Page images

into the bride chamber, where they undress her and lay her in bed.” It is the custom in Normandy for the bride to bestow her garter on some young man as a favour, or sometimes it is taken from her.

In Aylet's Divine and Moral Speculations, 1654, is a copy of verses "on sight of a most honourable lady's Weduling Garter.I am of opinion that the origin of the ORDER OF THE GARTER is to be traced to this nuptial custom, anciently common to both court and country.

Among the lots in a Lottery presented before the late Queene's Majesty at the Lord Chancelor's House, 1601 (Davison's Poetical Rapsody, 1611, p. 45), there occurs, No. 14:

A Payre of Garters.
Though you have Fortune's garters, you must be

More staid and constant in your steps than she."
Sir Abraham Ninny, in the old play of a Woman's a
Weather-Cocke, 1612, act i. sc. 1,

declares :
“ Well, since I'm disdain'd, off garters bleu,
Which signifies Sir Abram's love was true.
Off cypresse blacke, for thou befits not me;
Thou art not cypresse, of the cypresse tree,
Befitting lovers ; out green shoe-strings, out,
Wither in pocket, since my Luce doth pout.”


AT WEDDINGS. That scarves, now confined to funerals, were anciently given at marriages, has been already noticed in a former section, from Ben Jonson's Silent Woman.!

In the same

' In a curious manuscript in my possession, entitled A Monthes Jorney into Fraunce: Observations on it, 4to. without date, but hearing internal evidence of having been written in the time of Charles the First (soon after his marriage with Henrietta Maria), and that the writer was a Regent M.A. of the University of Oxford, p. 82, is the following passage : A scholler of the university never disfurnished so many of his friendes to provide for his jorney, as they (the French) doe neighbours, to adorne their wed. dings. At my being at Pontoise, I sawe mistres bryde returne from the

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

author's Tale of a Tub, Turf is introduced as saying on this occasion : “We shall all ha' bride-laces, or points, I zee.”

Among the lots presented to Queen Elizabeth, in 1601, already quoted from Davison's Rapsody, p. 44, the three following occur, in a list of prizes for ladies :

“9. A Dozen of Pointes.
You are in every point a lover true,
And therefore fortune gives the points to you."

“ 16. A Scarfe.
Take you this scarfe, bind Cupid hande and foote,
So Love must aske you leave before he shoote.”

« 10. A Lace.
Give her the lace that loves to be straight-lac'd,

So Fortune's little gift is aptly plac’d."
Herrick, in his Hesperides, p. 128, in the “ Epithalamie on
Sir Clipesby Crew and his Lady,” thus cautions the bride-
groom's men against offending the delicacy of the new-married

“We charge ye that no strife
(Farther than gentleness tends) get place

Among ye striving for her Lace."
And it was observed before, in the account of the marriage
ceremony of John Newchombe, the wealthy clothier of Newbury,
(Strutt, iii. 154,) that his bride was led to church between
two sweet boys, "with bride-laces and rosemary tied about
their silken sleeves.” In Dekker's Honest Whore, 1630, we
read : “ Looke

yee, doe you see the bride-laces that I give at my wedding will serve to tye rosemary to both your coffins, when you come from hanging.”

church. The day before shee had beene somewhat of the condition of a kitchen wench, but now so tricked up with scaries, rings, and crossegarters, that you never saw a Whitsun-lady better rigged. I should much have applauded the fellowes fortune, if he could have maryed the cloathes but (God be mercifull to hym!) he is chayned to the wench ; much joy may they have together, most peerlesse couple, Hymen Hymenæi, Hymen, Hymen 0 Hymenæe! The match was now knytt up amongst them. I would have a French man marie none but a French woman."




STRANGE as it may appear, it is however certain, that knives were formerly part of the accoutrements of a bride. This perhaps will not be difficult to account for, if we consider that it anciently formed part of the dress for women to wear a knife or knives sheathed and suspended from their girdles ;' a finer and more ornamented pair of which would very naturally be either purchased or presented on the occasion of a marriage.2 In the Witch of Edmonton, 1658, p. 21, Somerton says : “But see, the bridegroom and bride come; the new pair of Sheffield knives fitted both to one sheath.3 A bride

" See Mr. Douce's Essay on this subject in the Archæologia of the Soc. of Antiq. vol. xii. In a book of some curiosity, entitled the French Gar. den, for English Ladyes and Gentlewomen to walke in, 1621, in a dialogue describing a lady's dress, the mistress thus addresses her waiting-woman : “Give me my girdle, and see that all the furniture be at it; looke if my cizers, the pincers, the pen-knife, the knife to close letters, with the bod. kin, the ear-picker, and the seale be in the case : where is my purse to weare upon my gowne?"

