The Flags of the World/Chapter 2
- The Royal Standard—the Three Lions of England—the Lion Rampant of Scotland—Scottish sensitiveness as to precedence—the Scottish Tressure—the Harp of Ireland—Early Irish Flags—Brian Boru—the Royal Standards from Richard I. to Victoria—Claim to the Fleurs-de-Lys of France—Quartering Hanover—the Union Flag—St. George for England—War Cry—Observance of St. George's Day—the Cross of St. George—Early Naval Flags—the London Trained Bands—the Cross of St. Andrew—the "Blue Blanket"—Flags of the Covenanters—Relics of St. Andrew—Union of England and Scotland—the First Union Flag—Importance of accuracy in representations of it—the Union Jack—Flags of the Commonwealth and Protectorate—Union of Great Britain and Ireland—the Cross of St. Patrick—Labours of St. Patrick in Ireland—Proclamation of George III. as to Flags, etc.—the Second Union Flag—Heraldic Difficulties in its Construction—Suggestions by Critics—Regulations as to Fortress Flags—the White Ensign of the Royal Navy—Saluting the Flag—the Navy the Safeguard of Britain—the Blue Ensign—the Royal Naval Reserve—the Red Ensign of the Mercantile Marine—Value of Flag-lore.
Foremost amongst the flags of the British Empire the Royal Standard takes its position as the symbol of the tie that unites all into one great State. Its glowing blazonry of blue and scarlet and gold is brought before us in Fig. 44. The three golden lions on the scarlet ground are the device of England, the golden harp on the azure field is the device of Ireland, while the ruddy lion rampant on the field of gold stands for Scotland. It may perhaps appear to some of our readers that the standard of the Empire should not be confined to such narrow limits; that the great Dominion of Canada, India, Australia, the ever-growing South Africa, might justly claim a place. Precedent, too, might be urged, since in previous reigns, Nassau, Hanover, and other States have found a resting-place in its folds, and there is much to be said in favour of a wider representation of the greater component parts of our world-wide Empire; but two great practical difficulties arise: the first is that the grand simplicity of the flag would be lost if eight or ten different devices were substituted for the three; and secondly, it would very possibly give rise to a good deal of jealousy and ill-feeling, since it would be impossible to introduce all. As it at present stands, it represents the central home of the Empire, the little historic seed-plot from whence all else has sprung, and to which all turn their eyes as the centre of the national life. All equally agree to venerate the dear mother land, but it is perhaps a little too much to expect that the people of Jamaica or Hong Kong would feel the same veneration for the beaver and maple-leaves of Canada, the golden Sun of India, or the Southern Cross of Australasia. As it must clearly be all or none, it seems that only one solution of the problem, the present one, is possible. In the same way the Union flag (Fig. 90) is literally but the symbol of England, Scotland, and Ireland, but far and away outside its primary significance, it floats on every sea the emblem of that Greater Britain in which all its sons have equal pride, and where all share equal honour as brethren of one family.
The earliest Royal Standard bore but the three lions of England, and we shall see presently that in different reigns various modifications of its blazonry arose, either the result of conquest or of dynastic possessions. Thus Figs. 43 and 44, though they bear a superficial likeness, tell a very different story; the first of these, that of George III., laying claim in its fourth quartering to lordship over Hanover and other German States, and in its second quarter to the entirely shadowy and obsolete claim over France, as typified by the golden fleurs-de-lys on the field of azure.
How the three lions of England arose is by no means clear. Two lions were assigned as the arms of William the Conqueror, but there is no real evidence that he bore them. Heraldry had not then become a definite science, and when it did a custom sprang up of assigning to those who lived and died before its birth certain arms, the kindly theory being that such persons, had they been then living, would undoubtedly have borne arms, and that it was hard, therefore, that the mere accident of being born a hundred years too soon should debar them from possessing such recognition of their rank. Even so late as Henry II. the bearing is still traditional, and it is said that on his marriage with Alianore, eldest daughter of William, Duke of Aquitaine and Guienne, he incorporated with his own two lions the single lion that (it is asserted) was the device of his father-in-law. All this, however, is theory and surmise, and we do not really find ourselves on the solid ground of fact until we come to the reign of Richard Cœur-de-Lion. Upon his second Great Seal we have the three lions just as they are represented in Figs. 22, 43, 44, and as they have been borne for centuries by successive sovereigns on their arms, standards, and coinage, and as our readers may see them this day on the Royal Standard and on much of the money they may take out of their pockets. The date of this Great Seal of King Richard is 1195 A.D., so we have, at all events, a period of over seven hundred years, waiving a break during the Commonwealth, in which the three golden lions on their scarlet field have typified the might of England.
The rampant lion within the tressure, the device of Scotland—seen in the second quarter of our Royal Standard, Fig. 44—is first seen on the Great Seal of King Alexander II., about A.D. 1230, and the same device, without any modification of colour or form was borne by all the Sovereigns of Scotland, and on the accession of James to the throne of the United Kingdom, in the year 1603, the ruddy lion ramping on the field of gold became an integral part of the Standard.
The Scotch took considerable umbrage at their lion being placed in the second place, while the lions of England were placed first, as they asserted that Scotland was a more ancient kingdom than England, and that in any case, on the death of Queen Elizabeth of England, the Scottish monarch virtually annexed the Southern Kingdom to his own, and kindly undertook to get the Southerners out of a dynastic difficulty by looking after the interests of England as well as ruling Scotland. This feeling of jealousy was so bitter and so potent that for many years after the Union, on all seals peculiar to Scottish business and on the flags displayed north of the Tweed, the arms of Scotland were placed in the first quarter. It was also made a subject of complaint that in the Union Flag the cross of St. George is placed over that of St. Andrew (see Figs. 90, 91, 92), and that the lion of England acted as the dexter support of the royal shield instead of giving place to the Scottish Unicorn. One can only be thankful that Irish patriots have been too sensible or too indifferent to insist upon yet another modification, requiring that whensoever and wheresoever the Royal Standard be hoisted in the Emerald Isle the Irish harp should be placed in the first quarter. While it is clearly impossible to place the device of each nationality first, it is very desirable and, in fact, essential, that the National Arms and the Royal Standard should be identical in arrangement in all parts of the kingdom. The notion of unity would be very inadequately carried out if we had a London version for Buckingham Palace, an Edinburgh version for Holyrood, and presently found the Isle of Saints and "gallant little Wales" insisting on two other variants, and the Isle of Man in insurrection because it was not allowed precedence of all four.
Even so lately as the year 1853, on the issue of the florin, the old jealousy blazed up again. A statement was drawn up and presented to Lord Lyon, King of Arms, setting forth anew the old grievances of the lions in the Standard and the crosses in the Flag of the Union, and adding that "the new two-shillingpiece, called a florin, which has lately been issued, bears upon the reverse four crowned shields, the first or uppermost being the three lions passant of England; the second, or right hand proper, the harp of Ireland; the third, or left hand proper, the lion rampant of Scotland; the fourth, or lower, the three lions of England repeated. Your petitioners beg to direct your Lordship's attention to the position occupied by the arms of Scotland upon this coin, which are placed in the third shield instead of the second, a preference being given to the arms of Ireland over those of this kingdom." It is curious that this document tacitly drops claim to the first place. Probably most of our readers—Scotch, Irish, or English—feel but little sense of grievance in the matter, and are quite willing, if the coin be an insult, to pocket it.
The border surrounding the lion is heraldically known as the tressure. The date and the cause of its introduction are lost in antiquity. The mythical story is that it was added by Achaius, King of Scotland, in the year 792, in token of alliance with Charlemagne, but in all probability these princes scarcely knew of the existence of each other. The French and the Scotch have often been in alliance, and there can be little doubt but that the fleurs-de-lys that adorn the tressure point to some such early association of the two peoples; an ancient writer, Nisbet, takes the same view, as he affirms that "the Tressure fleurie encompasses the lyon of Scotland to show that he should defend the Flower-de-luses, and these to continue a defence to the lyon." The first authentic illustration of the tressure in the arms of Scotland dates from the year 1260. In the reign of James III., in the year 1471 it was "ordaint that in tyme to cum thar suld be na double tresor about his armys, but that he suld ber armys of the lyoun, without ony mur." If this ever took effect it must have been for a very short time. We have seen no example of it.
Ireland joined England and Scotland in political union on January 1st, 1801, but its device—the harp—was placed on the standard centuries before by right of conquest. The first known suggestion for a real union on equal terms was made in the year 1642 in a pamphlet entitled "The Generall Junto, or the Councell of Union; chosen equally out of England, Scotland, and Ireland for the better compacting of these nations into one monarchy. By H. P." This H. P. was one Henry Parker. Fifty copies only of this tract were issued, and those entirely for private circulation. "To persuade to union and commend the benefit of it"—says the author—"will be unnecessary. Divide et impera (divide and rule) is a fit saying for one who aims at the dissipation and perdition of his country. Honest counsellors have ever given contrary advice. England and Ireland are inseparably knit; no severance is possiblebut such as shall be violent and injurious. Ireland is an integral member of the Kingdom of England: both kingdoms are coinvested and connexed, not more undivided than Wales or Cornwall."
The conquest of Ireland was entered upon in the year 1172, in the reign of Henry II., but was scarcely completed until the surrender of Limerick in 1691. Until 1542 it was styled not the Kingdom but the Lordship of Ireland.
