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Title: My Own Story
Author: Pankhurst, Emmeline, 1858-1928
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "My Own Story" ***

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[Illustration: E. Pankhurst]



[Illustration: Logo]




Copyright, 1914, by


_All rights reserved, including the translation into foreign
languages, including the Scandinavian._




CHAPTER                     PAGE
      I                        1

     II                       18

    III                       37

     IV                       57



CHAPTER                     PAGE
      I                       81

     II                       97

    III                      116

     IV                      131

      V                      149

     VI                      160

    VII                      166

   VIII                      185



CHAPTER                     PAGE

      I                      205

     II                      221

    III                      249

     IV                      270

      V                      285

     VI                      303

    VII                      323

   VIII                      339

     IX                      350


Portrait of Mrs. Pankhurst                       _Frontispiece_


Mrs. Pankhurst addressing a by-election crowd                74

Mrs. Pankhurst and Christabel hiding from the police
on the roof garden at Clements Inn, October, 1908           120

Christabel, Mrs. Drummond and Mrs. Pankhurst in the
dock, First Conspiracy Trial, October, 1908                 126

Mrs. Pankhurst and Miss Christabel Pankhurst in prison
dress                                                       132

Inspector Wells conducting Mrs. Pankhurst to the
House of Commons, June, 1908                                140

Over 1,000 women had been in prison--Broad arrows in
the 1910 parade                                             170

The head of the deputation on Black Friday, November,
1910                                                        178

For hours scenes like this were enacted on Black Friday,
November, 1910                                              180

Riot scenes on Black Friday, November, 1910                 186

In this manner thousands of women throughout the
Kingdom slept in unoccupied houses over census night        194

The argument of the broken window pane                      218

A suffragette throwing a bag of flour at Mr. Asquith
in Chester                                                  260

Re-Arrest of Mrs. Pankhurst at Woking, May 26,
1913                                                        312

Mrs. Pankhurst and Christabel in the garden of
Christabel's home in Paris                                  324

"Arrested at the King's gate!" May, 1914                    348


The author wishes to express her deep obligation to Rheta Childe Dorr
for invaluable editorial services performed in the preparation of this
volume, especially the American edition.


The closing paragraphs of this book were written in the late summer of
1914, when the armies of every great power in Europe were being
mobilised for savage, unsparing, barbarous warfare--against one another,
against small and unaggressive nations, against helpless women and
children, against civilisation itself. How mild, by comparison with the
despatches in the daily newspapers, will seem this chronicle of women's
militant struggle against political and social injustice in one small
corner of Europe. Yet let it stand as it was written, with
peace--so-called, and civilisation, and orderly government as the
background for heroism such as the world has seldom witnessed. The
militancy of men, through all the centuries, has drenched the world with
blood, and for these deeds of horror and destruction men have been
rewarded with monuments, with great songs and epics. The militancy of
women has harmed no human life save the lives of those who fought the
battle of righteousness. Time alone will reveal what reward will be
allotted to the women.

This we know, that in the black hour that has just struck in Europe, the
men are turning to their women and calling on them to take up the work
of keeping civilisation alive. Through all the harvest fields, in
orchards and vineyards, women are garnering food for the men who fight,
as well as for the children left fatherless by war. In the cities the
women are keeping open the shops, they are driving trucks and trams, and
are altogether attending to a multitude of business.

When the remnants of the armies return, when the commerce of Europe is
resumed by men, will they forget the part the women so nobly played?
Will they forget in England how women in all ranks of life put aside
their own interests and organised, not only to nurse the wounded, care
for the destitute, comfort the sick and lonely, but actually to maintain
the existence of the nation? Thus far, it must be admitted, there are
few indications that the English Government are mindful of the unselfish
devotion manifested by the women. Thus far all Government schemes for
overcoming unemployment have been directed towards the unemployment of
men. The work of women, making garments, etc., has in some cases been
taken away.

At the first alarm of war the militants proclaimed a truce, which was
answered half-heartedly by the announcement that the Government would
release all suffrage prisoners who would give an undertaking "not to
commit further crimes or outrages." Since the truce had already been
proclaimed, no suffrage prisoner deigned to reply to the Home
Secretary's provision. A few days later, no doubt influenced by
representations made to the Government by men and women of every
political faith--many of them never having been supporters of
revolutionary tactics--Mr. McKenna announced in the House of Commons
that it was the intention of the Government, within a few days, to
release unconditionally, all suffrage prisoners. So ends, for the
present, the war of women against men. As of old, the women become the
nurturing mothers of men, their sisters and uncomplaining helpmates. The
future lies far ahead, but let this preface and this volume close with
the assurance that the struggle for the full enfranchisement of women
has not been abandoned; it has simply, for the moment, been placed in
abeyance. When the clash of arms ceases, when normal, peaceful, rational
society resumes its functions, the demand will again be made. If it is
not quickly granted, then once more the women will take up the arms they
to-day generously lay down. There can be no real peace in the world
until woman, the mother half of the human family, is given liberty in
the councils of the world.



Mrs. Pankhurst's Own Story


Those men and women are fortunate who are born at a time when a great
struggle for human freedom is in progress. It is an added good fortune
to have parents who take a personal part in the great movements of their
time. I am glad and thankful that this was my case.

One of my earliest recollections is of a great bazaar which was held in
my native city of Manchester, the object of the bazaar being to raise
money to relieve the poverty of the newly emancipated negro slaves in
the United States. My mother took an active part in this effort, and I,
as a small child, was entrusted with a lucky bag by means of which I
helped to collect money.

Young as I was--I could not have been older than five years--I knew
perfectly well the meaning of the words slavery and emancipation. From
infancy I had been accustomed to hear pro and con discussions of slavery
and the American Civil War. Although the British government finally
decided not to recognise the Confederacy, public opinion in England was
sharply divided on the questions both of slavery and of secession.
Broadly speaking, the propertied classes were pro-slavery, but there
were many exceptions to the rule. Most of those who formed the circle
of our family friends were opposed to slavery, and my father, Robert
Goulden, was always a most ardent abolitionist. He was prominent enough
in the movement to be appointed on a committee to meet and welcome Henry
Ward Beecher when he arrived in England for a lecture tour. Mrs. Harriet
Beecher Stowe's novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," was so great a favourite
with my mother that she used it continually as a source of bedtime
stories for our fascinated ears. Those stories, told almost fifty years
ago, are as fresh in my mind to-day as events detailed in the morning's
papers. Indeed they are more vivid, because they made a much deeper
impression on my consciousness. I can still definitely recall the thrill
I experienced every time my mother related the tale of Eliza's race for
freedom over the broken ice of the Ohio River, the agonizing pursuit,
and the final rescue at the hands of the determined old Quaker. Another
thrilling tale was the story of a negro boy's flight from the plantation
of his cruel master. The boy had never seen a railroad train, and when,
staggering along the unfamiliar railroad track, he heard the roar of an
approaching train, the clattering car-wheels seemed to his strained
imagination to be repeating over and over again the awful words, "Catch
a nigger--catch a nigger--catch a nigger--" This was a terrible story,
and throughout my childhood, whenever I rode in a train, I thought of
that poor runaway slave escaping from the pursuing monster.

These stories, with the bazaars and the relief funds and subscriptions
of which I heard so much talk, I am sure made a permanent impression on
my brain and my character. They awakened in me the two sets of
sensations to which all my life I have most readily responded: first,
admiration for that spirit of fighting and heroic sacrifice by which
alone the soul of civilisation is saved; and next after that,
appreciation of the gentler spirit which is moved to mend and repair the
ravages of war.

I do not remember a time when I could not read, nor any time when
reading was not a joy and a solace. As far back as my memory runs I
loved tales, especially those of a romantic and idealistic character.
"Pilgrim's Progress" was an early favourite, as well as another of
Bunyan's visionary romances, which does not seem to be as well known,
his "Holy War." At nine I discovered the Odyssey and very soon after
that another classic which has remained all my life a source of
inspiration. This was Carlyle's "French Revolution," and I received it
with much the same emotion that Keats experienced when he read Chapman's
translation of Homer--" ... like some watcher of the skies, When a new
planet swims into his ken."

I never lost that first impression, and it strongly affected my attitude
toward events which were occurring around my childhood. Manchester is a
city which has witnessed a great many stirring episodes, especially of a
political character. Generally speaking, its citizens have been liberal
in their sentiments, defenders of free speech and liberty of opinion. In
the late sixties there occurred in Manchester one of those dreadful
events that prove an exception to the rule. This was in connection with
the Fenian Revolt in Ireland. There was a Fenian riot, and the police
arrested the leaders. These men were being taken to the jail in a prison
van. On the way the van was stopped and an attempt was made to rescue
the prisoners. A man fired a pistol, endeavouring to break the lock of
the van door. A policeman fell, mortally wounded, and several men were
arrested and were charged with murder. I distinctly remember the riot,
which I did not witness, but which I heard vividly described by my older
brother. I had been spending the afternoon with a young playmate, and my
brother had come after tea to escort me home. As we walked through the
deepening November twilight he talked excitedly of the riot, the fatal
pistol shot, and the slain policeman. I could almost see the man
bleeding on the ground, while the crowd swayed and groaned around him.

The rest of the story reveals one of those ghastly blunders which
justice not infrequently makes. Although the shooting was done without
any intent to kill, the men were tried for murder and three of them were
found guilty and hanged. Their execution, which greatly excited the
citizens of Manchester, was almost the last, if not the last, public
execution permitted to take place in the city. At the time I was a
boarding-pupil in a school near Manchester, and I spent my week-ends at
home. A certain Saturday afternoon stands out in my memory, as on my way
home from school I passed the prison where I knew the men had been
confined. I saw that a part of the prison wall had been torn away, and
in the great gap that remained were evidences of a gallows recently
removed. I was transfixed with horror, and over me there swept the
sudden conviction that that hanging was a mistake--worse, a crime. It
was my awakening to one of the most terrible facts of life--that justice
and judgment lie often a world apart.

I relate this incident of my formative years to illustrate the fact that
the impressions of childhood often have more to do with character and
future conduct than heredity or education. I tell it also to show that
my development into an advocate of militancy was largely a sympathetic
process. I have not personally suffered from the deprivations, the
bitterness and sorrow which bring so many men and women to a realisation
of social injustice. My childhood was protected by love and a
comfortable home. Yet, while still a very young child, I began
instinctively to feel that there was something lacking, even in my own
home, some false conception of family relations, some incomplete ideal.

This vague feeling of mine began to shape itself into conviction about
the time my brothers and I were sent to school. The education of the
English boy, then as now, was considered a much more serious matter than
the education of the English boy's sister. My parents, especially my
father, discussed the question of my brothers' education as a matter of
real importance. My education and that of my sister were scarcely
discussed at all. Of course we went to a carefully selected girls'
school, but beyond the facts that the head mistress was a gentlewoman
and that all the pupils were girls of my own class, nobody seemed
concerned. A girl's education at that time seemed to have for its prime
object the art of "making home attractive"--presumably to migratory male
relatives. It used to puzzle me to understand why I was under such a
particular obligation to make home attractive to my brothers. We were on
excellent terms of friendship, but it was never suggested to them as a
duty that they make home attractive to me. Why not? Nobody seemed to

The answer to these puzzling questions came to me unexpectedly one night
when I lay in my little bed waiting for sleep to overtake me. It was a
custom of my father and mother to make the round of our bedrooms every
night before going themselves to bed. When they entered my room that
night I was still awake, but for some reason I chose to feign slumber.
My father bent over me, shielding the candle flame with his big hand. I
cannot know exactly what thought was in his mind as he gazed down at me,
but I heard him say, somewhat sadly, "What a pity she wasn't born a

My first hot impulse was to sit up in bed and protest that I didn't want
to be a boy, but I lay still and heard my parents' footsteps pass on
toward the next child's bed. I thought about my father's remark for many
days afterward, but I think I never decided that I regretted my sex.
However, it was made quite clear that men considered themselves superior
to women, and that women apparently acquiesced in that belief.

I found this view of things difficult to reconcile with the fact that
both my father and my mother were advocates of equal suffrage. I was
very young when the Reform Act of 1866 was passed, but I very well
remember the agitation caused by certain circumstances attending it.
This Reform Act, known as the Household Franchise Bill, marked the first
popular extension of the ballot in England since 1832. Under its terms,
householders paying a minimum of ten pounds a year rental were given the
Parliamentary vote. While it was still under discussion in the House of
Commons, John Stuart Mill moved an amendment to the bill to include
women householders as well as men. The amendment was defeated, but in
the act as passed the word "man," instead of the usual "male person,"
was used. Now, under another act of Parliament it had been decided that
the word "man" always included "woman" unless otherwise specifically
stated. For example, in certain acts containing rate-paying clauses, the
masculine noun and pronoun are used throughout, but the provisions apply
to women rate-payers as well as to men. So when the Reform Bill with the
word "man" in it became law, many women believed that the right of
suffrage had actually been bestowed upon them. A tremendous amount of
discussion ensued, and the matter was finally tested by a large number
of women seeking to have their names placed upon the register as voters.
In my city of Manchester 3,924 women, out of a total of 4,215 possible
women voters, claimed their votes, and their claim was defended in the
law courts by eminent lawyers, including my future husband, Dr.
Pankhurst. Of course the women's claim was settled adversely in the
courts, but the agitation resulted in a strengthening of the
woman-suffrage agitation all over the country.

I was too young to understand the precise nature of the affair, but I
shared in the general excitement. From reading newspapers aloud to my
father I had developed a genuine interest in politics, and the Reform
Bill presented itself to my young intelligence as something that was
going to do the most wonderful good to the country. The first election
after the bill became law was naturally a memorable occasion. It is
chiefly memorable to me because it was the first one in which I ever
participated. My sister and I had just been presented with new winter
frocks, green in colour, and made alike, after the custom of proper
British families. Every girl child in those days wore a red flannel
petticoat, and when we first put on our new frocks I was struck with the
fact that we were wearing red and green--the colours of the Liberal
party. Since our father was a Liberal, of course the Liberal party ought
to carry the election, and I conceived a brilliant scheme for helping
its progress. With my small sister trotting after me, I walked the
better part of a mile to the nearest polling-booth. It happened to be in
a rather rough factory district, but we did not notice that. Arrived
there, we two children picked up our green skirts to show our scarlet
petticoats, and brimful of importance, walked up and down before the
assembled crowds to encourage the Liberal vote. From this eminence we
were shortly snatched by outraged authority in the form of a
nursery-maid. I believe we were sent to bed into the bargain, but I am
not entirely clear on this point.

I was fourteen years old when I went to my first suffrage meeting.
Returning from school one day, I met my mother just setting out for the
meeting, and I begged her to let me go along. She consented, and without
stopping to lay my books down I scampered away in my mother's wake. The
speeches interested and excited me, especially the address of the great
Miss Lydia Becker, who was the Susan B. Anthony of the English movement,
a splendid character and a truly eloquent speaker. She was the secretary
of the Manchester committee, and I had learned to admire her as the
editor of the _Women's Suffrage Journal_, which came to my mother every
week. I left the meeting a conscious and confirmed suffragist.

I suppose I had always been an unconscious suffragist. With my
temperament and my surroundings I could scarcely have been otherwise.
The movement was very much alive in the early seventies, nowhere more so
than in Manchester, where it was organised by a group of extraordinary
men and women. Among them were Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Bright, who were
always ready to champion the struggling cause. Mr. Jacob Bright, a
brother of John Bright, was for many years member of Parliament for
Manchester, and to the day of his death was an active supporter of woman
suffrage. Two especially gifted women, besides Miss Becker, were members
of the committee. These were Mrs. Alice Cliff Scatcherd and Miss
Wolstentholm, now the venerable Mrs. Wolstentholm-Elmy. One of the
principal founders of the committee was the man whose wife, in later
years, I was destined to become, Dr. Richard Marsden Pankhurst.

When I was fifteen years old I went to Paris, where I was entered as a
pupil in one of the pioneer institutions in Europe for the higher
education of girls. This school, one of the founders of which was Madame
Edmond Adam, who was and is still a distinguished literary figure, was
situated in a fine old house in the Avenue de Neuilly. It was under the
direction of Mlle. Marchef-Girard, a woman distinguished in education,
and who afterward was appointed government inspector of schools in
France. Mlle. Marchef-Girard believed that girls' education should be
quite as thorough and even more practical than the education boys were
receiving at that time. She included chemistry and other sciences in her
courses, and in addition to embroidery she had her girls taught
bookkeeping. Many other advanced ideas prevailed in this school, and the
moral discipline which the pupils received was, to my mind, as valuable
as the intellectual training. Mlle. Marchef-Girard held that women
should be given the highest ideals of honour. Her pupils were kept to
the strictest principles of truth-telling and candour. Myself she
understood and greatly benefited by an implicit trust which I am sure I
could not have betrayed, even had I felt for her less real affection.

My roommate in this delightful school was an interesting young girl of
my own age, Noemie Rochefort, daughter of that great Republican,
Communist, journalist, and swordsman, Henri Rochefort. This was very
shortly after the Franco-Prussian War, and memories of the Empire's
fall and of the bloody and disastrous Commune were very keen in Paris.
Indeed my roommate's illustrious father and many others were then in
exile in New Caledonia for participation in the Commune. My friend
Noemie was torn with anxiety for her father. She talked of him
constantly, and many were the blood-curdling accounts of daring and of
patriotism to which I listened. Henri Rochefort was, in fact, one of the
moving spirits of the Republican movement in France, and after his
amazing escape in an open boat from New Caledonia, he lived through many
years of political adventures of the most lively and picturesque
character. His daughter and I remained warm friends long after our
school-days ended, and my association with her strengthened all the
liberal ideas I had previously acquired.

I was between eighteen and nineteen when I finally returned from school
in Paris and took my place in my father's home as a finished young lady.
I sympathised with and worked for the woman-suffrage movement, and came
to know Dr. Pankhurst, whose work for woman suffrage had never ceased.
It was Dr. Pankhurst who drafted the first enfranchisement bill, known
as the Women's Disabilities Removal Bill, and introduced into the House
of Commons in 1870 by Mr. Jacob Bright. The bill advanced to its second
reading by a majority vote of thirty-three, but it was killed in
committee by Mr. Gladstone's peremptory orders. Dr. Pankhurst, as I have
already said, with another distinguished barrister, Lord Coleridge,
acted as counsel for the Manchester women, who tried in 1868 to be
placed on the register as voters. He also drafted the bill giving
married women absolute control over their property and earnings, a bill
which became law in 1882.

My marriage with Dr. Pankhurst took place in 1879.

I think we cannot be too grateful to the group of men and women who,
like Dr. Pankhurst, in those early days lent the weight of their
honoured names to the suffrage movement in the trials of its struggling
youth. These men did not wait until the movement became popular, nor did
they hesitate until it was plain that women were roused to the point of
revolt. They worked all their lives with those who were organising,
educating, and preparing for the revolt which was one day to come.
Unquestionably those pioneer men suffered in popularity for their
feminist views. Some of them suffered financially, some politically. Yet
they never wavered.

My married life lasted through nineteen happy years. Often I have heard
the taunt that suffragists are women who have failed to find any normal
outlet for their emotions, and are therefore soured and disappointed
beings. This is probably not true of any suffragist, and it is most
certainly not true of me. My home life and relations have been as nearly
ideal as possible in this imperfect world. About a year after my
marriage my daughter Christabel was born, and in another eighteen months
my second daughter Sylvia came. Two other children followed, and for
some years I was rather deeply immersed in my domestic affairs.

I was never so absorbed with home and children, however, that I lost
interest in community affairs. Dr. Pankhurst did not desire that I
should turn myself into a household machine. It was his firm belief that
society as well as the family stands in need of women's services. So
while my children were still in their cradles I was serving on the
executive committee of the Women's Suffrage Society, and also on the
executive board of the committee which was working to secure the Married
Women's Property Act. This act having passed in 1882, I threw myself
into the suffrage work with renewed energy. A new Reform Act, known as
the County Franchise Bill, extending the suffrage to farm labourers, was
under discussion, and we believed that our years of educational
propaganda work had prepared the country to support us in a demand for a
women's suffrage amendment to the bill. For several years we had been
holding the most splendid meetings in cities all over the kingdom. The
crowds, the enthusiasm, the generous response to appeals for support,
all these seemed to justify us in our belief that women's suffrage was
near. In fact, in 1884, when the County Franchise Bill came before the
country, we had an actual majority in favour of suffrage in the House of

But a favourable majority in the House of Commons by no means insures
the success of any measure. I shall explain this at length when I come
to our work of opposing candidates who have avowed themselves
suffragists, a course which has greatly puzzled our American friends.
The Liberal party was in power in 1884, and a great memorial was sent
to the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable William E. Gladstone, asking
that a women's suffrage amendment to the County Franchise Bill be
submitted to the free and unbiased consideration of the House. Mr.
Gladstone curtly refused, declaring that if a women's suffrage amendment
should be carried, the Government would disclaim responsibility for the
bill. The amendment was submitted nevertheless, but Mr. Gladstone would
not allow it to be freely discussed, and he ordered Liberal members to
vote against it. What we call a whip was sent out against it, a note
virtually commanding party members to be on hand at a certain hour to
vote against the women's amendment. Undismayed, the women tried to have
an independent suffrage bill introduced, but Mr. Gladstone so arranged
Parliamentary business that the bill never even came up for discussion.

I am not going to write a history of the woman suffrage movement in
England prior to 1903, when the Women's Social and Political Union was
organised. That history is full of repetitions of just such stories as
the one I have related. Gladstone was an implacable foe of woman
suffrage. He believed that women's work and politics lay in service to
men's parties. One of the shrewdest acts of Mr. Gladstone's career was
his disruption of the suffrage organisation in England. He accomplished
this by substituting "something just as good," that something being
Women's Liberal Associations. Beginning in 1881 in Bristol, these
associations spread rapidly through the country and, in 1887, became a
National Women's Liberal Federation. The promise of the Federation was
that by allying themselves with men in party politics, women would soon
earn the right to vote. The avidity with which the women swallowed this
promise, left off working for themselves, and threw themselves into the
men's work was amazing.

The Women's Liberal Federation is an organisation of women who believe
in the principles of the Liberal party. (The somewhat older Primrose
League is a similar organisation of women who adhere to Conservative
party principles.) Neither of these organisations have woman suffrage
for their object. They came into existence to uphold party ideas and to
work for the election of party candidates.

I am told that women in America have recently allied themselves with
political parties, believing, just as we did, that such action would
break down opposition to suffrage by showing the men that women possess
political ability, and that politics is work for women as well as men.
Let them not be deceived. I can assure the American women that our long
alliance with the great parties, our devotion to party programmes, our
faithful work at elections, never advanced the suffrage cause one step.
The men accepted the services of the women, but they never offered any
kind of payment.

As far as I am concerned, I did not delude myself with any false hopes
in the matter. I was present when the Women's Liberal Federation came
into existence. Mrs. Gladstone presided, offering the meeting many
consolatory words for the absence of "our great leader," Mr. Gladstone,
who of course had no time to waste on a gathering of women. At Mrs.
Jacob Bright's request I joined the Federation. At this stage of my
development I was a member of the Fabian Society, and I had considerable
faith in the permeating powers of its mild socialism. But I was already
fairly convinced of the futility of trusting to political parties. Even
as a child I had begun to wonder at the _naïve_ faith of party members
in the promises of their leaders. I well remember my father returning
home from political meetings, his face aglow with enthusiasm. "What
happened, father?" I would ask, and he would reply triumphantly, "Ah! We
passed the resolution."

"Then you'll get your measure through the next session," I predicted.

"I won't say that," was the usual reply. "Things don't always move as
quickly as that. But we passed the resolution."

Well, the suffragists, when they were admitted into the Women's Liberal
Federation must have felt that they had passed their resolution. They
settled down to work for the party and to prove that they were as
capable of voting as the recently enfranchised farm labourers. Of course
a few women remained loyal to suffrage. They began again on the old
educational lines to work for the cause. Not one woman took counsel with
herself as to how and why the agricultural labourers had won their
franchise. They had won it, as a matter of fact, by burning hay-ricks,
rioting, and otherwise demonstrating their strength in the only way that
English politicians can understand. The threat to march a hundred
thousand men to the House of Commons unless the bill was passed played
its part also in securing the agricultural labourer his political
freedom. But no woman suffragist noticed that. As for myself, I was too
young politically to learn the lesson then. I had to go through years of
public work before I acquired the experience and the wisdom to know how
to wring concessions from the English Government. I had to hold public
office. I had to go behind the scenes in the government schools, in the
workhouses and other charitable institutions; I had to get a close-hand
view of the misery and unhappiness of a man-made world, before I reached
the point where I could successfully revolt against it. It was almost
immediately after the collapse of the woman suffrage movement in 1884
that I entered upon this new phase of my career.


In 1885, a year after the failure of the third women's suffrage bill, my
husband, Dr. Pankhurst, stood as the Liberal candidate for Parliament in
Rotherline, a riverside constituency of London. I went through the
campaign with him, speaking and canvassing to the best of my ability.
Dr. Pankhurst was a popular candidate, and unquestionably would have
been returned but for the opposition of the Home-Rulers. Parnell was in
command, and his settled policy was opposition to all Government
candidates. So, in spite of the fact that Dr. Pankhurst was a staunch
upholder of home rule, the Parnell forces were solidly opposed to him,
and he was defeated. I remember expressing considerable indignation, but
my husband pointed out to me that Parnell's policy was absolutely right.
With his small party he could never hope to win home rule from a hostile
majority, but by constant obstruction he could in time wear out the
Government, and force it to surrender. That was a valuable political
lesson, one that years later I was destined to put into practice.

The following year found us living in London, and, as usual, interesting
ourselves with labour matters and other social movements. This year was
memorable for a great strike of women working in the Bryant and May
match factories. I threw myself into this strike with enthusiasm,
working with the girls and with some women of prominence, among these
the celebrated Mrs. Annie Besant. The strike was a successful one, the
girls winning substantial improvements in their working conditions.

It was a time of tremendous unrest, of labour agitations, of strikes and
lockouts. It was a time also when a most stupid reactionary spirit
seemed to take possession of the Government and the authorities. The
Salvation Army, the Socialists, the trade-unionists--in fact, all bodies
holding outdoor meetings--were made special objects of attack. As a
protest against this policy a Law and Liberty League was formed in
London, and an immense Free Speech meeting was held in Trafalgar Square,
John Burns and Cunningham Graham being the principal speakers. I was
present at this meeting, which resulted in a bloody riot between the
police and the populace. The Trafalgar Square Riot is historic, and to
it Mr. John Burns owes, in large part, his subsequent rise to political
eminence. Both John Burns and Cunningham Graham served prison sentences
for the part they played in the riot, but they gained fame, and they did
much to establish the right of free speech for English men. English
women are still contending for that right.

In 1890 my last child was born in London. I now had a family of five
young children, and for a time I was less active in public work. On the
retirement of Mrs. Annie Besant from the London School Board I had been
asked to stand as candidate for the vacancy, but although I should have
enjoyed the work, I decided not to accept this invitation. The next
year, however, a new suffrage association, the Women's Franchise League,
was formed, and I felt it my duty to become affiliated with it The
League was preparing a new suffrage bill, the provisions of which I
could not possibly approve, and I joined with old friends, among whom
were Mrs. Jacob Bright, Mrs. Wolstentholm-Elmy, who was a member of the
London School Board, and Mrs. Stanton Blatch, then resident in England,
in an effort to substitute the original bill drafted by Dr. Pankhurst.
As a matter of fact, neither of the bills was introduced into Parliament
that year. Mr. (now Lord) Haldane, who had the measure in charge,
introduced one of his own drafting. It was a truly startling bill,
royally inclusive in its terms. It not only enfranchised all women,
married and unmarried, of the householding classes, but it made them
eligible to all offices under the Crown. The bill was never taken
seriously by the Government, and indeed it was never intended that it
should be, as we were later made to understand. I remember going with
Mrs. Stanton Blatch to the law courts to see Mr. Haldane, and to protest
against the introduction of a measure that had not the remotest chance
of passing.

"All, that bill," said Haldane, "is for the future."

All their woman suffrage bills are intended for the future, a future so
remote as to be imperceptible. We were beginning to understand this even
in 1891. However, as long as there was a bill, we determined to support
it. Accordingly, we canvassed the members, distributed a great deal of
literature, and organised and addressed meetings. We not only made
speeches ourselves, but we induced friendly members of Parliament to go
on our platforms. One of these meetings, held in an East End Radical
club, was addressed by Mr. Haldane and a young man who accompanied him.
This young man, Sir Edward Grey, then in the beginning of his career,
made an eloquent plea for woman's suffrage. That Sir Edward Grey should,
later in life, become a bitter foe of woman's suffrage need astonish no
one. I have known many young Englishmen who began their political life
as suffrage speakers and who later became anti-suffragists or traitorous
"friends" of the cause. These young and aspiring statesmen have to
attract attention in some fashion, and the espousal of advanced causes,
such as labour or women's suffrage, seems an easy way to accomplish that

Well, our speeches and our agitation did nothing at all to assist Mr.
Haldane's impossible bill. It never advanced beyond the first reading.

Our London residence came to an end in 1893. In that year we returned to
our Manchester home, and I again took up the work of the Suffrage
Society. At my suggestion the members began to organise their first
out-of-door meetings, and we continued these until we succeeded in
working up a great meeting that filled Free Trade Hall, and overflowed
into and crowded a smaller hall near at hand. This marked the beginning
of a campaign of propaganda among working people, an object which I had
long desired to bring about.

And now began a new and, as I look back on it, an absorbingly
interesting stage of my career. I have told how our leaders in the
Liberal Party had advised the women to prove their fitness for the
Parliamentary franchise by serving in municipal offices, especially the
unsalaried offices. A large number of women had availed themselves of
this advice, and were serving on Boards of Guardians, on school boards,
and in other capacities. My children now being old enough for me to
leave them with competent nurses, I was free to join these ranks. A year
after my return to Manchester I became a candidate for the Board of Poor
Law Guardians. Several weeks before, I had contested unsuccessfully for
a place on the school board. This time, however, I was elected, heading
the poll by a very large majority.

For the benefit of American readers I shall explain something of the
operation of our English Poor Law. The duty of the law is to administer
an act of Queen Elizabeth, one of the greatest reforms effected by that
wise and humane monarch. When Elizabeth came to the throne she found
England, the Merrie England of contemporary poets, in a state of
appalling poverty. Hordes of people were literally starving to death, in
wretched hovels, in the streets, and at the very gates of the palace.
The cause of all this misery was the religious reformation under Henry
VIII, and the secession from Rome of the English Church. King Henry, it
is known, seized all the Church lands, the abbeys and the convents, and
gave them as rewards to those nobles and favourites who had supported
his policies. But in taking over the Church's property the Protestant
nobles by no means assumed the Church's ancient responsibilities of
lodging wayfarers, giving alms, nursing the sick, educating youths, and
caring for the young and the superannuated. When the monks and the nuns
were turned out of their convents these duties devolved on no one. The
result, after the brief reign of Edward VI and the bloody one of Queen
Mary, was the social anarchy inherited by Elizabeth.

This great queen and great woman, perceiving that the responsibility for
the poor and the helpless rightfully rests on the community, caused an
act to be passed creating in the parishes public bodies to deal with
local conditions of poverty. The Board of Poor Law Guardians disburses
for the poor the money coming from the Poor Rates (taxes), and some
additional moneys allowed by the local government board, the president
of which is a cabinet minister. Mr. John Burns is the present incumbent
of the office. The Board of Guardians has control of the institution we
call the workhouse. You have, I believe, almshouses, or poorhouses, but
they are not quite so extensive as our workhouses, which are all kinds
of institutions in one. We had, in my workhouse, a hospital with nine
hundred beds, a school with several hundred children, a farm, and many

When I came into office I found that the law in our district, Chorlton,
was being very harshly administered. The old board had been made up of
the kind of men who are known as rate savers. They were guardians, not
of the poor but of the rates, and, as I soon discovered, not very astute
guardians even of money. For instance, although the inmates were being
very poorly fed, a frightful waste of food was apparent. Each inmate was
given each day a certain weight of food, and bread formed so much of the
ration that hardly anyone consumed all of his portion. In the farm
department pigs were kept on purpose to consume this surplus of bread,
and as pigs do not thrive on a solid diet of stale bread the animals
fetched in the market a much lower price than properly fed farm pigs. I
suggested that, instead of giving a solid weight of bread in one lump,
the loaf be cut in slices and buttered with margarine, each person being
allowed all that he cared to eat. The rest of the board objected, saying
that our poor charges were very jealous of their rights, and would
suspect in such an innovation an attempt to deprive them of a part of
their ration. This was easily overcome by the suggestion that we consult
the inmates before we made the change. Of course the poor people
consented, and with the bread that we saved we made puddings with milk
and currants, to be fed to the old people of the workhouse. These old
folks I found sitting on backless forms, or benches. They had no
privacy, no possessions, not even a locker. The old women were without
pockets in their gowns, so they were obliged to keep any poor little
treasures they had in their bosoms. Soon after I took office we gave the
old people comfortable Windsor chairs to sit in, and in a number of ways
we managed to make their existence more endurable.

These, after all, were minor benefits. But it does gratify me when I
look back and remember what we were able to do for the children of the
Manchester workhouse. The first time I went into the place I was
horrified to see little girls seven and eight years old on their knees
scrubbing the cold stones of the long corridors. These little girls were
clad, summer and winter, in thin cotton frocks, low in the neck and
short sleeved. At night they wore nothing at all, night dresses being
considered too good for paupers. The fact that bronchitis was epidemic
among them most of the time had not suggested to the guardians any
change in the fashion of their clothes. There was a school for the
children, but the teaching was of the poorest order. They were forlorn
enough, these poor innocents, when I first met them. In five years' time
we had changed the face of the earth for them. We had bought land in the
country and had built a cottage system home for the children, and we had
established for them a modern school with trained teachers. We had even
secured for them a gymnasium and a swimming-bath. I may say that I was
on the building committee of the board, the only woman member.

Whatever may be urged against the English Poor Law system, I maintain
that under it no stigma of pauperism need be applied to workhouse
children. If they are treated like paupers of course they will be
paupers, and they will grow up paupers, permanent burdens on society;
but if they are regarded merely as children under the guardianship of
the state, they assume quite another character. Rich children are not
pauperized by being sent to one or another of the free public schools
with which England is blest. Yet a great many of those schools, now
exclusively used for the education of upper middle-class boys, were
founded by legacies left to educate the poor--girls as well as boys. The
English Poor Law, properly administered, ought to give back to the
children of the destitute what the upper classes have taken from them, a
good education on a self-respecting basis.

The trouble is, as I soon perceived after taking office, the law cannot,
in existing circumstances, do all the work, even for children, that it
was intended to do. We shall have to have new laws, and it soon became
apparent to me that we can never hope to get them until women have the
vote. During the time I served on the board, and for years since then,
women guardians all over the country have striven in vain to have the
law reformed in order to ameliorate conditions which break the hearts of
women to see, but which apparently affect men very little. I have spoken
of the little girls I found scrubbing the workhouse floors. There were
others at the hateful labour who aroused my keenest pity. I found that
there were pregnant women in that workhouse, scrubbing floors, doing the
hardest kind of work, almost until their babies came into the world.
Many of them were unmarried women, very, very young, mere girls. These
poor mothers were allowed to stay in the hospital after confinement for
a short two weeks. Then they had to make a choice of staying in the
workhouse and earning their living by scrubbing and other work, in
which case they were separated from their babies; or of taking their
discharges. They could stay and be paupers, or they could leave--leave
with a two-weeks-old baby in their arms, without hope, without home,
without money, without anywhere to go. What became of those girls, and
what became of their hapless infants? That question was at the basis of
the women guardians' demand for a reform of one part of the Poor Law.

