« PreviousContinue »
have upon this matter made “confusion worse confounded." These expounders will have it that wife, in this chapter, does not mean widow; and that the connection forbidden is not matrimonial. Surely, if words mean anything, “thy father's wife" means the woman married to thy father, be she divorced or a widow; with whom intercourse is forbidden, under marriage or any other circumstances. It is impossible that words can be stronger to mark the Divine detestation of the practices indicated in this chapter. It is customary for objectors to insist upon the adherence to the exact letter of the law, and protest against any constructive interpre. tation, however obvious it may be. If this were so, if all pro. hibited marriages were here set down, and all other marriages, not set down, were by inference lawful, then several monstrous incests, which it is not needful here to particularize, would be so rendered. The affirmative writers will scarcely incorse this view, however warmly they may enter upon the discussion.
It is surely not unreasonable to deduce by reason certain prin. ciples from this chapter to aid in forming true opinions as to the law in other cases not set down. It will be admitted that the general law is to be found in the 6th verse of the chapter: “None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord.” Then follow examples of the nearness of kin intended. It is very noticeable that about half of the cited examples are cases of relationship by affinity. We are not to marry a step-mother, a father's brother's wife, a daughterin-law, a brother's wife, a wife's daughter, her son's daughter, her daughter's daughter. These cases of affinity are treated as cases of consanguinity; a powerful reason why cases of similar affinity should also be thus treated. The law, of course, is equally binding upon both sexes : that which is forbidden to a man is equally for bidden to a woman; that which is forbidden to a woman is equally forbidden to a man; if this is so -and how can it be otherwise then the 16th verse, “ Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness,” is equally binding against a woman's intercourse with her sister's husband. What hair-splitting can render this otherwise ? Grant this, and the most important part of our task is accomplished.
But according to the clear statement of the Scriptures, there is more than affinity existing between a husband and wife-there is the closest consanguinity. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.” “Wherefore, they are no more twain, but one flesh.” “ For two," saith he, “shall be one flesh.” The inference is evident: to all the wife's relations according to “the flesh,” or by consanguinity, the husband is as the wife; they are “one flesh :" to all the husband's relations according to “the flesh," the wife is as the husband ; they are “one flesh." Sisters, by affinity, there. fore, are no more marriageable than mothers, or daughters, or nieces! This inference is evident: quite as clear as though set down in so many words. This being so, and it is not for us to question or cavil at the law, our business is to ascertain the law designed by Infinite Wisdom, and then, with all reverence, bow and obey. Man may imagine what may be best for him, but his wisdom is finite; God knows what is best for him-His wisdom is infinite. · Objectors, however, on this subject, will be sure to quote the 18th verse of the chapter in dispute as confirmatory of their view of the question: “Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, besides the other, in her lifetime." This verse is admitted to be one of the most doubtful as to its meaning in either the Old or New Testaments. This is doubt. less owing to our ignorance of many of the domestic customs which existed among the Jews; but be that as it may, interpreters and commentators are at issue as to the meaning, so that we can scarcely found a law upon it, especially such a law as that under consideration, which involves consequences so important. This verse, how. ever, will require very little acumen to understand it as a prohibition, and that that prohibition is not on account of nearness of kin or family relation, but the risk of vexation and annoyance from family connection. In the previous verses, a man is forbidden intercourse with relations on the ground of nearness of kin; the prohibition in the 18th verse is upon totally different ground. We might be justified, therefore, in taking it out of the argument, as a distinct text, having no reference to the previous prohibitions. Why not accept it as the marginal reading renders it-" Thou shalt not take one wife to another, to vex her”? Why not view it as a prohibition against polygamy? Polygamy, we know, was practised among the Jews: why not accept this verse as a ban upon that sin ?
The lawyers, when called upon to legislate upon the subject, have been clear and explicit. They say, “There are several degrees, which, although not expressly named in the Levitical law, are yet prohibited by that, and by the statute, by parity of reason, which is thus illustrated in the Reformatio Legum :-This in the Levitical degrees is to be observed, that all the degrees by name are not expressly set down; for the Holy Ghost there did only declare plainly and clearly such degrees, from whence the rest might evidently be deduced. As, for example, where it is prohibited that the son shall not marry his mother, it followeth also that the daughter shall not marry her father. And by enjoining that a woman shall not marry her father's brother, the like reason requireth that she shall not marry her mother's brother. To which the same book adds two particular rules for our direction in this matter,-1. That the degrees which are laid down as to men will hold equally as to women in the same proximity. 2. That the husband and wife are but one flesh; so that he who is related to the one by consanguinity, is related to the other by affinity in the same degree. * Upon the foregoing rule, from parity of reason (which is also acknowledged and laid down by the books of common law), rests the prohibition against marrying a deceased wife's sister, which is
well expressed by Bishop Jewell, in his printed letter upon that point: “ Albeit,” says he, “I be not forbidden by plain words to marry my wife's sister, yet I am forbidden so to do by other words, which by exposition are plain enough. For when God commands me that I shall not marry my brother's wife, it follows directly, by the same, that He forbids me to marry my wife's sister. For between one man and two sisters, and one woman and two brothers, is like analogy or proportion.” And when this point of marrying the wife's sister came under consideration in the Court of King's Bench, in the case of Hill and Good, though it was alleged that the precept, primâ facie, seemed to be only against having two sisters at the same time, and prohibition to the Spiritual Court was granted, yet in the Trinity term next following, after hearing civilians, they granted a consultation, as in a matter within the statute, though the former statute had never been revived, which yet it virtually was; and there, as in the statute, the wife's sister is expressly prohibited.
