COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE
170. JOINING hands over a running streamlet was a favourite mode of Plighting Troths in former times. There is a pretty meaning in this. A modern poet has well expressed the sentiment in these words:
171. One of the most popular love-tokens of a bygone day was the Gimmal Ring, a name derived from the Latin gemellus, joined, because the ring was composed of two separate bands fitting into each other with little teeth; thus allowing them to be divided at a betrothal, and put together again when the betrothed parties approached the hymeneal altar. Such a ring was devised to take the place of the Broken Coin, which among the Franks was the usual token of the conclusion of a bargain. When lovers plighted their troths in this way, the separated halves were always invested with mystic qualities in virtue of the vows of constancy exchanged over them. Sometimes the coin remained proof against breakage, and was merely bent; in which case a hole was bored through it, and one or the other of the parties wore it round the neck on a piece of ribbon, as a sort of talisman capable of warding off disease and evil spirits. In this we trace the origin of the popular idea that a coin with a hole in it is lucky. Many allusions to "Bowed Money" occur in the works of the old dramatists.
172. It would seem that a Lock of Hair naturally suggested itself to the minds of men and women as a lovetoken. But this was not the original meaning of the interchange of such a cherished treasure. In ancient times, whenever a person of distinction was taken prisoner in war, or held to ransom while on his travels, his relations were usually apprised of his captivity by the receipt of a lock of of his hair.
173. When lovers Sit at the Feet of their Mistresses they pay the same homage to beauty as was anciently paid to great people of both sexes. In Elizabeth's time this homage was considered the rightful heritage of all ladies who were being wooed; and to keep their lovers employed they gave them their wool to wind. Happy ladies!
174. The Nuptial Kiss at the Altar is all that remains to us of an ancient ceremony which always preceded the actual Marriage Service by a longer or shorter period, according to circumstances. This was the Espousals, or Solemn Betrothal. Generally speaking, the gift of a betrothal ring by the bridegroom-elect to the bride-elect was considered sufficiently binding; but in an age when it was the custom to invite the blessing of the Church upon all the more serious transactions of life, public espousals were, taking the population all round, matters of everyday occurrence. Besides, it often happened that a love-sick swain was not sufficiently endowed with this world's goods to give his future wife anything more substantial than an espousal kiss. When this was the case, he naturally wished all his acquaintance to bear witness to the fact that the young lady was solemnly engaged to him, and that he meant to carry out his intention of marrying her at the earliest opportunity. It was this espousal kiss, before witnesses, which marked the difference between a sentimental compact, and one of a purely mundane character. The mere joining of hands following words of promise sufficed to ratify all ordinary bargains; but when the contractors joined lips as well as hands, they breathed into each other the breath of life, and their spiritual union was complete. Yet the kiss and joining of hands was only part of the espousal ceremony. Like the modern Jews, the betrothed pair went through a ceremonial which differed only from the actual Marriage Service in that their mutual promises therein were expressed in the future tense instead of in the present. In conclusion, they pledged each other in a cup of wine, as do the Jews and the Russians at the present day. This pledging each other in wine, it should be observed, is nothing more than a survival of the once universal custom of parties drinking together in ratification of a bargain.
