The Flags of the World/Chapter 3

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The Flags of the World
Chapter 3

[ 61 ]

CHAPTER III.

Army Flags—the Queen's Colour—the Regimental Colour—the Honours and Devices—the Flag of the 24th Regiment—Facings—Flag of the King's Own Borderers—What the Flag Symbolises—Colours of the Guards—the Assaye Flag—Cavalry Flags—Presentation of Colours—Chelsea College Chapel—Flags of the Buffs in Canterbury Cathedral—Flags of the Scottish Regiments in St. Giles's Cathedral—Burning of Rebel Flags by the Hangman—Special Flags for various Official Personages—Special Flags for different Government Departments—The Lord High Admiral—The Mail Flag—White Ensign of the Royal Yacht Squadron—Yacht Ensigns and Burgees—House or Company Flags—How to express Colours with Lines—the Allan Tricolor—Port Flags—the British Empire—the Colonial Blue Ensign and Pendant—the Colonial Defence Act—Colonial Mercantile Flag—Admiralty Warrant—Flag of the Governor of a Colony—the Green Garland—the Arms of the Dominion of Canada—Badges of the various Colonies—Daniel Webster on the Might of England—Bacon on the Command of the Ocean.

Having now dealt with the Union Flag and the Red and Blue Ensigns, we proceed to see how these are modified by the addition of various devices upon them.

The flags of the army claim the first place in our regard. Each infantry regiment has two "colours," one being called the "Queen's Colour," and the other the "Regimental Colour." On turning to Barret's "Theorike and Practike of Modern Warres," a book published in the year 1598, we find the following passage:—"We Englishmen do call them of late colours, by reason of the variety of colours they be made of, whereby they be the better noted and known." This we may doubtless accept as a sufficient explanation of the word, and the passage is interesting, too, as approximately fixing a date for the introduction of the term, and showing that it has been in use for at least three hundred years.

The Queen's Colour in every regiment of the line is the flag of the Union, Fig. 90, bearing in its centre the Imperial crown and the number of the regiment beneath it in Roman figures worked in gold, and its territorial designation.

The regimental Colour is of the colour of the facings of the regiment, except when these are white, in which case the body of the flag is not plain white all over, but bears upon it the Cross of St. George. Whatever the colour, it bears in its upper corner the Union, and in the centre of the flag the crown and title of [ 62 ] the regiment, and around it whatever devices, or badges, or other distinctions have been specially conferred upon it, together with the names of the actions in which the regiment has taken part, the records of its gallant service in many a hard-fought struggle in the Peninsula, on the sultry plains of India, beneath the burning sun of Africa, or wherever else the call of honour and of duty has added to its laurels. Thus the regimental flag of the 1st regiment of the line bears the proud record—St. Lucia, Egmont-op-Zee, Egypt, Corunna, Busaco, Salamanca, Vittoria, St. Sebastian, Nive, Peninsula, Niagara, Waterloo, Nagpore, Maheidpore, Ava, Alma, Inkermann, Sebastopol, and several other records of struggles in which they bore gallant share; and many another regiment could show as fine a record of service.

In Fig. 94 we have a representation of the regimental colour of the 24th Regiment. As the facings of this distinguished corps are green,[1] the body of the flag is of that colour. Beneath its territorial designation will be seen its special badge, the Sphinx, bestowed upon it for distinguished service in Egypt, and around are grouped the names of famous victories which it contributed to win.

The 24th Regiment, now in the territorial arrangement in vogue known as the 2nd Warwickshire, was first formed in the year 1689. In 1776 it embarked for Canada and greatly distinguished itself in the American struggle. In 1801 we find it in Egypt, where by its gallantry it won the right to bear the Sphinx.[2] From 1805 to 1810 it was fighting its way along at the Cape of Good Hope, and then went on to India. In 1829 we find it sent off to Canada again to suppress rebellion, and it did not return to England till 1841. In 1846 we see it in the thick of the Punjaub struggle, taking its part right well in the brilliant engagements of Chillianwallah and Goojerat, and in 1857 it is in the thick of the sanguinary Mutiny in India; and, after fifteen years in India, lands in 1861 in England once more. In 1874 we find it again at the Cape of Good Hope, and in 1877-78 engaged in the Kaffir war, and in all times and in all places taking a gallant share in upholding the national cause.

In 1804 a second battalion was added to the regiment. This only existed ten years, but in that time it earned by its distinguished [ 63 ] bravery the names of the Peninsula battles for the flag,[3] and at the conclusion of the struggle it was so weak in numbers that it was disembodied. In 1858 a new second battalion was formed, and did good service in Burmah, South Africa, etc. Both battalions were in Zululand in 1879, and with the exception of one hundred men detailed for special duty, the regiment, save nine men, was wiped out of existence in the fatal field of Isandhlwana. Lieutenants Melville and Coghill tore the colours from their staffs and wrapped them around their bodies, and after the fight was over and the enemy had retired they were recovered. On the arrival of the colours in England they were taken by Royal Command to Osborne, where the Queen fastened to each a wreath of immortelles, and bestowed on the two dead heroes the Victoria Cross as the highest acknowledgment then possible to her of her deep appreciation of the sacrifice that these young gallant officers had made for her, for England, and for the honour of the flag. The colours, therefore, that we have represented in Fig. 94, in all their broad blazon of gallant service, even in the hour of defeat never fell into the hands of the enemy, to be hung in triumph in some Zulu kraal, but were brought back in honour and proud rejoicing, since defeat so valiantly met was no disgrace, and the honour of the flag and of the gallant 24th was without stain.

As one more illustration of regimental colours we may instance those of the 25th Regiment, the King's Own Borderers. Here the groundwork of the flag is blue, with, of course, the Union in the upper corner next the staff. In the centre of the flag is a representation of Edinburgh Castle, and within a band the words, "King's Own Borderers." Outside this we have a wreath of rose, shamrock, and thistle, surmounted by the crown. Below this is a sphinx for service in Egypt, and below this again the word "Martinique." On either side is inscribed "Minden" and "Egmont op Zee," and above all, "Afghanistan." In the upper outer angle of the flag is the lion on the crown and the motto "In veritate religionis confido," and in the lower outer angle the white horse of Hanover and the motto "Nec aspera terrent."[4] This was originally known as the Edinburgh Regiment, as it was raised in four hours in 1689 to defend that city; but George III., for some reason more or less [ 64 ] satisfactory to himself, changed the name to the one it has ever since borne—the King's Own Borderers.

In the year 1811 the Prince Regent, on behalf of the King, issued an order to regulate the colours of the Army, and, amongst other things, sanctioned the custom that had sprung up of inscribing the names of victories on the flags. The custom of inscribing these honours, the names of the actions fought, did not begin till the battle of Minden, so that the victories of Marlborough and all other glorious achievements prior to the year 1759 would have gone unrecorded; but in July, 1881, sanction was given for the Grenadiers and the 1st, 3rd, 8th, 10th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 23rd, 24th, 26th, and 27th Regiments of the Line to add Blenheim and Ramilies to their colours. Oudenarde, Malplaquet, and Dettingen[5] were also added to the colours of those regiments that were there engaged.