Upon the like parity of reason, in the case of Woolley and Watkinson, a consultation was granted, where one had married the daughter of the sister of his former wife; which (as Sir John King laid the argument) is the same degree of proximity as the nephew's marrying his father's brother's wife; and this being expressly prohibited, the other, by parity of reason, is so likewise, as it had been declared in Rennington's case, before the High Commissioners, which point was again argued in the case of Snowling and Nursey, and consultation granted as before, notwithstanding the case of Richard Parsons, mentioned by Lord Coke, in which it was first determined not to be within the Levitical degrees, and prohibition granted; but a consultation being awarded on debate two years after, that case is said to have been expunged out of the First Institute, by order of the King and Council. And this was the very point in which (presently after making the Act) Lord Cromwell desired a dispensation for one Massey, who was contracted to the sister's daughter of his late wife; but the archbishop denied it, as contrary to the law of God, and gave for reason, that as several persons are prohibited which are not expressed, but understood by like prohibition in equal degree, so in this case, it being expressed that the nephew shall not marry his uncle's wife, it is implied that the niece shall not be married to the aunt's husband.
It is evident, then, that this is the law, and that the law is derived, rightly or wrongly, from Holy Scripture. Doubtless; the affirmative writers in this debate will adduce many supposed hardships as the result of the law. The blue-book on the subject will be found a fruitful source whence they may derive “instances." of the great wrongs which the existing law continues in force. For fear of its omission, we may cite one instance of a worthy couple who state—“We are both above sixty years of age, and may not therefore be charged with the frivolities of youth :" and they want to be married! Is it not a wicked law that prevents them. It was the business of Messrs. Crowder and Maynard, however, in “ getting up” the Report, to hunt up the most pertinent cases. Take this one out of many; it must be a very bad one, as the subject of it positively threatens to leave his country. He says : “I am prepared, if necessary, to expatriate myself, and become the citizen of another State;" that is, in order that he may marry his deceased wife's sister. “My sister-in-law,” he writes, “ on the occasion of one of her visits, informed me that my late partner's wife, who was very intimate with her, and exceedingly kind, told her there were some parties who doubted the propriety of her occasional residence at my house; but she added, “We, who know you so well, do not take that view of it.' At another time, when preparing to leave Cornwall to come to Liverpool, her mother said,
Your aunt Susan has hinted at the possible danger of such visits; but I replied, We know Mr.- too well to fear anything improper.'
“I will only add,” he continues, "that had not the law permitted my sister-in-law to live under my roof, in all probability no such mutual attachment would have grown up between us ; so that one effect of the present law is to lay the surest foundation for its breach."
This evidence means, if it means anything, that he first took his sister-in-law to his home, believing marriage with her to be impossible, and then, when under his roof, suffered himself to contract an attachment towards her, knowing, at the same time, that it would be unlawful to marry her. This surely is no case to waste any amount of sympathy upon. If the subject of it, with such feelings and such conduct, was to leave his country, would it be uncharitable to think that it would be “for his country's good”? Be sure of this, there must be stronger cases adduced ere the law is so altered as to allow a widower to marry his deceased wife's sister.
IS THE MINUTE OF THE COMMITTEE OF COUNCIL
ON EDUCATION CALCULATED TO BENEFIT THE CAUSE OF GENERAL EDUCATION ?
AFFIRMATIVE ARTICLE.-I. UNTIL the appearance of the American question, in its latest phase, on the political horizon, no theme excited so much controversy as the subject of this debate. It was oftentimes of a bitter and acrimonious character-frequently unreasoning, and never entirely free from interested or party motives. In these pages, our sole motive is the attainment of truth; we, therefore, are secure from the vicious influences to which other mediums have been subjected, while considering the bearings of the points brought into issue by the “ New Code.
It is not our duty to enter upon the wide arena of questions raised in various quarters, as associated with the “ Minute of Council, and the Revised Code of Regulations,” but to adhere closely to this one issue, “Is the Minute of the Committee of Council on Education calculated to benefit the Cause of General Education ?" We think it is ; and shall proceed to show our reasons for thinking so, with all the impartiality and care so im. portant a subject demands.
It is unnecessary to enter into details respecting the past history of the education question, as, however interesting that might be in many respects, it does not form a part of this debate. We are now limited to the status in quo, in which the present Code dies out, and the future to be anticipated from the new “Minute." Facts may be admitted to illustrate an argument, but the argu. ment itself must have exclusive reference to the future. Our remarks will therefore have reference, primarily, to the matter of education; and secondly, to the means of education. These will be most conveniently considered under the following propositions : I. The New Minute measures results by the necessary elements
of education-reading, writing, and arithmetic. II. It grants aid according to these results. III. It provides future schoolmasters, qualified to impart this
necessary instruction. We read in the Report of the Royal Commission, vol. i. p. 168:“In these opinions we were fortified by the evidence as to the moral and intellectual character of those who, having passed through the training colleges, were found by our witnesses in the actual charge of schools. We cited, from that evidence, abundant proof that the trained teachers not only are comparatively far superior to the untrained, but are, in every respect but one, positively good.
“That exception, however, is a most important one. It is that the junior classes in the schools, comprehending the great majority of the children, do not learn, or learn imperfectly, the most necessary part of what they come to learn-reading, writing, and arithmetic.
“We have attributed this defect, not to want of power, but to want of motive in the teachers; and we propose to remedy it by making it the interest of both managers and teachers that all the children under their care really learn to read, write, and cypher."
This is, apparently, the real motive in which the Revised Code originated; but a difficulty presented itself in the shape of “ ways and means," as the parliamentary phrase has it. How to make it the interest of managers and teachers to educate the whole of their scholars, instead of that pet class which constituted the basis of the character of the school in the inspector's report, without increasing immensely the amount of the parliamentary grant, appears to have been the great difficulty. With much thoughtful, painstaking labour, they have succeeded in apportioning the grant, so that these