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chapter 111: The Influence of Religion - Viscount James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, vol. 2 
The American Commonwealth, with an Introduction by Gary L. McDowell (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1995). Vol. 2.
Part of: The American Commonwealth, 2 vols.
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The Influence of Religion
To convey some impression of the character and type which religion has taken in America, and to estimate its influence as a moral and spiritual force, is an infinitely harder task than to sketch the salient ecclesiastical phenomena of the country. I approach it with the greatest diffidence, and do not profess to give anything more than the sifted result of answers to questions addressed to many competent observers belonging to various churches or to none.
An obviously important point to determine is the extent to which the external ministrations of religion are supplied to the people and used by them. This is a matter on which no trustworthy statistics seem attainable, but on which the visitor’s own eyes leave him in little doubt. There are churches everywhere, and everywhere equally: in the cities and in the country, in the North and in the South, in the quiet nooks of New England, in the settlements which have sprung up along railroads in the West. It is only in the very roughest parts of the West, and especially in the region of mining camps, that they are wanting, and the want is but temporary, for “home missionary” societies are quickly in the field, and provide the ministrations of religion even to this migratory population. In many a town of moderate size one finds a church for every thousand inhabitants, as was the case with Dayton, in Ohio, which, when it had 40,000 people, had just forty churches. The growth of churches is deemed an indication of prosperity, as I remember that the dweller in a new Oklahoma city, anxious to prove its swift progress, pointed to a corner lot and said, “A fifteen thousand dollar church is going up there.”
Denominational rivalry has counted for something in the rapid creation of churches in the newly settled West and their multiplication everywhere else. So, too, weak churches are sometimes maintained out of pride when it would be better to let them be united with other congregations of the same body. Attendance is pretty good, though in some denominations the women greatly outnumber the men. In cities of moderate size, as well as in small towns and country places, a stranger is told that possibly a half of the native American population go to church at least once every Sunday. In the great cities the proportion of those who attend is very much less, but whether or no as small as in English cities no one could tell me. One sometimes finds the habit of churchgoing well formed in the more settled parts of the Far West where the people, being newcomers, might be supposed to be less under the sway of habit and convention. California is an exception, and is the state supposed to be least affected by religious influences. In the chief city of Oregon I found in 1881 that a person, and especially a woman of the upper class, who did not belong to some church and attend it pretty regularly, would be looked askance on. She need not actually lose caste, but the fact would excite surprise and regret; and her disquieted friends would put some pressure upon her to enrol herself as a church member. That would hardly happen in such a city today, and there are grounds for thinking that, taking the country as a whole, church attendance does not keep pace with the growth of population.
The observance of the Sabbath as it was, or the Sunday as it is now usually, called, furnishes another test. The strictness of Puritan practice has quite disappeared, even in New England, but there are still a few out of the way places, especially in the South, where the American part of the rural population refrains from amusement as well as from work.1 It is otherwise with the Germans; and in some parts of the country their example has brought in laxity as regards amusement. Such cities as Chicago, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and San Francisco have a Sunday quite unlike that of New England, and more resembling what one finds in Germany or France. Nowhere however does one see the shops open or ordinary work done. On many railroads there are few Sunday trains, and museums are in many cities closed. But in two respects the practice is more lax than in Great Britain. Most of the leading newspapers publish Sunday editions, which contain a great deal of general readable matter, stories, gossip, and so forth, over and above the news of the day; and in the great cities theatres are now open on Sunday evenings.2
The interest in theological questions is less keen than it was in New England a century ago, but keener than it has generally been in England since the days of the Commonwealth. Much of the ordinary reading of the average family has a religious tinge, being supplied in religious or semi-religious weekly and monthly magazines. Till recently in parts of the West the old problems of predestination, reprobation, and election continued to be discussed by farmers and shopkeepers in their leisure moments with the old eagerness, and gave a sombre tinge to their views of religion. The ordinary man used to know the Bible better, and took up an allusion to it more quickly than the ordinary Englishman, though perhaps not better than the ordinary Scotchman. Indeed I may say once for all that the native American in everything concerning theology reminds one much more of Scotland than of England, although in the general cast and turn of his mind he is far more English than Scotch. One is told, however, that nowadays the knowledge of Scripture has declined. It is hard to state any general view as to the substance of pulpit teaching, because the differences between different denominations are marked; but the tendency has been, and daily grows alike among Congregationalists, Baptists, Northern Presbyterians, and Episcopalians, for sermons to be less metaphysical and less markedly doctrinal than formerly, and to become either expository or else of a practical and hortatory character. This is less the case among the Presbyterians of the South, who are more stringently orthodox, and in all respects more conservative than their brethren of the North. The discussion of the leading theological questions of the day, such as those of the authority of Scripture, the relation of natural science to the teachings of the Bible, the existence of rewards and punishments in a future state, goes on much as in England. Some of the leading reviews and magazines publish articles on these subjects, which are read more widely than corresponding articles in England, but do not, I think, absorb any more of the thought and attention of the average educated man and woman.
