As I was considering with myself to bring forth and propose to the judgment of this worthy company the discourse I held yesterday in your presence, methought I heard political virtue—not in the illusion of a dream, but in a true and real vision—say thus to me:
A golden ground is laid for sacred songs.

We have already laid the foundation of the discourse by persuading and exhorting persons to concern themselves in managing the affairs of the commonweal, and now we proceed to build upon it the doctrine which is due after such an exhortation. For after a man has received an admonition and exhortation to deal in the affairs of the state, there ought consequently to be given him the precepts of government, following and observing which, he may, as much as it is possible for a man to do, profit the public, and in the mean time honestly prosecute his own affairs with such safety and honor as shall be meet for him.

There is first then one point to be discoursed, which, as it is precedent to what we have hereafter to say, so depends on what we have said before. Now this is, what sort of policy and government is best? For as there are many sorts of lives in particular men, so also are there in people and states; and the life of a people or state is its policy and government. It is therefore necessary to declare which [p. 396] is the best, that a statesman may choose it from among the rest, or, if that is not possible for him to do, he may at least take that which has the nearest resemblance to the best.

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