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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 75

Marriage and Divorce: — E Ecclesiastical and the Rationalistic Conceptions of Mariage Contrasted

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Marriage and Divorce:

[unclear: E] Ecclesiastical and the Rationalistic Conceptions of Mariage Contrasted.

[unclear: s] to the nature of marriage there are two [unclear: inct] conceptions—the ecclesiastical and the [unclear: onalistic]. According to the former marriage a divine institution—"holy" matrimony,—our knowledge of its nature and essentials derived from revelation and patristic [unclear: tradi-] This idea of the sacredness of marriage commonly and thoughtlessly, and, to my [unclear: d], blaspbemously, expressed in the vulgar [unclear: ing,] "Marriages are made in Heaven." acording to tbe rationalistic view, on the other [unclear: d], marriage is simply an outcome of some-[unclear: ng] inherent in human nature, and is subject development as other institutions are, such the family and the State. It in the result of process of evolution from tribal promiscuity [unclear: d] "marriage by capture," through polyandry [unclear: d] polygamy, to the very imperfect form of [unclear: nogamy] now prevailing. According to the [unclear: elesiastical] view the essentials of [unclear: marriage] to be found in the "marriage" in Para-[unclear: e], and the most important of those essensials indissolubility, a doctrine based upon a [unclear: eral] rendering of the obviously metaphorical pression, "they shall be one fleet." This [unclear: ctrine] in all its strictness is held mainly by [unclear: tholics] and by the High Church section [unclear: of] English Church, who regard matrimony [unclear: as] of the sacraments, and as partaking of [unclear: eir] mystical character.

[unclear: With] people imbued with this doctrine, dissition were useless, because for them the sub-[unclear: et] is placed beyond the region of [unclear: discussion] the express teaching of an authority which [unclear: ey] regard as infallible. The Catholic believes [unclear: arriage] to be indissoluble because he is taught [unclear: st] God, through tbe Bible and an infallible [unclear: urch] has miraculously so declared it. Other [unclear: ligious] bodies hold a somewhat similar view, [unclear: hough] on different grounds. Whilst reject [unclear: g] the Catholic doctrine, which treats matri-[unclear: ony] as sacrament, they still more scornfully [unclear: ject] all rationalistic ideas on the subject, and establish their doctrine upon certain utterances attributed to Christ, which they accept as miraculously inspired. The position of the Catholic, however much one may dissent from it, must be admitted to be logically tenable and comparatively secure, for be is enabled to overcome all difficulties in the interpretation of Scripture by accepting the teaching of his church as equally inspired with Scripture itself. The remarkable thing is that other religicus bodies, whilst rejecting the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the teachings of a church, accept a particular traditional interpretation of Christ's utterances as being no more open to doubt than Christ's miraculous character and the miraculous accuracy of tbe Gospels. Whilst the Catholic builds his superstructure upon a foundation which other religious bodies regard as unsound, they themselves retain the superstructure with no foundation at all, but suspended in mid-air.

I have no intention of entering upon any questions of interpretation; but to complete this part of my argument it is necessary to state the position a little more fully. The ground, then, on which opposition to proposals for the amendment of the law of divorce is unually based is found in certain texts of Scripture, of which the leading one is: "What, therefore, God hath joined together let not man put asunder." The Catholic Church accepts this ulterance in its simplicity as an absolute prohibition of divorce on any ground. Others, however, qualify the generality of this utterance by another, "Whosever shall put away his wife except for fornication [porneia], and shall marry another, committeth adultery." New it is well known that of this text there are various readings, in some of which there is no reference to the exception allowing divorce on the ground of porneia.

But besides the difficulties arising from this great diversity in the readings, there is an even greater doubt as to the interpretation of page 2 the word translated "fornication" [porneia]. The Catholic overcomes, or rather evades, all such difficulties by accepting as final and infallible the teaching of his church, which settles the matter by declaring against divorce for any caute. For those who are doable to accept this position, the rational course is to recognise that utterances so conflicting in their terms and so doubtful in their meaning cannot have been intended as the promulgation of a law. What a forcible illustration we have here of the truth of the saying "the letter killeth"! People who in dealing with all other social questions have shaken themselves Free from the fetters of theological dogmas and superstitions continue to be dominated on this subject by considration derived unconsciously from centuries of Catholic tradition—a tradition the rejection of which was one of the leading points in the Protestant revolt against the Catholic Church. People who would not for one moment allow a text of Scripture however plain its meaning, still less a traditional interpretation of an obscure text, to arrest a proposed reform in any other social sphere are brought to a standstill here. Bow has it come about that whilst no man in his senses is expected to accept certain other injunctions in the Sermon on the Mount as constituting a law valid and binding for all time, this particular one should be so accepted ? Most of those other injunctions have been taken solemnly, but not seriously.

