« 上一页继续 »
to punish sinners, but can look on sin with allowance and even with approbation. But see who is the God of this assembly. I looked and saw a fearful figure, who I immediately knew to be Intemperance, directing the feast. His cheeks were red and swoln, his hands quivering, his eyes sunken and glassy, his body bloated, his steps were faltering, his whole appearance a living mass of putrefaction, his mirth but a convulsive contortion of the face, his laughter the unmeaning vacant laughter of a maniac. In his train are melancholy, madness and death, with almost every other evil that aldicts the family of man. Can such a guest please ? said I: They find a great deal of fault with him in public, said the old man, but in all their parties he is a constant companion. But they will find him a mocker, and a deceiver, and that his steps take hold on hell!! Just look at that young man, sitting at the middle of the table. He is wasting his time as he has wasted his substance, in riotous living, drinking, and carousing. He once saw better days, but bad company led him to neglect his business, ruined his credit, and left him as you see a vagabond, or something very little better. He has an excellent wife, and children, who need the little money he can obtain for their maintenance. While he is with this crew, she is at home weeping Her children have gone to bed supperless, and she is anticipating the return of an intoxicated, swearing husband. Already disgusted with the scene of fashionable folly before me, I turned to behold the retreat of this afflicted female, -and lo! it was the retreat of constancy ill requited, and of virtue neglected and abused. The small apartment in which she lived was extremely neat and clean. Every thing was in as complete order as her scanty means would allow. In a small bed in the corner of the room, lay two beautiful children asleep. They were thin and pale. Over them, on her knees, was the mother; her eyes wet with tears and raised to heaven. She was in earnest prayer to God to have compassion on her little ones. While in this distress, as she seemed to lift her soul in supplication, I heard these words escape her lips, “ Have mercy on my poor husband."
ORIENTAL CUSTOMS.....CELEBRATION OF MARIAGE.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE PILGRIM.
I AM pleased to find the Pilgrim, in the first Number, recommending an attention to Sacred Geography and Jewish customs ; as “tending not only to allure to the study of the Scriptures, but also to illustrate numerous passages which must otherwise be obscure." It is to be remembered that the Scriptures were originally published in a remote age and country, among a people whose religious and civil institutions, whose language, manners, and history, were entirely diverse from our own. Of course, they contain many allusions which, without a knowledge of the subjects of them, can be but obscurely understood. With the hope, therefore, of leading some of your youthful readers to a more intimate acquaintance with the sacred pages, I send you some account of the marriage ceremonies of the East; which may be followed, perhaps, by other brief notices of Oriental Customs, for your future numbers.
In the parable of the marriage of the king's son,* it is said that, “ when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man that had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment? And he was speechless.” I remember that, in my childhood, I always found myself disposed to suggest some excuse for this man. Why was he speechless ? All the guests, it seems, were required to appear in a particular dress, suited to the occasion : but might not this have been a poor man, and unable to furnish himself with the necessary costume--for the servants “ went out into the highways and gathered together all, as many as they found, both bad and good," and in this manner " the wedding was furnished with guests.” Or might he not have pleaded want of time to obtain a wedding garment for the “oxen and fatlings were killed,” and the feast had already been sometime waiting. An acquaintance with Eastern marriages, however, accounts for the king's displeasure. On these occasions of rejoicing and splendor, it was customary among the great to present each guest with a garment; and a refusal to accept and wear it was regarded as a contempt of the giver. The practice of distributing garments as presents still continues in the East, and on other occasions as well as at weddings.
A modern traveller in Persia tells us that the king keeps thirty tailors constantly employed in making caftans, which the keeper of his wardrobe gives away according to his direction. The reason, therefore, why the man in the parable was speechless when interrogated, is obvious. He had refused to accept a wedding garment gratuitously offered to him ; or, at least, neglected to present himself at the king's wardrobe, where, perhaps, the guests had been requested to make application.
Marriage, among the Jews, did not take place without the parties having been previously affianced to each other by their espousals.
These espousals were an agreement, made in the presence of witnesses, between the father and brothers of the young woman and father of the young man, by which he was bound to pay a stipulated sum, as the portion or price of the bride, and she was obligated to become his wife. This agreement, though the marriage was not yet consummated, could not be annulled except by a legal divorce ; which might be either public or private.t
Between the espousals and the marriage there was usually an interval of ten or twelve months. When the wedding-day arrived, the bride bathed, and dressed herself in the best manner possible. Graced with the nuptial crown and “ decked with gold, and precious stones and pearls," and veiled to her feet, she appeared “as a bride adorned for her husband.” The bridegroom, in the mean
* Matt. xxii. 1--13,
† Matt. i. 19, and Deut. xxiv. 1.
ume, made preparation for the entertainment of the guests at his own house." In the evening, he went forth richly dressed, attended by his companions, to conduct the bride, who was also accompanied with her female associates, tu her new home. The mirth and brilliancy of the procession were heightened by flanning torches, instruInents of music and songs of love.
