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Table of contents
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.1
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.2
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.3
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.4
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.5
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.6
FOOTNOTES
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.1
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.2
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.3
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.4
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.5
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.6
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.7
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.8
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.9
MARRIAGE-10.1
MARRIAGE-10.2
MARRIAGE-10.3
MARRIAGE-10.4
MARRIAGE-10.5
MARRIAGE-10.6
MARRIAGE-10.7
MARRIAGE-10.8
MARRIAGE-10.9
MARRIAGE-10.10
MARRIAGE-10.11
MARRIAGE-10.12
FOOTNOTES
THE ART OF LOVE-11.1
THE ART OF LOVE-11.2
THE ART OF LOVE-11.3
THE ART OF LOVE-11.4
THE ART OF LOVE-11.5
THE ART OF LOVE-11.6
THE ART OF LOVE-11.7
THE ART OF LOVE-11.8
THE ART OF LOVE-11.9
THE ART OF LOVE-11.10
THE ART OF LOVE-11.11
FOOTNOTES
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.1
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.2
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.3
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.4
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.5
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.6
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.7
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.8
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.9
FOOTNOTES
INDEX OF AUTHORS

based on reason and experience, are often ill sustained by his 

authority; he is really speaking the language of the modern 

social reformer, and Milton's writings on this subject are now 

sometimes ranked in importance above all his other work (Masson, 

_Life of Milton_, vol. iii; Howard, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 86, 

vol. iii, p. 251; C.B. Wheeler, "Milton's Doctrine and Discipline 

of Divorce," _Nineteenth Century_, Jan., 1907). 

 

 

Marriage, said Milton, "is not a mere carnal coition, but a human 

society; where that cannot be had there can be no true marriage" 

(_Doctrine of Divorce_, Bk. i, Ch. XIII); it is "a covenant, the 

very being whereof consists not in a forced cohabitation, and 

counterfeit performance of duties, but in unfeigned love and 

peace" (Ib., Ch. VI). Any marriage that is less than this is "an 

idol, nothing in the world." The weak point in Milton's 

presentation of the matter is that he never explicitly accords to 

the wife the same power of initiative in marriage and divorce as 

to the husband. There is, however, nothing in his argument to 

prevent its equal application to the wife, an application which, 

while never asserting he never denies; and it has been pointed 

out that he assumes that women are the equals of men and demands 

from them intellectual and spiritual companionship; however ready 

Milton may have been to grant complete equality of divorce to the 

wife, it would have been impossible for a seventeenth century 

Puritan to have obtained any hearing for such a doctrine; his 

arguments would have been received with, if that were possible, 

even more neglect than they actually met. (Milton's scornful 

sonnet concerning the reception of his book is well known.) 

 

Milton insists that in the conventional Christian marriage 

exclusive importance is attached to carnal connection. So long as 

that connection is possible, no matter what antipathy may exist 

between the couple, no matter how mistaken they may have been 

"through any error, concealment, or misadventure," no matter if 

it is impossible for them to "live in any union or contentment 

all their days," yet the marriage still holds good, the two must 

"fadge together" (op. cit., Bk. i). It is the Canon law, he says, 

which is at fault, "doubtless by the policy of the devil," for 

the Canon law leads to licentiousness (op. cit.). It is, he 

argues, the absence of reasonable liberty which causes license, 

and it is the men who desire to retain the privileges of license 

who oppose the introduction of reasonable liberty. 

 

The just ground for divorce is "indisposition, unfitness, or 

contrariety of mind, arising from a cause in nature unchangeable, 

hindering, and ever likely to hinder, the main benefits of 

conjugal society, which are solace and peace." Without the "deep 

and serious verity" of mutual love, wedlock is "nothing but the 

empty husks of a mere outside matrimony," a mere hypocrisy, and 

must be dissolved (op. cit.). 

 

Milton goes beyond the usual Puritan standpoint, and not only 

rejects courts and magistrates, but approves of self-divorce; for 

divorce cannot rightly belong to any civil or earthly power, 

since "ofttimes the causes of seeking divorce reside so deeply in 

the radical and innocent affections of nature, as is not within 

the diocese of law to tamper with." He adds that, for the 

prevention of injustice, special points may be referred to the 

magistrate, who should not, however, in any case, be able to 


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