Puslapio vaizdai

if she had never had to sign a death warrant. But although I disagree with votes for women, I do not necessarily disagree with thrones for women or imperial crowns for women. There is a much stronger case for making Miss Pankhurst a despot than for making her a voter. Among other reasons, there is the fact that she is a despot. Moderns complain of a personal voice in the Papacy; but it is odd to notice that every one of the highly modern and slightly hysterical moral and religious movements of today is run with the most irresponsible despotism: General Booth's despotism in the Salvation Army; Mrs. Eddy's despotism in Christian Science; and the Pankhurst despotism amongst the Suffragettes. But I do not so mu a complain of this. It was always plain to me that there are two principles in life, the harmony of which is happiness: the horizontal principle called equality and the vertical principle called authority. For we require authority even to impose equality. The first is life considered as a perpetual playground, where the children are under one law and should share and share alike. The second is life considered as the perpetual repetition of the relation of mother and child. I would be much more willing to give women authority than to give them equality. I can imagine that a queen might really be the mother of her people without ceasing to be the mother of her babies. She must be a despotic queen, of course; there must be no nonsense about constitutions. For despotism is, in its nature, a domestic thing; an autocracy is run like a household; that is, it is run without rules.

But voting is government conducted entirely by this other element in man; this sense of fraternity and similarity. Voting is gregarious government. The only reality behind voting is that inLIVING AGE. VOL. XLIV. 2314

stinct of men to get together and argue; unless they can fulfil this they are unhappy. In our somewhat morbid age, when representative government has become only an unwieldy oligarchy, and when decent pleasures have stagnated into poison, there is said to be some kind of quarrel between the Parish Council and the Public House. But in a plain and happy society the Public House is the Parish Council. The townsmen argue in the tavern about the politics of the town, invoking abstract principles which cannot be proved, and rules of debate which do not in the least matter; their wives teach the children to say their prayers and wish politics at the bottom of the sea. That is the happiest condition of humanity. But in any case this is the basis of voting: the elders of the tribe talking under the tree: the men of the village shouting at each other at the "Blue Pig"; the great and mysterious mob, singing, fighting and judging in the market place. This is democracy; all voting is only the shadow of this; and if you do not like this you will not like its shadow.

Nothing is more unfair in the current attacks on Christianity than the way in which men specially accuse the Church of things that are far more manifest in the world. Thus people will talk of torture as a disgrace to the Church, whereas it is simply one of the few real disgraces of European civilization, from the Roman Empire to Francis Bacon or Governor Eyre. But of all the instances there is none more unjust than the ordinary charge against religion of being a mere ritual or routine. So, indeed, it sometimes is; but never so much as all other human institutions, especially modern institutions. Talk of clerical government becoming stiff and unmeaning! What, in heaven's name, has become of representative government by this

time? Talk of a praying machine; what could one say of the voting machine? I doubt if the dullest peasant or the most reckless brigand ever made the sign of the cross on his body with such a deathlike indifference as many a modern citizen makes the sign of the cross on his ballot papers.

So long as the vote is thus a meaningless and useless thing it is natural that women should want it. I do not say this as a traditional sneer at their unreason; on the contrary, I think their feeling is quite reasonable. If the vote means nothing it must be a mere badge; and if it is a badge it is a badge of superiority. It is exactly because most female suffragists think that it is a mere formality that they object to the public insult of being kept out of that formality. It is only when we ask ourselves what the vote ultimately means when it means anything, what democracy is when it is direct, that we discover why the folk of all ages, male and female alike, have felt that this function is rather male than female.

Women might like an unreal democracy; and they may possibly be called upon to comply with the forms of one. But they dislike a real democracy; and it is well that they do. For real democracy has its peculiar perils and exaggerations, against which woman has wisely pitted herself from the first. She hates that vagueness in democracy which tends to forget the fact of the family in the theory of the State. She dislikes the democratic tendency to discuss abstractions; or, as she sees it, the tendency to arouse discussions that have no end. To her the Good Citizen of the Revolution is best defined as the man who begins to ask unanswerable questions when it is time to go to bed. Now there is a truth and a corrective value in this attitude; the Good Citizen may really

become an uncommonly bad husband. Most men with anything manly about them can remember arguments started some weeks ago which might be going on now but for the interruption of the ladies. It is sufficient here to maintain that woman, as compared at least with man, dislikes this atmosphere of government by deafening and protracted debate; dislikes it and also distrusts it, not by any means without reason. If anyone thinks this too sweeping, it is easy to make an imaginative test. Think of any street in London at a late hour of the evening, and ask yourself in how many of the houses it is likely that the men are yawning and wondering when on earth the women will have done talking.

