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Title: Women's Wild Oats - Essays on the Re-fixing of Moral Standards
Author: Hartley, C. Gasquoine (Catherine Gasquoine), 1867-1928
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Author of "The Truth About Woman," "Motherhood and the Relationships of
the Sexes," etc._


"_For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the
dead._"--PROV. ii. 18.


_Copyright, 1920, by_

_All Rights Reserved_



INTRODUCTORY                    7


THE COVENANT OF GOD            52


"GIVE, GIVE!"                 113


FORESEEING EVIL               192

CONCLUSION                    223

APPENDICES                    229




     "To the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet."--Prov.
     xxvii. 7.

The sudden collapse of the war left us in a daze. After the years of
inhuman strain it was hard to ease off tension to the almost forgotten
conditions of peace. I recall that ever to be remembered day, November
11th, 1918--Victory Day. In the early hours before noon I was in London,
and my young son was with me. Everywhere was an atmosphere of anxiety,
an unusual stillness. Men in little groups of two and three stood here
and there, soldiers in larger numbers loitered or walked slowly along
the pavements; girls and women waited at the doors of business houses
and shops, where inside nobody seemed attending to the few customers.
Everyone was waiting; there was an expectancy so great and so stirring
that ordinary life had stopped. The last hour seemed endless in its slow
passing. I do not remember ever to have experienced the same anxious
tension, which was felt so strongly by us all that, in a way I cannot
explain, we seemed to gain liberation from ourselves, and, losing
individuality, were brought to share a universal impulse. The colossal
importance of that hour made itself felt.

Then at last the peace guns sounded. We knew the armistice had been
signed: Germany had accepted the terms offered by the Allies. The fear
of utter misery was lifted: the war was over. The streets filled as if
by magic, sellers of newspapers appeared, nobody knew from where, and
were besieged. As the news spread, a delirium of enthusiasm caught the
people. There never was such a day, and there never can be such a day
again. From noon onwards in ever increasing numbers the streets were
thronged with people. Strangers who had never set eyes on one another
before rejoiced together as sisters and brothers. Heedless of rain, and
mud, and slush, Londoners turned the city into a carnival of joy. Then
as the hours advanced the fun grew wilder. People linked hands and
danced, and--maddest of all--indulged in wild "ring of roses" around
lamp-posts and in the centers of the great thoroughfares. From the
Strand and into the West End and beyond was one packed concourse of
people, a never-ending stream spread from pavement to pavement across
the way, in processions, in pairs, in groups, in taxi-cabs, on the top
of taxi-cabs, in and on and all over motor-omnibuses, hanging to the
backs of cabs, on great munition lorries--everywhere clustering and
hanging like swarming flies. There were soldiers, crowds of Dominion
boys, young officers and privates, old men and young men from civil
life, and thousands upon thousands of women and girls of every age and
representative of every class.

It was the women that I noticed most: they were wilder than the men,
making more noise, cheering, shouting and singing themselves hoarse,
dancing and romping themselves tired. Quite undisguisedly the soldiers
were led by them. It was Woman's Carnival as well as Victory Night.

It is very hard to find words to speak of what I felt. The universal
gladness was intoxicating, and yet, none the less, as I watched and
noted, the scene was a spectacle that for me at least, was shot
strangely with apprehension, almost with pain, certainly with anger and
regrets, with aspects unaccountably sad. I witnessed many incidents I am
tempted to record, but events passed so quickly, and I do not wish to
generalize rashly. One thing I noticed was the great number of women and
girl smokers. The woman without a cigarette was almost the exception.
There was no attempt at concealment. But what impressed me was the way
of holding and smoking the cigarette with an awkwardness that proclaimed
the novice. Quite plainly the majority of these girls were smoking not
at all because they desired to smoke, but for a lark. A little thing,
you will say, very harmless, and possibly you are right, and yet it is
the straw which reveals the direction of the wind.

In all the riotous merriment there seemed to lurk the urgency of
unsatisfied wants. These instabilities and shadows did not darken the
whole prospect, it may be that they intensified the pageant; London was,
indeed, very wonderful that evening. Yet all the foolish and ugly
incidents, petty and grave alike, of which I could not fail to be aware,
came to me with an effort of challenge as something not to be ignored,
but steadily to be inquired into, as an imperative call for effort and
courage, a spur once again to take up my pen and write to warn women.

My thoughts turned back over the last long four-and-a-half years--years
of struggle, of violent disorders, anxiety and pain. That time was
finished. Thanks to our dead! Honor to our great dead! The spectacle
before me became wider and richer and deeper, more charged with hope and

Bang! Laughter and harsh screaming as a rocket shot up starring the dark
evening heavens with its clustering balls of colors. In many parts of
the city, long obscured, lamps were lighted; row upon row of little
electric globes of white and red and blue appeared, and the unaccustomed
blaze infected the revelers. It gave a fresh impetus to shouting; it was
like removing the curtain from some great, long-darkened mirror. The fun
grew boisterous. At this corner there were cheers for the Prime
Minister, at the next for Foch and Haig, and Beatty and the Grand Fleet,
and for France and America. Numbers did not know what exactly they
cheered; it did not matter, it gave an excuse for noise. Much noise was
needed to keep up the revel and convince everyone that everybody was

Unceasingly the violent merry-making went on. Hoot! and an immense
motor-wagon, crowded with singing girls, blowing hooters, wildly waving
flags, and followed by a trail of taxi-cabs like a gigantic wobbling
tail, each one laden with ten, twenty, and even more soldiers, charged
down a side street and urged its right of way brutally through the

It seemed to me that the whole spirit and quality of the reveling was
summarized. A rabble of distractions sought to sway me hither and
thither. Now, I watched a company of girls dancing with young officers
to the accompaniment of a barrel organ, then a group singing, and
another group playing some round game that I did not know; now it was
some Tommies surrounded by a group of screaming girls. In one group a
woman was carrying a baby, and a tiny child dragged at the hand of
another girl, crying drearily, and no one noticed. Boys were kicking
about boardings that had been torn from the statues in Trafalgar Square.
The noise became more and more deafening.

Did anyone realize at all the colossal importance of that day? This
hour of supreme thanksgiving, the most glorious of all days in the
history of the world, was passing in a delirium of waste. For there was
no joy, only a great pretense and noise.

In this medley the sense of the present tended to disappear. Victory
Night, by some fantastic transformation, to me became terrible with
menace. All the jostling, excited people, and especially the disheveled
women and the crowds of rioting girls, appeared as tormented puppets,
moving and capering, not at all from will and desire of their own, but
agitated violently and incessantly by some hidden hand, forced into
playing parts they did not want to play, saying words they had no wish
to speak, cutting antics for which they had no aptitude or liking.
Cruelties lurked everywhere, waiting in the confused mummery. Reality
was being left and with it the practical grasp of those powerful
simplicities that alone can guide life through confusion. I felt this
with stinging certainty. Everyone seemed playing a part, goaded with the
urgency of seeking an escape from themselves.

But must life always go on in the same way? Surely our great dead point
us through all these pretenses into the future? Dead compelling hands,
insisting with irritable gestures that this failure of life should
cease, and cease forever.

A thousand serried problems seemed to be pressing on me at once. My
young son was angry at my sadness, but it was the biting consciousness
of his presence that ruled my mood. This world was _his_ world; this
England _his_ England; this London was _his_ London and that of all
children. It was for them that the failure mattered. So I thought,
tormented, tortured with pain and impatience.

Leaving the Strand, we turned down one of the narrow streets near to the
Savoy Hotel, I forget which one it was, and walked to the Embankment. We
came out not far from Charing Cross Bridge and looked down over the long
sweep of the water. The evening sky was a dull gray, almost black, but
the rain had ceased to fall, and just then above us there was a break as
if the absent moon was working to cut the clouds adrift. A kind of
luminous darkness closed around us. It was beautiful. The massed
buildings rose a blurred outline between the river and the sky like
great beasts crouching and ready to spring, while through the
steel-black circlings of the bridge row after row of lights sparkled and
glowed, and blurs of color, amber to warm orange, splashed upon the
river. On the other side, behind us, the big hotels all were lighted,
and the unaccustomed illumination appeared to give too full a flood of
light to be quite real. Ever and anon rockets shot up into the gray and
fell in burning rain, and every color was reflected in diminishing
shades, above in that one luminous patch of sky, and below in the
pallid, rippled water. Yes, the scene was beautiful, perfect as a
dream-city one could desire; all the elements "composed" in the
painter's sense, and in arrogance of soul I felt that the beautiful
effect had been arranged for me: that it was like a faultless piece of
scene-painting, only there is no artist who could paint it.

I watched in silence as my son talked at my side. Here there was almost
no noise; reports of motors and the harsh clang of shouting echoed, but
in the distance. After the crowds we had left, the wide roadway appeared
deserted, and the quiet made it easy for me to urge myself past my
despair. One moment at least I had in which I was conscious again of a
spirit and quality in life; the immense forces working on while the
city rioted its victory. But it all goes so slowly--not fast enough!

The night became darker, the gray rift in the clouds narrowed and
closed, a few great drops of rain fell heavily. Around us the air blew
chill, the trees, whose points stood out jet black among the sweeping
line of the still shrouded Embankment lamps, murmured with innumerable
angry voices as the wind cut through them, the bitter wind that rises
before rain. My mood shivered under the loneliness that marks the end of
all perfect things.

Afterwards we walked up Villiers Street to the Strand Station, and
witnessed a little longer the riot of pretended joy. Now, the fun had
grown more boisterous, or so it appeared to me in contrast with the
quiet we had left. A seething mass--women and girls and soldiers linked
arms in arms charged down the street, blocking the station entrances,
shouting, beating rattles and tins for drums, making the most deafening
noise. Must we go on past or through them all? Yes, and it was for me a
necessary lesson, perhaps, for trying to snatch too much for myself by
getting away--and forgetting. I had wanted to shirk, now I was forced
back to attention.

How clearly I recall that crowd! It took much time to get our train,
and, as we waited, almost unconsciously I began to take mental notes of
what I saw. Soon my interest was fastened. I observed individuals with
quickened attention from the very sharpness of my disillusionment.
Incidents burnt themselves into my memory, not in themselves of great
importance, but surely significant. I was being dragged back face to
face with many questions difficult to solve. What impressed me sharply
was the unhappy faces of almost all those wildly excited girls. To my
fancy each one was hiding from herself, and hiding also from everyone
else. One girl, in particular, I remember, a lank figure, brightly
dressed and her head adorned by a wreathed Union Jack, whirling lean
arms in an ecstasy of irritability, her shrill voice mounting from
scream note to scream note. A sickness of soul cried from her restless
over-taxed body. She was but one unit of a whole rowdy company. Even
this night was used by them to grab at something to fool men--to smother
God in their hearts. Just a play, a pretense, yes, a pretense of power,
especially that; they had no thought beyond excitement, and that to me
seemed only the first step. I could not believe that the new freedom,
the new England would be made by such women. Their make-believe
merriment, all this riotous celebrating of the world's stupendous
Victory--what, after all, was it? And for me the desolate answer
"Waste!" rang out from the unceasing noise.

"Surely this squandering of Woman's gift, this failure of herself must
cease now that peace has come!" The cry broke wordless from me. I
understood the reality of my fear. I knew the peril to the future. It is
the problem of unstable woman, clamorous and devouring, that cries aloud
for solution.

_First Essay_



     "The turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the
     prosperity of fools shall destroy them."--Prov. i. 32.


I have lying upon my study table, on the chairs and even spreading over
upon the floor, a heaped-up litter of documents. Board of Trade
inquiries, Government reports, newspaper cuttings, recent books,
articles from the reviews and popular magazines--all dealing, in one
manner or another, with women's labor and their position as workers in
the immediate past and in the future. Woman, eternally surprising, has
established her power in new fields.

During the five war years a revolution has taken place in the industrial
position of women. But the war was not the cause of the revolution. It
only afforded an opportunity for forces to display themselves which
already were in action. It hurried women forward, running at top speed,
along paths where before their feet had slowly walked. War hastened the
action of forces existing already. The wage-earning woman came in with
the forties with the factory system, and every year she has increased in
numbers, but during the five years of war her ranks have gained an
enormous influx; moreover, a different class of girls and women have
come to seek different kinds of work. And what marks the permanent
importance of this is that a change of occupations has brought with it a
startling change of behavior and outlook.

Just as the militarist has regarded war, not as a means of preventing
the enslavement of peoples and their subjection to foreign rule, but
rather as in itself a source of virtue and blessing, of progress and
civilization; so too the feminist teachers have told us, not that the
entrance of women into munition works was necessary to enable our
country to arm for its terrible war, but have hailed the successive
appearances of women in factories, foundries, and railway-stations as
in itself a great step forward; as a goal long strived for that has been
gained. What has been going on is a continuance of the process by which
women are led more and more to escape from any specialization of
function and are brought into competition with men in every kind of
occupation. Now, let us be clear about it: this is a process which makes
the excitement and experience and possible good of the individual woman
outweigh in importance the safeguarding of the perpetual stream of man.
A confusion of values has led women astray. Being a woman _is_ a
handicap. For the true carrying out of the duties of the wife and mother
physical and mental quiet and sound nerves are needed. The industrial
field has become the ideal place of action for the feminists, who
persistently romanticize the independent commercial or industrial
career, trampling heedlessly on the wisdom of the past, bent on living
their own little lives and all that kind of egoistic futility; holding
up as admirable cheap achievements in the hell of modern competitive,
beggar-your-fellow-worker, sell-at-a-profit industrialism; blackening as
sacrifice, as a limiting of character, woman's service to her husband
and her children, her work in the home and in the nursery.

I tell you women everywhere among us are being starved of sacrifice and
service. Sacrifice lives in the soul of a woman, and not alone in the
separate spirit of the individual woman to whom it is communicated only
through a losing of herself, which marks her union with the greatest
powers of life. It is, I think, one of the most destroying tragedies of
our industrial society that women are denied this sustenance in a fixed
and regulated unison of sacrifice, are forced away from service to life,
excited to do violence to their deepest instinct, by engaging in the
deadly and futile rivalry, where the greatest successfulness must bring
to them the greatest destruction.

There has been much happening to bring fear. Something has gone wrong
with the women of this land. In saying this, I am not forgetting the
splendidness of their work; what I complain of is that their womanly
vision has failed. In France, as is evident to all, the attitude of
women has been very different. The French women also worked hard during
the war to save their country, but they did not as our women have done,
_like war-work for its own sake_. They never transferred their
affections from their homes to the factories of war, they were too
certain of themselves, too content with their power as women to do
anything so foolish. What is the explanation of this profound difference
in attitude? Why has the vision of English women failed? That is the
question to which we have to try to find an answer.


The great part played by women coming forward during the war to take the
place of men called to the army is disclosed in a White Paper recently
issued by the Board of Trade. Over a million and a half women offered
their services, in addition to those already employed.[23:1] The
increase has been the highest in the occupations in which comparatively
few women were engaged before the war. In April, 1918, 701,000 women
were working on munitions and 774,000 in other industrial government
employment. A disturbing fact revealed (called, I note, in the Report an
_interesting point_!) is the number of women who have been engaged in
hard, laboring work. Before the war when the public discovered women
doing very hard work, it excited indignation and pity. The women
chain-makers of Craddock Heath, to cite one example, were accorded
general commiseration. But during the war our feelings on the question
would seem to have undergone a somewhat sudden transformation; a
complete turn-round has taken place in our attitude. Heavy work done by
women--foundry work, for instance, _demanding great expenditure of
physical strength_[24:1] has excited admiration and _become an important
factor of the industrial situation_. A glamour of patriotic war service,
added to the lure of high wages, has been thrown like a cloak of romance
over such exhibitions of female power. They became victories of female
will over female weakness.

Certainly in many cases the work done was quite unsuitable for women.
The employment of married women during long days of tiring work had
inevitable results. Babies were neglected or births were deliberately
prevented. This spendthrift folly will have to be paid for in the

Not that I believe that all apparently hard work to be on an equality
of unfitness for women. Country work is generally healthful; though hard
work it is restful to the nerves. Every kind of nerve-racking work as in
factories, heavy weight-lifting, long standing, and the tending of
machinery without any kind of human interest, must be detrimental to
women. Certain employments, consecrated by custom as comparatively
womanly, yet, in their nerve-exhausting details mean ill-health. Take,
for an instance, the average shop-girl, or machine worker, with her
whitened face, dragging steps and flattened figure: does she not show
plainly that she is anæmic and wanting in vitality? On the other hand,
to my eye the lift attendants on the tubes, the charming conductresses
of the 'buses seem healthy, though their work has been done only
recently by women. I would make the influence of an occupation on
woman's health--considering first and as most important her primary
biological function as a potential mother--the test of its womanliness.
But the health of women will never be protected while we are content to
accept the valuations and suffer the defilements of this commercial age.


Only this morning I have been reading the newly issued _Report of the
War Cabinet Committee on Women in Industry_, a large book of 340 pages,
packed with information, in particular as to "the increased employment
of women owing to the development of automatic machinery." What I read
fills me with dismay and indignation. I was not prepared--and I thought
I was prepared for anything--for such blindness of outlook.

To prove this, let me quote directly from the Report. The Committee
urges rightly the importance to the health of the workers of good food,
clothing and domestic comfort, and the necessity of good wages to
maintain this standard. But _why are these improved conditions
recommended_? Listen to what is said:

     _Properly nourished women have a much greater reserve of
     energy than they have usually been credited with, and under
     suitable conditions they can properly and advantageously be
     employed upon more arduous occupation than has been considered
     desirable in the past, even when these involve considerable
     activity and physical strain...._

And a little further:

     _It is desirable that women's wide employment should be made

In another passage the Committee report _that on piece work a woman will
always beat a man_. And again further on: _On mass production she will
come first every time.... Men will never stand the monotony of a fast
repetition job like women; they will not stand by a machine pressing all
their lives, but a woman will._[27:1]

Nothing that I can say, or any writer could say, could be more vividly
condemning than are these passages. They have filled me with so deep a
protest that really I can hardly trust myself to write any comment. This
is the ideal now set before us for the industrial woman "to stand by a
machine pressing all her life." I ask, Is it for this that the sons of
these women have died? Marriage is spoken of as "one of women's
industrial drawbacks," "it makes her less ambitious and enterprising."

Now, I do not wish to be unfair. The questions involved are, I know,
immense and many-sided. There can be no easy dismissal of this valuable
Report in condemnation. Mrs. Sidney Webb's minority Report[28:1] in
particular is valuable; and in many ways the findings of the Committee
are excellent. Everyone must agree with the wise recommendations as to
the reduction of the hours of work and better conditions of labor. They
are in advance of anything hitherto proposed. The popular formula of
"equal pay for equal work" or more correctly "equal value," is accepted.
If women are to do men's work, obviously they ought to be paid men's
wages. Other very commendable recommendations concern pensions for
widowed, deserted or necessitous mothers (I should add unmarried
mothers). State payment is advised for the entire cost of the
lying-in-period as the only way to ensure births under satisfactory
conditions to the child and the mother. All this is just and good. If
the state desires women to remain in industrial occupations, it is some
gain that help should be given them, when for a few weeks they go from
the factory to do their own work and bear children. Yet, after all, is
there not something ridiculous, yes, and also disgraceful, in such a
compromise. We leave a woman "to stand by a machine pressing all her
life" (a work of monotony, so nerve-exhausting and soul-deadening that
no man will do it), and then we pay her a small sum to enable her to
bear an enfeebled child. Afterwards we send her back to the factory and
open State crêches and nursery-schools to rid her of the
responsibilities and joys of bringing up her child. Such miserable
makeshifts for fitting motherhood could be acceptable only in an
industrially ruled society, where the simple belief would seem to be
that _a woman can do everything that men won't do--and their own work as


Let us be honest. Do we care for the cherishing of children? Do we want
to preserve the health and help mothers? Are we really concerned with
the prevention of our high infantile death-rate, with all the futile
suffering without any sense of purpose or compensation that it must
entail to children and to mothers? Let us pray to care more
passionately, to see a vision of motherhood such as will force us to
act differently; a vision which, as when the mists clear away among the
mountains, will show a wide world lit by the sun. It would not then be
difficult for us to know what to do; we should decide unhesitatingly as
to the mother in industry, that _she ought not to be there_.


Many facts combine in acclaiming our indifference; all of which show our
distressing inability to take a wide view of social problems with our
commercially blinded eyes. We look at everything, even the nation's
children, through spectacles of gold. I cannot wonder at our endless
sicknesses and crime.

A small paper-backed book is now lying upon my desk. It is an inquiry
most carefully made by the Minister of Reconstruction into the
conditions of juvenile employment during the war, and, to me at any
rate, it is pitiless in its revelation of our failure in this period of
stress in knowing how to live.

It would be difficult, indeed, to find a more complete condemnation of
what we have been allowing to go on in our factories and workshops. The
Report reveals an intolerable neglect, a reckless betrayal of young
lives that not even the emergency of war can sanction.[31:1]

Mark what the report tells us:

     _Unless those most competent to judge are mistaken, in the
     generation which entered industry between 1914 and 1918
     vitality has been lowered, morale undermined, and training

     _For three years numbers of young persons have been exposed to
     almost every influence which could impair health, undermine
     character and unfit them, both in body and mind, for regular
     industry and intelligent citizenship._

And this passage also:

     _From the point of view of the community, the adolescent
     worker is a potential parent and a potential citizen ... there
     is no doubt whatever what course of action should be
     prescribed by consideration for the interests of the nation.
     It would be to subordinate the employment of young persons for
     their immediate utility to their preparation for more
     effective work as men and women.... The danger is not that
     there may, in the present, be too few adolescent laborers, but
     that there may be too many, and that as a result there may in
     the future be too few healthy and well trained adult workers
     and intelligent citizens._

The profit-seeking employer, the patriotic maker of munitions, considers
output: he does not think of the girls' or the boys' future, of the
adult employment for which they are being prepared, or not prepared, or
if the occupation leads, as so often is the case, to a blank wall. No
kind of concern is shown of the degree in which the occupation enlarges
the interests of the growing minds, or fritters them away and leaves for
a later use nothing but a dead machine, capable only of spasmodic
excitement; does not think of the effect of long hours or of large wages
and their consequent premature freedom from home restraints on

The last mentioned evil has been greatly accentuated by the absence of
soldier fathers. The indictable offenses committed by the young have
increased markedly during the war, and surely we are responsible for
this lapse of children into crime.

We have permitted heavy and nerve-exhausting work to be done in just the
years when the adolescent was making the always difficult passage of the
boy to the man, of the girl to the woman. And for this reason their
suppressed, not-understood, thwarted instincts have broken out in
unpleasing and often dangerous ways. Is it any wonder if in such
circumstances boys turn to petty robberies and other unsocial acts,
while girls display some of the less estimable characteristics of the

Our ideal is to ignore sex in industry; to deny the strong and necessary
separations that nature's wisdom places as barriers between boy and
girl, between man and woman. We make our sons and daughters compete in
education and in industry. No doubt education and industry are
ill-fitted for males, but at any rate they were intended for males.
Intellectually inferior to the boy or the man, the girl or woman is not.
She is exasperatingly observant, often understands character with
unconsidered quickness, feels spontaneously; but it does not follow that
there is any value for her in the collection of dead facts, stored by
abstract-minded professors--all the futile things we call education,
which show in every direction the most coarse lack of understanding of
the needs of the child and of life. And the girl suffers more than the
boy, for the girl-student does as she is told much more conscientiously
than boys. Similarly in industry: tapping or pushing at a machine until
she taps or pushes on in her dreams; all the more monotonous kinds of
machine-tending will wear feminine nerves, naturally more irritable than
those of men, more than the same work will wear the male nerves. Not
that I believe in subordinating the worker of either sex to the machine.
What I want to prevent is the same stupid sacrifice of girls and women
in industry as has been permitted in the case of boys and men. There has
been in our commercialized society no kind of effective tradition for
the care and guidance of adolescent workers, and, there is no escaping
from the condemning proofs of our neglect: there has been, and, indeed,
is still going on, in many directions a vast range of betrayal and
baseness in the way we have shirked our duties to the young. As the
writer, from whose Report I have quoted, says, with a rather grim irony:
"a strain has been put on the character of young persons which might
have corrupted the integrity of a Washington and have undermined the
energy of Samuel Smiles."


The war is over, and with it the special and pressing need for women's
and girls' work, but the consequences of the war period are far, indeed,
from nearing their end. Following all the industrial confusion of the
war, we are now facing the certainty of wide-spread unemployment among
women and girls. We have condemned thousands of them to unemployment
with the same thoughtlessness with which they were called into industry;
and in the less skilled ranges of employment, the always existing
competition between men and women and boys and girls is certain to be
fiercely accentuated.

It is officially stated that the number of women and girls who took
out-of-work donation policies during the period between the Armistice
and February 14th was 633,318. Of these the large majority 630,874 were
civilians, while 2444 belonged to the forces. Thousands of women and
girls who during the war proved themselves most capable at engineering
and wood-work are now ruled out of those occupations. There was a girl
of twenty, for instance, at Loughborough who showed real genius at
gauge-making, work that required accuracy to the ten thousandth part of
an inch. Although she took to the work only during the war, she became
so good that instead of being sent to a factory she was kept to instruct
others. This is the type of girl who now has to seek other employment.
There can be no question of the difficulties of the situation.

Many workers are holding out to get the same level of work and pay as
they have left. Strongest of all is the aversion shown to domestic work:
many girls who have been engaged on munitions during the war have thrown
up their unemployment pay rather than again enter domestic service.
Factory work has bitten into girl's lives; they do not want to do any
other kind of work.

