- The Lion and the Unicorn
The Lion and the Unicorn are time-honoured symbols of the
United Kingdom. They are properly speaking heraldic supporters, appearing in the full Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. The lionstands for Englandand the unicornfor Scotland. The combination therefore dates back to the 1603accession of James I of Englandwho was already James VI of Scotland.
Their notorious rivalry in heraldic legend has translated into a famous
:The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown:The lion beat the unicorn all around the town.:Some gave them white bread, and some gave them brown;:Some gave them plum cake and drummed them out of town. ["The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book" (1955), p.26.] .
This rhyme was played upon by
Lewis Carroll, who incorporated them as characters in " Through the Looking-Glass". Here, the crown they are fighting for belongs to the White King, which, given that they are on the White side as well, makes their rivalry all the more absurd. Carroll subverts the traditional view of a lion being alert and calculating by making this particular one slow and rather stupid, although clearly the better fighter. The role of the Unicorn is likewise reversed by the fact that he sees Alice as a "monster", though he promises to start believing in her if she will believe in him. Sir John Tenniel's illustrations for the section caricature Benjamin Disraelias the Unicorn, and William Ewart Gladstoneas the Lion, alluding to the pair's frequent parliamentary battles, although there is no evidence that this was Carroll's intention. [ [http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/alice6.html Picture Origins - Lenny's Alice in Wonderland site ] ]
*An 1899 book of this title was written by
Richard Harding Davis.
*Derived from the above meaning, "The Lion and the Unicorn", an essay, was written by
George Orwellin 1940.
*"The Lion and the Unicorn: Historian's Testament" is a
1969book by Arthur Bryant.
*Another book "The Lion and the Unicorn", concerning the rivalry of
William Gladstoneand Benjamin Disraeli, was published by Richard Aldousin 2007.
*This rhyme also appears in
Neil Gaiman's Stardust (novel).
*Harold Shand's pub in
The Long Good Fridayis called the "Lion & Unicorn"
Royal coat of arms of Scotland
Coat of arms of Canada
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