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Another priceless proverb, stolen from another venerable source and applied to the life of the modern Machiavellian.


Midas Jones: Literary Pioneer! -- The Modern Prince is the first book in the history of the English language to use only masculine pronouns in odd-numbered chapters and feminine pronouns in even-numbered ones. Read why.


A Machiavellian Proverb



To Thine Own Self Be True



shakespeareWith thanks to the bard, we suggest this proverb for its Machiavellian good sense. Most people live for others: their approval, their praise, their attention, their endorsement, their favorable opinion, their acceptance, their permission, their sanction, and their praise. This is not to say that they are weak or inferior. They are merely typical of their kind. The human evolved in groups, with a pecking order. Most people want to feel the approval of those around them. Others, like you and me, are different. We prefer to be consistent with our own inner vision, whatever that may be.

We only get one ride on this carousel. Use the time you’ve been given to live in a way that provides you with maximum pleasure and the least amount of pain and frustration possible. When you look back on your life from advanced old age, you will want to feel that you lived according to your desires. Be true to yourself.


In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a father is giving advice to his son, named Laertes, who is about to sail for France. The Machiavellian proverb is shown in context below left, accompanied by an alternate, slightly more pedestrian version on the right.



Shakespeare’s Version


Yet here, Laertes! Aboard, aboard for shame! The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail, and you are stay'd for. There ... my blessing with thee! And these few precepts in thy memory



Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, nor any unproportion'd thought his act. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel; but do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new-hatch'd, unfledg’d comrade. 


Beware of entrance to a quarrel but, being in, bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee.



Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice; take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgement.



Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy; for the apparel oft proclaims the man; and they in France of the best rank and station are of a most select and generous chief in that.


Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.


This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.




Farewell; my blessing season this in thee!


-- William Shakespeare  



Midas Jones’ Version


Get on with your plans, dear Reader!

There are things that need being done so your life will be what you want it to be. Life is short and there is no time to waste! I want you to achieve your ambitions, so let me leave you with these few thoughts to consider...


Think before you speak. If the situation is important, then think long and hard before speaking or acting. Be civil and polite to everyone, but don’t be gushy or phony. Take good care of your good and loyal friends, but don’t waste time with people who are not worth your time.




Avoid a fight when it can be avoided, but do not hold back if it cannot. Make those who oppose you regret their opposition.


Listen carefully to everyone, even to criticism. A yapping mouth unknowingly blurts out secrets. Be careful of what you reveal of yourself.


Do not spend more than you can afford. Be rich in your tastes, but not showy. Some people will judge you by your looks. These may be the people whose cooperation you need.



Don’t borrow and seldom lend. If a debt is not paid, then a friend will have been lost. Manage your resources well, so that you do not have to depend on others.


Most of all, remember this: Be True to Your Nature. Only you can live your own life. No one else feels your pain or joy. There is no pleasure in living for others. Do not purchase the happiness of others by sacrificing your own.


I hope you think about these things. Good Luck


-- Midas Jones 


Midas Jones, Literary Pioneer! The English language and speakers of English are going through an awkward periodFrom Wikipedia regarding gender. Not too long ago, if a pronoun referred to both men and women, the masculine form was used and everyone was supposed to understand that “he” included “she”. For example, we might read “If the voter wishes to vote a straight party ticket, then he should mark the ballot ...”, and we were supposed to understand that “he” referred to a voter of either gender.

I have had many conversations with women in my life or in my classes who complained of their social invisibility. They resented being merely a part of their father or husband, giving up their maiden names for their husband’s name, being included as an accessory to a man rather than being a person unto themselves apart from fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons. So, in deference to the feelings of these thoughtful women, I found myself perfectly willing to adjust my pronoun habits to include the lovelier half of the human race.

Unfortunately, I found myself saying and writing things like “If he or she wants to get a copy of his or her transcript, then he or she should submit a request to his or her ...” Very clumsy. The language needs a new set of pronouns that refer to both genders, and sooner or later a new set of words will surely emerge to fill this hole. Until then, my personal habit is to use either “he” or “she” interchangeably when referring to an unnamed person of unknown gender. I do a lot of public speaking, and I make a point of trying to alternate more or less equally between masculine and feminine pronouns.

When I began writing The Modern Prince, I decided early on that I would use masculine pronouns throughout the odd-numbered chapters and feminine pronouns throughout the even numbered chapters. I found that I was occasionally writing phrases that were new to me. For example ...



it is better to crush your opponent rather than wound her”


“in a year or two you’ll be defeated by a more muscular, younger woman

who takes newer designer steroids than you do”


“as she shows Muslim men that she can kill infidels as courageously as they do”


“The happiness of a Prince rests in her Domain and her control over it.”


I am interested in hearing whether my female readers responded positively to my grammatical experiment. As a man, I found it interesting - and fun - to read what I had written. I am also interested in hearing from my male readers. Did it contribute to your enjoyment of the book? Did any of the sentences bother you? Let me know.

Midas Jones            




Chapter 1





Download or read online: Machiavelli’s Prince in English translation by W. K. Rowling


Read a brief summary of Machiavelli’s life and works,

written by W. K. Rowling as the Introduction to his translation of The Prince


A readable summary of Machiavelli’s Prince can be found at






The Modern Prince:

Better Living Through Machiavellianism


Click to read a couple of sample chapters. Click here to read a couple of chapters


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