That section deals with the little children who are boarded out, not by
the workhouse, but by the parents, that parent being almost always the
mother. It is from that class of workhouse mothers--mostly young servant
girls--which thoughtless people say all working girls ought to be; it is
from that class more than from any other that cases of illegitimacy
come. Those poor little servant girls, who can get out perhaps only in
the evening, whose minds are not very cultivated, and who find all the
sentiment of their lives in cheap novelettes, fall an easy prey to those
who have designs against them. These are the people by whom the babies
are mostly put out to nurse, and the mothers have to pay for their keep.
Of course the babies are very badly protected. The Poor Law Guardians
are supposed to protect them by appointing inspectors to visit the homes
where the babies are boarded. But, under the law, if a man who ruins a
girl pays down a lump sum of twenty pounds, less than a hundred dollars,
the boarding home is immune from inspection. As long as a baby-farmer
takes only one child at a time, the twenty pounds being paid, the
inspectors cannot inspect the house. Of course the babies die with
hideous promptness, often long before the twenty pounds have been spent,
and then the baby-farmers are free to solicit another victim. For years,
as I have said, women have tried in vain to get that one small reform of
the Poor Law, to reach and protect all illegitimate children, and to
make it impossible for any rich scoundrel to escape future liability for
his child because of the lump sum he has paid down. Over and over again
it has been tried, but it has always failed, because the ones who really
care about the thing are mere women.

I thought I had been a suffragist before I became a Poor Law Guardian,
but now I began to think about the vote in women's hands not only as a
right but as a desperate necessity. These poor, unprotected mothers and
their babies I am sure were potent factors in my education as a
militant. In fact, all the women I came in contact with in the workhouse
contributed to that education. Very soon after I went on the board I saw
that the class of old women who came into the workhouse were in many
ways superior to the kind of old men who came into the workhouse. One
could not help noticing it. They were, to begin with, more industrious.
In fact, it was quite touching to see their industry and patience. Old
women, over sixty and seventy years of age, did most of the work of that
place, most of the sewing, most of the things that kept the house clean
and which supplied the inmates with clothing. I found that the old men
were different. One could not get very much work out of them. They liked
to stop in the oakum picking-room, where they were allowed to smoke;
but as to real work, very little was done by our old men.

I began to make inquiries about these old women. I found that the
majority of them were not women who had been dissolute, who had been
criminal, but women who had lead perfectly respectable lives, either as
wives and mothers, or as single women earning their own living. A great
many were of the domestic-servant class, who had not married, who had
lost their employment, and had reached a time of life when it was
impossible to get more employment. It was through no fault of their own,
but simply because they had never earned enough to save. The average
wage of working women in England is less than two dollars a week. On
this pittance it is difficult enough to keep alive, and of course it is
impossible to save. Every one who knows anything about conditions under
which our working women live knows that few of them can ever hope to put
by enough to keep them in old age. Besides, the average working woman
has to support others than herself. How can she save?

Some of our old women were married. Many of them, I found, were widows
of skilled artisans who had had pensions from their unions, but the
pensions had died with the men. These women, who had given up the power
to work for themselves, and had devoted themselves to working for their
husbands and children, were left penniless. There was nothing for them
to do but to go into the workhouse. Many of them were widows of men who
had served their country in the army or the navy. The men had had
pensions from the government, but the pensions had died with them, and
so the women were in the workhouse.

We shall not in future, I hope, find so many respectable old women in
English workhouses. We have an old-age pension law now, which allows old
women as well as old men the sum of five shillings--$1.20--a week;
hardly enough to live on, but enough to enable the poor to keep their
old fathers and mothers out of the workhouse without starving themselves
or their children. But when I was a Poor Law Guardian there was simply
nothing to do with a woman when her life of toil ceased except make a
pauper of her.

I wish I had space to tell you of other tragedies of women I witnessed
while I was on that board. In our out-relief department, which exists
chiefly for able-bodied poor and dependent persons, I was brought into
contact with widows who were struggling desperately to keep their homes
and families together. The law allowed these women relief of a certain
very inadequate kind, but for herself and one child it offered no relief
except the workhouse. Even if the woman had a baby at her breast she was
regarded, under the law, as an able-bodied man. Women, we are told,
should stay at home and take care of their children. I used to astound
my men colleagues by saying to them: "When women have the vote they will
see that mothers _can_ stay at home and care for their children. You men
have made it impossible for these mothers to do that."

I am convinced that the enfranchised woman will find many ways in which
to lessen, at least, the curse of poverty. Women have more practical
ideas about relief, and especially of prevention of dire poverty, than
men display. I was struck with this whenever I attended the District
Conferences and the annual Poor Law Union Meetings. In our discussions
the women showed themselves much more capable, much more resourceful,
than the men. I remember two papers which I prepared and which caused
considerable discussion. One of these was on the Duties of Guardians in
Times of Unemployment, in which I pointed out that the government had
one reserve of employment for men which could always be used. We have,
on our northwest coast, a constant washing away of the fore shore. Every
once in a while the question of coast reclamation comes up for
discussion, but I had never heard any man suggest coast reclamation as a
means of giving the unemployed relief.

In 1898 I suffered an irreparable loss in the death of my husband. His
death occurred suddenly and left me with the heavy responsibility of
caring for a family of children, the eldest only seventeen years of age.
I resigned my place on the Board of Guardians, and was almost
immediately appointed to the salaried office of Registrar of Births and
Deaths in Manchester. We have registrars of births, deaths and marriages
in England, but since the act establishing the last named contains the
words "male person," a woman may not be appointed a registrar of
marriages. The head of this department of the government is the
registrar-general, with offices at Somerset House, London, where all
vital statistics are returned and all records filed.

It was my duty as registrar of births and deaths to act as chief census
officer of my district; I was obliged to receive all returns of births
and deaths, record them, and send my books quarterly to the office of
the registrar-general. My district was in a working-class quarter, and
on this account I instituted evening office hours twice a week. It was
touching to observe how glad the women were to have a woman registrar to
go to. They used to tell me their stories, dreadful stories some of
them, and all of them pathetic with that patient and uncomplaining
pathos of poverty. Even after my experience on the Board of Guardians, I
was shocked to be reminded over and over again of the little respect
there was in the world for women and children. I have had little girls
of thirteen come to my office to register the births of their babies,
illegitimate, of course. In many of these cases I found that the child's
own father or some near male relative was responsible for her state.
There was nothing that could be done in most cases. The age of consent
in England is sixteen years, but a man can always claim that he thought
the girl was over sixteen. During my term of office a very young mother
of an illegitimate child exposed her baby, and it died. The girl was
tried for murder and was sentenced to death. This was afterwards
commuted, it is true, but the unhappy child had the horrible experience
of the trial and the sentence "to be hanged by the neck, until you are
dead." The wretch who was, from the point of view of justice, the real
murderer of the baby, received no punishment at all.

I needed only one more experience after this one, only one more contact
with the life of my time and the position of women, to convince me that
if civilisation is to advance at all in the future, it must be through
the help of women, women freed of their political shackles, women with
full power to work their will in society. In 1900 I was asked to stand
as a candidate for the Manchester School Board. The schools were then
under the old law, and the school boards were very active bodies. They
administered the Elementary Education Act, bought school sites, erected
buildings, employed and paid teachers. The school code and the
curriculum were framed by the Board of Education, which is part of the
central government. Of course this was absurd. A body of men in London
could not possibly realise all the needs of boys and girls in remote
parts of England. But so it was.

As a member of the school board I very soon found that the teachers,
working people of the higher grade, were in exactly the same position as
the working people of the lower grades. That is, the men had all the
advantage. Teachers had a representative in the school board councils.
Of course that representative was a man teacher, and equally of course,
he gave preference to the interests of the men teachers. Men teachers
received much higher salaries than the women, although many of the
women, in addition to their regular class work, had to teach sewing and
domestic science into the bargain. They received no extra pay for their
extra work. In spite of this added burden, and in spite of the lower
salaries received, I found that the women cared a great deal more about
their work, and a great deal more about the children than the men. It
was a winter when there was a great deal of poverty and unemployment in
Manchester. I found that the women teachers were spending their slender
salaries to provide regular dinners for destitute children, and were
giving up their time to waiting on them and seeing that they were
nourished. They said to me, quite simply: "You see, the little things
are too badly off to study their lessons. We have to feed them before we
can teach them."

Well, instead of seeing that women care more for schools and school
children than men do and should therefore have more power in education,
the Parliament of 1900 actually passed a law which took education in
England entirely out of the hands of women. This law abolished the
school board altogether and placed the administration of schools in the
hands of the municipalities. Certain corporations had formerly made
certain grants to technical education--Manchester had built a
magnificent technical college--and now the corporations had full control
of both elementary and secondary education.

The law did indeed provide that the corporations should co-opt at least
one woman on their education boards. Manchester co-opted four women, and
at the strong recommendation of the Labour Party, I was one of the
women chosen. At their urgent solicitation I was appointed to the
Committee on Technical Instruction, the one woman admitted to this
committee. I learned that the Manchester Technical College, called the
second best in Europe, spending thousands of pounds annually for
technical training, had practically no provision for training women.
Even in classes where they might easily have been admitted, bakery and
confectionery classes and the like, the girls were kept out because the
men's trades unions objected to their being educated for such skilled
work. It was rapidly becoming clear to my mind that men regarded women
as a servant class in the community, and that women were going to remain
in the servant class until they lifted themselves out of it. I asked
myself many times in those days what was to be done. I had joined the
Labour Party, thinking that through its councils something vital might
come, some such demand for the women's enfranchisement that the
politicians could not possibly ignore. Nothing came.

All these years my daughters had been growing up. All their lives they
had been interested in women's suffrage. Christabel and Sylvia, as
little girls, had cried to be taken to meetings. They had helped in our
drawing-room meetings in every way that children can help. As they grew
older we used to talk together about the suffrage, and I was sometimes
rather frightened by their youthful confidence in the prospect, which
they considered certain, of the success of the movement. One day
Christabel startled me with the remark: "How long you women have been
trying for the vote. For my part, I mean to get it."

Was there, I reflected, any difference between trying for the vote and
getting it? There is an old French proverb, "If youth could know; if age
could do." It occurred to me that if the older suffrage workers could in
some way join hands with the young, unwearied and resourceful
suffragists, the movement might wake up to new life and new
possibilities. After that I and my daughters together sought a way to
bring about that union of young and old which would find new methods,
blaze new trails. At length we thought we had found a way.


In the summer of 1902--I think it was 1902--Susan B. Anthony paid a
visit to Manchester, and that visit was one of the contributory causes
that led to the founding of our militant suffrage organisation, the
Women's Social and Political Union. During Miss Anthony's visit my
daughter Christabel, who was very deeply impressed, wrote an article for
the Manchester papers on the life and works of the venerable reformer.
After her departure Christabel spoke often of her, and always with
sorrow and indignation that such a splendid worker for humanity was
destined to die without seeing the hopes of her lifetime realised. "It
is unendurable," declared my daughter, "to think of another generation
of women wasting their lives begging for the vote. We must not lose any
more time. We must act."

By this time the Labour Party, of which I was still a member, had
returned Mr. Keir Hardie to Parliament, and we decided that the first
step in a campaign of action was to make the Labour Party responsible
for a new suffrage bill. At a recent annual conference of the party I
had moved a resolution calling upon the members to instruct their own
member of Parliament to introduce a bill for the enfranchisement of
women. The resolution was passed, and we determined to organise a
society of women to demand immediate enfranchisement, not by means of
any outworn missionary methods, but through political action.

It was in October, 1903, that I invited a number of women to my house in
Nelson street, Manchester, for purposes of organisation. We voted to
call our new society the Women's Social and Political Union, partly to
emphasise its democracy, and partly to define its object as political
rather than propagandist. We resolved to limit our membership
exclusively to women, to keep ourselves absolutely free from any party
affiliation, and to be satisfied with nothing but action on our
question. Deeds, not words, was to be our permanent motto.

To such a pass had the women's suffrage cause come in my country that
the old leaders, who had done such fine educational work in the past,
were now seemingly content with expressions of sympathy and regret on
the part of hypocritical politicians. This fact was thrust upon me anew
by an incident that occurred almost at the moment of the founding of the
Women's Social and Political Union. In our Parliament no bill has a
chance of becoming a law unless it is made a Government measure. Private
members are at liberty to introduce measures of their own, but these
rarely reach the second reading, or debatable stage. So much time is
given to discussion of Government measures that very little time can be
given to any private bills. About one day in a week is given over to
consideration of private measures, to which, as we say, the Government
give facilities; and since there are a limited number of weeks in a
session, the members, on the opening days of Parliament, meet and draw
lots to determine who shall have a place in the debates. Only these
successful men have a chance to speak to their bills, and only those who
have drawn early chances have any prospect of getting much discussion on
their measures.

Now, the old suffragists had long since given up hope of obtaining a
Government suffrage bill, but they clung to a hope that a private
member's bill would some time obtain consideration. Every year, on the
opening day of Parliament, the association sent a deputation of women to
the House of Commons, to meet so-called friendly members and consider
the position of the women's suffrage cause. The ceremony was of a most
conventional, not to say farcical character. The ladies made their
speeches and the members made theirs. The ladies thanked the friendly
members for their sympathy, and the members renewed their assurances
that they believed in women's suffrage and would vote for it when they
had an opportunity to do so. Then the deputation, a trifle sad but
entirely tranquil, took its departure, and the members resumed the real
business of life, which was support of their party's policies.

Such a ceremony as this I attended soon after the founding of the
W. S. P. U. Sir Charles M'Laren was the friendly member who presided
over the gathering, and he did his full duty in the matter of formally
endorsing the cause of women's suffrage. He assured the delegation of
his deep regret, as well as the regret of numbers of his colleagues,
that women so intelligent, so devoted, etc., should remain
unenfranchised. Other members did likewise. The ceremonies drew to a
close, but I, who had not been asked to speak, determined to add
something to the occasion.

"Sir Charles M'Laren," I began abruptly, "has told us that numbers of
his colleagues desire the success of the women's suffrage cause. Now
every one of us knows that at this moment the members of the House of
Commons are balloting for a place in the debates. Will Sir Charles
M'Laren tell us if any member is preparing to introduce a bill for
women's suffrage? Will he tell us what he and the other members will
pledge themselves to _do_ for the reform they so warmly endorse?"

Of course, the embarrassed Sir Charles was not prepared to tell us
anything of the kind, and the deputation departed in confusion and
wrath. I was told that I was an interloper, an impertinent intruder. Who
asked me to say anything? And what right had I to step in and ruin the
good impression they had made? No one could tell how many friendly
members I had alienated by my unfortunate remarks.

I went back to Manchester and with renewed energy continued the work of
organising for the W. S. P. U.

In the spring of 1904 I went to the annual conference of the Independent
Labour Party, determined if possible to induce the members to prepare a
suffrage bill to be laid before Parliament in the approaching session.
Although I was a member of the National Administrative Council and
presumably a person holding some influence in the party, I knew that my
plan would be bitterly opposed by a strong minority, who held that the
Labour Party should direct all its efforts toward securing universal
adult suffrage for both men and women. Theoretically, of course, a
Labour party could not be satisfied with anything less than universal
adult suffrage, but it was clear that no such sweeping reform could be
effected at that time, unless indeed the Government made it one of their
measures. Besides, while a large majority of members of the House of
Commons were pledged to support a bill giving women equal franchise
rights with men, it was doubtful whether a majority could be relied upon
to support a bill giving adult suffrage, even to men. Such a bill, even
if it were a Government measure, would probably be difficult of passage.

After considerable discussion, the National Council decided to adopt the
original Women's Enfranchisement Bill, drafted by Dr. Pankhurst, and
advanced in 1870 to its second reading in the House of Commons. The
Council's decision was approved by an overwhelming majority of the

The new session of Parliament, so eagerly looked forward to, met on
February 13, 1905. I went down from Manchester, and with my daughter
Sylvia, then a student at the Royal College of Art, South Kensington,
spent eight days in the Strangers' Lobby of the House of Commons,
working for the suffrage bill. We interviewed every one of the members
who had pledged themselves to support a suffrage bill when it should be
introduced, but we found not one single member who would agree that his
chance in the ballot, if he drew such a chance, should be given to
introducing the bill. Every man had some other measure he was anxious to
further. Mr. Keir Hardie had previously given us his pledge, but his
name, as we had feared, was not drawn in the ballot. We next set out to
interview all the men whose names had been drawn, and we finally induced
Mr. Bamford Slack, who held the fourteenth place, to introduce our bill.
The fourteenth place was not a good one, but it served, and the second
reading of our bill was set down for Friday, May 12th, the second order
of the day.

This being the first suffrage bill in eight years, a thrill of
excitement animated not only our ranks but all the old suffrage
societies. Meetings were held, and a large number of petitions
circulated. When the day came for consideration on our bill, the
Strangers' Lobby could not hold the enormous gathering of women of all
classes, rich and poor, who flocked to the House of Commons. It was
pitiful to see the look of hope and joy that shone on the faces of many
of these women. We knew that our poor little measure had the very
slightest chance of being passed. The bill that occupied the first order
of the day was one providing that carts travelling along public roads at
night should carry a light behind as well as before. We had tried to
induce the promoters of this unimportant little measure to withdraw it
in the interests of our bill, but they refused. We had tried also to
persuade the Conservative Government to give our bill facilities for
full discussion, but they also refused. So, as we fully anticipated,
the promoters of the Roadway Lighting Bill were allowed to "talk out"
our bill. They did this by spinning out the debate with silly stories
and foolish jokes. The members listened to the insulting performance
with laughter and applause.

When news of what was happening reached the women who waited in the
Strangers' Lobby, a feeling of wild excitement and indignation took
possession of the throng. Seeing their temper, I felt that the moment
had come for a demonstration such as no old-fashioned suffragist had
ever attempted. I called upon the women to follow me outside for a
meeting of protest against the government. We swarmed out into the open,
and Mrs. Wolstenholm-Elmy, one of the oldest suffrage workers in
England, began to speak. Instantly the police rushed into the crowd of
women, pushing them about and ordering them to disperse. We moved on as
far as the great statue of Richard Coeur de Lion that guards the
entrance to the House of Lords, but again the police intervened. Finally
the police agreed to let us hold a meeting in Broad Sanctuary, very near
the gates of Westminster Abbey. Here we made speeches and adopted a
resolution condemning the Government's action in allowing a small
minority to talk out our bill. This was the first militant act of the
W. S. P. U. It caused comment and even some alarm, but the police
contented themselves with taking our names.

The ensuing summer was spent in outdoor work. By this time the Women's
Social and Political Union had acquired some valuable accessions, and
money began to come to us. Among our new members was one who was
destined to play an important rôle in the unfolding drama of the
militant movement. At the close of one of our meetings at Oldham a young
girl introduced herself to me as Annie Kenney, a mill-worker, and a
strong suffrage sympathiser. She wanted to know more of our society and
its objects, and I invited her and her sister Jenny, a Board School
teacher, to tea the next day. They came and joined our Union, a step
that definitely changed the whole course of Miss Kenney's life, and gave
us one of our most distinguished leaders and organisers. With her help
we began to carry our propaganda to an entirely new public.

In Lancashire there is an institution known as the Wakes, a sort of
travelling fair where they have merry-go-rounds, Aunt-Sallies, and other
festive games, side-shows of various kinds, and booths where all kinds
of things are sold. Every little village has its Wakes-week during the
summer and autumn, and it is the custom for the inhabitants of the
villages to spend the Sunday before the opening of the Wakes walking
among the booths in anticipation of tomorrow's joys. On these occasions
the Salvation Army, temperance orators, venders of quack medicines,
pedlars, and others, take advantage of the ready-made audience to
advance their propaganda. At Annie Kenney's suggestion we went from one
village to the other, following the Wakes and making suffrage speeches.
We soon rivalled in popularity the Salvation Army, and even the
tooth-drawers and patent-medicine pedlars.

The Women's Social and Political Union had been in existence two years
before any opportunity was presented for work on a national scale. The
autumn of 1905 brought a political situation which seemed to us to
promise bright hopes for women's enfranchisement. The life of the old
Parliament, dominated for nearly twenty years by the Conservative Party,
was drawing to an end, and the country was on the eve of a general
election in which the Liberals hoped to be returned to power. Quite
naturally the Liberal candidates went to the country with perfervid
promises of reform in every possible direction. They appealed to the
voters to return them, as advocates and upholders of true democracy, and
they promised that there should be a Government united in favour of
people's rights against the powers of a privileged aristocracy.

Now repeated experiences had taught us that the only way to attain
women's suffrage was to commit a Government to it. In other words,
pledges of support from candidates were plainly useless. They were not
worth having. The only object worth trying for was pledges from
responsible leaders that the new Government would make women's suffrage
a part of the official programme. We determined to address ourselves to
those men who were likely to be in the Liberal Cabinet, demanding to
know whether their reforms were going to include justice to women.

We laid our plans to begin this work at a great meeting to be held in
Free Trade Hall, Manchester, with Sir Edward Grey as the principal
speaker. We intended to get seats in the gallery, directly facing the
platform and we made for the occasion a large banner with the words:
"Will the Liberal Party Give Votes for Women?" We were to let this
banner down over the gallery rails at the moment when our speaker rose
to put the question to Sir Edward Grey. At the last moment, however, we
had to alter the plan because it was impossible to get the gallery seats
we wanted. There was no way in which we could use our large banner, so,
late in the afternoon on the day of the meeting, we cut out and made a
small banner with the three-word inscription: "Votes for Women." Thus,
quite accidentally, there came into existence the present slogan of the
suffrage movement around the world.

Annie Kenney and my daughter Christabel were charged with the mission of
questioning Sir Edward Grey. They sat quietly through the meeting, at
the close of which questions were invited. Several questions were asked
by men and were courteously answered. Then Annie Kenney arose and asked:
"If the Liberal party is returned to power, will they take steps to give
votes for women?" At the same time Christabel held aloft the little
banner that every one in the hall might understand the nature of the
question. Sir Edward Grey returned no answer to Annie's question, and
the men sitting near her forced her rudely into her seat, while a
steward of the meeting pressed his hat over her face. A babel of
shouts, cries and catcalls sounded from all over the hall.

As soon as order was restored Christabel stood up and repeated the
question: "Will the Liberal Government, if returned, give votes to
women?" Again Sir Edward Grey ignored the question, and again a perfect
tumult of shouts and angry cries arose. Mr. William Peacock, chief
constable of Manchester, left the platform and came down to the women,
asking them to write their question, which he promised to hand to the
speaker. They wrote: "Will the Liberal Government give votes to
working-women? Signed, on behalf of the Women's Social and Political
Union, Annie Kenney, member of the Oldham committee of the card-and
blowing-room operatives." They added a line to say that, as one of
96,000 organised women textile-workers, Annie Kenney earnestly desired
an answer to the question.

Mr. Peacock kept his word and handed the question to Sir Edward Grey,
who read it, smiled, and passed it to the others on the platform. They
also read it with smiles, but no answer to the question was made. Only
one lady who was sitting on the platform tried to say something, but the
chairman interrupted by asking Lord Durham to move a vote of thanks to
the speaker. Mr. Winston Churchill seconded the motion, Sir Edward Grey
replied briefly, and the meeting began to break up. Annie Kenney stood
up in her chair and cried out over the noise of shuffling feet and
murmurs of conversation: "Will the Liberal Government give votes to
women?" Then the audience became a mob. They howled, they shouted and
roared, shaking their fists fiercely at the woman who dared to intrude
her question into a man's meeting. Hands were lifted to drag her out of
her chair, but Christabel threw one arm about her as she stood, and with
the other arm warded off the mob, who struck and scratched at her until
her sleeve was red with blood. Still the girls held together and shouted
over and over: "The question! The question! Answer the question!"

Six men, stewards of the meeting, seized Christabel and dragged her down
the aisle, past the platform, other men following with Annie Kenney,
both girls still calling for an answer to their question. On the
platform the Liberal leaders sat silent and unmoved while this
disgraceful scene was taking place, and the mob were shouting and
shrieking from the floor.

Flung into the streets, the two girls staggered to their feet and began
to address the crowds, and to tell them what had taken place in a
Liberal meeting. Within five minutes they were arrested on a charge of
obstruction and, in Christabel's case, of assaulting the police. Both
were summonsed to appear next morning in a police court, where, after a
trial which was a mere farce, Annie Kenney was sentenced to pay a fine
of five shillings, with an alternative of three days in prison, and
Christabel Pankhurst was given a fine of ten shillings or a jail
sentence of one week.

Both girls promptly chose the prison sentence. As soon as they left the
court-room I hurried around to the room where they were waiting, and I
said to my daughter: "You have done everything you could be expected to
do in this matter. I think you should let me pay your fines and take you
home." Without waiting for Annie Kenney to speak, my daughter exclaimed:
"Mother, if you pay my fine I will never go home." Before going to the
meeting she had said, "We will get our question answered or sleep in
prison to-night." I now knew her courage remained unshaken.

Of course the affair created a tremendous sensation, not only in
Manchester, where my husband had been so well known and where I had so
long held public office, but all over England. The comments of the press
were almost unanimously bitter. Ignoring the perfectly well-established
fact that men in every political meeting ask questions and demand
answers of the speakers, the newspapers treated the action of the two
girls as something quite unprecedented and outrageous. They generally
agreed that great leniency had been shown them. Fines and jail-sentences
were too good for such unsexed creatures. "The discipline of the
nursery" would have been far more appropriate. One Birmingham paper
declared that "if any argument were required against giving ladies
political status and power it had been furnished in Manchester."
Newspapers which had heretofore ignored the whole subject now hinted
that while they had formerly been in favour of women's suffrage, they
could no longer countenance it. The Manchester incident, it was said,
had set the cause back, perhaps irrevocably.

This is how it set the cause back. Scores of people wrote to the
newspapers expressing sympathy with the women. The wife of Sir Edward
Grey told her friends that she considered them quite justified in the
means they had taken. It was stated that Winston Churchill, nervous
about his own candidacy in Manchester, visited Strangeways Gaol, where
the two girls were imprisoned, and vainly begged the governor to allow
him to pay their fines. On October 20, when the prisoners were released,
they were given an immense demonstration in Free-Trade Hall, the very
hall from which they had been ejected the week before. The Women's
Social and Political Union received a large number of new members. Above
all, the question of women's suffrage became at once a live topic of
comment from one end of Great Britain to the other.

We determined that from that time on the little "Votes For Women"
banners should appear wherever a prospective member of the Liberal
Government rose to speak, and that there should be no more peace until
the women's question was answered. We clearly perceived that the new
Government, calling themselves Liberal, were reactionary so far as women
were concerned, that they were hostile to women's suffrage, and would
have to be fought until they were conquered, or else driven from office.

We did not begin to fight, however, until we had given the new
Government every chance to give us the pledge we wanted. Early in
December the Conservative Government had gone out, and Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman, the Liberal leader, had formed a new Cabinet. On
December 21 a great meeting was held in Royal Albert Hall, London, where
Sir Henry, surrounded by his cabinet, made his first utterance as Prime
Minister. Previous to the meeting we wrote to Sir Henry and asked him,
in the name of the Women's Social and Political Union, whether the
Liberal Government would give women the vote. We added that our
representatives would be present at the meeting, and we hoped that the
Prime Minister would publicly answer the question. Otherwise we should
be obliged publicly to protest against his silence.

Of course Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman returned no reply, nor did his
speech contain any allusion to women's suffrage. So, at the conclusion,
Annie Kenney, whom we had smuggled into the hall in disguise, whipped
out her little white calico banner, and called out in her clear, sweet
voice: "Will the Liberal Government give women the vote?"

At the same moment Theresa Billington let drop from a seat directly
above the platform a huge banner with the words: "Will the Liberal
Government give justice to working-women?" Just for a moment there was a
gasping silence, the people waiting to see what the Cabinet Ministers
would do. They did nothing. Then, in the midst of uproar and conflicting
shouts, the women were seized and flung out of the hall.

This was the beginning of a campaign the like of which was never known
in England, or, for that matter, in any other country. If we had been
strong enough we should have opposed the election of every Liberal
candidate, but being limited both in funds and in members we
concentrated on one member of the Government, Mr. Winston Churchill. Not
that we had any animus against Mr. Churchill. We chose him simply
because he was the only important candidate standing for constituencies
within reach of our headquarters. We attended every meeting addressed by
Mr. Churchill. We heckled him unmercifully; we spoiled his best points
by flinging back such obvious retorts that the crowds roared with
laughter. We lifted out little white banners from unexpected corners of
the hall, exactly at the moment when an interruption was least desired.
Sometimes our banners were torn from our hands and trodden under foot.
Sometimes, again, the crowds were with us, and we actually broke up the
meeting. We did not succeed in defeating Mr. Churchill, but he was
returned by a very small majority, the smallest of any of the Manchester
Liberal candidates.

We did not confine our efforts to heckling Mr. Churchill. Throughout the
campaign we kept up the work of questioning Cabinet Ministers at
meetings all over England and Scotland. At Sun Hall, Liverpool,
addressed by the Prime Minister, nine women in succession asked the
important question, and were thrown out of the hall; this in the face of
the fact that Sir Campbell-Bannerman was an avowed suffragist. But we
were not questioning him as to his private opinions on the suffrage; we
were asking him what his Government were willing to do about suffrage.
We questioned Mr. Asquith in Sheffield, Mr. Lloyd-George in Altrincham,
Cheshire, the Prime Minister again in Glasgow, and we interrupted a
great many other meetings as well. Always we were violently thrown out
and insulted. Often we were painfully bruised and hurt.

What good did it do? We have often been asked that question, even by the
women our actions spurred into an activity they had never before thought
themselves capable of. For one thing, our heckling campaign made women's
suffrage a matter of news--it had never been that before. Now the
newspapers were full of us. For another thing, we woke up the old
suffrage associations. During the general election various groups of
non-militant suffragists came back to life and organised a gigantic
manifesto in favour of action from the Liberal Government. Among others,
the manifesto was signed by the Women's Co-operative Guild with nearly
21,000 members; the Women's Liberal Federation, with 76,000 members; the
Scottish Women's Liberal Federation, with 15,000 members; the
North-of-England Weavers' Association, with 100,000 members; the British
Women's Temperance Association, with nearly 110,000 members; and the
Independent Labour Party with 20,000 members. Surely it was something to
have inspired all this activity.

We decided that the next step must be to carry the fight to London, and
Annie Kenney was chosen to be organiser there. With only two pounds,
less than ten dollars, in her pocket the intrepid girl set forth on her
mission. In about a fortnight I left my official work as registrar in
the hands of a deputy and went down to London to see what had been
accomplished. To my astonishment I found that Annie, working with my
daughter Sylvia, had organised a procession of women and a demonstration
to be held on the opening day of Parliament. The confident young things
had actually engaged Caxton Hall, Westminster; they had had printed a
large number of handbills to announce the meeting, and they were busily
engaged in working up the demonstration. Mrs. Drummond, who had joined
the Union shortly after the imprisonment of Annie Kenney and Christabel,
sent word from Manchester that she was coming to help us. She had to
borrow the money for her railroad-fare, but she came, and, as ever
before and since, her help was invaluable.

How we worked, distributing handbills, chalking announcements of the
meeting on pavements, calling on every person we knew and on a great
many more we knew only by name, canvassing from door to door!

At length the opening day of Parliament arrived. On February 19, 1906,
occurred the first suffrage procession in London. I think there were
between three and four hundred women in that procession, poor
working-women from the East End, for the most part, leading the way in
which numberless women of every rank were afterward to follow. My eyes
were misty with tears as I saw them, standing in line, holding the
simple banners which my daughter Sylvia had decorated, waiting for the
word of command. Of course our procession attracted a large crowd of
intensely amused spectators. The police, however, made no attempt to
disperse our ranks, but merely ordered us to furl our banners. There
was no reason why we should not have carried banners but the fact that
we were women, and therefore could be bullied. So, bannerless, the
procession entered Caxton Hall. To my amazement it was filled with
women, most of whom I had never seen at any suffrage gathering before.

Our meeting was most enthusiastic, and while Annie Kenney was speaking,
to frequent applause, the news came to me that the King's speech (which
is not the King's at all, but the formally announced Government
programme for the session) had been read, and that there was in it no
mention of the women's suffrage question. As Annie took her seat I arose
and made this announcement, and I moved a resolution that the meeting
should at once proceed to the House of Commons to urge the members to
introduce a suffrage measure. The resolution was carried, and we rushed
out in a body and hurried toward the Strangers' Entrance. It was pouring
rain and bitterly cold, yet no one turned back, even when we learned at
the entrance that for the first time in memory the doors of the House of
Commons were barred to women. We sent in our cards to members who were
personal friends, and some of them came out and urged our admittance.
The police, however, were obdurate. They had their orders. The Liberal
government, advocates of the people's rights, had given orders that
women should no longer set foot in their stronghold.

Pressure from members proved too great, and the government relented to
the extent of allowing twenty women at a time to enter the lobby.
Through all the rain and cold those hundreds of women waited for hours
their turn to enter. Some never got in, and for those of us who did
there was small satisfaction. Not a member could be persuaded to take up
our cause.

Out of the disappointment and dejection of that experience I yet reaped
a richer harvest of happiness than I had ever known before. Those women
had followed me to the House of Commons. They had defied the police.
They were awake at last. They were prepared to do something that women
had never done before--fight for themselves. Women had always fought for
men, and for their children. Now they were ready to fight for their own
human rights. Our militant movement was established.


To account for the phenomenal growth of the Women's Social and Political
Union after it was established in London, to explain why it made such an
instant appeal to women hitherto indifferent, I shall have to point out
exactly wherein our society differs from all other suffrage
associations. In the first place, our members are absolutely single
minded; they concentrate all their forces on one object, political
equality with men. No member of the W. S. P. U. divides her attention
between suffrage and other social reforms. We hold that both reason and
justice dictate that women shall have a share in reforming the evils
that afflict society, especially those evils bearing directly on women
themselves. Therefore, we demand, before any other legislation whatever,
the elementary justice of votes for women.

There is not the slightest doubt that the women of Great Britain would
have been enfranchised years ago had all the suffragists adopted this
simple principle. They never did, and even to-day many English women
refuse to adopt it. They are party members first and suffragists
afterward; or they are suffragists part of the time and social theorists
the rest of the time. We further differ from other suffrage
associations, or from others existing in 1906, in that we clearly
perceived the political situation that solidly interposed between us and
our enfranchisement.

For seven years we had had a majority in the House of Commons pledged to
vote favourably on a suffrage bill. The year before, they had voted
favourably on one, yet that bill did not become law. Why? Because even
an overwhelming majority of private members are powerless to enact law
in the face of a hostile Government of eleven cabinet ministers. The
private member of Parliament was once possessed of individual power and
responsibility, but Parliamentary usage and a changed conception of
statesmanship have gradually lessened the functions of members. At the
present time their powers, for all practical purposes, are limited to
helping to enact such measures as the Government introduces or, in rare
instances, private measures approved by the Government. It is true that
the House can revolt, can, by voting a lack of confidence in the
Government, force them to resign. But that almost never happens, and it
is less likely now than formerly to happen. Figureheads don't revolt.

This, then, was our situation: the Government all-powerful and
consistently hostile; the rank and file of legislators impotent; the
country apathetic; the women divided in their interests. The Women's
Social and Political Union was established to meet this situation, and
to overcome it. Moreover we had a policy which, if persisted in long
enough, could not possibly fail to overcome it. Do you wonder that we
gained new members at every meeting we held?

There was little formality about joining the Union. Any woman could
become a member by paying a shilling, but at the same time she was
required to sign a declaration of loyal adherence to our policy and a
pledge not to work for any political party until the women's vote was
won. This is still our inflexible custom. Moreover, if at any time a
member, or a group of members, loses faith in our policy; if any one
begins to suggest, that some other policy ought to be substituted, or if
she tries to confuse the issue by adding other policies, she ceases at
once to be a member. Autocratic? Quite so. But, you may object, a
suffrage organisation ought to be democratic. Well the members of the
W. S. P. U. do not agree with you. We do not believe in the
effectiveness of the ordinary suffrage organisation. The W. S. P. U. is
not hampered by a complexity of rules. We have no constitution and
by-laws; nothing to be amended or tinkered with or quarrelled over at an
annual meeting. In fact, we have no annual meeting, no business
sessions, no elections of officers. The W. S. P. U. is simply a suffrage
army in the field. It is purely a volunteer army, and no one is obliged
to remain in it. Indeed we don't want anybody to remain in it who does
not ardently believe in the policy of the army.

