Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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Magnanimity and related matters.

Those paradoxical phenomena, such as the sudden coldness in the demeanour of good-natured men, the humour of the melancholy, and above all magnanimity, a sudden renunciation of revenge or of the grafication of envyappear in men in people who have a powerful inner impulsiveness, in men of sudden safety and sudden disgust.  Their satisfactions are so rapid and violent that satiety, aversion and flight into the antithetical taste, immediately follow upon them: in this contrast the convulsion of feeling liberates itself, in one person by sudden coldness, in another by laughter, and in a third by self-sacrifice.  The magnanimous person appears to me - at least that kind of magnanimous person who has always made most impression - as a man with the strongest thirst for vengeance, to whom a gratification presents itself close at hand, and who already drinks it so copiously, thoroughly, and to the last drop that an excessive, rapid disgust follows his rapid licentiousness ;-he now elevates himself above" himself," as one says, and forgives his enemy, blesses and honours him.  With this violence done to himself, however, with this scorn of his impulse to revenge, even still so powerful he merely yields to the new impulse, the has now become powerful, he merely yields to a new implulse that has now assumed power over him and he does this as enthusiastically and orgiastically as a moment earlier he had anticipated his revenge in his imagination.  In magnanimity there is the same amount of egoism as in revenge, but egoism of a different quality.  

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