What Is A Don?

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What Is a Don?
Compiled by Robin of Gilwell

Do you promise upon your honor to bear yourself never with arrogance, but always with humility? Never to cast your glove in anger, but in defense of honor, of womankind, or of those weaker than yourself? …To let your manner be that of a gentleman? And to honor with grace all women as you would your lady or myself, your Queen?
-- Oath written by Sieglinde Syr, Regina Ansteorra, and sworn to her by Robin of Gilwell and Dupré feu d'Etoile on the occasion of their elevation to the Order of the White Scarf of Ansteorra, March 21, A.S. XV.

What Is a Don?


There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.
-- The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli

Many people's idea of it comes from the person that is their image of the perfect swashbuckler. For Tivar, it's Cyrano. For Dupre, it's D'Artagnan. For Dormouse, it's Tivar.
-- Robin of Gilwell

I have named this man a White Scarf, and in swashbuckling, when he says jump across a lake, you jump that lake.
-- King Lloyd von Eaker

Let him do all that others do, yet never depart from comely conduct, but behave himself with that good judgment which will not allow him to engage in any folly; let him laugh, jest, banter, frolic, and dance, yet in such a manner as to show always that he is genial and discreet; and let him be full of grace in all that he says or does.
-- The Book of the Courtier, Baldesar Castiglione

Dons are the top swashbucklers. Not necessarily the best fighters, but the most honorable, flashy, consistent; people that you can say, "Go watch him and do what he does.”
-- Don Tivar Moondragon

They're the ones that do it right.
-- Don David Gallowglass

So deserving of praise that his very enemies were always obliged to praise him.
-- The Book of the Courtier, Baldesar Castiglione

Just as no court, however great, can have adornment or splendor or gaiety in it without ladies, neither can any Courtier be graceful or pleasing or brave, or do any gallant deed of chivalry, unless he is moved by the society and by the love and charm of ladies: even discussion about the Courtier is always imperfect unless ladies take part in it and add their part of that grace by which they make Courtiership perfect and adorned.
-- The Book of the Courtier, Baldesar Castiglione

What you guys do now is what everybody's going to be doing next year. It had better be right.
-- Baroness Adelicia Tagliaferro

I learned then that with great power comes great responsibility.
-- Spider-Man, Amazing Fantasy #15, Stan Lee

Cyrano: What's that you say? Hopeless?—Why, very well! But a man does not fight merely to win!
-- "Cyrano de Bergerac”, Edmond Rostand

On Fighting Skill


I judge it to be his first duty to know how to handle every kind of weapon, both on foot and on horse, and know the advantages of each kind.
-- The Book of the Courtier, Baldesar Castiglione

The Lacodemonians are not wont to ask how many the enemy are, but where they are.
-- Plutarch

There are no dangerous weapons.. There are only dangerous men.
-- Sgt. Zim, Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein

Although the pen is mightier than the sword, the sword speaks loudest and strongest at any given point.
-- ?

The problem with some students is that they want to be better fighters, but they don't particularly want to work on this blow or that blow.
-- Sir William of Weir

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but that's the way to place your bets.
-- Pappy Maverick, "Maverick”

Anyone who clings to the historically untrue–and thoroughly immoral–doctrine that "violence never settles anything” I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.
-- Lt. Col. Jean du Bois, Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein

All for one, one for all!
-- The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas pere

Veni, vidi, vici.
-- Commentary on the Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar

On Becoming a Don


There shall exist in Ansteorra an Order which may be given at the pleasure of the Crown to members of the populace of Ansteorra who have demonstrated all of the following qualities: 1. Exceptional skill and chivalry in combat with the weapons of the duello, 2. Service to Ansteorra and its people, 3. Knowledge of courtly graces, and 4. Obedience to the laws and ideals of the Kingdom of Ansteorra and of the Society for Creative Anachronism.
-- Constitution of the Order of the White Scarf of Ansteorra, Lloyd, Rex Jocelyn, Regina

Because I have known the torment of thirst, I would build a well where others may drink.
-- Ernest Thompson Seton

