London, South Kensington
28 November 2011
CHURCHILL, Winston S. Typed letter signed to Gorell Barnes, 1st Baron Gorell, 'Yacht Honor, off Athens', 15 August 1910, marked 'Private', two pages, 4to, bifolium, on Home Office half-mourning paper.
THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE AND THE CRIMINAL CLASSES. Churchill considers Gorell's advice as to whether a sentence of penal servitude should be grounds for divorce, offering his 'purely personal opinion' that this should very rarely be the case, citing the fundamental importance of the vow 'for better for worse' in the institution of marriage, which only a very long prison sentence, or a series of shorter sentences, could justify breaking. In any case, he considers the issue to be limited in its scope, because 'a large proportion of the criminal classes do not conduct their sexual relations upon the plane of Christian marriage at all'; in other cases, however, their wives are an essential source of hope and support, and public sympathy lies in favour of the maintenance of the marriage bond. At the outside, Churchill would allow divorce after five years of a ten-year (or longer) sentence, 'if [the wife has been] continent in the meanwhile'.
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