observes Chardin, is the custom of all the east; the women have their feasts at the same time, but apart from the men. And Maillet informs us in his letters, that the same custom is observed in Egypt. This is undoubtedly the reason that the prophet distinctly mentions “the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride;" he means that the noise of nuptial mirth was heard in different apartments. The personal voices of the newly married pair cannot be understood, but the noisy mirth which a marriage feast commonly excites; for in Syria, and probably in all the surrounding countries, the bride is condemned to absolute silence, and fixed by remorseless etiquette to the spot where she has been seated. When the banquet was finished, and the guests had removed, the poor came in and eat up the fragments, so that nothing was lost. This custom will account for the command to the servants, in the parable of the supper, “ Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, go out into the highways, and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”m These poor and destitute persons were called to the entertainment only before the time when according to the custom of the country they were expected to attend. si

. Lett. X, p. 79. ] Jer. xxvi, 10. Russel's Hist. vol. ü, p. 48.

? Forbes's Orient. Memi yol, iii, p. 187, 190. im Luke xiv, 21, 22, 23.

s . ..CHAP. VI.



[ocr errors]

Marriage reckoned honourable among the Jews and other nations. Not al

lowed to marry without restriction.Time of marriage not the same in all countries. Youngest daughter could not be given in marriage before the elder.-Marriage the union of one man with one woman.-Marriage-con

tracts in primitive times made with little ceremony. Women literally pur! chased by their husbands. When not able to give a dowry they gave an

equivalent, - Contruct made in the house of the woman's father. The espousals performed under a tent or canopy.--Interval between the espousals and the marriage.Bridegroom at liberty to visit his espoused wife in her father's house. Purifications before marriage.-Decked with garlands of herbs and flowers on their marriage day. The marriage ceremony.--The nex-married couple conducted to their dwelling with lamps and torches. Wedding garments. The marriage feast.--Apartments of the women

counted sacred.-Married women reduced to a state of great subjection. . -Charged with the care of all domestic affairs. In ancient Greece - confined in their houses.-Oriental women suffer little from parturi: . tion.--New-born child washed with water. How infants were treated in

the east.-Barrenness still reckoned a disgrace.-Surnames derived from : the trude or occupation of the parent.Difference between the treatment

of a son and a daughter. Children suckled at the father's breast.-Feast

at the weaning of a child. Children carried astride on the hip.-- Reve- tence of sons to their parents in Persia.-Illegitimacy reckoned a dishonour

in Greece and other countries.--Jewish law. Children adopted, -Slaves ; laws respecting them.-Branding them on the forehead.--Price of a slave. Masters had the power of life and death over their slaves.-A slave not permitted to look his master in the fuce..--Greek and Roman slaves treated with great severity. Their condition not so degrading as in modern times in the west.

Among the Jews, the state of marriage was, from the remotest periods of their history, reckoned so honourable,

that the person who neglected, or declined to enter into it, without a good reason, was thought to be guilty of a great crime. Such a mode of thinking was not confined to them ; in several of the Grecian states, marriage was held in equal respect; it was greatly encouraged by their laws, and the neglect of it discountenanced or punished. The Lacedæmonians subjected to severe penalties those men who deferred, or wholly abstained from marrying

The Athenians enacted a law, by which all who were entrusted with public affairs, were to be married, and have children and estates ; for these were regarded as so many pledges of their good behaviour. .... · The Jews did not allow marriageable persons to enter into that honourable state without restriction ; the high priest was forbidden by law to marry a widow, and the priests of every rank, to take a harlot to wife, a profane woman, or one put away from her husband. To prevent the alienation of inheritances, an heiress could not marry but into her own tribe.' The whole people of Israel, being a holy nation, separated from all the earth to the service of the true God, and to be the depositaries of his law, were forbidden to contract matrimonial alliances with the idolatrous nations in their vicinity. To check the licentiousness of the human heart, and to distinguish the chosen people from the heathen around them, that were exceedingly dissolute in their manners, and betrayed a violent propensity to marry their nearest relations, certain degrees of affinity were fixed by divine authority, within which the conjugal relation was not to be formed. Since it pleased the Creator to make of one blood the whole human race, it was not possible in the first gene. : a Potter’s Grecian Antiq. vol. ii, p. 263. .

rations of our family, to avoid the intermarriage of very near relations. The Jewish writers maintain that marriage, within the degrees of affinity, was not forbidden before the giving of the law, that with one's own mother, or step-mother, or the sister of the same mother excepted. An incident in the history of Abraham seems to corroborate this opinion. When Abimelech, the king of Gerar, complained that the patriarch had imposed upon him by calling Sarah his sister, when she was in reality his wife, the latter replied: “ And yet indeed she is my sister, she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife." The same liberty was claimed in other parts of the world. The Lacedæmonian lawgiver allowed marriages between the children of the same mother but of different fathers. At Athens, they were forbidden to marry sisters by the same mother; but not those by the same father. Thus the renowned Cimon, being unable on account of his extreme poverty, to provide à suitable match for his sister Elphinice, married her himself. Plutarch says this was done publiely, and without any fear of the law; and Cornelius Nepos likewise assures us, that it was nothing but what the custom of their country allowed. The greater part of the Greeks, however, considered it as a scandalous thing to contract marriage within certain degrees of consanguinity. Hermione, in Euripides, reprobates the custom which permitted a brother to 'marry his sister, with no less de testation than that which permitted a son to marry his mother, or a father, his daughter. The Lacedæmonians were forbidden to enter into the married state with any of their kindred, in the degrees either of ascent or descent;

Gen. xx, 12. Life of Cimon. a Cimon.

but collateral relations might contract marriage; for nephews married their aunts, and uncles their nieces. The marriage of brothers and sisters was utterly illegal. But several of the barbarous nations disregarded altogether the rules of decency, and allowed unlawful and incestuous mixtures : the Persians are particularly distinguished by such practices ; for their Magi, the most sacred persons among them, were the offspring of mothers and their own sons. : : ...

: The time of marriage was not the same in all countries; the Spartans and Athenians were not permitted to marry till they arrived at full maturity; among the Hindoos a female is often a mother at twelve years of age. In South America girls are often married at the age of twelve years ; and among the Esquimeaux Indians, and in Asia among the Kamtschadales and the Carians, girls of ten years old áre often mothers. And Montesquieu justly remarks that women in hot countries are marriageable at eight or nine.h But among the Jews, a young man might be given in marriage after he had completed his thirteenth year and one day; and a virgin when she was twelve years old and one day; but the males were commonly married at the age of eighteen. In Italy, the age of puberty, or mar. riage, was from fourteen for men, and twelve for girls. In Persia, girls were declared marriageable at nine and boys at thirteen years of age Girls, it is said, are married at nine years of age and sometimes mothers at thir: teen. What is yet more remarkable, they are sometimes e Potter's Grecian Antiq. vol. ii, p. 268.. : f Forbes's Orient. Mem. vol. ii, p. 159. & Humboldt's Personal Narrative, vol. iii, p. 232, 235. h Forbes's Orient. Mem. pol. i, p. 73. i Adam's Rom. Antiq. p. 451. i Chardin's Trav, vol. ii, p. 409.

Niebuhr's Trav. p. 63

« ElőzőTovább »