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 armour, 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 honour 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."Baden-Powell, Robert. Scouting for Boys, 35th edition, 5th printing, 1999.
As you travel home this evening, ponder the principle of chivalry described by Lord Robert Baden-Powell. Ask yourself, in what aspects of the Scout Oath and Scout Law do you find the same tenets of chivalry embodied today?
Good night, gentlemen.