he considered it foolhardy to persist in going forward. He
studied a moment, and concluded to make another attempt ;
which he did, and went through above the treacherous bridge,
though I don't believe any man could have done it two houi's
We were soon in shallower water, found the main
bridge all right, and no deep water east of it, though " Smith's
Creek" (a tributary which enters "Main Henderson" just
below the bridge) set back upon and covered our road with a
swift current for perhaps a quarter of a mile. The driver was
familiar with the road, and thought it had never been so
covered before. Soon, however, we ascended a long, badly
guUied hill of the very worst clay, and breathed more freely
on the high, level prairie, covered in good part with water,
and not pretty wheeling, but never threatening to float us
bodily off, like that raving " Main Henderson."
Having reached " Stringtown," five or six miles on our way,
the driver called up a wayside friend, and borrowed dry socks,
while I made researches in my baggage for a like creature-
comfort, but with very unsatisfactory results. " Main Hen-
derson " had been there before me, and had made everything
fit for his wear, and unfit for mine. I closed valise and
leathern bag with a shiver, and we resumed our weary way.
I do like the prairies, though their admirers won't admit it ;
and I cheerfully certify that the best going we found was on
the virgin turf True, the " sloughs " were many and wide ;
yet, there was frost and ice at the bottom of them, which
seldom cut through ; but, whenever it did, it gave horses,
buggy, and riders, a racking. IMy pilot picked our way with
great judgment, and we were nevermore stopped, and liardly
checked, until we came out on the main road westward from
Monmouth, three miles distant.
That three miles of dense prairie was the heaviest travelling
I ever underwent ; and, if our jaded horses traversed it in an
A WINTER FLOOD IN ILLINOIS. 569
hour and a quarter, they did passing well. On the naked
prairie, we felt little anxiety ; for, if the slough seemed too
deep straight ahead, we could sheer right or left ad libitum,
only taking care to keep some landmark in view, if possible.
But roads imply bridges over the water-courses ; and these
bridges were far more perilous than the water- coui-ses them-
Still the wind blew, still the rain fell, in spite of our re-
peated predictions that it would soon hold up ; and still our
horses plodded slowly onward, imtil those three miles seemed
to me interminable. Our main business was to watch the
bridges just ahead, and see that they had not been washed
out; and they generally seemed to stand remarkably well. At
last, Monmouth was in sight ; the last bridge was passed ; no,
not the last, for our horses were in a deep gully this instant.
A second more, and they sprang out, and jerked the buggy
in with a crash that is still audible. The nigh fore-wheel
snapped its tire, and went down, an armful of oven- wood ; the
tongue split, but held on, and the driver was pitched across
my knees head downward into the deep mortar-bed termed
the road. I went forward on my face, but clung to the wreck,
with my feet entangled in apron and blankets ; and, as the
horses started to run, the look ahead for an instant was not
Only for an instant, however. The idea of running with
that wreck through such mud, after a heavy night-drag of eigh-
teen miles, was so essentially ridiculous that no well-bred horse
could have entertained it. Ours perceived this instinctively,
and soon slacked up, while the driver recovered his feet and
liis reins, if he had ever fully lost the latter. I cannot say how
I came out of the dilapidated vehicle, nor could the driver give
me any light on the subject ; but I soon found myself resum-
ing the perpendicular, and facing rearward in quest of my
hat, which I found in a wayside pond several rods back, two
thirds full of water, but still floating. My blanket I fished
out of the semi-liquid mud about midway between my goal
and my starting-point, and, for the fii'st time on my journey,
found its company disagreeable.
Men never know when they are well off. Five minutes
before, I had been industriously cherishing my cold, wet feet,
fencing off the driving rain, and fancying myself an object of
just compassion ; now, I saw clearly that, so long as the car-
riage remained sound, I had been in an enviable state of ease
and enjoyment. Throwing my soiled blanket over one arm,
and taking my valise in the opposite hand, I pulled one foot
after another out of the deep, tarry mud, losing both my well-
fastened overshoes therein without knowing it, and pushed
through to a tavern at the rate of a mile and a half per hour,
in a state of general bedragglement and desperate jollity
which Mark Tapley could not have bettered.
