§ SIR ERSKINE PERRY
, in asking for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the law of property as it affects married women, said, he regretted that some measure on the subject had not been proposed by Government. The assurance given during the last Session by his hon. and learned Friend the present Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, had led him to believe that such would have been the case. On that occasion he had brought forward some Resolutions for the purpose of contrasting the different principles which are applied by Courts of Equity and Courts of Common Law to the property of married women, when the late Attorney General admitted fully that the rules of the common law were injurious and unjust, and intimated an intention to introduce in the next Session a satisfactory measure. He (Sir E. Perry) fully admitted, however, that the difficulty inherent in the subject, and the little discussion it had undergone in this House, were sufficient reasons why the Government should not be precipitate in their legislation, and all that could be expected on the part of those who object 267 to the present law was a patient inquiry into the ground of their objections, and of the principles on which they contend a wiser law might be framed. In order to guard himself from the charge of presumption in venturing to propose an Amendment in an institute of social law, wherein he admitted legislation to be so difficult, he would crave leave to say that the subject had been most carefully canvassed for many months by the Law Amendment Society, of which several distinguished Gentlemen on both sides of this House are Members, and the measure he proposed was founded on the principles almost unanimously adopted by them, after deliberate and lengthened consideration; and, for himself, he would say he had too much profound respect for the House to have neglected any resource which industry or diligence might supply, in order to furnish materials fit for being brought before the notice of the Legislation, in considering the present state of the law. Before entering on the question, he would state that he was advocating no speculative or theoretic reform, but a measure framed to meet an acknowledged evil. During the last Session of Parliament nearly 25,000 petitioners, men and women, comprising many of the most distinguished names in literature, science, and art, and belonging to the most influential classes of society, complained to this House of the injustice of the present law, and of its harsh bearing on the interests of the great majority who depend on their industry and labour. Having pointed out the grievance, they now patiently and confidently relied on the wisdom of the Legislature to afford redress.
There was another reason which appeared to make speedy legislation on this subject extremely desirable. In another place, attempts had been made to alter the law of England as respects divorce, and to establish as a right the power of dissolving the marriage tie in certain cases. But, although this right had been claimed in certain vehement and very eloquent pamphlets, as founded on indubitable justice, no popular demand had arisen on the subject. Divorce practically did not exist, and never had existed in this country, and we certainly had no reason to believe that the people of England desired that the facilities of divorce which existed in some Protestant countries so much to the corruption of morals therein should be introduced into England. The House had not received a single petition on the subject, and it cer- 268 tainly was one which was the most dangerous and the most difficult for a legislator to meddle with. But the House had received grievous complaints as to the abuses of the law of property which occur in the married state. When misconduct occurs on the part either of the husband or the wife, the main object and design of the innocent party is to be relieved from all pecuniary liability arising out of the illstarred union, and his firm belief was, that if a wise and comprehensive law, regulating the enjoyment of property between husband and wife were passed, all demand or necessity for tampering with the indissolubility of marriage would disappear. The objections to the common law of England, as it affected the property of married women was, that it was unjust in principle, unlike the law of all other civilized nations, a departure from the principles of the old common law itself, and above all, grievous in its operation on the community at large. He would touch on these points lightly, as he understood the introduction of the Bill would not be opposed. By the law of England, the act of marriage hands over the whole of a woman's personal property to her husband, and reduces her to a mere nonentity. She cannot acquire property; she cannot sue or be sued, and, indeed, has no civil rights which she can assert in a court of justice. Nay more, it would be found that, in all questions of property between husband and wife, either by decisions of courts of justice or by the express enactments of the legislature, the husband had been preferred, and the interests of the wife sacrificed. Thus, with respect to a woman's dower or life interest in her husband's lands after his death, the Courts denied it to the widow out of the equitable lands of the husband; but when a similar question arose as to the equitable lands of the wife, they gave the husband his life interest therein, or what is called his curtesy. And now the Legislature has enabled husbands to deprive their wives of dower altogether. So with respect to the widow's right to a third of the personal estate of her husband, the Courts allowed husbands to leave away the whole of their personalty by will; and thus a wife, giving all to her husband on marriage, was entitled by the present law to absolutely nothing in return. Yet, with amusing self-complacency, Sir William Blackstone laid down "that the female sex are great favourites of the law of England."
