Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/85

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
75
ABOUT THE WEDDING-RING.

rings. That the practice of wearing thumb-rings extended to the case of married ladies and their wedding-rings, is amply attested, not only by allusions in contemporary literature, but by the portraits of matrons of that age, a great many, where the hands are shown, displaying the wedding-ring on the left thumb. In the time of Charles II, the ring seems to have found lodgment on the forefinger, sometimes on the middle finger, occasionally on the third finger also, and, by the time George I came to the throne, the third finger was recognized as the proper place for it, not universally, however, for William Jones in his treatise on rings, declares that even then the thumb was the favorite place for the wedding-ring, and gives instances of the ring being made of large size, and, although placed on the third finger at the ceremony, immediately afterward removed to the thumb.

An English work on etiquette, published in 1732, says it is for the bride to choose on which finger the wedding-ring shall be placed. It further states that some prefer the thumb, since it is the strongest and most important member of the hand; others, the index-finger, because at its base lies the mount of Jupiter, indicating the noble aspirations; others, the middle finger, because it is the longest of the four; and others, again, the fourth finger, because a "vein proceeds from it to the heart."

The "British Apollo," however, decides the proper place of the ring to be the fourth finger, not because it is nearer the heart than the others, but because on it the ring is less liable to injury. The same authority prefers the left hand to the right. The right hand is the emblem of authority, the left of submission, and the position of the ring on the left hand of the bride indicates her subjection to her husband. A curious exception to the rule placing the ring on the left hand is, however, seen in the usage of the Greek Church, which puts the rings on the right hand.

As the symbol of matrimony, it is not strange that many of the superstitious fancies which have arisen in connection with the wedding should cluster about the ring. Dreaming on a bit of wedding-cake is common among American young ladies; but they should be informed that, for the dreaming to be properly done, the piece of cake thus brought into service should be passed through the wedding-ring, for so it is done in Yorkshire, Wales, and Brittany, in which localities the custom has been observed from time immemorial. The Russian peasantry not only invest the cake with wonderful qualities by touching it with the two rings used in the ceremony, but deem that water in which the rings have been dipped has certain curious beneficial properties.

In many country districts of Great Britain it is believed that a marriage is not binding on either party unless a ring is used; hence, curtain-rings, the church-key, and other substitutes, including a ring cut from a finger of the bride's glove, have been mentioned as devices