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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.

When walking with a lady or a child, a Scout should always have her on his left side, so that his right is free to protect her. This rule is altered when walking in the streets-then a man will walk on the side of her nearest to the traffic, to protect her against accident or mud-splashes, etc.

In meeting a woman or a child a man should, as a matter of course, always make way for her, even if he has to step off the pavement into the gutter.

So also in riding in a crowded bus or railway carriage, no man worthy of the name will allow a woman to stand up if he has a seat. He will at once give it up to the woman and stand himself. As a Scout, you should set an example in this by being the first man in the carriage to do it. And in doing so do it cheerfully, with a smile, so that she may not think you are annoyed at having to do it.

When in the street, always be on the look-out to help women and children. A good opportunity is when they want to cross a street, or to find the way, or to hail a taxi or bus. If you see them, go and help them at once-and don't accept any reward.

The other day I saw a boy help a lady out of a car, and as he shut the door after her she turned to give him some money, but he touched his cap and smilingly said, "No, thank you, ma'am; it's my duty", and walked off. So I shook hands with him, for I felt that although he had not been taught, he was a Scout by nature.

This is the kind of courtesy one wants to see more amongst boys.

Of course, in accidents men and boys will always see that the women and children are safely out of danger before they think of going themselves. In shipwrecks, it is very noticeable how carefully arrangements are made for saving the women and children and old people before men are rescued.

You should carry on your courtesy to ladies at all times. If you are sitting down and a lady comes into the room, stand up, and see if you can help her in any way before you sit down.

Don't spend time on a girl whom you would not like your mother or sister to see you with. Don't marry a girl unless you are in a position to support her and to support some children.


Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (Chief Scout, London, UK)

Date of Creation


Learn A Continuation:

to the next page: Thanks!

Back in The Past:

to the previous page: Politeness

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