Reference > Quotations > Hoyt & Roberts, comps. > Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations
Hoyt & Roberts, comps.  Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations.  1922.
Nor strive to wind ourselves too high
For sinful man beneath the sky.
        Christian Year—Morning.
  Prima enim sequentem, honestum est in secundis, tertiisque consistere.
  When you are aspiring to the highest place, it is honorable to reach the second or even the third rank.
        Cicero—De Oratore. I.
On what strange stuff Ambition feeds!
        Eliza Cook—Thomas Hood.
By low ambition and the thirst of praise.
        Cowper—Table Talk. L. 591.
          On the summit see,
The seals of office glitter in his eyes;
He climbs, he pants, he grasps them! At his heels,
Close at his heels, a demagogue ascends,
And with a dexterous jerk soon twists him down,
And wins them, but to lose them in his turn.
        Cowper—Task. Bk. IV. L. 58.
Il gran rifiuto.
  The great refusal.
  (Supposed to refer to Celestine V., elected Pope in 1294, who resigned five months later.)
        Dante—Inferno. Canto III. LX.
But wild Ambition loves to slide, not stand,
And Fortune’s ice prefers to Virtue’s land.
        Dryden—Absalom and Achitophel. Pt. I. L. 198.
They please, are pleas’d, they give to get esteem
Till, seeming blest, they grow to what they seem.
        Goldsmith—The Traveller. L. 266.
          For all may have,
If they dare try, a glorious life, or grave.
        Herbert—The Temple. The Church-Porch.
Sublimi feriam sidera vertice.
  I strike the stars with my sublime head.
        Horace—Carmina. Bk. I. 1.
Nil mortalibus arduum est:
Cœlum ipsum petimus stultitia.
  Nothing is too high for the daring of mortals: we would storm heaven itself in our folly.
        Horace—Carmina. I. 3. 37.
Vestigia nulla retrorsum.
  No steps backward.
        Horace—Epistles. I. 1. 74.
I see, but cannot reach, the height
That lies forever in the light.
        Longfellow—Christus. The Golden Legend. P. II. A Village Church.
  Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.
        Longfellow—Drift-Wood. Table-Talk.
The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, ’mid snow and ice
A banner with the strange device,
Ambition has no rest!
        Bulwer-Lytton—Richelieu. Act III. Sc. 1.
  He was utterly without ambition [Chas. II.]. He detested business, and would sooner have abdicated his crown than have undergone the trouble of really directing the administration.
        Macaulay—History of England. (Character of Charles II.) Vol. I. Ch. II.
The man who seeks one thing in life, and but one,
May hope to achieve it before life be done;
But he who seeks all things, wherever he goes,
Only reaps from the hopes which around him he sows
A harvest of barren regrets.
        Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton)—Lucile. Pt. I. Canto II. St. 8.
Here may we reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell.
Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.
        MiltonParadise Lost. Bk. I. L. 263.
But what will not ambition and revenge
Descend to? who aspires must down as low
As high he soar’d, obnoxious first or last
To basest things.
        MiltonParadise Lost. Bk. IX. L. 168.
If at great things thou would’st arrive,
Get riches first, get wealth, and treasure heap,
Not difficult, if thou hearken to me;
Riches are mine, fortune is in my hand,
They whom I favor thrive in wealth amain,
While virtue, valor, wisdom, sit in want.
        MiltonParadise Regained. Bk. II. L. 426.
Such joy ambition finds.
        MiltonParadise Lost. Bk. IV. L. 92.
Who knows but He, whose hand the lightning forms.
Who heaves old ocean, and who wings the storms,
Pours fierce ambition in a Cæsar’s mind.
        Pope—Essay on Man. Ep. I. L. 157.
Oh, sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise.
By mountains pil’d on mountains to the skies?
Heav’n still with laughter the vain toil surveys,
And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
        Pope—Essay on Man. Ep. IV. L. 74.
But see how oft ambition’s aims are cross’d,
And chiefs contend ’til all the prize is lost!
        Pope—Rape of the Lock. Canto V. L. 108.
  Be always displeased at what thou art, if thou desire to attain to what thou art not; for where thou hast pleased thyself, there thou abidest.
        Quarles—Emblems. Bk. IV. Emblem 3.
  Licet ipsa vitium sit ambitio, frequenter tamen causa virtutum est.
  Though ambition in itself is a vice, yet it is often the parent of virtues.
        Quintilian—De Institutione Oratoria. II. 22.
Ambition is no cure for love!
        Scott—Lay of the Last Minstrel. Canto I. St. 27.
O fading honours of the dead!
O high ambition, lowly laid!
        Scott—Lay of the Last Minstrel. Canto II. St. 10.
The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.
        Hamlet. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 264.
Ill-weav’d ambition, how much art thou shrunk!
When that this body did contain a spirit,
A kingdom for it was too small a bound;
But now, two paces of the vilest earth
Is room enough.
        Henry IV. Pt. I. Act V. Sc. 4. L. 88.
Virtue is chok’d with foul ambition.
        Henry VI. Pt. II. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 143.
Mark but my fall, and that that ruin’d me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition.
By that sin fell the angels; how can man then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by it?
        Henry VIII. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 437.
          ’Tis a common proof,
That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,
Whereto the climber upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend.
        Julius Cæsar. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 21.
Ambition’s debt is paid.
        Julius Cæsar. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 83.
          The noble Brutus
Hath told you Cæsar was ambitious;
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Cæsar answered it.
        Julius Cæsar. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 75.
          I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself,
And falls on the other.
        Macbeth. Act I. Sc. 7. L. 25.
Ambition is our idol, on whose wings
Great minds are carry’d only to extreme;
To be sublimely great, or to be nothing.
        Thos. Southerne—The Loyal Brother. Act I. Sc. 1.
Si vis ad summum progredi ab infimo ordire.
  If you wish to reach the highest, begin at the lowest.
Ambition destroys its possessor.
        Talmud—Yoma 86.
And mad ambition trumpeteth to all.
        N. P. Willis—From a Poem delivered at the Departure of the Senior Class of Yale College. (1827).
How like a mounting devil in the heart
Rules the unreined ambition!
        N. P. Willis—Parrhasius.
Ambition has but one reward for all:
A little power, a little transient fame,
A grave to rest in, and a fading name!
        William Winter—The Queen’s Domain. L. 90.
Too low they build who build beneath the stars.
        Young—Night Thoughts. Night VIII. L. 225.

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