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A Woman’s Appeal Against Second Marriage.

Mr James Knowles, of the ‘Nineteenth Century,’ has much to answer for. Wo have already been asked to insert ‘ The Old Man’s Appeal Against the Old Man’s Vote,’ by a set of old fogies who hold that all electors should be disfranchised after passing the age at which they could take part in active service. They say that all executive Government rests on force, and that they being incapable of fighting ought no longer to be entrusted with the responsibility of voting. Another appeal sent us is that of the journalists against the franchise. The signatories assert that their sphere of influence is moral, intellectual, and educational. Their domain is the paper, not the polling booth. Their sceptre is the pen, not the ballot. And they assert that it is an outrage on journalism to endanger their natural and normal influence as journalists by thrusting upon them the responsibilities of citizens. Their arguments are, to do them justice', no more discreditable than those 6f the women whose names appear in ‘Nineteenth Century’ protests. The most characteristic of these protests, however, is sent ns by an excellent lady who has not yet entered the estate of matrimony, and the note of intense conviction rings in every sentence of the eloquent memorial which, now that it has been published, is certain to secure the support of all the spinsters in the land “ We,” the undersigned, “ wish to appeal to the common sense and educated thought of the men and women of England against the growing and pernicious practice of second marriage on the part of widows. We are with two exceptions married women or spinsters, and are therefore able to give an unbiassed opinion concerning what widows ought to wish and to do. We desire the fullest possible development of the powers, energies, and education of women, and we believe (that is to say, most of us who are married do) that marriage—or, at any rate, the choice of whether to’marry or no—offers the likeliest field of such development. How unjust, then, when tow® are notoriously not enough husbands to go round, that any one woman should bo allowed to monopolise two, or even more than two. Those of us who consider marriage the best state oppose the re-marriage of widows on the ground of its unfairness. Those of us, on the contrary, who believe marriage to he in itself tho less desirable state are anxiona that the law should step in and save from themselves any woman whose first experience is not able to deter them from a second attempt. The whole hundred of us, therefore, are in accord on the practical point. However much wo differ in theory we none of us want to marry again or to let anyone else, Again, there is another point of view. We mnst not lessen thtf moral inflaefloe of women; and the Yemarriagd of widows does lessen that moral influence. If we are asked ‘How? we reply by' a question in' our turn : ‘On what does this moral influence depend?’ We believe that it depends largely on qualities which the natural position and functions of widows tend to develop, and which might be seriously impaired by their readmission to the turmoil of active family life. These qualities are, above all, sympathy and disinterestedness. Any disposition of things which tends to lessen the national reserve of such forces as these we hold to be a misfortune. The married woman must keep her sympathy and her interest for her husband’s affairs. Let her have the right to give them up to a certain extent—to the extent of a first marriage—but no farther. All remarriages of widows are beset with grave practical difficulties. The complication aof property and relationship which ensue are disturbing to all our settled English notions of family life. In conclusion, nothing can be further from our minds than to seek to depreciate the position or the importance of women. It is because wo are keenly alive to the epormoua value of their special contribution to the community that we oppose a practice which seems to us to endanger that contribution, and boldly demand that the Legislature shall at once and for ever prohibit the re-marriage of widows. The difficulty of obtaining a public expression, even of disapproval, about such a question from those who_ prefer to mind their own business may easily become a public danger, It is submitted that for once, and in order to save the widow from total disappearance, they should do violence to their natural reticence and signify publicly and unmistakably their desire for this muchneeded prohibitory legislation,” Here follow five-and-twenty signatures, which space compels us to omit,— ‘ Pall Mall Gazette.’

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A Woman’s Appeal Against Second Marriage., Evening Star, Issue 8009, 11 September 1889

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A Woman’s Appeal Against Second Marriage. Evening Star, Issue 8009, 11 September 1889