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SECTION I: Of Courage and Fortitude. - John Millar, An Historical View of the English Government 
An Historical View of the English Government, From the Settlement of the Saxons in Britain to the Revolution in 1688, in four volumes, edited by Mark Salber Philips and Dale R. Smith, introduction by Mark Salber Philips (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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Of Courage and Fortitude.
Courage and fortitude are virtues, which, though resembling each other in some of the principal features, are easily and clearly distinguished. They are called forth on different occasions; and they do not always exist in the same persons. Courage consists in a steady resolution of submitting to some great evil, which being future, is in some measure uncertain, and takes the name of danger. Fortitude consists in bearing a present pain or uneasiness with firmness and resignation. Courage supposes an active and voluntary exertion: Fortitude, a mere passive suffering. The exertion of courage is opposed and often prevented by the passion of fear, which magnifies and exaggerates all uncertain evils. The exercise of forti-<177>tude is counteracted by that weakness of mind which destroys the power of reflection, and renders us incapable of counterbalancing our present pain, by the recollection of any agreeable circumstance in our condition. Great calamities, and such as are of a personal nature, seem to be the objects of courage; and the most conspicuous triumph of this virtue appears in conquering the fear of death. But fortitude may frequently be displayed in supporting the long continuance of small as well as of great evils; in suffering ridicule, shame, and disappointments, and in submitting with patience and alacrity to the numerous train of vexations “which flesh is heir to.”
Both courage and fortitude are promoted by every circumstance which leads to the exercise of those virtues; for here, as in all other cases, men are, by the power of habit, inured to such exertions and sufferings as at first were formidable and difficult.
In another view, those two virtues are improved by opposite circumstances. A man is excited to expose himself to danger, from<178> the consideration that his neighbours are attentive to his conduct; and that, entering with lively sensibility into his feelings, they will applaud and admire him for his courage, or undervalue and despise him for the want of it. He who fights a duel, upon some trifling punctilio, is instigated to make that exertion, not by the value of the object, which has produced the quarrel, but from a sense of honour; a desire of maintaining the good opinion of others, and of avoiding contempt and disgrace. In all the exertions of courage, it will be found that this forms a weighty consideration; and in many, that it becomes the principal motive.
Our fortitude, on the other hand, is improved by the want of humanity, and is diminished by the exquisite fellow-feeling of those who live with us. In our afflictions, the commiseration and sympathy of our intimate friends awakens our sensibility to our distress, betrays us into unavailing lamentations, and makes us give way to all the weakness of sorrow and despondency. But in the company of our distant acquaint-<179>ance, we are ashamed of such tenderness, we exert ourselves to restrain and to conceal our emotions; if we are able to command our thoughts, we endeavour to suggest indifferent subjects of conversation, and to prevent any expression from escaping us which may be disgusting or disagreeable to those with whom we converse. By thus adapting our behaviour to the general standard of the people around us, we acquire habits, either of indulgence or of restraint. If our companions are kind and affectionate, attentive to our distresses, and eager to relieve them, we are encouraged to lean upon their sympathy and assistance, and losing the firmness and vigour of our minds become unable to stand, alone and unmoved, amid the various trials with which we may be visited. Should we happen, on the contrary, to be cast in the society of persons who are cold and indifferent, “unused to the melting mood,” we become proportionably shy and reserved, disdaining, by our complaints, to solicit that pity which we are not likely to obtain, and learning to endure, without repining, and without<180> shrinking, whatever afflictions may befal us. By the continuance of such efforts, we attain more and more the command of our passions, and are enabled to moderate our sensibility to painful or uneasy impressions.*
According as any person is placed, more or less, in either of those two situations, we may commonly observe, in this respect, a suitable difference of temper and disposition. The child who is constantly indulged by his foolish parents, and taught to expect that every body should run to serve him, is perpetually fretful and peevish, crying at whatever happens to cross his inclination, and keeping the whole family disturbed; while his brother, perhaps, who, from unaccountable caprice, has the good fortune to be a little neglected, becomes hardy and manly, patient under disappointments, and pleased with every attention that is paid to him.