Whether scepticism makes any sensible advance either in affecting a larger number of minds, or in cutting more deeply at the roots of their belief in God and immortality, is a question which it is today extremely difficult for anyone to answer even as regards his own country. There are many phenomena in every part of Europe which appear to indicate that it does advance; there are others which point in the opposite direction. Much more difficult, then, must it be for a stranger to express a positive opinion as regards America on this gravest of all subjects of enquiry. The conditions of England and America appear to me very similar; whatever tendency prevails in either country is likely to prevail in the other and like changes of taste in theological literature have shown themselves. The mental habits of the people are the same; their fundamental religious conceptions are the same, except that those who prize a visible church and bow to her authority are relatively fewer among American Protestants; their theological literature is the same. In discussing a theological question with an American one never feels that slight difference of point of view, or, so to speak, of mental atmosphere, which is sure to crop up in talking to a Frenchman or an Italian, or even to a German. Considerations of speculative argument, considerations of religious feeling, affect the two nations in the same way: the course of their religious history is not likely to diverge. If there be a difference at all in their present attitude, it is perhaps to be found in this, that whereas Americans are more frequently disposed to treat minor issues in a bold spirit, they are more apt to recoil from blank negation. As an American once said to me—they are apt to put serious views into familiar words—“We don’t mind going a good way along the plank, but we like to stop short of the jump-off.”
Whether pronounced theological unbelief, which has latterly been preached by lectures and pamphlets with a freedom unknown half a century ago, has made substantial progress among the thinking part of the working class is a question on which one hears the most opposite statements. I have seen statistics which purport to show that the proportion of members of Christian churches to the total population rose in the Protestant churches from 1 in 141/2 in 1800 to 1 in 5 in 1880; and which estimated the number of communicants in 1880 at 12,000,000, the total adult population in that year being taken at 25,000,000. So the census of churches of 1906 gives the number of church members or communicants at 33,000,000 or 39.1 of the total estimated population. But one also hears many lamentations over the diminished attendance at city churches; and in ecclesiastical circles people say, just as they say in England, that the great problem is how to reach the masses. The most probable conclusion seems to be that while in cities like New York and Chicago the bulk of the humbler classes (except the Roman Catholics, who are largely recent immigrants) are practically heathen to the same extent as in London, or Liverpool, or Berlin, the proportion of working men who belong to some religious body is rather larger in towns under 30,000 than it is in the similar towns of Great Britain or Germany.
In the more cultivated circles of the great cities one finds a number of people, as one does in England, who have virtually abandoned Christianity, and a much larger number who seem practically indifferent, and seldom accompany their wives or sisters to church. So also in most of the cities there is said to be a knot of men who profess agnosticism, and sometimes have a meeting place where secularist lectures are delivered. In the middle of the last century the former class would have been fewer and more reserved; the latter would scarcely have existed. But the relaxation of the old strictness of orthodoxy has not diminished the zeal of the various churches, nor their hold upon their adherents, nor their attachment to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.
