trait which fear prevents bold action
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Cowardice is a trait wherein excessive fear prevents an individual from taking a risk or facing danger. It is the opposite of courage. As a label, "cowardice" indicates a failure of character in the face of a challenge. One who succumbs to cowardice is known as a coward. As the opposite of bravery, which many historical and current human societies reward, cowardice is seen as a character flaw that is detrimental to society and thus the failure to face one's fear is often stigmatized and/or punished.
- I question not but the more virtuous and considerate parts of our malcontents are now stung with a very just remorse, for this their manner of proceeding, which has so visibly tended to the destruction of their friends, and the sufferings of their country. This may, at the same time, prove an instructive lesson to the boldest and bravest among the disaffected, not to build any hopes upon the talkative zealots of their party; who have shown, by their whole behaviour, that their hearts are equally filled with treason and cowardice. No. 28. Monday, March 26, 1716
- Joseph Addison, The free-holder: or political essays, Vol. 1, (1716)
- An army of trumpeters would give as great a strength to a cause, as this confederacy of tongue-warriors; who, like those military musicians, content themselves with animating their friends to battle, and run out of the engagement upon the first onset. No. 28. Monday, March 26, 1716
- Joseph Addison, The free-holder: or political essays, Vol. 1, (1716)
- To defend oneself by alliance is proof of cowardice.
- Attila, as quoted by Jordanes, The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, translated by Charles C. Mierow
- COWARD, n. One who in a perilous emergency thinks with his legs.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- All doubt is cowardice — all trust is brave.
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, King Arthur (1848-9), Book XII, Chapter XXVIII.
- True courage… has so little to do with Anger, that there lies always the strongest Suspicion against it, where this Passion is highest.
The true Courage is the cool and calm.
The bravest of Men have the least of a brutal bullying Insolence; and in the very time of Danger are found the most serene, pleasant, and free.
Rage, we know, can make a Coward forget himself and fight. But what is done in Fury, or Anger, can never be plac'd to the account of Courage.
- Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1711), "Sensus Communis".
- Walk on with courage and bravery. Go on working to improve humankind and establish the Path of Truth. (…) Fight for truth! To face life you must have great courage every day....
Now people with courage are needed. It is better to die, facing life with courage. To live as a coward is shameful – it is better that the coward drown himself in the river.
- Haidakhan Babaji, The Teachings of Babaji, 5 July 1983.
- Questions at home and school should be decided in the light of the future. It is a process of toughening, but not the sort of false physical thing that we have called toughening. Our boys and girls ought to know that the bully type, the false "tough," has been the first to break down under the actual fire of battle. The quiet, the calm, the determined have made the best soldiers. Why? Obviously the bully is insecure in himself- he blusters to muster his own courage. Children ought to know that. They ought to be taught to retort to the bully, "You're a coward or you wouldn't make such a noise about being brave. The really brave man simply acts brave- he doesn't have to talk about it."
- Pearl S. Buck, What America Means to Me (1943), p. 151-152
- All doubt is cowardice — all trust is brave.
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, King Arthur (1848-9), Book XII, Chapter XXVIII.
- Folly such as yours,
Grac'd with a sword, and worthier of a fan,
Has made what enemies could ne'er have done.
Our arch of empire, stedfast but for you,
A mutilated structure, soon to fall.
- William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book I, line 770
- Be scared. You can’t help that. But don’t be afraid. Ain’t nothing in the woods going to hurt you unless you corner it, or it smells that you are afraid. A bear or a deer, too, has got to be scared of a coward the same as a brave man has got to be.
- William Faulkner, “The Bear” in The Saturday Evening Post (May 9, 1942).
- Courage is defined as: the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action. Many of today’s world leaders have great courage: I wonder... would we be better off with cowardice?
- Joshua Fernandez Courage. www.blogspot.com.
- Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible...
