The “Spectator” On Courage

The Spectator has eulogised Burns of Battersea mainly because he has had the real but unusual courage to do those things that a man might not be expected to do from his previous record. Titus Oates and Judas Iscariot were possessed of the same heroic quality. The parallel between Burns and Judas may, indeed, be pursued to greater length. Both sold themselves for a price. That Burns was able to demand a higher fee and get it shows that the market value of Burns was greater than the market value of Judas; that Bums was worth more to his purchasers than Judas to his. But then Judas, as if anticipating that competitors would arise to challenge his claim to the highest niche in the temple of Spectatorial courage, enormously strengthened his position by going out and hanging himself. When Burns has the courage to follow so excellent an example, he may be sure that the verdict of history, as well as of his friends, will be unqualified and enthusiastic approval of the thing above all others that he was not expected to do from his previous record.

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