Bravery can be classified into two kinds-real bravery and false bravery. One kind of false bravery arises from ignorance of danger. If an infant plays with a cobra, it would be absolutely free. from fear, and would do what brave men would fear to do; but we ought not to call it bravery, for it has no appreciation of the danger. Yet such fearlessness is often mistaken for real bravery. If the want of recognition of danger is due to intoxication, the quality of bravery is sometimes called Dutch courage, because the drink that was served out to troops before an attack was usually Dutch rum.
Another spurious form of courage is actually due to fear, as when a soldier stands his ground in a battle, because he fears the punishment which will be inflicted on him if he runs away. In such cases thể stronger fear overcomes the weaker fear, and surely the man who is actuated by any kind of fear cannot be said to be displaying bravery because it has its own virtues.
What is true courage? Now we consider it. The simplest form of courage is constitutional courage, which shows itself in the absence of trembling and of other signs of fear in the face of great danger. When Louis XVI was being led to execution, he is said to have exclaimed, “Am I afraid? Feel my pulse.” His steady pulse, when he was on the point of dying a terrible death, showed that he was physically brave.”
One of the most striking instances of constitutional bravery to be found in history is Nelson. In his childhood on one occasion, he happened to have lost himself, to the great alarm of his parents. On his being found, when wonder was expressed that fear had not driven him home, he replied: “Fear; I never saw fear. What is it?” All through his life he showed himself absolutely insensible to fear. His spirits: rose in the hour of danger, and, when the enemy’s cannon-balls were flying round his head, he was perfectly cool and collected. This is only one example. Tipu Sultan also fell martyr fighting bravely.
That is quite possible for a man to be constitutionally timid and nevertheless to he brave. Indeed, the bravery of a man who, by determined resolution, rises superior to his fears, is perhaps the highest kind of courage. Such was the courage of Turenne, one of the greatest French generals. Once when he was going into battle, he felt himself trembling all over. But instead of yielding to his physical fears, he exclaimed to his body, “What are you trembling now? Just wait and see what you will have to go through presently. It shows that man should be brave inwardly and that is real bravery.
The excess of everything is had and the same case is here. The excess of courage is condemned as foolhardiness. A man is foolhardy who, for some trifling object, runs into great danger. When a sailor jumps out of an express train to recover his hat or smokes his pipes over a powder magazine, then instead of being praised for his carelessness of danger, he is rightly blamed for foolishly risking his life. This is not bravery. It is called foolishness. Bravery and reason go hand in hand.
The great Augustan poet is right saying that;
“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”