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at its command a considerable staff of leader-writers. The nonfulfilment of this assumption is probably one of the chief defects of the provincial press. If three leaders a day are used it may be assumed that the paper is willing to pay at least an average of two guineas an article; and if the person responsible for the leaders distributes his two thousand a year wisely, he should command many willing and capable pens. The rule should be that the office should be able to produce under its own roof three fresh articles on subjects that have occurred, or have been made known for the first time, that evening. Of course, that is an exceptional though not an unprecedented call on its resources, and represents the maximum of strength at which its staff should be maintained. For this purpose it is convenient that it should have at hand two competent writers paid fixed sums, and one other from whom it takes sufficient work to make it worth his while to come to the office after dinner and exchange a few words with the editor, after which he may stay and write or walk home with an easy mind. Of course the work taken from the three persons who may be called the permanent establishment need not necessarily be leaders; but, on the contrary, it is to be assumed that they will each have some special knowledge in art, or literature, or philosophy, or science, or finance, which will enable the editor to give them other opportunities of writing at the cost of some other department of the paper, and so allow room for the services of what may be called the fluctuating leader staff. What the value of that may be in towns which are supposed to be devoted solely to commerce, as Birmingham and Leeds, it is difficult to judge; but in Edinburgh and Glasgow, where there are some scores of university professors, some dozens of judges and sheriffs, countless advocates, and a number of men who are specialists in various arts and sciences, the aid afforded to journalism by these may be very great. The more a provincial editor avails himself of these men, the better his paper is. He can easily do so. As a stranger simply offering so many guineas for so much copy he certainly could not command their services. But he probably knows them personally and meets them frequently. Some are indebted to him for publishing, or for refraining from publishing, some matter in which they are interested. Others have had his influence, or hope to have his influence, in obtaining an appointment. Others are zealously anxious to promote the interests of their party paper. Others still are flattered by the invitation to contribute, while some are delighted with being allowed to write anonymously what they dare not say openly. For one reason or another they are willing to write, and, if used with discretion, their work is most valuable. It is probable that none of them could do as efficiently the quick yet accurate work on miscellaneous matters that is demanded from the daily pressman, or form anything like so swift and sound a judgment as the trained journalist. But writing at home amidst their books, and on subjects to which they have given years of study and to which they bring ripe knowledge, and stating their opinions in absolute leisure and free from any physical weariness, they produce articles that will better stand the test of time and the scrutiny of experts.

Where a provincial paper has a staff organised on such a basis, or on some basis equivalent thereto, it overcomes the last remaining difficulty in the way of maintaining its equality with its London rivals. There are some provincial papers that are so provided, and, where that is the case, they have the credit of being well-written and well-conducted journals. There are others that have had such an organisation but have lost it, and are living on and daily diminishing their reserve of credit. There are others that have never aspired so high, and have not the influence that their circulation and opportunities might command. But this is certain, that a number of provincial journals would do well to insist on a higher standard of writing than they seem to attain; and that, however little the bulk of their readers might appreciate the difference, these newspapers would yet find themselves repaid by the reputation that would gradually accrue. In newspaper enterprise, reputation always solidifies into money.

If in these things an endeavour has been made to set forth tle enterprise, the energy, and the public spirit of the provincial press, and thereby to illustrate its real importance, it has not been done either in a spirit of envy as against the London press or of professional pride. For the ability of the London press all must have great respect, and the best men and consequently the best work are admittedly at its service. It need not, however, be believed, and it is nowise claimed, that men engaged in conducting newspapers or in writing for them are one whit cleverer or in any way better than those otherwise employed. All that can be said for them is, that inasmuch as no men are set apart for press work in the way

that men qualify as barristers, or clergymen, or merchants, without regard to their bent, it follows that pressmen are more generally than other men engaged in a calling for which they have a bent; and inasmuch as there are few callings in which brains and industry tell so quickly, it follows that more certainly than in other callings the best men come to the front. The reverse side of the medal is that the habit of

anonymous writing, so conducive to the infuence of the press, is to a great extent destructive of the sense of individual responsibility. That of course is true of the metropolitan and provincial press alike, but it seems more powerful for evil in the provinces. The sense of editorial responsibility in London is quickened by the fact that the several great papers are closely competing with each other, and that their mistakes or improprieties are subject to keener criticism than elsewhere. Where there is one great paper and the rest nowhere, there is apt to VOL. XX.-No. 115.


be recklessness of utterance. The theory is borne out by the fact that in those provincial towns where two or more papers stand on something like an equal footing, not only is there more enterprise but there is more caution. The enterprise is shown in the collection of news, and the caution in dignified and becoming comment.

