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"Let Nobody Belittle Them

By Pretending They Were Fearless":

It was good to take up one's courage again, which had been laid aside so long, and feel how comfortably it fitted into the hand.
So wrote Rebecca West, writing in the Epilogue to Black Lamb and Grey Falcon p. 1125 (1941), of the English right after the fall of France (thanks to Richard Aubrey for first pointing out this quote). Yet important too is what follows a few pages later (p. 1130) (paragraph break added):

Most [Londoners, after and during] the fall of France believed, and rightly, that they were presently to be subjected to a form of attack more horrible than had ever before been directed against the common man.

Let nobody belittle them by pretending they were fearless. Not being as the ox and the ass, they were horribly afraid. But their pale lips did not part to say the words that would have given them security and dishonour.

Allen Asch (mail) (www):
From that same era, I'm pretty sure it was Gen. Omar Bradley who said:


"Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death."
5.12.2006 3:43pm
Walt Quist (mail):
One never knows how one will act until tested. I would hope I would not be one of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's neighbors who would ask her to move. For me that would be a slam dunk compared to what the people in London went through.
5.12.2006 3:47pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
Dreyden's ``Song for St. Cecilia's Day''

The trumpet's loud clangour
Invites us to arms
With shrill notes of anger
And mortal alarms.
The double double double beat
Of the thundering drum
Cries, heark the Foes come ;
Charge, charge, 'tis too late to retreat.

On the last line, Wm. Empson writes, ``Evidently the thought that it is no good running away is an important ingredient of military enthusiasm ; at any rate in the form of consciousness of unity with comrades, who ought to be encouraged not to retreat (even if they are not going to, they cannot have not thought of it, so that this encouragement is a sort of recognition of their merits), and of consciousness of the terror one should be exciting in the foe ; so that all elements of the affair, including terror, must be part of the judgment of the normally heroic mind, and that, since it is too late for _him_ to retreat, the Lord has delivered him into your hands. Horses, in a like way, display mettle by a continual expression of timidity.''

_Seven Types of Ambiguity_ p.198
5.12.2006 4:30pm