6 March 1483|
Florence, Republic of Florence
|Died||22 May 1540
Arcetri, Duchy of Florence
One who imitates what is bad always goes beyond his model; while one who imitates what is good always comes up short of it.
I know no man who feels deeper disgust than I do at the ambition, avarice, and profligacy of the priesthood, as well because every one of these vices is odious in itself, as because each of them separately and all of them together are utterly abhorrent in men making profession of a life dedicated to God.
Pay no heed to those who tell you that they have relinquished place and power of their own accord, and from their love of quiet. For almost always they have been brought to this retirement by their insufficiency and against their will.
Few revolutions succeed, and when they do, you often discover they did not gain what you hoped for, and you condemn yourself to perpetual fear, as the parties you defeated may always regain power and work for your ruin.
Ambition is not in itself an evil; nor is he to be condemned whose spirit prompts him to seek fame by worthy and honourable ways.
Let no one trust so entirely to natural prudence as to persuade himself that it will suffice to guide him without help from experience.
The affairs of this world are so shifting and depend on so many accidents, that it is hard to form any judgment concerning the future; nay, we see from experience that the forecasts even of the wise almost always turn out false.
If you attempt certain things at the right time, they are easy to accomplish – in fact, they almost get done by themselves. If you undertake them before the time is right, not only will they fail, but they will often become impossible to accomplish even when the time would have been right.
It is a great matter to be in authority over others; for authority, if it be rightly used, will make you feared beyond your actual resources.
Conspiracies, since they cannot be engaged in without the fellowship of others, are for that reason most perilous; for as most men are either fools or knaves, we run excessive risk in making such folk our companions.
Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them.
Waste no time with revolutions that do not remove the causes of your complaints but simply change the faces of those in charge.
Like other men, I have sought honours and preferment, and often have obtained them beyond my wishes or hopes. Yet never have I found in them that content which I had figured beforehand in my mind. A strong reason, if we well consider it, why we should disencumber ourselves of vain desires.