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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

Instead of cleaving to his wife


this a movement towards violating the sanctity of marriage? It is rather causing that marriage shall not with its sanctity protect sin. When a slaver, freighted with wretchedness, unfurls from its masthead the Stars and Stripes, that it may avoid capture, does it thereby free itself from guilt, or does it desecrate our flag? Who honors his country, he who permits the slave-ship to go on her horrible way protected by the sacred name she has dared to invoke, or he who scorns to suffer those folds to sanction crime, tears down the flag from its disgracing eminence, unlooses the bands of the oppressor and bids the oppressed go free?

But are there not inconstant, weak women, who would take advantage of such power, and for any fancied slight or foolish whim desert a good home and a good husband? Well, what then? If a silly woman will of her own motion go away and live by herself, I think she pursues a wise course and deserves well of the Republic. I do not believe her good husband will complain. On the contrary, he would doubtless adopt a part at least of the Napoleonic principle, and build a bridge of gold for his fleeing spouse. Such power will never make silly women, though it may possibly render them more conspicuous, and that will be a benefit. The more vividly a wrong is seen and felt, the more likely is it to be removed. The remedy for the mischief which Lord Burleigh's she-fool may do is, not to bind her to your hearth, but to keep her away

from it altogether; and better than a remedy, the preventive is, so to treat women that they shall not be fools. If the ways of male transgressors against women can be made so hard that they shall, in very self-defence, set to and mend them--Heaven be praised!

But what of the Bible? Is not the permanency of the marriage connection inculcated there? No more than I inculcate it. I certainly do not see it enforced in any such manner as to weaken my position. Its permanency is assumed rather than enjoined; but a basis of essential oneness is also assumed, which is the sufficient, the true, and the only true and sufficient basis. "Therefore," says Adam, "shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." But if, instead of cleaving to his wife, a man cleaves away from his wife, and instead of being one flesh, the twain become twain,--I do not see that Adam has anything to say on the subject. I suppose Eve looked so lovely to him, and he was so delighted to have her, that it never occurred to him to make any provision against the contingency of his abusing her. I have not made any especial research, but I do not remember anything in the precepts or examples of the Bible that enjoins the continuance of association in spite of everything. In principle it is presumed to be perpetual, but in practice the Bible makes certain exceptions to perpetuity,--lays down rules indeed for separation. "What God hath joined together let not man put asunder," says our Saviour, which surely does not mean that what greed or lust or ambition has joined together woman may not put asunder. When a young man and a maiden, drawn towards each other by their God-given instincts, have become one by love, no mere outside incompatibility of wealth or rank, or any such thing, should forbid them to become one by marriage. For what God hath joined together let not man put asunder. But the God who would not permit an ox and an ass to be yoked together to the same plough, never, surely, joined in holy wedlock a brute and an angel; and if the angel struggles to escape from the unequal yoke-fellow to whom the powers of evil have coupled her, who dare thrust her back under the yoke with a "Thus saith the Lord"? Christ himself does not pronounce against the putting away of wife or husband, but against the putting away of one and marrying another. St. Paul's words regarding the Christian and the idolater can hardly be applied in our society, but so far as they can be applied they confirm my views. "Let not the wife depart from her husband," he says, and immediately adds, "_but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried_, or be reconciled to her husband." Precisely. For no trivial cause should the wife give her husband over to be the prey of his own wicked passions; but if he is so bad, if he so degrades her life that she must depart, let her remain unmarried.

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