175. Marriage by Capture was the universal practice in the early eras of civilization, as it still is among primitive races. Says Oldfield, speaking of the Maoris, "In Australia the men are in excess of the other sex, and consequently many men of every tribe are unprovided with the especial thing necessary to their comfortable existence--a wife, who is also a slave in the strictest sense of the word, being a beast of burden, a provider of food, and a ready object on which to vent those passions that the men dare not vent on each other. Hence, for those coveting such a luxury, arises the necessity of stealing the women of some other tribe; and in their expeditions to effect so laudable a design they will frequently undergo privations equal to those they incurred when in search of blood revenge." The disparity of numbers between the sexes here alluded to admits of a ready explanation; nor is it confined to savage nations. The cruel exposure of female infants by the Chinese--a practice so justly reprobated by Christians--is but a form of the precautionary measures taken by all barbarian nations to prevent one portion of the population from becoming a burden upon the other. In a fighting community, the girl neither hunts nor engages in warfare; she does nothing but eat. Moreover, while unable to protect herself, she is at any time liable to be carried off by some neighbouring tribe, thus occasioning a constant watchfulness on the part of those to whom she belongs. Among the Arabs and Turks there is joy in the household on the birth of a son and heir, but the mother of a succession of daughters is generally despised, and often divorced. This much is certain: in a state of society but a trifle advanced from that of absolute barbarism, daughters are looked upon by their parents only as objects to be bartered for by their intending husbands as soon as they attain a marriageable age. Directly the pursuits of agriculture stimulated man to acquire, if only for the purpose of lightening his labour, such property as was represented by cattle, the original system of marriage was changed into what is called Marriage by Purchase. In many parts of the world wives are at the present day bartered for so many head of cattle. The presents which the young Indian of North America is expected to lay before his future squaw are only another form of purchase-money for her person. Among the Brahmins of India, up to the very moment when the father of the bride leads her to the bridegroom, saying, "I have no longer anything to do with you, and I give you up into the power of another," the latter is liable to be ousted from his position should any rival appear on the scene to offer a richer present to the father than his own. And amongst ourselves the presence of the bride's father at the marriage ceremony makes him a party to a transaction which in feudal times must have been thoroughly commercial in character. A few generations back the father did not put in an appearance until the ring had been placed on the bride's finger. This, to all intents and purposes, was to show that his consent had been wrung from him; that he countenanced the ceremony only to the same degree as a father would do whose daughter had been carried off by force. While the bride was attended to church by her maids and pages the father invariably loitered by the way.
176. Wedding Presents are a survival of feudal times, when tenants were bound to "render aid" at the knighting of their lord's eldest son, and at the marriage of his eldest daughter. When feudalism declined, the usual tribute on such occasions was commuted into a present, at the discretion of, and in accordance with the means of the individual, as a happy augury. Poor folk, who could afford nothing better, generally sent the bride the symbolical coronals mentioned in paragraph 188. During the reign of Elizabeth the most usual wedding present among the middle classes of society was "a pair of knives," i.e., scissors, whose purpose is thus defined in Davison's "Poetical Rhapsody:"
This explains why the gift of a penknife or a pair of scissors is regarded as an ill omen, because it cuts love in twain.
177. The origin of the Wedding Ring must be sought among the ancient Egyptians, who regarded the bracelet as the symbol of marriage, because, being round, it was endless. Egyptian wives wore no other ornaments than a pair of bracelets. Among the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and other nations of antiquity, the bracelet had the like signification. The Jewish women, we read, were so fond of these ornaments that they wore them on their ankles as well as on their arms. Hence the allusion in Isaiahto "the jingling ornaments on the feet of the haughty daughters of Jerusalem." To this day married women in the East are addicted to wearing bracelets so massive as to greatly oppress the wearer. This, like the long finger-nails of the Chinese, is looked upon as indicative of high birth, inasmuch as they are thereby rendered incapable of personal exertion. On the overthrow of the Persian empire by the Greeks, they, being a highly imaginative people, and observing that most of the leaders of the vanquished host wore bracelets on their wrists as ornaments of distinction, invested their brides-elect with a miniature bracelet, to be worn on the medicated finger (see 178); and themselves bestowed bracelets upon their heroes and generals as rewards of valour. By this means the original symbolism of the bracelet was in part destroyed; but a deeper significance attached itself to the plain gold band upon the finger, which was supposed to have a direct communication with the heart. The Romans, who copied nearly everything from the Greeks, also rewarded their military heroes with bracelets as badges of honour. Like the Greeks, too, they bestowed a plain gold ring upon their brides-elect, in strict accordance with a time-honoured custom amongst themselves of delivering a ring as an earnest upon the conclusion of a bargain. In the course of the marriage ceremony, however, the betrothal ring was exchanged for the bridegroom's signet, the emblem of investiture and authority (see 28), to show that the newlymade wife was fully admitted into her husband's confidence, that he endowed her with equal rights with himself over his property. Though at first the marriage ring was a signet, it eventually gave place to a plain one of iron, called a ronubum, symbolical of the lasting character of the contract. It was not until after they had seen the wedding ring come into general use among the Roman conquerors of the East that the Jews adopted it in their own marriage rite. Wedding rings did not obtain in the Christian Marriage Service until the ninth century. The Anglo-Saxons established the custom of wearing plain gold rings, and these have been worn by married women ever since. There is no rubric on the subject; a ring is all the Church stipulates for. Consequently, we sometimes hear of a bride being married with the ring of the church-door key, in the absence of the more desirable article.
