« AnteriorContinuar »
dum magnam misericordiam tuam.' After that he waxed quite pale, as one swooning, and nearly fell: but he still had strength to grasp the saddle-bow, and remained in this posture till a young gentleman, his steward, helped him to dismount, and placed him under a tree. It was not long ere it became known among friends and foes, that Captain Bayard had been killed by a shot of artillery, whereat all who heard the news were greatly troubled.”
His death was loudly and generally mourned; and, if a romantic virtue deserves to be deplored, certainly never with more just cause.
SELECTED FOR THE MUSEUM.
On the Nobility of the British Gentry; or, the Political Ranks
and Dignities of the British Empire, compared with those of the Continent; for the Use of Foreigners in Great Britain, and of Britons abroad; particularly of those who desire to be presented at foreign Courts, to accept foreign Military Service, to be invested with foreign Titles, to be admitted into foreign Orders, to purchase foreign Property, or to intermarry with Fo. reigners. By Sir James Lawrence, Knight of Malta. 8vo. pp. 50. Hookham. 1824.
Much is promised in the title-page of this little pamphlet, but the promise is meritoriously redeemed; and we are glad to see this worthy knight of Malta better employed than on some former occasions. In a small compass and an unpretending form, a great portion of useful heraldic information is here conveyed; and the main position asserted, namely, that the gentlemen of England, whether peers, knights, or esquires, are the true nobility of the empire, is established with considerable ingenuity and learning. We shall give a short and rapid summary of the argument.
It has been generally supposed in France, and too generally admitted by Englishmen, that the peers of this country (about 380) constitute all its nobility: but in England 9458 families are intitled to bear arms; and “ Nobiles" (says Lord Coke) " sunt qui arma gentilicia antecessorum suorum proferre possunt.” All these families are therefore noble. A prince, judging an individual to be worthy of distinction, gave him letters-patent of nobility, in which were blazoned the arms that were to distinguish his shield, and by this shield he became nobilis. A plebeian had no blazonry on his shield, for he was ignobilis. Whoever has a shield of arms is a nobleman.
The landed proprietors in every country are its natural nobility; and hence the noblest families are the land-holders who are named alike with their estates, as Fitzakerly of Fitzakerly, Wolseley of Wolseley, Wrottesley of Wrottesley, the Scottish families of that ilk, and the German families von und zu, or of and at. Under VOL. VI. No. 37.-Museum.
the feudal system, immense privileges attached to the soil; and, when the sovereign granted a fier, he granted nobility with it, without letters-patent: but, when he had no more lands to grant, he gave letters-patent with a coat of arms described therein. Several precedents of these grants are cited by Sir James Lawrence from the Harleian Miscellany, and from Rymer.
During the feudal times, all countries were divided into fiefs, and these again into arrière-fiefs. In France and England, the grand vassals of the crown, or the greater barons (afterward peers), composed the first; and the lesser barons (afterward knights and squires) formed the second order. • Now the second class are styled noble as well as the first; and Sir James contends that the rights of this second class of nobles may be dormant, but cannot be lost. The citation from the contents of Sir Thomas Smith's Commonwealth is strictly in point.
«« The first part, of gentlemen of England, called nobilitas major.
"" Esquire betokeneth scuti ferum or armigerum, and be all those which bear arms, which is to bear as a testimony of the nobility or race from whence they do
«“Gentlemen be those, whom their blood and race doth make noble or known. The Latins call them all nobiles, the French nobles.
«« Gens in Latin betokeneth the race and surname. Su the Romans had Cor. nelios, Appios, Fabios, Emilios, Pisones, Julios, Brutos, Valerios. Of which, who were agnati and therefore kept the name, were also gentiles, and retaining the memory of the glory of their progenitor's fame, were gentlemen of that, or that
«« Yeomen be not called masters, for that, as I have said before, pertaineth to gentlemen, but to their surnames men add Goodman.”'
lo 1586, Sir John Ferne wrote his Blazon of Gentry and Nobility, and the distinction between nobilis and ignobilis is there plainly stated to be that of wearing or not wearing coat-armour. Coke upon Lyttleton has the following passage on the Stat, de Mil. 1 Edw. 2.:
He that is destrained ought to be a gentleman of name and blood, claro loco Talsus. Of ancient time those, that held by knight's service, were regularly gen
It was a badge of gentry. Yet now tempora mutantur, and many a yeoman, se, or tradesman, purchaseth lands hulden by knight's service, and yet ought
he want of gentry, to be made a knight. At this time the surest rule is, chi as nens qui arma gentilicia antecessorum suorum proferre possunt. Therefore avoia
is by creation, a gentleman by descent, and yet I read of the crea
ban. A knight of France came into England, and challenged Theroüen
Clarenceux King of Arms, obseryes; “ 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 ALUS 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 honnt'te 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
éte. This would have expressed a decent, creditable person, if his ade him to style himself un homme de lettres.