Thus we see that on both pointsthe coercive or legal conception, and the collective or democratic conception -a great part of the power and importance of woman from the first has been concerned with balancing, criticising and opposing them. It is the female, as symbol of the family in which there are no laws and no votes, who has been the permanent drag. both on the fantasies of democracy and the pedantries of law. But what shall we do if women cease to make game of us?

The immediate effect of the female suffrage movement will be to make politics much too important; to exaggerate them out of all proportion to the rest of life. For the female suffrage movement is simply the breakdown of the pride of woman; her surrender of that throne of satire, realism and detachment from which she has so long laughed at the solemnities and moderated the manias of the mere politician. Woman tempered the gravity of politics as she tempers the gravity of golf. She reminds us that it is only about things that are slightly unreal that a man can be as solemn as

that. The line of life was kept straight and level because the man and the woman were pulling at opposite ends of it in an amicable tug-ofwar. But now the woman has suddenly let go. The man is victoriousbut on his back. We males permitted ourselves exaggerated fusses and formalities about the art of government, well knowing that there was one at home who could be trusted to dilute such things with plenty of cold water, or occasionally even of hot water. We allowed ourselves outrageous pomposities of speech; we talked about the country being ruined if the other party won the election; we talked about the intolerable shame and anger which we felt after Robinson's speech; we talked about Jones or Smith being necessary to England. These things were not exactly lies. They were the emphatic terms of a special art which we knew was not the whole of life. We knew quite well, of course, that the country would not be ruined by politicians halt so utterly and sweepingly as it could be ruined by nurse-maids. We knew that our pain at any political speech was not actually as intense as that which a bad dinner or a curtain lecture can produce. We knew that Smith is not necessary to England; that nothing is necessary to England except that its males and females The Dublin Review.

should continue to behave as such. But now, to our horror, we find that our fantastic technical language is actually taken seriously. Instead of the old strong, scornful woman, who classed sociology with skittles, and regarded politics as a pretext for the public house, we have now a new converted and submissive sort of woman. Miss Pankhurst owns, with tears in her eyes, that men have been right all along, and that it was only the intellectual weakness of woman that prevented her from seeing the value of a vote until now. This state of things throws out all the balance of my existence. I feel lost without the strong and sensible Mrs. Caudle. I do not know what to do with the prostrate and penitent Miss Pankhurst. that I have deceived her, but not intentionally. The Suffragettes are victims of male exaggeration, but not of male cunning. We did tell women that the vote was of frightful importance; but we never supposed that any woman would believe it. We men exaggerated our side of life as the women exaggerated the dreadfulness of smoking in the drawing room. The war was healthy. It is a lovers' quarrel which should continue through the ages. But an awful and unforeseen thing has happened to us who are masculine: we have won.

I feel

G. K. Chesterton.



(Mrs. Francis Blundell.)

Mr. Leslie locked and bolted his study door as soon as Stephen had departed, but his sense of injury outlived that of personal triumph, and deepened as the moments passed. That a young man who had seemed so respectful, so

thoroughly well convinced of the importance of Mr. Leslie himself, and of the great book which he was laboriously bringing to a conclusion, who had moreover, hitherto shown himself obliging, considerate, even friendly after his own fashion, should suddenly

contemplate so utterly vile and abominable an action, seemed to him inconceivable.

Mr. Leslie was so much hurt and astonished, and so full of resentment, that he found it impossible to settle down afresh to the unravelling of that knotty point, and presently rising, flung open his door and marched precipitately into the garden, where the girls were sitting on the grass. Kitty was mending one of his socks, Bess was holding forth in a grumbling tone, and with a discontented expression. It was curious how often the child wore that expression of late.

Both sisters looked up in surprise at his sudden and tempestuous appear


"What is the matter, Father?" cried Kitty, her mental vision blurred for the moment by a confused medley of unpleasant possibilities; monetary loss, bills of abnormal size, the alienation of his enthusiastic disciple, Raymond, being chief among them.

"What do you think?" exclaimed Mr. Leslie. "That extraordinary-most illconditioned er ruffian wants to turn us out of doors!" Kitty was speechless; but Bess jumped up, amazed and questioning.

"What ruffian? You don't mean Farmer Hardy?" (as Mr. Leslie nodded gravely in the direction of the house on the hill). "He wants . . to turn us.. out! Not really?"

Mr. Leslie nodded again.

"He came and told me so just now." "But why?"

"Just what I asked him: Why?"

