Two persons, who by any means stand engaged to live together, can never live together long, but one of them will choose that some act or other should be done which the other will choose should not be done. When this is the case, how is the competition to be decided? Laying aside generosity and good-breeding, which are the tardy and uncertain fruits of long established laws, it is evident that there can be no certain means of deciding it but physical power: which indeed is the very means by which family as well as other competitions must have been decided, long before any such office as that of legislator had existence. This then being the order of things which the legislator finds established by nature, how should he do better than to acquiesce in it? The persons who by the infiuence of causes that prevail every where, stand engaged to live together, are, 1. Parent and child, during the infancy of the latter: 2. Man and wife: 3. Children of the same parents. Parent and child, by necessity: since, if the child did not live with the parent (or with somebody standing in the place of the parent) it could not live at all: husband and wife, by a choice approaching to necessity: children of the same parents, by the necessity of their living each of them with the parents. As between parent and child, the necessity there is of a power on the part of the parent for the preservation of the child supersedes all farther reasoning. As between man and wife, that necessity does not subsist. The only reason that applies to this case is the necessity of putting an end to competition. The man would have the meat roasted, the woman boiled: shall they both fast till the judge comes in to dress it for them? The woman would have the child dressed in green; the man, in blue: shall the ehild be naked till the judge comes in to clothe it? This affords a reason for giving a power to one or other of the parties: but it affords none for giving the power to the one rather than to the other. How then shall the legislator determine? Supposing it equally easy to give it to either, let him look ever so long for a reason why he should give it to the one rather than to the other, and he may look in vain. But how does the matter stand already? for there were men and wives (or, what comes to the same thing, male and female hving together as man and wife) before there were legislators. Looking round him then, he finds almost every where the male the stronger of the two; and therefore possessing already, by purely physical means, that power which he is thinking of bestowing on one of them by means of law. How then can he do so well as by placing the legal power in the same hands which are beyond comparison the more likely to be in possession of the physical in this way, few transgressions, and few calls for punishment: in the other way, perpetual transgressions, and perpetual calls for punishment. Solon is said to have transferred the same idea to the distribution of state powers. Here then was generalization: here was the work of genius. But in the disposal of domestic power, every legislator, without any effort of genius, has been a Solon. So much for reasons: add to which, in point of motives, that legislators seem all to have been of the male sex, down to the days of Catherine. I speak here of those who frame laws, not of those who touch them with a sceptre.

IPML Chapter 16 Section 3 Part 2