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Edward Reynolds (1599-1676)

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17C Puritan Edward Reynolds in his Treatise of the Passions and Faculties of the Soul of Man suggests a fifth (of nine) way of managing anger.

5. Remove the occasions of it; withdraw fuel from so catching a flame.

They say of turpentine, and some other like things, that ‘they will draw and suck fire unto them.’ Certainly, of all fire, there is none so ductile [malleable], so sequacious [unreasonably following its leader] and obsequious [obedient or compliant], as this of wrath is.

It was not ill done therefore of Cotys and Augustus, to cause those curious vessels to be broken of purpose, which, having been accidentally broken, might have made a breach likewise upon the discretion of their owners (241-2).

The reference to Cotys comes from antiquity, where Plutarch describes Cotys, king of Thrace, upon receiving some precious brittle (glass?) object,  admired it and then ordered it to be broken in order to prevent his becoming enraged perchance one of his servants beat him to breaking it. The reference, as it appears in Reynolds is: “Plut. Apoph.–Sen. de Ira, 1.3. c. 40.–l. Rhod. 1.12. c. 52.–Sen. de Ira, 1.2. c. 22, 23, 24.”

We should keep in mind the observation of Reynolds I cited on my last post before heading into the sixth way of managing anger. Reynolds believes that the “fundamental and essential cause of anger, is contempt from others, meeting with the love of ourselves” (224). He continues a bit later: “Calamity, is ever either querulous or malignant; . . . when it feels itself wrung and pinched, it quickly proceeds, either by justice or revenge, to please itself in retaliation” (225). Flowing from this, Reynolds offers a sixth way of managing anger:

6. Give not an easy ear to reports, nor an easy entertainment to suspicions; be not greedy to know who or wherein another hath wronged thee.

That which we are desirous to know, or apt to believe, we shall be the more ready to revenge.

Curiosity and credulity are the handmaids unto passion.

Alexander would not see the woman, after whom he might have lusted: nor Cæsar search Pompey‘s cabinet, lest he should find a new matter of revenge; he chose rather to make a fire of them on his hearth, than in his heart.

Injuries unknown do, many times, the less hurt: when I have found them, I then begin to feel them, and suffer more from mine own discovery, than from mine enemies’ attempt (242).

This leads well into his seventh, which I will also include here, leaving the eighth and ninth suggestions for a final post. Here again is sound advice for us:

7. Be candid in interpreting the things wherein thou sufferest.

Many times the glass through which I look, makes that seem formidable,–and the wave, that crooked,–which, in itself, was beautiful and straight.

Haply, thou art angry with that which could not intend to hurt thee: thy book, thy pen, the stone at which thou stumblest, the wind or rain that beats upon thee: be angry again, but with thyself, who art either so bold, as to be angry with God, or so foolish, as to be angry with nothing.

Thou art displeased at a childish or ignorant miscarriage: call it not injury, but imprudence; and then pity it.

Thou art angry with counsel, reproof, discipline: why doest thou not as well break the glass, in whcih thy physician ministereth a potion unto thee? Be angry with thy sin; and thou wilt love him that takes it from thee. Is he that adviseth thee, thy superior? Thine anger is undutiful.–Is he thy friend? Thine anger is ungrateful (242).

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