Cruelty, Hatred, and Envy
Heaviness of Heart
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The desire of what man calleth good, the joy he taketh in possessing it, is grounded only in opinion. Take not up that from the vulgar; examine the worth of things thyself, and thou shalt not be covetous.
An immoderate desire of riches is a poison lodged in the mind. It contaminates and destroys everything that was good in it. It is no sooner rooted there than all virtue, all honesty, all natural affection, fly before the face of it.
The covetous would sell his children for gold; his parent might die ere he would open his coffer; nay, he considereth not himself in respect of it. In the search of happiness he maketh himself unhappy.
As the man who selleth his house to purchase ornaments for the embellishment of it, even so is he who giveth up peace in search of riches, in hope he may be happy in enjoying them.
Where covetousness reigneth, know that the mind is poor. Whoso accounteth not riches the principal good of man will not throw away all other goods in pursuit of them.
Whoso feareth not poverty as the greatest evil of his nature will not purchase to himself all other evils in the avoiding of it.
Thou fool, is not virtue worth more than riches? Is not guilt more base than poverty? Enough for his necessities is in the power of every man; be content with it, and thine happiness shall smile at the sorrow of him who heapeth up more.
Nature hath hid gold beneath the earth, as unworthy to be seen; silver hath she placed where thou tramplest it under thy feet. Meaneth she not by this to inform thee that gold is not worthy thy regard, and that silver is beneath thy notice?
Covetousness burieth under the ground millions of wretches; these dig for their hard masters what returneth the injury; what makes them more miserable than their slaves.
The earth is barren of good things where she hoardeth up treasure; where gold is in her bowels, there no herb groweth.
As the horse findeth not there his grass, nor the mule his provender; as the fields of corn laugh not on the sides of the hills; as the olive holdeth not forth there her fruits, not the vine her cluster; even so no good dwelleth in the breast of him whose heart broodeth over his treasure.
Riches are servants to the wise; but they are tyrants over the mind of the fool.
The covetous serveth his gold; it serveth not him. He possesseth his wealth as the sick doth a fever; it burneth and tormenteth him, and will not quit him until death.
Hath not gold destroyed the virtue of millions? Did it ever add to the goodness of any?
Is it not most abundant with the worst of men? Wherefore then shouldst thou desire to be distinguished by possessing it?
Have not the wisest been those who have had the least of it, and is not wisdom happiness?
Have not the worst of thy species possessed the greatest portions of it, and hath not their end been miserable?
Poverty wanteth many things, but covetousness denieth itself all.
The covetous can be good to no man; but he is to none so cruel as to himself.
If thou be industrious to procure gold, be generous in the disposal of it. Man never is so happy as when he giveth happiness unto another.
He that prodigally lavisheth that which he hath to spare robbeth the poor of what nature giveth them a right unto.
He who squandereth away his treasure refuseth the means to do good; he denieth himself the practice of virtues whose reward is in their hand, whose end is none other than his own happiness.
It is more difficult to be well with riches than to be at ease under want of them.
Man governeth himself much easier in poverty than in abundance.
Poverty requireth but one virtue: patience to support it. The rich, if he hath not charity, temperance, prudence, and many more, is guilty.
The poor hath only the good of his own state committed unto him; the rich is entrusted with the welfare of thousands.
He that giveth away his treasure wisely giveth away his plagues; he that retaineth their increase heapeth up sorrow.
Refuse not unto the stranger that which he wanteth; deny not to thy brother that which thou wantest thyself.
Know there is more delight in being without what thou hast given than in possessing millions which thou knowest not the use of.
Who torture those they hate, but cowards? Who murder those they rob, but vile creatures?
The feeling and injury must be previous to the revenging it; but the noble mind disdaineth to say, "It hurts me!"
If the injury is not below thy notice, he that doth it unto thee, in that, maketh himself so: wouldst thou enter the lists with thine inferior?
Disdain the man who attempteth to wrong thee; contemn him who would give thee disquiet.
In this thou not only preservest thine own peace, but thou inflictest all the punishment of revenge, without stopping to employ it against him.
As the tempest and the thunder affect not the sun nor the stars, but spend their fury on stones and trees below; so injuries ascend not to the Soul of the great, but waste themselves on such as are those who offer them.
Poorness of spirit will actuate revenge; greatness of Soul despiseth the offence; nay, it doth good unto him who intended to have disturbed it.
Why seekest thou vengeance, O man? With what purpose is it that thou pursuest it? Thinkest thou to pain thine adversary by it? Know that thou thyself feelest its greatest torments.
Revenge gnaweth the heart of him who is infected with it, while he against whom it is intended remaineth easy.
It is unjust in the anguish it inflicts: therefore nature intended it not for thee; needeth he who hath been injured more pain, or ought he to add force to the affliction which another hath cast upon him?
The man who meditateth revenge is not content with the mischief he hath received; he addeth to his anguish the punishment due unto another, while he whom he seeketh to hurt goeth his way laughing; he maketh himself merry at this addition to his misery.
