Using the figurative words, " the law," in their widest possible sense, t_ean the entire system which governs the relations of the individuals in _ommunity with each other and with the community at large, we can easily se_hat in a century's time many changes of law will have taken place. If it b_rue that legislative restraints are mostly necessitated by the ill-conceive_nergies of mankind, and that the right function of the law is to assure t_ach citizen the largest possible liberty that is consistent with the equa_iberty of every other citizen and of all, then it will be right to believ_hat the great extension of general intelligence, and the equally grea_xtension of general morality, anticipated for the next century, will rende_any forms ofexisting restraint obsolete because unnecessary. Regardin_ffences both against the person and against property as manifestations, fo_he most part, of unintelligence, we may expect that increased intelligenc_ill lead to a diminution of their number.
In applying statistics to an examination of the question whether and to wha_xtent improvements in the general standard of education have in the pas_iminished crime, and consequently how far crime is likely to be still furthe_iminished in the future, we must be careful to keep in sight tw_onsiderations—first, that an increased vigilance and elaboration on the par_f authority may easily make it appear that crime has failed to diminish unde_ducational influences, when it is only the detection and punishment of crim_hat have been rendered more perfect; and second, that if one kind o_ducation have not had all the salutary effects expected of it, it does no_ollow that a different kind will not have all this expected efficacy an_ore. Manifestly, legislation against crimes formerly outside the reach of th_aw—that creation of "new offences" which one hears rather foolishly objecte_o—will increase statistics of crime, if we compute crime in terms of prison- admissions; and the fact that such increase, due entirely to legislation, ha_aken place concurrently with some other reform, such as the improvement o_ducation, obviously does not entitle us to connect the increase with th_eform. The latter may even be operating in exactly the opposite manner, despite the statistics. A number of new offences were created, for instance, by what is called in England the Criminal Law Amendment Act, and it would b_asy for a shocked observer of prison statistics to observe, in a period o_ears during which the administration of that useful act was being perfected, dreadful increases in the crimes which it represses ; whereas the fac_robably is that crime of this sort has diminished, largely through the actio_f the very causes which would make it appear to have been increasing.
Therefore, if anyone still argues that education as a means of diminishin_rime has proved a failure, it is not upon judicial statistics that he mus_ase his contentions. Probably that argument is obsolete : but if it were not, and if it were allowed all the validity of which it is capable, it would stil_urnish no ground whatever from which to throw doubt upon the expectation tha_n a hundred years' time crime will have diminished very greatly, as a resul_f the improved education of the new era. For indeed, as education is a_resent conducted, it would be rather a remarkable thing that it should hav_ny effect upon criminality at all. What influence increased intelligence ma_ave in restraining one part of the population from the desire to commit crim_ight easily be neutralised by the effect, on another portion, of th_ncreased craft and subtlety imparted by education. Knowledge can facilitat_rime as well as deter from it. A man who has not learned to write, it ha_een shrewdly remarked, will not commit forgery : but that is not a reason fo_hinking that a knowledge of writing tends to promote criminality. The ma_ho, being (perhaps unduly) proficient in it, becomes a forger, would no_ecessarily have remained blameless if he had continued illiterate. He woul_ery probably have been a thief, which does not require penmanship : but o_he other hand, the increased facility of obtaining employment when one ca_rite might just as easily have saved him from some temptations to dishonesty.
It is not very rational to expect a great moral effect upon character from th_ere acquisition of knowledge. But from the moment we conceive that means an_ethods of education in the future will be valued in proportion to thei_nfluence in developing character, and especially intelligent self-control, i_s impossible to doubt that the new teaching will be among the most potent o_oral influences. One benefit derived from this will be the possibility o_bandoning legislative restrictions whose effect is inimical to self-contro_nd to intelligent self-protection. It will no longer be necessary to protec_he people by law from the consequences of their own foolishness, and we shal_ave learned that it is much better for the public to be encouraged t_afeguard its own interests than to be relieved of the necessity to do so.
Anticipating, therefore, that many existing forms of restraint will hav_ecome obsolete because unnecessary, we may very fairly ask ourselves whether, in an improved moral and intellectual atmosphere, it will not have been foun_dvisable to abolish other restraints and requisitions as a directly remedia_easure. The suggestion may, at the moment, appear chimerical, but so mus_very intelligent anticipation of a coming time appear to anyone wh_pproaches the subject without allowing for the difference of conditions, an_onceives of changes which will take place so gradually as to be almos_nperceived, as if they were to occur per salhtm, without any process of slo_oral preparation. So would nearly every social condition of the present ag_ave appeared individually to a citizen of the world of 1800, if, possessin_ntelligence to foresee it, he lacked the imagination necessary to foresee th_ccompanying and subservient conditions. That public opinion should be s_hocked by the execution of capital punishment, that only the most atrociou_urders are thus punished—the sentence, where there is any real extenuation a_ll, being habitually commuted nowadays—is a condition which would hardly hav_uggested itself even to the most alert imasfinations in an age where smal_hefts were constantly punished by death. Our sense of what may be called th_ccidental influences of punitive measures is even yet so little develope_hat only a small minority of the public at the present day is able t_erceive that the deterrent effect of flogging, as a punishment for violen_obbery, is dearly purchased at the expense of the brutalising relish wit_hich sentences of flogging are welcomed by the public, and even on th_udicial bench, where expressions of regret that the same penalty cannot b_nflicted for other crimes are still common. Yet it would seem obvious enoug_hat the sanction given to acts of violence by the deliberate adoption o_anging and flogging by the law, which is supposed to be the exemplar o_ublic morality, must tend nearly as much to perpetuate crimes of violence a_ear of these chastisements to deter. In attempting to foresee the spirit o_egislation in the future it is absolutely necessary to foresee concurrentl_he spirit of the communities by which the legislation will be adopted.
Anticipating, as we cannot fail to anticipate, a sedulous care for mora_ffects in education, we must anticipate an equal care in legislation. I_ould be unworthy of the supremely logical age which assuredly is coming, t_se all possible measures in the schoolroom to foster in childhood self- reliance and intelligent self-protection, while continuing by "grandmotherly"
government of the people to remove as often as possible any need for self- reliance in the adult. The advantages attending little bits of protective law- making often blind us to their ill-effects. It is no doubt very useful t_rovide, as we do provide, that condensed milk, when deprived of its ful_roportion of cream, shall only be sold in packages notifying tha_eprivation. If we did not do this children would be starved by their parents'
ignorance. But the necessity for this enactment is at least in part created b_he existence of a host of similar laws, the aggregate effect of which is t_ive a general impression that anything sold as food is good and useful unles_t bears some warning to the contrary; and meantime every evasion o_ommercial morality which does not come under legislative restraint i_aturally held to be perfectly justifiable—not at all a good thing fo_ommercial morality. Now it would be a highly perilous measure to abolish, a_ stroke, all protective legislation against adulterated or impoverishe_oods. We have built up a social condition in which every man thinks himsel_ntitled to be protected against such frauds. But in a community which ha_een taught to take care of itself, and protect itself against frauds by it_wn intelligence, such protections would be retrograde and injurious. The ai_f legislatures in the next century will be to foster all kinds of self- reliance. They will perceive that even the high importance of a reform whic_an be more or less easily enforced by law does not compensate for the ba_ffect of thus enforcing it, if it could be maintained by the spontaneou_igilance of a wisely-nurtured public ; and the degrading effect o_uperfluous law will be more dreaded than the temporary dangers against whic_he law might protect the citizens.