If we are to be told that, in some cases, Christ's sweeping mandates are, of course, not to be understood literally, when they are so clearly expressed, is it not strange that passages that require interpretation by an infallible church are to be accepted as conclusive, and as forming a bar to all reform ? Texts whose meaning is clear are either ignored or explained away, whilst those whose meaning it is impossible to ascertain with certainty are dressed up as theological scarecrows. The explanation of the matter is found in the fact that most people are, on this point, still urconsciously dominated by the teachings and traditions of a church claiming to be infallible, and by the laws imposed by that church. Unfortunately, our marriage laws have come to be regarded as sacred because they are of ecclesiastical origin, and consequently it is assumed that they cannot be improved as other laws are. Marriage has thus come to be regarded as a stationary institution, and not subject to change and development like other institutions. It affords an illustration of the law stated by Spencer: "Whenever requirements which have their roots in the order of nature come to be enforced by an extrinsic authority, obedience to that extrinsic authority takes the place of obedience to the natural requirements." As Milton says :"Whose prefers matrimony or other [unclear: ordin] before the good of man and the plain [unclear: er] cies of charity, let him profess Papist [unclear: or] testant or what he will, he is no better [unclear: th] Pharisee."

To me it seems a misuse of [unclear: Scriptur] expect to find therein either law or [unclear: ct] Christ's doctrine of divorce is one [unclear: that] Protectant nation has dared to [unclear: incorp] into law or carry out in practice. He [unclear: sa] man may put away his wife for one [unclear: cause] one only, but He makes no provision [unclear: for] wife putting away her husband at all [unclear: for] cause! The New Testament doctrine of [unclear: div] is entirely one-sided, and can never [unclear: have] intended as the promulgation of a law [unclear: bind] for all time.

Now, in what has preceded, my [unclear: object] been, not to discuss the grounds of the [unclear: ec] astical conception of matrimony, but [unclear: merely] point out that the ordinary theological [unclear: ob] tions to the extension of the liberty of [unclear: div] beyond the grounds of adultery are not [unclear: be] upon Scripture, but upon a traditional [unclear: i] pretation derived from the Catholic [unclear: Ch] This was recognised even in England in [unclear: e] post-Reformation times, as [unclear: appears] Cranmer's "Reformatio Legum," which [unclear: show] recognised opinion and sentiment of the [unclear: Ch] of England at that time, and [unclear: contains] views of the Reformers. This work [unclear: allowed] lawful causes of divorce, not only [unclear: adultery] also desertion, protracted absence, [unclear: m] enmities, and lasting cruelty. This [unclear: op] prevailed for a period of only [unclear: about] years, and as a rule [unclear: d] ngland, in [unclear: re] to the marriage laws, as in most [unclear: ma] ecclesiastical, took a middle course, [unclear: and] every stage the history discloses [unclear: "l] Catholicism," to use the happy phrase [unclear: of] G. H. Lewes. In Scotland the view [unclear: ad] by the Reformers has prevailed ever [unclear: since] since the sixteenth century desertion has [unclear: be] ground of divorce. And yet not long [unclear: a] number of ministers of the Presbyterian [unclear: Ca] of Otago committed themselves to a [unclear: pronun] ment to the effect that divorce on the [unclear: gro] desertion is not only unscriptural [unclear: but] sarily subversive of morality—a [unclear: position] is quite untenable. No social problem [unclear: wa] adequately solved by this light and airy [unclear: m] of passing resolutions embodying [unclear: state] that are quite incapable of proof. [unclear: For] of Scotch Presbyterians to pronounce [unclear: di] on the ground of desertion [unclear: subver] morality is simply to libel their [unclear: country], to show how little consideration they [unclear: gave] important question; whilst the [unclear: narrow] matic spirit shown is worthy of men [unclear: who] be prepared to rend in twain their [unclear: church] such a question as that of marriage [unclear: w] deceased wife's sister.

