« PreviousContinue »
MY OWN VIEW
wicked folly of "Women's Rights," with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor, feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feeling and propriety. God created man and woman different— then let them remain each in their own position. Woman would become the most hateful, heartless, and disgusting of human beings were she allowed to unsex herself, and where would be the protection which man was intended to give to the weaker sex?"
As regards my own views, after a long and peaceful life, I have no desire either to have my windows broken or to quarrel with my friends who hold AntiSuffragist views. Mr. Frederic Harrison, for instance, stanchly opposes any idea of granting the vote, whilst Mrs. Fawcett, for whose intellectual gifts I have the greatest admiration, is one of the most ardent advocates of female enfranchisement. Nevertheless, one who has seen so many movements rise, flourish, and pass away may be allowed to say that the timeworn question of woman's grievances against man seems to have been overdone to such an extent as to come dangerously near the limits of weariness and boredom. At the present time the Press is filled with letters from people of apparently unhappy and unsatisfied disposition, who think they have a special mission to tell everybody what everybody knows.
The truth is that man and woman, whether the latter obtains a vote or not, will, owing to their different temperaments, always require different treatment.
Ill-temper, unreasoning extravagance, and a condition of hysterical revolt will never do anything but augment feminine ills; it is not with such weapons as these that woman will overcome man.
The more hysterical suffragist is, I fancy, merely a product of modern social conditions, the main factors which have produced her being an uncontrolled (if self-sacrificing) zeal which owing to the lack of other interests carries her as it were "off her feet."
A woman endowed with an active mind often chafes at the somewhat unexciting and monotonous daily round to which fate has doomed her.
The suffrage agitation brought a new light into the life of many a one of this sort who, throwing her whole heart and soul into the movement, became imbued with something of the fervour which characterized a mediaeval martyr.
Whether posterity will take an admiring view of the women who have gone to prison for their suffragist convictions, or rather for the violence which is their outcome, is a very doubtful question. It is not improbable that future generations will despise everything connected with the suffrage, for it is inconceivable that a really enlightened society will take an admiring view of the system by which a number of individuals, the large majority profoundly ignorant and a great number quite indifferent, are, without any test as to their mental capacity, accorded the right of electing other individuals, generally not
NOT A SLAVE, BUT AN EQUAL 135
much better equipped for ruling than themselves, to decide how a great nation is to be governed.
The proper rulers for the world are people possessed of intelligence, common sense, and efficiency. Would that some method could be devised by which people of this sort-nature's aristocracy-could be placed at the head of affairs!
About the best criticism of some of the suffragette extravagances, I think, passed at the time when certain of them were taking to chaining themselves up to railings, was the remark made by the late Sir William Gilbert.
"Ah," said he, "we shall soon have respectable old gentlemen chaining themselves to the railings of Queen Charlotte's Lying-In Hospital and shouting, 'Babes for men.
I cannot see what the feminine campaign for votes would lose by being conducted in a more dignified manner; indeed, I fancy a complete abandonment of the so-called Militant Tactics would attract a large number of at present disgusted or hostile women to the Suffragist fold.
Woman was formed as the help-meet for man; she was not to be the slave to a tyrant, but the companion of an equal.
There is an old Norman law adage, "C'est l'homme qui se bat et qui conseille": "It is the man who fights and advises," which means that it is the duty of the husband to keep the wolf from the door, while it is the duty of the wife to keep all