By the "Queen's Regulations" these colours are required to be of silk, and to be three feet nine inches in length and three feet in breadth; the cords and tassels are to be of mixed crimson and gold; the staff is to be eight feet seven inches long, and surmounted by a golden crown on which stands a lion. They are to be carried on parade by the two junior lieutenants, and guarded by two sergeants and two privates. These form what is called "the colour party." The distinguishing badge of the colour-sergeant consists of crossed colours, embroidered on the sleeve above the chevrons of his rank.

It has taken something like a thousand years of time to build up the British Empire, while the lavish outlay of toil and forethought of statesmen, the ceaseless spending of blood and treasure, the brilliant strategy by land and sea of a long line of distinguished commanders have all contributed to its birth and proud maintenance; and of all this devotion in the past and the determination to uphold it in the future, the flag is the living concrete symbol. It is the flag beneath whose folds Nelson and Wellington and countless heroes more were carried to their rest; it waved in triumph on the Heights of Abraham, and its honour was safe with Elliot at Gibraltar; it was unfurled on many a battlefield in the Peninsula, and nerved the arms of those who scaled the heights of the Alma and stood unconquerable in the stubborn fight of Inkerman; and it waved triumphant in the breeze at Sebastopol. The sight of it was strength, comfort, and hope in the dark days of Lucknow and Cawnpore. It floated, a symbol of duty, over the heroes of the burning Birkenhead, and to Ross, Parry, Franklin and McClure, in the icy wastes of the far North it was an incentive to renewed [ 65 ] effort and a symbol of home. It was the flag of Speke and Livingstone in savage Africa, of Burke and Wills in their explorations in Australia; and for the honour of England that it symbolises men have thought no sacrifice too great.

The Queen's Colour is a pledge of loyalty to the Sovereign, an emblem of the unity of all, while the second colour deals with the honour that specially appertains to each regiment—a subject of legitimate pride in the past and an incentive to prove not unworthy in the future of those who gained it such distinction.

For some recondite reason the Guards reverse the arrangement that holds in the Line regiments, as with them the Queen's Colour is crimson and bears the regimental devices and honours, while the Union Flag is the Regimental Colour. William IV., in 1832, gave the Grenadier Guards a special flag of crimson silk, bearing in its centre the royal cypher W.R., interlaced in gold, and having grouped together in the four corners the rose, thistle, and shamrock.

The Governor-General in India issued in the year 1803 a general order that all the regiments engaged in Wellington's greatest Indian victory—Assaye—should be entitled to the special distinction of a third flag, and the Royal authority confirmed the honour. This flag, borne by the 74th Highlanders, the 78th or Ross-shire Buffs, and other distinguished regiments, was of white silk, having in its centre an elephant, beneath this the regimental number, and around it a wreath. On blue bands above and below were inscribed in gold the words Assaye and Seringapatam. In the year 1830 the general use on parade of these flags was discontinued by order, and they were reserved for very special occasions.

The number of colours borne by the different regiments was formerly very irregular: sometimes it was one to a company, sometimes only one to a whole regiment, now it is two to each battalion. During the eighteenth century several regiments carried three colours, and the 5th, or Northumberland Fusiliers, continued to do so until 1833. By an unfortunate accident these were then all burnt, and when the question of granting new colours came forward, the right to carry the third was objected to, and the claim had to be surrendered. King Charles's Royal Regiment of Foot Guards lost eleven out of thirteen colours at Edgehill.

The Standards carried by the Life Guards, Horse Guards, and Dragoon Guards are of crimson silk, thirty inches by twenty-seven; and the guidons of the dragoon regiments are forty-one inches by twenty-seven, are slit in the fly and have the outer corners rounded off. The tassels and cords are of crimson silk and gold, and each flag bears the Royal or other title of the regiment in letters of gold in a circle, and beneath it the number of the regiment, all being surmounted by the crown, surrounded by a [ 66 ] wreath of rose, shamrock, and thistle, and the honours. Where a regiment has a particular badge, such device will be placed in the centre, and the territorial and numerical position placed outside; thus the Scots Greys (the 2nd Royal Dragoons) bear as their badge the Imperial Eagle of France, because at Waterloo this distinguished regiment captured the eagle of the French 45th Regiment, on which were inscribed the words Jena, Austerlitz, Wagram, Eylau, and Friedland.[6] The 3rd Dragoons have as their badge the white horse of Hanover, and, as record of good service, Salamanca, Vittoria, Toulouse, Peninsula, Cabool, Moodkee, Sobraon, Ferozeshah, Punjaub, Chillianwallah, Goojerat. The Lancers and Hussars, like the Royal Engineers, the Royal Artillery, and the Rifle Brigade, have no colours, and therefore bear their badges, devices, etc., on their appointments. Thus, for instance, King George II. ordered the 17th Light Dragoons (now the 17th Lancers) to wear the device of the skull and cross-bones, and beneath it the words "or glory" on the front of their caps and on the left breast. This device the "Death or Glory Boys" still retain, like the famous Pomeranian Horse and the Black Brunswickers, continental corps from whom the Anglo-Hanoverian monarch doubtless derived the idea.[7]

The presentation of colours to a regiment is always an imposing ceremony, as with prayer of consecration, martial music, and stirring address they are delivered into its custody, but the bestowal of the old colours in some honoured place of safe keeping is yet more impressive. In the one case there are the hopes and dangers of the future, while in the other the hopes have all been abundantly realised, the dangers triumphantly passed, as the tattered colours—storm tossed, torn by shot and shell—are borne in honour to their last resting place, where, strife for ever over, they rest in peace in the Sanctuary of God, a memorial to all men, until their last shreds fall to decay, of duty nobly and fully done.

Visitors to Canterbury Cathedral will scarcely fail to have noticed the flags therein suspended. The colours of the 1st Battalion of the Buffs (the East Kent Regiment) there find fitting resting place, and the last of these were added so lately as October, 1892.[8] On their entrance, with imposing military ceremony, into the [ 67 ] Cathedral, they were met by the clergy and choir, and a hymn of thanksgiving for victory and of safe return from war was sung, commencing—

"Grateful, we bring from lands afar,
Torn, shattered, but unstained,
Banners that Thy servant blessed
Ere the stern conflict came;
Lord, let their fragments ever rest
Where dwells Thy Holy name."

After a short service of prayer and praise the Dean of Canterbury addressed the great congregation. It might be asked, he said, why they, who were the Ministers of the Prince of Peace, should take such interest in these military proceedings. It was because they recognised in them the greatest force for peace that there was in our land, for it was through them that this country of ours had not been trampled for centuries under the feet of any foreign foe, it was through them that the Pax Britannica prevailed, and that everywhere where the British Flag was present it carried with it peace, and tranquillity, and justice. It was through the help of the army that the peaceful people of this country could carry on their avocations and serve God and do His work in peace; and therefore the clergy gratefully acknowledged their services, and hoped and prayed that everywhere the colours of each regiment might still be not only unstained, but covered with laurels in struggling for right and for justice.

