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on which a plain cross, or cross of St. George, is beautifully enchased. The coronation ring of the queen consort is likewise gold, with a large table ruby set therein, and sixteen other small rubies set round about the ring; of which those next to the setting are the largest, the rest diminishing in proportion. Investiture by the ring, was the most ancient form of conferring dignity; it was by this ceremony that Pharaoh created Joseph his viceroy over Egypt; it was also a Persian custom, as we have already noticed, and we find many traces of it in the history of the Anglo Saxons.
The legend of the Coronation Ring is not less singular than that of the Ampulla. It is said that King Edward the Confessor was met by an old man who asked him for alms, and the charitable monarch, being at the moment destitute of money, gave the suppliant his ring. Soon afterwards, two English pilgrims in Palestine having lost their way, were met at the approach of night by this same old man, who led them into a certain magnificent city, which appears to have been the New Jerusalem, the present existence of which was a popular article of faith in the middle ages. The old man entertained them most hospitably, and gave them lodgings for the night. In the morning he informed them that he was St. John the Evangelist, of whom it was believed by many of the ancient fathers, that he was appointed to tarry on earth until the second coming of the Lord Jesus. St. John told the pilgrims, that it was to him in person that the Confessor had given the ring, and he
sent it back by them to the king, with a promise that divine grace should encircle every British sovereign who was invested with this ring at the coronation. The sacred ring was long preserved at the shrine of St. Edward, and only brought out at the time of a coronation. It deserves to be remarked, that legends of the appearance of St. John continued to be told so late as the reign of Henry VIII.; his last visitation was to the King of Scotland, James IV.; the appearance of the evangelist is thus described by Pitscottie, whose language we have slightly modernized. “He was a man, clad in a blue gown, and belted about him in a roll of linen cloth; a pair of buskins on his feet, to the great of his legs, with all other hose and clothes conform thereto; but he had nothing on his head save hair of a reddish yellow behind, and the same on his cheeks, which went down to his shoulders; but his forehead was bald and bare. He seemed to be a man about fifty-two years old, and he carried a great pikestaff in his hand.”
The Spurs, called the great golden spurs, are elaborately wrought, both round the outer edge, and at the buckle and fastenings. They have no rowels, but end in an ornamented point, being of that kind which are denominated prick spurs. It is sufficiently notorious, that putting on the gilded spurs, was the ancient investiture of knighthood, just as the hacking them off was the legitimate form of degradation.
The ARMILLÆ, or bracelets, are of solid gold, and open by a hinge for the purpose of being placed upon the wrist. They are an inch and a half in breadth, and two inches in diameter, and are adorned with chasings of the rose, thistle, harp, and fleur de lis, emblematical of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France; the edge are also garnished with pearls. These ornaments are not now employed in the coronation, and we shall see in a subsequent chapter, that the service appropriated to the bracelets, has been by some strange blunder, tranferred to the Armil, or Stole.