Royal autho­rity is a great resource that should move smoothly and quietly. The Chinese vaunt one of their empe­rors who gover­ned, they say, like hea­ven, in other words by his exam­ple.

There are cases where autho­rity must act to its full extent ; there are some where it must act by its limits. The sublime in admi­nis­tra­tion is to know what aspect of power, great or small, should be brought to bear in various cir­cum­stan­ces.

In our monar­chies all feli­city consists in the opi­nion peo­ple have of the govern­ment’s bene­vo­lence. An inept minis­ter always wants to remind you that you are sla­ves. But if that were the case, he ought to try to keep you from kno­wing it. He knows how to say or write to you only that the prince is annoyed, that he is sur­pri­sed, that he will put things aright. There is a cer­tain faci­lity in com­man­ding ; it should be the prince who encou­ra­ges, and the laws that threa­ten.1

Nerva, says Tacitus, increased the facility of empire.