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Sir Francis Bacon

Essay 57

Of Anger.
1 TO seeke to extinguish Anger vtterly, is but a Brauery of the Stoickes. We haue better Oracles: Be Angry, but Sinne not. Let not the Sunne goe downe vpon your Anger. Anger must be limited, and confined, both in Race, and in Time. We will first speake, How the Naturall Inclination, and Habit , To be Angry, may be attempred, and calmed. Secondly, How the Particular Motions of Anger, may be repressed, or at least refrained from doing Mischiefe. Thirdly, How to raise Anger, or appease Anger, in Another.
2 For the first; There is no other Way, but to Meditate and Ruminate well, vpon the Effects of Anger, how it troubles Mans Life. And the best Time, to doe this, is, to looke backe vpon Anger, when the Fitt is throughly ouer. Seneca saith well; That Anger is like Ruine, which breakes it Selfe, vpon that it falls. The Scripture exhorteth vs; To possesse our Soules in Patience. Whosoeuer is out of Patience, is out of Possession of his Soule. Men must not turne Bees; --- Animasque in vulnere ponunt.
3 Anger is certainly a kinde of Basenesse: As it appeares well, in the Weaknesse of those Subiects, in whom it reignes: Children, Women, Old Folkes, Sicke Folkes. Onely Men must beware, that they carry their Anger, rather with Scorne, then with Feare: So that they may seeme rather, to be aboue the Iniury, then below it: which is a Thing easily done, if a Man will giue Law to himselfe in it.
4 For the Second Point; The Causes and Motiues of Anger, are chiefly three. First, to be too Sensible of Hurt: For no Man is Angry, that Feeles not himselfe Hurt: And therefore Tender and Delicate Persons, must needs be oft Angry: They haue so many Things to trouble them; Which more Robust Natures haue little Sense of. The next is, the Apprehension and Construction, of the Iniury offred, to be, in the Circumstances thereof, full of Contempt. For Contempt is that which putteth an Edge vpon Anger, as much, or more, then the Hurt it selfe. And therefore, when Men are Ingenious, in picking out Circumstances of Contempt, they doe kindle their Anger much. Lastly, Opinion of the Touch of a Mans Reputation, doth multiply and sharpen Anger. Wherein the Remedy is, that a Man should haue, as Consaluo was wont to say, Team Honoris crassiorem. But in all Refrainings of Anger, it is the best Remedy to win Time; And to make a Mans Selfe beleeue, that the Opportunity of his Reuenge is not yet come: But that he foresees a Time for it; And so to still Himselfe in the meane Time, and reserue it.
5 To containe Anger from Mischiefe, though it take hold of a Man, there be two Things, whereof you must haue speciall Caution. The one, of extreme Bitternesse of Words; Especially, if they be Aculeate, and Proper: For Communia Maledicta are nothing so much: And againe, that in Anger, a Man reueale no Secrets: For that makes him not fit for Society. The other, that you doe not peremptorily breake off, in any Businesse, in a Fitt of Anger: But howsoeuer you shew Bitternes, do not Act any thing, that is not Reuocable.
6 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. Againe, by gathering ( as was touched before ) all that you can finde out, to aggrauate the Contempt. And the two Remedies are by the Contraries. The Former, to take good Times, when first to relate to a Man, an Angry Businesse: For the first Impression is much. And the other is, to seuer, as much as may be, the Construction of the Iniury, from the Point of Contempt: Imputing it, to Misunderstanding, Feare, Passion, or what you will.

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Edited by Ian Lancashire (Dept. of English, University of Toronto) Assisted by Allison Hay.
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