Envy is a prolific source of worry. Once allow this demon of unrest to fasten itself in one's vitals, and worry claims every waking hour. Envy is that peculiar demon of discontent that cannot see the abilities, attainments, achievements, or possessions of another without malicious determination to belittle, deride, make light of, or absolutely deny their existence, while all the time covetously craving them for itself. Andrew Tooke pictures Envy as a vile female: A deadly paleness in her cheek was seen; Her meager skeleton scarce cased with skin; Her looks awry; an everlasting scowl Sits on her brow; her teeth deform'd and foul; Her breast had gall more than her breast could hold; Beneath her tongue coats of poison roll'd; No smile e'er smooth'd her furrow'd brow but those Which rose from laughing at another's woes; Her eyes were strangers to the sweets of sleep, Devouring spite for ever waking keep; She sees bless'd men with vast success crown'd, Their joys distract her, and their glories wound; She kills abroad, herself's consum'd at home, And her own crimes are her perpetual martyrdom.
Ever watching, with bloodshot eyes, the good things of others, she hates them for their possessions, longs to possess them herself, lets her covetousness gnaw hourly at her very vitals, and yet, in conversation with others, slays with slander, vile innuendo, and falsehood, the reputation of those whose virtues she covets.
As Robert Pollock wrote of one full of envy: It was his earnest work and daily toil With lying tongue, to make the noble seem Mean as himself.
* * * * * Whene'er he heard, As oft he did, of joy and happiness, And great prosperity, and rising worth, 'Twas like a wave of wormwood o'er his soul Rolling its bitterness.
Aye! and he drank in great draughts of this bitter flood, holding it in his mouth, tasting its foul and biting qualities until his whole being seemed saturated with it, hating it, dreading it, suffering every moment while doing it, yet enduring it, because of his envy at the good of others.
Few there are, who, at some time or other in their lives, do not have a taste, at least, of the stinging bite of envy. Girls are envious of each other's good looks, clothes, possessions, houses, friends; boys of the strength, skill, ability, popularity of others; women of other women, men of other men, just as when they were boys and girls.
One of the strongest words the great Socrates ever wrote was against envy. He said: Envy is the daughter of pride, the author of murder and revenge, the beginner of secret sedition, the perpetual tormentor of virtue. Envy is the filthy slime of the soul; a venom, a poison, a quicksilver, which consumeth the flesh, and drieth up the marrow of the bones.
And history clearly shows that the wise philosopher stated facts. Caligula slew his brother because he possessed a beauty that led him to be more esteemed and favored than he. Dionysius, the tyrant, was vindictive and cruel to Philoxenius, the musician, because he could sing; and with Plato, the philosopher, because he could dispute, better than himself. Even the great Cambyses slew his brother, Smerdis, because he was a stronger and better bowman than himself or any of his party. It was envy that led the courtiers of Spain to crave and seek the destruction of Columbus, and envy that set a score of enemies at the heels of Cortes, the conqueror of Peru.
It is a fearful and vindictive devil, is this devil of envy, and he who yields to it, who once allows it admittance to the citadel of his heart, will soon learn that every subsequent waking and even sleeping moment is one of worry and distres.
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