Such was his servitude, but it is not without its pathos. Not long before his death, his sister-in-law, Mrs. Edwards, while strolling with him through the grounds of the White House, announced her intention of leaving Washington. With tears in his eyes, Lincoln implored her to stay longer. You have such a strong control and such an influence over Mary," he said, "that when trouble comes you can console me. "The picture of the man's despair," declares Mrs. Edwards, "never faded from my vision . . . my heart ached because I was unable, in my feeble way, to lighten his burden."
This death alone could do. But that final scene at Ford's Theatre, when the President fell, the victim of a foul assassination, is too well known to need mention here.
On April 14th, 1865, he died, leaving behind the burden of a nation's cares and the misery of a homeless home. He was a great man, a powerful ruler, an inspiring leader, but, in spite of all, his life was empty; he was fame's most splendid failure.
Love one to the other, as in a circle, and that continually for ever."
The ring was chosen as the pledge of an engagement or pre-marriage contract from the old Jewish custom of exchanging or giving something as ratification of an agreement or bargain, and also from the Roman practice of the giving of a ring as earnest upon the conclusion of a bargain.
So much for its shape and meaning; but before proceeding to give illustrations of the various ways in which the circle has been ornamented and adorned in different times and countries the following little anecdote may be permitted.
A certain enamoured swain, who was desirous of impressing the lady of his choice with his poetic ability, once proffered her a ring with these words, "Sweet maid, in this ring behold the symbol of my love for thee, in that it hath no ending."
But, as the maiden's choice had not fallen upon him, she looked her admirer up and down in a somewhat disconcerting fashion, then quietly replied, "Good sir, in this ring also behold the symbol of my love for thee, inasmuch as it hath no beginning."
Rings have been made of practically every substance possible, from bone, ivory, crystal, lead, and tin, to bronze, silver, and gold, and then encrusted with precious stones. Naturally, it was in primitive times, and among less civilised races, that bone and the less valuable metals were used for their construction.
One would naturally suppose that, as the ages have passed, the earlier forms of ring have become extinct; but this is really not so, and it is very interesting to compare several of the forms used at the present day with their remote prototypes, and notice that often there is a striking resemblance between them.
Since this article is intended to embrace only those rings used in the United Kingdom, we will omit mention of those found in old earthworks and tumuli, since they are legacies of invading forces, and not really proper to the country.
The Fede ring forms the subject of illustration 2. These rings, which originated in Roman times, became very popular during the Middle Ages, and were used even after that period. The chief point to note in them is that the bezel is formed by two clasped hands, signifying plighted troth, the word "fede" denoting "faith," or troth.
The Claddagh ring (Fig. 3) is a similar type. These rings belong to the fisherfolk of Galway, who form quite an exclusive section, and, as they frequently intermarry, these rings have been handed down from one family to another. The oldest dates from the fourteenth century, and some still in use are very old.
The "puzzle" rings also belong to the Fede:lass. Fig. 6 depicts an excellent example to be seen in the British Museum.
Still another form is shown in Fig. 10, and it will be seen that the jointed parts are so made that when the three portions of the ring are in correct position the two hands clasp each other to form the usual bezel.
The Gemmel, or Gimmel, ring (Fig. 8), as it is more commonly called, is a kind of double ring, and derives its name from the French word, "jumelle" (twin). These rings were so called because they were made of two flat hoops which, when fitted closely together, had the appearance of an undivided ring. Each of these halves was generally engraven with a name or motto, one half being worn by the man, the other by the maid; and on the wedding-day the two were fitted together, and became the property of the bride.
As well as being love tokens, or pledges, these portions of the ring were also useful sometimes in establishing identity and good faith.
Occasionally the gimmel consisted of three parts, and it was of such an one that Herrick wrote:
"Thou sent'st to me a true love-knot, but I Return a ring of jimmals to imply Thy love had one knot, mine a triple tye." In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries inscription, or " motto," rings became highly fashionable, the mottoes usually being of an ethical or religious character, such as, "In Dew salus "; "Tout pour bien faire," etc., the inscription often being on the outside of the ring.
It is interesting to note that this idea was revived about five and thirty years ago, when the "Mizpah" ring (Fig. 4) became a great favourite.
The word is taken from Genesis xxxi. 49, when Laban and Jacob made a heap of stones as a witness of the covenant between them. The actual word means a beacon, or watch-tower.
"And Laban said, "This heap is a witness between me and thee this day.' Therefore was the name of it called Galeed, and Mizpah, for he said, "The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.' "
From the middle of the sixteenth to the latter part of the eighteenth centuries "posy " rings were in great demand. The word " posy " is derived from the French " poesie," poetry; and since the gift of a posy, or verse, was often accompanied by a bouquet or a bunch of flowers (to which the term posy has been transferred) it arose that a ring inscribed with a verse came to be also called a "posy " ring.
In the fifteenth century the words or lines were usually placed externally (Fig. 7); but at the beginning of the sixteenth century they were inscribed within the hoop (Fig. 5).
Some of the most popular posies of the sixteenth century were:
"I am yours."
" My hart and I untill I die."
"Por tous jours."
"Love is sure where faith is pure."
"In thee my choice I do rejoice."
And in the seventeenth century these gold circlets were usually elaborately chased outside, and contained such sentiments a?:
" I chuse not to change."
"Live in luvs.,"
"Let liking last."
" Time lesseneth not my love."
" All else refuse but thee I chuse."
While the eighteenth century gives us:
" Endless as this shall be our bliss."
" God alone made us two one."
" No treasure like a true friend."
We can only hope these sentiments indeed helped the giver to Keepe fayth till deth."
Another modern ring which is surely the descendant of these posy rings is that shown in Fig. 9, wherein the ivy is taken as the type of constant affection.
Yet another interesting comparison is the modern buckle ring (Fig. 12) with the "garter" ring of the sixteenth century (Fig. 11).
When these rings were first made they were formed like a badge of the Order of the Garter, with the buckle in front, and outside the hoop the motto of the Order, and inside any chosen posy, such as " I'll win and wear thee."
For some time the buckle rings, which came into vogue about fifty years ago, were made solid; then later they were made to open and display the loved one's name beneath the fastening.
There is also similarity between the present-day true-love-knot ring (Fig. 13) and those of an early period, one of which belonged to the Earl of Northampton in 1614, and is described as "a golde ring sett with fifteene diamondes in a true-lover's knotte."
Last century saw the introduction of the " Harlequin " ring into our midst (Fig. 14). These derive their names from the fact that they were set with several stones of different colour, and thus somewhat resembled the motley dress of the pantomime hero.