2 Thus as to another part of the dress, in the old play of the Witch of Edmonton, 1658, p. 13, Old Carter tells his daughter and her sweetheart : Your marriage-money shall be receiv'd before your wedding-shooes can be pulled on. Blessing on you both.” So in Dekker's Match me in London: “I thinke your wedding-shoes have not been oft unty'd." Down answers, “ Some three times."

3 Chaucer's Miller of Trumpington is represented as wearing a Sheffield knife:

“ A Shefeld thwitel bare he in his hose;" and it is observable that all the portraits of Chaucer give him a knife hanging at his breast. I have an old print of a female foreigner, entitled “ Forma Pallii mulieris Clevensis euntis ad forum,"in which are delineated, as hanging from her girdle, her purse, her keys, and two sheathed knives. Among the women's trinkets about A.D. 1560, in the Four P's of John Heywood, occur :

“Silker's swathbonds, ribards, and sleeve-laces,

Girdles, knives, purses, and pin-cases.” “An olde marchant had hanging at his girdle, a pouch, a spectacle-case, a punniard, a pen and inckhorne, and a handkertcher, with many other trinkets besides, which a merry companion seeing, said it was like a hab. berdasher's shop of small wares." Wits, Fits, and Fancies, 1614, p. 177.

From a

says to her jealous husband, in Dekker's Match me in London, 1631 :

“See at my girdle hang my wedding knives !
With those dispatch me."

age in the old play of King Edward the Third, 1599, there appear to have been two of them. So among the lots, in a Lottery presented before the Queen, in Davison's Poetical Rapsody, No. 11 is

A Pair of Knives.
“ Fortune doth give these paire of knives to you,

To cut the thred of love if 't be not true.”
In the old play of a Womau's a Weather-Cocke, act v. sc. 1,

Bellafront says:

"Oh, were this wedlock knot to tie againe,

Not all the state and glorie it containes,
Joyn'd with my father's fury, should enforce
My rash consent; but, Scudmore, thou shalt see
This false heart (in my death) most true to thee.

(Shews a knife hanging by her side.)" In Well Met, Gossip; or, 'tis Merry when Gossips meet, 1675, the widow says :

“For this you know, that all the wooing season,

Suiters with gifts continual seek to gain

Their mistriss love," &c. The wife answers :

“ That's very true

In conscience I had twenty pair of gloves,
When I was maid, given to that effect ;
Garters, knives, purses, girdles, store of rings,

And many a thousand dainty, pretty things." The following remarkable passage occurs in the Praise of Musicke (ascribed to Dr. Case), 1586: “I come to marriages, wherein as our ancestors (I do willingly harp upon this string, that our yonger wits may know they stand under correction of elder judgments) did fondly and with a kind of doting maintaine many rites and ceremonies, some whereof were either shadowes or abodements of a pleasant life to come, as the eating of a quince peare, to be a preparative of sweete and delightfull dayes between the maried persons."

The subsequent, no less curious, I find in Northbrook's Treatise on Dicing, 1579, p. 35: “In olde time (we reade) that there was usually caried before the mayde when she shoulde be maried, and came to dwell in hir husbandes house, a distaffe, charged with flax, and a spyndle hanging at it, to the intente that shee might bee myndefull to lyve by hir labour.”




Can this custom have had its rise in the uses of Gentilism? Vallancey informs us that “the antient Etruscans always were married in the streets, before the door of the house, which was thrown open at the conclusion of the ceremony.” All the ancient missals mention at the beginning of the nuptial ceremony the placing of the man and woman before the door of the church, and direct, towards the conclusion, that here they shall enter the church as far as the step of the altar. The vulgar reason assigned for the first part of this practice, i. e. “that it would have been indecent to give permission within the church for a man and a woman to sleep together,” is too ridiculous to merit any serious answer.

Selden, in his Uxor Hebraica (Opera, iii. 680), asserts that nowhere else, but before the face of, and at the door of the church, could the marriage-dower have been lawfully assigned.? “Neque alibi quam in facie ecclesiæ et ad ostium ecclesiæ, atque ante desponsationem in initio contractus (ut juris con

1 In the Missale ad Usum Ecclesiæ Sarisburiensis, 1555: “Statuantur vir et mulier ante ostium ecclesiæ, sive in faciem ecclesiæ, coram Deo et sacerdote et populo.” See also the “Formula” in the Appendix to Hearne's Hist. and Antiq. of Glastonb. p. 309.

: We read in Bridge's History of Northamptonshire, i. 135, that ** Robert Fitz Roger, in the 6th Ed. I. entered into an engagement with Robert de Tybetot to marry, within a limited time, John, his son and heir, to Hawisia, the daughter of the said Robert de Tybetot, to endow her at the church-door, on her wedding day, with lands amounting to the value of one hundred pounds per annum.'

« PreviousContinue »