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great noise of harpes, lutes, kyttes, basens, and drommes, wherwyth they trouble the whole church, and hyndre them in matters pertayninge to God. And even as they come to the churche, so go they from the churche agayne, lyght, nice, in shameful pompe, and vaine wantonesse.”
The following is from Vernon's Hunting of Purgatory to Death, 1561, f. 51: “I knewe a priest (this is a true tale that I tell you, and no lye,) whiche, when any of his parishioners should be maryed, woulde take his backe-pype, and go fetche theym to the churche, playnge sweetelye afore them, and then would he laye his instrument handsomely upon the aultare tyll he had marved them and sayd masse. Which thyng being done, he would gentillye bringe them home agayne with backe-pype. Was not this priest a true ministrell, thynke ve? for he dyd not counterfayt the ministrell, but was one in dede.”
Puttenham, in his Arte of English Poesie, 1589, p. 69, speaks of “blind harpers, or such like taverne minstrels that give a fit of mirth for a groat, and their matters being for the most part stories of old time, as the Tale of Sir Topas, the Reportes of Bevis of Southampton, Guy of Warwicke, Adam Bell, Clymme of the Clough, and such other old romances, or historical rimes, made purposely for recreation of the common people at Christmasse dinners and bride-ales, and in tavernes and ale-houses, and such other places of base resort.” In Brooke's Epithalamium we read :
“ Now whiles slow howres doe feed the times delay,
Confus'd discourse, with musicke mixt among,
Fills up the semy-circle of the day.” In the margin opposite is put “Afternoone Musicke.” [And so runs the old ballad, sung about the streets within the last few years,
“ Ye patriots and courtiers so hearty,
That speech shall vote for each party,
What's a wedding without pipes and fiddle?"] . In Griffith's Bethel, or a Forme for Families, 1634, is the following on marriage feasts, p. 279: “Some cannot be merry without a noise of fiddlers, who scrape acquaintance at the first sight; nor sing, unlesse the divell himselfe come in for a part, and the ditty be made in hell,” &c. He had before said, * We joy indeed at weddings; but how? Some please themselves in breaking broad, I had almost said bawdy jests." Speaking of wedding entertainments, ibid., he says : « Some drink healths so long till they lose it, and (being more heathenish in this than was Ahasuerus at his feast) they urge their companions to drink by measure, out of measure.”
Waldron, in his Description of the Isle of Man (Works, fol. ed. p. 169,) tells us that at the marriages of the inhabitants, “they are preceded (to church) by music, who play all the while before them the tune, the Black and the Grey, and no other is ever used at weddings.” He adds, “that when they arrive at the churchyard, they walk three times round the church before they enter it.” This requisite has not been omitted in the Collier's Wedding:
“ The pipers wind and take their post,
And go before to clear the coast."
The rejoicing by ringing of bells at marriages of any consequence, is everywhere common. On the fifth bell at the church of Kendal, in Westmoreland, is the following inscription, alluding to this usage :
“In wedlock bands,
Your hearts unite;
To laud the nuptial rite."
SPORTS AT WEDDINGS.
AMONG the Anglo-Saxons, as Strutt informs us, in his Manners and Customs, i. 76, after the nuptial feast, “the remaining part of the day was spent by the youth of both sexes in mirth and dancing, while the graver sort sat down to their drinking bout, in which they highly delighted.”
Among the higher ranks there was, in later times, a weddingsermon, an epithalamium,' and at night a masque.?
It was a general custom between the wedding dinner and supper to have dancing. The cushion-dance at weddings is thus mentioned in the Apophthegms of King James, the Earl of Worcester, 1658, p. 60,- a wedding entertainment is spoken of :-“At last, when the masque was ended, and time had brought in the supper, the cushion led the dance out of the parlour into the hall,” &c. In the Christen State of Matrimony, 1543, f. 49, we read : “ After the bancket and feast there begynnethe a vayne, madde, and unmannerlye fashion, for the bryde must be brought into an open dauncynge place. Then is there such rennynge, leapynge, and flyngyng amonge them; then is there suche a lyftynge up and discoverynge of the damselles clothes and other womennes apparell, that a man might thynke they were sworne to the Devels daunce. Then muste the poore bryde kepe foote with al dauncers and refuse none, how scabbed, foule, droncken, rude and shameles soever he be. Then must she oft tymes heare and se much wyckednesse, and many an uncomely word; and that noyse and romblyng endureth even tyll supper.” So, in the Summe of the Holy Scripture, 1547: “Suffer not your children to go to weddings or banckettes ; for nowe a daies one can learne nothing there but ribaudry and foule wordes.”
