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would only influence virtuous minds, there would It is observed by Cicero, that men of the be but small improvements in the world were greatest and the most shining parts are most there not some common principle of action actuated by ambition.
ADDISON. working equally with all men : and such a prin. Or ambitions, it is less harmful the ambition ciple is ambition, or a desire of fame, by which
to prevail in great things, than that other to great endowments are not suffered to lie idle
appear in everything; for that breeds confusion, and useless to the public, and many vicious men
and mars business; but yet it is less danger are over-reached, as it were, and engaged, con- to have an ambitious man stirring in business trary to their natural inclinations, in a glorious than great in dependences. He that seeketh to and laudable course of action. For we may be eminent amongst able men hath a great task; farther observe that men of the greatest abili- but that is ever good for the public: but he that ties are most fired with ambition; and that, on plots to be the only figure among t ciphers is the the contrary, mean and narrow minds are the decay of a whole age. LORD BACON: least actuated by it: whether it be that a man's
Essay XXXVII.: Of Ambition. sense of his own incapacities makes him de.
Ambitious men, if they be checked in their spair of coming at fame, or that he has not
| desires, become secretly discontent, and look enough range of thought to look out for any
upon men and matters with an evil eye. good which does not more immediately relate to
LORD BACON. his interest or convenience; or that Providence, in the very frame of his soul, would not subject
Although imitation is one of the great instruhim 10 such a passion as would be useless to
ments used by Providence in bringing our nathe world and a torment to himself.
ture towards its perfection, yet if men gave Were not this desire of fame very strong, the
themselves up to imitation entirely, and each difficulty of obtaining it, and the danger of
followed the other, and so on in an eternal losing it when obtained, would be sufficient to
circle, it is easy to see that there never could be deter a man from so vain a pursuit.
any improvement amongst them. Men must ADDISON: Spectator, No. 255.
remain as brutes do, the same at the end that
they are at this day, and that they were in the There are few men who are not ambitious of beginning of the world. To prevent this, God distinguishing themselves in the nation or coun- has implanted in man a sense of ambition, and try where they live, and of growing consider a satisfaction arising from the contemplation of able with those with whom they converse. his excelling his fellows in something deemed
There is a kind of grandeur and respect which valuable amongst them. It is this passion that the meanest and most insignificant part of man- | drives men to all the ways we see in use of sig. kind endeavour to procure in the little circle of nalizing themselves, and that tends to make their friends and acquaintance. The poorest whatever excites in a man the idea of this dismechanic, nay, the man who lives upon com tinction so very pleasant. It has been so strong mon alms, gets him his set of admirers, and de as to make very miserable men take comfort lights in that superiority which he enjoys over that they were supreme in misery; and certain those who are in some respects beneath him. I it is that, where we cannot distinguish ourselves
This ambition, which is natural to the soul of by something excellent, we begin to take a man, might, methinks, receive a very happy complacency in some singular infirmities, follies, turn, and, if it were rightly directed, contribute or defects of one kind or other. BURKE: as much to a person's advantage as it generally
On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756. does to his uneasiness and disquiet.
The same sun which gilds all nature, and
exhilarates the whole creation, does not shine How often is the ambitious man mortified
upon disappointed ambition. It is something with the very praises he receives, if they do not that rays out of darkness, and inspires nothing rise so high as he thinks they ought!
but gloom and melancholy. Men in this deADDISON.
plorable state of mind find a comfort in spreadAmbition raises a tumult in the soul, and ing the contagion of their spleen. They find an puts it into a violent hurry of thought.
advantage too; for it is a general, popular error,
ADDISON. I to imagine the loudest complainers for the pubThe ambitious man has little happiness, but lic to be the most anxious for its welfare. If is subject to much uneasiness and dissatisfaction. such persons can answer the ends of relief and
ADDISON. | profit to themselves, they are apt to be careless If any false step be made in the more mo.
enough about either the means or the conse
BURKE: mentous concerns of life, the whole scheme of
quences. ambitious designs is broken. ADDISON.
On the Present State of the Nation, 1769.
Well is it known that ambition can creep as An ambitious man puts it into the power of
| well as soar. The pride of no person in a every malicious tongue to throw him into a fit of
Aourishing condition is more justly to be dreaded melancholy.
than that of him who is mean and cringing Most men have so much of ill-nature, or of under a doubtful and unprosperous fortune. weariness, as not to soothe the vanity of the
BURKE: ambitious man.
