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The Envious Man and the Covetous


An Envious Man happened to be offering up his prayers to Jupiter just in the time and place with a Covetous Miserable Fellow. Jupiter, not caring to be troubled with their impertinences himself, sent Apollo to examine the merits of their petitions, and to give them such relief as he should think proper. Apollo therefore opened his commission, and withal told them that, to make short of the matter, whatever the one asked the other should have it double. Upon this, the Covetous Man, though he had a thousand things to request, yet forbore to ask first, hoping to receive a double quantity; for he concluded that all men's wishes sympathized with his. By this means, the Envious Man had an opportunity of preferring his petition first, which was the thing he aimed at; so, without much hesitation, he prayed to be relieved, by having one of his eyes put out: knowing that, of consequence, his companion would be deprived of both.


In this fable the folly of those two vices, Envy and Avarice, is fully exposed, and handsomely rallied. The Miser, though he has the riches of the world, without stint, laid open to his choice, yet dares not name the sum, for fear another should be richer than himself. The advantage of a double quantity, by receiving last, is what he cannot bear to lose, and he fares accordingly. The Envious Man, though he has a power of calling for good things, without measure, to himself or others, yet waves this happy privilege, and is content to punish himself by a very great loss, even that of an eye, that he may bring down a double portion of the like calamity upon another. These are the true tempers of the covetous and envious; one can scarce determine, whether they are more mischievous to themselves, or to the public; but it is manifest, that they are highly noxious to both, and should be treated accordingly.