Expenses of Marriage at
As chapter last could not
All that we had to say,
The self-same subject goes amain
Much in the self-same way.
A meritorious writer who
inhabits in the town of Dumfries, or at least,' who did so a short space
ago, nigh to the region whose history is contained in these pages,—a writer
whose habitation being so little removed away, has necessarily been an
eye-witness and a local gossip of many of the executions that have befallen
; and again, a writer whose information may be accepted as authentic, owing
to his proximity; this writer has penned a few pleasant facts touching the
usages of the Gretna Green ecclesiastics, especially that particular one of
the loving churchman from the south, which facts, under permission, we will
display in the commencement of this chapter.
We like to see an author
quote: we are sometimes glad to do it in these pages. It shows that an
author does not advance things on his own impertinent authority; it shows
that he pays deference to others who practise the same art as himself.
"There are," says this
fellow-labourer, "two rival practitioners at Springfield, one of whom
married Paisley's grand-daughter, and fell heir to his office, in much the
same way that some persons acquire the right of vending quack medicines.
Still," he continues,
very rightly, "the other gets a good deal of custom; and here, as in
everything else, competition has been favourable to the interests of the
public. Though a bargain is generally made before hand, a marriagemonger who
has no rival to fear, might fix his fee at any sum he pleased; and instances
have occurred, in which the parties complained they had been too heavily
"Not long before my visit to
Springfield, a young English clergyman, who had failed to procure his
father's consent, arrived for the purpose of being married without it. The
fee demanded was thirty guineas, a demand at which his reverence demurred;
at the same time stating, that though he had married many a couple, his
highest fee never exceeded half-a-guinea. The clergyman, in fact, had not so
much money about him; but it was agreed that he should pay ten pounds in
hand, and grant a promissory note for the balance; and the bill, certainly a
curiosity of its kind, was regularly negotiated through a Carlisle
banking-house, and as regularly retired at the time appointed. And here I
must mention a circumstance which has not been provided for in the late bill
anent combinations; though it manifestly tends to augment the tax on
irregular marriages. At Springfield there are two inns, as well as two
priests, one of which inns each of the latter patronizes exclusively. More
than this, the house at which the lover arrives at Springfield depends
entirely at what inn he starts from at Carlisle. Though he may wish to give
a preference, and issue positive orders on the subject, these orders, are
uniformly disobeyed. The postboys will only stop at one house; and that for
the best of all reasons, namely, that the priest, knowing the value of their
patronage, goes snacks with them in the proceeds. Except in cases of
sickness, or absence, the priests never desert their colours. All the guests
the one house are married by
Mr.-, and of the other, by Mr. Elliott; so that those who are most deeply
concerned, have very little to say in the matter. The latter of these
personages, who has lately retired from his calling, or rather been deprived
of his ancient office by the usurpation of an inn-keeper, published about a
year ago a little volume of memoirs containing many amusing instances of his
experience as a Gretna priest. His book is well worth reading. The following
is one of his numerous and interesting anecdotes, and was told him by his
predecessor, Joseph Paisley.
