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OF AMBITIOUS FOOLS.
Cupido dominandi cunctis affectibus flagrantior est.
As sensual appetites in men we find,
* The folly of this renowned chief is handed down to us, who blubbered in sooth, because he had no more worlds to conquer, or rather because be could cut no more throats; for I should like to know, if these great men, your Caesars, Hannibals, Pompeys, &c. &c. were any other than a set of licensed robbers and murderers; therefore, well has a reverend divine said,
One murder made a villain;
Millions a hero. Princes were privileged To kill, and numbers sanctify'd the crime. What has not ambition done, and what will it not undertake, to attain its object ? read but the annals of the world, nay, even look to the simple relation of Spanish barbarity in Peru and Mexico; in short, there is not a state but has had to show its aspiring fools.Yet how must the braggart Lewis XIV. have been humbled, who in the progress of
Ambition is a ladder * rear'd on high,
Ills glory, caused a medal to be struck, representing (in allusion to himself) the sun in its meridian splendour; but having received a check from the arms of King William, at that time Prince of Orange, a Dutchman executed a similar coin, with this addition, that the Prince of Orange was represented as Joshua commanding the Sun to stand still. Such are the reverses which high vaulting ambition must look to; such proved the downfall of a Wolsey, and may such be the declension and the fate of that Imperial fool, whose ambition even now grasps at the attainment of universal sway! Abbraccia tal volta la fortuna coloro, cbe vuol poi affogare.
* It is of little consequence, whether or not the poet had his eye upon Shakspeare's simile in the above line, as the beauty of our dramatist's words it is hoped, will plead the annotator's excuse for their introduction here:
Tis a common proof,
L ENVOY OF THE POET.
The silly man, whose labour is but vain,
Is like a fool, who sows his golden grain,
THE POET'S CHORUS TO FOOLS.
Come, trim tbe boat, row on each Rara Avis, Crowds flock to man my Stultifera Navis.
folly, and wrote a treatise on the Vanity of all Human Science. But this popular odium is not to be wondered at, when we recollect, that the period of ignorance and superstition denominated every thing, and every body, above mortality, which possessed knowledge superior to the vulgar comprehension: thus we find that most of the gods of the ancients, from being originally proficients in different arts and sciences, were, after their demise, exalted to the rank of immortals. Friar Bacon, in the reign of Edward I. was supposed to be in league with the devil; Robert Grosthead, bishop of Lincoln, in the time of Henry III. was, on account of his learning, deemed a conjurer, and degraded by Pope Innocent IV. and Galileo, the astronomer, for venturing to affirm that the sun was a fixed body, and that the earth moved, endured captivity for a series of years in the Inquisition; but speaking of the Occult Sciences, we may say of its student, that
Ambition is a gilded bubble bright,
That hoodwinks sense, and blinds the keenest
sight; A specious phantom, deck'd in all that's fair, Which when embrae'd evaporates in air.
Ambition's every thing so long as sought, While wish'd for matchless, when possess'd bat
naught; Tis sunshine, darkness,—gold and worthless
dross, The wise man's scarecrow, and the ideot's loss*.
* With nil deference to the ideas of our bard, I must nevertheless idler a word in one of the lines given by him to King Hichard,
Great fools have greater sins, &c. For certainly, the more inordinate the ambition, the greater the fool who aspires to its attainment; when even throwing in the back ground all those break neck casualtin*, of which history adduces so many instances, the very summit of this species of fools' glory, will not enable him to stillu the yearnings of conscience, to ward off old age, to shut out pain, and escape from the jaws of death; if such be the case, I will not only say cut bono ¥ but equally answer to the cuimulo ¥ of any fool that shall propose the question—by stating, that the rapacious mind can enjoy