Colonel Hobson then addressed the vast audience, reminding the younger soldiers present that the regiment to which they had the honour to belong was formed more than three hundred years ago, and was, therefore, the oldest in the Army. It had won honour and renown in every part of the world, and the colours which they were that day appropriately laying to rest in the Warriors' Chapel of Canterbury Cathedral represented as glorious a record as that of any regiment in the British Army. The earliest existence of the regiment dated from the movement set on foot in this country in the latter half of the sixteenth century, to assist the cause of civil and religious liberty in the Netherlands. The dragon, which is on the colours, was the crest of the City of London, from whose Trained Bands the regiment was formed in 1572; and the regimental march, so familiar to them all, was given them by Queen Elizabeth. After enumerating some few of the services that the regiment had rendered, he concluded by saying:—"The few words I have still to say I want you young soldiers especially to listen to and to take to heart. The colours of a regiment are symbolical of what ought to be the watchword of an army—duty; the Queen's Colours—duty to [ 68 ] your Sovereign and to your country; the Regimental Colours—duty towards the regiment. In these days the material side of the profession of arms is much insisted upon, but I tell you that an army without something higher than that, however well cared for in other respects, is a bad army, and that when thoughtfulness and care for the good name of a regiment is sacrificed for selfish, individual advancement, the regiment, as a whole, will suffer. The spirit which animated the regiments of the British Army—who placed those names, of which we are so proud to-day, on those colours—was, duty first, self afterwards; and it will be a bad day for the British Army if that spirit is ever allowed to depart from it. There was no position in the army, however humble, in which men could not sustain the credit and honour of their regiment and thus contribute to their country's welfare."

The Dean thereupon solemnly accepted the care of the colours and pronounced the Benediction, and the whole audience then joined heart and voice, with thrilling effect, in singing the National Anthem.

It seems so natural to write of England and of Englishmen, so stilted to put Great Britain and Ireland, that one may possibly forget that, comprehensive as we intend the terms to be, we may, perhaps, wound the susceptibilities of our fellow subjects and brother Britons across the Tweed. Let us then turn to a companion picture, and see how, with equal honour and devotion, the flags of our gallant Highlanders are borne to their rest.

A movement was, some time ago, set on foot to gather in the old flags from the various Scottish regiments and to place them all in the Cathedral Church of Edinburgh. This was effected, and the perspective effect of these, as they line the nave on either side, is very fine. The oldest colours there are those of the 82nd, the Duke of Hamilton's regiment, presented in the year 1782, and still in excellent preservation.

When on November 14th, 1883, the old colours borne by the various Scottish regiments were deposited in St. Giles' Cathedral, they were escorted in all honour and military pomp from the Castle; and says one who was there: "When the colours came in sight, the multitude raised a shout and cheered, but the impulse was but momentary, for at sight of the array of shattered rags the noise of the tumult died away, and a half-suppressed sound was heard as through the hearts of the people there flashed a thrill of mingled pride and pain. Those who saw it will never forget the scene. In the centre the tattered silk of the Colours, and on the fringe and in the background a wonder-stricken crowd, as past uncovered heads, past dimmed eyes and quivering lips, the old flags were carried."

When the flags had been received with service of prayer and [ 69 ] praise, the meaning of it all was summed up in burning words of love, devotion, and pride. "We have gathered to-day," said the speaker, "for a noble purpose—to receive with all honour into this national church these flags, which have been borne by our soldiers through many a hard fight and in many a distant land. 'In the name of the Lord,' said the inspired Psalmist long ago, 'we will set up our banners.' In the spirit in which he spoke, these banners were first unfurled; and in that great Name they were blessed by God's ministers ere they were committed to those who were to carry them, as a testimony that, as a nation, we believe in God, and desire that He should guide our destinies alike in war and in peace; and now, after the lapse of years, they are brought back to rest in God's house as a testimony to the same truth, that we acknowledge Him as the supreme source of all our national success and greatness. 'Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power, and the victory, and the majesty! Both riches and honour come of Thee, and in Thine hand it is to make great and to give strength unto all.' It is in this spirit that we place these emblems in Scotland's great historic church. The associations that gather around these faded banners are of the tenderest and most touching kind. They are such as cause the heart to swell and the tear to come to the eye. Few, I feel sure, in this vast assemblage have not felt in some degree their power. There are soldiers here whom they carry back to old days, and to comrades with whom they stood shoulder to shoulder in many a perilous hour. The old flag has for the British soldier a meaning so deep and powerful that it is impossible to put it into words. It is but a piece of silk, often faded and tattered, and rent with shot: but it is a symbol, and symbols are amongst the most sacred things on earth. It means for the soldier his Queen and his country, and all the honour, loyalty, truth, and heroism they demand of him. Therefore it is that men will follow their colours down into the dreadful pit, and would be willing to die twice for them rather than let them be taken by an enemy; and in the hour of defeat, like the heroes of Isandlwhana, will fall pierced through with wounds, but with these precious symbols, still untarnished, wrapped around them. And though to the peaceful citizen these emblems can never mean all they stand for to those who have served under them, even to him, as they hang here, they may speak of things that it is good for him to remember. They may well tell him of the history of his country, and the wonderful way by which God has led her, and of the brave men He has raised up to fight for her. Nor can we help specially remembering that these are the colours of our Scottish regiments. Scotland is a poor country compared to the great neighbour with whom it is happily united, but it possesses a distinct national life [ 70 ] of its own which all true Scotchmen would not willingly let die. We are proud of our Scotch regiments. We feel that they, of the whole army, belong especially to ourselves; and they too, as they have swept on to battle with the cry, 'Scotland for ever!' feel, we believe, that they belong specially to us. Providence, said Napoleon sneeringly, is generally on the side of the strongest battalions. Be it so; but will anyone deny that the character of the soldier has much to do with the strength of the battalion they form? And was it not the character of our soldiers—a character fostered by the traditions of their native land, fostered still more, perhaps, by the religious teaching of their native church and parish school—that made them strong on many a memorable day, and never more than on that memorable day at Waterloo, when the great commander I have named generously exclaimed, as he saw his own ranks yielding before the onslaught, 'Les braves Ecossais!' May the sight of these banners inspire every soldier who looks on them, whether Lowland or Highland, to echo the desire to hand down the name they bear without a blemish! And should the day ever come when we as a people are tempted to succumb to sloth and luxury, first to undervalue, and finally to give up, national power and privileges which are an heritage from God, and have been dearly purchased by those who went before us—may these emblems, and the stirring memories that cling to them, help us in some degree to wake up the last drop of blood left in our hearts, and nerve us to bear ourselves like the children of our sires. 'We have heard with our ears, O God, and our fathers have told us, what Thou didst in their days in the times of old. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them, but Thy right hand and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour unto them. Through Thee will we push down our enemies; through Thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.'" This impressive and imposing ceremony closed with the magnificent "Hallelujah Chorus" of Handel, and the final Benediction.