When I saw Tessa put that white scarf on Tivar's shoulder, I said, "Yeah! That's what I want!”
-- Don Durmast von die Wanderlust

Oh, won't mother Atenveldt be surprised!
-- Master Ivar Battleskjald

First you have to become a knight. Then you spend six months to a year convincing everyone that you're a knight. Once everybody knows that you are already a knight, they'll put a white belt around you. They put white belts around knights.
-- Sir William of Weir

. . . and grant me the strength to endure my blessings.
-- Ziggy, Tom Wilson

The young recruit is silly—'e thinks o' suicide
'E's lost 'is gutter-devil; 'e 'asn't got 'is pride
But day by day they kicks 'im, which 'elps 'im on a bit,
Till 'e finds 'isself one mornin' with a full and proper kit.
Gettin' clear o' dirtiness, gettin' done with mess,
Gettin' shut o' doing things rather-more-or-less.
-- Rudyard Kipling

A new fighter works to improve himself. A cadet works to improve himself, his friends, and his Don. A Don works to improve Ansteorra.
-- Don Robin of Gilwell

Thus, in the highest position, there is least freedom of action.
-- Gaius Sallustius Crispus, 40 B.C.

When you reach that point, you're no longer learning, you're refining.
-- Princess Arrowyn of Emerald Moor

There are two times when there is no possibility of jealousy: when a pupil surpasses his teacher, and when a son surpasses his father.
-- Mr. Asimov (commenting upon his son Isaac's Ph.D.)

When they belted me, I wasn't sure I was that good. But I figured I'd better get that good.
-- Sir Simonn of Amber

That thing on your shoulder is a target, pure and simple. "Aim here.”
-- Cadet Jeremy James Scurlock

There's no heavier burden than a great potential.
-- Linus van Pelt, "Peanuts”, Charles Schultz

But because such a complete perfection as this is very rarely, and perhaps never, found in human nature, a man who feels himself wanting in some particular ought not to lose confidence in himself or the hope of reaching a high mark, even though he cannot attain to that perfect and highest excellence to which he aspires. For in every area there are many ranks besides the highest that are praiseworthy, and he who aims at the summit will seldom fail to mount more than half way.
-- The Book of the Courtier, Baldesar Castiglione

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, guild a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-- Lazarus Long, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long, Robert A. Heinlein

They think I'm important; I think I've been screwed.
-- "The Swashbuckling Game”, Don Tivar Moondragon

On Honor


We will declare in a few words that it suffices if he is, as we say, a man of honor, and integrity: for included in this are prudence, goodness, fortitude, and temperance of soul, and all the other qualities proper to such an honored name.
-- The Book of the Courtier, Baldesar Castiglione

When a man takes an oath, he's holding his own self in his own hands, like water. And if he opens his fingers then—he needn't hope to find himself again.
-- Sir Thomas More, "A Man for All Seasons”, Robert Bolt

When a lady gives your her favor, then you carry her honor on the field as well as your own; and you do not have the right to do anything to abuse it.
-- Baroness Adelicia Tagliaferro

This over all, to thine own self be true, / And it will follow as the night the dawn / Thou canst not then be false to any man.
-- Polonius, Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.
-- Martin Luther

I meant what I said, and I said what I meant.
An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent.
-- Horton, Horton Hatches the Egg, "Dr. Seuss” (Theodore Seuss Geisel)

A man isn't a collection of chemical reactions. He is a collection of ideas.
-- Ross Jenkins, Rocket Ship Galileo, Robert A. Heinlein

He preaches well that lives well; that's all the divinity I understand.
-- Sancho Panza, The Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote de la Mancha, Miguel de Cervantes

Everything that is called duty, the prerequisite for all genuine law, and the substance of every noble custom can be traced back to honor. If one has to think about it, one is already without honor.
-- Thoughts, Oswald Spengler

On Duty


On my honor I will do my best:
To do my duty to God and the Queen
To obey the Scout Law
To help other people at all times
-- Original Scout Oath, Lord Robert Baden-Powell of Gilwell

Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.
-- Robert E. Lee

It is my no means enough that an officer should be capable . . . he should be as well a gentleman of liberal education, refined manners, punctilious courtesy, and the nicest sense of personal honor.
-- John Paul Jones

Woman: Mr. President, I feel sure that God is on our side.
Lincoln: I am more concerned, madam, that we should be on God's side.