An early standard of Ireland has three golden crowns on a blue field, and arranged over each other as we see the English lions placed; and a commission appointed in the reign of Edward IV., to enquire what really were the arms of Ireland, reported in favour of the three crowns. The early Irish coinage bears these three crowns upon it, as on the coins of Henry V. and his successors. Henry VIII. substituted the harp on the coins, but neither crowns nor harps nor any other device for Ireland appear in the Royal Standard until the year 1603, after which date the harp has remained in continuous use till the present day.
In the Harleian MS., No. 304 in the British Museum, we find the statement that "the armes of Irland is Gules iij old harpes gold, stringed argent" (as in Fig. 87), and on the silver coinage for Ireland of Queen Elizabeth the shield bears these three harps. At her funeral Ireland was represented by a blue flag having a crowned harp of gold upon it, and James I. adopted this, but without the crown, as a quartering in his standard: its first appearance on the Royal Standard of England.
Why Henry VIII. substituted the harp for the three crowns is not really known. Some would have us believe that the king was apprehensive that the three crowns might be taken as symbolising the triple crown of the Pope; while others suggest that Henry, being presented by the Pope with the supposed harp of Brian Boru, was induced to change the arms of Ireland by placing on her coins the representation of this relic of her most celebrated native king. The Earl of Northampton, writing in the reign of James I., suggests yet a third explanation. "The best reason," saith he, "that I can observe for the bearing thereof is, it resembles that country in being such an instrument that it requires more cost to keep it in tune than it is worth."
The Royal Standard should only be hoisted when the Sovereign or some member of the royal family is actually within the palace or castle, or at the saluting point, or on board the vessel where we see it flying, though this rule is by no means observed in practice. The only exception really permitted to this is that on certain royal anniversaries it is hoisted at some few fortresses at home and abroad that are specified in the Queen's Regulations.
The Royal Standard of England was, we have seen, in its earliest form a scarlet flag, having three golden lions upon it, and it was so borne by Richard I., John, Henry III., Edward I., and Edward II. Edward III. also bore it for the first thirteen years of his reign, so that this simple but beautiful flag was the royal banner for over one hundred and fifty years. Edward III., on his claim in the year 1340 to be King of France as well as of England, quartered the golden fleurs-de-lys of that kingdom with the lions of England. This remained the Royal Standard throughout the rest of his long reign. Throughout the reign of Richard II. (1377 to 1399) the royal banner was divided in half by an upright line, all on the outer half being like that of Edward III., while the half next the staff was the golden cross and martlets on the blue ground, assigned to Edward the Confessor, his patron saint, as shown in Fig. 19. On the accession of Henry IV. to the throne, the cross and martlets disappeared, and he reverted to the simple quartering of France and England.
Originally the fleurs-de-lys were scattered freely over the field, semée or sown, as it is termed heraldically, so that besides several in the centre that showed their complete form, others at the margin were more or less imperfect. On turning to Fig. 188, an early French flag, we see this disposition of them very clearly. Charles V. of France in the year 1365 reduced the number to three, as in Fig. 184, whereupon Henry IV. of England followed suit; his Royal Standard is shown in Fig. 22. This remained the Royal Standard throughout the reigns of Henry V., Henry VI., Edward IV., Edward V., Richard III., Henry VII., Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary and Elizabeth—a period of two hundred years.
On the accession of the House of Stuart, the flag was rearranged. Its first and fourth quarters were themselves quartered again, these small quarterings being the French fleur-de-lys and the English lions; while the second quarter was the lion of Scotland, and the third the Irish harp; the first appearance of either of these latter kingdoms in the Royal Standard. This form remained in use throughout the reigns of James I., Charles I., Charles II., and James II. The last semblance of dominion in France had longsince passed away, but it will be seen that alike on coinage, arms, and Standard the fiction was preserved, and Londoners may see at Whitehall the statue still standing of James II., bearing on its pedestal the inscription—"Jacobus secundus Dei Gratia Angliæ, Scotiæ, Franciæ et Hiberniæ Rex."
During the Protectorate, both the Union Flag and the Standard underwent several modifications, but the form that the personal Standard of Cromwell finally assumed may be seen in Fig. 83, where the Cross of St. George for England, St. Andrew for Scotland, and the harp for Ireland, symbolise the three kingdoms, while over all, on a shield, are placed the personal arms of the Protector—a silver lion rampant on a sable field.
William III., on his landing in England, displayed a standard which varied in many respects from those of his royal predecessors, since it contained not only the arms themselves, but these were represented as displayed on an escutcheon, surmounted by the crown, and supported on either side by the lion and unicorn. Above all this was the inscription "For the Protestant Religion and the Liberties of England," while beneath it was "je maintiendray." The arms on the shield are too complex for adequate description without the aid of a diagram; suffice it to say that in addition to the insignia of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France, were eight others dealing with the devices of smaller Continental possessions appertaining to the new monarch. When matters had settled down and his throne was assured, the aggressive inscription, etc., disappeared, and the Royal Standard of William and his Consort Mary, the daughter of King James, reverted to the form used by the Stuart Sovereigns, plus in the centre a small escutcheon bearing the arms of Nassau, these being a golden lion rampant, surrounded by golden billets, upon a shield of azure.
The Royal Standard of Queen Anne bore the devices of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France. On the accession of George I. the arms of Hanover were added, and from 1714 to 1801 the flag was as shown in Fig. 43. The flag of Anne was very similar to this, only instead of Hanover in the fourth quarter, the arms of England and Scotland, as we see them in the first quarter, were simply repeated in the fourth.
The Hanoverian quarter, Fig. 43, was made up as follows:—The two lions on the red field are the device of Brunswick; the blue lion rampant, surrounded by the red hearts, is the device of Lunenburg; the galloping white horse is for Saxony; and over all is the golden crown of Charlemagne as an indication of the claim set up of being the successor of that potent Sovereign. The horse of Saxony is said to have been borne sable by the early kings, previous to the conversion to Christianity of Witekind, A.D. 785. Verstigan, however, tells us that the ensign of Hengist at the time of the invasion of England by the Saxons was a leaping white horse on a red ground. The white horse is still the county badge for Kent. The flag, as we see it in Fig. 43, was that of George I. and George II., and remained in use until the forty-second year of the reign of George III.
On January 2nd, 1801, the Fleurs-de-lys of France were at length removed, and the flag had its four quarters as follows:—First and fourth England, second Scotland, and third Ireland; the arms of Hanover being placed on a shield in the centre of the flag. This remained the Royal Standard during the rest of the reign of George III., and throughout the reigns of George IV. and William IV. On the accession of Victoria the operation of the Salique law severed the connexion of Hanover with England, and the present Royal Standard is as shown in Fig. 44, being in its arrangement similar to that of George IV. and William IV., except that the small central shield, bearing the arms of Hanover, is now removed.
We turn now to the National Flag. As the feudal constitution of the fighting force passed away, the use of private banners disappeared, and men, instead of coming to the field as the retainers of some great nobleman and fighting under his leadership and beneath his flag, were welded into a national army under the direct command of the king and such leaders as he might appoint. The days when a great noble could change the fortunes of the day by withdrawing his vassals or transferring himself and them, on the eve of the fight, to the opposing party, were over, and men fought no longer in the interests of Warwick or of Percy, but in the cause of England and beneath the banner of St. George, the national Patron Saint.
- "Thou, amongst those saints whom thou dost see,
- Shall be a saint, and thine own nation's frend
- And patron: thou Saint George shalt called bee,
- Saint George of Mery England, the sign of victoree."
At the siege of Antioch, according to Robertus Monachus, a Benedictine of Rheims who flourished about the year 1120, and wrote a history of the Crusade, "Our Souldiers being wearied with the long continuance of the Battaile, and seeing that the number of enemies decreased not, began to faint; when suddenly an infinite number of Heavenly Souldiers all in white descended from the Mountains, the Standard-bearer and leaders of them being Saint George, Saint Maurice, and Saint Demetrius, which when the Bishop of Le Puy first beheld he cryed aloud unto his troopes, 'There are they (saith he) the succours which in the name of God I promised to you.' The issue of the miracle was this, that presently the enemies did turne their backs and lost the field: these being slaine, 100,000 horse, beside foot innumerable, and in their trenches such infinite store of victuals and munition found that served not only to refresh the wearied Christians, but to confound the enemy." This great victory at Antioch led to the recovery of Jerusalem. At the Crusades England, Arragon, and Portugal all assumed St. George as their patron saint.
Throughout the Middle Ages the war-cry of the English was the name of this patron saint. "The blyssed and holy Martyr Saynt George is patron of this realme of Englande, and the crye of men of warre," we read in the "Golden Legend," and readers of Shakespeare will readily recall illustrations. Thus in "King Richard II." we read:—
- "Sound drums and trumpets, boldly and cheerfully,
- God and St. George! Richard and victory."
or again in "King Henry V." where the king at the siege of Harfleur cries,
- "The game's afoot,
- Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
- Cry, God for Harry, England, and St. George!"
while in "King Henry VI." we find the line,
- "Then strike up, drums—God and St. George for us!"