Addison. Letters on a Regicide Peace: Letter III., 1797.
Indeed no man knows, when he cuts off the ! Ambition sufficiently plagues her proselytes incitements to a virtuous ambition and the just by keeping them always in show, like the rewards of public service, what infinite mischief statue of a public place. MONTAIGNE. he may do his country through all generations.
Covetous ambition thinking all too little which BURKE.
presently it hath, supposeth itself to stand in Ambition, that high and glorious passion,
need of all which it hath not. which makes such havoc among the sons of
Sir WALTER RALEIGH. men, arises from a proud desire of honour and Ambition breaks the ties of blood, and forgets distinction, and, when the splendid trappings in the obligations of gratitude. which it is usually caparisoned are removed,
SIR WALTER SCOTT. will be found to consist of the mean materials of envy, pride, and covetousness. It is de.
Who shoots at the mid-day sun, though he scribed by different authors as a gallant madness, be sure he shall nev
be sure he shall never hit the mark, yet as sure a pleasant poison, a hidden plague, a secret poi
et poi. | he is he shall shoot higher than he who aims son, a caustic of the soul, the moth of holiness,
but at a bush.
Sir PHILIP SIDNEY. the mother of hypocrisy, and, by crucifying and The humble and contented man pleases him. disquieting all it takes hold of, the cause of
self innocently and easily, while the ambitious melancholy and madness.
man attempts to please others sinfully and diffiROBERT BURTON.
cultly, and perhaps unsuccessfully too. Ambition is to the mind what the cap is to
South. the falcon; it blinds us first, and then compels He that would reckon up all the accidents us to tower by reason of our blindness. But, preferments depend upon, may as well underalas, when we are at the summit of a vain am take to count the sands or sum up infinity. bition we are also at the depth of real misery.
South. We are placed where time cannot improve, but
The ambitious person must rise early, and sit must impair us; where chance and change can
up late, and pursue his design with a constant, not befriend, but may betray us: in short, by Lindefatigable attendance; he must be infinitely attaining all we wish, and gaining all we want,
| patient and servile.
South. we have only reached a pinnacle where we have nothing to hope, but everything to fear.
It ought not to be the leading object of any COLTON: Lacon. one to become an eminent metaphysician, math
ematician, or poet, but to render himself happy An ardent thirst of honour; a soul unsatisfied as an individual, and an agreeable, a respect. with all it has done, and an unextinguished de-able, and a useful member of society. sire of doing more. DRYDEN.
DUGALD STEWART. 'Tis almost impossible for poets to succeed
The ambitious, the covetous, the superficial, without ambition : imagination must be raised and the ill-designing are apt to be bold and forby a desire of fame to a desire of pleasing ward,
Ambition is full of distractions; it teems with If we look abroad upon the great multitude
stratagems, and is swelled with expectations as of mankind, and endeavour to trace out the
with a tympany. It sleeps sometimes as the principles of action in every individual, it will,
wind in a storm, still and quiet for a minute, I think, seem highly probable that ambition
that it may burst out into an impetuous blast till runs through the whole species, and that every
the cordage of his heart-strings crack. man, in proportion to the vigour of his com
JEREMY TAYLOR. plexion, is more or less actuated by it.
There is no greater unreasonableness in the HUGHES : Spectator, No. 224. world than in the designs of ambition ; for it
makes the present certainly miserable, unsatisWhere ambition can be so happy as to cover fied, troublesome, and discontented, for the un. its enterprises even to the person himself under certain acquisition of an honour which nothing the appearance of principle, it is the most in- can secure; and, besides a thousand possibilities curable and inflexible of all human passions. of miscarrying, it relies upon no greater cer
HUME. tainty than our life: and when we are dead all
the world sees who was the fool. We must distinguish between felicity and
JEREMY TAYLOR. prosperity; for prosperity leads often to ambition, and ambition to disappointment: the Course is then over, the wheel turns round but once, while the reaction of goodness and happi.
AMERICA. ness is perpetual.
I remember, Sir, with a melancholy pleasure, Unruly ambition is deaf, not only to the the situation of the honourable gentleman who advice of friends, but to the counsels and mo- | made the motion for the repeal; in that crisis, nitions of reason itself.
