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APRIL, 1836.

ART. I.-The Controversy between Sir Richard Scrope and Sir
Robert Grosvenor, in the Court of Chivalry, A.D. MCCCLXXXV
-MCCCXC. Vols. 1 and 2. By Sir N. Harris Nicolas,
Folio. London. 1832.



N our days,' says Bailey-writing at the beginning of the last century all are accounted gentlemen that have money; and if a man have no coat of arms, the King of Arms can sell him one.' This is equally true, at least, in the present day. The aristocracy of wealth, to speak modestly, closely rivals that of rank; but our estimable friends, Garter, Clarencieux, Norroy, Lyon, and Ulster, with their dependent heralds and pursuivants, are, we believe, still fully occupied in supplying its members, as they spring up, with a variety of ingenious devices, in imitation of the coat armour of olden time, for emblazonment on the pannels of carriages and the covers of side-dishes.

The fashion of armorial bearings is one which some may be surprised to find still maintaining itself in defiance of the Utilitarians. It would seem, at first view, a task of difficulty to account for its resistance to that 'reforming spirit of the age,' which announces such a philosophical scorn for hereditary honours of any kind. For, in truth, besides its apparent inutility,' the noble science of blazon, with its quaint language and strange symbols,the chiefs, pales, bends, fesses, chevrons, saltires, and so forth,is such an unknown tongue to the million, nay, even to the thousands who inscribe these hieroglyphs on their equipages, that it really is almost a matter of marvel how so antiquated, and, with our present habits, incongruous a practice, should not long since have gone out of use, with the jousts and tournaments of the age of chivalry to which it appropriately belonged; whereas, on the contrary, it has not, that we are aware of, been in the least degree relaxed.


It is a strong example of the tenacity of associations once generally adopted. The bearing of heraldic arms,' when the arms they represent were really borne by knight and squire, was the distinctive mark of gentility-none being permitted to assume them who was not entitled to them by his rank. And so enduring is a notion which has once rooted itself in the mind of a people, that even now, though centuries have elapsed since the armour of




chivalry was consigned to the museums of the curious, no one who lays claim to gentility would like to be supposed deficient in his due attributes of helmet, crest, shield, and motto.


There must needs be consolation in the inveterate obstinacy of these ancient though mysterious attachments, for such persons as believe them to guarantee the continued veneration of the people of this country for some at least of those more intrinsically valuable institutions and opinions, from an association with which the former derive all their importance. These will entertain no serious fears for the Peerage, whilst radical tailors sport coat armour on their dennetts, and believe in the endurance of a general respect for blood and title so long as wealthy cottonspinners write themselves armigero,' and sue out their liveries and arms at the Herald's Office. How we ourselves view this question, we shall not at present say; but we certainly never have seen anything at all ridiculous or irrational in the desire of those among the middle classes, who have attained wealth by honourable exertions, to distinguish themselves from the common herd, who bear perhaps the same surname with themselves, by heraldic devices. Several of the most powerful families of our titled aristocracy, and some even of the oldest, inherit their wealth and consequence from a clothier, a goldsmith, or a merchant of a former age, who felt as much pride in bequeathing to them the armorial bearings he had obtained from the Herald's College, as the property accumulated by his prudence and industry. It is the peculiar boast of this country that, almost from the foundation of the monarchy, the ranks of her aristocracy have been thus gradually fed, and their numbers kept up, by addition of the eminent and enterprising from the general mass; so that no one has ever been so lowly in birth or station that he might not aspire, by the exercise of his talents and energies, to become the founder of a family which should eventually take rank with the direct descendants of the Knights of Battle-Abbey, or the Barons of Runnymede. Are they, then, right who would ridicule, as childish pageantry, objects which have engaged so much of the attention. and affections of mankind? Or can those things be justly called useless, the desire of which has often stimulated the flagging spirit of industry, and called forth the latent energies of genius?

But there is more to be said, even than this, on the matter. The inheritance of heraldic honours is usually coupled with that of substantial advantages-manors and messuages, lands and tenements. The rules of descent are the same for an estate as for a coat of arms. The elder son carries off the honours of the 'entire' family escutcheon with the patrimonial acres ;-the younger branches taking it only with a difference,' or mark of



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inferiority. But, even to them, this shield remains a memorial of their connexion with the head,' who enjoys the estate, which, upon his death without issue, may revert to them; and not unfrequently does it happen that the continued bearing of the ancient coat proves a most important link in the chain of evidence by which their heirship to the estate itself is eventually substantiated.