This zeal and attachment happily no longer show themselves in intolerance. Except perhaps in small places in the West or South, where aggressive scepticism would rouse displeasure and might affect a man’s position in society, everybody is as free in America as in London to hold and express any views he pleases. Within the churches themselves there is an unmistakable tendency to loosen the bonds of subscription required from clergymen. Prosecutions for heresy of course come before church courts, since no civil court would take cognizance of such matters unless when invoked by someone alleging that a church court had given a decision, or a church authority had taken an executive step, which prejudiced him in some civil right, and was unjust because violating an obligation contracted with him.3 Such prosecutions have latterly become uncommon, but the sympathy of the public is usually with the accused minister, and the latitude allowed to divergence from the old standards becomes constantly greater. At present it is in the Congregationalist church pretty much the same as in that church in England; in the Presbyterian church of the North, and among Baptists and Methodists, slightly less than in the unestablished Presbyterian churches of Scotland. Most of the churches usually called orthodox have allowed less latitude in doctrine and in ritual than recent decisions of the courts of law, beginning from the “Essays and Reviews” case, have allowed to the clergy of the Anglican Establishment in England; but I could not gather that the clergy of the various Protestant bodies feel themselves fettered, or that the free development of religious thought is seriously checked, except in the South, where orthodoxy is rigid, and forbids a clergyman to hold Mr. Darwin’s views regarding the descent of man.4 A pastor who begins to chafe under the formularies or liturgy of his denomination would be expected to leave the denomination and join some other in which he could feel more at home. He would not suffer socially by doing so as an Anglican clergyman possibly might in the like case in England. In the Roman Catholic church there is, of course, no similar indulgence to a deviation from the ancient dogmatic standards; but there is a greater disposition to welcome the newer forms of learning and culture than one finds in England or Ireland, and what may be called a more pronounced democratic spirit. So among the younger Protestant clergy there has been of late years a tendency, if not to Socialism, yet to a marked discontent with existing economic conditions, resembling what is now perceptible among the younger clergy in Britains.
As respects what may be called the everyday religious life and usages of the United States, there are differences from those of England or Scotland which it is easy to feel but hard to define or describe. There is rather less conventionalism or constraint in speaking of religious experiences, less of a formal separation between the church and the world, less disposition to treat the clergy as a caste and expect them to conform to a standard not prescribed for the layman,5 less reticence about sacred things, perhaps less sense of the refinement with which sacred things ought to be surrounded. The letting by auction of sittings in a popular church, though I think very rare, excites less disapproval than it would in Europe. Some fashionable churches are supplied with sofas, carpets, and the other comforts of a drawing room; a well-trained choir is provided, and the congregation would not think of spoiling the performance by joining in the singing. The social side of church life is more fully developed than in Protestant Europe. A congregation, particularly among the Methodists, Baptists, and Congregationalists, is the centre of a group of societies, literary and recreative as well as religious and philanthropic, which not only stimulate charitable work, but bring the poorer and richer members into friendly relations with one another, and form a large part of the social enjoyments of the young people, keeping them out of harm’s way, and giving them a means of forming acquaintances. Often a sort of informal evening party, called a “sociable,” is given once a month, at which all ages and classes meet on an easy footing.6 The Young Men’s Christian Association movement which has attained vast dimensions does much to attract the young people by providing facilities for exercise and amusement as well by work of a more definitely religious character. Religion seems to associate itself better with the interests of the young in America, and to have come within the last forty years to wear a less forbidding countenance than it has generally done in Britain, or at least among English Nonconformists and in the churches of Scotland.
A still more peculiar feature of the American churches is the propensity to what may be called Revivalism which some of them, and especially the Methodist churches, show. That exciting preaching and those external demonstrations of feeling which have occasionally appeared in Britain were long chronic there, appearing chiefly in the form of the camp meeting, a gathering of people usually in the woods or on the sea shore, where open-air preaching goes on perhaps for days together. One hears many stories about these camp meetings, not always to their credit, which agree at least in this that they exercise a powerful even if transient influence upon the humbler classes who flock to them. In the West they have been serviceable in evangelizing districts where few regular churches had yet been established. Of late years they have tended to pass into mere summer outings, except in some parts of the South, where however it is now chiefly among the humbler classes, and of course still more among the Negroes, that they flourish. All denominations are more prone to emotionalism in religion, and have less reserve in displaying it, than in England or Scotland. I remember in 1870 to have been a passenger by one of the splendid steamers which ply along the Sound between New York and Fall River. A Unitarian Congress was being held in New York, and a company of New England Unitarians were going to attend it. Now New England Unitarians are of all Americans perhaps the most staid and sober in their thoughts and habits, the least inclined to a demonstrative expression of their faith. This company, however, installed itself round the piano in the great saloon of the vessel and sang hymns, hymns full of effusion, for nearly two hours, many of the other passengers joining, and all looking on with sympathy. Our English party assumed at first that the singers belonged to some Methodist body, in which case there would have been nothing to remark except the attitude of the bystanders. But they were Unitarians.