“To the sound of timbrels sweet,
As they approached the house, they were met by another party, who were waiting to receive and conduct them in. “At midnight there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom coineth ; go ye out to meet him." The torches or lamps used on this occasion were probably similar to the massals still used in many parts of the East.They are made with a kind of socket in the upper end, which is filled with oiled rags ; and being frequently dipped in a pot of oil carried in the hand, pour a flood of waving light upon the procession. The foolish virgins took their lighted massals in one hand, but took not vessels of oil in the other. The celebration was kept up by the "children of the bridechamber" (the friends and relations of the parties) with feasting and great cheerfulness, for seven days. They invoked blessings upon the new married couple, wishing them a numerous posterity. « The Lord make the woman that is come unto thine house, like Rachel and like Leah ; which two did build the house of Israel."*
We have a brief account of a wedding procession incidentally mentioned in Maccabees.t « The children of Jambri made a great marriage, and were bringing the bride from Nadabatha with a great train,” when “Jonathan and they that were with him," having a quarrel with them, “ went up and hid themselves under the covert of the mountain ; where they lifted up their eyes and behold there was much ado and great carriage ; and the bridegroom came forth, and his friends and brethren, to meet them, with timbrels and instruments of musick and many weapons." Then the party in ambush falling upon them with a cruel slaughter, “ turned the marriage into mourning and the noise of their melody into lamentation.”
From the great mirth with which the celebration of marriage was attended, it seems to have become the proverbial image of felicity. In their predictions of future desolation, the prophets often allude to the time when “the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride,” the mirth and melody of the bridal processions, should“ cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem.”
The marriage procession was not peculiar to the Jews. It was common, if not universal, among the Oriental nations, and still forms a part of their nuptial solemnities; and on no occasion is their pro
* Genesis xxiv. 60.
+ 1 Mac: ix. 37.
verbial love of ostentation more manifested than on these. In India, it is said that the party sometimes amounts to not less than two thousand persons, consisting of the friends and acquaintance of the new-married couple, richly dressed and mounted, attended by their domestics ; and the spectacle is rendered grand beyond description by a prodigious number of lighted torches, and by the sound of the multitude of musical instruments.”* The use of perfumes frequently is very profuse. They not only make their garments to smell of myrrh and frankincense, with all the powders of the merchant,” but sometimes even the oil is perfumed with incense burning in the windows of the principal houses of the street through which the procession passes.
Knowles describes the marriage of a Turkish admiral at Constantinople, which was still more magnificent than those of India. Five hundred Janizaries led the procession ; and forined but an insignificant part of it. Among other things, near the centre were “two trees of great height covered with fruits of wax, carried by many men and supported with ropes from the top and midst. The bride rode on horseback beneath a superb canopy of crimson velvet, the curtains of which hung down to the ground and concealed her and her attendants from the view of the spectators. A troop of twentyfive virgin slaves on horseback, with dishevelled hair, closed the long procession.”
These, however, are instances of more than ordinary splendor ; such as the great alone have the means of exhibiting. Among the scommon people in Hindostan, the bride and bridegroom are both carried out in one palanquin fronting each other. The bride is decorated with jewels and precious stones ; the greater part of which are borrowed for the occasion. In the Deccan the party ride abroad on elephants, and returning late in the evening are received with bonfires and other illuminations.
From the pompous marriages of the East, I turn for a moment to the quiet, retired weddings of our own country : and the contrast may serve not only as a specimen of the difference between Oriental customs and those of the West ; but, also, as a reflection on the humble lot of woman in that pagan hemisphere, and the infinite, though too often unacknowledged and unrealized obligations of those wives and mothers whose lives have fallen to them within the humanizing influence of the gospel. The Eastern bride finds herself connected with a man whose age and qualities perhaps make him the fit object of her disgust, rather than the loved companion of her youth. The courtship was a mercenary bargain, in which her own affections were forgotten : and at her nuptials, as if in mockery of her low estate, she is exalted for a day to grace the procession which carries her to the prison of her future years—to the retired and shut apartments which jealousy has anxiously contrived for her seclusion ;-or what is scarcely better, doomed to the menial service of her ever haughty and capricious lord. In China the new-married pair sec each other for the first time at the door of the bridegroom's
* Zena Avesta
house, when he opens the door of the sedan in which she is carried, to receive her. If he is disappointed in her appearance, he sometimes chooses to shut the sedan and send her back to her friends, though he loses the purchase money. If she remains his wife she lives in deep seclusion, being never indulged to go abroad, except in a close carriage, hidden from every eye. In India almost every father makes his daughter an article of traffic, and on her marriage, rigorously demands the sum stipulated at her espousals. Her own inclinations are not consulted; for her age, frequently, as well as imperious custom, forbids it.
In that degraded country, it is not uncommon to see a child of six or seven years married to a widower of sixty or seventy !* The wife becomes the slave of her husband : she is not permitted to eat at his table, and takes for herself the portion which he leaves.
THE DUTY OF CHRISTIAN CONVERSATION. I RECENTLY spent a short time at the house of a friend in H- , where I was entertained with company whose manners were refined, and whose conversation was both pleasing and instructive. My friend and several members of his family were professing christians, and exhibited in their conduct evidences of their sincerity and devotedness. The society which I enjoyed was likewise mostly of a religious character, and I congratulated myself on the pleasure and improvement I might gain from an intercourse of this kind. In the social circle, not merely common topics of conversation were discussed, but also those of a higher and more improving kind.Subjects pertaining to literature and science, to national and political concerns, to general knowledge, to the benevolent exertions of the day, and to the progress of christianity, were debated with feelings of interest. The cause of benevolence received abundant encomiums, and revivals of religion were spoken of in terms of high approbation. Each enlivening topic was discussed with interest ; each suggestion was turned to advantage and made a means of improvement. All were ready to contribute to each other's amusement and instruction. But religion was scarcely admitted into the conversation ; as a personal concern it was never introduced. The spiritual interests of men and the subject of the soul's concern were passed by. Much.was indeed said on subjects connected with religion, but which were not religion itself.
I had frequently felt a suspicion that this was a criminal defect in our conversation. One evening, after spending several hours in this manner, the company retired, and I was left to myself. As my mind began to recover from the dissipation which the variety of dis