There are many persons whom a long illness, and the constant care of their relations, have reduced to the situation of spoiled children, who are put out of humour by<181> the slightest trifles, are continually wearying their hearers with the dismal catalogue of their complaints, and expect that nobody about them should have any other object but to anticipate their wants.
Many individuals of the female sex, who are, perhaps, advanced in years, or subject to personal infirmities or disadvantages, are apt, on the other hand, to meet with so little attention and sympathy as forces them to endure, in silence and solitude, many of the troubles and vexations of life, and frequently teaches them to submit to their lot, not only with patience and equanimity, but with chearfulness and heroic resignation. If the men have more courage, the women, undoubtedly, are distinguished by superior fortitude.
Considering the general effect of the progress of arts and civilization upon these virtues, it should seem that the circumstances of mankind, in the infancy of society, are more favourable to fortitude than to courage. A savage, who is exposed to many dangers, and who is obliged to<182> undergo many hardships and calamities, becomes, no doubt, in some degree familiar with both, and is rendered constitutionally intrepid, as well as insensible to pain or uneasiness. But though he is not much restrained by the influence of fear, he is little prompted to the exertions of courage by the prospect of procuring admiration or applause from his neighbours; for his neighbours are too much engrossed by their own sufferings to feel much for those of others; while, on the other hand, his patience and constancy under afflictions are confirmed and strengthened by the knowledge that any expression of weakness, instead of obtaining the consolation of sympathy, would expose him to contempt and derision. Savage nations, therefore, in all parts of the world, are said to be cowardly and treacherous. If they can accomplish their end by indirect means, they never make an open attempt upon their enemies. They fight, not from the love of glory, but to gain the advantages of victory, or to gratify a vindictive spirit. They cover their<183> resentment under the mask of friendship; and never seem to harbour malice, till they are prepared to strike.
Their heroic fortitude is universally known. Amid the severest tortures, they disdain to utter a groan; and no artifice can tempt them to betray the secrets which they have an interest to conceal.
The first considerable advancement in the arts which procure subsistence, by pasturing cattle, and by cultivating the ground, has an evident tendency to improve the virtue of courage. From the greater facility of procuring the necessaries of life, men are collected in larger societies; and by finding their own situation more comfortable, they have greater encouragement to indulge and cultivate their social feelings. Different tribes, who happen to be in the same neighbourhood, are almost continually quarrelling and fighting; and as the members, not only of the same, but of opposite parties, become known to each other, they of course become rivals in their martial exploits, and by their mutual emulation acquire a high sense of military honour. The Arabs, and Scythians,<184> or Tartars, the ancient Gauls and Germans, the Gothic tribes who laid the foundation of the modern states of Europe, are all eminent examples of the courage and martial spirit which the pastoral and agricultural ages are wont to inspire.3 The modern European nations carried those virtues to a still higher pitch; as they continued longer in that situation which gave full scope to the hostilities of neighbouring tribes, and felt more extensively, among different petty societies, that emulation and rivalship which implanted the love of military glory. Their martial spirit at the same time, acquired a peculiar direction, which introduced, among the gentry, an artificial standard of merit, and fantastic modes of behaviour, inconsistent, in some respects, with the dictates of morality. The institutions and customs of chivalry,4 which arose from that state of things, and of which there are several vestiges remaining at this day, I had formerly occasion to consider.
