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ready prepared to reward the victors in this singular kind of
This same kind of contest is called in Westmoreland “riding for the ribbon.”
Sampson, in his Statistical Survey of the County of Londonderry, 1802, p. 417, says: “At the Scotch weddings the groom and his party vie with the other youngsters who shall gallop first to the house of the bride. Nor is this feat of gallantry always without danger; for in every village through which they are expected, they are received with shots of pistols and guns; these discharges, intended to honour the parties, sometimes promote their disgrace, if to be tumbled in the dirt on such an occasion can be called a dishonour. At the bride's house is prepared a bowl of broth, to be the reward of the victor in the race, which race is therefore called the running for the brose. The Irish wedding is somewhat different, especially in the mountainous districts. However suitable the match, it is but a lame exploit, and even an affront, if the groom does not first run away with the bride. After a few days' carousal among the groom's friends, the weddingers move towards the bride's country, on which occasion not only every relative, but every poor fellow who aspires to be the wellwisher of either party, doth bring with him a bottle of whisky, or the price of a bottle, to the rendezvous. After this second edition of matrimonial hilarity, the bride and groom proceed quietly to their designed home, and, forgetting all at once their romantic frolic, settle quietly down to the ordinary occupations of life.”
That riding for the broose is still kept up in Scotland, may be seen by the following extract from the account of marriages in the Courier newspaper of January 16th, 1813: “On the 29th ult. at Mauchline, by the Rev. David Wilson, in Bankhead, near Cumnock, Mr. Robert Ferguson, in Whitehill of New Cumnock, to Miss Isabella Andrew, in Fail, parish of Tarbolton. Immediately after the marriage four men of the bride's company started for the broos, from Mauchline to Whitehill, a distance of thirteen miles; and when one of them was sure of the prize, a young lady, who had started after they were a quarter of a mile off, outstripped them all, and, notwithstanding the interruption of getting a shoe fastened on her mare at a smithy on the road, she gained the prize, to the astonishment of both parties.”
In the History and Antiquities of Claybrook, by the Rev. A. Macaulay, 1791, p. 130, we read : “A custom formerly prevailed in this parish and neighbourhood, of riding for the bridecake, which took place when the bride was brought home to her new habitation. A pole was erected in front of the house, three or four yards high, with the cake stuck upon the top of it. On the instant that the bride set out from her old habitation, a company of young men started off on horseback ; and he who was fortunate enough to reach the pole first, and knock the cake down with his stick, had the honour of receiving it from the hands of a damsel on the point of a wooden sword, and with this trophy he returned in triumph to meet the bride and her attendants, who, upon their arrival in the village, were met by a party, whose office it was to adorn their horses' heads with garlands, and to present the bride with a posy. The last ceremony of this sort that took place in the parish of Claybrook was between sixty and seventy years ago, and was witnessed by a person now living in the parish. Sometimes the bridecake was tried for by persons on foot, and then it was called throwing the quintal, which was performed with heavy bars of iron ; thus affording a trial of muscular strength as well as of gallantry.” Macaulay mentions here that, in Minorca, if not now, at least forty years ago, a custom as old as Theocritus and Virgil was kept up, i. e. the ceremony of throwing nuts and almonds at weddings, that the boys might scramble for them. “Spargite, marite, nuces.” Virg.
Malkin, in his Tour in South Wales, Glamorganshire, p. 67, says: “Il may it befal the traveller who has the misfortune of meeting a Welsh wedding on the road. He would be inclined to suppose that he had fallen in with a company of lunatics escaped from their confinement. It is the custom of the whole party who are invited, both men and women, to ride full speed to the church-porch ; and the person who arrives there first has some privilege or distinction at the marriage-feast. To this important object all inferior considerations gave way, whether the safety of his Majesty's subjects, who are not going to be married, or their own, be incessantly endangered by boisterous, unskilful, and contentious jockeyship. The natives, who are acquainted with the custom, and warned against the cavalcade by its vociferous approach, turn aside at respectful distance: but the stranger will be fortunate if he escapes being overthrown by an onset, the occasion of which puts out of sight that urbanity so generally characteristic of the people.”
A respectable clergyman informed me that, riding in a narrow lane near Macclesfield, in Cheshire, in the summer of 1799, he was suddenly overtaken (and indeed they had wellnigh rode over him) by a nuptial party at full speed, who, before they put up at an inn in the town, where they stopped to take some refreshment, described several circles round the market-place, or rode, as it were, several rings.
