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[From Harrington's Oceana.]

ONE that has written considerations upon OCEANA, speaks the prologue in this manner;

“I beseech you gentlemen, are not we the writers of politics, somewhat a ridiculous sort of people? Is it not a fine piece of folly for private men sitting in their cabinets to rack their braine about models of government? Certainly our labours make a very pleasant recreation for those great personages, who, sitting at the helm of affairs, have by their large experience not only acquired the art of ruling, but have attained also to the comprehension of the nature and foundation of government.”

In which egregious compliment the considerer has lost his considering cap.

It was in the time of Alexander, the greatest prince and commander of his age, that Aristotle, with scarce inferior applause and equal fame, being a private man, wrote that excellent piece of prudence in his cabinet, which is called his politics, going upon far other principles than those of Alexander's government, which it has long outlived. The like did Titus Livius in the time of Augustus, Sir Thomas More in the time of Henry the Eighth, and Machiavel when Italy was under princes that afforded him not the ear. These works, nevertheless, are all of the most esteemed and applauded in this kind; nor have I found any man, whose like endeavours have been persecuted like Plato by Dionysius. I study not without great examples, nor out of my calling; either arms or this art being the proper trade of a gentleman. A man may be entrusted with a ship, and a good pilot too, yet not understand how to make seacharts. To say that a man may not write of government except he be a magistrate, is as absurd as to say, that a man may not make a sea-chart, unless he be a pilot. It is known that Christopher Columbus made a chart in his cabinet, that found out the Indies. The magistrate that was good at his steerage never took it ill of him that brought him a plan, seeing whether he would use it or no, was at his own choice; and if flatterers, being the worst sort of crows, did not pick out the eyes of the living, the ship of government at this day throughout christendom had not struck so often as she has done. To treat of affairs, says Machiavel, which as to the conduct of them appertain to others, may be thought a great boldness; but if I commit errors in writing, these may be known without danger; whereas if they commit errors in acting, such come not otherwise to be known, than in the ruin of the commonwealth.