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XXII

CHAPTER XXII.
MODERN HERALDRY, ETC.
ODERN HERALDRY differs from ancient in about the same degree that electro-plated spoons of the present day differ from those found in old family plate-baskets. Both are of white metal, and serve the same purpose--but there the resemblance ends. Not but what genuine Coats of Arms are as procurable in this Year of Grace as they were five centuries ago, only as a rule the persons putting on such garments for the first time do not go for their outfit to the regular Heraldic tailors at the College, but prefer the slop work of Heraldic engravers, who "find arms." Where on earth these latter do find some of the specimens they present to their customers would, as a prize conundrum, puzzle nobody more than the finders.
    As a rule, the process employed by these artists is somewhat as follows:--
    Jones has made money in the tallow trade, and retires from the warehouse and shop. Jones is not ambitious, but Mrs. J. is, and thinks that a Coat of Arms with a Crest to match would be an acquisition to flaunt before the eyes of less fortunately endowed neighbours. So she makes enquiries on the subject of procuring the object of her ambition, and finds out how it is done. This information she communicates to Jones, who at first does not see it in the same light that she does. But when woman proposes she generally disposes as well; and the wretched Jones, finding his uncoated and uncrested life a burden to him, gradually comes round to her view, and in a rash moment consents, and starts for the Heralds' College. On his way he meets Smith, also retired, and confides his troubles to him, who sympathetically responds--"Lor' bless you, my dear boy, don't go to that there College. It'll cost you no end of money. Just you go to a Heraldic engraver, he'll do the job for you for half the price; and if you don't like the pattern when you've got it, you can just make him alter it to suit your taste." Jones has a frugal mind and follows his friend's advice, and in process of time a gorgeous Coat of Arms, Crest, and Motto complete, is sent home with a bill--this is paid, and the Joneses are happy.
    The way the engraver has gone to work is very simple. He has looked up in a Heraldic encyclopaedia the arms of some family of a similar name, and slightly altering some point of the blazonry, has served it up all hot to the innocent Jones, who, naturally not knowing any better, is perfectly content, and stamps it all over his belongings in a reckless and fanciful manner--regretting, perhaps, that he cannot tattoo it on his own person--so that the whole world may see he Calls himself "Armiger," which he has about as much right to do as a bird of paradise has to wear a pea-jacket.
    Not but what real Heraldry exists in the present day, and Grants of Arms made by the sovereign are enrolled at the College as strictly as in former times. In fact none are genuine that emanate from any other establishment; so that those of our readers who desire to start a real Coat of their own had better apply to that old established concern, and see what Sir Albert Woods has to say to them.*
    * For this advertisement we shall expect the College to find us not only a Coat of Arms, but a whole suit of Armorial Bearings, gratis. We are not at all particular as to the pattern, but require something neat and durable, adapted for the road, the river, and indoor wear. Supporters we shall not require, but a Motto illustrating our good qualities is absolutely indispensable.
    Jones having got his Coat of Arms, naturally longs for liveried menials, and hires them accordingly--and puts them into gorgeous attire, with tags, aiguillettes, facings, and all the luxuries of the season, complete. Whether he does it in strict accordance with the rules of Heraldry is more than doubtful, dazzling splendour being more the object he and Mrs. J. have in view, than armorial correctness.
    The liveries of servants are governed by Heraldry, and rightly, for originally they were the clothes, as the name denotes, " livrée," or delivered to the retainers by their feudal lords. In fact, the mediæval liveries were exactly the same as the uniforms of modern times--the said "Baron's retainers so blithe and gay " cutting the throats of, robbing, or otherwise ill-treating, those persons who were obnoxious to the great man.
    It did not always follow that those persons who wore a lord's livery were his domestic servants; a duke's son might wear the livery of a prince, if it fitted him nicely and suited his complexion, and it merely meant that he followed that particular chief, and went on the war-path with him, until he was old enough to have a war-path of his own. But when the feudal system was getting to be played out, our kings came to the conclusion that the festive retainers were becoming rather a bore than otherwise, to quiet order-loving folks, including the monarch himself, for the latter did not always care about having a free fight going on among the Upper Ten of the period, and thought it was high time to put a stop to the retainer nuisance. So Richard II. passed a law that no one but those standing in menial relation to a lord, should wear that lord's livery--thereby hoping to put a stop to the army-on-a-small-scale business which those noble Christians were in the habit of accumulating. But, despite the law, during the Wars of the Roses the retainers flourished more than ever, and it was not until the accession of Henry VII. that they were fairly knocked on the head--for that particularly 'cute sovereign put the law in force, as the Earl of Oxford found to his cost. Henry, happening one day to visit the Earl, he, in order to do honour to his king, gathered around him, and clothed in his livery, a large number of nice young men, who doubtless looked very pretty, and all that sort of thing. But the monarch upon leaving, sent the Earl in a little bill to the melody of about 15,000 marks fine, for breaking the law, which that nobleman had to pay and look pleasant over, and this rather put a stop to the accumulation of retainers, since it made them expensive luxuries, which not even the Rothschilds of the time could afford.
    But to return to our Modern Liveries. Heraldically, the livery of a domestic servant should be of the two colours most prominent on the Shield; thus the colour of the coat should be the same as the field of the Escutcheon, while the facings should be that of the principal Charge.
    But in practice this rule has to be considerably modified, and a dark drab would represent gold, and a lighter hue of the same colour, silver--and so on, and so on.
    The Heralds, too, were nothing if not thorough, and they had not always souls above buttons--for they ordained that on these useful and ornamental appurtenances the badge of the lord should be worn--not his Crest, which was as personal to the great man as his nose, and could not be passed on, but his badge, which formed usually the chief charge on the shield, and was, so to say, the emblem of his family.
