Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man thou shalt not go, lest thou learn his ways and get a snare to thy soul. Solomon
Anger is a disease of the mind, a temporary insanity. Persons addicted to it are too frequently induced by the irritation of the moment, to perpetrate acts of the most alarming and outrageous character. Whence come wars and fightings and contentions and murders and assassinations? Do they not proceed from animosity nourished and cherished into malignity, hatred and revenge? This is the passion that has raised up nation against nation against nation -- which has destroyed millions of the human race, and desolated whole countries. The philosopher and the philanthropist will hail with equal joy the period when the sword shall be beat into plowshares, and the spear into pruning hooks -- when war shall cease to be waged, and peace universally prevail. Beneficial as such a state would be in a political and public view, in private life the extirpation of anger and diffusion of placability would no less essentially promote the health, increase the contentment, prolong the lives and advance incalculably the felicity of the human race. Few can contemplate with complacency, the ravages produced by ebulliations of irascibility. It renders the person subject to it a torment to himself, a disagreeable companion, a burden and a blot in society; yet it is a comfortable reflection, that this passion has often been controlled and even entirely subdued. Even Achilles, the fiercest and most fiery of the Grecian heroes, though notoriously wronged and insulted, submits to the order of his superior commander, and resigns without a struggle his fair Briseis. Thousands have, on particular occasions, shown equal forbearance and moderation. Convince a man that whenever he yields to paroxysms of passion, he is exposing himself to the ridicule and contempt of the world, and he will soon impose restraints and counteract and rule and regulate his untoward propensity. Besides the indecorum of anger, when frequently indulged, it operates with the force of spasm, and sometimes with the fatality of an apoplexy. When its outbreakings are not so violent annd convulsive, they seriously detract from the "weight of character and worth of substance" of the individual so possessed -- inflict continual pain upon those who happen to be his associates, impair imperceptibly the health of his constitution, bring on fevers, derange the vital functions, and hasten and facilitate the approaches and attacks of death. Whether, therefore, we consult personal respectability or individual comfort or long life, or the unclouded possession of our faculties, or usefulness and satisfaction in fulfilling our reciprocal duties, for all these purposes it is important to cultivate an imperturbable serenity of temper.
Every passion grows by indulgence. Anger when unrestrained, is apt to degenerate into cruelty. Irascibility is often prolific of evil deeds. It poisons social intercourse, destroys domestic happiness, spares not in its paroxysms age or condition, friends or relations, but violates all unceremoniously, all the suggestions of conscience and all the ties of nature. Thus many an individual, without profit to himself, or the smallest possible advantage, degrades and disgraces his own character, fills up the measure of his own misery, "plants a thousand thorns in the human heart," and by this inflammatory temper and frenzied conduct, gives us a faint preliberation of the horrors, contortions and agonies which await those who are
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition; there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire
"When a man has once suffered his mind to be thus viciated, he becomes one of the most hateful and unhappy beings. He can give no security to himself that he shall not, at the next interview, alienate by some sudden transport his dearest friend, or break out upon some slight contradiction, into such terms of rudeness, as can never be forgotten. Whoever converses with him, lives with the suspicion and solicitude of a man that plays with a tame tiger, always under a necessity of watching the moment in which the capricious savage shall begin to growl.
It is told by Prior, in a panegyric on the Earl of Derset, that his servants used to put themselves in his way when he was angry, because he was sure to recompense them for any indignities which he made them suffer. This is the round of a passionate man's life; he contracts debts when he is furious, which his virtue, if he has any, obliges him to discharge at the return of reason. He spends his time in outrage and acknowledgement, injury and reparation. Or if there by any who hardens himself in oppression, and justifies the wrong because he has done it, his insensibility can make small part of his praise or happiness: he only adds deliberate to hasty folly, aggravates petulance by contumacy, and destroys the only plea which he can offer for the tenderness or patience of mankind.
Seneca says, "Alexander had two friends: Clitus and Lysimachus; the one he exposed to a lion, the other to himself; he who was turned loose to the beast escaped, but Clitus was murdered, for he was exposed to the unreasonable and ungovernable ferocity of an angry man. If I was desired (says he,) to describe cruelty and revenge, I would draw a tiger bathed in blood and ready to leap at its prey, as emblematic of those horrid passions." Many instances of cruelty are recorded in history, Amestris, queen of Persia, having learned that the King, Xemes, her husband, was attached to his brother's daughter, had adopted, thought without foundation the opinion that her mother was privy to the affair and encouraged the amour. This suspicion excited in her a higher animosity against the parent than the girl and the queen determined to revenge. It was the custom that on the king's birth day, a request of whatever nature, when made by the queen must be granted, and she waited impatiently the return of that anniversary; and whdn it came, she desired the death of the mother, who was innocent of any crime and innocent of the king's attachment.
Xemes endeavored to save the life of his sister, but the queen was inexorable and not only demanded her death, but gratified her rancorous hatred by the indulgence of the most remorseless cruelty. As soon as the unhappy victim was delivered over to her wrath, by her command her lips, nose and breast were cut off and cast out to dogs, and the mangled sufferer was compelled to look on while these part of her own frame were consumed by the voracious animals.
When Cicero, the great Roman orator suffered decapitation, his head was brought to Anthony, whose wife Fulvia took it, stabbed it several times, then tore out the tongue, and with the malice of a fiend pierced it with her bodkin. To show the evil effects of this passion, we need only allude to the thousand barbarities committed during the French revolution under the name of patriotism, through the indulgence of anger, degenerating in to cruelty, and whetted by the continued gratification of its ferocious and insatiable appetite.