Ambition is like choler, which is a humor 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 a dust (hot and fiery) and thereby malign and venomous.
As for discontentments, they are in the politic body like to humors in the natural, which are apt to gather a preternatural heat and to inflame; and let no prince measure the danger of them by this, whether they be just or unjust.
Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid; but if persons of quality and judgement concur, then it filleth all round about, and will not easily away; for the odors of ointments are more durable than those of flowers.
Fortune is like the market, where, many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall; and again, it is sometimes like Sibyllas offer, which at first offereth the commodity at full, then consumeth part and part, and still holdeth up the price.
The way of Fortune is like the milky way in the sky; which is a meeting, or knot, of a number of small stars, not seen asunder, but giving light together; so are there a number of little and scarce discerned virtues, or rather faculties and customs, that make men fortunate.
Honor that is gained and broken upon another hath the quickest reflection, like diamonds cut with facets; and therefore let a man contend to excel any competitors of his in honor, in outshooting them, if he can, in their own bow.
The distributions and partitions of knowledge are like the branches of a tree, that meet in a stem, which hath a dimension and quantity of entireness and continuance, before it come to discontinue and break itself into arms and boughs.
Learning is like a lark, that can mount, and sing, and please herself, and nothing else; but may know that she holdeth as well as the hawk, that can soar aloft, and can also descend and strike upon the prey.
The stage is more beholding to love than the life of man; for as to the stage, love is ever matter of comedies, and now and then of tragedies; but in life it doth much mischief, sometimes like a siren, sometimes like a fury.
A civil war, indeed, is like the heat of a fever; but a foreign war is like the heat of exercise, and serveth to keep the body in health; for, in a slothful peace, both courages will effeminate and manners corrupt.