The best hearts are always the bravest.--Sterne

In noble souls, valor does not wait for years.--Corneille

Courage is always greatest when blended with meekness.--Earl Stanhope

A brave man hazards life, but not his conscience.--Schiller

A great deal of talent is lost in the world for want of a little

courage.--Sydney Smith

The definition of courage given by Webster is, "that quality of mind

which enables men to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness or

without fear or depression of spirits." We would rather say that courage

does not consist in feeling no fear, but in conquering fear. Our meaning

will perhaps be best made clear by the following illustrations:

Two French officers at Waterloo were advancing to charge a greatly

superior force. One, observing that the other showed signs of fear, said

"Sir, I believe you are frightened." "Yes, I am," was the reply; "and if

you were half as much frightened, you would run away."

"That's a brave man," said Wellington, when he saw a soldier turn pale

as he marched against a battery; "he knows his danger, and faces it."

Genuine courage is based on something more than animal strength; and

this holds true always. Cowardly hearts are often encased in giant

frames. Slender women often display astounding bravery.

The courageous man is a real helper in the work of the world's

advancement. His influence is magnetic. He creates an epidemic of

nobleness. Men follow him, even to the death.

"Our enemies are before us," exclaimed the Spartans at Thermopylae. "And

we are before them," was the cool reply of Leonidas. "Deliver your

arms," came the message from Xerxes. "Come and take them," was the

answer Leonidas sent back. A Persian soldier said: "You will not be able

to see the sun for flying javelins and arrows." "Then we will fight in

the shade," replied a Lacedaemonian. What wonder that a handful of such

men checked the march of the greatest host that ever trod the earth.

Don't be like Uriah Heep, begging everybody's pardon for taking the

liberty of being in the world. There is nothing attractive in timidity,

nothing lovable in fear. Both are deformities, and are repulsive. Manly

courage is dignified and graceful.

The spirit of courage will transform the whole temper of your life. "The

wise and active conquer difficulties by daring to attempt them. The lazy

and the foolish shiver and sicken at the sight of trial and hazard, and

create the very impossibility they fear."

Abraham Lincoln's boyhood was one long struggle with poverty, with

little education, and no influential friends. When at last he had begun

the practice of law, it required no little daring to cast his fortune

with the weaker side in politics, and thus imperil what small

reputation he had gained. Only the most sublime moral courage could

have sustained him as President to hold his ground against hostile

criticism and a long train of disaster, to issue the Emancipation

Proclamation, to support Grant and Stanton against the clamor of the

politicians and the press, and, through it all, to do what he believed

to be right.

Did you ever read the fable of the magician and the mouse? It is worth

reading in this connection:

A mouse that dwelt near the abode of a great magician, was kept in such

constant fear of a cat, that the magician, taking pity on it, turned it

into a cat itself. Immediately it began to suffer from its fear of a

dog, so the magician turned it into a dog. Then it began to suffer from

fear of a tiger. The magician therefore turned it into a tiger. Then it

began to suffer from fear of hunters, and the magician said in disgust:

"Be a mouse again. As you have only the heart of a mouse, it is

impossible to help you by giving you the body of a nobler animal." The

moral of the story you can gather for yourselves.

We have already said that many women have displayed courage of a very

high order. Here is a case in point:

Charles V. of Spain passed through Thuringia in 1547, on his return to

Swabia after the battle of Muehlburg. He wrote to Catherine, Countess

Dowager of Schwartzburg, promising that her subjects should not be

molested in their persons or property if they would supply the Spanish

soldiers with provisions at a reasonable price. On approaching her

residence, General Alva and Prince Henry of Brunswick, with his sons,

invited themselves, by a messenger sent forward, to breakfast with the

Countess, who had no choice but to ratify so delicate a request from the

commander of an army. Just as the guests were seated at a generous

repast, the Countess was called from the hall and told that the

Spaniards were using violence and driving away the cattle of the


Quietly arming all her retinue, she bolted and barred all the gates and

doors of the castle, and returned to the banquet to complain of the

breach of faith. General Alva told her that such was the custom of war,

adding that such trifling disorders were not to be heeded. "That we

shall presently see," said Catherine; "my poor subjects must have their

own again, or, as God lives, prince's blood for oxen's blood!" The

doors were opened, and armed men took the place of the waiters behind

the chairs of the guests. Henry changed color; then, as the best way out

of a bad scrape, laughed loudly, and ended by praising the splendid

acting of his hostess, and promising that Alva should order the cattle

restored at once. Not until a courier returned, saying that the order

had been obeyed, and all damages settled satisfactorily, did the armed

waiters leave. The Countess then thanked her guests for the honor they

had done her castle, and they retired with protestations of their

distinguished consideration.