Visit one of the Women's Employment Exchanges, if you would wish to get
to know these girls. The Exchange is usually a hall or large room where
busy clerks are at work at long tables. At some Exchanges as many as
2000 to 2500 women and girls will be on the books. Once a week they
receive their out-of-work pay; every alternate day they have to visit
the Exchange to see what jobs are vacant. You may watch them pass in
long queues from one table to another. A few of the women will probably
carry babies, but the great majority will be young girls, showily
dressed. You will hear the discordant murmur of their voices broken
often by sharp giggles. The moving lines seem to go on and on
unendingly. At one table the girls sign the register, at another they
learn of vacancies. Some of the girls fail to go to the second table. An
attendant, if you ask the cause, will tell you this is a frequent
occurrence. The girls are punctilious in signing the register, which
they must do to obtain the unemployment dole, but they are less
particular about finding the work which will bring it to an end. At
present they are content with the enjoyments of the streets and picture
palaces. I have, on many different occasions, spoken to these workers:
one case I may quote as typical of many. She was young, about twenty, I
should think, and incredibly self-confident. Before the war she had been
a tailor's needle hand earning 16s. a week; for the last two years she
was inspecting fuses at a wage of 45s. a week. What was she now going to
do? Neither she nor any of the other women to whom I have spoken seemed
to have any clear realization of the fact that the change-over from war
to peace industries by munition factories, with the return of many
thousands of men, was bound to result in a serious excess supply of
woman labor. I remember it was then, while I talked to this girl, that
the first great suspicion stole into my heart. We have heard so much of
the splendid conduct of the women and the wonderful way in which they
have done the work of men, but the facts stand up stark. _Women have had
a good time._ Now, they are going to struggle to keep it. These girls
are vastly more rebellious than any women were five years ago.[38:1]

Look at the girl-workers you may see everywhere in such numbers to-day;
they are of all ages and they belong to all classes of society. Watch
them as they fight for an entrance into motor omnibuses and trams, as
they crowd the station platforms. See them parading the streets in
their unemployed hours; they are the companions of every soldier; they
crowd the cinemas, music-halls, and theaters. Who has altered the
fashions about every three months? and this has been going on in war
time. Why, the munition workers and the forty-shilling-a-week girls. No
longer was finery always bought out of men's earnings, but out of their
own; put on to give some man a treat or to fire the envy of other girls.
The factory girl has taken to silk stockings and fine lingerie and the
lady to Balbriggan and calico.

The vast change that has come into the daily lives of women, possibly,
in no direction is more startling than it has been in this matter of
dress. Many shops which are near the factories where munition girls have
been employed have organized war-clubs, in which, on payment of a small
weekly sum, the girls could buy articles of attire far in advance even
of their high wages. Shops festooned with furs of every description,
where coats costing ten, twenty, and even thirty and more guineas, were
frequently bought; shops whose windows were a clutter of tissue-like
crepe-de-chine underclothes and blouses; boot-clubs and jewelry-clubs,
these last, garish establishments, secure in the glamour of
irresistible imitations--all have urged to extravagance and a madness
for ornament.

The West-end tradesmen and the shareholders of the big drapery shops
have been chuckling and rubbing their hands. Dividends have sprung up to
a figure they have never before reached. Never before has so much money
been wasted on adornment.

Our young women have little thought beyond the present use of what they
buy. But I believe that much of this extravagance--the delight in
self-gratification which finds other expression in jazzing, in
sweet-eating, in card playing, smoking and similar pleasures--is not so
much the outcome of the thoughtlessness of youth as a way of escape from
Self, a misdirected effort toward safety, unconscious no doubt, but
terribly real.

Notice these girls. You will see them best in a walk down Oxford street
or in Leicester Square, where, snared by each displayed window, they
hover and cluster like wasps drawn to a trap of sweet food. All the
biggest shops in London are devoted to women's clothes. Do you realize
that? And it is not only that they are the biggest, but there are more
of them than any other half a dozen trades put together--the only
exception being the drink trade. During the war their number has
multiplied, indeed in some districts shops have sprung up like mushrooms
in the night.

There is a much deeper importance in this question of dress than usually
is allowed. Irresponsible spending does encourage irresponsible living.

Almost everyone has at one time or another thought of some reform they
would wish to be made in the society in which they live. Now, if I could
have my choice as to any one reform I would choose to be done, it would
be to make it illegal for a tradesman to display for sale any kind of
wearing apparel, dress goods or articles connected with a woman's
toilet, either in shop windows or inside the shops. Nothing must be
shown to any customer until it is asked for. I do really believe this
simple reform would do more to emancipate women, and, through their
emancipation, to liberate men, than any other reform. We pray in our
churches "lead us not into temptation," and everywhere we permit in our
shops the display of goods to tempt the young and the foolish.

An orgy of adornment has been claiming a veritable sacrifice of comfort
and health, possibly even of life. All-night vigils in search of
bargains are frequent at the bi-annual sale-festivals. Policemen have to
restrain the ardent votaries, as they press forward and struggle and
fight to obtain entrance to certain shops, like caged animals fighting
for food. Fashions are followed passionately and with little variety.
Dark heads and golden heads have the hair bobbed or dressed in the same
way, with the same plastered side-curls, and adorned with hats
alarmingly alike, weighted with queer and polychrome ornaments of beads,
wool, tassels, and I know not what, while the face beneath shows one
color of yellowish white, the result of the excessive and unskillful use
of cheap powder. In the snow and slush of the spring, I have seen girls
dressed in a way fit only for the hottest indoor room. The gauze
silk-stockings offering no protection to the tortured feet even when the
boots and shoes were made of more than paper stoutness; while the
fashionable woolen wrap, even the fur collar or coat could not
counterbalance the danger to health from blouses, low-necked and
fashioned of stuff scarcely thicker than cobwebs. Here and there the
many girls, beautiful in quiet uniforms, have served to throw into
sharper contrast the absurdities of the dress of their sisters.

I ask myself how this taste for spending money on dress and ornament--a
taste very little different from the instinct which causes savages to
adorn their half-naked bodies with feathers, beads and shells--is to be
satisfied when women's wages fall? There would seem to be nothing too
useless or too expensive for girls to buy. Work has failed in teaching
them the simple lesson that not only is it wrong to waste money, but it
is wrong to waste labor for the gratification of whims. We are having
the need for economy preached and shouted at us from every quarter.
Surely it is right to think about this wild spending on adornment, and
give at least a few glances to the future.

What is likely to happen now when the full years of war change to empty
years of peace? No longer able to spend in the way to which their high
wages have made them accustomed, girls will seek to get presents from
men; they will want excitement and the dress and pleasures to satisfy
that need, also to hold the envy of their friends. This must lead to
prostitution. The weaker sort of girl will prefer to sell her body
rather than go back to a humdrum life of drudgery in back-kitchens. It
is well that we should remember that, if women are to suffer through
men's passions, men will suffer no less from women's greed.

I desire to be quite fair. Almost all girls, I think, are better looking
since 1914, more confident, more brightly attractive; sometimes they are
deliriously gay, more often cheaply aggressive and noisy. Yet, at other
times, they seem deadened and slow in response. None of them are shy.
Their eyes say things that are hard to read; they exhibit no end of
energy, but there is a curious kind of contradiction--a confusion and
difficult defiance, with much nervous weakness. I can find no steadfast

I would ask my readers, as often I have asked myself, a question: Have
these modern girls not lost much of the tender, waiting, indefiniteness
of youth? I have seen so many among them who, to me at least, appear at
odds with the world, and their passionate, unbalanced and over-excited
natures. Their faces at sixteen, fifteen, and even at fourteen years,
already are old, with hard confidence showing in the bold gaze, but no
happiness. How many bear an expression of almost tired disappointment, a
disappointment, not of the senses, but of the soul. And this expression
is so common. To my eyes, girls far more and far oftener look alike now
than formerly they did. So often they seem acting, struggling almost
against something in themselves; something they don't understand that
draws them into many bewildered actions. Can't you see, they are all so
unconsciously dissatisfied, so unable to possess themselves in peace,
that nothing they do matters? You will, I am sure, deny this statement.
You will tell me again of the splendid work done by these girls and
young women, you will speak of their recognition as citizens of the
State, of how life has opened to them, and of the new liberty they have
gained in so many directions. I do not mind. I care nothing for the
liberty in outside things that leaves the soul in chains. I tell you
they are dissatisfied because the soul of woman is crushed, unable to
come up from its dark hiding, and breathe the sun and light to see that
life is good. Why cannot the old faith come back? Why cannot it come


It is, of course, easy to write of these evils, the difficult thing is
to find a remedy. Many attempts are being made; much discussion is
taking place about the future position of women in industry; training is
being given to adolescent girls; even schools for wives have been
formed. The newly established Ministry of Health has wide schemes for
maternity and child welfare. Never was so much expended to right things
that are wrong. Yet, I cannot think the remedies offered are likely to
be satisfactory.

Let me here pause for a moment to compare my view of the true remedy for
the present unsatisfactoriness of women's lives, and the consequent
wastage of baby lives, with those remedies now so commonly put forward
by the reformers. I assert that women are trying in vain to transfer
their affection from babies to machines, and to take care of their
babies, if they have them, in the few hours left over after days
seriously devoted to business. I will test the results in a way fairer
to my opponents than to myself, comparing the effects of their method
at its best with my system in circumstances little favorable to human

Bradford is a wealthy town: spending some £40,000 annually on the care
of infants in a total population of 300,000. Its institutions and
arrangements for this purpose are famous; its infant department, its
graded municipal milk, its free-feeding for expectant mothers--all are
as nearly perfect as is possible; and the men who have developed and
direct its municipal system of protection for infants are well known for
their ability and enthusiasm. The birth-rate is as low as Malthusians
could desire. But all its care is but an attempt to lessen evils brought
about by a wrong system; for the mothers of Bradford are not in their
homes, but in woolen factories.

County Roscommon is a poor district in Ireland, with a primitive and
superstitious population of agriculturists; the birth-rate is very high,
and there is practically no public provision for the safeguarding of
infant life. But its backward ignorant mothers tend and feed their
babies after the manner of the earliest ages.

_The infant death-rate is 135 in Bradford, and 35 in Roscommon._

You will see what I wish to make plain. Those whom I criticize are
dealing with symptoms instead of working to remove the real cause of the
disease. They work hard and achieve little. Of course their efforts are
praiseworthy, and, under present conditions, frightfully necessary. But
they are just about as lastingly useful as trying to mend a badly broken
china cup at home with cheap cement. You know what happens: as soon as
you succeed in getting two pieces to stick together another piece
tumbles away, and, at last, if by excessive patience the work gets done
and the cup is mended, the first shock of hot water makes all the pieces
again fall apart. It is a solution that gives great opportunity of
employment, one indeed that goes on forever; perhaps that is why it
fascinates the child-like minds of the feminists. I want something very

I want a tradition of life to hand on to our daughters and to their
daughters. We need a strongly deepened sense of womanly responsibility,
wide-spread and universally accepted; an up-to-date sense, if you like
that term. I have no fears of change. I would re-fix our moral standards
more fearlessly than many who think me old-fashioned. But what I want
to insist upon is this: _The standard of conduct must be fixed for
women._ Our children want something settled, not everything left
uncertain. Our morals (I do not mean our sexual morals only, but our
whole ethical and social conduct) has become like a skein of wool that
has been unraveled by a puppy. We want a firm broad way in which it is
good and possible for all of us to walk without hurting one another, not
the horrid scramble that to-day we accept as life.

The modern conception of personal rights is essentially individualistic,
and has arisen only under industrial values of life; the result of its
further application as a social criterion for women, must logically be
exactly what it has been in the experience of the past century: a bitter
and brutal struggle for self-aggrandizement, with the failures
remorselessly crushed underfoot, and the very idea of a fixed common
responsibility and common good for all forgotten or denied. My plea for
women is, therefore, based not upon the notion of equal rights, but
rather upon that of equal duties. Moral equality means equality in the
will to serve--not self, but all. And the practical correlative of this
conception must be a social organization which secures equalities of
opportunity for service to women and men. The only rights I desire to
claim for my sex are those necessary to the discharge of its own duties;
the fulfillment of the instinctive maternal craving; the realization of
the deepest impulses of a woman's nature.

The pitiless war of every individual against his, or her, fellow waged
with gold or with steel, can never make life other than mean and empty.
Women and men must learn again to regard themselves as part of a
mightier whole, one of the human race, and, as we feel in moments of
deeper insight, of the universe, which is a unity in spite of all the
discords it contains.

It follows from this, that I am not greatly concerned with what any
individual woman, or group of women, can do, or cannot do, should be
encouraged to do, or be restrained from doing, in competition with men
and with each other, but rather what is most right and worth while for
all women, _as women_, to do. _I do not want freedom for each woman to
do what she wants._

You see, in my view of life, such freedom can lead only to a more
degraded slavery. And because I am certain about this, I do not desire
success for women in the blind struggle based on the doctrine (so
fundamentally untrue in my opinion) of personal rights. A doctrine which
results inevitably in separations, in hatreds, in disorders and
struggling one with another. Unity of ideals and of conduct becomes
impossible. The general life is driven about in this way or the other,
directed by this purpose or by that, but always by individualistic
principles, and not to serve the good of all, but by each person for his
own, or her own, ends. How can order come out of such a way of life? Do
you think you are going to improve things in the old selfish ways. I
tell you the result can be nothing but a further failure of vision. The
mountain heights become obscured by the mists going up from the damp
valleys, and the soul loses its way.


[23:1] The statistics show the situation up to April, 1918.

[24:1] The words I have italicized are not mine, but are quoted from the

[27:1] It is worth noting that, as far as I know, no word of protest has
been made by women against these statements. The Report, since I wrote
this chapter, has been widely commented on in the daily papers, in some
of the weeklies, and in all the suffrage papers, but these passages have
been passed over. Surely this is very significant.

[28:1] Since published by the Fabian Society as a small book.

[31:1] An excellent article on the Report, entitled "Demobilization of
Juvenile Workers," by Miss L. B. Hutchins, appeared in the _Contemporary
Review_, February, 1919.

[38:1] Since writing this, the Government, backed by the Labor Party,
has passed its Pre-war Practices (Restoration) Bill, which will exclude
women from many of the trades which they have entered during the war;
trades in which they have done skilled work and received high wages. On
August 15, The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Bill, after a promising
early career, went by default.

_Second Essay_



     "Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the
     covenant of her God."--Prov. ii. 17.


A few weeks ago I read a book about a war-marriage, entitled the "Wife
of a Hero"; it was not a good novel, but the situation it presented was
of great interest. We witness the manifold conflicts resulting from a
marriage entered into in haste and under superficial emotions, between a
war-hero and the more complicated type of modern woman--the woman of
brains and nerves, fastidious, intellectually passionate and at the same
time swayed by a sensuality, which is neither acknowledged nor
understood. Hence this woman's marriage with a man, who, sufficiently a
hero to die magnificently (as a matter of truth he does not die and
returns in the end to receive the Victoria Cross, but it was believed he
was dead) was quite unfitted to live decently. You see, his ideals did
not get any further than his vanity. In his view a woman--whether wife
or mistress, it did not signify which she was--was only a chattel, an
object to give enjoyment to him, in fact, a prostitute. He did not know
he felt this, could not know it, in fact. It would have needed a
revolution of his character to turn his vision to something other than
himself. Neither did the wife realize her egoism, an egoism more
agreeable certainly than was his, because on a less crude plane, but
equally reprehensible, as spiritually barren and limited to Self as was
that of the man.

Now, Miss Netta Syrett, the writer of the book, seems to be unaware of
such a failure on the woman's part. All the blame is shoveled on to the
hero, all the sympathy wrapped like a thick woolen cloud about the
heroine. Miss Syrett is a great feminist. As we should expect, the
marriage is broken in the Divorce Court. The returned and invalided
hero, decorated with his Victoria Cross, seeks happiness with an
earlier love, and a marriage is made of a frankly sensual character.
Meanwhile the heroine finds a spiritual mate in the person of an old
friend, and a second marriage is made. We are led to believe that all
the wrong is set right. Now, I doubt this. I believe the cause which
brought the first marriage to such painful disaster was not dependent
only on the evident unsuitability of the partners to live with one
another; the grossness of the man and the believed refinement of the
woman need not necessarily have failed in finding happiness in union.
No, the cause of failure was deeper, within themselves, dependent on the
blind egoism of both the husband and the wife and their wrong
understanding of the institution of marriage. I do not think that in
either case the second marriages were likely to be much happier than the
first marriage.


The love-story of to-day differs in one essential way from the
love-story of yesterday. Yesterday's love story always ended with
marriage bells; to-day's, which is a far harder love-story to write,
begins with them. Earlier authors, in short, shirked the real problem
of marriage, they ended where they should have begun. For the main
difficulties do not lie in the period of falling in love, in the
courtship or the honeymoon, but in the preservation of love after these
passionate preliminaries are over.

Now, I would like to be able to say that the modern love-story affords a
sure sign of a change that has taken place in our attitude towards
marriage. I am not, however, at all certain. We talk a great deal, I
fear, that is all. The innumerable tragedies of marriage among us to-day
are witness to our failure; they have a far closer connection than often
is recognized with the romantic and vulgar poverty of our point of view.

Our romances are slightly vulgar. Vulgarity is a sign of confusion and
weakness of spirit. We still far too much associate romance with
courtship and not with marriage; that is one reason English marriages so
often are unhappy. "Thank God that our love-time is ended!" cried a
north country bride on the day that marriage terminated her long

Now, I do not know whether this delightful story is true, but it does
illustrate the attitude of many ordinary couples, whose love adventure
ends at the very hour it should begin. Every true marriage ought to be a
succession of courtships.

Love is not walking round a rose-garden in the sunshine; it's living
together, growing together. And the honeymoon is as trifling as the
_hors d'oeuvre_ in comparison with wedded-love, and as unable to satisfy
the deep needs of women and men. Falling in love, wooing, and
honeymooning are a short and easy episode, but marriage is long and
always difficult. And the finding and maintaining happiness is a
definite achievement and not an accident, for _it is beyond accident_.
It is the result of a steadfast ideal and a diligent cultivation.


Marriage has not escaped the general disturbances of the past five
years. The causes are many and obvious. Man is generally guided, not
directly by the automatic instincts, working through the lower nerve
centers, but rather by ideas acting in the higher nerve centers of his
brain. Instincts with him are not instinctive, but are checked and
supervised by intelligence. Only when a great shock, a sudden fear or
joy, occurs does the instinctive working replace the consciously planned
action: the man or the woman find themselves speaking in an unaccustomed
voice, saying what they did not know they would say; doing unaccustomed
things, which they had never intended to do, sometimes they lose control
of their body--they rage, their speech descends to inarticulate cries.
Then the old system of instinctive response to the outer world, which
generally is inactive and so imperceptibly becomes disused, becomes by
the sudden generation of excessive emotion stocked with energy, so that
it exceeds in power the energy of which the intelligence makes use.
Impulses leap into being, and very often there is a sudden response to
adventure and more primitive actions.

This is what the War did in many departments of life. Normal control,
conventional standards, old careful habits of conduct, were broken
through at a time of excessive emotionalism. The many hasty marriages
were a sign of the nervous condition of the times. The customary
criticisms of reason were not heard, or not until the emotional storm
had subsided. This is, of course, a condition not infrequent in
marriage; but now it was exaggerated; such marriages may not,
unfortunately, bear the scrutiny of minds restored to sobriety.

We have called these war marriages real romances. But are they? What
does the husband know of the girl he has taken to be one with his own
flesh? What does she know of him? Never have they had one real talk,
never stood the test of a quarrel, never passed unexciting days with one

I want to labor that point. The most frequent causes of trouble in
marriage are born of the daily fret of common living, of minor habits,
of omissions and stupidities. Romantics may protest, but what most
strains and tears our love are just trifles, so insignificant that
rarely is their adverse action even noticed.

The safe and right consideration in any relationship that is to last
into marriage is not only--are our persons agreeable to each other? But,
can we live together and continue to love one another? It needs a lot of
grit and a lot of duty to keep in love with daily life. But war turned
men into heroes, while women thought the war was going to be so fine
they could do anything to help; they wanted their share, each one to
have a stake for herself, and the easiest way to gain this was the
ownership of a soldier-lover. It prevented the feeling of "being left
out." A new friendliness sprang up between the sexes. Advances were
made, perfectly natural, but quite unusual; and the men in khaki and in
blue found themselves diligently pursued, and it must be owned they
liked it.

Thus many men have taken girls for wives who are everything they don't
want their wives to be. There is no fitness of disposition and
character, no unity of ideals, no passionate surrender of the Self in
devotion, no fixed purpose of duty, no harmony in tastes or outlook.
Such love must come to disaster; it is like a damp squib, it is never
properly alight and fades out swiftly in noisy splutters. Then, when the
first desire goes, no friend but an enemy is discovered.

A man falls in love very readily, and girls have used, quite
unconsciously sometimes, very consciously in some cases, the man's
undisciplined impulses for his own subjection. I need not recall
incidents that all among us must have witnessed. I do not wish to pass
any censure upon women. The sensualist within most of us is stronger
than we women admit, and the primitive fact forces us to take risks,
sending us headlong into a thousand dangers.


Can we ever find perfect love? Is it not like exercise of the body? You
can develop it to a certain point, but not beyond without danger and
very slowly with continued patient work. Do we not need exercise of the
soul? I do not know. Often I feel I know nothing. To some men and women
it is all simple enough, a woman is just a woman and a man is a man. The
trouble begins when any woman becomes the one desired woman and any man
the one desired man.

There is gain and development in this selective tendency of Love--and
yet, if I am right, there is terrible danger lurking in the application
of this egoistic spiritual view.

It is, little as we may believe it, this search for personal spiritual
happiness that often so greatly endangers marriage. Searching always for
this perfect mate, we must find a partner corresponding in every respect
to our ideal. The man in Mr. Hardy's novel, "The Well Beloved," spent
forty years in trying to do this, and his ultimate failure is typical of
the experience of most of us. Fools and blind, we neither understand nor
seek the cause of our failure. We are like little lost dogs searching
for a master. We seek without ceasing some pilot passion to which we can
surrender our heavy burden of freedom. The dry-rot destruction of this
individualistic age has worm-eaten into marriage; we have sought to
drown pain and the exhaustion of our souls, to fill emptiness with
pleasure, to place the personal good in marriage above the racial duty,
to forget responsibility, to arrogate for the unimportant Self, and, in
so doing, inevitably we have turned away from essential things. Can't
you see that we are so terribly tired of this search for something that
we never find? Our adventures are the tricks of the child to cloud our
eyes to our own emptiness and pain.


_Marriage is not a religion to us: it is a sport._

I say this quite deliberately. I am sure we know better how to engage a
servant, how to buy a house, how to set up in business--how, indeed, to
do every unimportant thing in life better than we know how to choose a
partner in marriage. We require a character with our cook or our butler,
we engage an expert to test the drains of our house, we study and work,
and pass examinations to prepare ourselves for business, but in marriage
we take no such sensible precautions, we even pride ourselves that we do
_not_ take them.

We speak of _falling_ in love and we _do fall_. There really is
something ludicrous in our attitude. We English are everlasting children
in an everlasting nursery; we so fiercely refuse seriousness towards the
fundamental emotions. The conventions are sacred; nothing else matters.
We stand for purity, which means with women ignorance, and with men
silence and discretion.

Men and women of our earlier England were more natural. Our novelists
then frankly said that every girl looked with special interest on a
well-formed man. There was no conviction marking this as improper, "the
baser side of love." We have grown more and more distorted and
demagnetized from the natural needs of our nature. We try to cast
discredit on our appetites and the body. We have lost the old firm
tradition of marriage and its duties, and we have succeeded in putting
nothing fixed in its place.

Now, I resent the romantic idea that marriage should be a hazardous
mystery--at least to the woman. The more shrewdly girls can judge men
and men can judge girls (not by mere talking and abstract discussion of
sex problems, there has been too much of that kind of futility), but the
more calmly the young lovers can find agreement with each other, the
more simply they can accept the facts of marriage, the more chance there
will be of permanency of affection.

The conventions of to-day are false, are bound up with concealments or
with an equally untruthful openness. It does not, however, follow from
this that mere destruction of the conventions will be enough; that
everyone's unguided ignorance will lead to success and freedom. The
_laissez faire_ system is as false in the realm of marriage as it is in
industry and economics. While equally false, as I have tried to show, is
the too spiritual view of marriage that love can be found only in
perfect harmony of character between the wife and the husband, and is
independent of duty. It is true that love differs from lust in its
deeper insight into the personality, deeper interest in the character,
as opposed to the inexpressive smooth outline and "unbrained" physical
beauty of the body. But character and intellect may be studied and loved
as self-centeredly, as much with a view to the enjoyment of mental
excitement, as the body itself. A wider distinction must be drawn before
we can find guidance.


Let us look now at a different, older and, as I think, much finer ideal
of marriage, for by this means we may find out more clearly how very far
we have wandered from happiness and freedom in marriage in our search
for those very things.

It is the Jewish ideal of marriage that I wish to bring before you. And
I would say first that the remarks I am offering are not gathered only
from what I have read and been told by others. I have learnt them from
my own experience, unconsciously and slowly, and even against my will.
My marriage with a Jew has taught me the wide separation between the
Jewish ideal of marriage and that which I had accepted: I cannot even
try to say how much I have gained and learnt.

The English ideal of marriage is concerned with rights and the
individual, the Jewish ideal is concerned with service and the race.
Their theory of marriage is one of religious duty, and has much less to
do with the accomplishments of passion; I think that is why Jewish
marriages are so happy.