It was 4 A. M. when a hospitable roof overshadowed us.
The house was full, and my petition for a pair of slippers, and
a room with a fire in it, could not be granted. But a bar-
room fire was got up, and a bed in due time provided, though
a ball that night in the village — no, city — had absorbed
most of the accommodations. But our noble horses found
what they needed, and we had an hour's sleep or more, though
I did not incline to sleep at all. I got up to breakfast, and
to find all as I expected about the raili'oad. The Chicago
night-train went down nearly on time, but did not reach
Oquawka Junction, finding the track all washed out at the
crossing of "South Henderson," ten miles below. But its
engine came back about 9 a.m., took on board haK a dozen of
us, and backed up to Galesburg (seventeen miles) in less
than an hour ; saving me another dreaded carriage-ride of at
least six hours. We crossed one washed-out place, which
threatened to throw us off, but did not. I guess I am the
last person who will have left Oquawka for several days, and
suspect Burlington (Iowa) has parted company with the world
eastward of the Mississippi for at least as many.
Moral. — We are none of us half grateful enough for the
blessings of railroads, — when the trains run, and the cars
don't fly the track.
MAEEIAGE AND DIVORCE.
DISCUSSION BETWEEN HORACE GREELEY AND ROBERT DALE OWEN.
DIVORCE. — WOMAN'S RIGHTS.*
OUE, Legislature is again importuned to try its hand at
increasing the facilities of divorce. We trust it will
ponder long and carefully before it consents. That many per-
sons are badly mated is true ; but that is not the law's fault.
The law of our State says plainly to all the unmarried, " Be
very careful how you marry ; for a mistake in this regard is
irrevocable. The law does not constrain you to marry, does
not hurry you to marry, but bids you be first sure that you
know intimately and love devotedly the person with whom
you form this irrevocable union. We rectify no mistakes ; it
rests with you not to make any. If you do, bear the penalty
as you ought, and do not seek to transfer it to the shoulders of
the community." And this, we think, is, in the broad view,
right, though in special cases it involves hardship.
The paradise of free-lovers is the State of Indiana, where
the lax principles of Eobert Dale Owen, and the utter want
of principle of John Pettit (leading revisers of the laws),
combined to establish, some years since, a state of law which
enables men or women to get unmarried nearly at pleasure.
A legal friend in that State recently remarked to us, that, at
one County Court, he obtained eleven divorces one day before
dmner ; " and it was n't a good morning for divorces either."
In one case within his knowledge, a prominent citizen of an
Eastern manufacturing city came to Indiana, went through
* Editorial in The Tribune of March 1, 1860.
the usual routine, obtained his divorce about dinner-time,
and, in the course of the evening was married to his new
inamorata, who had come on for the purpose, and was staying
at the same hotel with him. They soon started for home,
having no more use for the State of Indiana ; and, on arriving,
he introduced his new wife to her astonished predecessor,
whom he notified that she must pack up and go, as there was
no room for her in that house any longer. So she went.
How many want such facility of divorcing in New York ?
We trust not one in a hundred. If we are right in this judg-
ment, let the ninety-nine make themselves heard at Albany
as well as the one. The discontented are always active ; the
contented ought not to sleep evermore.
We favor whatever may be done to mitigate the hardships
endured by mismated persons in perfect consistency with the
maintenance of the sanctity and perpetuity of Marriage.
Cases are constantly occurring in which a virtuous and wor-
thy girl persists in marrying a dissolute scapegrace, in spite
of the most conclusive demonstrations of his worthlessness.
Five years hence, when he has become a miserable loafer and
sot, she will wish herself divorced from him ; but the law
says No, and we stand by it. But the law ought to allow her
to earn for herself and her little ones, and not enable him to
appropriate and squander her few hard-won shillings. This is
asked for, and ought to be granted. So the law should allow
the woman who is living _ wholly separate from her hus-
band, by reason of his brutality, cruelty, or profligacy, to have
the same control over her property and earnings as if she had
never married. This is not now the case. Nay; we know
an instance in which a woman, long since separated from her
wortliless husband, and trying hard to earn a meagre living
for their children, was disabled and crippled by a railroad
accident ; yet the law gives her no right of action against the
culpable company ; her broken ankles are legally her runa-
way husband's, not her own ; and he would probably sell
them outright for a gallon of good brandy, and let the com-
pany finish the job of breaking them at its convenience.
MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE. 573
We heartily approve of such changes in our laws as would
make this deserted wife the legal owner of her own ankles ;
but we would not dissolve the marriage obligation to constancy
for any other cause than that recognized as sufficient by
MR. OWEN'S RESPONSE.*
To THE Editor of the New York Tribune : —
Sib, : Eetired from political life, and now disposed to ad-
dress the public, if at all, through a calmer medium than the
columns of a daily paper, still, I cannot read the allusion in
this morning's Tribune, made in connection with an im-
portant subject, to my adopted State and to myself by name,
without feeling that justice to both, and, what is of more con-'
sequence, the fair statement of a question involving much of
human morality and happiness, require of me a few words.
You say : —
" The Paradise of free-lovers is the State of Indiana, where the
lax principles of Robert Dale Owen, and the utter want of princi-
ple of John Pettit (leading revisers of the laws), combined to
establish, some years since, a state of law which enables men and
women to get unmarried nearly at pleasure."
You are usually, I think, correct in your statements of
fact, and doubtless always intend to be so. That in this en-
deavor you sometimes fail, we have a proof to-day.
So far as I recollect, the Indiana law of divorce does not
owe a single section to Mr. Pettit. Be that, however, as it
may, it owes one of its provisions, and one only, to me. I
found that law thirty-four years ago, when I first became a
resident of the State, in substance nearly what it now is ; in-
deed, -udth all its essential features the same. It was once
referred to myseK, in conjunction with another member of the
Legislature, for revision ; and we amended it in a single
point; namely, by adding to the causes of divorce "habit-
* From The Tribune of March 5, 1860.
ual drunkenness for two years." In no otlier particular,
either by vote or proposition, have I been instrumental in
framing or amending the law in question, directly or in-
Do not imagine, however, that I seek to avoid any re.'ipon-
sibility in regard to that law as it stands. I cordially ap-
prove it. It has stood the test for forty or fifty years among a
people whom, if you knew them as intimately as I do, candor
would compel you to admit to be, according to the strictest
standard of morality you may set up, not one whit behind
those of sister States, perhaps of more pretensions. I approve
the law, not on principle only, but because, for more than
half a lifetime, I have witnessed its practical workings. I
speak of its influence on our oivn citizens. It is much to be
regretted that any one should ever be compelled to seek a
'divorce out of his own State. But, even in alluding to abuses
which have occurred in this connection, you failed to tell
your readers, what perhaps you did not know, that our law
has of late years been so changed that the cases you state
cannot possibly recur. No one can now sue for a divorce in
Indiana, until he has been during one year, at least, a resident
of the State ; and the provision regarding timely notice to the
absent party is of the strictest kind.
You speak of Indiana as " the Paradise of free.-lovers." It
is in New York and New England, refusing reasonable divorce,
that free-love prevails ; not in Indiana. I never even heard
the name there. You locate the Paradise, then, too far
And does it not occur to you, when a million of men, —
chiefly plain, hardy, industrious farmers, with wives whom,
after the homely old fashion, they love, and daughters whose
chastity and happiness are as dear to them as if their homes
were the wealtliiest in the land, — does it not occur to Horace
Greeley that, wdien these men go on deliberately for half a
century maintaining unchanged (or, if changed at aU, made
more liberal) a law of divorce which he denounces as breed-
infTf disorder and immorality, — that the million, with their
MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE. 575
long experience, may be right, and that Horace Greeley, with-
out that experience, may be wrong ?
You talk of my "lax principles." I think that, by my
past life, I have earned the right to be believed when I say
what are my principles and what are not.
