I have spoken elsewhere of the savage who secures his bride by knocking her down, and dragging her off to his hut, without, however, I sincerely trust, conveying the impression that I endorse such a strenuous system of wooing, or in any way favor its general adoption. When the wedding of a Mosquito Indian brave is arranged, the presents duly delivered, and the prospective father-in-law properly stimulated with "red-eye," as marriage by capture is a custom of the tribe, the bridegroom pounces upon bis fiance and carries her off, followed by her family and relatives, the latter making, as in more civilized life, only a weak pretence of rescuing her."
In Australia, Africa, Tasmania, Fiji, Samoa, New Guinea, India, Lapland, and among the Arab and Tartar races of Central India, the same forcible means of courtship seems to have been common. According to Dionysius of Haliearnassus, marriage by capture was customary in ancient Greece; and Plutarch tells us the Spartans retained forcible abduction as an important symbol of the marriage rite.
Among the Romans, the bride hid her head in her mother's lap, whence she was torn by force by the bridegroom and his friends;4 and the Welsh lover, according to Karnes, secured his bride in the same way.5 In Greenland, as we are told by Nansen, the prevailing method of contracting marriage is for the young man to go to the girl's tent, catch her by the hair, the foot, or anything else which offers, and drag her off to his dwelling without more ado. Lively scenes, however, sometimes result, as it is considered bold, and lacking in maidenly bashfulness to submit too readily; so the young lady kicks, squirms and scratches, with real or simulated vigor, the relatives standing by with the greatest unconcern, regarding it as a purely private affair between the parties involved—which it undoubtedly is; and as something not to be interfered with by a man who desires to live on good terms with his neighbors.1