The foundation of our policy is opposition to a Government who refuse
votes to women. To support by word or deed a Government hostile to woman
suffrage is simply to invite them to go on being hostile. We oppose the
Liberal party because it is in power. We would oppose a Unionist
government if it were in power and were opposed to woman suffrage. We
say to women that as long as they remain in the ranks of the Liberal
party they give their tacit approval to the Government's anti-suffrage
policy. We say to members of Parliament that as long as they support any
of the Government's policies they give their tacit approval to the
anti-suffrage policy. We call upon all sincere suffragists to leave the
Liberal party until women are given votes on equal terms with men. We
call upon all voters to vote against Liberal candidates until the
Liberal Government does justice to women.

We did not invent this policy. It was most successfully pursued by Mr.
Parnell in his Home Rule struggle more than thirty-five years ago. Any
one who is old enough to remember the stirring days of Parnell may
recall how, in 1885, the Home Rulers, by persistently voting against the
Government in the House of Commons, forced the resignation of Mr.
Gladstone and his Cabinet. In the general election which followed, the
Liberal party was again returned to power, but by the slender majority
of eighty-four, the Home Rulers having fought every Liberal candidate,
even those, who, like my husband, were enthusiastic believers in Home
Rule. In order to control the House and keep his leadership, Mr.
Gladstone was obliged to bring in a Government Home Rule Bill. The
downfall, through private intrigue, and the subsequent death of Parnell
prevented the bill from becoming law. For many years afterward the Irish
Nationalists had no leader strong enough to carry on Parnell's
anti-government policy, but within late years it was resumed by Mr.
James Redmond, with the result that the Commons passed a Home Rule

The contention of the old-fashioned suffragists, and of the politicians
as well, has always been that an educated public opinion will ultimately
give votes to women without any great force being exerted in behalf of
the reform. We agree that public opinion must be educated, but we
contend that even an educated public opinion is useless unless it is
vigorously utilised. The keenest weapon is powerless unless it is
courageously wielded. In the year 1906 there was an immensely large
public opinion in favour of woman suffrage. But what good did that do
the cause? We called upon the public for a great deal more than
sympathy. We called upon it to demand of the Government to yield to
public opinion and give women votes. And we declared that we would wage
war, not only on all anti-suffrage forces, but on all neutral and
non-active forces. Every man with a vote was considered a foe to woman
suffrage unless he was prepared to be actively a friend.

Not that we believed that the campaign of education ought to be given
up. On the contrary, we knew that education must go on, and in much more
vigorous fashion than ever before. The first thing we did was to enter
upon a sensational campaign to arouse the public to the importance of
woman suffrage, and to interest it in our plans for forcing the
Government's hands. I think we can claim that our success in this regard
was instant, and that it has proved permanent. From the very first, in
those early London days, when we were few in numbers and very poor in
purse, we made the public aware of the woman suffrage movement as it had
never been before. We adopted Salvation Army methods and went out into
the highways and the byways after converts. We threw away all our
conventional notions of what was "ladylike" and "good form," and we
applied to our methods the one test question, Will it help? Just as the
Booths and their followers took religion to the street crowds in such
fashion that the church people were horrified, so we took suffrage to
the general public in a manner that amazed and scandalised the other

We had a lot of suffrage literature printed, and day by day our members
went forth and held street meetings. Selecting a favourable spot, with a
chair for a rostrum, one of us would ring a bell until people began to
stop to see what was going to happen. What happened, of course, was a
lively suffrage speech, and the distribution of literature. Soon after
our campaign had started, the sound of the bell was a signal for a crowd
to spring up as if by magic. All over the neighbourhood you heard the
cry: "Here are the Suffragettes! Come on!" We covered London in this
way; we never lacked an audience, and best of all, an audience to which
the woman-suffrage doctrine was new. We were increasing our favourable
public as well as waking it up. Besides these street meetings, we held
many hall and drawing-room meetings, and we got a great deal of press
publicity, which was something never accorded the older suffrage

Our plans included the introduction of a Government suffrage bill at
the earliest possible moment, and in the spring of 1906 we sent a
deputation of about thirty of our members to interview the Prime
Minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. The Prime Minister, it was
stated, was not at home; so in a few days we sent another deputation.
This time the servant agreed to carry our request to the Prime Minister.
The women waited patiently on the doorstep of the official residence,
No. 10 Downing Street, for nearly an hour. Then the door opened and two
men appeared. One of the men addressed the leader of the deputation,
roughly ordering her and the others to leave. "We have sent a message to
the Prime Minister," she replied, "and we are waiting for the answer."
"There will be no answer," was the stern rejoinder, and the door closed.

"Yes, there will be an answer," exclaimed the leader, and she seized the
door-knocker and banged it sharply. Instantly the men reappeared, and
one of them called to a policeman standing near, "Take this woman in
charge." The order was obeyed, and the peaceful deputation saw its
leader taken off to Canon Row Station.

Instantly the women protested vigorously. Annie Kenney began to address
the crowd that had gathered, and Mrs. Drummond actually forced her way
past the doorkeeper into the sacred residence of the Prime Minister of
the British Empire! Her arrest and Annie's followed. The three women
were detained at the police station for about an hour, long enough, the
Prime Minister probably thought, to frighten them thoroughly and teach
them not to do such dreadful things again. Then he sent them word that
he had decided not to prosecute them, but would, on the contrary,
receive a deputation from the W. S. P. U., and, if they cared to attend,
from other suffrage societies as well.

All the suffrage organisations at once began making preparations for the
great event. At the same time two hundred members of Parliament sent a
petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to receive their committee
that they might urge upon him the necessity of a Government measure for
woman suffrage. Sir Henry fixed May 19th as the day on which he would
receive a joint deputation from Parliament and from the women's suffrage

The W. S. P. U. determined to make the occasion as public as possible,
and began preparations for a procession and a demonstration. When the
day came we assembled at the foot of the beautiful monument to the
warrior-queen, Boadicea, that guards the entrance to Westminster Bridge,
and from there we marched to the Foreign Office. At the meeting eight
women spoke in behalf of an immediate suffrage measure, and Mr. Keir
Hardie presented the argument for the suffrage members of Parliament. I
spoke for the W. S. P. U., and I tried to make the Prime Minister see
that no business could be more pressing than ours. I told him that the
group of women organised in our Union felt so strongly the necessity for
women enfranchisement that they were prepared to sacrifice for it
everything they possessed, their means of livelihood, their very lives,
if necessary. I begged him to make such a sacrifice needless by doing us
justice now.

What answer do you think Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman made us? He
assured us of his sympathy with our cause, his belief in its justice,
and his confidence in our fitness to vote. And then he told us to have
patience and wait; he could do nothing for us because some of his
Cabinet were opposed to us. After a few more words the usual vote of
thanks was moved, and the deputation was dismissed. I had not expected
anything better, but it wrung my heart to see the bitter disappointment
of the W. S. P. U. women who had waited in the street to hear from the
leaders the result of the deputation. We held a great meeting of protest
that afternoon, and determined to carry on our agitation with increased

Now that it had been made plain that the Government were resolved not to
bring in a suffrage bill, there was nothing to do but to continue our
policy of waking up the country, not only by public speeches and
demonstrations, but by a constant heckling of Cabinet Ministers. Since
the memorable occasion when Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney were
thrown out of Sir Edward Grey's meeting in Manchester, and afterward
imprisoned for the crime of asking a courteous question, we had not lost
an opportunity of addressing the same question to every Cabinet Minister
we could manage to encounter. For this we have been unmercifully
criticised, and in a large number of cases most brutally handled.

In almost every one of my American meetings I was asked the question,
"What good do you expect to accomplish by interrupting meetings?" Is it
possible that the time-honoured, almost sacred English privilege of
interrupting is unknown in America? I cannot imagine a political meeting
from which "the Voice" was entirely absent. In England it is invariably
present. It is considered the inalienable right of the opposition to
heckle the speaker and to hurl questions at him which are calculated to
spoil his arguments. For instance, when Liberals attend a Conservative
gathering they go prepared to shatter by witticisms and pointed
questions all the best effects of the Conservative orators. The next day
you will read in Liberal newspapers headlines like these: "The Voice in
Fine Form," "Short Shrift for Tory Twaddle," "Awkward Answers from the
Enemy's Platform." In the body of the article you will learn that "Lord
X found that the Liberals at his meeting were more than a match for
him," that "there was continued interruption during Sir So-and-so's
speech," that "Lord M fared badly last night in his encounter with the
Voice," or that "Captain Z had the greatest difficulty in making himself

In accordance with this custom we heckle Cabinet Ministers. Mr. Winston
Churchill, for example, is speaking. "One great question," he exclaims,
"remains to be settled."

"And that is woman suffrage," shouts a voice from the gallery.

Mr. Churchill struggles on with his speech: "The men have been
complaining of me----"

"The women have been complaining of you, too, Mr. Churchill," comes
back promptly from the back of the hall.

"In the circumstances what can we do but----"

"Give votes to women."

Our object, of course, is to keep woman suffrage in the foreground of
interest and to insist on every possible occasion that no other reform
advocated is of such immediate importance.

From the first the women's interruptions have been resented with
unreasoning anger. I remember hearing Mr. Lloyd-George saying once of a
man who interrupted him:

"Let him remain. I like interruptions. They show that people holding
different opinions to mine are present, giving me a chance to convert
them." But when suffragists interrupt Mr. Lloyd-George he says something
polite like this: "Pay no attention to those cats mewing."

Some of the ministers are more well bred in their expressions, but all
are disdainful and resentful. All see with approval the brutal ejection
of the women by the Liberal stewards.

At one meeting where Mr. Lloyd-George was speaking, we interrupted with
a question, and he claimed the sympathy of the audience on the score
that he was a friend to woman suffrage. "Then why don't you do something
to give votes to women?" was the obvious retort. But Mr. Lloyd-George
evaded this by the counter query: "Why don't they go for their enemies?
Why don't they go for their greatest enemy?" Instantly, all over the
hall, voices shouted, "Asquith! Asquith!" For even at that early day it
was known that the then Chancellor of the Exchequer was a stern foe of
women's independence.

In the summer of 1906, together with other members of the W. S. P. U., I
went to Northampton, where Mr. Asquith was holding a large meeting in
behalf of the Government's education bills. We organised a number of
outdoor meetings, and of course prepared to attend Mr. Asquith's
meeting. In conversation with the president of the local Women's Liberal
Association, I mentioned the fact that we expected to be put out, and
she indignantly declared that such a thing could not happen in
Northampton, where the women had done so much for the Liberal party. I
told her that I hoped she would be at the meeting.

I had not intended to go myself, my plans being to hold a meeting of my
own outside the door. But our members, before Mr. Asquith began to
speak, attempted to question him, and were thrown out with violence. So
then, turning my meeting over to them, I slipped quietly into the hall
and sat down in the front row of a division set apart for wives and
women friends of the Liberal leaders. I sat there in silence, hearing
men interrupt the speaker and get answers to their questions. At the
close of the speech I stood up and, addressing the chairman, said: "I
should like to ask Mr. Asquith a question about education." The chairman
turned inquiringly to Mr. Asquith, who frowningly shook his head. But
without waiting for the chairman to say a word, I continued: "Mr.
Asquith has said that the parents of children have a right to be
consulted in the matter of their children's education, especially upon
such questions as the kind of religious instruction they should receive.
Women are parents. Does not Mr. Asquith think that women should have the
right to control their children's education, as men do, through the
vote?" At this point the stewards seized me by the arms and shoulders
and rushed me, or rather dragged me, for I soon lost my footing, to the
door and threw me out of the building.

The effect on the president of the Northampton Women's Liberal
Association was most salutary. She resigned her office and became a
member of the W. S. P. U. Perhaps her action was influenced further by
the press reports of the incident. Mr. Asquith was reported as saying,
after my ejection, that it was difficult to enter into the minds of
people who thought they could serve a cause which professed to appeal to
the reason of the electors of the country by disturbing public meetings.
Apparently he could enter into the minds of the men who disturbed public

To our custom of public heckling of the responsible members of the
hostile Government we added the practice of sending deputations to them
for the purpose of presenting orderly arguments in favour of our cause.
After Mr. Asquith had shown himself so uninformed as to the objects of
the suffragists, we decided to ask him to receive a deputation from the
W. S. P. U. To our polite letter Mr. Asquith returned a cold refusal to
be interviewed on any subject not connected with his particular office.
Whereupon we wrote again, reminding Mr. Asquith that as a member of the
Government he was concerned with all questions likely to be dealt with
by Parliament. We said that we urgently desired to put our question
before him, and that we would send a deputation to his house hoping that
he would feel it his duty to receive us.

Our first deputation was told that Mr. Asquith was not at home. He had,
in fact, escaped from the house through the back door, and had sped away
in a fast motor-car. Two days later we sent a larger deputation, of
about thirty women, to his house in Cavendish Square. To be accurate,
the deputation got as near the house as the entrance to Cavendish
Square; there the women met a strong force of police, who told them that
they would not be permitted to go farther.

Many of the women were carrying little "Votes for Women" banners, and
these the police tore from them, in some cases with blows and insults.
Seeing this, the leader of the deputation cried out: "We will go
forward. You have no right to strike women like that." The reply, from a
policeman near her, was a blow in the face. She screamed with pain and
indignation, whereupon the man grasped her by the throat and choked her
against the park railings until she was blue in the face. The young
woman struggled and fought back, and for this she was arrested on a
charge of assaulting the police. Three other women were arrested, one
because, in spite of the police, she succeeded in ringing Mr. Asquith's
door-bell and another because she protested against the laughter of
some ladies who watched the affair from a drawing-room window. She was a
poor working-woman, and it seemed to her a terrible thing that rich and
protected women should ridicule a cause that to her was so profoundly
serious. The fourth woman was taken in charge, because after she had
been pushed off the pavement, she dared to step back. Charged with
disorderly conduct, these women were sentenced to six weeks in the
Second Division. They were given the option of a fine, it is true, but
the payment of a fine would have been an acknowledgment of guilt, which
made such a course impossible. The leader of the deputation was given a
two months' sentence, with the option of a fine of ten pounds. She, too,
refused to pay, and was sent to prison; but some unknown friend paid the
fine secretly, and she was released before the expiration of her

About the time these things were happening in London, similar violence
was offered our women in Manchester, where John Burns, Lloyd-George, and
Winston Churchill, all three Cabinet Ministers, were addressing a great
Liberal demonstration. The women were there, as usual, to ask government
support for our measure. There, too, they were thrown out of the
meeting, and three of them were sent to prison.

There are people in England, plenty of them, who will tell you that the
Suffragettes were sent to prison for destroying property. The fact is
that hundreds of women were arrested for exactly such offences as I have
described before it ever occurred to any of us to destroy property. We
were determined, at the beginning of our movement, that we would make
ourselves heard, that we would force the Government to take up our
question and answer it by action in Parliament. Perhaps you will see
some parallel to our case in the stand taken in Massachusetts by the
early Abolitionists, Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison. They,
too, had to fight bitterly, to face insult and arrest, because they
insisted on being heard. And they were heard; and so, in time, were we.

I think we began to be noticed in earnest after our first success in
opposing a Liberal candidate. This was in a by-election held at
Cockermouth in August, 1906. I shall have to explain that a by-election
is a local election to fill a vacancy in Parliament caused by a death or
a resignation. The verdict of a by-election is considered as either an
indorsement or a censure of the manner in which the Government have
fulfilled their pre-election pledges. So we went to Cockermouth and told
the voters how the Liberal party had fulfilled its pledges of democracy
and lived up to its avowed belief in the rights of all the people. We
told them of the arrests in London and Manchester, of the shameful
treatment of women in Liberal meetings, and we asked them to censure the
Government who had answered so brutally our demand for a vote. We told
them that the only rebuke that the politicians would notice was a lost
seat in Parliament, and that on that ground we asked them to defeat the
Liberal candidate.

How we were ridiculed! With what scorn the newspapers declared that
"those wild women" could never turn a single vote. Yet when the
election was over it was found that the Liberal candidate had lost the
seat, which, at the general election a little more than a year before,
had been won by a majority of 655. This time the Unionist candidate was
returned by a majority of 609. Tremendously elated, we hurried our
forces off to another by-election.

Now the ridicule was turned to stormy abuse. Mind you, the Liberal
Government still refused to notice the women's question; they declared
through the Liberal press that the defeat at Cockermouth was
insignificant, and that anyhow it wasn't caused by the Suffragettes; yet
the Liberal leaders were furiously angry with the W. S. P. U. Many of
our members had been Liberals, and it was considered by the men that
these women were little better than traitors. They were very foolish and
ill-advised, into the bargain, the Liberals said, because the vote, if
won at all, must be gained from the Liberal party; and how did the women
suppose the Liberal party would ever give the vote to open and avowed
enemies? This sage argument was used also by the women Liberals and the
constitutional suffragists. They advised us that the proper way was to
work for the party. We retorted that we had done that unsuccessfully for
too many years already, and persisted with the opposite method of

Throughout the summer and autumn we devoted ourselves to the by-election
work, sometimes actually defeating the Liberal candidate, sometimes
reducing the Liberal majority, and always raising a tremendous sensation
and gaining hundreds of new members to the Union. In almost every
neighbourhood we visited we left the nucleus of a local union, so that
before the year was out we had branches all over England and many in
Scotland and Wales. I especially remember a by-election in Wales at
which Mr. Samuel Evans, who had accepted an officership under the Crown,
had to stand for re-election. Unfortunately no candidate had been
brought out against him. So there was nothing for my companions and me
to do but make his campaign as lively as possible. Mr.--now Sir
Samuel--Evans was the man who had incensed women by talking out a
suffrage resolution introduced into the House by Keir Hardie. So we went
to two of his meetings and literally talked him out, breaking up the
gatherings amid the laughter and cheers of delighted crowds.

On October 23d Parliament met for its autumn session, and we led a
deputation to the House of Commons in another effort to induce the
Government to take action on woman suffrage. In accordance with orders
given the police, only twenty of us were admitted to the Strangers'
Lobby. We sent in for the chief Liberal whip, and asked him to take a
message to the Prime Minister, the message being the usual request to
grant women the vote that session. We also asked the Prime Minister if
he intended to include the registration of qualified women voters in the
provisions of the plural voting bill, then under consideration. The
Liberal whip came back with the reply that nothing could be done for
women that session.


"Does the Prime Minister," I asked, "hold out any hope for the women
for any session during this Parliament, or at any future time?" The
Prime Minister, you will remember, called himself a suffragist.

The Liberal whip replied, "No, Mrs. Pankhurst, the Prime Minister does

What would a deputation of unenfranchised men have done in these
circumstances--men who knew themselves to be qualified to exercise the
franchise, who desperately needed the protection of the franchise, and
who had a majority of legislators in favour of giving them the
franchise? I hope they would have done at least as much as we did, which
was to start a meeting of protest on the spot. The newspapers described
our action as creating a disgraceful scene in the lobby of the House of
Commons, but I think that history will otherwise describe it. One of the
women sprang up on a settee and began to address the crowd. In less than
a minute she was pulled down, but instantly another woman took her
place; and after she had been dragged down, still another sprang to her
place, and following her another and another, until the order came to
clear the lobby, and we were all forced outside.

In the mêlée I was thrown to the floor and painfully hurt. The women,
thinking me seriously injured, crowded around me and refused to move
until I was able to regain myself. This angered the police, who were
still more incensed when they found that the demonstration was continued
outside. Eleven women were arrested, including Mrs. Pethick Lawrence,
our treasurer, Mrs. Cobden Sanderson, Annie Kenney and three more of our
organisers; and they were all sent to Holloway for two months. But the
strength of our movement was proved by the number of volunteers who
immediately came forward to carry on the work. Mrs. Tuke, now Hon.
Secretary of the W. S. P. U., joined the Union at this time. It had not
occurred to the authorities that their action would have this effect.
They thought to crush the Union at a blow, but they gave it the greatest
impetus it had yet received. The leaders of the older suffrage
organisations for the time forgot their disapproval of our methods, and
joined with women writers, physicians, actresses, artists, and other
prominent women in denouncing the affair as barbarous.

One more thing the authorities failed to take into account. The
condition of English prisons was known to be very bad, but when two of
our women were made so ill in Holloway that they had to be released
within a few days, the politicians began to tremble for their prestige.
Questions were asked in Parliament concerning the advisability of
treating the Suffragettes not as common criminals but as political
offenders with the right to confinement in the First Division. Mr.
Herbert Gladstone, the Home Secretary, replied to these questions that
he had no power to interfere with the magistrates' decisions, and could
do nothing in the matter of the suffragettes' punishment. I shall ask
you to remember this statement of Mr. Herbert Gladstone's, as later we
were able to prove it a deliberate falsehood--although really the
falsehood proved itself when the women, by Government order, were
released from prison when they had served just half their sentences.
The reason for this was that an important by-election was being held in
the north of England, and we had distributed broadcast throughout the
constituency hand bills telling the electors that nine women, including
the daughter of Richard Cobden, were being held as common criminals by
the Liberal Government who were asking for their votes.

I took a group of the released prisoners to Huddersfield, and they told
prison stories to such effect that the Liberal majority was reduced by
540 votes. As usual the Liberal leaders denied that our work had
anything to do with the slender majority by which the party retained the
seat, but among our souvenirs is a handbill, one of thousands given out
from Liberal headquarters:

     |     MEN OF HUDDERSFIELD      |
     |       DON'T BE MISLED        |
     |          OR TORIES           |
     |      VOTE FOR SHERWELL       |

Meanwhile, other demonstrations had taken place before the House of
Commons, and at Christmas time twenty-one suffragettes were in Holloway
Prison, though they had committed no crime. The Government professed
themselves unmoved, and members of Parliament spoke with sneers of the
"self-made martyrs." However, a considerable group of members, strongly
moved by the passion and unquenchable ardor of this new order of
suffragists, met during the last week of the year and formed a
committee whose object it was to press upon the government the necessity
of giving the franchise to women during that Parliament. The committee
resolved that its members would work to educate a wider public opinion
on the question, and especially to advocate suffrage when addressing
meetings in their constituencies, to take Parliamentary action on every
possible occasion, and to induce as many members of Parliament as
possible to ballot for the introduction of a suffrage bill or motion
next session.

Our first year in London had borne wonderful fruits. We had grown from a
mere handful of women, a "family party" the newspapers had derisively
called us, to a strong organisation with branches all over the country,
permanent headquarters in Clements Inn, Strand; we had found good
financial backing, and above all, we had created a suffrage committee in
the House of Commons.




The campaign of 1907 began with a Women's Parliament, called together on
February 13th in Caxton Hall, to consider the provisions of the King's
speech, which had been read in the national Parliament on the opening
day of the session, February 12th. The King's speech, as I have
explained, is the official announcement of the Government's programme
for the session. When our Women's Parliament met at three o'clock on the
afternoon of the thirteenth we knew that the Government meant to do
nothing for women during the session ahead.

I presided over the women's meeting, which was marked with a fervency
and a determination of spirit at that time altogether unprecedented. A
resolution expressing indignation that woman suffrage should have been
omitted from the King's speech, and calling upon the House of Commons to
give immediate facilities to such a measure, was moved and carried. A
motion to send the resolution from the hall to the Prime Minister was
also carried. The slogan, "Rise up, women," was cried from the platform,
the answering shout coming back as from one woman, "Now!" With copies of
the resolution in their hands, the chosen deputation hurried forth into
the February dusk, ready for Parliament or prison, as the fates decreed.

Fate did not leave them very long in doubt. The Government, it
appeared, had decided that not again should their sacred halls of
Parliament be desecrated by women asking for the vote, and orders had
been given that would henceforth prevent women from reaching even the
outer precincts of the House of Commons. So when our deputation of women
arrived in the neighbourhood of Westminster Abbey they found themselves
opposed by a solid line of police, who, at a sharp order from their
chief, began to stride through and through the ranks of the procession,
trying to turn the women back. Bravely the women rallied and pressed
forward a little farther. Suddenly a body of mounted police came riding
up at a smart trot, and for the next five hours or more, a struggle,
quite indescribable for brutality and ruthlessness, went on.

The horsemen rode directly into the procession, scattering the women
right and left. But still the women would not turn back. Again and again
they returned, only to fly again and again from the merciless hoofs.
Some of the women left the streets for the pavements, but even there the
horsemen pursued them, pressing them so close to walls and railings that
they were obliged to retreat temporarily to avoid being crushed. Other
strategists took refuge in doorways, but they were dragged out by the
foot police and were thrown directly in front of the horses. Still the
women fought to reach the House of Commons with their resolution. They
fought until their clothes were torn, their bodies bruised, and the last
ounce of their strength exhausted. Fifteen of them did actually fight
their way through those hundreds on hundreds of police, foot and
mounted, as far as the Strangers' Lobby of the House. Here they
attempted to hold a meeting, and were arrested. Outside, many more women
were taken into custody. It was ten o'clock before the last arrest was
made, and the square cleared of the crowds. After that the mounted men
continued to guard the approaches to the House of Commons until the
House rose at midnight.

The next morning fifty-seven women and two men were arraigned, two and
three at a time, in Westminster police court. Christabel Pankhurst was
the first to be placed in the dock. She tried to explain to the
magistrate that the deputation of the day before was a perfectly
peaceful attempt to present a resolution, which, sooner or later, would
be presented and acted upon. She assured him that the deputation was but
the beginning of a campaign that would not cease until the Government
yielded to the women's demand. "There can be no going back for us," she
declared, "and more will happen if we do not get justice."

The magistrate, Mr. Curtis Bennett, who was destined later to try women
for that "more," rebuked my daughter sternly, telling her that the
Government had nothing to do with causing the disorders of the day
before, that the women were entirely responsible for what had occurred,
and finally, that these disgraceful scenes in the street must
cease--just as King Canute told the ocean that it must roll out instead
of in. "The scenes can be stopped in only one way," replied the
prisoner. His sole reply to that was, "Twenty shillings or fourteen
days," Christabel chose the prison sentence, and so did all the other
prisoners. Mrs. Despard, who headed the deputation, and Sylvia
Pankhurst, who was with her, were given three weeks in prison.

Of course the raid, as it was called, gave the Women's Social and
Political Union an enormous amount of publicity, on the whole,
favourable publicity. The newspapers were almost unanimous in condemning
the Government for sending mounted troops out against unarmed women.
Angry questions were asked in Parliament, and our ranks once more
increased in size and ardour. The old-fashioned suffragists, men as well
as women, cried out that we had alienated all our friends in Parliament;
but this proved to be untrue. Indeed, it was found that a Liberal
member, Mr. Dickinson, had won the first place in the ballot, and had
announced that he intended to use it to introduce a women's suffrage
bill. More than this, the prime minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman,
promised to give the bill his support. For a time, a very short time, it
is true, we felt that the hour of our freedom might be at hand, that our
prisoners had perhaps already won us our precious symbol--the vote.

Soon, however, a number of professed suffragists in the House began to
complain that Mr. Dickinson's bill, practically the original bill, was
not "democratic" enough, that it would enfranchise only the women of the
upper classes--to which, by the way, most of them belonged. That this
was not true had been proved again and again from the municipal
registers, which showed a majority of working women's names as qualified
householders. The contention was but a shallow excuse, and we knew it.
Therefore we were not surprised when Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
departed from his pledge of support, and allowed the bill to be talked

Following this event, the second Women's Parliament assembled, on the
afternoon of March 20, 1907. As before, we adopted a resolution calling
upon the Government to introduce an official suffrage measure, and again
we voted to send the resolution from the hall to the Prime Minister.
Lady Harberton was chosen to lead the deputation, and instantly hundreds
of women sprang up and volunteered to accompany her. This time the
police met the women at the door of the hall, and another useless,
disgraceful scene of barbarous, brute-force opposition took place.
Something like one thousand police had been sent out to guard the House
of Commons from the peaceful invasion of a few hundred women. All
afternoon and evening we kept Caxton Hall open, the women returning
every now and again, singly and in small groups, to have their bruises
bathed, or their torn clothing repaired. As night fell the crowds in the
street grew denser, and the struggle between the women and the police
became more desperate. Lady Harberton, we heard, had succeeded in
reaching the entrance to the House of Commons, nay, had actually managed
to press past the sentries into the lobby, but her resolution had not
been presented to the Prime Minister. She and many others were arrested
before the police at last succeeded in clearing the streets, and the
dreadful affair was over.

The next day, in Westminster police court, the magistrate meted out
sentences varying from twenty shillings or fourteen days to forty
shillings or one month's imprisonment. Two of the women, Miss Woodlock
and Mrs. Chatterton, who had left Holloway only a week before, were, as
"old offenders," given thirty days without the option of a fine. Another
woman, Mary Leigh, was given thirty days because she offended the
magistrate's dignity by hanging a "Votes for Women" banner over the edge
of the dock. Those of my readers who are unable to connect the word
"militancy" with anything milder than arson are invited to reflect that
within the first two months of the year 1907 the English Government sent
to prison one hundred and thirty women whose "militancy" consisted
merely of trying to carry a resolution from a hall to the Prime Minister
in the House of Commons. Our crime was called obstructing the police. It
will be seen that it was the police who did the obstructing.

It may be asked why neither of these deputations was led by me
personally. The reason was that I was needed in another capacity, that
of leader and supervisor of the suffrage forces in the field to defeat
Government candidates at by-elections. On the night of the second
"riot," while our women were still struggling in the streets, I left
London for Hexham in Northumberland, where by our work the majority of
the Liberal candidate was reduced by a thousand votes. Seven more
by-elections followed in rapid succession.

Our by-election work was such a new thing in English politics that we
attracted an enormous amount of attention wherever we went. It was our
custom to begin work the very hour we entered a town. If, on our way
from the station to the hotel, we encountered a group of men, say, in
the market-place, we either stopped and held a meeting on the spot, or
else we stayed long enough to tell them when and where our meetings were
to be held, and to urge them to attend. The usual first step, after
securing lodgings, was to hire a vacant shop, fill the windows with
suffrage literature, and fling out our purple, green, and white flag.
Meanwhile, some of us were busy hiring the best available hall. If we
got possession of the battle-ground before the men, we sometimes
"cornered" all the good halls and left the candidate nothing but
schoolhouses for his indoor meetings. Truth to tell, our meetings were
so much more popular than theirs that we really needed the larger halls.
Often, a candidate with the Suffragettes for rivals spoke to almost
empty benches. The crowds were away listening to the women.

Naturally, this greatly displeased the politicians, and it scandalised
many of the old-fashioned Liberal partisans. In one place, I think it
was Colne Valley in Yorkshire, an amusing instance of masculine
hostility occurred. We had arrived on a day when both Conservative and
Liberal committees were choosing their candidates, and we thought it a
good opportunity to hold a series of outdoor meetings. We tried to get
a lorry for a rostrum, but the only man in town who had these big vans
to let disapproved of Suffragettes so violently that he wouldn't let us
have one. So we borrowed a chair from a woman shopkeeper, and went at
it. Soon we had a large crowd and an interested audience. We also got
the attention of a number of small boys with pea-shooters, and had to
make our speeches under a blistering fire of dried peas.

While I was speaking the fire ceased, to my relief--for dried peas
sting. I continued my speech with renewed vigor, only to have one of my
best points spoiled by roars of laughter from the crowd. I finished
somehow, and sat down; and then it was explained to me that the
pea-shooters had been financed by one of the prominent Liberals of the
town, another man who disapproved of our policy of opposing the
Government. As soon as the ammunition gave out this man furnished the
boys with a choice supply of rotten oranges. These were not so easily
handled, it appeared, for the very first one went wild, and struck the
chivalrous gentleman violently in the neck. This it was that had caused
the laughter, and stopped the attack on the women.

We met with some pretty rough horse-play, and even with some brutality,
in several by-elections, but on the whole we found the men ready, and
the women more than ready, to listen to us. We tamed and educated a
public that had always been used to violence at elections. We even tamed
the boys, who came to the meetings on purpose to skylark. When we were
in Rutlandshire that spring three schoolboys came to see me and told me,
shyly, that they were interested in suffrage. They had had a debate on
the subject at their school, and although the decision had been for the
other side, all the boys wanted to know more about it. Wouldn't I please
have a meeting especially for them? Of course I consented, and I found
my boy audience quite delightful. Indeed, I hope they liked me half as
well as I did them.

All through the spring our by-election work continued with amazing
success, although our part in the Government losses was rarely admitted
by the politicians. The voters knew, however. At an election in Suffolk,
where we helped to double the Unionist vote, the successful candidate,
speaking to the crowd from his hotel window, said, "What has been the
cause of the great and glorious victory?" Instantly the crowd roared,
"Votes for Women!"--"Three cheers for the Suffragettes!" This was not at
all what the successful candidate had intended, but he waved his hand
graciously and said, "No doubt the ladies had something to do with it."

The newspaper correspondents were not so reluctant to acknowledge our
influence. Even when they condemned our policy, they were unsparing in
their admiration for our energy, and the courage and ardour of our
workers. Said the correspondent of the London _Tribune_, a Liberal paper
hostile to our tactics: "Their staying power, judging them by the
standards of men, is extraordinary. By taking afternoon as well as
evening meetings, they have worked twice as hard as the men. They are
up earlier, they retire just as late. Women against men, they are
better speakers, more logical, better informed, better phrased, with a
surer insight for the telling argument."

After a summer spent in strengthening our forces, organising new
branches, holding meetings--something like three thousand of these
between May and October--invading meetings of Cabinet Ministers--we
managed to do that about once every day--electioneering, and getting up
huge demonstrations in various cities, we arrived at the end of the
year. In the last months of the year, I directed several hotly contested
by-elections, at one of which I met with one of the most serious
misadventures of my life.

This by-election was held in the division of Mid-Devon, a stronghold of
Liberalism. In fact, since its creation in 1885, the seat has never been
held by any except a Liberal member. The constituency is a large one,
divided into eight districts. The population of the towns is a rough and
boisterous one, and its devotion, blind and unreasoning, to the Liberal
party has always reflected the rude spirit of the voters. A Unionist
woman told me, shortly after my arrival, that my life would be unsafe if
I dared openly to oppose the Liberal candidate. She had never dared, she
assured me, to wear her party colours in public. However, I did
speak--in our headquarters at Newton Abbott, the principal town of the
division, at Hull, and at Bovey Tracey. We held meetings twice a day,
calling upon the voters to "beat the Government in Mid-Devon, as a
message that women must have votes next year." Although some of the
meetings were turbulent, we were treated with much more consideration
than either of the candidates, who, not infrequently, were howled down
and put to flight. Often the air of their meetings was thick with
decayed vegetables and dirty snowballs. We had some rather lively
sessions, too. Once, at an outdoor meeting, some young roughs dragged
our lorry round and round until it seemed that we must be upset, and
several times the language hurled at us from the crowd was quite unfit
for me to repeat. Still, we escaped actual violence until the day of the
election, when it was announced that the Unionist candidate had won the
seat by a majority of twelve hundred and eighty. We knew instantly that
the deepest resentment of the Liberals would be aroused, but it did not
occur to us that the resentment would be directed actively against us.

After the declaration at the polls, my companion, Mrs. Martel, and I
started to walk to our lodgings. Some of our friends stopped us, and
drew our attention to the newly elected Unionist member of Parliament,
who was being escorted from the polling place by a strong guard of
police. We were warned that our safety demanded an immediate flight from
the town. I laughingly assured our friends that I was never afraid to
trust myself in a crowd, and we walked on. Suddenly we were confronted
by a crowd of young men and boys, clay-cutters from the pits on the edge
of town. These young men, who wore the red rosettes of the Liberal
party, had just heard of their candidate's defeat, and they were mad
with rage and humiliation. One of them pointed to us, crying: "They did
it! Those women did it!" A yell went up from the crowd, and we were
deluged with a shower of clay and rotten eggs. We were not especially
frightened, but the eggs were unbearable, and to escape them we rushed
into a little grocer's shop close at hand. The grocer's wife closed and
bolted the door, but the poor grocer cried out that his place would be
wrecked. I did not want that to happen, of course, so I asked them to
let us out by the back door. They led us out the door, into a small back
yard which led into a little lane, whence we expected to make our
escape. But when we reached the yard we found that the rowdies,
anticipating our move, had surged round the corner, and were waiting for

They seized Mrs. Martel first, and began beating her over the head with
their fists, but the brave wife of the shopkeeper, hearing the shouts
and the oaths of the men, flung open the door and rushed to our rescue.
Between us we managed to tear Mrs. Martel from her captors and get her
into the house. I expected to get into the house, too, but as I reached
the threshold a staggering blow fell on the back of my head, rough hands
grasped the collar of my coat, and I was flung violently to the ground.
Stunned, I must have lost consciousness for a moment, for my next
sensation was of cold, wet mud seeping through my clothing. Sight
returning to me, I perceived the men, silent now, but with a dreadful,
lowering silence, closing in a ring around me. In the centre of the ring
was an empty barrel, and the horrid thought occurred to me that they
might intend putting me in it. A long time seemed to pass, while the
ring of men slowly drew closer. I looked at them, in their drab clothes
smeared with yellow pit-clay, and they appeared so underfed, so puny and
sodden, that a poignant pity for them swept over me. "Poor souls," I
thought, and then I said suddenly, "Are none of you _men_?" Then one of
the youths darted toward me, and I knew that whatever was going to
happen to me was about to begin.

