PENALTIES FOR MARRYING
Matrimony is considered a punishable offence in some communities. These circles of society are small, but their edicts are strong. The larger community, if it takes cognisance of a man’s single state, usually imposes a fine for not getting married, as in Argentina where bachelorhood requires the payment of an increasing tax to the government.
But in certain circles marriage is regarded as an offence. At Oxford University, for instance, a fellow of All Souls’ College forfeits his fellowship if he takes to himself a wife while he is supposed to be studying the classics.
He not only must pay a penalty, but he must present his college with a memorial in the shape of a silver cup, on which is inscribed the words, “Descendit in matrimonium” – “He backslid into matrimony.”
The aristocratic Bachelors’ Club of Piccadilly, London, ostracises members who forget themselves so far as to marry. Instant expulsion is the punishment for this offence. The backsliders must leave the company of the bachelors for ever. As an act of grace they pay a fine of 100 dollars and become honorary members of the club, but that is their own salvation.
Not only England has these anti-matrimony clubs. Their formation in Chicago has been treated as a joke, as it has in other American cities. Bachelors in other countries have lent an air of seriousness to their endeavours.
It is serious for a member of a certain Junggesellen Club [Bachelor club] in Germany to lapse into matrimony. As soon as his intention becomes known he is tried in the club court, with the president as judge, where he is allowed to plead in extenuation of his offence. On the skill of his pleading and his excuses depends his fine, from 100 to 250 dollars.
This fine is devoted to a dinner, at which all members appear in mourning garb. At its conclusion the president reads the sentence of expulsion, and the delinquent is led from the premises to an accompaniment of groans and lamentations.
Only last winter a recreant was condemned to swim twice across the Seine at midnight, with the result that a severe attack of rheumatic fever nearly robbed him of the bride he had paid the heavy price to wed.
While the bachelor sometimes has to pay dearly for a wife, in at least one country it scarcely pays to remain celibate. In Argentina the man who prefers single to married bliss has to pay a substantial and progressive tax. If he has not taken a wife by the time he has reached his 25th birthday he must pay a fine of 5 dollars a month to the Exchequer.
Source: Lancashire General Advertiser on Saturday 21 November 1903