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ALTERNATION. So he, with difficulty and labour hard, Moved on: But he once past, (soon after, when man fell, Strange alternation!) Sin and death unseen Following his track, (such was the will of heaven!) Paved after him a broad and beaten way. Milton. And God made two great lights, great for their use To man; the greater to have rule by day, The less by night, altern.

Milton. Good after ill, and after pain delight, Alternate like the scenes of day and night.

Dryden. Hear how Timotheus' various lays surprise, And bid alternate passions fall and rise! While at each change the son of Lybian Jove Now burns with glory, and then melts with love.

Pope. Unhappy man! whom sorrow thus and rage, To different ills alternately engage.

Prior. And swift and swift, with rapid lightness,

The adorned earth spins silently, Alternating Elysian brightness

With deep and dreadful night; the sea Foams in broad billows from the deep

Up to the rocks; and rocks and ocean, Onward, with spheres that never sleep, Are hurried in eternal motion.

Shelley, from Goethe.

SHE shines above, we know, but in what place,
How near the throne and heaven's imperial grace,
By our weak optics is but vainly guessed;
Distance and altitude conceal the rest. Dryden.

Your altitude offends the eyes
Of those who want the power to rise;
The world, a willing stander-by,
Inclines to aid a specious lie.





AMAZEMENT. He answered nought at all; but adding new Fear to his first amazement, staring wide, With stony eyes and heartless hollow hue, Astonished stood, as one that had espied Infernal furies with their chains untied. Spenser. But look! amazement on thy mother sits; O, step between her and her fighting soul! Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.—Shakspere. He ended, and his words impression left Of much amazement on the infernal crew, Distracted and surprised with deep dismay At these sad tidings.

Milton. Go heavenly pair! and with your dazzling virtues, Your courage, truth, your innocence, and love, Amaze and charm mankind.


He stood
Pierc'd by severe amazement, hating life,
Speechless and fix'd in all the death of woe.


CROMWELL, I charge thee, Aling away ambition;
By that sin fell the angels; how can man, then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by 't.


I have no spur

To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself,
And falls on the other side.

Yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o' the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way; thou would'st be great;
Art not without ambition; but without
The illness should attend it; what thou would’st highly,
That would’st thou holily; would'st not play false,
And yet would’st wrongly win.


Let who will climb ambition's glibbery rounds,
And lean upon the vulgar's rotten love,
I'll not co-rival him. The sun will give
As great a shadow to my trunk as his;
And after death, like chessmen, having stood
In play for bishops some, for knights, and pawns,
We all together shall be tumbled up
Into one bag.

Old Play, 1601,
Ambition is an idol, on whose wings
Great minds are carried only to extremes;
To be sublimely great, or to be nothing.–Southern..

Ambition is at a distance
A goodly prospect, tempting to the view;
The height delights us, and the mountain top
Looks beautiful, because 't is nigh to heaven:
But we ne'er think how sandy's the foundation,
What storms will batter and what tempests shake..

What is ambition but desire of greatness?
And what is greatness but extent of power?
But lust of power 's a dropsy of the mind,
Whose thirst increases while we drink to quench it,
Till swollen and stretched by the repeated draught,
We burst and perish.

Higgon. Ambition is the germ From which all growth of nobleness proceeds.

Thomas D. English. The fiery soul abhorr'd in Catiline, In Decius charms, in Curtius is divine: The same ambition can destroy or save, And make a patriot, as it makes a knave.- Pope. What various wants on power attend! Ambition never gains its end. Who hath not heard the rich complain Of surfeit and corporeal pain? And, barr'd from every use of wealth, Envy the ploughman's strength and health.



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Ah! why will kings forget that they are men?
And men that they are brethren? Why delight
In human sacrifice? Why burst the ties
Of nature, that should knit their souls together
In one soft bond of amity and love?
Yet still they breathe destruction, still go on
Inhumanly, ingeniously to find out
New pains for life, new terrors for the grave:
Artificers of death! still monarchs dream
Of universal empire, growing up
From universal ruin. Blast the design
Great God of Hosts, nor let thy creatures fall
Unpitied victims of Ambition's shrine!

Bishop Porteus.
But let eternal infamy pursue
The wretch to nought but his ambition true,
Who, for the sake of filling with one blast
The post-horns of all Europe, lays her waste.
Think yourself stationed on a towering rock,
To see a people scatter'd like a flock,
Some royal mastiff panting at their heels,
With all the savage thirst a tiger feels;
Then view him self-proclaim'd in a gazette
Chief monster that has plagued the nations yet;
The globe and sceptre in such hands misplaced,
Those ensigns of dominion, how disgraced!
The glass, that bids man mark the fleeting hour,
And death's own scythe would better speak his power;
Then grace the bony phantom in their stead
With the king's shoulder-knot and gay cockade;
Clothe the twin brethren in each other's dress,
The same their occupation and success. Cowper.

Nor reigns ambition in bold man alone;
Soft female hearts the rude invader own.
But there, indeed, it deals in nicer things
Than routing armies, and dethroning kings.
Attend and you discern it in the fair
Conduct a finger, or reclaim a hair;
Or roll the lucid orbit of an eye,
Or in full joy elaborate a sigh.


Spectators only on this bustling stage,
We see what vain desires mankind engage;


Armies embattled meet, and thousands bleed
For some vile where fifty cannot feed;
Squirrels for nuts contend; and, wrong or right,
For the world's empire kings ambitious fight.
What odds? to us 't is all the self-same thing,
A nut, a world, a squirrel, and a king. Churchill.
Thus mad ambition prompts to desperate deeds,
And for a phantom thus a nation bleeds.

The cheat ambition, eager to espouse
Dominion, courts it with a lying show,
And shines in borrowed pomp to serve a turn;
But the match made, the farce is at an end,
And all the hireling equipage of virtues,
Faith, honour, justice, gratitude, and friendship,
Discharged at once.

Jeffrey. Our glories float between the earth and heaven, Like clouds which seem pavilions of the sun, And are the playthings of the casual wind; Still like the cloud which drops on unseen cragsThe dews the wild flower feeds on, our ambition May from its airy height drop gladness down On unsuspected virtue ;--and the flower May bless the cloud when it hath passed away;

Ambition's but a trumpet note,

That's mute as soon as blown;
For death succeeds, and men like weeds

Triumphant tramples down.
Oh! man on love of things above

Should place his stay and trust;
For what is glory here and fame
But crowned and laurelled dust?

Allan Cunningham.
What is ambition?—'T is a glorious cheat!
Angels of light walk not so dazzlingly
The sapphire walls of heaven.

N. P. Willis.

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