20 JANUARY 1950, Page 16

The Blot in the Scutcheon SIR.—In reply to Mr. Huxtable's

enquiry in the Spectator of December 23rd, " the blot in the scutcheon " probably refers to the heraldic " abatement of honour," a system of stains of various shapes placed on the shields of persons guilty of certain offences—cowardice in battle, rape and so on. Shakespeare in " The Rape of Lucrece " puts into the mouth of Sextus Tarquinius, when he was premeditating the rape, words which suggest that the idea of an heraldic abatement was familiar to him:— " Yea, though I die, the scandal will survive, And be an eye-sore in my golden coat ; Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive, To cipher me,,how fondly I did dote."

I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant,


The Binns, Linlithgow ' Unicorn Pursuivant.