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ask to have the law altered in their favour. Thieves, smugglers, poachers, slave-dealers, evil doers of various sorts, no doubt would be very glad to have their respective penalties taken off, and their proceedings made legal: but their petitions to that effect would have no great weight, and most persons would account it a bad precedent, if enactments were made in deference to them.

Then with regard to this law in particular: it is recognised in England more distinctly than in most other countries, and some, on that very account, cry out for its repeal: but before we listen to them, ought we not to consider, that the whole of married and domestic life in England is commonly thought to be more happily circumstanced than elsewhere? and how can we tell but that this inestimable advantage may be mainly attributable to our keeping up the old land-marks, which others have allowed to be cast down? In France, we are told, and in other Roman Catholic countries, the law is evaded by dispensation: in Protestant Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, it is either dispensed with, or has been repealed, as some would have it here: is wedlock so much happier and more respect-