European travellers have in one point greatly exaggerated the differences between their own continent and the United States. They have represented the latter as preeminently a land of strange sects and abnormal religious developments. Such sects and developments there certainly are, but they play no greater part in the whole life of the nation than similar sects do in Germany and England, far less than the various dissenting communities do in Russia. The Mormons drew the eyes of the world because they attempted to form a sort of religious commonwealth, and revived one ancient practice which modern ethics condemn, and which severe congressional legislation is supposed to have now stamped out. But the Mormon church is chiefly recruited from Europe. In 1881 I found few native Americans among the Mormons in Salt Lake City, and those few from among the poor whites of the South.7 The number of recruits from all quarters began soon thereafter to decrease. The Shakers are an interesting and well-conducted folk, but there are very few of them, and they decrease—there were in 1906 only 516 persons in their eleven communities; while of the other communistic religious bodies one hears more in Europe than in America. Here and there some strange little sect emerges and lives for a few years;8 but in a country seething with religious emotion, and whose conditions seem to tempt to new departures and experiments of all kinds, the philosophic traveller may rather wonder that men have stood so generally upon the old paths.9
We have already seen that Christianity has in the United States maintained, so far as externals go, its authority and dignity, planting its houses of worship all over the country and raising enormous revenues from its adherents. Such a position of apparent influence might, however, rest upon ancient habit and convention, and imply no dominion over the souls of men. The Roman Empire in the days of Augustus was covered from end to end with superb temples to many gods; the priests were numerous and wealthy, and enjoyed the protection of the state; processions retained their pomp, and sacrifices drew crowds of admiring worshippers. But the old religions had lost their hold on the belief of the educated and on the conscience of all classes. If therefore we desire to know what place Christianity really fills in America, and how far it gives stability to the commonwealth, we must inquire how far it governs the life and moulds the mind of the country.
Such an enquiry may address itself to two points. It may examine into the influence which religion has on the conduct of the people, on their moral standard and the way they conform themselves thereto. And it may ask how far religion touches and gilds the imagination of the people, redeeming their lives from commonness, and bathing their souls in “the light that never was on sea or land.”
In works of active beneficence no country has surpassed, perhaps none has equalled, the United States. Not only are the sums collected for all sorts of philanthropic purposes larger relatively to the wealth of America than in any European country, but the amount of personal interest shown in good works and personal effort devoted to them seems to a European visitor to exceed what he knows at home. How much of this interest and effort would be given were no religious motive present it is impossible to say. Not all, but I think nearly all of it, is in fact given by religious people, and, as they themselves suppose, under a religious impulse. This religious impulse is less frequently than in England a sectarian impulse, for all Protestants, and to some extent Roman Catholics also, are wont to join hands for most works of benevolence.
The ethical standard of the average man is of course the Christian standard, modified to some slight extent by the circumstances of American life, which have been different from those of Protestant Europe. The average man has not thought of any other standard, and religious teaching, though it has become less definite and less dogmatic, is still to him the source whence he believes himself to have drawn his ideas of duty and conduct. In Puritan days there must have been some little conscious and much more unconscious hypocrisy, the profession of religion being universal, and the exactitude of practice required by opinion, and even by law, being above what ordinary human nature seems capable of attaining. The fault of antinomianism which used to be charged on high Calvinists is now sometimes charged on those who become, under the influence of revivals, extreme emotionalists in religion. But taking the native Americans as a whole, no people seems today less open to the charge of pharisaism or hypocrisy. They are perhaps rather more prone to the opposite error of good-natured indulgence to offences of which they are not themselves guilty.
That there is less crime among native Americans than among the foreign born is a point not to be greatly pressed, for it may be partly due to the fact that the latter are the poorer and more ignorant part of the population; and in parts of the South and West violence and even homicide are common enough among the native-born. If, however, we take matters which do not fall within the scope of penal law, the general impression of those who have lived long both in Protestant Europe and in America seems to be that as respects veracity, temperance, the purity of domestic life,10 tenderness to children and the weak, and general kindliness of behaviour, the native Americans stand rather higher than either the English or the Germans.11 And those whose opinion I am quoting seem generally, though not universally, disposed to think that the influence of religious belief, which may survive in its effect upon the character when a man has dropped his connection with any religious body, counts for a good deal in this. There is now a general feeling that the state judges administer in too lax and easy a way laws which are themselves too lax. The abuse of divorce procedure amounts in some states to a scandal.