Nevertheless, it is inevitable that, during a period more or less extended, material progress will be accompanied by numerous legal enactments such as _erfect state would dispense with, and possibly the end of all of them wil_ot have been reached even in a century's time. How invention tends to promot_egislation has recently been noticeable in the new laws affectinor automobil_raffic on roads. In a perfect state it would doubtless be unnecessary t_rovide legal machinery to compel the owners of powerful and rapid vehicles t_espect the rights of their fellow-citizens and to abstain from running awa_ithout identifying themselves when they had caused an accident. In proportio_s the moral condition of the next century approximates to perfection, suc_rdinances as the motor-car laws will be unnecessary. But for a long time ne_aws will always be coming into necessity as a result of new inventions. Fo_nstance, when, as was suggested in an earlier chapter, business is carried o_argely through the medium of recording telephones, wirelessly actuated, special laws will have to be devised to protect trade against the variou_inds of fraud which this method of transaction would otherwise facilitate, and some methods will have to be devised for giving legal force t_rrangements made by telephony, akin to the methods which now give legal forc_o written contracts. Similarly, various by-laws will have to be enacted t_rotect the public against the accidents incidental to the various methods o_apid transit that will have come into use. Probably it will no longer b_ecessary, and it will have been perceived to be injurious, to protec_ravellers against their own rashness.
It is a well-known phenomenon that periods of material prosperity and hig_ages are fruitful in crime. Probably increased consumption of alcohol i_rosperous times is the sole cause of this. There can be no direct connectio_etween wealth and criminality; the bulk of the criminal population is, on th_ontrary, poor. It would be idle to speculate as to whether the next centur_ill or will not continue to legislate against intoxicants, because it i_orally certain that intoxicants will have been legislated out of existenc_lready, without waiting for the period when it would no longer be necessar_o abolish them forcibly. For at present, and in the more immediate future, there is no ground whatever for anticipating that the legislative hand will b_ithheld wherever law-making appears the simplest and most obvious method o_etting rid of any crying evil: and there can be no doubt that the abuse o_lcohol is an evil of precisely the sort that legislature will be active i_uppressing. Some changes in the method of government will have to take plac_efore Parliament can legislate against alcohol: but that it will so legislat_efore the middle of this century is morally certain. In what country th_lcohol law is first likely to be passed is immaterial. Every country whic_dopts it will thereby assist in forcing the same measure upon othe_ountries, because, with international travel constantly becoming cheaper an_ore easy, it is certain that numerous people who object to being deprived o_timulants and intoxicants in one country will migrate to others where thei_ppetite can have full play, and will intensify the drink problem in thos_ountries until these, too, are forced, or will think themselves forced, t_egislate in self-protection. Thus such laws will become universal. No doub_his condition will be reached gradually, measures of restriction precedin_easures of prohibition. But the end will be the same, and it will be force_pon the world as much by the increased evils inflicted by alcohol on nerve_ncreasingly susceptible to its influence, as by any other consideration.
Anyone who has taken the trouble to observe the nervous and physical conditio_f men and women in the average, during even so short a period as the las_uarter of a century, must have been impressed by the marked increase o_eurotic states, not merely in exceptional individuals, but in all the people.
The neurotic temperament is much more adversely affected by alcohol than an_ther ; and we are all growing more neurotic. All the conditions of moder_ife tend that way : and it is not alcohol alone that will have to go, but al_orts of habit-inducing drugs, such as morphine, cocaine, and the rest, all o_hich, like alcohol itself, will soon be so restricted in regard to their sal_hat their abuse will be rendered practically impossible, and their us_estricted to a purely medical employment. It is even quite possible, and _ave already ventured to predict,[](footnotes.xml#footnote_30) that whe_he progress of neurotism has worked itself out, even such mild exhilarants a_ea and coffee will have to be made the subjects of legal restriction. Ther_xist many individuals at the present moment upon whom coffee acts as _timulant nearly as powerful as alcohol, moderately employed, upon the rest o_s—that is to say, they experience the same mild exhilaration after a cup o_trong coffee as a moderate man does after a glass of burgundy or a whisky- and-soda. These effects are no more injurious, at present, than those of _oderate use of wine or spirits : but they can become perilous, and ma_evelop in all sorts of ways, when the nervous organisation becomes mor_elicate. Thus, the abolition of alcoholic beverages, at present the fad of _inority not always very respectable in the methods of its propaganda, wil_resently be an indispensable feature of social progress.
Unless all criminolocrists are wrongs in their deductions, something lik_ifty per cent, of all crime will be got rid of when alcohol no longer exist_o cause crime. There are further ameliorative influences certain to be a_ork which will tend to reduce the sorts of crime chiefly troublesome a_resent. Adopting the familiar division of crime into (a) offences against th_erson and (d) offences against property, it is very easy to see that what ma_e called private crime (as distinguished from crime against the body politic) will diminish automatically. When the extremes of wealth and poverty hav_ecome as much less marked as I have endeavoured to show that they mus_ecome, it is evident that the temptation to offences of greed will be greatl_iminished. A large proportion of all these crimes arises out of povert_lone, or out of poverty coupled with stupidity. A man who has not enoug_ntelligence to earn is very likely to steal in order to provide for himself; and one who is equipped by the knowledge of a trade is consequently not s_iable to be dishonest as one who is less hopefully situated. He is als_ikely to be more intelligent, and consequently better qualified to perceiv_hat the balance of comfort is on the side of the honest worker and not on th_ide of the burglar or thief. Anyone who has had occasion to observe th_roceedings of criminal courts must have noticed the frequency with which th_escription "labourer" is adopted by the offenders charged. "Labourer" mean_n unskilled worker—a man who has learned no trade, and brinors nothingr t_is work but thews and sinews. It is much less common to find a trade claimed: one rarely sees a thief or burglar described on the charge sheet as "John Doe, carpenter," or "Richard Roe, gas-fitter." They do not even profess to have _rade. Of course where a man's business is such as to lend itself to crimina_ursuits, the case is different: one finds banknote forgers described as
"engravers" and "lithographers," and makers of counterfeit money as "di_inkers." But in the average of crime—at least crime of the more stupi_orts—it is the tradeless man who is nearly always charged. It is impossibl_o resist the inference that poverty is a determining cause in most crimes o_reed. In a hundred years' time the spread of technical education will hav_hinned the ranks of the unskilled. At the same time the inducements t_onesty and steady industry will have been enormously increased through th_niversality of the profit-sharing system ; and the position of the stead_orker will have become so greatly more attractive than that of the casua_hief, that only the utmost stupidity can tempt anyone to the latter's cours_f life. Self-respecting labour for a share in the profits of labour, instea_f mechanical toil for wages that do not bear any relation to profits nor t_nything else except the fluctuations of the labour-market, will so elevat_he average of industrial character that it will be rare for workmen to drif_nto crime. At the same time, and similarly, the restraint placed upon undu_ccumulation of wealth will diminish temptation to crimes of greed at th_ther extremity of social life. It will no longer be worth anyone's while t_rganise colossal schemes of dishonest company-promoting. Thus, crimes agains_roperty are certain to become relatively infrequent, because the greates_emptations to them will have been removed.
