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quarrel by unknown measures and history of the law, and the prospects secret rules of interpretation.'
of any settlement of it but one, the But we are told by Sir Robert ladies may be assured that their Inglis, as a proof that society really husbands do not, speaking generally, will not tolerate such a practice as look upon the repeal of the law as a ladies living with their sisters' hus more remote event than their own bands without the protection of the death. But there is something more law, that two ladies have actually to be said of this objection. Have already left their brothers-in-law's those who make it ever considered house at the bare prospect of its re what they mean by it? Wbat it peal. We cannot help thinking that really means, when reduced to plain the two ladies were in a very unne English and divested of sentimental cessary hurry to run away. It would, decorations is this: that a mere leat any rate, have been time enough gislative and artificial and ineffectual when the act was passed ; and even prohibition of marriage is sufficient then they might very safely have to secure purity of intercourse bewaited till they found that the ex tween men and their wives' sisters, pectations of society really required but that the eristence of a living them to depart. We do not the least wife is not. Perhaps those who set believe that any such expectation up as the representatives or the adwill arise. There may be at first vocates of the women of England, a little outcry raised by the nice had better reflect upon the true impeople of nasty ideas' (according to port of this compliment which they Swift's great apophthegm),and echoed have paid to their clients before they by some who, without the least de
repeat it. serving that character themselves, are Happily, however, for both parintimidated by those who do. But ties, this jealousy which is so grait will abate. The result of past tuitously imputed to wives who have experience will be remembered, and unmarried sisters is not universal. new experience will be added to it For we have seen that many, on the by those who are bold enough and contrary, have at the prospect of pureminded enough to go on living their own death requested their husas they have done with no thought bands to marry their sisters. They of matrimony; and in a short time may, no doubt, have been mistaken the suspicion and the scandal will be in thinking it better to secure to their left, by the pure to whom all things children a stepmother who is already are pure,' to the exclusive use of attached to them as an aunt, than those to whom nothing is pure, for to leave them to the chance of a even their mind and conscience is
strange one. But on this point we defiled.'
believe they are likely to be better These remarks will apply equally judges than Mr. Gladstone, who to another very serious objection thinks that the aunt ought rather that has been raised to the repeal of to be preserved as a sort of outstandthe law ; viz. that it will not only ing protection against a stepmother. prevent the intercourse which can Such are the arguments which the now subsist between widowers and ablest men have condescended to their sisters-in-law, but that it will not content with discovering destroy that which subsists during that the words of the divine law do the life of the wife between the hus not go so far as they were intended band and her sisters. But those who to do, they have now found out that make this objection forget that the men and women cannot judge for whole cause of the present difficulty themselves so well as they can for is, that men do fall in love with them, who are the fittest persons to their wives' sisters, and marry them, be put in the place of the mothers sometimes very soon after the death of their children. of their wives. And therefore we We have only one other objection cannot see how any woman can at on behalf of the ladies to notice : this moment feel at all more secure that if the law is altered, many who that her husband is not already con have no other home will be obliged templating marriage with her sister, either to leave their brothers-inthan she would if there were no law's houses or to marry them. We prohibition. And looking at the have indeed incidentally noticed this
already. But we have further to these gentlemen only mean that the suggest, that the ladies had better social and not the theological quesbe quite sure that it is the law that tion is a woman's question.) The secures to them this home now. We vast number of women who are dihave shewn already that the law has rectly interested in the matter have really nothing to do with the mat signed no petitions, and written ter; but besides that, the law does no pamphlets; neither have their not prevent their brothers-in-law female friends and relatives — of from marrying any other woman, or course a still larger number-who compel that other woman to allow have already expressed their opinion them to stay in the house, or to by sanctioning the marriages : and make their stay there comfortable. we hope they will not; though it is And since widowers do sometimes evident that if they did, they would prefer a wife to an unmarried sister soon outnumber the 11,000 ladies in-law, it is not improbable that of whose petition to the Queen we many a man may say,-- I would heard so much last year. And we gladly marry my sister-in-law, and might add, as a still larger number I know she would consent, if the law of persons quite as much interested, allowed it; but as it does not, I the children of these marriages, who must marry somebody else :' and so are too young as yet to express the law is the cause of her being their own opinions, but who, we turned out of the house instead of may be sure, will, before many years keeping her in it. There can be no are over, express them pretty loudly. doubt that if the law had been gene On this point also we beg to suggest rally obeyed, instead of being sys to the advocates of the ladies, that tematically disregarded and defied, a they would shew a great deal more large proportion of the large number real regard for their interests in of women who have married their what is usually thought the most brothers-in-law would have had to important of all temporal considerdepart and make way for other ations to them, if they would seriwives.
