The sea drives truth into a man like salt

ocean wave hits cliffs

A coward cannot long pretend to be brave at sea, nor a fool to be wise

You will very commonly observe that, in land affairs, if good fortune follows a venture it is due to the marvelous excellence of its conductor, but if ill fortune, then to evil chance alone. Now, it is not so with the sea.

The sea drives truth into a man like salt. A coward cannot long pretend to be brave at sea, nor a fool to be wise, nor a prig to be a good companion, and any venture connected with the sea is full of venture and can pretend to be nothing more. Nevertheless there is a certain pride in keeping a course through different weathers, in making the best of a tide, in using cats’ paws in a dull race, and, generally, in knowing how to handle the thing you steer and to judge the water and the wind. Just because men have to tell the truth once they get into tide water, what little is due to themselves in their success thereon they are proud of and acknowledge.

by Hilaire Belloc (27 July 1870 – 16 July 1953)
from On Weighing Anchor
first published in the collection First and Last (1911)
image – Ani Carrington

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One Response to “The sea drives truth into a man like salt”

  1. clarissa mcfairy Says:

    I really like this. It has quite a wide application.

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