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ORIGIN OF THE ORDER.
Henry the Eighth, states, that, at a solemn Ball, given at the Court of Edward the Third, the garter of Joan, Countess of Salisbury, falling off, while she was dancing, the King picked it up; and, on observing the sportive humour of his courtiers, excited by the accident, he exclaimed, Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil to him who evil thinks), and added withal, that, “ in a short time, they should see that Garter advanced to so high an honour, as to account themselves most happy to wear it!” This, however, is treated as an idle story. The Order originated in military glory. Edward aspired to the crown of France; and, with the view of success, associated his most approved captains and warriors in an honourable society of love and brotherhood. Reviving the institution of Arthur's ROUND TABLE, he ordered a GRAND TOURNAMENT to be held, Jan. 19th, 1344, at Windsor. On Newyear's-day, he issued letters to all foreign Knights, desirous of displaying their valour at the ensuing festival; and it was signified that he would be present at the ceremony, together with his QUEEN, three hundred of the most beautiful ladies of her court, in their most splendid attire, and all his principal nobles ! The result proved so favourable to the wishes of Edward, that the repetition of the Tournament was made annually, and a circular building constructed in the castle for the accommodation of this illustrious company. The King, however, soon formed a fraternity of a more limited character in the Order of the Garter. The number was twenty-six, till June the 3d, 1780,
when the limitation was to be extended to the King's Sons, as superpumerary Knights. The first Installation was in the year 1349, on the anniversary of Sr. GEORGE, who was declared the Patron of the Order. Edward looked up to the especial aid of the HOLY TRINITY, and the Virgin Mary; but, as more immediate patron, whose name it was to bear, Saint George of Cappadocia was chosen for those virtues which had acquired him a place in the Calendar of the Romish church-for that steady adherence to his faith which had obtained him the crown of martyrdom-and for his military exploits, which had bestowed upon him the title of a brave and faithful soldier of Jesus Christ. It has, however, been remarked, that little is to be found of him, and his renown seems to have no better authority than the traditions of the East, where our crusaders found it, by whom he had been already chosen as the military patron of ENGLAND! The Garter sent to the King of Sweden by Charles the First had each letter of the motto, Honi soit qui mal y pense, composed of diamonds, in number 411; and his own garter was composed of 412 diamonds—worn by the unfortunate Monarch on the scaffold! The GEORGE, appendant from the middle of the collar, displays the figure of that saint, on horseback, tilting at the dragon; precious stones forming a luminous embellishment. The whole habit is worn at the feasts of Installation, and the Collar only on the principal festivals of the year. The Officers of the Order are the Prelate, Bishop of
OFFICERS OF THE ORDER.
Winchester; Chancellor, Bishop of Salisbury; Register, Dean of Windsor ; Garter and King at Arms, both offices being united in one person; and the Usher of the Black Rod. Among the foreign Potentates admitted into this institution are nine Emperors of Germany, five Kings of France, three Kings of Spain, five Kings of Portugal, two Kings of Naples, five Kings of Denmark, two Kings of Sweden, two Kings of Scotland, one King of Prussia, and seven Princes of Orange, besides MANY of the most illustrious characters in Europe !
The last INSTALLATION took place 230 April, 1805, of the Duke of Rutland, the Earl of Hardwicke, the Duke of Beaufort, the Marquis of Abercorn, the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, the Earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham, and the Earl of Chesterfield, with the accustomed pomp and ceremony. Upwards of six hundred have been enrolled since the first institution of the Order of the Garter, now nearly FIVE CENTURIES ago!
A crown of such majestic towers doth grace
Dryder has thus celebrated the dignity and splendour of the Order of the Garter:
Behold an ORDER yet of newer date,
DEGRADATION FOR TREASON, &c.
Our England's ornament, the Crown's defence,
Degradation, however, attends a Knight convicted of Heresy, Treason, or Cowardice. A herald, placed on the back of the stall of the criminal, when Garter pronounces these words“ Be expelled and
put from among the arms, &c." takes his crest, and violently casts it down into the choir, and afterwards his banner and sword. The publication being made, all the officers at arms spurn the achievements out of the choir into the body of the church; first, the sword; secondly, the banner; and, lastly, the crest; so on out of the west door, thence through the castle-gate, whence they are thrown into the castle-ditch! The Duke of ORMOND, for acting in concert with the French General in the reign of George the First, was the last Knight who underwent this degradation. In the books of the Order, Vah! Proditor-AH! TRAITOR- is written opposite the name of the degraded Knight, as a mark of ignominy, to preserve the registers fair and undefaced by erasements! Such is the most noble Order of the Garter, “ exceeding (says the learned Selden) in majesty, honour and fame all the chivalrous orders in the world!”
The Poor or Alms Knights of Windsor are eighteen in number, thirteen on the royal foundation, and five
HIS MAJESTY'S CHARACTER.
on the foundation of Sir Peter Le Maire, who lived in the reign of James the First, Add to these, seven gentlemen, supported by the legacy of Mr. Samuel Travers, who died in the year 1728. These are superannuated or disabled Lieutenants of English men-of
The income of these Knights is about £50 per annum, besides a habitation. They are, for the most part, unmarried--and are subject to various rules, which are not observed with a rigid punctuality. A poor Knight, Sir John Dineley, lately deceased, amused Windsor and its vicinity by his eccentricity.
Over the Collegiate Chapel of St. George presides a Dean, with twelve Canons, and other inferior clergy. Having Kings for nursing Fathers, and Queens for nursing Mothers, This Institution may be said to experience all the plenitude of princely liberality.
I shall conclude this long, but, I trust, not uninteresting letter, in the words of a MODERN WRITER with reference to the august Resident of this truly ancient and superbly castellated mansion
“ We close our description of this ROYAL SEAT of England's Kings, where the business of State has been exchanged for the endearing circle of domestic enjoyments, and the fatigues and arduous solicitudes of Government for a while relieved by the pleasures of the chase, and the contemplation of Nature under its most alluring form. And these delights has it for these last fifty years conveyed to a MONARCH, whose character, here contemplated in his retirement, may be conveyed in a very few words :-As a Husband,