« ZurückWeiter »
277 The parents chiefly tied jeweis and rings to the children they exposed, or any other thing whereby they might afterwards discover ihem, if Providence should preserve them, as well as to encourage such as found them to nourish and educate them if alive, or to give them human burial if dead. The places where it was usual to expose children were those most frequented, that they might be found, and taken up by compassionate persons, who were able to be at the expense of their education. Thus the Egyptians and Romaus chose the banks of rivers, and the Greeks the highways.
Customs OF THE ANCIENT ETHIOPIANS. These ancient Ethiopians, says Diodorus, were of a dry adust temperament; their nails in length resembled claws; they were ignorant of the arts which polish the mind; their language was hardly articulate, their voices were shrill and piercing. As they did not endeavour to render life commodious and agreeable, their manners and customs were very different from those of other nations. When they went to battle, some were armed with bucklers of ox's hide, and little javelins in their hands; others carried crooked darts ; others used the bow; and others fought with clubs. They took their wives with them to war, whom they obliged to enter upon military service at a certain age. The women wore rings of copper at their lips. Some of these people went without clothing. Sometimes they threw about them what they happened to find, to shelter them from the burning rays of the sun. Some lived upon a certain fruit, which grew spontaneously in marshy places; some ate the tenderest shoots of trees, which were defended by the large branches from the heat of the sun; and others sowed Indian corn and lotos. Some of them lived only on the roots of reeds. Many spent a great part of their time in shooting birds, and, as they were excellent archers, their bows supplied them with plenty; but the greater part of this people were sustained by the flesh of their flocks.
BIRTH-DAY. The ancients placed a good deal of religion in the celebration of their birth-days, and took omens from thence of the felicity of the coming year. The manner of celebrating birth-days was by a peculiar dress, wearing a sort of rings appropriated to that day, offering sacrifices, the men to their Genius, of wine and frankincense, the women to Juno, giving suppers, and treating their friends and clients, who in return made them presents, wrote and sung their panegyrics, and offered good wishes for the frequent happy returns of the same day. The birth-days of emperors were also celebrated with public sports, feasts, vows, and medals struck on the occasion.
But the ancients, it is to be observed, had other sorts of birth-days besides the day on which they were born. The day of their adoption was always reputed as a birth-day, and celebrated accordingly. The emperor Adrian, we are told, observed three birth-days, viz. the day of his nativity, of his adoption, and of his inauguration. In those times it was beld, that men were not born only on those days when they first came into the world, but on those also when tbey arrived at ihe chief honours and commands in the commonwealth ; e. gr. the consulate. Hence that of Cicero, in his oration at duirites, after his return from exile: “ A parentibus, id quod necesse erat, parvus sum procreatus; a vobis natus sum consularis."
ANCIENT CUSTOMS RESPECTING Brides. Among the ancient Greeks, it was customary for the bride to be conducted from her father's house to her husband's in a chariot, the evening being chosen for that purpose. She was placed in the middle, her husband sitting on one side, and one of her intimate friends on the other ; torches were carried before her, and she was entertained in the passage with a song suitable to the occasion. When they arrived at the end of their journey, the axle-tree of the coach they rode in was burnt, to signify that the bride was never to return to her father's house. Among the Romans, the bride was to seem to be taken by force from her mother, in memory of the rape of the Sabines under Romulus; she was to be carried home in the night to the bridegroom's house, accompanied by three boys, one of whom carried a torch, and the other two led ihe bride, a spindle and distaff being carried with her. She brought three pieces of money, called asses, in her hand to the bridegroom, whose doors on this occasion were adorned with flowers, and branches of trees; being here interrogated who she was, she was to answer, Caia, in memory of Caia Cecilia, wife of Tarquin the elder, who was an excellent spinstress; for the like reason, besides her entrance, she lived the door-posts with wool, and smeared them with grease. Fire and water being set on the threshold, she touched both; but starting back from the door, refused to enter, till at length she passed the threshold, bring careful to siep over without touching it; bere the keys were given her, a nuptial supper was prepared for her, and minstrels to divert her; she was seated on the figure of a Priapus, and here the attendant boys resigned her to the females, who brought her into the nuptial chamber, and put her to bed. This office was to be performed by matrons only, who had been married, to denote that the marriage was to be for perpetuity.
MARRIAGE CUSTOMS In Sicily. The Sicilians till lately retained a great many foolish and superstitious customs, but particularly in their marriage and fuveral ceremonies : it would be tedious to give but an account of all these; some of them are still practised in the wild and mountainous parts of the island. As soon as the marriage ceremony is performed, (110 of the attendants are ready to cram a spoonful of honey into the n:ouths of the bride and bridegroom; pronouncing it emblematical of their love and unioil, which they hope will ever continue as sweet to their souls as that honey is to their palates. They then begin to throw handfuls of wheat upon them, which is continued all the way to
MARRIAGE CUSTOMS IN SICILY.
279 the house of the bridegroom. This is probably the remains of some ancient rite to Ceres, their favourite divinity, and they think it cannot fail of procuring them a numerous progeny :- however, the Sicilian women bave no occasion for any charni to promote this, as, in general, they are abundantly prolific even without it.
Fazello gives an account of women having frequently upwards of forty children ; and Carera mentions one who had forty-seven.
