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church. She is clearly one who may with fairness take the benefit of the system under which consent is assumed if dissent be not expressed. The declaration as to consent, now always requisite when notice of the marriage of a minor who is not a widow is given to the civil officer, though, as we doubt not, a most important security against undesirable matrimony, might possibly with advantage be made waivable in some cases under proper guarantees; but so long as it is indispensable that consent be declared to, proof of consent must be held a most salutary requirement.

A word may be said in passing as to the advantage-which belongs to all marriages effected by civil process-of a formal register of each wedding made by those who are subject to uniform official rules in the preparation of the records. The church registers of marriages are undoubtedly, under the present system, much better kept than they used to be. We have often met with such registers excellently made -clear, accurate, and manifestly genuine. But it can hardly be said that universally or even usually they fully answer to this description. The detailed observances which are found necessary to render registers complete and satisfactory cannot be enforced on a body like the clergy as they can be enforced on officers connected with a civil department. It would in many respects be advantageous if all marriages-like all births and deaths-could be civilly recorded. Of the awkwardness which may result from want of care and method in the registration of matrimonial contracts many examples might be given. One instance occurs to us as we write. Two couples were married in the same church at about the same time. Probably through delay in the completion of the registers, the same husband was inadvertently allotted in the register-book-which the parties had some of them signed by mark-to both wives. The woman to whom the wrong spouse had been given, applying, perhaps, for her "marriage lines," found out the error. Deep indeed was her anguish at the discovery. She came with tears to the Superintendent-Registrar of the district and besought him to remarry her. Although the man with whom she found herself mated in the register may have possessed an excellent character and great attractions, she probably felt with Louisa in The Duenna :-" He has the worst fault a hushand can have; he's not my choice." Fortunately means exist for the correction of such mistakes; but where compliance with a definite code of fixed rules for registration can be enforced, the liability to error and the need for corrections are reduced to their minimum.

To sum up we gather that a large proportion of the clandestine marriages which now occur in England take place after publication of banns. With a distinct preference for this process, we are compelled to acknowledge that, as the law concerning it at present stands, it affords greater facilities for "evasion, deceit, and fraud" than either of the others by which matrimony may be effected. We find, too, that the Surrogate's licence may easily be abused by those who have no objection to make a false oath; the flaw here being that the making of such an oath in order

to procure the licence is not a punishable offence. With respect to marriages solemnized in chapels after civil preliminaries have been gone through, we infer that but a small percentage of these are surreptitiously entered upon, the deterrent transactions with the civil officer being effectually supplemented by the influence of the priest or minister. Lastly, we find that the comparative privacy of marriage in the Register Office— marriage, that is, wholly civil-attracts many who would rather wed quietly, but whose reasons for this preference are not illegal, perhaps not even blameworthy; and while advocating a generous recognition of harmless motives such as are here discovered, we do not fail to own that the system which now indulges them does also shelter some amount of evil intent, in spite of the stringent precautions by which it is guarded. The general conclusion would seem to be-one which was foreshadowed in a statement made at the beginning of this paper-that no statutory provisions must be expected entirely to do away with clandestine marriage of a more or less improper character. At the same time it is evident that there are certain conspicuous defects in our present composite provisions for matrimony which needlessly facilitate the evil, and which ought to be got rid of.

If, in the matter of marriages, England and Wales could be considered alone, the removal of these flaws would not be difficult; and without any sweeping changes the law might probably be made as effectual for the prevention of the mischief in question as any law could be made. But the real legislative problem to be solved in reference to the subject ishow to assimilate the marriage laws of the three kingdoms. This problem is beset by great difficulties, from which the boldest reformers seem to shrink. The blemishes in our existing preliminaries to marriage will most likely continue unremoved till some unusually dexterous lawgiver is able to hit upon a "happy compromise" by which the q. e. d. of this pons asinorum may be reached. When the larger question thus comes to be effectually dealt with, the smaller, it may be hoped, will be effectually dealt with also.

E. W.

The Levelling Power of Rain.

IT has been recognised, ever since geology has become truly a science, that the two chief powers at work in remodelling the earth's surface are fire and water. Of these powers one is in the main destructive, and the other preservative. Were it not for the earth's vulcanian energies, there can be no question that this world would long since have been rendered unfit for life,—at least of higher types than we recognise among sea-creatures. For at all times aqueous causes are at work, levelling the land, however slowly; and this not only by the action of sea waves at the border-line between land and water, but by the action of rain and flood over inland regions. Measuring the destructive action of water by what goes on in the lifetime of a man, or even during many successive generations, we might consider its effects very slight, even as on the other hand we might underrate the effects of the earth's internal fires, were we to limit our attention to the effects of upheaval and of depression (not less preservative in the long run) during a few hundreds or thousands of years. As Lyell has remarked in his Principles of Geology, our position as observers is essentially unfavourable when we endeavour to estimate the nature and magnitude of the changes now in progress. As dwellers on the land, we inhabit about a fourth part of the surface; and that portion is almost exclusively a theatre of decay, and not of reproduction. We know, indeed, that new deposits are annually formed in seas and lakes, and that every year some new igneous rocks are produced in the bowels of the earth, but we cannot watch the progress of their formation; and as they are only present to our minds by the aid of reflection, it requires an effort both of the reason and the imagination to appreciate duly their importance." But that they are actually of extreme importance, that in fact all the most characteristic features of our earth at present are due to the steady action of these two causes, no geologist now doubts.

