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sought for natural cases, is against nature.”-He says: “And that there is a hidden efficacie of love and hatred in man, as well as in other kinds, not moral, but natural, which though not always in the choice, yet in the success of marriage will ever be most predominant, besides daily experience, the author of Ecclesiasticus, whom wisdom hath set him next to the Bible, acknowledges, xiii. 16. “A man,' saith he, “will cleave to his like.""
In the eleventh chapter he undertakes to prove, " That sometimes continuance in marriage may be evidently the shortening or endangering of life to either party, both law and divinity concluding that life is to be preferred before marriage, the intended solace of life !"
In the twelfth chapter, I suspect we have the true causes assigned why Mrs. Milton had left, and refused to return to her disconsolate, solitary husband. “It is most sure,” he says, “ that some who are not plainly defective in body, yet are destitute of all other marriageable gifts, and consequently have not the calling to marry, &c. Yet it is sure that many such, not of their own desire, but by the persuasion of friends, or not knowing themselves, do often enter into wedlock; where, finding the difference at length between the duties of a married life, and the gifts of a single life, what unfitness of mind, what weari
someness, what scruples and doubts to an incredible offence and displeasure are like to follow between, may soon be imagined; whom thus to shut up, and immure, and shut up together, the one with a mischosen mate, the other in a mistaken calling, is not a cause which wisdom and tenderness ought to use. As for the customs that some parents and guardians have of forcing marriages, it will be better to say nothing of such savage inhumanity, but only thus—that the law which gives not all freedom of divorce to any creature indued with reason so assassinated, is next to cruelty.” This supposed case I have no doubt draws back the curtain, and shows us the scene of family discord which, even during the honey-moon, existed in the house at the end of an alley, looking into a garden in Aldersgate Street! “ And like a bird that is hampered, he struggles to get loose.” Quoting the words of our Lord, “ All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given : he that is able to receive it, let him receive it. What saying is this which is left to a man's choice, to receive or not receive ? What but the married life? Was our Saviour so mild and so favourable to the weakness of a single man, and is he turned on the sudden so rigorous and inexorable to the distresses and extremities of an ill wedded man? Did he so graciously give leave to change the
better single life for the worst married life? Did he open to us this hazardous and accidental door of marriage, to shut upon us like the fate of death, without retracting or returning, without permitting to change the worst, most insupportable, most unchristian mischance of marriages, for all the mischiefs and sorrows that could ensue, being an ordinance which was especially given as a cordial and exhilirating cup of solace, the better to bear our cup of afflictions? Questionless this were a hard-heartedness of undivorcing, worse than in the Jews, which, they say, extorted the allowance from Moses, and is utterly dissonant from all the doctrines of our Saviour." 'Again,” says he,“ Christ himself tells us who should not be put asunder, namely, those whom God hath joined together. A plain solution of this great controversy, if men would but use their eyes. For whom is it that God may be said to join? Only those where the minds are fitly disposed and enabled to maintain a cheerful conversation to the solace and love of each other, according as God intended and promised in the very first foundation of Matrimony ; I will make him a help meet for him. For surely what God intended and promised, that only can be thought to be his joining, and not the contrary.
I acknowledge that I have drudged through this erroneous pamphlet with much pain of
heart; and could have wished, had it been possible, to have gone backward and thrown a veil over such shameful reasonings, on a subject which the word of God has made so plain, that “the wayfaring man though a fool, need not err,” if he pay a simple regard to both the laws of God and man in regard to marriage. My opinion is, that admitting the existence of all the defects in Mrs. Milton's temper and mental capacity, and even her want of the knowledge of religion, that these were to her husband reasons why he should have exercised great “ forbearance,” and probably, in many cases, “forgiveness,” but were no sufficient ground for his “putting away his wife and marrying another,” which nothing but her having dishonoured his bed could have justified.* Will not the following language of the prophet Malachi apply to this case ?-" Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy compa
* AUBREY relates of Mrs. Milton, that she was brought up and bred where there was a great deal of company and merriment, as dancing, &c; and when she came to live with her husband, she found it solitary. No company came to her; and she often heard her nephews cry and be beaten. This life was irksome to her, and so she went home to her parents. He sent for her home after some time. wronging his bed, I never heard the least suspicion of that ; nor had he of that any jealousie.”—Quoted by Todd.
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nion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did he not make one ?”—That is, as I understand it, does not the covenant into which a man and woman enters at marriage, make them one? “One" as to mutual duties ; "one” as to mutual rights. Now, so far as appears, Milton had no thought as to his being under any obligation to bear with the infirmities, and to overlook the provocations of his wife! He does not say a word which indicates that his wife had a claim upon him-even admitting she had given him great occasion for offence—for his affection and pardon. I fear MilTon cannot, in regard to the spirit and treatment manifested towards her, (as she ought to have been considered by him as his “companion, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh," and to have been loved by him “even as Christ loved the Church,”) be defended from the charge of domestic tyranny. It is most humiliating, that the man who so powerfully defended the religious and civil rights and liberties of the nation, against a tyrannical monarch and oppressive prelaty, should have himself treated the wife of his bosom in a similar oppressive manner! As regards domestic jars, I should never think the question applicable, Who gave the first offence? but rather, Which will be the first in showing a spirit of, and adopting means for, promoting reconciliation ? But did Milton act as a husband ought to do