Anger, a Cause.

Anger, a Cause.

ANGER, a perturbation, which carries the spirits outwards, preparing the body to melancholy, and madness itself: Ira furor brevis est, "anger is temporary madness;" and Piccolomineus accounts it, one of the three most violent passions. Areteus sets it down for an especial cause (so doth Seneca, ep. 18. l. 1.) of this malady. Magninus gives the reason, Ex frequenti ira supra modum calefiunt; it overheats their bodies, and if it be too frequent, it breaks out into manifest madness, saith St. Ambrose. 'Tis a known saying, Furor fit læsa sæpius patientia, the most patient spirit that is, if he be often provoked, will be incensed to madness; it will make a devil of a saint: and therefore Basil (belike) in his Homily de Ira, calls it tenebras rationis, morbum animæ, et dæmonem pessimum; the darkening of our understanding, and a bad angel. Lucian, in Abdicato, tom. 1. will have this passion to work this effect, especially in old men and women. "Anger and calumny (saith he) trouble them at first, and after a while break out into madness: many things cause fury in women, especially if they love or hate overmuch, or envy, be much grieved or angry; these things by little and little lead them on to this malady." From a disposition they proceed to an habit, for there is no difference between a mad man, and an angry man, in the time of his fit; anger, as Lactantius describes it. L. de Ira Dei, ad Donatum, c. 5. is sæva animi tempestas &c., a cruel tempest of the mind; "making his eyes sparkle fire, and stare, teeth gnash in his head, his tongue stutter, his face pale, or red, and what more filthy imitation can be of a mad man?"

"Ora tument ira, fervescunt sanguine venæ,
Lumina Gorgonio sævius angue micant."

They are void of reason, inexorable, blind, like beasts and monsters for the time, say and do they know not what, curse, swear, rail, fight, and what not? How can a mad man do more? as he said in the comedy, Iracundia non sum apud me, I am not mine own man. If these fits be immoderate, continue long, or be frequent, without doubt they provoke madness. Montanus, consil. 21, had a melancholy Jew to his patient, he ascribes this for a principal cause: Irascebatur levibus de caucis, he was easily moved to anger. Ajax had no other beginning of his madness; and Charles the Sixth, that lunatic French king, fell into this misery, out of the extremity of his passion, desire of revenge and malice, "incensed against the duke of Britain, he could neither eat, drink, nor sleep for some days together, and in the end, about the calends of July, 1392, he became mad upon his horseback, drawing his sword, striking such as came near him promiscuously, and so continued all the days of his life," Æmil. lib. 10. Gal. Hist. Ægesippus de excid. urbis Hieros. l. 1. c. 37. hath such a story of Herod, that out of an angry fit, became mad, leaping out of his bed, he killed Josippus, and played many such bedlam pranks, the whole court could not rule him for a long time after: sometimes he was sorry and repented, much grieved for that he had done, Postquam deferbuit ira, by and by outrageous again. In hot choleric bodies, nothing so soon causeth madness, as this passion of anger, besides many other diseases, as Pelesius observes, cap. 21. l. 1. de hum. afect. causis; Saguinem imminuit, fel auget: and as Valesius controverts, Med. controv. lib. 5. contro. 8. many times kills them quite out. If this were the worst of this passion, it were more tolerable, "but it ruins and subverts whole towns, cities, families and kingdoms;" Nulla pestis humano generi pluris stetit, saith Seneca, de Ira, lib. 1. No plague hath done mankind so much harm. Look into our histories, and you shall almost meet with no other subject, but what a company of hare-brains have done in their rage. We may do well therefore to put this in our procession amongst the rest; "From all blindness of heart, from pride, vain-glory, and hypocrisy, from envy, hatred and malice, anger, and all such pestiferous perturbations, good Lord deliver us."

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