269 Now, the Roman law, which was universally allowed to have dealt with rights of property with more practical good sense and comprehensive views than the codes of other nations, gave the married women full rights over all such portions of her own property, as she had not handed over by ante-nuptial agreement to her husband to bear the charges of the marriage. The German law deals with the property of husband and wife on the principle of community of goods, or communio bonorum; but though it allows the administration to remain in the hands of the husband, it recognizes the clear right of the wife to her share in this common property, which she may assert either in the case of improper conduct on the part of the husband, or on the dissolution of the marriage. Nay, the early English law pursued the same liberal principle of recognizing equal rights on the part of the wife, and dealt with the only property which was then of sufficient value to be regarded seriously by the law, namely, real estate, on terms as beneficial to the wife as to the husband. The common law did not and does not transfer the wife's property in land to her husband, but recognizes a distinct title in each, and whilst it gave to the husband a life-interest in the wife's lands after her death if there happened to be a child born, it gave to the wife a third part in her husband's lands whether there was a child born or not by way of recompense. With respect to personal property which, in the days when the rules of the common law sprung up, was too insignificant to have much attention paid to it, although the law, founded no doubt on usage, gave it to the husband absolutely; the old English law, like the law of all the German nations, recognized the absolute right on the part of the wife to take one-third of all the common stock of personalty on her husband's death. This right, Sir William Blackstone tells us, married women lost by "imperceptible degrees;" that is to say, husbands assuming the right to bequeath all their property, the courts of justice recognized such wills, and gradually judge-made law grew up which effectually deprived wives of their clear and indisputable right.
The law of England on this head then being thus one-sided, being, unlike most laws, all in favour of the stronger, not of the weaker party, and being founded on a different principle from that which has governed the legislation of other countries, English jurists are undoubtedly called upon 270 to justify this anomaly. For the credit of the legal profession, there are scarcely any who defend the English law as it is; difficulties are suggested as to the alteration, but the injustice of the present law is pretty generally admitted. There are, however, some sages in the law, and if I mistook not the argument last year of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wallingford (Mr. Malins) he must be one of them who defend the law in all its vigour. He (Sir E. Perry) had heard the justification placed in as clear and forcible terms as it was capable of being couched in: "the law throws on husbands the maintenance of wife and children and the education of the latter; he is the proper judge how these duties shall be performed, and therefore he ought to have all the wife's personalty to enable him to perform these duties." But this was not a logical conclusion. Even if it be correctly stated that the father is bound by law to maintain and educate his children, and that he ought to dispose of his wife's personalty for these matters, what if there were no children, if the wife died a week after the marriage, if the husband had a mistress, was it just, was it reasonable that he should be allowed in all these cases to have the absolute property in his wife's personalty? to squander it away, or to give it to his own natural children? But the present law allowed it, and grievous misapplication of the property constantly happened.
The argument, however, was unsound in another particular; the conclusion was not supported by the promises; but the premises themselves were not correctly stated. The rights of the husband are based on his supposed liability to the charges arising out of the marriage, but this liability is stated much too broadly. It was true a husband is bound to maintain his wife according to his station; he is not bound to maintain his children according to theirs, or to educate them at all. The law of England has been content, and on the whole wisely, to leave these duties to be governed by the laws of nature, by the strong parental feeling which induces the great majority of mankind to make all the sacrifices that may be required for the welfare of their offspring. But this parental feeling was not less strong, it was probably much stronger, in the female bosom; and if the law could safely leave man unfettered to perform such duties towards his children, there could be no necessity to take away a 271 mother's property from her for fear that she should be less sensible to the calls of duty and the claims of those whom she has brought forth in her travail.
He contended, therefore, that the present law was wholly unjust in principle, and that the reasoning brought forward in its support was unsound. But those who had approached this House as petitioners relied mainly on the grievous operation of the present law in practice. They were ready, if an opportunity was offered to them, to adduce a mass of evidence in cases which had come within their own observation, and they contended that the evils of the present law extended to all circles, although they were chiefly felt amongst the industrial classes of the community.