Apart from the largely preponderating number of cases in which offence_gainst the person—assaults and the like—arise now out of intoxication, th_endency to crimes of violence will also diminish as the temper of societ_rows milder. An age so much advanced in sentimentality as to revolt agains_he cruelty of breeding horses for traction and cattle for food is not likel_o be fruitful in offences of violence. These offences, where associate_either with drink nor robbery, probably arise more often from jealous_etween the sexes than anything else. It is unfortunately impossible t_uggest that sexual jealousy can be wholly eliminated from human nature. Bu_o doubt its violent exhibition will have been educated out of us to a larg_easure. Other personal offences, as rape, criminal assault and variou_riminal vices will doubtless diminish in frequency as a consequence o_eneral moral improvement. In short, the work of the policeman will be greatl_ased in the course of this century, and no doubt many functions at presen_elegated to the police, such as the direction of street traffic, the care o_agrant dogs, and the like, will be performed by officials of a differen_haracter. Even these duties will be far less onerous than they now are, whe_e have become intelligent enough to see that the best way for every man t_ecure his own freedom and comfort is to respect the freedom and the rights o_thers.
It remains an open question whether at some time during this century it ma_ot be temporarily needful for the State to undertake the restraint o_ffences against the intellect, such as the publication of false or grossl_xaggerated news, and of matter calculated to encourage vice, as betting. N_oubt the balance of advantage is in favour of the entire freedom of th_ress; but it cannot be denied that this freedom is at present greatly abused.
It would be easy to name a dozen types of periodicals whose forcibl_uppression would be an enormous gain to the public; and in an age s_ncreasingly prone to look to the governing body for assistance in ever_onceivable matter no one can deny the probability of some legislative step_eing taken, when the public first begins to concern itself seriously wit_ublic morals. But this possibility is much nearer at hand than the end o_his century ; at the latter period public opinion will probably be well abl_o take care of itself, and any laws of the kind I have suggested will, lik_umerous other forms of legislation, including many now operative, have falle_nto desuetude because there will be no temptation to the misdemeanours the_re, or may be, framed to repress.
The question of the form which the repression of crime will take a hundre_ears hence can only be answered if we first endeavour to see what th_evelopments of penology, or the science of punishment, are likely to b_uring the next hundred years. Naturally, they will have the same tendencie_s the society which produces them. We may safely anticipate that the mor_avage punishments, as death, flogging and painful labour will be eliminated, together with all punishments that are not believed to be reformatory in thei_haracter. And even the relatively mild penalty of long imprisonment may t_he gentler mind of a new age appear unduly vindictive.
Punishment will be regarded as a diminishingly necessary evil; and our "
object all sublime" will not be to make it fit the particular crime for whic_t is awarded, but to make it diminish crime as a whole. Punition as a mora_orce will be judged according to its effect in two different directions, namely, its force as a means of reforming the convicted individual b_reventing his relapse into crime, and its force as a means of deterring othe_ersons from committing the same crimes at all; and of these two the secon_ill be considered greatly the more important in an age that will be logica_s well as mild; because it is obviously a greater object to produce an effec_pon the minds of a possibly great number than to produce it upon the mind o_ne culprit.
Consequently, although a benevolent solicitude for the reformation of th_etected offender will not be excluded from the consideration of futur_enologists, the deterring from crime of the tempted classes will be much mor_emanded. As to this, it cannot be questioned that improvements in detectio_nd in legal procedure (eliminating the chances of escape for the guilt_ithout endangering the freedom of the innocent) are capable of accomplishin_ great deal more than could possibly be looked for from any alteration in th_ature of the punishment used. Experience shows that hitherto a ferociou_unishment not very certainly applied does not deter anything like so much a_omparatively mild punishment with very little chance of escape. Coining, fo_nstance, is less common now than when coiners were slowly pressed to deat_nder weights, if detected; and the diminution of this crime has not been du_o fear of the punishment now long abandoned ; neither was that penalt_emoved from our system of criminal law because it had done its work an_tamped out counterfeiting. On the contrary, improvements in the minting o_eal money, by rendering the detection of counterfeits easy, may be said t_ave almost eliminated the offence in question, and this result is all th_ore remarkable when we remember that, owing to the appreciation of gold, rea_ilver shillings, half-crowns and other pieces just as good in assay as th_oyal mintage could be coined by counterfeiters at a handsome profit.
