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THE FEAR OF WAR IS WORSE THAN WAR ITSELF.
It is observable that, among the various allotments of Providence, both in the natural and the moral world, almost every good is combined with some real and apparent evil : the shower that fructifies the hill, destroys the beauty and the verdure of the plain. Honour is often supported at the expence of virtue, and fear, like every other passion of the mind, is sometimes injurious as well as useful. Fear, or that continual apprehension of danger, which is incessantly employed in placing the most terrific images before the mind, without ever proposing the means by which they may be effaced, may justly be considered as the greatest disturber of human feli. city, since no evil can be worse than that which obliges the sufferer to grapple with his sufferings, without any hopes of assistance or relief.
Fear operates chiefly by fits and starts, and her end is never better secured than when she has blocked up all the secret channels of hope and joy; and, in order more fully to accomplish ber designs, she is known to have recourse to times and places. In a time of war she represents one nation as always victorious, and the other as always unsuccessful; she tells how the enemy has enlarged his dominions by his conquests, and increased his power by adding fresh victims to his number : thus she chains down alike the minds of all who listen to her counsels.
Almost all the happiness we enjoy in the present state is derived from the excursions which the mind is suffered to take into futurity. Happiness depends more upon hope than enjoyment. To him whose life has been spent in the open acts of vice or folly, the past will afford nothing but the remembrance of crimes, begun without reluctance, and ended without repentance, and the present will allow time only for suing for that favour which he has forfeited by his offences, and which must be regained by fresh excitements to a holy life, and fresh principles of moral action. We all find that, however multiplied may be our attainments, or enlarged our pose sessions, we have yet some future good to be enjoyed, some pleasing desire which yet remains to be satisfied, or some imaginary evil which time only can remove. Since, therefore, our happiness is advanced only in proportion as our hopes and desires are satisfied and increased, surely no being can be more wretched than he whose fears have so far subdued all his other passions, as to
oblige him silently to endure the miseries of a mind long harrassed with doubt, distracted with cares, and overwhelmed with sorrow.
The greatest evil that a nation can suffer by war is the loss of a few individuals, who may be considered, in other respects, as useless to the community (for of those who are engaged in our military troops very few would be able to assist their country in any other way) the giving up some part of the national property for the better security of the whole, or the acquiring a greater mass of wealth with a much greater power of retaining, and better hopes of enjoying it. To be deprived of that which, if kept, could never have been enjoyed, can certainly be no loss, and they who have purchased the safety and honour of their fellow creatures at the expence of their own lives, have certainly smoothed their own passage through life, and will receive, in another state, that reward which is due to the faithful, the benevolent, and the just.
POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS AND CUSTOMS.
(Continued from p. 242.)
THE RING FINGER. The particular regard to this finger is of high antiquity. It hath been honoured with the golden* token and pledge of matrimony, preferable to any other finger, not as Levinus Lemnius, in his Occult Miracles of Nature, tells us, because there is a nerve,f as some have thought, but because a small artery runs from the heart to this finger, the motion of which, in parturient women, &c. may be perceived by the touch of the finger index,
* Annulus sponsæ dono mittebatur à viro, qui pronubus dictus. Alex, ab Alex. lib. 2, cap. 5. Et mediante annulo contrahitur matrimonium papanorum. Moresim Deprav. Rel. Orig. p. 12.
Dextra data acceptaque invicem. Persæ et Assyrii fædus matrimonii in eunt. Alex: ab Alex. lib. 2. cap. 5. Papatus retinet. Ibid, p. 50.
+ Mr. Wheatley tells us that the rubrick of Salisbury Manual has these words : “ It is because from hence there proceeds a particular vein to the heart.” This indeed, he adds, is now contradicted by experience ; but several eminent authors, as well Gentiles as Christians, as well physicians as divines, were formerly of this opinion, and therefore they thought this finger the properest to bear this pledge of love, that from thence it might be conveyed, as it were, to the heart. Illust, Comm. Prayer, p. 437.
· This opinion has been exploded by later physicians, but it was
from hence that antiquity judged it worthy, and selected it to be 'adorned with the circlet of gold. They called it also the medical finger, and were so superstitious as to mix up their medicines and potions with it.
Some of the common ceremonies at marriages seem naturally to fall under this class of popular antiquities.
I have received, from those who have been present at them, the following account of the customs used at vulgar northern weddings about half a century ago.*
The young women in the neighbourhood, with bride favours (knots of ribbands) at their breasts, and nosegays in their hands, attended the bride on her wedding day in the morning. Fore riders announced with shouts the arrival of the bride-groom : after a kind of breakfast, at which the bride cakest were set on, and the barrels broached, they walked out towards the church. The bride was led by two young men : the bridegroom by two young women: pipers
* The author of the Convivial Antiquities thus describes the rites at marriages in his country and time: “ Antequam catur in templum jentaculum sponsæ et invitatis apponitur, serta atque corollæ distribuuntur. Postea certo ordine viri primum cum sponso, deinde puelle cum sponsa in templum procedunt. Peracta re divina sponsa ad sponsi domum deducitur, indeque panis projicitur, qui a pueris certatim rapitur. Prandium requitur Cæna, cænam comessatio, quas epulas omnes tripudia atque saltationes comitantur. Postremo sponsa abrepta ex saltatione subito, atque sponsos in thalamum deducuntur. Fol. 68.
