University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Chambers, Robert, 1802-1871 / Chambers's book of days, a miscellany of popular antiquities in connection with the calendar, including anecdote, biography & history, curiosities of literature and oddities of human life and character
Vol. I (1879)

June,   pp. [unnumbered]-832 PDF (75.4 MB)


Page 723

3IARELAGE SUPERSTITIONS AND CUSTOMS.   JUNE 1.                          JAMES GILLRAY.
'Marry in Lent,
And you'll ive to repent,'
is a common saying in East Anglia; and so also is
'To change the name, and not the letter,
Is a change for the worst, and not for the better;'
i.e., it is unlucky for a woman to marry a man whose
surname begins with the same letter as her own.
A curious custom with regard to marriages still
exists : at any rate, I knew of its being observed a
few years ago; it is that if a younger sister marries
before the elder one, the elder must dance in the hog's
trough. In the case to which I refer, a brother went
through the ceremony also, and the dancers performed
their part so well, that they danced both the ends off
the trough, and the trough itself into two pieces.
[n the West of England it is a fixed rule that the
lady should dance in green stockings; but I am not
aware of any peculiar stockings being required on the
occasion in East Anglia.
The attendance at the weddings of agricultural
labourers is naturally small; but it is very remarkable
that neither father nor mother of bride or bridegroom
come with them to church. I can hardly recollect
more than one instance of any of the parents being
present at the ceremony, and then what brought the
bridegroom's father was the circumstance of the ring
being left behind. The omission had not been dis-
covered by the wedding party, and the father came
striding up the church, very ted and hot, in time to
shove a tiny screw of paper into the bridegroom's
hand before the clergyman held out his book for the
ring, to be laid upon it.
The usual attendants at a labourer's wedding are
only three-the official father, the bridesmaid, and
the groomsman; the two latter being, if possible, an
engaged couple, who purpose to be the next pair to
come up to the a tar on a similar errand upon their
own account.
The parties very frequently object to sign their
names, and try to get off from doing so, even when
they can write very fairly, preferring to set their
mark to the entry in the register : and, unless the
clergyman is awake to this disinclination, and presses
the point, many good writers will appear in the books
as 'marksmen,' a circumstance which much impairs
the value of the comparative number of names and
marks in the marriage registers as a test of the state
of education among the poor.
The bridegroom sometimes considers it his duty to
profess that he considers the job a very dear one-not
particularly complimentary to the bride,-and once a
man took the trouble to pay my fee entirely in three-
penny and fourpenny pieces; which was, I suppose, a
very good joke; not so much so, however, as when a
friend of mine had his fee paid in coppers.
Sulfolk
C. W. J.
JUNE 1.
St Justin, the philosopher, 167. St Pamphilius, priest
and martyr, 309. St Caprias, abbot, 430. St Wi tan,
Prince of Mlercia, martyr, 849. St Peter of Pisa, founder
of the Hermits of St Jerome, 1435.
Born.-Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, minister to
Eliziheth and James I., 1560; Nicolas Poussin, painter,
1594, Andely. in Normandy; Secretary John Thurlo-,
1616, Abbots Rodinq, Essex; Sir John Dugdale, antiquary,
1628, Shustoke; John Tweddell (Eastern travels), 1769,
Threepwood, near Hexham.
Died.-Henry Dandolo, doge of Venice, 1205, bur. in
St Sophia, Constantinople; Jerome of Prague, rel;gious
reformer, burnt at Constance, 1416; Christopher Marlowe,
dramatist, 1593; James Gillray, caricaturist. 1815
London; Sir David Wilkie, artist, died at sea off &trrat
tar, 1841 ; Pope Gregory XVI. 1846.
JAMES GILLRAY.
In the churchyard of St James, Piccadilly,
there is a flat stone, bearing the following inscrip-
tion
IN MEMORY
OF MR JAMES GILLRAY,
CARICATURIST,
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
lST JUNE, 1815,
AGED 58 YEARS.
Gillray was the son of a native of Lanark-
shire,* a soldier in the British army, who lost an
arm at the fatal field of Fontenoy.
Like Hogarth, Gillray commenced his career
as a mere letter engraver; but, tiring of this
monotonous occupation, he ran away, and joined
a company of wandering      comedians.   After
experiencing the well-known hardships of a
stroller's life, he returned to London, and
became a student of the Royal Academy and an
engraver. Admirably as many of his engravings,
particularly landscapes, are executed, it is as a
caricaturist that he is best known.   In this
peculiar art he never had even a rival, so much
have his works surpassed those of all other prac-
titioners. The happy tact with w hich he seized
upon the points in manners and politics most
open to ridicule, was equalled only by the
exquisite skill and spirit with which he satiri-
cally portrayed them.   By continual practice
he became so facile, that he used to etch his
ideas at once upon the copper, without making a
preliminary drawing, his only guides being
sketches of the characters he intended to intro-
duce made upon small pieces of card, which he
always carried in his pocket, ready to catch a
face or form that might be serviceable.
The history of George 111. may be said to
have been inscribed by the graver of Gillray,
and sure never monarch had such an historian.
The unroyal familiarity of manner; awkward,
shuffling gait, undignified carriage, and fatuous
countenance ; the habit of entering into conver-
sation with persons of low rank ; the volubility
with which he poured out his pointless questions,
without waiting for any other answer than his
own 'hay ? hay ? hay ?' his love of money, his
homely savings ; have all been trebly emphasized
by the great caricaturist of his reign ; and not less
ably because the pencil of the public satirist was
pointed by private pique. Gillray had accom-
panied Loutherbourg into France, to assist him
in making sketches for his grand picture of the
siege of Valenciennes.   On their return, the
king, who made pretensions to be a patron of
art, desired to look over their sketches, and
expressed great admiration of Loutherbourg's,
which were plain landscape drawings, sufficiently
finished to be intelligible. But when he saw
Gillray's rude, though spirited sketches of
* Gillray is a Highland name, meaning Ruddy Lad;
but it is found in the south of Scotland. The writer
remembers a family of the name in a county adjacent to
Lanarkshire.
723
JUNE 1.
JAMES GILLRAY.
MARRIAGE SUPERSTITIONS AND CUSTOMS.


Go up to Top of Page