"A young English lady,
daughter of a wealthy old baronet, of one of the Midland counties, had fixed
her affections on the son of a neighbouring gentleman, of considerable
landed property, who had paid his addresses to her for some time, they
having been, as it were, brought up together, and both their families
appeared to approve of their courtship. But, ' the course o#true love never
did run smooth,' and they were doomed to experience the truth of this old
saying; for about the time they began to think of finishing their courtship
by marriage, it became suddenly public that the old Squire, the young
gentleman's father, was in very embarrassed circumstances, owing to his
fondness for betting on horse-races, then much in fashion, and gambling,
vices which he had long indulged in, almost in secret, and to a ruinous
extent, little dreamed of by the world, more especially his own
neighbourhood. His son, I believe, consented to the sale of the largest
portion of the family estate, to rescue his father from his difficulties,
and both became poor gentlemen, characters which the world did not fail
quickly to discover, and appreciate accordingly. The youth was the first
victim, being immediately forbid visiting the house of his fair lady, by the
old Baronet, who, in the good old fashion of fathers in those days, soon
gave her to understand that she must think no more of her first lover, but
prepare to receive one of his choosing, and whom he had already invited to
commence his courtship. This was, in due course conveyed to her lover, with
whom she still managed to keep up a correspondence, and even to meet
occasionally, and the result was, he succeeded in persuading her to elope
with him to Gretna, and that on the very night of the arrival of the new
suitor for her hand. The young couple set off for the north. The old Baronet
was, it appears, almost frantic with rage on being informed of his
daughter's elopement, and, having armed himself with pistols, immediately
pursued, attended by his friend, both threatening the young man with death
should they overtake him. The young pair having taken their measures well,
speedily arrived at Gretna, and lost no time in summoning the assistance of
Mr. Paisley, who always declared them to have been the handsomest, and best
matched couple, he had ever performed this office for, and they were, by
him, in due form, married before proper witnesses, and a regular certificate
signed and given them. Upon the completion of the ceremony, the young
gentleman, taking Mr. Paisley aside, briefly told him the circumstances of
the case, and that he expected pursuit, and asked what he would recommend
them to do. I believe Mr. Paisley's prudential considerations had more
influence with the timid, blushing girl, than the soft pleadings of her
young husband, and she at length suffered herself to be conducted to the
nuptial chamber, as it was always called, it being the custom for parties
dreading immediate pursuit, to retire there soon after the perform-anee of
the ceremony, in order that the consummation of the marriage might be added
as an additional bar to their separation, or any endeavour to set it aside.
In the middle of the night the inmates of the little inn were alarmed by the
sudden arrival of a chaise and four horses, driven at the top of their
speed, and presently the old Baronet and his friends alighted, and began to
thunder at the door and window shutters, with the butt ends of their
pistols, till the former was opened by the frightened landlord, only just in
time to prevent its being broken in. The terror of the poor girl in the
meanwhile, can be better imagined than described, while the young man began
hurrying on some clothes, intending to hasten to her father, and endeavour
to appease him. The excited father having gained admittance, fiercely
interrogated the trembling landlord, whom he threatened with instant death
if he did not show him where the fugitives were hid. The landlord, while
ascending the stairs, which he did as slow as his impatient and unwelcome
guest would permit, endeavoured to smooth the old man with the usual
common-place consolations for his too late arrival, and unfortunately, as a
last resource happened to mention the fact of their having consummated the
marriage as a reason for the old marplot, 'to grin and bear it,' and the
unfortunate catastrophe which ensued was always attributed by Mr. Paisley to
this imprudent conduct on the part of the landlord.
"The old gentleman had
reached the landing of the staircase, and was close to the door of the room
in which were his daughter and her husband, as the landlord made this last
remark, which increased his irritation in such a degree, that he instantly
rushed against the door, which yielding to his force, he at once stood
before his terrified daughter and her lover, at the latter of whom he
instantly presented one of the pistols he held in his hand. On seeing this,
the poor girl jumped from the bed in her night dress, to interpose between
them, but, alas! only in time to fall upon her lover's lifeless body, for,
before she could prevent it, her father tad fired with fatal effect. At the
report of the pistol, the alarmed household hastened to the room, where they
were shocked at the scene which met their view. Weltering in his blood which
flowed from the wound in his breast, lay the unfortunate youth, upon whom
his bride, now a widow, had fallen, and whose' night-dress was stained with
the sanguine stream, while the grim father stood
looking on in a sort of
stupefaction, the fatal weapon still in his hand. One domestic, bolder than
the rest, would have seized him, but was deterred by the weapon he still
held, and with which he threatened to shoot the first person who should
impede his actions. With the assistance of his friend, who had now joined
him, he raised his daughter from the floor, and hastily wrapping her in some
cloaks, carried her to his chaise, into which, having put her clothes, he
and his friend jumped, and immediately drove off, she still continuing
insensible. On the arrival of Mr. Paisley, who had been sent for, he found
the murderer had gone, and was exceedingly angry with the landlord, first,
for having permitted him to enter the house, seeing his excited state, and
knowing him to he armed, and then for letting him escape, which, had he been
there would not have happened, as he declared, that in the excitement of the
moment, he should not have hesitated to have taken his life, rather than
have let him escape; and being a very determined man, there is little doubt
he would have kept his word.
