100 years ago: Suffragette outrage

18 November 2009

November 19 1909

On the Monday of that week, in Temple Meads Station, Bristol, the Home Secretary had stepped from a railway carriage and had been attacked by Theresa Garnett, a mem­ber of the Women’s Social and Political Union, who was wielding a riding crop.

PERHAPS the fact that our respect for Mr Winston Churchill’s op­in­ions and his manner of express­ing them is but scanty will make all the more apparent the sincerity of our indignation at the outrage he suffered at Bristol on Saturday. It is perfectly monstrous that these vixenish females should violate the laws of decent behaviour; but what is even more deplorable is the fact that many women, who would shrink from deeds of violence them­selves, express their admir­ation for these lawless creatures. They do so, because they have come to believe that, other means having failed, the franchise will be won for women by persistent outrage. But if a Cabinet Minister is publicly assaulted now for being unable to give them what they want, what will happen when they obtain what they consider to be their political rights? Given uni­versal suffrage and ad­mission to Par­liament, they would, we may suppose, horsewhip every male elec­tor who declined to vote for them. Why not? Fortunately, that day is further and further postponed by each display of fem­inine reckless­ness and unre­strained violence; and this is the only consolation that can be derived from the changed manners of our time. We only hope that men will not be tempted to forget the tradi­tion of chivalry which has exalted the position of women, and made men gentler.

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