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though the metal is the same, yet the figure, the quantity, and the fineness, are often different, which makes a difference in the value.
When two start into the world together, he, that is thrown behind, unless his mind prove generous, will be displeased with the other ; for the success of the first seems to press upon the reputation of the latter. For what will the world say? Why could he not hold up ? What made him come 'on so heavily, but that he wanted either management, or
metal?' With submission this inference is not good, and therefore one should not grow peevish about it. Success does not always attend desert. Sometimes favor, and opportunity, and fortune, run most on one side. Sometimes a man cracks his conscience, as a horse does his wind, by straining up hill.
But if the advantage was fairly gained, it is unbecoming to complain. If my friend charges in the post of honor, while I am sleeping in my tent, it is great injustice to envy him the reward of his bravery. In all likelihood I brought all my limbs out of the bed, which it is probable he has not done off the breach. And, if he has, his merit should not be lessened by his good fortune. He, that hazards his life upon an honorable score, deserves the same regard, as if he had lost it.
Envy among persons of the same trade is common. The competition of interest occasions this malevolence. They glean up custom from their neighbours ; and so what one gets, the other loses.
But why should I grudge a man the common advantage of his employment ? Why should I desire more, than my share of business, and be sorry to see another thrive by his industry ? Here can be nothing but covetousness at the bottom, and that is never to be satisfied. Howeverit must be granted, that all concurrences of this nature, whether for money, favor, or power, are in danger of being displeased with a fortunate rival. The pinch lies here ; the matter in competition is often indivisible. An office or a mistress cannot be
Vol. II. No. 2.
portioned out, like a common, and shared amongst distinct proprietors. The case is like a lottery with one prize ; a single ticket only is enriched, and the rest are all blanks. So that they will tell you it is not so much ill nature, as disappointment, which sours the humor. Where the objects of desire are more communicative, there are no exceptions taken. People do not like a prospect the worse, because others have the pleasure of it. They are seldom disturbed, because their neighbours hear the same music, or smell the same perfumes with themselves ; for here is enough for them all. The satisfaction is so noble, that it spreads, without lessening; it is not the thinner for being beaten ; but if there was any interfering, if the senses should engross or balk one another, as in the case of eating and drinking, you would quickly see the tables turned. If a fine object should tarnish by having a great many see it, or the music should run mostly into one man's ears, these satisfactions would be made inclosure as well, as the rest. Farther,
Those advantages, which it is no discredit to want, are not usually envied in another. For instance ; he, that does not pretend to painting, is not touched at the commendation of a master in that profession. A woman does not envy a man for fighting courage, nor a man a woman for her beauty. An old man is not uneasy at the strength and activity of those, who are younger ; neither does youth envy the knowledge and experience of age. In these cases reputation is unconcerned, and the esteem of the person is not sunk by being unfurnished ; for either the advantage is foreign to the condition of life or sex, either we have been possessed already, or have time enough to gain it afterward. The absurdity of this passion has partly been discovered already, and may be farther enlarged.
Envy is an illnatured vice ; it is made up of meanness and malice ; it wishes the force of goodness restrained, and the measure of happiness abated ; it laments over prosperity, and sickens at the sight of health. Had envy the governing of the creation, we should have a sad world on't. How would it infect the air, and darken the sun ; make the seas unnavigable, and blast the fruits of the earth ? How would the face of nature be overcast? How soon would peace be banished, and pleasure, languish and expire ? We should see confusion without settlement, madness without intervals, and poison without antidote. Discord, and disappointment, and despair, would then be the only blessings and entertainments of life. Could the envious prevail, all noble undertakings would be crushed, and invention nipped in the bud. Nothing extraordinary in industry, sense, or bravery, would be endured. Whatever was shining would soon be eclipsed ; beauty would be deformed, and courage turned into cowardice. To excel either in art or nature would be a crime ; and none could be safe, but the ill and the useless.