Northbrooke, in his Treatise against Dauncing, p. 137, says: “In the Counsell of Laoditia, A. D. 364, it was decreed thus: It is not meete for Christian men to daunce at their mariages. Let the cleargie aryse and go their wayes when the players on the instruments (which serve for dauncing) doe bygynne to plave, least by their presence they shoulde seeme to allowe that wantonnesse.” Fiddlers are called crowders. (Ibid. p. 141.) In Scott's Mock Marriage, a Comedy, 1696, p. 50, it is said: “You are not so merry as men in your condition should be. What ! a couple of weddings, and not a dance?"
' In Herrick's Hesperides, p. 258, are ten short songs, or rather chora! gratulations, entitled, “ Connubii Flores, or the Well-Wishes at Weddings."
? It appears from the Account of the Marriage Ceremonials of Philip Herbert and the Lady Susan, in the time of James I., that in grand wed. dings it was usual to have a masque at night. “At night there was a masque in the hall."
So, in the popular old ballad called the Winchester Wedding :
“And now they had din'd, advancing
Into the midst of the hall,
And Jeremy led up the brawl.
Sucky, that danc'd with the cushion,” &c. In Playford's Dancing-Master, 1698, p. 7, is an account of “Joan Sanderson, or the Cushion Dance, an old round dance. This dance is begun by a single person (either man or woman), who, taking a cushion in his hand, dances about the room, and at the end of the tune he stops and sings, This dance it will no farther go. The musician answers, I pray you, good sir, why say you so? Man. “Because Joan Sanderson will not come to.' Musick. “She must come to, and she shall come to, and she must come, whether she will or no.' Then he lays down the cushion before a woman, on which she kneels, and he kisses her, singing, .Welcom, Joan Sanderson, welcom, welcom.' Then she rises, takes up the cushion, and both dance, singing, ‘Prinkum-prank’um is a fine dance, and shall we go dance it once again, and once again, and shall we go dance it once again. Then making a stop, the woman sings as before, This dance it will no further go.' Musick. 'I pray you, madam, why say you so?' Woman. “Because John Sanderson will not come to Musick. He must come to,' &c. (as before). And so she lays down the cushion before a man, who, kneeling upon it, salutes her, she singing, Welcome, John Sanderson,' &c. Then, he taking up the cushion, they take hands and dance round, singing, as before, and thus they do till the whole company are taken into the ring. Then the cushion is laid before the first man, the woman singing, This dance,' &c. (as before), only instead of «Come to,' they sing'Go fro: and, instead of· Welcome, John Sanderson, &c., they sing, · Farewell, John Sanderson, farewell, farewell ;' and so they go out one by one, as they came in. Note, the woman is kiss'd by all the men in the ring at her coming in and going out, and likewise the man by the women.”
The following extract from Selden's Table Talk, under “ King of England,” 7, is illustrative of our cushion-dance : " The court of England is much altered. At a solemn dancing, first you have the grave measures, then the corrantoes and the galliards, and this is kept up with ceremony, at length to
French-more" (it should be Trench-more), “and the cushiondance, and then all the company dance, lord and groom, lady and kitchen-maid, no distinction. So in our court, in Queen Elizabeth's time, gravity and state were kept up. In King James's time things were pretty well. But in King Charles's time there has been nothing but French-more, and the cushiondance, omnium gatherum, tolly, polly, hoite come toite.” In the same work, under the head “Excommunication,” is an allusion to the custom of dancing at weddings : “Like the wench that was to be married : she asked her mother, when 'twas done, if she should go to bed presently? No, says her mother, you must dine first. And then to bed, mother? No, you must dance after dinner. And then to bed, mother? No, you must go to supper,” &c.
It appears from the Glossary to Bishop Kennet's Parochial Antiquities, that the quintain was anciently a customary sport at weddings. He says it was used in his time at Blackthorne, and at Deddington, in Oxfordshire. It is supposed to have been a Roman exercise, left by that people at their departure from this island. We read in Blount's Glossographia, v. Quintain, that it is “a game or sport still in request at marriages, in some parts of this nation, specially in Shropshire : the manner, now corruptly thus, a quintin, buttress, or thick plank of wood, is set fast in the ground of the highway where the bride and bridegroom are to pass; and poles are provided, with which the young men run a tilt on horseback, and he that breaks most poles, and shows most activity, wins the garland.” From Aubrey's Remains of Gentilisme and Judaism, it should appear that this was a common sport at weddings, till the breaking out of the civil wars, even among people in the lower rank of life.
"On Offham Green,” says Hasted, History of Kent, ii. 224, “there stands a quintin, a thing now rarely to be met with, being a machine much used in former times by youth, as well to try their own activity as the swiftness of their horses
In Strype's Annals of the Reformation, ii. 394, anno 1575, among the various sports, &c. used to entertain Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth Castle, he tells us : “ That afternoon (as the relator expresseth it), in honour of this Kenilworth Castle, and of God and St. Kenelme (whose day by the kalendar this was), was a solemn country bridal, with running at quintin." The queen stayed here nineteen days.