At the battle of Poitiers, September 19th, 1356, upon the advance of the English, the Constable of France threw himself, Lingard tells us, across their path with the battle shout, "Mountjoy, St. Denis," which was at once answered by "St. George, St. George," and in the onrush of the English the Duke and the greater part of hisfollowers were swept away, and in a few minutes slain. In an interesting old poem on the siege of Rouen in 1418, written by an eye-witness, we read that on the surrender of the city,
- "Whanne the gate was openyd there
- And thay weren ready in to fare,
- Trumpis blew ther bemys of bras,
- Pipis and clarionys forsoothe ther was.
- And as they entrid thay gaf a schowte
- With ther voyce that was full stowte,
- Seint George! Seint George! thay criden on height
- And seide, Welcome oure kynges righte!"
We have before us, as we write, "The story of that most blessed Saint and Souldier of Christ Jesus, St. George of Cappadocia," as detailed by Peter Heylyn, and published in 1633, and the temptation to quote at length from it is great, as it is full of most interesting matter, but into the history of St. George space forbids us to go at any length. The author of the "Seven Champions of Christendom" makes St. George to be born of English parentage at Coventry, but for this there is no authority whatever, and all other writers make Cappadocia his birthplace. The history of St. George is more obscure than that of any name of equal eminence in the Calendar. According to the "Acta Sanctorum" he was the son of noble parents, became famous as a soldier, and, embracing Christianity, was tortured to death at Nicomedia in the year 303.
- "The hero won his well-earned place,
- Amid the Saints, in death's dread hour;
- And still the peasant seeks his grave,
- And, next to God, reveres his power.
- In many a Church his form is seen,
- With sword, and shield, and helmet sheen;
- Ye know him by his shield of pride,
- And by the dragon at his side."
As Patron Saint, the dragon vanquisher is still seen on our crowns and sovereigns, and reference to such a book as Ruding's history of our coinage will show that it has for centuries been a popular device.
In 1245, on St. George's Day, Frederic of Austria instituted an order of knighthood and placed it under the guardianship of the soldier-saint, and its white banner, bearing the ruddy cross, floated in battle alongside that of the Empire. In like manner on St. George's Day, in the year 1350, Edward III. of England instituted the order of the Garter with great solemnity.
St. George's Day, April 23rd, has too long been suffered to pass almost unregarded. The annual festivals of St. Andrew, St. Patrick, and St. David are never overlooked by the members of the various nationalities, and it seems distinctly a thing to be regretted that the Englishman should allow the name day of his Patron Saint to pass unnoticed. Whatever conduces to the recognition of national life is valuable, and anything that reminds Englishmen of their common ties and common duties—and reminds them, too, of their glorious heritage in the past—should scarcely be allowed to fall into disuse. Butler, in his "Lives of the Fathers and Martyrs," tell us that at the great National Council, held at Oxford in 1222, it was commanded that the Feast of St. George should be kept. In the year 1415, by the Constitutions of Archbishop Chichely, St. George's Day was made one of the greater feasts and ordered to be observed the same as Christmas Day. In 1545 a special collect, epistle, and gospel were prepared, and at the Reformation, when many of the Saints' Days were swept away, this was preserved with all honour, and it was not till the sixth year of the reign of Edward VI., when another revision was made, that in "The Catalogue of such Festivals as are to be Observed" St. George's day was omitted.
The Cross of St. George was worn as a badge, over the armour, by every English soldier in the fourteenth and subsequent centuries, even if the custom did not prevail at a much earlier period. The following extract from the ordinances made for the government of the army with which Richard II. invaded Scotland in 1386, is a good illustration of this, wherein it is ordered "that everi man of what estate, condicion, or nation thei be of, so that he be of owre partie, here a signe of the armes of Saint George, large, bothe before and behynde, upon parell that yf he be slayne or wounded to deth, he that hath so doon to hym shall not be putte to deth for defaulte of the cross that he lacketh. And that non enemy do bere the same token or crosse of Saint George, notwithstandyng if he be prisoner, upon payne of deth." It was the flag of battle, and we see it represented in the old prints and illuminations that deal with military operations both on land and sea. Ordinarily it is the Cross of St. George, pure and simple, as shown in Fig. 91, while at other times, as in Figs. 66, 67, 68, it forms a portion only of the flag. The red cross on the white field was the flag under which the great seamen of Elizabeth's reign traded, explored, or fought; the flag that Drake bore round the world—that Frobisher unfolded amidst the Arctic solitudes—that gallant Englishmen, the wide world over, bore at the call of duty and died beneath, if need be, for the honour of the old home land; and to this day the flag of the English Admiral is the same simple and beautiful device, and the white ensign of the British Navy, Fig. 95, is similar, except that it bears, in addition, the Union; while the Union flag itself, Fig. 90, bears conspicuously the ruddy cross of the warrior Saint.
Figs. 26, 27, 74 and 140 are all sea-pennants bearing the Cross of St. George. The first of these is from a painting of H.M.S. Tiger, painted by Van de Velde, while Fig. 27 is flying from one of the ships represented in the picture by Volpe of the embarkation of Henry VIII. from Dover on his way to the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Fig. 74 is from a picture of H.M.S. Lion, engaging the French ship Elisabethe, on July 9th, 1745, the latter being fitted out to escort the Young Pretender to Scotland. Though the red, white, and blue stripes suggest the French tricolor, their employment in the pennant has, of course, no reference to France. The Lion had at the foremast the plain red streamer seen at Fig. 25. Fig. 140 is the pennant flown at the present day by all Colonial armed vessels, while the pennant of the Royal Navy is purely white, with the exception of the Cross of St. George. In a picture by Van de Velde, the property of the Queen, representing a sea fight on August 11th, 1673, between the English, French, and Dutch, we see some of the vessels with streamers similar to Fig. 140, thus ante-dating the Colonial flag by over two hundred years.
As we have at the present time the white ensign, Fig. 95, the special flag of the Royal Navy; the blue ensign, Fig. 96, the distinguishing flag of the Royal Naval Reserve; and the red ensign, Fig. 97, the flag of the Merchant Service, each with the Union in the upper corner next the mast, so in earlier days we find the white flag, Fig. 65, the red flag, Fig. 66, and the blue, each having in the upper corner the Cross of St. George. Fig. 69 becomes, by the addition of the blue, a curious modification of Fig. 66. It is from a sea piece of the sixteenth century. It was displayed at the poop of a vessel, while Fig. 79 is the Jack on the bowsprit.
A hundred years ago or so, we may see that there was a considerable variety in the flags borne by our men-o'-war. Such galleries as those at Hampton Court or Greenwich afford many examples of this in the pictures there displayed. In a picture of a battle off Dominica, on April 12th, 1782, we find, one of the English 70 is at the poop, while from the bow is hoisted a flag of four stripes, and from the three mastheads are flags, having three red stripes. These striped red and white flags may often be seen.ships has two great square flags on the foremast, the upper one being plain red, and the lower one half blue and half white in horizontal stripes, while the main mast is surmounted by the Cross of St. George, and below it a tricolor of red, white, and blue in horizontal stripes. Other ships show equally curious variations, though we need not stop to detail them, except that in one case both fore and mizen masts are surmounted by plain red flags. In a picture of Rodney's Action off Cape St. Vincent, on January 16th, 1780, we meet with all these flags again. In the representation of an action between an English and French fleet on May 3rd, 1747, off Cape Finisterre, we notice that the English ships have a blue ensign at the poop, and one of them has a great plain blue flag at the foremast, and a great plain red flag at the main-mast head. In a picture of the taking of Portobello, November 21st, 1739, we notice the same thing again. These plain surfaces of blue or red are very curious. It will naturally occur to the reader that these are signal flags, but anyone seeing the pictures would scarcely continue to hold that view, as their large size precludes the idea. In the picture of H.M.S. Tiger that we have already referred to, the flag with five red stripes that we have represented in Fig.
Perhaps the most extraordinary grouping of flags may be seen in a picture of a naval review in the reign of George I. It was on exhibition at the Great Naval Exhibition at Chelsea, and is in private ownership. All the vessels are dressed in immense flags, and these are of the most varied description. It must be borne in mind that these are government bunting, not the irresponsible vagaries of private eccentricity. Besides the reasonable and orthodox flags, such as those represented in Figs. 65, 66, and others of equal propriety, we find one striped all over in red, white, blue, red, white, blue, in six horizontal stripes. Another, with a yellow cross on a white ground; a third, a white eagle on a blue field; another, a red flag inscribed—"For the Protestant Religion and the Liberty of England"; while another is like Fig. 65, only instead of having a red cross on white, it has a blue one instead. An altogether strange assortment.
Figs. 67, 68, 72, and 78 are flags of the London Trained Bands of the year 1643. The different regiments were known by the colour of their flags, thus Fig. 67 is the flag of the blue regiment, Fig. 68 of the yellow, Fig. 72 of the green, and Fig. 78 of the yellow regiment auxiliaries. Other flags were as follows:—white, with red lozenges; green, with golden wavy rays; orange, with white trefoils; in each case the Cross of St. George being in the canton. In a list before us of the Edinburgh Trained Bands for 1685 we find that the different bodies are similarly distinguished by colours.
On the union of the two crowns at the accession of James VI. of Scotland and I. of England to the English throne, the Cross of St. Andrew, Fig. 92, was combined with that of St. George.