"On his trial for this crime,
the counsel for the old man made it appear that he had done it only in self-defence,
and I believe he got off free, but found reason to repent his cruelty, as
his daughter never recovered the shock, but died soon after broken hearted ;
after which, finding himself hated, and shunned by all his former friends
and neighbours, he retired to the Continent, where he spent the remainder of
"But to return to financial
matters. From first to last, it may be said, that the fond pair are, as it
were, passively transported from their own homes of single blessedness, at
once into a foreign country and a state of matrimony, without any pains on
their part, but simply what consists in 'paying as they go along.'
"In this way something like a
monopoly still exists; and what is more strange still, not only the postboy
who drives a couple, but his companions, and the whole litter of the
inn-yard, are permitted to share in the profits of the day.
"The thing is viewed in the
light of a windfall, and the proceeds are placed in a sort of fee-fund, to
be afterwards shared in such proportions as the parties see fit. Altogether,
the marrying business must bring a large sum annually into Springfield:
indeed, an inhabitant confessed that it is, ' the principal benefit and
support of the place;' although he might have added, that smuggling has
lately become a rising and rival means of subsistence. Upon an average three
hundred couples are married in the year: and half-a-guinea is the lowest fee
that is ever charged.
"But a trifle like that is
only levied from poor and pedestrian couples; and persons even in the middle
ranks of life are compelled to pay much more handsomely. Not long before I
visited Springfield, a gentleman had given forty pounds; and independently
of the money that is spent in the inns, many hundreds must find their way
into the pockets of the priests, and their concurrents the postboys. In its
legal effect, the ceremony performed at Gretna merely amounts to a
confession before witnesses that certain persons are man and wife; and the
reader is aware that little more is necessary to constitute a marriage in
Scotland:—a marriage which may be censured by church courts, but which is
perfectly binding, in regard to property, and the legitimacy of the
children. Still, a formula has a considerable value in the eyes of the fair,
and the priests, I believe, read a considerable part of the English marriage
service, offer up a prayer or two, require the parties to join hands, [their
hearts being joined before,] sign a record, and so forth.
"At my request Mr. Elliott
produced his marriage record, which, as a public document, is regularly
kept, and which, to say the truth, would require to be so, seeing that it is
sometimes tendered as evidence in court.1"Now, look you: — The above writer
says that "half a guinea is the lowest fee ever charged;" but we are
certain, that, when we were there, the worthy keeper of the toll-gate would
have gladly accommodated us, had we been so determined, for a much less sum.
Pennant even goes much
further than this, for he talks "of a dram of whisky." Perchance the charges
have risen since his time; for extortion, like other practices in iniquity,
does not attain to its full extreme of superlativeness at first; but
commences by little and little, and increases by time and opportunity.
"Here the young couple," he
observes, "may be instantly united by a fisherman, a joiner, or a
blacksmith, who marry from two guineas a job to a dram of whisky; but the
price is generally adjusted by the information of the postilions from
Carlisle, who are in pay of one or other of the above worthies ; but even
the drivers, in case of necessity, have been known to undertake the
Prices and iniquity have
evidently increased since the days of greater simplicity in which Pennant
In "Brewster's Edinburgh
Encyclopaedia1' there is a calculation, which shows that in the year 1815
the number of marriages performed in this parish was sixty-five. The number
for other years is not so directly given; but the sixty-five for 1815 is
estimated as being a fair average for a pretty long series of years, one
taken with the other.
This is further pursued.
Fifteen guineas is taken as the medium product of each marriage—a proof that
by the year 1815 the prices had far advanced over what they had previously
been; and this sum will bring into the hands of the Gretna priests and their
associates an annual income-of above 1000£.
