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that if these doctrines could be had both these difficulties before supported, the House would have them ; they resorted to this clause nothing to debate upon. But the by way of compromise ; and, as question was, not whether man usually happened, the compromise should put asunder those whom occasioned more of real difficulty God had joined, but whether God than either alternative. If de facto had joined those who joined them- a marriage did take place, and the selves fraudulently, and contrary parties coming to the altar made to the laws of their country. Now, the vows there tendered to them unless he had mistaken the whole falsely and knowingly, the martenor of the Old and New Testa- riage might be made null and void. ment, there was nothing contained But the most preposterous part of in the scriptures, which could be the proposed law was, that if you taken to prevent national societies asked the parties one month afterfrom prescribing the forms by wards, whether they were married, which marriages should be solem- they would be compelled to answer, nized. If it were otherwise, there “ We don't know, for the validity was not a nation on earth, since of our marriage depends upon the the Christian era, which had not act of a third party, over whose concurred in a most profane prae- proceedings we have no control.” tice. Much had been said of the It was inconceivable, how such a tenderness, with which the in- state of things could be compatible terests of females should be re- with the principles of the law. garded in the bill before the House. He knew that in some cases there He had no sort of objection to must be a nullity, but that there doing so, but he wished that some should be a voidability was most care should be extended also to the objectionable. Even if it were males. It happened to him, in . advisable that the marriages of the discharge of his judicial func- minors should be dissoluble, it tions, to see frequent instances of should be effected by means of the necessity of protecting the latter. making them null and void not In one of recent occurrence, the voidable. Another objection was daughter of a bricklayer, a woman that the clause would not be 32 years of age, with several ille- sufficient to effect the object at gitimate children, had prevailed which it aimed: for what was the upon a youth of 17, of high family clause worth, if marriages in Scotand rank, to marry her.
land, on the continent, and by Lord Liverpool stated, that he bans, were left free from its operaobjected to the principle of the tion? The learned lord, had said, clause altogether, even if its object very truly, that there were cases were right; because there were of female as well as of male setwo ways of accomplishing it, duction; but it became their lordthe first by nullity, and the other ships to consider chiefly that which by voidability, both of which prin- was most usual, and he would venciples were of directly opposite na- ture to say, that, in nineteen cases tures; and nullity, though suffi- out of twenty, the female was the ciently objectionable, was less so seduced party. The woman, who in principle than voidability. It after the marriage had been comwas easy to see, how the present pleted, should be turned adrift, clause had originated. The House had nothing before her but disa
grace, misery, and ruin. The man, the subject. His act was superif by the persuasion of his friends, seded by that which had been or from any other cause, he should passed last year, and, in consebe induced to give up her whom quence of the inconveniences exhe had engaged to protect, would, perienced under the latter measure, during the whole of his life, be it became necessary to reconsider subject to feelings of no enviable the subject. The committee, in description. However much im- turning their attention to it, found provident marriages were to be there were only four possible ways, deprecated, there was no mending in which the authority of the pathe matter by dissolving them. In rent could be regarded ;-namely, the majority of cases it would be nullity, voidability, a preventive more tender and humane to pro- measure, or the doing of that vide, that the parent or guardian which was extremely objectionshould have no choice, than that able, throwing the reins at once he should have one ; not knowing on the neck of youth, at a period the feelings of the parties, and of life when passion always outnot perhaps being capable of form- ran prudence. Nullity, he would ing a correct notion of what his say, in point of principle, appeared duty might call for. It was a re- to him, up to the present moment, sponsibility which, in his own case, to be the proper course.
But the he should regret to be under. general opinion was, that nullity
The clause was supported by was a monster, against which every the archbishop of Canterbury, the rational man ought to take alarm; bishop of London, lord Sidmouth, and therefore it was abandoned. and lord Stowell. Formerly, said Another mode had been suggested lord Stowell, it was assumed, in by a noble and learned person all cases, that the consent of pa- that of a remedy by a preventive rents or guardians had been granted measure. If he thought a preto those about to enter into matri- ventive measure could succeed, he mony, although, in point of fact, should consider that to be a very little more was deemed necessary advisable course; but, on principle, than the consent of the two par- he knew that it could not succeed. ties themselves. In this state the The experiment had been tried, matter continued for a long series and it had totally failed. The of years, and that rule survived number of marriages had so de the Reformation. But soon after, creased under that preventive the attention of the reformers was system, that the demoralization of called to the propriety of strength. the country was likely to ensue. ening the parental authority. The The last and only remaining prindoctrine was then expressly pro- ciple, was a medium between mulgated, that where marriages the entire dereliction of parental were contracted without the con- authority on the one side, and ensent of parents, they should be tire voidability on the other. totally null and void ; and thus the Though the committee were by law remained till the time of lord no means insensible to the objeca Hardwicke, when the disturbancestions which existed against the in society, from the want of an principle of limited voidability, efficient marriage law, induced him they thought it was one which to turn his serious attention to ought to be submitted to the cona sideration of parliament in prefer- hopes by fatal marriages, which ence to leaving youth altogether had overwhelmed themselves in unprotected and unrestrained : disgrace and shame, and their conand on this ground, they proposed nexions in the bitterest sorrow. the clause now under discussion, He contended, therefore, that disinvolving, as it did, a principle, graceful marriages happened much which, they were well aware, oftener among our young male, might be open to much reasonable than among our female population. objection, but which they did con- And this was very natural. The ceive to be the best, seeing that education of young women was nullity was sure of rejection, and much more correct and guarded hat preventive measures were,
than that of young men.