It was not necessary now to bring forward examples of the evil operation of the law; they had been given copiously in many late publications, and those who had examined into the subject knew how frequently the law was taken advantage of for the most selfish and basest purposes. But he would mention one case, which was related by an eminent solicitor as having lately occurred. In a letter, which appeared in a late number of the Edinburgh Review, he related that, having been called in by a lady of rank to stop the marriage of the daughter, who had eloped with an officer, and who was possessed of considerable fortune, which stood in her own name, in the funds, he arrived with the mother at the church just previous to the marriage; but, from the girl being of age, was only able to succeed in postponing it for twenty-four hours, during which time, however, the bridegroom, full of professions, consented to settle the lady's fortune on herself. The articles were prepared and signed in the vestry, and obtained the attestation of the officiating clergyman, and the solicitor was fully satisfied with the solemnity of the proceedings and the apparent truthfulness of the bridegroom. But, with the caution generated by his professional habits and his knowledge of human nature, he thought it fit, on the same day, to put what is called a distringas on the lady's stock; and most fortunately he did so, for at the earliest possible period the husband, unknown to his wife, proceeded to the Bank of England, with proofs of his marriage in his hand, and demanded the transfer of the Stock to his own name. The distringas stopped him, and the fortune was subsequently settled on the lady.
272 And now with respect to the remedy. If asked what should be the governing principle of any sound law of property for married people, he would say that it should be left entirely in their own power to make whatever arrangements they please before marriage as to the enjoyment of their fortunes. Such power existed at present by law, and needed no alteration. Legislation was only required for those cases wherein, either from improvidence or ignorance, or the absence of any fortune at the time of marriage, no settlement had been made. For all these cases, he was convinced, after long and earnest consideration, and after repeated conferences with many most learned and experienced men who had devoted their best attention to the inquiry, that no adequate protection could be given to married women, except by leaving them in the enjoyment of their own fortunes and acquisitions. By the law of England, a single woman was capable of exercising all the civil rights of property, and the responsibilities of property fell upon her likewise. By the highly artificial rule, which had grown up as to marriage, all these rights were denied to an English married woman, and her existence as a legal person was denied by the law. By a fiction of law, husband and wife are considered one person. Like most legal fictions, these had worked great evil, and, amongst the wealthier classes, had been got rid of by the interposition of courts of equity. The remedy was to abolish this fiction altogether, but your written laws accord with the laws of nature and good sense, and let a married woman stand exactly in the same relation to property the day after her marriage as she did the day before,
If this principle was once introduced into our law, it would of course follow, that the responsibilities of property would attach on a woman married, and that she would be liable on her own contracts at law, as she is now in equity, when she has separate estate. By this means that extraordinary anomaly in the law as to the liability of husbands for their wife's debts, contracted before marriage, would be abolished. A husband was not liable for the debts of his wife after marriage, except those which he had authorized her to contract, but he was liable for any amount of debt contracted before marriage, and this was the logical and inevitable consequence of giving all the wife's property to the husband. The same conclusion was applic- 273 able to all the wrongful acts of a married woman, which might cause damage to another; the husband might have done his utmost to check the slanderous tongue of his wife, and to have inculcated charitable feelings towards her neighbour; but if she infringed the law in any respect, it was the husband alone on whom the pecuniary responsibility fell. He was quite sure that he spoke the sense of the women of England, when he stated that they desired no immunity on this score; they felt that moral responsibility attached to the uncontrolled acts of every individual, and that the civil sanction ought to coincide with what both Christianity and the precepts of sound morality dictate. In seeking to introduce the principle of giving married women equal rights of property with their husbands, the House has the security of knowing that it is entering upon no new field, but on ground amply tested by experience. It was the principle of the civil law, which was once designated by Lord Lyndhurst, as the noblest monument of human wisdom the world has yet seen. But, what was more germane to a discussion on English jurisprudence, it was the same principle as had been adopted by nearly all the States of America, who having imported the common law of England, have endeavoured to improve upon it. He was enabled to give the House some valuable evidence as to the success which had attended the alterations of the law in the United States. The Law Amendment Society, having put itself in communication with some American jurists, as to the state and operations of the law in that country, had received a letter from a most eminent man, whose name was well known in England, Mr. David Dudley Field, and he (Sir E. Perry), would take the liberty of reading a portion of it to the House.New York, Jan. 29, 1857.Gentlemen,—I now give you a copy of the statutes of New York at present in force relating to divorces and the property of married women, and a copy or extract of the statutes of the other States relating to the latter subject up to 1854. The subject is difficult