It is rather a strange thing
that these dignitaries are not more fat and sleek in their appearance than
they most assuredly are, seeing that, if these calculations be just,—and
they have been made by those whose credit is unimpeachable,—they ought to be
able to dress m lawn sleeves, and to dwell in stately palaces. The fact is,
they are an ignorant and improvident race; and the money that comes
unlooked-for, easily and abundantly, is not held at its true value, but is
wantonly and as easily dissipated away. He who has ten pounds in his pocket
to-day, is ready to squander it, when he reflects that perhaps to-morrow
will replenish the void, and add more to the sum.
In the year 1826, owing to
the ill favour which such a disgraceful system found in the eyes of the
Kirk, the General Assembly made an attempt to put a stop to it, by taking
preliminary steps against the Gretna priests, and by commencing a regular
ecclesiastical campaign. The object, howbeit, was not effected ; and so they
have pursued their course.
Another Scotchman, who wrote
before the passing of the recent Marriage Act of 6 and 7 Will. IV., wherein
facilities are offered, such as previously did not obtain, considered it as
" a sort of safety-valve to the rigid system of ^he English Church, in
regard to matrimony. But it is impossible," he continues, "to use terms of
sufficient reprobation and abhorrence in alluding to the base panders, from
the inn-keepers of Carlisle to the kennel-boys of Springfield, who make it
the means of supporting their villanous and contemptible existence."
Thus it will be seen, that
the respectable Scotch themselves do not look with much approbation on the
proceedings of these conspirators.
"Surely," says Dr. Dibdin, in
his Tour, "Surely, the only available and effectual remedy would be a
statutable declaration against the legality or validity of such matches ;
and then the fisherman's occupation is gone."
Such a statute, however, is
not very likely to be enacted ; and the liberalization of the English law,
as it now stands, is calculated to render such an enactment much less
necessary than it was before.
If the rigid act of Lord
Hardwicke, in 1754, did much towards driving people to Gretna Green, and
thereby raising the fame and fashion of that place, owing to the strictures
he put upon those who otherwise would have been married in England ; it is
certain, that the new act of 1837, having taken those strictures away, has
aimed a most prejudicial shaft northwards at that parish. This indirect mode
of effecting the object at which Dr. Dibdin hints, is a much more politic,
fair, and tolerant course than the one suggested by him. To equalise
facilities all over the kingdom, is better than that such facilities should
exist in one half of it, and that harsh impediments should obtain over the
other. On this principle the law will eventually work, when it may more
generally come into usage; and hence Gretna will in time discover, that this
statute has done it a serious injury.
So little difficulties are
opposed by the marriage laws to the young bachelor, north of the Cheviots,
who would unite himself in permanent bands to the lady of his love, that he
has no need to repair to Gretna, or any other particular parish, otherwise
than the one in which he lives. If a man, dwelling in Glasgow, or Aberdeen,
or Forres, or other town in Scotland, can be wedded as easily on the spot
where he lives as elsewhere, of course he would have no motive for removing
to Gretna Hall for the purpose ; and, in exemplification of this facility,
Dr. Dibdin relates a laconic anecdote.
"I remember,'' says he, "when
partaking of the hospitalities of Mr. David Laing, at Edinburgh, [surely
this cannot be the old pedlar of Springfield?] that Dr. Lee, towards eight
o'clock, seemed to leave the room abruptly, after looking at his watch.
"He returned within twenty
"'What have you been about?"
observed the host. 'Only marrying a couple on the third flat in High
Street,' was the Doctor's reply.
"This, with us, would have
been a special licence matter, at the cost of at least thirty pounds."
Aristotle contends that the
ancient Greeks were indubitably an uncivilized people, because they bought
their wives. The ceremony of marriage, where this obtained, was little else
than the process of transferring a piece of merchandise from one person to
another—from the father to the son-in-law. Here the lady herself appears to
have been but very slenderly consulted as to her disposition ; but Aristotle
further says, that as these Greeks left off their barbarism and advanced
onwards towards civilization, they also left off this practice.