At that very moment came shouts, and a rush of police who had fought
their way through hostile crowds to rescue us. Of course the mob turned
tail and fled, and I was carried gently into the shop, which the police
guarded for two hours, before it was deemed safe for us to leave in a
closed motor-car. It was many months before either Mrs. Martel or I
recovered from our injuries.

The rowdies, foiled of their woman prey, went to the Conservative Club,
smashed all the windows in the house, and kept the members besieged
there through the night. The next morning the body of a man, frightfully
bruised about the head, was found in the mill-race. Throughout all this
disorder and probable crime, not a man was arrested. Contrast this, if
you like, with the treatment given our women in London.

The King opened Parliament in great state on January 29, 1908. Again his
speech omitted all mention of woman suffrage, and again the W. S. P. U.
issued a call for a Women's Parliament, for February 11th, 12th and
13th. Before it was convened we heard that an excellent place in the
ballot had been won by a friend of the movement, Mr. Stanger, who
promised to introduce a suffrage bill, February 28th was the day fixed
for the second reading, and we realised that strong pressure would have
to be brought to bear to prevent the bill being wrecked, as the
Dickinson bill had been the previous year. Therefore, on the first day
of the Women's Parliament, almost every woman present volunteered for
the deputation, which was to try to carry the resolution to the prime
minister. Led by two well-known portrait painters, the deputation left
Caxton Hall and proceeded in orderly ranks, four abreast, toward the
House of Commons. The crowds in the streets were enormous, thousands of
sympathisers coming out to help the women, thousands of police
determined that the women should not be helped, and thousands of curious
spectators. When the struggle was over, fifty women were locked up in
police-court cells.

The next morning, when the cases were tried, Mr. Muskett, who prosecuted
for the Crown, and who was perhaps a little tired of telling the
Suffragettes that these scenes in the streets must cease, and then
seeing them go on exactly as if he had not spoken, made a very severe
and terrifying address. He told the women that this time they would be
subject to the usual maximum of two months' imprisonment, with the
option of a fine of five pounds, but that, in case they ever offended
again, the law had worse terrors in store for them. It was proposed to
revive, for the benefit of the Suffragettes, an Act passed in the reign
of Charles II, which dealt with "Tumultuous Petitions, either to the
Crown or Parliament." This Act provided that no person should dare to go
to the King or to Parliament "with any petition, complaint,
remonstrance, declaration or other address" accompanied with a number of
persons above twelve. A fine of one hundred pounds, or three months'
imprisonment, might be imposed under this law. The magistrate then
sentenced all but two of the women to be bound over for twelve months,
or to serve six weeks in the second division. Two other women, "old
offenders," were given one month in the third division, or lowest class.
All the prisoners, except two who had very ill relatives at home, chose
the prison sentence.

The next day's session of the Women's Parliament was one of intense
excitement, as the women reviewed the events of the previous day, the
trials, and especially the threat to revive the obsolete Act of Charles
II, an act _which was passed to obstruct the progress of the Liberal
party, which came into existence under the Stuarts, and under the second
Charles was fighting for its life_. It was an amazing thing that the
political descendants of these men were proposing to revive the Act to
obstruct the advance of the women's cause, fighting for its life under
George V and his Liberal government. At least, it was evidence that the
Government were baffled in their attempt to crush our movement.
Christabel Pankhurst, presiding over the second session of the Women's
Parliament, said: "At last it is realized that women are fighting for
freedom, as their fathers fought. If they want twelve women, aye, and
more than twelve, if a hundred women are wanted to be tried under that
act and sent to prison for three months, they can be found."

I was not present at this session, nor had I been present at the first
one. I was working in a by-election at South Leeds, the last of several
important by-elections in great industrial centres, where our success
was unquestioned, except by the Liberal press. The elections had wound
up with a great procession, and a meeting of 100,000 people on Hounslet
Moor. The most wonderful enthusiasm marked that meeting. I shall never
forget what splendid order the people kept, in spite of the fact that no
police protection was given us; how the vast crowd parted to let our
procession through; how the throngs of mill women kept up a chorus in
broad Yorkshire: "Shall us win? Shall us have the vote? We shall!" No
wonder the old people shook their beads, and declared that "there had
never been owt like it."


With those brave shouts in my ears, I hurried down to London for the
concluding session of the parliament, for I had determined that I must
be the first person to challenge the Government to carry out their
threat to revive the old Act of Charles II. I made a long speech to the
women that day, telling them something of my experiences of the past
months, and how all that I had seen and heard throughout the country had
only deepened my conviction of the necessity for women's votes. "I
feel," I concluded, "that the time has come when I must act, and I wish
to be one of those to carry our resolution to Parliament this afternoon.
My experience in the country, and especially in South Leeds, has taught
me things that Cabinet Ministers, who have not had that experience, do
not know, and has made me feel that I must make one final attempt to see
them, and to urge them to reconsider their position before some terrible
disaster has occurred."

Amid a good deal of excitement and emotion, we chose the requisite
thirteen women, who were prepared to be arrested and tried under the
Charles II "Tumultuous Petitions" Act. I had not entirely recovered from
the attack made upon me at Mid-Devon, and my wrenched ankle was still
too sensitive to make walking anything but a painful process. Seeing me
begin almost at once to limp badly, Mrs. Drummond, with characteristic,
blunt kindness, called to a man driving a dog-cart and asked him if he
would drive me to the House of Commons. He readily agreed, and I mounted
to the seat behind him, the other women forming in line behind the cart.
We had not gone far when the police, who already surrounded us in great
force, ordered me to dismount. Of course I obeyed and walked, or rather
limped along with my companions. They would have supported me, but the
police insisted that we should walk single-file. Presently I grew so
faint from the pain of the ankle that I called to two of the women, who
took hold of my arms and helped me on my way. This was our one act of
disobedience to police orders. We moved with difficulty, for the crowd
was of incredible size. All around, as far as eye could see, was the
great moving, swaying, excited multitude, and surrounding us on all
sides were regiments of uniformed police, foot and mounted. You might
have supposed that instead of thirteen women, one of them lame, walking
quietly along, the town was in the hands of an armed mob.

We had progressed as far as the entrance to Parliament Square, when two
stalwart policemen suddenly grasped my arms on either side and told me
that I was under arrest. My two companions, because they refused to
leave me, were also arrested, and a few minutes later Annie Kenney and
five other women suffered arrest. That night we were released on bail,
and the next morning we were arraigned in Westminster police court for
trial under the Charles II Act. But, as it turned out, the authorities,
embarrassed by our readiness to test the act, announced that they had
changed their minds, and would continue, for the present, to treat us as
common street brawlers.

This was my first trial, and I listened, with a suspicion that my ears
were playing tricks with my reason, to the most astonishing perjuries
put forth by the prosecution. I heard that we had set forth from Caxton
Hall with noisy shouts and songs, that we had resorted to the most
riotous and vulgar behaviour, knocking off policemen's helmets,
assaulting the officers right and left as we marched. Our testimony, and
that of our witnesses, was ignored. When I tried to speak in my own
defence, I was cut short rudely, and was told briefly that I and the
others must choose between being bound over or going to prison, in the
second division, for six weeks.

I remember only vaguely the long, jolting ride across London to Holloway
Prison. We stopped at Pentonville, the men's prison, to discharge
several men prisoners, and I remember shuddering at the thought of our
women, many of them little past girlhood, being haled to prison in the
same van with criminal men. Arriving at the prison, we groped our way
through dim corridors into the reception-ward, where we were lined up
against the wall for a superficial medical examination. After that we
were locked up in separate cells, unfurnished, except for low, wooden

It seemed an endless time before my cell door was opened by a wardress,
who ordered me to follow her. I entered a room where another wardress
sat at a table, ready to take an inventory of my effects. Obeying an
order to undress, I took off my gown, then paused. "Take off
everything," was the next order. "Everything?" I faltered. It seemed
impossible that they expected me to strip. In fact, they did allow me to
take off my last garments in the shelter of a bath-room. I shivered
myself into some frightful underclothing, old and patched and stained,
some coarse, brown woollen stockings with red stripes, and the hideous
prison dress stamped all over with the broad arrow of disgrace. I fished
a pair of shoes out of a big basket of shoes, old and mostly mismates. A
pair of coarse but clean sheets, a towel, a mug of cold cocoa, and a
thick slice of brown bread were given me, and I was conducted to my

My first sensations when the door was locked upon me were not altogether
disagreeable. I was desperately weary, for I had been working hard,
perhaps a little too hard, for several strenuous months. The excitement
and fatigue of the previous day, and the indignation I had suffered
throughout the trial, had combined to bring me to the point of
exhaustion, and I was glad to throw myself on my hard prison bed and
close my eyes. But soon the relief of being alone, and with nothing to
do, passed from me. Holloway Prison is a very old place, and it has the
disadvantages of old places which have never known enough air and
sunshine. It reeks with the odours of generations of bad ventilation,
and it contrives to be at once the stuffiest and the draughtiest
building I have ever been in. Soon I found myself sickening for fresh
air. My head began to ache. Sleep fled. I lay all night suffering with
cold, gasping for air, aching with fatigue, and painfully wide awake.

The next day I was fairly ill, but I said nothing about it. One does not
expect to be comfortable in prison. As a matter of fact, one's mental
suffering is so much greater than any common physical distress that the
latter is almost forgotten. The English prison system is altogether
mediæval and outworn. In some of its details the system has improved
since they began to send the Suffragettes to Holloway. I may say that
we, by our public denunciation of the system, have forced these slight
improvements. In 1907 the rules were excessively cruel. The poor
prisoner, when she entered Holloway, dropped, as it were, into a tomb.
No letters and no visitors were allowed for the first month of the
sentence. Think of it--a whole month, more than four weeks, without
sending or receiving a single word. One's nearest and dearest may have
gone through dreadful suffering, may have been ill, may have died,
meantime. One was given plenty of time to imagine all these things, for
the prisoner was kept in solitary confinement in a narrow, dimly-lit
cell, twenty-three hours out of the twenty-four. Solitary confinement is
too terrible a punishment to inflict on any human being, no matter what
his crime. Hardened criminals in the men's prisons, it is said, often
beg for the lash instead. Picture what it must be to a woman who has
committed some small offence, for most of the women who go to Holloway
are small offenders, sitting alone, day after day, in the heavy silence
of a cell--thinking of her children at home--thinking, thinking. Some
women go mad. Many suffer from shattered nerves for a long period after
release. It is impossible to believe that any woman ever emerged from
such a horror less criminal than when she entered it.

Two days of solitary confinement, broken each day by an hour of silent
exercise in a bitterly cold courtyard, and I was ordered to the
hospital. There I thought I should be a little more comfortable. The bed
was better, the food a little better, and small comforts, such as warm
water for washing, were allowed. I slept a little the first night. About
midnight I awoke, and sat up in bed, listening. A woman in the cell next
mine was moaning in long, sobbing breaths of mortal pain. She ceased for
a few minutes, then moaned again, horribly. The truth flashed over me,
turning me sick, as I realised that a life was coming into being, there
in that frightful prison. A woman, imprisoned by men's laws, was giving
a child to the world. A child born in a cell! I shall never forget that
night, nor what I suffered with the birth-pangs of that woman, who, I
found later, was simply waiting trial on a charge which was found to be

The days passed very slowly, the nights more slowly still. Being in
hospital, I was deprived of chapel, and also of work. Desperate, at last
I begged the wardress for some sewing, and she kindly gave me a skirt of
her own to hem, and later some coarse knitting to do. Prisoners were
allowed a few books, mostly of the "Sunday-school" kind. One day I
asked the chaplain if there were not some French or German books in the
library, and he brought me a treasure, "_Autour de mon Jardin_," by
Jules Janin. For a few days I was quite happy, reading my book and
translating it on the absurd little slate they gave us in lieu of paper
and pencil. That slate was, after all, a great comfort. I did all kinds
of things with it. I kept a calendar, I wrote all the French poetry I
could remember on it, I even recorded old school chorals and old English
exercises. It helped wonderfully to pass the endless hours until my
release. I even forgot the cold, which was the harder to bear because of
the fur coat, which I knew was put away, ticketed with my name. I begged
them for the coat, but they wouldn't let me have it.

At last the time came when they gave me back all my things, and let me
go free. At the door the Governor spoke to me, and asked me if I had any
complaints to make. "Not of you," I replied, "nor of any of the
wardresses. Only of this prison, and all of men's prisons. We shall raze
them to the ground."

Back in my comfortable home, surrounded by loving friends, I would have
rested quietly for a few days, but there was a great meeting that night
at Albert Hall, to mark the close of a week of self-denial to raise
money for the year's campaign. Women had sold papers, flowers, toys,
swept crossings, and sung in the streets for the cause. Many women, well
known in the world of art and letters, did these things. I felt that I
should be doing little if I merely attended the meeting. So I went. My
release was not expected until the following morning, and no one thought
of my appearing at the meeting. My chairman's seat was decorated with a
large placard with the inscription, "Mrs. Pankhurst's Chair." After all
the others were seated, the speakers, and hundreds of ex-prisoners. I
walked quietly onto the stage, took the placard out of the chair and sat
down. A great cry went up from the women as they sprang from their seats
and stretched their hands toward me. It was some time before I could see
them for my tears, or speak to them for the emotion that shook me like a

The next morning I, with the other released prisoners, drove off to
Peckham, a constituency of London, where the W. S. P. U. members were
fighting a vigorous by-election. In open brakes we paraded the streets,
dressed in our prison clothes, or exact reproductions of them.
Naturally, we attracted a great deal of attention and sympathy, and our
daily meetings on Peckham Rye, as their common is known, drew enormous
crowds. When polling day came our members were stationed at every
polling booth, and many men as they came to the booths told us that they
were, for the first time, voting "for the women," by which they meant
against the Government. That night, amid great excitement, it was made
known that the Liberal majority of 2,339 at the last general election
had been turned into a Conservative majority of 2,494. Letters poured
into the newspapers, declaring that the loss of this important Liberal
seat was due almost entirely to the work of the Suffragettes, and many
prominent Liberals called upon party leaders to start doing something
for women before the next general election. The Liberal leaders, with
the usual perspicacity of politicians, responded not at all. Instead
they beheld with approval the rise to highest power the arch-enemy of
the suffragists, Mr. Asquith.

Mr. Asquith became prime minister about Easter time, 1908, on the
resignation, on account of ill health, of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.
Mr. Asquith was chosen, not because of any remarkable record of
statesmanship, nor yet because of great personal popularity--for he
possessed neither--but simply because no better man seemed available
just then. He was known as a clever, astute, and somewhat unscrupulous
lawyer. He had filled several high offices to the satisfaction of his
party, and under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman had been Chancellor of the
Exchequer, a post which is generally regarded as a stepping-stone to the
Premiership. The best thing the Liberal press found to say of the new
Premier was that he was a "strong" man. Generally in politics this term
is used to describe an obstinate man, and this we already knew Mr.
Asquith to be. He was a bluntly outspoken opponent of woman suffrage,
and it was sufficiently plain to us that no methods of education or
persuasion would ever prove successful where he was concerned. Therefore
the necessity of action on our part was greater than ever.

Such an opportunity presented itself at once through changes that took
place in the new Cabinet. According to English law, all new comers into
the Cabinet are obliged to resign their seats in Parliament and offer
themselves to their constituencies for re-election. Besides these
vacancies there were several others, on account of death or elevations
to the peerage. This made necessary a number of by-elections, and the
Women's Social and Political Union once more went into the field against
the Liberal candidates. I shall deal no further with these by-elections
than is necessary to show the effect of our work on the Government, and
its subsequent effect on our movement--which was to force us into more
and more militancy. I shall leave it to the honest judgment of my
readers to place where it ought rightly to be placed the responsibility
for those first broken windows.

We selected as our first candidate for defeat Mr. Winston Churchill, who
was about to appeal to his constituency of North West Manchester to
sanction his appointment as president of the Board of Trade. My daughter
Christabel took charge of this election, and the work of herself and her
forces was so successful that Mr. Churchill lost his seat by 420 votes.
All the newspapers acknowledged that it was the Suffragettes who had
defeated Mr. Churchill, and one Liberal newspaper, the London _Daily
News_, called upon the party to put a stop to an intolerable state of
affairs by granting the women's demand for votes.

Another seat was immediately secured for Mr. Churchill, that of Dundee,
then strongly--in the merely party sense--Liberal, and therefore safe.
Nevertheless, we determined to fight Mr. Churchill there, to defeat him
if possible, and to bring down the Liberal majority in any case. I took
personal charge of the campaign, holding a very large meeting in
Kinnaird Hall on the evening before Mr. Churchill's arrival. Although he
felt absolutely sure of election in this Scottish constituency, Mr.
Churchill dreaded the effect of our presence on the Liberal women. The
second meeting he addressed in Dundee was held for women only, and
instead of asking for support of the various measures actually on the
government's programme, the politician's usual method, he talked about
the certainty of securing, within a short time, the Parliamentary
franchise for women. "No one," he declared, "can be blind to the fact
that at the next general election woman suffrage will be a real,
practical issue; and the next Parliament, I think, ought to see the
gratification of the women's claims. I do not exclude the possibility of
the suffrage being dealt with in this Parliament." Mr. Churchill
earnestly reiterated his claim to be considered a true friend of the
women's cause; but when pressed for a pledge that his Government would
take action, he urged his inability to speak for his colleagues.

This specious promise, or rather, prophecy of woman suffrage at some
indefinite time, won over a great many of the Liberal women, who
forthwith went staunchly to work for Mr. Churchill's election. Dundee
has a large population of extremely poor people, workers in the jute
mills and the marmalade factories. Some concessions in the matter of the
sugar tax, timely made, and the announcement that the new Government
meant to establish old age pensions, created an immense wave of Liberal
enthusiasm that swept Mr. Churchill into office in spite of our work,
which was untiring. We held something like two hundred meetings, and on
election eve, five huge demonstrations--four of them in the open air and
one which filled a large drill hall. Polling day, May 9th, was very
exciting. For every Suffragette at the polling-booths there were half a
dozen Liberal men and women, handing out bills with such legends as
"Vote for Churchill, and never mind the women," and "Put Churchill in
and keep the women out." Yet for all their efforts, Mr. Churchill polled
2200 votes less than his Liberal predecessor had polled at the general

In the first seven by-elections following Mr. Asquith's elevation to the
premiership, we succeeded in pulling down the Liberal vote by 6663. Then
something happened to check our progress. Mr. Asquith received a
deputation of Liberal members of Parliament, who urged him to allow the
Stanger suffrage bill, which had passed its second reading by a large
majority, to be carried into law. Mr. Asquith replied that he himself
did not wish to see women enfranchised, and that it would not be
possible for the Government to give the required facilities to Mr.
Stanger's bill. He added that he was fully alive to the many defects of
the electoral system, and that the Government intended, "barring
accidents," to bring in a reform bill before the close of that
Parliament. Woman suffrage would have no place in it, but it would be so
worded that a woman-suffrage amendment might be added if any member
chose to move one. In that case, said Mr. Asquith, he should not
consider it the duty of the Government to oppose the amendment if it
were approved by a majority of the House of Commons--_provided_ that the
amendment was on democratic lines, and that it had back of it the
support, the strong and undoubted support, of the women of the country
as well as the present electorate.

One would not suppose that such an evasive utterance as this would be
regarded in any quarter as a promise that woman suffrage would be given
any real chances of success under the Asquith Government. That it was,
by many, taken quite seriously is but another proof of the gullibility
of the party-blinded public. The Liberal press lauded Mr. Asquith's
"promise," and called for a truce of militancy in order that the
Government might have every opportunity to act. Said the _Star_, in a
leader typical of many others: "The meaning of Mr. Asquith's pledge is
plain. Woman's suffrage will be passed through the House of Commons
before the present Government goes to the country."

As for the women's Liberal Associations, they were quite delirious with
joy. In a conference called for the purpose of passing resolutions of
gratitude, Lady Carlisle said: "This is a glorious day of rejoicing. Our
great Prime Minister, all honour to him, has opened a way to us by which
we can enter into that inheritance from which we have been too long

At the two following by-elections, the last of the series, enormous
posters were exhibited, "Premier's Great Reform Bill: Votes for Women."
We tried to tell the electors that the pledge was false on the face of
it; that the specious proviso that the amendment be "democratic" left no
doubt that the Government would cause the rejection of any practical
amendment that might be moved. Our words fell on deaf ears, and the
Liberal majorities soared.

Just a week later Mr. Asquith was questioned in the House of Commons by
a slightly alarmed anti-suffragist member. The member asked Mr. Asquith
whether he considered himself pledged to introduce the reform hill
during that Parliament, whether he meant to allow such a bill to carry a
woman-suffrage amendment, if such were moved, and whether, in that case,
the suffrage amendment would become part of the Government policy.
Evasive as ever, the Prime Minister, after some sparring, replied, "My
honourable friend has asked me a question with regard to a remote and
speculative future." Thus was our interpretation of Mr. Asquith's
"promise" justified from his own lips. Yet the Liberal women still clung
to the hope of Government action, and the Liberal press pretended to
cling to it. As for the Women's Social and Political Union, we prepared
for more work. We had to strike out along a new line, since it was
evident that the Government could, for a time at least, neutralise our
by-election work by more false promises. Consistent with our policy, of
never going further than the Government compelled us to go, we made our
first action a perfectly peaceable one.

On the day when the Stanger bill had reached its second reading in the
House, and several days after I had gone to Holloway for the first time,
Mr. Herbert Gladstone, the Home Secretary, made a speech which greatly
interested the Suffragettes. He professed himself a suffragist, and
declared that he intended to vote for the bill. Nevertheless, he was
confident that it could not pass, because of the division in the
Cabinet, and because it had no political party united either for or
against it. Woman suffrage, said Mr. Gladstone, must advance to victory
through all the stages that are required for great reforms to mature.
First academic discussion, then effective action, was the history of
men's suffrage; it must be the same with women's suffrage. "Men,"
declared Mr. Gladstone, "have learned this lesson and know the necessity
for demonstrating the greatness of their movement, and for establishing
that _force majeure_ which actuates and arms a Government for effective
work. That is the task before the supporters of this great movement.
Looking back at the great political crises in the thirties, the sixties
and the eighties, it will be found that the people did not go about in
small crowds, nor were they content with enthusiastic meetings in large
halls; they assembled in their tens of thousands all over the country.

"Of course," added Mr. Gladstone, "it is not to be expected that women
can assemble in such masses, but power belongs to masses, and through
this power a Government can be influenced into more effective action
than a Government will be likely to take under present conditions."

The Women's Social and Political Union determined to answer this
challenge. If assembling in great masses was all that was necessary to
convince the Government that woman suffrage had passed the academic
stage and now demanded political action, we thought we could undertake
to satisfy the most skeptical member of the Cabinet. We knew that we
could organise a demonstration that would out-rival any of the great
franchise demonstrations held by men in the thirties, sixties, and
eighties. The largest number of people ever gathered in Hyde Park was
said to have approximated 72,000. We determined to organise a Hyde Park
demonstration of at least 250,000 people. Sunday, June 21, 1908, was
fixed for the date of this demonstration, and for many months we worked
to make it a day notable in the history of the movement. Our example was
emulated by the non-militant suffragists, who organised a fine
procession of their own, about a week before our demonstration. Thirteen
thousand women, it was said, marched in that procession.

On our demonstration we spent, for advertising alone, over a thousand
pounds, or five thousand dollars. We covered the hoardings of London and
of all the principal provincial cities with great posters bearing
portraits of the women who were to preside at the twenty platforms from
which speeches were to be made; a map of London, showing the routes by
which the seven processions were to advance, and a plan of the Hyde Park
meeting-place were also shown. London, of course, was thoroughly
organised. For weeks a small army of women was busy chalking
announcements on sidewalks, distributing handbills, canvassing from
house to house, advertising the demonstration by posters and sandwich
boards carried through the streets. We invited everybody to be present,
including both Houses of Parliament. A few days before the demonstration
Mrs. Drummond and a number of other women hired and decorated a launch
and sailed up the Thames to the Houses of Parliament, arriving at the
hour when members entertain their women friends at tea on the terrace.
Everyone left the tables and crowded to the water's edge as the boat
stopped, and Mrs. Drummond's strong, clear voice pealed out her
invitation to the Cabinet and the members of Parliament to join the
women's demonstration in Hyde Park. "Come to the park on Sunday," she
cried. "You shall have police protection, and there will be no arrests,
we promise you." An alarmed someone telephoned for the police boats, but
as they appeared, the women's boat steamed away.

What a day was Sunday, June 21st--clear, radiant, filled with golden
sunshine! As I advanced, leading, with the venerable Mrs.
Wolstenholm-Elmy, the first of the seven processions, it seemed to me
that all London had turned out to witness our demonstration. And a
goodly part of London followed the processions. When I mounted my
platform in Hyde Park, and surveyed the mighty throngs that waited there
and the endless crowds that were still pouring into the park from all
directions, I was filled with amazement not unmixed with awe. Never had
I imagined that so many people could be gathered together to share in a
political demonstration. It was a gay and beautiful as well as an
awe-inspiring spectacle, for the white gowns and flower-trimmed hats of
the women, against the background of ancient trees, gave the park the
appearance of a vast garden in full bloom.

The bugles sounded, and the speakers at each of the twenty platforms
began their addresses, which could not have been heard by more than half
or a third of the vast audience. Notwithstanding this, they remained to
the end. At five o'clock the bugles sounded again, the speaking ceased,
and the resolution calling upon the Government to bring in an official
woman-suffrage bill without delay was carried at every platform, often
without a dissenting vote. Then, with a three-times-repeated cry of
"Votes for Women!" from the assembled multitude, the great meeting

The London _Times_ said next day: "Its organisers had counted on an
audience of 250,000. That expectation was certainly fulfilled, and
probably it was doubled, and it would be difficult to contradict any one
who asserted that it was trebled. Like the distances and the number of
the stars, the facts were beyond the threshold of perception."

The _Daily Express_ said: "It is probable that so many people never
before stood in one square mass anywhere in England. Men who saw the
great Gladstone meeting years ago said that compared with yesterday's
multitude it was as nothing."

We felt that we had answered the challenge in Mr. Gladstone's
declaration that "power belongs to the masses," and that through this
power the Government could be influenced; so it was with real hope that
we despatched a copy of the resolution to the Prime Minister, asking him
what answer the Government would make to that unparalleled gathering of
men and women. Mr. Asquith replied formally that he had nothing to add
to his previous statement--that the Government intended, at some
indefinite time, to bring in a general reform bill which _might_ be
amended to include woman suffrage. Our wonderful demonstration, it
appeared, had made no impression whatever upon him.


Now we had reached a point where we had to choose between two
alternatives. We had exhausted argument. Therefore either we had to give
up our agitation altogether, as the suffragists of the eighties
virtually had done, or else we must act, and go on acting, until the
selfishness and the obstinacy of the Government was broken down, or the
Government themselves destroyed. Until forced to do so, the Government,
we perceived, would never give women the vote.

We realised the truth of John Bright's words, spoken while the reform
bill of 1867 was being agitated. Parliament, John Bright then declared,
had never been hearty for any reform. The Reform Act of 1832 had been
wrested by force from the Government of that day, and now before
another, he said, could be carried, the agitators would have to fill the
streets with people from Charing Cross to Westminster Abbey. Acting on
John Bright's advice, we issued a call to the public to join us in
holding a huge demonstration, on June 30th outside the House of Commons.
We wanted to be sure that the Government saw as well as read of our
immense following. A public proclamation from the Commissioner of
Police, warning the public not to assemble in Parliament Square and
declaring that the approaches to the Houses of Parliament must be kept
open, was at once issued.

We persisted in announcing that the demonstration would take place, and
I wrote a letter to Mr. Asquith telling him that a deputation would wait
upon him at half-past four on the afternoon of June 30th. We held the
usual Women's Parliament in Caxton Hall, after which Mrs. Pethick
Lawrence, eleven other women, and myself, set forth. We met with no
opposition from the police, but marched through cheering crowds of
spectators to the Strangers' Entrance to the House of Commons. Here we
were met by a large group of uniformed men commanded by Inspector
Scantlebury, of the police. The inspector, whom I knew personally,
stepped forward and demanded officially, "Are you Mrs. Pankhurst, and is
this your deputation?"

"Yes," I replied.

"My orders are to exclude you from the House of Commons."

"Has Mr. Asquith received my letter?" I asked.

For answer the inspector drew my letter from his pocket and handed it to

"Did Mr. Asquith return no message, no kind of reply?" I inquired.

"No," replied the inspector.

We turned and walked back to Caxton Hall, to tell the waiting audience
what had occurred. We resolved that there was nothing to do but wait
patiently until evening, and see how well the public would respond to
our call to meet in Parliament Square. Already we knew that the streets
were filled with people, and early as it was the crowds were increasing
rapidly. At eight we went out in groups from Caxton Hall, to find
Parliament Square packed with a throng, estimated next day at least
100,000. From the steps of public buildings, from stone copings, from
the iron railings of the Palace Yard, to which they clung precariously,
our women made speeches until the police pulled them down and flung them
into the moving, swaying, excited crowds. Some of the women were
arrested, others were merely ordered to move on. Mingled cheers and
jeers rose from the spectators. Some of the men were roughs who had come
out to amuse themselves. Others were genuinely sympathetic, and tried
valiantly to help us to reach the House of Commons. Again and again the
police lines were broken, and it was only as the result of repeated
charges by mounted police that the people's attacks were repelled. Many
members of Parliament, including Mr. Lloyd-George, Mr. Winston
Churchill, and Mr. Herbert Gladstone, came out to witness the struggle,
which lasted until midnight and resulted in the arrest of twenty-nine
women. Two of these women were arrested after they had each thrown a
stone through a window of Mr. Asquith's official residence in Downing
Street, the value of the windows being about $2.40.

This was the first window-breaking in our history. Mrs. Mary Leigh and
Miss Edith New, who had thrown the stones, sent word to me from the
police court that, having acted without orders, they would not resent
repudiation from headquarters. Far from repudiating them, I went at once
to see them in their cells, and assured them of my approval of their
act. The smashing of windows is a time-honoured method of showing
displeasure in a political situation. As one of the newspapers,
commenting on the affair, truly said, "When the King and Queen dine at
Apsley on the 13th inst. they will be entertained in rooms the windows
of which the Duke of Wellington was obliged to protect with iron
shutters from the fury of his political opponents."

In Winchester a few years ago, to give but one instance, a great riot
took place as a protest against the removal of a historic gun from one
part of the town to another. In the course of this riot windows were
broken and other property of various kinds was destroyed, very serious
damage being done. No punishment was administered in respect of this
riot and the authorities, bowing to public opinion thus riotously
expressed, restored the gun to its original situation.

Window-breaking, when Englishmen do it, is regarded as honest expression
of political opinion. Window-breaking, when Englishwomen do it, is
treated as a crime. In sentencing Mrs. Leigh and Miss New to two months
in the first division, the magistrate used very severe language, and
declared that such a thing must never happen again. Of course the women
assured him that it would happen again. Said Mrs. Leigh: "We have no
other course but to rebel against oppression, and if necessary to resort
to stronger measures. This fight is going on."

The summer of 1908 is remembered as one of the most oppressively hot
seasons the country had known for years. Our prisoners in Holloway
suffered intensely, some being made desperately ill from the heat, the
bad air, and the miserable food. We who spent the summer campaigning
suffered also, but in less degree. It was a tremendous relief when the
cool days of autumn set in, and it was with renewed vigour that we
prepared for the opening day of Parliament, which was October 12th.
Again we resolved to send a deputation to the Prime Minister, and again
we invited the general public to take part in the demonstration. We had
printed thousands of little handbills bearing this inscription: "Men and
Women, Help the Suffragettes to Rush the House of Commons, on Tuesday
Evening, October 13th, at 7:30."

On Sunday, October 11th, we held a large meeting in Trafalgar Square, my
daughter Christabel, Mrs. Drummond and I speaking from the plinth of the
Nelson monument. Mr. Lloyd-George, as we afterward learned, was a member
of the audience. The police were there, taking ample notes of our
speeches. We had not failed to notice that they were watching us daily,
dogging our footsteps, and showing in numerous ways that they were under
orders to keep track of all our movements. The climax came at noon on
October 12th, when Christabel, Mrs. Drummond and I were each served with
an imposing legal document which read, "Information has been laid this
day by the Commissioner of Police that you, in the month of October, in
the year 1908, were guilty of conduct likely to provoke a breach of the
peace by initiating and causing to be initiated, by publishing and
causing to be published, a certain handbill, calling upon and inciting
the public to do a certain wrongful and illegal act, viz., to rush the
House of Commons at 7:30 P.M. on October 13th inst."


_October, 1908_]

The last paragraph was a summons to appear at Bow Street police station
that same afternoon at three o'clock. We did not go to Bow Street police
station. We went instead to a crowded "At Home" at Queen's Hall, where
it can be imagined that our news created great excitement. The place was
surrounded by constables, and the police reporters were on hand to take
stenographic reports of everything that was said from the platform. Once
an excited cry was raised that a police inspector was coming in to
arrest us. But the officer merely brought a message that the summons had
been adjourned until the following morning.

It did not suit our convenience to obey the adjourned summons quite so
early, so I wrote a polite note to the police, saying that we would be
in our headquarters, No. 4 Clements Inn, the next evening at six
o'clock, and would then be at his disposal. Warrants for our arrests
were quickly issued, and Inspector Jarvis was instructed to execute them
at once. This he found impossible to do, for Mrs. Drummond was spending
her last day of liberty on private business, while my daughter and I had
retreated to another part of Clements Inn, which is a big, rambling
building. There, in the roof-garden of the Pethick Lawrence's private
flat, we remained all day, busy, under the soft blue of the autumn sky,
with our work and our preparations for a long absence. At six we walked
downstairs, dressed for the street. Mrs. Drummond arrived promptly, the
waiting officers read the warrants, and we all proceeded to Bow Street
in cabs. It was too late for the trial to be held. We asked for bail,
but the authorities had no mind to allow us to take part in the "rush"
which we had incited, so we were obliged to spend the night in the
police station. All night I lay awake, thinking of the scenes which were
going on in the streets.

The next morning, in a courtroom crowded to its utmost capacity, my
daughter rose to conduct her first case at law. She had earned the right
to an LL.B. after her name, but as women are not permitted to practise
law in England, she had never appeared at the bar in any capacity except
that of defendant. Now she proposed to combine the two rôles of
defendant and lawyer, and conduct the case for the three of us. She
began by asking the magistrate not to try the case in that court, but to
send it for trial before a judge and jury. We had long desired to take
the Suffragettes' cases before bodies of private citizens, because we
had every reason to suspect that the police-court officials acted under
the direct commands of the very persons against whom our agitation was
directed. Jury trial was denied us; but after the preliminary
examination was over the magistrate, Mr. Curtis Bennett, allowed a
week's adjournment for preparation of the case.

