Images de page
[ocr errors]

barrier, the feats of archery, the joust, the mêlée, followed by the banquet, the ball, the dance, the minstrelsy. The Earl of Eglinton, the author and originator of this great tournament, had resolved from the very first to model it on those of earlier days in such a manner as to make a lasting impression on the minds of all who took part in it. To use his own high words at the tournament banquet, “he had pored, as a boy, over the exploits of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table till he felt he would have given up all his bright hopes of future years for the grave that enclosed the glories of a Sir Tristram or a Sir Launcelot.” He had pondered over the pages of Froissart till he fancied he heard the clang of armour and the shrill blast of the trumpet calling him to the tented field; and he endeavoured to realise the dream of his boyhood, for he did not think that “the spirit of chivalry had slept too long to be reawakened, or that armour must no longer clothe the brave and free, but be gaped at only as trophies of what our forefathers were and what their descendants must no longer be.”

Filled with such high aspirations-young, generous, hospitable, and munificent, with the blood of generations of knightly ancestors in his veins- no wonder that to emulate " the seats of Lrawl and battle” of the olden times commended itself to him. How he carried out his chivalrous aspirations we will now proceed to tell.

Eglinton Castle, in Ayrshire, the home of the Montgomeries for so many generations, was the scene of the tournament. The arena, some four square acres in extent, is about a quarter of a mile from the Castle, and has a background of deep woods. The deer park is to the right, while in front the slow-flowing Lugton separates it from the Castle and the rest of the park, which has fine trees and is of great extent. Round the tilting ground was a high fence, and the barriera hundred yards in length-was five feet high, while the pavilion for the Queen of Beauty and her ladies-a Gothic structure—was at one end of the ground. Two galleries for the spectators, one to accommodate a thousand, the other two thousand people, were erected on either side; the former was reserved for Lord Eglinton s friends and acquaintances, while to the latter entry was obtained by tickets that had been eagerly asked for and given away months beforehand.

Every knight had his own tent or “ pavilion” on the ground, decorated with armorial bearings, flags, and pennants; an emblazoned shield being hung over the entrance of each. The decorations of the lists were magnificent and costly, some of the hangings of cloth of gold made for the Queen's coronation being employed. In the distance were to be seen the tents where Lord Glenlyon and his “men of Athole" were encamped ; for the clansmen had followed their chief to the great gathering. Many other tents were dotted about the park; some housed the followers and retainers of the knights, others contained refreshment for the sight-seers, who, on the first day, numbered sixty thousand, and who from a rising ground above the arena were able to see all that went on in the plain.

Anything more picturesque than the scene on the tilting-ground on the morning of the opening day, August 28th, 1839, can hardly be imagined. Round the tents of the knights were groups of servitors, retainers and grooms : their war-horses, gaily caparisoned, were led up and down, and bodies of men-at-arms passed to and fro; but, thanks to the excellent arrangements of the Knight Marshal of the Lists and the deputy marshals, there was neither confusion nor disorder.

We recall the lists of Ashby de la Zouch, and the pages of Ivanhoe, as we in imagination behold that scene.

On each knight's tent is his cognizance and device, for the best blood in England is here to take part in this assault of arms. Above this tent floats the banner of the Knight of the Dragon (Lord Waterford); here the Knight of the Dolphin (Lord


Cassilis) prepares for the fray; here are the tents of the Knight of the Griffin (Lord Craven), the Knight of the Black Lion (Lord Alford), the Knight of the Crane (Lord Cranstoun), the Knight of the Gael (Lord Glenlyon), with his clansmen in kilts around, the Knight of the Burning Tower (Sir F. Hopkins), the Knight of the Border (Sir F. Johnstone), the Knight of the White Rose (Mr. Charles Lamb), the Knight of the Ram (Hon. C. Gaze), Knight of the Swan (Hon. C. Jerningham), Knight of the Red Rose (R. J. Lechmere), of the Golden Lion (Capt. J. O. Fairlie), of the Stag's Head (Capt. Beresford), and the Black Knight (Campbell of Saddell). But Brian de Bois, Guilbert, Ivanhoe, and all who fought at Ashly, are not more a thing of the past than those brave knights and gentlemen of fifty years ago. Only one or two survive to tell the tale. As for the others :


" Their bones are dust, And their good swords

are rust, Their souls are with the

saints, we trust.”

Their shields and lances, that still hang round the hall at Eglinton, are all that remain to tell of their

presence on

that joyous occasion.

The tournament was fixed for two o'clock, and the procession was timed to leave the castle shortly before that time, but the morning, which at first was fairly fine, gradually clouded over, and by midday a drenching rain had set in, and continued without a moment's intermission all the rest of the day. Down it came, in the steady, persistent, hopeless way peculiar to the west coast. There was not a break in

the sky, and nothing to be Some of the shields that hang

gained by waiting ; so in round the Hall at Eglinton Castle.

perfect downpour the long procession started, the feudal appearance of the display sadly marred by thousands of umbrellas. But, indeed, neither umbrella nor plaid nor great-coat could prevail against such a persistent deluge, and thousands of the spectators were as wet as if they had been dragged through the waters of the Lugton !