The Cross of St. Andrew has been held in the same high esteem north of the Tweed that the Southrons have bestowed on the ensign of St. George. It will be seen that it is shaped like the letter X. Tradition hath it that the Saint, deeming it far too great an honour to be crucified as was his Lord, gained from his persecutors the concession of this variation. It is legendarily asserted that this form of cross appeared in the sky to Achaius, King of the Scots, the night before a great battle with Athelstane, and, being victorious, he went barefoot to the church of St. Andrew, and vowed to adopt his cross as the national device. The sacred monogram that replaced the Roman eagles under Constantine, the cross on the flag of Denmark, the visions of Joan of Arc, and many other suchlike illustrations, readily occur to one's mind as indicative of the natural desire to see the potent aid of Heaven visibly manifested in justification of earthly ambitions, or a celestial support and encouragement in time of national discomfiture.
Figs. 75 and 76 are examples of the Scottish red and blue ensigns. The first of these is from a picture at Hampton Court, where a large Scottish warship is represented as having a flag of this character at the main, and smaller but similar colours at the other mastheads and on the bowsprit.
The famous banner, the historic "blue blanket," borne by the Scots in the Crusades, was on its return deposited over the altar of St. Eloi in St. Giles' Church, Edinburgh, and the queen of James II., we read, painted on its field of azure the white Cross of St. Andrew, the crown, and the thistle. St. Eloi was the patron saint of blacksmiths, and this craft was made the guardian of the flag, and it became the symbol of the associated trades of ancient Edinburgh. King James VI., when venting his indignation against his too independent subjects, exclaimed, "The craftsmen think we should be contented with their work, and if in anything they be controlled, then up goes the blue blanket." The craftsmen were as independent and difficult to manage as the London Trained Bands often proved, but King James VI. found it expedient to confirm them inall their privileges, and ordered that the flag should at all times be known as the Standard of the Crafts, and later Sovereigns found it impossible to take away these privileges when they had once been granted. This flag was borne at Flodden Field. Beside the cross, crown, and thistle it bore on a scroll on the upper part of the flag the inscription, "Fear God and honor the king with a long lyffe and prosperous reigne," and on the lower portion the words, "And we that is trades shall ever pray to be faithfull for the defence of his Sacred Majesties' persone till deathe," an inscription that scarcely seems to harmonise with the turbulent spirit that scandalised this sovereign so greatly.
The flags borne by the Covenanters in their struggle for liberty varied much in their details, but in the great majority of cases bore upon them the Cross of St. Andrew, often accompanied by the thistle, and in most cases by some form of inscription. Several of these are still extant. In one that was borne at Bothwell Brig, and now preserved in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries, Edinburgh, the four blue triangles (see Fig. 92 for these) are filled with the words, "For Religion——Couenants——King——and Kingdomes." The Avondale flag was a white one, having the cross, white on blue, as in Fig. 75, in the corner. On the field of the flag was the inscription, "Avondale for Religion, Covenant, and King," and beneath this a thistle worked in the national green and crimson. A very interesting Exhibition of Scottish national memorials was held at Glasgow in 1888, and many of these old Covenant flags were there displayed. At the great Heraldic Exhibition held in Edinburgh in 1891, one of the most interesting things shown was the Cavers Standard. This is of sage green silk, twelve feet by three. It bears the Cross of St. Andrew next the staff, and divers other devices are scattered over the rest of the flag. It is in excellent preservation, and its special interest lies in the fact that it is said to have been the standard of James, second Earl of Douglas and Mar, and borne by his son at the battle of Otterburn in the year 1388. If this be so it is one of the oldest flags in existence.
On the signet-ring of Mary Queen of Scots the white Cross of St. Andrew is not shown on its usual blue ground, but on a ground striped blue and yellow, the royal colours; in the same way that the St. George's Cross is shown in Fig. 71, not on a white ground, but on a ground striped white and green, the Tudor colours.
Why St. Andrew was selected to be the Patron Saint of Scotland has never been satisfactorily settled. Some uncharitable enquirer has hazarded the explanation that it was because it was this Apostle who discovered the lad who had the loaves and fishes. Others tell us that one Hungus, a Pictish prince, dreamt that the Saint was to be his champion in a fight just then pending with the men of Northumbria, and that a cross—the symbol of the crucifixion of this Apostle—appeared in the sky, the celestial omen strengthening the hearts and arms of the men of Hungus to such effect that the Northumbrians were completely routed. Should neither of these explanations appear sufficiently explanatory, we can offer yet a third. On the martyrdom of St. Andrew, in the year 69, at Patræ, in Achaia, his remains were carefully preserved as relics, but in the year 370, Regulus, one of the Greek monks who had them in their keeping, was warned in a vision that the Emperor Constantine was proposing to translate these remains to Constantinople, and that he must at once visit the shrine and remove thence an arm bone, three fingers of the right hand, and a tooth, and carry them away over sea to the west. Regulus was much troubled at the vision, but hastened to obey it, so putting the relics into a chest he set sail with some half-dozen other ecclesiastics, to whom he confided the celestial instructions that he had received. After a stormy voyage the vessel was at last dashed upon a rock, and Regulus and his companions landed on an unknown shore, and found themselves in a dense and gloomy forest. Here they were presently discovered by the aborigines, whose leader listened to their story and gave them land on which to build a church for the glory of God and the enshrining of the relics. This inhospitable shore proved to be that of "Caledonia, stern and wild," and the little forest church and hamlet that sprang up around it were the nucleus that thence and to the present day have been known as St. Andrews, a thriving, busy town in Fife, and for centuries the seat of a bishopric. On July 5th, 1318, Robert the Bruce repaired hither and testified his gratitude to God for the victory vouchsafed to the Scots at Bannockburn by the intercession of St. Andrew, guardian of the realm, when thirty thousand Scots defeated one hundred thousand Englishmen. What St. George could have been doing to allow this, seems a very legitimate question, but we can scarcely wonder that the Scots should very gladly appoint so potent a protector their patron, and look to him for succour in all their national difficulties.
On the blending of the two kingdoms into one under the  it became necessary to devise a new flag that should typify this union and blend together the emblems of the puissant St. George and the no less honoured St. Andrew, and the flag represented in Fig. 73 was the result—the flag of the United Kingdoms of England and Scotland, henceforth to be known as Great Britain.sovereignty of King James,
The Royal Ordinance ran as follows:—"Whereas some difference hath arisen between our subjects of South and North Britain, travelling by seas, about the bearing of their flags,—for the avoiding of all such contentions hereafter we have, with the advice of our Council, ordered that from henceforth all our subjects of this isle and kingdom of Greater Britain, and the members thereof, shall bear in their maintop the Red Cross, commonly called St. George's Cross, and the White Cross, commonly called St. Andrew's Cross, joined together, according to a form made by our Heralds, and sent by us to our Admiral to be published to our said subjects: and in their fore-top our subjects of South Britain shall wear the Red Cross only, as they were wont, and our subjects of North Britain in their fore-top the White Cross only, as they were accustomed. Wherefore we will and command all our subjects to be comparable and obedient to this our order, and that from henceforth they do not use or bear their flags in any other sort, as they will answer the contrary at their peril."
Such a proclamation was sorely needed, as there was much ill-will and jealousy between the sailors and others of the two nationalities, and the Union flag itself, when "our heralds" produced it, did not by any means please the North, and the right to carry in fore-top the St. Andrew's Cross pure and simple was a concession that failed to conciliate them. The great grievance was that, as we see in Fig. 73, the Cross of St. George was placed in front of that of St. Andrew, and the Scottish Privy Council, in a letter dated Edinburgh, August 7th, 1606, thus poured forth their feelings:—"Most sacred Soverayne, a greate nomber of the maisteris of the schippis of this your Majesties kingdome hes verie havelie complenit to your Majesties Counsell, that the forme and patrone of the flagges of schippis sent down heir and command it to be ressavit and used be the subjectis of both kingdomes is verie prejudiciall to the fredome and dignitie of this Estate, and wil gif occasioun of reprotche to this natioun quhairevir the said flage sal happin to be worne beyond sea, becaus, as your Sacred Majestie may persave, the Scottis Croce, callit Sanctandrois Croce, is twyse divydit, and the Inglishe Croce, callit Sanct George, drawne through the Scottis Croce, which is thereby obscurit, and no token nor mark to be seene of the Scottis armes. This will breid some heit and miscontentment betwix your Majesties subjectis, and it is to be feirit that some inconvenientis sall fall oute betwix thame, for our seyfaring men cannot be inducit to resave that flage as it is set down. They have drawne two new drauchtis and patrones as most indifferent for both kingdomes, whiche they presentid to the Counsell, and craved our approbation of the same, but we haif reserved that to your Majestie's princelie determinatioun, as moir particularlie the Erll of Mar, who was present, and herd their complaynt, and to whom we haif remittit the discourse and delyverie of that mater, will informe your Majestie and let your Heynes see the errour of the first patrone and the indifferencie of the two newe drauchties." These draughts are not to be found, nor does it appear that any notice was taken of the complaint.
The Scottish Union flag, as carefully depicted in a scarce little work published in 1701, and entitled "The Ensigns, Colours, and Flags of the Ships at Sea, belonging to the several Princes and States in the World," may be seen in Fig. 88. In it will be noted that the Cross of St. Andrew is placed in front of that of St. George—anyone comparing Figs. 73 and 88 will readily see wherein they differ. Though its appearance in a book of sea-flags would seem to imply that such a flag had been made, we know of no other instance of it. Fig. 84 was also suggested as a solution of the problem, but here we get false heraldry, the blue in contact with the red, and in any case a rather weak-looking arrangement.
