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‘The Rokeby Venus’ attacked

by
14 March 2014

March 13th, 1914.

WE HAVE become so much accustomed to public outrages that each new one that is recorded is forgotten in a few days. A woman who was at large under Mr McKenna's "Cat and Mouse" Act went into the National Gallery on Tuesday, and slashed and mutilated the Rokeby Venus, a recent acquisition for the nation, said to be the work of Velasquez. As it happens, this particular picture is one the injury to which is not the greatest disaster that might have befallen our great national collection, but that is not the point that matters here. What does matter is the safety of our art treasures. Clearly, something more must be done to prevent any further outrages in the museums and picture-galleries; to close them, as has already been done, is only to play into the hands of these deluded women. To make themselves a nuisance to everybody, in the expectation that by that means the vote will be granted, is their open and declared policy. To frustrate their efforts to this end is the business of our present rulers, who up to the present have not been very successful. These women, whatever we may think of their motives, have given the authorities a hard nut to crack, and supporters of the Women's Movement serious cause to weep. The Manchester Guardian - true friend of Women's Suffrage - is wringing its hands over "this act of treason and disloyalty", and well it may, but we respond to its appeal to "all fair-minded neutrals", and accept its assurance that the cause as a whole has no responsibility for these "moral imbecilities". But our contemporary does not tell us how they are to be stopped.

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