THE RISE OF ANGER

It is a masterpiece to draw good out of evil; and, by the help of
virtue, to improve misfortunes into blessings. “It is a sad condition,”
you will say, “for a man to be barred the freedom of his own country.”
And is not this the case of thousands that we meet every day in the
streets? Some for ambition; others, to negotiate, or for curiosity,
delight, friendship, study, experience, luxury, vanity, discontent:
some to exercise their virtues, others their vices; and not a few to
prostitute either their bodies or their eloquence? To pass now from
pleasant countries into the worst of islands; let them be never so
barren or rocky, the people never so barbarous, or the clime never so
intemperate, he that is banished thither shall find many strangers to
live there for their pleasure. The mind of man is naturally curious
and restless; which is no wonder, considering their divine original;
for heavenly things are always in motion: witness the stars, and the
orbs, which are perpetually moving, rolling, and changing of place and
according to the law and appointment of Nature. But here are no woods,
you will say, no rivers, no gold nor pearl, no commodity for traffic
or commerce; nay, hardly provision enough to keep the inhabitants
from starving. It is very right; here are no palaces, no artificial
grottoes, or materials for luxury and excess; but we lie under the
protection of Heaven; and a poor cottage for a retreat is more worth
than the most magnificent temple, when that cottage is consecrated
by an honest man under the guard of his virtue. Shall any man think
banishment grievous, when he may take such company along with him!
Nor is there any banishment but yields enough for our necessities,
and no kingdom is sufficient for superfluities. It is the mind that
makes us rich in a desert; and if the body be but kept alive, the
soul enjoys all spiritual felicities in abundance. What signifies the
being banished from one spot of ground to another, to a man that has
his thoughts above, and can look forward and backward, and wherever
he pleases; and that, wherever he is, has the same matter to work
upon? The body is but the prison or the clog of the mind, subjected to
punishments, robberies, diseases; but the mind is sacred and spiritual,
and liable to no violence. Is it that, a man shall want garments or
covering in banishment? The body is as easily clothed as fed; and
Nature has made nothing hard that is necessary. But if nothing will
serve us but rich embroideries and scarlet, it is none of Fortune’s
fault that we are poor, but our own. Nay, suppose a man should have
all restored him back again that he has lost, it will come to nothing,
for he will want more after that to satisfy his desires than he did
before to supply his necessities. Insatiable appetites are not so much
a thirst as a disease.

To come lower now; where is the people or nation that have not changed
their place of abode? Some by the fate of war; others have been cast
by tempests, shipwrecks, or want of provisions, upon unknown coasts.
Some have been forced abroad by pestilence, sedition, earthquakes,
surcharge of people at home. Some travel to see the world, others
for commerce; but, in fine, it is clear, that, upon some reason or
other, the whole race of mankind have shifted their quarters; changed
their very names as well as their habitations; insomuch that we have
lost the very memorials of what they were. All these transportations
of people, what are they but public banishments? The very _founder_
of the _Roman empire_ was an _exile_: briefly, the whole world has
been transplanted, and one mutation treads upon the heel of another.
That which one man desires, turns another man’s stomach; and he that
proscribes me to-day, shall himself be cast out to-morrow. We have,
however, this comfort in our misfortune; we have the same nature, the
same Providence, and we carry our virtues along with us. And this
blessing we owe to that almighty Power, call it what you will; either
a _God_, or an _Incorporeal Reason_, a _Divine Spirit_, or _Fate_, and
the _unchangeable Course_ of _causes_ and _effects_: it is, however,
so ordered, that nothing can be taken from us but what we can well
spare: and that which is most magnificent and valuable continues with
us. Wherever we go, we have the heavens over our heads, and no farther
from us than they were before; and so long as we can entertain our eyes
and thoughts with those glories, what matter is it what ground we tread
upon?

