Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

, and the

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

law of the land, we know where to apply for its folution ; but, as to
the law of Parliament, the only law of will which this country ac-
knowledges, we might possibly trace its origin, and define its nature,
but any attempt to ascertain the extent of its operation would be
nearly as fruitless as the endeavour to account for it on those prin-
ciples which are generally denominated the fundamental principles of
the British conftitution. It appears to us that the standing orders of
the two Houses ought to be rendered more public than they are, in
order to diminish the risk of unintentional violation. That defcrip.
tion of orders which relates to the internal economy of the Houses,
such as the order for the exclusion of strangers, may certainly remain
subject to the discretion of the members, either to be enforced or not,
according to circumstances, without danger or inconvenience; but as
to those orders, the violation of which incurs the punishment of fine
and imprisonment, the cafe seems to be different. If falutary and
wise, they ought to be rigidly enforced, if otherwise, they fhould be
repealed. But we are treading on delicate ground, and are moreover
transgressing our limits"; suffice it then to say, that in reviewing fuch
pamphlets as those now before us (which we certainly shall review with
the same freedom as other pamphlets so long as they continue to be
published) we, by no means, intend to ascribe the sentiments which
our duty may compel us to censure, to the speakers themselves, but to
the editors of the pamphlets, who must be alone responsible for all,

One of the chief reasons afligned by the present editor for publishing the substance of the Duke of Clarence's Speeches, is the zeal which his Royal Highness displayed 6 for the fair fex." Now as the Bill only applied to such of the sex as should violate their marriage vow, we cannot conceive that zeal for adulteresses conititutes any strong ground of recommendation to public favour or notice. It is impossible for any man to express more strongly than his Royal Highness is here made to express, his detestation of the crime of adultery, in the abAract, or to entertain more just ideas than he is here made to entertain, of its most pernicious" effects on Society. He represents the adulterer as 6 an insidious and designing villain," as one who was and “ever would be held in disgrace and abhorrence by an enlightened and civilized society," (P. 32. But we are wholly at a loss to reconcile this correct defcription with the appellation bestowed on the same offender in another place, where he is represented as a “man of bonour !(p. 8.) The test of his honour, however, it seems, is his subsequent marriage with the adulteress. A fingular mode truly of effacing a crime by a continued enjoyment of the fruits of it! It will not be denied, that the loss of a mother to her family, of a wife to her husband, is much more severely felt than the loss of property Yet what would any man say to a thief who, having robbed him of his property, repelled the imputation of dishonesty, by an allegation of the good use which he made of it?

We here find another species of honourable man of which we before had no idea. The husmand who, by suing for pecuniary damages,



[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

obtained a'verdiet, was considered not as a very honourable man, if,
when he received them, he put them in his own pocket, instead of re,
turning them to the purse of the defendant.So then, in the language,
of the world, those are called bonourable men who conspire to render
abortive the wisdom of the legislature by eluding the effect, and, con.
sequently, defeating the purpose, of our penal statutes ! Such men, in
the language of common sense, are enemies to their country, since their
conduct has an immediate tendency to encourage those crimes which
are admitted to be destructive of all religious and moral principles,
We trust this strange assertion is confined to the pamphlet ; had it
really found its way into either House of Parliament, we should then
begin to fear that our representatives, hereditary and elective, were
all degenerated into mere men of the world, and that the triumph of
liberality was complete. The Duke, be it observed, is made to say,
that it was not sufficient for him to consider the question only as a
legislator, a statesman, and a politician, a talk we should have thought
amply sufficient for any individual, but as a man of the world also.
God forbid any question of morals should ever be decided by men of
the world. We have heard of a man of the world who objeéts to
marriage on principle. Now if he be true to his principles, and be a
member of either House, he ought to bring in a Bill for the abolition

of marriage. We have heard of another man of the world who con-
" nives at the proftitution of his own wife. He, to be consistent, should

endeavour to have a law enacted for the removal of all restraints upon
the free intercourse of the fexes. We haye heard of another man of
the world who, for years, has lived in the continual practice of double
adultery. He, of course, should seek to procure, by legislative au.
thority, the expulsion of the decalogue, from our Bible and Commons
Prayer. But if men of the world were to be allowed to amuse them.
selves with the așt of legislation, we should hope they would only
legislate for themselves, and live wholly apart from the rest of loa

