Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/591

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571
THE STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY.

readers of Bell’s Life in London would concur in this belief. Moreover, if he wants further sympathy to support him, he may find entire races ready to give it; especially that noble race of cannibals, the Feejeeans, among whom bravery is so highly honored that, on their return from battle, the triumphant warriors are met by the women, who place themselves at their unrestricted disposal. So that whoever inclines to adopt this measure of superiority will find many to side with him—that is, if he likes his company.

Seriously, is it not amazing that civilized men should especially pride themselves on a quality in which they are exceeded by inferior varieties of their own race, and still more exceeded by inferior animals? Instead of regarding a man as manly in proportion as he possesses moral attributes distinctively human, we regard him as manly in proportion as he shows an attribute possessed in greater degrees by beings from whom we derive our words of contempt. It was lately remarked by Mr. Greg that we take our point of honor from the prize-ring; but we do worse—we take our point of honor from beasts. Nay, we take it from a beast inferior to those we are familiar with; for the "Tasmanian devil," in structure and intelligence, stands on a much lower level of brutality than our lions and bulldogs.

That resistance to aggression is to be applauded, and that the courage implied by resistance is to be valued and admired, may be fully admitted while denying that courage is to be regarded as the supreme virtue. A large endowment of it is essential to a complete nature; but so are large endowments of other things which we do not therefore make our measures of worth. A good body, well grown, well proportioned, and of such quality in its tissues as to be enduring, should bring, as it does bring, its share of admiration. Admirable, too, in their ways, are good stomach and lungs, as well as a vigorous vascular system; for without these the power of self-preservation and the power of preserving others will fall short. To be a fine animal is, indeed, essential to many kinds of achievement; and courage, which is a general index of an organization capable of satisfying the requirements, is rightly valued for what it implies. Courage is, in fact, a feeling that grows by accumulated experiences of successful dealings with difficulties and dangers; and these successful dealings are proofs of competence in strength, agility, quickness, endurance, etc. No one will deny that perpetual failures, resulting from incapacity of one kind or other, produce discouragement; or that repeated triumphs, which are proofs of capacity, so raise the courage that there comes a readiness to encounter greater difficulties. The fact that a dose of brandy, by stimulating the circulation, produces "Dutch courage," as it is called, joined with the fact well known to medical men, that heart-disease brings on timidity, is of itself enough to show that bravery is the natural correlative of ability to cope with circumstances of peril. But while we are thus taught that, in admiring cour-