Imatges de pÓgina
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in '89, it cannot be denied that the circumstances of to-day are different from those of twenty years ago. The speech printed below enumerates some of those recent events which are in all our minds. Urged by them, the women of to-day, who oppose female suffrage, can no longer content themselves with ' Appeals' or 'Remonstrances.' We have reached perhaps the crisis of the movement, and an active propaganda must be met by one no less active. Last year the first steps in opposition were taken; and in a few weeks 37,000 signatures were collected. This year a National Women's Anti-Suffrage League has been started, evoking the same instant and widespread response, and on the 21st of July a crowded meeting, under the presidency of the Countess of Jersey, was held at the Westminster Palace Hotel, for the purpose of approving the Constitution, and adopting the Manifesto of the new League. The task of proposing the Manifesto fell to myself, and the editor of this Review, renewing the friendly.co-operation shown by Sir James Knowles in initiating the appeal of '89, has expressed a wish to print the speech made on that occasion. No one can be more conscious of its shortcomings and omissions than myself. But it shows, I hope, that the newly started League is very much in earnest; and that while the old arguments of '89 are as strong as ever, time has added not a few new ones to our store.

The manifesto ran as follows:

1. It is time that the women who are opposed to the concession of the parliamentary franchise to women should make themselves fully and widely heard. The arguments on the other side have been put with great ability and earnestness, in season and out of season, and enforced by methods legitimate and illegitimate.

2. An Anti-Suffrage League has therefore been formed, and all women who sympathise with its objects are earnestly requested to join it. 3. The matter is urgent.

Unless those who hold that the success of the women's suffrage movement would bring disaster upon England are prepared to take immediate and effective action, judgment may go by default and our country drift towards a momentous revolution, both social and political, before it has realised the dangers involved.

4. It is sometimes said that the concession of the franchise is . inevitable,' and that a claim of this kind once started and vehemently pressed must be granted. Let those who take this view consider the case of America. A vigorous campaign in favour of women's suffrage has been carried on in the States for more than a generation. After forty years the American agitation has been practically defeated. The English agitation must be defeated in the same way by the steady work and argument of women themselves.

5. Let us state the main reasons why this League opposes the concession of the parliamentary vote to women :

(a) Because the spheres of men and women, owing to natural causes, are essentially different, and therefore their share in the management of the State sbould be different.

(6) Because the complex modern State depends for its very existence on naval and military power, diplomacy, finance, and the great mining, constructive, shipping and transport industries, in none of which can women take any practical part." Yet it is upon these matters, and the vast interests involved in them, that the work of Parliament largely turns.

(c) Because by the concession of the local government vote and the admission of women to County and Borough Councils, the nation has opened a wide sphere of public work and influence to women, which is within their powers. To make proper use of it, however, will tax all the energies that women have to spare, apart from the care of the home and the development of the individual life.

(d) Because the influence of women in social causes will be diminished rather than increased by the possession of the parliamentary vote. At present they stand, in matters of social reform, apart from and beyond party politics, and are listened to accordingly. The legitimate influence of women in politics—in all classes, rich and poor-will always be in proportion to their education and common Bense. But the deciding power of the parliamentary vote should be left to men, whose physical force is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the State.

(e) Because all the reforms which are put forward as reasons for the vote can be obtained by other means than the vote, as is proved by the general history of the laws relating to women and children during the past century. The channels of public opinion are always freely open to women. Moreover, the services which wonnen can with advantage render to the nation in the field of social and educational reform, and in the investigation of social problems, have been recognised by Parliament. Women have been included in Royal Commissions, and admitted to a share in local government. The true path of progress seems to lie in further development along these lines. Representative women, for instance, might be brought into closer consultative relation with Government departments, in matters where the special interests of women are concerned.

(f) Because any measure for the enfranchisement of women must either (1) conoede the vote to women on the same terms as to men, and thereby in practice involve an unjust and invidious limitation ; or (2) by giving the vote to wives of voters tend to the introduction of political differences into domestic life ; or (3) by the adoption of adult suffrage, which seems the inevitable result of admitting the principle, place the female vote in an overpowering majority.

