No. 438. Wednesday, July 23, 1712. Steele.

--Animum rege qui nisi paret Imperat--'

It is a very common Expression, That such a one is very good-natur'd, but very passionate. The Expression indeed is very good-natur'd, to allow passionate People so much Quarter: But I think a passionate Man deserves the least Indulgence Imaginable. It is said, it is soon over; that is, all the Mischief he does is quickly dispatch'd, which, I think, is no great Recommendation to Favour. I have known one of these good-natur'd passionate Men say in a mix'd Company even to his own Wife or Child, such Things as the most inveterate Enemy of his Family would not have spoke, even in Imagination. It is certain that quick Sensibility is inseparable from a ready Understanding; but why should not that good Understanding call to it self all its Force on such Occasions, to master that sudden Inclination to Anger. One of the greatest Souls now in the World [1] is the most subject by Nature to Anger, and yet so famous from a Conquest of himself this Way, that he is the known Example when you talk of Temper and Command of a Man's Self. To contain the Spirit of Anger, is the worthiest Discipline we can put our selves to. When a Man has made any Progress this way, a frivolous Fellow in a Passion, is to him as contemptible as a froward Child. It ought to be the Study of every Man, for his own Quiet and Peace. When he stands combustible and ready to flame upon every thing that touches him, Life is as uneasie to himself as it is to all about him. Syncropius leads, of all Men living, the most ridiculous Life; he is ever offending, and begging Pardon. If his Man enters the Room without what he sent for, That Blockhead, begins he--Gentlemen, I ask your Pardon, but Servants now a-days--The wrong Plates are laid, they are thrown into the Middle of the Room; his Wife stands by in Pain for him, which he sees in her Face, and answers as if he had heard all she was thinking; Why, what the Devil! Why don't you take Care to give Orders in these things? His Friends sit down to a tasteless Plenty of every thing, every Minute expecting new Insults from his impertinent Passions. In a Word, to eat with, or visit Syncropius, is no other than going to see him exercise his Family, exercise their Patience, and his own Anger.

It is monstrous that the Shame and Confusion in which this good-natured angry Man must needs behold his Friends while he thus lays about him, does not give him so much Reflection as to create an Amendment. This is the most scandalous Disuse of Reason imaginable; all the harmless Part of him is no more than that of a Bull-Dog, they are tame no longer than they are not offended. One of these good-natured angry Men shall, in an Instant, assemble together so many Allusions to secret Circumstances, as are enough to dissolve the Peace of all the Families and Friends he is acquainted with, in a Quarter of an Hour, and yet the next Moment be the best-natured Man in the whole World. If you would see Passion in its Purity, without Mixture of Reason, behold it represented in a mad Hero, drawn by a mad Poet. Nat Lee makes his Alexander say thus:

'Away, begon, and give a Whirlwind Room, Or I will blow you up like Dust! Avaunt; Madness but meanly represents my Toil. Eternal Discord! Fury! Revenge! Disdain and Indignation! Tear my swoln Breast, make way for Fire and Tempest. My Brain is burst, Debate and Reason quench'd; The Storm is up, and my hot bleeding Heart Splits with the Rack, while Passions, like the Wind, Rise up to Heav'n, and put out all the Stars.'

Every passionate Fellow in Town talks half the Day with as little Consistency, and threatens Things as much out of his Power.

The next disagreeable Person to the outrageous Gentleman, is one of a much lower Order of Anger, and he is what we commonly call a peevish Fellow. A peevish Fellow is one who has some Reason in himself for being out of Humour, or has a natural Incapacity for Delight, and therefore disturbs all who are happier than himself with Pishes and Pshaws, or other well-bred Interjections, at every thing that is said or done in his Presence. There should be Physick mixed in the Food of all which these Fellows eat in good Company. This Degree of Anger passes, forsooth, for a Delicacy of Judgment, that won't admit of being easily pleas'd: but none above the Character of wearing a peevish Man's Livery, ought to bear with his ill Manners. All Things among Men of Sense and Condition should pass the Censure, and have the Protection, of the Eye of Reason.

No Man ought to be tolerated in an habitual Humour, Whim, or Particularity of Behaviour, by any who do not wait upon him for Bread. Next to the peevish Fellow is the Snarler. This Gentleman deals mightily in what we call the Irony, and as those sort of People exert themselves most against these below them, you see their Humour best, in their Talk to their Servants. That is so like you, You are a fine Fellow, Thou art the quickest Head-piece, and the like. One would think the Hectoring, the Storming, the Sullen, and all the different Species and Subordinations of the Angry should be cured, by knowing they live only as pardoned Men; and how pityful is the Condition of being only suffered? But I am interrupted by the pleasantest Scene of Anger and the Disappointment of it that I have ever known, which happened while I was yet Writing, and I overheard as I sat in the Backroom at a French Bookseller's. There came into the Shop a very learned Man with an erect Solemn Air, and tho' a Person of great Parts otherwise, slow in understanding anything which makes against himself. The Composure of the faulty Man, and the whimsical Perplexity of him that was justly angry, is perfectly New: After turning over many Volumes, said the Seller to the Buyer, Sir, you know I have long asked you to send me back the first Volume of French Sermons I formerly lent you; Sir, said the Chapman, I have often looked for it but cannot find it; It is certainly lost, and I know not to whom I lent it, it is so many Years ago; then, Sir, here is the other Volume, I'll send you home that, and please to pay for both. My Friend, reply'd he, canst thou be so Senseless as not to know that one Volume is as imperfect in my Library as in your Shop? Yes, Sir, but it is you have lost the first Volume, and to be short I will be Paid. Sir, answered the Chapman, you are a young Man, your Book is lost, and learn by this little Loss to bear much greater Adversities, which you must expect to meet with. Yes, Sir, I'll bear when I must, but I have not lost now, for I say you have it and shall pay me. Friend, you grow Warm, I tell you the Book is lost, and I foresee in the Course even of a prosperous Life, that you will meet Afflictions to make you Mad, if you cannot bear this Trifle. Sir, there is in this Case no need of bearing, for you have the Book. I say, Sir, I have not the Book. But your Passion will not let you hear enough to be informed that I have it not. Learn Resignation of your self to the Distresses of this Life: Nay do not fret and fume, it is my Duty to tell you that you are of an impatient Spirit, and an impatient Spirit is never without Woe. Was ever any thing like this? Yes, Sir, there have been many things like this. The Loss is but a Trifle, but your Temper is Wanton, and incapable of the least Pain; therefore let me advise you, be patient, the Book is lost, but do not you for that Reason lose your self.


[Footnote 1: Lord Somers.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. 1 Ep. ii. 62.
'--Curb thy soul,
And check thy rage, which must be ruled or rule.'