If we ask how far religion exerts a stimulating influence on the thought and imagination of a nation, we are met by the difficulty of determining what is the condition of mankind where no such influence is present. There has never been a civilized nation without a religion; and though many highly civilized individual men live without one, they are so obviously the children of a state of sentiment and thought in which religion has been a powerful factor, that no one can conjecture what a race of men would be like who had during several generations believed themselves to be the highest beings in the universe, or at least entirely out of relation to any other higher beings, and to be therewithal destined to no kind of existence after death. Some may hold that respect for public opinion, sympathy, an interest in the future of mankind, would do for such a people what religion has done in the past; or that they might even be, as Lucretius expected, the happier for the extinction of possible supernatural terrors. Others may hold that life would seem narrow and insignificant, and that the wings of imagination would droop in a universe felt to be void. All that need be here said is that a people with comparatively little around it in the way of historic memories and associations to touch its emotion, a people whose energy is chiefly absorbed in commerce and the development of the material resources of its territory, a people consumed by a feverish activity that gives little opportunity for reflection or for the contemplation of nature, seems most of all to need to have its horizon widened, its sense of awe and mystery touched, by whatever calls it away from the busy world of sight and sound into the stillness of faith and meditation. A perusal of the literature which the ordinary American of the educated farming and working class reads, and a study of the kind of literature which those Americans who are least coloured by European influences produce, led one to think that the Bible and Christian theology altogether have in the past done more in the way of forming the imaginative background to an average American view of the world of man and nature than they have in most European countries.
No one is so thoughtless as not to sometimes ask himself what would befall mankind if the solid fabric of belief on which their morality has hitherto rested, or at least been deemed by them to rest, were suddenly to break up and vanish under the influence of new views of nature, as the ice fields split and melt when they have floated down into a warmer sea. Morality with religion for its sanction has hitherto been the basis of social polity, except under military despotisms. Would morality be so far weakened as to make social polity unstable? And if so, would a reign of violence return? In Europe this question does not seem urgent, because in Europe the physical force of armed men which maintains order is usually conspicuous, and because obedience to authority is everywhere in Europe matter of ancient habit, having come down little impaired from ages when men obeyed without asking for a reason. But in America the whole system of government seems to rest not on armed force, but on the will of the numerical majority, a majority most of whom might well think that its overthrow would be for them a gain. So sometimes, standing in the midst of a great American city, and watching the throngs of eager figures streaming hither and thither, marking the sharp contrasts of poverty and wealth, an increasing mass of wretchedness and an increasing display of luxury, knowing that before long a hundred millions of men will be living between ocean and ocean under this one government—a government which their own hands have made, and which they feel to be the work of their own hands—one is startled by the thought of what might befall this huge yet delicate fabric of laws and commerce and social institutions were the foundations it has rested on to crumble away. Suppose that all these men ceased to believe that there was any power above them, any future before them, anything in heaven or earth but what their senses told them of; suppose that their consciousness of individual force and responsibility, already dwarfed by the overwhelming power of the multitude, and the fatalistic submission it engenders, were further weakened by the feeling that their swiftly fleeting life was rounded by a perpetual sleep:
Would the moral code stand unshaken, and with it the reverence for law, the sense of duty towards the community, and even towards the generations yet to come? Would men say “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die”? Or would custom, and sympathy, and a perception of the advantages which stable government offers to the citizens as a whole, and which orderly self-restraint offers to each one, replace supernatural sanctions, and hold in check the violence of masses and the self-indulgent impulses of the individual? History cannot answer this question. The most she can tell us is that hitherto civilized society has rested on religion, and that free government has prospered best among religious peoples.
America is no doubt the country in which intellectual movements work most swiftly upon the masses, and the country in which the loss of faith in the invisible might produce the completest revolution, because it is the country where men have been least wont to revere anything in the visible world. Yet America seems as unlikely to drift from her ancient moorings as any country of the Old World. It was religious zeal and the religious conscience which led to the founding of the New England colonies nearly three centuries ago—those colonies whose spirit has in such large measure passed into the whole nation. Religion and conscience have been a constantly active force in the American commonwealth ever since, not, indeed, strong enough to avert many moral and political evils, yet at the worst times inspiring a minority with a courage and ardour by which moral and political evils have been held at bay, and in the long run generally overcome.