- Bill Finger, Batman, The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom Detective Comics #33 (November 1939)
- My own experience confirms the opinion that the Mussalman as a rule is a bully, and the Hindu as a rule is a coward. I have noticed this in railway trains, on public roads, and in the quarrels which I had the privilege of settling. Need the Hindu blame the Mussalman for his cowardice? Where there are cowards, there will always be bullies... But I, as a Hindu, am more ashamed of Hindu cowardice than I am angry at the Mussalman bullying.... My non-violence does not admit of running away from danger and leaving dear ones unprotected. Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice.
- Mahatma Gandhi, The source quoted is "Hindu-Muslim Tension: Its Cause and Cure", Young India, 29/5/1924; reproduced in M.K. Gandhi: The Hindu-Muslim Unity, p.35-36.  Young India, 1924-1926. S. Ganesan. 1927. pp. 32-36.
- Cowards are cruel, but the brave
Love mercy, and delight to save.
- John Gay, Fables (1727), Part I. Fable 1.
- Wonder Woman: Where I come from, generals don't hide in their offices like cowards. They fight alongside their soldiers. They die with them on the battlefield!
- Allan Heinberg, Wonder Woman, (May 15, 2017).
- Lie not, neither to thyself nor men nor God. Let mouth and heart be one — beat and speak together, and make both felt in action. It is for cowards to lie.
- George Herbert, p. 242
- At best, courage is self-sacrificing, non-violent, modest and based on universal principles — and immensely powerful. Think Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. Regrettably, courage is also rare... Look at today’s politicians... keen to be viewed as the virile leaders of their respective countries; eager to inflate their image by harming migrants and refugees, the most vulnerable in society. If there is courage in that, I fail to see it. Authoritarian leaders, or elected leaders inclined toward it, are bullies, deceivers, selfish cowards. If they are growing in number it is because (with exceptions) many other politicians are mediocre... focused on their own image... too afraid to stand up... If we do not change course quickly, we will inevitably encounter an incident where that first domino is tipped—triggering a sequence of unstoppable events that will mark the end of our time on this tiny planet...
- Dishonor waits on perfidy. A man should blush to think a falsehood; it is the crime of cowards.
- Samuel Johnson, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, (1895) p. 242
- Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion of men, long after nature has released them from alien guidance, nonetheless gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their guardians. It is so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me. The guardians who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the far greatest part of them (including the entire fair sex) regard taking the step to maturity as very dangerous, not to mention difficult. Having first made their domestic livestock dumb, and having carefully made sure that these docile creatures will not take a single step without the go-cart to which they are harnessed, these guardians then show them the danger that threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone. Now this danger is not actually so great, for after falling a few times they would in the end certainly learn to walk; but an example of this kind makes men timid and usually frightens them out of all further attempts.
- Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe or politic, nor popular but take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.
- Martin Luther King Jr., quoted by Robert M Solomon in The Conscience.
- And cowards will have the reputation of bravery and the brave will be cheerless like cowards...
- Mahabharata, Book 3, Vana Parva, Section CLXL, p. 392, (c. 400 BCE)
- Only cowards kill the vanquished
- George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings, Tyrion (I)—Shae
- There's no way I'll back down, like a goddamn coward. I can't, how would I look? As a man bowing to his knees?
- Marshall Bruce Mathers III, "Don't Push Me", Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003).
- And cowards will have the reputation of bravery and the brave will be cheerless like cowards... men will cease to trust one another... full of avarice... sin will increase and prosper, while virtue will fade and cease to flourish.
Mahabharata, Book 3, Vana Parva ~400 BCE
- Each man must not think only of himself, but also of his buddy fighting beside him. We don't want yellow cowards in this Army. They should be killed off like rats. If not, they will go home after this war and breed more cowards. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the Goddamned cowards and we will have a nation of brave men.
- George S. Patton, Speech to the Third Army (1944)
- Complete courage and absolute cowardice are extremes that very few men fall into. The vast middle space contains all the intermediate kinds and degrees of courage; and these differ as much from one another as men's faces or their humors do.
