He that is proud eats himself up. Pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle;
and whatever praises itself but in the deed, devours the deed in the praise. Pride is like an
empty bag and who can stand such a thing upright? It is hollow and heartless; and, like a
drum, makes the more noise from its very emptiness. What is there in us to induce such a
sentiment? Who can say, with truth, "I am better than my neighbor?" Some shrewd
philosopher has said, that if the best man's faults were written on his forehead they would
make him pull his hat over his eyes! Ah, there is so much of good in those who are evil, and so
much that is bad in the best, that it ill becomes us to judge our neighbors harshly, or set
ourselves up to saints at their expense. Let those who feel above their fellows, view the heights
above themselves, and realize their littleness; for as there is none so vile but that a viler hath
been known, so there is no saint but a holier can be named.
When one asked a philosopher what the great God was doing, he replied, "His whole
employment is to lift up the humble and to cast down the proud." And, indeed, there is no one
sin which the Almighty seems more determined to punish than this. The examples of God's
displeasure against it are most strkingly exhibited in the history of Pharoah, Hezekiah,
Haman, Nebuchadnezzar, and Herod.
Pride is generally the effect of ignorance; for pride and folly attend each other. Ignorance and
pride keep constant company. Pride, joined with many virtues, chokes them all. Pride is the
bane of happiness. Some people, says L'Estrange, are all quality. You would think they were
made of nothing but title and genealogy. The stamp of dignity defaces in them the very
character of humanity, and transports them to such a degree of haughtiness that they reckon
it below themselves to exercise either good nature or good manners. It is related of the French
family of the Duke de Levis, that they have a picture in their pedigree in which Noah is
represented going into the ark, and carrying a small trunk, on which is written, "Papers
belonging to the Levis family." Pride is the mist that vapors round insignificance. We can
conceive of nothing so little or ridiculous as pride. It is a mixture of insensibility and
ill-nature, in which it is hard to say which has the largest share. Pride is as loud a beggar as
want, and a great deal more saucy. Knavery and pride are often united; the Spartan boy was
dishonest enough to steal a fox, but proud enough to let the beast eat out his vitals sooner than
hazard detection. Pride breakfasted with Plenty, dined with Poverty, and suppered with
Infamy. Pride had rather at any time go out of the way than come behind.
Pride must have a fall. Solomon said, pride goeth before destruction. Of all human actions,
pride the most seldom obtains its end; for while it aims at honor and reputation, it reaps
contempt and derision. Pride and ill-nature will be hated in spite of all the wealth and
greatness in the world. Civility is always safe, but pride creates enemies. As liberality makes
friends of enemies, so pride makes enemies of friends. Says Dean Swift: "If a proud man makes
me keep my distance, the comfort is, he at the same time keeps his." Proud man have friends
neither in prosperity, because they know nobody; nor in adversity, because nobody know
them. There is an honest pride, such as makes one ashamed to do an evil act; such a degree of
self-esteem as makes one above doing an injury to any one; but it is the pride which sets one
above his fellows that we deprecate; that spirit which would demand homage to itself as better
and greater than others. In the mane of good sense, how can any one feel thus, when it is
realized that the entire life of a man is but a moment in the scale of eternity; and that in a few
short days, at most, we must all go from here. When the soul is about to depart, what avails it
whether a man die upon a throne or in the dust?
Pride is a virtue - let no the moralist be scandalized. Pride is also a vice. Pride, like ambition,
is sometimes virtuous and sometimes vicious, according to the character in which it is found,
and the object to which it is directed. As a principle, it is the parent of almost every virtue,
and every vice - everything that pleases and displeases in mankind; and as the effects are so
very different, nothing is more easy than to discover, even to ourselves, whether the pride that
produces them is virtuous or vicious. The first object of virtuous pride is rectitude, and the
next independence. Pride may be allowed to this or that degree, else a man cannot keep up his
dignity. In gluttony there must be eating, in drunkenness there must be drinking; 'tis not the
eating, nor 'tis not the drinking that must be blamed, but the excess. So in pride.
