What folly this must be! A woman who is truly loved owes it to her lover to give freely of her love. It is a plant requiring sunshine and trust, for love - true love - begets love; starvation is a blight upon so tender and precious a plant. A man who loves, and cannot give materially all he would desire, shrinks from a rebuff. He is prone to become a coward. His very eagerness and longing may make him blunder. Yet he is terribly tempted to put out his hand for the prize, at all costs, even if it crumbles at his touch.
There are those who would say that he was a brave man making a bold dash, even at the risk of losing everything, by resolutely facing his fate - standing to win or lose.
Others may argue that such a man is a weak man, fearful of wasting time lest another should come along and carry off the prize. He himself might think that the really strong man would wait until his material prospects were better. Yet he would try to make himself indispensable - at the same time keeping his motive under control.
How a Woman Can Help
The woman would know this instinctively. Shall she help him to propose? Shall she show him that she is prepared to wait? Do they both realise that the one priceless thing in the world is the love of man for woman when it is spontaneous on both sides, and that it is absolutely unbuyable? At that moment revelation comes with startling poignancy - what would life be if they were inevitably parted?
Instinctively she stretches out her hand filled with overwhelming pity for him, knowing the battle that rages within. A responsive sympathy fills her soul, and raises her to the supreme height of her womanhood. What does she whisper? Her words are so low that it seems it is only by his own intuition that he realises their blessed meaning. "The love of woman cannot be bought, a man's pittance is to her a fortune. She either loves, and is content to share it with him, or her love is not priceless."
"You give me courage!" he answers passionately. "Will you face life with me?"
What need of speech at such an hour? Who shall say that woman lowered her standard when she helped a man to propose?
There is a saying in Sweden that tallies with our saying, "Happy is the bride that the rain rains on." The Swedes say, "It rains gold on the bride's crown." Preliminaries having been arranged, the banns are published in church on three successive Sundays, and on these days the betrothed couple hold receptions in the home of the bride-elect.
On the wedding day the guests appear in full evening dress. The manner of the marriage is much the same as in England, the bride entering the church on her father's arm, followed by her bridesmaids. The bridegroom enters from the sacristy, and they meet at the altar. The bride wears white, and a long white veil, with a garland of myrtle and orange blossom in her hair, and a bouquet of similar flowers in her hand, the bouquet being surrounded by white lace or ornamental paper, while from it hang two white ribbons stamped in letters of gold with her name and the date of the wedding.
The wedding ceremony, according to the rites of the Swedish Church, is not only imposing, but even slightly dramatic. The wedding ring is held aloft by the minister, while he invokes the blessing of the Creator on the union. Then bride and bridegroom together hold up the ring, he with his right hand, she with her left, while the bridegroom repeats, "I take thee now to be my wedded wife, to love thee in need and joy, and as a token I give thee this ring;" and the bride, in response, says, "I take thee now to be my wedded man, to love thee in need and joy, and as a token receive I this ring." The bridegroom now slips the ring on the same finger as the betrothal ring, the two plain gold bands resting side by side. Afterwards the young couple leave for the bridegroom's house.
Picturesque Customs In country districts, weddings are more picturesque, and many pretty customs are still observed, as, for instance, "dancing the crown off the bride." During the festivities, the bride is blindfolded and placed in the middle of the room. Music is played, and the bridesmaids, joining hands, dance in a ring round the bride until she takes off her crown and places it on the head of the first girl she seizes. This lucky young lady will be (according to the superstition) the first of her girl companions to marry.
Dalecarlian girls, in their picturesque national dress, strolling through the fields outside Rattvik. Old customs are still preserved in Sweden, especially those belonging to the marriage ceremony
The Swedish women are often very handsome. The type is a fine one, tall, majestically moulded, with quantities of very fair hair, bright blue eyes, and a complexion delicately pink and white. The men are also usually fair, and have, as a rule, tall, fine figures and great strength.
The "giftoman," or marriage guardian, is a special legal institution in Sweden. The father is his daughter's guardian; the mother, should he be dead; and failing both, her brother, unless father or mother should have appointed some other person to act in that capacity. The consent of a guardian is necessary only in the case of a girl under twenty-one who has not been married before.
A man may not marry until he is twenty-one, nor a girl before the age of seventeen, except by special permission of the King. His Majesty usually allows a man to marry when he is eighteen when his circumstances and character are proved to be satisfactory. On one occasion the Royal permission was given, notwithstanding the father's protest, the King considering the latter unfounded. is forbidden between guilty couples, one of whom has broken the marriage vow. Even after the death of the innocent spouse, such marriage is prohibited.
Betrothal is a much more serious and important act than an engagement is with us. It is celebrated in the presence of the marriage guardian and of four other persons, two on the man's behalf, two on the woman's. Should the marriage-guardian disapprove the betrothal and refuse to be present, each of the contracting parties must pay a fine of
10 kronor (I0s.) to the poor. But if he consents, and if the parties have bound themselves in writing to marry each other, it is illegal for them to break the promise or to become betrothed to anyone else. Should a man enter into betrothal with a woman already legally betrothed, both of them are fined, she 30 kronor, he 15. If both have been previously betrothed, the fine is 30 kronor in each case, the money going to the poor. If a man betroths himself to two women, he not only pays his fine, but the first betrothal holds good. If the first woman refuses to marry him, he must marry the second.
A Swedish maiden at the trysting place. The girls of this northern land are famous for their tall, fine figures and brilliant colouring
Photos, Underwood & Underwood
If, after the betrothal, a man refuses to marry, and compromises the woman, the circumstances are equivalent to a marriage. The woman is declared his lawful wife, and is entitled to full marriage rites in his home. Should a man wilfully leave the woman to whom he is betrothed and stay away a year and a day, the judge may permit the betrothal to be dissolved should she desire it.
The church ceremony must be preceded by banns published from the pulpit on three consecutive Sundays in the bride's parish. Should war break out, or the man be sent away on other State business, the couple may marry; the marriage may take place two days after the first publication of the banns. Widowers are not allowed to remarry until six months have elapsed since the death of the wife, and widows may not remarry for a year.
Marriage of Swedish subjects in other countries must be preceded by public advertisements, giving the names, ages, birthplace, profession, and domicile. The laws concerning such marriages are very strict, and the King himself approves them. Any Englishman or Englishwoman meditating marriage with a Swede should make the acquaintance of these laws as given in the "Blue Book of Laws Relating to Marriage in Force in Certain Countries," published at 2s. 9d. by Wyman & Sons.