178. The custom of wearing the Wedding Ring on the fourth Finger of the Left Hand had unquestionably a pagan origin. Both the Greeks and the Romans called the fourth left-hand finger the Medicated Finger, and used it to stir up mixtures and potions, out of the belief that it contained a vein which communicated directly with the heart, and therefore nothing noxious could come in contact with it without giving instant warning to that vital organ. When the ring supplanted the bracelet as the symbol of matrimony (see 177), the deep sentimentality of the Greeks dictated that it should be worn on the medicated finger. The fallacy of the connection between that finger and the heart was in more modern times completely exploded, but after such long usage the so-called medicated finger still continued to be the annular. Some attempts were indeed made to improve matters by shifting the ring on to the corresponding finger of the right hand, as was, and is, the custom of bishops and cardinals (see 28); yet it was not long before the improvers reverted to the old order. To commence with, the left hand was found to be more suitable, because less used, as the depository of such ornaments than the right. With regard to the finger, our forefathers knew very well that the fourth finger was used much more sparingly than any of the others, so a ring placed on that finger would be little liable to be bruised or damaged; for whereas the other fingers can be put out singly to their full length, the fourth, or ring fihger, cannot be extended in this way except in company with the rest.
179. If any evidence were needed to lend weight to the generally-concurred opinion that The Best Man was originally one of the belligerents who assisted the bridegroom to carry off the bride by force (see 175), it would be found in the fact that in Sweden formerly marriages always took place under cover of night. This custom obtained from a very early period of Scandinavian history, for no warrior considered it dignified to woo a woman himself. He waited until she had been successfully wooed by another, then, when the marriage was about to take place, he sallied forth with his companions with the object of wresting the bride from the bridegroom. Knowing this, the latter took such measures as were calculated to frustrate the designs of the rival that threatened. Behind the high altar of the ancient church at Husaby, in Gothland, a collection of long lances, with sockets for torches, are preserved. They were formerly served out to the groomsmen as weapons of defence, as well as for illumination, when marriages were being solemnized by night. All these groomsmen were styled "Best Men," because they were the strongest and bravest obtainable for the purpose. The assailant also had his "Best Men," as valiant as himself. At the present time we have but one "Best Man," who is the particular friend of the bridegroom; the remainder of the male witnesses to the ceremony are simply "guests."
180. The Bridesmaids and Groomsmen had formerly many important duties to perform. For some time previous to the great event, the first bridesmaid placed her- self at the disposal of the bride-elect. She attended her in all her shopping excursions, gave advice as to the choice of colours and materials, applied herself most diligently to all the necessary needlework, and with hand and brain lent assistance in every possible way. The making of the bridal wreath devolved upon her alone. To console the bride on the wedding eve, to superintend, if not to prepare with her own hands, the decoration of the festal banquet, to dress the bride, with the assistance of the other bridesmaids, on the eventful morning, and to hold her fan and scent-bottle for her in church--these were her especial duties. Then, when the day was spent, she and the others undressed and put the bride to bed. Corresponding services were rendered to the bridegroom by the groomsmen. The "Best Man" was always charged with the sole management of affairs, even to the paying of the customary fees. During the days of feudal England the "Best Man" was supposed to be prepared to shed his blood, if need be, for his friend the bridegroom (see 179).