and requires delicate handling.We know that what is wanted for the protection of married women is to secure their persons, property, and earnings against abuse by improvident or ill-disposed husbands. If a law could be framed for these cases of abuse there would be no need of disturbing the present legal relations of the sexes in other cases. But this would be obviously impracticable. Whatever law is passed must be general, relating to all wives and all husbands, and securing to all wives those 274 rights which only the unhappy need assert. The changes which thus far have been made in this State have proved in their operation as beneficial as any reasonable friend could have expected. Of course there are cavillers, as there are against every change, but no one imagines that an effort to repeal the laws would be successful. This is the best test of the operation of a measure according to the judgment of the people upon whom it operates. An attempt to restore the old laws of marital rights would have as little chance of success here as an attempt to restore the Corn Laws in England.—I am, &c.,DAVID DUDLEY FIELD.He concluded by thanking the House for the patience with which he had been heard in the necessarily dry exposition, of the reasons he had placed before them. The subject was undoubtedly capable of being illustrated from many points of view, by eloquence and feeling, but as the making a new law was the question before the House, he had addressed himself solely to their understanding. He would only say in conclusion, that although, by the aid of settlements, solicitors, and the Court of Chancery, the wealthier classes of society did not feel the pressure of the present law, the House must not judge by their own experience in the circles in which they immediately moved, but must inquire carefully amongst their constituents, whether the necessity was not every day increasing for giving to married women legal rights in their own property and acquisitions.
He would now move for leave to bring in a Bill, to amend the law with respect to the Property of Married Women.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman had asked him since he had entered the House to second his Motion, and he felt great pleasure in complying with that request. He was convinced that the oppression occasioned in the case of married women by the operation of the existing law was exceedingly unjust and severe. He entertained considerable doubt, however, whether his hon. and learned Friend would be able to accomplish the object which he had in view without taking a prior step and giving greater facility for obtaining divorces à mensâ et thoro. He had hoped that a Bill upon that subject would have come down from the other House in time to afford them an opportunity of dealing with the question before the measure under their notice had been introduced; and he might add that the point was one upon which he felt so strongly that he had intended to bring in a Bill himself with regard to it, and he 275 should have done so had he not learned from experience the utter inutility of an attempt to carry such a Bill through its various stages upon the part of anybody except some great man connected with the Government.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that in rising to state that he would not oppose the Motion which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Devon-port had just made, the Government was by no means desirous of preventing discussion upon, the subject with which his Bill proposed to deal. On the contrary, he should be very glad that hon. Members generally should give to that subject their anxious attention, inasmuch as they must be prepared to take it into consideration when the Divorce Bill, which might confidently be expected to come down from the House of Lords, came under their notice. The proposition of the hon. and learned Member was one of a character very different from the ordinary schemes of law reform. The laws affecting the property of married women, and their status with respect to that property, were intimately bound up with our social institutions, and it was by no means a light matter to attempt to introduce into a system of jurisprudence such alterations as must involve a material change in the social and political institutions of a nation. He thought, therefore, that hon. and learned Gentleman had taken upon himself a very difficult and onerous task, and if his Bill contained no other provisions than those to which he had referred in the course of his speech, he must not anticipate that it would be received with very general favour. Indeed, so far as he (the Attorney General) could gather from the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the operation of his Bill seemed to be confined to the creation of a communio bonorum, to the placing of the women of England in a "strong-minded and independent position," which so few chose for themselves, and which position the hon. and learned Gentleman had described as consisting in the rendering them accountable for everything which they might say or do. Now he (the Attorney General), for one, did not think that was a position which the best and most amiable of the women of England were anxious to occupy. He was at the same time undoubtedly desirous that the law of this country upon the subject of the property of married women should be 276 made consistent with itself, and as an individual Member expressing individual opinions, he would endeavour to point out how far he was predisposed to go in the advocacy of a measure of reform upon that head. The hon. and learned Gentleman had correctly observed that there existed a remarkable difference between the effects of the contract for marriage upon real and personal property. The House was well aware that during the early history of the laws of England personal property had been greatly disregarded. Such, however, had not been the case with real property, and when a marriage took place the law gave to the husband, not unqualified ownership over such property, but a right to receive the rents and profits arising out of it during the period of coverture. He