Immagini della pagina

to the nature of the occasion in which they all bear a certain part; it might have been expected that the same personal distinction would be made between the subordinate as between the principal parties; that is, that the friends and companions of the bridegroom would be contradistinguished to the friends and attendants of the bride, by a separate part assigned to each. Some friends and companions of the bridegroom are certainly alluded to in the course of the narrative, as well as the bridegroom himself; and their presence and attendance about him are no doubt intended to serve some proper purpose. With respect, however, to the general character of guests, belonging to the subordinate parties in a nuptial solemnity, and of guests invited, but not yet admitted to the nuptial feast (which is the proper relation of the subordinate parties in the nuptial preparation, distinct from the nuptial consummation); the character and relation of the personal friends of one of the principal parties would be nothing different from those of the personal friends of the other; and either might be made the subjects of a parabolic representation, which concerned them in a common capacity. But were any thing to be supposed to befall them, in this proper capacity of guests, owing in part to the personal agency of the bridegroom, the reason of the thing would require that the subjects of such a representation, if described in their proper relation to either of the parties, should be described as the friends and attendants of the bride, not as the friends and attendants of the bridegroom. A certain effect might be supposed to befall them, as the future guests at the nuptial feast, in one of these capacities, through

the instrumentality of the bridegroom, which under the circumstances of the case, could never be supposed to have befallen them in the other.

Beginning with the arrival of the nuptial night, and supposing the fact of a previous invitation, which anciently in the East, did not long precede the time fixed for the celebration of the festivity, the parable represents the subordinate parties, described as a company of virgins, in the act of going forth to meet the bridegroom ; a statement which requires some explanation. That they must not be supposed to go forth directly to meet the bridegroom, nor consequently to the place where he was, appears from the result; that they must be supposed to go forth to some quarter different from that whence they set out, and some quarter where they might expect to meet with the bridegroom at last, follows from the necessity of the case. We may presume, then, that the place to which they are supposed to go, is the house of the bride ; and the object for which they go thither, is to join the bride, and to wait in her company for the arrival of the bridegroom—to conduct both the bride and her attendants, from her own house to the bridegroom's house, where only the nuptial festivity could be celebrated. The arrival and presence of the bridegroom, at last, therefore, have for their object the discharge of this duty in behalf both of the bride and her companions; the assemblage and presence of the virgins previously have for theirs, the being ready on the first summons to accompany the bride, out of honour and respect to herself. And such being the final end of their preliminary assemblage about the person of the


bride—even the number of their company which is stated as ten in all, acquires a propriety that it might otherwise have seemed to want. The marriage of two private individuals, if such may be supposed the nature of the solemnity in the parable, might not require a greater number of personal friends, as the immediate attendants of the bride ; and yet a marriage, which bears the appearance of a certain degree of pomp and ceremony, might not have been consistent with less. Besides which, it appears from the event, that though a greater number of personal attendants on the bride, at the commencement of the ceremony, than ten, might have been supposed without impropriety, a smaller number could not : in other words, that the narrative assumes in this particular circumstance, the least possible supposition which could have been made, for the sake of the effect designed by the supposition itself.

A nuptial entertainment, like every other banquet of an extraordinary kind, in the East, as we have often had occasion to observe, being celebrated at night b, and consequently being properly a supper; • Ovid, Heroidum Epp. Sed tamen experiar. modo facta crepuscula terris ;

Ultima pars noctis, primaque lucis erat:
Ducimur Inachides magni sub tecta Pelasgi;

Et socer armatas accipit æde nurus.
Undique collucent præcinctæ lampades auro:
Dantur in invitos impia thura focos, &c.

Hypermnestra Lynceo 21. All the nuptial entertainments, instances of which were col. lected in illustration of the parable of the wedding-garment, were celebrated in the evening.

It appears from the letter of Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, quoted by Eusebius, E. H. vi. 40. 236. A. that such was the provision of lamps, to accompany the nuptial procession in public from the house of one of the parties to that of the other, would be matter of course; especially in the case of those who acted as the subordinate parties, in quality of the attendants and retinue of the bridegroom or of the bride. The circumstance, then, that the virgins are supposed to set out, to discharge this duty in behalf of the bride, prepared from the first with lamps, which they continue to retain ever after, and to find as necessary at last as at first, is no more than was to be expected at the outset of a narrative like this. It is evi

the custom in Egypt, in his time, about the middle of the third century. Speaking of a certain countryman, the writer says: απήει δε ευωχησόμενος γάμους (διαπαννυχίζειν γάρ αυτοίς εν ταις τοιaútais covódous ? Oos') x', ...

Chrys. Comm. in Nov. Test. v. 127. A-B. in i. ad Corinthios, Homilia xii: idè évreūbev Notróv oúk év ñuépa póvov, úllà και εσπέρα μεθύοντας άνδρας και κεκαρωμένους, και πεπυρωμένους υπό της τρυφής, οι κάλλος όψεως οράν παρασκευάζουσι παρθενικής και ουδε επί της οικίας, αλλά διά της αγοράς είς επίδειξιν εκπομπεύουσι, μετά λαμπάδων αυτήν παραπέμποντες εν εσπέρα βαθεία κ', τ. λ.

c Harmer mentions, ii. 431. chapter x. obs. xxii. in a note from sir J. Chardin, that “ In many parts of the East, and par“ ticularly in the Indies, instead of torches and flambeaux, they “ carry a pot of oil in one hand, and a lamp full of oily rags in “ the other.” Again, i. 355. chap. iv. obs. xxxv. from the same author, that lights are used in a particular manner at marriagesolemnities in the East; but this, it appears, is meant of their use indoors, in the respective apartments of the bride and the bridegroom.

Vol. ii. 122, 123. chap. vi. obs. xlvi. some particulars are given from D’Arvieux, and sir John Chardin, relating to the modern marriage customs in the East: which, however, do not throw much, if any, light on the parable.

Vol. iii. 295, 296. chap. vi. obs. Ixxix. there is a description, from Dr. Russel, of a modern Maronite wedding, which is more


dent, however, under such circumstances, that the possession of a lamp, though arising out of this necessity, admits of being regarded as the symbol of something else ; for as none could be described as provided with a lamp beforehand, who was not expected to take a part in a procession by night, constituting in the present instance, the nuptial train; and as none could be expected to take a part in such a procession, who was not intended to partake in the nuptial festivity: the possession of a lamp, which is first and properly the token of a party directly concerned in a nuptial procession by night, is secondarily and indirectly the badge and insigne of a guest invited to the nuptial feast. In the first of these capacities it is the mark of distinction to point out the personal friends and connections of the parties in the nuptial contract, up to the time of their union; in the second, it is the token and symbol of the guests in whose company the festivity which commemorates their union, at the proper time of that event, is to be celebrated at last; and who enjoy beforehand the privilege of being invited to it, and the right in prospect of partaking in it.

Now that the provision of a lamp supposes the provision of oil for its use, is too obvious to require any proof. This supply of oil, implied in the provision of a lamp for any instance of its use at all

to the purpose--especially where it is said, “ At midnight, or a “ few hours later, the relations, accompanied by all that have “ been invited to the wedding, men and women, return once “ more to the house where the bride is, in procession, each “ carrying a candle, and music playing before them. When “ they come to the door, it is shut upon them,” &c.

« IndietroContinua »