181. It is still the custom in many parts of the country for the officiating Clergyman to Kiss the Bride. This is a relic of the benedictional pax, which in Catholic days always brought the marriage ceremony to a happy ending. After all the parties had regaled themselves with the light refreshment provided (see 187), the priest gave the pax, or kiss of peace, to the bridegroom, who communicated it to the bride, at the same time as an ecclesiastical assistant conveyed another holy kiss from the lips of the priest to the groomsmen, bridesmaids, and other persons present, kissing each of them in succession. The same ceremony, in a slightly altered form, takes place immediately after the Communion in the Catholic churches at solemn High Mass. Its origin is traced to St. James the Greater, who, when one of the soldiers deputed to bind and drag him along to the place of execution, was so touched by his gentleness that he supplicated to be allowed to die in his company, kissed him and said, "Pax vobis!"
182. The object of Publication of Banns is, and has been from the first, to prevent marriages within the forbidden degrees of kindred; but it was not until midway in the thirteenth century that such announcements became canonically established. Long before, it had been the custom for all "good knights and true," who elected to take part in the tournaments, to hang up their shields in the nearest church for some time prior to the event, so that, in the event of any taint being discovered, they might be prohibited from entering the lists. There is good reason, therefore, to believe, that it was from this knightly custom that the publication of the banns of marriage on three consecutive Sundays in the parish church took its rise.
183. Orange Blossoms were first worn at weddings by the Saracens, who regarded these flowers as the emblems of fecundity. Like many another Oriental custom, it was introduced into Western Europe by the Crusaders.
184. The Bride's Wreath is a Christian substitute for the gilt coronet which was the especial adornment of a Jewish bride. The Jews have always regarded the promotion of marriage as a meritorious act, and by crowning a bride they paid her the highest possible honour. The Russians and the Calvinists of Holland and Switzerland still adhere to the ancient practice of crowning a bride during the nuptial ceremony.
185. The Bride's Veil has been derived from the flammeum, or large yellow veil which completely enveloped the Greek and Roman brides during the celebration of the marriage rite. Such a one is still in use among the Jews and the Persians. In those parts of the world where marriage by capture still prevails a sheet, or other voluminous drapery, is thrown over the bride so that she may be the more readily borne away by her captors.
186. A great deal of speculation has been rife concerning the celebration in bygone days of The Marriage Rite in the Church Porch. But the truth is, that the porch was never regarded as an integral portion of the sacred edifice. Even the nave was, down to a comparatively modern period, utilized for secular purposes. We all know how Old St. Paul's was converted into a fashionable promenade, and worse, for tradesmen's stalls and carpenters' shops were actually set up in close proximity to the choir. Elsewhere there was more reasonable excuse for such an apparent desecration of a house dedicated to the service of God; because, in those days when parochial affairs were necessarily discussed in the vestry--hence the modern designation "vestry hall "--the public had no sheltered place of common resort except the church itself. In the nave of the church it was that the earliest plays were represented; in the same place the people assembled for social diversion on great occasions; there, too, it was, when the distance to the bride or bridegroom's house was great, and the roads to be travelled over were bad, that the marriage feast was not unfrequently spread. In many respects, therefore, the parish church fulfilled a two-fold purpose. It was at once a place of public worship and a place of public meeting. When all England was Catholic the lamp perpetually burning in front of the altar proclaimed that it was there, in the tabernacle, where God particularly dwelt. Though the same roof extended over all, the nave was apportioned to the people, not merely on Sundays, but on all high holidays; and if this was true of the nave it was still more so of the porch. In no sense was it considered a portion of the church itself. All day long its doors stood invitingly open for gossips to assemble, children to play in wet weather, and tired wayfarers to find a shady retreat from the sweltering sun. In the larger centres of civilization commercial matters were freely discussed in the church porch, and money passed from hand to hand-it was in fact a primitive Royal Exchange. Infants were christened in the porch before, literally and metaphorically, they were admitted into the church; women, too, were "churched" there after childbirth. In this connection it may be stated that part of the ceremonial incidental to both christenings and churchings still takes place outside a Roman Catholic church proper. In the porch, again, the funeral service was read over the dead, and marriages were solemnized. Does not the poet Chaucer tell us how the wife of Bath was married to her five husbands in the church porch? The sole reason why the marriage rite was performed virtually outside the walls of the church, was because the clergy looked upon marriage as, first and foremost, in the light of a civil contract. Not for 1,500 years after the introduction of Christianity did the Church decree matrimony to be a Sacrament, although its benediction had always been invoked by way of ratifying the contract which owed its origin to the law of the land. When, therefore, marriage became a spiritual as well as a civil institution the actual rite was still performed in the porch as of old, and the solemn blessing of the spirituality took place at the altar rails in the church itself.