In the case of pain or sickness, it is only the body that is affected;
it may take off the speed of a footman, or bind the hands of a cobbler,
but the mind is still at liberty to hear, learn, teach, advise, and to
do other good offices. It is an example of public benefit, a man that
is in pain and patient. Virtue may show itself as well in the bed as
in the field; and he that cheerfully encounters the terrors of death
and corporal anguish, is as great a man as he that most generously
hazards himself in a battle. A disease, it is true, bars us of some
pleasures, but procures us others. Drink is never so grateful to us as
in a burning fever; nor meat, as when we have fasted ourselves sharp
and hungry. The patient may be forbidden some sensual satisfaction,
but no physician will forbid us the delight of the mind. Shall we call
any sick man miserable, because he must give over his intemperance
of wine and gluttony, and betake himself to a diet of more sobriety,
and less expense; and abandon his luxury, which is the distemper of
the mind as well as of the body? It is troublesome, I know, at first,
to abstain from the pleasures we have been used to, and to endure
hunger and thirst; but in a little time we lose the very appetite,
and it is no trouble then to be without that which we do not desire.
In diseases there are great pains; but if they be long they remit,
and give us some intervals of ease; if short and violent, either they
dispatch _us_, or consume _themselves_; so that either their respites
make them tolerable, or the extremity makes them short. So merciful
is Almighty God to us, that our torments cannot be very sharp and
lasting. The acutest pains are those that affect the nerves, but there
is this comfort in them too, that they will quickly make us stupid and
insensible. In cases of extremity, let us call to mind the most eminent
instances of patience and courage, and turn our thoughts from our
afflictions to the contemplation of virtue. Suppose it be the stone,
the gout, nay, the rack itself; how many have endured it without so
much as a groan or word speaking; without so much as asking for relief,
or giving an answer to a question! Nay, they have laughed at the
tormentors upon the very torture, and provoked them to new experiments
of their cruelty, which they have had still in derision. The _asthma_ I
look upon as of all diseases the most importunate; the physicians call
it the _meditation of death_, as being rather an agony than a sickness;
the fit holds one not above an hour, as nobody is long in expiring. Are
there not three things grievous in sickness, the fear of death, bodily
pain, and the intermission of our pleasures? the first is to be imputed
to nature, not to the disease; for we do not die because we are sick,
but because we live. Nay, sickness itself has preserved many a man from
dying.

No man shall ever be poor that goes to himself for what he wants;
and that is the readiest way to riches. Nature, indeed, will have
her due; but yet whatsoever is beyond necessity is precarious, and
not necessary. It is not her business to gratify the palate, but to
satisfy a craving stomach. Bread, when a man is hungry, does his work,
let it be never so coarse; and water when he is dry; let his thirst
be quenched, and Nature is satisfied, no matter whence it comes, or
whether he drinks in gold, silver, or in the hollow of his hand. To
promise a man riches, and to teach him poverty, is to deceive him: but
shall I call him poor that wants nothing; though he maybe beholden for
it to his patience, rather than to his fortune? Or shall any man deny
him to be rich, whose riches can never be taken away? Whether is it
better to have much or enough? He that has much desires more, and shows
that he has not yet enough; but he that has enough is at rest. Shall
a man be reputed the less rich for not having that for which he shall
be banished; for which his very wife, or son, shall poison him: that
which gives him security in war, and quiet in peace; which he possesses
without danger, and disposes of without trouble? No man can be poor
that has enough; nor rich, that covets more than he has. Alexander,
after all his conquests, complained that he wanted more worlds; he
desired something more, even when he had gotten all: and that which was
sufficient for human nature was not enough for one man. Money never
made any man rich; for the more he had, the more he still coveted. The
richest man that ever lived is poor in my opinion, and in any man’s may
be so: but he that keeps himself to the stint of Nature, does neither
feel poverty nor fear it; nay, even in poverty itself there are some
things superfluous. Those which the world calls happy, their felicity
is a false splendor, that dazzles the eyes of the vulgar; but our rich
man is glorious and happy within. There is no ambition in hunger or
thirst: let there be food, and no matter for the table, the dish, and
the servants, nor with what meats nature is satisfied. Those are the
torments of luxury, that rather stuff the stomach than fill it: it
studies rather to cause an appetite than to allay it. It is not for us
to say, “This is not handsome; that is common; the other offends my
eye.” Nature provides for health, not delicacy. When the trumpet sounds
a charge, the poor man knows that he is not aimed at; when they cry
out _fire_, his body is all he has to look after: if he be to take a
journey, there is no blocking up of streets, and thronging of passages,
for a parting compliment: a small matter fills his belly, and contents
his mind: he lives from hand to mouth, without caring or fearing for
to-morrow. The temperate rich man is but his counterfeit; his wit is
quicker and his appetite calmer.

