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Ambition puff'd,

Makes mouths at the invisible event;
Exposing what is mortal and unsure,

To all that fortune, death, and danger, dare,
Even for an egg-shell. Rightly to be great,
Is, not to stir without great, argument.

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36-iv. 4.

Who cannot condemn rashness in cold blood?
To kill, I grant, is sin's extremest gust;*
But, in defence, by mercy, 'tis most just.f
To be in anger, is impiety;

But who is man, that is not angry?

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The poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great As when a giant dies.


27-iii. 5.

5-iii. 1.

The past and future.

O thoughts of men accurst!

Past, and to come, seem best; things present, worst.

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19-i. 3.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


15-v. 5.

Content and Discontent.

Willing misery

Outlives incertain pomp, is crown'd before :‡

The one is filling still, never complete;

*For aggravation.

† Homicide in our own defence, by a merciful interposition of the law, is considered justifiable.

i.e. Arrives sooner at the completion of its wishes.

The other, at high wish. Best state, contentless,
Hath a distracted and most wretched being,
Worse than the worst, content.*


Treason, silent in its operations.

27-iv. 3.

Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep;
And in his simple show he harbours treason.
The fox barks not, when he would steal the lamb.


Malice its extent.

22-iii. 1.

To cut the head off, and then hack the limbs ;
Like wrath in death, and envy† afterwards.


The value of a good name.

Good name, in man, and woman,

Is the immediate jewel of their souls:

29-ii. 1.

Who steals my purse, steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;

"Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands : But he, that filches from me my good name,

Robs me of that, which not enriches him,

And makes me poor indeed.


37-iii. 3.

Slander, certain in its aim.


36-iv. 1.

Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter,

As level as the cannon to his blank,§

Transports his poison'd shot.

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The age is grown so picked, that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he galls his kibe.

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There is a tide in the affairs of men,

36-v. 1.

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows, and in miseries:

* Best states contentless have a wretched being-a being worse

than that of the worst states that are content.

† Malice.

Prov. xxii. 1.

§ Mark.

Spruce, affected.

And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.



When fortune means to men most good,

29-iv. 3.

She looks upon them with a threatening eye.


Natural defects impair virtues.

Oft it chances in particular men,

16-iii. 4.

That, for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As, in their birth, (wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin,)

By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,*
Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason;
Or by some habit, that too much o'er-leavens
The form of plausive manners;--that these men,-
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect;
Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,†—
Their virtues else (be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo)

Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault: The dram of base
Doth all the noble substance often dout,

To his own scandal.§

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Now breathless Wrong

36-i. 4.

Shall sit and pant in your great chairs of ease;
And pursy Insolence shall break his wind,

With fear and horrid flight.


Riches not true which are to be courted.

Conceit, more rich in matter than in words,

Brags of his substance, not of ornament:

27-v. 5.

They are but beggars that can count their worth.

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A grandam's name is little less in love,

Than is the doting title of a mother;

35-ii. 6.

They are as children, but one step below. 24-iv. 4.

* Humour.

Do out.

† Star, signifies a scar of that appearance.

§ Eccles. x. 4.


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Pride hath no other glass To show itself but pride; for supple knees Feed arrogance, and are the proud man's fees.


Neglect of departed friends.

As we do turn our backs

From our companion, thrown into his grave;
So his familiars to his buried fortunes

26-iii. 3.

Slink all away; leave their false vows with him,
Like empty purses pick'd: and his poor self,

A dedicated beggar to the air,

With his disease of all-shunn'd poverty,

Walks, like contempt, alone.

27-iv. 2.


Decay of pomp.

Vast confusion waits

16-iv. 3.

(As doth a raven on a sick-fallen beast) The imminent decay of wrested pomp.*

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The ostent of our love, which, left unshown,
Is often left unloved.


Sufferings softened by sympathy.

30-iii. 6.

When we our betters see bearing our woes,
We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
Who alone suffers, suffers most i' the mind;
Leaving free things, and happy shows, behind:
But then the mind much sufferance doth o'erskip,
When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.
34-iii. 6.

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Infirmity doth still neglect all office,

Whereto our health is bound; we are not ourselves, When nature, being oppress'd, commands the mind, To suffer with the body.


The power of melancholy.

O hateful Error, Melancholy's child!

* Greatness arrested from its possessor.

† Show, token.

34-ii. 4.

States clear from distress.

Why dost thou show to the apt thoughts of men
The things that are not? O Error, soon conceived,
Thou never com'st unto a happy birth,

But kill'st the mother that engender'd thee.


Truth and Beauty, their excellence.

Truth needs no colour, with his colour fix'd;
Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay;
But best is best, if never intermix'd.

233 Man values only what he sees and knows.
"Tis very pregnant,*

The jewel that we find, we stoop and take it,
Because we see it; but what we do not see,
We tread upon, and never think of it.


Friendship with the wicked, dangerous.

29-v. 3.


5-ii. 1.

The love of wicked friends converts to fear;
That fear, to hate; and hate turns one, or both,
To worthy danger, and deserved death.

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17-v. 1.

The earth, that's nature's mother, is her tomb;
What is her burying grave, that is her womb:
And from her womb, children of divers kind,
We sucking on her natural bosom find;
Many for many virtues excellent,

None but for some, and yet all different.


Nature, oft perverted by man.

35-ii. 3.

O, mickle is the powerful grace,† that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities:
For nought so vile, that on the earth doth live,
But to the earth some special good doth give;
Nor aught so good, but, strain'd from that fair use,
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
And vice sometime's by actions dignified.

Good and evil mixed.
Within the infant rind of this small flower
Poison hath residence, and med'cine power:

35-ii. 3.

* Plain. † Virtue.

ti.e. To the inhabitants of the earth.

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