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No. 3276 April 20, 1907.
1. Women and Politics: A Reply. By Eva Gore-Booth
NINETEENTH CENTURY AND AFTER 131 Electric Waves and Wireless Telegraphy. By W. A. Shenstone CORNHILL MAGAZINE
The Enemy's Camp. Chapter III. (To be continued)
The First Earl of Lytton. By G. L. Strachey.
The Speech from the Throne. By Michael MacDonagh
INDEPENDENT REVIEW 153
The Soul of our Suburb. By H. H. Bashford .
MONTHLY REVIEW 156
A Milanese Mystery. Chapters I and II. By Charles Edwardes.
The Parting of the Ways. By Godfrey Burchett
GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE 178
A PAGE OF VERSE
181 NATION 184
The Medical Practice of Savages. By Frederick Boyle OUTLOOK 186
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Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus. By Frederic Rowland Marcin .
A Flattering Illusion. By Geofrey Clark
130 130 190
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Here goes my love to Limerick! 'Tis there that I would be,
In the rare town, the fair town that lies beyond the sea.
Myself and darling Limerick we've been too far apart,
But the easy town, the breezy town, she always had my heart.
Of all the towns I ever saw, wherever
There's only one, beneath the sun I
I've shut my eyes in distant lands,
There's few to know the face of me
To grip my hand and call my name
Until, please God, I'm called at last
MARCUS AURELIUS AND EPICTE-
And the ascending dawn
Of an immortal Christ
But I was far away from her, the city of my joy,
Where once I wandered light as air, a little barefoot boy. Since then I've worn the leather out, but never trod so free As long ago in Limerick, the only place My soul would rise, a pilgrim clean for me.
Why must I wait, dear Christ? Why must I stay?
Bitter and ever bitterer grows the fight.
Had I but died three years ago to-day! Francesco Petrarcha. Rendered into English by Agnes Tobin.
Twin stars, serene and pure,
Filled the blue heavens with light.
When all her golden beauty did unclose In Love's great noon and glory of desire,
Slipping her sheath, and yearning higher, higher,
Laura, my life, did leave me to my foes,
And living, lovely, disembodied, rose To the white wicket and the shimmering choir.
Ah, why does not that "last day" come and tire
My soul for Heaven?-that last day one knows
But as the first in Heaven. The same
That all my thoughts go, and as feather light,
A FLATTERING ILLUSION.
I thank you for the flowers you sent, she said.
And then she pouted, blush'd, and droop'd her head.
Forgive me for the words I spoke last night:
The flowers have sweetly proved that you are right.
Then I forgave her, took her hand in mine,
Seal'd her forgiveness with the old, old
And as we wander'd through the dimlit bowers,
I wonder'd who had really sent the flowers.
WOMEN AND POLITICS. A REPLY.
The writer of the article on "Women and Politics," in the February number of this Review,* claims to speak for
great though silent multitude of women," who shrink from their own enfranchisement because their already burdened strength would not be equal to the duties and responsibilities of voting at parliamentary elections. She claims exemption as the special privilege of weakness, and a concession to what she conceives to be the retiring, unworldly nature of a large number of women. And if it is argued that, if women were enfranchised, no woman could possibly be forced to vote against her will, we are met with the unanswerable assertion that "any woman could, of course, abstain from voting, but would this shelter her from being canvassed for her vote?" Alas, that no one tries to shelter us from canvassing other people, a far more unpleasant task!
As a simple matter of justice, it does not seem fair, or even reasonable, that the height of one's personal intellectual ambition should be enforced as the legal limit of another person's activity. It may be that "nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room:" but surely that is no reason why we should all be shut up in cells. I do not say there are not many who would prefer to have "protecting barriers between them and the rough outer world," and who are only troubled and alienated by any appeal to their sympathies from the wider life of the nation, and the monotonous and involved issues of our present industrial struggle. The controversy is a very ancient one. There have been contemplative orders, and hermits, and enthusiasts, in all ages. who have consciously limited
The Living Age, March 9.
sphere of action and shut out the business of the world, that they may the better pursue their own ideal of holiness and right living. I do not wish to undervalue the beauty of Miss Stephen's ideal of gentleness, piety, and devotion. But there is still a place in the world and a need for the sterner virtues, the more adventurous spirits. "Honor, anger, valor, fire," were the qualities that Stevenson exulted over in his wife. "She was," he says, "steeltrue and blade-straight." And surely, even in this domesticated generation there are some whose hearts will respond to the ring of those brave words.
Patient Grizzel may have her admirers, but who would not prefer to meet Christina of Sweden, or even Catherine de Médicis, or Maria Theresa, or Queen Elizabeth, or any other of the great stateswomen of the past. Indeed, there are many people who would go so far as to feel more interest in Catherine of Russia, in spite of her indefensible moral attitude. Sir Walter Scott, with all his enchantments, could not make a heroine of the fair but passive Rowena. Who does not remember how, in their first youthful reading of Ivanhoe, they wept over the sorrows of the fierce Rebecca, and skipped the parts about the mild and amiable Saxon lady. And while there are lovers of romance and poetry still left among us, there will be many who find their ideal of a woman's character in the heroic soul and indomitable will of the Antigone of Sophocles. "Yet remember in women, too, dwells the spirit of battle," says Orestes in the play, and some of us are unregeneratedly proud that this is still one of the profound facts of human nature. But there is another side to this question. However unpleasant or
wearisome the idea of political activity may be, and probably is, to some women, as it is to some men, this distaste, founded on a peculiarity of temperament, must not blind our eyes to the wide and deep issues involved. this work-a-day world, when women, as women, are in no way sheltered from the severity of the industrial struggle, it is idle to hold up to them as women an ideal of intellectual aloofness and seclusion. Miss Stephen speaks for those who "dread the suffrage," retiring, well-to-do people who fear change and exertion, and on whom the present industrial condition does not press heavily in practical life. Without answering her arguments in detail, I would appeal to her and others on behalf of those women who have something more serious to dread than the intellectual effort of voting at an election. Against the fastidious shrinking of the women who would feel their own enfranchisement too great a strain on their nerves, I would set the really urgent and practical suffering of another "very great and very silent multitude," the multitude of the women workers. The five millions of women who depend on their own exertions for their daily bread cannot afford the luxury of nun-like seclusion.
