Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/379

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


297
BIRTH—BAPTISM—ETC.

Recalling the first of the above quotations, one notes in Olivia's words the motive for the betrothal, namely that it was but little different from a secret marriage subsequently to be openly avowed. Though much evidence is lacking on the subject, it is generally supposed that betrothal carried with it the privileges of the marriage bed. Opposed to this view, however, are the words of Mr. Sidney Lee, who says: "Shakespeare's apologists have endeavoured to show that the public betrothal or formal 'troth-plight' which at the time was a common prelude to a wedding carried with it all the privileges of marriage. But neither Shakespeare's detailed description of a betrothal nor the solemn verbal contract that ordinarily preceded marriage lends the contention much support," (Life of Shakespeare, p. 23). On the other hand are the words of Leontes in The Winter's Tale:

"My wife's a hobby-horse; deserves a name
As rank as any flax-wench, that puts to
Before her troth-plight."

Sunday was a common day for weddings. The bridal party assembled at the house of the bride whence the procession marched to the church. On one occasion the bride was "attired in a gown of sheep's russet, and a kirtle of fine worsted, her hair attired with a billement of gold, and her hair as