That colours do not always perish in honour may be seen by the following extract from the Scots' Magazine of June, 1746, where the citizens of Edinburgh assisted at a very different function to the one we have just described. "Fourteen rebel colours," says the ancient newsman, "taken at Culloden, were brought into Edinburgh on the 31st May, and lodged in the castle. On Wednesday, the 4th of June, at noon, they were brought down to the Cross, the Pretender's own standard carried by the hangman, and the rest by chimney sweepers. The sheriffs, accompanied by the heralds, pursuivants, trumpeters, city constables, etc., and escorted by the city guard, walked to the Cross, where a proclamation was [ 71 ] made that the colours belonging to the rebels were ordered by the Duke of Cumberland to be burnt by the hands of the common hangman. The Pretender's standard was then put on a fire that had been prepared, and afterwards all the rest one by one—a herald always proclaiming to whom each belonged, the trumpets sounding, and the populace, of which there was a great number assembled, huzzaing."

Various government officials have their special flags. The flag of the Union having been established by "Queen's Regulations" for the naval service, as the distinguishing flag to be borne by the admiral of the fleet, great inconvenience arose from the use of the same flag when military authorities, diplomatic and consular agents were embarking in boats or other vessels; so it became necessary to make some modification in the flag. It is therefore now ordered that a general or other officer commanding a military station shall have, in the centre of the Union, a blue shield bearing the Royal initials, surmounted by a crown and surrounded by a garland; those in the diplomatic service shall have, in the centre of the Union, a white shield bearing the Royal Arms, and surrounded by a garland; while consuls-general, consuls, or consular agents have the Blue Ensign as their distinguishing flag, and in the centre thereof the Royal Arms. The flag of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland is the Union, and in its centre, as we may see in Fig. 106, a blue shield bearing the golden harp.

Different Government Departments have their special flags also. Thus the Transport Service has the blue ensign with a golden anchor, placed horizontally, in the fly, while the Victualling Department has the blue ensign again, but this time as shown in Fig. 98, with two crossed anchors. On the blue ensign of the Board of Trade is found in the fly a white circle, and within this a ship in full sail (see Fig. 105). The Ordnance Department flag, represented in Fig. 108, bears a shield with cannons and cannon balls upon it, while vessels and boats employed on submarine mining service are authorized to carry the blue ensign with—as its special badge—a hand issuing from a mural crown, and grasping a thunderbolt. The Telegraph branch of the Post-Office has a very striking device: a representation of Father Time with his hour glass smashed by lightning. The red ensign is employed by the Custom House and the Excise, in the first case having, as we see in Fig. 107, a golden crown in the fly, and, in the second, a crown and star. The flag of the Admiralty is a very striking one (Fig. 99). This association of the anchor with the Admiralty is a very natural one; we see it not only in our English flag, but in those of France, Italy, Germany, Russia, etc. Our Admiralty flag is hoisted on any ship when the Commissioners [ 72 ] of the Admiralty are on board,[9] and it is also hoisted at the fore top-gallant mast of every ship on which the Queen may be on board. Vessels carrying Her Majesty's mail fly on the fore-mast a white burgee, having in its centre a crown, and on one side of it the word "Royal" and on the other "Mail"; the words Royal Mail and the crown being in red on the white field of the flag.

The White Ensign, Fig. 95, the special flag of Her Majesty's Navy, is, by very exceptional privilege, allowed to be flown by the Royal Yacht Squadron. This distinction was conferred on that Club in the year 1829, the Club itself being established in 1812.[10] In the old days, when the Royal Navy used the red, white, and blue ensigns, the red ensign was of the highest dignity; and it was this from 1821 to 1829 that the Royal Yacht Squadron flew, but, as the red ensign was also used by merchant vessels, they adopted in 1829 the white ensign as being more distinctive. In 1842 the Admiralty drew up a Minute that no warrant should be issued to any other yacht club to fly the white ensign, and that those privileged Clubs that already had it must henceforth forego it. Copies of the minute were accordingly sent to the Royal Western of England, Royal Thames, Royal Southern, and some two or three other clubs, but, by some oversight, the Royal Western of Ireland was overlooked, and that Club continued to use the white ensign until the mistake was discovered by the Admiralty in the year 1857. Since that date the Royal Yacht Squadron, which has always been under the special patronage of Royalty, has been alone in its use. Its value is purely sentimental; it carries no substantial privilege. A rather marked case arose, in fact, to the contrary in 1883, when Lord Annesley's yacht, the Seabird, was detained by the Turkish authorities at the Dardanelles in consequence of her bearing the white ensign. No foreign man-of-war is allowed to pass the Dardanelles without special permission; and the white [ 73 ] ensign of the Royal Navy brought her within that category. On account of this, all yacht owners were warned that should they wish to pass the Dardanelles under the white or blue ensign, the latter being also the flag of the Royal Naval Reserve, they must first obtain an Imperial Iradé, otherwise they were recommended to display the red ensign. Austria-Hungary, Spain, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Norway, and France have each, in like manner, given to the leading club of the country the privilege of flying the naval flag. In America and Russia a special ensign has been accorded to all yacht clubs, and all take equal rank. Some years ago the Royal Cork Yacht Club wished to adopt a green ensign, but the Admiralty refused to sanction a new colour.

The Blue Ensign is conferred on certain Yacht Clubs by special Admiralty warrant. The Royal Eastern, Royal Barrow, Royal Clyde, Royal Highland, Royal Northern, Royal Western of England, Royal Cinque Ports, Royal Albert, Royal Dorset, etc., fly the Blue Ensign pure and simple; others have a distinguishing badge on the fly, thus the Royal Irish has a golden harp and crown, the Royal Ulster a white shield with the red hand, the Royal Cornwall the Prince of Wales' Feathers, the Royal Harwich a golden rampant lion, and so forth. The clubs flying the Red Ensign change it slightly from that flown by the Merchant Service; thus the Royal St. George, Royal Victoria, and Royal Portsmouth have a golden crown in the centre of the Union canton, while the Royal Yorkshire has a white rose and gold crown on the fly, and the Royal Dart a golden dart and crown. Each club has also its distinguishing burgee, and ordinarily of the same colour as its ensign; thus, though the Royal Clyde and the Royal Highland both fly the plain blue ensign, the Royal Clyde burgee has on it the yellow shield and red lion rampant, while the Royal Highland has the white cross of St. Andrew. Fig. 100 is the burgee of the Ranelagh Club, Fig. 101 of the Yare, Fig. 102 of the Royal Thames, Fig. 103 of the Dublin Bay Club.

