« PreviousContinue »
to have been blessed.' The nuptial garlands were sometimes made of myrtle. In England, in the time of Henry VIII., the bride wore a garland of corn-ears; sometimes one of flowers. In dressing out Grisild for her marriage, in the Clerk of Oxenford's Tale, in Chaucer, the chaplet is not forgotten : “A coroune on hire hed they han y-dressed.”
In Nichols's Churchwardens' Accounts, 1797, St. Margaret's Westminster, under 1540 is the following: “ Paid to Alice Lewis, a goldsmith's wife of London, for a serclett to marry maydens in, the 26th day of September, £3 10s." In Field's Amends for Ladies, 1639, scene the last, when the marriages are agreed upon, there is a stage direction to set garlands upon the heads of the maid and widow that are to be married.
Dallaway, in his Constantinople, 1797, p. 375, tells us : Marriage is by them (of the Greek Church) called the matrimonial coronation, from the crowns or garlands with which the parties are decorated, and which they solemnly dissolve on the eighth day following."
I know not Gosson's authority for the following passage : “In som countries the bride is crowned by the matrons with a garland of prickles, and so delivered unto her husband that hee might know he hath tied himself to a thorny plesure.” Schoole of Abuse, 1587, or rather the Ephemerides of Phialo, 1579, p. 73.
“Donner le chapelet. Se prend pour marier, à cause que
Seldeni Uxor Hebraica, Opera iii. 661.
nt a tergo paranymphi, quæ capitibus sponsorum iterum a sacerdote non sine benedic. tione solenni aptantur.” The form is given, p. 667 : “ Benedic, Domine, annulum istum et coronam istam, ut sicut annulus circumdat digitum hominis et corona caput, ita gratia Spiritus Sancti circumdet sponsum et sponsam, ut videant filios et filias usque ad tertium aut quartam generationem," &c.
? Polydore Vergil. “ Spicea autem corona (interdum florea) sponsa redimita, caput, præsertim ruri deducitur, vel manu gerit ipsam coronam." Compare Langley's Transl. f. 9.
Concerning the crowns or garlands used by brides, see Leland, Col. v. 332. In the Dialogue of Dives and Pauper, 1493, “The sixte precepte, chap. 2,” is the following curious passage : “ Thre ornamentys longe pryncypaly to a wyfe: A rynge on hir fynger, a broch on hir brest, and a gar. lond on hir hede. The ringe betokenethe true love, as I have seyd ; the broch betokennethe clennesse in herte and chastitye that she oweth to have; the GARLANDE bytokeneth gladnesse and the dignitye of the sacrament of wedlok.”
l'on met ordinairement sur la teste des nouvelles mariées, je dis des personnes de peu de condition, un chapelet de romarin. Et nôtre vieille coûtume porte, qu'un pere peut marier sa fille d'un chapeau de roses, c'est a dire, ne luy bailler rien que son chapelet. La couronne est appellée chapelet, diminutif de chapeau, quod capiti imponeretur.” Les Origines de quelques Coutumes Anciennes, 12mo. Caen, 1672, p. 53. Ibid. p. 70: “ Chapeau ou chapel de roses. C'est un petit mariage, car quand on demande ce qu’un pere donne à une fille, et qu'on veut repondre qu'il donne peu, on dit qu'il lui donne un chapeau de roses-qu'un chapel ou chapelet de roses soit convenable aux nouvelles mariés, personne n'en doute : les fleurs en general, et les roses particulierement, étant consacrés à Venus, aux Graces, et l'Amour."
The author of the Convivial Antiquities, in his description of the rites at marriages in his country and time, has not omitted garlands : “Antequam eatur ad templum jentaculum sponsæ et invitatis apponitur, serta atque corolla distribuuntur.” Antiquitates Convivial. f. 68.
GLOVES AT WEDDINGS.
The giving of gloves at marriages is a custom of remote antiquity. The following is an extract from a letter to Mr. Winwood from Sir Dudley Carleton, dated London, January 1604, concerning the manner of celebrating the marriage between Sir Philip Herbert and the Lady Susan : “No ceremony was omitted of bridecakes, points, garters and gloves."
In Ben Jonson's play of the Silent Woman, Lady Haughty observes to Morose,“ We see no ensigns of a wedding here, no character of a bridale ; where be our skarves and our gloves ?” The bride's gloves are noticed in Stephens's character of A Plaine Country Bride, p 358: “She hath no rarity worth observance, if her gloves be not miraculous and singular; those be the trophy of some forlorne suitor, who contents himself with a large offering, or this glorious sentence, that she should have bin his bedfellow.”
It appears from Selden's Uxor Hebraica, Opera, iii. 673, that the Belgic custom at marriages was for the priest to ask of the bridegroom the ring, and, if they could be had, a pair of red gloves, with three pieces of silver money in them (arrhæ loco), then putting the gloves into the bridegroom's right hand, and joining it with that of the bride, the gloves, were left, on loosing their right hands, in that of the bride.
