It is the young women, not the men, in Germany who make their matrimonial choice. Money rules the market. Girls who are sure of a comfortable dowry settle with their mother whether they shall marry an officer, a diplomatist, a lawyer, a doctor, or a merchant. Girls with imagination and a picturesque outlook on life sometimes choose painters, poets, or literary men.

Military officers are not permitted to marry unless their bride brings them sufficient income to maintain their position apart from the not particularly liberal pay of the men themselves. It may be this military rule that has given rise to the whole system, which is so completely opposed to out own.

Where Maidens Woo

At the same time, it must not be supposed that young men are so unnatural, especially in sentimental Germany, as not to fall in love on occasion and do their own Wooing. The difficulty is to find opportunities for meeting. At a dance it is forbidden to a girl to dance more than twice with the same man, unless she happen to be engaged to him. The chaperon is necessary in the well-bred classes for visits to the opera and theatre, but when a young woman has made her choice, matters are very different. The lovers go out alone, sup together at a restaurant, visit the theatre, and, even among the highest class, sit apart from others, and behave with a sans gene which would astound a Frenchman. Opportunities are made for the young couple to meet, and, so accommodating is the disposition of the average German young man, that he usually falls in love with his fiancee and all goes happily.

The great interests of a woman's life in Germany have been summed up in four "K's" - kinder, kleider, kirche, kiiche (in our own language four "C's" - children clothes, church, and cooking). It will be seen that no mention of the husband occurs in this little list. It is the mother who makes the financial arrangements about the marriage. The son-in-law frequently knows nothing about the eventual prospects of his wife, but his family arranges with his future mother-in-law what shall be the allowance from her side of the house. This is the nadelgeld (pin-money in England, argent d'epingles in France), but, contrary to the English custom, she gives part of it towards the expenses of the house.

The Wedding Eve

The polterabend is a great institution in Germany. After a dinner, to which the relatives and some of the friends of both families are invited and which lasts for hours, there is a rehearsal of the morrow's ceremony, and when it is over there is an entertainment, a short play, operetta, or charades, in which the principal events of the life of the young couple are passed in review, and the whole winds up with a dance. It is a joyous, noisy evening, especially in certain parts of the country - on the banks of the Rhine, for instance. There it is the custom to throw out of the window everything in the house which is broken or cracked. Sometimes astonished neighbours open their windows, but soon close them again, saying to each other, "It is all right. It is the polterabend of Fraulein-------." This smashing of all imperfect china, glass, etc., is supposed to bring good luck.

When The Frenchman Marries

In France marriages are almost always arranged by the relatives of the two parties. The girl, fresh from her convent, unused to the ways of the world, is married almost immediately to a man whom she may have seen but once or twice. Disparity of age is thought nothing of in France; a girl of seventeen, as often as not, is married to a man of forty, fifty, or even sixty. Human nature is the same in all countries. The young lean to the young, and the state of affairs in France is too well-known to need comment.

Often, however, there are happy marriages of youth with youth, and the girl's delight in her new life is increased by the freedom she enjoys, as compared with the restraint of the convent in which her girlhood has been passed. Family life is often very charming in France. The wife, whether in high or in humble position, enters more fully into the interests of her husband, knows more about his affairs, financial and otherwise, and works more with and for him than is usual in our own society. A French woman - that is, the middle-class, educated woman - often acts as secretary to her husband, particularly when he owns a large business.

The wife of the little shopkeeper, even though she be the mother of one or two little ones at the age when most care is needed in the nursery and schoolroom, frequently works as hard as her husband in the shop and at the book-keeping. French laws are more in favour of the wife sharing in the resulting prosperity than are those in England.

A Light-hearted Nation

Weddings in France are very gay. The light-heartedness of the nation is never more apparent than on these joyous occasions. A country house wedding is one of the brightest of functions. A great marriage at the Madeleine is a beautiful sight. The clergy wear magnificent vestments; the choir fills the great spaces with exquisite music; the guests come arrayed in lovely colours.

In the working classes the humble pair make a dav of it, with all their relatives and other guests. The bride, still in her wedding gown and veil, is to be seen in the Bois, at St. Cloud, at Suresnes, at Meudon, or other of the environs of Paris, happy, laughing, full of gaiety, followed by a troop of friends, and enjoying a whole day's holiday in the course of a hard-worked life. Here, in England, the happy pair prefer solitude after the ceremony. This is one of the many differences in matrimonial customs between ourselves and our blithe neighbours.

