Irregular Marriages in Scotland.—Statement of the law by Lord Deas. Report, page XVI.—Marriages of children of tender years. Examination of Mr. Muirhead by Lord Chelmsford (Question 689).—Interchange of consent, established by inference. Examination of Mr. Muirhead by the Lord Justice Clerk (Question 654)—Marriage where consent has never been interchanged. Observations of Lord Deas. Report, page XIX.—Contradiction of opinions between authorities. Report, pages XIX., XX.—Legal provision for the sale of horses and dogs. No legal provision for the marriage of men and women. Mr. Seeton’s Remarks. Report, page XXX.—Conclusion of the Commissioners. In spite of the arguments advanced before them in favor of not interfering with Irregular Marriages in Scotland, the Commissioners declare their opinion that “Such marriages ought not to continue.” (Report, page XXXIV.)
In reference to the arguments (alluded to above) in favor of allowing the present disgraceful state of things to continue, I find them resting mainly on these grounds: That Scotland doesn’t like being interfered with by England (!). That Irregular Marriages cost nothing (!!). That they are diminishing in number, and may therefore be trusted, in course of time, to exhaust themselves (!!!). That they act, on certain occasions, in the capacity of a moral trap to catch a profligate man (!!!!). Such is the elevated point of view from which the Institution of Marriage is regarded by some of the most pious and learned men in Scotland. A legal enactment providing for the sale of your wife, when you have done with her, or of your husband; when you “really can’t put up with him any longer,” appears to be all that is wanting to render this North British estimate of the “Estate of Matrimony” practically complete. It is only fair to add that, of the witnesses giving evidence—oral and written—before the Commissioners, fully one-half regard the Irregular Marriages of Scotland from the Christian and the civilized point of view, and entirely agree with the authoritative conclusion already cited—that such marriages ought to be abolished.
ARNOLD was a little surprised by the curt manner in which Geoffrey answered him.
“Has Sir Patrick said any thing unpleasant?” he asked.
“Sir Patrick has said just what I wanted him to say.”
“No difficulty about the marriage?”
“No fear of Blanche—”
“She won’t ask you to go to Craig Fernie—I’ll answer for that!” He said the words with a strong emphasis on them, took his brother’s letter from the table, snatched up his hat, and went out.