Our very proper anxiety to avoid every possible chance of committing an_unishing the innocent doubtless enables many guilty persons to escape ever_ear; and probably quite half the prisoners acquitted at every assize ar_eally guilty in some degree. The jurisprudence of a hundred years hence wil_ertainly have been so much improved that innocent persons will rarely b_ccused at all, and that guilty ones will not be able to escape on technica_rounds: and with improved detective methods the chances of escape in an_iven case will be greatly diminished. What punishments are inflicted will b_f a reformatory character, and no doubt provisional release, freed from th_any crying scandals of the ticket-of-leave system, will play a great part i_cientific penology. Recidivism will, of course, be the subject of muc_harper punishment. In the meantime, the study of mental science in it_elation to crime will have made great strides, and if the views of our ow_ge in regard to heredity should be maintained, a very great source of crim_ill probably be got rid of altogether, because men and women with just tha_ental twist which leads to crime will, by one device or another, b_bsolutely prevented from propagating thei_ace.[](footnotes.xml#footnote_31)
It is impossible to work out here the various methods of individual refor_pplicable to convicts of various sorts, because the nature of these method_ust necessarily depend, to a great extent, upon the conditions of a societ_f which only the most salient and extreme peculiarities can be foreseen eve_y the most imaginative. But all evidence seems to suggest that actual crim_ill have become much diminished in amount, while the necessity for dealin_ith what may be called technical crimes—misdemeanours, and offences agains_egulations made for the convenience of society rather than for the defence o_ife and morals— will probably have been reduced to a minimum, partly by th_ntelligence of the population, and partly through the fact that the mino_ffences will have ceased to be dealt with by law, and will be sufficientl_epressed by natural causes. Not only, therefore, will the amount of necessar_estraint become less, through the diminution of crime and of temptation t_rime, but the employment of legal restraint will be less demanded, the latte_eing recognised as, when avoidable, dangerous to public morals. And, whil_riminal law will be less active, civil litigation will also probably be muc_ess heavy. The same causes which will tend to make us more careful to avoi_ommitting offences against the common right of others, will make us mor_crupulous to perform contracts. And as a consequence of the improved moralit_hich there seems every reason to anticipate, a hundred years hence, it wil_o doubt have become possible to execute a reform which many thinkers hav_esiderated as an element of perfected polity. It is hardly necessary here t_ecapitulate the arguments in favour of the contention that the cost of civi_uits should be borne, as the cost of criminal prosecutions is always suppose_o be borne, by the State. That the man who brings successfully an action a_aw, or successfully defends one, should be able to do so only at an expens_o himself, is against public policy : and there are even now numerous case_very year in which even the unsuccessful party in a lawsuit is really doin_he public a service. In a perfect state of public morality he would always b_oing so : and in a hundred years' time he will certainly be more often worth_f public thanks than he is now—he will be less often seeking to impose o_efend a wrong. As matters stand, it is notorious that the grant of cost_ollowing the judgment in a civil suit is only a partial relief to th_uccessful suitor. He has to pay his solicitor more than his solicitor ca_btain leave from the taxing master to collect from the other side ; while if (as not infrequently happens) the other side cannot pay, the costs awarded b_he Court have to be borne by the winner of the suit. It is a frequent repl_f dishonest defendants, when threatened with legal proceedings, that they "
will meet the plaintiff in the Bankruptcy Court." On the other hand, a ma_ill often submit to oppression rather than be subjected to the expense o_ven a successful defence. Every litigant who maintains his right, whether a_laintiff or defendant, renders very much the same service to the public whic_e often hear applauded on the part of persons who " come forward to prosecute
" in criminal or misdemeanour cases. He is assisting to make probit_rofitable and evasion dangerous; in other words, he is subserving publi_orality and helping to repress dishonesty. It would be much to the publi_dvantage that his costs should be borne by the public purse, and born_enerously, every expense legitimately incurred being allowed him. Logically, he ought also to receive a sufficient, and even a fairly liberal, solatium fo_is trouble and loss of time : and an honest loser ought to be able to receiv_ certificate from the court entitling him to the same amenities, th_ithholding of which would constitute a deterrent penalty against factiou_itigation. But it may be urged on practical grounds that to make the path o_he litigant too easy would lead to too much invocation of the law, and tha_he full recognition of the public usefulness of litigants must be postpone_o the millennium—which age of ideal perfection will not occur (it may b_hought necessary to concede) a hundred years hence. And it is not difficul_o imagine means by which the public can be protected against the factious an_nnecessary litigation to which, in the absence of some safeguard, we shoul_ertainly be exposed. The plaintiff" might be required to obtain some sort o_iat, such as is required now before a suit of criminal libel can b_rosecuted: and there would be no hardship in the litigant who failed t_btain the fiat being left to bear his own expenses up to the time of failure, though, in the event of his success, he would of course have them repaid. Th_egal machinery for obtaining permission to sue need not be made to_omplicated : it must not be allowed to develop into a sort of preliminar_rial. Probably some sort of arrangement as the above will be instituted _undred years hence, and all law-costs borne by the State, except in the cas_f obvious dishonesty or bad faith ; the trouble and loss of time necessaril_ncurred exercising a restraining influence upon the litigious.
In regard to the general machinery of the law, it would be tedious to attemp_o foresee all the reforms of which the growing complexity of human affair_ill certainly impose the necessity upon us. The clumsiness of a system b_hich important civil cases have to be tried three times, in ways differing i_etail, before a final decision is reached, needs no insisting upon : an_here is a manifest inconsistency in the fact that an action about a matte_orth £101 can be twice appealed, while a man tried for his life, or somethin_ven more important than life, has no appeal at all against an advers_erdict, except to a secret tribunal of Civil Service clerks—for in the "
commutation " of sentences the Crown stands for the Home Secretary, and th_ome Secretary is necessarily obliged to depend upon his assistants, who i_heir turn may very possibly have to derive their information from official_hose credit would be damaged if some fact favourable to the prisoner cam_ut. To admit this inconsistency is not by any means equivalent to admittin_he necessity for courts of criminal appeal : and anyone who knows the method_f criminal jurisprudence in the United States must recognise that such court_re capable of abuse highly dangerous to public morality, so dependent upo_espect for law. But with the great increase in scrupulosity and in th_ildness of public temper which the tendencies of human development clearl_aticinate for the next century, it seems impossible to doubt that some metho_ill be adopted by which criminal trials can be reviewed, even though th_lass of cases in which the necessity for review is most often mentioned no_ill no doubt have disappeared with the abolition of capital punishment. An_t does not seem likely to be beyond the ingenuity of the coming time t_iscover some means by which civil cases can be settled in one trial, instea_f requiring three, without danger to the justice of any individual suit.
It is sometimes questioned whether trial by jury will continue a feature o_odern civilisation. The remark of a legal cynic that "the man with a goo_ase is always safe with a judge, while the man with a bad case has always _hance with a jury," is sufficiently sound to make it a question whethe_uries are worth the trouble given to the members of them, and the vast amoun_f additional labour which their employment inflicts on the courts of whic_hey are a feature. The conditions which make trial by jury "the bles_palladium_ of our liberties" have passed away in civilised countries, and t_ great extent in Ireland. It is no doubt characteristic of the British peopl_hat we should so long as this have retained the use of juries in civil suits, though even here there are many cases (especially in divorce and libel) wher_he average common sense of a jury is really helpful to the judge, an_onstitutes a check upon his prejudice or impatience. There was a time whe_he jury was a genuine safeguard against oppression in private as well a_rown cases, and it is like us, as a nation, to have retained them when thei_sefulness in this respect was happily obsolete. But it seems to the write_retty certain that in civil trials juries will have been dispensed with lon_efore the end of this century, and this dispensation will probably be th_tepping-stone to a system whereby criminal causes will be tried by a bench o_udges, instead of by a judge and jury. The whole tendency of moder_onditions (in which must be included our growing, and highly discreditable, individual impatience of the trouble of jury-service) seems to point t_his.'[](footnotes.xml#footnote_32)
Reforms of judicial procedure of course constitute only a relatively smal_art of the legislative work which will have been accomplished by the end o_he century. Apart from the work of gradually remodelling the law with th_dea (which nowhere seems to suggest itself to present-day legislators) o_aking it act beneficially upon public character, there will no doubt be _ast amount of work for the various parliaments of the world in codifyin_xisting statute- and common-law systems, which in all communities have falle_nto complexity and confusion of a degree which makes them highl_nsatisfactory instruments of social protection : and there will also be _reat amount of constructive legislation, particularly in regard to the tenur_f land, to the simplification of conveyancing, to a more intelligen_achinery of contracts, to the equitable handling of such accidental o_onditional sources of wealth as we call " unearned increment" and th_iscovery of unexpected minerals, to the useful limitation of inheritance, an_o other matters too numerous to be safely named. And in order that thes_reat works may be accomplished, it is quite certain that, not only i_ngland, but in all those States where really free parliaments exist, grea_eforms will have been found necessary, and will have become so much a part o_he machinery of legislation and administration a hundred years hence, tha_ur descendants will hardly be able to realise how Government was ever carrie_n without them. Indeed, it is by the difficulty of administering anything a_ll by parliamentary methods—every year more evidently breaking down—rathe_han by the desire to undertake large schemes of lecjisla-tion, that statesme_ill in a very short time be forced to initiate the changes whose ful_evelopment will have become time-honoured by the end of this century. Th_rganisation of political opposition in parliaments has reached a point whic_akes it evident that before long the minority in parliaments will have becom_ nonentity. The minority, in fact, has already, here and in other countries (of which the Austro-Hungarian empire is, at the moment, the most noticeabl_xample), become so powerful for obstruction of business that, by a sort o_aradox, its power is on the eve of complete destruction. At St Stephen's th_ffect of obstruction working in this manner is plainly visible. Whateve_arty is in power will always, so long as the existing system continues, b_bliged to silence the opposition by the force of parliamentary machine ; an_hatever party is in power will always be accused of tyranny and autocracy b_he other party. In practice there is no method by which any importan_overnment measure can be passed through the House of Commons except by force.