- François de La Rochefoucauld, Moral Maxims and Reflections, no. 215 (1665-1678).
- Cowards are nice, they're interesting, they're gentle, they wouldn't think of shooting down people in a parade from a tower. They want to live, so they can see their kids. They're very brave.
- William Saroyan, Madness in the Family (1988)
- Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
- William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (1599), Act II, scene 2.
- Muster your wits: stand in your own defence;
Or hide your heads like cowards, and fly hence.
- William Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost (c. 1595-6), Act V, scene 2, line 85.
- Who knows himself a braggart,
Let him fear this, for it will come to pass
That every braggart shall be found an ass.
- William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well (1600s), Act IV, scene 3, line 369.
- You souls of geese,
That bear the shapes of men, how have you run
From slaves that apes would beat!
- William Shakespeare, Coriolanus (c. 1607-08), Act I, scene 4, line 35.
- What a slave art thou, to hack thy sword as thou hast done, and then say it was in fight!
- William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I (c. 1597), Act II, scene 4, line 286.
- I may speak it to my shame,
I have a truant been to chivalry.
- William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I (c. 1597), Act V, scene 1, line 93.
- I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety.
- William Shakespeare, Henry V (c. 1599), Act III, scene 2, line 13.
- So bees with smoke and doves with noisome stench
Are from their hives and houses driven away.
They call'd us for our fierceness English dogs;
Now like to whelps, we crying run away.
- William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part I (c. 1588-90), Act I, scene 5, line 23.
- Becomes it thee to taunt his valiant age
And twit with cowardice a man half dead?
- William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part I (c. 1588-90), Act III, scene 2, line 55.
- A plague of all cowards, I say.
- William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, Act II, Falstaff, scene iv
- So cowards fight when they can fly no further;
As doves do peck the falcon's piercing talons;
So desperate thieves, all hopeless of their lives,
Breathe out invectives 'gainst the officers.
- William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part III (c. 1591), Act I, scene 4, line 39.
- I hold it cowardice
To rest mistrustful where a noble heart
Hath pawn'd an open hand in sign of love.
- William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part III (c. 1591), Act IV, scene 2, line 6.
- Thou slave, thou wretch, thou coward!
Thou little valiant, great in villany!
Thou ever strong upon the stronger side!
Thou Fortune's champion, that dost never fight
But when her humorous ladyship is by
To teach thee safety!
- William Shakespeare, King John (1598), Act III, scene 1, line 116.
- Dost thou now fall over to my foes?
Thou wear a lion's hide! doff it for shame,
And hang a calf's skin on those recreant limbs.
- William Shakespeare, King John (1598), Act III, scene 1, line 127.
- Milk-liver'd man!
That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs,
Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
Thine honor from thy suffering.
- William Shakespeare, King Lear (1608), Act IV, scene 2, line 50.
- Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting "I dare not" wait upon, "I would";
Like the poor cat i' the adage?
- William Shakespeare, Macbeth (1605), Act I, scene 7, line 41.
- How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false
As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars,
Who, inward search'd, have livers white as milk.
- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (late 1590s), Act III, scene 2, line 83.
- That which in mean men we entitle patience
Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts.
- William Shakespeare, Richard II (c. 1595), Act I, scene 2, line 33.
- By this good light, this is a very shallow monster!—I afear'd of him!—A very weak monster!—The man i' the moon!—A most poor, credulous monster!—Well drawn, monster, in good sooth!
- William Shakespeare, The Tempest (c. 1610-1612), Act II, scene 2, line 144.
- A coward, a most devout coward, religious in it.
- William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (c. 1601-02), Act III, scene 4, line 427.