The painful truth is that when two persons ride the same animal they cannot both be in front, and no amount of heraldic ingenuity will make two devices on a flag to be of equal value. The position next the staff is accounted more honourable than that remote from it, and the upper portion of the flag is more honourable than the lower. At first sight it might appear that matters are impartially dealt out in Fig. 81, but the position next the staff is given to St. George, and in the quartered arrangement, Fig. 85, the same holds true. Both these were suggestions made at the time the difficulty was felt, but both were discarded in favour of the arrangement shown in Fig. 73.
This Union Flag is not very often met with. It occurrs on one of the great seals of Charles II., and is seen also as a Jack on the 57, the original flag of the East India Company; the difference between this and the second Union Flag, made on the admission of Ireland's Cross of St. Patrick, may be very well seen on a comparison of Figs. 57 and 61. We have it again in Figs. 142 and 143, flags of the revolting American Colonists before they had thrown off all allegiance to the Old Country.bowsprits of ships in paintings of early naval battles. It may, by good fortune, be seen also on the two colours of the 82nd regiment that in the year 1783 were suspended in St. Giles', Edinburgh, and a very good illustration of it may be seen in the National Gallery, where, in a battle scene by Copley, representing the death of Major Peirson, at St. Helier, Jersey, on January 6th, 1781, this Union flag is conspicuous in the centre of the picture. We have it again in Fig
A knowledge of the history of the flag has not only interest, but is of some little importance. We remember seeing a picture of the sailing of the Mayflower, in which, by a curious lack of a little technical knowledge, the flag depicted was the Union Flag of to-day, which did not come into existence until the first year of the present century, whereas the historic event represented in the picture took place in the year 1620. In a fresco in the House of Lords, representing Charles II. landing in England, the artist has introduced a boat bearing the present Union Flag. In each of these cases it is evident that it should have been the first Union—that of England and Scotland—that the flag should have testified to.
Charles I. issued a proclamation on May 5th, 1634, forbidding any but the Royal ships to carry the Union flag; all merchantmen, according to their nationality, being required to show either the Cross of St. George or that of St. Andrew. Queen Anne, on July 28th, 1707, required that merchant vessels should fly a red flag "with a Union Jack described in a canton at the upper corner thereof, next the staff," while the Union Flag, as before, was reserved for the Royal Navy. This merchant flag, if we cut out the inscription there shown, would be similar to Fig. 142. This is interesting, because, after many changes, so lately as October 18th, 1864, it was ordered that the red ensign once again should be the distinguishing flag of the commercial marine; the present flag is given in Fig. 97. It is further interesting because this proclamation of Queen Anne's is the first time that the term Union Jack, so far as we are aware, is officially used.
Technically, our national banner should be called the Union Flag, though in ordinary parlance it is always called the Union Jack. 104, it is the signal for a pilot: hence this is called the Pilot Jack. The sea flags now in use are the white, red, and blue ensigns, Figs. 95, 96, 97, to be hereafter described, while the Union flag is devoted especially to land service, being hoisted on fortresses and government offices, and borne by the troops.The latter flag is a diminutive of the former, and the term ought in strictness to be confined to the small Union Flag flown from the Jack-staff on the bowsprit of a ship. The Union Flag is, besides this, only used as the special distinguishing flag of an Admiral of the Fleet, when it is hoisted at the main top-gallant mast-head, and when the Sovereign is on board a vessel, in which case the Royal Standard is flown at the main and the Union at the mizen. With a white border round it, as in Fig.
Why the flag should be called "Jack" at all has been the subject of much controversy. It is ordinarily suggested that the derivation is from Jacques, the French word for James, the Union Jack springing into existence under his auspices. Why it should be given this French name does not seem very clear, except that many of the terms used in blazonry are French in their origin. It never seems to have been suggested that, granting the reference to King James, the Latin Jacobus would be a more appropriate explanation, as the Latin names of our kings have for centuries supplanted the earlier Norman-French on their coins, seals, and documents. Several other theories have been broached, of varying degrees of improbability; one of these deriving it from the word "jaque" (hence our modern jacket), the surcoat worn over the armour in mediæval days. This, we have seen, had the Cross of St. George always represented on it; but there is no proof that the jaque was ever worn with the union of the two crosses upon it, so that the derivation breaks down just at the critical point. The present flag came into existence in the reign of King George, but no one ever dreams on this account, or any other, of calling it the Union George.
On the death of Charles I., the partnership between England and Scotland was dissolved, and the Union Flag, Fig. 73, therefore, was disestablished, and was only restored in the general Restoration, when the Commonwealth and Protectorate had run their course, and Charles II. ascended the throne of his forefathers.
The earliest Commonwealth Flag was a simple reversion to the Cross of St. George, Fig. 91. At a meeting of the Council of State, held on February 22nd, 1648-49, it was "ordered that the ships at sea in service of the State shall onely beare the red Crosse in a white flag. That the engravings upon the Sterne of ye ships shall be the Armes of England and Ireland in two Scutcheons, as is used in the Seals, and that a warrant be issued to ye Commissioners of ye Navy to see it put in execution with all speed." The communication thus ordered to be made to the Commissioners was in form a letter from the President of the Council as follows:—"To ye Commissioners of ye Navy.—Gentlemen,—There hath beene a report made to the Councell by Sir Henry Mildmay of your desire to be informed what is to be borne in the flaggs of those Ships that are in the Service of the State, and what to be upon the Sterne in lieu of the Armes formerly thus engraven. Upon the consideration of the Councell whereof, the Councell have resolved that they shall beare the Red Crosse only in a white flagg, quite through the flagg. And that upon the Sterne of the Shipps there shall be the Red Crosse in one Escotcheon, and the Harpe in one other, being the Armes of England and Ireland, both Escotcheons joyned according to the pattern herewith sent unto you. And you are to take care that these Flaggs may be provided with all expedition for the Shipps for the Summer Guard, and that these engraveings may also be altered according to this direction with all possible expedition.—Signed in ye name and by order of ye Councell of State appointed by Authority of Parliament.—Ol. Cromwell, Derby House, February 23rd, 1648."
In a Council meeting held on March 5th, considerably within a month of the one we have just referred to, it is "ordered that the Flagg that is to be borne by the Admiral, Vice-Admiral, and Rere-Admiral be that now presented, viz., the Armes of England and Ireland in two severall Escotcheons in a Red Flagg, within a compartment." This arrangement may be seen in Fig. 82. A Commonwealth flag that is still preserved at the dockyard, Chatham, differs slightly from this. The ground of the flag is red, but the shields are placed directly upon it without any intervening gold border, and around them is placed a large wreath of palm and laurel in dark green colour.
In the year 1787 an interesting book called the "Respublica" was published; the author, Sir John Prestwich, deriving much of his material from MSS. left by an ancestor of his who lived during the Interregnum. In this the reader may find full descriptions of many of the flags of the Parliamentarians. One of these is much like the Chatham example already referred to, except that the ground of the flag is blue, and that outside the shields, but within the wreath, is found the inscription—"Floreat Respublica."
The flag of the Commonwealth was borne to victory at Dunbar, Worcester, and many another hard-fought field, and under its folds Blake, Monk, and other gallant leaders gained glorious victories over the Dutch and Spaniards, and made the English name feared in every sea.
- "Of wind's and water's rage they fearful be,
- But much more fearful are your flags to see.
- Day, that to those who sail upon the deep,
- More wish'd for and more welcome is than sleep,
- They dreaded to behold, lest the sun's light
- With English streamers should salute their sight."
It was not until the year 1651 that Scotland was brought under the sway of the Commonwealth, and the ordinance for its full union with England and Ireland was not promulgated until April 12th, 1654. Somewhat later an Order of Council recognised the new necessities of the case, and decreed that the Standard for the Protectorate be as shown in Fig. 83. England and Scotland are here represented by their respective crosses, while Ireland, instead of having the Cross of St. Patrick, is represented by the harp. In Fig. 80 all three crosses are introduced, but there seems somewhat too much white in this latter flag for an altogether successful effect, and the blue of the Irish quarter, balancing the blue of the Scottish, is more pleasing. The Union Flag underwent yet another modification, and instead of being like Figs. 82 or 86, the Union Flag of James I., Fig. 73, was reverted to, and in the centre of the flag was placed a golden harp—"the Armes of England and Scotland united, according to the anncient form, with the addicion of the harpe." On the restoration of Charles II. this harp was removed, and Ireland does not appear again in the Union Flag, Fig. 73, until January 1st, 1801.
A pattern farthing of this period—preserved in the magnificent numismatic collection in the British Museum—shows on its reverse a three-masted ship: at the stern is a large flag divided vertically, like Fig. 86, into two compartments, the Cross of St. George in one and the harp in the other; the main and mizen masts are shown with flags containing St. George's Cross only, as in Fig. 91, while the foremast bears a flag with St. Andrew's Cross upon it, a flag similar to Fig. 92.
For nearly fifty years before its rise, and for nearly one hundred and fifty years after the downfall of the Protectorate, that is to say from 1602 to 1649 and from 1659 to 1801, the Union Flag was as shown in Fig. 73, but in 1801 the Legislative Union of Ireland with Great Britain was effected, and a new Union Flag, the one now in use, was devised. This may be seen in Fig. 90, the noblest flag that flies under heaven.
