It is an idle thing to pretend that we cannot govern our _anger_;
for some things that we do are much harder than others that we ought
to do; the wildest affections may be tamed by discipline, and there
is hardly anything which the mind will do but it may do. There needs
no more argument in this case than the instances of several persons,
both powerful and impatient, that have gotten the absolute mastery of
themselves in this point.

Thrasippus in his drink fell foul upon the cruelties of Pisistratus;
who, when he was urged by several about him to make an example of him,
returned this answer, “Why should I be angry with a man that stumbles
upon me blindfold?” In effect most of our quarrels are of our own
making, either by mistake or by aggravation. Anger comes sometimes upon
us, but we go oftener to it, and instead of rejecting it we call it.

Augustus was a great master of his passion: for Timagenus, an
historian, wrote several bitter things against his person and his
family: which passed among the people plausibly enough, as pieces of
rash wit commonly do. Cæsar advised him several times to forbear; and
when that would not do, forbade him his roof. After this, Asinius
Pollio gave him entertainment; and he was so well beloved in the
city, that every man’s house was open to him. Those things that he
had written in honor of Augustus, he recited and burnt, and publicly
professed himself Cæsar’s enemy. Augustus, for all this, never fell
out with any man that received him; only once, he told Pollio, that he
had taken a _snake_ into his bosom: and as Pollio was about to excuse
himself; “No,” says Cæsar, interrupting him, “make your best of him.”
And offering to cast him off at that very moment, if Cæsar pleased: “Do
you think,” says Cæsar, “that I will ever contribute to the parting of
you, that made you friends?” for Pollio was angry with him before, and
only entertained him now because Cæsar had discarded him.

The moderation of Antigonus was remarkable. Some of his soldiers were
railing at him one night, where there was but a hanging betwixt them.
Antigonus overheard them, and putting it gently aside; “Soldiers,” says
he, “stand a little further off, for fear the king should hear you.”
And we are to consider, not only violent examples, but moderate, where
there wanted neither cause of displeasure nor power of revenge: as in
the case of Antigonus, who the same night hearing his soldiers cursing
him for bringing them into so foul a way, he went to them, and without
telling them who he was, helped them out of it. “Now,” says he, “you
may be allowed to curse him that brought you into the mire, provided
you bless him that took you out of it.”

It was a notable story that of Vedius Pallio, upon his inviting of
Augustus to supper. One of his boys happened to break a glass: and his
master, in a rage, commanded him to be thrown in a pond to feed his
lampreys. This action of his might be taken for _luxury_, though, in
truth, it was cruelty. The boy was seized, but brake loose and threw
himself at Augustus’ feet, only desiring that he might not die that
death. Cæsar, in abhorrence of the barbarity, presently ordered all
the rest of the glasses to be broken, the boy to be released, and the
pond to be filled up, that there might be no further occasion for an
inhumanity of that nature. This was an authority well employed. Shall
the breaking of a glass cost a man his life? Nothing but a predominant
fear could ever have mastered his choleric and sanguinary disposition.
This man deserved to die a thousand deaths, either for eating human
flesh at second-hand in his _lampreys_, or for keeping of his fish to
be so fed.