But we have said somewhere
before, that even we ourselves, now in the polished nineteenth century, make
purchases in these affairs ; but then, if this be admitted, the very great
difference in our mode of proceeding will alter the whole nature of the
transaction, and at once exonerate us from every charge of barbarism.
Unlike the rude Greeks, we
begin by a vast outlay of anxiety and solicitude on the lady's account,—so
vast, that many folks marvel that all bachelors are not bankrupt long before
the bridal day is fixed. The Greeks knew nothing of this; and the reason of
the difference is plain. At that time she was not permitted to have a will
of her own;—now-a-days she is fully possessed of that privilege; at that
time she could not say No; but now-a-days she is at liberty to inflict that
word at discretion.
It is to these privileges,
which the enlightenment of the age has given her, that we ascribe the
alteration in the manner of negotiation.
Where she could have no power
to say No, of course very little anxiety could be engendered in the bosom of
her suitor; and hence, the progress of civilization, the exalted position of
the supreme sex; and the uncertainty of a lady's surrender, have,
altogether, served to increase amongst men the number of hopeless cases of
love, far over those which could have been felt and experienced by the
But even men, when they look
into the matter, will not regret the change, however much vexation it may be
the means of bringing upon them at times.
The thing that we obtain with
little difficulty, we rarely value at its true and intrinsic worth; but that
which has been purchased through the expenditure of much disquiet and
perplexity, will, when obtained, at once assume a high position in our
Let the ladies, therefore,
enjoy their, privileges, which have been by degrees given to them by their
oppressors, more and more every succeeding century,
as their capabilities and
their virtues have become more and more manifest. They will not abuse these
privileges; they will not exercise them with caprice or tyranny; they will
not use them for the bare purpose of exhibiting their power;—they know
better than all this ; there is no fear ; for, in the first place, they have
too much tenderness; and, in the second, they have too much judgment.
The framing of this system
manifests the extreme barbarism of the age and the country; —an age and
country wherein the beauties of the mind M ere of no value—wherein a fair
exterior only was considered desirable, or worth obtaining—and wherein,
peradventure, an amiable and sweet disposition, unaccompanied by this
fragile, skin-deep, transitory, and uncertain gift, could get no one to take
it, unless richly endowed with a costly portion.
As men have ever been the
masters and tyrants of the world, the present generations of the enduring
sex in Europe, and one or two other regions, may bless heaven for the change
that has come o'er the spirit of the times, and for having been born at a
period when their mental qualifications have had opportunities for
developing and displaying themselves —and of displaying themselves in a host
of so many excellent ways, as to have taught their former masters, not only
to consider them as equals now in every sense, but to love, honour, and
respect them so much the more, from a conviction of this very fact.
Time was, when men did not
love women at all; that is, according to the modern refined signification of
the word. Indeed, it was held to be a preposterous degradation amongst the
ancients of rude nations, and even amongst the savage of more recent days,
for any man to be so weak as to betray affection for a woman. They were only
looked upon as animated articles of furniture belonging to a man's
establishment, as his other chattels did. He bought his wife as he bought
his horse; and her will, pleasure, or consent to the transfer, were never
inquired into, or so much as thought of.
Abraham bought Rebecca for
Isaac; Jacob, having no money to give, served Laban fourteen years for his
wives instead ; Agamemnon offered his daughter as a present to Achilles,
saying that, if he liked, he might have her without any payment; and, by the
laws of Ethelbert, King of England, it was enacted, that if any man injured
another man's wife, he should buy him another.
It has been said, that there
exists more true and disinterested cases of pure love amidst the middle
classes of society, than there does either in the higher or the lower; that
the mind in the medium ranks is not so much swayed by the desire of making
powerful connexions, as it often is among the extreme higher, owing to the
policy with them of keeping coronets and estates in the direct line, nor so
compelled by necessity in the choice of partners, as is often the fact with
the extreme lower.
