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Clarenceux King of Arms, observes; “ The lesser noblemen are the knights, esquires, and those whom we call gentlemen." In his History of Queen Elizabeth he says; “ In 1559, some noblemen voluntarily departed the kingdom, of whom those of better note were Henry Lord Morley, Sir Francis Englefield, Sir Robert Peckham," &c. &c. Edmondson, Mowbray Herald, the highest authority, not only declares that the English gentry are noble, but considers gentility as the most exalted word for nobility. An Harleian MS. mentions some meeting, anno 1458, “ Præsentibus Wmo. St. George et Joh'ne Colville MILITIBUS, Laurencio Cheyne et Thoma Lockton ARMIGERIS, et multis ALIIS NOBILIBUS ;" and Lord Bacon, Hist. Hen. VII., inserts Perkin Warbeck’s proclamation against the King. “First, he has caused divers nobles of this our realme to be cruelly murdered, as our cousin Sir William Stanley, Sir Simon Montford,” &c. &c. Of these nobles, none was a peer. Heylin (Hist. Reform.) says, under date 1546, “ In the next place came Sir Thomas Wriothesley, a man of very new nobility." Dr. Johnson, in his Dictionary, defines a gentleman to be one of good extraction but not noble: but he was neither herald nor antiquary, and committed the modern blunder of confounding nobility with peerage.
Nobility may be acquired, but gentility never. The title of gentleman,” says a modern French author* very correctly, “answered formerly to gentilhomme.” The nurse of James I. intreated him to make her son a gentleman. “My good woman," } said the King, “a gentleman I cannot make him, though I could make him a lord.” The nobility of extraction is the true nobility, proofs of which are deposited at the Herald's Office. Many peers, in the eyes of the college of arms, are not more gentleman than were in France many dukes, &c.; among whom M. de Beaufremont, who was no duke, was surprised to find himself the only gentleman in company. “Selden, in his “ Table Talk,” says that God Almighty cannot make a gentleman.
*How great,' exclaims Sir James Lawrence, 'would have been the indignation of any English gentleman of quality two centuries ago, had he read in the Paris newspapers the following advertisements:
“An English Gentleman, who has had considerable experience as a Teacher, and can show respectable certificates, gives private lessons in the Greek, Latin, and English languages: terms 20 francs a month. Address, post-paid, at the office of Galignani's paper. May, 1823.”
"“Un gentleman anglais, d'une famille honnête, désire la place d'un gouverneur dans une famille respectable. Les Affiches, 1 Aout, 1822.”
*If this individual were really a gentleman by birth, he was more than of une famille honnête : yet being reduced by misfortune to turn tutor, he ought to have concealed his quality. If not, he ought to have styled himself un anglais d'une famille honnête. This would have expressed a decent, creditable person, if his modesty forbade him to style himself in homme de lettres.
Any Englishman, gentilhomme de nom et d'armes, who, in a French document, suffers himself to be styled “un gentleman anglais," either exposes his ignorance, or seems to acknowledge the superiority of a gentilhomme français, and thus degrades the class to which he belongs.'
• .“ Londres et les Anglais," 1814, by Ferri de St. Constant.
King Edward VI. complained “ that the grazier, the farmer, &c. become landed men, and call themselves gentlemen, though they be churls." To remedy these abuses, the heralds went every 30 years on their different visitations in the different counties; viz. Norroy in the north, and Clarenceux in the south of England. The earliest visitation was in 1529; the latest in 1686. They summoned the gentry to the county town, and such persons as had usurped titles or dignities, or had borne ensigns of gentility which did not belong to them, were degraded by proclamation of the common crier; and under the names of those who had assumed coats of arms, was written the word Ignobiles, which sufficiently proves' (says the present author) that those, who are intitled to arms, are nobiles.
•Those, who deliver passports for the Continent, ought to give the quality of gentleman to those only who are entitled to it; but those who are entitled to it, should not suffer it to be omitted. The disuse of the word may be of the greatest disadvantage. If arrived at the place of bis destination, bis letters of recommen. dation may indeed prove who and what a traveller is; but he may be induced 10 alter his route, bis carriage may break down, he may have a dispute at a tabled'hôte, he may be mistaken by the police-officers, who are in quest of some oftender. Every one who has travelled on the Continent, knows how great a re. commendation the quality of a gentilhomme is to the protection of an amptmann or justice of peace, or to the hospitality of a lord of the manor.