It is a mere farce to make a show of debating the details in committee.
Naturally the Opposition, when it does not want the measure passed at all, will delay its passage to the last possible moment, and will make it_nactment impossible unless a term is set to the deliberations of committee o_he whole house. Whether the time granted by the Government be long or shor_akes no difference : it is impossible to pass any serious and complex bil_xcept by the closure. In other words, the Government (which practically mean_he Civil Service officials and parliamentary draftsmen employed by th_articular department concerned with the bill—the Home Office, the Loca_overnment Board Office, the Exchequer, or what not) must triumph. Even th_uggestions of individual supporters of the administration in power must b_gnored, unless there is a cave which might turn out the ministry altogether.
In detail, therefore, we are governed, not by Parliament, but by the permanen_fficials, so far as really important Government measures are concerned : an_t is quite evident that bills introduced by private members will very soo_ot be considered at all. The private member is rapidly being reduced t_othingness by the force of parliamentary development. Meantime, the waste o_ublic time by the introduction and debating of bills which the Oppositio_ventually succeeds in destroying, is appalling, and of course it i_ggravated by the idiotic rule which destroys at the end of each session al_he work which has been begun and not completed. The system, not les_mbecile, in which opinion is ascertained in Parliament is another great time- waster. It is only necessary to ask for a single moment what our grandsons, o_ven the younger of our children, will think of a Parliament in which a vot_as taken by solemnly walking through lobbies, with elaborate arrangements fo_ounting and checking the members (when it might all be done by the simple us_f an electric signal in front of each seat in the chamber) in order t_erceive the miserable inadequacy of even the mechanical arrangements of al_he parliaments of the world. And if even all the crass follies and mediaeva_tupidities of modern parliamentary arrangements were reformed, as nine-tenth_f them could be by any competent board composed of a few engineers, electricians and architects, we should still be in possession of a legislativ_achine such as the intellisfence of a hundred years hence would laugh t_corn if its restoration were suggested.
Nor is this all. The whole institution of parliaments, as a contrivance fo_iving effect to the will of the peoples, has long been utterly inadequate, and must be reformed from the bottom. We elect members to carry out schemes o_egislation and forms of policy never fully, and sometimes not even partially, formulated, upon which, even if they were set out in full detail, we could no_ossibly have any complete influence in giving our votes. For instance, let u_uppose that, at a general election, one party wishes to increase the Navy, t_bolish publicans' compensation, and to legalise marriage with a decease_ife's sister : while the other party not only objects to all these thre_roposals but also wishes to put a protective tariff on foodstuffs an_achinery, to give Home Rule to Ireland, and to disestablish the Church o_ngland. A Home Ruler who was also a teetotaler could not vote for eithe_arty without outraging one or other of his convictions. A believer in th_upport of our national supremacy who also considered that the Church ought t_e disestablished would have to choose between voting against the increase o_he Navy or against the Disestablishment : and the Deceased Wife's Sister Bil_dvocate must vote against all the proposals on the other side (all of whic_e may agree with) if he do not wish to assist in perpetuating what h_elieves to be a hardship to his fellow-countrymen, and very possibly to som_f his own friends, or to himself. And any of these perplexed voters, havin_omehow contrived to strike a balance with his conscience, and to give a vote, will, perhaps, in a year's, or in six years', time find that he has been th_nstrument of placing in power an administration which is now proceeding t_ass measures that he abhors. He has no redress. Nor, abandoning the extrem_ase of such highly-mixed policies as I have endeavoured to amuse the reade_y imagining, has the voter who changes his mind, or who finds that he ha_een bamboozled with false promises, any means of helping to undo the harm h_as helped to do. It used to be said that, on an average, parliamentar_overnment worked well—that it carried out in a rough way the will of th_eople. But the peoples of a hundred years hence are going to be much mor_articular about matters of such high importance. They are not going to b_ontent with a rough approximation in matters of the very highest moment whe_hey are able to secure with perfect accuracy most of their wishes in matter_f quite minor importance. They will not be satisfied to know exactly wha_ime it is at any moment of the day (as of course they will know, al_nstruments for time-measuring being controlled by wireless synchronisation) and not to know exactly what their rulers are going to do about matters upo_hich the very fate of the country may depend. Neither will they have remaine_o stupid as to think that whatever one body of politicians considers righ_ust be right and that whatever another body thinks right must necessarily b_rong. It is quite certain that in a really intelligent age so clumsy a syste_s that of party government will have been relegated to oblivion.
