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Trulofa, fidem do, I plight my troth, or faith. Thus we read, in the Islandic Gospels, the following passage in the first chapter of St. Matthew, which confirms, beyond a doubt, the sense here given "til einrar Meyar er trulofad var einum Manne,” &c.; i. e. to a virgin espoused, that is, who was promised or bad engaged herself to a man, &c. Hence, evi. dently, the bride favours, or the top-knots, at marriages, which have been considered as emblems of the ties of duty and affection between the bride and her spouse, have been derived.
Sir Thomas Browne, in his Vulgar Errors, says: “The true-lover's knot is much magnified, and still retained in presents of love among us; which, though in all points it doth not make out, had, perhaps, its original from Nodus Herculanus, or that which was called Hercules his knot, resembling the snaky complication in the caduceus, or rod of Hermes, and in which form the zone or woollen girdle of the bride was fastened, as Turnebus observes in his Adversaria.”
The following beautiful madrigal, entitled “The True-love's Knot," occurs in Davison's Poetical Rapsody, 1611, p. 216 :
“Love is the linke, the knot, the band of unity,
Love only did decree
To change his kind in me.
Yet are my hopes declinde,
Sith she is most unkinde.
Though absence did, indeede,
My hopes not sterve, but feede.
By me it resteth there,
The cause is not elsewhere.
But still, alas! in vaine,
The fit doth still remaine.
Respect true love did show;
Gay, in his Pastoral called the Spell, thus beautifully describes the rustic manner of knitting the true-love knot:
“ As Lubberkin once slept beneath a tree,
I twitch'd his dangling garter from his knee;
Firm be the knot, firm may his love endure." Another species of knot divination is given in the Con. noisseur, No. 56 : “Whenever I go to lye in a strange bed, I always tye my garter nine times round the bed-post, and knit nine knots in it, and say to myself: This knot I knit, this knot I tye, to see my love as he goes by, in his apparel'd array, as he walks in every day.'” This is of course intended for poetry.
I find the following passage in the Merry Devil of Edmonton, 4to. 1631 :
“ With pardon, sir, that name is quite undon,
This true-love knot cancelles both maide and nun." Bride favours appear to have been worn by the peasantry of France, on similar occasions, on the arm. In England these knots of ribands were distributed in great abundance formerly, even at the marriages of persons of the first distinction. They were worn at the hat (the gentleman's I suppose), and consisted of ribands of various colours. If I mistake not, white ribands are the only ones used at present. Ozell, in a note to his translation of Misson, p. 350, says the favour “was a large knot of ribbands, of several colours, gold, silver, carnation, and white. This is worn upon the hat for some weeks.” Another note, in p. 351, says: “It is ridiculous to go to a wedding without new cloaths. If you are in mourning, you throw it off for some days, unless you are in mourning for some near relation that is very lately dead.” Misson, p. 350, says : “ Formerly in France they gave livrées de nốces, which was a knot of ribbands, to be worn by the guests upon their arms; but that is practis'd now only among peasants. In England it is done still among the greatest noblemen. These ribbands they call favours, and give them not only to those that are at the wedding, but to five hundred people besides ; they send them about, and distribute them at their own houses. 'Tother day, when the eldest son of M. de Overkerque marry'd the Duke of Ormond's sister, they dispers’d a whole inundation of those little favours. Nothing else was here to be met with, from the hat of the king down to that of the meanest servant. Among the citizens and plain gentlemen, which is what they call the gentry, they sometimes give these favours ; but it is very common to avoid all manner of expence as much as possible.”
In Paradoxical Assertions and Philosophical Problems, by R. H., 1664, p. 19, we read : “I shall appeal to any enamoreto but newly married, whether he took not more pleasure in weaving innocent true-love knots than in untying the virgin zone, or knitting that more than Gordian knot which none but that invincible Alexander, Death, can untye?”