(g) Because, finally, the danger which might arise from the concession of woman suffrage, in the case of a State burdened with such complex and farreaching responsibilities as England, is out of all proportion to the risk run by those smaller communities which have adopted it. The admission to full political power of a number of voters debarred by nature and circumstance from the average political knowledge and experience open to men, would weaken the central governing forces of the State, and be fraught with peril to the country. Women who hold these views must now organise in their support.

6. We appeal, therefore, to those who disapprove the present suffrage agitation, to join our League, and to support it by every means in their power.

The woman suffrage movement can be defeated-it must be defeated and by women themselves.

Women of England ! We appeal to your patriotism, and your common

sense,

Upon this text the following speech was delivered :

* The first part of the foregoing Manifesto dwells on the urgency of the situation. As to that there can, I think, be no doubt. When a Women's Enfranchisement Bill has passed its second reading in the House of Commons by a large majority; when we have a militant Society, amply supplied with money, and served by women who seem to give their whole time to its promotion ; when we have before us the spectacle of marchings and counter-marchings, alarums and

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excursions, on behalf of the Suffrage cause, in all parts of England ; when Ministers' houses are attacked and political meetings broken up; when besides the pennyworth of argument, added to an intolerable deal of noise, with which the Women's Social and Political Union provide us, we have the serious and impressive sight of Mrs. Fawcett's procession of a month ago--then, indeed, it seems to be time that those women who, with no less seriousness, with, I hope, no less tenacity, and with certainly as much public spirit as Mrs. Fawcett and her supporters, hold the view that Woman Suffrage would be a disaster for England, and first and foremost for women themselvesthat they should bestir themselves, that they should take counsel, that they should organise opposition, and prepare to see it through. For the fight will be a tough and a long one. We shall want work, we shall want money, we shall want enthusiasm. No member joining this League should be an idle member. Time, money, zeal-we ask you for all these--and if this newly formed League is not prepared to give them, we might as well not organise it at all. We want an efficient Central Office, and an efficient Executive Committee; we want a good and active Publication Committee; we want branches throughout the country, who will take up with energy the work of local persuasion, of interviewing members and candidates for Parliament, and of meeting the tactics and arguments of the Suffragists with counter-tactics and counter-arguments.

Not that we intend to meet lawlessness with lawlessness; far from it. This League cannot, in my opinion, uphold too strongly the old English standards of fair-play and courtesy in debate, of law-abiding and constitutional methods. The Suffragists, indeed, are already inviting us to go to prison for our opinions. We in return can only marvel at the logic of Miss Beatrice Harraden, for instance, who maintains in the Times, that because a small body of women whose“ blood is up,” to use Miss Harraden’s expression, choose to invite imprisonment by violent methods, choose to subject themselves to discomforts in prison from which they could free themselves at a word, that therefore, therefore --this “dear land of England,” this old and complex State, is to capitulate at once to a doctrine which, in our belief, the great majority of its inhabitants disapprove and condemn, is to change its ancient use and custom, and is to embark alone of civilised States of the first rank, on the strange seas of Woman Suffrage. The considerations are not equal ! and what is practically a revolution is not going to be bought so cheap !

‘Let us, then, meet energy with energy, and in a spirit of hope. There is nothing in this movement which cannot be defeated, as this Manifesto points out. I have ventured lately to draw English attention to the state of things in America, where, after half a century of agitation, the Woman Suffrage movement is obviously declining, put down by the common sense of women themselves. They cer

