From the Preface.
The purpose of this volume is to furnish to the lawyer, legislator, sociologist and student a working summary of the marriage and divorce laws of the principal countries of the world.
There are no geographical boundaries to virtue, wisdom and justice, and no country has as yet monopolized all that is best in creation. The mightiest of the nations lacks something which is possessed by the weakest; and there is no branch of comparative jurisprudence of more general consequence than that treating of marriage, which is the keystone of civilization.
By "civilization" we do not mean community life according to the standard of a single individual or nation, but in its broader and better sense, meaning the civil organization of any large group of human beings.
This book is not a brief in favour of, or against, any particular social system or legal code, nor has it a mission to assist in the reformation of any country's marriage and divorce law. In the compilation which follows our endeavour is simply to set forth positive law as it exists to-day, leaving its correction or development to the proper authorities.
The editor has lived among the books of the British Museum, the Bibliotheque Nationale and other great libraries for years, seeking in vain for just such a compilation as is here humbly presented. We hope, therefore, that whatever may be its imperfections the book is justified, and will be welcomed as the first of its kind.
In its compilation we have been pleased to observe that the evident trend of modern legislation is toward uniformity among the nations of Christendom on the vital subjects of marriage and divorce. In fact, modernity brings uniformity in every department of public and private law- a consummation devoutly to be wished for by those who feel that, no matter how short may be the individual's life, he is nevertheless a kinsman to all of the race who have gone before or are yet to come.
A study of the marriage laws of the world has also brought the happy conviction that the wholesome view of marriage as the union of one man and one woman for life, to the exclusion of all others, is the one triumphant fact of human history which can never lose its prestige.
The surest sign of the general betterment of the world's law is that woman everywhere is more and more being allowed her natural place in the community as man's equal and associate. That nation is most enlightened which treats its womankind the best. All the legislation of the past century bearing on the subject of marriage has elevated men by giving more justice to women.
When the next Matrimonial Causes Act predicated upon the labours of the present Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce is passed by the British Parliament, women will be given equal rights with men in our courts of law. The jurisprudence of England was not built for a day, and we are a people singularly bound by precedent, but when John Bull moves it is always in a straight line, and he never turns back.show more