S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Courage that grows from constitution very often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it; and when it is only a kind of instinct in the soul, it breaks out on all occasions, without judgment or discretion. That courage which arises from the sense of our duty, and from the fear of offending Him that made us, acts always in an uniform manner, and according to the dictates of right reason.
An intrepid courage is at best but a holiday kind of virtue, to be seldom exercised, and never but in cases of necessity: affability, mildness, tenderness, and a word which I would fain bring back to its original signification of virtue,I mean good nature,are of daily use; they are the bread of mankind and staff of life.
As to moral courage, I have very rarely met with the two oclock in the morning courage. I mean, unprepared courage, that which is necessary on an unexpected occasion, and which, in spite of the most unforeseen events, leaves full freedom of judgment and decision.
As knowledge without justice ought to be called cunning rather than wisdom; so a mind prepared to meet danger, if excited by its own eagerness and not the public good, deserves the name of audacity rather than of courage.
True courage has so little to do with anger, that there lies always the strongest suspicion against it, where this passion is highest. True courage is cool and calm. The bravest of men have the least of a brutal bullying insolence, and in the very time of danger are found the most serene, pleasant, and free. Rage, we know, can make a coward forget himself and fight. But what is done in fury or anger can never be placed to the account of courage.
A great deal of talent is lost in the world for the want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves a number of obscure men who have only remained in obscurity because their timidity has prevented them from making a first effort; and who, if they could have been induced to begin, would in all probability have gone great lengths in the career of fame. The fact is, that to do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can. It will not do to be perpetually calculating risks and adjusting nice chances; it did very well before the Flood, when a man could consult his friends upon an intended publication for a hundred and fifty years, and then live to see his success afterwards; but at present a man waits, and doubts, and consults his brother and his particular friends, till one fine day he finds that he is sixty years of age; that he has lost so much time in consulting his first-cousins and particular friends, that he has no more time to follow their advice.