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时间:2015-10-09 11:36:34   来源:
of boldness 论勇

it is a trivial grammar school text, but yet worthy a wise man's consideration. question was asked of demosthenes; what was the chief part of an orator? he answered.

action; what next? action; what next again? action. he said it, that knew it best; and had by nature, himself, no advantage in that he commended. a strange thing, that that part of an orator, which is but superficial, and rather the virtue of a player, should be placed so high, above those other noble parts, of invention, elocution, and the rest: nay almost alone, as if it were all in all. but the reason is plain. there is in human nature, generally, more of the fool than of the wise, and therefore those faculties, by which the foolish part of men's minds is taken, are most potent wonderful like is me case of boldness in civil business; what first? boldness; what second, and third? boldness. and yet boldness is a child of ignorance and baseness, far inferior to other parts. but nevertheless, it doth fascinate, and bind hand and foot, those that are either shallow in judgment, or weak in courage, which are the greatest part; yea, and prevaileth with wise men, at weak times. therefore, we see it hath done wonders, in popular states; but with senates and princes less; and more ever upon the first entrance of bold persons into action, man soon after, for boldness is an ill keeper of promise.
surely, as there are mountebanks for the natural body, so are there mountebanks for the political body: men that undertake great cures; and perhaps have been lucky, in two or three experiments, but want the grounds of science; and therefore cannot hold out nay you shall see a bold fellow, many times, do mohammed's miracle. mohammed made the people believe, that he would call an hill to him; and from the top of it, offer up his prayers, for me observers of his law. the people assembled; mohammed called fee hill to come to him, again, and again; and when the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, but said; if the hill will not come to mohammed, mohammed must go to the hill. so these men, when they have promised great matters, and failed most shamefully, (yet if they have the perfection of boldness ) they will but slight it over, and make a turn, and no more ado.

certainly, to men of great judgment, bold persons are a sport to behold; nay, and to the vulgar also, boldness hath somewhat of the ridiculous. for if absurdity be the subject of laughter, doubt you not, but great boldness is seldom without some absurdity. especially, it is a sport to see, when a bold fellow is out of countenance; for mat puts his face into a most shrunken and wooden posture; as needs it must; for in bashfulness, me spirits do a little go and come; but with bold men, upon like occasion, they stand at a stay; like a stale at chess, where it is no mate, but yet me game cannot stir. but this last, were fitter for a satire, than for a serious observation.
this is well to be weighed; that boldness is ever blind: for it seem not dangers and inconveniences. therefore, it is ill in counsel, good in execution: so that the right use of bold persons is, that they never command in chief, but be seconds, and under the direction of others. for in counsel, it is good to see dangers; and in execution, not to see them, except they be very great.

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