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Question.WHETHER Anger ought to be suppresjid
entirely, or only to be confined within the bounds of moderation ?
THOSE who maintain that resentment is blameableonly in the excess, support their opinion with fuch arguments as these:
SINCE Anger is natural and useful to man, entirely to banith it from our breast, would be an equally foolish and vain. attempt: for as it is difficult, and next to impossible, to oppose nature with success ;, so it were imprudent, if we had it in our power, to caft away the weapons with which the has furnished us for our defence. The best armour againft injustice is a proper degree of fpirit, to repel, the wrongs that are done, or designed against us : but if we diveft oure selves of all resentment, we shall perhaps prove too irresolute
mean, in the
and languid, both in refifting the attacks of injustice, and inficting punishment upon those, who have committed it. We shall therefore sink into contempt, and by the tameness of our spirit, shall invite the malicious to abuse and affront us. Nor will others fail to deny us the regard which is due from them, if once they think us incapable of refentment. To remain unmoved at gross injuries, has the appearance of stupidity, and will make us defpicable and
of many who are not to be influenced by any thing but their fears.
And as a moderate share of resentment is useful in its effects, so it is innocent in itself, nay often commendable. The virtue of mildness is no less remote from insensibility, on the one hand, than from fury on the other. It implies, that we are angry only upon proper occafions, and in a due degree ; that we are never transported beyond the bounds of decency, or indulge a deep and lasting resentment; that we do not follow, but lead our paflion, governing it as our fervant, not submitting ourfelves to it as our master. Under these regulations it is certainly excusable, when moved only by private wrongs: and being excited by the injuries which others suffer, it bespeaks a generous mind, and deferves commendation. Shall a good man feel no indignation against injustice and barbarity ? not even when he is witness to shocking instances of them? when he fees a friend bafely and cruelly treated; when he observes,
Th' oppreffor's wrong, the proad man's contumely, The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes ; SHALL he still enjoy hinself in perfect tranquillity? Will it be a crime, if he conceives the least resentment? Will it not rather be fomewhat criminal, if he is deftitute of it? In
fuch cases we are commonly fo far from being alhamed of our anger, as of fomething mean, that we are proud of it, and confess it openly, as what we count laudable and me, ritorious.
The truth is, there seems to be something manly, and we are bold to say, something virtuous, in a just and wellconducted resentment. In the mean time, let us not be fufpected of endeavouring to vindicate rage, and peevilhness, and implacable resentment, No; such is their deformity, so horrid and fo manifest are the evils they produce, that they do not admit of any defence or justification. We cendemn, we detest them, as unnatural, brutish, un manly and monftrous. All we contend for, is, that it is better to be moderate in our resentment, than to suppress it altogether. Let us therefore keep it under a frict disciplitte, and carefully reftrain it within the bounds which reason preseçibes, with regard to the occasion, degree and continuance of it. But let us not presume to extirpate any of those afections, which the wisdom of God has implanted in us, which are so nicely balanced, and so well adjusted to each other, that by destroying one of them, we may perhaps disorder and blemish the whole frame of our natyrę.
TO these arguments, those who adopt the opinion that anger should be entirely suppressed, reply:
You tell us, anger is natural to man; but nothing is more natural to man, than reason, mildness and benevolence. Now with what propriety can we call that natural to any creature, which impairs and opposes the most effential and distinguishing parts of its constitution ? Sometimes indeed we may call that natural to a species, which being found in most of them, is not produced by art or custom. That anger
is in this fense natural, we readily grant; but deny that we therefore cannot, or may not lawfully extinguish it. Nature has committed to our management the faculties of the mind, as well as the members of the body: and, as when any of the latter become pernicious to the whole, we cut them off and cast them away; in like manner, when any of our af. fections are become hurtful and useless in our frame, by cuts, ting them off, we do not in the least counteract the intention of nature. Now fuch is anger to a wise man. To fools and cowards it is a necessary evil; but to a person of moderate sense and virtue, it is an evil, which has no advantage attending it. The harm it must do him is very apparent. It must ruffle his temper, make him lefs agreeable to his friends, difturb his reason, and unfit him for discharging the duties of life in a becoming manner. By only diminishing his pallion, be may lefsen, but cannot remove the evil; for the only way to get clear of the one, is by entirely difmifing the other.
How then will anger be fo ufeful to him, as to make it worth his while to retain it in any, degree? He may defend his own rights; assist an injured friend ; prosecute and pụnilla, a villain ; I say his prudence and friendship, his public spirit and calm fesolution will enable him to do all this, and to do it in a much more fafe, proper, and effe&tual manner, without the asistance of anger, than with it. He will be despis-, ed and neglected, you say, if he appears to have no refentment. You should rather fay, if he appears to have no sedate. wisdom and courage ; for these qualities will be sufficient of themfelves to secure him from contempt, and maintain him in the poffeffion of his juft authority. Nor does any thing commonly leffen us more in the eyes of others, than our own paflion. It often exposeth us to the contempt and derision of thofe, who are not in our power; and if it makes
us feared, it also makes us proportionably hated, by our inferiors and dependants. Let the infuence it gives us be ever so great, that man must pay very dear for his power, who procures it at the expence of his.own tranquillity and peace.
Besides, the imitation of anger, which is easily formed, will produce the same effect upon others, ' as if the passion was real. If therefore to quicken the flow, to rouse the inattentive and restrain the fierce, it is sometimes expedient that they believe you are moved, you may put on the outward' appearance of resentment. Thus you may obtain the end of anger, without the danger and vexation that attends it; and may preserve your authority, without forfeiting the peace of your mind.
However manly and vigorous anger may be thought, it is in fact, but a weak principle, compared with the sedate resolution of a wife and virtuous man. The one is uniform and permanent like the strength of a person in perfect health; the other, like a force which proceedeth from a fever, is violent for a time, but it soon leaves the mind more feeble than before. To him therefore who is armed with a proper tirmness of soul, no degree of passion can be useful in any respect. And to say it can ever be laudable and virtuous, is indeed a sufficiently bold assertion.. For the most part: we blame it in others, and though we are apt to be indulgent enough to our own faults, we are often ashamed of it in felves. Hence it is common to hear men excusing themselves, and seriously declaring, they were not angry, when they have given unquestionable proofs to the contrary. But do we not commend him, who resents the injuries done to a friend or innocent person? Yes, we commend him; yet not for his pallion, but for that generosity and friend thip