Besides these club ensigns and burgees, each yacht bears its owner's individual device, that is supposed to distinguish it from all others, though one finds, in looking through a series of such flags, that some of the simpler devices are borne by more than one yacht. Every yacht club has its special burgee, which is flown by each yacht in the club at her truck, but when the vessel is racing the individual flag takes its place. Many of these flags, though simple in character, are very effective and striking. The lower flags on Plate XII. are good typical examples. Fig. 121 is the yacht flag of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales—the flag of the well-known Britannia; and Figs. 122 and 123 are those respectively of the equally-famed Ailsa and Valkyrie. [ 74 ]

Merchant vessels are permitted to adopt any House or Company flag on condition that it does not resemble any national flag. Its great use is that it should be clearly distinctive; and many of the flags employed are of strict heraldic propriety, and very attractive, while others are about as unsatisfactory and bald as they well could be. It would clearly be a painful and invidious thing to pick out any of these latter, so we can only suggest that any of our readers who have an opportunity of visiting busy ports, such as London, Southampton, Bristol, Liverpool, should collect their own awful examples and paint them in the margin of this page.

We may point out, by the way, that anyone sketching flags would be greatly assisted by knowing the symbols for the various colours, as it may well be that anyone might have only a pencil in his pocket when desiring to make such a memorandum. White is expressed by simply leaving the paper plain, yellow by dotting the surface over, red by a series of upright lines, blue by horizontal lines, green by sloping lines, and black by a series of upright lines crossed by others at right angles to them. These are the colours used in books on heraldry, and they are very easily remembered. On some of our coins the colours of the arms in the shield are thus expressed, and on heraldic book-plates and the like they may be also seen—wherever, in fact, colour has to be expressed or notified without the actual use of it. Our readers will find that if they will sketch out in black and white some few of our examples they will soon gain a useful facility that may stand them in good stead whenever for this or any other purpose they want to make a colour memorandum, and have only a pencil or pen and ink to make it with.

In the upper portion of Plate XII. we have several illustrations of Company flags. Fig. 109 is the well-known ensign of Green's Blackwall Line, while Fig. 110 is that of the Cunard. The Peninsular and Oriental flag (Fig. 111) is divided by lines from corner to corner into four triangles, the upper one white, the lower yellow, the hoist blue, and the fly red. This division into triangles is a rather favourite one; we see it again in Fig. 112, the Flag of the Australasian Steam Navigation Company. In the flag of the Demerara and Berbice Steamship Company the upper and lower portions are white, and the two side portions red; in the flag of the vessels belonging to Galbraith, Pembroke and Co., the upper is red, the lower blue, and the two sides white. In another company, that of Wesencraft of Newcastle, the colours are the same as the P. and O. flag, though differently placed, the blue being at the top, the red at the bottom, the yellow at the hoist, and the white at the fly. Fig. 113 is the flag of the fleet of Devitt and Moore, an Australian Line. Fig. 114 betokens the vessels of the [ 75 ] Canadian Pacific Company, and Fig. 115 the ships of the Castle Line to South Africa. Fig. 116 is the Company flag of the Union Steamship Company, of Southampton, while Fig. 117 is the device of the Mediterranean and New York Steamship Company. Our remaining illustrations are; Fig. 118, the flag adopted by Messrs. Houlden Brothers; Fig. 119, that of the popular White Star Line; and Fig. 120, that of the New Zealand Shipping Company. The well-known Allan Line has as its house flag the three upright strips of blue, white, and red that we see in the French tricolor, Fig. 191, plus a plain red burgee that is always hoisted immediately above it. The Allan is the largest private ship-owning company in the world; in the course of the year there are some two hundred arrivals and departures of their vessels at or from Glasgow, and some fifty thousand people are carried annually to or from America. During the Crimean War many of the steamers of this line were chartered by the French Government for the transport of their troops, and it is in memory of this that the vessels of the Allan fleet adopt the tricolor as their house flag.

That we have by no means exhausted this portion of our subject is patent from the fact that in a book before us that is specially devoted to these house flags seven hundred and eighty-two examples are given, wherein we find not only stripes, crosses, and such-like simple arrangements, but crescents, stars, anchors, lions, stags, thistles, castles, bells, keys, crowns, tridents, and many other forms.

In earlier days merchant ships flew rather the flag of their port than of their nation, so that a vessel was known to be of Plymouth, Marseilles, Dantzic, or Bremen by the colours displayed. Thus the flag of Marseilles was blue with a white cross upon it; Texel, a flag divided horizontally into two equal strips, the upper being green and the lower black; Rotterdam was indicated by a flag having six horizontal green stripes upon it, the interspaces being white; Cherbourg, blue, white, blue, white, horizontally arranged; Riga, a yellow cross on a blue ground.

The British Empire—the Greater Britain across the seas, some eighty times larger in area than the home islands of its birth—must now engage our attention. Its material greatness is amazing, far exceeding that of any other empire the world has ever seen, and its moral greatness is equal to its material. Wherever the flag of Britain flies, there is settled law, property is protected, religion is free; it is no mere symbol of violence or rapine, or even of conquest. It is what it is because it represents everywhere peace, and civilization, and commerce. Protected by the Pax Britannica dwell four hundred millions out of every race under heaven, the [ 76 ] Mother of Nations extending to Jew, Parsee, Arab, Chinese, Blackfoot, Maori, the liberties that were won at Runnymead and in many another stern fight for life and freedom. In every school-room in the United States hangs the flag of their Union, the Stars and Stripes; and devotion to all that it symbolises is an essential part of the teaching. We in turn might well in our systems of education give a larger space to the history, laws, and literature of our great Empire, taking a more comprehensive view than is now ordinarily the case, studying the growth of the mighty States that have sprung into existence through British energy, and attaching at least as much importance to the lives of the men who have built up this goodly heritage as to the culinary shortcomings of Alfred or the schemes of Perkin Warbeck.

As regards the value of our Colonies to the Empire, the following extract from a speech made by the Prince of Wales at the Royal Colonial Institute may very aptly be quoted:—

"We regard the Colonies as integral parts of the Empire, and our warmest sympathies are with our brethren beyond the seas, who are no less dear to us than if they dwelt in Surrey or Kent. Mutual interests, as well as ties of affection, unite us as one people, and so long as we hold together we are unassailable from without. From a commercial point of view, the Colonies and India are among the best customers for home manufacturers, it being computed that no less than one-third of the total exports are absorbed by them. They offer happy and prosperous homes to thousands who are unable to gain a livelihood within the narrow limits of these islands, owing to the pressure of over-population and consequent over-competition. In transplanting themselves to our own Colonies, instead of to foreign lands, they retain their privileges as citizens of this great Empire, and live under the same flag as subjects of the same Sovereign. As Professor Seeley remarks in his very interesting work, 'The Expansion of England,' 'Englishmen in all parts of the world remember that they are of one blood and one religion; that they have one history, and one language and literature.' We are, in fact, a vast English nation, and we should take great care not to allow the emigrants who have gone forth from among us to imagine that they have in the slightest degree ceased to belong to the same community as ourselves."