The question can never be [unclear: adequitely] with until it is recognised as a [unclear: purely] page 3 and not a theological one, to be handled as freely as other social questions are—until we put away from us a11 theological prepossessions, which prevent the application to this subject of those principles which are applied in discussing all other social subjects.

The Rationalistic View the Nobler.

It will no doubt be said that this would be to take a degrading view of the subject. Now, there is no doubt that the Catholic conception of matrimony as a sacrament—the truth of which I should be the last to defend—tends to emphasise the fact that to true marriage something is essential beyond the mere physical union. But that the ordinary theological view of marriage is in any way nobler than the rationalistic view I entirely deny, Let us contrast for example, the conception of marriage presented in the form prescribed for the solemnisation of matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer with that presented by Milton. How the conception of marriage presented in the form used in the English Church can be described as elevating I cannot imagine. The second of "the causes for which matrimony was ordained "as there set forth is as follows :—" It was ordained as a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of contineacy might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body." Now, it aetmi to me, that the view here presented of "holy" matrimony is not only sadly gross and material, but deplorably perverted and untrue to human nature. It is difficult to believe that emancipated and cultured women will much longer tolerate a form of solemnisation which treats woman as a tempter and demoraliser, and regards the congugal relation at inferior to the prudery of asceticism or to a divinely-ordained celibacy. This conception of "holy" matrimony is as degrading as it is untrue to the facts of human nature, In New Zealand, as in England, the ecclesiastical conception of marriage and the traditional interpretation of the Gospels have been repudiated so far as to recognise that marriage is dissoluble, and that, too, by the State. But the purely physical ecclesiastical idea of the conjugal relation still so far dominates our legislative handling of the subject that adultery is the only cause recognised as sufficient to justify dissolution of the marriage bond, and consequently "no remedy can be found for miserable or unfortunate unions without someone paying for it by a cruel social stigma." Hence, as the result of a slavish Biblolatry, the performance of a discreditable action is made an antecedent condition of arriving at an end which the law sanctions, and sanctions only because it is supposed to be desirable. But surely the climax of absurdity is reached when our law refuses to dissolve a union if it; be shown that the spouse asking for dissolution has been guilty of the offence charged against the other spouse. If both spouses have shown their contempt for the obligations of marriage, and their desire to free themselves from its bondage, surely the reason is all the stronger why society should not hold them chained together; but, so far from looking at the matter in this light, the law takes care that the fetters shall be riveted on their limbs for ever.

Milton'S View the Loftiest.

Let us contrast with this grossly physical ecclesiastical view of marriage that of Milton—the highest and noblest conception at which the world has yet arrived; a conception which appeals to all that is most noble and most beautiful in life, and is more in consonance with that spiritual view of marriage which finds expression in our noblest literature, according to which marriage is the closest form of friendship between man and woman, having for its primary end the "completion of man's being by some fitting, some ennobling, some lasting companionship and affection." According to the sacerdotalist view as embodied in our law, union in the name of the law is all-important, and union by affection is less important. According to Milton's view, union by affection is the most important, and union in the name of the law the least important. "The internal form and soul of this relation," says Milton, "is conjugal eve arising from a mutual fitness to the dual causes of wedlock." "Law cannot command love, without which matrimony hath no true being, no good, no solace, nothing of God's instituting, nothing but so sordid and so low as to be disdained of any generous parson." "Christ Himself tells," he says, "why should not be put asunder—namely, those whom God bath joined." But, "when is it that God may be said to join ? When the parties and their friends consent? No surely, . . . . Or is it when church rites are finished ? Neither, for the efficacy of those depends upon the presupposed fitness of either party. Undoubtedly a peaceful divorce is a Less evil, and Less in scandal than hateful, hardhearted, and destructive continuance in marriage in the judgment of Moses and of Christ." "What thing more instituted to the delight and solace of man than marriage ? And yet the misinterpreting of some Scripture hath changed the blessing of matrimony into a drooping and disconsolate household captivity, without refuge or redemption. What a sore evil is this under the sun ! What a calamity is this! . . . Not that licence and levity should therein be countenanced, but that some couscunable and tender pity might be had for those who have unwarily, in a thing they never practised before, made themselves the bondmen of a luckless and, helpless matrimony." "Who sees not," he exclaims, "how much more Christianity it would page 4 be to break by divorce that which is broken by undue and forcible keeping" "It is a less bremch of wedlock to put with wise and quiet cousent betimes, than still to foil and profane that mystery of joy and union with a polluting sadness and perpetual distemper; for it is not the outward continuing of marriage that keeps whole that covenant."