Revenge is painful in the intent, and it is dangerous in the execution. Seldom doth the axe fall where he who lifted it up intended; and lo, he remembereth not that it must recoil against him.
Whilst the revengeful seeketh his enemy's hurt, he oftentimes procureth his own destruction: while he aimeth at one of the eyes of his adversary, lo, he putteth out both his own.
If he attain not his end, he lamenteth it; if he succeed, he repenteth of it; the fear of justice taketh away the peace of his own mind; the care to hide him from it destroyeth that of his friend.
Can the death of thine adversary satiate thine hatred? Can the setting him at rest restore thy peace?
Wouldst thou make him sorry for his offence, conquer him, and spare him; in death he owneth not thy superiority, nor feeleth he more the power of thy wrath.
In revenge there shall be a triumph of the avenger; and he who hath injured him should feel his displeasure; he should suffer pain from it, and should repent him of the cause.
This is the revenge inspired from anger; but that which makes thee greatest, is contempt.
Murder from an injury ariseth only from cowardice: he who inflicteth it feareth the enemy may live, and avenge himself.
Death endeth the quarrel, but it restoreth not the reputation: killing is an act of caution, not of courage; it is safe, but it is not honourable.
There is nothing so easy as to revenge an offence; but nothing is so honourable as to pardon it.
The greatest victory man can obtain is over himself; he that disdaineth to feel an injury restoreth it upon him who offereth it.
When thou meditatest revenge, thou confessest that thou feelest the wrong; when thou complainest, thou acknowledgest thyself hurt by it: meanest thou to add this triumph to the pride of thine enemy?
That cannot be an injury which is not felt; how then can he who despiseth it revenge it?
If you think it dishonourable to bear an offence, more is in thy power: thou mayest conquer it.
Good offices will make a man ashamed to be thine enemy; greatness of mind will terrify him from the thought of hurting thee.
The greater the wrong the more glory is in pardoning it; and by how much more justifiable would be revenge, by so much more honour is in clemency.
Hast thou a right to be a judge in thine own cause; to be a party to the act and yet to pronounce sentence on it? Before thou condemneth, let another say it is just.
The revengeful is feared, and therefore is hated; but he that is endued with clemency is adored; the praise of his actions remaineth for ever; and the love of the world attendeth him.
Men disown it as not of their nature: they are ashamed of it as a stranger to their hearts; do they not call it inhumanity?
Whence then is her origin? Unto what that is human oweth she her existence? Her father is Fear; and behold Dismay, is it not her mother?
The hero lifteth his sword against the enemy that resisteth; but no sooner doth he submit than he is satisfied.
It is not an honour to trample on the object that feareth; it is not in virtue to insult what is beneath it: instruct the insolent, and spare the humble; and thou art at the height of victory.
He who wanteth virtue to arrive at this end, he who hath not courage to ascend thus unto it: lo, he supplieth the place of conquest by murder, of sovereignty by slaughter.
He who feareth all striketh at all: why are tyrants cruel, but because they live in terror?
The cur will tear the carcase, though he dare not look it in the face while living; the hound that hunteth it to the death mangleth it not afterwards.
Civil wars are the most bloody, because those who fight them are cowards, conspirators, and murderers, and because in death there is silence. Is it not fear that telleth them they may be betrayed?
That thou mayest not be cruel, set thyself too high for hatred; that thou mayest not be inhuman, place thyself above the reach of envy.
Every man may be viewed in two lights: in the one he will be troublesome, in the other less offensive. Choose to see him in that in which he least hurteth thee; then shalt thou not do hurt unto him.
What is there that a man may not turn unto his good? In that which offendeth us most, there is more ground for complaint than hatred. Man would be reconciled to him of whom he complaineth: what murdereth he but what he hateth?
If thou art prevented of a benefit, fly not into rage; the loss of thy reason is the want of a greater.
Because thou art robbed of thy cloak, wouldst thou strip thyself of thine undergarments also?
When thou enviest the man who possesseth honours; when his titles and his greatness raise thine indignation: seek to know whence they came unto him; inquire by what means he was possessed of them; and thine envy will be turned into pity.
If the same fortune were offered unto thee at the same price, be assured: if thou wert wise, thou wouldst refuse it.
What is the pay for titles, but flattery? How doth man purchase power but by being a slave to him who giveth it?
Wouldst thou lose thine own liberty to be able to take away that of another? Or canst thou envy him who doth so?
Man purchaseth nothing of his superiors but for a price; and that price, is it not more than the value? Wouldst thou pervert the customs of the world? Would thou have the purchase and the price also?
As thou canst not envy what thou wouldst not accept, disdain the cause of the hatred; and drive from thy Soul this occasion of the parent of cruelty.
If thou possessest honour, canst thou envy that which is obtained at the expense of it? If thou knowest the value of virtue, pitiest thou not those who have bartered it so meanly?
When thou hast taught thyself to bear the seeming good of man without repining, thou wilt hear of their real happiness with pleasure.