It is written of Præxaspes (a favorite of Cambyses, who was much given
to wine) that he took the freedom to tell this prince of his hard
drinking, and to lay before him the scandal and the inconveniences of
his excesses; and how that, in those distempers, he had not the command
of himself. “Now,” says Cambyses, “to show you your mistake, you shall
see me drink deeper than ever I did, and yet keep the use of my eyes,
and of my hands, as well as if I were sober.” Upon this he drank to
a higher pitch than ordinary, and ordered Præxaspes’ son to go out,
and stand on the other side of the threshold, with his left arm over
his head; “And,” says he, “if I have a good aim, have at the heart of
him.” He shot, and upon cutting up the young man, they found indeed
that the arrow had struck him through the middle of the heart. “What
do you think now,” says Cambyses, “is my hand steady or not?” “Apollo
himself,” says Præxaspes, “could not have outdone it.” It may be a
question now, which was the greater impiety, the murder itself, or
the commendation of it; for him to take the heart of his son, while
it was yet reeking and panting under the wound, for an occasion of
flattery: why was there not another experiment made upon the father,
to try if Cambyses could not have yet mended his shot? This was a most
unmanly violation of hospitality; but the approbation of the act was
still worse than the crime itself. This example of Præxaspes proves
sufficiently that a man may repress his anger; for he returned not
one ill word, no not so much as a complaint; but he paid dear for his
good counsel. He had been wiser, perhaps, if he had let the king alone
in his cups, for he had better have drunk wine than blood. It is a
dangerous office to give good advice to intemperate princes.

Another instance of anger suppressed, we have in Harpagus, who was
commanded to expose Cyrus upon a mountain. But the child was preserved;
which, when Astyages came afterwards to understand, he invited Harpagus
to a dish of meat; and when he had eaten his fill, he told him it was a
piece of his son, and asked him how he liked the seasoning. “Whatever
pleases your Majesty,” says Harpagus, “must please me:” and he made no
more words of it. It is most certain, that we might govern our anger if
we would; for the same thing that galls us at home gives us no offence
at all abroad; and what is the reason of it, but that we are patient in
one place, and froward in another?

It was a strong provocation that which was given to Philip of Macedon,
the father of Alexander. The Athenians sent their ambassadors to him,
and they were received with this compliment, “Tell me, gentlemen,”
says Philip, “what is there that I can do to oblige the Athenians?”
Democharas, one of the ambassadors, told him, that they would take it
for a great obligation if he would be pleased to hang himself. This
insolence gave an indignation to the by-standers; but Philip bade them
not to meddle with him, but even to let that foul-mouthed fellow go as
he came. “And for you, the rest of the ambassadors,” says he, “pray
tell the Athenians, that it is worse to speak such things than to hear
and forgive them.” This wonderful patience under contumelies was a
great means of Philip’s security.

He was much in the right, whoever it was, that first called _anger
a short madness_; for they have both of them the same symptoms; and
there is so wonderful a resemblance betwixt the transports of _choler_
and those of _frenzy_, that it is a hard matter to know the one from
the other. A bold, fierce, and threatening countenance, as pale as
ashes, and, in the same moment, as red as blood; a glaring eye, a
wrinkled brow, violent motions, the hands restless and perpetually
in action, wringing and menacing, snapping of the joints, stamping
with the feet, the hair starting, trembling of the lips, a forced and
squeaking voice; the speech false and broken, deep and frequent sighs,
and ghastly looks; the veins swell, the heart pants, the knees knock;
with a hundred dismal accidents that are common to both distempers.
Neither is _anger_ a bare resemblance only of madness, but many times
an irrevocable transition into the thing itself. How many persons
have we known, read, and heard of, that have lost their wits in a
passion, and never came to themselves again? It is therefore to be
avoided, not only for moderation’s sake, but also for health. Now, if
the outward appearance of anger be so foul and hideous, how deformed
must that miserable mind be that is harassed with it? for it leaves
no place either for counsel or friendship, honesty or good manners;
no place either for the exercise of reason, or for the offices of
life. If I were to describe it, I would draw a tiger bathed in blood,
sharp set, and ready to take a leap at his prey; or dress it up as the
poets represent the furies, with whips, snakes, and flames; it should
be sour, livid, full of scars, and wallowing in gore, raging up and
down, destroying, grinning, bellowing, and pursuing; sick of all other
things, and most of all, itself. It turns beauty into deformity, and
the calmest counsels into fierceness: it disorders our very garments,
and fills the mind with horror. How abominable is it in the soul then,
when it appears so hideous even through the bones, the skin and so
many impediments! Is not he a madman that has lost the government of
himself, and is tossed hither and thither by his fury as by a tempest?
the executioner and the murderer of his nearest friends? The smallest
matter moves it, and makes us unsociable and inaccessible. It does all
things by violence, as well upon itself as others; and it is, in short;
the master of all passions.