Our statesmen and thinkers have never failed to recognise the brotherhood of Greater Britain. Of this fact it would be easy enough to reproduce illustrations by the score. We need, however, here but refer to the sentiments of the Earl of Rosebery on the expansion of the Empire, where we find him declaring— [ 77 ]

"Since 1868 the Empire has been growing by leaps and bounds. That is, perhaps, not a process which everybody witnesses with unmixed satisfaction. It is not always viewed with unmixed satisfaction in circles outside these islands. There are two schools who view with some apprehension the growth of our Empire. The first is composed of those nations who, coming somewhat late into the field, find that Great Britain has some of the best plots already marked out. To those nations I will say that they must remember that our Colonies were taken—to use a well-known expression—at prairie value, and that we have made them what they are. We may claim that whatever lands other nations may have touched and rejected, and we have cultivated and improved, are fairly parts of our Empire, which we may claim to possess by an indisputable title. But there is another ground on which the extension of our Empire is greatly attacked, and the attack comes from a quarter nearer home. It is said that our Empire is already large enough, and does not need extension. That would be true enough if the world were elastic, but, unfortunately, it is not elastic, and we are engaged at the present moment, in the language of mining, in 'pegging out claims for the future.' We have to consider not what we want now, but what we shall want in the future. We have to consider what countries must be developed, either by ourselves or some other nation, and we have to remember that it is part of our responsibility and heritage to take care that the world, as far as it can be moulded by us, shall receive an 'English-speaking' complexion, and not that of another nation. We have to look forward beyond the chatter of platforms, and the passions of party, to the future of the race of which we are at present the trustees, and we should, in my opinion, grossly fail in the task that has been laid upon us did we shrink from responsibilities, and decline to take our share in a partition of the world which we have not forced on, but which has been forced upon us."

Statistics of area of square miles, population, and so forth, can be readily found by those who care to seek for them, and we need give them no place here; but let us at least try and realise just by bare enumeration something of what this Greater Britain is. In Europe it includes, besides the home islands, Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus. In Asia—the great Indian Empire, Ceylon, Aden, Hong-Kong, North Borneo, the Straits Settlements, Perim, Socotra, Labuan. In America—the Dominion of Canada, Newfoundland, Trinidad, Guiana, Honduras, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Bermudas, Barbadoes, Falkland Isles, the Leeward and Windward Isles. In Australasia—New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, New Zealand, Fiji, New Guinea. In Africa—the Cape Colony, Basutoland, Bechuanaland, Zululand, Natal, [ 78 ] Gold Coast, Lagos, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Ascension, St. Helena. Our list is by no means a complete one.

Newfoundland was the earliest British colony, the settlement being made about the year 1500. Many of our colonies have been thus created by peaceful settlement, while others have fallen to us in victorious fights with France, Holland, Spain, and other Powers, or have been ceded by treaty.

The flags of our colonies are those of the Empire, with, in some cases, special modifications. In all our colonies, for instance, the Royal Standard, as we see it in England, is displayed on the fortresses on the anniversaries of the birth and coronation of the Sovereign.

The Blue Ensign is the flag borne by any vessel maintained by any colony under the clauses of the Colonial Defence Act, 28 Vic., Cap. 14. The "Queen's Regulations" state that "Any vessel provided and used, under the third section of the said Act, shall wear the Blue Ensign, with the seal or badge of the Colony in the fly thereof, and a blue pendant. All vessels belonging to, or permanently in the service of, the Colony, but not commissioned as vessels of war under the Act referred to, shall wear a similar blue ensign, but not the pendant." In Figs. 127, 128, 130, and 135 we have the Government Ensigns of four of our great Colonies—Cape Colony, Queensland, Canada, and Victoria—while in Fig. 140 we have the blue pendant.

This Colonial Defence Act of 1865 is so important in its bearings on the possibilities of Naval defence that it seems well to quote from it some of its provisions. Its object is to enable the several Colonial possessions of Her Majesty to make better provision for Naval defence, and, to that end, to provide and man vessels of war; and also to raise a volunteer force to form part of the Royal Naval Reserve, to be available for the general defence of the Colony in case of need. This Act declares that "in any Colony it shall be lawful for the proper Legislative Authority, with the Approval of Her Majesty in Council, from Time to Time to make Provision for effecting at the Expense of the Colony all or any of the Purposes following:

"For providing, maintaining, and using a Vessel or Vessels of War, subject to such Conditions and for such Purposes as Her Majesty in Council from Time to Time approves.
"For raising and maintaining Seamen and others entered on the Terms of being bound to serve as ordered in any such Vessel. [ 79 ]
"For raising and maintaining a Body of Volunteers entered on the Terms of being bound to general Service in the Royal Navy in Emergency, and, if in any Case the proper Legislative Authority so directs, on the further Terms of being bound to serve as ordered in any such Vessel as aforesaid:
"For appointing Commissioned, Warrant, and other Officers to train and command or serve as Officers with any such Men ashore or afloat, on such Terms and subject to such Regulations as Her Majesty in Council from Time to Time approves:
"For obtaining from the Admiralty the Services of Commissioned, Warrant, and other Officers and of Men of the Royal Navy for the last-mentioned Purposes:
"For enforcing good Order and Discipline among the Men and Officers aforesaid while ashore or afloat within the Limits of the Colony:
"For making the Men and Officers aforesaid, while ashore or afloat within the Limits of the Colony or elsewhere, subject to all Enactments and Regulations for the Time being in force for the Discipline of the Royal Navy.

"Volunteers raised as aforesaid in any Colony shall form Part of the Royal Naval Reserve, in addition to the Volunteers who may be raised under the Act of 1859, but, except as in this Act expressly provided, shall be subject exclusively to the Provisions made as aforesaid by the proper Legislative Authority of the Colony.

"It shall be lawful for Her Majesty in Council from Time to Time as Occasion requires, and on such Conditions as seem fit, to authorize the Admiralty to issue to any Officer of the Royal Navy volunteering for the Purpose a Special Commission for Service in accordance with the Provisions of this Act.

"It shall be lawful for Her Majesty in Council from Time to Time as Occasion requires, and on such Conditions as seem fit, to authorize the Admiralty to accept any Offer for the Time being made or to be made by the Government of a Colony, to place at Her Majesty's Disposal any Vessel of War provided by that Government and the Men and Officers from Time to Time serving therein; and while any Vessel accepted by the Admiralty under such Authority is at the Disposal of Her Majesty, such Vessel shall be deemed to all Intents a Vessel of War of the Royal Navy, and [ 80 ] the Men and Officers from Time to Time serving in such Vessels shall be deemed to all Intents Men and Officers of the Royal Navy, and shall accordingly be subject to all Enactments and Regulations for the Time being in force for the Discipline of the Royal Navy.

"It shall be lawful for Her Majesty in Council from Time to Time as Occasion requires, and on such Conditions as seem fit, to authorize the Admiralty to accept any Offer for the Time being made or to be made by the Government of a Colony, to place at Her Majesty's Disposal for general Service in the Royal Navy the whole or any Part of the Body of Volunteers with all or any of the Officers raised and appointed by that Government in accordance with the Provisions of this Act; and when any such Offer is accepted such of the Provisions of the Act of 1859 as relate to Men of the Royal Naval Reserve raised in the United Kingdom when in actual Service shall extend and apply to the Volunteers whose Services are so accepted."

As the Act winds up by saying that "nothing in this Act shall take away or abridge any power vested in or exerciseable by the Legislature or Government of any Colony," it is evident that the whole arrangement is a purely voluntary one.