To the variety of colours in the bride favours used formerly, the following passage, wherein Lady Haughty addresses Morose, in Jonson's play of the Silent Woman, evidently alludes:
“Let us know your bride's colours and yours at least.” The bride favours have not been omitted in the northern provincial poem of the Collier's Wedding :
« The blithsome, buck some country maids,
With knots of ribbands at their heads,
That fan before and toss behind.”
“ Like streamers in the painted sky,
At every breast the favours fly.” In a curious old book, called the Fifteen Comforts of Marriage, a conference is introduced at pp. 44, 47, and 48, concerning bridal colours in dressing up the bridal bed by the bridemaids—not, say they, with yellow ribbands, these are the emblems of jealousy—not with fueille mort, that signifies fading love, but with true-blue, that signifies constancy, and green denotes youth-put them both together, and there's youthful constancy. One proposed blew and black, that sig. nifies constancy till death ; but that was objected to, as those colours will never match. Violet was proposed, as signifying religion; this was objected to as being too grave : and at last they concluded to mingle a gold tissue with grass-green, which latter signifies youthful jollity. For the bride's favours, topknots, and garters, the bride proposed blew, gold-colour, popingay-green, and limon-colour, -objected to, gold-colour signifying avarice-popingay-green wantonness. The younger bridemaid proposed mixtures, - flame-colour-flesh-colourwillow—and milk-white. The second and third were objected to, as flesh-colour signifies lasciviousness, and willow forsaken. It was settled that red signifies justice, and sea-green inconstancy. The milliner, at last, fixed the colours as follows: for the favours, blue, red, peach-colour, and orange-tawny: for the young ladies' top-knots, flame-colour, straw-colour (signifying plenty), peach-colour, grass-green, and milk-white; and for the garters, a perfect yellow, signifying honour and joy.
The following allusion to bride favours is from Herrick's Hesperides, p. 252 :
• What posies for our wedding-rings,
What gloves we'll give, and ribbanings.” In the Gentleman's Magazine for October, 1733, iii. 545, are “Verses sent by a young lady, lately married, to a quondam lover, inclosing a green ribbon noozed :"1
Will make you bear the loss of such a bride." There is a retort courteous to this very unladylike intimation, that the discarded lover may go hang himself, but it is not worth inserting.
| Thus Cunningham :
A top-knot he bought her, and garters of green :
Pert Susan was cruelly stung:
I'd wed, if I were not too young.
The use of bridemaids at weddings appears as old as the time of the Anglo-Saxons; among whom, as Strutt informs us, “the bride was led by a matron, who was called the bride's woman, followed by a company of young maidens, who were called the bride's maids.” The bridemaids and the bridegroom men are both mentioned by the author of the Convivial Antiquities, in his description of the rites at marriages in his country and time.!
In later times it was among the offices of the bridemaids to lead the bridegroom to church, as it was the duty of the bridegroom's men to conduct the bride thither. This has not been overlooked in the provincial poem of the Collier's Wedding:
“Two lusty lads, well drest and strong,
Stepp'd out to lead the bride along;
As soon the bridegroom's hands surprize.” It was an invariable role for the men always to depart the room, till the bride was undressed by her maids and put to
It is stated in the account of the marriage ceremonials of Philip Herbert and the Lady Susan, performed at Whitehall in the reign of James I., that “the Prince and the Duke of Holst. led the bride to church.”
In the old History of John Newchombe, the Wealthy Clothier of Newbery, cited by Strutt, iii. 154, speaking of his bride, it is said, that “after hee, came the chiefest maidens of the country, some bearing bridecakes, and some garlands, made of wheat finely gilded, and so passed to the church. She was led to church between two sweet boys, with bridelaces and rosemary tied about their silken sleeves; the one was Sir Thomas Parry, the other Sir Francis Hungerford.”
In the old play of A Woman is a Weathercocke, act i, sc. l. on a marriage going to be solemnized, Count Fredericke says:
“Antequam eatur ad templum Jentaculum sponsæ et invitatis apponi. tur, serta atque corollæ distribuuntur. Postea certo ordine viri primum cam sponso, deinde puellæ cum sponsa in templum procedunt." Antiquitat. Convivial. fol. 68.