· Are you a man or an angel ?!”. Mrs. Hawthorne says in one of her letters quoted in the book : “The flame of his eyes consumed compliment, cant, sham, and falsehood; while the most wretched sinners—so many of whom came to confess to him-met in his glance such a pity and sympathy that they ceased to be afraid of God and began to return to Him. . I never dared gaze at him, even I, unless his lids were down."

I think we have, most of us, seen eyes like these-eyes which one rather avoids meeting, because when met one is startled by the sight of a naked human soul brought so near. One person, at least, I have known to whom the above description would apply in every particular; a man whose intellectual and moral nature was of the highest order, and who perished at the age of thirty, a martyr, like the late Dr. Rabbeth, in the cause of science and humanity.

How very strange, then, that savage man should have been endowed with this eye unsuited to express the instincts and passions of savages, but able to express that intelligent and high moral feeling which a humane civilisation was, long ages after, to develop in his torpid brain ! A fact like this seems to fit in with that flattering, fascinating, ingenious hypothesis invented by Mr. Wallace to account for facts which, according to the theory of natural selection, ought not to exist. But, alas ! that beautiful hypothesis fails to convince. Even the most degraded råces existing on the earth possess a language and the social state, religion, a moral code, laws, and a species of civilisation ; so that there is a great gulf between them and the highest ape that lives in the woods. And as far back as we can go this has been the condition of the human race, the real primitive man having lest no writing on the rocks. In the far dim past he still appears, naked, standing erect, and with a brain "larger than it need be,” according to the theory ; so that of the oldest prehistoric skull yet discovered Professor Huxley is able to say that it is a skull which might have contained the brains of a philosopher or of a savage. We can only conclude that we are divided by a very thin partition from those we call savages in our pride ; and that if man has continued on the earth, changing but little, for so vast a period of time, the reason is, that while the goddess Elaboration has held him by one hand, endeavouring ever to lead him onwards, the other hand has been clasped by Degeneration, which may be personified as a beauteous and guileful nymph whose fascinations have had as much weight with him as the wisdom of the goddess.



NO. 1852.



THE Eng marriage law as it now stands is a curious piece of 1 Farch work. The criginal texture-a plain web of solid stuff hich was no doubt we seired to its primal uses- is still largely an arent; but it has been overlaid by additions of more luxurious material and seamed in repair of ancient damage. Most conspicuous upon it, towerer, are the amending squares introduced, the enlarging borders added, by the busy fingers of modern legislators; and body interrelated into its very midst is one large patch of recent weaving which makes no pretence to correspond with the surrounding fabric ether in tint or texture.

It is indeed almost in our own day that the mixed and motley character of the marriage law has been chiefly imparted to it. A couple of generations back it was far simpler than it is at present. Accustomed as we now are to entire freedom in all matters associated with religious observance, it seems strange to us that the grandfathers of those who are of marriageable age to-day, were compelled, whaterer their creed or lack of creed, to marry according to the rites of the Church of England. Yet except the members of two privileged bolies-the Jews and Quakers-all candidates for matrimony were obliged to comply with these conditions up to the year 1837. In earlier days, as ereryone knows, the most independent and daring nuptial methods had been discovered and practised. During the latter part of the seventeenth, and the first half of the eighteenth centuries, an illicit marriage trade of large extent and scandalous character had been carried on in London. The “ Fleet Parsons,” who had conducted it, their dissolute habits, their squalid surroundings, their mingled wretchedness and effrontery, are familiar facts. But the irregularities which they had represented had perished well nigh a hundred years before the date named above. By the stringent Marriage Act of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, which had become law on the 26th March, 1764, the processes of legal matrimony had been so sharply defined, so weightily enforced by penalties for non-compliance, that the previous irregularities had been crushed. Hence

only three different modes of marriage, and those well armed against evasion, were generally available in England fifty years ago. These were :-(1) Marriage by special licence of the Archbishop of Canterbury; (2) that by common ecclesiastical licence; (3) that after publication of banns. Of the three methods, marriage after banns is the most ancient and orthodox ; it represents what has been called the original fabric of the piece of patchwork under examination. Marriage by licence is later and more luxurious ; it is like an insertion of rich material upon the plainer stuff behind. That by special licence dates in its present form only from the sixteenth century; it is a sort of seam over the Reformation-rent, substituting his Grace the Archbishop for his Holiness the Pope.

