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For the second point, the causes and motives of anger are chiefly three: first, to be too sensible of hurt; for no man is angry that feels not himself hurt; and, therefore, tender and delicate persons must needs be oft' angry, they have so many things to trouble them which more robust natures have little sense of; the next is, the apprehension and construction of the injury offered, to be, in the circumstances thereof, full of contempt—for contempt is that which putteth an edge upon anger, as much, or more, than the hurt itself; and, therefore, when men are ingenious in picking out circumstances of contempt, they do kindle their anger much; lastly, opinion of the touch* of a man's reputation doth multiply and sharpen anger, wherein the remedy is, that a man should have, as Gonsalvo was wont to say, 'telam honoris crassiorem.'3 But in all refrainings of anger, it is the best remedy to win time and to make a man's self believe that the opportunity of his revenge is not yet come; but that he foresees a time for it, and so to still himself in the mean time, and reserve it.
To contain4 anger from mischief, though it take hold of a man, there be two things whereof you must have special caution: the one of extreme bitterness of words, especially if they be aculeate5 and proper ;6 for 'communia maledicta '7 are nothing so much; and again, that in anger a man reveal no secrets; for that makes him not fit for society: the other, that you do not peremptorily break off in any business in a fit of anger: but howsoever8 you show bitterness, do not act anything that is not revocable.
For raising and appeasing anger in another, it is done chiefly by choosing of times when men are frowardest and worst disposed to incense them; again, by gathering (as was touched before) all that you can find out to aggravate the contempt; and the two remedies are by the contraries: the former to take good times, when first to relate to a man an angry1 business, for the first impression is much; and the other is, to sever, as much as may be, the construction of the injury from the point of contempt; imputing it to misunderstanding, fear, passion, or what you will.
1 Oft. Often. See page 380.
3 Touch. Censure. 'I never bare any touch of conscience with greater regret,' —King Charles.
* 'A thicker web of honour.'—A.L. II. xx. 12.
4 Contain. To restrain.
'Fear not, my lord, we can contain ourselves.'—Sludiespere. i Aculeate. Pointed; sharp; stinging.
6 Proper. Appropriate.
'In Athens all wns pleasure, mirth, and play,
7 'General reproaches.'
* Howsoevor. However. 'Berosus, who, after Moses, was one of the most ancient, howsoever he has since been corrupted, doth in the substiuice of all agree.' —Raleigh.
Aristotle, in his Rhetoric (book ii. chap. 2)—a work with which Bacon seems to have been little, if at all, acquainted —defines anger to be 'a desire, accompanied by mental uneasiness, of avenging oneself, or, as it were, inflicting punishment for something that appears an unbecoming slight, in things which concern either one's self, or some of one's friends.' And he hence infers that, if this be anger, it must be invariably felt towards some individual, not against a class or description of persons. And he afterwards grounds upon this definition a distinction between anger and hatred; between which, he says, there are several points of comparison. Anger arises out of something having a personal reference to ourselves; whereas hatred is independent of such considerations, since it is borne towards a person, merely on account of the believing him to be of a certain description or character. In the next place, anger is accompanied by pain; hatred is not so. Again, anger would be satisfied to inflict some pain on its object, but hatred desires nothing short of deadly barm; the angry man desires that the pain be inflicts should be known to come from him; but hatred cares not for this. Again, the feeling of anger is softened by time, but hatred is incurable. Once more, the angry man might be induced to pity the object of his anger, if many misfortunes befel him; but he who feels hatred cannot be thus moved to pity, for he desires the destruction of the object of his hatred.1
1 Angry. Provoking anger.
'That was to him an angry jape (trick .'—Shakespere.
Adam Smith, in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, seems to consider as the chief point of distinction (and this, too, is noticed by Aristotle also) between anger and hatred, the necessity to the gratification of the former that the object of it should not only be punished, but punished by means of the offended person, and on account of the particular injury inflicted. Anger requires 'that the offender should not only be made to grieve in his turn, but to grieve for that particular wrong which has been done by him. The natural gratification of this passion tends, of its own accord, to produce all the political ends of punishment; the correction of the criminal, and example to the Public.'*
It is to be observed, that in seeking to pacify one who is angry, opposite courses must be pursued with persons of two opposite dispositions.
