C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


Envy—the rottenness of the bones.


Envy, the attendant of the empty mind.


Envy is a kind of praise.


Envy is the antagonist of the fortunate.


Envy is not to be conquered but by death.


Envy feeds only on the living.


It was well said that envy keeps no holidays.


Envy pierces more in the restriction of praises than in the exaggeration of its criticisms.

Achilles Poincelot.

Envy, like flame, soars upwards.


All envy is proportionate to desire.

Dr. Johnson.

Envy is more irreconcilable than hatred.

La Rochefoucauld.

The man that makes a character makes foes.


Envy sets the strongest seal on desert.

Ben Jonson.

The envious will die, but envy never.


Better it is to be envied than pitied.


Nothing can allay the rage of biting envy.


As rust corrupts iron, so envy corrupts man.


How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes!


Envy is like a fly that passes all a body’s sounder parts, and dwells upon the sores.


Those who raise envy will easily incur censure.


Men that make envy and crooked malice nourishment, dare bite the best.


How can we explain the perpetuity of envy—a vice which yields no return?


The hate which we all bear with the most Christian patience is the hate of those who envy us.


Envy lies between two beings equal in nature, though unequal in circumstances.

Jeremy Collier.

That incessant envy wherewith the common rate of mankind pursues all superior natures to their own.


An envious man waxeth lean with the fatness of his neighbors.


For envy, to small minds, is flattery.


He who surpasses or subdues mankind must look down on the hate of those below.


There is not a passion so strongly rooted in the human heart as envy.


Envy, like flame, blackens that which is above it, and which it cannot reach.

J. Petit-Senn.

Such men as he be never at heart’s ease whiles they behold a greater than themselves.


  • Envy will merit as its shade pursue,
  • But like a shadow proves the substance true.
  • Pope.

  • Envy, to which th’ ignoble mind’s a slave,
  • Is emulation in the learn’d or brave.
  • Pope.

  • Base Envy withers at another’s joy,
  • And hates that excellence it cannot reach.
  • Thomson.

  • Envy not greatness: for thou mak’st thereby
  • Thyself the worse, and so the distance greater.
  • Herbert.

  • But, oh! what mighty magician can assuage,
  • A woman’s envy?
  • Geo. Granville.

    It is the practice of the multitude to bark at eminent men, as little dogs do at strangers.


    A weak mind is ambitious of envy, a strong one of respect.

    E. Wigglesworth.

  • Thy danger chiefly lies in acting well;
  • No crime’s so great as daring to excel.
  • Churchill.

  • To all apparent beauties blind,
  • Each blemish strikes an envious mind.
  • Gay.

    No metal can—no, not the hangman’s axe—bear half the keenness of thy sharp envy.


    The truest mark of being born with great qualities is being born without envy.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Envy is blind, and has no other quality but that of detracting from virtue.


    The hen of our neighbor appears to us a goose, says the Oriental proverb.

    Mme. Deluzy.

    The Sicilian tyrants never devised a greater punishment than envy.


    When men are full of envy they disparage everything, whether it be good or bad.


  • Envy is but the smoke of low estate,
  • Ascending still against the fortunate.
  • Lord Brooke.

    Envy lurks at the bottom of the human heart, like a viper in its hole.


    As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man.

    St. Chrysostom.

    Envy makes us see what will serve to accuse others, and not perceive what may justify them.

    Bishop Wilson.

    In short, virtue cannot live where envy reigns, nor liberality subsist with niggardliness.


    Stones and sticks are thrown only at fruit-bearing trees.


  • For something in the envy of the small
  • Still loves the vast democracy of death!
  • Lytton.

    When we envy another, we make their virtue our vice.


    Just so far as we are pleased at finding faults, are we displeased at finding perfection.


    We ought to be guarded against every appearance of envy, as a passion that always implies inferiority wherever it resides.


    Envy assails the noblest; the winds howl around the highest peaks.


    We often glory in the most criminal passion; but that of envy is so shameful that we dare not even own it.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    We are all clever enough at envying a famous man while he is yet alive.


    Envy is a passion so full of cowardice and shame that nobody ever had the confidence to own it.


    If we did but know how little some enjoy of the great things that they possess, there would not be much envy in the world.


    Envy, like a cold prison, benumbs and stupefies; and, conscious of its own impotence, folds its arms in despair.

    Jeremy Collier.

    Envy is a littleness of soul, which cannot see beyond a certain point, and if it does not occupy the whole space, feels itself excluded.


    There is but one man who can believe himself free from envy; and it is he who has never examined his own heart.


    Save those who fill the highest stations, I know of none more unfortunate than those who envy them.

    Mme. de Maintenon.

    Emulation looks out for merits, that she may exalt herself by a victory; envy spies out blemishes, that she may lower another by defeat.