The political machinery to replace it will be of a nature determined by cause_uch too complex to be foreseen, except in the merest outline, as yet; an_robably it will, like most political institutions, be a development rathe_han an invention. The system, already tallied of, by which any matter o_reat national importance should be made a referendum, the subject of a direc_ote by the whole nation, is no doubt capable of ingeniously modifie_rrangement so as to provide for its expeditious use, without undu_nterference with the course of ordinary business. But obviously this devic_s only capable of limited application, and it could not be employed at all, without producing dangerous confusions and incongruities, except in _ommunity whose political education had made strides almost inconceivable i_he light of our present limited experience. It is difficult to see how th_reneral legislative business of a considerable nation could be carried o_nless by committees of a parliamentary character; and limited as we are b_he history of political institutions arising out of states of publi_ntelligence which will have become contemptible in comparison with th_ntelligence of the next century, there is a difficulty in conceiving how suc_ommittees or parliaments could work out otherwise than on some sort of part_ystem. But the analogy of progress in general may help us to a conjecture, which is here offered only for what it is worth. All progress, as we know it, is a development from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous. One form o_rogress consists of the development of specialism. At one time, and not s_ery long ago, every housewife made her own jams, pickles, perfumes, essence_nd condiments, which are now purchased ready made. A man of science, i_avy's time, often embraced a number of different branches as his province; whereas now even a single science is seldom completely handled by an_ndividual professor, entomologists differentiating themselves from genera_iologists, and coleopterists from general entomologists. Does it not appea_ikely, then, that the functions of the politician and of the legislator wil_resently be differentiated, with great advantage to nations? In a legislatur_f the present time professional law-makers are numerically few, and not ver_ighly regarded. While in a matter relatively unimportant, like coach- building, civilisation has made specialism necessary ; in a matter of th_ighest importance, the making of a nation's laws, we continue to trust th_eneral practitioner, and the suggestion that specialists alone should b_mployed in it would probably awaken a torrent of objection not unmingled wit_xecration. But specialism of all sorts will have extended its sway to such a_xtent a hundred years hence that the likeliest solution of the difficultie_t present envisaged is that the business of law-making will be relegated to _pecially qualified and specially educated class, and that parliaments, i_hey exist at all, will have nothing to do with it, but will concer_hemselves with what they are often rather contumeliously told now is no_heir business (though it ought to be); namely, the management o_nternational policy. The way in which this evolution will come about is, moreover, fairly easy to imagine. At some time during the century the manifol_onfusions, inconsistencies and evident inconveniences of the existing corpu_f the law are pretty sure to require drastic and laborious treatment, whic_an only be administered by professional experts. At the same time, th_ublic, having awakened to the ludicrous fact that laws are passed in ever_ession of every Parliament in the world, which, when they come to b_dministered, break down because they have either been so stupidly an_nimaginatively conceived, or so clumsily expressed in the statutes whic_mbody them, that practical working immediately reveals their fatal defects. _lever young lawyer once said to the present writer that he knew of n_ntellectual pleasure so delightful as that of discovering how to circumven_he provisions of an Act of Parliament. This diverting, if immoral, remar_llustrates the faults of a social system in which laws are made chiefly b_ersons having little experience in the working of laws, and elected to tha_uty by persons having no such experience at all. Having in mind the fact tha_nternational law is already relegated practically to specialists, it require_o great effort of imagination to foresee that the Hercules that will cleans_he Augean stable of the Statute Book will be a committee of professors o_aw. And once the public has become familiarised with the idea, what mor_atural than that a similar body should be formed to provide aofainst suc_egfislative blunders as we were all recently laughing at, when, havin_rovided for the restraint of habitual drunkards by placing them on what wa_alled the black list. Parliament presently learned that it had so framed th_aw that no one could be blacklisted except by his own consent? Th_evelopment from this to a system by which laws would not merely be amended, but devised ab ovo, by professional legislators, is easy to foresee; and wit_roperly-devised precautions to ensure that the laws created shall express th_ill of a sovereign people sufficiently educated in political duty to posses_ will worthy of consideration, probably no better solution of the legislativ_ifficulty can be imagined.
The conduct of foreign affairs is a matter much less easy to reform. I_espotisms were not such desperately untrustworthy things, a good soun_utocracy would probably be the best form of government for the function o_onducting the affairs of one nation with another. The extraordinar_iplomatic success of Russia is an evidence of this. But Russia als_llustrates the drawbacks of despotism. In its manaorement of foreign affair_ussia has (despite the habit which its departments occasionally display o_cting in conflict with one another) beaten all the civilised nations. Russi_as a "continuous" foreign policy. There are no changes of ministers t_ullify each other's work and to encourage the diplomatists of other nation_o procrastinate and shilly-shally over negotiations in the hope that _reneral election will brinor in a new set of statesmen, easier to deal with.
And Russia can herself procrastinate, prevaricate and play all sorts o_ricks, neglect her promises, ignore her pledges, and prosecute her crypti_ims, without the smallest fear of a question in Parliament to spoil her gam_y letting all the world into her dark and devious secrets. The more a natio_ecomes democratised, the less competent it is to manage its foreign polic_gainst less democratic nations, and a truly popular Government is, in th_resent state of the world, about the worst conceivable instrument for tha_urpose. With an ever-increasing democratisation of all governments such as w_re sure to witness during this century, foreign offices of the present kin_ill become more and more incompetent until some sort of machinery is invente_n their place.
Nor will the disappearance of the ultimate resort to arms, as a possibilit_lways threatening in the background, tend to improve matters. It will, on th_ontrary, make them worse. There can be no doubt that the awful fear of war, which must haunt the pillow of every statesman in our day with dreams o_itiable horror, does exercise an influence in settling controversies which, without this terror, would drag their slow length along from generation t_xasperated generation. And if we try to imagine that the increase_onscientiousness of a better time will help nations to deal more honourabl_ith each other, it is to be feared that even the vast progress of the quick- moving century on which we have entered will not suffice to bind the prince_o its pleasure and teach their senators wisdom. It is unfortunately in regar_o honour between nation and nation that conscience develops most slowly, an_any a man who would scorn to trick a fellow-citizen, or even defraud _ailway company, and who would quite possibly hesitate before smuggling a bo_f cigars through the custom-house, will calmly advocate acts of internationa_ishonesty and oppression abhorrent to any conscientious mind.
There can be no doubt that the most deleterious influence of our times, whic_ncourages nations to delay and deny to each other justice and the fulfilmen_f solemn obligations, is the habit of waiting upon the chances of _inister's fall, and a resulting change of policy. So long as almost any da_ay bring a new set of statesmen, predisposed against anything which thei_redecessors may have approved, diplomacy will be disfigured by ways that ar_ark and tricks that are vain : and the logical twentieth of the centuries ma_e trusted to perceive this. Consequently some method will have to be devise_y which a continuous foreign policy may be made compatible with th_erformance of a nation's will. And here the wiser nature of the new age wil_ssist the constructive genius of the reformer. No doubt the habit of changin_ur minds on the basic principles of government about once every six year_ill have been eradicated. Peoples will deliberate more intelligently upon th_mportant questions which they decide by their votes : and it will no longe_e thought—or rather, we shall no longer act as if we thought—that _odification of general opinion in regard (say) to Home Rule for Ireland mus_ecessarily carry with it a change of opinion as to whether it is desirable t_xtend our influence in Afghanistan. When this error is abandoned, probabl_oreign affairs will no longer be made part and parcel of the work of the sam_et of men that is elected to manage domestic policy. It will then be possibl_or the people to express—as they rarely have any opportunity to express unde_he present system—their sovereign will in regard to international matters.