It is an old saying that monarchies live by honour and republics by virtue. The more democratic republics become, the more the masses grow conscious of their own power, the more do they need to live, not only by patriotism, but by reverence and self-control, and the more essential to their well-being are those sources whence reverence and self-control flow.
 An interesting summary of the laws for the observance of Sunday may be found in a paper read by Mr. Henry E. Young at the Third Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association (1880). These laws, which seem to exist in every state, are in many cases very strict, forbidding all labour, except works of necessity and mercy, and in many cases forbidding also travelling and nearly every kind of amusement. Vermont and South Carolina seem to go farthest in this direction. The former prescribes, under a fine of $2, that no one shall “visit from house to house, except from motives of humanity or charity, or travel from midnight of Saturday to midnight of Sunday, or hold or attend any ball or dance, or use any game, sport, or play, or resort to any house of entertainment for amusement or recreation.”
In Indiana, where all labour and “engaging in one’s usual avocation” are prohibited, it has been held by the Courts that “selling a cigar to one who has contracted the habit of smoking is a work of necessity.”
South Carolina winds up a minute series of prohibitions by ordering all persons to apply themselves to the observance of the day by exercising themselves thereon in the duties of piety and true religion. It need hardly be said that these laws are practically obsolete, except so far as they forbid ordinary and unnecessary traffic and labour. To that extent they are supported by public sentiment, and are justified as being in the nature not so much of religious as of socially and economically useful regulations. The habit of playing outdoor games and that of resorting to places of public amusement on Sunday have much increased of late years.
 One hears that it is now becoming the custom to make a week’s engagement of an operatic or theatrical company—there are many traversing the country—begin on Sunday instead of, as formerly, on Monday night.
Boston, Philadelphia, and New York have opened their public libraries, museums, and art galleries on Sunday.
 Including the case in which a church court had disregarded its own regulations, or acted in violation of the plain principles of judicial procedure.
 Some while ago, a professor, not in the theological faculty, was removed from his chair in the University of South Carolina for holding Unitarian views.
 Although total abstinence is much more generally expected from a clergyman than it would be in Great Britain. In most denominations, including Baptists and Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians, it is practically universal among the clergy.
 Even dances may be given, but not by all denominations. When a Presbyterian congregation in a great Western city was giving a “reception” in honour of the opening of its new church building—prosperous churches always have a building with a set of rooms for meetings—the sexton (as he is called in America), who had come from a Protestant Episcopal church in the East, observed, as he surveyed the spacious hall, “What a pity you are not Episcopalians; you might have given a ball in this room!”
 There is a nonpolygamous Mormon church, rejecting Brigham Young and his successors in Utah, which returned itself to the census of 1906 as having 40,851 members. Some Southern states punish the preaching of Mormonism.
 Near Walla Walla in the state of Washington I came in 1881 across a curious little sect formed by a Welshman who fell into trances and delivered revelations. He had two sons, and asserted one of them to be an incarnation of Christ, and the other of St. John Baptist, and gathered about fifty disciples, whom he endeavoured to form into a society having all things in common. However, both the children died; and in 1881 most of his disciples had deserted him. Probably such phenomena are not uncommon; there is a good deal of proneness to superstition among the less educated Westerns, especially the immigrants from Europe. They lead a solitary life in the midst of a vast nature.
 As regards new sects the most noticeable feature of recent years has been the growth of the body which calls itself by the name of “Christian Science.” It is said to claim a million of adherents, many of them in New England.
 The great frequency of divorce in many states—there are districts where the proportion of divorces of marriages is 1 to 7—does not appear to betoken immorality, but to be due to the extreme facility with which the law allows one or both of a married pair to indulge their caprice. Divorce is said to be less frequent in proportion among the middle classes than among the richer and the humbler and is, speaking generally, more frequent the further West one goes, though it is unhappily frequent in some of the Middle states and in some Eastern also. It is increasing everywhere; but it increases also in those European countries which permit it. Some remarks on this subject, and a comparison of the conditions which prevailed in the Roman Empire may be found in an essay entitled “Marriage and Divorce in Roman and English Law” in my Studies in History and Jurisprudence.
 This cannot be said as regards commercial uprightness, in which respect the United States stand certainly on no higher level than England and Germany, and possibly below France and Scandinavia.