    Envy, among other ingredients, has a mixture of the love of justice in it. We are more angry at undeserved than at deserved good fortune.


    Many men profess to hate another, but no man owns envy, as being an enmity or displeasure for no cause but goodness or felicity.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    ’Tis the beginning of hell in this life, and a passion not to be excused. Every other sin hath some pleasure annexed to it, or will admit of an excuse: envy alone wants both.


    There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance.


    Envy sets the stronger seal on desert; if he have no enemies, I should esteem his fortune most wretched.

    Ben Jonson.

    He that would live clear of envy must lay his finger on his mouth, and keep his hand out of the ink-pot.


    Envy, my son, wears herself away, and droops like a lamb under the influence of the evil eye.


    Of all hostile feelings, envy is perhaps the hardest to be subdued, because hardly any one owns it even to himself, but looks out for one pretext after another to justify his hostility.


    It is because we have but a small portion of enjoyment ourselves that we feel so little pleasure in the good fortune of others. Is it possible for the happy to be envious?

    W. B. Clulow.

    Envy, if surrounded on all sides by the brightness of another’s prosperity, like the scorpion confined within a circle of fire, will sting itself to death.


    They say that love and tears are learned without any master; and I may say that there is no great need of studying at the court to learn envy and revenge.

    N. Caussin.

    Newton found that a star, examined through a glass tarnished by smoke, was diminished into a speck of light. But no smoke ever breathed so thick a mist as envy or detraction.


    Mankind are so ready to bestow their admiration on the dead, because the latter do not hear it, or because it gives no pleasure to the objects of it. Even fame is the offspring of envy.


    Envy is the deformed and distorted offspring of egotism; and when we reflect on the strange and disproportioned character of the parent, we cannot wonder at the perversity and waywardness of the child.


  • Lo! ill-rejoicing envy, wing’d with lies,
  • Scattering calumnious rumours as she flies,
  • The steps of miserable men pursue,
  • With haggard aspect, blasting to the view.
  • Elton.

    The praise of the envious is far less creditable than their censure; they praise only that which they can surpass, but that which surpasses them they censure.


  • With that malignant envy, which turns pale,
  • And sickens, even if a friend prevail,
  • Which merit and success pursues with hate,
  • And damns the worth it cannot imitate.
  • Churchill.

  • Envy, eldest born of hell, embru’d
  • Her hands in blood, and taught the sons of men
  • To make a death which nature never made,
  • And God abhorr’d.
  • Dr. Porteus.

    Envy is of all others the most ungratifying and disconsolate passion. There is power for ambition, pleasure for luxury, and pelf even for covetousness; but envy gets no reward but vexation.

    Jeremy Collier.

    There is some good in public envy, whereas in private there is none; for public envy is as an ostracism that eclipseth men when they grow too great; and therefore it is a bridle also to great ones to keep within bounds.


    Other passions have objects to flatter them, and seem to content and satisfy them for a while; there is power in ambition, pleasure in luxury, and pelf in covetousness; but envy can gain nothing but vexation.


    Whoever feels pain in hearing a good character of his neighbor will feel a pleasure in the reverse; and those who despair to rise in distinction by their virtues are happy if others can be depressed to a level with themselves.

    Rev. John Barker.

    A man that hath no virtue in himself ever envieth virtue in others; for men’s minds will either feed upon their own good or upon others’ evil; and who wanteth the one will prey upon the other.


    Men of noble birth are noted to be envious towards new men when they rise; for the distance is all told, and it is like a deceit of the eye, that when others come on they think themselves going back.


    In our road through life we may happen to meet with a man casting a stone reverentially to enlarge the cairn of another which stone he has carried in his bosom to sling against that very other’s head.


    Envy may justly be called “the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity;” it is the most acid fruit that grows on the stock of sin, a fluid so subtle that nothing but the fire of divine love can purge it from the soul.

    Hosea Ballou.

    Envy, like the worm, never runs but to the fairest fruit; like a cunning bloodhound, it singles out the fattest deer in the flock. Abraham’s riches were the Philistines’ envy; and Jacob’s blessing bred Esau’s hatred.

    J. Beaumont.

    Envy is a weed that grows in all soils and climates, and is no less luxuriant in the country than in the court; is not confined to any rank of men or extent of fortune, but rages in the breasts of all degrees.

    Lord Clarendon.

    To pooh-pooh what we are never likely to possess is wonderfully easy. The confirmed celibate is loudest in his denunciations of matrimony. In Æsop, it is the tailless fox that advocates the disuse of tails. It is the grapes we cannot reach that we call sour.

    Æneas Sage.

