It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.
Princes should devolve on others those matters that entail responsibility, and reserve to themselves those that relate to grace and favour.
And let it here be noted that men are either to be kindly treated, or utterly crushed, since they can revenge lighter injuries, but not graver. Wherefore the injury we do to a man should be of a sort to leave no fear of reprisals.
If his ministers are capable and loyal, people will always reckon a ruler astute, because he was able to recognize their ability and command their loyalty. When they are not, people will always have reason to criticize, because the first mistake the ruler made was in his choice of ministers. Everyone.
That defense alone is effectual, sure and durable which depends upon yourself and your own valour.
There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.