tylmen.' Mixed up with all this mass of pedantry, profaneness, and absurdity in the books on heraldry, there are, as usual, a few grains of truth and reason. No doubt, in the earliest ages, kings and military chieftains bore distinguishing devices on their standards and their coins,—sometimes, perhaps, on their shields and helmets. But the general use of such devices, and their hereditary transmission, are practices that unquestionably arose only in the age of chivalry and feudalism; and it is not difficult to account for their adoption. The essence of the feudal system was the obligation to military suit and service of those who held lands under the lord or suzerain. Each knight' was bound, for his 'fee,' to bring into the field, when called on by his lord, a certain number of men at arms. An army, therefore, was necessarily composed of a great number of separate companies, each obeying the orders only of its knightly leader, and fighting under his banner or pennon.

It became expedient, consequently, to vary to a very great extent the symbols displayed on these standards; and it is obvious how equally necessary it was that the person of the leader himself, who often fought with the visor of his helmet down, so that his features could not be recognized, should be distinguished by the blazoning of conspicuous colours on his shield, and some well-known badge on his helm. The symbols or “bearings thus introduced on banner, shield, crest, or surcoat, as rallying points in the battle-field, became permanently associated with the noble deeds that were performed under their cognizance. And it was the same in mimic as in real war. Tournaments and jousts were fought always with a closed visor; and in the lists, as in the field, the knight of the azure plume, or the silver shield,' would often gain universal applause, while unknown by any other designation. The sons of those who had won bright honour' on such occasions, would naturally wish to bear the badges which their father's prowess bad distinguished ; and the inheritance of arms' was thus an unavoidable consequence of their general assumption.

The practice having in this manner introduced itself almost as a matter of necessity, the sovereigns in chief must have soon found it desirable to regulate it on some fixed principles. doubtful, however, by whom this was first attempted. The statement of Menestrier, a French writer of considerable weight, of the fifteenth century, is most probably correct. He traces the institution to Henry the Falconer, who was raised to the imperial throne of the West in 920, and is said to have applied himself diligently to the regulation and encouragement of tournaments. It is generally supposed that family arms have been always more jealously regarded, and the laws of heraldry better observed, in


It is very

[ocr errors]

Germany than in any other country. The earliest well-authenticated instances of the adoption of armorial bearings on shields belong to the twelfth century; as those of Richard Fitzhugh Earl of Chester (ob. 1119),* of Robert le Norman Earl of Flanders,t and of Geoffry Magnaville Earl of Essex. I The shields on the Bayeux Tapestry exhibit not only crosses of different shapes and colours, but a sort of dragon; and on the seal of Robert the Frisian, Earl of Flanders, attached to a charter dated 1072, is represented a lion rampant. At the period of the first crusade, it was certainly customary to ornament shields very highly. Robert of Aix, who was himself present, describes the shields of the European kuights as resplendent with gold, gems, and colours ;' and it has been plausibly suggested, that the vast concourse of warriors from all countries on this occasion must have necessitated the use of a great variety of distinctive blazonings, and probably introduced what became subsequently a general practice.

Many heraldic badges and devices were no doubt originally assumed as distinctive decorations at tournaments, but the greater number took their rise from incidents on the field of battle ; such are the bloody heads and hands, the battle-axes and swords, gauntlets, arrows, turrets, and so forth, with which so many shields are charged. The simple ordinaries,' as they are called, namely, the chief, the fess, the bar, the bend, the chevron, the cross, and the saltire-were probably, at their origin, but stripes of blood or paint struck on the field of victory across a plain shield by its bearer or his approving leader, as a memento of the action in which he had distinguished himself. Some bearings are celebrated by tradition as having been granted in this manner, others are known to have been assumed by the choice of their wearers. We

may instance as an early example of the first kind, the three inescutcheons gules,' borne by the Hays; the tirst of which name, it is said, obtained these arms when, with his two sons, having rallied the Scottish army to the defeat of a party of Danes at the battle of Loncarty, in 942, they were brought to the king with their shields all covered with blood. The legend says the father was a ploughman, and fought with the yoke of his plough; whence the crest of the Hays has remained to this day a rustic bearing a plough-yoke in his hand.||

The scallop-shells, bezants, alerians, Saracen's heads, crescents, and crosses in all their varieties, smack strongly of the * Meyrick's Ancient Armour.

