'Tis a little controverted among Authors, whether Heraldry allows of any such thing as regular Abatements. Leigh and Guillim, without any Scruple as to their Reality, give us several Kinds.
Abatements, according to the last of those Writers, are either made by Reversion or Diminution.
Reversion is either turning the whole Escutcheon upside-down or the adding another Escutcheon, inverted, in the former.
Diminution, is the blemishing any part by adding a Stain, or Mark of Diminution : Such are a Delf, a Point Dexter, a Point Champaign, a Plain Point, a Goar Sinister, and a Gusset. See each under its proper Article, DELF, POINT DEXTER, GOAR, GUSSET, &c.
It may be added, that these Marks must always be either Tawny, or Murrey; otherwise, instead of Diminutions, they become Additions of Honour. See TAWNY, MURREY, &c.
The last Editor of Guillim discards the whole Notion of Abatements, as a Chimera. He alledges, that no one Instance is to be met withal of such Bearing ; and that it implies a Contradiction to suppose it. Arms, being Insignia Nobilitatis & Honoris, cannot admit of any Mark of Infamy, without ceasing to be Arms, and becoming Badges of Disgrace ; which all would covet to lay aside. Add, that as no hereditary Honour can be actually diminishi'd ; so neither can the Marks thereof. Both, indeed, may be forfeited ; as in the Case of Treason, where the Escutcheon is totally revers'd, to intimate a total Suppression of the Honour.
Some Instances, however, are produc'd to the contrary by Colombiere, and others. But these, tho they may shew some extraordinary Resentments of Princes for Offences committed in their Presence, do not amount to a Proof of such Custom or Practice ; much less authorize the Being of particular Badges in the Hands of inferior Officers, as Kings at Arms.