One man is at once calmed by submission, and readily accepts an apology. Another is more and more irritated the more you acknowledge a fault, and is led, by the earnestness of your entreaty for pardon, to think himself more grievously wronged than he had at first supposed. The former has something of the character of the dog, which will never bite a man, or another dog, who lies down. And he will sometimes come to convince himself that he had no reason to be so angry, unless you deny that he had. The other can only be pacified by stoutly defending yourself, and maintaining that he was wrong to be displeased. These persons resemble respectively the thistle and the nettle; of which the one hurts most when pressed hard, and the other when touched gently.
There is a kind of false courage noticed by Aristotle (Ethic*, book iii.) produced by Anger [#17x09], which he calls the courage of brutes. Savages accordingly work themselves up into a rage by their war-dance, preparatory to going into battle; just as the lion was believed by the ancients to lash himself into fury with his tail. And one may find not a few, in civilized society, who are brave only under the excitement of anger. But it is cool courage that is the most to be relied on. The firmest men are almost always calm.
1 Aristotle's Rhetoric. Book II., clmp. iv. • Adam Smith. Tlieory of Moral Sentiments. Part II., chap. i. p. i1 3. Eleventh edition.
A man of violent and revengeful temper will sometimes exercise great self-control from motives of prudence, when he sees that he could not vent his resentment without danger or loss to himself. Such self-restraint as this does not at all tend to subdue or soften his fierce and malignant passions, and to make him a mild and placable character. It only keeps the fire smouldering within, instead of bursting out into a flame. He is not quelling the desire of revenge, but only repressing it till he shall have an opportunity of indulging it more safely and effectually. And, accordingly, he will have to exercise the same painful self-restraint again and again on every fresh occasion. But to exert an equal self-restraint, on a good principle, with a sincere and earnest desire to subdue revengeful feelings, and to form a mild, and generous, and forgiving temper,—this will produce quite a different result. A man who acts thus on a right motive, will find his task easier and easier on each occasion; because he will become less sensitive to provocations, and will have been forming a habit of not merely avoiding any outward expression of anger in words or acts, but also of indulging no resentful feelings within.
It is to be observed, that generous forgiveness of injuries is a point of christian duty respecting which some people fall into confusion of thought. They confound together personal resentment, and disapprobation of what is morally wrong. As was remarked above (Essay IV.), a man who has cheated you, or slandered, or otherwise wronged you, is neither more nor less a cheat or a slanderer, than if he had done the same to a stranger. And in that light he ought to be viewed. Such a person is one on whom you should not indeed wish to inflict any suffering beyond what may be necessary to reform him, and to deter other wrong-doers; and you should seek to benefit him in the highest degree by bringing him to a sense of his sin. But you ought not to choose such a man as an associate, or to trust him, and in all respects treat him as if he had done nothing wrong. You should therefore take care, on the one hand, that the personal injury you may have Buffered does not lead you to think worse of a man than he deserves, or to treat him worse; and, on the other hand, you should not allow a false generosity to destroy in your mind the distinctions of right and wrong. Nor, again, should the desire of gaining credit for magnanimity, lead you to pretend to think favourably of wrong conduct, merely because it is you that have suffered from it. None but thoughtless or misjudging people will applaud you for this. The duty of christian forgiveness does not require you, nor are you allowed, to look on injustice, or any other fault, with indifference, as if it were nothing wrong at all, merely because it is you that have been wronged.
Hut even where we cannot but censure, in a moral point of view, the conduct of those who have injured us, we should remember that such treatment as may be very fitting for them to receive, may bo very unfitting for us to give. To cherish, or to gratify, haughty resentment, is a departure from the pattern left us by Him who' endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself,' and is not to be justified by any offence that can be committed against us. And it is this recollection of Him who, faultless Himself, deigned to leave us an example of meekness and long-suffering, that is the true principle and motive of christian forgiveness. We shall best fortify our patience under injuries, by remembering how much we ourselves have to be forgiven, and that it was 'while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.' Let the Christian therefore accustom himself to say of any one who has greatly wronged him, 'that man owes me an hundred pence ;'1 while I hope to be pardoned a debt of ' ten thousand talents.'
An old Spanish writer says, 'Toreturn evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; but to return good for evil is godlike.'
1 Matt, xviii.