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easy of attainment! We have, we trust, made it sufficiently apparent, that they are not to be hastily pronounced or sought for. If any further evidence were necessary, it. might be found in a Report issued by the Abbé Gregoire, Chairman of a Committee appointed by the National Assembly of France on this subject. In that country, he states, that within three months after their celebrated law permitting Divorces had passed from the National Assembly, there were, in the city of Paris, almost as many Divorces registered as marriages; and in the whole kingdom, upwards of twenty thousand, in the short space of about a year and a half. The Abbé, not without reason, remarks, “ Vraiment cette loi-ci veut bientôt desoler toute la nation.” In the town of Newhaven, in the United States of America, more than fifty Divorces had happened within five years after the extension of the Divorce laws; and in the State of Connecticut, more than four hundred, in the same period, averaging one in every hundred married couple, according to the state of population. There is also an instance recorded of a declaration made by a French soldier before a judicial tribunal in Paris, that he had married eleven wives in eleven years
There can be no doubt of the disorders which a facility of Divorce would necessarily occasion.
If a period in the history of England should ever arrive in which a latitude should be indulged in matters of this kind, evils would be introduced more pregnant with mischief to social intercourse, and destructive of civil comfort, than are those, great indeed as they are, which the more unrestrained indulgence of the crime itself could entail ; and it would be a period in which the sentiment of the poet would be wrung from the hearts of the people, weeping over the waste which the abundant use of this remedy had introduced :
-“ Væ nobis ! Ut olim malis, sic remediis, fessa Terra laboratur.”
We now draw this Essay to a close. One inference will appear prominent in the reflections that have preceded. A wish to revive the ancient spirit of penal visitation against the seducer; a dread of limiting that penalty to the prohibition of his intermarriage with the adulteress, as a measure altogether inadequate to the prevention of the crime, but a recommendation of such a punishment of her, as, while it may keep at a distance the enemies of her virtue, may also impress a salutary caution on her own mind, and a continual apprehension of the loss of her fortune, and the inspection of her moral conduct.
These things might tend to repress that lightness of speech, if not that depravity of heart, which can smile at offences so grave in their criminal complexion, and so deplorable in their results, as if they were of the most trivial and transitory nature, and which, by a perversion of language, can appropriate the most soft and gentle epithets to the arts of seduction, for which the harshest terms are far too mild. To this may be traced, perhaps, much of the disregard of the social obligations, and the violations of the conjugal tie, that prevail in what is called civilized life. Alas! what are our advantages of improvement in science, literature, and art, if they preserve us no better from excesses like these; when nations, destitute of such aids, have yet displayed a circumspection and fidelity well worthy of the study of modern times? There is not a more beautiful delineation of the simplicity of a people, in reference to these matters, than Tacitus gives of his ancient Germans, when he describes them, though destitute of learning and knowledge, yet as cha
racterized by a remarkable freedom from these licentious practices, and these inroads on domestic peace, and possessing a discrimination far better than the attainments of the most refined of modern libertines : “ Nobody among them,” he says, “ calls vice mirth, or the venial custom of the age.” “ Litterarum secreta viri pariter ac feminæ ignorant. Paucissima tamen in tam numerosâ gente Adulteria. Nemo enim illic vitia ridet, nec corrumpere et corrumpi, sæculum vocatur.” It seems as if the historian had brought these sentiments into contact to furnish a sarcasm on those, who, possessing advantages so far superior to their's, are yet distinguished by any thing but their purity, their self-government, and respect for the marriage bond.
One word, in allusion to the motto selected for the Essay, shall bring all to a conclusion. It was intended to convey, as a kind of summary of the treatise, these two particulars ; an intimation of the deficiency of the laws of England, as they now stand, with respect to the visitation of this crime, and an observation of the peculiar power of the gospel, which effects that, in attempting which all other legislation fails. They strive against a current of corruption, which they may divert, but cannot dry up : but the gospel, in enacting laws, supplies motives and strength equal to their observance.
The ode of the satirist, indeed, could only apply generally to the defectiveness of laws which left unvisited, or which visited only with partial rigour, obliquities such as these : but it describes with inimitable beauty the simplicity and happiness of a people to whom these crimes are strangers.
“ Illic matre carentibus
Privignis mulier temperat innocens :
Conjux, nec nitido fidit adultero.”
This, it declares, is the best safeguard of family peace, the true domestic wealth.
“ Dos est magua parentium
Virtus, et metuens alterius viri
And then, the line which leads to the motto, points his strong invective against that lax legislation which treats with mildness so pestilent a crime:
“ Et peccare nefas, aut pretium est mori.”
This is our remonstrance, then, against the