There is not any creature so terrible and dangerous by nature, but
it becomes fiercer by anger. Not that beasts have human affections,
but certain impulses they have which come very near them. The boar
foams, champs, and whets his tusks; the bull tosses his horns in the
air, bounds, and tears up the ground with his feet; the lion roars
and swinges himself with his tail; the serpent swells; and there is
a ghastly kind of fellness in the aspect of a mad dog. How great a
wickedness is it now to indulge a violence, that does not only turn
a man into a beast, but makes even the most outrageous of beasts
themselves to be more dreadful and mischievous! A vice that carries
along with it neither pleasure nor profit, neither honor nor security;
but on the contrary, destroys us to all the comfortable and glorious
purposes of our reasonable being. Some there are, that will have the
root of it to be the greatness of mind. And, why may we not as well
entitle _impudence_ to _courage_, whereas the one is proud, the other
brave; the one is gracious and gentle, the other rude and furious?
At the same rate we may ascribe magnanimity to avarice, luxury, and
ambition, which are all but splendid impotences, without measure and
without foundation. There is nothing great but what is virtuous, nor
indeed truly great, but what is also composed and quiet. Anger, alas!
is but a wild impetuous blast, an empty tumor, the very infirmity of
woman and children; a brawling, clamorous evil: and the more noise the
less courage; as we find it commonly, that the boldest tongues have the
faintest hearts.

In the first place, Anger is _unwarrantable_ as it is _unjust_: for it
falls many times upon the wrong person, and discharges itself upon the
innocent instead of the guilty: beside the disproportion of making the
most trivial offences to be capital, and punishing an inconsiderate
word perhaps with torments, fetters, infamy, or death. It allows a man
neither time nor means for defence, but judges a cause without hearing
it, and admits of no mediation. It flies into the face of truth itself,
if it be of the adverse party; and turns obstinacy in an error, into
an argument of justice. It does every thing with agitation and tumult;
whereas reason and equity can destroy whole families, if there be
occasion for it, even to the extinguishing of their names and memories,
without any indecency, either of countenance or action.

Secondly, It is unsociable to the highest point; for it spares neither
friend nor foe; but tears all to pieces, and casts human nature into
a perpetual state of war. It dissolves the bond of mutual society,
insomuch that our very companions and relations dare not come near
us; it renders us unfit for the ordinary offices of life: for we can
neither govern our tongues, our hands, nor any part of our body. It
tramples upon the laws of hospitality, and of nations, leaves every man
to be his own carver, and all things, public and private, sacred and
profane, suffer violence.

Thirdly, It is to no purpose. “It is a sad thing,” we cry, “to put up
with these injuries, and we are not able to bear them;” as if any man
that can bear _anger_ could not bear an _injury_, which is much more
supportable. You will say that anger does some good yet, for it keeps
people in awe, and secures a man from contempt; never considering, that
it is more dangerous to be feared than despised. Suppose that an angry
man could do as much as he threatens; the more terrible, he is still
the more odious; and on the other side, if he wants power, he is the
more despicable for his anger; for there is nothing more wretched than
a choleric huff, that makes a noise, and nobody cares for it.

If anger would be valuable because men are afraid of it, why not an
adder, a toad, or a scorpion as well? It makes us lead the life of
gladiators; we live, and we fight together. We hate the happy, despise
the miserable, envy our superiors, insult our inferiors, and there
is nothing in the world which we will not do, either for pleasure
or profit. To be angry at offenders is to make ourselves the common
enemies of mankind, which is both weak and wicked; and we may as well
be angry that our thistles do not bring forth apples, or that every
pebble in our ground is not an oriental pearl. If we are angry both
with young men and with old, because they do offend, why not with
infants too, because they will offend? It is laudable to rejoice for
anything that is well done; but to be transported for another man’s
doing ill, is narrow and sordid. Nor is it for the dignity of virtue
to be either angry or sad.

