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are bred together, are more apt to envy their equals when they are raised; for it doth upbraid unto them their own fortunes, and pointeth at them, and cometh oftener into their remembrance, and incurreth' likewise more into the note of others; and envy ever redoubleth from speech and fame, Cain's envy was the more vile and malignant towards his brother Abel, because, when his sacrifice was better accepted, there was nobody to look on. Thus much for those that are apt to envy.
Concerning those that are more or less subject to envy. First, persons of eminent virtue, when they are advanced, are less envied; for their fortune seemeth but due unto them; and no man envieth the payment of a debt, but rewards and liberality rather. Again, envy is ever joined with the comparing of a man's self; and where there is no comparison, no envy— and therefore kings are not envied but by kings. Nevertheless, it is to be noted that unworthy persons are most envied at their first coming in, and afterwards overcome it better; whereas, contrarywise,2 persons of worth and merit are most envied when their fortune continueth long; for by that time, though their virtue be the same, yet it hath not the same lustre; for fresh -men grow up to darken it.
Persons of noble blood are less envied in their rising, for it seemeth but right done to their birth: besides, there seemeth not much added to their fortune; and envy is as the sunbeams, that beat hotter upon a bank, or steep rising ground, than upon a flat; and, for the same reason, those that are advanced by degrees are less envied than those that are advanced suddenly, and 'per saltum.'3
Those that have joined with their honour great travels, cares, or perils, are less subject to envy; for men think that they earn their honours hardly, and pity them sometimes, and pity ever healeth envy: wherefore you shall observe, that the more deep and sober sort of politic persons, in their greatness, are ever bemoaning themselves what a life they lead, chanting a 'quanta patimur;* not that they feel it so, but only to abate envious man, that soweth tares among the wheat by night;' as it always cometh to pass, that envy worketk subtilely, and in the dark, and to the prejudice of good things, such as is the wheat.
1 Incur. To press on. 'The mind of man is helped or hiudered in its operations according to the different quality of external objects that incur into the senses.'—South.
* Contrary wise. On the contrary. ''A t a bound.'
* 'Uow much we suffer!'
ANTITHETA ON ENVY.
'Invidia in rebuspublieis, tanquam 'Nemo virtuti invidiam reconcilia
salubrin ostnioisrrms. verit pnutur mortom.
'In public affairt, envy acts the part 'Nothing can reconcile enry to virtue
of a whoksome ostracism.' but death.'
'Invidin virtutes laboribus exercet, ut Juno Horculem.
'Envy acts towards the virtues at Juno did towards llercul?t; she condemns fhsm to toilsome labours'
'There seemeth to be acknowledged, in the act of envy, an ejaculation or irradiation of the eye. '
There is a curious passage on this subject in a very able article in the North British Review (Aug. 1857), which I will take the liberty of citing.
'We once, in Cairo, conversed on this superstition with an intelligent Cairene, who described it as the great curse of his country.
''Does the mischievous influence of the evil eye,' we asked, 'depend on the will of the person whose glance does the mischief?'
* 'Not altogether,' he answered. 'An intention to harm may render more virulent the poison of the glance; but envy, or the desire to appropriate a thing, or even excessive admiration, may render it hurtful without the consciousness, or even against the will, of the offender. It injures most the thing that it first hits. Hence the bits of red cloth that are stuck about the dresses of women, and about the trappings of camels and horses, and the large spots of lamp black which you may see on the foreheads of children. They are a sort of conductors. It is hoped that they will attract the glance, and exhaust its venom.'
''A fine house, fine furniture, a fine camel, and a fine horse, are all enjoyed with fear and trembling, lest they should excite envy and bring misfortune. A butcher would be afraid to expose fine meat, lest the evil eye of passers-by, who might covet it, should taint it, and make it spoil, or become unwholesome.'
''Children are supposed to be peculiarly the objects of desire and admiration. When they are suffered to go abroad, they are intentionally dirty and ill-dressed; but generally they are kept at home, without air or exercise, but safe from admiration. This occasions a remarkable difference between the infant mortality in Europe and in Egypt. In Europe it is the children of the rich who live; in Egypt, it is the children of the poor. The children of the poor cannot be confined. They live in the fields. As soon as you quit the city, you see in every clover field a group, of which the centre is a tethered buffalo, and round it are the children of its owner, with their provision of bread and water, sent thither at sunrise and to remain there till sunset, basking in the sun, and breathing the air from the desert. The Fellah children enter their hovels only to sleep, and that only in the winter. In summer, their days and nights are passed m the open air; and, notwithstanding their dirt and their bad food, they grow up healthy and vigorous. The children of the rich, confined by the fear of the evil eye to the 'hareem,' are puny creatures, of whom not a fourth part reaches adolescence. Achmed Pasha Tahir, one of the governors of Cairo under Mehemet Ali, had 280 children; only six survived him. Mehemet Ali himself had 87; only ten were living at his death.