Thomme de nom et d'armes, who, in a French document,
ntleman anglais," either exposes his ignorance, ority of a gentilhomme français, and thus de
was pleased; and smiling with joy he asked his son if he were not afraid: for he had left school hardly a fortnight. He answered with a steady countenance: My lord, I hope, with God's aid, be- . fore six years are over, to make either him or some other bestir himself in a more dangerous place. For here I am among friends, and I shall then be among the enemies of the master whom I shall serve. Now come along,' said the good Bishop of Grenoble, who was ready to depart: dismount not, my nephew and friend, but take leave of all the company.' Then the young child addressed his father with a joyful countenance, and said: “My lord and father, I pray God to give you a happy and a long life, and me such grace that, ere he take you out of this world, you may hear good things of me.' "My friend,' said the father, I pray him for the same;' and then he gave him his blessing. Afterwards he went to take leave of all the gentlemen who were there, one after another, and they were much pleased with his good countenance.
“His mother, poor lady! was in a tower of the castle, weeping tenderly; for, although she was delighted that her son was in the way of doing well, maternal love prompted her to shed tears. However, when they came to tell her, that if she wished to see her son, he was on horseback ready to depart, the good gentlewoman went out by the back part of the tower, and making her son draw nigh unto her, addressed him in these words: Peter, my friend, you are going into the service of a noble prince; as much as a mother can command her child, do I command you three things, which, if you do, rest assured they will enable you to pass through this present life with honour. The first is, that above all things you love and serve God, without offending him in any way, if it be possible to you. For it is he who gave us life, it is he who will save us, and without him and his grace, we should not have power to perform a single good work in this world. Recommend yourself to him every morning and evening, and he will give you aid. The second is, that you be mild and courteous to all gentlemen, casting away pride. Be humble and obliging to every body. not a slanderer or a liar. Keep yourself temperate in regard to eating and drinking. Avoid envy-it is a mean vice. Be neither a flatterer nor a tale-bearer, for people of this description do not usually attain to any high degree of excellence. Be loyal in word and deed. Keep your promises. Succour poor widows and or. phans, and God will reward you. The third is, that you be bountiful of the goods that God shall give you to the poor and needy; for, to give for his honour's sake never made any man poor; and believe me, my child, the alms which you shall dispense will greatly profit both your body and soul. This is all that I have to charge you with. I believe that your father and I shall not live much longer: but God grant that whilst we do continue in life we may always receive a good account of you. Then the good Knight, though of such tender years, replied to her thus: My lady mother, I thank you with all humility possible for your good instructions,
and with his farour, into whose keeping you recommend me, I hope so well to follow them, that you shall be fully satisfied. And now, after having very humbly recommended myself to your good graces, I will take my leave of you.'
“ Then the good lady took out of her sleeve a little purse, containing only six crowns in gold, and one in small money, and gave it to her son. She also called one of the servants of her brother, the Bishop of Grenoble, and delivered to him a little scrip, in which was some linen for her son's use; with a request that, when he should be presented to my Lord of Savoy, he would pray the servant of the equerry, in whose charge he should be, to be pleased to look after him a little, until he grew older; and she entrusted him with two crowns for the same. Hereupon the Bishop of Grenoble took leave of all the company, and called his nephew, who thought himself in Paradise while he was on the back of his good steed. So they took the direct road to Chamberry, where Duke Charles of Savoy was at that time residing.”
The young lord and his horse are literally given to Charles Duke of Savoy, and the Duke of Savoy, with equal liberality, gives them in' like manner, some twelve months after, to Charles VIII. of France, who, though he highly estimates the present, transfers it in his turn to the Duc de Ligny. In this military and courtly service Bayard was educated; but before we take another page from his book, we must extract the brief character which the author gives us of the French monarch:
“ 'To say the truth,” says he, “this young King Charles was one of the best princes, one of the most courteous, liberal, and charitable, that ever hath been seen or read of. He loved and feared God, and never swore, except by the faith of my body, or some such little oath. And it was a great pity that death should have taken him away so. soon as at the age of eight-andtwenty years: for had he lived longer he would have achieved great things.'
In good time, our good Knight took an active and distinguished part in the wars waged by Louis XII. in the north of Italy: among his other exploits, there is a curious account of an attempt to capture Pope Julius the Second, which was so near succeeding, that,
- Just as he reached Santo Felice, the Pope was about to enter the castle, and was so terror-stricken at the cry he heard, that, leaping suddenly from his litter without assistance, he helped to raise the bridge himself; which was wisely done, for, had he delayed while one might say a Pater noster, he would assuredly have been snapped.”
At the taking of Brescia, Bayard was severely wounded, but the victory of Ravenna was salve for the sore; and there is an admirable account of this desperate and well-fought action. We pass, however, to the year 1512, when the French, driven from Italy, found a new enemy to contend with on their northern frontier, where the Emperor Maximilian and the English Eighth Henry