Observance I
In February of 1815, the emperor Napoleon escaped from the island of
Elba, where he had been imprisoned by the allied forces of Europe, and returned to Paris in a march that stirred the French nation, rallying troops
and citizens of all classes to his side and chasing his successor, King Louis
XVIII, off the throne. By March, however, having reestablished hirnself in
power, he had to face the fact that France's situation had gravely changed.
The country was devastated, he had no allies among the other European
nations, and his most loyal and important ministers had deserted hirn or
left the country. Only one man remained from the old regime-Joseph
Fouche, his former minister of police.

 Napoleon had relied on Fouche to do his dirty work throughout his
previous reign, but he had never been able to figure his minister out. He
kept a corps of agents to spy on all of his ministers, so that he would always
have an edge on them, but no one had gotten anything on Fouche. If suspected of some rnisdeed, the minister would not get angry or take the accusation personally-he would submit, nod, srnile, and change colors
charneleonlike, adapting to the requirements of the moment. At first this
had seemed somewhat pleasant and charming, but after a while it frustrated Napoleon, who feit outdone by this slippery man. At one time or another he had fired all of his most important ministers, including Talleyrand,
hut he never touched Fouche. And so, in 1815, 

back in power and in need
of help, he feit he had no choice but to re appoint Fouche as his minister of
Several weeks into his new reign, Napoleon's spies told him they bemost not above two or
three pounds, can he
carry a boy that weighs
above fi fty? "
"Why, " replied the
merchant, "do you
make such a wonder at
that? As if in a country
where one rat can eat a
hundred tons ' weight
o[ iron, it were such a
wonder for an owl to
carry a ehild that
weighs not overfifty
pounds in aW" The
friend, upon this, found
that the mercharll was
no such fool as he took
him to be, begged his
pardon for the cheat
whieh he designed to
have put upon him,
restored him the value
of his iron, and so had
his son again.
When you have come
to grips and are striving together with the
enemy, and you realize
that you cannot
advanee, you "soak in "
and become one with
the enemy. You can win
hy applying a suitable
technique while you
are mutually entangled.
... You can win often
decisively with the
advantage of knowing
how to "soak" into the
enemy, whereas, were
you to draw apart, you
would lose the chance
to win.
LAW 44 379
'1'1 1 1<: F()\ ,1 ,\1)
One day Mr, Fox
decided tu fork Ol/t
And invite old Mrs.
Sturk Ol/t<
The dinner wasn 't
elaborateBeing habitl/ally mean,
He didn't go in for
haute cuh·;ineIn fact it consisted of a
shallow plate
Of thin grl/el.
Within a minI/te
Ol/r juker had lapped
his plate clean;
Meanwhile his gl/est,
fishing away with
her beak,
Got not a morsei in it.
To pay him back jiJr
this cruel Practical
juke, the slork invited
The fox to dinner the
following week.
"I shol/ld be
delighled. "
He replied;
"When it comes to
friends I never stand
upon pride. "
Punctually on the
day he ran
To his hostess 's house
and at onee began
Praising everything:
"Whal taste! What chiel
And Ihe food-done
jusl to a turn!"
Then sat down wilh a
hearty appetite
(Foxes are always
ready to eal)
And savored the delicious sm eil ofmeal.
It was minced meat and
served-Io serve
him right!­
In a long-necked.
narrow-mouthed um.
The "lork. easily
Enjoyed her fill
With her long bill;
His snout, Ihollgh, 

