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· The Gryphon, it may be observed, appears in the Roll as a Charge :• Symon de Montagu,
Simon de Montagu, Ke avoit baniere e escu
Who had a banner and shield De inde, au grifoun rampant de Blue, with a griffin rampant of fine or fin.
gold.' Sir Harris Nicholas observes that the exploit which is said to have been performed by the Earl Marshall at Constantinople in slaying a unicorn, which probably referred to a tradition familiar at the time of some deed of one of the Marshall family in the Holy Land,' is not elsewhere commemorated.'?
In opposition to the opinion that the Unicorn could be captured by means of the stratagem above mentioned, it was more generally held that, like the Gryphon,3 «the Unicorne is never taken alive; and the reason being demanded, it is answered, that the greatnesse of his mind is such, that he choseth rather to die than to be taken alive.'4 The real reason why both Gryphon and Unicorn are safe from capture is sufficiently obvious.
Cnut is said amongst other 'naval devices,' to have exhibited unicorns, centaurs, dragons, lions, dolphins, and human figures. The swift unicorn, either Anglo-Saxon or Dane, was obliged to fly before the two Norman leopards (or perhaps “lions "5]. Hence
1 Wright, The Roll of Caerlaverock, 17. 2 The Siege of Carlaverock, 186.
3 "The Griffon having attained his full growth, will never be taken alive' (Guillim, D. H. 259).
4 Ibid. 176. 5 Vide Scott, Lord of the Isles, vi. 35. Also Oussans, H. H. 79, upon the quaestio vexata whether the Shield of England originally bore Lions or Leopards.
The Heraldic Unicorn.
the naturalization of the emblematical unicorn in Scotland, and its return into England under the Stuart dynasty.'1
• The earliest extant example of the unicorn as a supporter in the royal arms of Scotland, appears to be that which occurs in the royal achievement carved above the gateway of Rothsay Castle. The Lyon king of arms, who examined it carefully last suminer, told me that this carving appeared to him to be contemporaneous with the part of the building in which it is inserted, which, considering the style of the architecture and various entries in the Exchequer Rolls relative to the building of Rothsay Castle, he was disposed to assign to the time of Robert II. or III. [1380–1400). In 1486 or 1487 two gold coins were struck, value respectively 18s. and 98., and called the unicorn and half-unicorn, from the circumstance that they bore on one side the figure of a unicorn sejant supporting the royal escutcheon. In the same reign—that of James III.—we first find unicorn pursuivant.' ?
The following instances (amongst many) exhibit the Unicorn as a Charge:
The Arms of Sir John Rest, Lord Mayor of London in 1516, are Azure, on a Fess, between 3 Crosses Milroine, Or, a Unicorn couchant, Gules. This position of the Unicorn is very unusual. Mythologically, the bronze-red setting Moon.
1 Brunet, Regal Armorie of Great Britain, 219. 2 I atter from Thomas Dickson Esa., dated July 1, 1880.
The Family of Harling bore Argent, a Unicorn Sejant, Sable; mythologically, the Moon in eclipse.
The Family of Musterton bore Gules, a Unicorn with dexter leg raised, i.e., tripping, Argent; mythologically, 'the Moon walking in brightness.'1 .
The Family of Farrington bore Sable, 3 Unicorns, Current, Argent, 1 &1&1; mythologically, the wild white Moon of triple aspect,2 flying through the dark clouds.
· The Family of Shelley bore Gules, 3 Unicorn's heads couped, by 2 &l.
The Tincture of the Unicorn is generally Argent, i.e., the ordinary colour of the Moon, Leukothee,
the White-goddess,' 8 the Semitic Lebhânâ, the Paleshiner, as distinguished from the burning, golden Tammuz-Adonis, the Akkadian Dumuzi or Only-son' of the diurnal heaven.'4 "The proper colour of the moon we in Heraldry take to be Argent, both for the weakness of the light, and also for the distinction betwixt the blazoning of it and the Sun; and therefore when we blazon by Planets, we name Gold Sol, and Silver Luna.'5
One or two Crests in which the Unicorn appears are of special interest inasmuch as most archaic ideas seem to have been unconsciously preserved in them. Thus :
The Crest of the Bickerstaff Family is the Sun with sable rays (i.e., the nocturnal sun), surmounted
1 Job, xxxi. 26.
? Vide sec. VI. Vide R. B. Jr., G. D. M. i. 256.
3 Vide sec. VIII. o Guillim, D. H. 111.
The Heraldic Unicorn.
by a Unicorn rampant, i.e., the nightly triumph the Moon over the Sun. In a variant form of th device the Unicorn is statant.
The Crest of the Curteis Family is a Unicor passant, between four trees; mythologically, a mos interesting allusion to the archaic myth of the Grov of the Underworld.
The Heraldic Moon is either Increscent, i.e., the new moon with horns turned towards the dexter side of the shield ; in Complement, i.e., the full moon Decrescent, i.e., the waning moon with horns turned towards the sinister side of the shield; or in Detriment, i.e., when eclipsed. In this state it is emblazoned Sable. The Face in the Orb 3 is shown at times.
James I. introduced the (Scottish) Unicorn, argent, as the Sinister Supporter of the Royal Arms; and Guillim describes the Arms of Charles I. as supported by a Lyon rampand, SOL: and an Unicorn, LUNA.'4 1 Vide sec. XII., subsec. 3.
? Vide sec. V. s Vide secs. V., VII.
4 D. H. 440. The Throne is thus represented as firmly established as the course of nature.
As the Unicorn was not found in the flesh near home, and as its terrestrial existence was firmly believed in, it became necessary to locate the animal in some distant region. Perhaps the most celebrated of his supposed haunts is the English Version of the Old Testament, where the word 'unicorn,' in deference to the Movoképws of the LXX., the Unicornis of the Vulgate, has unfortunately been introduced in several passages. The animal really referred to is the Rêm, the Assyrian Rimu or Wild Bull, respecting which the Rev. W. Houghton observes :
The species of wild cattle hunted by the Assyrian monarchs is either the Bos primigenius or some closely allied species ; it is apparently identical with the gigantic urus, which Caesar and the Roman legions saw in the forests of Belgium and Germany.'1
Thus we read ;– He hath as it were the towering horns (lit. eminences) of a wild bull.'?
And again ;—. Glorious is the firstling of his
i Gleanings from the Natural Hist. of the Ancients, 172-3.