Divorce and Separation (20 october 1917)

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Divorce and Separation is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Spectator on 20 october 1917.

Divorce and Separation

The Spectator No. 4660 (p. 413-414)

[To the Editor of the "Spectator."]

Sir, — We of the Divorce Law Reform Union earnestly born that we may have the support of the Spectator in our efforts is improve time shocking state of things which now exists in this country. The evidence given at the very powerful Commission which sat for two years under the presidency of the late Lord Gorell convinced the great majority of the members — all of them, in fact, who had no ecclesiastical associations — that a drastic change was needed. Five years, however, have elapsed since that admirable Report was presented, but nothing has been done. One would ask what is the use of appointing expensive and representative Commissions if their conclusions are destined for the pigeon-hole or for the waste-paper basket. The particular measure proposed is that all separations of three years' standing should be turned into divorces. If this should result in setting free all the folk who are at present neither parried nor single, and if a good proportion of them remarried and had families, it is no exaggeration to say that the single measure would go far to make up for the whole wastage of the war. Our dead can hardly be more than one hundred and fifty thousand, and there are far more than that number of potential couples who are at present sterilized by our senseless law. If the Church should resolve not to solemnize such marriages, it is of course within its rights in refusing; but it goes beyond its rights, and is guilty of pure intolerance and tyranny, when it prevents those who have no conscientious scruples upon the subject from contracting civil marriages. The record of the Church during the war has not been an heroic one, but it will inflict a deep injury upon the country if it stands in the way of that increase of population upon which in years to come the balance of power in Europe may depend. — I am, Sir, &c.,

Arthur Conan Doyle

(President of the Divorce Law Reform Union).

Windlesham, Crowborough.

See also