380 LAW 44
lieved Fouche was in secret contact with ministers of foreign countries, including Metternich of Austria. Mraid that his most valuable minister was
betraying hirn to his enemies, Napoleon had to find out the truth before it
was too late. He could not confront Fouche directly-in person the man
was as slippery as an eel. He needed hard proof.
This seemed to come in April, when the emperor's private police captured a Viennese gentleman who had come to Paris to pass information on
to Fouche. Ordering the man brought before hirn, Napoleon threatened to
shoot hirn then and there unless he confessed; the man broke down and
admitted he had given Fouche a letter from Metternich, written in invisible
ink, arranging for a secret meeting of special agents in Basel. Napoleon accordingly ordered one of his own agents to infiltrate this meeting. If Fouche
was indeed planning to betray hirn, he would finally be caught red-handed
and would hang.
Napoleon waited impatiently for the agent's return, but to bis bewilderment the agent showed up days later reporting that he had heard nothing that would implicate Fouche in a conspiracy. In fact it seemed that the
other agents present suspected Fouche of double-crossing thern, as if he
were working for Napoleon all along. Napoleon did not believe this for an
instant-Fouche had somehow outwitted hirn again.
The following morning Fouche visited Napoleon, and remarked, 

the way, sire, I never told you that I had a letter from Metternich a few
days ago; my mind was so full of things of greater moment. Besides, his
emissary omitted to give me the powder needed to make the writing legible .... Here at length is the letter." Sure that Fouche was toying with hirn,
Napoleon exploded, "You are a traitor, Fouche! I ought to have you
hanged." He continued to harangue Fouche, but could not fire hirn without
proof. Fouche only expressed amazement at the emperor's words, but inwardly he smiled, for all along he had been playing a mirroring game.
Fouche had known for years that Napoleon kept on top of those around
hirn by spying on them day and night. The minister had survived this game
by having his own spies spy on Napoleon's spies, thus neutralizing any action Napoleon might take against hirn. In the case of the meeting in Basel,
he even turned the tables: Knowing about Napoleon's double agent, he set
it up so that it would appear as if Fouche were a loyal double agent too.
Fouche gained power and flourished in a period of great tumult by
mirroring those around hirn. During the French Revolution he was a radical Jacobin; after the Terror he became a moderate republican; and under
Napoleon he became a committed imperialist whom Napoleon ennobled
and made the duke of Otranto. If Napoleon took up the weapon of digging
up dirt on people, Fouche made sure he had the dirt on Napoleon, as weIl
as on everyone else. This also allowed hirn to predict the emperor's plans
and desires, so that he could echo his boss's sentiments before he had even
uttered them. Shielding his actions with a mirror strategy, Fouche could
also plot offensive moves without being caught in the act.
This is the power of mirroring those around you. First, you give people
the feeling that you share their thoughts and goals. Second, if they suspect
you have ulterior motives, the mirror shields you from them, preventing
them from figuring out your strategy. Eventually this will infuriate and unsettle them. By playing the double, you steal their thunder, suck away their
initiative, make them feel helpless. You also gain the ability to choose when
and how to unsettle them-another avenue to power. And the mirror saves
you mental energy: simply echoing the moves of others gives you the
space you need to develop a strategy of your own.
Observance 11
Early on in his career, the ambitious statesman and general Alcibiades of
Athens (450-404 B.C.) fashioned a formidable weapon that became the
source of his power. In every encounter with others, he would sense their
moods and tastes, then carefully tailor his words and actions to mirror their
inmost desires. He would seduce them with the idea that their values were
superior to everyone else's, and that his goal was to model hirnself on them
or help them realize their dreams. Few could resist his charm.
The first man to fall under his speIl was the philosopher Socrates. Alcibiades represented the opposite of the Socratic ideal of simplicity and uprightness: He lived lavishly and was completely unprincipled. Whenever
he met Socrates, however, he mirrored the older man's sobriety, eating
simply, accompanying Socrates on long walks, and talking only of philosophy and virtue. Socrates was not completely fooled-he was not unaware
of Alcibiades' other life. But that only made hirn vulnerable to a logic that
flattered hirn: Only in my presence, he feIt, does this man submit to a virtuous influence; only I have such power over hirn. This feeling intoxicated
Socrates, who became Alcibiades' fervent admirer and supporter, one day.
even risking his own life to rescue the young man in battle.

