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While the knights of Spain and other parts of mediæval Europe doubtless professed sentiments of chivalry like those uttered by Joaquin Miller, there was as a rule nearly as much sham in their pretensions as in Ovid's rules for gallant conduct. In the days of militant chivalry, in the midst of deeds of extravagant homage to individual ladies, women in general were as much despised and maltreated as at any other time. "The chivalrous spirit is above all things a class spirit," as Freeman wrote (V., 482): "The good knight is bound to endless fantastic courtesies toward men, and still more toward women, of a certain rank; he may treat all below that rank with any degree of scorn and cruelty." This is still very far removed from the modern ideal; the knight may be considered to stand half-way between the boor and the gentleman he is polite, at least, to some women, while the gentleman is polite to all, kind, gentle, sympathetic, without being any the less manly. Nevertheless there was an advantage in having some conception of gallantry, a determination and vow to protect widows and orphans, to respect and honor ladies. Though it was at first only a fashion, with all the extravagances and follies usual to fashions, it did much good by creating an ideal for later generations to live up to. From this point of view even the quixotic pranks of the knights who fought duels in support of their challenge that no other lady equalled theirs in beauty, were not without a use. They helped to enforce the fashion of paying deference to women, and made it a point of honor, thus forcing many a boor to assume at least the outward semblance and conduct of a gentleman. The seed sown in this rough and stony soil has slowly grown, until it has developed into true civilization -a word of which the last and highest import is civility or disinterested devotion to the weak and unprotected, especially
are acute enough to see that the whites do, and to profit thereby. One morning when I was writing some pages of this book under a tree at Lake Tahoe, California, an Indian came to me and told me a pitiful tale about his "sick squaw" in one of the neighboring camps. I gave him fifty cents "for the squaw," but ascertained later that after leaving me he had gone straight to the bar-room at the end of the pier and filled himself up with whiskey, though he had specially and repeatedly assured me he was "damned good Indian," and never drank.
In our days chivalry includes compassion for animals too. I have never read of a more gallant soldier than that colonel who, as related in Our Animal Friends (May, 1899), while riding in a Western desert at the head of five hundred horsemen, suddenly made a slight detour-which all the men had to follow-because in the direct path a meadow lark was sitting on her nest, her soft brown eyes turned upward, watching, wondering, fearing. It was a nobler deed than many of the most gallant actions in battle, for these are often done from selfish motives-ambition, the hope of promotion-while this deed was the outcome of pure unselfish sympathy. "Five hundred horses had been turned aside, and five hundred men, as they bent over the defenceless mother and her brood, received a lesson in that broad humanity which is the essence of higher life."
To this day there are plenty of ruffians-many of them in fine clothes-who are strangers to chivalrous feelings toward defenceless women or animals-men who behave as gentlemen only under compulsion of public opinion. The encouraging thing is that public opinion has taken so strong a stand in favor of women; that it has written Place aux Dames on its shield in such large letters. While the red American squaw shared with the dogs the bones left by her contemptuous ungallant husband, the white American woman is served first at table and gets the choicest morsels; she receives the window-seat in the cars, the lower berth in the sleeper; she has precedence in society and wherever she is in her proper place; and when a ship is about to sink, the captain, if necessary (which is seldom the case), stands with drawn revolver prepared to shoot any man who would ungallantly get into a boat before all the women are saved.
This change from the primitive selfishness described in the preceding pages, this voluntary yielding by man of the place of honor and of the right of the strongest, is little less than a miracle; it is the grandest triumph of civilization. Yet there
are viragoes who have had the indecency to call gallantry an "insult to woman." There is indeed a kind of gallantry—the Ovidian-which is an insult to women; but true masculine gallantry is woman's chief glory and conquest, indicating the transformation of the savage's scorn for woman's physical weakness into courteous deference to her as the nobler, more virtuous and refined sex. There are some selfish, sour, disappointed old maids, who, because of their lack of feminine traits, repel men and receive less than their share of gallant courtesy. But that is their own fault. Ninety-nine per cent. of all women have a happier lot to-day than at any previous time in history, and this change is due to the growth of the disinterested courtesy and sympathy known as gallantry. At the same time the change is strikingly illustrated in the status of old maids themselves. No one now despises an unselfish woman simply because she prefers to remain single; but formerly old maids were looked on nearly everywhere with a contempt that reached its climax among the Southern Slavs, who, according to Krauss (Ploss, II., 491), treated them no better than mangy dogs. No one associated with them; they were not tolerated in the spinning-room or at the dances; they were ridiculed and derided; were, in short, regarded as a disgrace to the family.
