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term which will be best explained by the following extract from the Glossary of Douglas's Virgil, v. Thig: There was a custom in the Highlands and North of Scotland, where newmarried persons had no great stock, or others low in their fortune, brought carts and horses with them to the houses of their relations and friends, and received from them corn, meal, wool, or whatever else they could get." The subsequent, headed Bride-wain, is extracted from the Cumberland Packet, a newspaper so called :
“ There let Hymen oft appear
With mask and ancient pageantry.” “George Payton, who married Ann, the daughter of Joseph and Dinah Collin, of Crossley Mill, purposes having a bridewain at his house at Crossley, near Mary Port, Thursday, May 7th next (1789), where he will be happy to see his friends and well-wishers, for whose amusement there will be a saddle, two bridles, a pair of gands-d'amour gloves, which whoever wins is sure to be married within the twelve months, a girdle (ceinture de Venus), possessing qualities not to be described, and many other articles, sports, and pastimes too numerous to mention, but which can never prove tedious in the exhibition,” &c.
A short time after a match is solemnized, the parties give notice, as above, that on such a day they purpose to have a bride-wain. In consequence of this the whole neighbourhood for several miles round assemble at the bridegroom's house, and join in all the various pastimes of the country. This meeting resembles our wakes and fairs ; and a plate or bowl is fixed in a convenient place, where each of the company contributes in proportion to his inclination and ability, and according to the degree of respect the parties are held in ; and by this very laudable custom a worthy couple have frequently been benefited at setting out in life with a supply of money of from ten to fourscore pounds.
Sir F. M. Eden, in his work on the State of the Poor, 1797, i. 598, observes : “The custom of a general feasting at weddings and christenings is still continued in many villages in Scotland, in Wales, and in Cumberland; districts which, as the refinements of legislation and manners are slow in
reaching them, are most likely to exhibit vestiges of customs deduced from remote antiquity, or founded on the simple dictates of nature ; and indeed it is not singular that marriages, births, christenings, house-warmings, &c.,
should be occasions in which people of all classes and all descriptions think it right to rejoice and make merry. In many parts of these districts of Great Britain, as well as in Sweden and Denmark, all such institutions, now rendered venerable by long use, are religiously observed. It would be deemed ominous, if not impious, to be married, have a child born, &c., without something of a feast. And long may the custom last ; for it neither leads to drunkenness and riot, nor is it costly, as, alas! is so commonly the case in convivial meetings in more favoured regions. On all these occasions the greatest part of the provisions is contributed by the neighbourhood; some furnishing the wheaten flour for the pastry; others, barley or oats for bread and cakes; some, poultry for pies; some, milk for the frumenty; some, eggs; some, bacon; and some, butter; and, in short, every article necessary for a plentiful repast. Every neighbour, how high or low soever, makes it a point to contribute something. At a daubing (which is the erection of a house of clay), or at a bride-wain (which is the carrying of a bride home), in Cumberland, many hundreds of persons are thus brought together; and as it is the custom also, in the latter instance, to make presents of money, one or even two hundred pounds are said to have sometimes been collected. A deserving young couple are thus, by a public and unequivocal testimony of the good will of those who best know them, encouraged to persevere in the paths of propriety, and are also enabled to begin the world with some advantage. The birth of a child also, instead of being thought or spoken of as bringing on the parents new and heavy burthens, is thus rendered, as it no doubt ought to be, a comfort and a blessing, and, in every sense, an occasion of rejoicing. I own,” adds this honourable advocate in the cause of humanity, “I cannot figure to myself a more pleasing or a more rational way of rendering sociableness and mirth subservient to prudence and virtue."
“In most parts of Essex it is a common custom, when poor people marry, to make a kind of dog-hanging, or moneygathering, which they call a wedding-dinner, to which they
invite tag and rag, all that will come ; where, after dinner, upon summons of the fiddler, who setteth forth his voice like a town-crier, a table being set forth, and the bride set simpering at the upper end of it, the bridegroom standing by with a white sheet athwart his shoulders, whilst the people march up to the bride, present their money and wheel about. After this offering is over, then is a pair of gloves laid upon the table, most monstrously bedaubed about with ribbon, which by way of auction is set to sale at who gives most, and he whose hap it is to have them, shall withall have a kiss of the bride.” History of Sr. Billy of Billericay, and his Squire Ricardo (a very admirable parody on Don Quixote), chap. ix.
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xviii. 122, parish of Gargunnock, co. Stirling, we read: “It is seldom there are social meetings. Marriages, baptisms, funerals, and the conclusion of the harvest, are almost the only occasions of feasting. At these times there is much unnecessary expense. Marriages usually happen in April and November. The month of May is cautiously avoided. A principal tenant's son or daughter has a crowd of attendants at marriage, and the entertainment lasts for two days at the expense of the parties. The company at large pay for the musick."