 The Athenians considered Alcibiades their greatest orator, for he had
an uncanny ability to tune in to his audience's aspirations, and mirror their
desires. He made his greatest speeches in support of the invasion of Sicily,
which he thought would bring great wealth to Athens and limitless glory to
hirnself. The speeches gave expression to young Athenians' thirst to conquer lands for themselves, rather than living off the victories of their ancestors. But he also tailored his words to reflect older men's nostalgia for the
glory years when Athens led the Greeks against Persia, and then went on to
create an empire. All Athens now dreamed of conquering Sicily; Alcibiades' plan was approved, and he was made the expedition's commander.
While Alcibiades was leading the invasion of Sicily, however, certain
Athenians fabricated charges against hirn of profaning sacred statues. He
knew his enemies would have hirn executed if he retumed horne, so at the
last minute he deserted the Athenian fleet and defected to Athens's bitter
enemy, Sparta. The Spartans welcomed this great man to their side, but
they knew his reputation and were wary of hirn. Alcibiades loved luxury;
the Spartans were a warrior people who worshipped austerity, and they
were afraid he would corrupt their youth. But much to their relief, the AIheinfi the wronfi
shape ami size,
He had to return to
his den
Empty·hellied, tai!
drafifiinfi, ears
As red in the face as a
fox who 's been caufiht
by a hen.
1 621-1695
'1'11 1'. 1'1 ·HI.()I � f:/)
U:Tn: H
When I wish to find out
how wise, or how
stupid, or how fiood, or
how wicked is any one,
or what are his
thoufihts at the
moment, I fashion the
expression of my face,
as accurately as possible, in accordance with
the expression oI his,
and then wait to see
what thoufihts or sentiments arise in my miml
or heart, as if to match
or correspond with the
1809- 1 849
LAW 44 381
1 .0KI·:\ZO IlE' \l EI)I(:1
Lorenzo [de ' Medici!
lost no opportunily of
increasing the respect
which Pope {nnocent
now feit for hirn and of
gaining his friendship.
if possible his affection.
He took the trouble to
discover the Pope:,
tastes and indulged
thern accordingly. 

sent hirn ... casks of
his favourile wine ..
He sent hirn courteous.
flattering letters in
wh ich he assured hirn.
when the Pope was ill.
that he feit his sufferings as thOl'lih they
were his own. in which
he encouraged hirn
with such fortifyinli
statements as Ha Pope
is what he wills to be. "
and in which, as
though incidentally. he
included his views on
the proper course of
papal policies. {nnocent
was gratified by
Lorenzo's attentions
and convinced by his
arguments .... So
cornpletely, indeed, did
he corne to share his
opinions that. as the
di.wruntled Ferrarese
arnbassador put it.
Hthe Pope sleeps wilh
the eyes of the Magnificent Lorenzo . ..
1 980
382 LAW 44
cibiades who arrived in Sparta was not at all what they expected: He wore
his hair untrimmed (as they did) , took cold baths, ate coarse bread and
black broth, and wore simple clothes. 

To the Spartans this signified that he
had come to see their way of life as superior to the Athenian; greater than
they were, he had chosen to be a Spartan rather than being born one, and
should thus be honored above all others. They fell under his speIl and
gave hirn great powers. Unfortunately Alcibiades rarely knew how to
rein in his charm-he managed to seduce the king of Sparta's wife and
make her pregnant. When this became public he once more had to flee
for his life.
This time Alcibiades defected to Persia, where he suddenly went from
Spartan simplicity to embracing the lavish Persian lifestyle down to the last
detail. It was of course immensely flattering to the Persians to see a Greek
of Alcibiades' stature prefer their culture over his own, and they showered
hirn with honors, land, and power. Once seduced by the mirror, they failed
to notice that behind this shield Alcibiades was playing a double game, secretly helping the Athenians in their war with Sparta and thus reingratiating hirnself with the city to which he desperately wanted to return, and
which welcomed hirn back with open arms in 408 B.C.
Early in his political career, Alcibiades made a discovery that changed his
whole approach to power: He had a colorful and forceful personality, but
when he argued his ideas strongly with other people he would win over a
few while at the same time alienating many more. The secret to gaining ascendancy over large numbers, he came to believe, was not to impose his
colors but to absorb the colors of those around hirn, like a chameleon.
Once people fell for the trick, the deceptions he went on to practice would
be invisible to them.
Understand: Everyone is wrapped up in their own narcissistic shell. 

