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each of these cities has a certain proportion of Roman Catholic inhabitants-in Worms one-third-all of whom, without exception, would proceed straight from the bureau to the church, the inference is certain that not above half the Protestant marriages in towns were solemnised by the pastor. In the country the proportion would be different, for religion has not so completely lost its hold on the rural population.
Shortly before the appearance of this last edict, the Oberkirchenrath-a body quite without meaning, as we have seen, as the organ of a Church—had been commanded by the Prussian Government to revise the Protestant marriage service, so as to expunge from it every expression that might be interpreted as ignoring the validity of the previous civil union; in the words of the Act, to remove the impression that the • Church regarded the marriage as one still to be concluded' ---by which means the solemnity and real meaning of the religious ceremony were expunged altogether. It is but just to the clergy to add that this order met with the strongest opposition from them, and in September 1875 some six hundred pastors met in conference and formulated their opposition. They might as well have formulated their opposition against the setting of the sun. The great governor of the Government is not the man to permit the slightest opposition to his will, whether on the part of Protestant pastors or Catholic priests. No notice was taken of the remonstrance, and the only result has been the secession and ruin of a few ministers who conscientiously preferred the sacrifice of their places to the adoption of a lifeless marriage rite.
We have now to look on the converse side. Marriage being a mere civil affair, it follows that the same means which serve to contract it will serve to dissolve it, and even to contract it again. At least, this is the practical deduction which has been drawn in Germany. Facility of divorce has always existed in the Lutheran Church; but early in this century the resort to this facility became so frequent that the pastors took alarm. Again there ensued a collision between the spiritual powerssuch as they are—and the secular; to the usual discomfiture of the former. The pastors were not prepared to give their sanction to the indiscriminate remarriage of divorced parties. In 1831 a pastor in Pomerania refused to bless the union of a couple whose lives were a public scandal; and this example was followed by a few more. The usual means were accordingly adopted, and a royal order appeared, commanding the Church to lay down such regulations as would leave no place for the scruples of individual pastors; and in the meantime to provide a flying squadron of unscrupulous chaplains
' to be sent about the country and into the parishes of recalcitrant ministers to hallow such unions as they objected to celebrate.'
The apparent number of divorced persons in Germany in 1871 was 69,794. We say apparent, for the number who return themselves as divorced does not represent the real figure of those who, having been divorced, have married again. These, it is believed, would bring up the number to three times the amount ! making the average for Prussia-the Protestant State, par excellence—no less than ninety in a thousand. In Transylvania it is said that among the German Lutherans two out of every three girls who get married are divorced before the end of the year, and that most married women have had three husbands.
. Among the Saxon peasantry a wife or a husband is a thing which may for convenience sake be put aside or changed at pleasure. Divorce is a thing of such everyday occurrence, is decided on lightly, and allowed so easily, that it has become a marked featureindeed, a component part-of Saxon rural life. A separation of husband and wife after three, four, or six weeks' marriage is nothing rare or strange; and the woman divorced will often want six or eight months of being sixteen. Among a portion of the Saxons, marriage may be almost said to be a merely temporary arrangement between two contracting parties; very frequently neither expects it to last long, and may have resolved that it shall not. In the village near the Kochel sixteen marriages took place in one year; at the end of twelve months only six of the contracting parties were still living together. In the place where I write this there are at this moment eleven bridal couples intending to celebrate their wedding a fortnight hence. Of these eleven the schoolmaster observed there would probably not be many living together by this time next year. Divorce is so easy, and belongs so intimately to married life, that even before the wedding it is talked of, and, under certain eventualities, looked forward to. “ Try to like him," says the father to a girl, “and, if later
you find you can't, I will have you separated.”
• I have talked over this crying evil with the Saxon clergy, and from them have learned how futile the causes generally were. One husband did not believe what his wife had said, and she immediately wanted to be separated, as “she could not live with a man who could not trust “ her." Another did not eat his dinner with appetite. “Oh!” said the wife,“ it seems my cooking does not please you. If I cannot satisfy you," &c. &c. The chief cause of complaint of a husband whose pretty young wife I frequently saw at her father's house, was that she had washed some linen again after his mother had already washed it, and that was an insult to his mother.' *
* C. Boner, · Transylvania, its Products and People,' London, 1865, pp. 483, 496, 503. So utterly has all sense of law and restraint on
We have stated the ease with which marriages are dissolved in Germany; there remains again another side of the subject for comment--the difficulty, namely, with which they are contracted. No young any
class can take a wife till his three years' military service is over, and then, if he belongs to the upper five hundred thousand,' and is also, as usually the case, in the army, a Caution, as it is termed, of 15,000 thalers (2,2507.) must be deposited in the Government funds, so as to provide for the lady in case of his death-this being a device to save pensions. We are assured that all Government interference with the marriage of the people has lately been abrogated. So many are the impediments to marriage from high official fees, indifference to the rite, and pedantic Government interference, that the statistics of marriage may safely be asserted to be far lower in Germany than in England, though we are not able to ascertain the exact relative proportion of numbers at the present time. Thus a vicious principle is contrived to work actively in opposite directions, each equally fatal to public morality. For the results we refer our readers to Mr. Baring Gould's account, vol. i. pp. 163-7.