Again, heiresses bring to the person whom they marry their family shield as well as their family property; and though the estate has in too many instances disappeared, while the quartering' remains, yet the one still serves as a memento attesting the former existence of the other, and recording the alliance' which introduced it. If we look at the great landed properties of the three kingdoms, we shall find that the bulk of them have come down to their present possessors in strict conjunction with their heraldic insignia. Almost every estate on their rent-roll has its representative in a corresponding quartering on the family achievement; and the latter come to be prized accordingly, not merely for themselves, but as symbols indicating either the past, or actual, or contingent title to things whose value no one has ever doubted-fat acres and lordly mansions.

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Moreover, there are other grounds, besides ancient association and the representation of property, for the value placed upon their escutcheons by our untitled gentry,-among whom, in the absence of hereditary rank-(which is shared by multitudes infinitely below them in every continental realm)-coat armour is the only distinctive mark of birth and high blood. Probably the Stapyltons of Carleton, the Harcourts of Ankerwyke, the Berkeleys of Spetchley, the Kingscotes of Kingscote, the Cliftons of Clifton, or the Carys of Tor Abbey, would almost as soon part with their estates as with the several cross-crosslets, crosses-pateè, bars, mullets, and escallops that decorate their shields, and which they have inherited with those estates from their remotest ancestry. Who can wonder if the Stuarts, for example, pride themselves on the double tressure, flowered and counter-flowered gules,' which marks their descent from the royal family of Scotland?—or the Lanes on their crest of a strawberry-horse, bearing between his fore-legs a royal crown,' which was granted by Charles II. as an especial badge of honour to the family of Colonel Lane, who saved his life after the battle of Worcester?-or the Douglases of every branch on the crowned heart in their blazonings, which commemorates the romantic self-devotion of the Good Lord James' to the dying request of the great Robert Bruce, that his heart should be conveyed to the Holy Sepulchre by the best knight of all Scotland ?-or the Seatons on the crown resting upon a


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sword, which the same chivalrous monarch fixed in their scutcheon to show his gratitude for their support of his tottering throne? or the humblest Mr. Howard in the land, on the magnificent addition which records the victory of Flodden? Examples are numerous in which 'entire arms' or 'honourable augmentations' of this kind have been granted as a special memorial of noble actions, or of a life replete with them. And is it strange that the descendants of men thus distinguished should set a value on the heraldic honours which, whether with or without a title, they have inherited from so proud a source?

For these reasons, while illustrious descent, and gentle blood, and territorial property are held in any estimation (and the day, we still hope, will not soon arrive, in spite of the levelling propensities of certain sages, when they will cease to be so held in this country), so long will heraldic insignia be prized as their outward symbols and representations.


It has been long a matter of dispute, among antiquaries, from what period the adoption of armorial bearings is to be dated. Some of the more zealous illustrators of the Arte of Armorye' would carry it back to the heroic ages, because Achilles and Æneas are represented to have borne some device upon their shields. By more than one writer the hieroglyphs of the Heralds are deduced from those of Ancient Egypt; while others, more rationally, see their origin in the symbols borne by commanders of all ages on their banners, or impressed by sovereigns and states upon their coins. Sir George Mackenzie attributes their invention to the Patriarch Jacob. Robison, and, after him, Gwillim, to Alexander the Great. Several heraldic writers affect to discover much mysterious allegory hid under the different bearings of shields, which are said to represent the whole ancient mythology, or the virtues personified, or the presumed moral or mental qualifications of their bearers. The author of the Armorie of King Arthur and the Round Table' (1586) translated from the French a Treatise on Armoryes and Ensignes Military; their peculiar seavenfolde significations, planets, signes, proprietyes, vertues, and fortunities quotidian.' But the Treatise on Armourye' of the learned Prioress of Sopewell, the Lady Juliana Berners, in the 'Boke of St. Albans,' as it is our most ancient, is also perhaps the most curious disquisition on the subject. It discusses the questions of how gentylmen began, and how the law of armys was first ordaynt ;" and, in the fashion of the old chronicles, commencing with the fall of the angels, and proceeding through that of man and the Deluge, it makes out Our Saviour to be a gentylman on his moder's side;' and goes on to show, 'by the lynage of coote armuris, how gentylmen are to be known from ungen


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