"I don't suppose we have paid our rent regularly," said Bess meditatively, "have we? I don't remember your saying anything about it."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Mr. Leslie ran his hand through his hair with an annoyed look, and then examined his fingers as though to ascertain if they had been materially damaged by the process.

"Rent?" he said, knitting his brows. "I imagine it has always been paid with a very fair regularity. It is an insignificant matter just a few pounds. It would seem to me quite immaterial whether Farmer Hardy received that trifling amount in one month or another. No, that supposition of yours is beside the mark."

"But did he give no explanation?" queried Bess, her voice growing higher and more plaintive as she pursued the inquiry.

"No, none whatever; he said he wished to get the place back into his own hands-a very flimsy excuse! It is practically in his own hands now. We are not much in his way, I imagine."

"Perhaps he thinks he would be likely to find us in his way soon," said Kitty, in a low tone; "after his marriage, I mean.”

"His marriage would be no reason," retorted Mr. Leslie, casting a vexed glance upon her. "He is not likely to want to live in two houses, I presume, even if he is married-nor is he likely to put his wife in one house and remain himself in the other."

"Well, the girl has got an old father, and he has got an old mother-at least a step-mother-perhaps he wants to put one of them in here-or perhaps both," cried Bess with a little giggle; then suddenly relapsing into gloom. "Just think what desecration! This dear little superior house."

"No," said her father, after considering the hypothesis, "I don't think it is that-if he had any such idea, surely it would be easy to mention it. He saw, of course, that I was deeply annoyed-quite overpowered. Had he been able to justify himself he would have done so."

"Did he not try to justify himself?" asked Kitty.

"I tell you, no. The man appeared to be acting from some hidden motive


--possibly some personal grudge. can't pretend to explain it. But one thing is quite certain. We are not going. I told him so quite plainly-he hadn't a word to say."

"Surely, father," cried Kitty, in a trembling voice, "you have too much pride-we all have too much prideto stay on after such an insult! If he wants us to go of course we must go." "My dear child, don't talk such nonsense. It is absolutely out of the question that I should be disturbed at present. I explained the situation, and the fellow will have to submit. Now pray my dears don't you begin to harass me on the subject," he added irritably. "I thought it right to tell you of this circumstance that you should share in my surprise and indignation. All impulses, though prompted naturally enough, I dare say, by resentment at such conduct, must, however, be conquered. Out of this house I do not budge until the last page of my book is written. Then it will be time enough to think about making changes. But, indeed, the publication of the work will very possibly lead to events which may revolutionize our whole mode of existence."

With this cryptic utterance Mr. Leslie withdrew, the girls watching his tall, angular figure in silence till it disappeared within the house. Then Bess gave a little laugh.

"The dear man is right for once," she observed. "Stephen Hardy has a grudge against us-that's the long and the short of it. But who would have thought he would have stooped to such a petty revenge."

"Why should he have a grudge?" asked Kitty, without raising her eyes.

"Well, my dear," said Bess, simpering, "one needn't look very far for the reason. I suppose the poor wretch had hopes, though it was very silly of him, and of course I never gave him any real encouragement; still, he evidently

did count on connecting himself with the noble house of Leslie," she added with her favorite uncanny little cackle, "and I suppose he's furiously resentful now. I didn't think he had it in him to be so vindictive. Did you, Kitty?" "No," said Kitty.

"I thought him quite a good sort of man in his way," went on Bess. "Just fancy his being so spiteful! It's rather a base way of paying us out, isn't it? He knows very well how poor we are, and, if he did send us packing, we should be driven into heaven knows what hovel. But I suppose he doesn't care as long as he can pay me out. Kitty! Why don't you answer? Isn't it plain that he has a grudge against us?"

"Quite plain," said Kitty.

"And don't you think it base and unworthy of him?”

"Most unworthy," agreed plucking idly at the grass.


"For once we think alike," remarked Bess, taking up her book again. "Well, all I can say is I hope he has the grace to feel ashamed of himself now-I'm glad father stood up to him."

"Well, I'm not!" cried Kitty, getting up quickly as she spoke. "I think it was horribly undignified. I'd rather do anything in the world than remain here at that man's mercy."

She picked up her working materials and went towards the house.

"Kitty, you are quite impossible!" Bess called out after her, and then returned to the consideration of her own peevish grievances.

What a fate was hers! Buried alive in that hole of a place-it was not much comfort to reflect that they were liable at any moment to be turned out of it. The only real admirer she had ever had turning out to be an "ill-conditioned ruffian." The only real admirer! That was the truth. Though Bess had left off holding Vavasour Raymond at arm's length, he had not

« AnkstesnisTęsti »