187. In these days the term Wedding Breakfast is a misnomer, for no one would think of going through such a trying ordeal breakfastless. In pre-Reformation times, however, the bride and bridegroom, before leaving the church, were expected to hear Mass and receive the Holy Communion. The attendance of the witnesses was naturally enjoined also, but in their case the Communion was optional. At the conclusion of the Mass the officiating priest solemnly blessed some wine, cakes, and sweetmeats, which were then handed round to the company. This slight repast was, in every sense of the word, a breakfast, since in the Roman Catholic Church none can receive the Holy Communion who have not fasted from the previous midnight.
188. The Wedding Cake is the modern development of an ancient practice which had its origin in the Roman form of marriage called Confarreatio, or eating together. When the Roman bride gave her right hand to the bridegroom, she held in her left three wheat ears, symbolical of plenty; and at the conclusion of the ceremony all the contracting parties sat down together to partake of a cake made of flour, salt, and water (see 101). In the reign of the Emperor Tiberius this Confarreatio was suffered to fall into general disuse, though the wheat ears continued to play their original part in the marriage ceremonial as a happy augury of future plenty. All through the Middle Ages, and long afterwards, the symbolical wheat ears were never wanting in one form or another; i.e., either carried by the bride or worn as a chaplet on her head. Eventually it became a custom with the marriageable girls of the neighbourhood to assemble outside the church porch with full measures of wheat, the contents of which they threw over the head and shoulders of the bride as soon as she reappeared after all was over. This idea was doubtless derived from their Jewish neighbours who, while the bridegroom walked three times round the bride, threw handfuls of wheat over them, exclaiming, "Increase and multiply!" as their descendants still do to-day. Then ensued a scramble among the witnesses for the grains as they lay scattered on the ground; in compliment to the bride it was considered the proper thing to eat them on the spot. At last, however, there came a time when people lost their appetite for uncooked kernels, and the natural outcome of man's ingenuity was a kind of biscuit. Easy enough it would have been to distribute portions of the wedding biscuit; but popular sentiment demanded that it should be broken over the bride's head, and scrambled for in the good old-fashioned way. In the Scottish Highlands at the present day an oatmeal cake is broken over the bride's head by the best man and first bridesmaid as she enters the house on her return from church, and distributed to the company. By the time of Elizabeth these thin dry biscuits began to take the form of small rectangular cakes or buns, made of eggs, milk, sugar, currants, and spices. The number of such articles always brought together at a wedding was very considerable; for not only did every guest make his appearance with a packet, but all the neighbours were expected to send in their contributions before the bride returned home from church. The instant she crossed the threshold, those members of the household who had remained at home to prepare the feast, energetically threw the whole collection over her head. Those which by any chance alighted upon her head and shoulders were prized most of all; they were eaten at once by the married, but by the single they were religiously preserved in order to be placed under their pillows at night, so as to make them dream of their future partners for life. The remainder were divided into two equal portions; the one distributed to the poor who had followed the party home from church, the other placed in a huge pile in front of the happy couple on the festive board. Towards the conclusion of the repast the newly-made husband and wife exchanged a kiss over the dish of cakes, and then proceeded to distribute them. The next step in the direction of the modern wedding cake was the coating of the little square cakes with almond paste or comfits. After this, it needed little to convert the pile into a single mass, covered with hardened white sugar and ornamented with tiny cupids and other devices suggestive of matrimonial bliss. This occurred during the Restoration period, when the art of preserving fruits was first cultivated, and, thanks to the ingenuity of the pastrycooks, dainties found their way into English households such as had never before been heard of. It only remains to be added that the cake continued to be broken over the bride's head, or rather tossed and suffered to break on the ground, long after its introduction in the modern form; but, in order that its appearance on the table might not be spoiled, good housewives generally provided two cakes-one for the table, the other for breaking and distribution. Nowadays the cake cut by the bride is considered all-sufficient.
