Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/37

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27
Presidential Address.

because, being constitutionally prone to hysteria, he readily gets beyond himself and relapses into the brute. For the rest, his social tradition, as must happen in any type of community that stifles individuality, is most binding just where it is most mobbish in its appeal, and by consecrating the extravagances of contagious excitement turns the scalp-hunter into a scalp-dancer, the raving butcher into a still more raving devotee.

Contrariwise, it would seem that righteous indignation involves the sort of anger which is not hot but cold. When controlled by the higher system represented by all the principles for which the word "righteousness" stands, the anger of the strong brain which sets the strong arm in motion is like "the still water that runneth deep." As Mr. Shand demonstrates in a recent work, "It is neither excited, nor explosive, nor violent. It has lost the primitive character of the emotion; and those bodily changes which physiologists attribute to it are hardly appreciable. If it has no longer the same strength in one sense, in another it has a greater. In immediate physical energy it is weaker; in power of persistence immeasurably stronger. In place of thoughtless impulse, and crude primitive methods of offence, it has the thoughtfulness, self-control, and adaptability of the sentiment."[1]

This developed sentiment, which offers so marked a contrast to that primitive violence of warlike feeling whereof acts of brutal savagery are the by-product, is an "anger organized in love";[2] namely, a righteous indignation, formidably cool and judicial, which is rooted in the love of freedom, of social and political justice, of the spiritual blessings of civilization, and finally, of mankind at large, not forgetting even the misguided enemy himself.

  1. A. F. Shand, The Foundations of Character, 246.
  2. Shand, op. cit. 245.