the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, it is to be inferred that the betrothal was still of frequent occurrence. There is no reason, however, to believe that the limit of forty days as the period intervening between betrothal and marriage was regarded as binding.
Such a ceremony is circumstantially recorded in Twelfth Night (iv. 3). Olivia says to Sebastian:
"Now go with me and this holy man
Into the chantry by: there before him,
And underneath that consecrated roof,
Plight me the full assurance of your faith;
That my most jealous and too doubtful soul
May live at peace. He shall conceal it
Whiles you are willing it should come to note;
What time we will our celebration keep
According to my birth."
It will be noticed here and elsewhere that the terms husband and wife were usable after the ceremony of betrothal, notwithstanding the fact that the marriage proper had not yet taken place. Later, the priest, describing what had passed between the couple, says:
"A contract of eternal bond of love,
Confirmed by mutual joinder of your hands,
Attested by the holy close of lips,
Strength'd by interchangement of your rings;
And all the ceremony of this compact
Seal'd in my function, by my testimony."