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“My bride will never be readie, I thinke; heer are the other sisters.” Pendant observes : “Looke you, my lorde; there's Lucida weares the willow-garland for you, and will so go to church, I hear.” As Lucida enters with a willow-garland, she says:
“ But since my sister he hath made his choise,
This wreath of willow, that begirts my browes,
Till he be dead, or I be married to him." Waldron, in his Description of the Isle of Man (Works, fol. p. 169), speaking of the Manx weddings, says : “ They have bridemen and brides-maids, who lead the young couple as in England, only with this difference, that the former have ozier wands in their hands, as an emblem of superiority.” In Brooke's England's Helicon, we read :
“Forth, honour'd groome; behold, not farre behind,
Your willing bride, led by two strengthlesse boyes :" marked in the margin opposite, “Going to church-bride boyes.”
Misson, in his Travels, p. 352, says: “The bridemaids carry the bride into the bed-chamber, where they undress her and lay her in the bed. They must throw away and lose all the pins. Woe be to the bride if a single one is left about her; nothing will go right. Woe also to the bridemaids if they keep one of them, for they will not be married before Whitsontide.” Or, as we read in Hymen, 1760, p. 173, “till the Easter following at soonest.”
THESE appear anciently to have had the title of brideknights.' Those who led the bride to church were always bachelors, but she was to be conducted home by two married
1 “Paranymphi ejusmodi seu sponsi amici appellantur etiam vioi 78 vopowvoc (Matth. ix. 15) filii thalami nuptialis; qua de re optime vir præstantissimus Hugo Grotius. Singulare babetur et apud nos nomen ejusmodi eorum quos bride-knights, id est, ministros sponsalitios qui sponsam deducere solent, appellitamus." Seldeni Uxor Hebraica, Opera, iii. 638.
persons. Polydore Vergil, who wrote in the time of Henry the Eighth, informs us that a third married man, in coming home from church, preceded the bride, bearing, instead of a torch, a vessel of silver or gold. Moresin relates that to the bachelors and married men who led the bride to and from church, she was wont to present gloves for that service during the time of dinner.2
It was part of the bridegroom men's office to put him to bed to the bride, after having undressed him.
The following passage is in Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady: “Were these two arms encompassed with the hands of batchelors to lead me to the church ?”
In A Pleasant History of the First Founders, p. 57, we read : “At Rome the manner was that two children should lead the bride, and a third bear before her a torch of whitethorn in honour of Ceres, which custom was also observed here in England, saving that in place of the torch there was carried before the bride a bason of gold or silver; a garland, also, of corn-eares was set upon her head, or else she bare it on her hand; or, if that were omitted, wheat was scattered over her head in token of fruitfulness; as also, before she came to bed to her husband, fire and water were given her, which, having power to purify and cleanse, signified that thereby she should be chast and pure in her body. Neither was she to step over the threshold, but was to be borne over, to signifie that she lost her virginity unwillingly ; with many other superstitious ceremonies, which are too long to rehearse.”
I “In Anglia servatur ut duo pueri velut paranymphi, id est, auspices, qui olim pro nuptiis celebrandis auspicia capiebant, nubentem ad templum -et inde domum duo viri deducant, et tertius loco facis, vasculum aureum, vel argenteum præferat." This was called the bride-cup.” So we read in the account of the marriage of John Newchombe (cited by Strutt, ut supra), where, speaking of the bride's being led to church, it is added by the writer that “there was a fair bride-cup of silver-gilt, carried before her, wherein was a goodly branch of rosemary, gilded very fair, and hung about with silken ribbands of all colours." It is remarkable that Strutt (i. 77) should be at a loss to explain a man with a cup in his hand, in plate xii. fig. 1, representing a marriage.
3 “In Anglia adhuc duo pueri mediam in templum, præcedente tibicinedeferunt nupturam, duo conjugati referunt, his, tempore prandii, ob præstitam operam nova nupta dat chirothecas." Papatus, pp. 114-5.
STREWING HERBS, FLOWERS, or RUSHES, BEFORE THE BRIDEGROOM AND BRIDE IN THEIR WAY TO CHURCH;
AS ALSO THE WEARING NOSEGAYS ON THE OCCASION.
