Getting Married eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 213 pages of information about Getting Married.
needed (for example, an extension of divorce), not even the existence of the most unbearable hardships will induce our statesmen to move so long as the victims submit sheepishly, though when they take the remedy into their own hands an inquiry is soon begun.  But what is now making some action in the matter imperative is neither the sufferings of those who are tied for life to criminals, drunkards, physically unsound and dangerous mates, and worthless and unamiable people generally, nor the immorality of the couples condemned to celibacy by separation orders which do not annul their marriages, but the fall in the birth rate.  Public opinion will not help us out of this difficulty:  on the contrary, it will, if it be allowed, punish anybody who mentions it.  When Zola tried to repopulate France by writing a novel in praise of parentage, the only comment made here was that the book could not possibly be translated into English, as its subject was too improper.


Now if England had been governed in the past by statesmen willing to be ruled by such public opinion as that, she would have been wiped off the political map long ago.  The modern notion that democracy means governing a country according to the ignorance of its majorities is never more disastrous than when there is some question of sexual morals to be dealt with.  The business of a democratic statesman is not, as some of us seem to think, to convince the voters that he knows no better than they as to the methods of attaining their common ends, but on the contrary to convince them that he knows much better than they do, and therefore differs from them on every possible question of method.  The voter’s duty is to take care that the Government consists of men whom he can trust to devize or support institutions making for the common welfare.  This is highly skilled work; and to be governed by people who set about it as the man in the street would set about it is to make straight for “red ruin and the breaking up of laws.”  Voltaire said that Mr Everybody is wiser than anybody; and whether he is or not, it is his will that must prevail; but the will and the way are two very different things.  For example, it is the will of the people on a hot day that the means of relief from the effects of the heat should be within the reach of everybody.  Nothing could be more innocent, more hygienic, more important to the social welfare.  But the way of the people on such occasions is mostly to drink large quantities of beer, or, among the more luxurious classes, iced claret cup, lemon squashes, and the like.  To take a moral illustration, the will to suppress misconduct and secure efficiency in work is general and salutary; but the notion that the best and only effective way is by complaining, scolding, punishing, and revenging is equally general.  When Mrs Squeers opened an abscess on her pupil’s head with an inky penknife, her object was entirely laudable: 

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Getting Married from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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