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where it is to remain, “ quia in illo digito est quædam vena procedens usque ad cor.'
It is very observable that none of the above Missals mention the hand, whether right or left, upon which the ring is to be put. This has been noticed by Selden, in his Uxor Hebraica : “ Digito quarto, sed non liquet dexteræ an sinistræ manus." The Hereford Missal inquires, “Quæro quæ est ratio ista, quare anulus ponatur in quarto digito cum pollice computato, quam in secundo vel tercio? Isidorus dicit quod quædam vena extendit se a digito illo usque ad cor, et dat intelligere unitatem et perfectionem amoris.”
It appears from Aulus Gellius, lib. x. cap. 10, that the ancient Greeks and most of the Romans wore the ring “ in eo digito qui est in manu sinistra minimo proximus.” He adds, on the authority of Appian, that a small nerve runs from this finger to the heart; and that therefore it was honoured with the office of bearing the ring, on account of its connexion with that master-mover of the vital functions.
Levinus Lemnius tells us, speaking of the ring-finger, that “a small branch of the arterie, and not of the nerves, as Gellius thought, is stretched forth from the heart unto this finger, the motion whereof you shall perceive evidently in women with child and wearied in travel, and all affects of the heart, by the touch of your fore finger. I use to raise such as are fallen in a swoond by pinching this joynt, and by rubbing the ring of gold with a little saffron, for by this a restoring force that is in it passeth to the heart, and refresheth the fountain of life, unto which this finger is joyn'd: wherefore it deserved that honour above the rest, and antiquity thought fit to compasse it about with gold. Also the worth of this finger that it receives from the heart procured thus much, that the old physicians, from whence also it hath the name of Medicus, would mingle their medicaments and potions with this finger, for no venom can stick upon the very outmost part of it, but it will offend a man, and communicate itself to his heart.” English Trans. 1658, p. 109.
Macrobius (Saturnal. lib, vii. cap. 13) assigns the same reason ; but also quotes the opinion of Ateius Capito, that the right hand was exempt from this office, because it was much more used than the left hand, and therefore the precious stones of the rings were liable to be broken ; and that the
finger of the left hand was selected which was the least used. For the ring having been used by the Romans at their marriages, consult Juvenal, Sat. vi., v. 27.
To a Querist in the British Apollo, 1708, i, 18, “Why is it that a person to be married is enjoyned to put a ring upon the fourth finger of his spouse's left hand ?” It is answered, " There is nothing more in this, than that the custom was handed down to the present age from the practice of our ancestors, who found the left hand more convenient for such ornaments than the right, in that it's ever less employed; for the same reason they chose the fourth finger, which is not only less used than either of the rest, but is more capable of preserving a ring from bruises, having this one quality peculiar to itself, that it cannot be extended but in company with some other finger, whereas the rest may be singly stretched to their full length and straightness. Some of the ancients were of opinion in this matter, that the ring was so worn because to that finger, and to that only, comes an artery from the heart; but the politer knowledge of our modern anatomists having clearly demonstrated the absurdity of that notion, we are rather inclined to believe the continuance of the custom owing to the reason above mentioned.”
There is an old proverb on the subject of wedding rings, which has no doubt been many a time quoted for the purpose of encouraging and hastening the consent of a diffident or timorous mistress :
“As your wedding ring wears,
Your cares will wear away.” In a scarce tract in my collection, entitled A Briefe Discourse of a Disease called the Suffocation of the Mother, written by Edward Jorden, Doctor in Physicke, 1603, the learned author, in a list of “superstitious remedies which have crept into our profession,” mentions a whimsical superstition relating to the wedding ring which need not be repeated.
Many married women are so rigid, not to say superstitious, in their notions concerning their wedding rings, that neither when they wash their hands, nor at any other time, will they take it off from their finger, extending, it should seem, the expression of “till death us do part” even to this golden circlet, the token and pledge of matrimony.
This may have originated in the Popish hallowing of this ring, of which the following form occurs in the Doctrine of the Masse Booke, from Wyttonberge, by Nicholas Dorcaster, 1554: “ The hallowing of the woman's ring at wedding. Thou Maker and Conserver of mankinde, gever of spiritual grace and graunter of eternal salvation, Lord, send thy blessing upon this ring, (here the Protestant translator observes in the margin, 'Is not here wise geare ??) that she which shall weare it, maye be armed wyth the vertue of heavenly defence, and that it maye profit her to eternal salvation, thorowe Christ,” &c. “A prayer. Halow thou, Lord, this ring, which we blesse in thy holye Name: that what woman soever shall weare it, may stand fast in thy peace, and continue in thy wyl, and live and grow and waxe old in thy love, and be multiplied into that length of daies, thorow our Lord, &c. Then let holy water be sprinkled upon the ryng.”
Columbiere, speaking of rings, says: “The hieroglyphic of the ring is very various. Some of the antients made it to denote servitude, alledging that the bridegroom was to give it to his bride, to denote to her that she is to be subject to him, which Pythagoras seemed to confirm when he prohibited wearing a streight ring, that is, not to submit to over-rigid servitude."1
Rings appear to have been given away formerly at weddings. In Wood's Athenæ Oxonienses, i. 280, we read in the account of the famous philosopher of Queen Elizabeth's days, Edward Kelly, “Kelly, who was openly profuse beyond the modest limits of a sober philosopher, did give away in gold-wire rings (or rings twisted with three gold wires), at the marriage of one of his maid-servants, to the value of 40001.” This was in 1589, at Trebona.