If thou seest good things fall unto one who deserveth them, thou wilt rejoice in it: for virtue is happy in the prosperity of the virtuous.
He who rejoiceth in the happiness of another increaseth by it his own.
What is the source of sadness but feebleness of the mind? What giveth it power but the want of reason? Rouse thyself to the combat, and she quitteth the field before thou strikest.
She is an enemy to thy race: therefore drive her from thine heart; she poisoneth the sweets of thy life: therefore suffer her not to enter thy dwelling.
She raiseth the loss of a straw to the destruction of thy fortune. While she vexeth thy mind about trifles, she robbeth thee of thine attention to the things of consequence: behold, she but prophesieth what she seemeth to relate unto thee.
She spreadeth drowsiness as a veil over thy virtues; she hideth them from those who would honour thee on beholding them; she entangleth and keepeth them down while she maketh it most necessary for thee to exert them.
Lo, she oppresseth thee with evil; and she tieth down thine hands when they would throw the load off from thee.
If thou wouldst avoid what is base, if thou wouldst disdain what is cowardly, if thou wouldst drive from thine heart what is unjust, suffer not sadness to lay hold upon it.
Suffer it not to cover itself with the face of piety; let it not deceive thee with a show of wisdom. Religion payeth honour to thy Maker; let it not be clouded with melancholy. Wisdom maketh thee happy; know, then, that sorrow is to her looks a stranger.
For what should man be sorrowful, but for afflictions? Why should his heart give up joy, when the causes of it are not removed from him? Is not this being miserable for the sake of misery?
As the mourner who looketh sad because he is hired to do so, who weepeth because his tears are paid for: such is the man who suffereth his heart to be sad, not because he suffereth aught, but because he is gloomy.
Is it not the occasion that produceth the sorrow; for, behold, the same thing shall be to another rejoicing?
Ask men if their sadness maketh things the better, and themselves will confess to thee it is folly; nay, they will praise him who beareth his ills with patience, who maketh head against misfortunes with courage. Applause should be followed by imitation.
Sadness is against nature, for it troubleth her motions; lo, it rendeth distasteful whatsoever she hath made amiable.
As the oak falleth before the tempest, and raiseth not its head again, so boweth the heart of man to the force of sadness, and so returneth it unto its strength no more.
As the snow melteth upon the mountains from the rain that trickleth down their sides, even so is beauty washed from off the cheeks by tears; and neither the one nor the other restoreth itself again for ever.
As the pearl is dissolved by the vinegar, which seemeth at first only to obscure its surface: so is thine happiness, O man! swallowed up by the heaviness of heart, though at first it seemeth only to cover its shadow.
Behold sadness in the public streets; cast thine eye upon her: avoideth she not every one? And doth not every one fly from her presence?
See how she droopeth her head, like the flower whose root is cut asunder; see how she fixeth her eyes upon the earth! See how they serve her to no purpose but for weeping!
Is there in her mouth discourse? Is there in her heart the love of society? Is there in her mind reason? Ask her the cause, and she knoweth it not; inquire the occasion, and behold there is none.
Yet doth her strength fail her; lo, at length she sinketh into the grave, and no one saith, "What is become of her?"
Hast thou understanding, and seest thou not this? Hast thou piety, and perceivest thou not thine error?
God created thee in mercy: had He not intended thee to be happy, His beneficence would not have called thee into existence; how darest thou then fly in the face of His Majesty?
Whilst thou art most happy with innocence, thou dost Him most honour; and what is thy discontent but murmuring against Him?
Created He not all things liable to changes? And darest thou to weep at their changing? It is the law!
If we know the law of nature, wherefore do we complain of it? If we are ignorant of it, what should we accuse but our blindness to what every moment giveth us proof of?
Know that it is not thou that art to give laws to the world; thy part is to harmonise with them as thou findest them. If they distress thee, thy lamenting it but addeth to thy torment.
Be not deceived with fair pretences, nor suppose that sorrow healeth misfortune. It is a poison under the colour of a remedy; while it pretendeth to draw the arrow from thy breast, lo, it plungest it into thine heart.
While sadness separateth thee from friends, doth it not say, "Thou art unfit for conversation"? While it driveth thee into corners, doth it not proclaim that it is ashamed of itself?
It is not in thy nature to meet the arrows of ill fortune unhurt; not doth reason require it of thee: it is thy duty to bear misfortune like a man; but thou must first feel it like one.
Tears may drop from thine eyes though virtue falleth not from thine heart: be thou careful only that there is cause, and that they flow not too abundantly.
The greatness of the evil is not to be reckoned from the number of tears shed for it. The greatest griefs are above these testimonials, as the greatest joys are above utterance.
What is there that weakeneth the mind like grief? What depresseth it like sadness?
Is the sorrowful prepared for noble enterprises, or armeth he himself in the cause of virtue?
Subject not thyself to ills where there are in return no advantages; neither sacrifice thou the means of good unto that which is in itself an evil.