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and languid, both in refifting the attacks of injustice, and inflicting punishment upon thofe, who have committed it. We shall therefore fink into contempt, and by the tameness of our fpirit, fhall 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 grofs injuries, has the appearance of ftupidity, and will make us despicable and mean, in the eyes of many who are not to be influenced by any thing but their fears.
AND as a moderate share of refentment is useful in its effects, fo it is innocent in itself, nay often commendable. The virtue of mildness is no less remote from infenfibility, 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 lafting refentment; that we do not follow, but lead our paffion, governing it as our fervant, not fubmitting ourselves to it as our mafter. Under these regulations it is certainly excufable, when moved only by private wrongs: and being excited by the injuries which others fuffer, it befpeaks a generous mind, and deferves commendation. Shall a good man feel no indignation against injuftice and barbarity? not even when he is wit ness to shocking inftances of them? when he fees a friend bafely and cruelly treated; when he obferves,
Th' oppreffor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes ;
fhall he ftill enjoy himself in perfect tranquillity? Will it be a crime, if he conceives the leaft refentment? Will it not rather be fomewhat criminal, if he is deftitute of it? In
fuch cafes we are commonly fo far from being ashamed of our anger, as of fomething mean, that we are proud of it, and confefs it openly, as what we count laudable and meritorious.
THE truth is, there feems to be fomething manly, and we are bold to fay, fomething virtuous, in a just and wellconducted refentment. In the mean time, let us not be fufpected of endeavouring to vindicate rage, and peevishness, and implacable refentment. No; fuch is their deformity, fo horrid and fo manifeft are the evils they produce, that they do not admit of any defence or juftification. We condemn, we deteft them, as unnatural, brutish, unmanly and monftrous. All we contend for, is, that it is better to be moderate in our refentment, than to fupprefs it altogether. Let us therefore keep it under a strict discipline, and carefully reftrain it within the bounds which reason prescribes, with regard to the occafion, degree and continuance of it. But let us not prefume to extirpate any of those affections, which the wifdom of God has implanted in us, which are fo nicely balanced, and fo well adjufted to each other, that by deftroying one of them, we may perhaps diforder and blemish the whole frame of our nature.
TO thefe arguments, those who adopt the opinion that angershould be entirelyfuppreffed,reply:
You tell us, anger is natural to man; but nothing is more natural to man, than reafon, mild nefs and benevolence. Now with what propriety can we call that natural to any creature, which impairs and opposes the most effential and diftinguishing parts of its conftitution? Sometimes indeed we may call that natural to a fpecies, which being found in most of them, is not produced by art or cuftom. That anger
is in this fenfe 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 caft them away; in like manner, when any of our affections are become hurtful and useless in our frame, by cutting them off, we do not in the least counteract the intention of nature. Now fuch is anger to a wife man. To fools and cowards it is a neceffary evil; but to a person of moderate fense and virtue, it is an evil, which has no advantage attending it. The harm it must do him is very apparent. It muft 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 paffion, he may leffen, but cannot remove the evil; for the only way to get clear of the one, is by entirely difmiffing the other.
How then will anger be so useful to him, as to make it worth his while to retain it in any degree? He may defend his own rights; affift an injured friend; profecute and punish a villain; I fay his prudence and friendship, his public fpirit and calm refolution will enable him to do all this, and to do it in a much more fafe, proper, and effectual manner, without the affiftance of anger, than with it. He will be despifed and neglected, you fay, if he appears to have no refentment. You should rather fay, if he appears to have no fedate wisdom and courage; for thefe qualities will be fufficient of themselves to fecure him from contempt, and maintain him in the poffeffion of his just authority. Nor does any thing commonly leffen us more in the eyes of others, than our own paffion. It often expofeth us to the contempt and de'rifion of those, 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 influence 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 eafily formed, will produce the fame effect upon others, as if the paffion was real. If therefore to quicken the flow, to rouse the inattentive, and restrain the fierce, it is fometimes expedient that they believe you are moved, you may put on the outward appearance of refentment. 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 refolution of a wife and virtuous man. The one is uniform and permanent like the ftrength of a person in perfect health; the other, like a force which proceedeth from a fever, is violent for a time, but it foon leaves the mind more feeble than before. To him therefore who is armed with a proper firmness of foul, no degree of paffion can be useful in any respect. And to say it can ever be laudable and virtuous, is indeed a fufficiently bold affertion. 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 afhamed of it in ourfelves. Hence it is common to hear men excufing themfelves, and feriously declaring, they were not angry, when they have given unquestionable proofs to the contrary. But do we not commend him, who refents the injuries done to a friend or innocent perfon? Yes, we commend him; yet not for his paffion, but for that generofity and friendship
of which it is the evidence. For let any one impartially confider, which of these characters he efteems the better; his, who interests himself in the injuries of his friend, and zealously defends him with perfect calmness and ferenity of temper; or his, who pursues the fame conduct under the influence of refentment.
Ir anger then is neither useful nor commendable, it is certainly the part of wifdom to suppress it entirely. We fhould rather confine it, you tell us, within certain bounds. But how fhall we ascertain the limits, to which it may, and beyond which it ought not to país? When we receive a manifeft injury, it feems we may refent it, provided we do it with moderation. When we fuffer a worse abuse, our anger, I fuppofe, may rife fomewhat higher. Now as the degrees of injuftice are infinite, if our anger must always be proportioned to the occafion, it may poffibly proceed to the utmost extravagance. Shall we fet bounds to our refentment while we are yet calm ? how can we be affured, that being once let loose, it will not carry us beyond them? or fhall we give paffion the reins, imagining we can refume them at pleasure, or trufting it will tire or ftop itself, as foon as it has run to its proper length? As well might we think of giving laws to a tempeft; as well might we endeavour to run mad by rule and method.
In reality, it is much easier to keep ourselves void of refentment, than to reftrain it from excefs, when it has gained admiffion; for if reafon, while her ftrength is yet entire, is not able to preferve her dominion, what can he do when her enemy has in part prevailed and weakened her force? To ufe the illuftration of an excellent author, we can prevent the beginnings of fome things, whofe progress afterwards we cannot hinder. We can forbear to caft ourselves down from L' a pre