In the Westmoreland Dialect, 8vo, Kendal, 1790, a country wedding is described with no little humour. The clergyman is represented as chiding the parties for not coming before him nine months sooner. The ceremony being over, we are told that “ Awe raaid haam fearful wel an the youngans raaid for th' ribband, me cusen Betty banged aw th' lads an gat it for sure."
In the North of England, among the colliers, &c., it is customary for a party to watch the bridegroom's coming out of church after the ceremony, in order to demand money for a football, a claim that admits of no refusal. Coles, in his Dictionary, speaks of another kind of ball money given by a new bride to her old playfellows.
It is the custom in Normandy for the bride to throw a ball over the church, which bachelors and married men scramble for. They then dance together.
1« Ce sont des insolences, plutôt que des superstitions, que ce qui se pratique en certains lieux, où l'on a de coûtume de jetter de l'eau benite sur les personnes qui viennent de fiancer, lorsqu'elles sortent de l'église; de les battre, quand ils sont d'une autre paroisse; de les enfermer dans les églises; d'exiger d'elles de l'argent pour boire; de les prendre par la foi du corps, et de les porter dans les cabarets; de les insulter; et de faire de grands bruits, de grandes huées, et des charivaris, quand elles refusent de donner de l'argent à ceux qui leur en demandent. Mais ces insolences sont proscrites.” Traité des Superstitions, par Jean Baptiste Thiers, 12mo. Par, 1704, iii. 477.
TORCHES USED AT WEDDINGS.
At Rome the manner was that two children should lead the bride, and a third bear before her a torch of whitethorn, in honour of Ceres. I have seen foreign prints of marriages, where torches are represented as carried in the procession. I know not whether this custom ever obtained in England, though, from the following lines in Herrick's Hesperides, one might be tempted to think that it had : “ Upon a Maid that dyed the day she was marryed.
That morne which saw me made a bride,
Supply'd the epithalamie.”
“ The use of torches was however retained alike in the daytime, as was the case at weddings; whence Propertius, beautifully,
“Viximus insignes inter utramque facem :" thus illustrated by Ovid, Epist. Cydippes ad Acontium, 1. 172:
“ Et face pro thalami fax mihi mortis adest;" and Fasti, ii. 561, speaking of February, a month set apart for Parentalia, or funeral anniversaries, and therefore not proper for marriage :
“ Conde tuas, Hymenae, faces, et ab ignibus atris
Aufer, habent alias mæsta sepulchra faces." “ The Romans admitted but five torches in their nuptial solemnities.” — Browne's Cyprus Garden, or the Quincunx Mystically considered, p. 191.
In Swinburne's account of gipsies in his Journey through Calabria, p. 304, is the following remark: “At their weddings they carry torches, and have paranymphs to give the bride away, with many other unusual rites.” Lamps and flambeaux are in use at present at Japanese weddings. “The nuptial torch,” says the author of Hymen, 1760, p. 149, “used by the Greeks and Romans, has a striking conformity to the flambeaux of the Japanese. The most considerable difference is, that, amongst the Romans, this torch was carried before the bride by one of her virgin attendants; and among the Greeks, that office was performed by the bride's mother.” In the Greek church the bridegroom and bride enter the church with lighted wax tapers in their hands.' (Ibid. p. 153.)
MUSIC AT WEDDINGS.
At the marriages of the Anglo-Saxons the parties were attended to church by music. In the old History of John Newchombe, the wealthy clothier of Newbury, cited by Strutt, iii. 154, speaking of his marriage and the bride's going to church, the writer observes, “there was a noise (i. e. company) of musicians that played all the way before her.”
Dame Sibil Turfe, a character in Ben Jonson's play of A Tale of a Tub, is introduced reproaching her husband as follows: “A clod you shall be called, to let no music go afore your child to church, to cheer her heart up!" and Scriben, seconding the good old dame's rebuke, adds, “She's i'th right, sir ; for your wedding dinner is starved without music.”
In the Cristen State of Matrimony, 1543, p. 48, we read as follows: “Early in the mornyng the weddyng people begynne to exceаd in superfluous eatyng and drinkyng, whereof they spytte untyll the halfe sermon be done, and when they come to the preachynge they are halfe droncke, some all together. Therefore regard they neyther the prechyng nor prayer, but stond there only because of the custome. Such folkes also do come to the churche with all manner of pompe and pride, and gorgiousnes of rayment and jewels. They come with a
| Torches are used at Turkish marriages: thus Selden, “Deductio sequitur in domum, nec sine focibus, et sponsa matri sponsa traditur. Quiamprimum vero sponsa cubiculum ingreditur, maritus pede suo uxoris pedem tangit statimque ambo recluduntur." Uxor Hebraica. (Opera, iii. 686.)