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ESSAY IV. OF REVENGE.

REVENGE is a kind of wild justice, which the more Man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out; for as for the first wrong, it does but offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge a man is but even with his enemy, but in passing it over he is superior; for it is a prince's part to pardon: and Solomon, I am sure, saith, ' It is the glory of a man to pass by an offence.'1 That which is past is gone and irrecoverable, and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that labour in past matters. There is no man doth a wrong for the wrong's sake, but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honour, or the like; therefore why should I be angry with a man for loving himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong, merely out of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or brier, which prick and scratch, because they can do no other. The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy: but then, let a man take heed the revenge be such as there is no law to punish; else a man's enemy is still beforehand, and it is two for one.

Some, when they take revenge, are desirous the party should know whence it cometh: this is the more generous; for the delight seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt, as in making the party repent: but base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that flieth in the dark.

Cosmus, Duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting2 friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable. 'You shall read,' saith he, 'that we are commanded to forgive our enemies, but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends.' But yet the spirit of Job3 was in a better tune: 'Shall we,' saith he, 'take good at God's hands, and not be content to take evil also?' and so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would

Proverbs lU. II. 2 Neglecting. Neglectful; negligent. * Job ii. 10.

heal and do well. Public revenges are for the most port fortunate; as that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry III. of France; and many more. But in private revenges it is not so; nay, rather vindictive persons live the life of witches, who, as they are mischievous, so end they unfortunate.

ANTITHETA ON REVENGE.

Pbo. Contba.

'Vindicta privata, justitia agrcstig. 'Qui injuriam fecit, principium malo

'Private revenge is wild justice.' dedit; qui reddidit, modum abstulit.

'He who has committed an injury

'Qui vim rcpendit, legem tantum has made a beginning of evil; he who

violut. Ikpii homiiu.Mii. returns it, hat taken away all limit

'He who returns violence for violence, from it.' offends against the law only not

against the individual.' 'Vindicta, quo mag-is natunilis, CO

magis coercenda. 'Utilis metus ultionis privatte; nam 'The more natural revenge is to man,

leges niuiium srepe donniunt. the more it should be repressed.'

'Private vengeance inspires a salutary fear, as the laws too often slum- 'Qui facile injuriam reddit, is fortossc her.'1 tempore, non voluntate posterior erat.

'He who is ready in returning an injury, has, perhaps, been anticipated by his enemy only in lime.'

ANNOTATIONS.

'Some, when they take revenge, are desirous the party should know whence it cometh.'

It is certainly, as Bacon remarks, 'more generous'—or less ungenerous—to desire that the party receiving the punishment should 'know whence it cometh.' Aristotle distinguishes opyn —(' Resentment' or 'Anger') from Mto-oc,—' Hatred,' (and when active, 'Malice')—by this. The one who hates, he says, wishes the object of his hatred to suffer, or to be destroyed, no matter by whom; while Resentment craves that he should know from whom, and for what, he suffers. And he instances Ulysses in the Odyssey, who was not satisfied with the vengeance he had taken, under a feigned name, on the Cyclops, till he had told him who he really was.

1 Sec, in Guy Mannering, Pleydell's remark, that if you have not a regular chimney for the smoke, it will find its way through the whole house.

So Shakespere makes Macduff, in his eager desire of vengeance on Macbeth, say,

'If thou be slain, and with no sword of mine.
My wife's and children's ghosts will haunt me still.'

'In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over he is superior,' S$c.

Bacon, in speaking of the duty, and of the difficulty, of forgiving injuries, might have remarked that some of the things hardest to forgive are not what any one would consider injuries {i.e., wrongs) at all.

Many would reprobate the use, in such a case, of the word forgive. And the word ought not to be insisted on; though that most intelligent woman, Miss Elizabeth Smith, says (in her commonplace-book, from which posthumous extracts were published) that'a woman has need of extraordinary gentleness and modesty to beforgiven for possessing superior ability and learning.' She would probably have found this true even now, to a certain degree; though less than in her time.