It has been well said that nowhere else in the English language, or probably in any other, has the highest and noblest conception of marriage been set forth with such majestic eloquence as in Milton's treatises on the subject; and yet such has been the influence of sacerdotalism and theological dogma that scarcely any progress has been made in the rationalising of our law and customs during the 240 years that have elapsed since the publication of Milton's treatises. For in Milton's day adultly was recognised as a ground of divorce. And even to New Zealand, under a Parliament that boasts of its liberalism in dealing with all social questions, it seems wellnigh impossible to obtain that measure of reform which most of the Australian colonies Introduced years ago. That the ecclesiastical conception of wedlock should still retain such a bold is very remarkable in a community in which marriage by a Catholic priest, or by a Protestant clergyman or minister, has Legally no more virtue than marriage by a registrar, who is merely a civil officar, and in which, indeed, the priest or minister in officiating at a marriage derives his authority from the State, just as much as the registrar. The priest is, in fact, simply a sub-registrar, and yet so superstitious are the notions of must people on the subject that they imagine marriage by a clergyman is something quite diffarent from the same ceremony performed by a registrar. And then it seems quite hopetess to expect the mass of the people to see that such a conception of marriage as we find in Milton is infinitely higher and nobler than the ecclesiastical viaw which he combated. No one who gives the subject any real consideration can help seeing the superiority of Hilton's view, but legicaL conusequces deducible from this conception are so much at variance from the prevailing ideas as to the grounds on which divorcs should be granted that people refuse to recognise the truth. If once it be admitted that "If action is "the internal form and soul" of marriage, and that the mere ceremonial rite has no sacred virtue—that it is the existence of this affection, and not any ceremony, that renders matrimony "holy"—that marriage is divine only when—

Friendship love, and peace combine

To stamp the marriage bond [unclear: divin],—

then in follows that where affection has never existed, or is dead, true marriage does not exist.,

'When love," Milton says, "finds its If utterly nmatched, and justly vanishes—nay, rather cannot but vanish,—the fleshly [unclear: relation] indeed continue, but not holy, not [unclear: pure] beseeming the sacred bond of marriage; [unclear: be] truly gross and more ignob'e than the [unclear: m] kindliness between herds and flocks, [unclear: W] then, shall divorce bs granted for [unclear: was] bodily fidelity and not for want of fitness intimate conversation, whereaa corporal [unclear: be] lence cannot in any human fashion be [unclear: with] this."

What should be the Grounds of [unclear: Divo]

The truth is that, it is the very [unclear: elevation] Milton's view of the subject : that has [unclear: prev] it's general adoption. His writings on [unclear: the] ject have been represented as mers [unclear: spe] pleading in favour of freedom of [unclear: divorce,] they are really only an elaborate and [unclear: eloq] amplification of his description of "the [unclear: in] soul and form" of marriage. For one [unclear: thing] does not suit male legislators [unclear: who] determined to maintain the utterly [unclear: unte] distinction between adultery of the [unclear: hus] and that of the wife. And the chu [unclear: ches] [unclear: tabooed] the teacching of the Portion [unclear: M] as lax and unscriptural, became it tends [unclear: to] their own into contempt. But nothing [unclear: is] certain than that the educated woman [unclear: of] future will reject the church service [unclear: view] marriage and the disgust generated [unclear: by] ecclesiastical conception of marriage will [unclear: go] towards destroying all faith in the [unclear: rel] character of the institution. It will [unclear: come] generally recognised that since [unclear: affection] "the internal form and soul" o [unclear: marriage] its [unclear: fioal] end is the happiness and welfare [unclear: of] parties and of the family, and the good [unclear: of] commonwealth, the conclusion is [unclear: obvious] when "conjugal affection arising from [unclear: m] fitness" does not exist, the union is [unclear: al] null. It follows that any causes shuld be [unclear: re] nised as a ground for dissolution [unclear: of] marriage, bond which experience shows [unclear: to] such a nature that it renders conjugal [unclear: fe] impossible. That adultery is the [unclear: only] which produces this deplorable effect [unclear: c] be contended for one moment—nor [unclear: that] the most serious, except from the [unclear: phy] ecclesiastical point of view.