The custom of giving away gloves at weddings occurs in Wilson's play of the Miseries of Inforced Marriage. White gloves still continue to be presented to the guests on this occasion. So also in Herrick's Hesperides, p. 252 :
“What posies for our wedding-rings,
What gloves we'll give, and ribbanings." In Arnold's Chronicle (circa 1521), chiefly concerning London, among
“the artycles upon whiche is to inquyre in the visitacyons of ordynaryes of chyrches,” we read : “Item, whether the curat refuse to do the solemnysacyon of lawfull matrymonye before he have gyfte of money, hoses, or gloves."
There is some pleasantry in the vulgar, rather amorous than superstitious, notion, that if a woman surprises a man sleeping, and can steal a kiss without waking him, she has a right to demand a pair of gloves. Thus Gay in his Sixth Pastoral:
“ Cic'ly, brisk maid, steps forth before the rout,
And kiss'd, with smacking lip, the snoring lout;
For such a kiss demands a pair of gloves.'' In the north of England a custom still prevails at maiden assizes, i. e. when no prisoner is capitally convicted, to present the judges with white gloves. It should seem, by the following passage in Clavell’s Recantation of an Ill-led Life, 1634, that anciently this present was made by such prisoners as received pardon after condemnation. It occurs in his dedication “ to the impartiall judges of his majestie's bench, my Lord Chiefe Justice, and his other three honourable assistants."
“ Those pardon'd men, who taste their prince's loves,
(As married to new life) do give you gloves." Clavell was a highwayman, who had just received the king's pardon. He dates from the King's Bench Prison, October 1627. Fuller, in his Mist Contemplations on these Times, 1660, says, p. 62: “It passeth for a generall report of what was customary in former times, that the sheriff of the county
used to present the judge with a pair of white gloves, at those which we call mayden assizes, viz. when no malefactor is put to death therein.”
Among the lots in a Lottery presented before the late Queene's Majesty, at the Lord Chancellor's House, 1601, in Davison's Poetical Rapsody, 1611, p. 44, is, No.
“ A Paire of Gloves.
For that you love not fooles that are her friends." Can the custom of dropping or sending the glove, as the signal of a challenge, have been derived from the circumstance of its being the cover of the hand, and therefore put for the hand itself? The giving of the hand is well known to intimate that the person who does so will not deceive, but stand to his agreement. To shake hands upon it would not, it should seem, very
delicate in an agreement to fight, and therefore gloves may, possibly, have been deputed as substitutes. We may, perhaps, trace the same idea in wedding gloves.
The late Rev. Dr. Lort says in a MS. note: “At Wrexham, in Flintshire, on occasion of the marriage of the surgeon and apothecary of the place, August 1785, I saw at the doors of his own and neighbours' houses, throughout the street where he lived, large boughs and posts of trees, that had been cut down and fixed there, filled with white paper, cut in the shape of women's gloves and of white ribbons."
GARTERS AT WEDDINGS. GARTERS at weddings have been already noticed under the head of Gloves. There was formerly a custom in the north of England,' which will be thought to have bordered very
From the information of a person at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who had often seen it done. A clergyman in Yorkshire told me that to prevent this very indecent assault, it is usual for the bride to give garters out of her bosom. I have sometimes thought this a fragment of the ancient ceremony of loosening the virgin zone, or girdle, a custom that needs no explanation. Compare also the British Apollo, 1710, iii. No. 91.
closely upon indecency, and strongly marks the grossness of manners that prevailed among our ancestors ;' it was for the young men present at a wedding to strive, immediately after the ceremony, who could first pluck off the bride's garters from her legs. This was done before the very altar. The bride was generally gartered with ribands for the occasion. Whoever were so fortunate as to be victors in this singular species of contest, during which the bride was often obliged to scream out, and was very frequently thrown down, bore them about the church in triumph.
I find the following in the Epithalamie on Sir Clipesby Crew and his Lady, in Herrick's Hesperides, p. 128 :
“Quickly, quickly then prepare,
Your garters ; and their joyntts
Encircle with the bridegroom's points." In Brooke's Epithalamium in England's Helicon, we read:
“Youths, take his poynts, your wonted right;
And maydens, take your due, her garters." A note to a curious and rare tract, 4to. 1686, entitled a Joco-Serious Discourse in two Dialogues between a Northumberland Gentleman and his Tenant, a Scotchman, both old Cavaliers, p. 24, tells us : “the piper at a wedding has always a piece of the bride's garter tyed about his pipes.” These garters, it should seem, were anciently worn as trophies in the hats. So Butler, in Hudibras, I. ii. 524 :
“ Which all the saints, and some since martyrs,
Wore in their hats like wedding garters." Misson, in his Travels in England, translated by Ozell, p. 352, says :
“When bed-time is come, the bride-men pull off the bride's garters, which she had before unty'd, that they might hang down, and so prevent a curious hand from coming too neer her knee. This done, and the garters being fasten'd to the hats of the gallants, the bridemaids carry the bride
From passages in different works, it should seem that the striving for garters was or after the bride had been put to bed. See Folly in Print, or a Book of Rhymes, p. 121 ; Stephens's Character of a Plaine Countrey Bride, p. 359; the old song of Arthur of Bradley; and a Sing. Song on Clarinda's Wedding, in R. Fletcher's Poems, 1656, p. 230. See also Ritson's Ancient Songs, 1792, p. 297.