Authority constrains obedience, but reason captivates it. It is much more expedient to lead men by means which imperceptibly win their wills than, as is more the practice, by those which coerce them.
Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (tr. H.B. Hill 1961), Book 2, Chapter 2.
Probity and courage give birth to a boldness honest enough to tell kings what is useful for them, even if such information is not always agreeable to them. I say an honest boldness, because if it is not kept well in hand and always respectful it becomes not one of the leading virtues of a councillor of state but one of the principal vices. It is necessary to speak to kings with words of silk.
Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (tr. H.B. Hill 1961), Book 1, Chapter 8.
The ablest man in the world should often listen to the advice of even those he considers less able than himself. While it is the essence of wisdom on the part of a minister of state to speak little, it is also wise to listen a great deal. One can draw profit from all kinds of suggestions; those which are good carry their own justifications, and the bad ones confirm the good.
Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (tr. H.B. Hill 1961), Book 1, Chapter 8.
Presumption is one of the greatest vices a man in public office can have and if humility is not required of those charged with the direction of state, certainly modesty is.
Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (tr. H.B. Hill 1961), Book 1, Chapter 8.
A capable prince is a great treasure to a state. An able council which functions smoothly is no less important. The two working in concert are of priceless value, since from this comes the well-being of the state.
Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (tr. H.B. Hill 1961), Book 1, Chapter 8.
It is an important question among political thinkers which is to be desired, a prince who governs solely on his own initiative or one who, less sure of his superior abilities, defers to his council and acts only on advice. One could write complete books on all the arguments which have been advanced on both sides of this question, but to get to the subject directly as it is raised here, the prince who is guided by his council, rather than his own ideas alone, is to be preferred to the one who believes his own head superior to those of his councillors. Indeed I can only say that the worst government is that which has no other guiding force than the will of an incompetent and presumptuous king who ignores his council, while the best of all is that one whose moving principle is embodied in the mind of the monarch who, although capable of acting by himself, has so much modesty and soundness of judgement that he acts only after seeking sound advice, on the theory that one eye cannot see as clearly as several.
Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (tr. H.B. Hill 1961), Book 1, Chapter 8.
It is necessary to have the masculine virtue of making decisions rationally, rather than to slide down the easy slope of inclination, which often leads princes over great precipices.
Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (tr. H.B. Hill 1961), Book 1, Chapter 6.
Just as to speak well of your enemies is an heroic virtue, so also a prince cannot speak offensively about those who would lay down their lives a thousand times for him and his interests without committing a great fault against the laws of Christianity, to say nothing of those of political wisdom.
Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (tr. H.B. Hill 1961), Book 1, Chapter 6.
The blows from a sword are easily healed. But it is not the same with blows of the tongue, especially if they be from the tongue of a king, whose authority renders the pain almost without remedy unless it be provided by the king himself. The higher a stone is thrown, the greater its striking force when it returns.
Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (tr. H.B. Hill 1961), Book 1, Chapter 6.
Although it is common enough with many men to act only when driven by some emotion, so that one may conceive of them as being like incense which smells sweet only when it is being burned, I cannot help reminding Your Majesty that such a character trait is dangerous in any kind of person, and it is particularly so in kings, who more than all others should be motivated by reason. If emotion once in a while does in fact bring good results, it is only a matter of luck, since by its very nature it misleads men so much that it blinds those who are possessed by it.
Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (tr. H.B. Hill 1961), Book 1, Chapter 6.