• At Göttingen, where a succession of Englishmen have studied, the Protector usually asks them, if they are esquires at home? and on their answering in the affirmative, they are entered as nobles. But at the other German universities, which have less communication with Great Britain, several young Englishmen, on being asked the usual question, if they were noble? unluckily knew as little about nobility as Dr. Samuel Johnson, and like him, always confounded the idea of noble with the idea of a peer, and consequently answered, No. Thus they, though per. haps of the most ancient families, have been inscribed in the matricule-book as the sons of the lowest burghers or mechanics.
"On continuing his travels into Hungary, a stranger's French passport is trang. lated into Latin; thus the gentilhomme anglais appears as nobilis anglus. And an accidental omission of this title might occasionally prevent bis receiving those civilities and that hospitality, which he otherwise would receive.'
A peer is only a person of rank, unless he be also a gentleman; but, in heraldry, every gentleman is a person of quality. Quality (according to a dictionary of 1735) is a title of honour and noble birth. In “The New Atalantis," and in Fielding's and Smollett's novels, and down to a late period in the 18th century, every gentleman and every gentlewoman was a person of quality. In Richardson, too, Sir Charles Grandison and Lovelace are both men of quality.
Having followed Sir James Lawrence thus far in his argument, the comparatively small size of his publication would, under other circumstances admonish us to close our article: but the following remarks on our House of Commons may rectify some very popu. lar though gross misconceptions which prevail as to the word Commons, while they also strongly corroborate the author's able and learned reasoning:
• The commons ; les communes ;-and could the English knights, a body of warriors so hardy, so proud of their descent, so full of their own importance, so desi. rous of clistinction, submit to have formed a part of the House of Commons ? No, never, if the House of Commons had signified the house of the ignobles. But the word coinmons signified not, in parliament, common people in contradistinction to the nobility, but communities. The House of Commons therefore signified the House of Communities.
* The communitas terræ, or community of the kingdom, was anciently only the barons and tenants in capite.
'In 1258, a community thus composed sent a letter to Pope Alexander. These “litteræ missæ à communitate Angliæ conclude, “communitas comitum, procerum, magnatum aliorumque regni Angliæ,” kiss the feet of your Holiness.
• In 1258, also tota terræ communitas chose twenty-four of its members to treat for an aid for the king.
““Ce sont les 24, qui sont mis par le commun, à traiter de aid de roi.”.
• This communitas terræ, or le commun de terre, was sometimes styled tota nobilitas Angliæ or universitas baronagii, and signified the body of the nobility of the realm: le corps de la noblesse.
• This communitas terræ was equivalent to the House of Peers, or rather to the Diet of the German empire. Several of its membel's, Simon de Montford, De Bohun, De Bigod, were as powerful as a duke of Wirtemberg, or an elector of Hesse.
On other occasions the sheriff convoked the communitas comitatus, or the body of freeholders, tenants in capite, in his county. At length, in 1265, the citizens and burgesses were first summoned to parliament to represent the communitates civitatum, the bodies of citizens or corporations.
• Communitas, like societas, means people partaking the same rights, and was equally applicable to the most exalted and io the most humble classes. There, fore, that their assembly was styled the House of Commons, could not offend the haughtiest knight that ever displayed his shield at a tournament.'
What is the utility, it may be asked, of establishing the positions for which Sir James contends? It is true, however triumphantly they may be proved, that, in the present day, when almost every person is called an Esquire, and an attorney is in law styled a Gentleman, they can be considered only as barren unproductive truths; and, as we do not wish that the visitation of a King at Arms should be renewed, we are willing that they should still remain so: but the antiquarian and heraldic researches displayed in this pamphlet are valuable, and must be interesting and amusing to those who are attached to such pursuits. [Monthly Review.
SELECTED FOR THE MUSEUM.
Gaieties and Gravities; a series of Essays, comic Tales and
Fugitive Vagaries. Now first collected. By one of the Authors of the “ Rejected Addresses.” 12mo. 3 vols. London, 1825. H. Colburn.
