- A picture.
- A Statesman who carries out a wise policy in spite of criticism.
- A lesson for us; a Scottish motto.
- When we should ignore talk and criticism.
Can you see the picture? The long line of stately camel marching with silent even pace along the road, one steadily following the other. As they pass through a village, the village dongs rush out barking and yelping. What a noise and hubbub! But the haughty camels march on unmoved, with their heads in the air, taking not the slightest notice of the yelping dogs might not be there at all. “The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on”.
This is said to have been a favorite proverb with Mr. Asquith, formerly Prime Minister of England. And you can imagine some great statesman working out some great scheme for his country’s good. He knows what he is aiming at, and has carefully made his plans; and has carefully made his plans’ and having once made up his mind, he goes steadily forward, carrying out his wise policy. But he is surrounded with critics, who attack his policy in the press, in public meetings, in Parliament. Some men would be upset by these attacks. They would hesitate, or become afraid to go on with their schemes, or lose their tempers and get angry with their noisy critics. But our statesman takes no notice of them. He lets them talk and criticize and abuse him as much as they like; he does not alter his plans but goes on steadily with them until he has carried out his policy successfully. “The dogs barks, but the caravan goes on.”
We ordinary people, too, many learn a lesson from the camels. A Scottish family has its motto: “They say! What say they? Let them say!” That is never mind what people say about you, so long as your conscience is clear. Professor Jowett of Oxford used to say; “Never explain yourself; never apologize; just go on, and let them howl.”
Of course a wise man will welcome criticism, and ever be willing to learn by it. A stupid, stubborn obstinacy in the face of criticism and advice is the attitude of a fool. But that is not what is meant here. What is mean is that when one is quite clear in one’s own mind as to the wisdom and rightness of a certain line of conduct, one must be brave enough to ignore ignorant criticism and face unreasonable opposition. And one must learn to do this calmly, good humouredly and without losing one’s temper. Let the dogs bark; you go on in the path you have chosen.