Our Readership Questionnaire emphasized the fact that many, many people want stories to
tell their boys and especially stories from the writings of B.-P. We feel it appropriate
this month, as we begin our "Knights of Old" series, that we let you hear some
of the Founder's thoughts on chivalry to others from the book that started it all,
Scouting For Boys, circa 1908.
Chivalry to Others
"In days of old, when knights were bold", it must have been a fine sight to
see one of these steel-clad horsemen come riding through the dark green woods in his
shining armor, with shield and lance and waving plumes, bestriding his gallant war-horse,
strong to bear its load, and full of fire to charge upon an enemy. And near him rode his
squire-a young man, his assistant and companion, who would some day become a knight.
Behind him rode his group, or patrol, of men-at-arms-stout, hearty warriors, ready to
follow their knight to the gates of death if need be. They were the tough yeomen of the
old days, who won so many fine fights for their country through their pluck and loyal
devotion to their knights.
In peace time, when there was no fighting to be done, the knight would daily ride about
looking for a chance of doing a good turn to any needing help, especially a woman or child
who might be in distress. When engaged in thus doing good turns, he was called a
"Knight Errant". The men of his patrol naturally acted in the same way as their
leader, and a man-at-arms was always equally ready to help the distressed with his strong
right arm. The knights of old were the patrol leaders of the nation, and the men-at-arms
were the Scouts.
You patrol leaders and Scouts are therefore very like the knights and their retainers,
especially if you keep your honor ever before you, and do your best to help other people
who are in trouble or who want assistance. Your motto is "Be Prepared" to do
this, and the motto of the knights was a similar one, "Be Always Ready"...
One of the finest examples of self-sacrifice was the action of Captain Lawrence Oates,
who was on Scott's Last Expedition to the South Pole. The little party of men had reached
the Pole on January 18th, 1912, to find to
their bitter disappointment that the Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, had been there
ahead of them, only a few weeks before.
On the return journey the party suffered great hardships from intense cold and terrible
weather. The men became weaker and weaker. One of them, Petty Officer Evans, died. Then
Oates became badly frost-bitten in hands and feet, and he realized that he was becoming a
burden on the others.
This is what Captain Scott wrote of him, "He has borne intense suffering for weeks
without complaint, and to the very last was able and willing to discuss outside subjects.
He did not-would not-give up hope till the very end. He was a brave soul. This was the
end. He slept through the night before last, hoping not to wake: but he woke in the
morning-yesterday. It was blowing a blizzard. He said, 'I am just going outside and may be
some time.' He went out into the blizzard and we have not seen him since .... We knew that
Oates was walking to his death, but though we tried to dissuade him, we knew it was the
act of a brave man and an English gentleman."
Boys, too, can show just the same spirit. A lad of eighteen named Currie saw a little
girl playing on a railway line at Clydebank in front of an approaching train. He tried to
rescue her, but he was lame from an injury he had suffered at football, and it delayed him
in getting her clear. The train knocked both of them over, and both were killed.
But Currie's gallant attempt is a true example of chivalry. It was sacrifice of himself
in the attempt to save a child.
"Kindness and gentleness are great virtues", says an old Spanish proverb. And
another says, "Oblige without regarding whom you oblige", which means be kind to
anyone, great or small, rich or poor. The great point about a knight was that he was
always doing kindness or good turns to people. His idea was that everyone must die, but
you should make up your mind that before your time comes you will do something good.
it at once, for you never know when you may be going off.
So, with the Scouts, it has been made one of our promises that we help other people at
all times. It does not matter how small that good turn may be, if it only be to help an
old woman lift her bundle, or to guide a child across a crowded street, or to put a coin
in the poor-box. Something good ought to be done each day of your life. Start today to
carry out this rule, and never forget it during the remaining days of your life. Remember
the knot in your neckerchief and on your Scout badge - they are reminders to you to do a
Good Turn. And do your good turn not only to your friends, but to strangers as well.
The great difference between bushmen and a stay-at-home city-dweller is that the first
is in shirt-sleeves while the other is buttoned up in his coat. The bushman is open and
cheery with everybody at once, while the city person is rather inclined to shut himself up
from his neighbors inside his coat, and takes a deal of drawing out before he becomes
friendly. The free, open-air, shirtsleeve habits of the man of the woods or the open
spaces do away with this, and life becomes much more pleasant to everybody all round. A
Boy Scout should remember that he is like Kim, the "friend of all the world".
But don't let your friendliness lead you into the foolery of throwing away your
hard-earned savings in standing treat to your friends.
Our Scout Law says: "A Scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other
Scout." This has shown itself very much when our Jamborees have brought thousands of
Scouts together from many different nations. The boys have found out that though they come
from different countries they are after all very much alike in their tastes and amusements
and that they can be jolly good friends with each other.
I want you Scouts to keep up that friendship and to make it wider and stronger. You can
do this by writing to your Brother Scouts abroad and visiting them or by getting them to
visit you in camp. It will be fun for you and fun for them. But better than that it will
be making friendships between you, so that if difficulties should arise later on between
the different countries they will not at once want to go to war, but will talk things over
as friends and see how to come to agreement without the cruel and unfair test of fighting.
Courtesy to Women
The knights of old were particularly attentive in respect and courtesy to women.
Sir Nigel Loring in Conan Doyle's The White Company is a type of chivalrous knight of
the old times. Although very small, and half blind from some lime which an enemy had
thrown in his eyes very early in his career, he was an exceedingly brave man, and at the
same time very humble, and very helpful to others.
But, above all things, he reverenced women. He had a big, plain lady as his wife, but
he always upheld her beauty and virtue, and was ready to fight anybody who doubted him.
Then with poor women, old or young, he was always courteous and helpful. And that is how a
Scout should act.
King Arthur, who made the rules of chivalry, was himself chivalrous to women. One day a
girl rushed into his hall crying for help. Her hair was streaming and smeared with mud,
her arms were torn with brambles, and she was dressed in rags. She had been ill-treated by
a band of robbers who roved the country, doing all the harm they could. When he heard her
tale, King Arthur sprang to his horse and rode off himself to the robbers' cave, and, even
at the risk of his own life, he fought and defeated them, so that they could no more
trouble his people ....
And, look here! Here is a very important bit of courtesy that is too often forgotten,
but which a true Scout will never omit, and that is to thank for any kindness you receive.
A present is not yours till you have thanked for it. You have not finished your camp, even
if you have packed up your kit and cleaned up the ground, until you have thanked the owner
for the use of it and have thanked God for giving you a good time.
Patrol Practices in Chivalry
The patrol leader can do much to encourage the Good Turn by referring to it at
opportune moments (don't overdo it!), and by occasionally asking the Scouts what Good
Turns they have done lately. When out with his patrol, he can suggest opportunities for
individual and patrol Good Turns. But remember: IT IS THE PATROL LEADER'S OWN EXAMPLE THAT
Make each Scout tie a knot in his neckerchief every morning as a reminder to carry his
idea of doing a good turn every day, till it becomes a habit with him.
Talk over some of the many good turns a boy can do in his daily life:
sprinkle sand on a frozen road where someone is liable to slip
remove orange or banana skins from the pavement, as they are apt to throw people down
help old people-help to keep the streets clean by removing scraps of paper.
THEN DO SOME OF THEM!
Have a Scout bring in a boy who is a total stranger, as his guest for the evening to
play games, hear camp yarns, and so on.