Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/225

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213
SURVIVALS FROM MARRIAGE BY CAPTURE.

the bride and her friends at the place of meeting. Being come near each other, the custom was of old to cast short darts at the company that attended the bride, but at such a distance that seldom any hurt ensued. Yet it is not out of the memory of man that the Lord of Hoath on such an occasion lost an eye. The custom of casting darts is now obsolete."[1] Among the Highlanders of Scotland it was the custom for the parties of the bride and bridegroom to go in procession to a point of meeting midway between their dwellings, and, when they came near each other, to fire volleys at one another from pistols and muskets.

The next disintegration seems to be found in those cases in which all show of resistance to the party of the bridegroom is limited to closing the house against it. Several varieties of this form occur among the southern Slavs. In Croatia, the bride and her friends being assembled, all the doors of the house are closed to prevent a surprise by the bridegroom's party. The assembled guests are on the alert, and, as soon as they hear the party approaching, all the lights are put out and all keep silence. The visitors knock repeatedly without getting any answer, but at length they advance various pretexts to get admission, and at last, after a long parley, are admitted. In Dalmatia and Bulgaria the door is similarly closed against the bridegroom's party, and admission only obtained on payment. In Transylvania the doors are closed, and the bridegroom must, as best he can, climb over into the court, open the door from within, and admit his companions.

We now come to those forms in which no resistance, either real or feigned, is offered by the party of the bride, who merely simulate grief or terror, and it is the party of the bridegroom alone which makes a show of violence. This was the form observed by the Romans in plebeian marriages, and a full description of it is given in the Golden Ass of Apuleius, in the story of the Captive Damsel, where the bride, describing how she was carried off, says that a band of men, armed with swords, rushed in, and, without meeting with any resistance from the inmates, tore her from her mother. The Circassians have the same ceremony, it being the custom to give a feast, in the midst of which the bridegroom rushes in and, with the help of some companions, carries off the bride by force. This form, in a very disintegrated condition, is found in the isle of Skye and the west Highlands of Scotland, in the ceremony known as "stealing the bride." It occurs in the middle of a reel. The groomsman and bridesmaid slip into the place in the dance of the bridegroom and bride, while the bridegroom suddenly jerks the bride out of the room.

  1. Description of Westmeath.