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All see, but all the danger shun,
And the toll-man in vain, through the tumult wild, Outscreams the tempest with wife and child.
But who amid the crowd is seen,
Into a skiff he boldly sprang;
He braved the storm that round him rang;
But the fisher's skiff seems all too small
The river round him boiled and surged,
So fierce rolled the river, that scarce the last
Who is the Brave Man? Say, my song,
But 't was, perchance, the prize to win.
Out spake the Count, "Right boldly done!
But loftier still was the soul displayed
"Poor though I be, thy hand withhold;
Great Count, on him thy gift bestow."
Then loudly let his praises swell
THE EFFICACY OF PRAISE.
SIR E. BULWER LYTTON.
Pronounce CORPS, kōre, CYNICISM, sin'i-sizm. Sound unaccented e in LEVEL. ME'UM and TU'Uм are Latin words, signifying mine and thine. See in Index, LYTTON.
Delivery. The style is partly didactic, requiring the middle pitch gentle force, pure quality, and a somewhat colloquial delivery.
1. No one can deny that animals in general, and men in particular, are keenly susceptible to praise. Nor is it a less commonplace truism, that the desire of approbation is often at the root of those actions to which society has conceded the character of virtue. Yet, in our private intercourse with our fellows, there is no instrument of power over their affections or their conduct which we employ with so grudging a parsimony as that which is the most pleasing and efficacious of all.
We are much more inclined to resort to its contrary, and, niggards of praise, to be prodigals of censure.
2. Scolding begets fear; praise nourishes love; and not only are human hearts, as a general rule, more easily governed by love than by fear, but fear often leads less to the correction of faults and the struggle for merits than toward the cunning concealment of the one and the sullen discouragement of the other.
3. But let me not be misunderstood. By praise I do not mean flattery. I mean nothing insincere. Insincerity alienates love, and undermines authority. Praise is worth nothing if it be not founded on truth. It is by appealing to whatsoever is good in a person that you may stimulate, for the cure of what is evil, that tendency of nature, which in mind as in body, seeks to rid itself of ailments pernicious to its health in proportion as its nobler resources are called forth.
4. Even in outlaws and thieves themselves, those persons who have undertaken the benevolent task of reforming them bear general testimony in favor of the good effects of praise, and the comparative nullity of scolding. It is told of a sagacious philanthropist that, in addressing an assembly of professional appropriators of goods not their own, he spoke to them in the following words:
5. "It is true you are thieves, but you are also men; and the sentiment of honor is so necessary to all societies of men, that But you know the proverb, 'Honor among thieves.' It is that sentiment which I appeal to and rely upon when I ask you to abandon your present mode of life, and, by a tenth part of the same cleverness in an honest calling which you ma in your present calling, acquire from all men the confidence I am about to place in you. Yes, confidence; and confidence what in?-the very thing you have hitherto slighted, honesty! Here is a five-pound note. I want to have change for it. Let any one among you
take the note and bring me the change. I rely on his
6. The rogues hesitated, and looked at one another in blank dismay, each, no doubt, in terrible apprehension that the honor of the corps would be disgraced by the perfidy of whatever individual should volunteer an example of honesty. At last one ragamuffin stepped forward, received the note, grinned, and vanished. The orator calmly resumed his discourse on the pleasures and profits to be found in the exercise of that virtue which distinguishes between meum and tuum.
7. But he found his audience inattentive, distracted, anxious, restless. Would the ragamuffin return with the change? What eternal disgrace to them all if he did not! And how could they hope that he would? The moments seemed to them hours. At length, - at length their human breasts found relief in a lusty cheer. The ragamuffin had reäppeared with the change. There was honor even among thieves! Now it seems to me, that if praise be thus efficacious with rogues, it may be as well to spend a little more of it among honest men.
8. All men who do something tolerably well, do it better if their energies are cheered on. It was the habit of Sir Godfrey Kneller, the celebrated painter, to say to his sitter, "Praise me, sir, praise me: how can I throw any animation into your face if you don't choose to animate me?" And laughable as the painter's desire of approbation might be, so bluntly expressed, I have no doubt that the sitter who took the hint got a much better portrait for his pains.
9. Every actor knows how a cold audience chills him, and how necessary to the full sustainment of his part is the thunder of applause. I have heard that when the late Mr. Kean was performing in some city of the United States, he came to the manager at the end of the third act and said, "I can't go on the stage again, sir, if the 'Pit' keeps its hands in its pockets. Such an audience would extinguish Etna."
10. And the story saith that the manager made his appearance on the stage, and assured the audience that Mr. Kean, having been accustomed to audiences more demonstrative, mistook the silent attention of his American hearers for disapprobation; and, in short, that if they did not applaud as Mr. Kean had been accustomed to be applauded, they could not have the gratification of seeing Mr. Kean act as he had been accustomed to act.
11. Of course the audience were too much interested in giving him fair play to withhold any longer the loud demonstration of their pleasure when he did something to please them. As the fervor of the audience rose, so rose the genius of the actor, and the contagion of their own applause redoubled their enjoyment of the excellence it contributed to create.
12. And it seems to me that the habit of seeking rather to praise than to blame operates favorably not only on the happiness and the temper, but on the whole moral character of those who form the habit. It is a great corrective of envy, that most common infirmity of active intellects engaged in competitive strife, and the immediate impulse of which is always toward the disparagement of another.
13. It is also a strong counterbalancing power to that inert cynicism which is apt to creep over men not engaged in competition, and which leads them to debase. the level of their own humanity in the contempt with which it regards what may be good or great in those who are so engaged. In short, a predisposition to see what is best in others necessarily calls out our own more amiable qualities; and, on the other hand, a predisposition to discover what is bad keeps in activity our meaner and more malignant.