† Uredus, Sig. Com. Flandr. p. 14. Gough’s Sep. Mon.

§ Uredus, p. 6. il We by no means vouch for this story, or for others of the same class which we may have occasion to quote. We believe the mule descent at least of the De la Hayes has been satisfactorily traced to a knight of Normandy, who came into Scotland a century or two later than the battle of Loncarty.


He is cut up

Crusades, in which they were doubtless first adopted. The animals with which so many coats are charged were probably assumed as emblematical of the possession of their respective qualities. The magnanimous lion, king of beasts,' was, of course, a general favourite, and every device that ingenuity could suggest was soon adopted to vary his mode of appearance, so that the same bearing should not be repeated in any two instances. He is “tricked' of all colours, and in every attitude, rampant, passant, statant, seyant, combatant, guardant, reguardant; and again, by duplication, slatant-guardant, passant-reguardant, &c. into demi-lions or reduced to a lioncel. He is ' collared,' “crowned,' fettered,' or armed with every known implement of violence; bis head and limbs, and even his tail, are severed and displayed in every imaginable position; lastly, unlucky beast, he is 'debruise,' debaché-or couped in all parts'--to adorn the coat of the Maitlands,

Next to the lion in general esteem ranks, perhaps, the leopard -two of which are supposed to have been borne on the shield of William the Conqueror. The stag, the boar, the eagle, the falcon, the greyhound, the buil, and the horse, run very close in the rivalry of favour. The choice of beasts of chase probably derives from the predilection of their tirst bearers for the sport. Indeed, there always seems to have existed a close connexion between heraldry and the chase. The · Boke of St. Albans,' already mentioned, treats of • hawkyng, huntyng, and armourye;' audó Henry the Falconer

' has been noticed as the probable founder of the science of blazon itself. The technical description by heralds of some of these bearings sounds not a little whimsical to the uninitiated; as where mention is made of two greyhounds respecting each other, a 'peacock affronteè'-a“ buck's head attired proper,' &c. &c.*

Some charges are evidently chosen as a sort of hieroglyph of the family name: sucii are a stork borne by Starkey, a roach by Roche, three turbots by Turbut, primroses by Primrose, a crow by Corbet, three whales by Whalley, cocks by Cockagne, Cockburne, Cockerell, &c., trouts by Troutbeck, coneys by Coningsby, swallows by Arundel

, pikes by Lucy, arrows by Archer, bows by Bowes, an elephant by Oliphant, a ram's head

German blazonry employs even a still greater number of animals of all sorts than onr own ; and they are usually disposed after a manner which shocks the eye of an English herald : 'as, for example, foxes talking to crows in a tree, wolves looking in at a window, hares holding a conclave,-seeming, in truth, more like illustrations of Æsop's fables, or the odd representations sometimes seen on country siga-posts of a 'goose and gridiron,' 'cat and fiddle,' &c., than the legitimate charges of heraldic escutcheons. We are reminded of an anecdote of Napoleon, who while inspecting the quarterings of his illustrious father-in-law--a perfect Noah's ark—is said to have remarked slily, • Parbleu! il y a beaucoup d'Animaux dans cette famille la.


by Mytton or Mutton, three legs of hose by Hosy, three right hands by Tremayne, three right arms mailed and gauntletted by Armstrong, bulls' heads by Gore, with many other instances. Not only have the earth, seas, and air been ransacked for heraldic figures, but the heavens likewise and the regions of fable. Chaloner bears three cherubims.* Suns, crescents, and stars shine on many a shield. Griffins, cockatrices, wiverns, dragons, harpies, mermaids, phænixes, and unicorns display their portentous attributes, and were probably assumed like the Gorgon's head of old time for the purpose of petrifying an antagonist. Stephen of Blois bore a centaur on his coat. The arms of the Duchy of Milan are ' a crowned serpent swallowing an infant,' which is said to have been adopted by Otho, first Count of Milan, when on his way to the Holy Land with Godfrey of Bouillon, he slew the great giant Volux,' who wore this terrific crest upon his helmet. Bishops, on the other hand, appropriately inscribe keys, croziers, mitres, bibles, lambs, and angels on their coats. The bearing of the Bishop of Chichester is odd enough, viz., a Presbyter John sitting on a tomb-stone; in his left hand a mound, his right extended, a linen mitre on his head, in his mouth a sword.' The command or capture of fortresses naturally suggested the towers, battlements, keys, portcullises, and battering-rams seen on many escutcheons. One of the most singular bearings in existence is that of the ancient family of Dalziel, viz., a naked man hanging from a gallows with his arms extended ;—a bearing of honour though so liable to be taken for the reverse), since, if hoar antiquity may be believed,' it was granted to perpetuate the memory of a brave and hazardous exploit performed by an ancestor of the Earl of Carnwath, in taking down from a gallows the body of a favourite and kinsman of Kenneth II, who had been hung up by the Picts. A reward having been offered by the monarch to any one who would rescue the corpse, none were inclined to venture, until a gentleman of the family of Menteith came to the king and said · Dal-zel' (Gaelic for · I dare'), and having performed his task, assumed the above arms and the surname of • Dalziel.' Such is the legend.

