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this subject. This superiority, as well as several other of our most valuable acquisitions, took its rise in what we call the dark ages. Chivalry was for the most part the invention of the eleventh century. Its principle was built upon a theory of the sexes, giving to each a relative importance, and assigning to both functions full of honour and grace. The knights (and every gentleman during that period in due time became a knight) were taught, as the main features of their vocation, the “ love of God and the ladies.” The ladies in return were regarded as the genuine censors of the deeds of knighthood. From these principles arose a thousand lessons of humanity. The ladies regarded it as their glory to assist their champions to arm and to disarm, to perform for them even menial services, to attend them in sickness, and to dress their wounds. They bestowed on them their colours, and sent them forth to the field hallowed with their benedictions. The knights on the other hand considered any slight towards the fair sex as an indelible stain to their order; they contemplated the graceful patronesses of their valour with a feeling that partook of religious homage and veneration, and esteemed it as perhaps the first duty of their profession, to relieve the wrongs, and avenge the injuries of the less powerful sex.
This simple outline as to the relative position of the one sex and the other, gave a new face to the whole scheme and arrangements of civil society.
It is like those admirable principles in the order of the material universe, or those grand discoveries brought to light from time to time by superior genius, so obvious and simple, that we wonder the most common understanding could have missed them, yet so pregnant with results, that they seem at once to put a new life and inspire a new character into every part of a mighty and all-comprehensive mass.
The passion between the sexes, in its grosser sense, is a momentary impulse merely; and there was danger that, when the fit and violence of the passion was over, the whole would subside into inconstancy and a roving disposition, or at least into indifference and almost brutal neglect. But the institutions of chivalry immediately gave a new face to this. Either sex conceived a deep and permanent interest in the other. In the unsettled state of society which characterised the period when these institutions arose, the defenceless were liable to assaults of multiplied kinds, and the fair perpetually stood in need of a protector and a champion. The knights on the other hand were taught to derive their fame and their honour from the suffrages of the ladies. Each sex stood in need of the other; and the basis of their union was mutual esteem.
The effect of this was to give a hue of imagination to all their intercourse. A man was no longer merely a man, nor a woman merely a woman. They were taught mutual deference. The woman
regarded her protector as something illustrious and admirable ; and the man considered the smiles and approbation of beauty as the adequate reward of his toils and his dangers. These modes of thinking introduced a nameless grace into all the commerce of society. It was the poetry of life. Hence originated the delightful narratives and fictions of romance ; and human existence was no longer the bare, naked train of vulgar incidents, which for so many ages of the world it had been accustomed to be. It was clothed in resplendent hues, and wore all the tints of the rainbow. Equality fled and was no more; and love, almighty, perdurable love, came to supply its place.
By means of this state of things the vulgar impulse of the sexes towards each other, which alone was known to the former ages of the world, was transformed into somewhat of a totally different nature. It became a kind of worship. The fair sex looked upon their protectors, their fathers, their husbands, and the whole train of their chivalry, as something more than human. There was a grace in their motions, a gallantry in their bearing, and a generosity in their spirit of enterprise, that the softness of the female heart found irresistible. Nor less on the other hand did the knights regard the sex to whose service and defence they were sworn, as the objects of their perpetual deference. They approached them with a sort of gallant timidity, listened to their behests with submission, and thought the longest courtship and devotion nobly recompensed by the final acceptance of the fair.
The romance and exaggeration characteristic of these modes of thinking have gradually worn away in modern times; but much of what was most valuable in them has remained. Love has in later ages never been divested of the tenderness and consideration, which were thus rendered some of its most estimable features. A certain desire in each party to exalt the other, and regard it as worthy of admiration, became inextricably interwoven with the simple passion. A sense of the honour that was borne by the one to the other, had the happiest effect in qualifying the familiarity and unreserve in the communion of feelings and sentiments, without which the attachment of the sexes cannot subsist. It is something like what the mystic divines describe of the beatific vision, where entire wonder and adoration are not judged to be incompatible with the most ardent affection, and all meaner and selfish regards are annihilated.
From what has been thus drawn together and recapitulated it seems clearly to follow, as was stated in the beginning, that love cannot exist in its purest form and with a genuine ardour, where the parties are, and are felt by each other to be, on an equality ; but that in all cases it is requisite there should be a mutual deference and submission, agreeably to the apostolic precept, “ Likewise all of you be subject one to the other.” There must be room for the imagination to exercise its powers ; we must conceive and apprehend a thousand things which we do not actually witness; each party must feel that it stands in need of the other, and without the other cannot be complete; each party must be alike conscious of the power of receiving and conferring benefit; and there must be the anticipation of a distant future, that may every day enhance the good to be imparted and enjoyed, and cause the individuals thus united perpetually to become more sensible of the fortunate event which gave them to each other, and has thus entailed