That which cometh nearest to it, is to leave those arts chiefly to strangers (which, for that purpose, are the more easily to be received), and to contain the principal bulk of the vulgar natives, within those three kinds, - tillers of the ground; free servants; and handicraftsmen of strong and manly arts, as smiths, masons, carpenters, etc.; not reckoning professed soldiers.
But above all, for empire and greatness, it im- porteth most, that a nation do profess arms, as their principal honor, study, and occupation. For the things which we formerly have spoken of, are but habilitations towards arms; and what is habilita- tion without intention and act? Romulus, after his death (as they report or feign), sent a present to the Romans, that above all, they should intend arms; and then they should prove the greatest empire of the world. The fabric of the state of Sparta was wholly (though not wisely) framed and composed, to that scope and end. The Persians and Macedo- nians had it for a flash. The Gauls, Germans, Goths, Saxons, Normans, and others, had it for a time. The Turks have it at this day, though in great declination. Of Christian Europe, they that have it are, in effect, only the Spaniards. But it is so plain, that every man profiteth in that, he most intendeth, that it needeth not to be stood upon. It is enough to point at it; that no nation which doth not directly profess arms, may look to have great- ness fall into their mouths. And on the other side, it is a most certain oracle of time, that those states that continue long in that profession (as the Ro- mans and Turks principally have done) do won- ders. And those that have professed arms but for an age, have, notwithstanding, commonly at- tained that greatness, in that age, which main- tained them long after, when their profession and exercise of arms hath grown to decay.
Incident to this point is, for a state to have those laws or customs, which may reach forth unto them just occasions (as may be pretended) of war. For there is that justice, imprinted in the nature of men, that they enter not upon wars (whereof so many calamities do ensue) but upon some, at the least specious, grounds and quarrels. The Turk hath at hand, for cause of war, the propagation of his law or sect; a quarrel that he may always com- mand. The Romans, though they esteemed the extending the limits of their empire, to be great honor to their generals, when it was done, yet they never rested upon that alone, to begin a war. First, therefore, let nations that pretend to greatness have this; that they be sensible of wrongs, either upon borderers, merchants, or politic ministers; and that they sit not too long upon a provocation. Secondly, let them be prest, and ready to give aids and succors, to their confederates; as it ever was with the Romans; insomuch, as if the confederate had leagues defensive, with divers other states, and, upon invasion offered, did implore their aids severally, yet the Romans would ever be the fore- most, and leave it to none other to have the honor. As for the wars which were anciently made, on the behalf of a kind of party, or tacit conformity of estate, I do not see how they may be well justified: as when the Romans made a war, for the liberty of Grecia; or when the Lacedaemonians and Athe- nians, made wars to set up or pull down democ- racies and oligarchies; or when wars were made by foreigners, under the pretence of justice or pro- tection, to deliver the subjects of others, from tyranny and oppression; and the like. Let it suf- fice, that no estate expect to be great, that is not awake upon any just occasion of arming.
No body can be healthful without exercise, neither natural body nor politic; and certainly to a kingdom or estate, a just and honorable war, is the true exercise. A civil war, indeed, is like the heat of a fever; but a foreign war is like the heat of exercise, and serveth to keep the body in health; for in a slothful peace, both courages will effemi- nate, and manners corrupt.