No man finds poverty a trouble to him, but he that thinks it so; and
he that thinks it so, makes it so. Does not a rich man travel more
at ease with less luggage, and fewer servants? Does he not eat many
times as little and as coarse in the field as a poor man? Does he
not for his own pleasure, sometimes, and for variety, feed upon the
ground, and use only earthen vessels? Is not he a madman then, that
always fears what he often desires, and dreads the thing that he takes
delight to imitate: he that would know the worst of poverty, let him
but compare the looks of the rich and of the poor, and he shall find
the poor man to have a smoother brow, and to be more merry at heart; or
if any trouble befalls him, it passes over like a cloud: whereas the
other, either his good humor is counterfeit, or his melancholy deep
and ulcerated, and the worse, because he dares not publicly own his
misfortune; but he is forced to play the part of a happy man even with
a cancer in his heart. His felicity is but personated; and if he were
but stripped of his ornaments, he would be contemptible. In buying of
a horse, we take off his clothes and his trappings, and examine his
shape and body for fear of being cozened; and shall we put an estimate
upon a man for being set off by his fortune and quality? Nay, if we see
anything of ornament about him, we are to suspect him the more for some
infirmity under it. He that is not content in poverty, would not be so
neither in plenty; for the fault is not in the thing, but in the mind.
If that be sickly, remove him from a kennel to a palace, he is at the
same pass; for he carries his disease along with him.

What can be happier than the condition both of mind and of fortune from
which we cannot fall—what can be a greater felicity than in a covetous,
designing age, for a roan to live safe among informers and thieves? It
puts a poor man into the very condition of Providence, that gives all,
without reserving anything to itself. How happy is he that owes nothing
but to himself, and only that which he can easily refuse or easily
pay! I do not reckon him poor that has but a little, but he is so that
covets more—it is a fair degree of plenty to have what is necessary.
Whether had a man better find satiety in want, or hunger in plenty? It
is not the augmenting of our fortunes, but the abating of our appetites
that makes us rich.

Why may not a man as well contemn riches in his own coffers as in
another man’s, and rather hear that they are his than feel them to be
so, though it is a great matter not to be corrupted even by having
them under the same roof. He is the greater man that is honestly poor
in the middle of plenty—but he is the more secure that is free from
the temptation of that plenty, and has the least matter for another
to design upon. It is no great business for a poor man to preach the
contempt of riches, or for a rich man to extol the benefits of poverty,
because we do not know how either the one or the other would behave
himself in the contrary condition. The best proof is the doing of it
by choice and not by necessity; for the practice of poverty in jest
is a preparation toward the bearing of it in earnest; but it is yet a
generous disposition so to provide for the worst of fortunes as what
may be easily borne—the premeditation makes them not only tolerable but
delightful to us, for there is that in them without which nothing can
be comfortable, that is to say, security. If there were nothing else in
poverty but the certain knowledge of our friends, it were yet a most
desirable blessing, when every man leaves us but those that love us.
It is a shame to place the happiness of life in gold and silver, for
which bread and water is sufficient; or, at the worst, hunger puts an
end to hunger.

For the honor of _poverty_, it was both the _foundation_ and the _cause
of the Roman empire_; and no man was ever yet so poor but he had enough
to carry him to his journey’s end.

All I desire is that my property may not be a burden to myself, or make
me so to others; and that is the best state of fortune that is neither
directly necessitous, nor far from it. A mediocricity of fortune with
a gentleness of mind, will preserve us from fear or envy, which is a
desirable condition, for no man wants power to do mischief. We never
consider the blessing of coveting nothing, and the glory of being full
in ourselves, without depending upon Fortune. With parsimony a little
is sufficient and without it nothing; whereas frugality makes a poor
man rich. If we lose an estate, we had better never have had it—he that
has least to lose has least to fear, and those are better satisfied
whom Fortune never favored, than those whom she has forsaken.