The young couple are not allowed to taste of the marriage feast ; this, they pretend, is to teach them patience and temperance; but when dinner is finished, a great bone is presented to the bridegroom by the bride's father, or one of her nearest relations, who pronounces these words, “ Rodi tu quest osso, &c.
this bone, for vou have now taken in hand to pick one, which you will find much hariler and of more difficult digestion.” Perhaps this may have given rise to the common saying, when one has undertaken any thing arduous or difficult, that " He has got a bone to pick.”
The Sicilians like most other nations in Europe, carefully avoid marrying in the month of May, and look upon such marriages as extremely inauspicious. This piece of superstition is as old, perhaps older, than the time of the Romans, by whose authors it is frequently mentioned, and by whom it has becu transmitted to almost every Daiion in Europe. It is somewhat unaccountable that so ridiculus an idea, which can have no foundation in nature, should have stood its ground for so many ages. There are indeed other customs still more trivial, that are not less universal : that of making April fools on the first day of that month; the ceremony of the cake on Twelfihnight; and some others that will occur to the reader, of which, no than this, have we ever been able to learn the origin.
The marriages of the Sicilian nobility are celebrated with great magnificence; and the number of elegant carriages produced on these occasions is astonishing. I wanted to discover when this great luxury in carriages had taken rise ; and have found an account of the marriage of the daughter of one of their viceroys to the Duke of Bi. voua, in the year 1551. It is described by one Clenco, who was a spectator of the ceremony. He says, the ladies as well as the gentlemen were all mounted on fine horses, sumptuously caparisoned, and preceded by pages; that there were only three carriages in the city, which were used by invalids who were not able to ride on horseback. These he calls carette, which now signifies a litile cart.
The Sicilian ladies marry very young, and frequently live to see the fifth or sixth generation. You will expect, no doubt, that I should say something of their beauty :- In general, they are sprightly and agreeable; and in niost parts of Italy they would be esteemed hand
A Neapolitan or a Romau would surely pronounce them so : but a Piedmontese would declare them very ordinary ; so indeed, would most Englishmen. Nothing is so vagne as our ideas of female beauty; they change in every climate, and the criterion is no where to be found.
Ask where's the North ?-at York, 'tis on the Tweed,
Divinations at Weddings.-Divinations at marriages were practised in times of the remotest antiquity. Vallancy tells us, that in the memoirs, of the Etruscan academy of Cortona is the drawing of a picture found in Herculaneum, representing a marriage. In the front is a sorceress casting the five stones.—The writer of the memoir justly thinks she is divining. The figure exactly correspouds with the first and principal vast of Irish purin : all five are cast up, and the first cast is on the back of the hand.--He has copied the drawing : on the back of the hand stands one, and the remaining four on the ground. Opposite the sorceress is the matron, attentive to the success of the cast. No marriage ceremony was performed without consulting the druidess and her purin :
Auspices solebant nuptis interesse." ; In the St. James's Chronicle, from April 16th to April 18th, 1799, are the following lines on the bride-cake.
“Enlivening source of hymeneal myrth,
u: 3 11. Irreyocable doom of Bridal Cake."
Skarfs, Points, and Bride-laces at Weddings. Skarfs, now confined to funerals, were anciently given at mar. riages, as noticed in Ben Jonson's Silent Woman. In the same author's Tale of a Tub, Turf is introduced as saying on this occasion, We shall all ha' bride-laces or points, lizee."
TRIA Among the lots presented to Queen Elizabeth in Davison's Rhapsody, the two following occur, in a list of Prizes for Ladies :
281 *9. A Dozen of Points.
“You are in every point a Lover true,
And therefore Fortune gives the Points to you."
So Love must aske you leave before he shoote.” Herrie, in bis Hesperides, in the Epithalamie on Sir Clipseby Crew and his Lady, thus cautions the bridegroom's meo against offending the delicacy of the new-married lady:
.“ We charge ye that no strife
Among ye, striving for her Lace." At the marriage ceremony of John Newchombe, the wealthy elothier of Newbury, cited by Strutt, bis bride was led to church between two sweet boys, with bride laces and rosemary tied about their silken leaves.
Bride Knives.-Strange as it may appear, it is however certain that knives were formerly part of the accoutrements of a bride. This perhaps will not be difficult to account for, if we consider that it, anciently formed part of the dress for women to wear a knife or knives sheathed and suspended from their girdles: a finer or more ornamented pair of which would very naturally be either purchased or presented on the occasion of a marriage. In that most rare play, the Witch of Edmonton, Somerton says, " But see the bridegroom and bride comes : the new pair of Sheffield knives fitted to one sheath."-In Well-met, Gossip;' or, 'Tis Merry when Gossips meet,' the Widow says, –
“For this you know, that all the wooing season,
Suitors with gifts continual seek to gaia
Their mistress' love, &c."
“That's very true
And many a thousand dainty, pretty things." Thus to another part of the dress, in the old play of the Witch of Edmonton, old Carter tells his daughter and her sweetheart, “ Your marriage money shall be received before your wedding shoes can be pulled on. Blessing on you both."
We find the following passage in " a Treatise wherein Dicing, Dauncing, Vaine Plays, or Enterluds, with other idle Pastimes, &c. commonly used on the Sabbath-day, are proved by the authoritie of the Word of God, and antient writers, by John Northbrook, minister and preacher of the word of God. In olde time (we reade) that there was usually carried before the Mayde, when she shoulde be married, and came to dwell in hir husbande's house, a distaffe,