The Grammar of Heraldry/Preface

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search


The great objections to which almost every work devoted to the science of Heraldry is open are either unnecessary amplification, or too much conciseness. In the former case, much that is superfluous is introduced (such as the conjectured attributes of the various tinctures and charges), serving rather to confuse than to elucidate, at the same time materially enhancing the price of the volume; while in the latter case many important details are necessarily omitted. In the present treatise I have endeavoured to avoid both extremes, with what success I leave the reader to judge.

Again, it has been the usual custom, hitherto, either to engrave the illustrations on metal or draw them on stone, and to print them on sheets containing a dozen or more, and frequently to bind them together at the end of the book, thus rendering constant reference tedious and irksome. In this volume the diagrams, each duly shaded so as to represent their proper heraldic colours, will be found embodied in the text, which plan, although it adds considerably to the cost of production, is more than compensated by the ready facility which it affords for reference.

I have not considered it essential in the following pages to dwell at any length on that portion of the science which refers more especially to Royalty and the Nobility; my purpose is to treat principally of the laws and usages which regulate the heraldry of Gentlemen.

The student who, having mastered the grammar of Heraldry, may be desirous of acquiring a deeper knowledge of this most interesting science, is referred, inter alia, to Nesbit’s System of Heraldry; Guillim’s Display of Heraldry; Edmondson’s Complete Body of Heraldry; Berry’s Encyclopædia Heraldica; Synopsis of the Peerage; and The Historic Peerages of England, by Sir Harris Nicholas; Parker’s Dictionary of Heraldry; Fairbairn’s Crests; Planché’s Pursuivant of Arms; Burke’s, Debrett’s, and Dod’s Peerages; Robson’s British Herald; Boutell’s Heraldry, Historical and Popular; and Newton’s Display of Heraldry.

There is no subject more difficult to be dwelt on than that of honourable descent; none on which the world are greater sceptics, none more offensive to them; and yet there is no quality to which every one in his heart pays so great a respect.”—Autobiography of Sir Egerton Brydges.