Desert1On a Stronger Ground [unclear: than] Adultery.

Of such cause, there can be no [unclear: doubt] disertion, when it is wilful, [unclear: deliberate,] long continued (say for three years), is [unclear: o] the most unmistakeble; another [unclear: is] habitual cruelty and neglect, These [unclear: two] by their very nature indicate the total [unclear: ab] of the essentials of true wedlock [unclear: according] any rational conception of it. As [unclear: Lucky] "Anyone who can look at the subject [unclear: th] other than ecclesiastical spectacles [unclear: mus] that long-continued disartion is really [unclear: a] complete rupture of the marriage [unclear: bond] even infidelity itself." In Scotland, as [unclear: I] before mentioned, desrtion has been [unclear: recog] page 5 [unclear: a] ground of divorce ever since the Reformation, probably on the authority of the Protestant [unclear: view] of the teaching of St. Paul lodeed, in all Pretestant countries, with the exception of England and some of her colonis, and, I think, one of the American States, deaertion is so regarded The objection commonly raised to desetion being made a ground—that it would enable parties bent upon obtaining a divorce to attain their object by arrangement—is surely the very [unclear: spotheosis] of fallacy and absurdity. It is [unclear: surely] very far-fetched suggestion that parties [unclear: intent] obtaining a separation as speedily [unclear: as] possible would adopt a method requiring [unclear: there] years for the attainment of their object, when a single act of adultery, or even conduct sufficient to justify an inference of the composition of adultery, would serve the purpose so much better. And yet, apart from [unclear: Sxipture] and ecclesiastical cousiderations, [unclear: this] almost the only kind of argument [unclear: usually] employed. The suggestion often [unclear: made], that the period of desertion should be [unclear: extend] to seven years, is not only cruel in the [unclear: extreme], but it ignores the nature of the quality [unclear: in] human nature which lies at the vary reached on Friday morning. I learn from [unclear: foundation] of marriage. Another objection, and the most irrational of all, is that it if desertion were recognised as a ground of dissolution the number of divores would be enormously increased. This objection [unclear: emanates] from the purely theoligical view that the sanctity of marriage is derived from the [unclear: mere] ceremonial rite; but according to the view I am urging affection is the internal form and [unclear: ul] of marriage, and where that is wanting the conjugal relation is a mere empty huak. When husband has deserted his wif i for, say, three years, and left his children unprovided for, the marriage bond is already dissolved, and divorce is merely a recognition of the fact, To speak of the sanctity of marriage in such circumtances is simply to use the words without a meaning-it is a cruel mockery. The [unclear: anutity] of marriage is not impaired by divorce but by the impurity and inhumanity that lead to it. At gold is purified by the rejection of the alloy, so the sanctity of marriage is strengthened and not impaired when grosa misconduct on one side enables the sufferer to escape from a bond which it is a misuse of terms to describe any longer as holy. To speak of marriage as a sacrament in such cases is an [unclear: outrage] alike on religion and common sence; it were truer, indeed, to speak of the [unclear: sacrament] of divorce.

We have thus arrived at the principle that the marriage bond is dissoluble, not merely nor mainly on the ground of [unclear: adultery] of either party but is [unclear: dissotuble] "for any fault sufficiently grave of any kind, and, what is still more important on the ground of any quality or characteristic icin either party which, without being a fault in either, makes happiness impossible."

Common Objections Answered : Impairing the Sanctity of the Family.