- As far as my observation has reached, and the circle of it is by no means, a narrow one — an hard heart is always a cowardly heart. — Generosity and courage are associate virtues; and the character which possesses the former, must, in the nature of mental arrangements, be adorned with the latter. If I perceive a man to be capable of doing a mean action, — if I see him imperious and tyrannical; if he takes advantage of the weak to oppress, or of the poor to grind, or of the downcast to insult, — or is continually on the hunt after excuses not to do what he ought, — I determine such a man, though he may have fought fifty duels, to be a coward. — It is by no means a proof that a man is brave because he does not refuse to fight; — for we all know that cowards have fought, nay, — that cowards have conquered, — but a coward never performed a generous or a noble action: — and thou hast my authority to say, — and thou mightest find a worse, that a hard-hearted character never was a brave one. I say, thou mayst justly call such a man a coward, — and, if he should be spirited into a resentment of thy words — fear him not. — Tristram shall brighten his armour, and scour the rust from off his spear, and aid thee in the combat. Sunday evening
- Laurence Sterne, The Letters of Laurence Sterne ~ 1739–1764.
- Ignavissimus quisque, et ut res docuit, in periculo non ausurus, nimis verbis et lingua feroces.
- Every recreant who proved his timidity in the hour of danger, was afterwards boldest in words and tongue.
- Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), IV. 62.
- “Show yourselves,” cried Stephon. “Only cowards hide in the dark.”
“Cowards do many things,” said the voice. “Cowards kill their Commanders and make it look like a bandit attack. Cowards plot in secret. Cowards breed insurrection. Cowards plan the abuse of women.”
- Sheri S. Tepper, The Gate to Women’s Country (1988), Chapter 34
- To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox, "Protest", Poems of Problems (1914), pp. 154–55.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 145-46.
- To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.
- Confucius, Analects, Book II, Chapter XXIV.
- That all men would be cowards if they dare,
Some men we know have courage to declare.
- George Crabbe, Tale I, The Dumb Orators, line 11.
- The coward never on himself relies,
But to an equal for assistance flies.
- George Crabbe, Tale III, The Gentleman Farmer, line 84.
- Der Feige droht nur, wo er sicher ist.
- The coward only threatens when he is safe.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Torquato Tasso, II. 3. 207.
- When desp'rate ills demand a speedy cure,
Distrust is cowardice, and prudence folly.
- Samuel Johnson, Irene, Act IV, scene 1.
That kills himself to avoid misery, fears it,
And, at the best, shows but a bastard valour.
This life's a fort committed to my trust,
Which I must not yield up, till it be forced:
Nor will I. He's not valiant that dares die,
But he that boldly bears calamity.
- Philip Massinger, Maid of Honour, Act IV, scene 3.
- Men lie, who lack courage to tell truth — the cowards!
- Joaquin Miller, Ina, scene 3.
- Timidi est optare necem.
- To wish for death is a coward's part.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses, IV. 115.
- Virtutis expers verbis jactans gloriam
Ignotos fallit, notis est derisui.
- A coward boasting of his courage may deceive strangers, but he is a laughing-stock to those who know him.
- Phaedrus, Fables, I. 11. 1.
- Vous semblez les anguilles de Melun; vous criez devant qu'on vous escorche.
- You are like the eels of Melun; you cry out before you are skinned.
- François Rabelais, Gargantua.
- Canis timidus vehementius latrat quam mordet.
- A cowardly cur barks more fiercely than it bites.
- Quintus Curtius Rufus, De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni, VII, 4, 13.
- When all the blandishments of life are gone,
The coward sneaks to death, the brave live on.
- Dr. Sewell, The Suicide.
- Timidus se vocat cautum, parcum sordidus.
- The coward calls himself cautious, the miser thrifty.
- Syrus, Maxims.
- The man that lays his hand on woman,
Save in the way of kindness, is a wretch
Whom 'twere gross flattery to name a coward.
- John Tobin, The Honeymoon, Act II, scene 1.
- Adieu, canaux, canards, canaille.
- Voltaire, summing up his Impressions de Voyage, on his return from the Netherlands.