From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


The repeated attempts made in every session of Parliament to pass a Bill which shall enable a widower to marry the sister of his deceased wife, and the very considerable sympathy which exists in the public mind in favour of those who are working for a relaxation of the existing laws, make it very important to state clearly and briefly the grounds on which the prohibition ought still to be maintained. The sympathy of the public, as far as it exists, rests upon a very narrow basis. People imagine that the best guardian for a widower's children would be found in the sister of his deceased wife, and they think it hard that the widower may not marry her. They forget that the widower can have this aid and solace immediately under the protection of the existing law; and that if such marriages were lawful, a widower could no more have a sister-in-law to dwell with him and keep his house than he could any other woman of equal social position; and that in fact the possibility of such a marriage would probably render both the widower and the sister-in-law unwilling to enter upon relations, which, confessedly might terminate in the sister taking the deceased wife's place., A man would thus be debarred from having this most natural aid and solace, in the hour of his first distress, and when he saw his children in need of a mother's care, if he had no sister of his own, and wished for his wife's sister as guardian for them, he must face the disagreeable question whether he was prepared finally to marry her. But very frequently the wife's death is preceded by illness, during which, at present she looks to her sisters for relief in the cares of housekeeping and the management of her children. They come as being equally the husband's sisters, and the drooping wife is not distressed at the thought that one of them is to take her place in his affections, and be her