    If envy, like anger, did not burn itself in its own fire, and consume and destroy those persons it possesses, before it can destroy those it wishes worst to, it would set the whole world on fire, and leave the most excellent persons the most miserable.

    Lord Clarendon.

    Envy ought in strict truth to have no place whatever allowed it in the heart of man; for the goods of this present world are so vile and low that they are beneath it, and those of the future world are so vast and exalted that they are above it.


    Envy is an ill-natured vice, and is made up of meanness and malice. It wishes the force of goodness to be strained, and the measure of happiness abated. It laments over prosperity, and sickens at the sight of health. It oftentimes wants spirit as well as good nature.

    Jeremy Collier.

    I don’t believe that there is a human creature in his senses, arrived to maturity, that at some time or other has not been carried away by this passion (sc. envy) in good earnest; and yet I never met with any one who dared own he was guilty of it but in jest.


    We are often infinitely mistaken, and take the falsest measures, when we envy the happiness of rich and great men; we know not the inward canker that eats out all their joy and delight, and makes them really much more miserable than ourselves.

    Bishop Hall.

    If our credit be so well built, so firm, that it is not easy to be shaken by calumny or insinuation, envy then commends us, and extols us beyond reason to those upon whom we depend, till they grow jealous, and so blow us up when they cannot throw us down.


    To our betters we can reconcile ourselves, if you please—respecting them sincerely, laughing at their jokes, making allowance for their stupidities, meekly suffering their insolence; but we can’t pardon our equals going beyond us.


    We had rather do anything than acknowledge the merit of another if we can help it. We cannot bear a superior or an equal. Hence ridicule is sure to prevail over truth, for the malice of mankind, thrown into the scale, gives the casting weight.


    As the rays of the sun, notwithstanding their velocity, injure not the eye, by reason of their minuteness, so the attacks of envy, notwithstanding their number, ought not to wound our virtue by reason of their insignificance.


    Do not envy the violet the dew-drop or glitter of a sunbeam; do not envy the bee the plant from which he draws some sweets. Do not envy man the little goods he possesses; for the earth is for him the plant from which he obtains some sweets, and his mind is the dew-drop which the world colors for an instant.

    Leopold Schefer.

    Surely, if we considered detraction to be bred of envy, nested only in deficient minds, we should find that the applauding of virtue would win us far more honor than the seeking slyly to disparage it. That would show we loved what we commended, while this tells the world we grudge at what we want in ourselves.


    An envious man waxeth lean with the fatness of his neighbors. Envy is the daughter of pride, the author of murder and revenge, the beginner of secret sedition and the perpetual tormentor of virtue. Envy is the filthy slime of the soul; a venom, a poison, or quicksilver which consumeth the flesh and drieth up the marrow of the bones.


    To be an object of hatred and aversion to their contemporaries has been the usual fate of all those whose merit has raised them above the common level. The man who submits to the shafts of envy for the sake of noble objects pursues a judicious course for his own lasting fame. Hatred dies with its object, while merit soon breaks forth in full splendor, and his glory is handed down to posterity in never-dying strains.


    To diminish envy, let us consider not what others possess, but what they enjoy; mere riches may be the gift of lucky accident or blind chance, but happiness must be the result of prudent preference and rational design; the highest happiness then can have no other foundation than the deepest wisdom; and the happiest fool is only as happy as he knows how to be.


    Envy is the most universal passion. We only pride ourselves on the qualities we possess, or think we possess; but we envy the pretensions we have, and those which we have not, and do not even wish for. We envy the greatest qualities and every trifling advantage. We envy the most ridiculous appearance or affectation of superiority. We envy folly and conceit; nay, we go so far as to envy whatever confers distinction of notoriety, even vice and infamy.


    When any person of really eminent virtue becomes the object of envy, the clamor and abuse by which he is assailed is but the sign and accompaniment of his success in doing service to the public. And if he is a truly wise man, he will take no more notice of it than the moon does of the howling of the dogs. Her only answer to them is to shine on.


  • And next to him malicious Envy rode
  • Upon a ravenous wolfe, and still did chaw
  • Between his cankered teeth a venomous tode,
  • That all the poison ran about his jaw;
  • But inwardly he chawed his own maw
  • At neighbour’s wealth that made him ever sad
  • For death it was when any good he saw;
  • And wept, that cause of weeping none he had;
  • And when he heard of harme he waxed wondrous glad.
  • Spenser.

    The envious man is in pain upon all occasions which ought to give him pleasure. The relish of his life is inverted; and the objects which administer the highest satisfaction to those who are exempt from this passion give the quickest pangs to persons who are subject to it. All the perfections of their fellow creatures are odious. Youth, beauty, valor and wisdom are provocations of their displeasure. What a wretched and apostate state is this! to be offended with excellence, and to hate a man because we approve him!