The generally speaking, inapplicable. former were, for a considerable It had been said, that the object portion of their lives, under the of this clause might be so evaded vigilant inspection and superintenas to render the provision nugatory; dence of their parents or their and that, therefore, their lordships families; and, added to these resought not to adopt it. It could traints, it was to be remembered, not be otherwise in the nature of the natural delicacy of their sex things; and, if this common lia- scarcely permitted them to be exbility were to be taken as ground posed to the same sort of dangers of valid objection, it would be as young men were at that period ridiculous for their lordships to of existence. Young men were attempt to legislate at all in the sooner, and more frequently, and matter. They might spare them- for a longer time, removed from selves the anxiety of devising reme- parental inspection; they were sent dies, if every remedy proposed to school earlier in life, and from were to be rejected, because it thence were transferred to public was possible that contrivances schools, to colleges, and afterwards might be framed which should to great cities. There they could evade its operation. It had been not so generally or so entirely be argued, that this clause would ope- under the eye of their parents, but, rate principally for the benefit of left to themselves, pursued their the male part of our population, own course and followed their own and would bear hard upon the counsels. They were neither so female portion of the community; much under parental superintenand their lordships had been told dence, nor had so much the benefit that the cases, against the recur- of wiser counsels as their sisters rence of which they were called had; and it was natural, therefore, upon to provide, were much more that, yielding to their inclinations, numerous on the female side than they should more commonly form on the male. Now he confessed, early attachments, and that, if they that his own professional experi- entertained such attachments, they ence had by no means led him to should more frequently gratify such a conclusion. As far as that them by improvident marriages. experience went, it had rather been Lord Redesdale and lord Sid. his fate to see the misery of fami- mouth took the same view of the lies occasioned by sons (the hopes question : but in spite of the auof those families), who had ruined thority and wisdom of those who themselves, and had blasted those were best qualified to form a con
rect opinion upon the subject, the determinations in the question of clause was rejected by 28 nota literary property were erroneous. contents against 22 contents. Political hatred and self-conceit,
On the 4th of June Mr. J. will do wonders : but we confess Williams moved for an inquiry we never anticipated that they into the arrear of business in the could have deluded even Mr. Dencourt of chancery, and the appellate man into a belief of his own fitness jurisdiction of the House of Lords for sitting in judgment upon the and the causes thereof. The suba decisions of a man, who is loved stance of the speech, which he and revered by every individual made in support of this motion, that has occasion to observe him consisted of statements, inaccurate in the daily administration of jusin point of fact, with respect to tice, and whose patient wisdom, the expense and duration of five unassuming learning, and simple, or six particular suits. He did disarming gentleness, and courtesy not attempt to show that the dea of manner, acting uniformly for lay and expense, of which he come more than twenty years, have plained, was occasioned by the added to his high office a dignity practice of the Court, and not, as and influence, the value of which is in most cases really the truth, will not be appreciated till we have by the mis-management of the to mourn over its loss. parties themselves, or their solici. Mr. Brougham, Mr. Abercromtors and counsel :* much less did by, and Mr. Scarlett supported the he or his confederates endeavour motion : the Attorney-general, Mr. to point out any specific part or W. Courtenay, and Mr. Wetherell point in the system of proceedings opposed it, replying most triumin equity, in which the evil lay, phantly to every thing except the or which might be altered with vague assertions and general invecadvantage. General declamation tive of their adversaries. It was was the weapon with which they rejected after two nights debate, assailed the highest of the ordi- by 174 to 89. nary tribunals of the country; A committee was appointed by and as the greater part of the pub- the House of Lords to inquire into lic knew as little of the subject as the state of the appellate jurisdicMr. Williams and Mr. Denman, tion. The substance of their report their oracular assertions were pro- will be found in a subsequent part of mulgated with all the confidence this volume [page 63*]. It produced of ignorance.
Mr. Denman's two results. The one was an act speech, however, possessed one for a commission to inquire into singularity—the boldness with the forms of process in the courts of which he impeached the soundness law in Scotland; and into the course of the decisions of the lord chan- of appeals from the court of session. cellor. He was very sure, that The other was the adoption of cerlord Eldon ought to have issued tain resolutions, the object of a commission of lunacy against lord which was, to devote five days of Portsmouth in 1814, and that his the week, instead of three, to • All his examples were furnished by attendance of the requisite number
hearing appeals; and to compel the one solicitor, of whose practice great complaints were constantly making in of peers. the court.
In pursuance of a report of
a select committee on the recovery Borthwick, which were made the of small debts, lord Althorpe subject of imputation against the brought in a bill upon the subject, lord Advocate. Mr. Hope, who, with the intention that it should in consequence of the circumstances stand over until the following ses. that followed the debate on that sion. The principle of it was, that question, had been brought to the a barrister of some years standing, barof the House, was now solicitoras assistant to the sheriff, should at general for Scotland : a circumcertain times in the year, and at stance, which probably had some different places in the county, influence in producing a renewal hold county courts, in which sums of the discussion. A motion made under 15l. might be recovered by on the 3rd of June by Mr. Abera simple bill of plaint. The asses cromby, that the conduct of the sor, it was proposed, should be lord Advocate towards Borthwick, nominated by the lord-lieutenant, had been unjust and oppressive, and paid by a fixed salary.
was negatived by a majority of In the last volume an account only 6, 102 voting for it, and 96 was given of certain transactions against it. relative to a man of the name of