Getting Married eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 213 pages of information about Getting Married.
peace which is hardly more intimate than the relations of prisoners in the same gaol or guests at the same garden party.  Taking these two cases of the single room and the unearned income as the extremes, we might perhaps locate at a guess whereabout on the scale between them any particular family stands.  But it is clear enough that the one-roomed end, though its conditions enable the marriage vow to be carried out with the utmost attainable exactitude, is far less endurable in practice, and far more mischievous in its effect on the parties concerned, and through them on the community, than the other end.  Thus we see that the revolt against marriage is by no means only a revolt against its sordidness as a survival of sex slavery.  It may even plausibly be maintained that this is precisely the part of it that works most smoothly in practice.  The revolt is also against its sentimentality, its romance, its Amorism, even against its enervating happiness.


We now see that the statesman who undertakes to deal with marriage will have to face an amazingly complicated public opinion.  In fact, he will have to leave opinion as far as possible out of the question, and deal with human nature instead.  For even if there could be any real public opinion in a society like ours, which is a mere mob of classes, each with its own habits and prejudices, it would be at best a jumble of superstitions and interests, taboos and hypocrisies, which could not be reconciled in any coherent enactment.  It would probably proclaim passionately that it does not matter in the least what sort of children we have, or how few or how many, provided the children are legitimate.  Also that it does not matter in the least what sort of adults we have, provided they are married.  No statesman worth the name can possibly act on these views.  He is bound to prefer one healthy illegitimate child to ten rickety legitimate ones, and one energetic and capable unmarried couple to a dozen inferior apathetic husbands and wives.  If it could be proved that illicit unions produce three children each and marriages only one and a half, he would be bound to encourage illicit unions and discourage and even penalize marriage.  The common notion that the existing forms of marriage are not political contrivances, but sacred ethical obligations to which everything, even the very existence of the human race, must be sacrificed if necessary (and this is what the vulgar morality we mostly profess on the subject comes to) is one on which no sane Government could act for a moment; and yet it influences, or is believed to influence, so many votes, that no Government will touch the marriage question if it can possibly help it, even when there is a demand for the extension of marriage, as in the case of the recent long-delayed Act legalizing marriage with a deceased wife’s sister.  When a reform in the other direction is

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Getting Married from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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