Modern writers on the Jewish point of view (such as Achad-ha-Am and
Melamed) are agreed that the morality of the Jews is a collective rather
than an individual morality, aiming at race preservation rather than
individual development, practice rather than faith, the continuance and
improvement of life rather than spiritual recompense. Consequently,
wherever Jewish traditions retain their hold, the begetting and care of
children must necessarily occupy the most important portion of life.
Thus marriage is regarded as a duty to be undertaken by all, not as a
pleasure to be indulged in or to be left dependent on the individual
will. It is a sacred duty of parents to arrange a marriage for every
child; marriage and the life of the home is still deeply religious;
Jewish mothers do not go out to work in factories, they are more
concerned with the service of the home than with anything outside of the
home. They are very old-fashioned, and they are very happy: they
consider barrenness the greatest possible misfortune.

Do you see the contrast I am trying to establish? The essence of the
romantic ideal of marriage is at bottom an insupportable egoism--the
seeking of happiness by the all too insistent Self--the forgetting of
the ultimate values of life.

There are other modes of thought for Jewish women. The expression of her
own individuality is not a matter to which she can attach supreme
importance; rather is she unconsciously finding an escape from this
burdening consciousness of individuality by ever seeking identification
with her husband, with her children, with her home, with her own people
and with God. She possesses the inestimable good of being bound by a
great tradition. It is ever thus with those who are conscious of a
sufficient inner life: the modern cry for individual freedom is but one
result among many of the poverty of our lives.

The Westernized Jews, it is true, are more or less tainted with the
errors of industrial communities. It is, of course, where the early
marriages of the ghettoes prevail, where the married woman religiously
covers her own hair with a wig immediately after marriage, where
marriage, as I have said, is regarded as a duty, and love, therefore, is
not considered to be of overwhelming importance, that the full
difference between Jewish and Gentile traditions is seen.

This difference is partly due directly to religious influences.
Christianity considers marriage as a concession to human wickedness and
the continuance of the race a doubtful benefit. "A remedy for sin" as
the English Prayer Book states with such delightful frankness. When I
remember this Christian view of marriage, I am not surprised at the
corruptions into which we have fallen; it is an atmosphere rich for the
development of industrial values. The Jews have never fallen into this
hateful denial of life. Judaism still considers it a command of God to
increase and multiply: the unmarried life, not the married life, is
regarded as sinful. The ascetic view of marriage, as well as the
romantic view that love is everything, are both anti-Jewish.

The Jews, and, I think, even more strongly the women, can never be
individualists. I must again emphasize this fact, for everything else
depends upon it. Never can the Jewish wife and mother come to seek
personal pleasure as the chief aim in marriage, or delight greatly in
expressing her own individuality in spiritual union. She is not absorbed
by her own joy or engrossed by her own sorrow. She is content to be
married, and accepts any disadvantages that come from that state; she
believes in her husband, in her children, and even if these fail her,
she believes in her race, her religion, and the inheritance of her
people: this gives her a center of gravity outside of herself. For
thousands of years Jewish women have been taught the value of service;
the dedication of the Self to an ideal. At the same time, they have been
held firm to the realities of marriage by their worship. These two
influences will, I believe, forever make it impossible for Jewish women
in any numbers to accept the egoistic view of marriage and the duties of
women that has been set up in England, as also in other European lands
and in America, indeed wherever Self-assertion has been admitted as the
ruling principle of life.

For these reasons the Jewess, with her special attitude toward marriage
and to life, offers a picture of the deepest significance for the study
of all industrial races. That is why I turn to her in the hope of making
plain to us Western women our mistakes. She, in my opinion, can show us
the path wherein alone in future we can find happiness.

The Jewish women have inherited the most perfect feminist ideal that as
yet the world has known; an ideal of service within the home of which
full life she is the high-priestess; an ideal turning to foolishness the
false values of this industrial age. And this ideal of service, shared
by all, gives to the most unlearned Jewish woman the priceless knowledge
of an eternal truth: a truth that has to be learnt by each one among us
before we can find happiness--that only by losing ourselves can we find
the Self that is eternal. The Jewish woman learns this truth by living

The deep reasons of life lie beyond the realm of individual advantage.
The Jewish spirit, pursuing its ends deliberately and wisely, demands of
women and of men two different devotions. It asks of women devotion to
men, to their children, to their homes; of men, devotion to ideals.
Jewish women do not wait to ask if men are worthy, their thought is of
service. They understand that in each devotion lies an equal glory, an
equal joy, and an equal honor in the sight of God and of man.

There is so much more I would like to say. I would wish to show you
something at least of the success with which religion among the Jews has
been turned to domestic uses. No detail of the home life is left
unhallowed. Even the poorest Jewish home is saved by its ceremonies from
the degrading indifference to decency and tenderness, which is the
terrible feature of the industrial homes of poverty. The sanctity of the
home is an affectionate tradition linking the Jews through the ages with
a golden chain. The purity of home life has fought and triumphed over
all the unsanitary conditions of ghetto life.

I wish that the limits of my space allowed me to write in detail of
these beautiful and happy services. The lighting of the Sabbath candles,
the joyous festivals so attractive to our children, all are used to
consecrate the daily life. The dietary laws may be said to be a religion
of the kitchen. The description of the Virtuous Woman, from the book of
Proverbs--the woman who "looks well to the ways of her household,"
whose clothing are "strength and majesty," who "laugheth at the time to
come"--is appropriately read on Friday evenings by the master of the
house to exalt the perpetual provident, charitable and joyous
house-mistress. A true Jewish home must always be a beautiful place,
because its duties are fixed by tradition and hallowed, by the symbols
of God's dealing with His people in the past.

Abundant evidence is forthcoming of the honor that was always paid by
the Jewish husband to his wife. His duties toward her are set forth in
detail in the usual form of the _Ketubah_. In the body of that
instrument he binds himself to work for her, and to honor her, to
support and maintain her. The Talmudic sayings on this subject of the
honor in which the wife is held and the husband's dependence on her are
numerous. Let me quote one or two: "Who is rich? He whose wife's actions
are comely. Who is happy? He whose wife is modest and gentle." Again: "A
man's happiness is all of his wife's creation"; and yet again: "God's
presence dwells in a pure and loving home." "Be not cruel or
discourteous to your wife," said a first century teacher, "if you
thrust her from you with your left hand, draw her back to you with your
right hand." Another says: "A man should always be careful lest he vex
his wife: for as her tears come easily, the vexation put upon her comes
near to God." A seventeenth century writer states: "Never quarrel with
your wife"; this is not to be done even "if she asks for too much

Such passages extend in an unbroken series through all medieval Jewish
literature. But if the Jewish wife was held in honor by the Jewish
husband, it was because of the very practical virtues of the Jewish way
of living. The home life was everywhere serene and lovely, and if the
Jew retained any virtue at all, he displayed it in the home. The father
was the religious teacher of his family, and this duty necessarily
increased his domesticity. He took greater interest in his children
because it was his task to teach them the law, and his devotion to his
wife was directly dependent on his service to the family. One of the
Rabbis, on this question of the Jewish husband ill-treating his wife,
said in framing his regulations "This is a thing not done in Israel."

I would ask you to note that the woman does not become a nonentity by
reason of her limitation to a definite sphere of action within the
home. Such a view is entirely absent among the Jews. The rule over the
home-life held through the centuries by the Jewish wife is far more real
in its results of power than the so-called equality claimed by a modern
woman, acting under the influence of industrial ideals. What is
significant (and ought to teach us if we can be taught) is the fact that
such power is held by women in right of their position as wives and
mothers; it is never extended to young girls or to unmarried women on
account of their attraction and sexual power over men, in the way to
which we have become accustomed. That is unknown, at least, in
connection with marriage. The Jew understands that there are other ways
of loving than falling in love. Power is held universally by the house
mistress--the mother, whose desires through life are a law unto her
husband and her children.

All Jewish literature is filled with examples of reverence expressed
towards mothers who are "the teachers of all virtue." In the moral law
the command to fear the mother--that is to treat her with respect, is
placed even before the duty of fearing the father (Lev. xix. 8).
Enduring evidence remains of the spiritual status of mothers. When the
Prophet of Exiles wishes to depict God as the Comforter of his people,
he says "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you" (Is.
lxvi. 13). When the Psalmist describes his utter woe, he laments, "As
one mourning for his mother, I was bowed down with grief."

Perhaps, now as we see the mother taken as the one sufficient symbol of
Jehovah's dealing with his people, the mourning for her presence being
the completest expression of grief, we can come to understand something
of the Jewish ideal of marriage and of the high honor, _because of this
ideal_, in which women were held.


It should be plain enough now why English marriages so often are
unhappy. The immense failure of marriage to-day arises from the
confusion of our minds and our chaotic desires so that we have no firm
ideal, no fixed standard of conduct either for the wife or for the
husband. Every couple starts anew and alone, and the way is too
difficult for solitary experiments.

The existence of many standards, of what ought to be done and what
ought not to be done, the liberty permitted to the husband, the liberty
permitted to the wife, if the wife shall continue her work or profession
or remain at home dependent on the husband's earnings, whether the
marriage shall be fruitful or sterile--these are but a few of the
questions left undecided. And thus to leave unguided each wife and each
husband, with their own idea of what is good to do and what is evil,
makes for narrowness and waste of effort; while further, our inability
to set up a standard of right and wrong conduct--of ideals to strive
after--leaves vacant room for false ideals of every kind. These empty
places of the mind have been occupied by the ravings of advanced people.
The harm has been incredibly active in the consciousness of the young.
We have put before their imagination nothing worthy of contemplation,
therefore they easily sink downward attracted by what is base.

Then we suggest economic changes. But the evil is not economic. No evils
are fundamentally economic. The structure of society is the unforeseen
result of the conflicting desires and capacities of the individuals who
comprise the society. A false view of marriage, a false view of the
relative values of life and money, of service and liberty, of happiness
and duty, is not dependent on economic conditions. Yet, let us not
forget that this is the age of the gadding mind and the grabbing hand.
We tend to value everything by what it brings in to us, in feelings if
not in more tangible results.

You will see what this must mean. I am brought back to our wrong ideals;
I have no new remedy to give; I can only again insist upon this truth: A
preoccupation with a desire for love does not, and never can, result in
happiness. But the personal (or perhaps my meaning will be clearer by
saying the egoistic) view of love has assumed such gigantic proportion
in our minds to-day that we accept these selfish desires as a safe basis
for permanent happiness. _Marriage has ceased to be a discipline; it has
become an experiment._

The romantic view of love as the basis of marriage is, of course, the
essence of the English habit of life; as we have seen, it focuses desire
on personal adventures and personal needs. Romance necessarily leads to
license, and not license of the body alone finding expression in more or
less gross immoralities, for there is a spiritual license far more
dangerous because so much more seductive. Appetite for adventure, for an
excitement that is mainly mental is a condition that is quite as
dangerous to marriage and much more common than the unfaithfulness that
leads to the divorce courts.

I would appeal to the young, to each young girl, who to-day is
questioning the future. Many of you have passed through a supremely
heroic period of your lives; now you are waiting. You want to do right,
and it is so difficult, for everyone seems to be at a loose end of
desire. Perhaps some among you will ask me: "What can I do?" My answer
is this: Fix your ideal. Do not make the child's mistake and think that
the desirable thing is to do just what you like. You can never find
freedom or happiness in that way. Hold firm in your hearts that no gain
of personal liberty counts as happiness to women. Treasure your womanly
qualities--your sweetness, your gentleness, your shyness, your unlimited
capacity for devotion, guard these as your greatest possession. Do not
acknowledge your poverty by failing to honor yourself. Be the
establishers of a revived feminist idealism, the founders of a new
tradition of womanly service. It is for you to fix the type that will
one day give woman her real freedom; one day--but not yet.

In these times of uncertainty there is great danger. Every woman should
be asked at the moment to believe in simple things; in her home, her
children, her husband, and her country. The only hope is in unity, and
for unity you must have discipline, and for discipline, for the present,
at least, you must accept authority. Much, incalculably much, depends
upon the young. The generation to which I belong is passing, we have to
hand on to you who are younger the torch of life.

With more courage to face truth, you should have a surer ideal than we
have found. When this comes, there will be less sentimentality but much
deeper feeling about marriage. I have tried to show you a different
ideal, and picture for you the Jewish home, where the exalted esteem in
which women are held is the outcome of their attitude to marriage and
the Jewish way of life: it is an ideal that depends directly upon duty
and a religious view of marriage.

To-day we need a new consciousness of our social and racial
responsibilities, the idea of handing down at least as much as we have
received. Let the young women of England learn as a great new faith
that the sons and daughters they bear are not their children and the
children of their husbands only, but the sons and daughters of
England--the inheritors of all the fine traditions of our race. Let us
spread the new romance of Love's responsibility to Life; let us honor
ideals of self-dedication to our husbands, understanding their
dependence upon us, to our homes, to our sons and our daughters, to our
race, its great ones and their deeds; our moral obligations to all
children even before they are born.

It is women, and they alone, who can save marriage; they hold all life
in their hands. Never before in the world has the opportunity been so
vast; it is a fearful thing to find oneself among realities. To you, who
to-day are young, negligence no longer is possible. Listen to what I
tell you: those heroes who have died for this England of ours cry to you
for children to hold their memories and make their lives everlasting.

Let us take seriously what the politicians have said without meaning it:
let us make an England fit for heroes to be born in, able to mold a
character of heroism in each of its children: not, as at present, an
England so tainted with mean self-assertion that the dedication of a
wife to her husband, of a mother to her children, counts as a sacrifice
of her personality.[80:1]


[80:1] In order to guard myself from possible misunderstanding, I would
wish to give the following explanation: the chief section of this essay
on Marriage is devoted to praise of the Jewish ideal of marriage as a
religious duty. It does not profess to examine the detailed working out
of the ideal in connection with the definite regulations of traditional
Judaism. That working out is, naturally, to the modern mind more or less
faulty. It is as an ideal that I give it: an ideal of service and
dedication that I want to be carried into English marriage, and to serve
the needs of our national life. I would, however, make it clear that the
detailed proposals put forward by me in the essays that follow have no
connection with Judaism: no one of them could possibly be considered to
have any such connection, except the proposal for facilitated divorce,
but my proposal in that particular connection (as will be seen in the
next essay) is hedged by restrictions, suggested by present-day

_Third Essay_



     "That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which
     is wanting cannot be numbered."--Ecc. i. 15.


I am well aware that there will be many among my readers who, having
gone so far in my book and agreed more or less with my point of view,
must here fall into disagreement with me. This essay upholding free
divorce, and the three that follow, the first one recommending
regulation and firm action in suppressing prostitution as the only way
to stay the spread of venereal diseases; the second essay on the
illegitimately born child, where I differ in one important matter from
the accepted view of what is chiefly needed to protect these unhappy
children; and, even more, the proposal I make in the last essay, where
I plead for an open recognition of honorable sexual partnerships outside
of marriage--this half of my book will be disapproved of, very probably
disliked, and my views more or less violently disputed. It will be said
that what I advocate now is in direct opposition to my ideal of marriage
being a religious duty, which demands the consecration of women to the
service of the family and the home. This, however, is not so: if I have
been understood at all, it should be evident that the opposition is not

I care little for our existing and chaotic forms of morality; what I
desire is to create a new reality, the value of which consists in that
it provides wider possibilities of decent and honorable conduct. We have
to brave moral danger in trying to attain a higher moral reality. To me
what seems the first necessity is to face things as they are, and not to
go on eternally pretending that our world is what it is not.

Our vague-minded lax society has to pull itself together, has to
reconsider and administer and formulate a more helpful system of
regulations; has to learn to express again its united will in some
better way than "go as you please," or fail. What is wanted is a new
honesty to create standards of conduct, which will fix the every day
indispensable duties, that, after all, make up the total of life. We
have but a choice between the danger of falling deeper into confusion
and dishonesty or the danger of awakening to a clearer and more
difficult consciousness. Now, I do not believe it is moral to regulate
life by fear, considering only the desire to remain undisturbed of those
who are decayed and petrified. I do not know if I make my meaning clear.
As our habit, we ignore or minimize all sex difficulties as much as we
can; we hesitate and compromise and bungle over every reform because we
are afraid of what may happen if we probe down to the real bottom of
what needs to be done. We have neither the courage of our bodies or of
our souls. This is why so often our attitude becomes false and our
thoughts entangled, so that our moral life is corrupt with concealments
and deceptions. Now, I am not content with the compromise which
sanctions every form of sexual sin so long as the conventions are
respected and the sin hidden--all the rottenness going on beneath the
respectable structure of our society. I want as far as is possible to
emancipate our lives from such slavery; to make less easy the hypocrisy
which law and custom sanction; to gain freedom from a sham morality and
the pretense of a righteousness that we do not maintain. It is a
necessary step, for me at least, on the way to any kind of improvement.
More and more I am convinced that we shall have to make a violent and
very conscious effort to get clear of dishonesty.

That is why I am advocating, as a first most necessary reform, simpler
and more decent facilities of divorce. I plead for a greater breadth of
toleration, with a more honest facing of the facts, because I have known
in my experience the degradation, the falsity and the absurdities that
are going on to-day; the deceptions into which everyone is driven who is
unfortunate enough to have to seek relief, under the present disgraceful
divorce laws, from a marriage that has failed. There are conditions
which degrade and embitter and make honorable conduct very difficult.

A great number of people, regarding marriage as a mystical and,
therefore, unbreakable sacrament, object to divorce under any
circumstances whatever. This is the case in Catholic countries, such,
for instance, as Spain, the land I know and love so well. Such an
attitude I can understand and respect, though I do not consider it a
practical proposition, and know, moreover, that indissoluble marriage,
in some ways, works very harmfully. It prevents hasty marriage. In Spain
marriage is regarded as the gravest and most momentous step in life; but
this caution does not altogether work out for good in the way one might

I recall a conversation with a Spanish friend on this question. We were
speaking of the great numbers of young Spaniards who did not marry. I
asked my friend the reason of this. He answered: "You see we have no
divorce in this land as you have in England, that makes us afraid now we
have begun to think, we hesitate and hesitate, then we take a mistress
while we are deciding, but it is easier and less binding to live like
that, and we keep going on and put off marrying, sometimes put it off
until it is too late." In Spain the illegitimate birth-rate is the
highest of any country in Europe.

We must accept, then, that indissoluble marriage fails in practice, and
the society which enforces it commits self-injury by setting up a
standard of conduct impossible to maintain; and further, one that acts
in deterring the more thoughtful from marriage and leaves the protected
institution to the more reckless, who do not consider consequences.

Now, when once we do accept this, admit the principle of divorce and
acknowledge that in certain circumstances the bond of marriage may be
severed, at once the aspect of the question changes: it becomes a matter
of practical adjustment, so that what is needed is decision and
regulation of the conditions under which divorce should be allowed, so
that they may meet best the needs of men and women in the society and,
at the time, in which they live. I am very anxious to show the
difference between the practical and the conventional attitude toward
this problem. It is to be wished that this question of divorce could be
approached free from the falseness of the old prejudices of religious
intolerance and of sentimentality.

The great and pressing need of reform is being widely discussed at the
present time. I note with a mixture of amazement and fear that
practically in every argument the opinion universally held appears to be
that the relief given should be as limited as possible; it is still
being taken for granted that free divorce in this country is neither
attainable nor desirable, and, indeed, that any extension of the grounds
of divorce would act against the sanctity of marriage. I say I note this
attitude with fear, because it seems to me that the triumph of prejudice
and ignorance here is a most serious symptom of the degradation of our
moral outlook and the poverty of our faith in the institution of

"Divorce is relief from misfortune, not a crime," to quote from the
admirable statute book of Norway, a saying which should be one of
universal application in divorce. And this relief must be granted, not
merely as an act of justice to the individual; it is called for equally
in the interests of society.

The moral code of any society ought to meet the needs of its members.
But the needs change as time goes on, and moral codes must then also
change or they become worn-out and useless. That society which is
unwilling to modify its laws to fit new conditions drives its members
into defiance of the law and acts directly as a cause of immorality. It
were well to remember this as we come to question our laws of divorce.
There can be no possible doubt that as the law stands at present it does
not meet the needs of those people who claim its relief; while further,
the most superficial knowledge of the situation proves how harmfully and
immorally the law acts.


It is, of course, very much better that marriage should be as permanent
as possible, and any society is obviously justified in bringing any
moral pressure to bear to make people realize the seriousness of the
relationship and the importance of keeping it permanent when possible.
But it is certainly no part of the right or duty of society to use force
to compel people to remain in the marriage relationship, when it becomes
so repugnant to them that the conditions of the marriage cannot be
continued. All that society has the right then to demand is that all the
obligations which have been assumed shall be honorably fulfilled. But a
relationship registered in mistake or under delusion should be subject
to revision, and, with certain safeguards, to dissolution, otherwise the
standard of morality is degraded and marriage itself is brought to
contempt, and can be used, as indeed too often it is, as a cloak of
protection for every kind of immorality.

But it is just here that the religious objector to divorce-reform steps
in. Marriage, he declares, is not only a social institution, it is a
sacrament of the Church, "Those whom God has joined together no man may
put asunder," _therefore divorce must be made as difficult as possible_.
As I have said before, I can respect the view that rejects divorce and
regards the marriage bond as indissoluble, but I can have nothing but
contempt for this attitude of weak and shuffling compromise. Much has
been said on the matter, therefore I say little. I shall not attempt to
urge the causes for which divorce should, or should not, be granted;
for, as will appear directly, I want a much simpler and more radical
reform: also I hold it folly to try to convince the self-blinded. I only
ask the reader to make sure that he (or perhaps more probably she)
really believes that the partners in the marriages that come to the
divorce courts _were joined by God_, and is willing to follow the
argument to its logical conclusion. Are they willing, for instance, to
say that a woman or a man may not put aside the marriage if one of the
two is a lunatic, or a hopeless drunkard, or an habitual criminal, or a
degenerate, or the victim of a disease which can be communicated to the
offspring? Are they willing to go with our ecclesiastical advisers, who
seek to maintain marriages, which may be the cause of perpetuating
disease and crime; the bringing into the world of the children of
drunkards, of epileptics, of syphilitics and of lunatics?

Stop a moment and think what this must mean to the society in which we
live. Can it be considered seriously that the continuance of marriage in
such cases as these can by any juggling be made right--anything except
the most blind-eyed folly and sin?


Consider now the position to-day. Amazing marriages have been made under
the urgency of war conditions, reckless marriages, entered into by those
who have known each other for a few days only before marrying for life.
A minister of religion stated quite recently, "I have had to marry many
couples who admitted to me that they knew little about each other. I
could do nothing. I was not allowed to refuse marriage."

There is no excuse now for these criminally hasty marriages; that they
should have been made is one of the tragedies caused by war. It would
prevent endless unhappiness and many divorces if marriages were to be
made conditional, except under very special reasons, on the woman and
the man having been engaged for a fixed and sufficiently long period. I
would recommend this reform to all ecclesiastical opposers of divorce.
Betrothal should be regarded as a much more important ceremony than is
common with us: here again is a way in which we might wisely copy older
civilizations, whose customs were more strictly planned to help men and
women in right living.

In the first year of the war the number of cases heard in the divorce
court rose from 289 to 520, which was the highest figure then on record.
Last season the number had sprung up to 775, while on the present term's
lists there are nearly 800 cases, showing the exceeding increase on the
pre-war rate. A large percentage of the marriages which are dissolved by
the court have been contracted since August, 1914. Petition after
petition is filed praying for the dissolution of marriages which should
never have been made. English law makes marriage far too easy. In
addition to this alarming increase in divorce, a greater number of
deeds of separation have been drawn up in the last two years than in
any preceding twenty-five; cases of bigamy have also become very
frequent, by women as well as by men.

A stage has now been reached when the cry for reform must be listened
to. Something has got to be done. The unhappiness and failure in many
marriages looms before us a colossal, an unprecedented and menacing
fact. Our eyes cannot any longer remain shut to the damning proofs which
confront us from so many sides.


The question as to how our ridiculous and immoral system of divorce--(I
really must use those terms)--was ever permitted to come into use may be
answered very briefly. The Church ordained that marriage is
indissoluble, but, this being found impossible in practice, the State
stepped in with a way of escape--a kind of emergency exit. But what a
makeshift it was! how flagrantly dishonest, how indecent! Adultery must
be committed, and, in the case of the woman claiming relief, cruelty or
desertion must be added to the adultery. To escape the degradation of an
unworthy partner another partner must first be sought, home-life
wrecked by the worst kind of conduct, and marriage degraded by an act of

Now, this kind of thing is bad, and no possible shuffling can make it
right; it is, indeed, so offensive to the feelings of most of us that it
is very rarely, if ever, that the immoral and harmful way in which it
acts is put into plain words.

The divorce law with its materialistic refusal to accept any grounds for
divorce except physical infidelity, physical cruelty or desertion, makes
for a low view of marriage. Further, it directly encourages perjury, in
fact makes lying essential to obtaining the relief of the law. The law
refuses to legalize divorce by the consenting desire of both
parties--calls such a wise arrangement collusion; yet it cannot prevent
what everyone knows is done in the great majority of decently conducted
divorce suits, where desertion and infidelity take place by arrangement.
The law is very lenient to those who can pay for the best arrangements
for circumventing the law's intentions, but even in spite of the recent
concessions, is still hard on the ignorant poor and low class. The law
is a snob as well as a pedantic, pompous ass.