It is with a tainted mind as with an ulcer, not only the touch, but the
very offer at it, makes us shrink and complain; when we come once to
be carried off from our poise, we are lost. In the choice of a sword,
we take care that it be wieldy and well mounted; and it concerns us as
much to be wary of engaging in the excesses of ungovernable passions.
It is not the speed of a horse altogether that pleases us unless we
find that he can stop and turn at pleasure. It is a sign of weakness,
and a kind of stumbling, for a man to run when he intends only to
walk; and it behoves us to have the same command of our mind that we
have of our bodies. Besides that the greatest punishment of an injury
is the conscience of having done it; and no man suffers more than he
that is turned over to the pain of a repentance. How much better is it
to compose injuries than to revenge them? For it does not only spend
time, but the revenge of one injury exposes to more. In fine, as it
is unreasonable to be angry at a crime, it is as foolish to be angry
without one.

But “may not an honest man then be allowed to be angry at the murder
of his father, or the ravishing of his sister or daughter before his
face?” No, not at all. I will defend my parents, and I will repay the
injuries that are done them; but it is my piety and not my anger, that
moves me to it. I will do my duty without fear or confusion, I will not
rage, I will not weep; but discharge the office of a good man without
forfeiting the dignity of a man. If my father be assaulted, I will
endeavor to rescue him; if he be killed, I will do right to his memory;
find all this, not in any transport of passion, but in honor and
conscience. Neither is there any need of anger where reason does the
same thing.

A man may be temperate, and yet vigorous, and raise his mind according
to the occasion, more or less, as a stone is thrown according to the
discretion and intent of the caster. How outrageous have I seen some
people for the loss of a monkey or a spaniel! And were it not a shame
to have the same sense for a friend that we have for a puppy; and to
cry like children, as much for a bauble as for the ruin of our country?
This is not the effect of reason, but of infirmity. For a man indeed to
expose his person for his prince, or his parents, or his friends, out
of a sense of honesty, and judgment of duty, it is, without dispute, a
worthy and a glorious action; but it must be done then with sobriety,
calmness, and resolution.

It is high time to convince the world of the indignity and uselessness
of this passion, when it has the authority and recommendation of no
less than Aristotle himself, as an affection very much conducing to all
heroic actions that require heat and vigor: now, to show, on the other
side, that it is not in any case profitable, we shall lay open the
obstinate and unbridled madness of it: a wickedness neither sensible
of infamy nor of glory, without either modesty or fear; and if it
passes once from anger into a hardened hatred, it is incurable. It is
either stronger than reason, or it is weaker. If stronger, there is
no contending with it; if weaker, reason will do the business without
it. Some will have it that an angry man is good-natured and sincere;
whereas, in truth, he only lays himself open out of heedlessness and
want of caution. If it were in itself good the more of it the better;
but in this case, the more the worse; and a wise man does his duty,
without the aid of anything that is ill. It is objected by some,
that those are the most generous creatures which are the most prone
to anger. But, first, _reason_ in _man_ is _impetuous_ in _beasts_.
Secondly, without discipline it runs into audaciousness and temerity;
over and above that, the same thing does not help all. If anger helps
the lion, it is fear that saves the stag, swiftness the hawk, and
flight the pigeon: but man has God for his example (who is never
angry) and not the _creatures_. And yet it is not amiss sometimes to
counterfeit anger; as upon the stage; nay, upon the bench, and in the
pulpit, where the imitation of it is more effectual than the thing

But it is a great error to take this passion either for a companion
or for an assistant to virtue; that makes a man incapable of those
necessary counsels by which virtue is to govern herself. Those are
false and inauspicious powers, and destructive of themselves, which
arise only from the accession and fervor of disease. Reason judges
according to right; anger will have every thing seem right, whatever it
does, and when it has once pitched upon a mistake, it is never to be
convinced, but prefers a pertinacity, even in the greatest evil, before
the most necessary repentance.