Pride and poverty, when combined, make a man's life up-hill work. Pomposity in a hovel! A
gaudy parlor, meagre kitchen, and empty cupboard! Ragged aristocracy! What shifts there
are among this class to hide their rags, and to give everything a golden tinge. Among them you
see a rich frosted cake and red wine in the parlor, and a dry crust, dryer codfish, and bad
coffee in the kitchen. Broadcloth hides a ragged shirt. Polished boots hide tattered stockings.
Fortune's toys, she kicks them about as she likes. The higher they look the lower they sink.
The gaudy side out, rags and starvation within. Oh! the pangs of pride! What misery is here
covered up. Smiles abroad, tears at home. An eternal war with want on one hand, and proud
ambition on the other. This trying to be "somebody," and this forgetting that it is not
necessary to be goldwashed, and to have a silver spoon in one's mouth, in order to reach that
envied good in life's journey. There are plenty of "somebodies" among the honest poor, and
plenty of "nobodies" among the dainty rich. Pride and poverty are the most ill-assorted
companions that can meet. They live in a state of continual warfare, and the sacrifices they
exact from each other, like those claimed by enemies to establish a hollow peace, only serve to
increase their discord.
Proud persons in general think of nothing but themselves, and imagine that all the world
thinks about them too. They suppose that they are the subject of almost every conversation,
and fancy every wheel which moves in society has some relation to them. People of this sort
are very desirous of knowing what is said of them, and as they have not conception that any
but great things are said of them, they are extremely solicitous to know them, and often put
this question: "Who do men say that I am?
Pride is the ape of charity. In show they are not much unlike, but somewhat fuller of action. In
seeking the one, take heed thou light not upon the other. They are two parallels never put
asunder. Charity feeds the poor, so does pride; charity builds a hospital, so does pride. In this
they differ: charity gives her glory to God, pride takes her glory from man. When flowers are
full of heaven-descended dews, they always hang their heads; but men hold theirs the higher
the more they receive, getting proud as they get full.
Likeness begets love, yet proud men hate each other. Pride makes us esteem ourselves; vanity
makes us desire the esteem of others. It is just to say that a man is too proud to be vain. The
pride of wealth is contemptible; the pride of learning is pitiable; the pride of dignity is
ridiculous; but the pride of bigotry is insupportable. To be proud of knowledge is to be blind
in the light; to be proud of virtue, is to poison yourself with the antidote; to be proud of
authority is to make your rise your downfall. The sun appears largest when about to set, so
does a proud man swell most magnificently just before an explosion.
No two feelings of the human mind are more opposite than pride and humility. Pride is
founded on a high opinion of ourselves; humility on the consciousness of the want of merit.
Pride is the offspring of ignorance; humility is the child of wisdom. Pride hardens the heart;
humility softens the temper and the disposition. Pride is deaf to the clamors of conscience;
humility listens with reverence to the monitor within; and finally, pride rejects the counsels of
reason, the voice of experience, the dictates of religion; while humility, with a docile spirit,
thankfully receives instruction from all who address her in the garb of truth. "Of all trees,"
says Felthem, "I observe God hat chosen the vine - a low plant that creeps upon the helpful
wall; of all beasts, the soft and pliant lamb; of all fowls, the mild and guileless dove. When God
appeared to Moses, it was not in the lofty cedar, nor in the spreading palm, but a bush, and
humble, abject bush. As if he would, by these selections, check the conceited arrogance of
man." Nothing produces love like humility; nothing hate like pride. It was pride that changed
angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.
There are as good horses drawing in carts as in coaches; and as good men are engaged in
humble employments as in the highest. The best way to humble a proud man is to take no
notice of him. Men are sometimes accused of pride, merely because their accusers would be
proud themselves if they were in their places. There are those who despise pride with a
greater pride. To quell the pride, even of the greatest, we should reflect how much we owe to
others, and how little to ourselves. Other vices choose to be in the dark, but pride loves to be
seen in the light. The common charge against those who rise above their condition, is pride.
Proud looks make foul work in fair faces.
When a man's pride is thoroughly subdued, it is like the sides of Mount Aetna. It was terrible
while the eruption lasted and the lava flowed, but when that is past, and the lava is turned into
soil, it grows vineyards, and olive trees up to the very top.
The Royal Path of Life - Aims and Aids to Success and Happiness - 1882 by T.L. Haines & L.W. Yaggy