There is a form of moral courage which bears most directly upon

ourselves. It is seen in the career of William H. Seward, who was given

a thousand dollars by his father to go to college with, and told that

this was all he was to have. The son returned home at the end of his

freshman year with extravagant habits and no money. His father refused

to give him more, and told him he could not stay at home. When the youth

found the props all taken out from under him, and that he must now sink

or swim, he left home moneyless, returned to college, graduated at the

head of his class, studied law, was elected governor of New York, and

became Lincoln's great Secretary of State during the Civil War.

Genuine courage is neither rash, vain, nor selfish. It sometimes leadsus

to appear cowardly; and cowardice sometimes puts on the guise of

boldness. We need to know the individual and the circumstances to judge

correctly as to whether courage is of the true order. We should all

discourage the tendency to exalt brute force and mere muscle to high

admiration; and enforce the power of mind, ideas, and lofty ambition.

The noblest phase of courage and heroism is in the submission of this

might to the laws of right and helpfulness.


There is no better modern illustration of courage than that thrilling

exploit of Lieutenant Hobson in taking the Merrimac into the harbor of


While the Spanish fleet, under Admiral Cervera, lay blockaded in

Santiago Bay, the idea was conceived of making the blockade doubly safe

by sinking the coal-ship Merrimac across the narrow channel. To carry

out this plan cool-headed, heroic men were needed, who would be willing

to take their lives in their hands, for the good of their country's

cause. To accomplish the object, the vessel must be taken into a harbor

full of mines, under the fire of three shore batteries, supported by a

powerful Spanish fleet and two regiments of soldiers. The honor of

carrying out this bold scheme was given to young Hobson, by whom the

plan had been mainly outlined.

He was a young man from Alabama, twenty-seven years of age, a graduate

of the Naval Academy in the class of 1889, being the youngest member,

and standing at the head of his class. He had already shown himself to

be a gentleman, a student, and an adept in practical affairs. Now he was

to prove that he was a hero.

Here came to him, in the ordinary course of duty, the opportunity for

which he had prepared himself; and the courage with which he carried it

out made for him a name which will always be remembered in the annals

of naval warfare.

Out of the hundreds who volunteered to assist him in this perilous

undertaking, six men were selected. At an early hour in the morning the

gallant crew set out. Every vessel in the American fleet was on the

alert: every man's nerves were at the highest tension over the success

of the project and the fate of Hobson and his comrades. Thousands of

anxious eyes peered through the darkness as they watched the old collier

disappear into the harbor.

Suddenly the scene changed. Sheets of fire flashed from Morro Castle and

the other batteries along the shore. It seemed impossible for human life

to exist in that deadly and concentrated fire. In the downpour of shot

and shell the Merrimac's rudder was blown away and her stern anchor cut

loose. The electric batteries were damaged to such an extent that only

part of the torpedoes could be exploded. The result was that instead of

sinking where intended, the vessel drifted with the tide past the narrow

neck. The Merrimac sank but did not completely block up the channel.

The enemy's fire was so incessant and sweeping that it was impossible

for the crew to reach the life-raft which they had in tow; so Hobson and

his men lay flat on deck and waited for the ship to sink. It was a

terrible waiting while every great gun and Mauser rifle was pouring its

deadly fire upon the ship. At last the end came. The ship sank beneath

the waves, and, through the whirlpool of rushing water, the men rose to

the surface and climbed upon their raft. Clinging to this, with their

faces only out of water they waited for daylight, and then gave

themselves up as prisoners to the Spaniards.

In the afternoon, Admiral Cervera sent an officer, under a flag of

truce, to Admiral Sampson, telling him of their safety, and adding:

"Daring like theirs makes the bitterest enemies proud that their

fellow-men can be so brave."

[Footnote: See Review of Reviews, Vol. XVIII., and Draper's "The Rescue

of Cuba" and other war stories recently published.]