Some people may be disposed to believe that this very absurdity and
unfairness of the law acts to prevent divorce. I tell you it does not;
what it does do is to render decent and honest conduct quite impossible.
I know this. I speak because the evil that is going on ought to be
known. My own opposition to the law is not so much on account of the
difficulty in obtaining a divorce--for it is not nearly so difficult as
most people think; nor do I take exception, as is common with most
women, to the unequal moral standard required from men and women; all
this, as I have said, can easily be got over if you have money and a
sufficiently clever lawyer. No, my passionate opposition is directed
against the trickery and dishonesty made necessary by the law.

Let me prove this statement. To do so I will give brief details of four
divorce suits which I think will speak more forcibly than any words of
mine; in each case I know the facts I give are true.

_Case 1._--_A husband and wife, childless, desired to part, there was no
physical infidelity on either side, but love had died. Both partners
desired to remarry. The wife proved desertion against the husband
(arranged between them beforehand by the help of a lawyer). She had to
write and urgently entreat the man she desired to leave her to return! A
decree for the restitution of conjugal rights was granted to her
petition. Afterwards the husband had to commit adultery; (again arranged
by the help of the lawyer.) He took the woman he wished to make his
second wife for one night to an hotel. The decree_ nisi _was granted.
Then there was the six months waiting for the decree to be made
absolute. The King's Proctor made inquiries, it was found that the wife
also desired her freedom; the divorce was refused on the ground of
collusion. Four people were rendered desperately unhappy, compelled
either to part or to live together without marriage. This, as was to be
expected, they did, and children were born, of necessity

_Case 2._--_In this case the husband loved his wife, but she had been
unfaithful to him and desired freedom to re-marry her lover. There were
no children. Because it was better for her, this wronged husband
arranged for his wife to divorce him, prove desertion and adultery.
There was a slight difficulty because it was the wife who had run away
from home. However, this was easily got over. The wife wrote begging
the husband to allow her to come home, representing that he had sent her
away. He then had to reply refusing her request, and while desiring
nothing on earth so much as her return to him, had to state he would
never live with her again. An act of adultery was then necessary, and as
this good and chivalrous husband was also an exceptionally moral man, he
took his sister to an hotel, and the divorce was granted on this: they,
of course, signing their names in the hotel register as Mr. and Mrs. X._

_Case 3._--_In this case the action of the parties is reversed. The
husband had committed adultery and wished his freedom to re-marry, but
he held a public position, and to be the guilty party in a divorce suit
meant social and financial ruin. The wife was innocent, and still loved
her husband, but because she felt it right to free him, an act of
adultery for her (not committed) was arranged. Both the decree_ nisi
_and the decree absolute were granted. Complications arose from the fact
that there were two children: as the "innocent" party custody was
granted to the father, but he did not want the children. So for the six
probationary months between the two decrees the children were placed
with friends. Afterwards they were given back by the father to the

When the decree of a divorce has been made absolute, you can fortunately
do what you like. During the six months probationary period, however,
the "innocent" partner (see Case 1) has to be so careful of his or her
conduct, that it is really much more convenient to be the "guilty"
partner. I mention this as a further proof of the absurdity of the law,
and the immoral way in which it acts.

_Case 4._--_This case was even more curious than the three I have given.
A very bad but beautiful woman had married a man younger than herself,
an idealist, chivalrous, and quite unusually moral. After a few years of
hell the marriage had to be ended. In kindness, and because she was a
woman, the man said she had better divorce him. Desertion was proved,
though it had not taken place. Trouble arose from the necessary act of
adultery, as it was against the principles of the husband even to appear
to commit it. The difficulty had, however, to be got over or the divorce
given up. It was done in this way: the man got his married sister to go
with her husband to an hotel, personating him and a woman, and signing
the hotel book with his name as Mr. and Mrs. ----. Now the strange fact
is that though there was no kind of similarity of appearance between the
brother-in-law and the husband, one being very dark and the other very
fair, one being short and the other tall, identity was established and
sworn to by the servant in the hotel where the night had been spent. How
this was arranged I do not know, but the decree_ nisi _and the decree
absolute were granted without any difficulties arising._

Now, none of these cases are unusual, with the possible exception of No.
4; similar divorce suits are heard each session, only that the way in
which the details have been arranged is carefully hidden, to prevent the
losing of the case on a charge of collusion. _The one absolute barrier
in this land to the breaking of a marriage is that both parties want it
to be broken._

It is obvious, surely, without any further argument, that laws making
perjury necessary, which demand the committing of acts of, often
pretended, infidelity, are immoral; nor is their immorality lessened by
the fact that through the rather heavy costs of these "arranged
suits,"[99:1] only the richer and more fortunate classes, as a rule,
are able to bring them.

I ask if this state of things is to be allowed to go on: are decent
people to be driven by the law to make use of such vile trickery? I say
"decent people" advisedly, for those who bring this kind of suit _are
decent_, wishing to act honorably and kindly, and carrying out the
always difficult severing of the marriage bond with as little pain as
possible. There are, I know, other divorce suits in which vindictiveness
and jealousy and anger are the ruling motives, but undefended and
"arranged" suits, more or less on the lines of those I have given, are
becoming more and more frequent. Each law session their number is
increasing. Personally, I regard this as an extraordinarily healthy


I hope I have now sufficiently proved that our unclean divorce laws can
do nothing to preserve the sanctity of marriage. If we know the facts,
to go on pretending that we believe this is to mark ourselves as
hypocrites. We need to get rid of a system that is as immoral in theory
as it is evil in practice.

But, unfortunately, the probability of the law being reformed does not
depend on the need for reform. How many people are affected? What votes
will the advocating of the reform gain? Grievances that will not gather
noisy crowds will continue unheeded. Modern parliaments are like badly
brought up children; they can be bribed with promises of votes or
frightened with fear of disorder, more easily than led by reason.


As soon as we begin to consider the reform of the law, we come at once
to such a tangle of questions that I have the greatest difficulty in
finding the right end to unwind the skein. For the trouble with this
matter of our divorce laws, as with most other reforms, is to decide
just what ought to be done, how far are we prepared to go? where must
the marriage bond be held tight? where may it be loosened? These are but
examples of the questions that have to be answered. Hence the wrangling
and the failure in establishing any kind of united will, which prevents
anything at all being done. No one, for instance, can decide the causes
for which it would be right to extend the grounds of divorce. Almost
every individual interested, and every group of individuals, appears to
have a different opinion and offers opposing suggestions. And the issues
are further confused because any change that concerns marriage touches
us all so intimately, so that the attitude that we take up must be
strongly affected by our deepest emotions, which against our knowledge
are directed by our unconscious wills. This explains much apparently
unwise conduct, as well as persistent opposition to reform on the part
of many humane people, that otherwise would be difficult to understand.
There is much too great a timidity shown even by those who recognize
most the evil done by our existing laws and work for their reform. They
fear to ask too much, always the sure way to get nothing done.

This question of the causes for which divorce should be allowed is one
that is very unlikely to be settled. I doubt if it can be settled
wisely. In my opinion, an enlightened reform of our law must go much
further than the providing of ways of escape from marriage. Such exits
tend to destroy the happy working of marriage and open a direct way to
abuses; also they are unable to meet the needs of all classes, no matter
how wide and numerous they are, while directly they are numerous they
become ridiculous. They can never form the ultimate solution of what
ought to be done. They tend to make marriage contemptible, and there are
real grounds in the objections raised against them. There must be no
special exits; the door of marriage must be left open to go out of as it
is open to enter.

Nor do I believe there need be cause for fear in this idea of divorce by
mutual consent. It is not nearly so easy to break a marriage that has
lasted for any time as is usually thought by those who have never tried
to do it. The habit of living together forges bonds you do not feel
until you try to break them. The intimacy of marriage creates a thousand
and one little every-day interests and ties, habits, preoccupations and
memories in common; when they are torn it is like tearing thousands of
little nerves that are far more painful than the one big hurt that
caused them to be broken. That is why most marriages are dissolved
through anger, in jealous passion, and because lovers are found out. It
needs immense courage to sever a marriage if you have time to think what
you are doing.


About no subject, perhaps, are prejudices so rampant as they are about
this question of changing the marriage laws. I am, however, very certain
that I am right here. Nothing but good would follow from this
introduction of plain simple honesty. There would be fewer divorces, and
not more, if our laws were freed from their obsession with sexual
offenses, and divorce was made a question of quiet and careful
consideration, and mutual thought and decision.

There ought certainly to be a period of waiting after the application
for divorce, which should be signed by both the partners of the
marriage. I would suggest that the first application should be made to
lapse of itself unless a further application for its enforcement was
made after a period of--say, two years. Many people will go on with what
they have begun, even if they don't want to do so, because they are not
brave enough publicly to say they have made a mistake. After the second
application a further period of waiting, not less than a year, might be
required before the decree for dissolution of the marriage was made

I cannot understand how any honest mind can fail to see the advantages
of this or some similar plan of divorce by mutual desire and
arrangement, over the present law which forces the committal of perjury
and requires adultery; nor can I find any reason why freedom should not
be granted, when the marriage is childless and both partners, after
sufficient deliberation, desire its dissolution. Probably it would be
wiser, as a further necessary safeguard against too hasty parting, to
require the marriage to have lasted for five years, before application
for its dissolution could be made. I think, however, in urgent cases,
and wherever it could be shown that the marriage had been entered into
under a mistake and had been continuously unhappy, it should be possible
to remit this requirement.

The case where one partner only of the marriage desires its dissolution
is much more difficult, and cannot, I think, be settled with the same
justice. I would, however, point out that the same situation is common
before marriage, when an engagement is broken by one or other of the
lovers, though, of course, the pain and injury (if such words can be
used in this connection) must be much greater after marriage. The law
allows in these cases compensation to be claimed by the injured partner
for the harm suffered, and, though no one can uphold these breach of
promise cases (which have increased so unfortunately in the war-period)
it should be possible to avoid a similar sordidness. The establishment
of right to compensation is not a new thing in divorce; used in the way
I suggest it would serve as a safeguard against a too hasty escape from
marriage, as well as being an act of justice for the partner who wished
for the divorce to compensate, as fully as his or her means or working
capacity permitted, the one who desired the continuance of the marriage.

The amount of compensation offered, as well as the amount claimed, if
there was not an agreement between the partners, should be stated when
application for the divorce is made; and this question should be settled
before any further proceedings are allowed. The required periods of
waiting would, of course, be enforced.

It may be interesting to my readers to learn that this principle of
compensation, given by the partner who claims divorce to the one who
does not desire it, is one that is common among many primitive peoples,
especially wherever customs of maternal descent prevail.[106:1] It is
practiced, to give one instance, by the Khasis, a maternal people of the
hill tribes of East India; it affords an example of how much more
wisely, because more simply, these matters are sometimes arranged,
before civilization destroys our common sense.


So far, I have ignored the real difficulty of divorce--the child or
children. At once the situation alters; when children are born both the
practical needs and moral values are different. A marriage that becomes
creative cannot be broken without grave disaster; for all creative
things are eternal. What, then, must be done? Frankly, I know of no one
workable plan, and I can suggest nothing except that in all cases the
welfare of the children should be taken as the standard to which the
desire of the parents should be subordinate.

You see, if we accept this standard of the child's good as the one
thing of importance, we shall have great changes to make in our thought
and in our action. I must follow this a little, though it takes me away
from the main line of my argument, but I want to make quite plain the
failure in our attitude. Perhaps on no other aspect of this question is
greater nonsense talked than on this one of the effect of divorce on
children. It is said so universally that it is better for the marriage
to be broken than for children to live in a home in which the parents
have ceased to love each other. I am not sure that this is true, the
child's values are often very different from our adult values. Only just
now I am reading "Joan and Peter," by Mr. Wells, and I am amazed at the
levity with which he makes his characters treat this serious subject.
You will remember the situation, almost at the opening of the book.
Dolly, Peter's mother and the adopted-mother of Joan, has discovered
that Arthur, her husband, has been unfaithful to their marriage. She is
considering whether she will remain or will go to Africa with her
cousin, Oswald Sydenham, who has for long loved her. These are the
passages of which I wish to speak: "Then, least personal and selfish
thought of all, was the question of Joan and Peter. What would happen to
them?" Dolly goes over the details of the situation, her certainty that
Arthur would allow her the custody of the children, then the passage
ends with this remarkable statement: _Oswald would be as good a father
as Arthur. The children weighed on neither side._ A little later Oswald
speaks on the same matter of the children's future. Dolly has asked him,
"But what of Peter and Joan?" He answers, _Leave them to nurses for a
year or so, and then bring them out to the sun._

Now, to some people that sort of talk sounds all very well on paper, but
as Mr. Wells and everyone ought to know, it is damnably different in
practice. Shaw, Wells, Cannan, Beresford, and other writers have, in my
opinion, done immense evil. They will present situations and treat them
intellectually, without any honest facing of the facts. Children cannot
be left for a few years and then picked up again like a bag or a trunk.
The change of a father or a mother is a tremendous fact to a child,
quite independent of whether the new parent is better or worse than the
parent who has left. We know, as yet, very little of the results
probable upon such a change, but we do know that confusion and jealousy
are very likely to be stirred in the childish soul, and that these may
work tremendous and lasting harm.

It has seemed worth while to bring this forward to show a little more
clearly the complications which are set like a thick hedge around this
problem. There is no easy way out, and the protection of the child's
interests mean much more than provision for its bringing up and the
satisfying of its physical needs. Only the parents who are sure that
they are not claiming their individual right to freedom at the expense
of the stronger home rights of their child or children can be held
blameless in dissolving their marriage. We talk a great deal to-day
about children and their welfare, but very few of us realize at all
practically the change of attitude, the restrictions of the adult
liberty and sacrifice that are likely to be necessary, if, under all
circumstances, our theories are to be expressed in our daily conduct.

And this brings us straight back to the question we are considering at
the very point at which we left it. For, if we place first the child's
rights, we see at once that our existing divorce law does already in
this matter fail, and fail very seriously.[110:1] A parent, either the
father or the mother, may by neglect and many unkindnesses do far more
injury to a child than by an act of unfaithfulness. I need not wait to
prove this perfectly obvious fact. It seems to me, however, that these
home-destroying acts, the result of any sort of daily indecency of
living, which brings suffering, with lasting injury, to little children,
are the one condition that makes divorce necessary and also right in a
marriage where there are children.

I admit the difficulties of framing a law sufficiently elastic to meet
this need. I do not, however, see that it would be impossible. The one
who claimed the divorce--the father or the mother--or both if the
dissolution of the marriage was desired by both parents, could be
desired to state in the application for the divorce full answers to the
following questions:--

(1) The reason or reasons on which the divorce was sought.

(2) The arrangements one or both parents propose to make for the after
care of the child or children.

(3) The guarantees offered that these arrangements would be honorably

(4) Proof to be given by one or both parents that the continuance of the
marriage would be harmful to the welfare of the children.

Perhaps you will object that such a law would limit too much the liberty
of the parents. I acknowledge this, and I think such limitation is
right. You see, I do not believe in the kind of liberty that makes it
easy for anyone to do wrong to helpless children.

Science has now shown us how terribly the future of the child depends on
its early relationships in the home: its relation to its mother, its
relation to its father, to its brothers and sisters. These early home
relationships assume a much deeper aspect, and are, indeed, the most
important influence in the life of every human being. Parenthood is far
more nearly eternal than we knew. It is this tremendous fact, from which
there can be no kind of escape, that ought to decide our attitude and
direct us in framing an honest and clean divorce law. This protection of
those who cannot protect themselves is the one essential and right
consideration. The law must take action to guard all children that the
failure or folly of their parents do not fall too heavily upon them.

There is little more that I need to say. A hard and fast divorce law
cannot, I am sure, meet the needs of the young people of the new
generation; moreover, it cannot but act to degrade marriage. Marriage is
too difficult--the needs of children, as well as the needs of men and
women are too complicated for the old standards of punishments. Divorce
as it exists at present is a revenge, it ought to be a help to honorable
conduct; it depends now upon a committal of perjury and adultery, it
ought to depend on honesty and on a right fulfilling of


[99:1] Since writing this essay the admirably courageous and honest
letter of Commander Josiah Wedgewood has appeared, in which he gives the
details of his own divorce suit.

[106:1] See for other examples "The Position of Women in Primitive

[110:1] In this connection see the admirable essay on Divorce by Mr. H.
G. Wells, in "An Englishman Looks at the World."

_Fourth Essay_



     "The horse-leach hath two daughters, crying, Give,
     Give!"--Pro. xxx. 15.


Many observers point out an increase in loose conduct during the war. In
that period there were established large camps of soldiers in lonely
places, who were freed from the neighbor's eye: women also were
withdrawn in large numbers from the influences of the home. The war
lessened restraints and increased temptation.

I will refer to two out of many newspaper cuttings which dwell on the
consequent evils:--


     _Mr. Justice Darling's View_

     _Mr. Justice Darling, in a case at the Old Bailey yesterday,
     said the harm the war had done to the morals of the people of
     this country was far beyond the material damage._

     _In nothing had it done more harm than in the relaxation on
     the part of the women of this country. This had now reached a
     point that it could be seen in a walk along the street. Women
     differed by the width of Heaven from what their mothers were._

This is quite the hardest thing that has been said about women, the
hardest comparison that could be made; but unhappily it cannot he
denied. And a second paragraph, taken from the _Daily Telegraph_,
carries us a stage further, from cause to effect. The looseness of
morals has increased alarmingly the spread of venereal diseases.

     "_Giving evidence before the National Birth Rate Commission in
     London, Dr. E. B. Turner, after advocating early marriage and
     urging the necessity for a higher moral standard, without
     which venereal diseases would never be kept down, made this

     "_These diseases were now being spread not only by
     professional prostitutes. People had gone wrong through the
     wave of sentimental patriotism which had swept over the
     country. Out of 112 soldiers taken to the Rochester Road
     Institution, only fourteen had contracted disease from
     professionals. The others had contracted it from flappers._"

The condition of the streets is such that it is not safe to let any
young man or boy walk about, not so much because of prostitutes, men may
learn to avoid them, but because of dressed-up, flighty girls, who have
earned big wages during the past four years, and now are feeling the
want of money to spend upon dress and pleasure. Almost for the first
time girls have had money, and it has enabled them to do what they want;
they have learned more than their mothers know and, therefore, they
despise their mothers' ideas of what is fitting and natural. Modern
girls are out to get all they can, and by any means. It is, I know, easy
to exaggerate the situation. I have, however, taken pains to gain all
possible information on the subject. I find it the opinion of those who
are best qualified to know that the most alarming feature of the problem
now is the greatly increased danger of spreading the diseases, caused by
the shifting of infection from the professional prostitute to young
girls out for larks and presents. I was told by one worker in the Police
Court Mission, for instance, of a club for girls, aged from fourteen to
twenty-six years, among whom _there was probably not a single pure
girl_. A woman rescue worker said that "South London was swamped by
these larking girls," so many cases come up that "no one knows what to
do with them." In the Police courts, while the number of women charged
had lessened considerably, the number of girls charged has increased
three-fold. Many of these girls are very young; some of them hardly more
than children. In almost all cases the charge made is the
same--disorderly conduct with soldiers. Of the number of girls convicted
and sent to prison or to rescue homes, _at least three parts are found
to be infected_, the greater number with gonorrhoea, but some with

Now, it is no part of my purpose to blame women. The great majority of
these girls are ill-trained, and have been worked beyond care for
decency. The question is, what it is best to do. The answer is not easy.
For while everyone is agreed about the need for action, disagreement as
to what form the action shall take hinders the adoption of any wider
course of prevention. Here again there is no unity of purpose, no
humility to accept what is right.


For myself, I shall try to avoid a purely moral and idealistic treatment
of the subject. At the same time, before explaining what practical
measures should, in my opinion, be taken to lessen the evils, I should
like to refer briefly, and I know inadequately, to the deeper causes,
which are rooted in our attitude of life, as well as dependent on our
hidden desires. Man, and of course I include woman, as a whole is
estimated at too low a value. It is a paradoxical consequence that the
_parts of man_, I mean his separate organs, rise in value. His brain,
his sex, his stomach--each strives for mastery in attention; a faithless
age has manias of sexuality, of intellect, of gastronomy.[117:1] These
manias are the result of low values really placed on man himself. How do
we discover that low value? It is not so much a matter of opinion; far
more important than the opinion of the public is the wide-spread,
always-acting, fundamental public feeling, expressed in the atmosphere
of our society. Every smallest detail of life, our aims and hourly
habits, everything that makes up the secret imaginations and the
un-willed purposes of life--all have a part to play in deciding what our
estimations of life will be, the things we shall seek as desirable, what
avoid as unpleasant. If our estimations and hidden desires in actual
fact rise in goodness, if we find better aims to satisfy our lives than
the excitements of sexual satisfaction, then this department of morality
will rise.

The question is one of great complexity, and the surest means of
improvement are very difficult to decide; not to be settled in a spirit
of Sunday-school optimism. The bad boy does not always come to harm, or
the good boy gain the reward that he ought to have. It is not so simple
as that. Even if all vulgar and evil desires could by some magician's
wand be transformed into their opposites, so that all of us bubbled and
seethed with virtues, I do not believe we could count on the results.
Our very virtues might hasten us to perdition: both higher and lower
aims, if ill-adjusted to form a complete life, may lead astray. The
savage in us all has to be reckoned with as the angel, and the dreamer
who ever looks to heaven often stumbles over a tiny stone. Thus a
helpless romanticizing, a too ideal as well as a too low view of love,
may lead easily to a self-deceiving resort to prostitution.

All forcing of goodness, in my opinion, is dangerous. Often the cause of
virtue is injured, like the cause of religion, not only when virtue is
allied with routine, dullness and narrowness, but also when appeal is
made to aspirations, which the young rarely feel spontaneously,
aspirations ill-adapted and too high for their immature characters and
the needs at the stage of virtue that has been reached. Certainly they
_appear_ to respond, fall in with our plans of salvation and often
accept them with seeming joy; I venture, however, to think that very
often this external attitude does not in any way correspond with the
internal one, that very often there has been disturbance and shock, to
be followed later by increased need for excitement, with an impulse to
more perilous adventure to cover the unconscious feeling of frustration
and disappointment; while another result is a sense of unreality, a
state always unfavorable to moral health.

If morality is seen as something overbeautiful for daily use, even more
than as something dull, inactive, over-prudent; if vice, on the other
hand, is conceived as easy, brilliant, gay, gallantly reckless, in
opposition to the too ethereal or merely stupid and prosaic aspects of
life (though in reality seldom do the dissipated and those who prey on
the vices of mankind possess any brilliance or originality), then beauty
and virtue will aid vice, through the stimulus of contradiction it will
provide. Vice will gain by the brilliance, wit and beauty, which the
artists and creators of the world ought to be induced, were the world's
cause properly cared for, to connect with virtue.

The popular view of our common motives still inclines to reduce
everything to a single impulse--the young are moved exclusively by
self-interest and the search for pleasure. But surely this view is
false. Hazlitt, the English essayist most interested in psychology, in
his essay on "Mind and Motive," correctly observes that, "love of strong
excitement both in thought and action" has much more influence on our
ideas, passions and pursuits than mere desire for the agreeable.
Curiosity itself, also the love of truth, "our teasing ourselves to
recollect the names of persons and places we have forgotten, the love of
riddles and of abstruse philosophy," he holds these to be illustrations
of "the love of intellectual excitement," and, with respect to this
curiosity, he holds that our vices are more due to it than to sexual
gratifications, saying with regard to vicious habits, "curiosity makes
more votaries than inclination."

We find, then, that the difficult problem we are considering, like other
social problems, has a material aspect, that is a medical aspect, an
intellectual aspect, and a spiritual aspect concerning the aims of life:
and of these the last is the most fundamental; it is obviously also the
most difficult. To attack the situation fully it would be necessary to
change most of our contemporary life. We are, however, bound to realize
that, if we are to succeed, our attention must shift from saving the
fallen, to removing the hindrances and the temptations that are the
causes of falling. In other words, we have to provide a society in which
the young will find virtue and goodness as serviceable to their needs
and as attractive as vice and doing evil.


If we turn now to the practical consideration of the problem before us,
we find the situation, difficult as it is, is not without hope. We have
to face as the result of the war a task greatly enlarged and growing in
difficulties, but if we do so face it--and the very increase in the
danger is urging us like spurs in the flesh of a tired horse--we have an
exceptionally favorable opportunity for correction and amendment. For
one thing, we have become more used to being interfered with, also, I
think we have come to understand in a new and more profound way that
each man "is his brother's keeper." Again the real difficulty arises
now, not so much from our want of good will, as from our failure to act
unitedly, and formulate and carry out a wide-reaching program of reform.

If for the sake of clarity, we try by classifying motives to form a
rough grouping, we find that, as with most political subjects, there are
three opinions with regard to proposals for State interference to stay
the peril and prevent the spread of venereal disease.

The first school favors extreme State interference. Persons suspected of
disseminating disease (or "denounced by one of the opposite sex" as
having done so) are liable to be arrested, medically examined, and, if
necessary, detained for re-examination and for treatment until cured:
habitual prostitutes can be sentenced to imprisonment. Possibly
State-inspected brothels will be established; all street solicitation
treated as an offense. Compulsory medical certificates of freedom from
infectious venereal diseases will be made a legal prerequisite of
marriage; all wishing to be married, when found infected, to be
registered and treated until certified free from infection. State
provision of hygienic preventative and curative means are to be given
free to those in danger from infection as well as to all suffering from
venereal diseases. Finally, severe police action is urged against
agents, landlords, publicans, restaurant and hotel-keepers, theater,
music-hall and cinema owners, fortune-tellers--and everyone directly or
indirectly profiteering by prostitution. This is not a description of
any one national treatment, or proposed treatment of the problem, but
rather a composite hotch-potch, intended to include the main features of
the new and old schemes based on State interference and regulation of

The opposite school of thought produces an opposite scheme; one that I
may, perhaps, call an ethical Sunday-school plan of salvation by means
of guidance and gentle persuasions. They would educate people in the
fact that all _promiscuous intercourse is likely to be dangerous_, and
recommend only an alteration of the laws of marriage and divorce to meet
cases of marital infection and to protect children who are infected by
negligence. Such a course of mild action is widely supported by bishops
and by "sheltered" women, who reveal to us curiously the psychology of
the class, which, throughout the Victorian period, practiced idealism on
the easiest methods.