On October 21st the trial was resumed, with the courtroom as full as
before and the press table even more crowded, for it had been widely
published that we had actually subpoenaed two members of the
Government, who had witnessed the scenes on the night of October 13th.
The first witness to enter the box was Mr. Lloyd-George. Christabel
examined him at some length as to the meaning and merits of the word
rush, and succeeded in making him very uncomfortable--and the charge
against ourselves look very flimsy. She then questioned him about the
speeches he had heard at Trafalgar Square, and as to whether there had
been any suggestion that property be destroyed or personal violence
used. He admitted that the speeches were temperate and the crowds
orderly. Then Christabel suddenly asked, "There were no words used so
likely to incite to violence as the advice you gave at Swansea, that the
women should be ruthlessly flung out of your meeting?" Mr. Lloyd-George
looked black, and answered nothing. The magistrate hastened to the
protection of Mr. Lloyd-George. "This is quite irrelevant," he said.
"That was a private meeting." It was a public meeting, and Christabel
said so. "It was a private meeting _in a sense_," insisted the

Mr. Lloyd-George assumed an air of pompous indignation when Christabel
asked him, "Have we not received encouragement from you, and if not from
you from your colleagues, to take action of this kind?" Mr. Lloyd-George
rolled his eyes upward as he replied, "I should be very much surprised
to hear that, Miss Pankhurst."

"Is it not a fact," asked Christabel, "that you yourself have set us an
example of revolt?" "I never incited a crowd to violence," exclaimed
the witness. "Not in the Welsh graveyard case?" she asked. "No!" he
cried angrily. "You did not tell them to break down a wall and disinter
a body?" pursued Christabel. He could not deny this but, "I gave advice
which was found by the Court of Appeal to be sound legal advice," he
snapped, and turned his back as far as he could in the narrow

Mr. Herbert Gladstone had asked to be allowed to testify early, as he
was being detained from important public duties. Christabel asked to
question one witness before Mr. Gladstone entered the box. The witness
was Miss Georgiana Brackenbury, who had recently suffered six weeks'
imprisonment for the cause, and had since met and had a talk with Mr.
Horace Smith, the magistrate, who had made to her a most important and
damaging admission of the government's interference in suffragists'
trials. Christabel asked her one question. "Did Mr. Horace Smith tell
you in sentencing you that he was doing what he had been told to do?"
"You must not put that question!" exclaimed the magistrate. But the
witness had already answered "Yes." There was an excited stir in the
courtroom. It had been recorded under oath that a magistrate had
admitted that Suffragettes were being sentenced not by himself,
according to the evidence and according to law, but by the Government,
for no one could possibly doubt where Mr. Horace Smith's orders came

Mr. Gladstone, plump, bald, and ruddy, in no way resembles his
illustrious father. He entered the witness-box smiling and confident,
but his complacence vanished when Christabel asked him outright if the
Government had not ordered the Commissioner of Police to take this
action against us. Of course the magistrate intervened, and Mr.
Gladstone did not answer the question. Christabel tried again. "Did you
instruct Mr. Horace Smith to decide against Miss Brackenbury, and to
send her to prison for six weeks?" That too was objected to, as were all
questions on the subject.

All through the examination the magistrate constantly intervened to save
the Cabinet Minister from embarrassment, but Christabel finally
succeeded in making Mr. Gladstone admit, point by point, that he had
said that women could never get the vote because they could not fight
for it as men had fought.

A large number of witnesses testified to the orderly nature of the
demonstration on the 13th, and then Christabel rose to plead. She began
by declaring that these proceedings had been taken, as the legal saying
is, "in malice and vexation," in order to lame a political enemy. She
declared that, under the law, the charge which might properly be brought
against us was that of illegal assembly, but the Government had not
charged us with this offence, because the Government desired to keep the
case in a police court.

"The authorities dare not see this case come before a jury," she
declared, "because they know perfectly well that if it were heard before
a jury of our countrymen we should be acquitted, just as John Burns was
acquitted years ago for taking action far more dangerous to the public
peace than we have taken. We are deprived of trial by jury. We are also
deprived of the right to appeal against the magistrate's decision. Very
carefully has this procedure been thought out."

Of the handbill she said: "We do not deny that we issued this bill; none
of us three has wished to deny responsibility. We did issue the bill; we
did cause it to be circulated; we did put upon it the words 'Come and
help the suffragettes rush the House of Commons.' For these words we do
not apologise. It is very well known that we took this action in order
to press forward a claim, which, according to the British constitution,
we are well entitled to make."

In all that the Suffragettes had done, in all that they might ever do,
declared my daughter, they would only be following in the footsteps of
men now in Parliament. "Mr. Herbert Gladstone has told us in the speech
I read to him that the victory of argument alone is not enough. As we
cannot hope to win by force of argument alone, it is necessary to
overcome by other means the savage resistance of the Government to our
claim for citizenship. He says, 'Go on, fight as the men did.' And then,
when we show our power and get the people to help us, he takes
proceedings against us in a manner that would have been disgraceful even
in the old days of coercion. Then there is Mr. Lloyd-George, who, if any
man has done so, has set us an example. His whole career has been a
series of revolts. He has said that if we do not get the vote--mark
these words--we should be justified in adopting the methods the men had
to adopt, namely, pulling down the Hyde Park railings." She quoted Lord
Morley as saying of the Indian unrest: "'We are in India in the presence
of a living movement, and a movement for what? For objects which we
ourselves have taught them to think are desirable objects; and unless we
can somehow reconcile order with satisfaction of those ideals and
aspirations, the fault will not be theirs, it will be ours--it will mark
the breakdown of British statesmanship.'--Apply those words to our
case," she continued.


_October, 1908_]

"Remember that we are demanding of Liberal statesmen that which is for
us the greatest boon and the most essential right--and if the present
Government cannot reconcile order with our demand for the vote without
delay, it will mark the breakdown of their statesmanship. Yes, their
statesmanship has broken down already. They are disgraced. It is only in
this court that they have the smallest hope of being supported."

My daughter had spoken with passion and fervour, and her righteous
indignation had moved her to words that caused the magistrate's face to
turn an angry crimson. When I rose to address the Court I began by
assuming an appearance of calmness which I did not altogether feel. I
endorsed all that Christabel had said of the unfairness of our trial and
the malice of the Government; I protested against the trial of political
offenders in a common police court, and I said that we were not women
who would come into the court as ordinary law-breakers. I described Mrs.
Drummond's worthy career as a wife, a mother, and a self-sustaining
business woman. I said, "Before you decide what is to be done with us,
I should like you to hear from me a statement of what has brought me
into the dock this morning." And then I told of my life and experiences,
many of which I have related in these pages of what I had seen and known
as a Poor Law Guardian and a registrar of births and deaths; of how I
had learned the burning necessity of changing the status of women, of
altering the laws under which they and their children live, and of the
essential justice of making women self-governing citizens.

"I have seen," I said, "that men are encouraged by law to take advantage
of the helplessness of women. Many women have thought as I have, and for
many, many years have tried, by that influence of which we have been so
often reminded, to alter these laws, but we find that influence counts
for nothing. When we went to the House of Commons we used to be told,
when we were persistent, that members of Parliament were not responsible
to women, they were responsible only to voters, and that their time was
too fully occupied to reform those laws, although they agreed that they
needed reforming.

"We women have presented larger petitions in support of our
enfranchisement than were ever presented for any other reform; we have
succeeded in holding greater public meetings than men have ever held for
any reform, in spite of the difficulty which women have in throwing off
their natural diffidence, that desire to escape publicity which we have
inherited from generations of our foremothers. We have broken through
that. We have faced hostile mobs at street corners, because we were told
that we could not have that representation for our taxes that men have
won unless we converted the whole of the country to our side. Because we
have done this, we have been misrepresented, we have been ridiculed, we
have had contempt poured upon us, and the ignorant mob have been incited
to offer us violence, which we have faced unarmed and unprotected by the
safeguards which Cabinet Ministers enjoy. We have been driven to do
this; we are determined to go on with this agitation because we feel in
honour bound. Just as it was the duty of your forefathers, it is our
duty to make the world a better place for women than it is to-day.

"Lastly, I want to call attention to the self-restraint which was shown
by our followers on the night of the 13th, after we had been arrested.
Our rule has always been to be patient, exercise self-restraint, show
our so-called superiors that we are not hysterical; to use no violence,
but rather to offer ourselves to the violence of others.

"That is all I have to say to you, sir. We are here, not because we are
law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers."

The burly policemen, the reporters, and most of the spectators were in
tears as I finished. But the magistrate, who had listened part of the
time with his hand concealing his face, still held that we were properly
charged in a common police court as inciters to riot. Since we refused
to be bound over to keep the peace, he sentenced Mrs. Drummond and
myself to three months' imprisonment, and Christabel to ten weeks'
imprisonment. It was destined to be a kind of imprisonment the
authorities had never yet been called upon to deal with.


My first act on reaching Holloway was to demand that the Governor be
sent for. When he came I told him that the Suffragettes had resolved
that they would no longer submit to being treated as ordinary
law-breakers. In the course of our trial two Cabinet Ministers had
admitted that we were political offenders, and therefore we should
henceforth refuse to be searched or to undress in the presence of the
wardresses. For myself I claimed the right, and I hoped the others would
do likewise, to speak to my friends during exercise, or whenever I came
in contact with them. The Governor, after reflection, yielded to the
first two demands, but said that he would have to consult the Home
Office before permitting us to break the rule of silence. We were
accordingly allowed to change our clothing privately, and, as a further
concession, were placed in adjoining cells. This was little advantage to
me, however, since within a few days I was removed to a hospital cell,
suffering from the illness which prison life always inflicts on me. Here
the Governor visited me with the unwelcome news that the Home Secretary
had refused to allow me the privilege of speech with my fellow
prisoners. I asked him if I might, when I was strong enough to walk,
take exercise with my friends. To this he assented, and I soon had the
joy of seeing my daughter and the other brave comrades, and walking
with them in the dismal courtyard of the prison. Single file we walked,
at a distance of three or four feet from one another, back and forth
under the stony eyes of the wardresses. The rough flags of the pavement
hurt our feet, shod in heavy, shapeless prison boots. The autumn days
were cold and cheerless, and we shivered violently under our scanty
cloaks. But of all our hardships the ceaseless silence of our lives was

At the end of the second week I decided I would no longer endure it.
That afternoon at exercise I suddenly called my daughter by name and
bade her stand still until I came up to her. Of course she stopped, and
when I reached her side we linked arms and began to talk in low tones. A
wardress ran up to us, saying: "I shall listen to everything you say." I
replied: "You are welcome to do that, but I shall insist on my right to
speak to my daughter." Another wardress had hastily left the yard, and
now she returned with a large number of wardresses. They seized me and
quickly removed me to my cell, while the other suffrage prisoners
cheered my action at the top of their voices. For their "mutiny" they
got three days' solitary confinement, and I, for mine, a much more
severe punishment. Unrepentant, I told the Governor that, in spite of
any punishment he might impose on me, I would never again submit to the
silence rule. To forbid a mother to speak to her daughter was infamous.
For this I was characterised as a "dangerous criminal" and was sent into
solitary confinement, without exercise or chapel, while a wardress was
stationed constantly at my cell door to see that I communicated with no


It was two weeks before I saw any of my friends again, and meantime the
health of Mrs. Drummond had been so seriously impaired that she was
released for hospital treatment. My daughter also, I learned, was ill,
and in desperation I made application to the Board of Visiting
Magistrates to be allowed to see her. After a long conference, during
which I was made to wait outside in the corridor, the magistrates
returned a refusal, saying that I might renew my application in a month.
The answer then, they said, would depend on my conduct. A month! My girl
might be dead by that time. My anxiety sent me to bed ill again, but,
although I did not know it, relief was already on its way. I had told
the visiting magistrates that I would wait until public opinion got
within those walls, and this happened sooner than I had dared to hope.
Mrs. Drummond, as soon as she was able to appear in public, and the
other suffrage prisoners, as they were released, spread broadcast the
story of our mutiny, and of a subsequent one led by Miss Wallace Dunlop,
which sent a large number of women into solitary confinement. The
Suffragettes marched by thousands to Holloway, thronging the approaches
to the prison street. Round and round the prison they marched, singing
the Women's Marseillaise and cheering. Faintly the sound came to our
ears, infinitely lightening our burden of pain and loneliness. The
following week they came again, so we afterwards learned, but this time
the police turned them back long before they reached the confines of
the prison.

The demonstrations, together with a volley of questions asked in the
House of Commons, told at last. Orders came from the Home Office that I
was to see my daughter, and that we were to be allowed to exercise and
to talk together for one hour each day. In addition, we were to be
permitted the rare privilege of reading a daily newspaper. Then, on
December 8th, the day of Christabel's release, orders came that I, too,
should be discharged, two weeks before the expiration of my sentence.

At the welcome breakfast given us, as released prisoners, at Lincoln's
Inn Hotel, I told our members that henceforth we should all insist on
refusing to abide by ordinary prison rules. We did not propose to break
laws and then shirk punishment. We simply meant to assert our right to
be recognised as political prisoners. We reached this point after due
reflection. We first set ourselves not to complain of prison, not to say
anything about it, to avoid it, to keep away from all side issues, to
keep along the straight path of political reform, to get the vote;
because we knew that when we had won it we could reform prisons and a
great many other abuses as well. But now that we had had in the witness
box the admission of Cabinet Ministers that we are political offenders,
we should in future demand the treatment given to men political
offenders in all civilised countries. "If nations," I said, "are still
so governed that they make political offenders, then Great Britain is
going to treat her political offenders as well as political offenders
are treated by other nations. If it were the custom to treat political
offenders as ordinary offenders against the well-being of society are
treated, we should not have complained if we were treated like that; but
it is not the international custom to do it, and so, for the dignity of
the women of the country, and for the sake of the consciences of the men
of the country, and for the sake of our nation amongst the nations of
the earth, we are not going to allow the Liberal government to treat us
like ordinary law-breakers in future."

I said the same thing that night in a great meeting held in Queen's Hall
to welcome the released prisoners, and, although we all knew that our
determination involved a bitter struggle, our women endorsed it without
a moment's hesitation. Had they been able to look forward to the events
which were even then overshadowing us, could they have foreseen the new
forms of suffering and danger that lay in waiting, I am certain that
they would still have done the same thing, for our experiences had
taught us to dispense with fear. Whatever of timidity, of shrinking from
pain or hardship any of us had originally possessed, it had all
vanished. There were no terrors that we were not now ready to face.

The year 1909 marks an important point in our struggle, partly because
of this decision of ours, never again to submit to be classed with
criminals; and partly because in this year we forced the Liberal
Government to go on record, publicly, in regard to the oldest of
popular rights, the right of petition. We had long contemplated this
step, and now the time seemed ripe for taking it.

In the closing days of 1908 Mr. Asquith, speaking on the policy to be
carried out in 1909, commented on the various deputations he was obliged
at that time to receive. They called on him, he said, "from all quarters
and in all causes, on an average of something like two hours on three
days in every week." The deputations all asked for different things,
and, although all of the things could not possibly be included in the
King's speech, Mr. Asquith was inclined to agree that many of them ought
to be included. This declaration from the Prime Minister that he was
constantly receiving deputations of men, and listening favourably to
their suggestions of what policies to pursue, aroused in the
Suffragettes feelings of deep indignation. This in part they expressed
on January 25th, when the first meeting of the Cabinet Council took
place. A small deputation from the W. S. P. U. proceeded to Downing
Street to claim the right to be heard, as men were heard. For knocking
at the door of the official residence four of the women, including my
sister, Mrs. Clark, were arrested and sent to prison for one month.

A month later the seventh of our Women's Parliaments was called against
this and against the fact that no mention of women had been included in
the King's speech. Led by Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, Lady Constance Lytton
and Miss Daisy Solomon, a deputation of women endeavoured to carry the
resolution to the House of Commons. They were promptly arrested and,
next day, were sent to prison on sentences of from one to two months.
The time was rapidly approaching when the legality of these arrests
would have to be tested. In June of the year 1909 the test was made.

It will be remembered that we had endeavoured to force the authorities
to make good their threat to charge us under the obsolete Charles II
"Tumultuous Petitions Act," which prescribes severe penalties for
persons proceeding to Parliament in groups of more than twelve for the
purpose of presenting petitions. It had been stated that if we were
charged under that act our case would be given a hearing before a judge
and jury instead of a police magistrate. Since this was exactly what we
desired to have happen we had sent deputation after deputation of more
than twelve persons, but always they were tried in police courts, and
were sent to prison often for periods as long as that prescribed in the
Charles II Act. Now we determined to do something still more ambitious;
we resolved to test, not the Charles II Act, but the constitutional
right of the subject to petition the Prime Minister as the seat of

The right of petition, which has existed in England since the earliest
known period, was written into the Bill of Rights which became law in
1689 on the accession of William and Mary. It was, in fact, one of the
conditions attaching to the accession of the joint monarchs. According
to the Bill of Rights, "It is the right of subjects to petition the King
and all commitments, and prosecutions for such petitionings are
illegal." The power of the King having passed almost completely into
the hands of Parliament, the Prime Minister now stands where the King's
majesty stood in former times. Clearly, then, the right of the subject
to petition the Prime Minister cannot be legally denied. Thus were we
advised, and in order to keep within the strict letter of the law, we
accepted the limitations of the right of petition laid down in the
Charles II Act, and decided that our petition should be carried to the
House of Commons by small groups of women.

Again I called together, on the evening of June 29th, a Parliament of
women. Previously I had written to Mr. Asquith stating that a deputation
of women would wait on him at the House of Commons at eight o'clock in
the evening. I wrote him further that we were not to be refused, as we
insisted upon our constitutional right to be received. To my note the
Prime Minister returned a formal note declining to receive us.
Nevertheless we continued our preparations, because we knew that the
Prime Minister would continue to decline, but that in the end he would
be forced to receive us.

An incident which occurred a week before the date of the deputation was
destined to have important consequences. Miss Wallace Dunlop went to St.
Stephen's Hall in the House of Commons, and marked with printer's ink on
the stone work of the Hall an extract from the Bill of Rights. The first
time she made the attempt she was interrupted by a policeman, but two
days later she succeeded in stamping on the ancient walls the reminder
to Parliament that women as well as men possess constitutional rights,
and that they were proposing to exercise those rights. She was arrested
and sentenced to prison for one month, in the third division. The option
of a heavy fine was given her, which of course she refused. Miss Wallace
Dunlop's prison term began on June 22d. Perhaps her deed had something
to do with the unusual interest taken in the approaching deputation, an
interest which was shown not only by the public but by many members of
Parliament. In the House of Commons a strong feeling that the women
ought this time to be received manifested itself in many questions put
to the Government. One member even asked leave to move the adjournment
of the House on a matter of urgent public importance, namely the danger
to the public peace, owing to the refusal of the Prime Minister to
receive the deputation. This was denied, however, and the Government
mendaciously disclaimed all responsibility for what action the police
might take toward the deputation. The Home Secretary, Mr. Gladstone,
when asked by Mr. Kier Hardie to give instructions that the deputation,
if orderly, should be admitted to St. Stephen's, replied: "I cannot say
what action the police ought to take in the matter." Our Women's
Parliament met at half past seven on the evening of June 29th, and the
petition to the Prime Minister was read and adopted. Then our deputation
set forth. Accompanying me as leader were two highly respectable women
of advanced years, Mrs. Saul Solomon, whose husband had been Prime
Minister at the Cape, and Miss Neligan, one of the foremost of the
pioneer educators of England. We three and five other women were
preceded by Miss Elsie Howey, who, riding fast, went on horse-back to
announce our coming to the enormous crowds that filled the streets. She,
we afterward learned, progressed as far as the approaches to the House
of Commons before being turned back by the police. As for the
deputation, it pressed on through the crowd as far as St. Margaret's
Church, Westminster, where we found a long line of police blocking the
road. We paused for a moment, gathering strength for the ordeal of
trying to push through the lines, when an unexpected thing happened. An
order was given from some one, and instantly the police lines parted,
leaving a clear space through which we walked towards the House. We were
escorted on our way by Inspector Wells, and as we passed the crowd broke
into vociferous cheering, firmly believing that we were after all to be
received. As for myself I did little speculating as to what was about to
happen. I simply led my deputation on as far as the entrance to St.
Stephen's Hall. There we encountered another strong force of police
commanded by our old acquaintance, Inspector Scantlebury, who stepped
forward and handed me a letter. I opened it and read in aloud to the
women. "The Prime Minister, for the reasons which he has already given
in a written reply to their request, regrets that he is unable to
receive the proposed deputation."

I dropped the note to the ground and said: "I stand upon my rights, as a
subject of the King, to petition the Prime Minister, and I am firmly
resolved to stand here until I am received."


_June, 1908_]

Inspector Scantlebury turned away and walked rapidly towards the door
of the Strangers' Entrance. I turned to Inspector Jarvis, who remained,
to several members of Parliament and some newspaper men who stood
looking on, and begged them to take my message to the Prime Minister,
but no one responded, and the Inspector, seizing my arm, began to push
me away. I now knew that the deputation would not be received and that
the old miserable business of refusing to leave, of being forced
backward, and returning again and again until arrested, would have to be
re-enacted. I had to take into account that I was accompanied by two
fragile old ladies, who, brave as they were to be there at all, could
not possibly endure what I knew must follow. I quickly decided that I
should have to force an immediate arrest, so I committed an act of
technical assault on the person of Inspector Jarvis, striking him very
lightly on the cheek. He said instantly, "I understand why you did
that," and I supposed then that we would instantly be taken. But the
other police apparently did not grasp the situation, for they began
pushing and jostling our women. I said to the inspector: "Shall I have
to do it again?" and he said "Yes." So I struck him lightly a second
time, and then he ordered the police to make the arrests.

The matter did not end with the arrest of our deputation of eight women.
In recurring deputations of twelve the Suffragettes again and again
pressed forward in vain endeavour to reach the House of Commons. In
spite of the fact that the crowds were friendly and did everything they
could to aid the women, their deputations were broken up by the police
and many of the women arrested. By nine o'clock Parliament Square was
empty, an enormous force of mounted police having beaten the people back
into Victoria Street and across Westminster Bridge. For a short time all
looked tranquil, but soon little groups of women, seven or eight at a
time, kept appearing mysteriously and making spirited dashes toward the
House. This extraordinary procedure greatly exasperated the police, who
could not unravel the mystery of where the women came from. As a matter
of bygone history the explanation is that the W. S. P. U. had hired
thirty offices in the neighborhood, in the shelter of which the women
waited until it was time for them to sally forth. It was a striking
demonstration of the ingenuity of women opposing the physical force of
men, but it served still another purpose. It diverted the attention of
the police from another demonstration which was going on. Other
Suffragettes had gone to the official residence of the First Lord of the
Admiralty, to the Home Office, the Treasury and Privy Council Offices,
and had registered their contempt for the Government's refusal to
receive the deputation by the time-honoured method of breaking a window
in each place.

One hundred and eight women were arrested that night, but instead of
submitting to arrests and trial, the Women's Social and Political Union
announced that they were prepared to prove that the Government and not
the women had broken the law in refusing to receive the petition. My
case, coupled with that of the Hon. Mrs. Haverfield, was selected as a
test case for all the others, and Lord Robert Cecil was retained for the
defence. Mr. Muskett, who conducted the case for the prosecution, tried
to prove that our women had not gone to the House of Commons to present
a petition, but this was easily demonstrated to be an unwarranted claim.
The speeches of the leader, the official articles published in our
newspaper, _Votes for Women_, and the letters sent to Mr. Asquith, not
to speak of the indisputable facts that every member of the deputation
carried a copy of the petition in her hand, furnished evidence enough of
the nature of our errand. The whole case of the subject's right of
petition was then brought forward for discussion. Mr. Muskett spoke
first, then our council, Mr. Henle, then Lord Robert Cecil. Last of all
I spoke, describing the events of June 29th. I told the magistrate that
should he decide that we and not the Government had been guilty of an
infraction of the law, we should refuse to be bound over, but should all
choose to go to prison. In that case we should not submit to being
treated like criminals. "There are one hundred and eight of us here
to-day," I said, pointing to the benches where my fellow-prisoners sat,
"and just as we have thought it is our duty to defy the police in the
street, so when we get into prison, as we are political prisoners, we
shall do our best to bring back into the twentieth century the treatment
of political prisoners which was thought right in the case of William
Cobbett, and other political offenders of his time."

The magistrate, Sir Albert de Rutzen, an elderly, amiable man, rather
bewildered by this unprecedented situation, then gave his decision. He
agreed with Mr. Henle and Lord Robert Cecil that the right of petition
was clearly guaranteed to every subject, but he thought that when the
women were refused permission to enter the House of Commons, and when
Mr. Asquith had said that he would not receive them, the women acted
wrongly to persist in their demands. He should, therefore, fine them
five pounds each, or sentence them to prison for one month in the second
division. The sentence would be suspended for the present until learned
counsel could obtain a decision from a higher court on the legal point
of the right of petition.

I then put in a claim for all the prisoners, and asked that all their
cases might be held over until the test case was decided, and this was
agreed to, except in regard to fourteen women charged with
window-breaking. They were tried separately and sent to prison on
sentences varying from six weeks to two months. Of them later.

The appeal against Sir Albert de Rutzen's decision was tried in a
Divisional Court early in December of that year. Lord Robert Cecil again
appeared for the defence, and in a masterly piece of argumentation,
contended that in England there was and always had been the right of
petition, and that the right had always been considered a necessary
condition of a free country and a civilised Government. The right of
petition, he pointed out, had three characteristics: In the first place,
it was the right to petition the actual repositories of power; in the
second place, it was the right to petition in person; and in the third
place, the right must be exercised reasonably. A long list of historical
precedents were offered in support of the right to petition in person,
but Lord Robert argued that even if these did not exist, the right was
admitted in the Charles II "Tumultuous Petitions Act," which provides
"That no person or persons whatsoever shall repair to His Majesty or
both or either Houses of Parliament upon pretence of presenting or
delivering any petition, complaint, remonstrance, or declaration or
other address, accompanied with excessive number of people ..." etc. The
Bill of Rights had specially confirmed the right of petition in so far
as the King personally was concerned. "The women," pursued Lord Robert,
"had gone to Parliament Square on June 29th in the exercise of a plain
constitutional right, and that in going there with a petition they had
acted according to the only constitutional method they possessed, being
voteless, for the redress of their grievances."

If then it were true, as contended, the subject not only possessed the
right to petition, but to petition in person, the only point to be
considered was whether the right had been exercised reasonably. If
persons desired to interview the Prime Minister, it was surely
reasonable to go to the House of Commons, and to present themselves at
the Strangers' Entrance. Mrs. Pankhurst, Mrs. Haverfield and the others
had, as the evidence showed, proceeded along the public highway and had
been escorted to the door of the House of Commons by an officer of the
police, and could not therefore, up to that point, have been acting in
an unlawful manner. The police had kept clear a large open space
opposite the House of Commons, the crowd being kept at a certain
distance away. Within the open space there were only persons having
business in the House of Commons, members of the police force and the
eight women who formed the deputation. It could not possibly be
contended that these eight women had caused an obstruction. It was true
that a police officer told them that the Prime Minister was not in the
House of Commons, but when one desired an interview with a Member of
Parliament one did not make his request of a casual policeman in the
street. Moreover, the police did not possess any authority to stop
anyone from going into the House of Commons.

The letter given the women, in which the Prime Minister said that he
could not or would not see them, had been cited. Now, had the Prime
Minister, in his letter, said that he could not or would not see the
women at that time, that the time was not convenient; but that he would
at some future time, at a more convenient time, receive them, that would
have been a sufficient answer. The women would not have been justified
in refusing to accept such an answer, because the right to petition must
be exercised reasonably. But the letter contained an unqualified
refusal, and that, if we allow the right of petition to exist, was no
answer at all. Last of all Lord Robert argued that if there is a right
to petition a Member of Parliament, then it must be incumbent on the
part of a Member of Parliament to receive the petition, and that no one
has a right to interfere with the petitioner. If the eight women were
legally justified in presenting their petition, then they were also
justified in refusing to obey the orders of the police to leave the

In an address full of bias, and revealing plainly that he had no
accurate knowledge of any of the events that had led up to the case in
hand, the Lord Chief Justice delivered judgment. He said that he
entirely agreed with Lord Robert Cecil as to the right to present a
petition to the Prime Minister, either as Prime Minister or as a Member
of Parliament; and he agreed also that petitions to the King should be
presented to the Prime Minister. But the claim of the women, he said,
was not merely to present a petition, but to be received in a
deputation. He did not think it likely that Mr. Asquith would have
refused to receive a petition from the women, but his refusal to receive
the deputation was not unnatural, "in consequence of what we know did
happen on previous occasions."[1]

Referring to the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839, which provides that it
shall be lawful for the Commissioner of Police to make regulations and
to give instructions to the constable for keeping order, and for
preventing any obstruction of thoroughfares in the immediate
neighbourhood of the House of Commons, and the Sessional Order
empowering the police to keep clear the approaches to the House of
Commons, the Lord Chief Justice decided that I and the other women were
guilty of an infraction of the law when we insisted on a right to enter
the House of Commons. The Lord Chief Justice therefore ruled that our
conviction in the lower court had been proper, and our appeal was
dismissed with costs.

Thus was destroyed in England the ancient constitutional right of
petition, secured to the people by the Bill of Rights, and cherished by
uncounted generations of Englishmen. I say the right was destroyed, for
of how much value is a petition which cannot be presented in person? The
decision of the high court was appalling to the members of the
W. S. P. U., as it closed the last approach, by constitutional means, to
our enfranchisement. Far from discouraging or disheartening us, it
simply spurred us on to new and more aggressive forms of militancy.


[1] Mr. Asquith had never, since becoming Prime Minister, received a
deputation of women, nor had he ever received a deputation of the W. S.
P. U. So it was absurd of the Lord Chief Justice to speak of "what did
happen, on previous occasions."


Between the time of the arrest in June and the handing down of the
absurd decision of the Lord Chief Justice that although we, as subjects,
possessed the right of petition, yet we had committed an offence in
exercising that right, nearly six months had passed. In that interval
certain grave developments had lifted the militant movement onto a new
and more heroic plane. It will be remembered that a week before our
deputation to test the Charles II Act, Miss Wallace Dunlop had been sent
to prison for one month for stamping an extract from the Bill of Rights
on the stone walls of St. Stephen's Hall. On arriving at Holloway on
Friday evening, July 2nd, she sent for the Governor and demanded of him
that she be treated as a political offender. The Governor replied that
he had no power to alter the sentence of the magistrate, whereupon Miss
Wallace Dunlop informed him that it was the unalterable resolution of
the Suffragettes never again to submit to the prison treatment given to
ordinary offenders against the law. Therefore she should, if placed in
the second division as a common criminal, refuse to touch food until the
Government yielded her point. It is hardly likely that the Government or
the prison authorities realised the seriousness of Miss Wallace Dunlop's
action, or the heroic mould of the Suffragettes' character. At all
events the Home Secretary paid no attention to the letter sent him by
the prisoner, in which she explained simply but clearly her motives for
her desperate act, and the prison authorities did nothing except seek
means of breaking down her resistance. The ordinary prison diet was
replaced by the most tempting food, and this instead of being brought to
her cell at intervals, was kept there night and day, but always
untouched. Several times daily the doctor came to feel her pulse and
observe her growing weakness. The doctor, as well as the Governor and
the wardresses argued, coaxed and threatened, but without effect. The
week passed without any sign of surrender on the part of the prisoner.
On Friday the doctor reported that she was rapidly reaching a point at
which death might at any time supervene. Hurried conferences were
carried on between the prison and the Home Office, and that evening,
June 8th, Miss Wallace Dunlop was sent home, having served one-fourth of
her sentence, and having ignored completely all the terms of her

On the day of her release the fourteen women who had been convicted of
window breaking received their sentences, and learning of Miss Wallace
Dunlop's act, they, as they were being taken to Holloway in the prison
van, held a consultation and agreed to follow her example. Arrived at
Holloway they at once informed the officials that they would not give up
any of their belongings, neither would they put on prison clothing,
perform prison labour, eat prison food or keep the rule of silence.

The Governor agreed for the moment to allow them to retain their
property and to wear their own clothing, but he told them that they had
committed an act of mutiny and that he would have to so charge them at
the next visit of the magistrates. The women then addressed petitions to
the Home Secretary, demanding that they be given the prison treatment
universally allowed political offenders. They decided to postpone the
hunger strike until the Home Secretary had had time to reply. Meanwhile,
after a vain appeal for more fresh air, for the weather was stiflingly
hot, the women committed one more act of mutiny, they broke the windows
of their cells.

We learned this from the prisoners themselves. Several days after they
had gone to prison, my daughter Christabel and Mrs. Tuke, filled with
anxiety for their fate, gained admission to an upper story room of a
house overlooking the prison. Calling at the top of their voices and
waving a flag of the Union, they succeeded in attracting the prisoners'
attention. The women thrust their arms through the broken panes, waving
handkerchiefs, Votes for Women badges, anything they could get hold of,
and in a few shouted words told their tale. That same day the visiting
magistrates arrived, and the mutineers were sentenced to terms of seven
to ten days of solitary confinement in the punishment cells. In these
frightful cells, dark, unclean, dripping with moisture, the prisoners
resolutely hunger struck. At the end of five days one of the women was
reduced to such a condition that the Home Secretary ordered her
released. The next day several more were released, and before the end
of the week the last of the fourteen had gained their liberty.

The affair excited the greatest sympathy all over England, sympathy
which Mr. Gladstone tried to divert by charging two of the prisoners
with kicking and biting the wardresses. In spite of their vigorous
denials these two women were sentenced, on these charges, one to ten
days and the other to a month in prison. Although still very weak from
the previous hunger strike, they at once entered upon a second hunger
strike, and in three days had to be released.

After this each succeeding batch of Suffragette prisoners, unless
otherwise directed, followed the example of these heroic rebels. The
prison officials, seeing their authority vanish, were panic stricken.
Holloway and other women's prisons throughout the Kingdom became perfect
dens of violence and brutality. Hear the account given by Lucy Burns of
her experience:

"We remained quite still when ordered to undress, and when they told us
to proceed to our cells we linked arms and stood with our backs to the
wall. The Governor blew his whistle and a great crowd of wardresses
appeared, falling upon us, forcing us apart and dragging us towards the
cells. I think I had twelve wardresses for my share, and among them they
managed to trip me so that I fell helplessly to the floor. One of the
wardresses grasped me by my hair, wound the long braid around her wrist
and literally dragged me along the ground. In the cell they fairly
ripped the clothing from my back, forcing on me one coarse cotton
garment and throwing others on the bed for me to put on myself. Left
alone exhausted by the dreadful experience I lay for a time gasping and
shivering on the floor. By and by a wardress came to the door and threw
me a blanket. This I wrapped around me, for I was chilled to the bone by
this time. The single cotton garment and the rough blanket were all the
clothes I wore during my stay in prison. Most of the prisoners refused
everything but the blanket. According to agreement we all broke our
windows and were immediately dragged off to the punishment cells. There
we hunger struck, and after enduring great misery for nearly a week, we
were one by one released."

How simply they tell it. "After enduring great misery--" But no one who
has not gone through the awful experience of the hunger strike can have
any idea of how great that misery is. In an ordinary cell it is great
enough. In the unspeakable squalor of the punishment cells it is worse.
The actual hunger pangs last only about twenty-four hours with most
prisoners. I generally suffer most on the second day. After that there
is no very desperate craving for food. Weakness and mental depression
take its place. Great disturbances of digestion divert the desire for
food to a longing for relief from pain. Often there is intense headache,
with fits of dizziness, or slight delirium. Complete exhaustion and a
feeling of isolation from earth mark the final stages of the ordeal.
Recovery is often protracted, and entire recovery of normal health is
sometimes discouragingly slow.

The first hunger strike occurred in early July. In the two months that
followed scores of women adopted the same form of protest against a
Government who would not recognise the political character of their
offences. In some cases the hunger strikers were treated with unexampled
cruelty. Delicate women were sentenced, not only to solitary
confinement, but to wear handcuffs for twenty-four hours at a stretch.
One woman on refusing prison clothes was put into a straightwaistcoat.

The irony of all this appears the greater when it is considered that, at
this precise time, the leaders of the Liberal Party in the House of
Commons were in the midst of their first campaign against the veto power
of the Lords.