What it is here intended to enforce has thus two sides. So far as these words are read by persons unacquainted with newspaper affairs, the purpose is served in telling something new of the difficulties, the trials, and the methods of the journals that are the informants and in some sense the teachers of the thirty million people who live outside of London. So far as the readers are the writer's comrades, the argument may serve to remind them and him that, although journalists are neither better, wiser, nor cleverer than their neighbours, and are often less so, they bear a responsibility immeasurably great.

In the ceaseless pressure of a very active life they may too seldom take the leisure to reflect that the words written either by themselves or on their approval fly far and wide to places where the reverse side of the argument or the qualifying facts may never be made known. Some time ago one called upon the writer to complain of a published comment, and as the comment was obviously harsh the offer was at once made to contradict or qualify it. It's no use,' he said sorrowfully ; ‘one half of the people would miss the explanation, and the other would not accept it.' Such an experience cannot or ought not to be forgotten. If there be some greater aim in life than to push on, some nobler end than to do the day's work and have it past, then the boundless influence of a newspaper, the limitless journey of a printed word, should be ever present to those on whom rests so great a responsibility.





I PROPOSE to consider this matter as calmly and impartially as I can, having a very strong opinion on it. I will try to fairly state the reasons for and good alleged of allowing such marriages, and the reasons against and evil alleged of permitting them. may

be as well first to show what the law was before Lord Lyndhurst's Act in 1835, and what it now is as that Act has made it. Before that Act such marriages and all marriages within the prohibited degrees of kin or affinity were valid till, and not void without, a decree to that effect. Such a decree could only be pronounced in the lifetime of both parties, the reason being that the proceedings were pro salute animce with reference to future cohabitation, which of course could only be when both spouses were living. The result was that till such decree the marriage was binding, and if either spouse died before such decree the marriage was altogether valid and unimpeachable. For example, if one of the spouses before such decree, the other living, married, the offence of bigamy was committed. The husband in such marriage was bound to maintain the wife. On the death of either, the rights of the survivor to dower, tenancy by courtesy, and otherwise were as good as if the marriage had been between persons having no relationship. The children were legitimate and could inherit. But if, living both spouses, the decree of invalidity was pronounced, the marriage became void ab initio. The parties could remarry, the children were or became illegitimate, and in short the marriage became null as much as though one of the parties had had a spouse living when it was contracted. Which is the worse or better of the two laws it is not necessary to determine. On the one hand, the marriage might remain for ever unimpeached; on the other there must have been the temptation to contract such a marriage and run a risk, with the constant dread of its possible annulment. It should be mentioned that the suit might be promoted by others than one of the

spouses. But, as I have said, the question is as to the present law. Marriage now within the prohibited degrees is absolutely void ab initio, without any decree to declare it. Either spouse may leave the


other. Their relation is that of concubinage. Neither has any legal claim on or responsibility for the other. Either can marry another person. The children are bastards. Further, it may be as well to mention that the notion that this law can be obviated by a marriage ceremony abroad, or in the colonies where such marriages are valid, is erroneous. The domiciled Englishman is bound by the law of his domicile.

Now, then, to consider whether this law should remain, or whether it should be altered not to what it was before Lord Lyndhurst's Act; not whether all marriages within the prohibited degrees should be valid, but whether the particular marriage of a man with his deceased wife's sister should be valid, and be unimpeachable at all times.

In favour of allowing such marriages are the following considerations: A man and woman, in the same condition of life, same age, every way fit for marriage, having that affection for each other which should exist between persons about to marry, are desirous of doing

As a special and particular reason the man has motherless children who need a woman's care, and the woman loves them as the children of her deceased sister. Neither instinct nor reason forbid it. The Duke of Argyll bas said, “My opinion is, on the subject of marriage and the relation of the sexes generally, man's reason and instinct cannot be trusted' (letter dated August 23, 1883, in the Scotsman, in answer to a letter on the subject of marriage with a deceased wife's sister). And we know that though most honestly objected to by very good and worthy people, there is no feeling of horror at such a marriage, as there would be at incest between brother and sister. Yet the law forbids a valid marriage between these two persons so fitted for marriage together. It overrules their feeling, denies the motherless children the best guardian they could have, and forbids that which is not forbidden by reason or instinct and is earnestly desired by both parties. This is the case with thousands. It is really sad to read the mournful list of cases; the grief, the pain, the waiting anxiety and hope for a change in the law; the unlawful, or rather invalid, unions that are made, either with a knowledge they are so, or in the mistaken belief that the marriage abroad is valid. There are also cases of desertion, very few; cases of children deprived of the provision made for them because the parent, in intending to make it, used the word "children,' which in law means ' legitimate' children.

But certainly there is this to be said: People who make these marriages, knowing the consequences, have brought the troubles on their own heads and have themselves to blame. When the man has tempted the woman into such a marriage he is most blamable; for he has made her a false position, subject to a charge of living in concubinage ; which, rightly or wrongly, is not an equal reproach to him.

But there is another class of cases to which this reproach does

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