could make during that period no alienation of it which would operate as an effectual sale, without the consent of his wife. How absurd did it appear that, while the profits only of a landed estate of £500 hundred a year went to the husband, yet if the wife were possessed of £20,000 in the funds, the entire and uncontrolled possession of that money was transferred to the husband with the hand of the bride. He should feel by no means indisposed to allow the husband the right to enjoy the dividends only upon that sum, unless, indeed, the wife, subsequent to the marriage, taking advantage of the safeguards which the law at present threw around her in the case of real property, should consent to transfer her personal property herself. He should, he repeated, allow the dividends to go to the husband, as was now the case under the existing law, subject to the condition of maintaining, protecting, and guarding his wife; and if that duty were not duly discharged he should propose that the property should remain intact, and that the life interest of the husband in it should revert to the wife, in case she had been deserted or brutally treated. There was another portion of his subject to which the hon. and learned Member had but slightly alluded, and that was the property which a married woman might have acquired by her labour in any trade or business carried on without the co-operation of her husband. Now, with respect to that description of property, Courts of Equity would hold, and, indeed, were in the habit of recognizing the separate interests of the wife; and he should, therefore, give his consent to the proposition that the exclusive earnings of a wife during coverture 277 should become her separate property. He might also state his opinion in reference to any acquisitions of the wife in the shape of gifts made to her after the coverture. The Common Law was at variance with Equity on this subject, and the variance led to great inconvenience. If a married woman who had made no settlement had a sum of money or other property bequeathed to her after the coverture, although the Common Law gave the whole to the husband absolutely, she had a right to come into a Court of Equity and require a settlement to be made. A certain portion of the principal was then taken away and set apart for her use, with remainder to the children of the marriage. But this could only be done in a Court of Equity, and even this interposition was limited by the amount of the property in question. Such a right ought to be possessed by a married woman without the necessity for applying to a court of justice at all, and it was cruel to throw upon her the obligation to come into so costly a tribunal as a Court of Equity for such a purpose. But the interposition of Equity took place in consequence of the law which gave to the husband absolutely the property of all personalty in possession. If that law were altered the necessity for such interposition of Equity was removed; and he proposed that as to the acquisitions of property subsequent to the marriage, the law should give to the husband a life interest only arising from the property, subject to the same obligation of protecting and maintaining the wife which the Common Law in principle upheld. The mode of enforcing it, indeed, was weak and inefficient, but it would be efficient if the law were accompanied with a provision that the husband should, on deserting or ill-treating his wife, forfeit his interest in the income, which should immediately revert to the wife for her separate maintenance. He only spoke for himself, for he did not know how far those Members of the Government who had considered this subject were prepared to go. He did not know any subject more difficult, or that ought to be approached and handled with more anxiety and care than anything that dealt with the existing established relations between husband and wife.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
hoped that the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth, in drawing this Bill, would very much follow the course recommended by the Attorney General. He saw no reason why a married woman should not en- 278 joy the same protection and security in regard to personal property that was given to real property. There was one defect in the law, however, to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had not alluded. Cases of great hardship sometimes arose where a separation had taken place, and where parties were not living as husband and wife but without a divorce. An ill-conducted husband would frequently in such cases seize the earnings of his wife, and appropriate them to his own use. He believed that the law did not at present protect a woman so situated. If such were the law, a more pressing and important case for legislative interference was made out than in the relations of husband and wife during coverture.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
But the hon. and learned Gentleman did not mention this as one of the cases with which he meant to deal.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Well, but if my observations applied to the ordinary case of married women, they, of course, a fortiori, applied to such a case as that mentioned by the right hon. Baronet.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
was glad to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman say so, for there would be no difference in opinion as to the necessity of applying a remedy in such cases. He thanked the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Plymouth for the course he was pursuing, but he would act wisely in following the judicious advice of the Attorney General. Certainly here then was a field for law reform, but the House could not proceed with too much caution in legislating on this subject.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