There is no possibility of shelter or protection for them. They are, whether they like it or no, in the thick of the world's battle, and the very disqualifiIcation that Miss Stephen welcomes as a kind of privilege is a source of disablement and extreme weakness in industrial warfare. It is a fact of common observation among people interested in economic questions, that in every trade where women are employed (with one or two local exceptions such as the weavers in Lancashire) they are paid at a much lower rate than men can earn for doing the same work, or work of a slightly different nature requiring the same
amount of skill. This is no question of men doing more work than women, because this rule holds good of trades where piecework rates are given. Nowadays this question assumes a very serious aspect, because the old industrial conditions have changed, and it is a fact that, from one cause or another-the illness, drunkenness, or desertion, so lamentably common in our great towns-many and many a woman is forced into the position of breadwinner for others beside herself. Now it is no easy matter to keep several people on what is considered a quite good wage for a woman, 158. or 208. a week; but when we come to the multitude of smaller and lesser skilled trades that swarm in all industrial centres, such as tailoring, fancy-box-making, shirtmaking, folding and sewing, clay-pipe finishing, machining, and dozens of others, the rates in most cases are so low that the workers are never far removed from the starvation level, wages of 68. or 78. a week being the limit of the earnings of hundreds and thousands of women.
In the Potteries from 78. to 10s. is a very usual wage for women, and the Cradley Heath chain-makers earn as little as 58. or 68. a week. The condition of things that has brought such a large body of workers to the extremes of poverty has also had its effect upon the professional world. Roughly speaking, it may be said that the present position of women works out in the industrial market in this way. Educated and qualified women are able to earn as much as skilled working men. The salary of many highschool teachers is no larger than the male spinner's wage of 21. a week, and often less than the wages of tailors' cutters. The wages of skilled working women at their best are about the as those of unskilled working men, and at their worst a good deal lower; whilst the wages of the un
skilled working women, varying as they do between 58. and 108. a week, have no parallel in the ranks of the men workers.
The only exceptions to this category are cases of special demands or special individual successes, as the special demand among some classes of women has enabled women doctors to keep up their fees, in face of the fact that public recognition and honor is almost exclusively a masculine monopoly.
The power of amusing and entertaining the public is so rare, and in such demand, that it is paid for irrespective of sex. Thus popular novelists, actresses, dancers, opera-singers, and music-hall artistes are able to command wholly exceptional industrial and economic conditions. But these are the small minority, the few who succeed.
The universal low rate of wages is not traceable to any lack of organizing power amongst women. As elementary school teachers, men and women do the same work, their hours are the same, they have to go through the same training and pass the same examinations. Nobody even suggests that women are not as good teachers as men. And yet under every education committee in England there is a carefully calculated scale of salaries by which teachers of every grade are provided for; and in all cases, from pupil teachers up to headmasters and headmistresses, men are paid so much extra for being men, and women so much less for being women. And this in spite of the fact that there are 30,000 women members on the books of the National Union of Teachers. Again there are 96,000 women in the cotton trade unions, and yet Miss Collet (Board of Trade) gives the average of women's wages at 148. a week, a rate practically unknown amongst skilled men workers. With unskilled men or women, owing to the compara
tive lack of value of the individual to the employer, Trade Unionism is never a great success, because people always know that, however large may be the number of the dissatisfied, the employer can easily fill their places at a moment's notice.
The laws of supply and demand go far to regulate, in normal cases, the rate of wages. But in the case of women's labor these natural economic forces have not had fair play. Artificial restrictions, that have narrowed down the sphere of women's activity, have resulted in the overcrowding of the few professions and trades open to them. Thus the natural supply of women's labor, arbitrarily forced into a few channels, has, in every case, largely exceeded the demand, with the inevitable consequence of a reduction of wages. When it is proposed to "shelter" women from some sphere of paid activity, as, for instance, in the case of the barmaids, it should always be remembered that every "protection" of this kind increases the competition, and thereby lowers the rate of wages in the other trades where they are employed. But it is in those industries carried on under Government supervision that the direct industrial need of women for the franchise is perhaps most apparent. In the evidence before the Royal Commission to inquire into the wages of postal servants, it was very clearly shown how rigidly the principle of a sex basis for wages is adhered to, and how severely the able but unlucky women clerks in the Post Office are fined for not being men.
The post of woman clerk is the highest in the service open to women by public competition. Candidates for these appointments are examined in English composition, Geography, Latin, French, and German (two of these three); English history, Algebra, Shorthand (two of these three). The minimum salary for