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.
-- Sir Winston Churchill

If there exists, anywhere in Ansteorra, a swashbuckling problem about which you can say, "That's not my problem,” then you're not a Don.
-- Don Robin of Gilwell

. . . but when you're up to your ass in alligators, it's hard to remember that your original objective was to drain the swamp.
-- Anonymous

On the Don's Relation to Crown and Kingdom


I swear upon my honor and upon my sword to protect the life of our Queen and to preserve Her good name and honor.
-- Oath of the Queen's Legion of Swashbucklers, Don Tivar Moondragon

Fix your eyes upon the greatness of Athens as you have it before you day by day, fall in love with her, and when you feel her great, remember that this greatness was won by men with courage, with knowledge of their duty, and with a sense of honor in action.
-- Thucydides

With the rising of the Star.
With the rising of the Star.
We're the sons of Ansteorra
With the rising of the Star.
-- Sir Balthazar of Endor

You ought to obey your lord in all things profitable or honorable to him, not in those that will bring him harm and shame. Thus, if he should command you to do some deed of treachery, not only are you not bound to do it, but you are bound not to do it—both for your own sake and in order not to minister to the shame of your lord.
-- The Book of the Courtier, Baldesar Castiglione

"Sire, my life is ever at your command, but my honor is my own.”
-- Reepicheep, Prince Caspian, C. S. Lewis

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.
-- John F. Kennedy

I don't feel that I deserve this, but what can I do but obey my Queen?
-- Daffydd Kyriel ap Mart (on receiving his AoA)

Rarely or almost never will he ask of his lord anything for himself, lest his lord, not wishing to deny it to him directly, should perchance grant it to him will ill grace, which is much worse.
-- The Book of the Courtier, Baldesar Castiglione

I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.
-- Nathan Hale

Most so-called social scientists seem t think that organization is everything. It is almost nothing—except when it is a straitjacket. It is the incidence of heroes that matters, not the pattern of the zeroes.
-- Rufo, Glory Road, Robert A. Heinlein

No matter how high or great the throne / What sits on it is the same as your own.
-- Joe Miller's Jeste Book

On Persona


When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams—this may be madness. To much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.
-- Don Miguel de Cervantes, "Man of La Mancha”, Dale Wasserman

Q: How to you play persona?
A: I don't play at anything. I am Adelicia.
-- Adelicia Tagliaferro

Don't try to do what a knight would do—that's play acting. Be a knight.
-- Sir Jan w Orzeldom

I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam.
-- Popeye, "Thimble Theater”, E. C. Segar

To dream the impossible dream.
-- Don Quixote, "Man of La Mancha”, Dale Wasserman

There are the knights, and there are the knighted; and two are not always the same.
-- Earl Kevin Perigrynne

Well, I'd drink and chase girls all day if I could,
But my King and captain wouldn't take it very good,
So I'll party when I can and stand duty when I should
And thank God I'm a musketeer.
-- Lord Alaric Glynn de Greythorne (after John Denver)

(After not being able to get a hotel room):
Friend: Tell him who you are, Greg!
Gregory Peck: If I have to tell him who I am, then I'm not.

An idealist? Well, I've never had the courage to believe in nothing.
-- Don Miguel de Cervantes, "Man of La Mancha”, Dale Wasserman

Y' can please the Lord by peelin' a spud. If y' peel it t' perfection.
-- Eric Liddel, Chariots of Fire

Le Bret: This latest pose of yours . . . becomes exaggerated.
Cyrano: Then I exaggerate! There are things in this world a man does well to extremes.
-- "Cyrano de Bergerac”, Edmond Rostand

When I am grown, I'll carry a stick
and be very dignified,
My house will be tall and made of brick,
I'll have a watch that will really tick.
And no one will guess that it's really a trick,
And I'm really myself inside.
-- The Tall Book of Make-Believe

Summary–What Is a Don?


If you have to ask, you ain't never gonna know.
-- Louis Armstrong