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ESSAY XXXVI. OF AMBITION.
A MBITION is like choler, which is a humour that maketh
men active, earnest, full of alacrity, and stirring, if it be not stopped; but if it be stopped, and cannot have its way, it becometh adust,' and thereby malign and venomous ; so ambitious men, if they find the way open for their rising, and still get forward, they are rather busy than dangerous; but if they be checked in their desires, they become secretly discontent,' and look upon men and matters with an evil eye, and are best pleased when things go backward; which is the worst property in a servant of a prince or State. Therefore, it is good for princes, if they use ambitious men, to handle it so as they be still progressive and not retrograde; which, because it cannot be without inconvenience, it is good not to use such natures at all; for if they rise not with their service, they will take order to make their service fall with them. But since we have said, it were good not to use men of ambitious natures, except it be upon necessity, it is fit to speak in what cases they are of necessity. Good commanders in the wars must be taken, be they never so ambitious; for the use of their service dispenseth' with the rest; and to take a soldier without ambition is to pull off his spurs. There is also great use of ambitious men in being screens to princes in matters of danger and envy; for no man will take that part except he be like a seeled dove, that mounts and mounts,
· Adust. Fiery.
The same adust complexion has impelled
Charles to the convent, Philip to the field.'— Pope. Discontent. Discontented.
“For e'er with goodness men grow discontent,
Where states are ripe to fall, and virtue spent.'—Daniel. 3 Order. Measures.
While I take order for mine own affairs.'-Shakespere. 4 Dispense with. To excuse.
• To save a brother's life,
Nature dispenseth with the deed.'
• To seel her father's eyes up, close as oak.'—Shakespere.
because he cannot see about him. There is use also of ambitious men in pulling down the greatness of any subject that overtops; as Tiberius used Macro in the pulling down of Sejanus. Since, therefore, they must be used in such cases, there resteth' to speak how they are to be bridled, that they may be less dangerous. There is less danger of them, if they be of mean birth, than if they be noble; and if they be rather harsh of nature, than gracious and popular, and if they be rather new raised, than grown cunning and fortified in their greatness. It is counted by some a weakness in princes to have favourites, but it is, of all others, the best remedy against ainbitious great ones; for when the way of pleasuring and displeasuring lieth by the favourite, it is impossible any other should be over great. Another means to curb them, is to balance them by others as proud as they; but then there must be some middle counsellors to keep things steady, for without that ballast, the ship will roll too much. At the least, a prince may animate and inure some meaner persons to be scourges to ambitious men. As for the having of them obnoxious to ruin, if they be of fearful natures, it may do well, but if they be stout and daring, it may precipitate their designs, and prove dangerous. As for the pulling of them down, if the affairs require it, and that it may not be done with safety suddenly, the only way is, the interchange continually of favours and dis
Rest. To remain.
• Fallen he is; and now What rests but that the mortal sentence pass
On his transgression.'- Milton. * Cunning. Experienced ; skilful. “Esau was a cunning hunter.'—Gen. xxv. 27.
• Pleasure (not used as a verb). To please ; to gratify. “Promising both to give him cattle, and to pleasure him otherwise.'-2 Maccabees xii. 11.
'Nay, the birds' rural music, too
As if they sang to pleasure you.'—Cowley. • Displeasure. To displease.
Inure. To make use of. (From an old word—'ure.") 'Is the warrant sufficient for any man's conscience to build such proceedings upon, as are and have been put in ure for the establishment of that cause.'— Hooker. 6 Obnoxious. Liable to; in peril of ; subject to.
But what will not ambition and revenge
To basest things.'- Milton.
graces,' whereby they may not know what to expect, and be, as it were, in a wood. Of ambitions, it is less harmful, the ambition to prevail in great things, than that other to appear in every thing; for that breeds confusion, and mars business; but yet it is less danger to have an ambitious man stirring in business, than great in dependencies.' He that seeketh to be eminent amongst able men, hath a great task, but that is ever good for the public; but he that plots to be the only figure amongst cyphers, is the decay of a whole age. Honour hath three things in it; the vantage ground to do good, the approach to kings and principal persons, and the raising of a man's own fortunes. He that hath the best of these intentions, when he aspireth, is an honest man; and that prince that can discern of these intentions in another that aspireth, is a wise prince. Generally, let princes and States chuse such ministers as are more sensible of duty than of rising, and such as love business rather upon conscience than upon bravery ;- and let them discern a busy nature from a willing mind.
• The vantage-ground to do good.'
Ambition, meaning a desire to occupy a high station for which one thinks himself fit, is not, in itself, anything bad. But its excess being thought much more common, and being certainly much more conspicuous than a deficiency, and having done so much mischief in the world-hence, ambition is commonly regarded as a mere evil. And if all men were both infallible judges of their own, and of other men's qualifications, and also
· Disgraces. Acts of unkindness ; repulses. “Her disgraces to him were graced by her excellence.'—Sir Philip Sidney. ? Harmful. Hurtful. See page 81.
Dependencies. Things or persons under command, or at disposal. The second natural division of power, is of such men who have acquired large possessions, and consequently, dependencies.'-Swift.
• Bravery. Ostentation; parade. “The bravery of his grief did put me into a towering passion.'—Shakespere.
completely devoted to the public good, and utterly regardless of personal inconvenience and toil, it would be well that there should be no such thing as ambition. But as things are, an excessive dread of indulging ambition, or of being suspected of it, may keep back some from acting a great and useful part for which they were well fitted. Thus, some have thought that it would have been well for America if Washington had had enough ambition to have made himself perpetual President, and established the office as hereditary.
ESSAY XXXVII. OF MASQUES AND
TH "HESE things are but toys to come amongst such serious
observations; but yet, since princes will have such things, it is better they should be graced with elegancy,' than daubed with cost. Dancing to song is a thing of great state and pleasure. I understand it that the song be in quire, placed aloft, and accompanied with some broken music, and the ditty fitted to the device. Acting in song, especially in dialogues, hath an extreme good grace—I say acting, not dancing (for that is a mean and vulgar thing); and the voices of the dialogue would be strong and manly (a bass and a tenor, no treble), and the ditty high and tragical, not nice or dainty. Several quires placed one over against another, and taking the voice by catches, anthem-wise, give great pleasure. Turning dances into figure is a childish curiosity; and generally let it be noted, that those things which I here set down, are such as do naturally take the sense, and not respect petty wonderments.' It is true, the alterations of scenes, so it be quietly and without noise, are things of great beauty and pleasure; for they feed and relieve the eye before it be full of the same object. Let
* Masque. A dramatic performance on festive occasions. “Comus. A masque presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634.'
* Triumphs. Public shows. * What news from Oxford ? Hold those justs and triumphs !—Shakespere.
• Elegancy. Elegance. “St. Augustine, out of a kind of elegancy in writing, makes some difference.'— Raleigh. • Ditty. A poem to be sung. (Now only used in burlesque.)
. Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,
• The letter was not nice, but full of charge
Of dear import.'--Shakespere. 7 Dainty. Affectedly fine.
*Your dainty speakers have the curse,
To plead bad causes down to worse.'-Prior. 8 Wise. Ways; manner or mode. (Seldom now used as a simple word.)
• This song she sings in most commanding wise.'-Spenser. Wonderment. Astonishment; surprise.
* Ravished with fancy's wonderinent.'—Spenser.