    Before we conclude our opusculum we must just make a few remarks on Allusive Heraldry and Armes Parlantes, or Canting Heraldry--not that there will be any cant about our readers; we are quite sure that if they have accompanied us so far over the armorial fields they will have far too much sense in their compositions to leave any room for cant.
    Allusive Arms are of two kinds, just for all the world like the sexes; firstly, those which contain Charges relating to the character office, or power of the original bearer; and, secondly, those which convey a direct pun upon the name. As an instance of the former we may mention the three cups to be found in the Ormond Arms, (N.B., that sounds rather like a public house, but it would not be one doing much of a trade if it only required three cups) whose family name is Butler. Moreover, this is the more applicable, since the Ormond family is said to have originated with one Theobald Walter, who in 1177 had the chief butlerage of Ireland conferred on him by Henry II. Of course, holding the key of the Hibernian whiskey cellar, the Butler celebrated the cups he drank of that potent beverage by recording them on his shield, though we should much doubt if he always restricted himself to a humble three. Another instance is that of Lord Forester, who bears a bugle horn on his coat, as a forester naturally should do. Whether the original Forester had an unpleasant habit of blowing his horn at unseemly times, to the annoyance of quiet-loving people, and so had to put it on his coat in order to stop the row, we are not told, but probably that had something to do with the charge.
    The second kind of Allusive Arms are those called Armes Parlantes, or Canting Arms. On these a neat pun upon either the title or family name of the owner is embroidered. Lord Roseberry, who rejoices in the name of Primrose--no relation to the late Vicar of Wakefield--has three primroses in his escutcheon, and numerous other similar cases could be cited; but any of our readers by taking up a peerage can find them out for themselves, whereby they will acquire knowledge and keep themselves out of mischief at the same time.
    Some Heraldic purists consider that Canting Arms are unworthy of the science, but those people are like the wounded sailor who objected to be thrown overboard before he was dead, viz: "too jolly particular," inasmuch as in the earliest Roll of Arms, that of Henry III., no less than nine examples of this particular kind of blazonry are found. N.B., that roll we should say must be fairly brown by this time, not to say musty.
    In the earlier examples of so-called Canting Arms, however, the process was frequently reversed, and so far from the Arms originating from the name, the name originated from the Arms; and it happened thus--Surnames were not, and, as we have already mentioned, earls added the names of their shires to distinguish the various Toms, Dicks, and Harrys. So the knights, who frequently had no other possessions than light hearts and a thin pair of chain mail greaves to bless themselves with, were not unfrequently known as the Knight of the Tooth-brush, the Blacking Bottle, or the Sack Posset, according as they bore those imposing charges on their shields.
    Finally, one of the most unfortunate arrangements in connection with our present state of existence is that we must all die, but even after we are dead and buried we cannot get rid of the Heralds. They have several remarks to make even then, and their observations take the form of Hatchments. And when we come to Hatchments, any of our readers who are inclined that way may with perfect safety lay long odds that the Armiger to whose memory the Hatchment is erected, is as dead as a boiled cod.
    The next thing the very uninitiated may ask is, "What is a Hatchment?" but here we draw the line--this book is not an "Answers to Correspondents" in a penny dreadful, nor yet an encyclopaedia of useful knowledge, and if any of our readers does not know what is a Hatchment let him or her lay down this work and go and find out--and if he or she does know, he or she will not want to be told.
    Hatchments, as our readers are aware, are always lozenge-shaped, and vary in colour between white and black--Place aux Demoiselles. The Hatchment of an unmarried lady is black, and the full Coat of Arms is displayed upon it in its proper colours and tinctures. As ladies have no Crests, a knot of ribbons takes its place; this last tribute to female vanity is very touching, and shows that our Heralds, however stern and exacting in the execution of their duty, had yet a soft spot in their composition for the natural weaknesses of the sex. Ladies! think of this, and cherish a Herald, if you should ever have the good fortune to catch one alive. The Heraldic motto of the escutcheon is always omitted on the Hatchment, and in its stead some religious sentence is placed.
    A bachelor has his Hatchment arranged precisely as an unmarried lady, with the exception of the ribbons. Not wearing them in his life-time, he does not require those adornments for his escutcheon when "life's fitful fever is over."
    Again, Place aux Dames. A widow impales her arms with those of her husband, who survives, the Hatchment in this case being half black and half white--the arms of the defunct resting on the black, those of the survivor on the white portion.
    The same rule is also observed by a widower. No difference is made for the disconsolateness or otherwise of the relict. In Heraldry there is no mitigated grief department. All are tarred with precisely the same armorial brushes.
    When we come to the Church, we find that a bishop impales his paternal Arms with those of his See on his Hatchment. The black and white arrangement also prevails with him as with widows and widowers--his private arms taking the dark side, while those of his See are on the white. This is to signify that although he himself has gone over to the majority, yet his See remains behind to be enjoyed by his successor, who naturally feels piously pleased at his predecessor having thus vacated it, and made room for him, which is, we think, all we have to say about Hatchments. One disadvantage of them is, however, that nobody, however heraldically inclined, can seE his own put up; at least not on general principles.
    Hatchments in Heraldry are like the cup of café noir at the close of a well-appointed dinner. The Heraldic feast is done, and the properly constituted Armiger TO whom the Hatchment refers is carefully, comfortably, and securely deposited in his grave; his heir has endued the family Armorial Coat, to be worn until Death, the Eraser, makes him too a candidate for a Hatchment.


XXII

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