On September 17th a great meeting was held in Birmingham, on which
occasion Mr. Asquith was to throw down his challenge to the Lords, and
to announce that their veto was to be abolished, leaving the people's
will paramount in England. Of course the Suffragettes seized this
opportunity for a demonstration. This course was perfectly logical.
Denied the right of petition, shut out now from every Cabinet Minister's
meeting, the women were forced to take whatever means that remained to
urge their cause upon the Government. Mrs. Mary Leigh and a group of
Birmingham members addressed a warning to the public not to attend Mr.
Asquith's meeting as disturbances were likely to happen. From the time
that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet left the House of Commons until
the train drew in to the station at Birmingham they were completely
surrounded with detectives and policemen. The precautions taken to
guard Mr. Asquith have never been equalled except in the case of the
Tsar during outbreaks of revolution in Russia. From the station he was
taken by an underground passage a quarter of a mile in length to his
hotel, where he dined in solitary state, after having been carried
upstairs in a luggage lift. Escorted to the Bingley Hall by a strong
guard of mounted police, he was so fearful of encountering the
Suffragettes that he entered by a side door. The hall was guarded as for
a siege. Over the glass roof a thick tarpaulin had been stretched. Tall
ladders were placed on either side of the building, and firemen's hose
were laid in readiness--not to extinguish fires, but to play upon the
Suffragettes should they appear at an inaccessible spot on the roof. The
streets on every hand were barricaded, and police, in regiments, were
drawn up to defend the barricades against the onslaughts of the women.
Nobody was allowed to pass the barricades without showing his entrance
tickets to long files of police, and then the ticket holders were
squeezed through the narrow doors one by one.

Their precautions were in vain, for the determined Suffragettes found
more than one way in which to turn Mr. Asquith's triumph into a fiasco.
Although no women gained access to the hall, there were plenty of men
sympathisers present, and before the meeting had proceeded far thirteen
men had been violently thrown out for reminding the Prime Minister that
"the people" whose right to govern he was professing to uphold, included
women as well as men. Outside, mingling in the vast crowds, bands of
women attacked the barricades, the outer barricades being thrown down in
spite of the thousands of police. From the roof of a neighbouring house
Mrs. Leigh and Charlotte Marsh tore up dozens of slates and threw them
on the roof of Bingley Hall and in the streets below, taking care,
however, to strike no one. As Mr. Asquith drove away the women hurled
slates at the guarded motor car. The fire hose was brought forth and the
firemen were ordered to turn the water on the women. They refused, to
their credit be it said, but the police, infuriated by their failure to
keep the peace, did not scruple to play the cold water on the women as
they crouched and clung to the dangerous slope of the roof. Roughs in
the streets flung bricks at them, drawing blood. Eventually the women
were dragged down by the police and in their dripping garments marched
through the streets to the police station.

The Suffragettes who had rushed the barricades and flung stones at Mr.
Asquith's departing train received sentences from a fortnight to one
month, but Miss Marsh and Mrs. Leigh were sent to prison for three and
four months respectively. All of the prisoners adopted the hunger
strike, as we knew they would.

Several days later we were horrified to read in the newspapers that
these prisoners were being forcibly fed by means of a rubber tube thrust
into the stomach. Members of the Union applied at once both at the
prison and at the Home Office to learn the truth of the report, but all
information was refused. On the following Monday at our request, Mr.
Keir Hardie, at question time in the House, insisted on information from
the Government. Mr. Masterman, speaking for the Home Secretary,
reluctantly admitted that, in order to preserve the dignity of the
Government and at the same time save the lives of the prisoners,
"hospital treatment" was being administered. "Hospital treatment" was
the term used to draw attention from one of the most disgusting and
brutal expedients ever resorted to by prison authorities. No law allows
it except in the case of persons certified to be insane, and even then
when the operation is performed by skilled nursing attendants under the
direction of skilled medical men, it cannot be called safe. In fact, the
asylum cases usually die after a short time. _The Lancet_, perhaps the
best known medical journal in the language, published a long list of
opinions from distinguished physicians and surgeons who condemned the
practice as applied to the suffrage prisoners as unworthy of
civilisation. One physician told of a case which had come under his
observation in which death had occurred almost as soon as the tube had
been inserted. Another cited a case where the tongue, twisted behind the
feeding tube, had, in the struggle, been almost bitten off. Cases where
food had been injected into the lungs were not unknown. Mr. C.
Mansell-Moullin, M.D., F.R.C.S., wrote to _The Times_ that as a hospital
surgeon of more than thirty years' experience he desired indignantly to
protest against the Government's term "Hospital treatment" in connection
with the forcible feeding of women. It was a foul libel, he declared,
for violence and brutality have no place in hospitals. A memorial signed
by 116 well-known physicians was addressed to the Prime Minister
protesting against the practice of forcible feeding, and pointing out to
him in detail the grave dangers attaching to it.

So much for medical testimony against a form of brutality which
continued and still continues in our English prisons, as a punishment
for women who are there for consciences' sake. As for the testimony of
the victims, it makes a volume of most revolting sort. Mrs. Leigh, the
first victim, is a woman of sturdy constitution, else she could scarcely
have survived the experience. Thrown into Birmingham prison after the
Asquith demonstration, she had broken the windows of her cell, and as a
punishment was sent to a dark and cold punishment cell. Her hands were
handcuffed, behind her during the day, and at night in front of her body
_with the palms out_. She refused to touch the food that was brought to
her, and three days after her arrival she was taken to the doctor's
room. What she saw was enough to terrify the bravest. In the centre of
the room was a stout chair resting on a cotton sheet. Against the wall,
as if ready for action stood four wardresses. The junior doctor was also
on hand. The senior doctor spoke, saying: "Listen carefully to what I
have to say. I have orders from my superior officers that you are not to
be released even on medical grounds. If you still refrain from food I
must take other measures to compel you to take it." Mrs. Leigh replied
that she did still refuse, and she said further that she knew that she
could not legally be forcibly fed because an operation could not be
performed without the consent of the patient if sane. The doctor
repeated that he had his orders and would carry them out. A number of
wardresses then fell upon Mrs. Leigh, held her down and tilted her chair
backward. She was so taken by surprise that she could not resist
successfully that time. They managed to make her swallow a little food
from a feeding cup. Later two doctors and the wardresses appeared in her
cell, forced Mrs. Leigh down to the bed and held her there. To her
horror the doctors produced a rubber tube, two yards in length, and this
he began to stuff up her nostril. The pain was so dreadful that she
shrieked again and again. Three of the wardresses burst into tears and
the junior doctor begged the other to desist. Having had his orders from
the Government, the doctor persisted and the tube was pushed down into
the stomach. One of the doctors, standing on a chair and holding the
tube high poured liquid food through a funnel almost suffocating the
poor victim. "The drums of my ears," she said afterwards, "seemed to be
bursting. I could feel the pain to the end of the breast bone. When at
last the tube was withdrawn it felt as if the back of my nose and throat
were being torn out with it."

In an almost fainting condition Mrs. Leigh was taken back to the
punishment cell and laid on her plank bed. The ordeal was renewed day
after day. The other prisoners suffered similar experiences.


The militant movement was at this point when, in October, 1909, I made
my first visit to the United States. I shall never forget the excitement
of my landing, the first meeting with the American "reporter," an
experience dreaded by all Europeans. In fact the first few days seemed a
bewildering whirl of reporters and receptions, all leading up to my
first lecture at Carnegie Hall on October 25th. The huge hall was
entirely filled, and an enormous crowd of people thronged the streets
outside for blocks. With me on the stage were several women whom I had
met in Europe, and in the chair was an old friend, Mrs. Stanton Blatch,
whose early married life had been spent in England. The great crowd
before me, however, was made up of strangers, and I could not know how
they would respond to my story. When I rose to speak a deep hush fell,
but at my first words: "I am what you call a hooligan--" a great shout
of warm and sympathetic laughter shook the walls. Then I knew that I had
found friends in America. And this all the rest of the tour
demonstrated. In Boston the committee met me with a big grey automobile
decorated in the colours of our Union, and that night at Tremont Temple
I spoke to an audience of 2,500 people all most generous in their
responsiveness. In Baltimore professors, and students from Johns
Hopkins University acted as stewards of the meeting. I greatly enjoyed
my visit to Bryn Mawr College and to Rosemary Hall, a wonderful school
for girls in Connecticut. In Chicago, I met, among other notable people,
Miss Jane Addams and Mrs. Ella Flagg Young, superintendent of schools.
My visit to Canada will always be remembered, especially Toronto, where
the mayor, dressed in the chains of his office, welcomed me. I met too
the venerable Goldwin Smith, since dead.

Everywhere I found the Americans kind and keen, and I cannot say too
much for the wonderful hospitality they showed me. The women I found
were remarkably interested in social welfare. The work of the women's
clubs struck me very favourably, and I thought these institutions a
perfect basis for a suffrage movement. But at that time, 1909, the
suffrage movement in the United States was in a curious state of
quiescence. A large number of women with whom I came in contact appeared
to think it only just that they should have a vote, but few seemed to
realise any actual need of it. Some, it is true, were beginning to
connect the vote with the reforms for which they were working so
unselfishly and so devotedly. It was when talking with the younger women
that I came to feel that under the surface of things in America, a
strong suffrage movement was stirring. Those young women, leaving their
splendid colleges to begin life were realising in a very intelligent
fashion that they needed and would be obliged to secure for themselves a
political status.

On December 1st I sailed on the _Mauretania_ for England, and on
arriving I learned that the prison sentence which hung over me while the
petitions case had been argued, was discharged, some unknown friend
having paid my fine while I was on the ocean.

The year 1910 began with a general election, precipitated by the House
of Lords' rejection of Mr. Lloyd-George's 1909 budget. The Liberal Party
went to the country with promises of taxes on land values. They promised
also abolition of the veto power of the Lords, Irish Home Rule,
disestablishment of the Church of Wales, and other reforms. Woman
suffrage was not directly promised, but Mr. Asquith pledged that, if
retained in office, he would introduce an electoral reform bill which
could be amended to include woman suffrage. The Unionists under the
leadership of Mr. Balfour, had tariff reform for their programme, and
they offered not even a vague promise of a possible suffrage measure.
Yet we, as usual, went into the constituencies and opposed the Liberal
Party. We had no faith in Mr. Asquith's pledge, and besides, if we had
failed to oppose the party in power we should but have invited Mr.
Asquith and Mr. Balfour to enter into an agreement not to deal with the
suffrage, with the view of keeping the cause permanently outside
practical politics. We were in something of the same position as the
Irish Nationalists in 1885, when neither the Liberal nor the
Conservative leaders would include home rule in their programme. The
Irish opposed the Liberal Party, with the result that it was returned by
such a narrow majority that the Liberal Government was dependent on the
Irish vote in Parliament in order to remain in office. On this account
they were obliged to bring in a Home Rule Bill.

The other suffrage societies and many of the Liberal women begged us not
to oppose the Liberal party at this election. We were implored to waive
our claim "just this once" in view of the importance of the struggle
between the Commons and the House of Lords over the budget. We replied
that the same plea had been made in 1906 when we were implored to waive
our claim "just this once" on account of the fiscal issue. For women
there was only one political issue, we said, and that was the issue of
their own enfranchisement. The dispute between the Lords and the Commons
was far less vital than the claims of the people--represented in this
case by women--to be admitted to citizenship. From our point of view
both Houses of Parliament were unrepresentative until women had a voice
in choosing legislators and influencing law making.

We opposed Liberal candidates in forty constituencies, and in almost
every one of these the Liberal majorities were reduced and no less than
eighteen seats were wrested from the Liberal candidates. It really was a
terrible election for the Government. Mr. Asquith travelled from one
constituency to another accompanied by a body guard of detectives, and
official "chuckers out," whose sole duty was to eject women, and men as
well, who interrupted his meetings on the question of Votes for Women.
The halls where he spoke had the windows boarded up or the glass covered
with strong wire netting. Every thoroughfare leading to the halls was
barricaded, traffic was suspended, and large forces of police were on
guard. The most extraordinary precautions were taken to protect the
Prime Minister. At one place he went to his meeting strongly guarded and
by way of a secret pathway that led through gooseberry bushes and a
cabbage patch to a back door. After the meeting he escaped through the
same door and was solemnly guided along a path heavily laid with sawdust
to deaden his footsteps, to a concealed motor car, where he sat until
the crowd had all dispersed.

The other ministers had to resort to similar precautions. They lived
under the constant protection of body-guards. Their meetings were
policed in a manner without precedent. Of course no women were admitted
to their meetings, but they got in just the same. Two women hid for
twenty-five hours in the rafters of a hall in Louth where Mr.
Lloyd-George spoke. They were arrested, but not until after they had
made their demonstration. Two others hid under a platform for twenty-two
hours in order to question the Prime Minister. I could continue this
record almost indefinitely.

We had printed a wonderful poster showing the process of forcible
feeding, and we used it on hoardings everywhere. We told the electors
that the "Liberal Party," the people's friend, had imprisoned 450 women
for the crime of asking for a vote. They were torturing women at that
time in Holloway. It was splendid ammunition and it told. The Liberal
Party was returned to power, but with their majority over all sections
of the House of Commons swept away. The Asquith Government were
dependent now for their very existence on the votes of the Labour Party
and the Irish Nationalists.


The first months of 1910 were occupied by the re-elected Government in a
struggle to keep control of affairs. A coalition with the Irish party,
the leaders of which agreed, if the Home Rule bill were advanced, to
stand by the budget. No publicly announced coalition with the Labour
Party was made at that time, Keir Hardie, at the annual conference of
the party, announcing that they would continue to be independent of the
Government. This was important to us because it meant that the Labour
Party, instead of entering into an agreement to give general support to
all Government measures, would be free to oppose the Government in the
event of the continued withholding of a franchise bill. Other things
combined to make us hopeful that the tide had turned in our favour. It
was hinted to us that the Government were weary of our opposition and
were ready to end the struggle in the only possible way, providing they
could do so without appearing to yield to coercion. We therefore, early
in February, declared a truce to all militancy.

Parliament met on February 15th and the King's speech was read on
February 21st. No mention of women's suffrage was made in the speech nor
was any private member successful in winning a place in the ballot for a
suffrage bill. However, since the situation, on account of the proposed
abolition of the Lord's power of veto, was strained and abnormal, we
decided to wait patiently for a while. It was confidently expected that
another general election would have to be held before the contentions
between the two Houses of Parliament were settled, and this event
unquestionably would have occurred, not later than June, but for the
unexpected death of King Edward VII. This interrupted the strained
situation. The passing of the King served as an occasion for the
temporary softening of animosities and produced a general disposition to
compromise on all troubled issues. The question of women's
enfranchisement was taken up again in this spirit, and in a manner
altogether creditable to the members with whom the movement originated.

A strictly non-party committee on women's suffrage had been established
in the House of Commons in 1887, mainly through the efforts of Miss
Lydia Becker, whom I have mentioned before as the Susan B. Anthony of
the English suffrage movement. In 1906, for reasons not necessary to
enumerate, the original committee had been allowed to lapse, the Liberal
supporters of women's suffrage forming a committee of their own. Now, in
this period of good feeling, at the suggestion of certain members, led
by Mr. H. N. Brailsford, not himself a member of Parliament, formed
another non-party body which they called the Conciliation Committee. Its
object was declared to be the bringing together of the full strength of
suffragists of the House of Commons, regardless of party affiliation,
and of framing a suffrage measure that could be passed by their united
effort. The Earl of Lytton accepted the chairmanship of the committee
and Mr. Brailsford was made its secretary. The committee consisted of
twenty-five Liberals, seventeen Conservatives, six Irish Nationalists,
and six members of the Labour Party. Under difficulties which I can
hardly hope to make clear to American readers the committee laboured to
frame a bill which should win the support of all sections of the House.
The Conservatives insisted on a moderate bill, whilst the Liberals were
concerned lest the terms of the bill should add to the power of the
propertied classes. The original suffrage bill, drafted by my husband.
Dr. Pankhurst, giving the vote to women on equal terms with men, was
abandoned, and a bill was drawn up along the lines of the existing
municipal franchise law. The basis of the municipal franchise is
occupation, and the Conciliation Bill, as first drafted, proposed to
extend the Parliamentary vote to women householders, and to women
occupiers of business premises paying ten pounds rental and upwards. It
was estimated that about ninety-five per cent. of the women who would be
enfranchised under the bill were householders. This, in England, does
not mean a person occupying a whole house. Any one who inhabits even a
single room over which he or she exercises full control is a

The text of the Conciliation Bill was submitted to all the suffrage
societies and other women's organisations, and it was accepted by every
one of them. Our official newspaper said editorially: "We of the Women's
Social and Political Union are prepared to share in this united and
peaceful action. The new bill does not give us all that we want, but we
are for it if others are also for it."

It seemed certain that an overwhelming majority of the House of Commons
were for the bill, and were prepared to vote it into law. Although we
knew that it could not possibly pass unless the Government agreed that
it should, we hoped that the leaders of all parties and the majority of
their followers would unite in an agreement that the bill should pass.
This settlement by consent is rare in the English Parliament, but some
extremely important and hard fought measures have been carried thus. The
extension of the franchise in 1867 is a case in point.

The Conciliation Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on June
14th, 1910, by Mr. D. J. Shackleton, and was received with the most
extraordinary enthusiasm. The newspapers remarked on the feeling of
reality which marked the attitude of the House towards the bill. It was
plain that the members realised that here was no academic question upon
which they were merely to debate and to register their opinions, but a
measure which was intended to be carried through all its stages and to
be written into English law. The enthusiasm of the House swept all over
the Kingdom. The medical profession sent in a memorial in its favour,
signed by more than three hundred of the most distinguished men and
women in the profession. Memorials from writers, clergymen, social
workers, artists, actors, musicians, were also sent. The Women's Liberal
Federation met and unanimously resolved to ask the Prime Minister to
give full facilities to the bill. Some advanced spirits in the
Federation actually proposed to send then and there a deputation to the
House of Commons with the resolution, but this proposal was rejected as
savouring too much of militancy. A request for an interview was sent to
Mr. Asquith, and he replied promising to receive, at an early day,
representatives of both the Liberal Women's Federation and of the
National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies.

The joint deputation was received by Mr. Asquith on June 21st, and Lady
M'Laren, as a representative of the Women's Liberal Federation, spoke
very directly to her party's leader. She said in part: "If you refuse
our request we shall have to go to the country and say you, who are
against the veto of the House of Lords, are placing a veto on the House
of Commons by refusing to allow a second reading of this bill."

Mr. Asquith replied warily that he could not decide alone on such a
serious matter, but would have to consult his Cabinet, the majority of
whom, he admitted, were suffragists. Their decision, he said, would be
given in the House of Commons.

1910 PARADE]

The Women's Social and Political Union arranged a demonstration in
support of the Conciliation Bill, the greatest that had, up to that
time, been made. It was a national, indeed an inter-national affair in
which all the suffrage groups took part, and its massed ranks were so
great that the procession required an hour and a half to pass a given
point. At the head marched six hundred and seventeen women, white clad
and holding long silver staves tipped with the broad arrow. These were
the women who had suffered imprisonment for the cause, and all along the
line of march they received a tribute of cheers from the public. The
immense Albert Hall, the largest hall in England, although it was packed
from orchestra to the highest gallery, was not large enough to hold all
the marchers. Amid great joy and enthusiasm Lord Lytton delivered a
stirring address in which he confidently predicted the speedy advance of
the bill. The women, he declared, had every reason to believe that their
enfranchisement was actually at hand.

It was true that the time for passing a suffrage bill was ripe. Not in
fifty years had the way been so clear, because the momentary absence of
ordinary legislation left the field open for an electoral reform bill.
Yet when the Prime Minister was asked in the House of Commons whether he
would give the members an early opportunity for discussion, the answer
was not encouraging. The Government, said Mr. Asquith, were prepared to
give time before the close of the session for full debate and division
on second reading, but they could not allow any further facilities. He
stated frankly that he personally did not want the bill to pass, but the
Government realised that the House of Commons ought to have an
opportunity, if that was their deliberate desire, for effectively
dealing with the whole question.

This cryptic utterance was taken by the majority of the suffragists, by
the press and by the public generally to mean that the Government were
preparing gracefully to yield to the undoubted desire of the House of
Commons to pass the bill. But the Women's Social and Political Union
were doubtful. Mr. Asquith's remark was ambiguous, and was capable of
being interpreted in several ways. It could mean that he was prepared to
accept the verdict of the majority and let the bill pass through all its
stages. That of course would be the only way to allow the House
opportunity effectively to deal with the whole question. On the other
hand Mr. Asquith might be intending to let the bill pass through its
debating stages and be afterwards smothered in committee. We feared
treachery, but in view of the announcement that the Government had set
apart July 11 and 12 for debate on the second reading, we preserved a
spirit of waiting calm. July 26th had been fixed as the day for the
adjournment of Parliament, and if the bill was voted on favourably on
the 12th there would be ample time to take it through its final stages.
When a bill passes its second reading it is normally sent upstairs to a
Grand Committee which sits while the House of Commons is transacting
other business, and thus the committee stage can proceed without special
facilities. The bill does not go back to the House until the report
stage is reached, at which time the third and last reading occurs. After
that the bill goes to the House of Lords. A week at most is all that is
required for this procedure. A bill may be referred to the Whole House,
and in this case it cannot be brought up for its committee stage unless
it is given special facilities. In our paper and in many public
speeches we urged that the members vote to send the bill to a Grand

Some days before the bill reached its second reading it was rumoured
that Mr. Lloyd-George was going to speak against it, but we refused to
credit this. Unfair to women as Mr. Lloyd-George had shown himself in
various ways, he had consistently posed as a staunch friend of women's
suffrage, and we could not believe that he would turn against us at the
eleventh hour. Mr. Winston Churchill, whose speech to the women of
Dundee I quoted in a previous chapter, the promoters of the Bill also
counted upon, as it was known that he had more than once expressed
sympathy with its objects. But when the debates began we found both of
these ardent suffragists arrayed against the bill. Mr. Churchill, after
making a conventional anti-suffrage speech, in which he said that women
did not need the ballot, and that they really had no grievances,
attacked the Conciliation Bill because the class of women who would be
enfranchised under it did not suit him. Some women, he conceded, ought
to be enfranchised, and he thought the best plan would be to select
"some of the best women of all classes" on considerations of property,
education and earning capacity. These special franchises would be
carefully balanced, "so as not on the whole to give undue advantage to
the property vote against the wage earning vote." A more fantastic
proposal and one less likely to find favour in the House of Commons
could not possibly be imagined. Mr. Churchill's second objection to the
bill was that it was anti-democratic! It seemed to us that anything was
more democratic than his proposed "fancy" franchises.

Mr. Lloyd-George said that he agreed with everything Mr. Churchill had
said "both relevant and irrelevant." He made the amazing assertion that
the Conciliation Committee that had drafted the bill was a "committee of
women meeting outside the House." And that this committee said to the
House of Commons not only that they must vote for a women's suffrage
bill but "You must vote for the particular form upon which we agree, and
we will not even allow you to deliberate upon any other form."

Of course these statements were wholly false. The Conciliation Bill was
drafted by men, and it was introduced because the Government had refused
to bring in a party measure. The suffragists would have been only too
glad to have had the Government deliberate on a broader form of
suffrage. Because they refused to deliberate on any form, this private
bill was introduced.

This fact was brought forward in the course of Mr. Lloyd-George's
speech. It had been urged, said he, that this bill was better than none
at all, but why should that be the alternative? "What is the other?"
called out a member, but Mr. Lloyd-George dodged the question with a
careless "Well, I cannot say for the present."

Later on he said: "If the promoters of this bill say that they regard
the second reading merely as an affirmation of the principle of women's
suffrage, and if they promise that when they re-introduce the bill it
will be in a form which will enable the House of Commons to move any
amendment either for restriction or extension I shall be happy to vote
for this bill."

Mr. Philip Snowden, replying to this, said: "We will withdraw this bill
if the Right Honourable gentleman, on behalf of the Government, or the
Prime Minister himself will undertake to give to this House the
opportunity of discussing and carrying through its various stages
another form of franchise bill. If we cannot get that, then we shall
prosecute this bill."

The Government made no reply at all to this, and the debate proceeded.
Thirty-nine speeches were made, the Prime Minister showing plainly in
his speech that he intended to use all his power to prevent the bill
becoming law. He began by saying that a franchise measure ought never to
be sent to a Grand Committee, but to one of the Whole House. He said
also that his conditions, that the majority of women should show beyond
any doubt that they desired the franchise, and that the bill be
democratic in its terms, had not been complied with.

When the division was taken it was seen that the Conciliation Bill had
passed its second reading by a majority of 109, a larger majority than
the Government's far famed budget or the House of Lords Resolution had
received. In fact no measure during that Parliament had received so
great a majority--299 members voted for it as against 190 opposed. Then
the question arose as to which committee should deal with the bill. Mr.
Asquith had said that all franchise bills should go to a Committee of
the Whole House, so that in the division his words moved many sincere
friends of the bill to send it there. Others understood that this was a
mischievous course, but were afraid of incurring the anger of the Prime
Minister. Of course all the anti-suffragists voted the same way, and
thus the bill went to the Whole House.

Even then the bill could have been advanced to its final reading. The
House had time on their hands, as virtually all important legislative
work was halted because of the deadlock between the Lords and the
Commons. Following the death of the King a conference of leaders of the
Conservative and the Liberal Parties had been arranged to adjust the
matters at issue, and this conference had not yet reported. Hence
Parliament had little business on hand. The strongest possible pressure
was brought to bear upon the Government to give facilities to the
Conciliation Bill. A number of meetings were held in support of the
bill. The Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement, the Men's
League for Women's Suffrage and the Conciliation Committee held a joint
meeting in Hyde Park. Some of the old school of suffragists held another
large meeting in Trafalgar Square. The Women's Social and Political
Union, on July 23rd, which was the anniversary of the day in 1867 on
which working men, agitating for their vote, had pulled down the Hyde
Park railings, held another enormous demonstration there. A space of
half a square mile was cleared, forty platforms erected, and two great
processions marched from east and west to the meeting. Many other
suffrage societies co-operated with us on this occasion. On the very
day of that meeting Mr. Asquith wrote to Lord Lytton refusing to allow
any more time for the bill during that session.

Those who still had faith that the Government could be induced to do
justice to women set their hopes on the autumn session of Parliament.
Resolutions urging the Government to give the bill facilities during the
autumn were sent, not only by the suffrage associations but from many
organisations of men. The Corporations of thirty-eight cities, including
Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin and Cork, sent resolutions to
this effect. Cabinet Ministers were besieged with requests to receive
deputations of women, and since the country was on the verge of a
general election, and the Liberal Party wanted the services of women,
their requests could not altogether be ignored. Mr. Asquith, early in
October, received a deputation of women from his own constituency of
East Fife, but all he had to tell them was that the bill could not be
advanced that year. "What about next year?" They asked, and he replied
shortly: "Wait and see."

It had been exceedingly difficult, during these troublous days, to hold
all the members of the W. S. P. U. to the truce, and when it became
perfectly apparent that the Conciliation Bill was doomed, war was again
declared. At a great meeting held in Albert Hall on November 10th, I
myself threw down the gage of battle. I said, because I wanted the whole
matter to be clearly understood by the public as well as by our members:
"This is the last constitutional effort of the Women's Social and
Political Union to secure the passage of the bill into law. If the Bill,
in spite of our efforts, is killed by the Government, then first of all,
I have to say there is an end of the truce. If we are met by the
statement that there is no power to secure on the floor of the House of
Commons time for our measure, then our first step is to say, 'We take it
out of your hands, since you fail to help us, and we resume the
direction of the campaign ourselves.'"

Another deputation, I declared, must go to the House of Commons to carry
a petition to the Prime Minister. I myself would lead, and if no one
cared to follow me I would go alone. Instantly, all over the hall, women
sprang to their feet crying out, "Mrs. Pankhurst, I will go with you!"
"I will go!" "I will go!" And I knew that our brave women were as ever
ready to give themselves, their very lives, if need be, for the cause of

The autumn session convened on Friday, November 18th, and Mr. Asquith
announced that Parliament would be adjourned on November 28th. While his
speech was in progress, 450 women, in small groups, to keep within the
strict letter of the law, were marching from Caxton Hall and from the
headquarters of the Union.


_November, 1910_]

How to tell the story of that dreadful day, Black Friday, as it lives in
our memory--how to describe what happened to English women at the behest
of an English Government, is a difficult task. I will try to tell it as
simply and as accurately as possible. The plain facts, baldly stated, I
am aware will strain credulity.

Remember that the country was on the eve of a general election, and that
the Liberal Party needed the help of Liberal women. This fact made the
wholesale arrest and imprisonment of great numbers of women, who were
demanding the passage of the Conciliation Bill, extremely undesirable
from the Government's point of view. The Women's Liberal Federations
also wanted the passage of the Conciliation Bill, although they were not
ready to fight for it. What the Government feared, was that the Liberal
women would be stirred by our sufferings into refraining from doing
election work for the party. So the Government conceived a plan whereby
the Suffragettes were to be punished, were to be turned back and
defeated in their purpose of reaching the House, but would not be
arrested. Orders were evidently given that the police were to be present
in the streets, and that the women were to be thrown from one uniformed
or ununiformed policeman to another, that they were to be so rudely
treated that sheer terror would cause them to turn back. I say orders
were given and as one proof of this I can first point out that on all
previous occasions the police had first tried to turn back the
deputations and when the women persisted in going forward, had arrested
them. At times individual policemen had behaved with cruelty and malice
toward us, but never anything like the unanimous and wholesale brutality
that was shown on Black Friday.

The Government very likely hoped that the violence of the police
towards the women would be emulated by the crowds, but instead the
crowds proved remarkably friendly. They pushed and struggled to make a
clear pathway for us, and in spite of the efforts of the police my small
deputation actually succeeded in reaching the door of the Strangers'
Entrance. We mounted the steps to the enthusiastic cheers of the
multitudes that filled the streets, and we stood there for hours gazing
down on a scene which I hope never to look upon again.

At intervals of two or three minutes small groups of women appeared in
the square, trying to join us at the Strangers' Entrance. They carried
little banners inscribed with various mottoes, "Asquith Has Vetoed Our
Bill," "Where There's a Bill There's a Way," "Women's Will Beats
Asquith's Won't," and the like. These banners the police seized and tore
in pieces. Then they laid hands on the women and literally threw them
from one man to another. Some of the police used their fists, striking
the women in their faces, their breasts, their shoulders. One woman I
saw thrown down with violence three or four times in rapid succession,
until at last she lay only half conscious against the curb, and in a
serious condition was carried away by kindly strangers. Every moment the
struggle grew fiercer, as more and more women arrived on the scene.
Women, many of them eminent in art, in medicine and science, women of
European reputation, subjected to treatment that would not have been
meted out to criminals, and all for the offence of insisting upon the
right of peaceful petition.


_November, 1910_]

This struggle lasted for about an hour, more and more women successfully
pushing their way past the police and gaining the steps of the House.
Then the mounted police were summoned to turn the women back. But,
desperately determined, the women, fearing not the hoofs of the horses
or the crushing violence of the police, did not swerve from their
purpose. And now the crowds began to murmur. People began to demand why
the women were being knocked about; why, if they were breaking the law,
they were not arrested; why, if they were not breaking the law, they
were not permitted to go on unmolested. For a long time, nearly five
hours, the police continued to hustle and beat the women, the crowds
becoming more and more turbulent in their defence. Then, at last the
police were obliged to make arrests. One hundred and fifteen women and
four men, most of them bruised and choked and otherwise injured, were

While all this was going on outside the House of Commons, the Prime
Minister was obstinately refusing to listen to the counsels of some of
the saner and more justice-loving members of the House. Keir Hardie, Sir
Alfred Mondell and others urged Mr. Asquith to receive the deputation,
and Lord Castlereagh went so far as to move as an amendment to a
Government proposal, another proposal which would have compelled the
Government to provide immediate facilities to the Conciliation Bill. We
heard of what was going on, and I sent in for one and another friendly
member and made every possible effort to influence them in favour of
Lord Castlereagh's amendment. I pointed to the brutal struggle that was
going on in the square, and I begged them to go back and tell the others
that it must be stopped. But, distressed as some of them undoubtedly
were, they assured me that there was not the slightest chance for the

"Is there not a single _man_ in the House of Commons," I cried, "one who
will stand up for us, who will make the House see that the amendment
must go forward?"

Well, perhaps there were men there, but all save fifty-two put their
party loyalty before their manhood, and, because Lord Castlereagh's
proposal would have meant censure of the Government, they refused to
support it. This did not happen, however, until Mr. Asquith had resorted
to his usual crafty device of a promise of future action. In this
instance he promised to make a statement on behalf of the Government on
the following Tuesday.

The next morning the suffrage prisoners were arraigned in police court.
Or rather, they were kept waiting outside the court room while Mr.
Muskett, who prosecuted on behalf of the Chief Commissioner of Police,
explained to the astounded magistrate that he had received orders from
the Home Secretary that the prisoners should all be discharged. Mr.
Churchill it was declared, had had the matter under careful
consideration, and had decided that "no public advantage would be gained
by proceeding with the prosecution, and accordingly no evidence would
be given against the prisoners."

Subdued laughter and, according to the newspapers, some contemptuous
booing were raised in the court, and when order was restored the
prisoners were brought in in batches and told that they were discharged.

On the following Tuesday the W. S. P. U. held another meeting of the
Women's Parliament in Caxton Hall to hear the news from the House of
Commons. Mr. Asquith said: "The Government will, if they are still in
power, give facilities in the next Parliament for effectively proceeding
with a franchise bill which is so framed as to admit of free amendment."
He would not promise that this would be done during the first year of

We had demanded facilities for the Conciliation Bill, and Mr. Asquith's
promise was too vague and too ambiguous to please us. The Parliament now
about to be dissolved had lasted a scant ten months. The next one might
not last longer. Therefore, Mr. Asquith's promise, as usual, meant
nothing at all. I said to the women, "I am going to Downing Street. Come
along, all of you." And we went.

We found a small force of police in Downing Street, and we easily broke
through their line and would have invaded the Prime Minister's residence
had not reinforcements of police arrived on the scene. Mr. Asquith
himself appeared unexpectedly, and as we thought, very opportunely.
Before he could have realised what was happening he found himself
surrounded by angry Suffragettes. He was well hooted and, it is said,
well shaken, before he was rescued by the police. As his taxicab rushed
away some object struck one of the windows, smashing it.

Another Cabinet Minister, Mr. Birrell, unwittingly got into the midst of
the mêlée, and I am obliged to record that he was pretty thoroughly
hustled. But it is not true that his leg was injured by the women. His
haste to jump into a taxicab resulted in a slightly sprained ankle.

That night and the following day windows were broken in the houses of
Sir Edward Grey, Mr. Winston Churchill, Mr. Lewis Harcourt and Mr. John
Burns; and also in the official residences of the Premier and the
Chancellor of the Exchequer.

That week 160 Suffragettes were arrested, but all except those charged
with window-breaking or assault were discharged. This amazing court
action established two things: First, that when the Home Secretary
stated that he had no responsibility for the prosecution and sentencing
of Suffrage prisoners, he told a colossal falsehood; and second, that
the Government fully realised that it was bad election tactics to be
responsible for the imprisonment of women of good character who were
struggling for citizenship.


Almost immediately after the events chronicled in the preceding chapter
I sailed for my second tour through the United States. I was delighted
to find a thoroughly alive and progressive suffrage movement, where
before had existed with most people only an academic theory in favour of
equal political rights between men and women. My first meeting, held in
Brooklyn, was advertised by sandwich women walking through the principal
streets of the city, quite like our militant suffragists at home. Street
meetings, I found, were now daily occurrences in New York. The Women's
Political Union had adopted an election policy, and throughout the
country as far west as I travelled, I found women awakened to the
necessity of political action instead of mere discussion of suffrage.

My second visit to America, like my first one, is clouded in my memory
with sorrow. Very soon after my return to England a beloved sister, Mrs.
Mary Clarke died. My sister, who was a most ardent suffragist and a
valued worker in the Women's Social and Political Union, was one of the
women who was shockingly maltreated in Parliament Square on Black
Friday. She was also one of the women who, a few days later, registered
their protest against the Government by throwing a stone through the
window of an official residence. For this act she was sent to Holloway
prison for a term of one month. Released on December 21st, it was plain
to those who knew her best that her health had suffered seriously from
the dreadful experience of Black Friday and the after experience of
prison. She died suddenly on Christmas day, to the profound sorrow of
all her associates. Hers was not the only life that was sacrificed as a
result of that day. Other deaths occurred, mostly from hearts weakened
by overstrain. Miss Henria Williams died on January 2nd, 1911, from
heart failure. Miss Cecelia Wolseley Haig was another victim. Ill
treatment on Black Friday resulted in her case in a painful illness
which ended, after a year of intense suffering, in her death on December
21st, 1911.

