Gentlemen and Chivalry in the Age of Steel (SCOTT HOWARD, NOV 18, 2023, Freemen News-Letter)
Of all the great works of the Western literary canon, one that too often goes unknown or undiscussed is the Enseignements of Louis IX, a letter to his son. The letter modeled for his son what it meant to be a good Christian king in his time. The letter speaks of virtue and sacrifice. It implores the next king to be just to all his subjects and to remember that they are all brothers of his in the eyes of Christ. In short, the letter preaches the virtues of a good Christian statesman.
Though we live in an era where Christian monarchs are few and far between, the lessons of Saint Louis’ letter remain relevant. It is not merely a portrait of a good statesman. The letter describes, in part at least, what it means to be a good gentleman in the Western tradition. The virtues of the gentleman—to be just and kind to those around you and to strive to be a good man in the face of all challenges—are principles present throughout the Western canon. […]
I will leave off with another quote to ponder, this time from James Russell Lowell, related to the crisis of modern man:
“It is man who is sacred: it is his duties and opportunities, not his rights, that nowadays need reinforcing. It is honor, justice, culture that make liberty invaluable, else worse worthless if it means freedom to be base and brutal.”
-James Russell Lowell, Letter to Joel Benton, 1876
Reminding men of their duties and opportunities—reminding them that their liberty requires tempering—is the first step towards resurrecting the gentleman.
Liberty is a social virtue; freedom an anti-social vice.