L'ESTRANGE. | when the whole trading interest of this empire, crammed into your lobbies, with a trembling sition very particularly in a letter on your table. and anxious expectation, waited, almost to a He states that all the people in his government winter's return of light, their fate from your are lawyers, or smatterers in law,--and that in resolutions. When at length you had deter Boston they have been enabled, by successful mined in their favour, and your doors thrown chicane, wholly to evade many parts of one of open showed them the figure of their deliverer | your capital penal constitutions. in the well-earned triumph of his important
BURKE: victory, from the whole of that grave multitude
Speech on Conciliation with America, there arose an involuntary burst of gratitude and
March 22, 1775. transport. They jumped upon him like chil
For that service, for all service, whether of dren on a long-absent father. They clung about
revenue, trade, or empire, my trust is in her him as captives about their redeemer. All Eng.
interest in the British Constitution. My hold land, all America, joined in his applause. Nor
of the colonies is in the close affection which did he seem insensible to the best of all earthly
grows from common names, from kindred blood, rewards, the love and admiration of his fellow
from similar privileges and equal protection. citizens. Hope elevated and joy brightened his
These are ties which, though light as air, are as crest. I stood near him; and his face, to use
strong as links of iron. Let the colonies always the expression of the Scripture of the first
keep the idea of their civil rights associated martyr, “ his face was if it had been the face of
with your government, they will cling and an angel.” I do not know how others feel, but
grapple to you, and no force under heaven will if I had stood in that situation I never would
be of power to tear them from their allegiance. have exchanged it for all that kings in their pro
But let it be once understood that your governfusion could bestow. I did hope that that day's
ment may be one thing and their privileges andanger and honour would have been a bond to
other, that these two things may exist without hold us all together forever. But, alas! that,
any mutual relation,—the cement is gone, the with other pleasing visions, is long since van.
cohesion is loosened, and everything hastens ished. EDMUND BURKE:
to decay and dissolution. As long as you have Speech on American Taxation, April 19, 1774. the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of
On this business of America, I confess I am this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the saserious, even to sadness. I have had but one cred temple consecrated to our common faith, opinion concerning it since I sat, and before I wherever the chosen race and sons of England sat, in Parliament. The noble lord will, as worship freedom, they will turn their faces tousual, probably, attribute the part taken by me wards you. The more they multiply, the more and my friends in this business to a desire of friends you will have; the more ardently they getting his places. Let him enjoy this happy | love liberty, the more perfect will be their obeand original idea. If I deprived him of it, 1 dience. Slavery they can have anywhere. It should take away most of his wit, and all his is a weed that grows in every soil. argument. But I had rather bear the brunt of
BURKE: all his wit, and indeed blows much heavier, Speech on Conciliation with America, March than stand answerable to God for embracing a
22, 1775. system that tends to the destruction of some of Deny them this participation of freedom, and the very best and fairest of His works. But I you break that sole bond which originally made, know the map of England as well as the noble and must still preserve, the unity of the empire. lord, or as any other person; and I know that Do not entertain so weak an ima
Do not entertain so weak an imagination as that the way I take is not the road to preserment.
your registers and your bonds, your affidavits BURKE:
and your sufferances, your cockets and your Speech on American Taxation, April 19, 1774. clearances, are what form the great securities of
Permit me, Sir, to add another circumstance your commerce. Do not dream that your letters in our colonies which contributes no mean part
of office, and your instructions, and your sus. towards the growth and effect of this untract pending clauses are the things that hold toable spirit: I mean their education. In no gether the great contexture of this mysterious country, perhaps, in the world is law so general | whole. These things do not make your gov. a study. The profession itself is numerous and ernment. Dead instruments, passive tools as powerful, and in most provinces it takes the
they are, it is the spirit of the English commulead. The greater number of the deputies sent
nion that gives all their life and efficacy to them. to the Congress were lawyers. But all who read,
It is the spirit of the English Constitution, which, and most do read, endeavour to obtain some
infused ihrough the mighty mass, pervades, smattering in that science. I have been told by
feeds, unites, invigorates, vivifies every part of an eminent bookseller that in no branch of his
the empire, even down to the minutest member. business, after tracts of popular devotion, were
Is it not the same virtue which does everyso many books as those on the law exported to
| thing for us here in England ? the plantations. The colonists have now fallen
BURKE: into the way of printing them for their own use.