The practical objections usually advanced to "the interference school"
are that laws of regulation create an illusory sense of security which
encourages vice and increases the spread of disease. No inspection,
however widely and well regulated, can guarantee that it will detect
_all_ infected persons, but the idea will prevail that all infected at
any time are "locked up." A still stronger objection as urged by women,
arises from the fact that the law will not be equal in its treatment of
the two sexes: the man on the spree after his day's work will seek his
pleasure without danger of the law's hand, while a woman, _in a similar
position, in work and not asking for money_, will be liable to arrest
for soliciting, and detention and imprisonment, if affected. I shall
have more to say soon on this question; here I will remark only that in
bringing forward these objections I am not stating opinions of my own,
but trying to be fair to objections, which, I know, are strong in the
minds of the majority of women. But I diverge a little in these comments
from my present work of classifying schemes.

The third type of treatment pursues, of course, a moderate, middle
course. Registration and treatment of disease should not be compulsory,
because, as opinion at present is, this course will lead merely to
concealment on the part of the sufferers, whereas medical treatment at
the earliest possible hour is what is aimed at; but free treatment and
provision of curative safeguards should be provided to all who apply for
them, and always with secrecy. (There is much opposing opinion as to
which of these two preventative plans--providing of disinfectants to be
used _before_ or of remedies to be used _as soon as possible after the
act_--is the more effective.) No wide-spread schemes for examination and
detention are recommended, rather are they discouraged; nor is there any
firm regulation for ending street soliciting. Certificates of health
should _not_ be made a legal pre-requisite to marriage, but the
existence of venereal disease should _annul_ marriage without expense,
making the law applicable to the poor as well as to the rich. Also,
medical men should be specially authorized, without risk of libel,
slander or other legal attack, to inform parents or guardians or others
directly interested, that anyone contemplating marriage, a man or a
woman--is in an infectious state.

It may be pointed out here that military authorities seem to lay stress
on one thing that some people will say has nothing to do with the
subject--the provision of proper means of recreation. Personally, I
would emphasize this aspect of the question to which I have but just now
referred. If the amusement is to fulfill the purpose required, and be
really a strong counter attraction from vice, it must be the kind of
recreation desired and liked by the young people for whom it is
provided, not merely the recreation that is considered good for them by
the adults who provide it. This opens up, of course, a whole welter of
questions. I am not advocating bad and low class entertainments; I hate
them and think their suggestive influence a curse among us. Yet, I do
fear the adverse action of any kind of amusement that takes the form of
an unliked and moral-forcing hot-house.

The fluttering about, the glitter and glare of dissipation, is always, I
think, at first the fierce striving of a sickly life towards the only
attractive and visible light. Certainly the providing of wholesome
amusement is necessary, but, in relation to all the change that is
really called for, this is just about as important as the giving of
packets of sweets. What is wanted is a wiser understanding of the many
and conflicting needs of the young; the provision of the opportunities
and outlets which their bodies' and souls' growth demand; needs which
must be gratified, or the body, driven by dissatisfaction and curiosity,
seeks the gratification that has been taken away from the creative soul.


But to return to plans of action for fighting this scourge. The fight
has to be made, and to be begun at once. It is stated that there were,
at the beginning of the year, in the neighborhood of 20,000 infected men
receiving treatment in our Army and Navy Hospitals. According to the
estimate of the Royal Commission on Venereal Diseases published in 1916
there were, at that time, something like 3,000,000 syphilitic persons in
the Kingdom, 450,000 in London alone. Since 1916 the number must have
greatly increased. Many diseases are more immediately fatal to mankind
than are these diseases, but none are so disastrous in their effects. To
take but two examples of their destructive incidence; it is known that
to them more than half of both the blindness and the lunacy in this
country is directly due. But I need not trouble you with facts and
figures that to-day are known to almost everyone.

What is needed now is a world-wide, organized plan of defense, modified
possibly to meet the special requirements of different countries, but,
as far as is possible, the same for the whole world. A first step has
been taken, at the meeting of the Red Cross Societies of the world,
which was held at Cannes, in April, 1919. No man can tell how
far-reaching its work will prove: an International Health Bureau was
instituted and arrangements made for a further great conference to be
held at Geneva after the signing of peace.

I would like to wait and write of the Cannes Conference, which to me
was an event more serious even than the other world conference, where
some were thoughtlessly and selfishly juggling with human affairs. Here
was no pretending, no hiding of motives, just a facing of the real
situation. The great events of life are almost always quiet. I picture
the great ball-room,[129:1] where usually jazzes and one-steps were
indulged in by the officers of the Allied Armies and bright girl
W.A.A.C.S. and W.R.E.N.S., occupied now with grave men; a group of some
of the greatest scientists ever assembled together. United they seek for
the first time how best an end may be made to this tragic scourge of our
civilization;[129:2] their fervent purpose should light a flame to blaze
in action in every civilized country.

It would be impossible to over-emphasize the importance of the findings
of this Conference. We women are glad to know that the Committee
reported unanimously against State regulation of vice and State
toleration of prostitution. At the same time, the repression of all
street-soliciting was advocated, as well as control of restaurants,
hotels or other places with reference to their use for promoting
prostitution. The Committee further favored the detention and, where
necessary, the isolation of all persons known to be, or suspected of
being infected, and advocated the adoption of the report system in
regard to early preventive treatment. The importance of early marriage
was urged. Other measures recommended were the custodial care of the
feeble-minded, and State control of the use of alcohol.

So many people, and especially, I think, women are led astray by sex
sentiment as soon as they approach these problems. I do not believe that
this can be avoided, but we may guard against it. Thus, those who
hesitate, and there are many who do hesitate, in adopting the proposals
of the Cannes Committee, which are aimed, either directly or indirectly,
against prostitutes, should take care to consider all the facts. Of late
there has been exhibited in this country a rather bewildering
sentimentality about this matter. The experience of the American Army
authorities should teach us a much-needed lesson. The American program
to maintain the sexual health of the men went much further than any
English proposal, straight and without sentiment to the main cause of
the disease, in a way that should shame our vacillating methods.

"The repression of prostitution was declared to be a public health
measure, and all public health departments were required to coöperate
actively with the proper law authorities in minimizing its practice."
When the American armies entered France, the same end, of keeping the
men from "coming in contact with the prostitutes, either public or
clandestine," was always kept in view. The difficulties were immense. At
that time (from August to the early part of November, 1917) the troops
were stationed in certain French towns, where the houses of prostitution
were running wide open and were frequented by large numbers of men. On
November 15th all these houses were placed out of bounds. The table on
the following page shows what happened.

  Month     No. of      No. of     Disease  Rate
            Troops.  Prophylaxis.   Cases.  p. 1000.

Houses open.
  August     4,571      1,669         72      16
  September  9,471      3,392        124      13
  October    3,966      2,074         67      16

Houses out of bounds.
  November   7,017        885         81      10
  December   4,281        539         44      10
  January    3,777        523          8       2

Take also these figures: in one body of 7,401 troops belonging to
various branches of the service, with an average of seven weeks in
France, only 56 prophylactic treatments were given, and only one case
of venereal disease developed; again, during two months in France, one
infantry regiment of 3,267 men had a record of only eleven prophylactic
treatments, and no case of disease. But perhaps the most effective
example of the efforts made by the American authorities to repress
prostitution in France occurred at Blois. American troops arrived at the
town in January, 1918. The brothels were at once placed out of bounds,
but, shortly afterward, and, owing to protestations on the part of the
French authorities,[132:1] the order was relaxed, in so far as one of
the brothels was taken over for the use of the American soldiers. Not
for long was this tolerated. On March 21, this brothel also was put out
of bounds. Strict repressive measures against prostitution and
street-walking were put in force; and repeated arrests--by the military
police--both of prostitutes and suspected prostitutes, succeeded in
almost ridding the town of this menace.

The result was very interesting. I will quote directly from the article
from which these facts are taken:

     _Although politicians and the owners of cafés and brothels
     continued to protest, the decent elements of the community
     gradually changed from an attitude of skepticism, even of
     hostility and resentment, to one of appreciation, commendation
     and coöperation. An official report from the Surgeon-General's
     office on conditions in the town declared:_

     "_It is evident that placing the houses at Blois out of bounds
     has had a wonderful effect, not only in lowering the venereal
     rate, but in improving the morality of the soldiers and also
     of the civil population._"

Of course, these few figures and scattered facts cannot tell the whole
story; they do, however, indicate with sufficient clearness what may be
done by firm and fearless action.


Let me try to make the position clearer by means of another and quite
different illustration. The results of restrictions on the drink trade
in England during the war showed that legislative interference with
strict rules can do much more than many of us believed.[134:1] Wipe off
all that is doubtful in the results, all evasions of the law, all that
was due to the absence of a large number of healthy men, yet the State
interference--prohibition of treating, great shortening of hours,
provision of weakened beer--these undoubtedly have acted so as to reduce

Surely this must serve as a great proof that the removal of temptation
is the one effective remedy to help men and women and to prevent sin. A
man who got into trouble with a woman not very long ago, gave as a
defense in police court: "You can say 'No' to one woman, but when they
are round you all the time you can't."

The three objections specially urged by women against laws directed
against prostitution and prohibiting solicitation are:--

(1) That such laws cannot prevent all solicitation. This may be granted,
but it does not prove that they may not greatly lessen the evil of
solicitation. It may be granted, in the same way, that no State
prohibition can prevent all secret drinking. But this is no reason for
or against prohibition; the question is what it does do, not what it
does not do.

(2) That such laws act unequally for the two sexes,--that is, that a man
is never, or almost never, made specially liable for soliciting and
worrying women. This objection is really quite absurd, and it is only on
account of the frequency with which it is urged by women that I refer to
it again. For the life of me, I cannot see how any woman reconciles it
with her conscience to bring forward such a silly evasion. A woman can
always give a man in charge who annoys and insults her; moreover, in the
vast majority of cases she could without effort protect herself from any
such annoyance. Laughter is a weapon that will dishearten the most
persistent man-follower. Besides, as every one of us knows, solicitation
is the woman's act, and not the man's in ninety-nine out of a hundred of
these cases. The man may be ready, possibly he may seek, but he seeks
only where he knows the one sought will invite. This objection cannot
then, in honesty, stand.

(3) That such laws encourage blackmailing by the police; also that the
police may arrest poor, hard-working and defenseless girls, out for a
legitimate lark and charge them by error or vindictively. The fear of
blackmailing by the police is, I think, the one valid objection.
Possibly it can be met by a much wider use of women police; the second
objection of the poor defenseless girl, wrongly charged, leaves me quite
unmoved. Again the remedy is in the girl's own hands. But, as a matter
of fact, the police are so afraid of making a mistake that, almost in
every case where there is a doubt, they do not charge.

Those--again I must add especially women--opposed to State interference
in these matters must ask themselves on what grounds their opposition
is based: should we not consider the health of society in the present
and the future well-being of the race as more important than our
personal distaste and intellectual dislike of interference? Even
_liberty_ must not take up a disproportionate amount of space in our
view. My own belief in the efficacy of making right doing as simple as
is possible by lessening temptation, is based on what life has taught
me, that the fundamental character of people is not greatly alterable,
but that the alteration of their circumstances will certainly influence
the effect and working of their capacities and instincts. The buttercup
which is tall with a flower at the end of a high firm stalk and leaves
with slender spike fingers, if it grows in an open meadow, becomes a
stunted flower on a short stem, and its leaves form squat webs, in order
to force its growth on a close-cropped lawn. The experience of the
American Army shows us that to cut off opportunity and suggestion of
temptation, the incentives to libidinous imagination, is to alter
character more than everyone recognizes. When I think of this
achievement, gained in so short a time and with so simple means, I
confess I lose patience with the opposition raised by the women of this
country against every attempt at legislative interference with
prostitution. Nothing can be done thoroughly because of this hindering
folly. There really is no limit to women's sentimental egoism and their
blindness in turning from facts.

We pray in our churches "lead us not into temptation," but we leave our
streets crowded with temptations. Surely this is stupid negligence and
worse. Remove the temptations, and as a nation we shall be delivered
from evil.


Now, a friend who has read this chapter up to this point, objects that I
am laying too great stress on one aspect of the problem, bringing
forward with undue insistence the importance of restricting
prostitution--the removal of the woman tempter as the only practical way
to prevent the spread of sexual diseases. She does not, I think, like my
dismissal of conscious moral striving from a principal place in my
scheme of reformation. That, at least, I gather from what she has said
to me. Stronger, however, than this feeling, is, I am sure, an
unconscious, or at any rate an unacknowledged, irritation at what she
feels to be a failure on my part _to blame men_; I say too little about
their weakness and their lust.

I grant this. In the first place I am convinced of the folly of
preaching to anyone. Then, as I am always asserting, I believe in the
continuous responsibility of woman, and, therefore, if I am to be
honest, I must accept here as in all relations between the sexes, the
validity of the man's plea that rings--yes, and will continue to
ring--through the centuries: "The woman tempted me." We are dealing with
forces that I do not believe can be set aside, forces active long before
human relations were established, which press on women back and back
through the ages. Woman possesses the sacred right of protecting man, it
is a duty imposed upon her by nature, and one that she cannot safely
escape. Let me assert that this is no sentimental statement. The
essential fact in every relationship of the sexes is the woman's power
over the man, and it is the misuse of that power that leads to all


I want now, in a final section of this chapter, to consider, as fully as
the limits of my space will allow, the outside facts of
prostitution--that is, the popular view on the subject.

Externally, prostitution exhibits two factors: lust in men and a
dependent condition among women, which makes them surrender themselves
as victims to this lust. This is the accepted, sentimental, and
picturesque description: a sort of compound of sinfulness and pathos,
making a draught, if the truth is faced, not always altogether
unpleasing to women, a fact which surely accounts for the excitement and
veiled pleasurable curiosity with which the subject usually is
approached. For the lust, men are held responsible, and the chaste
characters of women are held up in contrast. Now, it is this view of the
matter which affords prostitution one of its most certain opportunities
of permanency: also it gives women, when they attack it, all the
pleasing satisfaction of virtue that is realized without effort. At the
same time, it explains why they object to repressive measures that are
framed to end it.

During the agitation, for instance, for the repeal of the 40 D Act,
women and women-like men wallowed in righteousness. Never did I hear
more nonsense talked than at the meetings I attended on this subject.
Women's instinctive attitude had a unique chance of displaying itself,
and one wondered at the combined prudery and sentiment with which the
subject was approached, while the most offensive part of their
conventionalism was the sex-obsession, which was clotted, like cream
turned sour, on all their judgments.

Consider again the controversy that has raged with regard to the
providing of prophylactic outfits to our men in the Army and Navy. One
would think this was a simple matter. Precautions taken before, or
within a short time after contact, enormously lessen the dangers of
infection.[141:1] And yet prophylaxis is objected to on the grounds that
it is immoral: that it invites to sexual indulgence by providing
immunity from infection. It is also held to give rise to a false

Really, it is difficult to have patience. Huge sums are being spent in
treating these diseases after they have been contracted, but we must not
give our young men the means whereby they may be prevented from being
contracted. Such miserable prejudice would be funny, unless one
remembers the unconscious cause which gives it so burning a strength.

Some months ago, during the war, I attended a conference to protest
against the giving of prophylactic outfits to the overseas troops. It
was called and conducted by ladies, the incarnation of all the virtues,
effervescing in the most appalling sentimentality I have ever come
across, even at meetings of women met to discuss the morals of men.
Interminable floods of gush! They talked of nothing but purity, its
beauty, its healthfulness, its moral uplifting to the soul of the young
man--its Devil knows what. Venereal diseases were nature's punishment
for impurity; to provide prophylaxis was to insult the pure youth, to
hurry on to sin the youth who was not pure. Such was the pleasing
doctrine slowly and solidly defended, while the real problem of how to
prevent the spread of venereal diseases--especially how to stop the
birth of infected children, was lost in white clouds of virtue. And
many of these women themselves were mothers! When I remonstrated,
attempted to show that the one fact to go for was the prevention of
infection as in that way only could the spread of the plague be stayed
and the innocent saved from suffering with the sinner, I was charged,
denounced, and cut to pieces. I am sure that every one of those good
women pitied me--as a matter of fact, one speaker said frankly that she
was very sorry for my son; plainly they were very doubtful of my virtue.
Since that day I have noted that very few invitations to attend Women's
Conferences have been sent to me.

This shelving of the real facts, of course, is unconscious on the part
of women. The lust of men as the true cause of evil is the one popular
and accepted view of the situation, and from this it follows that the
prostitute is the man's victim, and as such must be protected. This is
highly pleasing; a view depending, as it does, on the moral superiority
of women, which stands them as Amazons of purity on the glorious
mountain heights of virtue, from where they must send down climbing
ropes and ladders, in the form of moral warnings and carefully edited
sexual instruction, possibly made pleasing by cinemas and theater
illustrations, to pull men up out of the deep valleys of vice.

Yet this view is singularly untrue; for if we inquire into this question
of men's lust, it is obvious that not they, but women, are the more
responsible. How often it is woman who awakens this male lust, fans it
to flame, feeds it to keep it at fever heat. Woman indeed must so act,
since nature urges behind; but the prostitute uses this power without
rest, she lives, not indeed sacrificed by men's lust, but kept alive by
it. Always there is the invitation--"Come and find me." To be
provocative is the one fixed simple rule of her life. Men's lust is a
necessity to her very existence. Starving nations do not so eagerly
await the coming of the food-laden ships which will keep them alive as
the prostitute watches for the rising of the male desire. The dismay
when it is reluctant to quicken is as sincere as it is disquieting to
acknowledge. In the final result the woman may be the victim, but at the
start she is the controller of the assault. She directs a continuous
attack; her relation to men is comparable to that of a magnet to a heap
of iron filings.

Most men, it is true, are not only tolerant of women's wiles; they like
them. But most men succumb, I believe, against their will, and often
against their inclination to this tyranny of lust. Men's chivalry as
well as their pride has woven a cloak of silence around this question;
this silence has protected women--even the worst.

There is such a thing as too much temptation for a man; temptation that
a woman has no right to give unless she knows a man loves her and is
ready to marry her. It is damnably hard on men.

The truth in these matters is not often spoken. In spite of the
emancipation upon which they pride themselves, in spite even of much
precocious experience, almost all women lead a shielded life; vast
tracts of experience are usually outside their knowledge or their power
of comprehension. This explains, I think, their belief in the old
fiction that the seduction of men by women does not take place, but all
men know it goes on unceasingly. Women have been shielded by men to an
extent which few of them acknowledge. This is one reason why the best of
them find it so difficult now to face the woman's responsibility in
these problems of sex frankly and simply.

At one time this failure in feminine honesty on the part of so many
advanced women made me angry as it appeared to me to be a conscious
shirking. I know now I was wrong; this attitude is an unconscious one
and this makes it much more dangerous. I fear nothing can change it, at
least, for a very long time. As women's spiritual temperature rises,
their honesty tends to fall, so much sometimes as to freeze their

Women, even the fairest and most advanced, are willing to accept little
shame for a depravity which their sex shares equally with the
inescapable and surrendering enemy--man. Perhaps the position is
unavoidable. I am not certain, and it is very difficult to find the
truth. But no man, I think, could satisfy completely in woman the
craving for dominion, which the delusive humility of his desire awakens.
Then when a woman commits the error--from a womanly point of view--of
hunting down her man in haste for gain, instead of drawing and binding
him slowly and unconsciously by love, she awakens the same instinct for
dominion in the man. It is the lust to devour, to crush, quickened into
being by suggestion. It explains, perhaps, the cruelty of all wild-love.

The position now in relation to the problem we are considering, and
keeping in view these facts of the relationship of the woman and the
man, should be clearer: the spread of venereal disease must be attacked
by restricting the trade of the prostitute. Action must begin there.
Acknowledging frankly women's power over men and the magnitude of the
temptation they exercise, we must accept the best means to control it.
America has proved what can be done. We want strong restrictive laws to
prevent street soliciting and make possible the detention of every
infected person.

Why can't we face the situation now when we are trying to tidy up our
social life. Health, that was necessary in war time, is surely equally
important in peace? Even the prostitute, the professional and the
amateur, will benefit: restrict the opportunities of this easy way of
getting money and presents from men and other ways of living and
obtaining presents must be resorted to. Thus there will be a finer
chance of reformation than ever there was before. To urge moral reforms,
to talk sloppy nonsense about liberty, about the poor prostitute, police
interference, and all that humbug; to seek cover under "the unequal
action of the laws between men and women," or any other form of excuse,
is willfully to falsify the position. For myself, I assert without a
shadow of hesitation, that I would quite gladly be wrongfully accused of
street soliciting, submit to medical examination, be mistakenly detained
in prison or any other indignity, if by so doing I knew I lessened by
ever so little the chance of a syphilitic child being born.

Is the evil to remain uncorrected from one generation to another? That
is the question. Uncorrected evil multiplies itself, and the sum is a
huge national disaster. I wish passionately that I had greater powers to
make you see what to me is so plain. The mistake has been the
muddle-headed thinking that sets apart these diseases from all other
sicknesses of our bodies, obscuring the plain and comparatively simple
question of cure with the entirely opposed problem of punishment; a
confusion and losing of the way that leads inevitably into a
forest-tangle of difficulty and unanswerable questions. And this
heritage of wrong-thinking has compassed our feet, binding them and
throwing us down, as soon as we try to move on, always hindering reform
from generation to generation, and, until that entanglement is broken
through, by bringing into it the light of honest thinking, the evil will
go on, unchecked by our futile tearings here and there at withered
branches. The supporting stem will continue to flourish and the
devastating diseases will be spread.

     (See Sir G. Archdall Reid's letter in Appendix.)


[117:1] See Ed. Carpenter, "Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure."

[129:1] The Conference was held in the ball-room of the Club of the
Allied Officers at Cannes.

[129:2] In this connection, it should be noted that there was a time
when syphilis was unknown in our civilisation. It cannot be traced with
any certainty in Europe before the fifteenth century, although its
origin is involved in some controversy. The attempt to suppress venereal
diseases by proper treatment is of little more than twelve years
duration. Three men--Wassermann, Ehrlich, and Noguchi--have supplied the
knowledge whereby the evil may be attacked. See "Motherhood and the
Relationship of the Sexes," p. 283, _et seq._

[132:1] "The Fight against Venereal Disease," by Raymond B. Hodick, _The
New Republic_, Nov. 30, 1918.

[134:1] My own opinions have been greatly influenced by what has been
done in England with regard to drink, and in the American Army in
maintaining the health of the Army by restricting prostitution, which
explains a change in my attitude, since writing the chapter on
"Prostitution" in _The Truth about Woman_.

[141:1] On this question the testimony of the American Army is urgent.
They say, "Prophylaxis is under favorable circumstances secondary only
in effectiveness to actual prevention of exposure.... When every other
means have been used to make contact difficult if not impossible,
prophylaxis, while not one hundred per cent. efficient, is invaluable as
a last resort, and has contributed a large share towards maintaining in
our Army the lowest venereal disease rate ever before known." Article
before cited.

_Fifth Essay_



     "I have called and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand
     and no man regarded."--Pro. i. 24.


Circumstances, at different times, have made me think and care very
deeply about the injustice suffered by children born outside the
protection of legal marriage; it was, indeed, when I was still
young--young in experience and very ignorant of life; long before I
began to write, at the time when I was headmistress of a private school
for girls, that the question first forced itself into my consciousness.

It was in this way. I was told suddenly that the parents of two sisters
who had entered my school as boarders were living together without being
married. I was requested to send the children away. I can recall the
scene through the length of the years; the excitement of the parent who
was my informer; the kind of curious enjoyment she displayed in telling
me the story, an enjoyment which surprised me so much and angered me at
the time, but which, of course, is so easy to account for. I did not
understand then those "ever-moving and so to speak immortal wishes of
our Unconscious,"[151:1] residing in us all, ready to break loose and
force some expression in our daily lives.

I am glad to know that young and ignorant as I was my quick instinctive
dislike to this moral mud-raking helped and saved me. I would not send
the two children away, and refused to take any notice whatever of their
illegal birth.

I can hear still the sharp, surprised notes of Mrs. X's unpleasant voice
as she turned to me and asked: "Now, Miss Gasquoine Hartley, what are
you going to do?" How great was her amazement when I answered "Nothing!"
She urged the necessity for action on account of my position and for the
welfare of the school; pleaded the possible hurt done to her own
children and all the other pupils. "You must be sensible," she insisted,
"and send these bastards away. Of course, it is very sad for them, and
one would not like to have to do it, but the sins of the parents," etc.,
etc.... You know the kind of beastly hypocritical talk. I need not

Although I had no vivid realization at that time of the injustice of
this view, anger sprang up hot within me. I was rude. I told Mrs. X that
she might take her daughters away from my school; that I was willing for
her to tell her beastly story to the parents of all my other pupils;
that then they, if they wished to do so, might remove their daughters,
as for me, I would continue my school with two pupils--the children she
had told me were bastards.

