[Outer Court, Temple]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 20: Morning


If that thy fame with ev'ry toy be pos'd

'Tis a thinne webbe, which poysonous fancies make:

But the great souldiers honour was compos'd

Of thicker stuffe, which would endure a shake.

   Wisdome picks friends; civilitie playes the rest.

   A toy shunn'd cleanly passeth with the best.

     If your estimation is jeopardized with every toy [playthings of children], it is a thin web which mortal daydreams make. But the great soldier's honor was composed of heavier fabric which would endure a shake. Wisdom picks friends; civility deals with the rest. A trifle cleanly shunned passes with the best.

     Sometimes it is difficult to tell which we achieve: fame, notice, accomplishment or notoriety. We mix them up with our actions. We confuse them in our plans, objectives and motives. We confuse the goals of our reputation. We work to be noticed and call it fame. We achieve notoriety and feel it as if it is an accomplishment. No matter what you do, how well or how badly you do it, someone will congratulate you and another will condemn you. Opinion is a trivial concern. If you build it on the consensus, popular opinion and attitude polls, you will blow with the wind. Whereas a known soldier's honor, built on a history of decisions and valorous actions, weathers storms of changing attitudes. It does not develop from the expectations of others. It does not grow out of the hopeful fancies of his desires. His established reputation withstands disappointment and even failure.

     Those nearest know the person. They share in his victories. Friends are not easily impressed or disturbed. They maintain stability and a foundation for confidence. From this base of friendly operations, a man or woman can deal with the rest of the public and ignore the evil influences of fame. True accomplishments achieve good works, fame may accumulate as a residue.

Outlandish Proverb 173. Our own actions are our security, not others judgements.
© 1997 J. R. Arner

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