Some people are of opinion that anger inflames and animates the
soldier; that it is a spur to bold and arduous undertakings; and that
it were better to moderate than to wholly suppress it, for fear of
dissolving the spirit and force of the mind. To this I answer, that
virtue does not need the help of vice; but where there is any ardor
of mind necessary, we may rouse ourselves, and be more or less brisk
and vigorous as there is occasion: but all without anger still. It is
a mistake to say, that we may make use of anger as a common soldier,
but not as a commander; for if it hears reason, and follows orders,
it is not properly anger; and if it does not, it is contumacious
and mutinous. By this argument a man must be angry to be valiant;
covetous to be industrious; timorous to be safe, which makes our reason
confederate with our affections. And it is all one whether passion be
inconsiderate without reason, or reason ineffectual without passion;
since the one cannot be without the other. It is true, the less the
passion, the less is the mischief; for a little passion is the smaller
evil. Nay, so far is it from being of use or advantage in the field,
that it is in place of all others where it is the most dangerous;
for the actions of war are to be managed with order and caution, not
precipitation and fancy; whereas anger is heedless and heady, and the
virtue only of _barbarous nations_; which, though their bodies were
much stronger and more hardened, were still worsted by the moderation
and discipline of the Romans. There is not upon the face of the earth
a bolder or a more indefatigable nation than the Germans; not a braver
upon a charge, nor a hardier against colds and heats; their only
delights and exercise is in arms, to the utter neglect of all things
else: and, yet upon the encounter, they are broken and destroyed
through their own undisciplined temerity, even by the most effeminate
of men. The huntsman is not angry with the wild boar when he either
pursues or receives him; a good swordsman watches his opportunity, and
keeps himself upon his guard, whereas passion lays a man open: nay,
it is one of the prime lessons in a fencing-school to learn not to
be angry. If Fabius had been _choleric_, Rome had been _lost_; and
before he conquered _Hannibal_ he overcame _himself_. If Scipio had
been _angry_, he would never have left Hannibal and his army (who were
the proper objects of his displeasure) to carry the war into Afric
and so compass his end by a more temperate way. Nay, he was so slow,
that it was charged upon him for want of mettle and resolution. And
what did the _other_ Scipio? (Africanus I mean:) how much time did he
spend before Numantia, to the common grief both of his country and
himself? Though he reduced it at last by so miserable a famine, that
the inhabitants laid violent hands upon themselves, and left neither
man, woman, nor child, to survive the ruins of it. If anger makes a
man fight better, so does wine, frenzy, nay, and fear itself; for
the greatest coward in despair does the greatest wonders. No man is
courageous in his anger that was not so without it. But put the case,
that anger by accident may have done some good, and so have fevers
removed some distempers; but it is an odious kind of remedy that makes
us indebted to a disease for a cure. How many men have been preserved
by poison; by a fall from a precipice; by a shipwreck; by a tempest!
does it therefore follow that we are to recommend the practice of these

“But in case of an exemplary and prostitute dissolution of manners,
when Clodius shall be preferred, and Cicero rejected; when loyalty
shall be broken upon the wheel, and treason sit triumphant upon the
bench; is not this a subject to move the choler of any virtuous man?”
No, by no means, virtue will never allow of the correcting of one vice
by another; or that anger, which is the greater crime of the two,
should presume to punish the less. It is the natural property of
virtue to make a man serene and cheerful; and it is not for the dignity
of a philosopher to be transported either with grief or anger; and then
the end of anger is sorrow, the constant effect of disappointment and
repentance. But, to my purpose. If a man should be angry at wickedness,
the greater the wickedness is, the greater must be his anger; and, so
long as there is wickedness in the world he must never be pleased:
which makes his quiet dependent upon the humor or manners of others.