I rather fancy, so ignorant was I then, that this was the first time I
had heard that word "bastard," at any rate I felt the word emotionally,
in a sharp and different way, when I heard it applied to little
children, whom I knew and loved, was caring for and teaching. In this
way, the greatest good was done me. I was made to feel. And when, in the
later years of my life, I was brought by circumstances to consider the
fate of the illegitimately born child, I was prepared already to
understand the unprotected helplessness of these unfortunate little
ones. I fully realized the cruel uncertainty that dogs like a foul
shadow their young footsteps, the shame of their unhonored birth, which
separates them from other children (and a child suffers so terribly from
being separated, dislikes so passionately being different from its
companions), shame that may always be brought suddenly as a hindrance
against them, so that, even under the most favorable circumstances, they
live in danger; grow up sensitive and passionately possessive, because
so many things all other children have by right, relations who really
are relations, a father and the right to use his name, a
birth-certificate that does not record their parents' sin, are demanded
from them in vain, so that at every turn they must fear the sword of
contempt, against which they have no shield.


In many ways the position of the illegitimately born child, always
sufficiently bad, has been rendered worse under war conditions. For one
thing, their number has increased; the illegitimate birth-rate has
steadily gone up in the war years and now is the highest on
record.[153:1] And although it is easily possible to exaggerate the
action of sexual irregularities, manifestly there can be no doubt that
this war has acted directly as, indeed, war always does in increasing
illegitimate births. Indirectly also the effect, after a war of such
magnitude as this one has been, must be even greater in the immediate
future in consequence of the resultant inequality of the sexes. All
other factors determinant of illegitimacy are really dependent on the
ratio of the number of unmarried males capable of paternity to the
number of unmarried women capable of maternity in the community at a
given time. Whenever the circle of nubile women surrounding the virile
male becomes larger, there will be a corresponding increase in the
number of illegitimately born children.[154:1]

A further difficulty, very pressing at the present time, arises from the
fact that the supply of reliable foster-mothers has diminished
everywhere, especially in London and the large cities. Even where women
suitable for this purpose are still attainable, the weekly sum asked for
the child's keep is so high that in spite of increased wages and the
raising from 5/- to 10/- of the maximum amount allowed against the
father under an affiliation order, few mothers can afford to pay it and
live decently themselves. The bitter cry of the driven mother frequently
is, "Help me to get rid of my baby."

We have demanded too much from the unmarried mother. As a rule she is
very young. She is faced with an almost impossible task, and often she
is weak in character, incapable, without guidance of so difficult a duty
as the up-bringing of the little creature she has helped so greatly to
wrong by its very birth.


For let no one make a mistake. There is a sin of illegitimacy, which,
indeed, I would emphasize as strongly as I am able. Irresponsible
parenthood must always be immoral, and the mother's sin is greater than
is that of the father. I must insist upon this, though I realize how
unpopular such a view will be to many women. But the mother, through her
closer connection with the child, must bear the deeper responsibility
for its birth, a responsibility that can be traced back and back to the
very lowest forms of life. The insect mother does not fail to place her
offspring--the children she will never see--in a position chosen most
carefully to ensure their future protection, and to achieve this good
frequently she sacrifices her life. Shall the human mother, then, be
held guiltless when she shows no forethought for the future of her


The English law has always looked with great disfavor on the
illegitimately born child. A bastard is _filius nullius_, "nobody's
child." He cannot be legitimized even on the subsequent marriage of his
parents. In Scotland this injustice is not found. There (as also in
every other civilized land except our own) the child becomes legitimized
by the simple natural process of the father marrying the mother. Can the
cruelty of our English law have any positive value? It is difficult to
think so. At common law the illegitimate can have no guardian, he has no
relations and no rights of inheritance; he is given unprotected into the
custody of his mother, and until the age of fourteen is wholly in her

Here we have a clear duty, and another case of the urgent need of a
readjustment of our moral attitude, of a change in our laws and in our
judgments strictly parallel to several we have considered. Once more I
am convinced of the poverty, and selfishness, and the immorality of our
views. Nor do I find great improvement to-day over yesterday. There is
much talk and some tinkering, but though our judgments are less harsh,
still we are choked with the weeds of false sentiment and feminine
egoism. We fail to attack straight and think boldly.

The sin of illegal parenthood is really a collective concern: to turn
our backs on the pitiable plight of these children, to refuse to fulfill
our duties toward them, is to leave them entirely to those who are often
least fitted to help them, and also to open up direct ways to every kind
of wickedness. And it follows, almost necessarily, if we accept this
view of our collective responsibility, that the greatest danger in the
present position arises out of our selfish plan of leaving these
children unprotected in the hands of their mothers, giving them no other
legal relations, making no fixed provision for their guardianship,
allowing each mother to do as she likes; to establish paternity or leave
the child unfathered, to keep the child with her or give it into the
care of strangers, to make any kind of arrangements, good, bad, or none
at all, for its education and upbringing. And what makes it the more
intolerable is the indifference of almost all of us to what is done, or
is not done, by the mother. The subject is difficult and unpleasant:
illegitimacy is wicked and, therefore, must not be talked about. If any
case comes to our notice, we hush it up. We are too selfish and lazy to
attack the deep causes of the evil--to remove temptation; instead, we
directly encourage evil; we place the illegitimately born child in a
position of such disadvantage that its future existence is jeopardized.


You will probably say that I am focusing all attention on the
illegitimate mother, and am not considering the responsibility of the
illegitimate father. I grant this, and I am doing it with fixed
intention. I want to consider the problem of illegitimacy from this
definite,[158:1] and as I am aware, restricted point of view, carefully
and very thoroughly to look at it from this one side only, in order to
show others, if I can, what I have found to be true: the urgent need
there is to take the illegitimately born child from its mother's
authority. I would refer my readers to my other books and writings,
where again and again I set forth, as urgently as I know how, the
drastic changes I would advocate in our bastardy and affiliation laws,
in order to bind the illegitimate father to his duty and thus prevent
profligacy being as easy as to-day it is. I do not want to go over this
ground again. But mark this: the stigma attaching to the fatherhood of
all illegitimate children is, at present, the strongest direct cause of
neglect of his duties by the man; his failure to stand by the mother and
pay for the support of the child. He may be willing to do his duty in
both these ways, but not if it involves the abandonment of his entire
career. With public opinion so determined, immoral, irresponsible
conduct is almost inevitable. But this opens up, of course, a whole
series of different questions, which, for the reasons I have just set
forth, I do not try to answer, rather purposely neglecting the second
illegitimate parent, the father, so as better to focus attention on the
evils arising from the existing unprotected relations between the mother
and the child.

And I would urge further, with all the power that I have, the need for
considering this aspect of the problem, for it is one that is very much
neglected. I know it is very unpopular with the majority of those who
care most earnestly about the unmarried mother.

It is to be wished that this question also could be approached free from
all falseness of modern feminist sentimentality. The great hindrance to
straight thinking is the same here as in so many other of the moral
problems we have been considering: that desire for personal possessions,
which so often is a treachery against the universal good. I care for
nothing really except the saving of the child, and I cannot regard the
child as the possession of the mother. So many women seem to take for
themselves the right to claim power over a child by virtue of the
suffering through which they passed to bring it into the world; although
surely this should be denied when conception takes place carelessly and
without any kind of forethought for the birth that may follow. I will
not, however, wait to say more, my position will, I hope, become plainer
as I proceed. _It is an assertion of the child's right to special
protection and care in order that it may be saved from the cruel
injustice of having to pay the penalty of its mother's carelessness and
lack of maternal responsibility._[161:1]


Since the law of 1834 a woman has been legally liable to maintain her
natural child until it reaches the age of sixteen. She is allowed to
establish paternity, and, if she can do this, to obtain a maintenance
order against the father, the maximum amount now allowed being 10/- a
week, which sum is to be paid until the child reaches the age of
sixteen. But the mother is not compelled to take this course, indeed,
she is hindered from doing so in every possible way, both by the many
absurd difficulties of the law and the expense of the summons. And this
is the cause of clear injustice to the child, whose right to a father
and to support from him ought not to be dependent on the caprice of the
mother, whose desire is often to protect the man rather than to do
justice to the child. For this reason the establishment of paternity
should be compulsory on the mother or her relations as it now is in
Norway. Every child has a right to a father as well as to a mother.

The ante-natal conditions of these babies are obviously of the very
worst. All those months when a woman most requires special rest, special
quiet, and, in particular, special mental repose, will be spent in
anxiety and fear. In too many cases the girl has to keep herself, and it
is mighty difficult to get a job without a character. And, here, let me
point out to those who believe vaguely that a "love-child" is a finer
type than other children, that this is true only in so far as the
atmosphere in which the mother spends her pregnancy is one of love and
undisturbed calm. Do let us face the facts of the situation.

Often the baby is born wherever the driven mother can find shelter, the
baby's interests in the matter being certainly of no account then or
later. In the eyes of the law the child is without rights and belongs to
no one. In the eyes of our Christian society he is a "branded outcast,"
in the eyes of his mother too often he is but a mark of her shame:
conditions of injustice to the child that must too often result in the
growing up of a poor type of child.

It has been found that illegitimates at birth are quite as hardy as
legitimate children; they would even seem to be born stronger, since
they die, unlike the legitimate, more frequently in the _second_ month
than the _first_; and more frequently in the _third_ than in the
_second_ month. The deferred and insufficient regulation of the child's
diet, the frequent failure on the part of the father to provide the
means of support, the not uncommon indifference on the part of the
mother towards her child's welfare, and the necessity of placing the
child in cheap care, are the chief causes of the high mortality rates
among illegitimate children.

Even in the few fortunate cases where the maximum alimony is claimed and
granted to the mother, there is no certainty that the weekly payments
will be continued and regularly paid throughout the child's growing
years, and though there is improvement in this direction since the
Affiliation Orders Act, 1914, and the appointment of a Collecting
Officer, there is still far too easy opportunity for the escape of a
shirking father. The law takes no cognizance of the fact that in the
majority of cases it is an absolute impossibility for the mothers, even
with the best will in the world, unassisted, to place their children in
proper conditions for their up-bringing. At present, with no authorized
person to supervise the mother and check her absolute control, to see
how she spends the alimony, where she places the child, what education
it has, what prospects of growing into an effective adult; too often the
child never reaches maturity and its case is often worse if it does
survive; its home changed from one place to another, sometimes with the
mother, sometimes boarded out with irresponsible people, or adopted with
a premium, it is liable to gross neglect and the most far-reaching and
incurable perversions of character.

We have reached this truth then. _The urgent duty that rests with the
law and with us all is the duty of taking action to prevent as far as it
is possible, and in every way that we can, the penalty of its
illegitimate birth being paid by the child._


Now, this is not going to be done as easily as it may seem; and before
it can be done, in my opinion, we shall have to clear our minds from a
serious error, to which we cling with feminist tentacles in order to
indulge the sentiment so passionately clung to by women-reformers of the
mother's right to her child.

You will have noted how strongly I have insisted on illegitimacy being
the sin of the parents--of the mother even more than of the father--and
have refused to use the word in connection with the child. I have done
this, as must already be plain, for a clear reason. I wished to mark the
separation of the child from its parents' sin. I did not do it from a
perverse refusal to accept what is usually accepted. Clearly it is
absurd to brand the child "illegitimate," since it can never be the
fault of any child that its parents brought it into the world. Let us
talk, if you like, of illegitimate mothers, also of illegitimate
fathers, but never again of the illegitimate child. The penalty of the
parents' sin must not be paid by the child. I cannot emphasize this too
often or too strongly.

The child must be saved by special protection.

Now, it seems to be taken for granted by all modern reformers that the
best way to do this and to serve the interests of the child is to make
even closer than it is at present the connection of the mother and the
child, keeping them more certainly together, except in the few cases
when such a course is clearly absolutely impossible, and _under all
circumstances_ regarding the separation of any mother from her baby as
"an exceptional and deplorable necessity."[166:1]

What I have said already will make it abundantly evident that I cannot
accept this view. I feel convinced that it is founded on a feeling of
sentiment for the mother rather than on a desire for justice to the
child. This tendency to confuse two separate issues has been marked in
all the numerous recent discussions of the unmarried mother. I have
heard the strongest indignation expressed by feminist speakers whose
sentiment bubbles from them like a pan of porridge boiling over. "The
child should be brought up in the atmosphere of the mother's love";
"Mother and child should not be separated," this is the opinion repeated
again and again, and _always without qualification as to the character
of the mother_. Even those few workers who realize the situation much
more as it presents itself to me, from the standpoint of the child's
welfare, and therefore advocate the placing of all illegitimately born
children under "authorized protective oversight," yet cling to the
sentiment that it is "best for the child to remain with its mother."
They apprehend the difficulty of the mother's character--or rather want
of character--but they do not take the necessary bold step out of this
net of sentiment, and face the truth that, in many cases, the first and
great enemy from whom those ill-used little ones have to be protected is
their mother.

Unmarried mothers are overwhelmingly preponderant among the frivolous
and weak-willed. This will be an unpopular statement to feminist
sentiment; few women are honest in facing this question, though probably
they do not know that they are dishonest. We women need to be more
careful in accepting the over-hasty view that these illegitimate mothers
in any large numbers are good girls who have been led astray by men.
This view, once held by me in common with most women, I have been
compelled to give up. Seduction cannot, I am sure, be accepted without
very great caution as a common cause for illegitimate births. My
experience has taught me that nervous instability, the result often of
monotonous or too exhausting work, leading quickly to a desire for
excitement and effort to escape dullness, as also love of finery and joy
in receiving presents, are the principal motives that lead girls into
illegal relations. And what I want to make plain is this: a
characterless girl, irresponsible, without care for the future,
drifting, snatching at pleasure, taking the easiest course--this is the
girl who bears a child illegitimately and this is the girl incapable of
becoming a good mother.

This characterless irresponsibility of the average unmarried mother is
known to every social worker. The difficulty is dwelt upon in the
reports of rescue homes and police-workers. I have read many separate
articles which refer to it. "Temperamental instability," as it is
fittingly called, inevitably makes capable motherhood impossible. True,
these unmarried mothers may, and frequently do, "pour out a wealth of
pent-up affection on the child," but often she will do this for
half-an-hour and neglect it for days afterwards. Those who talk here of
the "mother's right to her child" are being misled by sentiment. Women
of the prostitute type, whose love and tears are on the surface, must
not be judged too tenderly as capable of great improvement. The child
may "steady the mother for a time,"[169:1] but the mother will probably
by her carelessness, bad example, helplessness and inefficiency unsteady
the child for life.

And it is this that matters. Yes, matters to you, my readers, and to me
and to us all. The child illegitimately born is to become a future
citizen; and it is not good for society to permit its mother to endanger
its future. We--the other members of Society--must object to such a
possibility, we cannot allow it to be tolerated on any grounds of
sentiment. We object from humane care for the child, but also from
patriotism and enlightened self-interest; for the consequences of the
mother's unguided mistakes in training must fall on someone, and in this
country they fall chiefly on the rate-payers.

I shall not wait to give you the many and overwhelming facts and figures
that I could bring forward in support of these statements. To-day all
the pitiful statistics of illegitimate births are widely known; at least
they are known intellectually, though I doubt their being known
emotionally, which is quite another matter and whips our indifference
into action. Only the workers in the darkest places of our great cities
know how large illegitimacy looms as a factor in the social
disintegration that leads to the prison, to the mad-house, to the
hospitals, to the casual wards, and to the streets. Only the eye of the
scientist can vision in the relation of the unhonored child to its
mother the seed of that evil which one day shall become the dishonor of
the dishonorable man.[170:1]


I can foresee an objection that will be made: it will be urged that much
of what I say of the unfitness of the average unmarried mother to train
her child is equally applicable to the average married mother. True: I
agree. There is, however, this all important difference. The child of
the married woman is not placed, either by circumstances or by the law,
in the power of its mother. It has a second parent: even if the father
is dead and its mother is the only parent, the home is watched by
grandmother, by grandfather--perhaps by four grandparents, by
sharp-eyed aunts and encouraging uncles; probably there are brothers and
sisters, cousins, great-aunts and great-cousins. There will also be a
more or less extensive circle of criticizing friends. Thus the baby is
surrounded from its birth by watchers--a veritable host of unpaid
inspectors. Now, you see my point and understand the immense difference.
It is the terrible loneliness of the child born illegitimately, outside
the safe publicity of marriage, without relations, belonging by right to
nobody, that makes the power given by law to its mother so dangerous.

That is why I would plead, with every power that I have, that we leave
sentiment behind us as we approach this question. We are a hopelessly
sentimental nation, and we cling to platitudes as a half naked beggar
will cling to his tattered shirt. We collect moral antiquities.
Inherited and worn-out ideas, psychological fossils, moral survivals,
these must be treasured only in romance; they must be deleted from life.
Every moral rule, every sentiment, as also every institution, must be
tested, from period to period, to see if it works still in a practical
and healthful direction to help the individual to do right and for the
betterment of the race.


We English are sentimental.

Perhaps it is worth while to wait a moment to ask the cause of this
deeply-acting English sentimentality. It rests on two qualities, our
moderation and our exclusiveness. But the precise causes of these
qualities are not so certain; the English are romantic, but our
moderation prevents us being too impulsively romantic; on the other
hand, our homely _feeling for reality_ does not lead us to investigate
reality too deeply. We dislike the sordid and the "not nice." We are
imaginative and passionate, but our imaginations and passions are
carefully balanced by reasons and calm reflections. We are kindly, but
not to the extent of saintlike self-sacrifice; also we are selfish, but
again not to the extent of brutal egoism. Our exclusiveness makes "Birds
of a feather flock together" and at the same time fosters our ignorance
of, and indifference to, the existence of any other species of bird.
Thus the good know nothing of the bad; the people who drink, play
bridge, dance and have a fashionably good time, for instance, have
hardly heard of the meeting-frequenting, soul-worrying reformers who
live in Garden Suburbs. Thus in England there is very little to disturb
a comfortable feeling; protected by our moderation and exclusiveness,
there is no force inside from ourselves, or outside from observers, to
make us revise our position, consider the right or the wrong of our
moral attitude, to give up our illusions of comfort. That is one reason
why we so often stand aside from the ugly reality of things as they are,
"hold high the banner of the ideal," which is the untruthful way in
which we allude to things as we want them to be.


Now, all this leads up very directly to the special aspect of the
problem we are considering. We have to realize just what are the results
likely to follow from the close relationship of mother and child in the
case of the illegitimately born. Personally, I am certain that in most
cases the situation is one of quite appalling dangers.

I cannot feel sure that even the most helpful supervision of the mother,
if she and her child enter a hostel, or other institution, can, in the
majority of cases, save some hurt, if her character is unsteady, being
given by her to the child. We are only just now coming at all to
understand how immensely fateful to the whole later development are the
first few years of infant life, and further, how everything is
colored--it would be truer to say "decided"--by the character and
actions of the mother; how any hurt done, or mistake made then, can
never be undone. Even an unwise expression of too fond and emotional
affection may act to cause ruin in the after years. All who have even a
slight acquaintance with the enlightening work of Freud, will know the
folly of "trying to save the illegitimate mother through the agency of
the child."

Let me state the case quite plainly: _There are different types among
these unmarried mothers, just as there are among married mothers, some
would be wise mothers did we give them the necessary help and
opportunity, but many would not be wise mothers under any circumstances
or with any amount of help, because they are weak in character and are
incapable of child-training. Now, the problem of saving the child is
quite a different one in these opposite cases: in the one instance
everything ought to be done to keep the child with its mother, in the
other the one safeguard is to keep the child wholly out of the mother's

I state sadly, but without hesitation, and from my own experience, that
in innumerable cases the salvation of the child depends more than
anything else on its complete separation from the mother. I cannot
countenance sentiment that blinds our intelligence. How can it be wise
to recommend in cases where the character of the mother "seems to
warrant a separation," that "periodic visiting by the mother needs to be
fostered."[175:1] Again, what must happen if the baby is in the care of
the trained nurse by day, but at night is given up to the untrained and
often untrainable mother, who goes out to work but returns to the hostel
to sleep?[175:2]

You will tell me the mother wants to have the child. That is right and
good from one point of view--that of the mother; but from the other--the
point of view of the child--it cannot work out well. The child switches
hither and thither between various treatments and quite opposite
influences. And with the child's terrible candor it shows the hurt it is
suffering and says always, in effect, though not in words, "I wish you
would all agree as to how you want me to grow up."

I may state the question in this way: _Do we want the child to grow up
like its mother or do we want to save it from being like her?_

To answer this simple question will help us more than at first we may
see. Frankly, our confusion here in fixing what we want is the cause
which, in my opinion, more than anything else must bring failure to what
is being done, and being proposed to be done, to help the illegitimately
born child. Our sentiment causes us to confuse what is good for the
mother with what is good for the child, and, because of this, we are
failing to grapple with the most warring element in the whole difficult
problem of saving the child; we shall have to face and deal successfully
with this certain fact of the very common unfitness of the unmarried
mother, before we can do the one simple and right thing and prevent the
child from having to pay the penalty of its parents' illegitimate act.
We are brought back always to this: the saving of the child as the one
plain duty before us.


In a previous section I dealt with the harmful way in which
circumstances and the law, acting together, place the child born out of
wedlock wholly and terribly in the mother's power. But there is a
further aspect of the situation now to be considered. I wish to show how
destructively that power may act, stimulated in some cases by an unwise
affection as well as in others where no mother-love seems present, and
act for years to hurt and even destroy the child. To establish this and
make the facts plainer, I will now tell in detail a few cases of
illegitimate motherhood from my own knowledge. You will see then exactly
what I mean and how dangerous to the child is the power held by these
unwatched mothers; the facts of the case will, I hope, speak to you more
emotionally, and therefore more forcibly, than any further statement of
my own opinion.

_Case 1._--_A baby girl was born to a young mother of unstable though
not altogether bad character. The father was a gentleman: he did not
seduce the girl. He paid the expenses of the confinement and afterwards,
and with the mother's consent, placed the little one with good country
people, paying for her support. For more than a year and a half the baby
lived with its foster mother and grew up a very healthy and joyous
little girl. The real mother visited the child and showed most emotional
love for her. One day, without reason and without warning, she took the
child away. The foster-mother appealed to the father; he did all in his
power to have the child returned, and finally, when the mother refused,
said he would make no further contribution for the support of the child.
He knew the mother was unfit to bring up the child, but he could do
nothing to prevent her action. The mother took the child to another
town. What she did with the little one is not fully known, but when,
after nine months, the foster-mother traced her, she was in a most
pitiable condition of dirt and neglect, and, what was much worse, she
was terribly frightened. Quite plainly she had been beaten and ill-used.
The mother was not poor, so that cannot be made an excuse._

_The foster-mother offered now to adopt the child and bring it up as her
own. Her offer was accepted by the mother, but with the provision, which
unfortunately was granted, that she should still come to see the child.
Her visits always affected the child unfavorably._

_During the next three years the little girl found renewed health and
peace in her happy adopted home. Then her enemy--her mother--again took
her away. For a year she kept this delicate, nervous and well-brought-up
child with her in London under very adverse circumstances. Then she went
off, leaving her daughter, now five years old, with no proper person to
care for her and quite without means of support._

_Case 2._--_A girl of loose character, but not a regular prostitute,
found herself pregnant. She did not know certainly who among her lovers
was the father, but she decided on one man, who she knew was not the
father. He was rich and kind, or rather as she told me "he was a softy."
Accordingly she told him the baby was his. He arranged for the
confinement, afterwards he took the baby and the mother to live in the
home of his mother. They were kindly treated in every way, and the baby
flourished. But the mother was bored by goodness: one day she went off:
she did not take the baby. Unfortunately she left a letter--not I fear
from conscience, but from mischief and a desire to insult
goodness--telling the man she had tricked him and he was not the father
of the child. The man was angry, disliking the knowledge of his having
been duped; his mother was still more angry. Once more the child was the
sufferer. It was sent away from the happy and rich home to an

_Case 3._--_A working-class girl, belonging to a respectable country
family, gave birth to a baby girl. The father was a soldier, but the
girl did not know his name or where he was. During her confinement and
afterward she remained at home with her mother and brother. The baby was
ailing and became ill. The brother told his sister, the mother, that she
must take it to the Infirmary in the neighboring town. She objected on
the ground that she would have to go in with the baby. However, the
brother insisted and arranged to meet her and the baby at the Infirmary
gates the following evening. His sister was there, but not the baby. She
told him that a friend was going to take care of the baby for her. The
baby was never heard of again._

_Case 4._--_This time the mother was highly born and educated, but she
belonged naturally to the promiscuous type of lover: she ought to have
been a prostitute. She had many lovers and was strongly sexual, not
passionate so much as voluptuous. By one of her lovers, and by mistake,
a child was conceived, and though attempts were made to get rid of the
mistake, a boy was born, fairly healthy. The father, a modern tired
profligate, refused to accept the responsibilities of his fatherhood,
though he did not deny the child was his, and continued as one of the
lovers of its mother. The mother showed no sign of maternal love; the
little one was much neglected and probably would have died, but, when
about two months old, he was taken from the mother and cared for and
most tenderly loved by one of the woman's other lovers. He left her as
her indifference to her child killed his affection, but he took her
child to bring up as his own son._

_Case 5._--_A record of this very revolting case appeared recently in
the daily papers under the heading "£8000 Baby's End." I copy the story
as it was told in the "Daily Mail": the date I do not remember._

"_The love affair of a middle-aged painter, Charles Godin, with his
model Georgette Belli, aged 16, has led to a remarkable charge of
murder. Georgette became a mother, and when the painter died a few
months later he left the child £8000._

"_The girl married a young man named Emile Gourdon, and the baby was
placed in the care of a grandmother. Later, when the young mother wished
to get back her child, the grandmother refused to give it up on the
ground that the young couple meant to destroy it in order to inherit the
money, and produced letters and telegrams in support of her suspicion.
Georgette, however, got an order from a court for the surrender of the
baby, and went to live at Marseilles with her husband._

"_One day, while walking on the jetty, the woman appeared to stumble and
the child fell into the sea and was drowned. The couple have been
arrested, the woman, it is alleged, having pretended to faint in order
to make away with her child._"

Now, I know that these five cases I have recounted are not exceptional,
though some of their sordid details may be specially disagreeable. Give
but a moment's attention to the facts that stand out, and at once you
will grasp what is wrong. We are demanding too much from these unmarried
mothers, and, by leaving the full power of parenthood in their weak
hands, are jeopardizing the child's safety; we are also encouraging
conditions harmful to society. It is like leaving a loaded gun in the
hands of a little child. These cases speak for themselves. In No. 3 and
No. 5 the child was killed by the direct act of the mother; in the
former case there was some excuse from the harsh rule that the sick baby
of an unmarried mother cannot be received into a hospital unless the
mother goes in with it (the reason of this, of course, being that the
mother will use this means of ridding herself of the baby) and will
never come to reclaim it; but in the horrible case of No. 5 there is no
ray of excuse. This case is especially interesting because it makes so
abundantly plain the terrible need there is for the immediate
establishment of safe legal adoption. In cases No. 2 and No. 4 we have
the curious situation, by no means so uncommon as many might think, of
the wrong man acting the part of father to an illegitimately born child;
in the one case this was done through the trickery of the mother and was
but temporary, the child suffering, while in the other case, more
interesting and less common, vicarious fatherhood was voluntarily
adopted. I would ask you to note that in none of the five cases was bad
motherhood caused by poverty and homelessness. So frequently it is said:
"Give these mothers a chance, and their mother-love will blossom like
the rose"--or some similar and unproved tosh. It is not true. The good
mother may be a bad mother by adverse circumstances, this I acknowledge
readily, but that the most favorable circumstances can make the bad
mother into a good mother, I emphatically deny. This is why it is so
unsafe and so wrong of society to leave the child unprotected and
unwatched, for the mother to do with it what she likes.