But not to insist on a word, say, instead of ' forgive/ that it is hard to 'judge fairly of and to 'feel kindly towards/

(1.) One who adheres to the views which were yours, and which you have changed. This was, doubtless, one of the Apostle Paul's trials. But in his case the miracle he had experienced, and the powers conferred on himself, could leave no doubt on his mind. But the trial is much harder when you hear arguments used against you which you had yourself formerly employed, and which you cannot now refute; and when you rest on reasons which you had formerly shown to be futile, and which do not quite satisfy you now; and when you know that you are suspected, and half-suspect yourself, of being in some way biassed. Then it is that you especially need some one to keep you in countenance; and are tempted to be angry with those who will not, however they may abstain from reproaching you with apostasy.

Of course there is a trial on the opposite side also; but it is far less severe. For, a change implies error, first or last; and this is galling to one's self-esteem. The one who had adhered to his system, sect, or opinion, may hug himself on his (so-called) 'consistency;' and may congratulate himself—inwardly, if not openly,—on the thought that at least he may be quite right all through; whereas the other must have beeu wrong somewhere. 'I stand,' he may say to himself, 'where he was; I think as he thought, and do what he did; he cannot at any rate tax me with fickleness; nor can he blame anything in me which he was not himself guilty of.' All this is as soothing to the one party, as the thought of it is irritating to the other.

(2.) One who has proved right in the advice and warning he gave you, and which you rejected.

'I bear you no ill will, Lizzy' (says Mr. Bennet, in Miss Austen's Pride and Prejudice), 'for being justified in the warning you gave me. Considering how things have turned out, I think this shows some magnanimity.'

(3.) One who has carried off some prize from you; whether the woman you were in love with, or some honour, or situation, —especially if he has attained with little exertion what you had been striving hard for, without success.

This is noticed by Aristotle (Rhetoric, book ii.) as one great ground of envy ((pflovoe).

(4.) One who has succeeded in some undertaking whose failure you had predicted: such as the railroad over Chat Moss, which most of the engineers pronounced impossible; or the Duke of Bridgewater's aqueduct, which was derided as a castle in the air.

Again, with some minds of a baser nature, there is a difficulty, proverbially, in forgiving those whom one is conscious of having injured: and, again, those (especially if equals or inferiors) who have done very great and important services, beyond what can ever receive an adequate return. Rochefoucault even says that 'to most men it is less dangerous to do hurt than to do them too much good.' But then it was his system to look on the dark side only of mankind.

Tacitus, also, who is not very unlike him in this respect, says that 'benefits are acceptable as far as it appears they may be repaid; but that when they far exceed this, hatred takes the place of gratitude.' It is only, however, as has been said, the basest natures to whom any of these last-mentioned trials can occur, as trials.

la all these and some other such cases, there is evidently no injury; and some will, as has been just said, protest against the use of the word 'forgive/ when there is no wrong to be forgiven.

Then avoid the word, if you will; only do not go on to imagine that you have no need to keep down, with a strong effort, just the same kind of feelings that you would have had if there had been an injury. If you take for granted that no care is needed to repress such feelings, inasmuch as they would be so manifestly unreasonable, the probable result will be, that you will not repress but indulge them. You will not, indeed, acknowledge to yourself the real ground (as you do in the case of an actual injury) of your resentful feeling; but you will deceive yourself by finding out some other ground, real or imaginary. 'It is not that the man adheres to his original views, but that he is an uncharitable bigot:' 'It is not that I grudge him his success, but that he is too much puffed up with it:' 'It is not that I myself was seeking the situation, but that he is unfit for it -' &c.

He who cultivates, in the right way, the habit of forgiving injuries, will acquire it. But if you content yourself with this, and do not cultivate a habit of candour in such cases as those above alluded to, you will be deficient in that; for it does not grow wild in the soil of the human heart. And the unreasonableness and injustice of the feelings which will grow wild there, is a reason not why you should neglect to extirpate them, but why you should be the more ashamed of not doing so.

It is worth mentioning, that your judgment of any one's character who has done anything wrong, ought to be exactly the same, whether the wrong was done to you or to any one else. Any one by whom you have yourself been robbed or assaulted, is neither more nor less a robber, or a ruffian, than if he had so injured some other person, a stranger to you. This is evident; yet there is great need to remind people of it; for, as the very lowest minds of all regard with far the most disapprobation any wrong from which they themselves suffer, so, those a few steps, and only a few, above them, in their dread of such manifest injustice, think they cannot bend the twig too far the contrary way, and are for regarding (in theory, at least, if not in practice) wrongs to oneself as no wrongs at all. Such a person will reckon it a point of heroic generosity to let loose

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