The state is most commodious that lies betwixt poverty and plenty.
Diogenes understood this very well when he put himself into an
incapacity of losing any thing. That course of life is most commodious
which is both safe and wholesome—the body is to be indulged no farther
than for health, and rather mortified than not kept in subjection to
the mind. It is necessary to provide against hunger, thirst, and cold;
and somewhat for a covering to shelter us against other inconveniences;
but not a pin matter whether it be of turf or of marble—a man may lie
as warm and as dry under a thatched as under a gilded roof. Let the
mind be great and glorious, and all other things are despicable in
comparison. “The future is uncertain, and I had rather beg of myself
not to desire any thing, than of Fortune to bestow it.”

We are here to encounter the most outrageous, brutal, dangerous, and
intractable of all passions; the most loathsome and unmannerly; nay,
the most ridiculous too; and the subduing of this monster will do a
great deal toward the establishment of human peace. It is the method of
_physicians_ to begin with a description of the disease, before they
meddle with the cure: and I know not why this may not do as well in the
distempers of the mind as in those of the body.

The _Stoics_ will have _anger_ to be a “desire of punishing another
for some injury done.” Against which it is objected, that we are many
times angry with those that never did hurt us, but possibly may, though
the harm be not as yet done. But I say, that they hurt us already in
conceit: and the very purpose of it is an injury in thought before it
breaks out into act. It is opposed again, that if anger were a _desire
of punishing_, mean people would not be angry with great ones that are
out of their reach; for no man can be said to desire any thing which he
judges impossible to compass. But I answer to this, That _anger_ is the
_desire_, not the _power_ and _faculty_ of _revenge_; neither is any
man so low, but that the greatest man alive may peradventure lie at his
mercy.

Aristotle takes _anger_ to be, “a desire of paying sorrow for sorrow;”
and of plaguing those that have plagued us. It is argued against both,
that beasts are angry; though neither provoked by any injury, nor moved
with a desire of any body’s grief or punishment. Nay, though they cause
it, they do not design or seek it. Neither is _anger_ (how unreasonable
soever in itself) found anywhere but in reasonable creatures. It is
true, the beasts have an impulse of rage and fierceness; as they are
more affected also than men with some pleasures; but we may as well
call them luxurious and ambitious as angry. And yet they are not
without certain images of human affections. They have their likings
and their loathings; but neither the passions of reasonable nature,
nor their virtues, nor their vices. They are moved to fury by some
objects; they are quieted by others; they have their terrors and their
disappointments, but without reflection: and let them be never so much
irritated or affrighted, so soon as ever the occasion is removed they
fall to their meat again, and lie down and take their rest. Wisdom and
thought are the goods of the mind, whereof brutes are wholly incapable;
and we are as unlike them within as we are without: they have an
odd kind of fancy, and they have a voice too; but inarticulate and
confused, and incapable of those variations which are familiar to us.

Anger is not only a vice, but a vice point-blank against nature, for it
divides instead of joining; and in some measure, frustrates the end of
Providence in human society. One man was born to help another; anger
makes us destroy one another; the one unites, the other separates; the
one is beneficial to us, the other mischievous; the one succors even
strangers, the other destroys even the most intimate friends; the one
ventures all to save another, the other ruins himself to undo another.
Nature is bountiful, but anger is pernicious: for it is not fear, but
mutual love that binds up mankind.

There are some motions that look like anger, which cannot properly be
called so; as the passion of the people against the _gladiators_, when
they hang off, and will not make so quick a dispatch as the spectators
would have them: there is something in it of the humor of children,
that if they get a fall, will never leave bawling until the naughty
ground is beaten, and then all is well again. They are angry without
any cause or injury; they are deluded by an imitation of strokes, and
pacified with counterfeit tears. A false and a childish sorrow is
appeased with as false and as childish a revenge. They take it for a
contempt, if the _gladiators_ do not immediately cast themselves upon
the sword’s point. They look presently about them from one to another,
as who should say; “Do but see, my masters, how these rogues abuse us.”