And here, as everywhere, responsibility will certainly exercise an educativ_nfluence. When men intelligently realise that by their votes they ar_eciding the fate of their country, they will deliberate long before yieldin_ decision so momentous. Inasmuch as the foreign affairs of any nation ar_ruly understood only by a very limited class, because very few people ar_illing to give up enough of their leisure to the studies necessary for suc_n understanding, it seems reasonable to think that one feature of the polit_f the year 2000 may be the limitation of the right to vote on foreior_ffairs to men and women who have demonstrated in some sufficient manner thei_ompetence to assist in directing the action of their representatives i_atters so intricate. The increased leisure with which other reforms alread_oreseen will endow the people will of course facilitate the acquirement o_his competence, and the right to vote on foreign affairs will doubtless be _oveted social distinction, subserving the perennial love of titles and th_hildlike pleasure of having letters after one's name. Nor need we be too muc_aunted In this conjecture by the whispered word " oligarchy." When oligarch_eally means government by those best qualified to govern—the nature of this "
best-ness" being intelligently determined— oligarchy will be recognised as th_ost satisfactory form of government : and in order to exclude objectionabl_ne-sidedness in the method of selecting voters for the high duty of guardin_he nation's honour, no doubt some method of selection by vote can b_iscovered, free from liability to. reintroduce the baleful evil of party.
Coming now to other functions of a State, the most obvious subject fo_onjecture is that suggested by the tendency in recent times of governments (and following their example of municipalities) to engage in trade. Th_omment which gained currency over a decade ago, that we were all socialist_hen, is still more justified now. Will States continue their increasin_ractice of usurping the place of private adventurers ? Will railways, canals, telephonic and teleautographic systems, street conveyances, and so forth, b_wned and controlled by various public authorities, after education, som_ther functions, including the feeding and clothing of poor children durin_chool age, and the care of the unemployed (which States before long wil_ertainly have embraced) have by a more enlightened polity been returned t_he proper hands ? The whole question of whether socialism is a probabl_olution of the difficulties which its advocates believe it capable of solvin_s here involved. Applying our familiar principle of estimating the tendencie_f the future by the trend of events in the past, it seems certain that ther_ill for a good many years immediately to come be an increase in the function_ssumed by the State : but that the whole plunge into socialism will not b_ndertaken. For, while measures undisguisedly socialistic in character ar_ore and more advocated and adopted, the open principle of State socialis_eems to find less support every year. Whenever distress becomes prevalent, plenty of writers, for instance, loudly denounce Governments for not findin_ork for everyone who fails to find work for himself—so long as he is a man!
(No one appears to think it the Government's duty to find work for women.) Bu_hen socialism is openly propounded, the same authors just as vehementl_enounce the socialistic system to which this principle of regarding the Stat_s the duty-bound employer of the workless clearly tends. What will mos_ikely happen is that devices, more and more socialistic, for dealing wit_mergencies, and inconveniences of various sorts, will be adopted an_aintained until their own inconvenience and injustice have made themselve_elt: and then a more reasonable agfe will eet rid of them—better remedie_aving meantime been discovered—at the same time perceiving their deleteriou_ffect upon private responsibility, and wondering why it has tolerated the ol_ethods so long. In other words, socialistic experiments will hav_emonstrated their own evils before the habit of indulging in them has gone s_ar as to allow States to drift the whole way into socialism. It is eve_ossible that the example of some single nation, drifting thus far, an_etting up a socialistic State, may serve as a useful warning to the rest o_he world, and determine the gradual abandonment of the dangerous tendencie_hich will have increasingly manifested themselves. For it is certain that, unless in exceptional and abnormal instances—of which the Australia_ommonwealth is very likely to furnish an example—political systems wil_lways continue to develop by evolutionary, and not by revolutionary, steps.
We shall pass gradually, and by a process of construction and elimination, from one condition to another, until the very greatly improved system o_overnment and administration whose period of existence I have ventured t_lace at about the beginning of the next century, has become genera_hroughout the world.
We may, for instance, very easily imagine how a more intelligent electorat_ill abolish some abuses, by considering the condition of the post-offic_epartment of this and other countries. It is hardly thinkable that, durin_ny period of the world's history, the business of carrying letters can b_hrown open to anyone who chooses to undertake it. If there were nothing to b_ealt with except the domestic correspondence of each nation, probably i_ould be a great deal better that it should be thus thrown open to competition : it is hardly likely that the vast business of international correspondenc_an ever be satisfactorily conducted, except by administrations acting in th_ame and behalf of every State. But there is not the least reason for thinkin_hat the abuses which deface the postal department of this and every othe_ation will be perpetual. The British post-office contributes annually a "
profit" of several millions sterling to the Exchequer. Every person who write_ letter, therefore, is taxed for doing it. In proportion to the intelligence, commercial enterprise, family affection, or professional diligence by which h_s prompted to use correspondence, every one of us is compelled to contribut_omething more to the up-keep of the State than his neighbour who is too lazy, too ignorant or too callous to trouble himself with letter-writing. No doub_t is impossible, without a loss which would amount to subsidising in a_qually objectionable manner, the users of the post-office, to conduct tha_epartment except at a profit of some sort: but it surely will not b_retended that it could not be conducted without exacting such a surplus a_he post-office does annually contribute to the Budofet. The vicious manner i_hich we treat the postal service as a sort of trading department, expected t_ield the Chancellor of the Exchequer a convenient sum towards hi_xpenditure, is illustrated by the disgraceful underpayment of the mino_fficials, such as postmen, small post-masters, telegraph messengers and th_ike. The post-office buys its labour in the cheapest market : there is bu_oo much reason for the belief that it treats with oppressive harshnes_ttempts on the part of its servants to better their wages by organisation : and when reproved in the House of Commons for sweating his workpeople, _ostmaster-general can always reply, amid applause, that he dare not embarras_is ricrht-honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The polity o_he enlightened future will assuredly desist from penalising intelligence, enterprise, and the other commendable characteristics which tend to increase _an's correspondence; and the postmaster-general who will be praised a hundre_ears hence will be that one who has succeeded in managing his department wit_he smallest possible surplus. We have only to envisage the obvious justice o_his ambition to perceive the objections which attach to the adoption o_rading functions by the State. Though it is very likely that railways will b_ationalised in this, as they have been nationalised or subsidised in man_ther countries, it is quite certain that if we do nationalise them we shal_e compensated by none of the advantages which make us tolerant, and eve_nconscious, of the abuses of the British post-office—itself in most respect_ne of the least imperfect of bureaucracies. The faults generally found wit_ailways are precisely the faults of bureaucracy, and in proportion a_ailways become more and more united in their policy, through amalofamatio_nd arrangements for mutual assistance, those faults constantly increase. Th_ame will presently be found true of all governmental usurpations of privat_nterprise : and it cannot be doubted that in this, as in so many othe_espects, the functions of governments will be greatly reduced a hundred year_ence.
One subject which cannot be neglected in any attempt to foresee the condition_f the law in the next century is the delicate and difficult one of marriag_aws : and on no subject are differences of opinion so numerous and so acute.
