« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
cause 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, contrariwise, 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 that 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 so 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.1
Those that have joined with their honor great travels, cares, or perils, are less subject to envy; for men think that they earn their honors 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
1" By a leap," i. e. over the heads of others.
lead, chanting a quanta patimur; not that they feel it so, but only to abate the edge of envy: but this is to be understood of business that is laid upon men, and not such as they call unto themselves; for nothing increaseth envy more than an unnecessary and ambitious engrossing of business; and nothing doth extinguish envy more than for a great person to preserve all other inferior officers in their full rights and preeminences of their places; for, by that means, there be so many screens between him and envy.
Above all, those are most subject to envy, which carry the greatness of their fortunes in an insolent and proud manner; being never well but while they are showing how great they are, either by outward pomp, or by triumphing over all opposition or competition. Whereas wise men will rather do sacrifice to envy, in suffering themselves, sometimes of purpose, to be crossed and overborne in things that do not much concern them. Notwithstanding, so much is true, that the carriage of greatness in a plain and open manner, (so it be without arrogancy and vainglory,) doth draw less envy than if it be in a more crafty and cunning fashion; for in that course a man doth but disavow fortune, and seemeth to be conscious of his own want in worth, and doth but teach others to envy him.
Lastly, to conclude this part, as we said in the beginning that the act of envy had somewhat in it of witchcraft, so there is no other cure of envy but the cure of witchcraft; and that is, to remove the lot, (as they call it,) and to lay it upon another; for which purpose, the wiser sort of great persons bring in ever upon the stage somebody upon whom
1"How vast the evils we endure."
to derive the envy that would come upon themselves; sometimes upon ministers and servants, sometimes upon colleagues and associates, and the like; and, for that turn, there are never wanting some persons of violent and undertaking natures, who, so they may have power and business, will take it at any cost.
Now, to speak of public envy: there is yet some good in public envy, whereas in private there is none; for public envy is as an ostracism,1 that eclipseth men when they grow too great; and therefore it is a bridle also to great ones, to keep them within bounds.
This envy, being in the Latin word invidia,2 goeth in the modern languages by the name of discontentment, of which we shall speak in handling sedition. It is a disease in a state like to infection; for as infection spreadeth upon that which is sound, and tainteth it, so, when envy is gotten once into a state, it traduceth even the best actions thereof, and turneth them into an ill odor; and therefore there is little won by intermingling of plausible actions; for that doth argue but a weakness and fear of envy, which hurteth so much the more, as it is likewise usual in infections, which, if you fear them, you call them upon you.
This public envy seemeth to beat chiefly upon principal officers or ministers, rather than upon kings and estates themselves. But this is a sure rule, that if the envy upon the minister be great, when the cause of it in him is small; or if the
1 He probably alludes to the custom of the Athenians, who frequently ostracized or banished by vote their public men, lest they should become too powerful.
2 From in and video,- "to look upon;" with reference to the so-called "evil eye" of the envious.
envy be general in a manner upon all the ministers of an estate, then the envy (though hidden) is truly upon the state itself. And so much of public envy or discontentment, and the difference thereof from private envy, which was handled in the first place.
We will add this in general, touching the affection of envy, that, of all other affections, it is the most importune and continual; for of other affections there is occasion given but now and then; and therefore it was well said, "Invidia festos dies non agit: "1 for it is ever working upon some or other. And it is also noted, that love and envy do make a man pine, which other affections do not, because they are not so continual. It is also the vilest affection, and the most depraved; for which cause it is the proper attribute of the devil, who is called "The envious man, that soweth tares amongst the wheat by night; as it always cometh to pass that envy worketh subtilely, and in the dark, and to the prejudice of good things, such as is the wheat.
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. You may observe, that, amongst all the great and worthy persons, (whereof the memory remaineth, either ancient or recent,),
1 "Envy keeps no holidays."
there is not one that hath been transported to the mad degree of love, which shows that great spirits and great business do keep out this weak passion. You must except, nevertheless, Marcus Antonius, the half partner of the empire of Rome, and Appius Claudius,1 the decemvir and lawgiver; whereof the former was indeed a voluptuous man, and inordinate, but the latter was an austere and wise man; and therefore it seems (though rarely) that love can find entrance, not only into an open heart, but also into a heart well fortified, if watch be not well kept. It is a poor saying of Epicurus, "Satis magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus; as if man, made for the contemplation of heaven and all noble objects, should do nothing but kneel before a little idol, and make himself subject, though not of the mouth (as beasts are) yet of the eye, which was given him for higher purposes. It is a strange thing to note the excess of this passion, and how it braves the nature and value of things, by this, that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in
He iniquitously attempted to obtain possession of the person of Virginia, who was killed by her father Virginius, to prevent her from falling a victim to his lust. This circumstance caused the fall of the Decemviri at Rome, who had been employed in framing the code of laws afterwards known as "The Laws of the Twelve Tables." They narrowly escaped being burnt alive by the infuriated populace.
2 We are a sufficient theme for contemplation, the one for the other.". Sen. Epist. Mor. 1. 7. (A, L. 1. iii. 6.) Pope seems, notwithstanding this censure of Bacon, to have been of the same opinion with Epicurus:
"Know then thyself, presume not God to scan,
Essay on Man, Ep. ii. 1, 2. Indeed, Lord Bacon seems to have misunderstood the saying of Epicurus, who did not mean to recommend man as the sole object of the bodily vision, but as the proper theme for mental contemplation.