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Italy with spikes, and in France with fleur-de-lys. Zollman, another authority, deemed this armorial bearing to be nothing but an ornament for the hair, such as ladies of high rank formerly wore. Zasch with returned to the first view, and argued that as Duke Bernhard wanted a difference, he took, therefore, the cingulum militare of the deposed Duke Henry the Lion, son-in-law of our Henry II., as the best emblem of his victory. Dr. Bell, however, adopting Hoffmeister's view of the case, and looking upon the “Rauten Krone” as a floral ornament, and a mere beraldic leaf, traces to it the “strawberry-leaves" of our own ducal coronets, which have in reality little resemblance to the ternate leaf of the strawberry, and which some heralds call the parsley-leaf, while Germans universally designate it as a “ Crown of Rue.” This opinion, the ingenious doctor says, is strongly corroborated by the said “crown of rue” being a special ducal ornament.
John Frederic, Duke and Elector of Saxony, was received, when he returned from captivity, in 1752, to his new capital of Weimar, with every possible demonstration of joy; the schoolboys and girls, with flowing hair, and crowned with garlands of Rue, went out to meet him, singing the Te Deum. Shakspeare has several allusions to Rue as the Herb of Grace, Rich. II., ü. 4; and Wint. Tale, iv. 3; and in Ham., iv. 7, where Ophelia says “ you may wear your rue with a difference.” Dukes are termed "your Grace," and " with a difference' may, according to Dr. Bell, have an heraldic meaning as to its origin. The same writer has, in his work “ Shakspeare's Puck and his Folkslore," advanced a curious and novel hypothesis, that the three missing years of the bard's life-viz. from 1586 to 1589—were passed in Germany, and this would explain how the bard became acquainted with the heraldic tradition question; and so convinced is the doctor of the correctness of this hypothesis, that it is, we bear, his intention to publish the further proofs of his theory, promised in the twelfth chapter of the previously-mentioned work, as a contribution to the third centenary celebration of Shakspeare's birthday-St. George'sday, 1864.
Rue, a bitter stimulating plant, was well known to antiquity, and was much esteemed in ancient medicine. Hippocrates commends it, and it was known to the Jews, for St. Luke condemns the Pharisees for tithing mint and rue. (xi. 42.) For many ages it was considered a preventive of contagion, whence its designation as the “ Herb of Grace.” It was an especial favourite in Germany, where Boerhaave observes, that the greatest commendations he can bestow fall short of its merits. “What medicine,” says the celebrated physician of Leyden, “ can be more efficacious for promoting perspiration, for the cure of hysteric passion, and of epilepsies, and for expelling poison?" Like other therapeutical agents that have had their day, rue is now out of fashion, but there can be no doubt of its powerful medicinal virtues in certain cases. It is easy to understand, from the view we have here given of it-its being looked upon as a preventire of contagion in the middle ages—how this plant, which has nearly the same name in all languages, should have become the emblem of Repentance and Grace, and should have been introduced in armorial bearings as Die Rauten Krone, or the “ Crown of Rue;" but it is not so easy to admit that Dukes received the title of " Grace” from the said crown having been an especial ducal ornament. It is evident that if this view
of the case is admitted, a duke ought to be a person endowed with powers preventive of contagion. The approximation is, however, both curious and ingenious, and is well deserving of consideration. The instances that Stevens finds of Rue being called the Herb of Grace in the dictionaries of Florio, 1598, and of Cotgrave, 1511, Dr. Bell remarks, were all published after Shakspeare's Hamlet, and were, he thinks, taken from his new and popular denomination of the herb.
The Black Hen, the second curious cognizance in the foreign arms of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, was given to denote the accession of a large portion of the county of Henneberg, a district stretching from the southern slopes of the Thuringian Hills to the Danube. The popular derivation is from a black hen, which, with its white chicks, were found upon the hill where the castle of Henneberg was built. This cognizance was always a favourite field with the Saxon princes, and the elector, John Frederic, when giving directions concerning it to his tried friend and limner, Lucas Kronach, his companion in captivity, said to him: “ Paint, dear friend, the black hen in our arms carefully, for she has laid a good egg in it.” Dr. Bell argues that the Black Hen is peculiarly a Wendic symbol, but it is, he adds, still a general object of superstitious regard in Germany, though, with all objects of ancient faith, changed after the victory of the Christian creed into an instrument, or symbol, of the devil. He further particularly associates it, from the existence of some curious reliquaries and other monuments of olden time, with Saint Veit, or Vitus- the Lycian boy who suffered martyrdom under Diocletian-and who became the patron of St. Denis, of Corvey on the Weser, of Rugen, and of Bohemia amongst the Slavonian Wends, as well as of other places. Hence it was that it came to be used subsequently by the Counts of Henneberg as an easy origin for their title, and, therefore, frequently repeated not only on their arms, but also on every instrument in their use.
