In Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Colonel Sherburn is a store owner who guns down a local drunk named Boggs. Boggs has ridden into town threatening to kill the Colonel and insults and taunts him until Sherburn appears on the street. After Sherburn kills Boggs, a number of the town's men decide to confront the store owner, leading to one of the novel's seminal events, an event that influences further developments.
Consequently, in Chapter 22, the lynch mob arrives at Colonel Sherburn's home expecting to take matters into its own hands. Sherburn steps out onto his porch to confront the angry mob and instantly takes command of the situation, declaring that they haven't got the courage or the "pluck" to take such a drastic action as lynching a man even though they can, in cowardly fashion, "tar and feather" prostitutes who venture into town; he declares he is safe around them as long as it's daylight and they are not behind him (marking them as the ultimate cowards):
“The idea of you lynching anybody! It’s amusing. The idea of you
thinking you had pluck enough to lynch a man! Because you’re brave enough to tar and feather poor friendless cast-out women that come along here, did that make you think you had grit enough to lay your hands on a man? Why, a man’s safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind—as long as it’s daytime and you’re not behind him."
Labeling the mob a bunch of cowards in this way, Sherburn continues to lecture the group on its inability to stand on its own and to exercise any degree of courage in the face of true adversity. The anonymity of a mob provides each individual courage he doesn't possess on his own. As Twain has Sherburn, this rare figure of courage and dignity, state, a mob is the most pitiable group of humanity there is:
"The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that’s what an army is—a mob; they don’t fight with courage that’s born in them, but with courage that’s borrowed from their mass, and from their officers."
Huck and Jim's journey has been filled with examples of man at his vindictive worst. In Colonel Sherburn, they view a man of stature and foreboding who will not back down in the face of blustering, mobbing rage and cowardice.