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ing of that great Fleet, being the greatest in Strength, though not in Number, of all that ever swam upon the Sea. As for Cleon's Dream, I think it was a Jeft. It was, that he was devoured of a long Dragon; and it was expounded of a Maker of Sausages, that troubled him exceedingly. There are numbers of the like kind; especially if you include Dreams, and Predi&tions of Astrology. But I have set down these few only of certain Credit, for example. My Judgement is, that they ought all to be despised; and ought to serve, but for Winter Talk, by the Fire-side. Though when I say despised, I mean it as for Belief: For otherwise, the spreading or publishing of them, is in no fort to be despised. For they have done much Milchief: and I see many severe Laws made to suppress them. That, that hath given them Grace, and some Credit, consisteth in three Things. First, that Men mark, when they hit, and never mark, when they miss : As they do, generally, also of Dreams. The second is, that probable Conjectures, or obscure Traditions, many times, turn themselves into Prophecies : While the Nature of Man, which coveteth Divination, thinks it no Peril to foretell that, which indeed they do but collect. As that of Seneca's Verse. For so much was then subject to Demonstration, that the Globe of the Earth, had great Parts beyond the Atlantic; which might be probably conceived, not to be all Sea: And adding thereto, the Tradition in Plato's Timeus, and his Atlanticus, it might encourage one, to turn it to a Prediction. The third, and laft (which is the great one) is, that almost all of them, being infinite in Number, have been Impoftures, and by idle and crafty Brains, merely contrived and feigned, after the Event past.
XXXVI. Of Ambition.
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 aduft, 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 checkt 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 we 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 reft; 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 sealed Dove, that mounts and mounts, because he cannot see about him. There is Use also of Ambitious Men, in pulling down the Greatness of any Subject that over-tops : As Tiberius used Macro in the Pulling down of Sejanus. Since therefore they must be used, in such cases, there refteth 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 Ambitious Great-Ones. For when the way of Pleasuring and Displeasuring, lieth by the Favourite, it is impossible, any other should be overgreat. 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, as it were, 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 Disgraces ; 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 Publick. But he that plots, to be the only Figure amongst Ciphers, 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: And let them Discern a busy Nature, from a willing Mind.
xxxvII. Of Masques and
Things, it is better, they should be graced with Elegancy, than daubed with Cost. Dancing to Song, is a thing of great State, and Pleafure. I understand it, that the Song be in Quire, placed aloft, and accompanied with some broken Musick: 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 Base, 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 fame Object. Let the Scenes abound with Light, specially coloured