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ROSEMARY AND BAYS AT WEDDINGS.
ROSEMARY, which was anciently thought to strengthen the memory, was not only carried at funerals, but also worn at weddings. Herrick, in his Hesperides, p. 273, has the following lines on the Rosemarie Branch :
“Grow for two ends: it matters not at all,
Be't for my bridall or my buriall." In the old play called A Faire Quarrel, 4to. Lond. 1617, act v. sc. I, we read
" Phis. Your maister is to be married to-day ?
Trim. Else all this rosemary is lost.” In another old play, Ram Alley, or Merrie Tricks, 1611, is the following allusion to this old custom :
Know, varlet, I will be wed this morning;
With a peece of rosemary.” In a curious wedding sermon, by Roger Hacket, 1607, entitled A Marriage Present, he thus expatiates on the use of rosemary at this time : “ The last of the flowers is the rosemary (Rosmarinus, the rosemary, is for married men), the which by name, nature, and continued use, man challengeth as properly belonging to himselfe. It overtoppeth all the flowers in the garden, boasting man's rule. It helpeth the braine, strengtheneth the memorie, and is very medicinable for the head. Another property of the rosemary is, it affects the hart. Let this Ros marinus, this flower of men, ensigne of your wisdome, love, and loyaltie, be carried not only in your hands, but in your heads and harts.” [Compare, also, an old ballad called the Bride's Good-morrow, a copy of which is in the British Museum :
“ Young men and maids do ready stand,
A perfect token of your virgin's life:
And God make thee a joyfull wedded wife !"
following lines in Robinson's Handefull of Pleasant Delites, 1584:
“ Rosemarie is for remembrance
Betweene us daie and night,
You present in my sight.”] Both rosemary and bays appear to have been gilded on these occasions. So Hacket, ut supra ;—“Smell sweet, O ye flowers, in your native sweetness: be not gilded with the idle arte of man.” Thus, in Herrick's Hesperides, p. 252:
.“ This done, we'l draw lots, who shall buy
And guild the baies and rosemary.”
“ My wooing's ended; now my wedding's neere;
When gloves are giving, guilded be you there." It appears from a passage in Stephens's Character of a Plaine Countrey Bride, p. 357, that the bride gave also, or wore, or carried, on this occasion, “gilt rases of ginger.”“Guilt rases of ginger, rosemary, and ribbands be her best magnificence. She will therefore bestow a livery, though she receives back wages.”
In a very curious old printed account of “The receiving of the Queen's Majesty into the City of London, January 14th, 1558,” in the possession of Mr. Nichols, is the following passage : “How many nosegayes did her Grace receyve at poore women's hands! How oftentimes stayed she her chariot when she saw any simple body offer to speake to her Grace! A braunch of rosemary given to her Grace, with a supplication, by a poor woman about Fleet Bridge, was seene in her chariot till her Grace came to Westminster. In Strype's edition of Stow's Survey, b. i. p. 259, A. D. 1560, at “à wedding of three sisters together,” we read : “ Fine flowers and rosemary [were] strewed for them coming home : and so to the father's house, where was a great dinner prepared for his said three bride-daughters, with their bridegrooms and company.” In the year 1562, July 20, a wedding at St. Olave's, " a daughter of Mr. Nicholls (who seems to have been the Bridge-master) was married to one Mr. Coke. At the celebration whereof were present my Lord Mayor, and all the aldermen, with many ladies, &c. : and Mr. Becon, an eminent divine, preached a wedding sermon. Then all the company went home to the Bridge House to dinner : where was as good cheer as ever was known, with all manner of musick and dancing all the remainder of the day; and at night a goodly supper; and then followed a masque till midnight. The next day the wedding was kept at the Bridge House, with great cheer; and after supper came in masquers. One was in cloth of gold. The next masque consisted of friars, and the third of nuns. And after, they danced by times : and lastly, the friars and the nuns danced together.”
In A Perfect Journall, &c. of that memorable Parliament begun at Westminster, Nov. 3, 1640, i. 8, is the following passage : “Nov. 28.—That afternoon Master Prin and Master Burton came into London, being met and accompanied with many thousands of horse and foot, and rode with rosemary and bayes in their hands and hats ; which is generally esteemed the greatest affront that ever was given to the courts of justice in England.”
The rosemary used at weddings was previously dipped, it should seem, in scented water. In Dekker's Wonderfull Yeare, 1603, speaking of a bride who died of the plague on her wedding-day, he says : “ Here is a strange alteration, for the rosemary that was washt in sweet water to set out the bridall, is now wet in teares to furnish her buriall.” And in Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady, it is asked “were the rosemary branches dipped ?"