The vessels of the Mercantile Marine registered as belonging to any of the Colonies, fly the red ensign without any distinguishing badge, so that a Victorian or Canadian merchantman coming up the Thames or Mersey would probably fly a flag in all respects similar (Fig. 97) to that of a merchant vessel owned in the United Kingdom. There is, however, no objection to colonial merchant vessels carrying distinctive flags with the badge of the Colony thereon, in addition to the red ensign, provided that the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty give their warrant of authorization. The red ensign differenced may be seen in Fig. 129, the merchant flag of Canada,[11] and in Fig. 134 that of Victoria, the device on this latter bearing the five stars, representing the constellation of the Southern Cross—a simple, appropriate, and beautiful device. [ 81 ]

"Governors of Her Majesty's Dominions in foreign parts, and governors of all ranks and denominations administering the governments of British Colonies and Dependencies shall"—as set forth in "Queen's Regulations"—"fly the Union Jack with the arms or badge of the Colony emblazoned in the centre thereof." Figs. 139 and 141 are illustrations, the first being the special flag of the Viceroy of India, and the second that of the Governor of Western Australia. The Governor-General of Canada has in the centre of his flag the arms of the Dominion, while the Lieutenant-Governors of Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia, and Prince Edward's Island have in the centre of their flags the arms of their province alone. These arms in each case are placed on a shield within a white circle, and surrounded by a wreath. The Admiralty requirements are that the Colonial badge on the governor's flag should be placed within a "green garland," and this is understood to be of laurel; but in 1870 Canada received the Imperial sanction to substitute the leaves of the maple.[12]

Though the provinces that together make the Dominion of Canada are seven in number, the Canadian shield only shows the arms of four—Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick—an arrangement that can be scarcely palatable to the other three.

 

The Queen's Warrant, published in the Canadian Gazette of November 25th, 1869, is as follows:—

"VICTORIA, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, &c.

"To Our Right Trusty and well-beloved Councillor, Edward George Fitzalan Howard (commonly called Lord Edward George Fitzalan Howard), Deputy to Our Right Trusty and Right entirely beloved cousin, Henry Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal and Our Hereditary Marshal of England—greeting:—

"Whereas, by virtue of, and under the authority of an Act of Parliament, passed in the Twenty-ninth year of Our Reign, entitled 'An Act for the Union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and the Government thereof," we were empowered to declare after a certain day therein appointed, that the said Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick should [ 82 ] form one Dominion under the name of Canada. And it was provided that on and after the day so appointed, Canada should be divided into four Provinces, named, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; that the part of the then Province of Canada, which formerly constituted the Province of Upper Canada, should constitute the Province of Ontario; and the part which formerly constituted the Province of Lower Canada, should constitute the Province of Quebec; and that the Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick should have the same limits as at the passing of the said Act. And whereas we did by Our Royal Proclamation, bearing date the Twenty-second day of May last, declare, ordain, and command that, on and after the first day of July, 1867, the said Provinces should form and be one Dominion under the name of Canada accordingly.

"And forasmuch as it is Our Royal will and pleasure that, for the greater honour and distinction of the said Provinces, certain Armorial Ensigns should be assigned to them,

"Know ye, therefore, that We, of our Princely Grace and special favour, have granted and assigned, and by these presents do grant and assign the Armorial Ensigns following, that is to say:—

"For the Province of Ontario:

"Vert, a sprig of three Leaves of Maple slipped, or, on a chief Argent the Cross of St. George.

"For the Province of Quebec:

"Or, on a Fess Gules between two Fleurs de Lis in chief Azure, and a Sprig of three Leaves of Maple slipped vert in base, a Lion passant guardant or.

"For the Province of Nova Scotia:

"Or, on a Fess Wavy Azure between three Thistles proper, a Salmon Naiant Argent.

"For the Province of New Brunswick:

Or, on waves a Lymphad, or Ancient Galley, with oars in action, proper, on a chief Gules a Lion passant guardant or, as the same are severally depicted in the margin hereof, to be borne for the said respective Provinces on Seals, Shields, Banners, Flags, or otherwise according to the Laws of Arms.

"And We are further pleased to declare that the said United Provinces of Canada, being one Dominion under the name of [ 83 ] Canada, shall, upon all occasions that may be required, use a common Seal, to be called the 'Great Seal of Canada,' which said seal shall be composed of the Arms of the said Four Provinces quarterly, all which armorial bearings are set forth in this Our Royal Warrant."

This latter point is a somewhat important one, as owing to the semi-official endorsement given in many colonial publications, it appears to be a popular misconception that as many different arms as possible are to be crowded in. In one example before us five are represented, the additional one being Manitoba. In a handbook on the history, production, and natural resources of Canada, prepared by the Minister of Agriculture for the Colonial Exhibition, held in London in 1886, the arms of the seven provinces are given separately, grouped around a central shield that includes them all. The whole arrangement is styled "Arms of the Dominion and of the Provinces of Canada."

When the Queen's Warrant was issued in 1869, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were the only members of the Confederation. Manitoba entered it in 1870, British Columbia in 1871, and Prince Edward Island in 1873.

The Royal Canadian Yacht Club, the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, and the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club have the privilege of flying the blue ensign.

Canada, unlike Australia, supplies no contingent towards the Imperial Navy, but she has spent on public works over forty million pounds sterling. By her great trans-continental railway a valuable alternative route to the East is furnished; she provides graving docks at Quebec, Halifax, and Victoria; trains an annual contingent of forty thousand volunteers, supports a military college at Kingston, of whose cadets between eighty and ninety are now officers in the British Army; and in many other ways contributes to the well-being of the Empire, that Greater Britain, which has been not unaptly termed "a World-Venice, with the sea for streets."

The badges of the various Colonies of the Empire, as shown in the official flag-book of the Admiralty, are very diverse in appearance; some pleasing and others less charming, perhaps, than fantastic. It is needless to particularise them all. Some, like those of Mauritius, Jamaica, and of Cape Colony (Fig. 127) are heraldic in character, while others—as Barbadoes, where Britannia rides the waves in a chariot drawn by sea-horses, or South Australia, where Britannia lands on a rocky shore on which a black man is seated—are symbolical. Queensland has the simple and pleasing device we see in Fig. 128, the Maltese Cross, having a crown at its centre. Newfoundland has a crown on a white disc and the [ 84 ] Latinised name Terra Nova beneath, and Fiji (Fig. 137) adopts a like simple device, the crown and the word Fiji, while New Guinea does not get even so far as this, but has the crown, and beneath it the letters N. G. The gnu appears as the device of Natal; the black swan (Fig. 141) as the emblem of West Australia. An elephant and palm-tree on a yellow ground stand for West Africa, and an elephant and temple for Ceylon. British North Borneo (Fig. 132), on a yellow disc has a red lion, and Tasmania (Fig. 133), on a white ground has the same, though it will be noted that the action of the two royal beasts is not quite the same. The Straits Settlements have the curious device seen in Fig. 131. New Zealand (Fig. 136) has a cross of stars on a blue field. Victoria we have already seen in Figs. 134 and 135, while New South Wales has upon the white field the Cross of St. George, having in the centre one of the lions of England, and on each arm a star—an arrangement shown in Fig. 138. British East Africa has the crown, and beneath it the golden sun shooting forth its rays, one of the simplest, most appropriate, and most pleasing of all the Colonial devices; when placed in the centre of the Governor's flag it is upon a white disc, and the sun has eight principal rays. When for use on the red or blue ensigns, the sun has twelve principal rays, and both golden sun and crown are placed directly upon the field of the flag. St. Helena, Trinidad, Bermuda, British Guiana, Leeward Isles, Labuan, Bahamas, and Hong Kong all have devices in which ships are a leading feature—in the Bermuda device associated with the great floating dock, in the Hong Kong with junks, and in the other cases variously differentiated from each other, so that all are quite distinct in character. In the device of the Leeward Isles, designed by Sir Benjamin Pine, a large pine-apple is growing in the foreground, and three smaller ones away to the right. It is jocularly assumed that the centre one was Sir Benjamin himself, and the three subordinate ones his family.