The objections commonly set up to this view are based upon the vague idea that to tamper with the marriage bond in any way would be to destroy marrige altogether, and with it the institution of the famly; and this idea has its root in the sacerdotalist view that the belief in the sanctity of marriage and of the family, instead of being the outcome of something inherent in human nature, is the impress of an extrinsic power acting humanity Sacerdotalists in all ages have sought to impose upon mankind as divine, laws of their own devising. This is an inversion of cause and effect, for laws have not made human nature, but human nature has made the laws : men imagine that when they are explaining facts they are somehow creating them, as the meteorologist in Russilas observed the clouds till he came to think that he caused the rain, It is as absurd to thing that the so called sacred laws of marraige as taught by the churuhes produced the belief in the sanctity of marriage, and that the destruction of marriage must ensure upon their relaxation, as it is to suppose that the conscience was created by a belief in hall and will perish when hell ceases to be credible. There is no more cause to fear that such relaxation would csuse men and women to rush into all kinds of sexual irregularities than that they would wallow is wickedness like swine in filth if they ceaseed to believe in hell. "The average man, quite apart from any religions theories, marries a wife with the intention of remaining mirried to her. Indeed, the more femly we believe that the permanence of marriage is approved and willed by God, the more firmly we must believe that such permanence has in it nothing arbitrary, but that God wills it because man's nature is most completely satisfied by it."

Increase in the Number of Divorces.

[unclear: Of] all the illogical and absurd arguments against the extension of the liberty of divorce that which is based on the increasing of the number of divorces seems to me the most absurd. The whole object of such an amendment of the law is to afford increased grounds and facilities for obtaining divorce. The question is, not whether the number of divorces would be increased, but whether the evils that render divorce necessary would bs thereby increased in number. In Scotland, for example, the number of divorces is much larger in proportion to the population than it is in New Zealand. But it is notorious that in New Zealand, as in the other colonies, wife dssertion is exceedingly common, and it necessarily follows that, if desertion were made a ground of dissolution, page 6 the number of divorces would increase. But no one who takes the trouble to think would suggest that in such circumstances the increase of the number of divorces would be a valid objection to the proposed change in the law. On the contrary, to anyone Looking at the subject without theological prepossessions, and just as one would regard any other social problem, the greater the number of divorces that would ensue, the greater would appear the necessity for the change. Marriage is but an means to a end; in case of desertion for three years the marriage has ceastd to serve that end, and to allow divorce in such a case is simply to recognise that fact, not to cause it; and surely all the arguments in favour of marriage as a means of promoting happiness tell in favour of setting the innocent spouse free from a bondage which in many cases is the most galling that the mind of man can conceive.

So unreal and self-contradictory are the notions of many persons on this subject that it is not an uncommon thing to hear the same people who are so fond of dwelling open the increase in the number of divorces that would ensue upon any relaxation of the law argue that, after all, the number of cases in which marriage is a failure is very small. It is difficult to imagine anything more galling to the victims of our irrational divorce law than hearing those who have the good fortune to be happily wedded apeak in this light-hearted way on a subject of such dire import to so many of their Less fortunate fellow-cratures, whose lives have been blighted by unhappy marriages. To such, luckless ones what terrible irony must appear all the talk about marriages being made in Heaven, the sanctity of the home, the sacrednees of the family, and the danger of impairing the sanctity of home-life by discrediting the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage! That a considerable proportion of marriages is of this kind we alt know, and to keep so many men and women in a false position, and in a condition that inclines to immorality, is surely a heavy price to pay for the peace of mind of those who, having no discomfort themselves, take a pleasure in thinking that the marriage bond is indissoluble.

Differences but Ministers of Love.

Another of the arguments commonly used against any relaxation of the marriage bond is the danger that a mere temporary quarrel or disagreement would lead both parties to a step which they would bitterly regret afterwards. Now, whilst it is, no doubt, true in many cases that differences "are but ministers of Love, and feed his sacred flame,"it is only where true affection exists; and we are dealing with cases where true love either sever did exist or is dead. As has been well said, "it is sorely a higher, a happier, a more desirable thing in a husband that he should cherish and please his wife for fear she should get rid of him than [unclear: th] should smother his ill-temper oravesion [unclear: be] he cannot getrid of her." If the [unclear: indissolu] marriage in many cases tends to repress [unclear: dis] ments, its dissolubility in more would prevent disagreements from arising, [unclear: and] make the union depend mainly on [unclear: whe] it sanctity—on mutual attraction and [unclear: ca] not on an external chain. Although [unclear: the] tion with which I am now dealing [unclear: mi] entitled to some weight if it were [unclear: prop] make marriage dissoluble at the [unclear: mere] the parties, it has no force at all when [unclear: th] posal is merely to make desertion [unclear: ext] over a period of years, habitual [unclear: cruelt] neglect, and habitual drunkenness [unclear: gro] divorce.