Speech on Conciliation with America, March I hear that they have sold nearly as many of
22, 1775. Blackstone's “ Commentaries" in America as in l I am, and ever have been, deeply sensible of England. General Gage marks out this dispo. I the difficulty of reconciling the strong presiding power, that is so useful towards the conserva- | in their forecastings, to their own great pecuniary tion of a vast, disconnected, infinitely diversified disadvantage and the edification of a censorious empire, with that liberty and safety of the prov. world, so will it frequently occur that prosessed inces which they must enjoy (in opinion and scientific men, too mindful of abstract theories practice at least) or they will not be provinces to make practical innovations, find themselves at all. I know, and have long felt, the diffi- suddenly confronted with some new application culty of reconciling the unwieldy haughtiness of those theories, or some complete reversal of of a great ruling nation, habituated to command, them. These audacious exhibitions of scientific pampered by enormous wealth, and confident heterodoxy have of late years been more comfrom a long course of prosperity and victory, tomon in America. The active, volatile, knowing the high spirit of free dependencies, animated States' man is as little disposed to submit to anwith the first glow and activity of juvenile heat, tiquated authority in intellectual matters as in and assuming to themselves, as their birthright, political affairs.
Household IVords. some part of that very pride which oppresses them. They who perceive no difficulty in reconciling these tempers (which, however, to make peace, must some way or other be reconciled)
AMUSEMENTS. are much above my capacity, or much below the
The next method, therefore, that I would promagnitude of the business. Of one thing I am
pose to fill up our time, should be useful and perfectly clear: that it is not by deciding the
innocent diversions. I must confess, I think it suit, but by compromising the difference, that
is below reasonable creatures to be altogether peace can be restored or kept. They who would
conversant in such diversions as are merely put an end to such quarrels by declaring roundly
innocent, and have nothing else to recommend in favour of the whole demands of either party
them but that there is no hurt in them. Whether have mistaken, in my humble opinion, the office
any kind of gaming has even thus much to say of a mediator,
for itself I shall not determine ; but I think it
is very wonderful to see persons of the best I am beyond measure surprised that you seem sense passing away a dozen hours together in to feel no sort of terror at the awfulness of the shuffling and dividing a pack of cards, with no situation in which you are placed by Providence, | other conversation but what is made up of a or into which you thought proper to intrude few game phrases, and no other ideas but those yourselves. A whole people culprit! Nations of black or red spots ranged together in differunder accusation! A tribunal erected for com- ent figures. Would not a man laugh to hear monwealths! This is no vulgar idea, and no any one of this species complaining that life is trivial undertaking; it makes me shudder. I short ? ADDISON: Spectator, No. 93. confess that, in comparison of the magnitude
Encourage such innocent amusements as may of the situation, I feel myself shrunk to nothing. Next to that tremendous day in which it is re
disembitter the minds of men and make them vealed that the saints of God shall judge the
mutually rejoice in the same agreeable satisfacworld, I know nothing that fills my mind with
ADDISON. greater apprehension; and yet I see the matter Whatever amuses serves to kill time, to lull trified with, as if it were the beaten routine, an the faculties, and to banish reflection. Whatordinary quarter-session, or a paltry course of ever entertains usually awakens the understandcommon gaol-delivery
BURKE: ing or gratifies the fancy. Whatever diverts is On the Measures against the American lively in its nature, and sometimes tumultuous Colonies : Corresp., 1844, iv. 488. in its effects.
CRABB: Synonymes. Everything has been done [in your History It is a private opinion of mine that the dull of America) which was so naturally to be ex- people in this country-no matter whether they pected from the author of the History of Scot. | belong to the Lords or the Commons-are the land, and the age of Charles the Fifth. I people who, privately as well as publicly, govern believe few books have done more than this the nation. By dull people I mean people, of towards clearing up dark points, correcting all degrees of rank and education, who never errors, and removing prejudices. You have, want to be amused. I don't know how long it too, the rare secret of rekindling an interest in is since these dreary members of the population subjects that had been so often treated, and in first hit on the cunning idea—the only idea they which everything that could feed a vital flame ever had or will have—of calling themselves appeared to have been consumed. I am sure I Respectable; but I do know that, ever since read many parts of your history with that fresh that time, this great nation has been afraid of concern and anxiety which attends those who them,-afraid in religious, in political, and in are not previously informed of the event. social matters.