thought that this matter was not so clear as the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) assumed it to be. However, the terms in which the Motion was made, and still more the speech of the Attorney General was the best answer to the rather extravagant demands of the large and manly body of "strong-minded women," whose advocate the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth had constituted himself; but who, he fancied, would hardly be satisfied with what was now proposed for their benefit. Hitherto there had been free trade in the pecuniary relations of husband and wife, and to revert to a sys- 279 tem of protection required rather delicate handling. And his (Mr. Hope's) opinion was, that legislation on this subject was not likely to prove practically beneficial. The hon. and learned Member who made the Motion had indeed himself given the best and most logical answer to his own proposal when he alluded to a father not being liable to support his son beyond what the poor law compelled, and added that more was not necessary, as natural affection would supply the rest. If natural affection were sufficient between parent and child, a fortiori, it would be sufficient between husband and wife. It appeared to him that there was as much necessity for, and not more difficulty in, legislation with respect to the relation of parent and child; and if this Bill passed, we might next Session have a Bill to protect "respectable" parents from profligate sons, and, the Session after, one to protect "respectable" sons from curmudgeons of fathers. No doubt the law of husband and wife was in an anomalous state in many respects, but the Attorney General had done wisely in removing the subject from those questions of abstract women's rights which wore sometimes advocated by young ladies in pamphlets, and further developed by Margaret Fuller, afterwards Marchioness Ossoli, and in the pages of Aurora Leigh. The measure had two sides, one object being to protect the rich, and the other the poor. The hardest cases of grievance no doubt were found when drunken and profligate husbands wrenched from their hard-working wives the few pence they had just earned by the sweat of their brow. But how could any legislation meet such cases? If the law declared that these pence should be her own, how could it save her when the brutal husband came to wrest them from her hand? She might go to a magistrate, but what could a magistrate do? He might make an order upon the husband to refund the money, but that would be already spent; and if the magistrate sent the husband to prison, he would, perhaps, only leave the wife to beg in the streets. Such a law, to give effectual protection to the woman, would require a more expensive machinery than he at present saw his way to constitute. Then, if Parliament recognized a separate right in the wife to property and earnings, would it not in some sort encourage a bad husband to say to his wife, "Go and earn your own bread, as the Act of Parliament tells you, and I wash my hands of your 280 support. "With respect to the rich, in matters of marriage settlements and other cases, he thought that the doctrine of caveat emptor was a very good law. He should not oppose the introduction of the Bill. Doubtless there were many anomalies in the law which ought to be corrected, but let them consider the whole conjugal question in its undivided bearings. Particularly as it was under discussion in another place, he thought it hardly right to enter into a branch of it at present. Let them amend the law, but at the same time steadfastly resist the breaking down of the distinguishing characteristics of Englishmen—the love of home, the purity of husband and wife, and the union of one family.
§ MR. M. MILNES
was astonished at the language used by the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Hope) than whom, if the public prints were to be believed, no Member of that House was more indebted for the honourable position he now occupied to the influence of the sex whose interests this Bill would protect. The hon. Gentleman, therefore, was not exactly the man whom it became to sneer at the "strong-minded women" whom the opponents of this measure said were at the bottom of this movement. The House ought to address itself to the Amendment of our matrimonial law in a serious, not a jesting spirit. It was only at the eleventh hour that they came to consider this matter, when the accumulated wrongs of an innocent and helpless portion of their fellow-countrywomen forced them to grapple with it. Though the provisions of this Bill were in the main wise and just, its subject would, from its novelty and the general interest it excited, bear a great amount of discussion, and he thought that his hon. Friend who had brought it forward deserved the thanks of Parliament for having broken the ground. Let the hon. Member for Maidstone make his mind easy on one score—that House would do nothing to attack the sanctity of the English home; and even if, by the letter of its written enactments it made the attempt, the domestic institutions of this country lay far too deep in the hearts of the people for such legislation to produce the effect apprehended by the hon. Member. It was the duty of Parliament to interpose for the correction of the patent and admitted evils connected with the relations of husband and wife; and it was a total mistake to call this solely a woman's question. In some of its gravest bearings it 281 was also a man's question. It dealt not only with the case of a wife deserted by her husband, but likewise with that of the husband deserted by a worthless wife, who, after leading a profligate life when away from him, might return and force him to maintain the children to which she had given birth in the interval.
§ MR. MALINS
, while reserving any more lengthened observations till a future stage of this measure, yet wished it to be understood that he retained the objections he had previously stated to its provisions, so far as they sought to set up a separate interest between husband and wife while living together; but, so far as they related to the interests of husband and wife when voluntarily separated, that was another matter, and he should be prepared to give some part of the measure his support.
§ Motion agreed to,
§ Leave given.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir ERSKINE PERRY and Mr. MONCKTON MILNES.
§ Bill presented, and read 1°.