The improvement of commerce and manufactures, together with that opulence which flows from it, must be productive, it is evident, of great alterations, with respect<185> to the virtues both of courage and fortitude. By the establishment of regular government, a natural consequence of civilization, mankind are protected from depredation, and those nations who cultivate the arts find it their interest, on ordinary occasions, to avoid mutual hostilities, and to maintain an amicable correspondence. Their modes of life, therefore, which become totally different from those of a rude people, give rise to different habits. Living at ease, and in a state of tranquillity, and engaged in the exercise of peaceable professions, they become averse from every enterprise that may expose them to danger, or subject them to pain and uneasiness. The more secure and comfortable their situation at home, they have the less inclination to exchange it, for the hazards of a campaign, or for the fatigues and hardships with which it may be attended.
The lively sensibility and exquisite fellow-feeling which, in opulent and polished nations, take place among individuals, are, at the same time, peculiarly unfavourable to<186> fortitude. He who, in his distress, meets with indulgence from others, is encouraged to indulge himself. Instead of struggling to repress the appearance of affliction, from an apprehension of incurring contempt or indignation, he gives way to its movements with a view of obtaining the friendly consolation of sympathy. Instead of smothering his feelings by an attempt to conceal them, he awakens and rouses them by an ostentatious display of their magnitude. Thus in a polished nation, people take the advice of the poet, “not to pull their hat upon their brows, but to give their sorrow words.”5 They become loud and clamourous in their grief; and are more desirous of shewing, that they feel with delicacy and vivacity, than that they can bear their misfortunes with firmness and constancy. But it may be supposed, that the same lively sensibility and fellow-feeling, by inspiring a nicer sense of honour, will improve the virtue of courage. By a more intimate communication among the members of society, the manners of mankind are softened, their social dispositions are awakened, and they<187> feel more and more an attraction which leads them to conform their behaviour to the general standard. It may be expected, therefore, that they will be so much the more excited to exertions which, though hazardous, will be rewarded with universal approbation and applause.
But it merits attention, that the standard of approbation in this respect, is apt to vary from this change of situation. In proportion as men live in greater security, and are seldom employed in fighting, they are likely to lower their estimation of military talents, and to exalt the value of such other accomplishments as, in the ordinary state of society, are found more useful. From the customs of chivalry, indeed, introduced in a former period, certain punctilios of military honour have been transmitted to the present European nations, and are still held indispensibly necessary. Persons of the rank and education of what are called gentlemen must expose their lives, rather than tamely suffer an affront. But these punctilios have been artificially preserved from the force of long usage; they are plainly contrary to the<188> manners of a commercial people, and in the more civilized parts of Europe appear to be daily losing ground. To be forward in seeking occasions to fight a duel, is now generally censured even by those who think it necessary to submit to the custom, or who admit the principles upon which it is understood to be founded.
Independent of this exception, which is restricted to persons of a particular description, and among the greater part of whom it is retained from the tyranny of old custom, the virtue of courage appears, in all the nations of modern Europe, to have declined in proportion to their advancement in commerce and manufactures. The first remarkable effect of this decline was to make the great body of the people discard the military service, and devolve the burden of national defence upon soldiers by profession, gathered promiscuously from the community at large. This practice was introduced by the earliest mercantile countries, and was gradually adopted by others, who followed in the career of commercial improvement. Though<189> it was generally, we may suppose, agreeable to the sovereign, upon whom it bestowed the chief direction of the military force, it could not fail, for the same reason, to excite an alarm upon the part of the people, who found their liberties and rights at the disposal of a set of mercenaries, raised and maintained by their chief magistrate. But whatever patriotic measures have been taken, in some of those countries, for supporting a national militia, to serve as a counterpoise to the standing army, the difficulty of enforcing regulations of this nature, so as to derive much advantage from them, must afford sufficient evidence that they are adverse to the spirit of the times. We may even observe, in the nations most engrossed by trade, a tendency to employ foreign mercenaries, either by hiring to fight their battles the troops of poor states, or subsidizing their sovereigns, and admitting them as nominal allies.
