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those who have entered into the happy confidence of the old relationship to unlearn the lessons of a united home; but new generations as they arise, if the law is changed, must be brought up in a different experience and form a different estimate of family life. I am not suggesting any thoughts of improper attachment in the wife's lifetime. I am only asserting that one who is in no sense a sister, and may possibly become a wife, ceases absolutely to be what a sister-in-law has been, and happily still is, in many an English home.
Some persons make merry with descriptions of the family circle—perhaps because they have never known the pure and happy unity to which they refer. The Scripture expression that man and wife are one flesh’ is to some of them particularly ludicrous. Lord Bramwell, with some endeavour to be serious, would dispose of it by the remark that it is a metaphor, on the apparent assumption that a metaphorical statement is necessarily untrue. I quite admit that metaphors are not freely used in the Courts, and that they would be a little out of place in the discussion of a dry point of law. Nor should I look for illustration of the use of metaphor in any case to writings from Lord Bramwell's pen. Nevertheless it would be a strange misconception to make metaphor and fiction synonymous terms. One might say of a celebrated statesman that his race is run, or that his sun has set; and it would be a reasonable answer to declare that his energies, bodily and mental, are unimpaired, or that he has still a great career in politics before him. But it would be absurd to argue that the statement was untrue because it was clothed in metaphorical language. If marriage be, as some freethinkers assert, a time-bargain between two persons that they will live together as long as it is mutually convenient for them to do so, it follows that the Scriptural expression, they two shall be one flesh,' is unmeaning. But the truth or falsehood of it does not depend on its metaphorical character. It may well be that an expression has been chosen which, by its very paradoxical character, most strongly expresses the close and indissoluble union which marriage creates, not to add that the expression, as found in the language of the Old Testament Scripture, may exegetically have no metaphorical character; it may be a simple statement that the relationship of narried persons is to be as close as that which exists between persons of the same blood, expressed in the plainest way of which the language would admit.
We come back, then putting aside this unprovoked attack on the moral character of metaphor-to the point which touches the root of the matter. ‘Ninety-nine out of every hundred advocates of legalising marriage with a deceased wife's sister,' says one of them, "are in favour of legalising marriage with wives' nieces and their wives' kinsfolk in general. A man's own nieces are blood relations, but his wife's nieces are not. The reason marriage-law reformers confine themselves to one point at a time is that they believe success can best be obtained in this way. For that very reason, among others, the upholders of the marriage law of England tenaciously defend the position which is the object of immediate attack. They have been fairly warned that all turns on this: its capture means the loss of the fort. Surely it is time for Parliamentary assailants to give up the disingenuous pretence that they have only this one point in view, and to discuss the whole question in a reasonable way. For my own part-disastrous as the change would be—I had rather see the law altered so as to abolish at once all legal prohibitions of marriage between persons connected by affinity than to have an enactment which would abolish them by implication, and require their legal abolition in detail as opportunity served. The Church would, in that case, have its own opposite principle clearly defined as a basis for consistent action; good people would be saved from the confusion of thought which would betray them into condonation of evil, as though it were a comparatively harmless exception to the general law. It is not immaterial to remember that this was the basis of the Act of 1835. That statute drew, for the first time, a partial distinction between the prohibited degrees of consanguinity and affinity. Lord Lyndhurst had not drawn any such distinction in the Bill which he introduced. His Bill, as he afterwards said, had nothing to do with annulling marriages; it had no other end in view than the condition of children, which the existing law left in an unsettled state during their parents' lifetime. In its passage through Parliament the distinction (retrospectively) between consanguinity and affinity was introduced. But neither then nor at any other time, until the tactics of the Marriage Law Reform Association were adopted, was a wife's sister dealt with on any other footing than that on which the whole of the wife's near kinsfolk stood. By the law of England, to use the words of Lord Wensleydale--certainly not one of the 'ecclesiastically-given’ lawyers whom Lord Bramwell depreciates—the marriage of a widower with his deceased wife's sister was always as illegal and invalid as a marriage with a sister, daughter, or mother was. For the first time, as I have said, by Lord Lyndhurst's Act, though not by Lord Lyndhurst's will, a partial distinction between relationship in blood and relationship by marriage was recognised. To that distinction, if ever we are driven to allow any
distinction at all—sound reason and good sense require us to adhere.