In Davison's Poetical Rapsody, 1611, p. 93, occurs the following beautiful sonnet: “ Upon sending his Mistresse a Gold Ring with this Poesie,
PURE AND ENDLESSE.
Compare it to the ring which your faire hand
Coats's Dictionary of Heraldry, in v. Annulet.
Is it of mettall pure ? so you shall prove
My love, which ne'er disloyall thought did staine.
Unlesse you it destroy with your disdaine
So doth my love; yet herein they dissent,
By waxing lesse, doth shew some part is spent,
And yet encreaseth in the purifying." A remarkable superstition still prevails among the lowest of our vulgar, that a man may lawfully sell his wife to another, provided he deliver her over with a halter about her neck. It is painful to observe that instances of this frequently occur in our newspapers.
Every one knows that in England, during the time of the Commonwealth, justices of peace were empowered to marry people. A jeu d'esprit on this subject may be found in Flecknoe's Diarium, 1656, p. 83: “On the justice of peace's making marriages, and the crying them in the market.”
A Custom extremely hurtful to the interests of morality appears anciently to have prevailed both in England and other countries of marrying with a Rush Ring; chiefly practised, however, by designing men, for the purpose of debauching their mistresses, who sometimes were so infatuated as to believe that this mock ceremony was a real marriage.1
1 That this custom prevailed in France appears from the following pas. sage in Du Breul's Theatre des Antiquitez de Paris, 1622, p. 90 : “Quant a la Cour de l'Official, il se presente quelquns personnes qui ont forfaict a leur honneur, la chose estant averée, si l'on ny peult remedier autrement pour sauver l'honneur des maisons, l'on a accoustomée d'amener en ladicte eglise l'homme et la femme qui ont forfaict. en leur honneur, et là estans conduicts par deux sergents (au cas qu'ils n'y veulent venir de leur bonne volontè) il sont espousez ensemble par le curè dudict lieu avec un anneau de paille : leur enjoignant de vivre en paix et amitié, et ainsi couvrir l'hon. neur des parens et amis ausquels ils appartiennent, et sauver leurs ames du danger où ils s'estoient mis par leur peché et offense." One of the Con
BRIDE FAVOURS. A KNOT, among the ancient northern nations, seems to have been the symbol of love, faith, and friendship, pointing out the indissoluble tie of affection and duty. Thus the ancient Runic inscriptions, as we gather from Hickes's Thesaurus, are in the form of a knot. Hence, among the northern English and Scots, who still retain, in a great measure, the language and manners of the ancient Danes, that curious kind of knot, a mutual present between the lover and his mistress, which, being considered as the emblem of plighted fidelity, is therefore called a true-love kpot: a name which is not derived, as one would naturally suppose it to be, from the words “true,” and “ love,” but formed from the Danish verb
stitutions of Richard Bishop of Salisbury, in 1217, cited by Du Cange, in his Glossary, d. Annulus, says: “ Nec quisquam annulum de junco vel qua. cunque vili materia vel pretiosa, jocando manibus innectat muliercularum, ut liberius cum eis fornicetur: ne dum jocari se putat, honoribus matrimonialibus se astringat." Douce refers Shakespeare's expression, “ Tib's rush for Tom's forefinger," which has so long puzzled the commentators, to this custom. “L'official marie dans l'eglise de St. Marine ceux qui ont forfait a leur honneur, ou ils sont epouses ensemble par le cure du lieu avec un anneau de paille."- Sausal, Antiq. de Paris, i. 429. “ Pour faire observer, sans doute," adds the editor of Le Voyageur a Paris, ii. 156, "au mari, combien etoit fragile la vertu de celle qu'il choisissait." Com. pare also the Traité des Superstitions, par M. Thiers, iii. 462, where Bishop Poore's Constitution is also quoted.
I Gramin. Island., p. 4: “In his autem monumentis, ut in id genus fere omnibus, inscriptionum Runæ in nodis sive gyris nodorum insculptæ leguntur, propterea quod apud veteres septentrionales gentes nodus amoris, fidei, amicitiæ symbolum fuisse videtur, ut quod insolubilem pietatis et affectus nexum significavit. Hinc apud boreales Anglos, Scotosque, qui Danorum veterum tum sermonem, tum mores magna ex parte adhuc retinent, nodus in gyros curiose ductus, fidei et promissionis quam Amasius et Amasia dare solent invicem, symbolum servatur, quodque ideo vocant a true-love knot, a veteri Danico trulofa-fidem do.-Hinc etiam apud Anglos Scotosque consuetudo reportandi capitalia donata curiose in gyros nodosque torta a solennibus nuptiis plane quasi symbola insolubilis fidei et affectus, quæ sponsum inter et sponsam esse debent." Many of these Runic knots are engraved in Sturleson's History of Stockholm. The following is found in Selden's Uxor Hebraica (Opera, iü. 670): “Quin et post benedictionem per vittæ candidæ permissione et purpureæ unum invicem vinculum (modum amatorium, a true-loves knot), copulabantur, inquit Isidorus, videlicet, ne compagem conjugalis unitatis disrumpant."