At a recent military wedding in France, the bridegroom's brother officers surrounded the young couple, and, with drawn swords, formed a complete circular arch above them. This picturesque ceremony is supposed to bring good luck to the newly-married, if care be taken that the officers stand shoulder to shoulder, forming a complete circle.

At another recent marriage, in Calais, the bridegroom delighted the citizens by arriving in a gaily-decorated barrow belonging to a costermonger. A dog was harnessed beneath it, his best man drew it, and his second groomsman pushed behind. After the wedding, both bride and bridegroom drove through the boulevards in this vehicle, and were received with delighted shouts by the entire population.

Taxing The Bachelor

In France it has been suggested that the bachelor who reaches the age of twenty-nine should be penalised. Having failed in his duty to his country by abstaining from marriage, he is to become subject to extra military service. If he is employed by the State or the municipality, and is still a bachelor at twenty-five, he is to be dismissed. This seems severe, but the rapidly decreasing birth-rate is a very serious matter all over France. The proposed enactment is one of the measures that statesmen have adopted to counteract it.

Ever since the days of Balzac, the mercenary fortune-hunter has been a feature of French society. The great novelist sketched him over and over again in his " Comedies." He is young, good-looking, poor, ambitious, fond of luxury, an egoist, and he is to be found even to this day in Paris in scores. He finds out who are the wealthy women, and makes his court first to the young, then, if they will have none of him, to the old and plain. Money is his god, and he sells his youth and good looks to buy it. It is a despicable bargain, but the man who makes it does not lose the respect of his fellows as he would in England.

How Finland Secures Presents

In Finland there is a very practical method of getting handsome presents out of relatives and friends. At a wedding reception the bride and bridegroom are seated in the two places of honour, arrayed in all their splendour, and the bride holds on her knees a sieve, covered with a rich silk shawl. As the guests advance one by one, according to their rank, to congratulate the pair, each guest slips a monetary offering into the sieve. The sum collected is towards the outfit of the bride. The most trying part of the proceedings is, that as each offering is put into the sieve, the name of the donor and the sum given is shouted out in a loud voice by a groomsman standing beside the bride. Truly an astonishing proceeding to the English mind !

Though the Turkish law allows a man four wives, polygamy is rapidly going out of fashion. It is chic to imitate the rest of Europe and practise monogamy. Young Turkey is extremely keen on this point. Turkish women are much better off than Englishwomen in matters concerning property. At marriage a Turkish lady is endowed with a separate estate, over which her husband has no control, and she retains it even after having been divorced. She can dispose as she wishes of any property that was hers before her marriage, and this is often considerable, as in Turkey daughters inherit equally with sons.

A very excellent custom, that ought also to be followed in England, is that in the marriage settlement a stated sum is allowed her for housekeeping expenses, and no one has a right to inquire how it is spent. In many other ways, too, the Turkish law favours women. A husband is obliged to maintain his wife and children according to his means. Should the wife die while her children are under age, their custody is given to the mother's relations, and her own mother has the first right to them.

When one realises all this, one perceives that Great Britain, foremost in almost everything else, is really a long way behind the nations in her treatment of her women.

The Russian bride is allowed no veil at a Greek church marriage, no gloves, no bridesmaids. She stands at the left side of her husband, and is followed by twelve young men; twelve others follow the bridegroom. The bride is a small boy carrying an icon or, sacred image. She is given a taper, and the bridegroom also carries one. These are held aloft during the whole of the proceedings, which include a procession three times round the church.

The twelve young men take it in turns to hold a crown over the heads of the happy pair, singing while they do so. The party then retires to the scene of the wedding reception; champagne is poured out in glasses for every guest, and the clinking of these glasses is an important part of the proceedings.

The rule about presents is an inversion of our own. Each guest is given one, the happy pair receiving gifts only from near relatives. The bride usually wears a little jacket made of imitation lace while the service is going on. Real lace is never worn except at royal weddings, on account of the grease from the taper. It is liable to fall over the lace and so to ruin it.