It is an interesting circumstance that the “ White Horse” should be borne as a cognizance by our young prince both on the paternal and maternal shields, confirming thereby the opinions of historians and heralds, that both lines spring from a common stock, and which are thus united in his person for the first time. They are both supposed to be derived from the ensign of the intrepid Saxon leader, Wittikind, who for thirty years withstood all the might of Charlemagne and his Frankish host. According to tradition, however, Wittikind's horse was black, and was changed into white when conquered and converted. But, although black horses were consecrated to the worship of idols, Tacitus especially informs us that the Germans paid the greatest deference to certain sacred white steeds from the earliest periods, observed their neighing and steps as indicating the will of their deities, and bore their images as ensigns to battle.
It is beyond our purpose to enter upon the origin of the numerous quarterings of the foreign arms of the prince ; those who are curious in such matters will find them explained in Dr. Bell's works ;* we have only
* The full German titles of a Duke of Coburg regnant from these quarterings, are “ Wir N. N. von Gottes Gnaden, Herzog zu Sachsen Coburg und Gotha, Jülich, Cleve, und Berg, auch Engern und Westphalen; Landgraf in Thüringen ; Margraf zu Meissen ; gefürsteter Graf zu Henneberg; Fürst in Lichtenberg;
referred to the more curious mottoes and cognizances, and in connexion with these there remains to be noticed das Nesselblat, or the nettle-leaf, the Holstein cognizance, and which, added by the prince's marriage with the Princess Alexandra of Slesvig-Holstein-Sondesburg-Glücksburg to our indigenous rose, thistle, and shamrock, would, in the courteous language of our veteran antiquary, constitute a “four-leaved clover"" that most potent charm, which, in the possessors, dispels all glamour and witchery, defies all conjuration and all mighty magic,' and will thus add increased force of happy augury to the name of the place whence we hail our future queen--from Lucktown-Glücksburg.” That four-leaved clover is a charm against every kind of glamour and witchcraft, is a tradition common to many parts of England as well as on the Continent.
But laying aside this poetic embodiment of the four cognizances, the nettle-leaf might not by itself be viewed as so perfectly emblematic of connubial felicity as our enthusiastic antiquary is desirous to propound; it is gratifying, therefore, to find that there are some doubts as to the Nesselblat being a “nettle-leaf” at all.
The so-called Nesselberg, or “ Nettle Hill,” towers over the Weser betwixt the small towns of Buckeburg and Rinteln. Upon its crest are the picturesque remains of the feudal stronghold called the Schaumburg (show hill), built by Adolp, or Adolf, von Sangersleben. One of the descendants of this Adolp, probably his grandson, became, in 1100, Count of Holstein and Stormarn, and, in 1648, Christian I., descended from a female branch of this line, was elected King of Denmark. It was from this epoch that the royal family of Denmark became entitled to bear this symbol in their arms; and it has been continued by all their successors, under the designation of the Nesselblat, in the peculiar form of a serrated leaf, to which three Christ's nails are pointed, having been added by Duke Adolph III. in memory of two pilgrimages to Jerusalem. All writers are agreed that it is a leaf, with the exception of Westphalen, who argued that it was a Sea-urchin. Dr. Bell, considering how faulty these heraldic designs are—so much so, that he traces the ducal strawberry-leaves to the “Crown of Rue”-argues that this leaf may be that of the “Herb of Grace” likewise. The first grant of arms to Adolph, a Saxon prince, was from a Saxon duke, and what, he asks, more likely than that a sub-feudatory should take the cognizance of his liege lord? All we can say is, that whether nettle or rue are added to the already happy junction of rose, thistle, and shamrock, or the four cognizances together go to form one mystically-protecting four-leaved clover, we feel a strong moral and patriotic conviction that none (certainly not those most concerned) will ever rue so auspicious a union. The practices of heraldry can alone excuse so vile a pun.
Graf in der Mark und Ravensberg; Herr in Ravenstein and Tonna." The greater portion of these territories are, however, now united to the mighty power of Prussia, to which they were confirmed by the Vienna Congress in 1815, and as no branch of the Saxon family stands in succession to the lands of the Black Eagle, nor are any of these seizures likely to be released from its talons, the continuance of such an array of obsolete claims is scarcely advisable.
THE FRENCH LANGUAGE.
BY FREDERICK MARSHALL.
A QUANTITY of learned books have been written about the genius of languages, their origin, their etymologies, and their family relations with each other ; but has any one ever drawn up a detailed comparison of the relative force of their words, or a fair, unprejudiced account of the merit and exactness of their respective idioms ?
