the affairs of a country should survey the whole world in order to be able to foresee the events of the future. Then they will be able to take measures against the evils which may come, and to carry through those measures which are required in the national interest.
As the number of the physicians is often responsible for the death of the patient, even so the number of ministers is more often harmful than advantageous to the State. I would add that no more than four ministers can be usefully employed, and one of these should be invested with superior authority. This leading minister should be the mainspring of the State. He should be like the sun in the firmament. He should be guided only by his intelligence and should guide
those around him. I hesitate to put forward this idea, for I may appear to be pleading my own cause. Still, I should find it easy to prove from Holy Writ, and from authoritative, sacred, and profane writers, the necessity of a principal minister. Besides, I would say that the confidence with which your Majesty has always honoured me during the time when I have guided the policy of France was due to your own free will. Posterity will find that the authority which I have always enjoyed in your councils has been legitimate. Therefore, I believe that I may freely speak upon the subject without being suspected of questionable motives.
The envy which naturally arises among men of equal authority, as among States of equal power, is too well known to make it necessary that I should prove at length the truth of the fact that a single minister should occupy the preeminent position described above. My experiences have been so convincing with regard to this principle that I think I should fail in my duty before God did I not state in formal terms in this my testament that there is nothing more dangerous to a State than to entrust its administration and government to a number of men enjoying power and authority. A step which one minister desires to undertake is liable to be opposed by another, and unless the minister who possesses the best idea is at the same time most skilful in steering them through, his plans will always be brought to nought by an opponent gifted with greater power of persuasion. Each of the opposing ministers will have his followers. These will form parties in the State, and thus the strength of the country, which ought to be united, will be divided. As the sicknesses and death of man are caused by the opposing humours of his body, even so the peace of States is disturbed by the disunion and the conflict of men of equal power, who direct the fate of nations, and these dissensions are apt to produce evils which at last may bring about the downfall of the nation.
If it is true that monarchical most closely resembles divine government by its outward form, if it is true that a monarchy is superior to all other forms of government, as the greatest sacred and profane writers have told us, one may boldly state that the sovereign should entrust the management of the State to one particular person above all others, for he cannot, or, if he could, would not, have his eye constantly on the chart and on the compass. That stands to reason. Exactly as several pilots never direct simultaneously the rudder, .even so the rudder of the ship of State should never be controlled by more than one man at a time. The steersman of the ship of State may well receive the advice of other men, and he should even ask for it. Still, it is for him to examine the advice given, and to direct the course of . the ship to the right or to the left according to his judgment, in order to avoid rocks and to steer his course. I am well acquainted with the ability, honesty, and courage which are required in ministers of State. As the controlling minister of whom we have spoken must stand above the other ministers in power and authority, so he must be superior to them by his personal qualities. Consequently the character of the person chosen to direct the State must be carefully examined before appointment.
The sovereign must personally know the man whom he entrusts with so great a responsibility. But although the leading minister must be appointed by the sovereign, his choice should, if possible, find the approval of the public, for general approval will increase the minister's ability to do good. It is easy to depict the qualities which a principal minister should possess, but it is difficult to find these gifts united in any single person. Still, it must be stated that the happiness or the misfortune of States depends upon the choice made. Hence sovereigns are compelled either to undertake themselves the heavy burden of government, or to select a man who will so conduct the affairs of the nation that their selection is approved of in earth and in Heaven.
Richelieu believed a monarchy to be the best form of government. He thought that the best organised monarchy was not one which was governed by the monarch in person, be he ever so gifted, but one which was governed by an able monarch supported by an able Council of Ministers, because even a ruler of inferior ability could rule well by entrusting the national government to eminent Ministers. He attached the greatest value to their ability, experience, and character.