When a man and woman marry from love, there is a pledge that the union will be more secure and permanent than when founded on mere utilitarian considerations; but when, as Father Bourien says; as a certain Philadelphia priest has recently said; and as the Catholic Church has always taught,— " when people marry without knowing each other, and live together without loving each other," which is wrong, false, and sinful, it is scarcely surprising that they should part without regret, and, marrying and remarrying, become, in the course of time, little if any better than common profligates and prostitutes.'
There is hardly a question of doubt that the mutual deceptions of the sexes are a prolific cause of both matrimonial unhap-piness and ultimate separation. Men put on an aspect entirely false to their real nature during courtship, practise politeness, manners, affability, concealing the vicious sides of their natures, and affecting qualities of heart which they are very far from possessing, till the bird is captured, and all motives for pretense have disappeared. And some women play an exactly similar rdle. If Mr. Addison's aphorism be correct* that no faith should be kept with cheats, surely a vow made to a painted woman ought to be void in the eyes of the law. "Give one of these a tolerably fair pair of eyes," as he cynically remarks, " to set up business with, and she will make bosom, lips, cheeks, forehead, dimples and eyebrows solely by her own industry;" but how shall she conform to the God-given ideal of natural beauty bo gracefully described by a certain poet in the picture of his mistress—
"Herpure and eloquent blood Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought, That one would almost say her body thought I"1
Or in what manner shall she greet her husband, when these adventitious aids to beauty have disappeared, and the dull eye, the sallow, withered skin and lifeless hair, reveal a picture shockingly different from the one he courted? And shall they not be judged, "these that paint their eyebrows, and deck themselves with ornaments," shall they not be judged "after the manner of adulteresses, after the manner of women that shed blood?"1
It seems one of the strangest anomalies in nature that the "painted face," which has been accepted as the distinguishing mark of the prostitute, from the days of Jezebel, and the "strange women" of Nineveh and Baby-Inn down to our commonest street-walkers, should be so sedulously cultivated by the belles of modern society; and that virtuous women should cling so tenaciously to a custom which, while without enhancing their beauty or concealing its defects, has been accepted in all ages as the badge of degradation. What queer crochet of mind is it that makes a woman want to look like what she is not—a prostitute? Answer it who can.
Any attraction between the sexes, founded on such shallow and miserable artifices, can neither be of long duration nor of any essential degree of refinement. Beauty itself, even when real and natural, as I have already pointed out, is not always by any means a sure guarantee of happiness in the married state. It is not to these frivolous and evanescent charms of person that a man should look when he seeks a wife, a lover, a friend, a lifelong companion. As a rule, female beauty is but the well-spring of a thousand fopperies, falsehoods, silly artifices and shallow affectations; which, though they may lend sparkle and charm to the drawing-room, or dancing-school, are sadly out of place in the home, where the substantial virtues;—children of a higher love—kindness, consideration, sympathy, forbearance, all those agreeable qualities, which not only cultivate the mind and heart but fashion the behavior, are the sweet pledges of happiness and conjugal peace.
It is the writer's hope that as certain psychical causes, which are always operative in refined civilization, become more strongly developed, there may be a gradual strengthening of the marriage tie; and that the question of divorce may be shorn of many of its present terrible abuses. Indeed, a greater consideration for woman, the higher status of the paternal feeling, more Bolicitude for the welfare of the child, and (may we indulge the belief?) a religious refining of the sexual passion, are already showing their fruit in most civilized communities.
A husband, legally at least, cannot repudiate his wife whenever he pleases; a wife cannot, without inviting the censure and scrutiny of society, if nothing more, divorce herself from her husband. Marriage has become a contract, not of personal, but of State supervision; and the idealistic commandment of the Church is beginning to harmonize, notwithstanding its frequent and flagrant violations, more and more with the mental and moral life of the people; so that, I am optimistic enough to assume, we may confidently look forward to a day when men and women, gleaning wisdom from the lessons of experience, and the precepts of religion, and finding no longer an easy pathway of escape from the consequences of their own folly, may learn to scrutinize more closely the character of their matrimonial investments, and marriage become once more, what God originally ordained it to be, a holy, loving and lifelong relation, having for its purpose not only human happiness but the intelligent propagation of the race.