Household Words. BURKE: Letter to Dr. W. Robertson, June 10, 1777.
Mere innocent amusement is in itself a good,
when it interferes with no greater, especially as Such was the orthodox theory; but, in the it may occupy the place of some other that may same way that the knowing ones on the race-not be innocent. The Eastern monarch who course often make the most astounding mistakes / proclaimed a reward to him who should dis
cover a new pleasure would have deserved wellence (not exclusive appropriation) given to of mankind had he stipulated that it should be birth, is neither unnatural, nor unjust, nor imblameless. Those, again, who delight in the politic.
BURKE: study of human nature may improve in the
Reflections on the Revolution in France. knowledge of it, and in the profitable application of that knowledge, by the perusal of such
Alterations of surnames have so intricated, fictions [by Miss Jane Austen] as those before
or rather obscured, the truth of our pedigrees, WHATELY:
that it will be no little hard labour to deduce
lustre with advantage; but if he any way de
generate from his line, the least spot is visible ANALYSIS. on ermine.
DRYDEN, Philosophers hasten too much from the ana- 1 His ancestors have been more and more lytic to the synthetic method ; that is, they draw solicitous to keep up the breed of their dogs general conclusions from too small a number and horses than that of their children. of particular observations and experiments.
GOLDSMITH. LORD BOLINGBROKE. If the virtues of strangers be so attractive to Analysis and synthesis, though commonly us, how infinitely more so should be those of treated as two different methods, are, if properly
our own kindred; and with what additional understood, only the two necessary parts of the energy should the precepts of our parents influsame method. Each is the relative and cor
ence us, when we trace the transmission of those relative of the other Sir W. HAMILTON.
precepts from father to son through successive
generations, each bearing the testimony of a The investigation of difficult things by the
virtuous, useful, and honourable life to their method of analysis ought ever to precede the
truth and influence; and all uniting in a kind method of composition. Sir I. NEWTON.
and earnest exhortation to their descendants so The word Analysis signifies the general and to live on earth that (followers of Him through particular heads of a discourse, with their whose grace alone we have power to obey Him) mutual connections, both co-ordinate and sub- we may at last be reunited with those who have ordinate, drawn out into one or more tables.
gone before, and those who shall come after us: DR. I. WATTS.
No wanderer lost-
A people which takes no pride in the noble ANCESTRY.
achievements of remote ancestors will never
achieve anything worthy to be remembered with Title and ancestry render a good name more illustrious, but an ill one more contemptible.
pride by remote descendants.
LORD MACAULAY. ADDISON. It is a reverend thing to see an ancient castle
The man who has not anything to boast of
but his illustrious ancestors is like a potato,not in decay; how much more to behold an ancient family which have stood against the
| the only good belonging to him is under ground.
SIR T, OVERBURY. waves and weathers of time!
LORD BACON. We highly esteem and stand much upon our
birth, though we derive nothing from our ances. The power of perpetuating our property in
tors but our bodies; and it is useful to improve our families is one of the most valuable and interesting circumstances belonging to it, and
this advantage, to imitate their good examples. that which tends the most to the perpetuation
Ray. of society itself. It makes our weakness sub | The origin of all mankind was the same: it servient to our virtue; it grafts benevolence is only a clear and a good conscience that makes even upon avarice. The possessors of family a man noble, for that is derived from heaven wealth, and of the distinction which attends itself. It was the saying of a great man that, hereditary possession (as most concerned in it), | if we could trace our descents, we should find are the natural securities for this transmission. all slaves to come from princes, and all princes
from slaves; and fortune has turned all things Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790. topsy-turvy in a long series of revolutions : be
side, for a man to spend his life in pursuit of a For though hereditary wealth, and the rank
| trifle that serves only when he dies to furnish which goes with it, are too much idolized by
out an epitaph, is below a wise man's business. creeping sycophants, and the blind, abject ad.
SENECA. mirers of power, they are too rashly slighted in shallow speculations of the petulant, assuming, I am no herald to inquire into men's pedi. short-sighted coxcombs of philosophy. Some gree; it sufficeth me if I know their virtues. decent, regulated pre-eminence, some prefer- |
SIR P. SIDNEY.