I am well aware that in what I have written I have laid myself open to Lord Bramwell's sneer at 'priests. I am content to bear this reproach. I believe that the Church of Christ has done more than any power on earth to uphold the sacredness of family life in its pure affections and unity of interests. The members of other religious denominations have not been wanting in zeal for morality, as they understand it. But in respect of marriage they avowedly take a liberal ' view. They would make prohibitions of it as few as possible; they approve of facilities for the dissolution of it which the Church has always refused to allow. The tendency of these 'free' views may be illustrated by the existing state of things in North America. In the New England States it has come to pass that 2,000 families are now broken up every year, and 4,000 persons divorced. We conceive it to be our duty to resist these tendencies to the utmost of our power. The Church has spoken by her ministers --surely not unnatural exponents of her mind, and their loyalty has often brought upon them bitter hatred and personal loss. But on this question her laity have not been silent. To describe them as ecclesiastically-given’is but a disagreeable way of saying that they have been on the Church's side. On the other side are ranged a variety of interests and motives which do not see Parliamentary light. A traveller in a railway carriage heard some country folk discussing the Wife's Sister question. One of them mentioned a man who had “married' his stepmother. The father had left her the house and some property. The grown-up son was living in the house, and ‘married' the woman to keep the property together.' The relator quite approved of what the son had done. We, who deprecate even a distant approach to such laxity of morals, ought not to be regarded as hostile to the happiness or the welfare of our country. We believe that we are its true friends. I adopt the concluding sentence of Lord Bramwell's article—with a variation. I trust that a right view will be taken of this important matter, and the law remain unchanged.
DISTRESS IN EAST LONDON.
The porerty of the poor and the failure of the Mansion House Relief Fund are the facts which stand out from the gloom of a winter when dark weather, dull times, and discontent united to depress the hopes of the poor and the energy of their friends of days full of unavailing complaint and aimless pity is one from which all minds readily turn, quieting fears with the assumption that the poverty was exaggerated or that the generosity of the rich is ample for all occasions.
The facts, however, remain that the poor are very poor, and that the Fund failed as a means of relief; and these facts must be faced if a lesson is to be learnt from the past, and a way discovered through the perils of the future. The policies which occupy the leaders' minds, the interests of business, the theologies, the fashions, are but webs woven in the trees, while the storm is rising in the distance. Sounds of the storm are already in the air, a murmuring among those who have not enough, puffs of boasting from those who have too much, and a muttering from those who are angry because while some are drunken, others are starving. The social question is rising for solution, and, though for a moment it is forgotten, it will sweep to the front and put aside as cobwebs the “deep' concerns of leaders and teachers. The danger is lest it be settled by passion and not by reason, lest, that is, reforms be hurriedly undertaken in answer to some cry, and without consideration of facts, their weight, their causes, and their relation.
The study of the condition of the people receives hardly as much attention as that which Sir J. Lubbock gives to the ant and the wasps. Bold good men discuss the poor, and cheques are given by irresponsible benefactors, but there are few students who reverently and patiently make observations on social conditions, accumulate facts, and watch cause and effect. Scientific method has won the great victories of the day, and scientific method is supreme everywhere except in those human affairs which most concern humanity.
Ten years ago Arnold Toynbee (it has been said) demanded a ·body of doctrine' from those who cared for the poor. He sought an intellectual basis for moral fervour, and yet to-day what a muckheap is our social legislation, what a confusion of opinion there exists about the poor-law, education, emigration, and land laws. All reformers are driving on, but what is each driving at ?' Sometimes the same driver has aims obviously incompatible, as when the Lord Mayor one day signs a report which says that the spasmodic assistance given by the public in answer to special appeals is really useless,' and another day himself inaugurates a fund by public appeal.
One of the facts of last winter is the poverty of the poor, and it is a fact about which the public mind is uncertain. The working men when they appear at meetings seem to be so well dressed in black cloth, the statistics of trades-unions, friendly, co-operative, and building societies show the members to be so numerous, and the accumulated funds to be so far above thousands and so near to millions sterling, that the necessary conclusion is ‘There is no poverty among the poor.' But then the clergy or missionaries echo some bitter cry,' and tell how there are thousands of working folk in danger of starvation, thousands without warmth or clothing, and the necessary conclusion is, 'All the poor are poverty-stricken. The public mind halts between these two conclusions and is uncertain. The uncertainty is due partly to the vague use of the term 'poor, by which is generally meant all those who are not tradespeople or capitalists, and partly to an inability to appreciate the size of London. The poor, it is obvious, form a minority in the community, and a minority is regarded as a small and manageable body. Last winter's experience clears away all uncertainty, and shows that there is a vast mass of people in London who have neither black coats nor savings, and whose life is dwarfed and shortened by want of food and clothing. In Whitechapel there is a population of 70,000; of these some 20 per cent., exclusive of the Jewish population, applied at the office of the Mansion House Relief Fund during the three months it was opened. In St. George's, East, there is a population of 50,000, and of these 29 per cent. applied.
Among all who applied the number belonging to any tradesunion or friendly society was very few. In Whitechapel only 6 out of 1,700 applicants were members of a benefit club. In St. George's only 177 out of 3,578 called themselves artisans. In Stepney 1,000 men applied before one mechanic came, and only one member of a trades-union came under notice at all. In the Tower Hamlets division of East London 17,384 applied, representing 86,920 persons. It may be safely assumed that all in need did not apply, and that many thousands were assisted by other agencies. The reports of some of the visitors expressly state that the numbers they give are exclusive of many referred to the Jewish Board of Guardians, the clergy, and other agencies, while numbers of those who did apply either did not wait to have their names entered, or were so manifestly beyond