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house, the latter to the internal. If they have children, these are by degrees taken into partnership, and the great work of money-making, or accumulation of property, proceeds pari pasu with the multiplication of the partners. In such industrial connexions divorce is seldom needed, money being the great ruling divinity of all the parties concerned. Love has no opportunity to intrude itself, to introduce disorder, or disturb their calculations.
The husband may perhaps, in some few cases, and then rather in obedience to fashion thanto feeling, encumber himself with a mistress; but she also must be economical; and if she does not add to the general stock, must be carefulto diminish it as little as possible. Otherwise she is soon cashiered, Mammon not easily enduring the ostentatious intrusion of passion into his dominions. For this class of people facility of divorce is not much required. Love is most troublesome in the houses of the wealthy who have accumulated property, and have ceased to carry on the process, or have inherited it from their forefathers. To the same class also belong, not in property but in feeling, all men of intellectual pursuits, who, in cultivating their minds, cultivate also their passions, as the great active powers which put the microcosm in motion. Persons of this cast, corresponding with that of the Brahmans in Hindostan, seek for a large share of their happiness in the love of women, about which, for their greater satisfaction, they build up a whirl of metaphysical subtleties, refining, purifying, and elevating their favourite passion till it is lost too frequently in the clouds. With them marriage becomes a very different contract from what it is
the under classes. Men of speculative minds have always sought to coinbine the celestial with the terrestrial sphere ; and knowing that the apogæum latter is love, they have imagined that they should find in marriage the ul. timate development of their natures, and a happiness not altogether apper. taining to earth : but a thousand causes concur to obstruct the designs of man in the construction of this moral Babel : neither materially nor spiritually can we escape from the conditions of our existence. The marriage even of the wisest men is found 10 be a lottery, and the union of suitable persons consequently not the rule, but the exception. When men, therefore, seek for all their happiness in marriage, and are disappointed, not through the imperfection of the institution itself, but through their own
aste, ignorance, or bad fortune, it seems perfectly consistent with every consideration of justice and equity that they should be allowed to repair their mistake or misfortune through the instrumentality of divorce. Nor let it be supposed that women are less interested in this matter than men, since experience shews that unfortunate marriages are productive, if possi.. ble, of more misery to them than to their husbands, in proportion as they have fewer external resources, a much more limited sympathy, and have their conduct and demeanour subjected to an infinitely severer scrutiny. In these matters of marriage and divorce, the laws should, as far as possible, place both sexes on terms of perfect equality; or, rather, should shew more favour to women, to make amends for the other disadvantages to which they are exposed by the constitution of society. In enacting a law of divorce, care should be taken to guard against the effects of temporary caprice. But whenever it clearly appears that man and wife can no longer live to gether in peace and harmony, their separation would be far more beneficial :0 themselves, and favourable to morals, than their compulsory union. It is to be regretted that wilton's language should now, in course of time, have
come to appear at first sight a little antiquated, which may discourage many from the study of this interesting and extraordinary work, in which nearly every question connected with marriage and divorce is discussed with surprising eloquence, learning, and freedom. To his own contemporaries his expressions, no doubt, appeared appropriate and perspicuous, though they now often seem vague and ill-selected, through the inevitable revolutions of language, which have stripped words of their old significations to attach to them others altogether new.
Nevertheless, a moderate supply of patience will enable us to reconcile ourselves to his diction, and to that peremptory style of argumentation, which in an age of political excitement and tierce pariy struggles is naturally adopted by all earnest and energetic writers. In scriptural interpretation, he pushes the protestant licence to the utmost, arrays text against text, gospel against law, and law against gospel, and ultimately decides in conformity with the suggestions of reason. This in a person soʻstrict and pious, is really a matter of astonishment. No man was ever more religious than Milton, but his religion was a pure transcendental philosophy, which soared above texts and formularies, and rested ultimately on the eternal relations subsisting between God and his creatures. In other respects these works on divorce are full of beauty, of poetical descriptions of love, of philosophical investigations, of original ideas and images. The whole is pervaded and adorned by an enthusiastic spirit of poetry which constitutes in him the vitality of style. All therefore who can tolerate a little quaintness and plain speaking, and who are not averse from being taught by a somewhat dogmatic instructor, can read with pleasure Milton's speculations on divorce, which are full of sound wisdom, which may serve to enlighten both our legislators and phi. losophers, if they will be modest enongh to listen and learn.