The Interests of Childerens.

Other considerations arise when the [unclear: i] of children have to be considered, for [unclear: the] ness and welfare of the children is [unclear: one] great ends of marriage, Where [unclear: there] children it is difficult to se on [unclear: what] (apart from theological dogmas) [unclear: the] should interfere at all to prevent [unclear: dissol] the marriage contract at the will of [unclear: the p] when the union completely fails [unclear: to] its purpose—the promotion of [unclear: happiness] such cases, neither the interests of [unclear: the] nor the good of society is promoted by [unclear: p] ing dissolution. But where there [unclear: are] it is impossible to exaggerate the [unclear: important] maintaining the permanence of [unclear: the] the parents, on whose example so much [unclear: de] and the purity of the bome, in [unclear: whi] foundations of character are laid. [unclear: B] home-life Is an impossibility where [unclear: the] the parents entirely misses its real [unclear: end] any cause that renders the marriage [unclear: ho] unhappy. It cannot be suggested [unclear: that] is the only violation of toe [unclear: conjugal] that produces this result; for [unclear: whislt] doubt true that this offence tends [unclear: to] upon the character that baleful influence Burns deplores in the exclamation—

But, oh ! it deaderns a' within

And petrifles the feelin'.

—it is also true that it is an offence [unclear: whi] not necessarily obtrude itself upou [unclear: the] of the children. Cruelty, negltct, [unclear: i] and habitual drunkenness are [unclear: mue] disastrous in their effects upon [unclear: the] than that offence which those who [unclear: t] purely physical view of the [unclear: relationship] as the most serious. It is one of the [unclear: b] markable facts in the history of [unclear: soci] people should so long have remained [unclear: in] to a theory of marriage so purely [unclear: phys] degrading as that which refuses to [unclear: re] anything but adultery as ground of [unclear: diss] and it is still more remarkable that [unclear: this] tion should so long continue to be [unclear: reg] the loftiest attainable on the subject.

page 7

The Greastest Blot of all.

The greatest blot oa our law upon this subjuct the distinction made to the disadvantage [unclear: of] wife in refusing to allow her an equal right [unclear: th] the husband to divorce on the ground of [unclear: altery]. That the law of England should [unclear: be] last stronghold of this shameful doctrine is [unclear: eed] remarkable, and it is directly [unclear: traceable] the influence of sacerdotalism : for it is [unclear: to] State, not to the Church, that woman owes [unclear: e] improvement in her position, and the State [unclear: nnot] much longer allow a mere superstition to [unclear: event] the removal of this injustice. The [unclear: called] reason for the distinction.

Periculum matris conquinari regias,

Contaminari stirpem ac miscere genus.

no reason at all, except on the purtly [unclear: ysical] ecclesiastical conception of marriage. [unclear: is] mere pretext maintained by the long [unclear: e] of legislators and judges, all men who have emnly declared that the sin most serious [unclear: in] woman is in a man the moat venial. The [unclear: d] Ecclesiastical Court of Italy had such a firm belief in cardinals that before it would believe in the adultery of one of these dignitaries it required the evidence of seven eye witnesses. We can smile at this, but in not the rule that a wife cannot get a divorce for her husband's adultery tainted with the same vice? Both illustrate the maxim, "No one is a good judge in his own cause."


The proposal to constitute habitual drunkennees and insanity grounds of dissolution of the marriage bond rests on a somewhat different basis, but one which is, I am convinced, perfectly sound. And the day cannot be far distant when people will look with horror upon the superstition that a marriage between parties one of whom has the taint of hereditary insanity can be rendered holy and indissoluble by a religious or legal ceremony. By he new Civil Code of Germany, which comes into operation in 1900, incurable insanity is made a ground of dissolution.

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