The Quality of Courage
George H. Morrison
There are three qualities, says Emerson1 in a familiar essay, which attract the wonder and reverence of mankind. The first is disinterestedness, the second is practical power, and the third is courage. Every mythology has got its Hercules.2 Every history its Wallace3 or its Cid.4 There is nothing that men will not forgive to one who has exhibited conspicuous gallantry. Even the dumb animals are ranked by us according to their possession of this quality, the bravest being nature's aristocracy. There are peoples who make a jest of truth, but there is no people which makes a jest of courage. The love of it, from Orient to Occident, is the touch of nature which makes the whole world kin. And that is why war will never cease to fascinate, spite of all proofs of its illogicality, because there is in war a matchless stage for the display of courage.
Nor can we wonder at this admiration when we remember the universal need of courage. There is no lot, no rank, no occupation, in which one of the first requirements is not fortitude. When we are young we admire the showy virtues, and we put the emphasis upon the brilliant gifts. We are all enamored of what is glittering then, and we think that life is to grow great that way. But as the years roll on, and life unfolds itself, and we look on some who mount and some who fall, we come to revise our estimates a little. Then we discover that a certain doggedness is far more likely to succeed than brilliance. Then we discover that cleverness means much, but that the courage which can persist means more. Then we discover what the Master meant, when at the close of the long years of toil, He said, Well done, not, good and brilliant, but Well done, good and faithful servant. Courage is needed by the mother in the home, it is needed by the young man in the office. Courage is needed for the hills of youth, and for the dusty levels of our middle age. There is a courage peculia ...
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