The first case, because it shows so clearly the adverse action of the
mother's influence is, in my opinion, most instructive among the five
cases I have given. Such changeableness on the mother's part, and
interference with the child is just what is likely, and most often does
take place, and will go on taking place, until the law protects these
children by effective guardianship. I would specially point out that
this mother was not in the least indifferent to her baby. If you had
talked to her, probably your sentiment would have burned and glowed
about the hardness of her case in being separated from her baby, and
you would have said wonderful platitudes about the beauty of a mother's
love. And yet the shameful hurt she did to her child can never be
undone. Her undisciplined love was the cause of the child's undoing.

I have now, I hope, made it sufficiently plain why the illegitimately
born child should no longer be considered as belonging to the mother,
but should be recognized as a member of society, and, as such, entitled
to protection, so that it may suffer as little, and not as much, as is
possible from the disadvantages of its illegal birth. This is plain
justice. Yet before it can be done we shall need an immediate and great
reform of our bad and antiquated bastardy and affiliation laws. We shall
need also a change of heart.


I shall be asked what changes I would suggest. The answer is not easy:
it is not so much a question of altering this regulation or that, of
removing hindrances and giving increased help; that is good, but more is
needed: we want a change of the entire system: _the firm understanding
that the clear aim before us is to place the child, as nearly as this
can be done, in the same position of advantage as it would have had if
it had not been illegally born. If there must be punishments, let them
fall on the parents, never on the child._

Now, how can this best be done? In the space I can devote here, it is
possible only to throw out a few suggestions.

First, and I think exceedingly important, the law should take account of
the attitude of the father. In all cases where the paternity of the
child is acknowledged openly by the man and with the mother, and
guarantees are given that the duties of both parents will be faithfully
fulfilled, the child should be legitimized, receive the name of the
father, be qualified to inherit from him, and in every way given the
same rights as the legitimate child, even if the parents are unable or
do not wish to marry. This opportunity of right conduct once given to
men by the law, I believe that many, who are fathers illegitimately,
would voluntarily take this course and gladly acknowledge and fulfill
the responsibilities of their fatherhood.

In all other cases, in which paternity is not voluntarily acknowledged,
I take the most important duty of the law to be the official
appointment of guardians. I believe nothing else is so urgently needed
to protect these fatherless little ones. Such guardianship[187:1] could
be provided without great difficulty or expense if _each illegitimately
born child, not openly acknowledged and willingly provided for by its
father, was made a ward of the Court of Summary Jurisdiction in the
district in which it lived and thus placed under authoritative
supervision. The child would, by the authority of the Court, be boarded
out (1) with the mother in all cases where her health, character and
previous records were such as to make this arrangement the best for the
child, (2) in hostels, either with the mother or without her, (3) with
paid foster-parents, (4) with adopted parents. In every case regular
visitation of the child would be necessary, and the child must not be
removed from one home to another or any change made with regard to it
without the authority of the Court, which shall have power (1) to
appoint guardians, either in addition to, or substitution for the mother
of the child; (2) to approve any scheme for the education or training
of the child, and at all times and in all ways to exercise authority in
every matter pertaining to the child's welfare._[188:1]

I would wish for a further restriction, which, however hardly it may
seem to bear on the mother, is, in my opinion, most necessary for
safeguarding the child. It is this: _If the child by the decision of the
Court is boarded out with foster parents, permanently adopted or placed
in a home apart from the mother, no interference or even visiting by the
mother shall be permitted except at the discretion of the Court._

I would suggest that in every town or rural district guardians should be
appointed (preferably a man and a woman) either paid or voluntary, but
officially appointed: all that is needed is an extension of the duties
of the Collecting Officer, appointed under the Affiliation Orders Act of
1914. This officer already takes out of the mother's hands the work of
collecting the weekly payments granted under a maintenance order, and he
also has certain powers of enforcing payments from a defaulting father.
But at present his taking action is dependent on the desire of the
mother. His duties ought in all cases to be compulsory. They would be
(1) to help the mother before and after the birth of the child; (2) to
seek out the father and urge a voluntary acknowledgment of his
paternity, and, when this cannot be gained, to see that the law is
rightly administered so that full alimony may be obtained; (3) to watch
over the interests of the child and see that the decisions of the Court
are carried out without interference from the mother.

The kind of help given would have to be varied and must be made suitable
to each individual case, but every child would be a ward of the
guardians in the district in which it lived, and would be regularly
visited. I would suggest further that there should be placed over these
visiting-guardians a Government-appointed, permanent, highly salaried
official--a kind of over-guardian-parent or Consultant, who would
supervise the work of the ordinary guardians in difficult cases, and
advise as to the best means of administering the law. This high official
ought, in my opinion, to be a woman.

Such a scheme as I have outlined (briefly and, I know, inadequately)
would achieve the three-fold purpose of (1) safeguarding the child, (2)
guiding and helping the mother, (3) fastening responsibility on the
father. If wisely administered by guardians, acting with sympathy and
understanding, it could hardly fail to achieve the desired result of
protecting the child. Every illegitimately born child would be placed in
a position of safety.

As a preliminary step, and pending legislation, it would be an excellent
plan if groups of interested people, or societies, were to form local
representative committees to appoint voluntary Visiting-guardians. By
this means the plan could be tried, and some kind of responsible and
authoritative guardianship at once undertaken. We ought to do this now,
for death and suffering to the little children are going on while we

There is no more for me to say.

The saving of these little ones is a plain duty upon me and upon you, my
readers. Let us clear hardness from our minds and sentiment from our
hearts; both will equally lead us astray. The child is the real care of
the State and of us all; it is the child who is dependent; the child who
has been sinned against; the child we have to protect. Save these
babies from death and from life that is worse than death; give these
children a right start in life. Let no illegitimately born child be able
to say in after years, "I have called and ye refused; I have stretched
out my hand and no man regarded."


[151:1] Freud.

[153:1] The illegitimate percentage of total births for the first half
of 1918 was 6 per cent., in 1914 it was 4.24 per cent.

[154:1] See article by Havelock Ellis. _The New Statesman_, May 25th,
1918. Also Prinzing, whom Ellis quotes.

[158:1] In an article which appeared in _Maternity and Child Welfare_,
in 1918, I first brought this question forward: the article was in
answer to a discussion which had previously taken place in that useful
and excellent little journal on the Unmarried Mother and her Child. I
shall use some portion of what I then said in this essay, because I
think my arguments would be weakened if I tried to re-write them.

[161:1] I do not include the father here, because under the English law
the mother is the only parent.

[166:1] See Pamphlet issued by the _National Council for the Unmarried
Mother and her Child_, page 8.

[169:1] These and similar statements are brought forward as reason for
keeping mother and child together. I need scarcely say they leave me

[170:1] See an excellent article on "The Love Child In Germany and
Austria," _English Review_, June, 1912.

[175:1] Article on "The Illegitimate Child," _Maternity and Child
Welfare_, September, 1917. One of the articles I was asked to answer.

[175:2] This is the plan advocated by the National Council for Unmarried

[187:1] Some years ago the city of Leipsic started an admirable scheme
by which illegitimately born children automatically became the wards of
officially appointed guardians.

[188:1] An excellent scheme has been drawn up and issued as a pamphlet
by "The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children"--Occasional Papers V. _Illegitimate Children_.

_Sixth Essay_



     "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself, but the
     simple pass on and are punished."--Pro. xxxvii. 12.


All over the world women are restless; perhaps, in no direction is this
shown more alarmingly than in the attitude of many modern girls toward
marriage and motherhood. There is dissatisfaction brewing in sexual
matters as well as in every other department of life, and only the
hypocrites cry "Peace" when there is no peace.

I have said so much about this restlessness of women that I do not want
to labor the question, rather I wish to consider what to me seem the
results as they are finding expression in the relations of women and
men. It is, of course, a subject much too difficult to allow arbitrary
judgments, all I can do is to jot down a few remarks, rough notes, as it
were, on what I have seen and thought.

And first, I would ask the reader to remember those many sex-conventions
that in the past have gathered around women's lives. I need not
enumerate them, they are known to you all, but what I want to emphasize
is that, though so many of them have been removed their influence
persists. Always the customs and beliefs of a past social life live on
beneath the surface of society; in a thousand ways we do not recognize,
they press upon the individual soul. We cannot without strong effort
escape from the chains of our inheritance. In the nations of the West,
where the bridegroom's joy with his bride is never spoken of except as a
subject fit for jests, where celibacy has been extolled and marriage
treated as "a remedy for sin," where barrenness instead of being
regarded as the greatest possible evil is artificially produced, where
the natural joys of the body--the sex-joys and the joy of wine and food
have been confused with disgraceful things--it is there that a perpetual
conflict lurks at the very heart of life; hidden it becomes more active
for evil.

Always times of upheaval and change afford opportunities for escape in
violent expression, and while we bewail the disorder and confusion, the
many sexual crimes that are overwhelming us, we ought to take warning at
our folly in having set up for ourselves the new fashionable god of
"escape from sex."

Women are the worst sinners. At every opportunity the women of my
generation have been insisting on "the monstrous exaggerations of the
claims of sex," breaking away violently from the older obsessing
preoccupation with their position as women, but only to take up new
evasions--fresh miserable attempts at escape. What began as a war of
ideals became before long a chaos. It has had the effect not at all of
minimizing the power of sex, but just as far as the deeper needs and
instincts have been denied, has there been a deliberate turning on the
part of the young to the reliefs of sex-excitements. The servitude of
sex is one of the essential riddles of life. Personally I do not feel
there is any simple solution. The conflict, broadly speaking, lies in
this: our sex needs have changed very little through the ages, now we
are faced with the task of adapting them to the society in which we find
ourselves placed, of conforming with the rules laid down, accepting all
the pressing claims of civilized life, conditions, not clearly thought
out and established to help us and make moral conduct easier, but
dependent much more on property, social rank, and ignorance,--all
combining to make any kind of healthy sex expression more difficult,
which explains our duplicity and so often prevents the acceptance in
practice of the code of conduct upheld by most of us as right. I think
it is a particularly intolerable state of affairs. It is not pleasant to
find oneself out as a moral hypocrite.

The primitive savage within us all always will make any kind of excuse
to break out in its own primitive savage way. We are just too civilized
to face this, and, I think, there can be little doubt that our conduct
has been hindered by many of the modern intellectual suppressions. The
convention that passions and emotions are absent, when in reality they
are present, to-day has broken down as, indeed, it always must break
down everywhere, leading in thousands of cases individual young women
and men to disaster, making us all more furtive, more pitiful slaves of
the force whose power we are not yet sufficiently brave to acknowledge.

Much of our civilization has revealed itself as a monstrous sham, more
dangerously indecent because of its pretense at decency. It is something
like those poisoned tropical forests, fever-infested, which were in the
land of my birth, beautiful outwardly, with great vivid flowers, high
palms, towering trees of fern, all garlanded with creepers and lovely
wild growth,--glades of fair shadow inviting to rest, yet poisonous so
that to sleep there was death.


We have yet to find our way in sexual things. The revealing knowledge
that Freud and his followers have given to the world shows us something
of our groping darkness; there is much we have to relearn, to accept
many things in ourselves and others that we have denied. We must give
up our cherished pretense of the sexual life being easy and innocent, we
must open doors into the secret defenses we have set around ourselves.
None of us know much, but at least we must begin to tell the truth about
the little we do know.

Now, this self-honesty may sound a simple thing. It is not. Few of us
even know how hard it will be. It will call for the greatest possible
courage to tear away the new, as well as the old, bandages with which we
have blinkered our eyes, walking in shadow so complete that some of us
have lost the very power of sight, like the strange fishes that live in
the gloom of the Kentucky caves. Honesty will demand a real conversion,
a change in our attitude to ourselves and to one another. We shall have,
indeed, to reassure ourselves of the sincerity of our intentions, to
begin as the first necessary step to accept ourselves as we are and to
give up what we desire to pretend we are, to learn to be truthful to
ourselves about ourselves.

Better to know ourselves as sinners, than to be virtuous in falsehood.
We must grow up emotionally; want things to seem what they are, not
what we want them to be. Afterwards we can perhaps go on to help others.


There is a further danger to which I must refer, for it is one that, in
my opinion, is very active for disaster. I find a tendency among most
grown-ups, especially among teachers and advanced parents, who ought to
know better, to place too firm a reliance on moral teaching and sexual
enlightenment as a means of saving our daughters and our sons from
making the same mistakes in their lives that we ourselves have made.
Like those drowning in deep waters where they cannot swim, we have
clutched at any plank of hope. You see, so many of the old
planks--religion, social barriers, chaperons, home restrictions, and so
many more, on which our parents used to rely, have failed us, broken in
our hands by the vigorous destroying of the young generation, and,
therefore we have clutched with frantic fingers at this new fair-looking
life raft, in pursuit of the one aim to protect our children. Myself, I
have done this. It is with uttermost sadness I have to acknowledge now
that I do not believe we can help the young very far or deeply by all
our teaching. Not only do they want their own experience, not ours, but
it is right for them to have it. The urge of adolescence carries them
away out of our detaining hands.

But that is not to say we are to push them into dangers. I believe we
make the way too hard for the young with much of our nonsense about
liberty and not interfering. You know what happens in a garden where the
gardener does interfere with his hoe? I have been forced back, often
reluctantly, into accepting the necessity of boundaries. I want right
conduct to be defined, and defined widely with possible paths, so that
the young may have a chance of finding their way.

We have, I am sure, to set up new conventions, establish fresh sanctions
and accept prohibitions, to rebuild our broken ramparts and render safe
and pleasant the city within. Do we fail to do this, we leave the young
to stumble among the ruins we have made. And do not let us be hypocrites
and profess surprise when they fall. The knowledge we are forcing on
them, often against their desire, will not save them. With all our
efforts we can but teach them intellectually; a form of knowledge,
which shatters like thin glass, with a very slight blow, when it comes
in contact with the emotions. Thus I am driven back to the truth,
established already in an earlier essay, that the one sure way to
deliver the young from evil is to lessen their temptations.

You see hidden sin is always more attractive than open sin; for one
thing, it is easier to begin, and the beginning of sin is usually
drifting; secrecy also supplies adventure, and the excitement that is
desired by the young so passionately in the dullness of life.


There never was an age when so many diverse types of young women
flourished, sometimes they are rather puzzling to the middle-aged
observer.[200:1] With so many of them there is a kind of forced levity,
a self-consciousness that prevents them from being either simple or
serious. All the clever ones seem to think that by talking in
generalizations, you can avert the plain issues of life. Their
conversation is full of meaningless remarks, such as "the bondage of
sex," "the superstition of chastity," "freedom in the marriage bond,"
"the sacrifice of women," "stifling convention," and so on, which they
go on repeating because that is the terminology of their set. They have
no conception of realities at all, only of abstract situations.
Impossible to tell what are their pseudo-emotions; a sort of sterile
intellectualism, shown in their shirking of sex responsibility. They
wish to ignore the real difficulty of marriage; they accept love, but
only with conditions. The one thing they face practically is work, and
the two activities don't conflict in their estimates, because their
minds are too choked with conceptions to admit facts. They are faithful
to their training by G. Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells, in thinking that
by stating a situation and arguing about it, you can shirk the need of
dealing with it.

Some women want to wipe the sex-side of life out. They cannot. They
preach that work and human experience (whatever that may mean) will
weaken sex-desire. It does not. Desires may be inhibited, not destroyed,
corrupting in quietness they wait opportunity to revive, insistent,

Other young women try deliberately to keep love light. Shrewd enough to
understand the heavy claims of serious passion, they prefer affairs of
the senses only; episodes that are a secret detachable part of their
lives. They want love as an experience, and to provide the always
desired excitement, but they want as well to remain free to take up
other aspects of life. And while condescending to fascinate men while
deliberately seeking attention, they still hold themselves in hand;
intending to exploit life to the uttermost, they find sex amusing, but
they fight always against its being a vocation.

There is, of course, a reason for this. The young are more reckless and
lawless, they do more and go further than the last generation, and this
is but an outward expression of disorder within, in my opinion, to be
traced back to the passionate need felt by the young for love. So that
whenever this love-desire is unsatisfied, or falsely satisfied, the
dynamic need causes a kind of ferment, which sours love so that it
becomes _desire to be considered_. If a woman is not important to
others, she becomes important to herself, and this unconscious
self-glorification is so devouring, so little based on anything that can
possibly satisfy the need that is its cause, that it creates a hunger
that can never be appeased, so constant are its demands for
nourishment. It is difficult to say how far this insatiable egomania
will take our young women. Some men are also empoisoned with it.

Both these types are modern; opposed to them is another type of young
woman, more feminine, easier to explain, but also thwarted, restlessly
demanding an outlet. These women do not want to furl their sex, they
seek lovers to whom they may surrender themselves, but they suffer from
a formless discontent that rots into every love and prevents them
finding satisfaction. Eternally they are unsatisfied, without knowing

It is another modern disease and has little connection with flirting and
lightness of character, though often the two are confused. Too restless
to be faithful, born spiritual adventurers, these worshipers of
emotionalism set up elaborate pretenses of pure friendships, ignoring
the hot glow within: they love romantically, but rarely are strong
enough to obey their inclinations. Such women are out on an eternal
quest, and every now and again, they believe they have found what they
are seeking. Then they discover they have not found it, so their search
is taken up anew; while often the social scheme drives them into
dangerous corners, forces them to turn from their quest or to use mean
weapons of deceit, does not give them a chance.

These romantic seekers of love, suffering continual frustration from the
evaporation of emotional interest that defies their own needs; the many
types of efficient workers, alert, hard, self-satisfied, not wholly
cynical, yet with a touch of something that borders on cynicism,
submitting almost with a secret repugnance to the mysterious but supreme
bond which holds the sexes miserably together; and the prostitute woman
of all kinds, out to seize every advantage from men, ruthless, living
upon sex--these are, it seems to me, the three main types of women
resulting in our so-called civilization of to-day, from our repressions
and falsehoods, our indefinite wills, from our confused ideals and
failure in living; and it is hard to say which is the most harmful,
which is the most wronged, which is the most unhappy, the furthest
removed from the type that is eternal--the ideal woman, satisfied and
glad, whom a happier future may again permit to live.


It was Mr. Wells who said in one of his novels, "suppose the liberation
of women simply means the liberation of mischief." "Suppose she _is_
wicked as a sex, suppose she _will_ trade on her power of exciting
imaginative men."

Something very like this has been happening in the world to-day.

We are all to pieces morally. The consciences of many people are their
neighbor's opinions, and the removal of so many young girls and men from
their home surroundings, their relations and old friends, has greatly
slackened the watchful safe-guarding of morals, so that any slightest
infringement has not been at once observed and quickly punished. The
important barriers of difference in class, in social positions, and in
race have also broken through. Conditions in the five war-years and most
of the arrangements of society have discouraged morality very heavily,
and the wise thing for us to do in the matter is not to grow eloquent
about sin, but at once to do intelligent things to make right conduct

An organized freedom and independence for women has certainly had
startling moral results. The reasons are obvious enough. It is a
necessary consequence of our modern insistence on individual values; the
harping of one generation on freedom, which has caused our young women,
in many directions, to carry their ideas of freedom far beyond the
accepted conventions of our ordinary civilized human association. It has
been shown as manifestly true that for all ordinary young women that
intimate association with men, fellowship in the workshops and factories
and in play, turns them with extreme readiness to love-making. Now, I am
very far from wishing to blame women; rather am I glad that what I have
asserted, for so long and against so much opposition, about the
elementary power of sex in women, has been vindicated by themselves.

Life for women so often has been wrong and discordant, and the
wretchedness has been greatly increased by the way we have left, in the
immediate past, the force of sex unregulated and unrecognized, thereby
causing much of the modern companionship of women with men, of girls
with boys, to be really a monstrous sham, maintained and made exciting
by false situations that often have closed around the two like a trap.

There are, and always have been, far more women and girls than we like
to acknowledge who are by their inclinations sexually promiscuous. It is
just conventional rot to talk of sex impulse being weaker and quite
different in women from men; of constancy as the special virtue of
women. Sometimes it is, but oftener it is not. It depends on the type of
woman. A great and possibly increasing number of girls to-day regard
love affairs in very much the same way as they are regarded by the
average sensual man, as enjoyable and exciting incidents of which they
are ashamed only when they are talked about and blamed. Such girls very
rarely give trouble to men or make scenes, they don't care enough; that,
I think, is why they always find lovers. It is also why it is easy for
them to have secret relations. With no sex-conscience, such girls, even
when quite young, exhibit a logic and a frankness that sometimes is
rather startling. They seem to have no modesty, though many of them are
prudes; they have no consciousness of responsibility; they feel no kind
of shame. Such libidinous temperaments have been common at all times
and in all societies, if in stricter periods so many women did not
follow their inclinations with the openness now so frequent, it was
simply out of fear; possibly they took more careful precautions against

There are as well as these wantons, girls of a different type, who are
more contradictory and difficult because of a less simple sexuality, but
who are equally, even if not more, harmfully destructive in the utter
misery they often create. This is the type of girl who ripens to a
premature and too emotional sexuality, and who, though still keeping
herself physically intact, is spiritually corrupt. The spiritual
masochism of a woman may lead to depths of cruelty rarely

Many other nobler types of women have been playing with vice. Many wild
impulses have found strange expressions. Women have been very like
children playing at desperate rebels, who take up weapons to use far
more deadly than they knew. All this playing with love is detestable,
all of it. It shows a shameful shirking of responsibility. Women are the
custodians of manners in love, and very many, who have not dreamt of
the results of their slackenings, have been urging on the young to a
riotous festival, extravagant and disquieting.

It must, I think, be acknowledged that a vast impatience on the part of
women has made conduct less decent and less responsible. Lovers are more
reckless, even sometimes more consciously and vulgarly vicious. Women of
profound and steadfast emotional nature are rare. The great majority
now, perhaps, are not entirely light-minded, but they are less serious,
more noisily determined to do what they want, and get what they can both
out of men and out of life.

And the great fact that stands out from all this--the great need for our
private personal good as well as the public good--is the need of the
young for guidance and regulation, the necessity for refixing of moral
standards in sexual conduct, of formulating a code of good manners, to
meet the present needs. Nothing else, in my opinion, can avert even
greater disasters of license in the future, than those conditions we are
now facing.


New wine is being put into old bottles and the wine of life is being
poured out and wasted. The old convention that irregular love is
excusable in the case of the man, but always to be punished in the case
of the woman will never again be accepted, at least not by women. It is
not women's ideas so much that are confused as their emotions, and
wills. Their impulses are not focused to any ideal. They are driven
hither and thither. That is the essential failure to-day. The irregular
unions, now so common, are but the more intimate aspect of a general
attitude toward life. Many women who have entered them, have done so
rather in a mood of protesting refractoriness than from any serviceable
desire; already they find themselves left after transitory passionate
friendships in difficult situations in which there is as yet no certain
tradition of behavior. And in this way, there is left open an inviting
door to those who are weak, as well as to those who are corrupt, to
behave irresponsibly and commit every kind of uncleanness.

Where is this wild love going to end?

These dissatisfied women of strong sexuality, and women of the other
types I have noted, must either marry or must continue lawless careers
of unregulated promiscuity, each one acting according to her own fancy,
curbed only by the will of her lover or lovers, and the circumstances in
which she is placed: there is at present no third course.

