No more, no more, much honour aye betide
The lofty bridegroom and the lovely bride;
That all of their succeeding days may say,
Each day appears like to a wedding-day.
Notwithstanding the doubts and demurs of Lady Lillycraft, and all the grave objections that were conjured up against the month of May, yet the wedding has at length happily taken place. It was celebrated at the village church, in presence of a numerous company of relatives and friends, and many of the tenantry. The Squire must needs have something of the old ceremonies observed on the occasion; so, at the gate of the church-yard, several little girls of the village, dressed in white, were in readiness with baskets of flowers, which they strewed before the bride; and the butler bore before her the bride-cup, a great silver embossed bowl, one of the family relics from the days of the hard drinkers. This was filled with rich wine, and decorated with a branch of rosemary, tied with gay ribands, according to ancient custom.
“Happy is the bride that the sun shines on,” says the old proverb; and it was as sunny and auspicious a morning as heart could wish. The bride looked uncommonly beautiful; but, in fact, what woman does not look interesting on her wedding-day? I know no sight more charming and touching than that of a young and timid bride, in her robes of virgin white, led up trembling to the altar. When I thus behold a lovely girl, in the tenderness of her years, forsaking the house of her fathers and the home of her childhood; and, with the implicit confiding, and the sweet self-abandonment, which belong to woman, giving up all the world for the man of her choice: when I hear her, in the good old language of the ritual, yielding herself to him “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honour and obey, till death us do part,” it brings to my mind the beautiful and affecting self-devotion of Ruth: “Whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”
The fair Julia was supported on the trying occasion by Lady Lillycraft, whose heart was overflowing with its wonted sympathy in all matters of love and matrimony. As the bride approached the altar, her face would be one moment covered with blushes, and the next deadly pale; and she seemed almost ready to shrink from sight among her female companions.
I do not know what it is that makes every one serious, and, as it were, awe-struck, at a marriage ceremony—which is generally considered as an occasion of festivity and rejoicing. As the ceremony was performing, I observed many a rosy face among the country girls turn pale, and I did not see a smile throughout the church. The young ladies from the Hall were almost as much frightened as if it had been their own case, and stole many a look of sympathy at their trembling companion. A tear stood in the eye of the sensitive Lady Lillycraft; and as to Phoebe Wilkins, who was present, she absolutely wept and sobbed aloud; but it is hard to tell, half the time, what these fond foolish creatures are crying about.