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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

project of its ultimate disappearance with anything but satisfaction. It 

was merely the outcome of an artificial conception of marriage. It is time 

to return to the consideration of that conception. 

 

We have seen that when the Catholic development of the archaic conception 

of marriage as a sacrament, slowly elaborated and fossilized by the 

ingenuity of the Canonists, was at last nominally dethroned, though not 

destroyed, by the movement associated with the Reformation, it was 

replaced by the conception of marriage as a contract. This conception of 

marriage as a contract still enjoys a considerable amount of credit 

amongst us. 

 

There must always be contractive elements, implicit or explicit, in a 

marriage; that was well recognized even by the Canonists. But when we 

treat marriage as all contract, and nothing but contract, we have to 

realize that we have set up a very peculiar form of contract, not 

voidable, like other contracts, by the agreement of the parties to it, but 

dissoluble as a sort of punishment of delinquency rather than by the 

voluntary annulment of a bond.[356] When the Protestant Reformers seized 

on the idea of marriage as a contract they were not influenced by any 

reasoned analysis of the special characteristics of a contract; they were 

merely anxious to secure a plausible ground, already admitted even by the 

Canonists to cover certain aspects of the matrimonial union, on which they 

could declare that marriage is a secular and not an ecclesiastical matter, 

a civil bond and not a sacramental process.[357] 

 

Like so much else in the Protestant revolt, the strength of this attitude 

lay in the fact that it was a protest, based on its negative side on 

reasonable and natural grounds. But while Protestantism was right in its 

attempt--for it was only an attempt--to deny the authority of Canon law, 

that attempt was altogether unsatisfactory on the positive side. As a 

matter of fact marriage is not a true contract and no attempt has ever 

been made to convert it into a true contract. 

 

Various writers have treated marriage as an actual contract or 

argued that it ought to be converted into a true contract. Mrs. 

Mona Caird, for instance ("The Morality of Marriage," 

_Fortnightly Review_, 1890), believes that when marriage becomes 

really a contract "a couple would draw up their agreement, or 

depute the task to their friends, as is now generally done as 

regards marriage settlements. They agree to live together on such 

and such terms, making certain stipulations within the limits of 

the code." The State, she holds, should, however, demand an 

interval of time between notice of divorce and the divorce 

itself, if still desired when that interval has passed. 

Similarly, in the United States Dr. Shufeldt ("Needed Revision of 

the Laws of Marriage and Divorce," _Medico-Legal Journal_, Dec., 

1897) insists that marriage must be entirely put into the hands 

of the legal profession and "made a civil contract, explicit in 

detail, and defining terms of divorce, in the event that a 

dissolution of the contract is subsequently desired." He adds 

that medical certificates of freedom from hereditary and acquired 

disease should be required, and properly regulated probationary 

marriages also be instituted. 

 

In France, a deputy of the Chamber was, in 1891, so convinced 

that marriage is a contract, like any other contract, that he 

declared that "to perform music at the celebration of a marriage 

is as ridiculous as it would be to send for a tenor to a notary's 

to celebrate a sale of timber." He was of quite different mind 


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