There passes not a day over our heads but he that is choleric shall
have some cause or other of displeasure, either from men, accidents,
or business. He shall never stir out of his house but he shall meet
with criminals of all sorts; prodigal, impudent, covetous, perfidious,
contentious, children persecuting their parents, parents cursing their
children, the innocent accused, the delinquent acquitted, and the judge
practicing that in his chamber which he condemns upon the bench. In
fine, wherever there are men there are faults; and upon these terms,
Socrates himself should never bring the same countenance home again
that he carried out with him.

If anger was sufferable in any case, it might be allowed against an
incorrigible criminal under the hand of justice: but punishment is
not matter of anger but of caution. The law is without passion, and
strikes malefactors as we do serpents and venomous creatures, for fear
of greater mischief. It is not for the dignity of a judge, when he
comes to pronounce the fatal sentence, to express any motions of anger
in his looks, words, or gestures: for he condemns the vice, not the
man; and looks upon the wickedness without anger, as he does upon the
prosperity of wicked men without envy. But though he be not angry, I
would have him a little moved in point of humanity; but yet without any
offence, either to his place or wisdom. Our passions vary, but reason
is equal; and it were a great folly for that which is stable, faithful,
and sound, to repair for succor to that which is uncertain, false, and
distempered. If the offender be incurable, take him out of the world,
that if he will not be good he may cease to be evil; but this must be
without anger too. Does any man hate an arm, or a leg, when he cuts
it off; or reckon _that_ a passion which is only a miserable cure? We
knock mad dogs on the head, and remove scabbed sheep out of the fold:
and this is not anger still, but reason, to separate the sick from
the sound. Justice cannot be angry; nor is there any need of an angry
magistrate for the punishment of foolish and wicked men. The power of
life and death must not be managed with passion. We give a horse the
spur that is restive or jadish, and tries to cast his rider; but this
is without anger too, and only to take down his stomach, and bring him,
by correction, to obedience.

It is true, that correction is necessary, yet within reason and bounds;
for it does not hurt, but profits us under an appearance of harm. Ill
dispositions in the mind are to be dealt with as those in the body: the
physician first tries purging and abstinence; if this will not do, he
proceeds to bleeding, nay, to dismembering rather than fail; for there
is no operation too severe that ends in health. The public magistrate
begins with persuasion, and his business is to beget a detestation for
vice, and a veneration for virtue; from thence, if need be, he advances
to admonition and reproach, and then to punishments; but moderate and
revocable, unless the wickedness be incurable, and then the punishment
must be so too. There is only this difference, the physician when he
cannot save his patient’s life, endeavors to make his death easy; but
the magistrate aggravates the death of the criminal with infamy and
disgrace; not as delighting in the severity of it, (for no good man
can be so barbarous) but for example, and to the end that they that
will do no good living may do some dead. The end of all correction is
either the amendment of wicked men, or to prevent the influence of
ill example: for men are punished with a respect to the future; not
to expiate offenses committed, but for fear of worse to come. Public
offenders must be a terror to others; but still, all this while, the
power of life and death must not be managed with passion. The medicine,
in the mean time must be suited to the disease; infamy cures one, pain
another, exile cures a third, beggary a fourth; but there are some that
are only to be cured by the gibbet. I would be no more angry with a
thief, or a traitor, than I am angry with myself when I open a vein.
All punishment is but a moral or civil remedy. I do not do anything
that is very ill, but yet I transgress often. Try me first with a
private reprehension, and then with a public; if that will not serve,
see what banishment will do; if not that neither, load me with chains,
lay me in prison: but if I should prove wicked for wickedness’ sake,
and leave no hope of reclaiming me, it would be a kind of mercy to
destroy me. Vice is incorporated with me; and there is no remedy but
the taking of both away together; but still without anger.