With Great Britain the command of the ocean is all-important. By our sea-power our great Empire has been built up, and by it alone can it endure. "A power to which Rome in the height of her glory is not to be compared—a power which has dotted over the surface of the whole globe her possessions and military posts, whose morning drum-beat, following the sun, and keeping company with the hours, circles the earth with one continuous and unbroken strain of the martial airs of England." So spoke Daniel Webster in 1834, and our ever-growing responsibilities have greatly increased since the more than sixty years when those words were uttered. Let us in conclusion turn to the "True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates," written by Bacon, a great and patriotic Englishman, where we may read the warning words:— [ 85 ]

"We see the great effects of battles by sea; the Battle of Actium decided the empire of the world; the Battle of Lepanto arrested the greatness of the Turk.

"There be many examples where sea-fights have been final to the war; but this is when princes or States have set up their rest upon the battles; but this much is certain, that he who commands the sea is at great liberty, and may take as much and as little of the war as he will, whereas those that be strongest by land are many times, nevertheless, in great straits.

"Surely at this day, with us of Europe, the vantage of strength at sea (which is one of the dowries of this kingdom of Great Britain) is great; both because most of the kingdoms of Europe are not merely inland, but girt with the sea most part of their compass, and because the wealth of both Indies seems, in great part, but an accessory to the command of the seas."

We are the sons of the men who won us this goodly heritage, and it behoves us in turn to hand it on to our descendants in undiminished dignity, a world-wide domain beneath the glorious Union Flag that binds all in one great brotherhood.


  1. Other regiments with green facings are the 5th, 11th, 19th, 36th, 39th, 46th, 49th, 73rd, etc. Regiments with blue facings are the 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 13th, 18th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, etc., while buff is found in the 2nd, 3rd, 14th, 22nd, 27th, 31st, 40th, etc. Amongst the regiments with yellow facings are the 9th, 10th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 20th, 26th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 34th, 37th, 38th, etc. White is met with in the 17th, 32nd, 41st, 43rd, 47th, 59th, 65th. Red is not so common, since the colour is that of the tunic ordinarily, but we see it in the 33rd, 48th, and 76th. Black is also less commonly used, but we find it in the facings of the 58th, 64th, 70th, and 89th Regiments.
  2. The "Black Watch," the gallant 42nd, and other regiments also bear the Sphinx for their services in Egypt in 1801, where Napoleon received his first serious check from British troops.
  3. When a regiment consists of two battalions the distinctions won by each are common to both, and are, quite justly, the property of the whole regiment.
  4. In like manner we find the Royal Marines bearing on their colours an anchor, first granted to the corps as a badge in the year 1775. The lion and crown was added to this in 1795. In 1802, in honour of the gallant share taken by the Marines in the capture of Bellisle, a laurel wreath was added to the other badges of honour, and in 1827 the motto "Per Mare per Terram" and a globe, surmounted by the word "Gibraltar," was also placed on their colours, as a testimony to the services of the Marines all over the world, and notably at the taking of Gibraltar.
  5. Blenheim, August 2nd, 1704; Ramilies, May 23rd, 1706; Oudenarde, June 30th, 1708; Malplaquet, September 11th, 1709; Dettingen, June 16th, 1743; Minden, August 1st, 1759.
  6. This, with many other interesting trophies of war, may be seen in the Chapel of Chelsea College. The Blenheim Colours are now nearly all consumed away with age: of one but the staff remains, and many others are now as tender as tinder. French, Russian, American, Chinese, and many other flags of former foes may there be seen quietly fading away, as the old national animosities have likewise done.
  7. Amongst the various devices seen on the flags of the Parliamentarians, was one of a skull surrounded by a laurel crown, accompanied by the words "Mors vel Victoria."
  8. There are the colours of other regiments as well. Those that we specially refer to above will be found in what is known as the Warriors' Chapel. We deal with these especially, because, as being the flags of the territorial regiment, they find, with particular appropriateness, their resting place in Canterbury Cathedral.
  9. There is now no Lord High Admiral of Great Britain; his functions are analogous to those of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army; the last Lord High Admiral was William IV., who received this appointment when Prince of Wales. The office is now said to be "in commission"—its functions are performed by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, a board uniting the dual control which is exercised over the land Forces by the War Office and the Horse Guards. Commissions of Naval Officers are not signed by the Queen, they are headed "By the Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom," etc.; and they are signed by two of the Lords.
  10. We find the Royal Yacht Club, in 1815, and the Royal Thames Yacht Club, in 1835, flying what would be a white ensign if it had but the great Cross of St. George upon it; an entirely white flag having the Union in the corner next the staff. One may get a fair notion of its effect by looking at Fig. 154, but imagining the Union in the place of the device there seen. The Royal Yacht Club burgee at this period was plain white, without any device whatever. The burgee of the other Club we have named has undergone many changes. In 1823 it is scarlet, with the letters T.Y.C. in white; in 1831 the prefix Royal has been gained, and the flag, still red, has the crown and the R.T.Y.C. in white upon it; while in 1834 we still find the crown and the same letters, but now, not white on red, but red on white.
  11. "By the Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, &c. "Whereas, we deem it expedient that Canadian registered vessels shall be permitted to wear the Red Ensign of Her Majesty's Fleet, with the Canadian Coat of Arms in the Fly thereof. "We do therefore, by virtue of the power and authority vested in us, hereby warrant and authorize the Red Ensign of Her Majesty's Fleet, with the Canadian Coat of Arms in the Fly, to be used on board vessels registered in the Dominion. "Given under our hands and the seal of the Office of Admiralty, this second day of February, 1892."
  12. The Maple is to Canada what the Rose is to England, or the Shamrock to Ireland. Hence, we find it on the coinage, etc. In the Canadian Militia List before us we find it on the accoutrements of many of the regiments, enwreathing the motto or device; sometimes alone, and often in association with the rose, thistle, and shamrock.