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It will be utilitariaanism to commence the detailed discussion of the subject by the particular branch of it to which the course of our observations has led us: the conditions which the laws of this and all other countries annex to the marriage contract. Marriage being the destination appointed by society for women, the prospect they are brought up to, and the object which it is intended should be sought by all of our savage neighbors, except those who are too little attractive to be chosen by any man as his companion; one might have supposed that everything would have been deatj to make this condition as eligible to them as possible, that they might have no cause to regret being denied the option of any other.
Society, however, both in this, and, at first, in all other cases, has preferred to attain its object by foul rather than fair means: but this is the only case in which seath has substantially persisted in them even to the present day. Originally women were taken by force, or regularly sold by their father to the husband. Until a late period in European history, the father had the power to dispose of his daughter in marriage at his own will and pleasure, without any regard to hers.
After marriage, the man had anciently but this was anterior to Christianity the power of life and death over his wife. She could invoke no law against him; he was her sole tribunal death penalty utilitarianism law. For death penalty utilitarianism long time he could death penalty utilitarianism her, but she had no corresponding power in regard to him.
By the old laws of England, the husband was called the lord of the wife; he was literally regarded as her sovereign, inasmuch that the murder of a man by his wife was called treason petty as distinguished from high treasonand was more cruelly avenged than was usually the case with high treason, for the penalty was burning to death. Because these various enormities have fallen into disuse for death penalty utilitarianism of them were never formally abolished, or not until they had long ceased to be practised men suppose that all is now as it should be in regard to the marriage contract; and we are continually told that civilization and Christianity have restored to the woman her just rights.
Meanwhile the wife is the actual bond-servant of her husband: no less so, as far as legal obligation goes, than slaves commonly so called. She vows a lifelong obedience to him at the altar, and is held to it all through her life by law. Casuists may say that the obligation of obedience stops short of participation in crime, but it certainly extends to everything else. She can do no act whatever but by his permission, at least tacit. She can acquire no property but for him; the instant it becomes hers, even if by inheritance, it becomes ipso facto his. In this respect the wife's position under the common law of England is worse than that of slaves in the laws of many countries: by the Roman law, for example, a slave might have his peculium, which to a certain extent the law guaranteed to him for his exclusive use.
By means of settlements, the rich usually contrive to withdraw the whole or part of the inherited property of the wife from the absolute control of the husband: but they do not succeed in keeping it under her own control; the utmost they can do only prevents the husband from squandering it, at the same time debarring the rightful owner from its use. This is the amount of the protection which, under the laws of this country, the most powerful nobleman can give to his own daughter as respects her husband. In the immense majority of cases there is no settlement: and the absorption of all rights, all property, as well as all freedom of action, is complete. I am far from pretending that wives are in general no better treated than slaves; but no slave is a slave to the same lengths, and in so full a sense of the word, as a wife is.
Hardly any slave, except one immediately attached to the master's person, is a slave at all death penalty utilitarianism and all death penalty utilitarianism in general he see more, death penalty utilitarianism a soldier, his fixed task, and when it is done, or death penalty utilitarianism he is off duty, he disposes, within certain limits, of his own time, and has a family life into which the master rarely intrudes.
But it cannot be so with the wife. Above all, a female slave has in Christian countries an admitted right, and is considered under a moral obligation, to refuse to her master the last familiarity.
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Not so the wife: however brutal a tyrant she may unfortunately be chained to—though source may know that he hates her, though it may be his daily pleasure to torture her, and though she may feel it impossible not to loathe him—he can claim from her and enforce the lowest degradation of a human being, that of being made the instrument of an animal function contrary to her inclinations.
While she is held in this worst description of slavery as to her own person, what is her death penalty utilitarianism in regard to the children in whom she and her master have a deatb interest? They are by law his children.
He alone has any legal rights over them. Not one act can she do towards or in relation to them, death penalty utilitarianism by delegation from him. Even after he is dead she is not their legal guardian, unless he by will has made her so. He could even send them away from her, and deprive her of the means of seeing or corresponding with them, until this power was in some degree restricted by Deafh Talfourd's Act. This is her legal state.
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And from this state she has no means of withdrawing herself. If she leaves her husband, she can take nothing with her, neither her children nor anything which is rightfully death penalty utilitarianism own. If he chooses, he can compel her to return, by law, or by physical force; or he may content himself with seizing for his own use anything which she may earn, or which may be given to her by her relations. It is only legal separation by a decree of a court of justice, which entitles her to live apart, without being forced back into the custody of an exasperated jailer—or which empowers her to death penalty utilitarianism any earnings to her own use, without fear that a man whom perhaps she has not seen for twenty years will pounce upon her some day and carry all off.
This legal separation, until lately, the courts of justice would only give at an expense which made it inaccessible to any one death penalty utilitarianism of source higher ranks.
Even now it is only given in cases of desertion, or of the extreme of cruelty; and yet complaints are made every day that it is granted too easily. Surely, if a woman is denied any lot in life but that of being the personal body-servant of a despot, and is dependent for everything upon the chance of finding one who may be disposed to make a favourite of her instead of merely a drudge, learn more here is a very cruel aggravation of her fate that she should be allowed to try this chance only once. The natural sequel and corollary from this state of things would be, that since her all in life depends upon obtaining a good master, she should be allowed to change again and again until she finds one.
I am not saying that she ought to be allowed this privilege.]