We hate Collections. The first Collection we remember was as the name of a Book, by means of which we were pummelled into our acquaintance with the English tongue. We cannot forget the Collections after Charity Sermons in great platters at Church doors, and in little wooden boxes with long handles, at meeting-houses. We are not unacquainted with Collections, where the Duke of York, or his Grace of Sussex, or some other distinguished individual, is good enough to preside, for the benefit of some benevolent institution at the Freemason's Tavern. These and other like points of knowledge, have made the very name of a Collection of doubtful scent in our nostrils; and we entirely, in our literary opinion, agree with Dr. Donne:
“Thou shalt not peep through lattices of eyes,
Nor hear through labyrinths of ears, nor learn
By Circuit or Collection.” Not having the fear of Dr. Donne before him, however, one of the authors of the Rejected Addresses has had the temerity to collect the immense number of his miscellaneous pieces, comprehended in the title-page, into these three volumes, and in this form give them a second time to the approving public. He has done wrong, though he pleads the experience and the expressed wish of his publisher to justify him: (by the bye, the latter may be a tangible home argument notwithstanding). Most of these gaieties and gravities, essays, comic tales, and fugitive vagaries, have already appeared in the New Monthly Magazine, a publication too generally read to afford them much chance of being received as novelties. But even independently of this, and of the merit of many of these productions, they do lose their charms by being huddled together in so heterogeneous a compilation. Let any one take a whole garden of beautiful, sweet-perfumed, exotic, and variously tinted flowers, the blooms which made an acre gay and delightful, and let them all be thrown into a room or a great basket; and where are their charms? So it is with such a mingled mass as this. A hundred things which were pleasant and grateful as varieties in the New Monthly Magazine, are here blended together in confusion and antipathy. They distract the mind, which cannot in a swift round traverse the compass from pun to pathos, and enjoy in juxta-position the pages of Cockney caricature and acute observation. In short, though there are many clever papers and much talent displayed in these volumes, we do not think it judicious to have collected them: yet we are bound to say they are amusing loungebooks for dipping into at odd times.
SELECTED FOR THE MUSEUM.
How strong thy arm, O! Sickness! in a day, The sinewy frame before thee shrinks away: How subtle, too; in a few breaths, we find, Perished the powers of the busy mind.
'Tis not alone the voice, that low and weak Forgets its office, trembling as we speak; 'Tis not the limbs, that totter to a fall; 'Tis not the heavy lid, that weighs the ball, As if a load of lead drooped from on high To crush the feeble fabric of the eye;
'Tis not the fever, burning through each vein;
But fell thy mastery even o'er the soul,-
How soon beneath thy unrelenting sway
The History of the Dominion of the Arabs, in Spain, founded upon a compari. son of the Arabic MSS. in the Escurial, with the Spanish Chronicles, is about to be translated from the French.
A Journey through various parts of Europe, in the Years 1818, 1819, 1820, and 1821 ; with Notes, Classical and Historical; and Memoirs of the Seven Dukes of the House of Medici, and the different Dynasties of the Kings of Naples. By Thomas Pennington, A. M. Rector of Thorley, Herts, late Fellow of Clare-Hall, Cambridge.
Celebrated Trials, and Remarkable Cases of Criminal Jurisprudence; being a popular Account of extraordinary cases of Crime and Punishment which have occurred during the last Four Hundred Years, in the United Kingdom, and in the rest of Europe and America, from Lord Cobham, in 1418, to John Thurtell and Henry Fauntleroy, in 1824. Collected and Trar.slated from the most authentic sources in the English, German, and French languages.
Travels through Rassia in Europe, Siberia, Poland, Austria, Bohemia, Saxony, Prussia, and other parts of Germany; with a Portrait of the author, and other Plates. By James Holman, R. N. K. W.
The Historical and Literary Tour of a Foreigner in England and Scotland, with Anecdotes of celebrated Persons visited by the author, including most of the lite. rati of both countries, in 2 vols. 8vo. is expected to appear speedily.
Nearly ready for publication, the Diable Diplomat, par un Ancien Ministre.
The Operative Mechanic and British Machinist; exhibiting the actual Construction and Practical Uses of all Machinery and Implements at present used in the Manufactories of Great Britain, with the real processes adopted in perfecting the useful arts and national manufactures of every description. By John Nicholson, Esq. Civil Engineer.
Anselmo; a Tale of Italy, illustrative of Roman and Neapolitan Life, from 1789 to 1809. By A. Vieusseux, author of Italy and the Italians.
On the Religions of Ancient Greece, the Public, the Mystical, and the Philosophical. By W. Mitford, Esq.
A Gentleman of distinguished talent, long resident in Italy, is about to publish the result of his observations among the higher orders there, under the title of the “English in Italy.” The Work is to extend to 3 volumes, and to be ready in April.