There must be something rotten in the State' where such laws and usages obtain ; and that something is not far to find. It cries aloud from public statute and from private scandal. The great binding principle between crown and people, class and class, man and woman, is wanting. The land which was the cradle of the Reformation has become the grave of the Reformed Faith. Nor is there any present prospect that what England has found to be the chief corrective of à careless and lukewarm period-namely Dissent—will intervene to arouse or replace a moribund Church. Where there is indifference to religion itself, where State and people are in no respect so agreed as in the negation of all creeds, dissent even can have no vitality. All comparatively recent works on Germany, as well as all personal observation, tell the same tale. Denial of every tenet of the Protestant faith among the thinking classes, and indifference in the masses, are the positive and negative agencies beneath which the Church of Luther and Melanchthon
this all-important subject for the welfare of society departed, not only from the Lutheran population but from the Lutheran Church, that the German husbands of too confiding English ladies, married in England by the English rite, but anxious, having dissipated their fortunes, to get rid of the tie, have found Oberkirchenraths ready to lend themselves to the farce of dissolving Anglican marriages, and to the crime of marrying such men afresh. We speak with knowledge.
has succumbed. These are, however, but the secondary causes ; the primary ones - what, namely, have led to this indifference-require profounder research than can be bestowed here. Still it is not difficult to point to a few of the leading agencies which have combined to convert the Protestantism of Germany into dust and dry bones.'
The outburst of the Reformation was as inevitable as that of the French Revolution. In both alike the bounds of human endurance had been reached, and in both alike the passions of human retaliation knew not where to stop. It would seem to be a law in human affairs that Governments, Churches, and doubtless all institutions, are like individuals in this respect, that they can be only truly and safely reformed from withinin other words, hy themselves. Where reforms are too long delayed ; where they are not granted by that timely wisdom which is one of the surest tests of political intelligence, but snatched by long-exasperated impatience, they are sure to go too far—to be less reparative than destructive-because conducted by outsiders unable to distinguish between what is living and what is dead. Such reforms, as all history shows, only bear fresh evils, to need fresh redress in their turn. The sale of indulgences and other corruptions which had proceeded from Rome were contrary to the teaching of Scripture and immoral in themselves; but the constitution of the Church, its three orders, and portions of its forms and polity, were agreeable to the teaching of Scripture and not immoral in themselves. The leaders of the Reformation swept away the good and the bad alike. The people had so little to do with the movement that they may be said not to have comprehended its purport. They were serfs, of the lowest and most oppressed kind. The Reformation presented itself to them in the form of a ray of freedom, all broken and distorted before it reached their perception, but still kindling the spark of desire for an emancipation they could better comprehend—that, namely, from the yoke of their secular tyrants. Hence the outburst of that cruel and vain struggle called the Peasant War, horrible alike in its successes and defeats. Germany was then infinitely more territorially subdivided even than now, among princes scarcely raised morally above their wretched serfs. A few fine
A examples of true devotion to the cause, even to the sacrifice of liberty and territory—as with the Elector John George of Saxony--shine forth, but with these exceptions the choice between Rome and Luther was only determined by interested motives. The petty rulers had impoverished themselves as much as their subjects by their senseless subdivisions of territory and property, and saw in the Reformation only an opportunity for increasing their own lands and revenues by seizing those of the Church. Zeal for religion was a plausible excuse for spoliation.* Nor had the precepts of the Gospel
* that humanising power which now attends them. No prince thought of alleviating the miseries of his serfs, or of relinquishing or even justly administering those rights over life and death, dictation, and persecution, in the possession of which he took most pride. The chief object to which they applied the newly acquired freedom of the Gospel was to extract from it points of controversy, on which they formed their own crude personal opinions, and imposed them with utmost rigour on their subjects. It mattered not whether the successor to the petty throne held the same views: whatever the reigning Transparency' of the time entertained, and no other, became in turn the law of the land. The Palatinate furnishes an example of the ensuing alternations, and of the means by which they were enforced. Till 1540 the reigning house continued Catholic. Then intervened the Elector, Otto Heinrich, and the population were commanded to become Lutheran. At his death the Electorate passed to the Zimmer Zweibrücken potentate, who was a hot Calvinist. The Lutheran pastors were ejected and exiled, a ruthless persecution of all who held by the Augsburg Confession was instituted, and fiery hot • predestinarianism was poured into the ears of a bewildered peasantry who had not yet digested justification.'
In 1579 Frederick, Count of Zimmer Zweibrücken, died, and his successor was a Lutheran. Accordingly the Calvinist preachers were banished the territory, and the Lutheran ones recalled. In 1585 Calvinism again rose to the top, and Lutheranism again sank to the bottom like a stone. In the Thirty Years' War the Imperialists seized the Palatinate, and it went back to Rome, but on the restoration of the Elector reverted again to Calvinism. Reckoning the successive creeds entailed by the varying successes of the war, the Palatinate passed through ten changes of religion in less than a century. Toleration was the last thing gathered from the
* This class utilised the cause of religion in two ways for their own advantage. They obtained lands and property for forsaking Rome, and later, in the persons of their descendants, titles and honours for return. ing to her. After the Thirty Years War, the emperor held out the bait of higher ran to a number of petty rulers, and the Auerspergs, Lichtensteins, Esterhazys, Trautmansdorfs, &c., were made princes as a reward for abjuring Protestantism.