''I believe,' he added, 'that at the bottom of this superstition is an enormous prevalence of envy among the lower Egyptians. You see it in all their fictions. Half of the stories told in the coffee-shops by the professional story-tellers, of which the Arabian Nights are a specimen, turn on malevolence. Malevolence, not attributed, as it would be in European fiction, to some insult or injury inflicted by the person who is its object, bnt to mere envy: envy of wealth, or of the other means of enjoyment, honourably acquired and liberally used.'' (Pages 10-11.)
'Those that are advanced by degrees, are less envied than thorn that are advanced suddenly.'
In Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, the following admirable remarks are made on the envy that attends a sudden rise:—
'The man who, by some sudden revolution of fortune, is lifted up all at once into a condition of life greatly above what he had formerly lived in, may be assured that the congratulations of his best friends are not all of them perfectly sincere. An upstart, though of the greatest merit, is generally disagreeable, and a sentiment of envy commonly prevents us from heartily sympathizing with his joy. If he has any judgment, he is sensible of this, and instead of appearing to be elated with his good fortune, he endeavours, as much as he can, to smother his joy, and keep down that elevation of mind with which his new circumstances naturally inspire him. He affects the same plainness of dress, and the same modesty of behaviour, which became him in his former station. He redoubles his attention to his old friends, and endeavours more than ever to be humble, assiduous, and complaisant. And this is the behaviour which in his situation' we must approve of; because we expect, it seems, that he should have more sympathy with our envy and aversion to his happiness, than we have with his happiness. It is seldom that with all this he succeeds. We suspect the sincerity of his humility, and he grows weary of this constraint. In a little time, therefore, he generally leaves all his old friends behind him, some of the meanest of them excepted, who may, perhaps, condescend to become his dependents: nor does he always acquire any new ones; the pride of his new connections is as much affronted at finding him their equal, as that of his old ones had been by his becoming their superior: and it requires the most obstinate and persevering modesty to atone for this mortification to either. He generally grows weary too soon, and is provoked, by the sullen and suspicious pride of the one, and by the saucy contempt of the other, to treat the first with neglect, and the second with petulance, till at last he grows habitually insolent, and forfeits the esteem of all . If the chief part of human happiness arises from the consciousness of being beloved, as I believe it does, those sudden changes of fortune seldom contribute much to happiness. He is happiest who advances more gradually to greatness; whom the Public destines to every step of his preferment long before he arrives at it; in whom, upon that account, when it comes, it can excite no extravagant joy, and with regard to whom it cannot reasonably create either any jealousy in those he overtakes, or any envy in those he leaves behind.'1
Doubtless it is nothing very uncommon for a man who has been greatly elevated, to slight his former friends. But far more common (as a knowledge of human nature would lead one to expect) is the converse case, of the man's former friends gradually drawing back from him. And yet this latter case has been hardly ever noticed, while the other has been often described and dwelt on. This, however, is easily accounted for. Those who are themselves in low estate (who are incomparably the more numerous class) are much more likely to sympathize with the one of these grievances than the other.
'Persons of eminent virtue, when they are advanced, are less
Bacon might have remarked that, in one respect, a rise by merit exposes a man to more envy than that by personal favour, through family connection, private friendship, &c. For, in this latter case, the system itself of preferring private considerations to public, is chiefly blamed, but the individual thus advanced is regarded much in the same way as one who is born to an estate or a title. But when any one is advanced on the score of desert and qualifications, the system is approved, but the individual is more envied, because his advancement is felt as an affront to all who think themselves or their own friends more worthy. 'It is quite right to advance men of great merit; but by this rule, it is I, or my friend So-and-so that should have been preferred.' When, on the other hand, a bishop or a minister appoints his own son or private friend to some office, every one else is left free to think 'If it had gone by merit, I should have been the man.'
When any person of really eminent virtue becomes the object
1 Adam Smith's Ttieory 0f Moral Sentiment*, chnp. v.