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tainly could have got it if they had ultimately determined upon it; and in the sixties and seventies, when Women's Clubs were spreading all over the States, with the avowed object of securing Woman Suffrage, when great meetings were perpetually being held, and petitions presented to the State Legislatures, or to Congress, it looked as though the movement would and must succeed. Four States had granted the Suffrage ; other States were being pressed to grant it. Then, in the eighties, the tide turned. The opinion of women themselves set against it. Women's Anti-Suffrage Societies sprang up, led in many cases by the women most actively concerned in social and philanthropic work; appeals to State Legislatures were met by counter-appeals, ably argued, a vast amount of literature was distributed ; and now, not even Mrs. Cobden Sanderson can deny that the movement is receding, or, as Mrs. Fawcett prefers to put it, is “less advanced” than in England. Mr. Zangwill, indeed, announces that he is “bored” by facts drawn from Wyoming and Oregon. But I am afraid this is only when they are used against him! The Society for which he writes is never tired of quoting the four Suffrage States, when it suits them to do so, and of printing a number of highly doubtful statements about them. One of their recent pamphlets deals entirely with the noble example of Wyoming and Colorado, Utah and Idaho. But when someone points out that there is a great deal to be said of another kind about these four States, and that the State of Oregon, which has for neighbours these very Suffrage States, has just defeated a Woman's Suffrage amendment by 20,000 votes, as against 10,000 last time, and 1,800 the time before then Mr. Zangwill is “bored."

• We must fight then, and fight with hope.

As to the reasons for the fight, we are probably all pretty much agreed in this room. Women are “not undeveloped men but diverse," and the more complex the development of any State, the more diverse. Difference, not inferiority-it is on that we take our stand. The modern State depends for its very existenceand no juggling with facts can get rid of the truth-on the physical force of men, combined with the trained and specialised knowledge which men alone are able to get, because women, on whom the childbearing and child-rearing of the world rest, have no time and no opportunity to get it. The difference in these respects between even the educated man and the educated woman-exceptions apartis evident to us all. Speaking generally, the man's mere daily life as breadwinner, as merchant, engineer, official, or manufacturer, gives him a practical training that is not open to the woman. The pursuit of advanced science, the constantly developing applications of science to industry and life, the great system of the world's commerce and finance, the fundamental activities of railways and shipping, the hard physical drudgery, in fact, of the world, day by day-not to speak of

naval and military affairs, and of that diplomacy which protects us and our children from war—these are male, conceived and executed by men. The work of Parliament turns upon them, assumes them at every turn. That so many ignorant male voters have to be called into the nation's councils upon them, is the penalty we pay for what on the whole are the great goods of democracy. But this ignorance-vote is large enough in all conscience, when one considers the risks of the modern State ; and to add to it yet another, where the ignorance is imposed by nature and irreparable—the vote of women who in the vast majority of cases are debarred by their mere sex from that practical political experience which is at least always open to men-could any proceeding be more dangerous, more unreasonable? The women who ask it—able, honourable, noble women though they be-are not surely true patriots, in so far as they ask it. There is a greatness in self-restraint as well as in self-assertion; and to embarrass the difficult work of men, in matters where men's experience alone provides the materials for judgment, is not to help women.

On the contrary. We are mothers, wives, and sisters of men, and we know that our interests are bound

up

with the best interests of men, and that to claim to do their work as well as our own is to injure both.

But we shall be told there is a vast field where men and women are equally concerned--the field of industrial and domestic legislationand that women here ought to have an equal voice. And if there were any practical possibility of dividing up the work of Parliament, so that women should vote on only those matters where they are equally concerned with men, there would be a great deal to be said for a special franchise of the kind. But there is no such possibility. Mr. Gladstone tried something like it when in the case of the first Home Rule Bill he endeavoured to draw a line between certain subjects and others, in the case of the Irish members. We all know that he failed. The work of Parliament is one and indivisible. The handling of every subject bears on the handling of every other, and the vote, once given, can only carry with it the whole range of parliamentary power.

• But what then? Are women without power over the subjects that specially concern them, because they are and, as we hope, will remain without the parliamentary vote?

* By no means. They have first of all the power which will always belong, vote or no vote, to knowledge and experience wherever they are to be found. During the last half-century, as the education of women has advanced, and as their experience has been enlarged, their influence upon public men and upon legislation has steadily increased. Not a single Bill is now passed bearing on the special interests of women and children, but women are anxiously consulted. When the Special Schools for defective children were constituted throughout the country, the influence of women shaped the law at every successive stage; when the Midwives Act was passed, it was not, as Mrs.

VOL. LXIV-No. 378

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