I There was a ceremony used at the solemnization of a marriage, called confarreation, in token of a most firm conjunction between the man and wife, with a cake of wheat or barley. This ceremony, Blount tells us, is still retained in part with us, by that which we call the bride cake, used at weddings. Confarreation and the ring were used anciently as binding ceremonies, in making ag reements, grants, &c. as appears from the subsequent extract from an old grant, cited in Du Cange's Glossary. Verb. Conferreatio.
“ Miciacum concedimus et quidquid ert fisci nostri intra Fluminum alveos et per sanctam confarreationem et annulum inexceptionaliter tradimus.”
Moresin mentions the bride cake thus : Sumanalia, Panis erat ad formam rotæ factus : hoc atuntur Papani in nuptiis, &c.
Deprav, Rel. Orig. p. 165. I will give one authority more.---Quint. Curtius tells us, lib. 1, de gest Alex. “ Et Rex, medio cupidatis ardore jusset afferri patrio more panem (hoc erat apud Macedones sanctissinimum cocunctium pignus) quem divisum gladio uterque libabat.”
In the North, slices of the bride cake are put through the wedding ring ; they are afterwards laid under pillows at night, to cause young persons to dream of their lovers.
preceded them, while the crowd tossed up their hats, shouted, and clapped their hands. An indecent custom prevailed after the ceremony, and that, too, before the altar :-Young men strove who could unloose, * or rather pluck off the bride's garters : ribbands supplied their places on this occasion; whosoever was so fortunate as to tear them thus off from her legs, bore them about the church in triumph. It is still usual for the young men present to salute the bride, immediately after the performing of the marriage service.
Four, with their horses, were waiting without; they saluted the bride at the church gate, and immediately mounting, contended who should first carry home the good news, “and win what they called the KAIL," i. e, a smoaking prize of spice broth, which stood ready prepared to reward the victor in this singular kind of race,
Dinner succeeded; to that dancing and supper; after which, a possett was made, of which the bride and bridegroom were always to taste first. The men departed the room till the bride was undressed by her maids, and put to bed: the bridegroom in his turn was undressed by his men, and the ceremony concluded with the well known rite of throwing the stocking. I
At present, a party always attends here at the church gates, after a wedding, to demand of the bridegroom money for a foot ball: this claim admits of no refusal. Coles, in his dictionary, mentions the ball money, which, he says, was given by a new bride to her old play fellows.
Our rustics retain to this day many superstitious notions concerning the times of the year when it is accounted lucky, or otherwise, to perform this cereinony. None are ever married on Childer
* I have sometimes thought this a fragment of the ancient Grecian and Roman ceremony, the loosening the virgin zones or girdles, a custom that wants no explanation,
+ Skinner derives this word from the French Poser, residere, to settle; beo cause, when the milk breaks, the cheesy parts, being heavier, subside. Nobis proprié desiguat Lac calidum infuso vino, cerevisa, &c. coagulatum. Lye's Junii Etymolog. in Verbo.
I find the following singular custom in the Convivial Antiq. folio 229 : Ceremonia hodie in nobilium nuptiis apud Germanos usitata, qui sponsa, postquam in thalamum ad lectum genialem est deducta, calceum detractum in circumstantium turbam projicit, quem qui excipit (in quo certatim omnes laborant) is id cea futuri Matrimonii felix faustumque omen interpretatur.
Mr. Pennant tells us, that, among the Highlanders, during the marriage ceremony, great care is taken that dogs do not pass between them, and particular attention is paid to the leaving the bridegroom's left shoe, without buckle or Latchet, to prevent witches from depriving him, on the nuptiai night, of the power of loosening the virgin zone. Tom, p. 160.
muss day:* for whatever cause, this is a black day in the calendert of impatient lovers.
The subsequent proverb from Ray, marks another ancient conceit on this head
“ Who marries between the sickle and the scythe, will never thrive."
The following must not be omitted:
“Happy is the bride the sun shines on, and the corpse the rain rains on.”
I shall add a third, which no doubt has been often quoted, for the purpose of encouraging a diffident or timorous mistress.
“ As your wedding ring wears, your cares will wear away.”
There was a custom in the Highlands, and north of Scotland, where new married persons, who 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, real, wool, or what else they could get. See Glossary to Douglas Virgil.
* Tempus quoque nuptiarum celebrandarum certum a veteribus definitum et constitutum esse invenio. Concilii Herdensis 33. 9. 4. Et in decreto Juonis lib. 6.----Non oportet a Septuagessima usque in Octavam Paschæ, et tribus hebdomadibus ante Festivitatem S. Joannis Baptistæ, et ab Adventu Domini usque post Epiphaniam nuptias celebrare. Quod si factum fuerit, separentur, Conviv. Antiq. Folio 72.
+ Sic apud Romanos olim Mense Maio nubere inauspicatum habebatur, unde Ovid. in Fastis.
Nec Viduæ tædis eadem, nec virginis apta
The Mercheta Mulierum has been discredited by an eminent antiquary. It was said that Eugenius the 3d king of Scotland did wickedly ordain that the Lord or Master should have the first night's lodging with every woman married to his tenant or bondman; which ordinance was afterwards abrogated by king Malcome the 3d, who ordained that the bridegroom should have the sole use of his own wife, and therefore should pay to the lord a piece of money called Mar.
Hect. Boch. 1. 3. ca. 12. Spotsw. Hist. Fol. 29. They must have been (in the ancient sense of the word) villains indeed, who eould submit to this singular species of despotism.