"How strangely our Passions govern us!"

— Mandeville, Bernard (bap. 1670, d. 1733)

Place of Publication
J. Roberts
1705, 1714, 1732
"How strangely our Passions govern us!"
Metaphor in Context
A Gentleman well dress'd, who happens to be dirty'd all over by a Coach or a Cart, is laugh'd at, and by his Inferiors much more than his Equals, because they envy him more: they know he is vex'd at it, and imagining him to be happier than themselves, they are glad to see him meet with Displeasures in his turn: But a young Lady, if she be in a serious Mood, instead of laughing at, pities him, because a clean Man is a Sight she takes delight in, and there is no room for Envy. At Disasters, we either laugh, or pity those that befal them, according to the Stock we are possess'd of either of Malice or Compassion. If a Man falls or hurts himself so slightly that it moves not the lattera, we laugh, and here our Pity and Malice shake us alternately: Indeed, Sir, I am very sorry for it, I beg your Pardon for laughing, I am the silliest Creature in the World, then laugh again;b and again,c I am indeed very sorry, and so on. Some are so Malicious they would laugh if a Man broke his Leg, and others are so Compassionate that they can heartily pity a Man for the least Spot in his Clothes; but no Body is so Savage that no Compassion can touch him, nor any Man so good-natur'd as never to be affected with any Malicious Pleasure. How strangely our Passions govern us! We envy a Man for being Rich, and then perfectly hate him: But if we come to be his Equals, we are calm, and the least Condescension in him makes us Friends; but if we become visibly Superior to him we can pity his Misfortunes. The Reason why Men of true good Sense envy less than others, is because they admire themselves with less Hesitation than Fools and silly People; for tho' they do not shew this to others, yet the Solidity of their thinking gives them an Assurance of their real Worth, which Men of weak Understanding can never feel within, tho' they often counterfeit it.
16 entries in ESTC (1714, 1723, 1724, 1725, 1728, 1729, 1732, 1733, 1734, 1740, 1750, 1755, 1755, 1772, 1795).

The Grumbling Hive was printed as a pamphlet in 1705. 1st edition of The Fable of the Bees published in 1714, 2nd edition in 1723 (with additions, essays "On Charity Schools" and "Nature of Society"). Part II, first published in 1729. Kaye's text based on 6th edition of 1732.

The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices Publick Benefits. Containing, Several Discourses, to Demonstrate, That Human Frailties, During the Degeneracy of Mankind, May Be Turn'd to the Advantage of the Civil Society, and Made to Supply the Place of Moral Virtues. (London: Printed for J. Roberts, near the Oxford Arms in Warwick Lane, 1714). <Link to ECCO>

See The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits. the Second Edition, Enlarged With Many Additions. As Also an Essay on Charity and Charity-Schools. and a Search Into the Nature of Society. (London: Printed for Edmund Parker at the Bible and Crown in Lomb-rd-Street, 1723). <Link to ECCO>

Reading Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees, ed. F.B. Kaye, 2 vols. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1988). Orig. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924. Reading first volume in Liberty Fund paperback; also searching online ed. <Link to OLL>

I am also working with another print edition: The Fable of the Bees, ed. F. B. Kaye, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957).
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.