Thus it is, that those of the
middle ranks, who enjoy a competency, are more free to select as a generous
and well-directed passion shall suggest, and ' to allow their hearts to
flutter, like a butterfly, over that flower which to them shall appear the
It is remarkable that the
pathetic bard of Scotland, who sung in the halls of Selma by the rushing
tide of Cona, should have uniformly drawn the female character as replete
with gentleness, virtue, and exaltation.
A talented writer on this
subject has made some powerful remarks relating to Ossian, and the spirit of
purity that he has infused into the heroines of his various poems.
"That bard," says he,
"describes the female character as commanding respect and esteem, and the
Caledonian heroes as cherishing for their mistresses a flame so pure and
elevated as never was surpassed, and has seldom been equalled, in those ages
which we eommmonly call most enlightened.
"This is indeed, true; and it
is one of the many reasons which have induced Johnson and others to
pronounce the whole a modem fiction.
"Into that debate we do not
"We may admit the
authenticity of the poems, without acknowledging that they furnish any
exception to our general theory. They furnish, indeed, in the manners which
they describe, a wonderful anomaly in the general history of man. All other
nations of which we read, were, in the hunter state, savage and cruel. The
Caledonians, as exhibited by Ossian, are gentle and magnanimous.
"The heroes of Homer fought
for plunder, and felt no clemency for a vanquished foe. The heroes of Ossian
fought for fame ; and when their enemies were subdued, they took them to
"The first of Greeks
(Achilles) committed a mean insult on the dead body of the first of Trojans
(Hector" Among the Caledonians, insults offered to the dead were condemned
as infamous. The heroes of Ossian appear in no instances as savages. How
they eamc to be polished and refined, before they were acquainted with
agriculture and the most useful arts of life, it is not our business to
inquire; but sinec they unquestionably were so, their treatment of the
female sex, instead of opposing, confirms our theory; for we never conceived
rich clothes, superb houses, highly dressed food, or even the knowledge of
foreign tongues, to be necessary to the acquisition of a generous sentiment.
"Luxury, indeed, appears to
be as inimical to love as barbarism ; and we believe, that in modern
nations, the tender and exalted affection which deserves that name, is as
little known amongst the higher orders, as amongst the lowest.
"Perhaps the Caledonian
ladies of Ossian resembled, in their manners, the German ladies of Tacitus,
who accompanied their husbands to the chase, fought by their sides in
battle, and partook with them of every danger. If so, they could not fail to
be respected by a race of heroes, among whom courage took place of all other
virtues; and this single circumstance, from whatever cause it might proceed,
will sufficiently account for the estimation of the female character among
the ancient Germans and Caledonians, so different from that in which it has
been held in almost every other barbarous nation.
"But if, among savages and
the vulgar, love be unknown, it cannot possibly be an instinctive affection;
and, therefore, it may be asked, how it gets possession of the human heart 1
and by what means we can judge whether it be real or imaginary?
"These questions are of
importance, and deserve to be fully answered; though many circumstances
conspire to render it no easy task to give to them sueh answers as shall be
"Love can( subsist only
between individuals of the different sexes.
"A man can hardly love two
women at the same time ; and we believe that a woman is still less capable
of loving at once more than one man.
"Love, therefore, has a
natural tendency to make men and women pair ;—or, in other words, it is the
source of marriage. But, in polished society, where alone this affection has
any place, so many things besides mutual attachment are necessary to make^
the married life comfortable, that we rarely see young persons uniting from
the impulse of love."
Certain it is, as this writer
very justly observes, we do not often see persons marry solely because they
have fallen in love with each other; although it is to be lamented that
impediments should prevent the junction of their hands, when their hearts
had been previously joined by affection.
