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ESSAY ON CHIVALRY.
The primitive sense of this well-known word, derived from the French Chevalier, signifies merely cavalry, or a body of soldiers serving en horseback ; and it has been used in that general acceptation by the best of our poets, ancient and modern, from Milton to Thomas Campbell.
But the present article respects the peculiar meaning given to the word in modern Europe, as applied to the order of knighthood, established in almost all her kingdoms during the middle ages, and the laws, rules, and customs, by which it was governed. Those laws and customs have long been antiquated, but their effects may still be traced in European manners; and, excepting only the change which flowed from the introduction of the Christian religion, we know no cause which has * produced such general and permanent difference betwixt the ancients and moderns, as that which has arisen out of the institution of chivalry. In attempting to treat this curious and important subject, rather as philosophers than as antiquaries, we
cannot, however, avoid going at some length into the history and origin of the institution.
From the time that cavalry becomes used in war, the horseman who furnishes and supports a charger arises, in all countries, into a person of superior importance to the mere foot-soldier. The apparent difficulty of the art of training and managing in the field of battle an animal so-spirited and active, gave the innodomos Extograr Domitor equi, in rude ages, a character of superior gallantry, while the necessary expense attending this mode of service attested his superior wealth. In various military nations, therefore, we find that horsemen are distinguished as an order in the state ; and need only appeal to the equites of ancient Rome as a body interposed betwixt, tie senate and the people, or to the laws of the eonquerors of New Spain, which assigned a double portion of spoil to the soldier who fought on Horseback, in support of a proposition in itself very obvious. But, in the middle ages, the distinction ascribed to soldiers serving on horseback assumed a very peculiar and imposing character. They were not merely respected on account of their wealth or military skill, but were bound together by a union of a very peculiar character, which monarchs were ambitious to share with the poorest of their subjects, and governed by laws directed to enhance, into enthusiasm, the military spirit and the sense of personal honour associated with it. The aspirants to this dignity were not permitted to assume the sacred character of knighthood until after a long and severe probation, during which they practised, as acolytes, the virtues necessary ta