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We propose to consider, in the present essay, one form in which the earth's aqueous energies effect the disintegration and destruction of the land. The sea destroys the land slowly but surely, by beating upon its shores and by washing away the fragments shaken down from cliffs and rocks, or the more finely divided matter abstracted from softer strata. In this work the sea is sometimes, as we have lately had occasion to note, assisted by the other form of aqueous energy,-the action of rain. But n the main, the sea is the destructive agent by which shore lines are

changed. The other way in which water works the destruction of land affects the interior of land regions, or only affects the shore line by removing earthy matter from the interior of continents to the mouths of great rivers, whence perhaps the action of the sea may carry it away to form shoals and sand-banks. We refer to the direct and indirect effects of the downfall of rain. All these effects, without a single exception, tend to level the surface of the earth. The mountain torrent whose colour betrays the admixture of earthy fragments is carrying those fragments from a higher to lower levels. The river owes its colour in like manner to earth which it is carrying down to the sea level. The flood deposits in valleys matter which has been withdrawn from hill slopes. Rainfall acts, however, in other ways, and sometimes still more effectively. The soaked slopes of great hills give way, and great landslips occur. In winter the water which has drenched the land freezes, in freezing expands, and then the earth crumbles and is ready to be carried away by fresh rains; or when dry, by the action even of the wind alone. Landslips too are brought about frequently in this way, which are even more remarkable than those which are caused by the unaided action of heavy rainfalls.

The most energetic action of aqueous destructive forces is seen when water which has accumulated in the higher regions of some mountain district breaks its way through barriers which have long restrained it, and rushes through such channels as it can find or make for itself into valleys and plains at lower levels. Such catastrophes are fortunately not often witnessed in this country, nor when seen do they attain the same magnitude as in more mountainous countries. It would seem, indeed, as though they could attain very great proportions only in regions where a large extent of mountain surface lies above the snow line. The reason why in such regions floods are much more destructive than elsewhere will readily be perceived if we consider the phenomena of some of these terrible catastrophes.

Take for instance the floods which inundated the plains of Martigny in 1818. Early in that year it was found that the entire valley of the Bagnes, one of the largest side-valleys of the great valley of the Rhône above Geneva, had been converted into a lake through the damming up of a narrow outlet by avalanches of snow and ice from a lofty glacier overhanging the bed of the river Dranse. The temporary lake thus formed was no less than half a league in length, and more than two hundred yards wide, its greatest depth exceeding two hundred feet. The inhabitants perceived the terrible effects which must follow when the barrier burst, which it could not fail to do in the spring. They therefore cut a gallery sever hundred feet long through the ice, while as yet the water was at a moderate height. When the waters began to flow through this channel, their action widened and deepened it considerably. At length nearly half the contents of the lake were poured off. Unfortunately, as the heat of the weather increased, the middle of the barrier slowly melted

away, until it became too weak to withstand the pressure of the vast mass of water. Suddenly it gave way; and so completely that all the water in the lake rushed out in half-an-hour. The effects of this tre

mendous outrush of the imprisoned water were fearful. "In the course of their descent," says one account of the catastrophe, "the waters encountered several narrow gorges, and at each of these they rose to a great height, and then burst with new violence into the next basin, sweeping along forests, houses, bridges, and cultivated land." It is said by those who witnessed the passage of the flood at various parts of its course, that it resembled rather a moving mass of rock and mud than a stream of water. "Enormous masses of granite were torn out of the sides of the valleys, and whirled for hundreds of yards along the course of the flood." M. Escher, the engineer, tells us that a fragment thus whirled along was afterwards found to have a circumference of no less than sixty yards. "At first the water rushed on at a rate of more than a mile in three minutes, and the whole distance (forty-five miles) which separates the Valley of Bagnes from the Lake of Geneva was traversed in little more than six hours. The bodies of persons who had been drowned in Martigny were found floating on the farther side of the Lake of Geneva, near Vevey. Thousands of trees were torn up by the roots, and the ruins of buildings which had been overthrown by the flood were carried down beyond Martigny. In fact, the flood at this point was so high, that some of the houses in Martigny were filled with mud up to the second story."

It is to be noted respecting this remarkable flood, that its effects were greatly reduced in consequence of the efforts made by the inhabitants of the lower valleys to make an outlet for the imprisoned waters. It was calculated by M. Escher that the flood carried down 300,000 cubic feet of water every second, an outflow five times as great as that of the Rhine below Basle. But for the drawing off of the temporary lake, the flood, as Lyell remarks, would have approached in volume some of the largest rivers in Europe. "For several months after the débâcle of 1818," says Lyell, "the Dranse, having no settled channel, shifted its position continually from one side to the other of the valley, carrying away newly erected bridges, undermining houses, and continuing to be charged with as large a quantity of earthy matter as the fluid could hold in suspension. I visited this valley four months after the flood, and was witness to the sweeping away of a bridge and the undermining of part of a house. The greater part of the ice-barrier was then standing, presenting vertical cliffs 150 feet high, like ravines in the lava-currents of Etna, or Auvergne, where they are intersected by rivers." It is worthy of special notice that inundations of similar or even greater destructiveness have occurred in the same region at former periods.

It is not, however, necessary for the destructive action of floods in mountain districts that ice and snow should assist, as in the Martigny flood.

In October, 1868, the cantons of Tessin, Grisons, Uri, Valois,

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