We think, however, that if no
such things as impediments to success existed, we should not hear of so many
cases of thorough love as we now do. Indeed, this is but natural enough ;
and will equally apply to projects of love, or to projects of any other
nature. If we could always immediately obtain that which we desire, so soon
as the wish to possess it had been conceived, we, of course, never could
experience anxiety about the matter; we never could be tortured with fears
of losing that object; we never could be taught by delay, uncertainty, or
doubt, to comprehend its true value; and, in fact, we never could be made to
understand what glory, honour, or satisfaction it was for us to gain a
victory—because no victory can be gained where no impediments are offered
It has been observed, that
love is the most perverse passion with which we are endowed; that it grows,
increases, and thrives most where it is most opposed.
This is true; but there are
good reasons for it. It is only an exemplification of a part of our whole
nature ; but which may be exemplified in fifty other cases of a different
If a man sets his mind upon
any other object in the world besides a lady, he will find, that the greater
the number of obstacles that may arise to prevent the attainment of his
wishes, so much the greater will be his desire to overcome them. If it is a
house that he has set his heart upon possessing, he will bid higher and
higher, even as the owner expresses his unwillingness to sell. The great
truth is, that the desire for the possession of some one particular lady is
a passion infinitely stronger than the other can be, which craves only some
inanimate object; as, for instance, if a man shall be disappointed in the
attainment of a certain house, he is content to put up with another, and
feels no painful shock done to his feelings, that another man should possess
it, enter into it, and do with it as his pleasure shall direct; but if a man
is disappointed of the lady that he has set his heart upon, can he be
content to put up with another?—and who shall tell the painful shock that
his feelings must experience, when he sees another become possessed of her?
But we forget ourselves; we are not purchasing houses in this chapter.
When a young Birman buys his
lady-love to wife, he begins by a vast outlay of anxiety and trouble, as the
Europeans do; and then, when that has been expended with success in the
purchase of her consent, and the bridal morning has actually arrived, he
still further lays out the following, namely:—" Three lon-gees, or lower
garments ; three tubbecks, or sashes ; and three pieces of white muslin:
also such jewels, ear-rings, and bracelets, as his circumstances admit of."
A Tungoose juvenal of
Siberia, buys his bride of her father for, from twenty to one hundred head
of deer; and if it so befall that he is not wealthy enough to do this, he
follows the precedent of Jacob, and works a certain time at some useful
labour instead ;—thus giving the parent an equivalent in some other shape.
"We have several times
mentioned instances wherein sons-in-law give so much to their wife's father
on becoming possessed of their treasure, his daughter— instances occurring
in divers other countries besides England ; but it has not, perhaps, struck
the reader, (nor did it strike us until this moment) that all these
instances of purchase, differ in toto from what obtains in regard of
marriages at Gretna Green.
Now, when a bachelor buys a
young lady in Britain, (to say nothing of his expenses in anxiety for her,)
he generally gives his father, or mother-in-law something—perhaps, a great
deal of trouble ; but this is not what we were going to say;—never mind what
he gives: but when a youthful bachelor runs away to Gretna Green, he does
not give his father-in-law anything whatever, not so much as a—forewarning.
All his disbursement goes to
the rapacious priests and their confederates,—persons whom, most likely, he
never saw before, and hopes he never will see again,—and none to him from
whom he got his prize.
We have seen how David Laing,
according to his own evidence, got £30. or £40. out of Wakefield for his
share of the little matter that took place amongst them at the Hall; and how
old Joe Paisley received £300. on his death bed, for executing three couple
who suddenly made application to him.
Surely it would have been a
much more equitable arrangement, if at least one half of these sums had been
made over to the former possessor of that jewel, her father, which now had
become the property of another;—an arrangement which the latter possessor
would readily have acceded to, as it is but natural for us all, rather to
wish to pay the person from whom we actually get a treasure, than to pay a
set of swindling strangers, who, at best, were only self-interested agents
in the procurement of it.
Certainly and of a truth, he
who has been beguiled by love to rush within the meshes of these wolves in
sheep's clothing (broad cloth), and has afterwards, with much difficulty,
been able to fee his way out of their clutches, hastens back over the border
from the confines of the parish with as much celerity as he would out of a
golden hell in St. James's, at the same time blessing his stars that it is
not a man's fortune to be married every day in the week.