Only a gleam of sunshine was needed to fall on the knights' armour, the silken banners, the robes of gold and silver cloth in which many of the ladies were arrayed, and the bravery of all who followed in that glittering train, and it would have been a sight never to have been forgotten.

First came the men-at-arms on horseback, followed by the musicians and trumpeters, the trumpets and


[ocr errors]

VOL. VIII. -No. 33.

banners being blazoned with the arms of the Lord of the Tourney; the Irvine Archers in green and gold; the servitors, halberdiers and retainers on foot came next, followed by the gonfalon, borne aloft by a man-atarms riding before the Lord of the Tourney, who, mounted on a splendid war-horse, whose trappings were blue satin and gold, rode in a suit of richly damascened gilt armour, with a shirt of chain of mail. Then followed in like manner all the knights in their order of rank, each one being preceded by his gonfalon and halberdiers, and followed by his esquires and retainers.

The Marquis of Londonderry, as the King of the Tournament, wore a magnificent tunic of green velvet, embroidered in gold, a crimson velvet, gold-embroidered cloak, and a crown covered in with crimson. The trappings of his horse were of crimson velvet, with the crest emblazoned in colours proper. The seneschal of the Castle, the swordsmen with two-handed swords, the jester in

characteristic parti-coloured blue and yellow costume, sceptre in hand, and

mounted on a mule caparisoned in blue and yellow cloth, and with trap

pings with bells, the servitors of the Castle and more men-at-arms brought up the procession.

There were five tilts and then the mêlée, in all of which Lord Eglinton particularly

[ocr errors]

distinguished himself; but the sports had to be much abridged in consequence of the heavy rain.

Things were still worse on the second day : the ground was now a swamp, the rain never ceased, and a cold wind blew. Nothing could be done out of doors, and as the banqueting hall and ball-room-temporary erections—were flooded, the ball had also to be postponed. In the meantime mimic tilts took place indoors, to amuse the numerous guests with whom the castle was crowded ; and among those who distinguished themselves most by a skilful use of the sword and knowledge of the weapons of the age of chivalry was no less a personage than the late Emperor of the French (then Prince Louis Napoleon). He was one of the “Knight's Visitors," and in a book about the Eglinton Tournament, published by Colnaghi in 1843, there is to be found a print of the Prince and Mr. Lamb, in full armour, fighting with broomsticks ! It is curious, when read by the light of subsequent history, to find how well the future Emperor held his own in all the knightly sports of the tournament, and there is also a sort of incongruity about the crimson velvet doublet, and “the crimson velvet cap with a yellow

Prince Louis Napoleon, feather fastened by a jewelled aigrette falling gracefully on the left side," not to mention “the high boots turned with red and bound with gold lace,” worn by the "Man of Sedan ” at the banquet.

But now it is the last day of the tournament, and --Heaven be praised !—the sun shines brightly!

Once more the long procession leaves the Castle, and, with sounds of music and joyous shouts, wends its way to the tilting-ground. Foremost in the van rides the Queen of Love and Beauty, her palfrey clad in richest housings, and led by no meaner grooms than the Marquis of Abercorn and the Marquis of Douglas in full Highland dress. She is surrounded by lovely maids of honour, but the beautiful Lady Seymour outshines them all.

To be beautiful and brilliant seems to be the birthright of a Sheridan, and this fairest of the three Sheridan sisters, who were the idols of the world of fashion fifty years ago, does not belie the family characteristics. No one who sees her as she rides in this dazzling procession would be likely ever to forget her. She wears a train of violet velvet, with the Seymour coat-of-arms embroidered in silver over an underdress of azure velvet, and a "partelet” of sky-blue satin worked in silver. From her shoulders falls a mantle of rich crimson velvet furred with minever. Her gauntlets are embroidered and fretted with gold, and on her fair head is a silver crown set with rich stones.

Surely the Queen of Fairyland never was more richly dight"!

Among the other ladies who follow in her train comes the Duchess of Montrose -an imposing figure in ruby velvet, with the armorial bearings of the Graemes worked in gold on one side ; her mantle of cornflower-blue velvet is lined with minever, and her long gauntlets are embroidered in gold. The Marchioness of Londonderry has donned the most superb heraldic dress, of the most daring yet correct style. There were the gold gauntlets of the Vanes, and the “ruddy lion” of the Stuarts, while ermine, point lace, and magnificent pearls and diamonds compose her head-dress.

Montgomerie wears a riding costume of the fifteenth century, of royal blue

« PrécédentContinuer »