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disgraces,1 whereby they may not know what to expect, and be, as it were, in a wood. Of ambitions, it is less harmful,2 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.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 chuse 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,
1 Disgraces. Acts of unkindness; repulses. 'Her disgraces to him were graced by her excellence.'—Sir Philip Sidney.
2 Harmful. Hurtful. See page 82.
3 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.
1 Bravery. Ostentation; parade.
'The bravery of his grief did put me into a towering passion.'—Shakespere.
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 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 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 elegance,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,s 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 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.* 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 antimasques7 not be long; they have been commonly of fools, satyrs, baboons, wild men, antics,s beasts, sprites,' witches, iEthiopes,10 pigmies, turquets,1 nymphs, rustics, Cupids, statues moving, and the like. As for angels, it is not comical2 enough to put them in anti-masques; and anything that is hideous, as devils, giants, is, on the other side, as unfit; but chiefly, let the music of them be recreative, and with some strange changes. Some sweet odours suddenly coming forth, without any drops falling, are, in such a company, as there is steam and heat, things of great pleasure and refreshment. Double masques, one of men, another of ladies, addeth state and variety; but all is nothing, except the room be kept clear and neat.
1 Masque. A dramatic performance on festive occasions. 'Comus. A masque presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634.' 3 Triumphs. Public shows. 'What news from Oxford? Hold those justs and triumphs!'—Shakespere.
3 Elegancy. Elegance. 'St. Augustine, out of a kind of elegancy in writing, makes some difference.'—Raleigh.
4 Ditty. A poem to be sung. (Now only used in burlesque.)'Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute, Tempered to the oaten flute.'—Milton.
5 Would. Should. See page 333. * Nice. Minutely accurate.
'The letter was not nice, hut full of charge Of dear import.'—Shakespere. '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.
9 Wonderment. Astonishment; surprise.
'Ravished with Fancy's wonderment.'—Spenser.
1 That. What. See page 73. 1 Puling. Whining.
'To speak puling, like a beggar at Halimass.'—Shakespere. 1 Ouches. Ornaments of gold in which jewels may be set. 'Thou shalt make the tun stones to be set in ouches of gold.'—Exodus xxviii. n.
• Spangs. Spangles.
'A vesture sprinkled, here and there,
• Glory. Lustre.
'The moon, serene in glory.'—Pope. 6 Vizard—Visor. A mask used to disguise. 'A lie is like a vizard, that may cover the face, indeed, but can never become it.'—South.
1 Anti-masques. Short masques, or light interludes, played between the parts of the principal masques. 8 Antics. Buffoons.
'If you should smile, he grows impatient,—
'Within the hollow crown
• Sprites. Spirits.
'And forth he call'd out of deep darkness drear
'Since her time colliers are counted fair,
For justs, and tournies,3 and barriers, the glories* of them are chiefly in the chariots, wherein the challengers make their entry, especially if they be drawn with strange beasts, as lions, bears, camels, and the like; or, in the devices of their entrance, or in bravery6 of their liveries, or in the goodly furniture of their horses and armour. But enough of these toys.
ANNOTATIONS.'These things are but toys . . . .'
Bacon seems to think some kind of apology necessary for treating of matters of this kind in the midst of grave treatises. But his taste seems to have lain a good deal this way. He is reported to have always shown a great fondness for splendour and pageantry, and everything that could catch the eye and
1 Turquets. (Probably) Turks.
s Comical. Comic.
8 Tourneys. Tournament.
'Not but the mode of that romantic age. The age of tourneys, triumphs, and quaint masques, Glared with fantastic pageantry which dimmed The sober eye of truth, and dazzled e'en The sage himself.'—Mason. 4 Glory. Splendour; magnificence. 'Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.'—Matthew.
6 Bravery. Finery. 'In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet.'—Isaiah in. 18.
'A stately ship, with all her bravery on,