To sum up: among the lower races man habitually despises and maltreats woman, looking on her as a being made, not for her own sake, but for his comfort and pleasure. Gallantry is unknown. The Australian who fights for his family shows courage, not gallantry, for he is simply protecting his private property, and does not otherwise show the slightest regard for his women. Nor does the early custom of serving for a wife imply gallantry; for here the suitor serves the parents, not the maid; he simply adopts. a primitive way of paying for a bride. Sparing women in battle for the purpose of making concubines or slaves of them is not gallantry. One might as well call a farmer gallant because, when he kills the young roosters for broilers, he
saves the young hens. He lets these live because he needs eggs. The motive in both cases is utilitarian and selfish. Ovidian gallantry does not deserve such a name, because it is nothing but false flattery for the selfish purpose of beguiling foolish women. Arabic flatteries are of a superior order because sincere at the time being and addressed to girls whom the flatterer desires to marry. But this gallantry, too, is only skin deep. Its motives are sensual and selfish, for as soon as the girl's physical charm begins to fade she is contemptuously discarded.
Our modern gallantry toward women differs radically from all those attitudes in being unselfish. It is synonymous with true chivalry-disinterested devotion to those who, while physically weaker, are considered superior morally and esthetically. It treats all women with polite deference, and does so not because of a vow or a code, but because of the natural promptings of a kind, sympathetic disposition. It treats a woman not as a toper does a whiskey bottle, applying it to his lips as long as it can intoxicate him with pleasure and then throwing it away, but cherishes her for supersensual attributes that survive the ravages of time. To a lover, in particular, such gallantry is not a duty, but a natural impulse. He lies awake nights devising plans for pleasing the object of his devotion. His gallantry is an impulse to sacrifice himself for the beloved-an instinct so inbred by generations of practice that now even a child may manifest it. I remember how, when I was six or seven years old, I once ran out the school-house during recess to pick up some Missouri hailstones, while others, large as marbles, were falling about me, threatening to smash my skull. I gave the trophies to a dark-eyed girl of my age—not with a view to any possible reward, but simply because I loved her more than all the other girls combined and wanted to please her.
A SURE TEST OF LOVE
Black relates in his Things Chinese, that after the wedding ceremony "the bride tries hard to get a piece
of her husband's dress under her when she sits down, for if she
does, it will insure her having the upper hand of him, while he tries to prevent her and to do the same thing himself." Similar customs prevail in other parts of the world, as among the Esthonians. (Schroeder, 234.) After the priest has united the couple they walk toward the wagon or sleigh, and in doing so each of the two tries to be first to step on the other's foot, because that will decide who is to rule at home. Imagine such petty selfishness, such a disgraceful lack of gallantry, on the very wedding-day! In our own country, when we hear of a bride objecting to the word "obey" in the wedding ceremony, we may feel absolutely sure that the marriage is not a love-match, at least as far as she is concerned. A girl truly in love with a man laughs at the word, because she feels as if she would rather be his slave than any other man's queen; and as for the lover, the bride's promise to "obey" him seems mere folly, for he is determined she shall always remain the autocratic queen of his heart and actions. Conjugal disappointments may modify that feeling, to be sure, but that does not alter the fact that while romantic love exists, one of its essential ingredients is an impulse of gallant devotion and deference on both sides-an impulse which on occasion rises to self-sacrifice, which is simply an extreme phase of gallantry.
XI. ALTRUISTIC SELF-SACRIFICE
In the very olden time, if we may confide in the ingenious Frank Stockton, there lived a semi-barbaric king who devised a highly original way of administering justice, leaving the accused man's fate practically in his own hands. There was an arena with the king's throne on one side and galleries for the people all around. On a signal by the king a door beneath him. opened and the accused subject stepped out into the amphitheatre. Directly opposite the throne were two doors, exactly alike, and side by side. The person on trial had to walk to those doors and open either of them. If he opened one, there sprang out a fierce tiger who immediately tore him to pieces; if the other, there came forth a beautiful lady, to whom he