On this subject, they go just so far as the Indiana law, and
no further. I have given proof of this. I have had a hun-
di'ed opportunities, and never used them, to move its amend-
ment. I was chairman of the Eevision Committee of our
Constitutional Convention ; but in our Constitution we incor-
porated nothing in regard to divorce, except a prohibition
against all divorces by the Legislature. To that, I think you
will not object. At the next session, I was chairman of the
committee to revise the laws ; but we merely re enacted the
old divorce law, of which experience had taught us the bene-
fits. It grants divorce for other causes than the one your law '
selects, — as for abandonment ; for cruel treatment ; for habit-
ual drunkenness ; and for any other cause for which the court
may deem it proper that a divorce should be granted.
Are these " lax principles " ? I claun to have them judged
according to a Christian rule. " By their fruits ye shall know
them." You have elopements, adultery, which your law, by
rendering it indispensable to release, virtually encourages ;
you have free-love, and that most terrible of all social evils,
prostitution. We, instead, have regulated, legal separations.
You may feel disposed to thank God that you are not as
other men, or even as these Indianians. I think that we are
justified in His sight, rather than you.
Or is it, perhaps, the amendment I did propose and carry
which seems to you lax in principle ? — the provision,
namely, that a wife should not be compelled to live with one
who has been, for years, an habitual drunkard. You have told
us that she ought to be so compelled. It constantly occurs,
you say, that a "virtuous and worthy girl" marries a man
who " becomes a miserable loafer and sot " ; and you add :
" She will wish herself divorced from him ; but the law says
No, and we stand to it."
Think, for a moment, what this actually involves ! Let us
take the " single captive," lest the multiplicity of images dis-
tract us. See the young creature, "virtuous and worthy,"
awaiting, late in the solitary night, the fate to which, for life,
you consign her ; and that for no sin more heinous than that
her girl's heart, believing in human goodness, had trusted the
vows and promises of a scoundrel. Is it her home where she
is sitting ? Let us not so desecrate the hallowed word. It is
the den of her sufferings and of her shame. A bloated
wretch, whom daily and nightly debauch has degraded below
humanity, has the right to enter it. In what temper he M'ill
arrive, God alone knows, — all the animal within him, proba-
bly, aroused by drink. Will he beat her, — the mother of his
children, the one he has sworn to love and protect ? Likely
enough. Ah ! well if that be all ! The scourge, though its
strokes may cause the flesh to shudder, cannot reach the soul.
But the possible outrages of this " miserable loafer and sot "
may. He has the command of torments, legally permitted, far
beyond those of the lash. That bedchamber is his, and the
bed is the beast's own lair. It depends, too, on the brute's
drunken wiU whether it shall be shared or not. Caliban is
lord and master, by legal right. There is not a womanly in-
stinct that he cannot outrage ; not a holy emotion that he
may not profane. He is authorized to commit what more
resembles an infamous crime — usually rated second to mur-
der, and often punished with death — than anything else.
And in this foul pit of degradation you would leave to a
fate too horrible for infamy itself, a pure, gentle, blameless.
Christian vnie ! Her cry thence may ascend to heaven ; but,
on earth, you think it should be stifled or contemned. She
entreats for relief, — for escape from the pollution she ab-
hors ; you look down upon her misery, and answer her, " The
law says No, and we stand to it."
God forgive you, Horace Greeley, the inhuman sentiment !
I believe you to be a good man, desiring human improvement,
the friend of what you deem essential to social morality.
God send that you may never, in the person of a daughter
MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE. 577
of your own, and in the recital of her tortures, practically
learn the terrible lesson how far you have strayed from the
Further to argue the general question would be an unwar-
rantable intrusion on your columns. Suffice it to say, that, if
I differ from you as to the expediency of occasionally dissolv-
ing misery-bringing unions, it is precisely because I regard
the marriage relation as the holiest of earthly institutions.
It is for that very reason that I seek to preserve its pmity,
when other expedients fail, by the besom of divorce. No
human relation ought to be suffered so to degenerate that it
defeats the purpose of its institution. God imposes no laws
on man merely to have the pleasure of seeing them obeyed ;
but, on the contrary, with special reference to His creatures'
welfare and improvement. Marriage itself, like the Sabbath,
was made for man; not man for marriage. It fulfils God's
intentions so long as the domestic home is the abode of pu-
rity, of noble sentiment, of loving-kindness, or, at least, of
mutual forbearance. But it defeats His purpose, and violates
the Divine economy, when it becomes the daily cause of griev-
ous words and heartless deeds, — of anger, strifes, selfishness,
cruelty, ruffianism. That it should ever be thus degraded
and perverted, all good men must lament; and all ought
earnestly to seek the most effectual remedy.
