Phi Beta Cons

Saepe Fi (‘Often Faithful’)

A female professor at Stony Brook puts her subject, history, to good use — to remind us that in ages past, it was sexual restraint, not sexual indulgence, that was the mark of true masculinty. This is in contrast to the current Darwinian belief that “alpha males” are characterized by sexual appetite. In fact, the whole idea of infidelity being built into the nature of accomplished men is not new even in modern times. H. L. Mencken came across this in an essay by Theodore Dreiser: ”Does the average strong, successful man confine himself to one woman? Has he ever?”

Mencken’s reply is one of the few worthwhile things he ever wrote. In it, he lists numerous famous and accomplished men who were known to be faithful to their wives, among them Schumann, Mendelssohn, Bach, Gladstone, Grant, Jackson (Andrew and Stonewall), Pasteur, Luther, Browning, Sherman, and Bismarck. And to this we can add recent culture hero, George VI, he of The King’s Speech.


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