Montesquieu

There is a dif­fe­rence bet­ween divorce and repu­dia­tion, which is that divorce comes about by mutual consent occa­sio­ned by mutual incom­pa­ti­bi­lity, whe­reas repu­dia­tion occurs by the will and for the advan­tage of one of the two par­ties, inde­pen­dently of the will and advan­tage of the other.

It is some­ti­mes so neces­sary for wives to repu­diate, and it is always such a pity for them to do so, that it is a tyran­ni­cal law that gives this right to men while with­hol­ding it from women. A hus­band is mas­ter of the house ; he has a thou­sand means of hol­ding or reman­ding his wives to their duty, and it seems that in his hands repu­ta­tion is just ano­ther abuse of his autho­rity. But a wife who repu­dia­tes is invo­king what can only be a sad remedy. It is always a great mis­for­tune for her to be for­ced to find a second hus­band when she has lost most of her charms with ano­ther. One of the advan­ta­ges of the charms of youth in women is that a hus­band in advan­cing years is incli­ned to bene­vo­lence by the memory of his plea­su­res.

It is the­re­fore a gene­ral rule that in every coun­try where the law grants men recourse to repu­dia­tion, it should grant it to women as well. Further, in cli­ma­tes where women live in domes­tic sla­very, it seems the law ought to allow repu­dia­tion to wives, and only divorce to hus­bands.

When the wives are in a sera­glio, the hus­band can­not repu­diate for cause of incom­pa­ti­ble ways ; it is the hus­band’s fault if their ways are incom­pa­ti­ble.

Repudiation for rea­son of the woman’s bar­ren­ness has to be exclu­ded except in the case of a sin­gle wife ; when one has mul­ti­ple wives, this rea­son is of no impor­tance to the hus­band.

The law of the Maldives allows a man to take back a wife he has repu­dia­ted.1 The law of Mexico for­bade a reconci­lia­tion on pain of death.2 The law of Mexico was more sen­si­ble than that of the Maldives : at the very time of dis­so­lu­tion, its focus was on the per­pe­tuity of mar­riage, whe­reas the law of the Maldives seems to tri­fle equally with mar­riage and repu­dia­tion.

The Mexican law gran­ted only divorce. That was ano­ther rea­son not to allow per­sons who had volun­ta­rily sepa­ra­ted to reu­nite. Repudiation seems rather to come from an impe­tuous mind and some pas­sion of the soul ; divorce seems to be a mat­ter of deli­be­ra­tion.

Divorce ordi­na­rily has great poli­ti­cal uti­lity ; and as for civil uti­lity, it is ins­ti­tu­ted for the hus­band and for the wife, and is not always favo­ra­ble to the chil­dren.

Voyage de François Pyrard. He takes her rather than another because in this case fewer expenses are incurred.

History of the Conquest, by [Antoine de] Solis, p. 499.