The courage of the mercenary armies of Europe is maintained by discipline; that is, by habits of fighting, and by that esprit du corps, which brings home to the breast of<190> each individual a sense of military honour. Art is thus made to supply the deficience of natural circumstances; for men who have undertaken the trade of a soldier must be sensible, that perpetual disgrace will be the punishment of their cowardice; and after being seasoned by a campaign or two, they are commonly able, in the company of one another, to surmount the timidity contracted by their former way of life.
The effect of military discipline is probably greater or less, according to the advances which nations have made in civilization. The armies of a refined and polished people, are likely to acquire from their profession an extreme sensibility to martial reputation, and an enthusiastic ardour to distinguish themselves by their spirited atchievements. Those of a nation but lately emerged from a state of rudeness, will be more apt to possess that constitutional intrepidity, which enables them to remain unshaken and immoveable in the midst of danger, and which disposes them to be contented with a bare obedience to the command of their leaders. The French armies<191> afford a striking pattern of the first; the Russian, a good example of the second. The former are animated with feelings which are calculated to interest us. The latter are merely a powerful instrument.
The decay of the military spirit in the modern commercial nations, has produced a corresponding degradation of the military profession. Among the Romans, and other celebrated nations of antiquity, the only reputable employment seems to have been that of a soldier. The same ideas prevailed, and were even carried to a higher pitch, among our forefathers, in modern Europe, among them, every free man followed the profession of arms, and all other professions were exercised only by slaves. In France there were strong vestiges of these ideas, remaining at the time of the late revolution.6 A merchant was not a gentleman, and might, by any person of that rank, be affronted with impunity. A physician was nearly in the same predicament. The lawyers, or long robe, were in a sort of middle station, between the gentry and commonalty; as who should say half-gentlemen.<192>
The glory attached to superior skill and conduct in war, was of a piece with the exalted notions entertained of the military character. The highest place in the temple of fame has been commonly assigned to an Alexander, or a Caesar;7 though the one was little more, perhaps, than a daring madman, and the other was a profligate, utterly destitute of principle, who destroyed the liberties of his country.
But commerce has at length introduced other notions of personal merit, and taught people to estimate professions by a different scale. Dr. Swift defines a soldier to be “a Yahoo, hired to kill as many of his fellow-creatures, who have never offended him, as he possibly can.”8 This definition is, doubtless, loose and declamatory. A soldier is understood to be hired for the defence of his country, and the professed end of his appointment is laudable. Nor can it with reason be asserted, that the people whom he has undertaken to kill, have never offended him; for they are the enemies of his country, who, though they never injured him in<193> particular, may be considered as the objects of his just resentment.
But though the killing of our enemies may be vindicated from its necessity, it will not thence follow that the performance of this public duty is a desirable service. It is a painful task, barely reconcileable to strict justice, and of which the execution is disgusting to humanity.
It must, at the same time, be taken into consideration, that men who engage for hire in the military profession, are not permitted to call in question the justice of those wars in which they may be employed. To refuse to obey orders, would be mutiny; and to do this in a service of danger, would infer the imputation of cowardice. It is evident, however, that, in every war, the half of those professional men must be fighting in support of injustice; for of two hostile nations, who have resolved to determine their quarrel by the sword, one only can be in the right. But it may easily happen that both should be in the wrong. The greater part of the wars in which nations are engaged, proceed, in reality, from the fault<194> of both parties: they proceed from the avarice, or ambition of princes, or their ministers, who, from motives of private interest, and upon false pretences, embroil their respective states in frivolous and groundless disputes, and scruple not, with unbounded profusion, to waste their blood and their treasure. A mercenary army is often the blind agent of a minister, employed in the most mischievous part of the dirty work, which he finds requisite for the preservation of his power.