ously apply themselves to the quesWe have seen what the law does tion, how this real misfortune and not do for the persons whom it is evil is to be removed and stopped, supposed to serve; let us now see than by parading against them and what it does. It is all comprehended their children the sentimental and in one short sentence;- it converts fanciful objections of those who have lawful marriage into unlawful, no practical interest in the matter, though tolerated, concubinage. It is and of whom nine out of ten would admitted by those who rightly reject have yielded to the same temptation the estimate of 30,000 of these mar as the persons they condemn, if it riages as excessive, that they may be had been thrown in their way. as many as 3000, which is not much We have not the least inclination, more than twice the number that either on moral or personal grounds, was actually ascertained. Now we to justify those who have wilfully know for certain that every one of entered into these connexions : mothese 3000 women who are now liv. rally, there can be no doubt about ing with their brothers-in-law in the impropriety of them; and permerely tolerated concubinage, would, sonally, we have nothing more than but for the law, have been living in a very slight acquaintance either lawful wedlock. We say nothing with those who have made, or those of the notoriously large number of who are waiting to make, these marcases in which the parties are wish riages. But we are not, therefore, ing to live together as husband and to shut our eyes to the fact, that men wife if they could lawfully. We are nearly every day persuading their agree with Sir Robert Ingiis and sisters-in-law to come and live with Mr. Hope that this is a woman's them as their wives; and that what question.' But we do not agree that the law then says to them is this :the answer to the question is to be * You must take your choice of two sought from the women who sign things; you must either go on living petitions and write letters in favour in this immoral way, or you must of the preservation of this ‘great turn out of your house the woman and increasing evil.' (We suppose you have seduced (for it is obviously
impossible that she could afterwards remain there on the footing of a sister); but as for marrying her, that you shall not do at any rate.' And we must be excused for thinking that the superior purity of English morals' does not owe much to such a law as this, and that the women of England are not particularly interested in preserving it.
We are far, however, from admitting, what the advocates of the prohibition on religious grounds so constantly assert, that there is no difference in the consideration due to persons who have broken this law and any other. There is this very important difference between these persons and all others who are living together in concubinage. Those who do so in the ordinary way, do it because they do not choose to marry, or rather because the man chooses to be at liberty to leave the woman whenever he is tired of her, or because he would be ashamed of her as a wife. These men, on the contrary, who have (as far as they can) married their sisters-in-law, say to the legislature,— It is true we cannot make ourselves husband and wife, but we have done our best by promising before God and the Church to live together unto our lives' end. We ask you, not to set us free from that bond, but to make it firm, and to compel us to live together as we have promised, and to enable us to do so in that state which God has permitted to us, but which you have prohibited, for the sake of a goodfor-nothing and ridiculous reason of your own, which if it were true would be no excuse for your interference.' And to compare such a request as this with the natural wish of thieves and smugglers to relieve themselves from the penalties of the law,' is to display (as Paley says of indiscriminate praise) 'a set
tled contempt of all moral distinctions,' when they stand in the way of a controversial victory.
We have already written too much, and must omit several things on which we should have been glad to speak. The substantial points, however, on which the question de. pends are, after all, very simple. If it is true that thousands of men are living with their sisters-in-law in mere concubinage, --uncondemned by their neighbours,-setting a bad example, and the more so because they are in other respects moral and religious, and because those who sanction their marriage are so too,-teaching those around them to consider themselves as the judges whether laws ought to be obeyed or to be defied, and particularly to confound the distinctions between lawful and unlawful connexions,-begetting illegitimate children who will bear that misfortune long after their parents are dead, and casting disgrace on the national morality; we need not throw into the scale the inconveniences and evils to the offenders themselves to justify us in saying, that the law is ineffectual in doing the little good it was intended to do, and is effectual in doing as much harm as possible. Yet this is the law which we are told we must maintain, because it is in accordance with the will of God, and because of the social and domestic happiness it diffuses. We say, on the contrary, that the disgrace of all these things will henceforth rest, in no small degree, on the heads of those who persist in maintaining the law which produces such fruits, either wilfully refusing to look at the truth, or deliberately postponing the happiness and morality of thousands to the theological prejudices of one set of people, or the sentimental fancies of another.
*** We have just received a piece of information, amusing as well as indicative of the value of negative evidence in general and of Mr. Tyler's in particular. In consequence of his contident statement of the purity of St. Giles, the persons who made the inquiries we have spoken of had the curiosity to extend them to this parish, and one of the first offenders they discovered, among many others, was one of Mr. Tyler's oun churchwardens.
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8. The Dom or Dantzic, Part I.
9. The Stage and its Prospects.
Faunce. Part X.
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