A Letter to the Queen on Lord Chancellor Cranworth’s by Caroline Sheridan Norton

By Caroline Sheridan Norton

Caroline Norton (1808-1877) was once a Victorian writer and campaigner for social reform, specifically reform of women's felony rights. during this lucidly written account Norton describes how upon marriage in 1855 ladies grew to become legally 'non-existent': they can now not carry instances to courtroom; they can now not input right into a agreement; they can no longer instigate a divorce and their possessions, gains and any bequests made to them immediately grew to become their husband's estate. Norton explains how this loss of felony autonomy affected girls in the event that they turned estranged from their husbands, utilizing her personal stories for representation and recommending alterations which might enhance women's criminal place. released in 1855 whilst Parliament was once debating the topic of divorce reform, this quantity indicates the felony place of ladies at the moment. It presents the evaluations of up to date legislators in aid and competition at the problems with women's criminal rights and reform of divorce legislation.

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Extra resources for A Letter to the Queen on Lord Chancellor Cranworth’s Marriage and Divorce Bill

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She is to apply for her divorce to the judicial tribunal: to that Chancellor who speaks of an adulterous husband as being " a " little profligate:" to that House of Lords which has entertained feminine applications with so much jealousy and reluctance, that there have been but four cases (two of them cases of incest,), in which the wife's petition for divorce has ever been granted. With these judges, and not with the wife, rests the decision whether she has refused that indulgence which ought to be a part of her nature, and is the principal charm of her sex, D 2 36 —or whether, wronged, outraged, and forsaken, she has borne to the last verge of endurance before she appealed to the law!

A man may yield to the temptation of passion, who yet at heart loves and respects his wife; and feels, after his delusion is over, a real shame and repentance. Nor is want of chastity the only sin in the world;—a woman who is a chaste wife may fill her husband's days with unendurable bitterness; and a man who has lapsed in his observance of the marriage vow, may nevertheless be a kindly husband and father, with whom reconcilement would be a safe and blessed generosity. If we add to these admissions, woman's natural lingering love for her companion; love undeniable; indisputable; love evidenced each day, even among the poor creatures who come bruised and bleeding before the police courts; refusing to give evidence, in a calmer hour, against the man such evidence would 37 condemn to punishment : if we add the love of children; the dread of breaking the bond which shall perhaps help a step-mother into the mother's vacated place: if we add the obvious interest, in almost every instance, which the woman has to remain in her home; and the horror most women must feel at the idea of the public exposure and discussion of such wrongs; it is evident they would not be so very eager to avail themselves, in usual cases^ of the extreme remedy.

And at the end of this confused skirmish of opinions, the Bill drops, and is given up; the Chancellor, like the Runic sorceress, exclaims,— " Leave me, leave me, to repose:" and all go away home; like a party of miners who have given up the attempt to dig out persons buried in superincumbent earth! " Why is it so surrounded with difficulty? Why is England the only country obliged to confess she cannot contrive to administer justice to women? Why is it more difficult than in France? Why more difficult than in Scotland?

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