Waldron, in his Description of the Isle of Man (Works, p. 169, speaking of the Manks' wedding feasts, says: “Notice is given to all the friends and relations on both sides though they live ever so far distant. Not one of these, unless detained by sickness, fails coming and bringing something towards the feast; the nearest of kin, if they are able, commonly contribute the most, so that they have vast quantities of fowls of all sorts ; I have seen a dozen of capons in one platter, and six or eight fat geese in another; sheep and hogs roasted whole, and oxen divided but into quarters.
In Vaughan's Golden Grove, 1608, we read : “ The marriage day being come in some shires of England), the invited ghests do assemble together, and at the very instant of the marriage doe cast their presents (which they bestowe upon the new-married folkes) into a bason, dish, or cup which standeth upon the table in the church, ready prepared for that purpose.
1 In the Glossarium Suio-Gothicum, auctore I. Ihre, fol. Upsaliæ, 1769, we read: “ BRUDSKAL. Gifwa i Brudskálen dicitur de erano vel munere collectitio quod sponsæ die nuptiarum a convivis in pateram mittitur, habito antea brevi sermone a præsente sacerdote. Nescio, an huc quicquam faciat tributum illud, quod in Gallia sponsæ dabatur escuellatta dictum, et de quo Du-Fresne in Gloss. Lat.” Ibid. o. Jul. p. 1005 : HEMKOMOL, convivium quod novi conjuges in suis ædibus instruunt."
But this custome is onely put in use amongst them which stand in need."
It appears from Allan Ramsay's Poems, 1721, p. 120, that it was a fashion in Scotland for the friends to assemble in the new-married couple's house, before they had risen out of bed, and to throw them their several presents upon the bed-clothes:
“ As fou's the house cou'd pang,
To see the young fouk or they raise,
And wi' a soss aboon the claiths
Ilk ane their gifts down flang,'' &c. Here a note informs us, “ They commonly throw their gifts of household furniture above the bed-cloathes where the young folks are lying.” One gives twelve horn spoons, another a pair of tongs, &c.
Park, in his Travels into the Interior of Africa, describes a wedding among the Moors, p. 135: April 10, in the evening, the tabala, or large drum, was beat to announce a wedding. A great number of people of both sexes assembled. A woman was beating the drum, and the other women joining at times in chorus, by setting up a shrill scream. Mr. Park soon retired, and having been asleep in his hut, was awakened by an old woman, who said she had brought him a present from the bride. She had a wooden bowl in her hand; and before Mr. Park was recovered from his surprise, discharged the contents full in his face. Finding it to be the same sort of holy water with which a Hottentot priest is said to sprinkle a new-married couple, he supposed it to be a mischievous frolic, but was informed it was a nuptial benediction from the bride's own person, and which, on such occasions, is always received by the young unmarried Moors as a mark of distinguished favour. Such being the case, Mr. Park wiped his face, and sent his acknowledgments to the lady. The wedding drum continued to beat, and the women to sing all night. About nine in the morning the bride was brought in state from her mother's tent, attended by a number of women, who carried her tent (a present from the husband), some bearing up the poles, others holding by the strings, and marched singing until they came to the place appointed for her residence, where they pitched the tent. The husband followed with a number of men, leading four bullocks, which they tied to the tent-strings; and having killed another, and distributed the beef among the people, the ceremony closed.”
[In the north of England, it is considered unlucky for a couple to be married, or for a woman to be churched, while there is a grave open in the churchyard. It is also ominous of misfortune to be married in green. If there is an odd number of guests at a wedding, one is sure to die within the succeeding twelve months.]
WINNING THE KAIL.
“Four rustic fellows wait the while
To win what country call the kail." The Glossary to Burns's Scottish Poems describes “ Broose" (a word which has the same meaning with “Kail") to be “a race at country weddings who shall first reach the bridegroom's house on returning from church.” The meaning of the word is everywhere most strangely corrupted. “Broose” was originally, I take it for granted, the name of the prize on the above occasion, and not of the race itself; for whoever first reaches the house to bring home the good news, wins the “kail," i. e. a smoking prize of spice broth,' which stands
Compare Jamieson's Etymolog. Dict. of the Scottish Language, v. Bruse. I know not whether the following passage is to be referred to this, or is given only as describing the bridegroom's awkwardness in supping broth. New Essayes and Characters, by John Stephens, 1631, p. 353, speaking of a plain country bridegroom, the author says:
“ Although he points out his bravery with ribbands, yet hath he no vaine glory; for he contemnes fine cloathes with dropping pottage in his bosome.”