Of late years the multiplication of the order of persons desirous of bearing arms has kept the invention of heralds on the stretch in supplying them with novel charges, and though it was impossible

* In a strange work, published by the Chester Herald, Randal Holme, 1688, entitled • The Academy of Armoury, or a Storehouse of Armoury and Blazon, containing the several variety of Created Beings, and how borne in Coats of Arms, foreign and domestic,' &c., the first chapter blasphemously introduces an heraldic disquisition. On the proper blazoning of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Cherubim and Seraphin, the Heathen Gods and Goddesses, demy-Gods and country-Gods, the holy orders of Angels, and the infernal orders of Devils.'


[ocr errors]

to maintain, under these circumstances, the simplicity of the ancient coats, yet it must be owned that they have run deeper than was necessary into the opposite extreme of complexity. What can be more absurd than the following instance of a crest not long since granted to the family of Titlow ?—'a book; on the book a silver penny; and on the penny the Lord's Prayer; and on the top of the book a dove holding in its beak a crow-quill pen! We do not object to the historical coats of arms granted to the Sydney Smiths, Trowbridges, Mitchells, Thompsons, and our other naval and military heroes, since they fulfil the most legitimate purpose of armorial ensigns—the commemoration of acts of valour; but a little more taste, perhaps, might have been advantageously employed in their design, which is usually overcharged with emblems and scrolls. The heroes of Crecy and Poictiers did not think of inscribing on their shields the names of every field on which they gathered their deathless laurels.

The differences' borne to distinguish the younger branches of a family are said to have a hidden moral in them. The crescent of the second son indicates that there is room for the increase of his fortune; the mullet, or spur, of the third, hints that he must up and ride if he mean to get anything; the martlet, or swallow without feet, of the fourth, reminds him that he must keep upon the wing, having no land to stand upon. These allusions are probably imaginary. Not so the canting' mottos so fre. quently introduced in the scroll ;' such as the Forte scutum salus ducum' of the Fortescues, Ne vile velis' for Neville, Ne vile fano' of Fane, · Templa quam dilecta’ of Temple, · Vernon semper viret' for Vernon, · Vive et vivas' for Vivian, the Peperi? of Pepperell

, the · Homo sum' of Homan, the • Fare fac of Fairfax, and the Festina lente' of Onslow. The Herons bear a heron for their crest, and for their motto · Ardua perit ardea,' thus uniting every species of quibble with the benefit of alliteration. Alliteration is a very favourite conceit in mottos, as · Volens et valens' Fetherstone, · Think and Thank' Aylesbury, • Thure et jure' Foulis, · Pro rege, lege, grege' Ponsonby, • Dum spiro spero’ Dillon, Ora et labora' Dalhousie, Astra castra numen lumen munimen' Balcarras, “ Patior potior' Peyton, · Furth Fortune and fill the fetters' Athole. Many mottos are full of pith and vigour, and fitted in a high degree to animate those who bear them to maintain the honour of their ancestors untarnished. There is perhaps nowhere a collection of terser apophthegms than in the motios on the escutcheons of our nobility. What can be more inspiriting to a life of loyalty, valour, truth, piety, and virtue, than the Jamais Arrière' of Douglas, • Essayez' Dundas, · Nil conscire sibi' Winchilsea, Pro aris et focis' Heselrigge, Virtute non verbis' Lansdowne, · Virtus sola


« ͹˹Թõ