After M quotes Dr Peter Steincrohn at Sir James Molony, the famous neurologist has the perfect comeback to the head of the British Secret Service.

This one I’ve had here is tough. I’d say you’ll get plenty more work out of him. But you know what Moran has to say about courage in that book of his.”

“Don’t recall.”

“He says that courage is a capital sum reduced by expenditure. I agree with him. All I’m trying to say is that this particular man seems to have been spending pretty hard since before the war. I wouldn’t say he’s overdrawn-not yet, but there are limits.”

“Just so.” M decided that was quite enough of that. Nowadays, softness was everywhere.

Sir James was quoting none other than Winston Churchill’s personal physician.

"Charles McMoran Wilson" by Unknown - Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Charles McMoran Wilson” by Unknown – Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Born Charles Wilson in 1882, 1st Baron Moran was knighted in 1938 and became Churchill’s personal physician in 1940. In 1945, he wrote a groundbreaking study on the Psychological Effects of War entitled The Anatomy of Courage.

One of the passages from the book which is often quoted comes from this:

Courage is will power, whereof no man has an unlimited stock; and when in war it is used up, he is finished. A man’s courage is his capital and he is always spending. The call on the bank may be only the daily drain of the front line or it may be a sudden draft which threatens to close the account.

Another passage that Molony could’ve been referring to is this one:

Likewise in the trenches a man’s will power was his capital and he was always spending, so that wise and thrifty company officers watched the expenditure of every penny lest their men went bankrupt. When their capital was done, they were finished.

When you look at that line, Could it be that Molony was actually offering M some fairly strong criticism, noting how the “wise” officers carefully watched their men so that they weren’t “spending” too quickly?

Moran had a long life, living until 1977 when he passed away at the age of 94.

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