The following are excerpts from Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, by Jerome Klapka Jerome, 1886.
When a twelfth-century youth fell in love he did not take three paces backward, gaze into her eyes, and tell her she was too beautiful to live. He said he would step outside and see about it. And if, when he went out, he met a man and broke his head — the other man’s head I mean — then that proved that his — the first fellow’s — girl was a pretty girl. But if the other fellow broke his head — not his own, you know, but the other fellow’s… Look here, if A broke B’s head, then A’s girl was a pretty girl; but if B broke A’s head, then A’s girl wasn’t a pretty girl, but B’s girl was. That was their method of conducting art criticism.
Nowadays we light a pipe and let the girls fight it out amongst themselves.
…[Women] have more power for good or evil than they dream of… Chivalry is not dead; it only sleeps for want of work to do. It is you who must wake it to noble deeds. You must be worthy of knightly worship… Oh ladies fair, be fair in mind and soul as well as face, so that brave knights may win glory in your service!
…Ah, those foolish days of noble longings and noble strivings! And oh, these wise clever days when we know that money is the only prize worth striving for, when we believe in nothing else but meanness and lies, when we care for no living creature but ourselves!