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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 cunning2 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 ambitious great ones; for when the way of pleasuring3 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 inure5 some meaner persons to be scourges to ambitious men. As for the having of them obnoxious6 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
disgraces,1 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 everything; 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.3 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 choose such ministers as are more sensible of duty than of rising, and such as love business rather upon conscience than upon bravery ;4 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 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 some back 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 MASQUES1 AND
THESE 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,3 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 ditty4 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 would5 be strong and manly (a bass and a tenor, no treble), and the ditty high and tragical, not nice6 or dainty.7 Several quires placed one over against another, and taking the voice by catches, anthem-wise,8 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 pettya 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
the scenes abound with light, especially coloured and varied; and let the masquers, or any other that are to come down from the scene, have some motions upon the scene itself before their coming down; for it draws the eye strangely, and makes it with great pleasure to desire to see that1 it cannot perfectly discern. Let the songs be loud and cheerful, and not chirpings or pulings;2 let the music likewise be sharp and loud, and well placed. The colours that show best by candle-light are white, carnation, and a kind of sea-water green; and ouches,3 or spangs,4 as they are of no great cost, so they are of most glory.5 As for rich embroidery, it is lost and not discerned. Let the suits of the masquers be graceful, and such as become the person when the vizards6 are off, not after examples of known attires, Turks, soldiers, mariners, and the like. Let antimasques 7 not be long; they have been commonly of fools, satyrs, baboons, wild men, antics,8 beasts, sprites,9 witches, iEthiopes,10