Emulation is a handsome passion ; it is enterprizing, but just withal ; it keeps a man within the terms of honor, and makes the contest for glory fair and generous. Here is nothing malevolent and insidious ; the advantage is gained by improvement, not by injury. The man strives to excel, but then it is by raising himself, not by depressing another. But envy oftentimes wants spirit as well, as good nature. Like a cold poison it benumbs and stupefies ; and thuş, as it were conscious of its own impotence, it folds its arms in despair, and sits cursing in a corner. When envy conquers, it is commonly in the dark, by treachery and undermining, by calumny and detraction. The envious are always ungrateful; they hate a noble temper, though shown upon themselves. If you oblige them, it is at your peril ; they will fly in the face of a good turn, and outrage, where they ought to reward. Has not many a brave man been ruined by being overcharged with merit ? What banished Themistocles, and sent Belisarius a begging, but doing too much for their country ? The comfort is, envy is no less foolish, than detestable ; it is a vice, which they say keeps no holidays, but is always in the wheel, and working upon its own disquiet. Envy, strictly considered, is a mark of inferiority. It supposes some excellency in another, which is wanting in itself. This is a cruel mortification ; for the envious are generally proud. It is a strong desire to be above, which makes people uncasy beneath. Now to see a hated person superior, and to lie under the anguish of disadvantage, is far enough from diversion. Envy is of all others the most ungratifying and disconsolate passion. There is power for ambition, and pleasure for luxury, and pelf even for covetousness ; but envy can give nothing but vexation ; it is made up of impotence and malice, and where these two qualities are well compounded, there needs no other ingredients of misery. Envy, how carefully does it look ? How meager and illcomplexioned ? It preys upon itself, and exhausts the spirits. It is a disease in its constitution, and every pulse is a pain. Ease must be impracticable to the envious ; they lie under a double misfortune ; common calamities and common blessings fall heavily upon them ; their nature gives them a share in the one, and their illnature in the other ; and he, that has his own troubles and the happiness of his neighbours to disturb him, is likely to have work enough. Envy looks ill under every aspect ; for if a man be good, he ought to be loved ; if bad to be pitied. To envy å superior makes the odds more smarting, and the distance more sensible. To envy an inferior is to lose the higher ground, and to set him upon a level. To grudge any man an advantage in person or fortune is to censure the liberalities of providence, and be angry at the goodness of God.
Since envy is so odious and every way unlucky, and does so much mischief to itself and others, it may not be improper to offer something more particular to prevent it.
First then let us consider, that Providence has given the least of us more, than we can pretend to. If we could make out a title to more privilege, to complain were not unreasonable ; but I suppose no one is so hardy, as to say God is in his debt ; that he owed him a nobler being, or a better suba sistence. For existence must be antecedent to merit; that, which was not, could not oblige ; and nothing can claim nothing. You will say such an one is much better furnished, than myself, besides, I want several conveniences, which I could mention ; and, if I must not have them, I wish they had not come in my way. Look you ; are we to cry, like illmanaged children, for every thing before us? If I give a beggar six pence, has he reason to grumble, because he has seen a shilling, or knows how to spend a crown? Let him give me leave to be master of my charity, and do what I please with my own. If bare knowledge would give possession, and our senses could challenge all, they lay hold of, there would be a strange world quickly. But these are wild and impracticable suppositions ; there is neither justice, nor convenience, nor possibility, in such an expectation. Let us remember we are well dealt with, and then we shall not be troubled to see another in a better condition. To consider we have more, than we deserve, will help our reason to silence our murmuring, and make us ashamed to repine. Just thoughts and modest expectations are easily satisfied. If we do not overrate our pretensions, all will be well. Humility disarms envy, and strikes it dead.
Secondly we should endeavor to improve our respective abilities. Men naturally desire to stand fair in the opinion of others, and to have somewhat of value to support them in their own thoughts. When they are the worst of their way, and fixed in the fag end of business, they are apt to look not kindly upon those, who go before them. He, that can be reconciled to
the character of an insignificant person, has a mean soul. To · be easy, a man should examine his genius, and exert his spi
rits, and try to make the most of himself. It is true every one cannot expect to distinguish himself in the highest posts ; to command an army, or ride admiral in a fleet, or be at the head of justice, or religion ; neither is it material to the point. Notwithstanding there are few but may shine in their own orb, and be remarkable in their station, so far at least, as to guard off contempt, and secure a moderate repute ; and those, that are easy at home, will not be envious abroad. Those, that are good for something themselves, will be content that others should be so too. All things considered,