Now, the moralist, who does not face facts, would have them all marry.
Certainly this is an easy way to settle the matter, but is it wise? is
it even right? Moreover, even if this were possible and there was no
surplus of women, would this solution be acceptable to these women? I am
doubtful if it would. _Many of them who want a lover do not want a
husband_, they make a surprisingly clear distinction between the two.
There is, as I have before said, a hardly-yet-realized change in woman's
attitude: they are beginning to take the ordinary man's view of these
affairs,--to regard them as important and providing interest and
pleasure, but not to be exaggerated into tragedies. They deliberately
want to keep love light and dread the bondage of any deep emotions.

Now, such an attitude is not good for marriage, and, indeed, there can
be no manner of use in forcing into the marriage bonds those who are
unwilling to accept its duties of permanent devotion. Some other way,
more practical and more helpful, must be found. We shall have, I am
convinced, to broaden our views on this question of passionate
friendships between women and men, to reconsider the whole position of
sexual relationships apart from marriage, in order to decide what may be
permitted, to regulate conduct and fasten responsibility, to open up in
the future new ways of virtue. And in attempting, thus, to face squarely
the difficult situations before us, I can find only one clear simple and
honest way to act.


We come, then, to this: how can the way be made plainer for those women
and also men who are unsuited for marriage and do not wish to devote
their lives to its duties?

I believe that if there were some open recognition of honorable
partnerships outside of marriage, not necessarily permanent, with proper
provision for the future, guarding the woman, who, in my opinion, should
be in all cases protected; a provision not dependent on the generosity
of the man and made after the love which sanctioned the union has
waned, but decided upon by the man and the woman in the form of a
registered contract before the relationship was entered upon, then there
would everywhere be women ready to undertake such unions gladly, there
would, indeed, be many women, as well as men, who, for the reasons I
have shown, would prefer them to marriage.

There is (I must again insist upon this), whether we like it or not, a
new kind of woman about, who is to snatch from life the freedom that men
have had, and to do this, she knows, if she thinks at all, that she must
keep marriage at bay. For marriage binds the woman while it frees the
man, and this injustice--if so you like to term it--is dependent on
something fundamental; something that will not be changed by endowment
of motherhood, an equal moral standard in the marriage laws, or any of
the modern patent medicines for giving health to marriage and liberty to
wives. There is an inescapable difference in the results of marriage on
the two partners. I mean, marriage holds the woman bound through her
emotions, while it liberates the man through what he receives from her.
The woman gains her greatest liberation only from the child, but again
that holds her bound. Perhaps this is the way nature will not let women
get away from their service to life.

Sometimes there is the necessity of purifying by loss. I do not believe
in changing the ideal of marriage so that its duties are less binding on
women, already we have gone too far in that direction. Thus, I think it
better to make provision for other partnerships to meet the sex-needs
(for we can cause nothing but evil by failing to meet them) of those
women who, desiring the same freedom as the man, would delegate the
duties of wife and mother to the odd moments of life, and choose to
pursue work or pleasure unvexed and unimpeded by the home duties and
care of children. Marriage also is a trust; we are the trustees to the
future for the most sacred institution of life.


A society parched for honesty cannot suffer the ignominious and chaotic
conditions of our sexual lives to go on as they have been lately among
us, for it is plain to me that our moral code--that marriage itself
cannot stand, and, indeed, is not standing, the strain of our
dishonesties. Our social life is worm-eaten and crumbling into
rottenness with secret and scandalous hidden relationships; these dark
and musty by-ways and corners of sexual conduct want to be
spring-cleaned and made decent. Never before have we needed so urgently
to put our house in order. We must begin to tidy up and begin soon. If
we cut out some parts of the labyrinth, we shall give the young a surer
chance of finding their way out of the rest of the labyrinth.


An open recognition of unions outside of marriage would prevent the
present easy escape on the part of so many men and women from
responsible conduct in these unregulated relationships. It is because I
believe this that I am advocating this course, which will not make
immorality easier, but rather will impose definite obligations where now
none exist.

This proposal is not made lightly. I am not advocating such a course as
being in itself desirable or undesirable. I am attempting merely to
estimate the drift and tendency of the times, considering those forces
which for long have been in action and, as I think, must continue to
act with even greater urgency in the difficult years that are before us.

I must affirm how necessary, in my opinion, is some kind of fixed
recognition for every form of sexual relationship between a woman and a
man, so that there may be an accepted standard of conduct for the
partners entering into them. Regulation is more necessary in sex than in
any other department of conduct, for the plain reason that we are
dealing with a force that pierces the slashes through our conscious
wills, holding us often helpless in its power; a force which often finds
its momentum in atavisms stored up through countless ages before ever
society began; a force merely glossed over, as it were, by a worn smudge
of civilization. And to-day "the smudge" has grown more than ever

May not something be done now, when we are being forced to consider
these questions, to make some wider recognition possible. Partnerships
other than marriage have had a place as a recognized and guarded
institution in many older, and in some ways wiser, societies, and, it
may be that the conditions brought upon us after the World War may act
in forcing upon us a similar acceptance. I believe that, in face of
much that is happening to-day--the terrible disorder, like
spreading-sores, infesting our sexual lives--such a change would work
for good, and not for evil, that it would not destroy marriage, but
might re-establish its sanctity.


I can anticipate an objection that probably will be raised. Why, I shall
be asked, if sexual relationships are to be acknowledged outside of
marriage, preserve marriages at all? This question can be answered
confidently. Marriage in its permanent monogamous form will be
maintained because the great majority of women and men want it to be
maintained. The contract-partnerships I have suggested will be powerless
to harm wedded love, of which the child is the glorious symbol. No law
is needed to protect this beauty. There will always remain a penalty to
those who seek variety in love, in that unrest that is the other side of

It is the highest type of men and women who will seek to marry and be
best and happiest, if living together as faithful husband and wife, as
devoted father and mother, I do, however, hold, that there are
others--women and men--without the gifts that make for successful
parenthood or happy permanent marriage. I would recognize this frankly,
and let those who do not desire marriage be openly permitted to live
together in honorable temporary unions.

Surely it is the wisest arrangement for the man and woman worker who do
not want children, and, not wishing for the bondage of a continuous
companionship, desire to pass their lives in liberty. It is possible
that in some cases such friendship-contracts might serve as a
preliminary to marriage, while, under our present disastrous conditions,
they might also be made by those who are unsuitably mated and yet are
unable, or do not wish, to sever the bond with some other partner. Such
contracts would open up possibilities of honorable relations to many who
now are driven into shameful and secret unions.

In this way much evil would be prevented. As time went on, hasty
marriage would come to be looked on with disapproval, and many unions
would be prevented that now inevitably come to disaster. And this would
leave greater chances of marriage and child-bearing for others and more
suitable types; while further, these sterile unions would, by their
childlessness, act to remove for ever from the world those unsuited to
be parents. It is this last result that matters most.


The whole question of any sexual relationships outside of marriage in
the past has been left in the gutters, so to speak, of necessity made
disreputable by the shames of concealment. Much of this would be
changed. Moreover, prostitution, and also the diseases so closely
connected with prostitution, would be greatly lessened, though I do not
think sexual sins would cease. There will always be, for a very long
time at least, men and women who will be attracted to wild-love. This we
have to recognize. No one, however, need be driven into the dark paths
of irresponsible love.

It is the results that have almost always followed these irregular
unions that have always branded them as anti-social acts. But
irresponsible conduct, such, for instance, as the desertion of women,
which is made easy by the condition of secrecy under which they now
exist, would be put an end to. And by doing this would follow another
and, perhaps, even greater gain. The recognition of these partnerships
would prevent the ostracism which even yet falls on the discarded
mistress. There are many women who dread this more than anything else. A
woman is hounded out of decent life, if the facts of her history become
known; honorable love is closed to her, too often she finds the easiest
and pleasantest life is that of the streets.

One reason why extra-conjugal relationships are discredited is, because
the difficulties placed around all who enter them are so numerous that,
as a rule, it is the weak, the foolish and the irresponsible who
undertake these partnerships. Of course, this is not always true. Men
and women, against their wills and often before they know, become
entangled in a net of furtive and dishonorable acts. Squalid intrigues
are the shadow that I want to eliminate out of existence. But make these
partnerships honorable, and the men and women who enter into them will
act honorably. I do not see that we can forbid or treat with bitterness
any union that is openly entered into and in which the duties undertaken
are faithfully fulfilled. It is our attitude of blame that so often
makes decent conduct impossible; forces men and women into corners where
there is no escape from embittered rebellious sin.


I have sought to put these matters as plainly as may be in the
conviction that nothing can be gained without honesty. Anyone who writes
on such a question is, I know, very open to misconception. It will not
be realized by many that my effort is not to lessen responsibility,--to
weaken at all the bonds between the sexes, rather my desire is to
strengthen them; but, I know, the form of the bonds will have to be made
wider. We shall have more morality in too much wideness than in too

Matters are likely to get worse and not better. And the answer I would
give to those who fear an increase of immorality from any openly
recognized provision for sexual partnerships outside of permanent
marriage is that no deliberate change made in this direction can
conceivably make the moral conditions of our society, in the future,
worse than they have been in the recent past. As a matter of fact,
every form of irregular union has existed and does exist to-day, but
shamefully and hidden. It is certain that they will continue and that
their numbers will not lessen, but increase.

The only logical objection that I can think of being advanced against an
honorable recognition of these partnerships is that, by doing away with
all necessity for concealments, their number is likely to be much larger
than if the old penalties were maintained. I doubt if this would happen,
but, even if it were so, and more of these partnerships were entered
into; it is also true that recognition is the only possible way in which
such union can cease to be shameful. We have, then, to choose whether we
will accept recognition and regulations, unless, indeed, we prefer the
continuance and increase of unregulated secret vice.

There is no other choice, at least I can find none; no other way except
to establish responsibility in all our sexual relationships. Secret
relationships must be contraband in the new order.


[193:1] Some parts of this essay appeared, in 1913, in the _English
Review_. The article created some interest at that time, especially in
America, where it was published (with two other articles from the
_English Review_) in a little book, "Women and Morality." My opinions
have changed little since I wrote it. In my last book, "Motherhood and
the Relationships of the Sexes," I again treat the subject in a chapter
entitled _Sexual Relationships outside of Marriage_. I am now
strengthened in my certainty that responsibility must be fixed and
regulated in all sexual relationships if moral health is to be restored.

[200:1] A clever novel, "Three Women," by Miss Netta Syrett, gives an
illuminating picture of modern womanhood.

[208:1] See I. Bloch, "Sexual History of our Times," pp. 320-322.



     "Where there is no vision, the people perish."--Pro. xxix. 18.

I began this book on Armistice day, and am ending it on Peace day. This
period of about eight months has been a time of great disillusionment.
Even those little inclined to be deceived by the customary exaggerations
of politicians, and little disposed to believe in sudden conversions,
had hoped that the immense effort of this Great War was to awaken the
deadened conscience of the world; to leave a permanent improvement in
social and international relations; making class and individual and sex
competition, as also national rivalry, a less pronounced feature in the
new order; replacing greed by desire for service, war by a League of
Nations to enforce justice. But a war of justice was followed by a peace
of trickery and injustice. The victors (if not every one of them, still
collectively) claimed their spoils as in earlier wars. Clemenceau's
desire for vengeance triumphed over Wilson's principles in the center of
the world stage.

More than ever we search the future with anxiety. Amid the confusions
and compulsions, the changes unavoidable in this time of uncertainty, it
is immensely more difficult to act wisely. In the old days it all seemed
so much easier, as if life could be shuffled, like a pack of cards, into
new arrangements. War has made a difference to the whole of life,
shattered everything, as it were, in our hands, made the daily duties of
most of us much harder. We have been robbed of serenity.

When you stand at the threshold of this new difficult world, knowing, as
I do, that the milestones marking the backward path tell you, with
certainty, that the greater part of your life and your work lies behind
you, then, in these waiting days of urgency, you will want to hold a
reckoning with yourself and with life, in humility to question
everything, your own faith and what you have tried to teach to others
with all the honesty you have.

My task has been a difficult one, and it is made much more difficult by
reason of the uncertainties of our outlook, because there are now so
few principles accepted by all of us as true; every principle is faced
by a counter principle. It is so much easier to have fixed standards of
conduct than to argue every case that occurs. We have failed in every
direction to establish ideals fine enough and complete enough, and
useful enough to hold our imagination and our wills. Everyone seems to
be more or less at loose ends of conflicting purposes. Morals now are
like clothes, made to measure and to fit each wearer. Too often, in
important particulars, they change as easily and foolishly as the
fashions change.

I wish to bring people back to a disciplined freedom; to a recognition
of their own needs and the needs of others--the deepest desires of life.
A morality based on individual values is breaking down in every
direction, under the temptations and unsettlements, increased and
hastened by the war, but brought about primarily by profit seeking, by
the struggle of everyone doing as he likes, by a society so large, so
ill organized and so hurried that personal intercourse gives way to
mechanical relationships.

My position is all the more difficult as, while inclining more to the
spirit of those who, in relation to the moral questions I have dealt
with, are conservative, I yet regard very many of our accepted
conventions and our laws as productive of evil. I realize the way in
which they act so disastrously in hindering the spiritual and physical
health of our society. I am, therefore, eager for certain very
wide-reaching reforms.

I have not great patience with abstract theories of right and wrong,
rather I would test every law and every institution by its usefulness in
helping men and women. However imperfectly I have succeeded, I have set
_this aim of helpfulness_ steadfastly before me in every proposal I have
made for changes in our marriage laws and in the hindering laws which
regulate personal conduct. I do not want to discuss and consider
humanity, life, or anything else as I would like them to be, but, as
honestly as I can, I would observe and then help them as they are.

So many calamities and so much sin that could be prevented are
listlessly accepted by us as inevitable. New ideas and needs are
entangled among old; there is much of the new that is desirable to
preserve, much of the old that needs to be reformed. I would wish to
oppose two tendencies: I would prevent the too ready acceptance of the
fashions of the day, and I would also prevent a too loyal obedience to
the prejudices of yesterday. I would unite the intelligence of the
modern with the passion and sincerity of the ancient.

Such is the immensely difficult task that must be faced by every one of
us to-day. All of us are charged with heavy responsibility. Ours is a
greater inheritance than ever before there has been in the world. We
have all of us become responsible in a new and sterner way; to unite in
our search to find the new right paths. Three generations of
industrialism have created hideous abuses; we have to end them. With our
wider vision and more knowledge, with the lessons we have learned, with
the pain of our suffering, and our sacrifices still branded on our
hearts, we have to unite one with the other and all of us together to
renew and to justify life. We have to remake the world.


TABLE 1.--Summary of the Position as regards the Employment of Women,
          April, 1914.

                                               Increase in the
                   Estimated   Percentage    Employment of Women
                     Number     of Women      since July, 1914.
                       of       to Total   -------------------------
                     Women     Number of    Percentage  Approximate
                   employed,   Workpeople    of these     Increase
                  July, 1914.  employed,   employed in       in
OCCUPATION                    July, 1914.  July, 1918.    Numbers.
Industries         2,176,000      26           25         537,000
  Establishments       2,000       3        9,098         197,000
Gas, Water,
  (under Local
  Authorities)           600       1          724           4,000
Agriculture           80,000       9           11           9,000
Transport             17,000       2          459          78,000
Tramways               1,200       2        1,466          18,000
Finance and
  Banking              9,300       5          660          63,000
Commerce             296,000      29           71         354,000
  (mainly Clerks)     50,500      28          118          57,000
Hotels, Public
  Houses, Cinemas,
  Theaters, etc.     181,000      48           14          25,000
Civil Service,
  Post Office         60,300      24           78          59,500
Other Civil
  Service              5,500       9        1,809          99,500
Other Services
  under Local
  Authorities        196,200      34           16          31,000
Total              3,276,000      24           47       1,532,000

                               Numbers of   Percentage
                                 Women       of Women
                               stated by     to Total
                               Employers    Number of
                                 to be      Workpeople
                                directly     employed,
                               replacing      April,
OCCUPATION                        Men.        1918.
Industries                      531,000         36
Government Establishments       187,000         44
Gas, Water, Electricity
  (under Local Authorities)       4,000          9
Agriculture                      40,000         13
Transport                        79,500         10
Tramways                         17,000         34
Finance and Banking              59,500         40
Commerce                        352,000         53
Professions (mainly Clerks)      22,500         61
Hotels, Public Houses,
  Cinemas, Theaters, etc.        44,500         61
Civil Service, Post Office       64,000         52
Other Civil Service              89,000         57
Other Services under Local
  Authorities                    26,000         47
Total                         1,516,000         37


The Employment of Women in the Main Groups of Industrial Occupations,
April 1916, 1917, 1918.

                                   Increase (+), Decrease (-),   stated by
                     Estimated       since July 1914, in the     Employers
                     number of      number of Women employed.      to be
                       Women                                     replacing
                     employed      April,     April,     April,  Men, April
OCCUPATIONS         July, 1914.    1916.      1917.      1918.     1916.

Metal Trades          170,000    + 149,200  + 295,300  + 385,000   194,000
Chemical Trades        40,000     + 34,300   + 66,000   + 63,000    81,000
Textile Trades        863,000     + 19,200   + 14,500   - 19,000    65,000
Clothing Trades       612,000     + 12,800   - 44,700   - 37,000    46,000
Food Trades           196,000     + 17,100   + 25,000   + 30,000    62,000
Paper and Printing
  Trades              147,000        - 700    - 5,100    - 4,000    21,000
Wood Trades            44,000     + 14,000   + 21,000   + 34,000    26,000

All Industrial    }
Occupations,      }
including some not} 2,176,000    + 284,700  + 483,600  + 537,000   510,000
specified above   }


Analysis of Pre-War Occupation of Women made by Special Inquiry,
January 1917.


                               and not
Present             Same      previously   Textile    Clothing
Occupation.      Occupation.   occupied.   Trades.     Trades.

Metal Trades       53,249      18,927       3,408       4,635
Chemical Trades    14,634      52,407       6,226      17,941
Textile Trades      6,378       4,730       1,377       3,695
Clothing Trades    38,256       9,334       1,000       8,430
Wood Trades         4,439       3,764         783       1,490
Leather Trades      7,682       2,179         695       1,372
Rubber Trades       7,897       4,055       1,119       1,561
  Others            4,003       3,115         400         669

Total             136,538      98,511      15,008      39,793

                                           Other        Total
Present            Other      Domestic   Industrial  stated and
Occupation.      Industries.  Service.  Occupations. classified.

Metal Trades       12,458      12,502       5,449     110,628
Chemical Trades    20,879      44,438      17,079     173,604
Textile Trades      2,320       2,531       1,054      22,085
Clothing Trades     5,745       4,970       3,643      71,378
Wood Trades         2,626       3,950       1,196      18,248
Leather Trades      1,782       1,311         822      15,843
Rubber Trades       2,104       2,393       1,030      20,159
  Others            1,233       1,897         875      12,192

Total              49,147      73,992      31,148     444,137


Showing Changes between July, 1914, and October, 1918, in Numbers of
Girls under 18 employed in Various Occupations.

                            Numbers on          Gross
OCCUPATIONS WITH--          July   Oct.   Increase.  Decrease.
                            1914.  1918.

(1) _Very large Increase._

Building and Construction  1,500   6,000    4,500       ...
Metal Trades              45,000 108,000   63,000       ...
Chemical Trades           11,000  25,000   14,000       ...
Woodworking Trades        10,500  20,000    9,500       ...
Other Trades              26,000  37,000   11,000       ...

Total in Industry         94,000 196,000  102,000       ...

(2) _Large Increase, but no
serious problem._

Mines and Quarries         1,500   4,000    2,500       ...
Agriculture               12,000  18,000    6,000       ...
Professional Occupations   5,000  11,000    6,000       ...
Postal Service            10,000  14,000    4,000       ...
Municipal Gas, Water,
and Electricity            ...     1,000    1,000       ...
Municipal Tramways         ...     1,000    1,000       ...
Other Local Government
Service                    5,000   8,000    3,000       ...

Total in Class 2          33,500  57,000   23,500       ...

(3) _Small Increase._

Food, Drink, and Tobacco
Trades                    49,000  53,000    4,000       ...


Number of Children and Young Persons convicted of Indictable Offenses in
Juvenile Courts in large Cities and in the Metropolitan Police Area from

INDICTABLE OFFENSES.       1914   1915   1916   1917

Manchester                  435    708    767    750
Liverpool                 1,169  1,545  2,013  2,196
Leeds                       191    256    295    385
Bristol                     106    207    331    279
Birmingham                  368    423    504    625
Newcastle                    86    177    222    234
                         ------ ------ ------ ------
                          2,355  3,316  4,132  4,469

Metropolitan Police
District                  1,778  3,069  3,858  3,856



1. Births.

About 50,000 illegitimate children are born yearly in the United
Kingdom. Consider what this means. In the course of a single generation
of twenty years one million of these unprotected little ones are born,
branded because their parents have acted illegitimately.[235:1]

The exact figures for England and Wales[235:2] during the past five and
a half years are as follows:

Year      Total Births   Legitimate   Illegitimate     Total

1913         881,890       848,981       37,909        4.29
1914         879,096       841,767       37,329        4.24
1915         814,614       778,369       36,245        4.44
1916         785,520       747,831       37,689        4.79
1917         668,346       631,336       37,010        5.54
1918[235:3]  332,547       312,587       19,960        6.0

It should be noted that in England still-born births are not registered;
were these recorded the illegitimate birth-rate would be much higher
than the present statistics show. In those countries where the records
are kept the number of still-born illegitimate births is always very
high, sometimes twice as high--as it is for children born under the
protection of marriage.

2. Deaths.

An unusually high infant mortality is found everywhere among
illegitimate children. In general, the illegitimate rate is twice as
great as the legitimate. _Two unprotected children die for each
protected child._

1912-1916 DEATHS PER 1,000 UNDER 1 YEAR.

       All infants
      under 1 year.  Legitimate.  Illegitimate.

1912       95            91           121
1913      106           104           213
1914      105           100           207
1915      190           105           203
1916       91            87           183

The mortality of unmarried mothers is proportionately great.

"The ratio of illegitimate to legitimate mortality in the first week of
life has increased from 170 per cent. in 1907 to 201 per cent. in 1916.
These facts have a somewhat ominous aspect and suggest that infant
welfare organizations might well devote special attention to the first
days of the life of illegitimate children."--(_Report of the
Registrar-General for 1916._)

The Law of Affiliation and Bastardy. (Brief Summary of the Law in
England and Wales.)

The mother is the legal parent. The child is not legitimized on the
marriage of its parents. The child has no rights of inheritance from
either parent. Where paternity is established the father is liable for
support (or alimony). In Scotland the marriage of the mother with the
father legitimizes the child. In Ireland the mother is not allowed to
claim alimony herself--she must go into the workhouse and the guardians
must sue for her.

To Obtain an Affiliation Order.

By the Bastardy Laws Amendment Act, 1872, the mother must apply to a
justice of the peace for a summons to be served on the man alleged by
her to be the father of her child. The cost of this summons is 3/6 with
an additional 2/- for delivery if beyond the limits of a city borough.
The cost of the affiliation order, when obtained, is 9/-. The
application for the order may be made before the birth of the child or
within twelve months after the birth. It cannot be done after that time
unless (1) the man has acknowledged his paternity by paying money for
the child, (2) the alleged father has left England, in which case a
summons can be served any time within 12 months after his return.

The Affiliation Order.

The maximum amount that up to the present time has been allowed under an
Affiliation Order is 5/- a week, such payments to continue until the
child reaches the age of sixteen years. The justices determine the exact
amount the father shall pay. It also rests entirely within their
discretion to make any allowance for the mother's expenses at the time
of birth. In fixing the sum the justices are supposed to act _having
regard to all the circumstances of the case_, and often the payments
were fixed as low as 2/6 or 3/6 per week before the passing of New Act

The Affiliation Orders Act, 1914.

By the Affiliation Orders Act, 1914, two important changes in the law
were gained. The appointment of an officer, known as the collecting
officer, took out of the hands of the mother the work of collecting the
weekly payments granted under the maintenance order, while new powers
were given of enforcing payment from a defaulting father. Further, the
compulsory interval of six days (a period which gave the man opportunity
to escape) between the summons and the appearance in court of the
putative father was abolished.

The New Act.

The inadequacy of such sums with which to bring up a child has at last
led to action, and the maximum of 5/- a week has been done away with. The
maximum payment in the future will be 10/- a week. This Act (which is
called the Affiliation Orders Increase of Maximum Payment Act, 1918)
came into operation on January 1st, 1919.

Provisions Affecting Soldiers and Sailors.

If a soldier is alleged to be the father of the child, action must be
taken while he is in England or Wales. In Scotland and Ireland the
bastardy laws are different, and if he is abroad or under orders to go
abroad action cannot be taken. The summons should be served on his
commanding officer, with a sufficient payment to cover his journey to
and from the court where his case is to be heard. Before the war the
alimony granted to the mother for a child by a soldier was even less
than in ordinary cases; this injustice has, however, been ended and the
allowance now granted for an illegitimate child is 6/8 per week.


[235:1] The word illegitimacy is derived from the Latin _illegitimus_,
meaning "not in accordance with law."

[235:2] The bastardy laws in Scotland and Ireland are different from the
English laws, and therefore the figures for these countries are not

[235:3] First half-year.

Transcriber's Notes:

Italicized words are surrounded with _underscores_.

Variations in hyphenation have been left as in the original. Examples

     pre-requisite     prerequisite
     re-marry          remarry
     safe-guarding     safeguarding
     up-bringing       upbringing

The word "gonorrhoea" has an oe ligature in the original.

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