Though the National Flag is primarily just so much silk or bunting, its design and colouring are full of meaning: and though its prime cost may be but a few shillings, its value is priceless, for the national honour is enwrapped in its folds, and the history of centuries is figured in the symbolism of its devices. It represents to us all that patriotism means. It is the flag of freedom and of the greatest empire that the world has ever known. Over three hundred millions of people—in quiet English shires, amid Canadian snows, on the torrid plains of Hindustan, amidst the busy energy of the great Australian group of colonies, or the tropical luxuriance of our West Indian possessions—are to-day enjoying liberty and peace beneath its shelter. Countless thousands have freely given their lives to preserve its blazonry unstained from dishonour and defeat, and it rests with us now to keep the glorious record as unsullied as of old; never to unfurl our Union Flag in needless strife, but, when once given to the breeze, to emulate the deeds of our forefathers, and to inscribe on its folds fresh records of duty nobly done.
How the form known as St. Patrick's Cross, Fig. 93, became associated with that worthy is not by any means clear. It is not found amongst the emblems of Saints, and its use is in defiance of all ecclesiastical tradition and custom, as St. Patrick never in the martyrological sense had a cross at all, for though he endured much persecution he was not actually called upon to lay down his life for the Faith. It has been suggested, and with much appearance of probability, that the X-like form of cross, both of the Irish and of the Scotch, is derived from the sacred monogram on the Labarum of Constantine, where the X is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ. This symbolic meaning of the form might readily be adopted in the early Irish Church, and thence be carried by missionaries to Scotland.
A life of St. Patrick was written by Probus, who lived in the seventh century, and another by Jocelin, a Cistercian monk of the twelfth century, and this latter quotes freely from four other lives of the Saint that were written by his disciples.
St. Patrick was born in Scotland, near where Glasgow now stands. The date of his birth was somewhere near the close of the fourth century, but as to the year authorities differ widely—372, 455, 464, and 493 being all given by various biographers. His father was of good family, and, while the future saint was still under the paternal roof, God manifested to him by divers visions that he was destined for the great work of the conversion of Ireland, at that time plunged in idolatry. Hence he resigned his birthright and social position, and devoted himself entirely to the salvation of these barbarians, suffering at their hands and for their sakes much persecution. He was ordained deacon and priest, and was ultimately made a bishop. He travelled over the whole of Ireland founding monasteries and filling the country with churches and schools of piety and learning. Animated by a spirit of perfect charity and humility, he demonstrated not only the faith but the spirit of his Master, and the result of his forty years of labour was to change Ireland from a land of barbarism into a seat of learning and piety, so that it received the title of the Island of Saints, and was for centuries a land of mental and spiritual light.
On the Union of the Kingdom of Great Britain with Ireland in the year 1801, the following notice was issued by Royal Authority:—"Proclamation, George R.—Whereas by the First Article of the Articles of Great Britain and Ireland it was declared: That the said Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland should upon this day, being the First Day of January, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and One, for ever after be united into One Kingdom, by the name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland: and that the Royal Style and Titles appertaining to the Imperial Crown of the said United Kingdom and its Dependencies, and also the Ensigns Armorial, Flags, and Banners thereof, should be such as We, by our Royal Proclamation under the Great Seal of the said United Kingdom should appoint: We have thought fit, by and with the advice of our Privy Council, to appoint and declare that our Royal Style and Titles shall henceforth be accepted, taken, and used as the same set forth in Manner and Form following: Georgius Tertius, Dei Gratia, Britannarium Rex, Fidei Defensor; and in the English Tongue by these words: George the Third, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith; and that the Arms or Ensigns Armorial of the said United Kingdom shall be Quarterly: first and fourth, England: second, Scotland: third, Ireland: and it is Our Will and Pleasure that there shall be borne thereon on an escutcheon of pretence, the Arms of Our Domains in Germany, ensigned with the Electoral Bonnet: And that the Union Flag shall be Azure, the Crosses Saltire of St. Andrew and St. Patrick Quarterly, per Saltire counterchanged Argent and Gules: the latter fimbriated of the second, surmounted by the Cross of St. George of the third, fimbriated as the Saltire."
The heralds who devised the new flag of the extended Union, Fig. 90, have been subjected to a very considerable amount of adverse criticism, but no one has really been able to suggest a better plan than theirs. It will be noted in the illustration and in every Union flag that is made, that the red Cross of St. Patrick, Fig. 93, is not in the centre of the white Cross, Fig. 92, of St. Andrew. The scarlet Cross of St. George is equally fringed on either side by the white border or fimbriation that represents the original white field, Fig. 91, on which it was placed, and on the addition of the white cross or saltire of St. Andrew on its field of blue, Fig. 92, it fitted in very happily. When, however, another X-like cross had to be provided for, on the admission of Ireland to the Union, a difficulty at once arose. As the Irish Cross would, according to all rule and fairness, be of the same width on the joint flag as that of St. Andrew, the result of placing the second or red X over the first white one would be to entirely obliterate the latter. Even then the Irish Cross would not be rightly rendered, as it should be on a white ground, and by this method it would be on a blue one, while if we placed the Irish Cross on that of St. Andrew, but left a thin line of white on either side, St. Andrew's Cross would still be obliterated, as the thin fimbriation of white would be the just due of St. Patrick, and would not stand for St. Andrew at all. Besides, Scottish indignation would not unjustly be aroused at the idea that their noble white cross should become a mere edging to the symbol of St. Patrick. Hence the somewhat awkward-looking compromise that breaks the continuity of direction of the arms of the red cross of Ireland by its portions being thrown out of the centre of the white oblique bands, so that in each portion the crosses of Ireland and Scotland are clearly distinguished from each other. This compromise notwithstanding, no more effective or beautiful flag unfolds itself the round world over than the Union flag of Great Britain and Ireland.
The crosses might have been quartered as we see them in Fig. 80, but it is clearly better to preserve the idea of the unity and blend all three crosses into one composition. No criticism or objection has ever come from Ireland as to the Union flag, but even so lately as 1853 the Scotch renewed their grievance against the Cross of St. Andrew being placed behind that of St. George, "and having a red stripe run through the arms thereof, for which there is no precedent in law or heraldry." If ever an Irishman cared to hunt up a grievance, surely here is one at last—the cross of his patron saint "a red stripe"!
When the Union flag is flown, it should always be as we have drawn it in Fig. 90, with the broad white stripe nearest to the head of the flagstaff. It would be quite possible, our readers will see, on a little study of the matter, to turn it with the red stripe uppermost; but this, as we have indicated, is incorrect; and, trivial as the matter may appear, there is a right and a wrong in it, and the point must not be overlooked.
Many suggestions at the time of the Union were made by divers writers in the public prints, such as the Gentleman's Magazine, and the like. One version preserved the flag of the first Union, Fig. 73, but placed in the centre a large green circle having within it the golden harp of the Emerald Isle; but this is objectionable, as it brings green on red, which is heraldically false, and as Ireland has a cross as well as England and Scotland, it seems more reasonable to keep the whole arrangement in harmony. Another version, and by no means a bad one, is shown in Fig. 89, where each cross is distinct from the two others. This appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for March 20th, 1803, and, like all the other suggestions, good, bad, and indifferent, suffered from the fatal objection that it saw the light when the whole matter was already settled and any alteration scarcely possible.
In view of the changes from the simple Cross of St. George to its union later on with that of St. Andrew, and later on still the union of both with that of St. Patrick, it is sufficiently evident that Campbell's stirring appeal to the mariners of England to defend the flag that for a thousand years has braved the battle and the breeze, however excellent in spirit, does not fit in with the literal facts, though we would not willingly change it for such a version as
- Ye mariners of England,
- That guard our native seas:
- Whose flag has braved since eighteen-one,
- The battle and the breeze.
The "Queen's Regulations" are very precise as to the hoisting of the flag at the various home and foreign stations and fortresses. Some few of these have the Royal Standard for use on Royal Anniversaries and State occasions only, and these flags are issued in two sizes—either twenty-four by twelve feet, or twelve by six feet—according to the importance of the position; thus Dover, Plymouth, and the Tower of London, for example, have the larger size. In like manner the Union Flag is of two sizes: twelve by six feet, or six by three feet. These flags at the various stations are either hoisted on anniversaries only, or on Sundays in addition, or else daily; thus Dover, besides its Standard, has a Union flag, twelve by six, for special occasions, and another, six by three,which is hoisted daily. Our foreign stations, Bermuda, Cape of Good Hope, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Halifax, St. Helena, and so forth, are all equally rigidly provided for in Regulations. There is no option anywhere in the matter. A particular fortress has to fly a particular flag of a particular size on a particular day.
The white ensign, Fig. 95, is the distinguishing flag of the Royal Navy. It is hoisted at the peak of all vessels in commission, or in such other conspicuous position of honour as their rig or (as in the case of some ironclads) absence of rig will permit. It is a large white flag, having upon it the Cross of St. George, the portion of the flag nearest the mast-head being occupied by the Union.