As far as Britain has surpassed other European countries in commerce and manufacturers, her inhabitants appear to have declined more conspicuously in their martial dispositions, and in their admiration of military talent. They are more invariably occupied, than most of their neighbours, in those peaceable arts, which require a patient persevering industry, but no exertion of courage. They are more engrossed by gainful pursuits, which present a continual prospect of accumulation, but which would be totally frustrated by a temporary desertion, for the purpose of engaging in military opera-<195>tions. Above all, their superior opulence tends to discourage any enterprise that is likely to be attended with danger and uncertainty. “Let him go fight,” says the soldier of Lucullus, “who has lost his purse.”9 The man who is poor is incited to desperate adventures by the consideration that he has much to gain, and little or nothing to lose. He who is rich is in the opposite circumstances. The fall from his present fortune to beggary would occasion more misery, than the rise to any fortune which he can expect to acquire would add to his happiness. Common prudence, therefore seems to require, that he should hazard nothing, that he should be cautious in retaining an existence which admits of so many comforts, and be careful to preserve that brittle thread of life, upon which all his enjoyments depend.
In examining how far these peculiar circumstances have rendered the inhabitants of this island less warlike than their neighbours, there is no question concerning our fleets and armies. The valour and steadiness of mercenary troops depends upon their discipline; at least a great superiority in this<196> respect will overcome every disadvantage; and a deficiency can not be counterbalanced by any favourable circumstance. It was by superior discipline that the armies of the great Prussian monarch10 became the best in the world. The British sailors, from circumstances which produce a better discipline with regard to the conduct of naval affairs, are an over-match, with exception, perhaps, of the Dutch, for those of any other country; and if the armies of Britain are not equal, in every respect, to some of those upon the Continent; it is partly owing to the situation and manners of their countrymen, which are less favourable to military pursuits; and partly to the impediments under which their officers lie, in acquiring a scientific knowledge of their profession.
Neither is there any question concerning that class of persons who are supposed to be under the necessity of maintaining what are called the punctilios of honour at the hazard of their lives. The character of a gentleman, whether in Britain, or in any other civilized country of Europe, is understood, in this respect, to be nearly the same,<197> being formed according to a general standard, with which, however whimsical, every individual of that rank is obliged to comply. The courage of the people of this description depends upon a species of discipline, different from that which is exercised over the military profession, but neither less rigid, nor enforced by punishments less efficacious.
But exclusive of those two classes, the mercenary forces, and persons who by their education and rank are still subjected, in some degree, to the old artificial customs of chivalry, the great body of the people seem to be removed at an extreme distance from all military ideas. They hold the military profession in the lowest estimation. When the son of a tradesman enlists in the army, he is looked upon as a profligate who has been deluded to his ruin; and if he cannot be bought off, he is given up for lost. Even among the gentry, unless where some of the sons shew an early predilection for a military life, those who appear the least qualified to rise by other professions are commonly destined to serve in the army or navy.<198>
Though the mercantile towns in England are much addicted to mobbing, a consequence of their independent circumstances, their mobs are, in most cases, easily quelled by an insignificant body of troops. Thus the bill for extending the privileges of the Roman Catholics, excited a prodigious fury in London and throughout the whole country; but notwithstanding the enthusiasm, with which the populace were actuated in opposing that measure, they were easily intimidated, and, by a mere handful of troops reduced to submission: whereas in Scotland, a poorer and a ruder country, the people persisted in their opposition, and obliged the minister, though he shewed a good deal of reluctance, to abandon his bill.11
In the year 1745,12 a body of Scottish rebels, perfectly undisciplined, and ill-armed, whose numbers did not exceed four or five thousand, marched over a considerable part of England, and, though the country was warmly attached to the house of Hanover,13 met with no body of men who ventured to oppose them, until the army, which had then been employed in Flanders, was brought<199> home for that purpose. The people of England, though they knew that their religion and liberties were at stake, did not think proper, on that occasion, to shew themselves in the field; imitating the example of that helpless and timid animal which, upon the least approach of external violence, shrinks within its shell, and cannot be drawn from that asylum until the danger is removed.