Such a contrast between English and French would be easy enough to establish, not only because of the general rough knowledge of the latter language which exists in England, which would permit almost everybody to appreciate the correctness of the story, but also because the points of distinction which it presents with our own tongue are so striking and radical that they may be seized with exceptional facility.
Each of the two languages has peculiar merits, but though every Englishman is of course convinced that his own is the more perfect, a large number of proofs might be cited to show that numerous and important classes of ideas may be expressed more critically and pointedly in French. It is, however, difficult to really test the question ; first, because it would fill a large book; and secondly, because habit is so hard a master that it exercises a strong though often insensible influence even on the most liberal minds, and because its effects are especially inevitable in the examination of such a subject as daily talk, in which men have followed the same undeviating ruť since they began to lisp, and in which their prejudices have acquired the force of an article of faith.
Still, it ought not to be impossible to prove to an educated intelligence that there may, perhaps, be good things which it does not know, and that because it does not feel the want of improvement in the forms of speech at its disposal, that is no reason why other languages may not contain superiorities which, if they could anyhow be introduced into English, would vastly increase its power and precision.
For instance, it cannot be denied that the possession of universally conjugated verbs gives a peculiar value to French; the tenses and persons into which they are divided express the varying meanings which they are intended to convey with far more delicate nicety than can be obtained by the simple use of auxiliaries, as in English. Each condition of the verb has its special application and intention, and though the appreciation of this subtle distinction between the two languages requires not only a habit, but also a thorough sentiment of French, which few Englishmen have an opportunity of acquiring, every schoolboy knows in what it externally consists, because he learns the same thing in his Latin grammar. It presents the first great element of distinction between the structure of the Anglo-Saxon and Gallic tongues, and those who cannot admit its value should, at all events, not reject it as useless solely because they do not seize its delicate and finely-shaded effects.
Another advantage of French is the general rule which places the substantive before the adjective, communicating the idea itself to the
listener before its descriptive attribute is attached to it. A white cat, for example, is certainly a less correct and striking idiom than a cat white. The latter form, from want of habit of it, simply makes an Englishman laugh ; but when the case is looked at closely, it becomes difficult not to recognise the importance of the change. Suppose, if the English rule be adopted, a hesitation to occur after the enunciation of the word white: the listener may figure to himself a swan, or a towel, or a pot of cold cream, or any other habitually colourless object, while he is awaiting the addition which will define the application of the adjective. But if the other form be used, and cat put first in the phrase, what result can follow from a stoppage? Anyhow, the idea is fixed upon a cat, and all that is wanted to complete it is the designation of its nature. The expectant hearer may imagine it an Angora, or a tabby, asleep on the hearth-rug, or playing with a friendly cork, putting its back up against an approaching dog, or purring in lazy contentment, but he cannot get away from the fact that it is a cat he is being told about. There are exceptions to the rule, and therefore to the argument as well, but wherever it applies its force scarcely varies, whatever be the example chosen.
The exceptions are made by the French themselves : in questions of praise or blame, for instance, the qualifying adjective generally precedes the noun ; everybody says bon garçon, and garçon bon would be as incomprehensible in France as cat white in England. The ear, instructed by long habit, is the only guide to these exceptions, which must be felt, and cannot be prescribed in teaching. What rule can regulate the application of epithets to a coat, for example ?-it may be un excellent babit, un habit bien fait, un habit noir, or un vieil habit. With such variations as these to contend with, no absolute prescriptions can exist, Especially as, of late years, the occasional employment of the adjective in front has become, particularly in Paris, a sort of fashion, the adoption of which produces, to modern listeners, a certain elegance of sound. It is perfectly grammatical to say, c'est une femme aimable et charmante, but it is infinitely more graceful to employ the form, c'est une aimable et charmante femme. This example, however, falls again into the category of personal descriptions, in which, as has just been observed, the adjective almost invariably precedes its object; but it serves to show that even in this very class of English-looking sentences there is no undeviating rule, whatever be the general custom with respect to them. It is true that in phrases where individual merits or defects are under discussion the person referred to is usually named or understood beforehand, and that it is, therefore, his qualification which ought to first strike the mind rather than a renewed designation of him. In all other cases, however, the advantages of giving the front place to the substantive are so real, that it is a pity that actual tendencies should seem to be somewhat threatening its long possession of that position. Anyhow, its dethronement is very partial, and the general composition of French retains the character of point and precision which results from the indication of the object before its qualifying adjective is declared. Here, again, the contrary habit of the English is a difficulty in the way of a fair judgment, but the obstacle is less serious than in the case of the conjugations,