Until 1864 the Royal Navy was divided into the white, the blue, and the red squadrons, distinguished by the flags shown in Figs. 95, 96, and 97, but this arrangement, though it had lasted for over two hundred years, was found to have many inconveniences. It was very puzzling to foreigners, and it was necessary that each vessel should have three sets of colours, so as to be able to hoist the orthodox flag for the squadron in which, for the time being, it might be placed. It was also a difficulty that peaceful merchantmen were carrying a red ensign, Fig. 97, exactly similar to the war flag of the vessels of the red squadron. It was inconvenient in action, too; hence, Nelson at Trafalgar ordered the whole of his fleet to hoist the white ensign. An Order of Council, dated October 18th, 1864, put an end to this use of differing flags, declaring that henceforth the white ensign alone should be the flag of the Royal Navy. In the old days the red was the highest, the white the intermediate, and the blue the third in rank and dignity.
Her Majesty's ships, when at anchor in home ports and roads, hoist their colours at 8 o'clock in the morning from March 25th to September 20th, and the rest of the year an hour later; and on foreign stations, at either of these hours as the commanding officer shall direct; and either abroad or at home they remain flying throughout the day until sunset. When at sea, on passing, meeting, joining or parting from any other of Her Majesty's ships or on falling in with any other ship the flag is hoisted, and also when in sight of land, and especially when passing any fort, battery, lighthouse, or town.
When salutes are fired on the occasion of a foreign national festival, such as the birthday of the sovereign, the flag of the nation in question is hoisted at the main during the salute and for such further time as the war ships of such nation are be-flagged, but if none are present, then their flag remains up till sunset. Should a British war vessel arrive at any foreign fortified port, the flag of the foreign nation is hoisted at the main during the exchange of salutes.
It is a rank offence for any vessel to fly any ensign or pendant similar to those used in the Royal Navy. It will at once be boarded by any officer of Her Majesty's Service, the offending colours seized, and the vessel reported. The penalty for the offence is a very heavy one.
The admiral has as a flag the white flag with the Cross of St. George thereon, Fig. 91, and this must be displayed at the main top-gallant mast-head, since both the vice and rear-admirals are entitled to fly a similar flag, but the former of these displays his from the fore, and the latter from the mizen top-gallant mast-head; it being not the flag alone but the position of it that is distinctive of rank. The commodore's broad pendant is a very similar flag, but it tapers slightly, and is swallow-tailed.
The "Naval Discipline Act," better known as "The Articles of War," commences with the true and noble words—"It is on the Navy, under the Good Providence of God, that our Wealth, Prosperity, and Peace depend," and we may trust that the glorious traditions of this great service may be maintained to the full as effectually under the White Ensign as in any former period for the defence of
- "This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
- This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
- This other Eden, demi-paradise;
- This fortress built by nature for herself,
- Against infection, and the hand of war;
- This happy breed of men, this little world;
- This precious stone set in the silver sea,
- Which serves it in the office of a wall,
- Or as a moat defensive to a house,
- Against the envy of less happier lands;
- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."
The blue ensign, Fig. 96, is the flag of the Royal Naval Reserve, and may be flown by any merchant vessels that comply with the Admiralty conditions respecting that service. Such vessels must be commanded by officers of the Reserve, and at least one-third of their crew must belong to it: they then, the structural conditions being satisfactory, receive a Government subvention and an Admiralty Warrant to fly the blue ensign. Officers commanding Her Majesty's ships, meeting with ships carrying the blue ensign, are authorised to go on board them at any convenient opportunity and see that these conditions are strictly carried out, provided that they are of superior rank to the officers of the Royal Naval Reserve. The men of the Reserve receive an annual retainer and drill pay. The number of men in the Reserve, at the time we write these lines, is 10,600 in the first class and 10,800 in the second. The first class Reserve is composed of the men on the long voyage ships, the second being the fishermen and coasting crews. In addition to this there are some 3,000 engineers and stokers, and some 1,500 or so of officers, all equally prepared to rally to the pennant and to take their place in the national defence.
This utilisation of the faster vessels of the Mercantile Marine as cruisers in war time has seriously engaged the attention of the Admiralty. The Government gives an annual subsidy, and then claims the right to the vessel at a fixed charge in case of emergency. Such vessels would be of immense service in time of war in many ways: for scouting, for transporting troops, and for engaging such of the enemy as she felt fairly a match for. When, some few years ago, it seemed as though war with Russia was imminent, the Massilia and the Rosetta of the Peninsula and Oriental Company's fleet were put in commission by telegraph at Sydney and Hong Kong respectively. These vessels were provided at once with warlike stores, and were at gun practice off the ports referred to a few hours after the receipt of instructions, and ready to go anywhere. This Company, during the Crimean War, carried over sixty thousand men to the scene of operations, and during the Indian Mutiny, the war in the Soudan, and all other possible occasions, has rendered the greatest aid to the State. The Teutonic and the Majestic, of the White Star Line, each carry twelve Armstrong guns, and could either of them land two thousand infantry at Halifax in five days, or at Bombay in fourteen days, or at Hong Kong in twenty-one; and many other armed cruisers of the Mercantile Marine, that we need not stay to particularise, could do as much, and as effectively, flying the Blue Ensign as worthily as those we have named.
- "Little England! Great in story!
- Mother of immortal men!
- Great in courage! Great in glory!
- Dear to Freedom's tongue and pen!
- If the world combine to brave thee,
- English hearts will dare the fight,
- English hands will glow to save thee,
- Strong for England and the right!"
The Red Ensign, represented in Fig. 97, is the special flag of the ordinary merchantman. "The Red Ensign"—lays down the "Merchant Shipping (Colours) Act"—"usually worn by merchant ships, without any defacement or modification whatsoever, is hereby declared to be the proper national colour of all ships and boats belonging to any subject of Her Majesty, except in the case of Her Majesty's ships or boats, or in the case of any other ship or boat for the time being allowed to wear any other national colours, in pursuant of a Warrant from Her Majesty or from the Admiralty."
This Act goes on to say that any ship belonging to any subject of the Queen shall, on a signal being made to her by one of Her Majesty's ships, or on entering or leaving any foreign port, hoist the red ensign, and if of fifty tons gross tonnage or upwards, on entering or leaving any British port also, or incur a penalty not exceeding one hundred pounds. A merchantman may also fly the Union Jack from the bowsprit, but if so the flag, as in Fig. 104, must have a broad white border.
The earliest form of red ensign is seen in Fig. 66. In a picture at Hampton Court, representing the embarkation of William of Orange for England, in the year 1688, his ship is shown as wearing two flags, one a red one with St. George's Cross in the canton, as in Fig. 66, while the other, also red, has the Union Flag in the canton. We get, therefore, a regular sequence of red ensigns: that with St. George's Cross alone in the corner next the masthead; that with the Union of St. George and St. Andrew—this picture at Hampton Court being the earliest example known of its use; and, thirdly, that of to-day with the crosses of St. George, St. Andrew, and St. Patrick.
Some little degree of flag-lore is valuable not only to the soldier, the seaman, or the traveller, but to everyone. For want of this knowledge, ludicrous and serious mistakes are often made. Discussing these matters with a man of good general knowledge, we found that he had a notion that there were two kinds of "Union Jack," one, that had most red in it, being the Army flag; while the other, in which blue preponderated, was the flag of the Navy! Outside a large provincial theatre we saw a conspicuous notice indicating that the piece then running was entitled "The Old Flag." To emphasise this was a picture of a square of British linesmen surrounded byZulus, while in the centre of the square rose the Royal Standard! As a set-off to this we saw, not far off, a public house called the "Royal Standard," flying from its roof the white Ensign! A friend of ours brought home for his son a really capital toy model of an ironclad, with turrets, ram, fighting tops, etc., and yet flying the red ensign of the harmless merchantman!
At a church we occasionally pass, the living being in the gift of the Queen, the Royal Standard is hoisted on such Church festivals as Christmas Day, while at other times, for no apparent reason, the white Ensign is substituted—the special flag of the War Navy. Anyone venturing to point out to the authorities thereof that, as the old church could scarcely take up its position as a unit in our fighting fleet—having, in fact, quite another mission in the world—the special flag of the Royal Navy was not the most appropriate, would probably derive from the interview the impression that, after all, to the churchwardens a flag was a flag, and that it was quite possible to make a mountain out of a molehill.
To one who knows anything about it, the eruption of silk bunting, and baser fabrics innumerable that comes to the fore on any occasion of national rejoicing, is a thing of horror, not merely in the festal disfigurements of the patchwork counterpane or cotton pockethandkerchief type, seeing that to some people any coloured piece of stuff that will blow out in the wind is a valid decoration, but in the painful ignorance shown in the treatment of recognised ensigns. Some little time ago, for instance, we found ourselves in a town gaily beflagged and radiant in bunting on the occasion of a great popular rejoicing. The Royal Standard, betokening the presence in the house of some member of the Royal Family, was flying with a profusion that made it impossible to believe that all the people displaying it could be entertaining such distinguished guests. As a set-off, others were decking their houses with red flags, the symbols of revolution and bloodshed, or with yellow ones, leaving us to infer that such houses were to be avoided as nests of yellow fever or such-like deadly infection. The Stars and Stripes of the United States were, in almost every case, upside down, as indeed were many others; a thing that, except for the ignorance that was its excuse, might be considered as an insult to the various Foreign Powers, while the repeated reversal of the red ensign implied a signal of distress. The good folks really meant no harm to anybody, and they were quite happy to believe, as they strolled in their thousands up the leading streets of the town, that their decorations were a great success. At the same time, a little more knowledge would have done them no harm. As it is an insult to hoist one national flag below another, it is a rigid law that in all official decorations national flags may not be so placed, butenthusiastic and irresponsible burgesses, in the depth of their ignorance, ignore all such considerations of international courtesy, and in the length of a short street commit sufficient indiscretion to give umbrage to all mankind. It may be said that
- "Happiness too swiftly flies,
- Thought would destroy their Paradise"—
that "he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow," that
- "From ignorance our comfort flows,
- The only wretched are the wise"—
but despite all this philosophy, that "where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise," no one is the worse for knowing something about the matter with which he is dealing; and if proverbial philosophy is to count for anything in the matter, a not inappropriate moral may be quoted as to the rushing in of fools where their betters feel a judicious modesty. The confidence of knowledge is better than the confidence of ignorance, and would certainly, in street flagging, produce a more satisfactory result.