How often have we seen a great majority of the English nation, fired with indignation at the conduct of administration, loud and clamorous in their complaints, waving the banner of magna charta in the face of the minister, and availing themselves of the liberty of the press to annoy him on every side; when by a little steady resolution, by the display of a little timely severity, by a judicious application of the machine of government, pulveres exigui jactu,14 they have been completely subdued, and rendered perfectly submissive?
It is unnecessary to remark that this timidity inspired by overgrown wealth,<200> which renders a rich trading nation vulnerable through the whole of their possessions, and makes them feel an agonizing sensibility to whatever dangers may affect even one shilling of their property, is of great utility in counteracting the excesses of an independent spirit, by strengthening the bands of public authority. The wealth of each individual is a pledge for his quiet and orderly behaviour. It may, doubtless, on the other hand, encourage an ambitious monarch to overturn the liberties of his country. But there is ground to expect, that this timidity will not operate beyond certain limits. If the oppression of government should be carried so far as to aim at the destruction of property, the mercantile people would, probably, be the first to burst the bands of fear, and be actuated by a desperate valour in defence of those objects to which they are so immoderately attached. The effect of great commercial opulence, therefore, is to produce caution and long-suffering under the hand of power, but to ensure ultimately a vigorous opposition to such acts of tyranny<201> as are manifestly subversive of the fundamental rights of mankind. This, in reality, seems to point at the due medium of that submission which men owe to their political governors: for nothing is more inconsistent with the happiness of society, than the frequent recurrence of the people to resistance upon slight and trivial grievances; and when there is a real necessity to resist the usurpation of the sovereign, he commonly pulls off the mask in sufficient time to give warning to his subjects, that they may be fully justified for uniting in defence of their privileges.
[* ]Theory of Moral Sentiments.
[3. ]Smith outlines the stadial view of the development of society in LJ, 201–5.
[4. ]See DR, 76–81.
[5. ]The lines are from Shakespeare, Macbeth (1606), act 4.
[6. ]The French Revolution, customarily dated 1789–99.
[7. ]Alexander the Great (356–23 ); Julius Caesar (100–44 ).
[8. ]Jonathan Swift (1667–1745): Anglo-Irish clergyman, poet, satirist, and Tory political pamphleteer. Author of Gulliver’s Travels (1726), a satire on contemporary European politics, religion, arts, and sciences, in which the term Yahoo is applied to humankind in its folly. The passage alluded to is from pt. 4, chap. 5.
[9. ]Lucius Licinius Lucullus (ca. 117–56 ): Roman soldier and administrator who had a reputation for protracting wars in the interest of his own love of money, and for indolence and luxury in his later years.
[10. ]Frederick II, the Great (r. 1740–86): Prussian ruler and writer of political, military and historical works. By the end of his reign, Prussia had doubled in area and its army was increased to 200,000 strong.
[11. ]In 1778 the Catholic Relief Act repealed certain anti-Catholic legislation passed in the late seventeenth century. Riots in Edinburgh and Glasgow dissuaded Parliament from extending the bill to Scotland. In 1780 a protest in London led by member of Parliament, Lord George Gordon (1751–93), president of the Protestant Association, sparked ten days of anti-Catholic riots (the Gordon Riots).
[12. ]The last significant attempt to restore the Stuart dynasty that had been in exile since the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89. Led by Charles Edward Stuart, the “Young Pretender” (1720–88), and supported by the French, the rebellion attracted popular support in Scotland and among English Catholics (and some Tories) until its suppression at Culloden in 1746.
[13. ]The Electors of Hanover, a small German principality, gained title to the British throne by the Act of Settlement in 1701 (by virtue of being the Protestants closest to the line of succession).When Queen Anne died childless in 1714, Georg Ludwig of Hanover succeeded as George I (r. 1714–27), setting aside the stronger hereditary claim of the Catholic Stuarts.
[14. ]Pulveres [[sic: pulveris exigui jactu: “by the tossing of a little dust” (Virgil, Georgics, 4.87). See Virgil, Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid I–VI, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, rev. G. P. Goold (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 225.]]