189. Instances have not been wanting in this country in which a bride has gone through the marriage ceremony, attended by the usual witnesses, in her shift. This was known as a Marriage in Chemise. It was done with the object of absolving her husband from such debts as she had contracted before marriage. According to the strict letter of the law a man is not responsible for his wife's past debts, unless he has received property with her. Needless to state, this disrobing of the bride before the ceremony was a subterfuge both unnecessary and invalid from a legal standpoint.
190. In one part of the world only is The Nuptial Knot literally as well as figuratively tied. This is in India, at the marriage of a Brahmin. No sooner has the father, in words as plainly as can be, Given the Bride Away (see 175), than the bridegroom places the Tali, or insignia of marriage, consisting of a piece of ribbon with a gold bead suspended upon it, round her neck, and ties the knot. It is this knot which actually secures her to him, and makes the marriage indissoluble, for the Brahmins do not recognize divorce.
191. The Breaking of the Wine-cup, after the bride and bridegroom have drained its contents, is common to both the Jews and the members of the Greek Church, with this difference, that among the former it is dashed against the wall or on the ground, whereas among the latter it is trodden under foot. There is also this difference of signification. The Russian bridegroom exclaims: "May they thus fall under our feet, and be trodden to pieces, who shall endeavour to sow dissension or discontent between us!" The Jew, on the other hand, shatters the vessel in memory of the destruction of the Temple. In some places ashes are put on his head for the like reason, and with the bride he wears a black cap, the ancient sign of mourning (see 203).
192. As Marriage is a Serious Business, some indication that the parties most immediately concerned are fully alive to this fact would be generally welcome. At every Roman wedding the bridegroom, on emerging from the temple with the bride, threw a handful of nuts among the bystanders. This was to show that he considered himself a boy no longer; that the sports and fancies of youth were now entirely abandoned; that he was standing on the threshold of a new existence, ready to assume all the responsibilities of a citizen. An analogous custom prevails at the present time in Java and in Japan, where a bride casts all her childish toys and trinkets into the fire, to evince her determination of becoming a woman. The object of the presents which the company then make her is to replace the treasures she has thus sacrificed.
193. The Scottish custom of Lifting the Bride over the Doorstep is a relic of barbarism. Most savage tribes carry their wives to their tents. Bruce, the traveller, found the same custom in Abyssinia as in Mexico: "The bridegroom takes his lady on his shoulders and carries her off to his house." The Canadian Indians always carry their wives on their bent backs to the tent prepared for their reception. In China the bride is carried into the house by a matron, and lifted over a pan of charcoal at the door. Whenever a bride is borne off by force, enveloped in a sheet, on horseback, in accordance with the primitive custom of marriage by capture, she is naturally carried into the house by the bridegroom (see 185).
194. Ill-Assorted Marriages were formerly resented in a very peculiar manner. Whenever such a ceremony was known to be taking place, the neighbours collected all the old tin pots, pans, and kettles they could find, and at times even invaded the church porch with their noisy manifestations of disapproval. All day long and far into the night some of them would be picketed outside the house of the far from happy couple, their inharmonious serenade being at length terminated by the heaping up of all the utensils in the doorway.
195. The meaning of Rice Throwing at Weddings, as an auspicious "send-off" to the happy couple, is not far to seek. Inasmuch as rice is the most prolific of grains, it has always and everywhere been regarded as emblematical of God's command to Adam and Eve, and after the Deluge to Noah, to "increase and multiply, and replenish the earth." Among the Brahmins of India this rice throwing forms part of the marriage ceremony. Instead of rice, the Jews throw wheat, and the Russians oats or barley, upon the heads of the bridal couple, saying, "Increase and multiply" (see 188).
