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8, 15, 17, 27, 29. Nov. 5, 11, 13, 22, 25. Decemb. 1, 8, 10, 19, 23, 29.”
In Sir John Sinclair's Account of Scotland, xv. 311, the minister of the parishes of South Ronaldsay and Burray, two of the Orkney Islands, in his Statistical Account of the Character and Manners of the People, says: “No couple chuses to marry except with a growing moon, and some even wish for a flowing tide.”
In a letter from Sir Dudley Carleton to Mr. Winwood, London, January, 1601, among other notices relating to marriages at Court in the reign of James I., is the following: “ At night there was casting off the bride's left hose, and many other pretty sorceries.”
Grose tells us of a singular superstition on this occasion, i. e. that if in a family the youngest daughter should chance to be married before her elder sisters, they must all dance at her wedding without shoes; this will counteract their ill-luck, and procure them husbands.
In a Boulster Lecture, 1640, p. 280, mention occurs of an ancient custom, “when at any time a couple were married, the sole of the bridegroom's shoe was to be laid upon the bride's head, implying with what subjection she should serve her husband.”
There was an ancient superstition that the bride was not to step over the threshold in entering the bridegroom's house, but was to be lifted over by her nearest relations. She was also to knit her fillets to the door-posts, and anoint the sides, to avoid the mischievous fascinations of witches. Previous to this, too, she was to put on a yellow veil. See Herrick's Hesperides, in the Epithalamium on Sir Thomas Southwell and his Lady, p. 57 :
“And now the yellow vaile at last
I The bryde anoynted the poostes of the doores with swyne's grease, because she thought by that meanes to dryve awaye all misfortune, whereof she had her name in Latin, Uxor ab ungendo."" Langley's Transl. of Polyd. Vergil, f. 9.
Knit to the posts; this point
There was hidden by the witch.” Pennant informs us that, among the Highlanders, during the marriage ceremony, great care is taken that dogs do not pass between the couple to be married ; and particular attention is paid to leaving the bridegroom's left shoe without buckle or latchet, to prevent the secret influence of witches on the nuptial night. He adds: “ This is an old opinion." Gesner says that witches made use of toads as a charm, “ut vim coeundi, ni fallor, in viris tollerent.” esner de Quad. Ovi. p. 72.
Tying the point was another fascination, illustrations of which may be found in Reginald Scot's Discourse concerning Devils and Spirits, p. 71; in the Fifteen Comforts of Marriage, p. 225 ; and in the British Apollo, ii. No. 35, 1709. In the old play of the Witch of Edmonton, 1658, young Banks says, “ Ungirt, unbless'd, says the proverb. But my girdle shall serve as a riding knit; and a fig for all the witches in Christendom.”
It was held unlucky, also, if the bride did not weep bitterly on the wedding-day. [And bad weather was most unpropitious. In a letter from Chamberlain to Dudley Carleton, dated July 10, 1603, he says: “Mr. Winwood was married on Tuesday, with much thunder and lightning and rain. The ominous weather and dismal day put together might have made a superstitious man startled, but he turned all to the best, and so may it prove.”]
FLINGING THE STOCKING.
FLINGING the stocking is thus mentioned in a curious little book entitled, the West Country Clothier undone by a Peacock, p. 65 : “ The sack posset must be eaten and the stocking flung, to see who can first hit the bridegroom on the nose." Misson, in his Travels through England, tells us of this cus
tom, that the young men took the bride's stocking, and the girls those of the bridegroom ; each of whom sitting at the foot of the bed, threw the stocking over their heads, endeavouring to make it fall upon that of the bride or her spouse : if the bridegroom's stockings, thrown by the girls, fell upon the bridegroom's head, it was a sign that they themselves would soon be married; and a similar prognostic was taken from the falling of the bride's stocking, thrown by the young men, Throwing the stocking has not been omitted in the Collier's Wedding :
“The stocking's thrown, the company gone,
And Tom and Jenny both alone.” In the Fifteen Comforts of Marriage, p. 60, the custom is represented a little different. “One of the young ladies, instead of throwing the stocking at the bride, flings it full in the basin” (which held the sack-posset), “and then it's time to take the posset away; which done, they last kiss round, and so depart.” So Hymen, &c. 8vo. Lond. 1760, p. 174: “ The men take the bride's stockings, and the women those of the bridegroom : they tben seat themselves at the bed's feet, and throw the stockings over their heads, and whenever any one hits the owner of them, it is looked upon as an omen that the person will be married in a short time; and though this ceremony is looked upon as mere play and foolery, new marriages are often occasioned by such accidents. Meantime the posset is got ready and given to the married couple. When they awake in the morning, a sack-posset is also given them.”
“ The posset too of sack was eaten,
Vereingetsrixa, p. 26.
“This clutter ore, Clarinda lay
Behind Olimpus' cap;
To know the lucky hap."
So in Folly in Print, or a Book of Rhymes, p. 121, in the description of a wedding, we read :
“ But still the stockings are to throw,
There's none could hit the mark." In the Progress of Matrimony, 8vo. 1733, p. 49, is another description in the Palace Miscellany):
“ Then come all the younger folk in,
Behind them stones, whence mankind grew !" Again, in the poem entitled the “Country Wedding,” in the Gentleman's Magazine for March 1735, v. 158 :
“ Bid the lasses and lads to the merry brown bowl,
Hit 'em each on the nose with the hose if you can.”
The ancient custom came,
At bridegroom and his dame ?
Sandals were backward thrown;
The act was all their own." Allan Ramsay, in his Poems, 1721, p. 116, introduces this custom :
“The bride was now laid in her bed,
Her left leg Ho was flung;
Because it hit Jean Gun." In the British Apollo, before quoted, 1711, iii. 133, is the following query: “Why is the custom observed for the bride to be placed in bed next the left hand of her husband, seeing
it is a general use in England for men to give their wives the right hand when they walk together? A. Because it looks more modest for a lady to accept the honour her husband does her as an act of generosity at his hands, than to take it as her right, since the bride goes to bed first."
In the Christen State of Matrimony, 1543, f. 49, it is said : “ As for supper, loke how much shameles and dronken the evenynge is more than the mornynge, so much the more vyce, excesse, and mysnourtoure is used at the supper. After supper must they begynne to pype and daunce agayne of the new. And though the yonge personnes, beyng wery of the bablynge noyse and inconvenience, come once towarde theyr rest, yet canne they have no quietnes : for a man shall fynde unmannerly and restles people that wyll first go to theyr chambre dore, and there syng vicious and naughty ballades, that the dyvell may have his whole tryumphe nowe to the uttermost.”
SACK-POSSET. In the evening of the wedding-day, just before the company retired, the sack-posset was eaten. Of this posset the bride and bridegroom were always to taste first. I find this called the Benediction Posset.?
The custom of eating a posset at going to bed seems to have prerailed generally among our ancestors. The Tobacconist, in the Wandering Jew telling Fortunes to English Men, 1640, p. 20, says: “And at my going to bed, this is my posset.” Skinner derives the word from the French poser, residere, to settle ; because, when the milk breaks, the cheesy parts, being heavier, subside. “Nobis proprie designat lac calidum infuso vino cerevisiâ, &c. coagulatum.” See Junii Etymol. in v.
" It is so called by Smollet in his Humphrey Clinker, and also hinted at by Herrick in his Hesperides, p. 132 :
“ If needs we must for ceremonies sake,
Blesse a sacke-posset ; luck go with it, take