Should relatives marry? ‘Yes’, according to this 1800s letter to ‘The Irish Times’

‘When I fell in love with my cousin my mind soon changed’: Debate rages on front page in 1892

In 1892, a letter writer put up an argument defending those who marry their cousins. Photograph: Getty

In 1892, a letter writer put up an argument defending those who marry their cousins. Photograph: Getty

 

On the front page of The Weekly Irish Times on December 10th, 1892, in reply to letters on the topic in previous editions, one man put up a heartfelt defence of those who marry their cousins.

Dear sir - I have read with great interest the above correspondence running through your valuable paper. I am wondering what “Union Jack” is doing with regard to the question he first asked: but my advice to him would be, that he need have no fear whatever in marrying his cousin, provided they both love each other with that lasting love that is necessary to make them happy afterwards.

I speak this because I am married to a first cousin of mine and we could not wish to be happier. I myself used to think the same as most people, and a few years ago a friend of mine was engaged to his cousin, and asked my advice on the subject. I told him I did not think it right; but he thought it was, and today is very happy.

When I fell in love with my cousin my mind soon changed, and it did not matter to us what people said, we simply asked ourselves, and found the love in our hearts was quite sufficient to tell us it was right. We have found it so since; we have stood side by side, and we firmly believe that nothing happens to cousins after marriage any more than to other people.

Of course, there are some people in this world who are not content with themselves, and so pick out one or two cases and try to make a lot of it. In a question of marriage everyone should act independently, providing they are within the law, and I think if people would leave their friends to choose for themselves there would not be so many failures afterwards.

What fills our lunatic asylums is chiefly due to drink. I believe, as to what “Warnem” says in his letter, that it is a want of manhood for a man to stay at home and make love to the first woman at hand. I have been staying in most of our English towns, and I have met some very nice young ladies, but not one who possessed the qualities my cousin has, or whom I could wish to marry; and we are quite satisfied. I am doing well and thanks to my wife’s help we are both very happy and have nothing to regret by being cousins.

I have been waiting expecting to see a letter from someone who has tried the same, and I am sure there are hundreds who can say the same. I hope they will give their opinions as I have done - Thanking you for inserting this letter, I remain,

Yours,

COUSINS

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