But the strangest of all the strange things which the editor has not
scrupled to put into the mouth of this illustrious speaker, is the asser,
tion, that the royal family marriage act, was an act « in consequence
of which he could not marry; it, indeed, placed him in the same situ-
ation the present Bill would generally place those who should unfortu.
nately fall under its provisions.'! Now the whole scope of the argu.
ments here detailed go to establish this point--that, if the Bill passed
into a law, its inevitable effect would be to reduce divorced adulte.
reffes to the necessity of leading a life of prostitution; nay, perpe-
tual prostitution" is expressly stated to be the consequence of the Bill.
The analogy contended for, then, by the editor, is, that the act al-
Juded to absolutely prevents the marriage of the male members of the
royal family, and reduces them to the necessity of living in perpetual
fornication. If such were really the effect of the act, it must meet
with the unqualified reprobation of every good Christian, and ought
instantly to be expunged from the statute-book. But the act (of the
12 Geo. III.) has no such fin to answer for. "It only prohibits the


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

marriage of the royal family without the previous consent of the King;
nor is even this prohibition absolute, for where any one of the royal
family, of the age of 25, has given twelve months notice to the
Privy Council of his intention to marry, he is at liberty to marry, .
unless, in the interval, both Houses of Parliament have expressly de.
clared their disapprobation of his marriage. What could be the mo.
tive for this gross misrepresentation of the editor? We can perceive
but one motive, that, of supplying an excuse for any of those illustrious
personages, if any such there should ever unfortunately be, who, for- .
getting what they owed to their God, their country, and themselves,
should be induced to lead a profligate and immoral life. But no such
excuse can be found. If personages fo circumstanced should ever feel
the hardship of being unable to contract such marriages as their in.'
clination might lead them to form; they should recollect, first, the
principle of the prohibition, the sacrifice of individual convenience to
general good, deducing the wisdom and necessity of it from those
melancholy pages of our history which exhibit the destructive consen
quences of the civil contentions which divided the rival houses of
York and Lancaster, and deluged the kingdom with blood; and, see ..'
condly, that from the situation which imposes such hardships adequate
advantages arise- the comforts of afflaence without exertion of body
or mind; rank, dignity, and confideration, without any previous
effort to obtain them; and exclusive privileges without the necessity
of personal qualifications; and, thirdly, they should recollect, that no
human law whatever can afford an excuse for the violation of a divine
precept. Amidst the scandalous profligacy of manners which prevails,
in the present times, the writer who describes fornication as a fin is .
regarded as a Cynic, unworthy of attention. At the risk, however,
of incurring a similar fate, we shall yenture to remind all those whom
it may concern, that whoever attends the church service must describe
fornication as " a deadly fin;" that fornication and adultery are con-
sidered as fins of the first magnitude by the inspired writers; and that
we have the authority of an apostle for asserting, that is no whore i
monger, nor unclean person, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of
Christ and of God." It remains, therefore, to be considered, whe-
ther it be the duty of a Christian to regulate his life, according to the
fashionable morals of the age, or agreeably to the precepts of his God. .
When this once becomes a matter of doubt, destruction is near at

We could point out many other reprehenfible passages in this pam-
phlet besides those which we have noticed ; but our limits forbid us.
One, however, of this description must not escape without a coma
ment. Many instances are adduced from ancient history to thew how
adulterers were treated in former times; we could easily out-quote the
Speaker by a reference to our books, were it at all necessary ; but
upon this, as, indeed, upon all topics connected with the religious
and moral conduct of man, more instruction can be reaped from a
fingle page of the Scriptures than from all the volumes of ancient and . .
modern times. The law of Romulus which gave, in certain cases,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

the power of life and death to a husband over his wife, is juftly re. presented as a most insufferable and terrible tyranny ; but we are told, forsooth, that such tyranny is not greater than the prohibition to an adulterefs to marry the adulterer ! The reason assigned for this infer. ence is of a piece with the inference itself. “ For what woman of Spirit would not sooner die, than live a long life of infamy and frorn, for, perhaps, one guilty step?" This is another precept of the fashionable morality which our men of the world, it seems, wish to inculcate -- If you cannot continue to possess the object of your adulterous passion, commit suicide to evince your spirit. Reduced into plain language, the advice to the adulterefs here implied, is li. terally this--- You have riked the loss of your soul by the commis, fion of one heinous fim, act, therefore, consistently; and, instead of seeking to atone for your crime by a life of penitence and prayer, commit a ftill greater fin, and rulh, unbidden, into the presence of an offended God. It is not possible that any member of the House should have uttered a sentiment so totally repugnant to every princi. ple of religion.