We have in Plate VI. some few examples of these vagaries from sketches that we made at the time. Fig. 45, if it had not got the Union in the canton, would nearly be the Danish flag, Fig. 225, but the addition of the canton makes it sheer foolishness. Fig. 46 is a good example of the notion that anything will do if it be only bright enough: it is a mere piece of patchwork, not by any means the only one in evidence. Figs. 47 and 50 explain themselves; it is evident that in one case the decorator started with a white ensign and in the other with a blue one, and then, feeling that they were a little small and insignificant looking, tacked on a goodly amount of red material to bring them up to their notion of what would be sufficiently conspicuous in size. Fig. 48 is very quaint: there is a notion of the white ensign hovering about it, but the Royal Standard employed as a canton in one quarter is outside all the proprieties, and in any case all the arm of the cross that one would expect to see below the canton is absorbed by it. The addition of the two red tails to the Royal Standard in Fig. 49 is not by any means legitimate, while in Fig. 51 the Royal Standard is made the canton of a red ensign, and, as if this were not bad enough in itself, the whole thing is flown upside down. Many of the so-called flags had no semblance to anything, some were strange and abnormal tricolors; others, chequers: one, we remember, was deep crimson, with a broad bordering round three of its edges of light blue. Whatever opportunity of going wrong seemed to be at all feasible appeared to be eagerly seized by some well-meaning burgess, so that the result was a perfect museum of examples of how not to do it, and therefore of immense interest.
- "The dazzling field,
- Where in proud Scotland's royal shield,
- The ruddy lion ramped in gold."—Scott.
- With only one exception the Sovereigns of Scotland never quartered the arms of any other kingdom with their own. The only exception was when Mary Stuart claimed the arms of England and placed them upon her standard, and thus gave irreparable provocation to Queen Elizabeth.
- Brian Boru, who was killed in battle with the Danes, did much to civilise Ireland; and, amongst other things, introduced the harp. The ancient Irish harp at Trinity College, Dublin, was long claimed as the identical instrument of Boru, but it has been proved by the ornament upon it that it cannot be later than the fourteenth century. The most primitive representation of the harp in Ireland is in a rude sculpture in a church near Kilkeny. This is known to date from the ninth century. Though the harp has ever shone in the poetry of the Irish people, they have but little claim to it. It has been by no means such a national instrument with the Irish as with the Welsh. It is one of the most ancient of instruments, figuring in the mural paintings of Egypt centuries before the Christian era.
- As may be seen beautifully enamelled on his tomb in Westminster Abbey.
- Another flag was a plain scarlet one, having this inscription: "For the Protestant Religion and the Liberty of England" in white upon it.
- The following summary may be taken as correct in its broad facts:—From about 1195 to 1340, the Standard had the lions of England alone on it. From 1340 to 1377, England and France together. 1377 to 1399, England, France, and the arms of Edward the Confessor. 1399 to 1603, England and France. 1603 to 1649, England, France, Scotland and Ireland. 1649 to 1659, Interregnum: a period of change and uncertainty, when divers changes in the Standard were made that are scarcely worth detailing. 1659 to 1688, England, France, Scotland, and Ireland. 1688 to 1701, England, France, Scotland, Ireland, and Nassau. 1701 to 1714, England, France, Scotland, and Ireland. 1714 to 1801, England, France, Scotland, Ireland, and Hanover. 1801 to 1837, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Hanover. From 1837, England, Scotland, and Ireland.
- In the same way, we find the Scottish clansmen rushing to the fray to the cry of "St. Andrew and our Right." In the ballad of Otterbourne we read that the Scots
- "Uppon Sent Andrewe loude they crye,
- And thrysse they showte on hyght."
- One interesting exception to this is that, on St. George's Day, the 5th regiment (Northumberland Fusiliers) holds full-dress parade, all wearing the rose, the national emblem, in their headgear, and the officers on their sword-knots also. The colours, too, are festooned with roses.
- "The x day of January hevy news came to London that the French had won Cales (Calais), the whyche was the hevest tydyngs to England that ever was herd of. "The xj day of January the Cete of London took up a thousand men, and mad them whytt cotes and red crosses, and every ward of London found men. "The xxj day of January came a new commandement to my Lord Mayre that he shuld make men redy in harnes with whyt cotes weltyd with green, and red crosses, by the xxiij day of the same moneythe to be at Leydenhalle to go forward. "The xviij day of May there was sent to the shyppes men in whyt cotes and red crosses, and gones, to the Queen's shyppes."—Machyn's Diary.
- Thus we have the white, the blue, the white and orange, the green and red, the purple, the blue and white, the orange and green, the red and yellow, the red and blue, the red and white, and divers others. The orange company always took the lead. These companies were for a long time in abeyance, and were superseded in 1798 by the formation of the Royal Edinburgh Volunteers, but each year the Magistrates and Council still appoint one of their number to be captain of the orange colours. His duty is to take charge of the old colours and preserve them as an interesting relic of a bygone institution.
- It is remarkable that none of the flags extant bear the motto which the Parliament on July 5th, 1650, ordered "to be upoun haill culloris and standardis," i.e., "For Covenant, Religion, King, and Kingdom." It is characteristic that each body claimed independence even in this matter. Thus the Fenwick flag bore "Phinegh for God, Country, and Covenanted work of Reformations." Another flag has, "For Reformation in Church and State, according to the Word of God and our Covenant," while yet another bears the inscription, "For Christ and His truths, no quarters to ye active enemies of ye Covenant."
- St. Andrew's day is November 30th.
- The question of the Union between England and Scotland was often mooted. In the year 1291 Edward I., being victorious in the north, declared the two countries united, but this did not last long. In 1363 Edward III. opened negotiations for a union of the two crowns if King David of Scotland died without issue. In the reign of Edward VI. the matter was again to the fore, but it was left to Queen Elizabeth to take the decisive step.
- April 12th, 1605.
- Thus in the Royal Standard of Spain, Fig. 194, the arms of Leon and Castile being In the upper corner next the staff take precedence of honour over Arragon and all the other States therein introduced.
- In a picture in the collection at Hampton Court, representing the embarkation of Charles II. from Holland, the ship has a large red flag charged with the Stuart arms in the centre, but so soon as his position in England was assured he reverted to the royal standard of his Stuart predecessors and to the original form of the union flag, a form that during the Protectorate was widely departed from.
- "Jaque, espece de petite casaque militaire qu'on portait au moyen age sur les armes et sur la cuirasse."—Bouillet, "Dict. Universel."
- A contemporary representation of this Long Parliament flag may be seen on the medals bestowed on the victorious naval commanders, where the principal ship in the sea-fight represented on the reverse of the medal flies this flag at her masthead.
- Andrew Marvell on the victory of Blake at Santa Cruz.
- As the year of his birth is scarcely known within a century or so, it is too much to expect the month or the day, but the day that is assigned to St. Patrick in the calendar is March 17th.
- In the year 1816, in consequence of the Electorate of Hanover being raised to the rank of a Kingdom, the Hanoverian Royal Crown was substituted for the Electoral headgear in the royal arms on the shield and standard.
- A writer in the Retrospective Review in the year 1847, thus relieves his feelings:—"The banner of St. George, argent, and cross gules is still borne as part of the English flag, though, from the disgraceful manner in which it has been amalgamated with the Crosses of St. Andrew and St. Patrick, it has not only lost all its purity, but presents a melancholy example of the ignorance of heraldry and total want of patriotism and taste which must have characterised those to whom we unfortunately owe its arrangement."
- "All Her Majesty's Ships of War in Commission shall bear a white ensign with the Red St. George Cross, and the Union in the upper Canton, and when it shall be thought proper to do so, they may display the Union Jack at the bowsprit end."—Queen's Regulations.
- We read, for instance, in the Diary of Pepys that in the expedition of the Duke of Buckingham, in the year 1627, against the Isle de Rhé that "the Duke divided his fleet into squadrons. Himself, ye Admirall, and General in chiefe, went in ye Triumphe, bearing the Standard of England in ye maine topp, and Admirall particular of the bloody colours. The Earl of Lindsay was Vice-Admirall to the Fleete in the Rainbowe, bearing the King's usual colours in his foretopp, and a blew flag in his maine topp, and was admirall of the blew colours. The Lord Harvey was Rear Admirall in ye Repulse, bearing the King's usual colours in his mizen, and a white flag in the main topp, and was Admirall of ye squadron of white colours."
- On the hoisting of the Ensign all work stops, and all ranks muster on deck, standing with hand raised to the cap in salute, while the ship's band plays the opening bars of the National Anthem.
- Charles Mackay.