When you try to impose your own ego on them, a wall goes up, resistance
is increased. By mirroring them, however, you seduce them into a kind of
narcissistic rapture: They are gazing at a double of their own soul. This
double is actually manufactured in its entirety by you. Once you have used
the mirror to seduce them, you have great power over them.
It is worth noting, however, the dangers in the promiscuous use of the
mirror. In Alcibiades' presence people feIt larger, as if their egos had been
doubled. But once he left, they feIt empty and diminished, and when they
saw hirn mirroring completely different people as totally as he had mirrored them, they feIt not just diminished but betrayed. Alcibiades' overuse
of the Mirror Effect made whole peoples feel used, so that he constantly
had to flee from one place to another. Indeed Alcibiades so angered the
Spartans that they finally had hirn murdered. He had gone too far. The Seducer's Mirror must be used with caution and discrimination.
Observance 111
In 1652 the recently widowed Baroness Mancini moved her family frorn
Rome to Paris, where she could count on the influence and protection of
her brother Cardinal Mazarin, the French prime minister. Of the
baroness's five daughters, four dazzled the court with their beauty and high
spirits. These infamously charming nieces of Cardinal Mazarin became
known as the Mazarinettes, and soon found themselves invited to all the
most important court functions.
One daughter, Marie Mancini, did not share this good fortune, for she
lacked the beauty and grace of her sisters-who, along with her mother
and even Cardinal Mazarin, eventually came to dislike her, for they feit
she spoiled the family image. They tried to persuade her to enter a convent, where she would be less of an embarrassment, but she refused. Instead she applied herself to her studies, learning Latin and Greek,
perfecting her French, and practicing her musical skills. On the rare occasions when the family would let her attend court affairs, she trained herself
to be an artful listen er, sizing people up for their weaknesses and hidden
desires. And when she finally met the future King Louis XIV, in 1657
(Louis was seventeen years old, Marie eighteen), she decided that to spite
her family and unde, she would find a way to make this young man fall in
love with her.
This was a seemingly impossible task for such a plain-Iooking girl, but
Marie studied the future king dosely. She noticed that her sisters' frivolity
did not please hirn, and she sensed that he loathed the scheming and petty
politicking that went on all around hirn. She saw that he had a romantic nature-he read adventure novels, insisted on marching at the head of his
armies, and had high ideals and a passion for glory. The court did not feed
these fantasies of his; it was a banal, superficial world that bored hirn. 

The key to Louis's heart, Marie saw, would be to construct a mirror reflecting his fantasies and his youthful yearnings for glory and romance. To
begin with she immersed herself in the romantic novels, poems, and plays
that she knew the young king read voraciously. When Louis began to engage her in conversation, to his delight she would talk of the things that
stirred his soul-not this fashion or that piece of gossip, but rather courtly
love, the deeds of great knights, the nobility of past kings and heroes. She
fed his thirst for glory by creating an image of an august, superior king
whom he could aspire to become. She stirred his imagination.
As the future Sun King spent more and more time in Marie's presence,
it eventually became dear that he had fallen in love with the least likely
young woman of the court. To the horror of her sisters and mother, he
showered Marie Mancini with attention. He brought her along on his military campaigns, and made a show of stationing her where she could watch
as he marched into battle. He even promised Marie that he would marry
her and make her queen.
Mazarin, however, would never allow the king to marry his niece, a
woman who could bring France no diplomatie or royal alliances. Louis had
to marry a princess of Spain or Austria. In 1658 Louis succumbed to the
pressure and agreed to break off the first romantic involvement of his life.
He did so with much regret, and at the end of his life he acknowledged that
he never loved anyone as much as Marie Mancini.

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