The passage quoted from an admitable sermon, preached by the Bishop of Rochester (in April 1795) at that excellent charity, the Magdalen, can be deemed applicable only by those whose minds are so perverted as to consider the state of a penitent prostitute who has forsaken her vicious habits, as the same with that of an exulting adultrefs who seeks to reap the fruits of her crime, by securing for life those gratifications which led her to commit it.

The motive assigned by the Duke of Clarence for his opposition to the Bill in general is the beít that could actuate his minda convic. tion that initead of diminishing, it would tend to increase, the fin of adultery. But not one argument have we found in the pamphlet that tends to eftablish this point. The motive for objecting to that parç of the Bill which renders adultery a misdemeanous, is of a very different description. But we have not room to expose its folly and its fallacy.

No methodical arrangement whatever has been adopted in this compilation, which seems to have been collected, at different times, from the Newspapers of the day.

ART. XXIII. Substances of the Speeches of Lord Auckland in the

House of Lords, May 16 and 23, 1800; in Support of the Bill for the Punisbment, and more effectual Prevention of the Crime of

Adultery. 8vo. Pp. 38. Is. Wright. THOUGH the public are indebted to Lord Auckland for the recent introduction of this falutary bill, his Lordship modestly disclaims the original merit of the measure. Thirty years before, he obferves, a similar bill was introduced into the House of Lords by the Duke of Athol, which pafled that House unanimoufly, but was negatived in the Commons; in 1779 it was again brought forward by the Bishop of Durham, and was again pafled unanimously in the


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Upper and negatived in the Lower Honse. Lord Auckland, therefore, very naturally expresses his surprise at the present display of " a great schism and diversity of opinions respecting a question dependant on the evident and immutable principles of justice, morality, and religion.”

After shewing that the proper object of divorce bills is to relieve the injured husband only; his Lordship, most justly, infers, that “ it cannot be reconciled to the dictates of justice, morality, or religion, that an adulterer and an adultress shall be deemed entitled to a special interference of the legislature in their favour, and to a suspension of the ordinary course of law, in order to enable them to complete a contract founded in turpitude: in other words, that a woman who has violated a folemn vow, inade by a folemn appeal to her Creator, shall be authorized by you to exhibit a mockery of .. Heaven, by a new profanation of the same ceremony with the convicted partner of her crime."

The noble Lord proceeds to examine the objections to the bill in a strain of nervous and animated eloquence, reprobating, with be-.. coming severity, the new morality of the times, and shewing not only the extreme futility but the pernicious tendency of the arguments opposed to the measure. In answer to those who had contended that the prohibition to marry the adulteress would encrease the criminal boldness of the adulterer, his Lordship makes some very pertinent and judicious reflections on " that anonialous fort of honour which is here adduced, that non-descript plant in the pleasure-garden of modern morality.” Heartily concurring, as we do, with the sentiments of the noble Lord, we shall extract this paffage.

" But I cannot comprehend the fort of honour which would be influenced by the obligation contended for, and yet would proceed coolly and deliberately to debauch a married woman; to entail a sense of thame on her innocent children; to deprive them of their natural protection ; to give offence and disgust to society; to rob a friend of his happiness; and to destroy the fair pride and domestic peace of a whole family .I cannot comprehend this strange casuistry, this sophistry of sin, as applied either to the woman, to whom the noble Lords will to secure the means of deriving benefit from her crime; or to her feducer, who is to be discouraged by the implied obligation which I have thus analyzed. In favour of such doctrines I cannot, with my incompetent knowledge of the world, frame any argument which would not tend to bewilder my own understanding, and the understanding of others, in a vain endeavour to palliate vice and to countenance the vicious. It is a sort of threatening letter in behalf of crime, when we are informed, that, unless the feduced and seducer shall be permitted to have their vices of the precile colour and tint which they prefer; we must expect them to commit vices of a deeper dye and enormity. We cannot compromise with wickedness; all morality would be thrown off is hinges, if such arguments could be used with effect; they are of a nature to undermine the whole fabric of justice with respect to every crime that can be committed.”.


« ZurückWeiter »