In no country have I found the marriage obligation so
little binding as in the nation * near whose court, as minis-
ter, I recently spent five years, — a country where Marriage
is a sacrament and Divorce an impossibility ; and where,
indeed, on account of their "lax principles," the inhabit-
ants neither need nor care for it. In no country have I
seen marriage and its vows more strictly respected than in
my adopted State, where the relation, when it engenders
immorality, may be terminated by law. For the rest, divorces
in Indiana are far less frequent than strangers, reading our
divorce law, might be led to imagine. We find Jefferson's
words to be as true of married persons as of the rest of man-
kind. They " are more disposed to suffer while evils are
sufiferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms
to which they have been accustomed."
The question remains, whether it be more pleasing in the
sight of God, and more conducive to virtue in man, to part
decently in peace, or to live on in shameful discord.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Egbert Dale Owen.
New Yoek, March 1, 1860.
REPLY Bt MR. GREELEY.*
To THE Hon. Robert Dale Owen, of Indiana : —
My dear Sir : I had not expected to provoke your letter
this day published ; but the subject is one of the highest
and widest importance, and I am very willing to aid in its
I do not think the issues of fact raised by you need long
detain us. The country knows that you have for the last
thirty years and more been a leading member of the generally
dominant party in Indiana, — almost the only member who
could with propriety be termed a political philosopher. As
such, you have naturally exerted a very great influence over
the legislation and internal policy of that State. Often a
member of her Legislature as well as of Congress, and one of
the revisers of her laws, you admit that the Law of Marriage
and Divorce came at one time directly and distinctly under
review before you, and that you ingrafted thereon a provi-
sion adding another — habitual drunkenness — to the pre-
existing grounds on which divorce might legally be granted.
As to " lax principles," I need not say more than that I
cite your letter now before me as a sample and illustration.
But let me brush away one cobweb of your brain. You
picture the case of a pure and gentle woman exposed to the
* From The Tribune of March 6, 1860.
MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE. 579
brutalities and cruelties of a beastly sot of a husband. For
such cases, our laws grant a separation from bed and board,
— not a disruption of the marriage tie, with liberty to marry
again. I think this is just right. I would not let loose
such a wretch as you have depicted to delude and torture
another " pure and virtuous girl." Let one victim suffice him.
Your reference to the "blameless Christian wife," and to
what is " more pleasing in the sight of God," impels me to
say that I must consider Jesus of Nazareth a better au-
thority as to what is Christian and what pleases God than
you are. His testimony on this point is express and un-
equivocal (Matt. xix. 9), that a marriage can be rightfully
dissolved because of adultery alone. You well know that
was not the law either of Jews or Romans in his day; so
that he cannot have been misled by custom or tradition,
even were it possible for him to have been mistaken. I
believe he was wholly right.
For what is Marriage ? I mind the Apostolic injunction,
" Hold fast the form of sound words." Dr. Webster's great
dictionary says : —
" Marriage : The act of uniting a man and woman for life ;
wedlock ; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage
is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage
to live together in mutual affection and fidehty till death shall
So Worcester : —
" Marriage : the act of marrying, or uniting a man and woman
for life as husband and wife," &c., &c.
I surely need not quote to you the language of the mar-
riage ceremony, — the mutual and solemn promise to " take
each other for better, for worse," and " to live together till
death do part" &c., &c. You must be aware that the entire
Christian, and I think most of the partially civihzed pagan
world, regard this solemn contract to cleave to each other till
ideath as the very essence, the vital element, of Marriage.
!N^ow it is not here necessary that I should prove this better
than any possible substitute : suffice it that I insist that
whoever would recommend a substitute should clearly, spe-
cifically, set forth its nature and conditions, and should call
it by its distinctive name. There may be something better
than Man'iage ; but nothing is Marriage but a solemn engage-