O Fair Maiden, How Chaste Thou Art
O Fair Maiden, how chaste thou art.
I was feeling a bit sentimental this weekend as I happened to pick up one of my wife’s many toiletry decorations, one small book titled “Love; a treasury of verse and prose scented by Penhaligon’s.” Not only did it smell delightful, I was rendered transfixed among the classics of Shakespeare, Dante, Bronte, Copperfield and many others. One particular piece struck me more so than others. It was William Makepeace Thackebay’s “Be Cautious”
“Be cautious then, young ladies; be wary how you engage. Be shy of loving frankly; never tell all you feel, or (a better way still) feel very little. See the consequences of being prematurely honest and confiding, and mistrust yourselves and everybody. Get yourselves married as they do in France , where the lawyers are the bridesmaids and confidants. At any rate, never have any feelings which may make you uncomfortable, or make any promises which you cannot at any required moment command and withdraw. That is the way to get on, and be respected, and have a virtuous character in Vanity Fair.”
My God, could you imagine dispensing with this advice to your young daughters today? Kim Gandy and Gloria Allred would come busting in your door, wailing what an abusive and dangerous parent you are. Code Pink would march across my lawn smeared in war paint, showing unkempt cleavage that would cause a prison inmate to wretch. But I digress…
I am old fashioned in that I respect a woman who plays hard to get, uses her intellect to avoid the obvious and makes the chase worth while. I am also old fashioned because I believe groups like “friends with benefits” and “hookup lookup” are frighteningly reconstructing modern day Sodom and Gomorra. What is lost today is the innocence of young men and women. There is hardly a chance for real romantic adventure in a pure discovery sense. By the time a boy reaches 18 he has learned all of the wrong characteristics which make women beautiful in place of what makes them intimately special. Young men graduate high school knowing how to quickly score a shallow connection, but how many know that a woman can change them into leaders?
Feminist groups have destroyed the concept of chastity, prudence, sensual mysteriousness and postponed gratification. There is not mystique left for a boy and girl living in the 21st century. Okay, maybe with the Amish, but that is pretty extreme. Do not get me wrong, there are plenty of Lady Macbeths, but woman already out number men so we wouldn’t want to establish a society of black widows.
As the father of a little girl I am already feeling the uneasiness of what vultures and wolves will prey upon her future. The 21st century has made it much harder for parents to control the level of adult input a child absorbs. School boards are rapid in their pursuit to indoctrinate our children’s sexuality. Is purity so overrated that adults cannot wait to pierce the naivety of young minds?
Is chivalry dead?
“I feel sad when I don’t see you. Be married, why won’t you? And come to live with me. I will make you as happy as I can. You shall not be obliged to work hard: and when you are tired; you may lie in my lap and I will sing you to rest...I will play you a tune upon the violin as often as you ask and as well as I can; and leave off smoking, If you say so…I would always be very kind to you, I think, because I love you so well. I will not make you bring in wood and water, or feed the pig or milk the cow, or go to the neighbors to borrow milk. Will you be married? (“Will you be married?” Letter from an American Suitor, 19th century.)
Ladies, do you not tire of the mind games equality has wrought upon you? Those kinds of thoughts that conflict with deciding if a man is kind or chauvinist? If he opens the door for you, is he polite or treating you as feeble? If he pays for your dinner on a date, is he expecting sex or showing you he wants to be a caring provider? If he wishes to court you and not rapidly devour you in bed, do you question his motives or find him boorish? Have you already decided for yourselves that a family life is second to a successful and fulfilling career? If you are the only one to look back on your singular career, what is so successful about it?
Honestly, I have been married for over 11 years now, maybe I am out of touch, but I am not going to turn my back on providing the best for my family. I will do my best to share counseling responsibilities with my wife while raising our child. I will warn her of the dangers in male sexuality and let her decide what is logical for her life. I will not allow her to be misguided by the notions that men and women are exactly the same. Get over it Harvard! Please, for the sake of society, for the sake of art, for the sake of romance, stop tearing down the beauty of male/female bonding, relationship building and fawning. It would be tragic if the 22nd century had no poets.
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.
Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove: O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark.
That looks on tempests and is never shaken; it is the star to every wand’ring bark.
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle’s compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom:
-If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”