It is not possible to publish a full list of all the women who have died
or have been injured for life in the course of the suffrage agitation in
England. In many cases the details have never been made public, and I do
not feel at liberty to record them here. A very celebrated case, which
is public property, is that of Lady Constance Lytton, sister of the Earl
of Lytton, who acted as chairman of the Conciliation Committee. Lady
Constance had twice in 1909 gone to prison as a result of suffrage
activities, and on both occasions had been given special privileges on
account of her rank and family influence. In spite of her protests and
her earnest pleadings to be accorded the same treatment as other
suffrage prisoners, the snobbish and cowardly authorities insisted in
retaining Lady Constance in the hospital cells and discharging her
before the expiration of her sentence. This was done on a plea of her
ill health, and it was true that she suffered from a valvular disease of
the heart.


_November, 1910_]

Smarting under the sense of the injustice done her comrades in this
discrimination, Lady Constance Lytton did one of the most heroic deeds
to be recorded in the history of the suffrage movement. She cut off her
beautiful hair and otherwise disguised herself, put on cheap and ugly
clothing, and as "Jane Warton" took part in a demonstration at
Newcastle, again suffering arrest and imprisonment. This time the
authorities treated her as an ordinary prisoner. Without testing her
heart or otherwise giving her an adequate medical examination, they
subjected her to the horrors of forcible feeding. Owing to her fragile
constitution she suffered frightful nausea each time, and when on one
occasion the doctor's clothing was soiled, he struck her contemptuously
on the cheek. This treatment was continued until the identity of the
prisoner suddenly became known. She was, of course, immediately
released, but she never recovered from the experience, and is now a
hopeless invalid.[2]

I want to say right here, that those well-meaning friends on the outside
who say that we have suffered these horrors of prison, of hunger strikes
and forcible feeding, because we desired to martyrise ourselves for the
cause, are absolutely and entirely mistaken. We never went to prison in
order to be martyrs. We went there in order that we might obtain the
rights of citizenship. We were willing to break laws that we might force
men to give us the right to make laws. That is the way men have earned
their citizenship. Truly says Mazzini that the way to reform has always
led through prison.

The result of the general election, which took place in January, 1911,
was that the Liberal Party was again returned to power. Parliament met
on January 31st, but the session formally opened on February 6th with
the reading of the King's speech. The programme for the session included
the Lords' veto measure, Home Rule, payment for members of Parliament,
and the abolishment of plural voting. Invalid insurance was also
mentioned and certain amendments to the old age pension bill. Women's
suffrage was not mentioned. Nevertheless, we were singularly lucky, the
first three places in the ballot being secured by members of the
Conciliation Committee. Mr. Philips, an Irish member, drew the first
place, but as the Irish party had decided not to introduce any bills
that session, he yielded to Sir George Kemp, who announced that he would
use his place for the purpose of taking a second reading debate on the
new Conciliation Bill. The old bill had been entitled: "A Bill to give
the Vote to Women Occupiers," a title that made amendment difficult. The
new bill bore the more flexible title, "A Bill to Confer the
Parliamentary Franchise on Women," thus doing away with one of Mr.
Lloyd-George's most plausible objections to it. The £10 occupation
clause was omitted, doing away with another objection, that of the
possibility of "faggot voting," that is, of a rich man conferring the
vote on a family of daughters by the simple expedient of making them
tenants of slices of his own property. The Conciliation Bill now read:
"1. Every woman possessed of a household qualification within the
meaning of the Representation of the People Act (1884) shall be entitled
to be registered as a voter, and when registered to vote in the county
or borough in which the qualifying premises are situated.

"2. For the purposes of this Act a woman shall not be disqualified by
marriage for being registered as a voter, provided that a husband and
wife shall not both be registered as voters in the same Parliamentary
borough or county division."

This bill met with even warmer approval than the first one, because it
was believed that it would win votes from those members who felt that
the original measure had fallen short of being truly democratic.
Nevertheless, the Prime Minister showed from the first that he intended
to oppose it, as he had all previous suffrage measures. He announced
that all Fridays up to Easter and also all time on Tuesdays and
Wednesdays usually allowed for private members' bills were to be
occupied with consideration of Government measures. Hardly a Liberal
voice was raised against this arbitrary ruling. The Irish members indeed
were delighted with it, since it gave the Home Rule Bill an advantage.
The Labour members seemed complacent, and the rest of the coalition were
indifferent. One back bench Liberal went so far as to rise and thank the
Prime Minister for the courtesy with which the gagging process was
accomplished. There was some show of fight made by the Opposition, but
Conservative indignation was tempered by the reflection that the
precedent established might be followed to advantage when their party
came into power.

Sir George Kemp then announced that he would take May 5th for the second
reading of the Conciliation Bill, and the supporters of the bill,
according to their various convictions, set to work to further its
interests. The conviction of the W. S. P. U. was that Mr. Asquith's
Government would never allow the bill to pass until they were actually
forced to do so, and we adopted our own methods to secure a definite
pledge from the Government that they would give facilities to the bill.

In April of that year the census was to be taken, and we organised a
census resistance on the part of women. According to our law the census
of the entire kingdom must be taken every ten years on a designated day.
Our plan was to reduce the value of the census for statistical purposes
by refusing to make the required returns. Two ways of resistance
presented themselves. The first and most important was direct resistance
by occupiers who should refuse to fill in the census papers. This laid
the register open to a fine of £5 or a month's imprisonment, and thus
required the exercise of considerable courage. The second means of
resistance was evasion--staying away from home during the entire time
that the enumerators were taking the census. We made the announcement of
this plan and instantly there ensued a splendid response from women and
a chorus of horrified disapproval from the conservative public. The
_Times_ voiced this disapproval in a leading article, to which I
replied, giving our reasons for the protest. "The Census," I wrote, "is
a numbering of the people. Until women count as people for the purpose
of representation in the councils of the nation as well as for purposes
of taxation, we shall refuse to be numbered."

On the subject of laws made by men--without the assistance of women--for
the protection of women and children, I have a very special feeling.
From my experience as poor law guardian and as Registrar of Births and
Deaths, I know how ridiculously, say rather how tragically, these laws
fall short of protection. Take for instance the vaunted "Children's
Charter" of 1906, the measure which spread Mr. Lloyd-George's fame
throughout the world. A volume could be filled with the mistakes and the
cruelties of that Act, the object of which is the preservation and
improvement of child life. A distinguishing characteristic of the Act is
that it puts most of the responsibility for neglect of children on the
backs of the mothers, who, under the laws of England, have no rights as
parents. Two or three especially striking cases of this kind came into
notice about this time, and gave the census resistance an additional

The case of Annie Woolmore was a very pitiful one. She was arrested and
sentenced to Holloway for six weeks for neglecting her children. The
evidence showed that the woman lived with her husband and children in a
miserable hovel, which would have been almost impossible to keep clean
even if there had been water in the house. As it was the poor soul, who
was in ill health and weakened by deprivation, had to carry all the
water she used across a great distance. The children as well as the
house were very dirty, it was true, but the children were well nourished
and kindly treated. The husband, a labourer, out of work much of the
time, testified that his wife "starved herself to feed the kids." Yet
she had violated the terms of the "Children's Charter" and she went to
prison. I am glad to say that owing to the efforts of suffragists she
was pardoned and provided with a better home.

Another case was that of Helen Conroy, who was charged with living in
one wretched room, with her husband and seven children, the youngest a
month old. According to the law the mother was forbidden to have this
infant in bed with her overnight, yet part of the charge against her was
that the child was found sleeping in a box of damp straw. Doubtless she
would have preferred a cradle, or even a box of dry straw. But direst
poverty made the cradle impossible and the conditions of the tenement
kept the straw damp. Both parents in this instance were sent to prison
for three months at hard labour. The magistrate casually remarked that
the house in which these poor people lived had been condemned two years
before, but some respectable property owner was still collecting rents
from it.

Another poor mother, evicted from her home because she could not pay the
rent, took her four children out into the open country, and when found
was sleeping with them in a gravel pit. She was sent to prison for a
month and the children went to the workhouse.

These sorry mothers, logical results of the subjection of women, are
enough in themselves to justify almost any defiance of a Government who
deny the women the right to work out their destinies in freedom. No
pledge having been secured from the Prime Minister by April 1st, we
carried out, and most successfully, our census resistance. Many
thousands of women all over the country refused or evaded the returns. I
returned my census paper with the words "No vote no census" written
across it, and other women followed that example with similar messages.
One woman filled in the blank with full information about her one man
servant, and added that there were many women but no more persons in her
household. In Birmingham sixteen women of wealth packed their houses
with women resisters. They slept on the floors, on chairs and tables,
and even in the baths. The head of a large college threw open the
building to 300 women. Many women in other cities held all night parties
for friends who wished to remain away from home. In some places
unoccupied houses were rented for the night by resisters, who lay on the
bare boards. Some groups of women hired gipsy vans and spent the night
on the moors.

In London we gave a great concert at Queen's Hall on Census night. Many
of us walked about Trafalgar Square until midnight and then repaired to
Aldwich skating rink, where we amused ourselves until morning. Some
skated while others looked on, and enjoyed the admirable musical and
theatrical entertainment that helped to pass the hours. We had with us a
number of the brightest stars in the theatrical world, and they were
generous in their contributions. It being Sunday night, the chairman had
to call on each of the artists for a "speech" instead of a song or other
turn. An all-night restaurant near at hand did a big business, and on
the whole the resisters had a very good time. The Scala Theatre was the
scene of another all-night entertainment.

There was a good deal of curiosity to see what the Government would
devise in the way of a punishment for the rebellious women, but the
Government realised the impossibility of taking punitive action, and Mr.
John Burns, who, as head of the Local Government Board, was responsible
for the census, announced that they had decided to treat the affair with
magnanimity. The number of evasions, he declared, was insignificant. But
every one knew that this was the exact reverse of the facts.


The Conciliation Bill was debated on May 5th and passed its second
reading by the enormous majority of 137. And now the public and a
section of the press united in a strong demand that the Government yield
to the undoubted will of the House and grant facilities to the bill. The
Conciliation Committee sent a deputation of members to the Prime
Minister to remind him of his pre-election promise that the House of
Commons should have an opportunity of dealing with the whole question
of woman suffrage, but they succeeded only in getting his assurance that
he had the matter under consideration. Late in the month the
announcement was made in the House that the Government would not grant
facilities during that session, but, since the new bill fulfilled the
conditions named by the Prime Minister, and was now capable of
amendment, the Government recognised it to be their duty to grant
facilities in some session of the present Parliament. They would be
prepared next session, when the bill had been again read for the second
time, either as a result of obtaining a good place in the ballot, or (if
that did not happen) by a grant of a Government day for the purpose, to
give a week, which they understood to be the time suggested as
reasonable by the promoters for its further stages.

This pledge was made in order to deter the W. S. P. U. from making a
militant demonstration in connection with the coronation of the King.

Keir Hardie asked if the Government would, by means of a closure or
otherwise, make certain that the bill would go through in the week, and
the Prime Minister replied, "No, I cannot give an assurance of that
kind. After all, it is a problem of the very greatest magnitude."

This reply seemed to make the Government's pledge practically worthless.
The Conciliation Committee also realised the possibilities of the bill
being talked out, and Lord Lytton wrote to Mr. Asquith and asked him for
assurances that the facilities offered were intended not for academic
discussion but for effective opportunity for carrying the bill. He also
asked that the week offered should not be construed rigidly but that,
providing the committee stage were got through in the time, additional
days for the report and third reading stages might be forthcoming.
Reasonable opportunity for making use of the closure was also asked. To
Lord Lytton's letter the Prime Minister replied as follows:

     _My dear Lytton_--In reply to your letter on the subject of the
     Women's Enfranchisement Bill, I would refer you to some
     observations recently made in a speech at the National Liberal Club
     by Sir Edward Grey, which accurately expresses the intention of the

     It follows (to answer your specific inquiries), that the "week"
     offered will be interpreted with reasonable elasticity, that the
     Government will interpose no reasonable obstacle to the proper use
     of the closure, and that if (as you suggest) the bill gets through
     committee in the time proposed, the extra days required for report
     and third reading will not be refused.

     The Government, though divided in opinion on the merits of the
     bill, are unanimous in their determination to give effect, not only
     in the letter but in the spirit, to the promise in regard to
     facilities which I made on their behalf before the last general
                        Yours etc.,
                                  H. H. ASQUITH.

Sceptical up to this point, the W. S. P. U. was now convinced that the
Government were sincere in their promise to give the bill full
facilities in the following year. We held a joyful mass meeting in
Queen's Hall and I again declared that warfare against the Government
was at an end. Our new policy was the inauguration of a great holiday
campaign, with the object of making victory in 1912 absolutely certain.
Electors must be aroused, members of Parliament held to their
allegiance. Women must be organised in order that questions that vitally
affect the social welfare of the country might be placed before them. I
chose Scotland and Wales as the scenes of my holiday labours.

I may say that our confidence was fully shared by the public at large.
The belief in Mr. Asquith's pledge was accurately reflected in a leader
published in _The Nation_, which said: "From the moment the Prime
Minister signed the frank and ungrudging letter to Lord Lytton which
appeared in last Saturday's newspapers, women became, in all but the
legal formality, voters and citizens. For at least two years, if not for
longer, nothing has been lacking save a full and fair opportunity for
the House of Commons to translate its convictions into the precise
language of a statute. That opportunity has been promised for next
session and promised in terms and under conditions which ensure

The only thing, as we thought, that we had to fear were wrecking
amendments to the bill, and in the new by-election policy which we
adopted we worked against all candidates of every party who would refuse
to promise, not only to support the Conciliation Committee to carry the
bill, but also to vote against any amendment the committee thought
dangerous. We believed that we had covered every possibility of
disaster. But we had something yet to learn of the treachery of the
Asquith Ministry and their capacity for cold-blooded lying.

Mr. Lloyd-George from the first was an open enemy of the bill, but since
we had no doubt of the sincerity of the Prime Minister, we could only
conclude that Mr. Lloyd-George had detached himself from the main body
of the Government and had become the self-constituted leader of the
opposition. In an address to a large Liberal group Mr. Lloyd-George
advised that Liberal members be asked to ballot for a place for a
"democratic measure," in order that such a measure might claim the Prime
Minister's pledge for facilities next session. In one or two other
speeches he made vague allusions to the possibilities of introducing
another suffrage bill. His own idea was to amend the bill to give a vote
to wives of all electors--making married women voters in virtue of their
husband's qualification. The inevitable effect of such an amendment
would be to wreck the bill, since it would have enfranchised about
6,000,000 women in addition to the million and a half who would benefit
by the original terms of the bill. Such a wholesale addition to the
electorate was never known in England; the number enfranchised by the
Reform Bill of 1832 being hardly more than half a million. The Reform
Bill of 1867 admitted a million new voters, and that of 1884 perhaps two
millions. The absurdity of Mr. Lloyd-George's proposition was such that
we did not regard it seriously. We did not allow his opposition to give
us serious alarm until a day in August when a Welsh member, Mr. Leif
Jones, asked the Prime Minister from the floor of the House, whether he
was aware that his promise for facilities for the Conciliation Bill in
the next session was being claimed exclusively for that bill, and asked
further for a statement that the promised facilities would be equally
granted to any other suffrage bill that might secure a second reading
and was capable of amendment. Mr. Lloyd-George, speaking for the
Government, replied that they could not undertake to give facilities to
more than one bill on the same subject, but that any bill which,
satisfying these tests, secured a second reading, would be treated by
them as falling within their engagements.

Astounded at this plain evasion of a sacred promise, Lord Lytton again
wrote to the Prime Minister, reviewing the entire matter, and asking for
another statement of the Government's intentions. The following is the
text of Mr. Asquith's reply:

     _My dear Lytton_--I have no hesitation in saying that the promises
     made by, and on behalf of the Government, in regard to giving
     facilities to the Conciliation Bill, will be strictly adhered to,
     both in letter and in spirit.
                                            Yours sincerely,
                                                H. H. ASQUITH.
     August 23, 1911.

Again we were reassured, and our confidence in the Premier's pledge
remained unshaken throughout the campaign, although Mr. Lloyd-George
continued to throw out hints that the promises of facilities for the
bill were altogether illusory. We could not believe him, and when, two
months later, I was asked in America: "When will English women vote?" I
replied with perfect conviction, "Next year."

This was in Louisville, Kentucky, where I attended the 1911 Annual
Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

I remember this third visit to the United States with especial
pleasure. I was the guest in New York of Dr. and Mrs. John Winters
Brannan, and through the courtesy of Dr. Brannan, who is at the head of
all the city hospitals, I saw something of the penal system and the
institutional life of America. We visited the workhouse and the
penitentiary on Blackwell's Island, and although I am told that these
places are not regarded as model institutions, I can assure my readers
that they are infinitely superior to the English prisons where women are
punished for trying to win their political freedom. In the American
prisons, much as they lacked in some essentials, I saw no solitary
confinement, no rule of silence, no deadly air of officialdom. The food
was good and varied, and above all there was an air of kindness and good
feeling between the officials and the prisoners that is almost wholly
lacking in England.

But, after all, in the United States as in other countries, the problem
of the relations between unfranchised women and the State remains
unsolved and unsatisfactory. One night my friends took me to that sombre
and terrible institution, the Night Court for Women. We sat on the bench
with the magistrate, and he very courteously explained everything to us.
The whole business was heart-breaking. All the women, with one
exception--an old drunkard--were charged with solicitation. Most of them
were of high type by nature. It all seemed so hopeless, and it was clear
that they were victims of an evil system. Their conviction was a
foregone conclusion.

The magistrate said that in most cases the reason for their coming
there was economic. One case of a little cigar maker, who said very
simply that she only went on the streets when out of work, and that when
in work she earned $8 a week, was very tragic and touching. I could not
keep the Night Court out of my speeches after that. The whole dreadful
injustice of women's lives seemed mirrored in that place.

I went as far west as the Pacific Coast on this visit, spending
Christmas day in Seattle, and for the first time seeing a community
where women and men existed on terms of exact equality. It was a
delightful experience. As I wrote home to our members, the men of the
western States seemed to my eyes eager, earnest, rough men, building a
great community in a great hurry, but never have I seen greater respect,
courtesy and chivalry shown to women than in that one Suffrage State it
has been my privilege to visit.

I am getting a little ahead of my story, however. It was in November,
when I was in the city of Minneapolis, that a crushing blow descended on
the English suffragists. I learned of this through cabled despatches in
the newspapers and from private cables, and was so staggered that I
could scarcely command myself sufficiently to fill my immediate
engagements. This was the news, that the Government had broken their
plighted word and had deliberately destroyed the Conciliation Bill. My
first wild thought, on hearing of this act of treachery, was to cancel
all engagements and return to England, but my final decision to remain
afterwards proved the right one, because the women at home, without a
moment's loss of time, struck the answering blow, guided by that
insight which has been characteristic of every act of the members of our
Union. I did not return to England until January 11, 1912, and by that
time great deeds had been done. Our movement had entered upon a new and
more vigorous stage of militancy.


[2] Lady Constance Lytton's story has been thrillingly told in her book
"Prisons and Prisoners," Heinemann.




Parliament had reassembled on October 25th, 1911, and the first move on
the part of the Government was, to say the least of it, rather
unpropitious. The Prime Minister submitted two motions, the first one
empowering them to take all the time of the House during the remainder
of the session, and the second guillotining discussion on the Insurance
Bill so as to force the measure through before Christmas. One day only
was allotted to the clauses relating to women in that bill. These
clauses were notoriously unfair; they provided for sickness insurance of
about four million women and unemployment insurance of no women at all.
Under the provision of the bill eleven million men were ensured against
sickness and about two and a half million against unemployment. Women
were given lower benefits for the same premium as men, and premiums paid
out of the family income were credited solely to the men's account. The
bill as drafted provided no form of insurance for wives, mothers and
daughters who spent their lives at home working for the family. It
penalised women for staying in the home, which most men agree is women's
only legitimate sphere of action. The amended bill grudgingly allowed
aside from maternity benefits, a small insurance, on rather difficult
terms, for workingmen's wives.

Thus the re-elected Government's first utterance to women was one of
contempt; and this was followed, on November 7th, by the almost
incredible announcement that the Government intended, at the next
session, to introduce a manhood suffrage bill. This announcement was not
made in the House of Commons, but to a deputation of men from the
People's Suffrage Federation, a small group of people who advocated
universal adult suffrage. The deputation, which was very privately
arranged for, was received by Mr. Asquith, and the then Master of
Elibank (Chief Liberal Whip). The spokesman asked Mr. Asquith to bring
in a Government measure for universal adult suffrage, including adult
women. The Prime Minister replied that the Government had pledged
facilities for the Conciliation Bill, which was as far as they were
prepared to go in the matter of women's suffrage. But, he added, the
Government intended in the next session to introduce and to pass through
all its stages a genuine reform bill which would sweep away existing
qualifications for the franchise, and substitute a single qualification
of residence. The bill would apply to adult males only, but it would be
so framed as to be open to a woman suffrage amendment in case the House
of Commons desired to make that extension and amendment.

This portentous announcement came like a bolt from the blue, and there
was strong condemnation of the Government's treachery to women. Said the
_Saturday Review_:

     With absolutely no demand, no ghost of a demand, for more votes
     for men, and with--beyond all cavil--a very strong demand for votes
     for women, the Government announce their Manhood Suffrage Bill and
     carefully evade the other question! For a naked, avowed plan of
     gerrymandering no Government surely ever did beat this one.

The _Daily Mail_ said that the "policy which Mr. Asquith proposes is
absolutely indefensible." And the _Evening Standard and Globe_ said: "We
are no friends of female suffrage, but anything more contemptible than
the attitude assumed by the Government it is difficult to imagine."

If the Government hoped to deceive any one by their dishonest reference
to the possibility of a woman suffrage amendment, they were
disappointed. Said the _Evening News_:

     Mr. Asquith's bombshell will blow the Conciliation Bill to
     smithereens, for it is impossible to have a manhood suffrage for
     men and a property qualification for women. True, the Premier
     consents to leave the question of women's suffrage to the House,
     but he knows well enough what the decision of the House will be.
     The Conciliation Bill had a chance, but the larger measure has none
     at all.

I have quoted these newspaper leaders to show you that our opinion of
the Government's action was shared even by the press. Universal suffrage
in a country where women are in a majority of one million is not likely
to happen in the lifetime of any reader of this volume, and the
Government's generous offer of a possible amendment was nothing more
than a gratuitous insult to the suffragists.

The truce, naturally, came to an abrupt end. The W. S. P. U. wrote to
the Prime Minister, saying that consternation had been aroused by the
Government's announcement, and that it had been decided accordingly to
send a deputation representing the Women's Social and Political Union to
wait upon himself and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the evening of
November 21st. The purpose of the deputation was to demand that the
proposed manhood suffrage bill be abandoned, and that in its place
should be introduced a Government measure giving equal franchise rights
to men and women. A similar letter was despatched to Mr. Lloyd-George.

Six times before on occasions of crisis had the W. S. P. U. requested an
interview with Mr. Asquith, and each time they had been refused. This
time the Prime Minister replied that he had decided to receive a
deputation of the various suffrage societies on November 17th,
"including your own society, if you desire it." It was proposed that
each society appoint four representatives as members of the deputation
which would be received by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the

Nine suffrage societies sent representatives to the meeting, our own
representatives being Christabel Pankhurst, Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, Miss
Annie Kenney, Lady Constance Lytton and Miss Elizabeth Robins.
Christabel and Mrs. Lawrence spoke for the Union, and they did not
hesitate to accuse the two Ministers to their faces of having grossly
tricked and falsely misled women. Mr. Asquith, in his reply to the
deputation, resented these imputations.

He had kept his pledge, he insisted, in regard to the Conciliation
Bill. He was perfectly willing to give facilities to the Bill, if the
women preferred that to an amendment to his reform bill. Moreover, he
denied that he had made any new announcement. As far back as 1908 he had
distinctly declared that the Government regarded it as a sacred duty to
bring forward a manhood suffrage bill before that Parliament came to an
end. It was true that the Government did not carry out that binding
obligation, and it was also true that until the present time nothing
more was ever said about a manhood suffrage bill, but that was not the
Government's fault. The crisis of the Lord's veto, had momentarily
displaced the bill. Now he merely proposed to fulfil his promise made in
1908, and also his promise about giving facilities to the Conciliation
Bill. He was ready to keep both promises. Well he knew that those
promises were incompatible, that the fulfilment of both was therefore
impossible, and Christabel told him so bluntly and fearlessly. "We are
not satisfied," she warned him, and the Prime Minister said acidly: "I
did not expect to satisfy _you_."

The reply of the W. S. P. U. was immediate and forceful. Led by Mrs.
Pethick Lawrence, our women went out with stones and hammers and broke
hundreds of windows in the Home Office, the War and Foreign Offices, the
Board of Education, the Privy Council Office, the Board of Trade, the
Treasury, Somerset House, the National Liberal Club, several post
offices, the Old Banqueting Hall, the London and South Western Bank, and
a dozen other buildings, including the residence of Lord Haldane and
Mr. John Burns. Two hundred and twenty women were arrested and about 150
of them sent to prison for terms varying from a week to two months.

One individual protest deserves mention because of its prophetic
character. In December Miss Emily Wilding Davison was arrested for
attempting to set fire to a letter box at Parliament Street Post Office.
In court Miss Davison said that she did it as a protest against the
Government's treachery, and as a demand that women's suffrage be
included in the King's speech. "The protest was meant to be serious,"
she said, "and so I adopted a serious course. In past agitation for
reform the next step after window-breaking was incendiarism, in order to
draw the attention of the private citizens to the fact that this
question of reform was their concern as well as that of women."

Miss Davison received the severe sentence of six months' imprisonment
for her deed.

To this state of affairs I returned from my American tour. I had the
comfort of reflecting that my imprisoned comrades were being accorded
better treatment than the early prisoners had known. Since early in 1910
some concessions had been granted, and some acknowledgment of the
political character of our offences had been made. During the brief
period when these scant concessions to justice were allowed, the hunger
strike was abandoned and prison was robbed of its worst horror, forcible
feeding. The situation was bad enough, however, and I could see that it
might easily become a great deal worse. We had reached a stage at which
the mere sympathy of members of Parliament, however sincerely felt, was
no longer of the slightest use. Reminding our members this, in the first
speeches made after returning to England I asked them to prepare
themselves for more action. If women's suffrage was not included in the
next King's speech we should have to make it absolutely impossible for
the Government to touch the question of the franchise.

The King's speech, when Parliament met in February, 1912, alluded to the
franchise question in very general terms. Proposals, it was stated,
would be brought forward for the amendment of the law with respect to
the franchise and the registration of electors. This might be construed
to mean that the Government were going to introduce a manhood suffrage
bill or a bill for the abolition of plural voting, which had been
suggested in some quarters as a substitute for the manhood suffrage
bill. No precise statement of the Government's intentions was made, and
the whole franchise question was left in a cloud of uncertainty. Mr. Agg
Gardner, a Unionist member of the Conciliation Committee, drew the third
place in the ballot, and he announced that he should reintroduce the
Conciliation Bill. This interested us very slightly, for knowing its
prospect of success to have been destroyed, for we were done with the
Conciliation Bill forever. Nothing less than a Government measure would
henceforth satisfy the W. S. P. U., because it had been clearly
demonstrated that only a Government measure would be allowed to pass the
House of Commons. With sublime faith, or rather with a deplorable lack
of political insight, the Women's Liberal Federation and the National
Union of Women's Suffrage Societies professed full confidence in the
proposed amendment to a manhood suffrage bill, but we knew how futile
was that hope. We saw that the only course to take was to offer
determined opposition to any measure of suffrage that did not include as
an integral part, equal suffrage for men and women.

On February 16th we held a large meeting of welcome to a number of
released prisoners who had served two and three months for the window
breaking demonstration that had taken place in the previous November. At
this meeting we candidly surveyed the situation and agreed on a course
of action which we believed would be sufficiently strong to prevent the
Government from advancing their threatened franchise bill. I said on
this occasion:

"We don't want to use any weapons that are unnecessarily strong. If the
argument of the stone, that time-honoured official political argument,
is sufficient, then we will never use any stronger argument. And that is
the weapon and the argument that we are going to use next time. And so I
say to every volunteer on our demonstration, 'Be prepared to use that
argument.' I am taking charge of the demonstration, and that is the
argument I am going to use. I am not going to use it for any sentimental
reason, I am going to use it because it is the easiest and the most
readily understood. Why should women go to Parliament Square and be
battered about and insulted, and most important of all, produce less
effect than when we throw stones? We tried it long enough. We submitted
for years patiently to insult and assault. Women had their health
injured. Women lost their lives. We should not have minded if that had
succeeded, but that did not succeed, and we have made more progress with
less hurt to ourselves by breaking glass than ever we made when we
allowed them to break our bodies.

"After all, is not a woman's life, is not her health, are not her limbs
more valuable than panes of glass? There is no doubt of that, but most
important of all, does not the breaking of glass produce more effect
upon the Government? If you are fighting a battle, that should dictate
your choice of weapons. Well, then, we are going to try this time if
mere stones will do it. I do not think it will ever be necessary for us
to arm ourselves as Chinese women have done, but there are women who are
prepared to do that if it should be necessary. In this Union we don't
lose our heads. We only go as far as we are obliged to go in order to
win, and we are going forward with this next protest demonstration in
full faith that this plan of campaign, initiated by our friends whom we
honour to-night, will on this next occasion prove effective."

Ever since militancy took on the form of destruction of property the
public generally, both at home and abroad, has expressed curiosity as to
the logical connection between acts such as breaking windows, firing
pillar boxes, et cetera, and the vote. Only a complete lack of
historical knowledge excuses that curiosity. For every advance of men's
political freedom has been marked with violence and the destruction of
property. Usually the advance has been marked by war, which is called
glorious. Sometimes it has been marked by riotings, which are deemed
less glorious but are at least effective. That speech of mine, just
quoted, will probably strike the reader as one inciting to violence and
illegal action, things as a rule and in ordinary circumstances quite
inexcusable. Well, I will call the reader's attention to what was, in
this connection, a rather singular coincidence. At the very hour when I
was making that speech, advising my audience of the political necessity
of physical revolt, a responsible member of the Government, in another
hall, in another city, was telling his audience precisely the same
thing. This Cabinet Minister, the right Honourable C. E. H. Hobhouse,
addressing a large anti-suffrage meeting in his constituency of Bristol,
said that the suffrage movement was not a political issue because its
adherents had failed to prove that behind this movement existed a large
public demand. He declared that "In the case of the suffrage demand
there has not been the kind of popular sentimental uprising which
accounted for Nottingham Castle in 1832 or the Hyde Park railings in
1867. There has not been a great ebullition of popular feeling."

The "popular sentimental uprising" to which Mr. Hobhouse alluded was the
burning to the ground of the castle of the anti-suffrage Duke of
Newcastle, and of Colwick Castle, the country seat of another of the
leaders of the opposition against the franchise bill. The militant men
of that time did not select uninhabited buildings to be fired. They
burned both these historic residences over their owners' heads. Indeed,
the wife of the owner of Colwick Castle died as a result of shock and
exposure on that occasion. No arrests were made, no men imprisoned. On
the contrary the King sent for the Premier, and begged the Whig
Ministers favourable to the franchise bill not to resign, and intimated
that this was also the wish of the Lords who had thrown out the bill.
Molesworth's History of England says:

     These declarations were imperatively called for. The danger was
     imminent and the Ministers knew it and did all that lay in their
     power to tranquillise the people, and to assure them that the bill
     was only delayed and not finally defeated.

For a time the people believed this, but soon they lost patience, and
seeing signs of a renewed activity on the part of the anti-suffragists,
they became aggressive again. Bristol, the very city in which Mr.
Hobhouse made his speech, was set on fire. The militant reformers burned
the new gaol, the toll houses, the Bishop's Palace, both sides of
Queen's Square, including the Mansion House, the custom house, the
excise office, many warehouses, and other private property, the whole
valued at over £100,000--five hundred thousand dollars. It was as a
result of such violence, and in fear of more violence, that the reform
bill was hurried through Parliament and became law in June, 1832.

Our demonstration, so mild by comparison with English men's political
agitation, was announced for March 4th, and the announcement created
much public alarm. Sir William Byles gave notice that he would "ask the
Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention had
been drawn to a speech by Mrs. Pankhurst last Friday night, openly and
emphatically inciting her hearers to violent outrage and the destruction
of property, and threatening the use of firearms if stones did not prove
sufficiently effective; and what steps he proposes to take to protect
Society from this outbreak of lawlessness."

The question was duly asked, and the Home Secretary replied that his
attention had been called to the speech, but that it would not be
desirable in the public interest to say more than this at present.

Whatever preparations the police department were making to prevent the
demonstration, they failed because, while as usual, we were able to
calculate exactly what the police department were going to do, they were
utterly unable to calculate what we were going to do. We had planned a
demonstration for March 4th, and this one we announced. We planned
another demonstration for March 1st, but this one we did not announce.
Late in the afternoon of Friday, March 1st, I drove in a taxicab,
accompanied by the Hon. Secretary of the Union, Mrs. Tuke and another of
our members, to No. 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the
Prime Minister. It was exactly half past five when we alighted from the
cab and threw our stones, four of them, through the window panes. As we
expected we were promptly arrested and taken to Cannon Row police
station. The hour that followed will long be remembered in London. At
intervals of fifteen minutes relays of women who had volunteered for the
demonstration did their work. The first smashing of glass occurred in
the Haymarket and Piccadilly, and greatly startled and alarmed both
pedestrians and police. A large number of the women were arrested, and
everybody thought that this ended the affair. But before the excited
populace and the frustrated shop owners' first exclamation had died
down, before the police had reached the station with their prisoners,
the ominous crashing and splintering of plate glass began again, this
time along both sides of Regent Street and the Strand. A furious rush of
police and people towards the second scene of action ensued. While their
attention was being taken up with occurrences in this quarter, the third
relay of women began breaking the windows in Oxford Circus and Bond
Street. The demonstration ended for the day at half past six with the
breaking of many windows in the Strand. The _Daily Mail_ gave this
graphic account of the demonstration:

     From every part of the crowded and brilliantly lighted streets came
     the crash of splintered glass. People started as a window shattered
     at their side; suddenly there was another crash in front of them;
     on the other side of the street; behind--everywhere. Scared shop
     assistants came running out to the pavements; traffic stopped;
     policemen sprang this way and that; five minutes later the streets
     were a procession of excited groups, each surrounding a woman
     wrecker being led in custody to the nearest police station.
     Meanwhile the shopping quarter of London had plunged itself into a
     sudden twilight. Shutters were hurriedly fitted; the rattle of iron
     curtains being drawn came from every side. Guards of
     commissionaires and shopmen were quickly mounted, and any
     unaccompanied lady in sight, especially if she carried a hand bag,
     became an object of menacing suspicion.

At the hour when this demonstration was being made a conference was
being held at Scotland Yard to determine what should be done to prevent
the smashing of windows on the coming Monday night. But we had not
announced the hour of our March 4th protest. I had in my speech simply
invited women to assemble in Parliament Square on the evening of March
4th, and they accepted the invitation. Said the _Daily Telegraph_:

     By six o'clock the neighbourhood Houses of Parliament were in a
     stage of siege. Shop keepers in almost every instance barricaded
     their premises, removed goods from the windows and prepared for the
     worst. A few minutes before six o'clock a huge force of police,
     amounting to nearly three thousand constables, was posted in
     Parliament Square, Whitehall, and streets adjoining, and large
     reserves were gathered in Westminster Hall and Scotland Yard. By
     half past eight Whitehall was packed from end to end with police
     and public. Mounted constables rode up and down Whitehall keeping
     the people on the move. At no time was there any sign of danger....

The demonstration had taken place in the morning, when a hundred or more
women walked quietly into Knightsbridge and walking singly along the
streets demolished nearly every pane of glass they passed. Taken by
surprise the police arrested as many as they could reach, but most of
the women escaped.