196. Of all the lingering customs of a bygone age that of Throwing the Shoe after a newly-married couple just off on their honeymoon will probably die the hardest. This is a relic of the Jewish mode of completing a transfer of land in ancient times, as illustrated in Ruth iv. 7. Here we find the shoe constituting a recognized symbol of possession. There is yet another virtue in an old shoe. As the shoes are always taken off indoors throughout the East, they serve as a ready means of inflicting correction on a child that disobeys its parents. When it is recollected that not only in the East, but in mediaeval England, grown-up daughters were subject to be whipped up to the time of their marriage day, one can readily understand how the shoe came to be regarded also as a symbol of parental authority. In those Eastern countries where the Jews still abound the shoe plays no insignificant part in the marriage ceremonial. Directly the bride makes her appearance, her father presents a shoe to the bridegroom as a token that he yields his authority over her into the hands of her husband; who, thereupon, gently taps his newly-made wife on the nape of the neck to impress upon her that she must in future obey him. The self-same observance obtained among the Anglo-Saxons, with this addition, that the bridegroom caused the shoe to be placed on the pillow on his side of the bridal bed. If, as sometimes happened, the bride was inclined to be at all strong-minded, a practical joker generally transferred the shoe to that lady's pillow, as a warning to the bridegroom of what he was to expect. Of course, the original significance of a custom which has travelled all the way from the East is subject to considerable modifications among different peoples in process of time, if, indeed, it is not wholly lost. The Highlanders, for example, always try to strike either the bride or the bridegroom with an old shoe for luck-a practice formerly in vogue throughout our own country, as the works of the old dramatists amply testify. In some parts of England, too, the flinging of the shoe is said to be a mode of chastising the bridegroom for taking away the bride; in other words, a survival of the barbaric custom of claiming a wife by capture; while elsewhere the shoe is intended merely as a reminder that the bride has left the house for good. Needless to state, all these customs have their common origin in the shoe anciently received by the bridegroom with the bride. In the New England States of North America, where many old English customs yet survive, the popular expression, "to live under the shoe," is tantamount to living under the ferule.
197. For the duration of the bridal tour, styled the Honeymoon, we are indebted to the Scandinavian races, who drank hydromel, or diluted honey, for thirty days after a wedding.
198. What is styled a 'Wife's Pin Money was originally devoted to the purchase of pins and nothing else. That was, of course, at a time when pins were neither plentiful nor cheap. Indeed, they did not resemble our modern pins at all. The pins of our great-grandmothers were, in fact, skewers, made of ivory, bone, steel, tortoiseshell, or silvers according to the quality of the purchaser.
199. The Dunmow Flitch of Bacon Custom really originated in a joke on the part of the monks of Dunmow Priory, in Essex, in the year 1244. These good easy men, who must have had plenty of time on their hands to enable them to reflect upon such things, could not conceive the possibility of a newly-married couple preserving their connubial bliss for any length of time; so, as a practical test, they offered a reward of a fitch of bacon to the man and wife of twelve months' standing who should come forward and maintain upon oath under cross-examination, while kneeling on sharp-pointed stones, that they had never hada quarrel, had never wished themselves single again, and if at liberty to make another choice, that they would make exactly the one they had made. It speaks very little for the perfect harmony which is supposed to dominate married life-at least by those young persons who have it in contemplation -when it is stated that exactly two hundred years elapsed before the fitch of bacon was even laid claim to! When, in common with all other religious establishments, Dunmow Priory was dissolved by the so-called Defender of the Faith, the land fell into the hands of a secular proprietor who either had the good sense to continue the old custom on his own account, or else he felt himself under some sort of solemn covenant to do so. At all events, the bacon was saved, and people had the same encouragement to strive to lead happy wedded lives as of yore. Thanks to the efforts of that distinguished novelist, William Harrison Ainsworth, the Dunmow Flitch of Bacon Custom has frequently been revived within the last half century.