It may not always be proof of a grievance when somebody arises to redress one. But it is generally allowed that Lord Russell (Lord John Russell as he was at the time in question) had ample justification for his proceedings when in 1836 he introduced and passed a measure, the object of which was to add to the modes of marriage described, and to add to them in such ways as would meet the wants and suit the spirit of the day. It is to this Statute, which became law on the ist July, 1837, that most of the variety now existing as to methods of espousal is attributable. The new provisions did not efface the old. By them the Church lost none of her rights in reference to marriage; it was only that fresh powers were set in motion to run a race with hers. These powers were created mainly for the relief of Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters-, the bodies to whom previous restrictions had been most distasteful. The Act enabled these to marry on the authority of a civil licence or certificate according to their own forms, and in their own chapels. It also accommodated another class-such as might shrink from a religious ceremony altogether, and legalised nuptials on the warrant of the same documents by purely civil celebration in register-offices. This last was its most striking feature ; it is what has been likened above to a large patch of incongruous material let daringly into the fabric of the previously existing marriage provisions. Except for a short time in the days of the Commonwealth, when marriage before a justice had been compulsory-and then indeed a religious ceremony had usually been performed either before or after the secular formalities--there had been no previous authority in England for civil espousal. Finally the statute provided for the solemnisation of marriage in church on the authority of the same civil certificate which, as above explained, was to be potent elsewhere. Both the certificate and the licence were to be issued after notice duly given

to a civil officer; and these marriage-warrants were, in fact, to be his acknowledgments that such notice had been given and published according to the statutory provisions. Since Lord Russell's Act came into force, although there has been some further legislation affecting marriage, no addition has been made to the modes of espousal then created. The ways of getting married in England and Wales have therefore for some forty-eight years past been as follow:(1) According to Church rites by special licence of the Archbishop of Canterbury ; (2) In church by common ecclesiastical licence. (3) In church after banns ; (4) In church by civil certificate ; (5) In Roman Catholic or Dissenting chapels, with or without religious ceremony by civil licence; (6) In the same with or with. out religious ceremony by civil certificate ; (7) In register-offices without religious ceremony by civil licence ; (8) In the same, under the same condition, by civil certificate. The civil certificate, moreover, has always been available, and the licence now is so also, for marriages of Jews and Quakers according to their own usages. The marriage method represented by the first named of these two civil documents is under all circumstances by far the cheaper, and is consequently guarded by the straiter conditions as to previous residence, &c.

The writer has before him certain tabular statements, which set forth in the clear and concise language of figures, the different degrees of favour bestowed by the English people upon the main divisions of these marriage-methods throughout the greater part of the time during which they have been legal.' The first year dealt with in these statements is 1841 ; the last 1882. They, therefore, embrace 42 years. What they tell is here to be briefly rehearsed and explained.

Curiosity will be felt, in the first place, to know what have been the relations since 1837 between church-marriage and non-ecclesiastical marriage, taking each as a whole. In 1841—the first year dealt with in the tables mentioned, and the fourth after the new provisions had begun to operate, out of 122,496 weddings solemnised, 114,371 were performed by church rites, leaving only 8,125 to take place by all other methods; or to state the case in a different way, supposing the total marriages of the year to be represented by the number 100, those by church rites were to the rest in the proportion of 93.4 to 6:6. Up to this point, therefore, there had been no great eagerness on the part of the people to appropriate the newly-created marriage-privileges. By 1882, however, the latest year embraced in the

Registrar-General's Forty-fifth Annual Report. Tables 4 and 5.


tables from which quotation is being made, and the forty-first after that just referred to, a considerable change is found to have taken place. Of 204,405 marriages which then occurred, but 146,102 were solemnised by church rites, the large remainder of 58,303 having been otherwise performed; or, again to quote figures for the better expression of the proportions, church-marriage stood at 715 per cent. of all weddings celebrated, and other marriage at 28.5 per cent. The proportional decrease on the one hand, and the corresponding increase on the other, had gone forward in the interval without important interruption, the years 1854, 1855, and 1871, having been the only reactionary ones, and those but slightly so. The facts, therefore, to be noted at this point with regard to the forty-two years' marriagehistory are : firstly, that church-marriage altogether, competing with all the extra ecclesiastical means of union created by the Act of 1836, lost during those years to the extent of 21'9 per cent on the annual total of marriages performed ; and secondly, that this loss was incurred by a steady retrogression covering almost the whole period in question. Any inference from these facts, however, as to the numerical relations between Churchmen and non-Churchmen must be drawn with caution. It is certain that in hymeneal matters a large exchange goes on between the two divisions ; but which division, if either, reaps an ultimate advantage in matrimonial numbers from this series of transactions, is not known. In some places there still lingers a sentiment in favour of church-marriage among Wesleyans and other Nonconformists; in others, Churchmen marry at register-offices for the sake of convenience or privacy. Among the masses many are determined in their choice of marriage-methods simply by the consideration of cheapness; and the pecuniary conditions have been sometimes most favourable on one side, and some

influences; their results may therefore preponderate in either direction, or possibly in neither,

Some particulars shall now be given as to the two classes of marriage thus generally remarked on; and church-espousal shall be taken first. The tables already consulted show-after correction has been made for unexplained cases—that in 1841, marriage by special licence and other ecclesiastical licence together was in the proportion of 15.6 per hundred of all marriages solemnised; that banns-marriage was 76'9 per cent.; and that by Superintendent Registrar's certificate, o'9 per cent. [It is not necessary to trouble the reader, in this case, with the actual numbers of weddings.] The proportions for 1882— to compare again the years compared before-are, licence marriage,

« 前へ次へ »