TO THE PARLIAMENT OF ENGLAND, WITH THE ASSEMBLY, If it were seriously asked, (and it would be no untimely question,) renowned parliament, select assembly! who of all teachers and masters, that have ever taught, hath drawn the most disciples after him, both in religion and in manners ? it might be not untruly answered, custom. Thongh virtue be commended for the most persuasive in her theory, and conscience in the plain demonstration of the spirit finds most evincing; yet whether it be the secret of divine will, or the original blindness we are born in, so it happens for the most part that custom still is silently received for the best instructor. Except it be, because her method is so glib and easy, in some manner like to that vision of Ezekiel rolling up her sudden book of implicit knowledge, for him that will 'to take and swallow down at pleasure; which proving but of bad nourishment in the concoction, as it was becdless in the devouring, puffs up unhealthily l'a certain big face of pretended learning, mistaken among credulous men for the wholesome
habit of soundness and good constitution, but is indeed no other than that swoln visit of counterfeit knowledge and lite rature, which not only in private mars our education, but also in public is the common climber into every chair, where either religion is preached, or law reported; filling each estate of life and profession with abject and servile principles
, depressing the high and heaven-born spirit of man, far beneath the condition wherein either God created him, or sin hath sunk him. To pursue the allegory, custom being but a mere face, as echo is a mere voice, rests not in her unaccomplishment, until by secret inclination she accorporate herself with error, who being a blind and serpentine body without a head, willingly accepts what he wants, and supplies what her incompleteness went seeking. Hence it is, that error supports custom, custom countenances error; and these two between them would persecute and chase away all truth and solid wisdom out of human life, were it not that God, rather than man, once in many ages calls together the prudent and religious counsels of men, deputed to repress the incroachments, and to work off the inveterate blots and obscurities wrought upon our minds by the subtle insinuating of error and custom; who, with the numerous and vulgar train of their followers, make it their chief design to envy and cry down the industry of free reasoning, under the terms of humour and innovation; as if the womb of teeming truth were to be closed up, if she presume to bring forth aught that sorts not with their unchewed notions and suppositions. Against which notorious injury and abuse of man's free soul, to testify and oppose the utmost that study and true labour can attain, heretofore the incitement of men reputed grave hath led me among others; and now the duty and the right of an instructed Christian calls me through the chance of good or evil report, to be the sole advocate of a discountenanced truth : a high enterprise, lords and commons! a high enterprise and a hard, and such as every seventh son of son does not venture on. Nor have I amidst the clamour of so much envy and impertinence whither to appeal, but to the concourse of so much piety and wisdom here assembled. Bringing in my hands an ancient and most necessary, most charitable, and yet most injured statute of Moses : not repealed ever by him who only had the authority, but
thrown aside with much inconsiderate neglect, under the rubbish of canonical ignorance; as once the whole law was by some such like conveyance in Josiah's time. And he who shall endeavour the amendment of any old neglected grievance in church or state, or in the daily course of life, if he be gifted with abilities of mind, that may raise him to so high an undertaking, I grant he hath already much whereof not to repent him; yet let me aread him, not to be the foreman of any misjudged opinion, unless his resolutions be firmly seated in a square and constant mind, not conscious to itself of any deserved blame, and regardless of ungrounded suspicions. For this let him be sure, he shall be boarded presently by the ruder sort, but not by discreet and well-nurtured men, with a thousand idle descants and surmises.
Who when they cannot confute the least joint or sinew of any passage in the book; yet God forbid that truth should be truth, because they have a boisterous conceit of some pretences in the writer. But were they not more busy and inquisitive than the apostle commends, they would hear him at least,“ rejoicing so the truth be preached, whether of envy or other pretence whatsoever : for truth is as impossible to be soiled by any ontward touch, as the sunbeam ; though this ill hap wait on her nativity, that she never comes into the world, but like a bastard, to the ignominy of him that brought her forth; till time, the midwife rather than the mother of truth, have washed and salted the infant, declared her legitimate, and churched the father of his young Minerva, from the needless causes of his purgation. Yourselves can best witness this, worthy patriots! and better will, no doubt hereafter: for who among ye of the foremost that have travailed in her behalf to the good of church or state, hath not been often traduced to be the agent of his own by-ends, under pretext of reformation? So much the more I shall not be unjust to hope, that however infamy or envy may work in other men to do her fretful will against this discourse, yet that the experience of your own uprightness misinterpreted will put ye in mind, to give it free audience and generous construction. What though the brood of Belial, the draff of men, to whom no liberty is pleasing, but unbridled and vagabond lust without pale or partition, will laugh broad perhaps, to see so great a strength of scripture
mustering up in favour, as they suppose, of their debauche ries; they will know better when they shall hence learn, that honest liberty is the greatest foe to dishonest licence. And what though others, out of a waterish and queasy conscience, because ever crazy and never yet sound, will rail and fancy to themselves that injury and licence is the best of this book? Did not the distemper of their own stomachs affect them with a dizzy megrim, they would soon tie up
their tongues and discern themselves like that Assyrian blasphemer, all this while reproaching not man, but the Almighty, the Holy One of Israel, whom they do not deny to have belawgiven his own sacred people with this very allow. ance, which they now call injury and licence, and dare cry shame on, and will do yet a while, till they get a little core dial sobriety to settle their qualming zeal. But this question concerns not us perhaps : indeed man's disposition, though prone to search after vain curiosities, yet when points of difficulty are to be discussed, appertaining to the removal of unreasonable wrong and burden from the perplexed life of our brother, it is incredible how cold, how dull, and far from all fellow-feeling we are, without the spur of self-concerne ment. Yet if the wisdom, the justice, the purity of God be to be cleared from foulest imputations, which are not yet avoided ; if charity be not to be degraded and trodden down under a civil ordinance; if matrimony be not to be advanced like that exalted perdition written of to the Thessalonians; “ above all that is called God,” or goodness, nay, against them both; then I dare affirm, there will be found in the contents of this book that which may concern us all. You it concerns chiefly, worthies in parliament! on whom, as on our deliverers, all our grievances and cares, by the merit of your eminence and fortitude, are devolved. Me it concerns next, having with much labonr and faithful diligence first found out, or at least with a fearless and communicative can: dour first published, to the manifest good of Christendom, that which, calling to witness everything mortal and immortal, I believe unfeignedly to be true. Let not other men think their conscience bound to search continually after truth, to pray for enlightening from above, to publish whal they think they have so obtained, and debar me from cone ceiving myself tied by the same duties. Ye have now,