All that seems to be generally agreed is that under the present syste_nconveniences and immoralities occur: and it is (of course) supposed to be _orollary that if the system were changed these inconveniences an_mmoralities would disappear. This is the usual method of considering socia_ifficulties. Hardly anyone will consent to base plans for the future upo_xperience of the past. It is always presumed that new laws can reform abuses, without changes in the spirit of the age, which gives rise to the abuses. On_lass of thinkers, despairing of moral improvement, considers that, immoralit_eing irremediable, the only thing to be done is to give it sanction; as i_ust exist, it must be made respectable and unscandalous. Another set o_eformers would penalise immorality by forbidding the guilty party in _ivorce suit to re-marry, just as there are people who would prevent th_hysically unfit from marrying at all. Both forget that the prohibition o_egal unions is much more likely to lead to an increase of irregula_onnections than to produce any other effect. No doubt we could improve th_hysical standard of the legitimately born by the prohibition las_igressively mentioned : but it would be at the expense of an increase i_llegitimate births accompanied by the additional disadvantage of bodil_eakness. Similarly, so far from the prohibition of re-marriage restrainin_he immorally disposed, it is much more likely that it would encourage them : the fact that a co-respondent could not be called upon to marry the woma_ivorced in consequence of her guilty association with him would hardly ac_enerally as a deterrent; while, if he had been willing to face the probabl_onsequences of publicity, expense and inconvenience attending a liaison wit_ woman under coverture, the co-respondent would not think it necessary t_bandon his confederate, if he wished, and she were willing, to continue thei_onnection after all the penalties had been suffered, merely because the la_revented a regular union. It is agreed by all jurists that the onl_ustification for the greater severity with which matrimonial infidelity i_isited on women as compared with men is the greater social degradation wit_hich society visits women who have offended. To penalise their offence b_rohibiting re-marriage would only perpetuate their degradation, and does i_act so perpetuate and increase it in countries where the condemned party in _ivorce is forbidden the altar.
On the other hand, to recognise a sort of promiscuity, as some writers hav_uggested that we shall be obliged to do, would probably be attended by wors_ffects than the bold and straightforward acceptance of polygamy as _ecessary remedy for the excess of feminine population, which a writer o_etters to the shocked and astonished newspapers of this city recentl_roposed. Neither expedient is capable of being adopted : nor does there see_uch likelihood that public morality can be improved by legislation, though i_s certain to be much improved by the spontaneous amelioration of publi_entiment, No doubt in one or two particulars the marriage laws will graduall_ndergo amendment. It will be realised that it is much more immoral to compe_nwilling couples to live together matrimonially, than to set them free t_emedy one of the most hideous of all possible mistakes. The difficulty o_etermining what shall be done where one party wishes for divorce, while th_ther does not, is greater : but on the whole it will probably be considere_ore conducive to morality to dissolve the marriage here, after _recautionary and experimental period of provisional separation, than t_nsist upon its perpetuation. That age will only be ripe for such a reform a_his, which, by moral progress, has rendered intolerable the position of _ibertine capable of entering into matrimony with the deliberate intention o_etting out of it again when it ceases to be attractive, and in which th_ocial estimate of a person who acted in the same manner through instabilit_f character would be not much better. In any reform of the kind suggested, i_ould no doubt be arranged that pecuniary liabilities, allocated to th_upport and education of children, would follow the party insisting o_ivorce; and this also would act as a check upon dishonest contracts o_arriage.
Thus, for any radical improvement in the system of matrimonial connections, w_ust look to a corresponding improvement in the spirit of the age, and th_irst step in advance will have been taken when marriage ceases to be the onl_egal contract which is enforced notwithstanding the ignorance of _ontracting party as to the engagement entered into. The frequency of divorc_etitions will be greatly diminished from the time we get rid of the idioti_nd almost incredibly wicked convention by which we take every possibl_recaution we can think of to ensure that a girl, when she marries, shall hav_o possible means of knowinor to what she is committinor herself. No mor_ngenious contrivance for obtaining marital infelicity could be imagined. Th_ext step will have been taken when it is recognised as disgraceful fo_arents to put pressure upon the inclinations of their children of either se_o induce them to marry, and when social execration renders such pressur_mpossible. Concurrently with this, or as a result of it, a third step will b_ome abatement of our present entire neglect of any demand for good characte_n a bridegroom who would be outraged if he thought that the least aspersio_ould be suggested concerning his bride. In other words, the greates_mprovements in the status of the world with regard to matrimony will b_ffected when we recognise the claim of woman to be made the equal of man i_nowledge, in discretion and in social rio-hts. No lesfis-lative reform as ye_ver suggested could have anything like as much effect in removing the evil_nder which we groan, in respect to matrimony, as this natural and inevitabl_evelopment.
Naturally the improvement in the position of women in the new age will no_rrive at a bound, nor will their rights in relation to marriage b_naccompanied by other rights at present withheld, and perhaps not alway_nreasonably withheld. On the contrary, the recocjnition of one set of rio-ht_ill facilitate and accelerate the recognition of the other. It is generall_greed that the tendency of the sexes is to become less divergent, intellectually and morally, for reasons connected with what Spencer calls "
the less early arrest of individual evolution, and the result everywhere see_hroughout the organic world, of a self-preserving power inversel_roportionate to the race-preserving power." [](footnotes.xml#footnote_33)
As it will have been realised, long before the advent of the next century, that the surest way to improved capacity is to be found in increase_esponsibility, women will not, a hundred years hence, be allowed or compelle_o shirk their political obligations. We may see with half an eye that ever_ear women are becoming more capable, and also more desirous of aiding th_ounsels of the public : and in some of our Colonies, as well as in som_tates of the American Union, they are already voting, and voting (as it turn_ut) with the most wonderful intelligence and usefulness. The influence of th_emale vote in, for example, New Zealand has been for some time perceptible i_he legislation of that highly-enlightened colony : and I never heard anyon_bject to the results of this influence except persons whose conduct, or th_onduct which they approved in their associates, was likely to b_nconvenienced by them. It is no doubt true that women are a great deal mor_ond of demanding that the law should do work which it would be better t_eave to natural developments of public character than could be wished : bu_hen so are men, and it is an unquestionable thing that the misdeeds which me_ore readily condone than women are much more likely to be bad for publi_orality than those which women condone more freely than men. There is n_articular reason for thinking at the present time (though there was ampl_eason for thinking a few decades ago) that women will be more prone t_egislate unnecessarily, and therefore mischievously, than men : and we are i_ny case bound to pass through a good many years of parliament-worship befor_e awaken to the fact that the law cannot do everything, and that any refor_hich is accomplished by the spontaneous influence of public opinion is alway_ great deal more complete, a great deal more conducive to public self- respect, and a great deal better adjusted to the special requirements of ever_ndividual circumstance that it touches, than one which is laboriously an_echanically embodied in statutes which cannot but be imperfect, canno_ossibly fail to act oppressively and unjustly in one place or another, an_requently prove to be unworkable from beginning to end.