denotes- of the ages of man, the last; of attributes, wisdom, prudence, integrity, singleness of mind; of birds, the raven or crow; of elements, the earth; ofmetals, iron or lead; of planets, Saturn; of precious
stones, the diamond; of trees, the olive; of animals, a sort of weasel.
black. Expressed in heraldry by horizontal lines crossing
perpendicular ones. In English heraldry escutcheons are varied by seven
colours; foreign heralds add two more
A suit of sables.
A rich courtly dress. By the statute of apparel (24 Henry VIII. c.
13) it is ordained that none under the degree of an earl shall use
sables. Bishop tells us that a thousand ducats were sometimes given for
a “face of sables” (Blossoms, 1577). Ben Johnson says, “Would
you not laugh to meet a great councillor of state in a flat cap, with
trunk-hose ... and yond haberdasher in a velvet gown trimmed with
“So long? Nay, then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit
of sables.” —Shakespeare: Hamlet, iii. 2.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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