Henderson, the actor, was seldom known to be in a passion. When at Oxford, he was one day debating with a fellow student, who, not keeping his temper, threw a glass of wine in the actor's face; upon which Henderson took out his handkerchief, wiped his face, and coolly said, "That, sir, was a digression; now for the argument."
Peter the Great made a law in 1722, that if any nobleman beat or ill-treat his slaves he should be looked upon as insane, and a guard should be appointed to take care of his person and his estate. This great monarch once struck his gardener, who being a man of great sensibility, took to his bed, and died in a few days. Peter, hearing of this, exclaimed, with tears in his eyes, "Alas! I have civilized my own subjects; I have conquered other nations; yet I have not been able to civilize or conquer myself."
Fletcher, of Saltown, is well known to have possessed a most irritable temper. His footman desired to be dismissed. "Why do you leave me?" said he. "Because, sir," to speak the truth, "I cannot bear your temper." "To be sure, I am passionate, but my passion is no sooner on than it is off." "Yes, sir," replied the servant, "but then it is no sooner off than it is on."
In certain debates in the House of Lords, in 1718, the bills proposed were opposed by Bishop Atterbury, who said, "he had prophesied last winter, that this bill would be attempted in the present session, and he was sorry to find he had proved a true prophet." Lord Coningsby, who usually spoke in a passion, rose, and remarked, that "one of the right reverends had set himself forth as a prophet; but for his part, he did not know what prophet to liken him to, unless to that famous prophet Balaam, who was reproved by his own ass."
The bishop, in reply, with great readiness and temper exposed this rude attack, concluding in these words: "Since the noble lord hath discovered in our manners such a similitude, I must be content to be compared to the prophet Balaam; but, my lords, I am at a loss how to make out the other part of the parallel. I am sure that I have been reproved by nobody but his lordship." From that day forth, Lord Coningsby was called "Atterbury's Pad."
Dr. Hough, of Worcester, was remarkable for evenness of temper, of which the following story affords a proof.
A young gentleman, whose family had been well acquainted with the doctor, in making the tour of England before he went abroad, called to pay his respects to him as he passed by his seat in the country. It happened to be at dinner-time, and the room full of company. The bishop, however, received him with much familiarity; but the servant in reaching him a chair, threw down a curious weather-glass that had cost twenty guineas, and broke it. The gentleman was under infinite concern, and began to make an apology for being the occasion of the accident, when the bishop with great good nature interrupted him. "Be under no concern, sir," said his lordship, smiling, "for I am much beholden to you for it. We have had a very dry season; and now I hope we shall have rain. I never saw the glass so low in my life." Every one was pleased with the humour and pleasantry of the turn; and the more so, as the Doctor was then more than eighty, a time of life when the infirmities of old age make most men peevish and hasty.
A cobbler at Leyden, who used to attend the public disputations held at the academy, was once asked if he understood Latin? "No," replied the mechanic, "but it is easy to know who is wrong in the argument." "How?" enquired his friend. "Why, by seeing who is first angry."
Casaubon, in his "Treatise on the Passions," relates the following pleasing anecdote of Robert, one of the greatest monarchs that ever swayed the sceptre of France. Having once surprised a rogue who had cut away the half of his mantle, he took no other notice of the offence than by saying mildly to him, "Save thyself, sinner, and leave the rest for another who may have need of it."
Garrick once complained to Sir Joshua Reynolds of the abuse with which he was loaded by Foote, when Sir Joshua answered, that Foote, in so doing, gave the strongest possible proof of being in the wrong; as it was always the man who had the worst side who became violent and abusive.
A mother heard her son crying near where the father was building a dog house.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Daddy hit his thumb with the hammer," he sobbed.
"That's nothing for you to cry about," she said. "You should laugh."
"That's why I'm crying. I did."
A man was complimented at the office for his tan. "How did you get that beautiful tan?" a friend asked him.
"It came along since I got married. My wife and I decided that when she got angry, I would go out doors until she cooled off."