THERE was anciently a custom at marriages of strewing herbs and flowers, as also rushes, from the house or houses where persons betrothed resided to the church. The follow: ing is in Herrick's Hesperides, p. 129 :
“ Glide by the banks of virgins then, and passe
The showers of roses, lucky foure-leav'd grasse :
And drown ye with a flowrie spring."
“ All haile to Hymen and his marriage day,
Strew rushes, and quickly come away;
Think one day, maides, like will be done for you." So, likewise, Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, p. 50. Every one will call to mind the passage in Shakespeare to this purpose :
“Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corse.” Armin's History of the Two Maids of Moreclacke, 4to. 1609, opens thus, preparatory to a wedding: “Enter a maid strewing flowers, and a serving-man perfuming the door. The maid says, 'Strew, strew,'—the man, "The muscadine stays for the bride at church.'” So in Brooke's Epithalamium in England's Helicon :
“Now busic maydens strew sweet flowres.” In Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1636, we read: “Enter Adriana and another, strawing hearbes. “Adr. Come, straw apace; Lord, shall I never live
To walke to church on flowers ? O'tis fine
A silly flower."
Supposition,” in which the custom of strewing herbs is thus alluded to:
“Suppose the way with fragrant herbs were strowing,
All things were ready, we to church were going;
And now suppose the priest had joyn'd our hands," &c. “'Tis worthy of remark that something like the ancient custom of strewing the threshold of a new-married couple with flowers and greens is, at this day, practised in Holland. Among the festoons and foliage, the laurel was always most conspicuous ; this denoted, no doubt, that the wedding-day is a day of triumph.”—Hymen, or an accurate Description of the Ceremonies used in Marriage in every Nation of the World, 1760, p. 39. The strewing herbs and flowers on this occasion, as mentioned in a note upon the old play of Ram Alley, to have been practised formerly, is still kept up in Kent and many other parts of England. Among the allusions of modern poetry to this practice may be mentioned Six Pastorals, by George Smith, Landscape Painter at Chichester in Sussex, 1770, where, p. 35, we read :
“What do I hear? The country bells proclaim
Forc'd from my love, untimely I decay." So also Rowe, in the Happy Village (Poems, 1796, i. 113), tells us :
“The wheaten ear was scatter'd near the porch,
The green bloom blossom'd strew'd the way to church.” The bell-ringing, &c., used on these occasions are thus introduced :
“Lo! where the hamlet's ivy'd gothic tow'r
Gave pleasing contrast to the modest white.”
of England “Posies,” Stephens has a remarkable passage in his character of a Plaine Country Bridegroom, p. 353. “He shews,” says he, “neere affinity betwixt marriage and hanging; and to that purpose he provides a great nosegay, and shakes hands with every one he meets, as if he were now preparing for a condemned man's voyage.” Nosegays occur in the poem of the Collier's Wedding :
“Now all prepared and ready stand,
With fans and posies in their hand." In Hacket's Marriage Present, a Wedding Sermon, the author introduces, among flowers used on this occasion, primroses, maidens'-blushes, and violets. Herrick, in his Hesperides, plays thus upon the names of flowers selected for this purpose, p. 131:
“ Strip her of spring-time, tender whimp'ring maids,
Of her delayes must end : dispose
Then strip her, or unto her
Let him come who dares undo her.” In Vox Graculi, 4to. 1623, “Lady Ver, or the Spring,” is called “the Nosegay-giver to weddings,” p. 19.
We may here notice that it was also usual to strew flowers in churches on days of humiliation and thanksgiving. In Nichols's Illustrations of the Manners and Expences of Ancient Times in England, 1797, among the parish accounts of St. Margaret, Westminster, under the year 1650, are the following items : “ Item, paid for herbs that were strewed in the windows of the church, and about the same, att two severall daies of humiliation, 3s. 10d. Item, paid for herbs that were strewed in the church upon a daie of thanksgiving, 23. 6d.” Under 1651: “ Item, paid for hearbs that were strewed in the church on the 24th day of May, being a day of humiliation, 38. Item, paid to the ringers for ringing on the 24th of October, being a day of thanksgiving for the victorie over the Scots at Worcester, 78. Item, paid for hearbes and lawrell that were strewed in the church the same day, 88."