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How Marriage Began
by [?]

We owe such civilization as we have acquired to children.

“A softened pressure of an uncouth hand, a human gleam in an almost animal eye, an endearment in an inarticulate voice–feeble things enough. Yet in these faint awakenings lay the hope of the human race.” —-

The influence of childhood has transformed mere animal attraction into unselfish affection. It has substituted family life for savage life. The interests of childhood demand that marriage and its responsibilities be held sacred.

Duty to future generations demands that divorce be made difficult and considered a misfortune.

Marriage, brought into the world through the influence of children, should be dissolved only with due regard for the interests of children. —-

An unhappy marriage is earth’s worst affliction. Quite true. But it is not affliction wasted.

Examples are needed to warn the young against the matrimonial recklessness which underlies most unhappy marriages.

Unhappy wives and husbands are human light-houses–lonely, but useful.

If a gentle little Alderney calf should marry a sleek young zebra and afterward get kicked to death for her pains, we should all sympathize with her. But we should expect other mild-eyed Alderneys after that to beware of zebras.

As a matter of fact, this present divorce talk, which sets the good to fluttering, really interests a very unimportant class.

The man who spends his life spending what he didn’t earn, feeding his physical senses, who goes from rum to the races, from the races to the opera, and from the opera to roulette, wears out his nervous sensations.

He then thinks that he is unhappily married. He has possibly driven his wife to being seven kinds of a fool.

But that is not her fault.

A man who marries a woman undertakes to make her happy and keep her busy. If he keeps his contract, she will keep hers.

If he fails, he has no right to experiment on another unfortunate. The divorce class is a self-indulgent, malformed class, not worth notice. —-

Professor Cope, an earnest man and serious thinker, believed that marriages should be contracted on probation–say for five years, with the right on both sides to refuse a renewal.

Theoretically, this would be beautiful. It would make courtship permanent, abolish curl-papered wives in the morning, and tipsy, bragging husbands at night.

But it wouldn’t work. It would be all right for women. They are only too willing to be faithful and permanent.

But men cannot be trusted. The animal in them, so essential long ago, when the race was struggling for a foothold, has not been obliterated. They have got to be MADE responsible and HELD responsible. —-

As a matter of fact, there really is no marriage or divorce problem which sensible beings need consider.

At present men are not good enough to be trusted with liberal marriage or divorce laws. When they are good enough the laws will not be wanted. For the man fully developed and fully moral will know what he is doing when he goes into a marriage contract.

His stability of character will insure permanency. There will be no need of laws.

At one time the English laws regulated the conditions under which a man might beat his wife. “The stick,” said the law, “must not be thicker than the husband’s thumb.”

Some Englishmen have very thick thumbs, and the law was doubtless hard on some thin, worn-out women.

But that law is no longer needed.

Men have outgrown the need of regulations in wife-beating. In time they will outgrow the need of laws regarding infidelity and lack of self-respect.