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Now, whereas all passions do stand in need of discipline, which by exercise tames and subdues their unreasonableness and stubbornness, there is none about which we have more need to be exercised in reference to servants than that of anger. For neither do we envy nor fear them, nor have we any competition for honor with them; but we have frequent fits of anger with them, which case many offences and errors, by reason of the very power possessed [p. 48] by us as masters, and which bring us easily to the ground, as if we stood in a slippery place with no one standing by to save us. For it is impossible to keep an irresponsible power from offending in the excitement of passion, unless we gird up that great power with gentleness, and can slight the frequent speeches of wife and friends accusing us of remissness. And indeed I myself have by nothing more than by such speeches been incensed against my servants, as if they were spoiled for want of beating. And truly it was late before I came to understand, that it was better that servants should be something the worse by indulgence, than that one should distort himself through wrath and bitterness for the amendment of others. And secondly, observing that many by this very impunity have been brought to be ashamed to be wicked, and have begun their change to virtue more from being pardoned than from being punished, and that they have obeyed some upon their nod only, peaceably, and more willingly than they have done others with all their beating and scourging, I became persuaded of this, that reason was fitter to govern with than anger. For it is not as the poet said,—
Wherever fear is, there is modesty;
but, on the contrary, it is in the modest that that fear is bred which produces moderation, whereas continual and unmerciful beating doth not make men repent of doing evil, but only devise plans for doing it without being detected. And in the third place I always remember and consider with myself, that as he who taught us the art of shooting did not forbid us to shoot, but only to shoot amiss, so no more can it be any hindrance from punishing to teach us how we may do it seasonably and moderately, with benefit and decency. I therefore strive to put away anger, especially by not denying the punished a liberty to plead for themselves, but granting them an hearing. For time gives a [p. 49] breathing-space unto passion, and a delay which mitigates and dissolves it; and a man's judgment in the mean while finds out both a becoming manner and a proportionable measure of punishing. And moreover hereby, he that is punished hath not any pretence left him to object against the correction given him, if he is punished not out of anger, but being first himself convinced of his fault. And finally we are here saved from the greatest disgrace of all, for by this means the servant will not seem to speak more just things than his master.

As therefore Phocion after the death of Alexander, to hinder the Athenians from rising too soon or believing it too hastily, said: O Athenians, if he is dead to-day, he will be so to-morrow, and on the next day after that; in like manner do I judge one ought to suggest to himself, who through anger is making haste to punish: If it is true to-day that he hath thus wronged thee, it will be true to-morrow, and on the next day, also. Nor will there any inconvenience follow upon the deferring of his punishment for a while; but if he be punished all in haste, he will ever after seem to have been innocent, as it hath oftentimes fallen out heretofore. For which of us all is so cruel as to torment or scourge a servant because, five or ten days before, he burnt the meat, or overturned the table, or did not soon enough what he was bidden? And yet it is for just such things as these, while they are fresh and newly done, that we are so disordered, and become cruel and implacable. For as bodies through a mist, so actions through anger seem greater than they are. Wherefore we ought speedily to recall such considerations as these are to our mind; and when we are unquestionably out of passion, if then to a pure and composed reason the deed do appear to be wicked, we ought to animadvert, and no longer neglect or abstain from punishment, as if we had lost our appetite for it. For there is nothing to which we can more justly impute men's punishing [p. 50] others in their anger, than to a habit of not punishing them when their anger is over, but growing remiss, and doing like lazy mariners, who in fair weather keep loitering within the haven, and then put themselves in danger by setting sail when the wind blows strong. So we likewise, condemning the remissness and over-calmness of our reason in punishing, make haste to do it while our anger is up, pushing us forward like a dangerous wind.

He that useth food doth it to gratify his hunger, which is natural; but he that inflicts punishment should do it without either hungering or thirsting after it, not needing anger, like sauce, to whet him on to punish; but when he is farthest off from desiring it, then he should do it as a deed of necessity under the guidance of reason. And though Aristotle reports, that in his time servants in Etruria were wont to be scourged while the music played, yet they who punish others ought not to be carried on with a desire of punishing, as of a thing they delight in, nor to rejoice when they punish, and then repent of it when they have done,—whereof the first is savage, the last womanish; but, without either sorrow or pleasure, they should inflict just punishment when reason is free to judge, leaving no pretence for anger to intermeddle.

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