Stephens, in his character of a Plaine Country Bridegroome, p. 352, says: “ He is the finest fellow in the parish, and hee that misinterprets my definition deserves no rosemary nor rose-water.” At p. 355 he adds: “He must savour of gallantry a little: though he perfume the table with rose-cake, or appropriate bone-lace and Coventry-blew :” and is passing witty in describing the following trait of our bridegroom's clownish civility: “He hath heraldry enough to place every man by his armes.” Coles, in his Adam in Eden, speaking of rosemary, says : “The garden rosemary is called rosemarinum coronarium, the rather because women have been accustomed to make crowns and garlands thereof."
The following is in Parkinson's Garden of Flowers, 1629, p. 598: “The bay-leaves are necessary both for civil uses and for physic, yea, both for the sick and for the sound, both for the living and for the dead. It serveth to adorn the house of God as well as man-to crowne or encircle, as with a garland, the heads of the living, and to sticke and decke forth the bodies of the dead; so that, from the cradle to the grave, we have still use of it, we have still need of it.” Ibid., p. 426 : “Rosemary is almost of as great use as bays—as well for civill as physical purposes : for civil uses, as all doe know, at weddings, funerals, &c. to bestow among friends.” [To these may be added the following curious observations in Eachard's Observations, 8vo. Lond. 1671, p.71: “I cannot forget him, who having at some time or other been suddenly cur'd of a little head-ach with a rósemary posset, would scarce drink out of any thing but rosemary cans, cut his meat with a rosemary knife, and pick his teeth with a rosemary sprig. Nay, sir, he was so strangely taken up with the excellencies of rosemary, that he would needs have the Bible cleared of all other herbs, and only rosemary to be inserted.”]
Coles, in his Art of Simpling, p. 73, repeats the observation of rosemary, that it “strengthens the senses and memory." In a rare work, entitled A Strange Metamorphosis of Man, 1634, in No. 37, “The Bay Tree,” it is observed that “hee is fit for halls and stately roomes, where, if there be a wedding kept, or such like feast, he will be sure to take a place more eminent than the rest. He is a notable smell-feast, and is so good a fellow in them, that almost it is no feast without him. He is a great companion with the rosemary, who is as good a gossip in all feasts as he a trencher-man.” In the Elder Brother, 1637, act iii. sc. 3, in a scene immediately before a wedding :
“ Lew. Pray take a peece of rosemary.
Mir. I'll wear it, but for the lady's sake, and none of yours." In the first scene of Fletcher's Woman's Pride, “The parties enter with rosemary as from a wedding.” So in the Pilgrim : Alph. Well, well, since wedding will come after wooing,
Give me some rosemary, and letts be going." We gather from the old play of Ben Jonson, entitled the Tale of a Tub, that it was customary for the maidens, i. e. the bridemaids, on the bridegroom's first appearance in the morn
ing, to present him with a bunch of rosemary bound with ribands.
So late as the year 1698, the old country use appears to have been kept up, of decking the bridal bed with sprigs of rosemary; it is not, however, mentioned as being general. See Lex Forcia, a rare tract on the Abuses of Great Schools, 1698,
GARLANDS AT WEDDINGS.
Nuptial garlands are of the most remote antiquity. They appear to have been equally used by the Jews and the heathens.2 · Among the Romans,” says Vaughan, in his Golden Grove, 1608, “when the marriage-day was come, the bride was bound to have a chaplet of flowers or hearbes upon her head, and to weare a girdle of sheeps wool about her middle, fastened with a true-loves-knot, the which her husband must loose. Here hence rose the proverb: He hath undone her virgin's, girdle; that is, of a mayde he hath made her a woman.
Among the Anglo-Saxons, after the benediction in the church, both the bride and the bridegroom were crowned with crowns of flowers, kept in the church for that purpose. In the eastern church the chaplets used on these occasions appear
" See Ben Jonson's Tale of a Tub, where Turf, speaking of the intended bridegroom's first arrival, says: “Look, an the wenches ha' not found un out, and do present un with van of rosemary, and bays enough to vill a bow-pott, or trim the head of my best vore-horse; we shall all ha' bridelaces, or points, I zee." Similar to this, in the Marrow of Complements, 1655, p. 49, a rustic lover tells his mistress that, at their wedding, “ Wee'l have rosemary and bayes to vill a bow-pot, and with the zame Ile trim that vorehead of my best vore-horse.” In the Knight of the Burning Pestle, act v. sc. 1, we read: “I will have no great store of company at the wedding, a couple of neighbours and their wives, and we will have a capon in stewed broth, with marrow, and a good piece of beef stuck with rosemary.”
? Seldini Uxor Hebraica, Opera, iii. 655. “Coronarum nuptialium mentio occurrit apud veteres paganos, quæ item in ornamentis sponsorum Ebraicis, ut supra ostendimus."