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yet, if I should endeavour to make such an attempt, and to comprise them all in one general representation, I think I might very properly give it you in this one word, that every thing will make a man to be envied, which shall set him above being pitied.
I come now to the third general head proposed for the handling of the words; which is, to shew the effects and consequences of envy, expressed by confusion, and every evil work.
The proper and grand effect then of envy, we see, is confusion; and this also is twofold, upon the account of a twofold relation. 1. To the envious man himself. And 2. To those who are envied and maligned by him. And,
First of all, this ill quality brings confusion and calamity upon the envious person himself, who cherishes and entertains it; and, like the viper, gnaws out the bowels which first conceived it. It is indeed the only act of justice that it does, that the guilt it brings upon a man it revenges upon him too, and so torments and punishes him much more than it can afflict or annoy the person who is envied by him. We know what the poet says of envy; and it is with the strictest truth, without the least hyperbole, that Phalaris's brazen bull, and all the arts of torment, invented by the greatest masters of them, the Sicilian tyrants, were not comparable to those that the tyranny of envy racks the mind of man with. For it ferments and boils in the soul, putting all the powers of it into the most restless and disorderly agitation. It lies at the heart like a worm, always gnawing and corroding, and piercing it with a secret invisible sting and poison; it even changes the way of man's ordinary conversation, sours his behaviour,
sharpens and envenoms his discourse, and
often proceeds so far as to leave its marks upon his very countenance, and the habit of his body, making that pale and pining, of a ghastly look and a declining constitution; the livery which is heretofore bestowed upon Brutus and Cassius, a livery every way suited to the worthy service it had engaged those wretches in. And now does not this remarkably shew the peculiar unreasonableness and sottishness of this vice? For there are few other vices but prevail upon men upon the account of some supposed pleasure, as that they afford some short gratification to their sensuality, or at least bring with them something of profit or emolument; but he who will be envious, can design nothing but to make himself miserable, because he sees another happy; he must resolve to be dejected and cast down, whensoever he sees his neighbour prosperous, and as the poet describes Envy, ready to weep for this very cause, that she could see nothing to be wept at: Vixque tenet lacrymas, quia nil lacrymabile cernit. We need not seek for arguments to dissuade a man from being envious upon
the score of charity to his neighbour, but even of love and mercy to himself. Let him but be prevailed upon not to be his own tormentor, his own executioner, and his envy will be at an end. Let not his neighbour's rest break his sleep. Let not his friend's fortune or reputation make him out of love with himself, and neglect his own. For why may not I come in as a sharer, instead of being a maligner of his joy and felicity ? Forasmuch as there is a real pleasure in the congratulation of another's good; the very so
; ciety of joy redoubling it: so that while it lights directly upon my friend, it rebounds upon myself; and
the brighter his candle burns, the more easily will it light mine. Whensoever the Romans conquered an enemy, it was indeed the general himself only who was said to triumph, but the whole army and all the people equally rejoiced. But the envious person will bear no part in the festivals of a public mirth: he shuts himself up and snarls, while others laugh and sing And if all the world were of this temper, it would be an useless (which yet has ever been accounted the noblest) property of good, that it naturally spreads and diffuses itself abroad. And therefore I shall say no more of such a person but this; that he who maligns and envies others, is, of all men living, least to be envied himself.
In the next place we are to consider the effects of envy, in respect of the object of it, or the person envied; and these may be reduced to the following three.
1. A busy, curious inquiry, or prying into all the concerns of the person envied and maligned; and this, no doubt, only as a step or preparative to those further mischiefs, which envy assuredly drives at. For most certain it is, that no man inquires into another man's concerns, or makes it his business to acquaint himself with his privacies, but with a design to do him some shrewd turn or other. Such an eye is never idle, but always looking about to see where a man lies open to a blow, and accordingly to direct the hand to take a sure stroke. It is withal an indefatigable teller and hearer of base stories. It is said of the priests and scribes, (who bore so cruel an envy to our Saviour for the acceptance he found amongst the people,) that they were almost continually sending forth spies, that they might catch him
in his words, Luke xx. 20. And it is this blessed quality, forsooth, that so insinuates into families, that puts them upon hiring servants to betray their masters, and inveigling one friend, if possibly they can, to supplant another: it is this that listens at doors and windows, that catches at every breath or whisper that is stirring; so that it will concern the person envied to be still upon his strictest guard, having an enemy so constantly upon the watch. Watching, for the most part, imports hostility, and no man observes the motions of his enemy, but that he may the more advantageously find a time to fight him. The eagle is a very sagacious bird, but a very devouring one too; and the quickness of its sight is only in order to the better seizing of its prey.
2. The second effect of envy, with reference to the envied person, is calumny or detraction. We have already seen the first effort made by it against him by an insidious diving into his most reserved and secret affairs, and the next to this always works out at the mouth; so that if a man cannot rival and overbear his neighbour by downright violence of action, he will attempt it at least by slander, and vilifying expressions, and, that there may not want
, art as well as malice, to carry on the attack more sure and home. Has a man done bravely, and got himself a reputation too great to be borne down by any base and direct aspersions? Why then envy will seemingly subscribe to the general vogue in many or most things, but then it will be sure to come over him again with a sly oblique stroke in some derogating but or other, and so slide in some scurvy exception, which shall effectually stain all his other virtues; and like the dead fly in the apothecary's ointment, which (Solomon tells us) never fails to give the whole an offensive savour.
And peradventure, to weave the dissimulation with yet a finer thread, and so to make it the more artificial and less discernible, the disgrace shall be insinuated and cast in with words of pity. As, after a man has been commended in company for several good qualities and perfections, the sneaking, envious wretch shall then put in, and seem to assent to every thing so spoken of him; but shall add withal, what an unhappiness is it, that a person endued with such accomplishments should be so unluckily surprised, as to be guilty of such or such actions; and that there should be any thing to allay or blemish the clearness of his reputation. When perhaps the rest of the company were either wholly ignorant of any such matter, had not his malicious ill-favoured pity brought it fresh into remembrance. This is the way which envy takes to undermine a man's honour, when the universal vogue of men is on his side, and so makes art and caution necessary to support and fix the slander. But if a man be quite unknown, and his virtue has lain private and obscure, envy will then prevent, and be beforehand with such an one, loading him with direct impudent and downright lies, and represent him as vile and infamous as it would have him thought by all. So that when he shall appear and step forth into the world, he shall find it prepossessed, and a mighty prejudice against him for him to break through and conquer; a prejudice sown and cherished in men's minds by a long, a diligent, and malicious detraction. In which case, if it so falls out, as oftentimes it does, that what an