To descend to the particular branches and varieties would be
unnecessary and endless. There is a stubborn, a vindictive, a
quarrelsome, a violent, a froward, a sullen, a morose kind of anger;
and then we have this variety in complication too. One goes no
further than words; another proceeds immediately to blows, without a
word speaking; a third sort breaks out into cursing and reproachful
language; and there are that content themselves with chiding and
complaining. There is a conciliable anger and there is an implacable;
but in what form or degree soever it appears, all anger, without
exception, is vicious.

The question will be here, whether _anger_ takes its rise from impulse
or judgment; that is, whether it be moved of its own accord, or, as
many other things are, from within us, that arise we know not how? The
clearing of this point will lead us to greater matters.

The _first_ motion of _anger_ is in truth involuntary, and only a kind
of menacing preparation towards it. The _second_ deliberates; as who
should say, “This injury should not pass without a revenge,” and there
it stops. The _third_ is impotent; and, right or wrong, resolves upon
vengeance. The _first motion_ is not to be avoided, nor indeed the
_second_, any more than yawning for company; custom and care may lessen
it, but reason itself cannot overcome it. The _third_, as it rises upon
consideration, it must fall so too, for that motion which proceeds with
judgment may be taken away with judgment. A man thinks himself injured,
and hath a mind to be revenged, but for some reason lets it rest. This
is not properly _anger_, but an _affection overruled by reason_; a kind
of proposal disapproved—and what are reason and affection, but only
changes of the mind for the better or for the worse? Reason deliberates
before it judges; but anger passes sentence without deliberation.
Reason only attends the matter in hand; but anger is startled at every
accident; it passes the bounds of reason, and carries it away with
it. In short, “anger is an agitation of the mind that proceeds to the
resolution of a revenge, the mind assenting to it.”

There is no doubt but anger is moved by the species of an injury; but
whether that motion be voluntary or involuntary is the point in debate;
though it seems manifest to me that _anger_ does nothing but where the
mind goes along with it, for, first, to take an offence, and then to
meditate a revenge, and after that to lay both propositions together,
and say to myself, “This injury ought not to have been done; but as the
case stands, I must do myself right.” This discourse can never proceed
without the concurrence of the will.

The first motion indeed is single; but all the rest is deliberation
and superstructure—there is something understood and condemned—an
indignation conceived and a revenge propounded. This can never be
without the agreement of the mind to the matter in deliberation. The
end of this question is to know the nature and quality of _anger_. If
it be bred in us it will never yield to reason, for all involuntary
motions are inevitable and invincible; as a kind of horror and
shrugging upon the sprinkling of cold water; the hair standing on
end at ill news; giddiness at the sight of a precipice; blushing at
lewd discourse. In these cases reason can do no good, but _anger_
may undoubtedly be overcome by caution and good counsel, for it is a
_voluntary vice_, and not of the condition of those accidents that
befall us as frailties of our humanity, amongst which must be reckoned
the first motions of the mind after the opinion of an injury received,
which it is not in the power of human nature to avoid, and this is it
that affects us upon the stage, or in a story.

Can any man read the death of Pompey, and not be touched with an
indignation? The sound of a trumpet rouses the spirits and provokes
courage. It makes a man sad to see the shipwreck even of an enemy; and
we are much surprised by fear in other cases—all these motions are not
so much affections as preludes to them. The clashing of arms or the
beating of a drum excites a war-horse: nay, a song from Xenophantes
would make Alexander take his sword in his hand.

In all these cases the mind rather suffers than acts, and therefore it
is not an affection _to be moved_, but _to give way_ to that motion,
and to follow willingly what was started by chance—these are not
affections, but impulses of the body. The bravest man in the world may
look pale when he puts on his armor, his knees knock, and his heart
work before the battle is joined: but these are only _motions_; whereas
_anger_ is an _excursion_, and proposes revenge or punishment, which
cannot be without the mind. As fear flies, so anger assaults; and it is
not possible to resolve, either upon violence or caution, without the
concurrence of the will.

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