For that two days' work something like two hundred suffragettes were
taken to the various police stations, and for days the long procession
of women streamed through the courts. The dismayed magistrates found
themselves facing, not only former rebels, but many new ones, in some
cases, women whose names, like that of Dr. Ethel Smyth, the composer,
were famous throughout Europe. These women, when arraigned, made clear
and lucid statements of their positions and their motives, but
magistrates are not schooled to examine motives. They are trained to
think only of laws and mostly of laws protecting property. Their ears
are not tuned to listen to words like those spoken by one of the
prisoners, who said: "We have tried every means--processions and
meetings--which were of no avail. We have tried demonstrations, and now
at last we have to break windows. I wish I had broken more. I am not in
the least repentant. Our women are working in far worse condition than
the striking miners. I have seen widows struggling to bring up their
children. Only two out of every five are fit to be soldiers. What is the
good of a country like ours? England is absolutely on the wane. You only
have one point of view, and that is the men's, and while men have done
the best they could, they cannot go far without the women and the
women's views. We believe the whole is in a muddle too horrible to think

The coal miners were at that time engaging in a terrible strike, and the
Government, instead of arresting the leaders, were trying to come to
terms of peace with them. I reminded the magistrate of this fact, and I
told him that what the women had done was but a fleabite by comparison
with the miners' violence. I said further: "I hope our demonstration
will be enough to show the Government that the women's agitation is
going on. If not, if you send me to prison, I will go further to show
that women who have to help pay the salaries of Cabinet Ministers, and
your salary too, sir, are going to have some voice in the making of the
laws they have to obey."

I was sentenced to two months' imprisonment. Others received sentences
ranging from one week to two months, while those who were accused of
breaking glass above five pounds in value, were committed for trial in
higher courts. They were sent to prison on remand, and when the last of
us were behind the grim gates, not only Holloway but three other women's
prisons were taxed to provide for so many extra inmates.

It was a stormy imprisonment for most of us. A great many of the women
had received, in addition to their sentences, "hard labour," and this
meant that the privileges at that time accorded to Suffragettes, as
political offenders, were withheld. The women adopted the hunger strike
as a protest, but as the hint was conveyed to me that the privileges
would be restored, I advised a cessation of the strike. The remand
prisoners demanded that I be allowed to exercise with them, and when
this was not answered they broke the windows of their cells. The other
suffrage prisoners, hearing the sound of shattered glass, and the
singing of the Marseillaise, immediately broke their windows. The time
had long gone by when the Suffragettes submitted meekly to prison
discipline. And so passed the first days of my imprisonment.


The panic stricken Government did not rest content with the imprisonment
of the window breakers. They sought, in a blind and blundering fashion,
to perform the impossible feat of wrecking at a blow the entire militant
movement. Governments have always tried to crush reform movements, to
destroy ideas, to kill the thing that cannot die. Without regard to
history, which shows that no Government have ever succeeded in doing
this, they go on trying in the old, senseless way.

For days before the two demonstrations described in the last chapter our
headquarters in Clement's Inn had been under constant observation by the
police, and on the evening of March 5th an inspector of police and a
large force of detectives suddenly descended on the place, with warrants
for the arrest of Christabel Pankhurst and Mr. and Mrs. Pethick
Lawrence, who with Mrs. Tuke and myself were charged with "conspiring to
incite certain persons to commit malicious damage to property." When the
officers entered they found Mr. Pethick Lawrence at work in his office,
and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence in her flat upstairs. My daughter was not in
the building. The Lawrences, after making brief preparations drove in a
taxicab to Bow Street Station, where they spent the night. The police
remained in possession of the offices, and detectives were despatched
to find and arrest Christabel. But that arrest never took place.
Christabel Pankhurst eluded the entire force of detectives and uniformed
police, trained hunters of human prey.

Christabel had gone home, and at first, on hearing of the arrest of Mr.
and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, had taken her own arrest for granted. A
little reflection however showed her the danger in which the Union would
stand if completely deprived of its accustomed leadership, and seeing
that it was her duty to avoid arrest, she quietly left the house. She
spent that night with friends who, next morning, helped her to make the
necessary arrangements and saw her safely away from London. The same
night she reached Paris, where she has since remained. My relief, when I
learned of her flight, was very great, because I knew that whatever
happened to the Lawrences and myself, the movement would be wisely
directed, this in spite of the fact that the police remained in full
possession of headquarters.

The offices in Clement's Inn were thoroughly ransacked by the police, in
a determined effort to secure evidence of conspiracy. They went through
every desk, file and cabinet, taking away with them two cab loads of
books and papers, including all my private papers, photographs of my
children in infancy, and letters sent me by my husband long ago. Some of
these I never saw again.

The police also terrorised the printer of our weekly newspaper, and
although the paper came out as usual, about a third of its columns were
left blank. The headlines, however, with the ensuing space mere white
paper produced a most dramatic effect. "History Teaches" read one
headline to a blank space, plainly indicating that the Government were
not willing to let the public know some of the things that history
teaches. "Women's Moderation" suggested that the destroyed paragraph
called for comparison of the women's window breaking with men's greater
violence in the past. Most eloquent of all was the editorial page,
absolutely blank except for the headline, "A Challenge!" and the name at
the foot of the last column, Christabel Pankhurst. What words could have
breathed a prouder defiance, a more implacable resolve? Christabel was
gone, out of the clutches of the Government, yet she remained in
complete possession of the field. For weeks the search for her went
relentlessly on. Police searched every railway station, every train,
every sea port. The police of every city in the Kingdom were furnished
with her portrait. Every amateur Sherlock Holmes in England joined with
the police in finding her. She was reported in a dozen cities, including
New York. But all the time she was living quietly in Paris, in daily
communication with the workers in London, who within a few days were
once more at their appointed tasks. My daughter has remained in France
ever since.

Meanwhile, I found myself in the anomalous position of a convicted
offender serving two months' prison sentence, and of a prisoner on
remand waiting to be charged with a more serious offence. I was in very
bad health, having been placed in a damp and unwarmed third division
cell, the result being an acute attack of bronchitis. I addressed a
letter to the Home Secretary, telling him of my condition, and urging
the necessity of liberty to recover my health and to prepare my case for
trial. I asked for release on bail, the plain right of a remand
prisoner, and I offered if bail were granted now to serve the rest of my
two months' sentence later on. The sole concessions granted me, however,
were removal to a better cell and the right to see my secretary and my
solicitor, but only in the presence of a wardress and a member of the
prison clerical staff. On March 14th Mr. and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, Mrs.
Tuke and myself were brought up for preliminary hearing on the charge of
having, on November 1, 1911, and on various other dates "conspired and
combined together unlawfully and maliciously to commit damage, etc." The
case opened on March 14th in a crowded courtroom in which I saw many
friends. Mr. Bodkin, who appeared for the prosecution, made a very long
address, in which he endeavoured to prove that the Women's Social and
Political Union was a highly developed organisation of most sinister
character. He produced much documentary evidence, some of it of such
amusing character that the court rocked with stifled laughter, and the
judge was obliged to conceal his smiles behind his hand. Mr. Bodkin
cited our code book with the assistance of which we were able to
communicate private messages. His voice sank to a scandalised half
whisper as he stated the fact that we had presumed to include the sacred
persons of the Government in our private code. "We find," said Mr.
Bodkin portentously, "that public men in the service of His Majesty as
members of the Cabinet are tabulated here under code names. We find that
the Cabinet collectively has its code word "Trees," and individual
members of the Cabinet are designated by the name, sometimes of trees,
but I am also bound to say the commonest weeds as well." Here a ripple
of laughter interrupted. Mr. Bodkin frowned heavily, and continued:
"There is one," he said solemnly, "called Pansy; another one--more
complimentary--Roses, another, Violets, and so on." Each of the
defendants was designated by a code letter. Thus Mrs. Pankhurst was
identified by the letter F; Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, D; Miss Christabel
Pankhurst, E. Every public building, including the House of Commons, had
its code name. The deadly possibilities of the code were illustrated by
a telegram found in one of the files. It read: "Silk, thistle, pansy,
duck, wool, E. Q." Translated by the aid of the code book the telegram
read: "Will you protest Asquith's public meeting to-morrow evening but
don't get arrested unless success depends on it. Wire back to Christabel
Pankhurst, Clements Inn."

More laughter followed these revelations, which after all proved no more
than the business-like methods employed by the W. S. P. U. The laughter
proved something a great deal more significant, for it was a plain
indication that the old respect in which Cabinet Ministers had been held
was no more. We had torn the veil from their sacro-sanct personalities
and shown them for what they were, mean and scheming politicians. More
serious from the point of view of prosecution was the evidence brought
in by members of the police department in regard to the occurrences of
March 1st and 4th. The policemen who arrested me and my two companions
in Downing Street on March 1st, after we had broken the windows in the
Premier's house, testified that following the arrest, we had handed him
our reserve stock of stones, and that they were all alike, heavy flints.
Other prisoners were found in possession of similar stones, tending to
prove that the stones all came from one source. Other officers testified
to the methodical manner in which the window breaking of March 1st and
4th was carried out, how systematically it had been planned and how
soldierly had been the behaviour of the women. By twos and threes March
4th they had been seen to go to the headquarters at Clement's Inn,
carrying handbags, which they deposited at headquarters, and had then
gone on to a meeting at the Pavillion Music Hall. The police attended
the meeting, which was the usual rally preceding a demonstration or a
deputation. At five o'clock the meeting adjourned and the women went
out, as if to go home. The police observed that many of them, still in
groups of twos and threes, went to the Gardenia restaurant in Catherine
Street, Strand, a place where many Suffragette breakfasts and teas had
been held. The police thought that about one hundred and fifty women
congregated there on March 4th. They remained until seven o'clock, and
then, under the watching eyes of the police, they sauntered out and
dispersed. A few minutes later, when there was no reason to expect such
a thing, the noise was heard, in many streets, of wholesale window
smashing. The police authorities made much of the fact that the women
who had left their bags at headquarters and were afterwards arrested,
were bailed out that night by Mr. Pethick Lawrence. The similarity of
the stones used; the gathering of so many women in one building,
prepared for arrest; the waiting at the Gardenia Restaurant; the
apparent dispersal; the simultaneous destruction in many localities of
plate glass, and the bailing of prisoners by a person connected with the
headquarters mentioned, certainly showed a carefully worked out plan.
Only a public trial of the defendants could establish whether or not the
plan was a conspiracy.

On the second day of the Ministerial hearing, Mrs. Tuke, who had been in
the prison infirmary for twenty days and had to be attended in court by
a trained nurse, was admitted to bail. Mr. Pethick Lawrence made a
strong plea for bail for himself and his wife, pointing out that they
had been in prison on remand for two weeks and were entitled to bail. I
also demanded the privileges of a prisoner on remand. Both of these
pleas were denied by the court, but a few days later the Home Secretary
wrote to my solicitor that the remainder of my sentence of two months
would be remitted until after the conspiracy trail at Bow Street. Mr.
and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence had already been admitted to bail. Public
opinion forced the Home Secretary to make these concessions, as it is
well known that it is next to impossible to prepare a defence while
confined in prison. Aside from the terrible effect of prison on one's
body and nerves, there is the difficulty of consulting documents and
securing other necessary data to be considered.

On April 4th the Ministerial hearing ended in the acquittal of Mrs.
Tuke, whose activities in the W. S. P. U. were shown to be purely
secretarial. Mr. and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence and myself were committed for
trial at the next session of the Central Criminal Court, beginning April
23rd. Because of the weak state of my health the judge was with great
difficulty prevailed upon to postpone the trial two weeks and it was,
therefore, not until May 15th that the case was opened.

The trial at Old Bailey is a thing that I shall never forget. The scene
is clear before me as I write, the judge impressively bewigged and
scarlet robed, dominating the crowded courtroom, the solicitors at their
table, the jury, and looking very far away, the anxious pale faces of
our friends who crowded the narrow galleries.

By the veriest irony of fate this judge, Lord Coleridge, was the son of
Sir Charles Coleridge who, in the year 1867, appeared with my husband,
Dr. Pankhurst, in the famous case of Chorlton v. Lings, and sought to
establish that women were persons, and as such were entitled to the
Parliamentary vote. To make the irony still deeper the Attorney General,
Sir Rufus Isaacs, who appeared as Counsel for the prosecution against
women militants, himself had been guilty of remarkable speeches in
corroboration of our point of view. In a speech made in 1910, in
relation to the abolition of the Lords' veto, Sir Rufus made the
statement that, although the agitation against privilege was being
peacefully conducted, the indignation behind it was very intense. Said
Sir Rufus: "Formerly when the great mass of the people were voteless
they had to do something violent in order to show what they felt; to-day
the elector's bullet is his ballot. Let no one be deceived, therefore,
because in this present struggle everything is peaceful and orderly, in
contrast to the disorderliness of other great struggles of the past." We
wondered if the man who said these words could fail to realise that
voteless women, deprived of every constitutional means of righting their
grievances, were also obliged to do something violent in order to show
how they felt. His opening address removed all doubt on that score.

Sir Rufus Isaacs has a clear-cut, hawk-like face, deep eyes, and a
somewhat world worn air. The first words he spoke were so astoundingly
unfair that I could hardly believe that I heard them aright. He began
his address to the jury by telling them that they must not, on any
account, connect the act of the defendants with any political agitation.

"I am very anxious to impress upon you," he said, "from the moment we
begin to deal with the facts of this case, that all questions of whether
a woman is entitled to the Parliamentary franchise, whether she should
have the same right of franchise as a man, are questions which are in no
sense involved in the trial of this issue.... Therefore, I ask you to
discard altogether from the consideration of the matters which will be
placed before you any viewpoint you may have on this no doubt very
important political issue."

Nevertheless Sir Rufus added in the course of his remarks that he feared
that it would not be possible to keep out of the conduct of the case
various references to political events, and of course the entire trial,
from beginning to end, showed clearly that the case was what Mr. Tim
Healey, Mrs. Pethick Lawrence's counsel, called it, a great State Trial.

Proceeding, the Attorney General described the W. S. P. U., which he
said he thought had been in existence since 1907, and had used what were
known as militant methods. In 1911 the association had become annoyed by
the Prime Minister because he would not make women's suffrage what was
called a Government question. In November, 1911, the Prime Minister
announced the introduction of a manhood suffrage bill. From that time on
the defendants set to work to carry out a campaign which would have
meant nothing less than anarchy. Women were to be induced to act
together at a given time, in different given places, in such numbers
that the police should be paralysed by the number of persons breaking
the law, in order, to use the defendant's own words, "to bring the
Government to its knees."

After designating the respective positions held by the four defendants
in the W. S. P. U., Sir Rufus went on to relate the events which
resulted in the smashing of plate glass windows valued at some two
thousand pounds, and the imprisonment of over two hundred women who
were incited to their deeds by the conspirators in the dock. He entirely
ignored the motive of the acts in question, and he treated the whole
affair as if the women had been burglars. This inverted statement of the
matter, though accurate enough as to facts, was such as might have been
given by King John of the signing of Magna Charta.

A very great number of witnesses were examined, a large number of them
being policemen, and their testimony, and our cross examination
disclosed the startling fact that there exists in England a special band
of secret police entirely engaged in political work. These men,
seventy-five in number, form what is known as the political branch of
the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police. They go about in
disguise, and their sole duty is to shadow Suffragettes and other
political workers. They follow certain political workers from their
homes to their places of business, to their social pleasures, into tea
rooms and restaurants, even to the theatre. They pursue unsuspecting
people in taxicabs, sit beside them in omnibuses. Above all they take
down speeches. In fact the system is exactly like the secret police
system of Russia.

Mr. Pethick Lawrence and I spoke in our own defence, and Mr. Healey M.
P. defended Mrs. Pethick Lawrence. I cannot give our speeches in full,
but I should like to include as much of them as will serve to make the
entire situation clear to the reader.

Mr. Lawrence spoke first at the opening of the case. He began by giving
an account of the suffrage movement and why he felt the enfranchisement
of women appeared to him a question so grave that it warranted strong
measures in its pursuit. He sketched briefly the history of the Women's
Social and Political Union, from the time when Christabel Pankhurst and
Annie Kenney were thrown out of Sir Edward Grey's meeting and imprisoned
for asking a political question, to the torpedoing of the Conciliation
Bill. "The case that I have to put before you," he said, "is that
neither the conspiracy nor the incitement is ours; but that the
conspiracy is a conspiracy of the Cabinet who are responsible for the
Government of this country; and that the incitement is the incitement of
the Ministers of the Crown." And he did this most effectually not only
by telling of the disgraceful trickery and deceit with which the
Government had misled the suffragists in the matter of suffrage bills,
but by giving the plain words in which members of the Cabinet had
advised the women that they would never get the vote until they had
learned to fight for it as men had fought in the past.

When it came my turn to speak, realising that the average man is
profoundly ignorant of the history of the women's movement--because the
press has never adequately or truthfully chronicled the movement--I told
the jury, as briefly as I could, the story of the forty years' peaceful
agitation before my daughters and I resolved that we would give our
lives to the work of getting the vote for women, and that we should use
whatever means of getting the vote that were necessary to success.

"We founded the Women's Social and Political Union," I said, "in 1903.
Our first intention was to try and influence the particular political
Party, which was then coming into power, to make this question of the
enfranchisement of women their own question and to push it. It took some
little time to convince us--and I need not weary you with the history of
all that has happened--but it took some little time to convince us that
that was no use; that we could not secure things in that way. Then in
1905 we faced the hard facts. We realised that there was a Press boycott
against Women's Suffrage. Our speeches at public meetings were not
reported, our letters to the editors, were not published, even if we
implored the editors; even the things relating to Women's Suffrage in
Parliament were not recorded. They said the subject was not of
sufficient public interest to be reported in the Press, and they were
not prepared to report it. Then with regard to the men politicians in
1905: we realised how shadowy were the fine phrases about democracy,
about human equality, used by the gentlemen who were then coming into
power. They meant to ignore the women--there was no doubt whatever about
that. For in the official documents coming from the Liberal party on the
eve of the 1905 election, there were sentences like this: 'What the
country wants is a simple measure of Manhood Suffrage.' There was no
room for the inclusion of women. We knew perfectly well that if there
was to be franchise reform at all, the Liberal party which was then
coming into power did not mean Votes for Women, in spite of all the
pledges of members; in spite of the fact that a majority of the House
of Commons, especially on the Liberal side, were pledged to it--it did
not mean that they were going to put it into practice. And so we found
some way of forcing their attention to this question.

"Now I come to the facts with regard to militancy. We realised that the
plans we had in our minds would involve great sacrifice on our part,
that it might cost us all we had. We were at that time a little
organisation, composed in the main of working women, the wives and
daughters of working men. And my daughters and I took a leading part,
naturally, because we thought the thing out, and, to a certain extent,
because we were of better social position than most of our members, and
we felt a sense of responsibility."

I described the events that marked the first days of our work, the scene
in Free Trade Hall, Manchester, when my daughter and her companion were
arrested for the crime of asking a question of a politician, and I

"What did they do next? (I want you to realise that no step we have
taken forward has been taken until after some act of repression on the
part of our enemy, the Government--because it is the Government that is
our enemy; it is not the Members of Parliament, it is not the men in the
country; it is the Government in power alone that can give us the vote.
It is the Government alone that we regard as our enemy, and the whole of
our agitation is directed to bringing just as much pressure as necessary
upon those people who can deal with our grievance.) The next step the
women took was to ask questions during the course of meetings, because,
as I told you, these gentlemen gave them no opportunity of asking them
afterwards. And then began the interjections of which we have heard, the
interference with the right to hold public meetings, the interference
with the right of free speech, of which we have heard, for which these
women, these hooligan women, as they have been called--have been
denounced. I ask you, gentlemen, to imagine the amount of courage which
it needs for a woman to undertake that kind of work. When men come to
interrupt women's meetings, they come in gangs, with noisy instruments,
and sing and shout together, and stamp their feet. But when women have
gone to Cabinet Ministers' meetings--only to interrupt Cabinet Ministers
and nobody else--they have gone singly. And it has become increasingly
difficult for them to get in, because as a result of the women's methods
there has developed the system of admission by ticket and the exclusion
of women--a thing which in my Liberal days would have been thought a
very disgraceful thing at Liberal meetings. But this ticket system
developed, and so the women could only get in with very great
difficulty. Women have concealed themselves for thirty-six hours in
dangerous positions, under the platforms, in the organs, wherever they
could get a vantage point. They waited starving in the cold, sometimes
on the roof exposed to a winter's night, just to get a chance of saying
in the course of a Cabinet Minister's speech, 'When is the Liberal
Government going to put its promises into practice?' That has been the
form militancy took in its further development."

I went over the whole matter of our peaceful deputations, and of the
violence with which they were invariably met; of our arrests and the
farcical police court trials, where the mere evidence of policemen's
unsupported statements sent us to prison for long terms; of the
falsehoods told of us in the House of Commons by responsible members of
the Government--tales of women scratching and biting policemen and using
hatpins--and I accused the Government of making these attacks against
women who were powerless to defend themselves because they feared the
women and desired to crush the agitation represented by our

"Now it has been stated in this Court," I said, "that it is not the
Women's Social and Political Union that is in the Court, but that it is
certain defendants. The action of the Government, gentlemen, is
certainly against the defendants who are before you here to-day, but it
is also against the Women's Social and Political Union. The intention is
to crush that organisation. And this intention apparently was arrived at
after I had been sent to prison for two months for breaking a pane of
glass worth, I am told, 2s. 3d., the punishment which I accepted because
I was a leader of this movement, though it was an extraordinary
punishment to inflict for so small an act of damages as I had committed.
I accepted it as the punishment for a leader of an agitation
disagreeable to the Government; and while I was there this prosecution
started. They thought they would make a clean sweep of the people who
they considered were the political brains of the movement. We have got
many false friends in the Cabinet--people who by their words appear to
be well-meaning towards the cause of Women's Suffrage. And they thought
that if they could get the leaders of the Union out of the way, it would
result in the indefinite postponement and settlement of the question in
this country. Well, they have not succeeded in their design, and even if
they had got all the so-called leaders of this movement out of their way
they would not have succeeded even then. Now why have they not put the
Union in the dock? We have a democratic Government, so-called. This
Women's Social and Political Union is not a collection of hysterical and
unimportant wild women, as has been suggested to you, but it is an
important organisation, which numbers amongst its membership very
important people. It is composed of women of all classes of the
community, women who have influence in their particular organisations as
working women; women who have influence in professional organisations as
professional women; women of social importance; women even of Royal rank
are amongst the members of this organisation, and so it would not pay a
democratic Government to deal with this organisation as a whole.

"They hoped that by taking away the people that they thought guided the
political fortunes of the organisation they would break the organisation
down. They thought that if they put out of the way the influential
members of the organisation they, as one member of the Cabinet, I
believe, said, would crush the movement and get it 'on the run.' Well,
Governments have many times been mistaken, gentlemen, and I venture to
suggest to you that Governments are mistaken again. I think the answer
to the Government was given at the Albert Hall meeting held immediately
after our arrest. Within a few minutes, without the eloquence of Mrs.
Pethick Lawrence, without the appeals of the people who have been called
the leaders of this movement, in a very few minutes £10,000 was
subscribed for the carrying on of this movement.

"Now a movement like that, supported like that, is not a wild,
hysterical movement. It is not a movement of misguided people. It is a
very serious movement. Women, I submit, like our members, and women, I
venture to say, like the two women, and like the man who are in the dock
to-day, are not people to undertake a thing like this lightly. May I
just try to make you feel what it is that has made this movement the
gigantic size it is from the very small beginnings it had? It is one of
the biggest movements of modern times. A movement which is not only an
influence, perhaps not yet recognised, in this country, but is
influencing the women's movement all over the world. Is there anything
more marvellous in modern times than the kind of spontaneous outburst in
every country of this woman's movement? Even in China--and I think it
somewhat of a disgrace to Englishmen--even in China women have won the
vote, as an outcome of a successful revolution, with which, I dare say,
members of his Majesty's Government sympathise--a bloody revolution.

"One more word on that point. When I was in prison the second time, for
three months as a common criminal for no greater offence than the issue
of a handbill--less inflammatory in its terms than some of the speeches
of members of the Government who prosecute us here--during that time,
through the efforts of a member of Parliament, there was secured for me
permission to have the daily paper in prison, and the first thing I read
in the daily Press was this: that the Government was at that moment
fêting the members of the Young Turkish Revolutionary Party, gentlemen
who had invaded the privacy of the Sultan's home--we used to hear a
great deal about invading the privacy of Mr. Asquith's residence when we
ventured to ring his door bell--gentlemen who had killed and slain, and
had been successful in their revolution, while we women had never thrown
a stone--for none of us was imprisoned for stone throwing, but merely
for taking the part we had then taken in this organisation. There we
were imprisoned while these political murderers were being fêted by the
very Government who imprisoned us, and were being congratulated on the
success of their revolution. Now I ask you, was it to be wondered at
that women said to themselves: 'Perhaps it is that we have not done
enough. Perhaps it is that these gentlemen do not understand womenfolk.
Perhaps they do not realise women's ways, and because we have not done
the things that men have done, they may think we are not in earnest.'

"And then we come down to this last business of all, when we have
responsible statesmen like Mr. Hobhouse saying that there had never been
any sentimental uprising, no expression of feeling like that which led
to the burning down of Nottingham Castle. Can you wonder, then, that we
decided we should have to nerve ourselves to do more, and can you
understand why we cast about to find a way, as women will, that would
not involve loss of human life and the maiming of human beings, because
women care more about human life than men, and I think it is quite
natural that we should, for we know what life costs. We risk our lives
when men are born. Now, I want to say this deliberately as a leader of
this movement. We have tried to hold it back, we have tried to keep it
from going beyond bounds, and I have never felt a prouder woman than I
did one night when a police constable said to me, after one of these
demonstrations, 'Had this been a man's demonstration, there would have
been bloodshed long ago.' Well, my lord, there has not been any
bloodshed except on the part of the women themselves--these so-called
militant women. Violence has been done to us, and I who stand before you
in this dock have lost a dear sister in the course of this agitation.
She died within three days of coming out of prison, a little more than a
year ago. These are things which, wherever we are, we do not say very
much about. We cannot keep cheery, we cannot keep cheerful, we cannot
keep the right kind of spirit, which means success, if we dwell too much
upon the hard part of our agitation. But I do say this, gentlemen, that
whatever in future you may think of us, you will say this about us, that
whatever our enemies may say, we have always put up an honourable
fight, and taken no unfair means of defeating our opponents, although
they have not always been people who have acted so honourably towards

"We have assaulted no one; we have done no hurt to any one; and it was
not until 'Black Friday'--and what happened on 'Black Friday' is that we
had a new Home Secretary, and there appeared to be new orders given to
the police, because the police on that occasion showed a kind of
ferocity in dealing with the women that they had never done before, and
the women came to us and said: 'We cannot bear this'--it was not until
then we felt this new form of repression should compel us to take
another step. That is the question of 'Black Friday,' and I want to say
here and now that every effort was made after 'Black Friday' to get an
open public judicial inquiry into the doings of 'Black Friday,' as to
the instructions given to the police. That inquiry was refused; but an
informal inquiry was held by a man, whose name will carry conviction as
to his status and moral integrity on the one side of the great political
parties, and a man of equal standing on the Liberal side. These two men
were Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Ellis Griffith. They held a private
inquiry, had women before them, took their evidence, examined that
evidence, and after hearing it said that they believed what the women
had told them was substantially true, and that they thought there was
good cause for that inquiry to be held. That was embodied in a report.
To show you our difficulties, Lord Robert Cecil, in a speech at the
Criterion Restaurant, spoke on this question. He called upon the
Government to hold this inquiry, and not one word of that speech was
reported in any morning paper. That is the sort of thing we have had to
face, and I welcome standing here, if only for the purpose of getting
these facts out, and I challenge the Attorney General to institute an
inquiry into these proceedings--not that kind of inquiry of sending
their inspectors to Holloway and accepting what they are told by the
officials--but to open a public inquiry, with a jury, if he likes, to
deal with our grievances against the Government and the methods of this

"I say it is not the defendants who have conspired, but the Government
who have conspired against us to crush this agitation; but however the
matter may be decided, we are content to abide by the verdict of
posterity. We are not the kind of people who like to brag a lot; we are
not the kind of people who would bring ourselves into this position
unless we were convinced that it was the only way. I have tried--all my
life I have worked for this question--I have tried arguments, I have
tried persuasion. I have addressed a greater number of public meetings,
perhaps, than any person in this court, and I have never addressed one
meeting where substantially the opinion of the meeting--not a ticket
meeting, but an open meeting, for I have never addressed any other kind
of a meeting--has not been that where women bear burdens and share
responsibilities like men they should be given the privileges that men
enjoy. I am convinced that public opinion is with us--that it has been
stifled--wilfully stifled--so that in a public Court of Justice one is
glad of being allowed to speak on this question."

The Attorney General's summing up for the prosecution was very largely a
defence of the Liberal Party and its course in regard to woman suffrage
legislation. Therefore, Mr. Tim Healey, in his defence of Mrs. Pethick
Lawrence, did well to lay stress on the political character of the
conspiracy charge and trial. He said:

"It is no doubt a very useful thing when you have political opponents to
be able to set the law in motion against them. I have not the smallest
doubt it would be a very convenient thing, if they had the courage to do
it, to shut up the whole of His Majesty's Opposition while the present
Government is in office--to lock up all the men of lustre and
distinction in our public forum and on our public platforms--all the
Carsons, F. E. Smiths, Bonar Laws, and so on. It would be a most
convenient thing to end the whole thing, as it would be to end women's
agitation in the form of the indictment. Gentlemen of the jury, whatever
words have been spoken by mutual opponents, whatever instructions have
been addressed, not to feeble females, but to men who boast of drilling
and of arms, they have not had the courage to prosecute anybody, except
women, by means of an indictment. Yet the Government of my learned
friend have selected two dates as cardinal dates, and they ask you to
pass judgment upon the prisoners at the bar, and to say that, without
rhyme or reason, taking the course suggested without provocation, these
responsible, well-bred, educated, University people, have suddenly, in
the words of the indictment, wickedly and with malice aforethought
engaged in these criminal designs.

"Gentlemen of the jury, the first thing I would ask in that connection
is this: What is there in the course of this demand put forward by women
which should have excited the treatment at the hands of His Majesty's
Ministers which this movement, according to the documents which are in
evidence before me, has received? I should suppose that the essence of
all government is the smooth conduct of affairs, so that those who enjoy
high station, great emoluments, should not be parties against whom the
accusation of provoking civic strife and breeding public turmoil should
be brought. What do we find? We find that, in regard to the treatment of
the demand which had always been put forward humbly, respectably,
respectfully, in its origin, by those who have received trade unionists,
anti-vaccinators, deceased wife's sisters, and all other forms of
political demand, and who have received them humbly and yielded to them,
we find that when these people advocating this particular form of civic
reform request an audience, request admission, request even to have
their petitions respectfully received, they have met, judicially, at all
events, with a flat and solemn negative. That is the beginning of this
unhappy spirit bred in the minds of persons like the defendants, persons
like those against whom evidence has been tendered--which has led to
your being empanelled in that box to-day. And I put it to you when you
are considering whether it is the incitement of my clients or the
conduct of Ministers that have led to these events--whether I cannot ask
you to say that even a fair apportionment of blame should not rest upon
more responsible shoulders, and whether you should go out of your way to
say that these persons in the dock alone are guilty."

In closing Mr. Healey reverted to the political character of the trial.
"The Government have undertaken this prosecution," he declared, "to
seclude for a considerable period their chief opponents. They hope there
will be at public meetings which they attend no more inconvenient cries
of 'Votes for Women.' I cannot conceive any other object which they
could have in bringing the prosecution. I have expressed my regret at
the loss which the shopkeepers, tradesmen and others have suffered. I
regret it deeply. I regret that any person should bring loss or
suffering upon innocent people. But I ask you to say that the law has
already been sufficiently vindicated by the punishment of the immediate
authors of the deed. What can be gained? Does justice gain?

"I almost hesitate to treat this as a legal inquiry. I regard it as a
vindictive political act. Of all the astonishing acts that have ever
been brought into a public court against a prisoner I cannot help
feeling the charge against Mr. Pethick Lawrence is the most astonishing.
He ventured to attend at some police courts and gave bail for women who
had been arrested in endeavouring, as I understand, to present petitions
to Parliament or to have resort to violence. I do not complain of the
way in which my learned friend has conducted the prosecution, but I do
complain of the police methods--inquiring into the homes and the
domestic circumstances of the prisoners, obtaining their papers, taking
their newspaper, going into their banking account, bringing up their
bankers here to say what is their balance; and I do say that in none of
the prosecutions of the past have smaller methods belittled a great
State trial, because, look at it as you will, you cannot get away from
it that this is a great State trial. It is not the women who are on
trial. It is the men. It is the system of Government which is upon its
trial. It is this method of rolling the dice by fifty-four counts in an
indictment without showing to what any bit of evidence is fairly
attributable; the system is on its trial--a system whereby every
innocent act in public life is sought to be enmeshed in a conspiracy."

The jury was absent for more than an hour, showing that they had some
difficulty in agreeing upon a verdict. When they returned it was plain
from their strained countenances that they were labouring under deep
feeling. The foreman's voice shook as he pronounced the verdict, guilty
as charged, and he had hard work to control his emotion as he added:
"Your Lordship, we unanimously desire to express the hope that, taking
into consideration the undoubtedly pure motives that underlie the
agitation that has led to this trouble, you will be pleased to exercise
the utmost clemency and leniency in dealing with the case."

A burst of applause followed this plea. Then Mr. Pethick Lawrence arose
and asked to say a few words before sentence was pronounced. He said
that it must be evident, aside from the jury's recommendation, that we
had been actuated by political motives, and that we were in fact
political offenders. It had been decided in English Courts that
political offenders were different from ordinary offenders, and Mr.
Lawrence cited the case of a Swiss subject whose extradition was refused
because of the political character of his offence. The Court on that
occasion had declared that even if the crime were murder committed with
a political motive it was a political crime. Mr. Lawrence also reminded
the judge of the case of the late Mr. W. T. Stead, convicted of a crime,
yet because of the unusual motive behind the crime, was allowed first
division treatment and full freedom to receive his family and friends.
Last of all the case of Dr. Jameson was cited. Although his raid
resulted in the death of twenty-one persons and the wounding of
forty-six more, the political character of his offence was taken into
account and he was made a first division prisoner.

They were men, fighting in a man's war. We of the W. S. P. U. were
women, fighting in a woman's war. Lord Coleridge, therefore, saw in us
only reckless and criminal defiers of law. Lord Coleridge said: "You
have been convicted of a crime for which the law would sanction, if I
chose to impose it, a sentence of two years' imprisonment with hard
labour. There are circumstances connected with your case which the jury
have very properly brought to my attention, and I have been asked by you
all three to treat you as first class misdemeanants. If, in the course
of this case, I had observed any contrition or disavowal of the acts
you have committed, or any hope that you would avoid repetition of them
in future, I should have been very much prevailed upon by the arguments
that have been advanced to me."

No contrition having been expressed by us, the sentence of the Court was
that we were to suffer imprisonment, in the second division, for the
term of nine months, and that we were to pay the costs of the


The sentence of nine months astonished us beyond measure, especially in
view of certain very recent events, one of these being the case of some
sailors who had mutinied in order to call attention to something which
they considered a peril to themselves and to all seafarers. They were
tried and found technically guilty, but because of the motive behind
their mutiny, were discharged without punishment. Perhaps more nearly
like our case than this was the case of the labour leader, Tom Mann,
who, shortly before, had written a pamphlet calling upon His Majesty's
soldiers not to fire upon strikers when commanded to do so by their
superior officers. From the Government's point of view this was a much
more serious kind of inciting than ours, because if it had been
responded to the authorities would have been absolutely crippled in
maintaining order. Besides, soldiers who refuse to obey orders are
liable to the death penalty. Tom Mann was given a sentence of six
months, but this was received, on the part of the Liberal Press and
Liberal politicians, with so much clamour and protest that the prisoner
was released at the end of two months. So, even on our way to prison, we
told one another that our sentences could not stand. Public opinion
would never permit the Government to keep us in prison for nine months,
or in the second division for any part of our term. We agreed to wait
seven Parliamentary days before we began a hunger strike protest.

It was very dreary waiting, those seven Parliamentary days, because we
could not know what was happening outside, or what was being talked of
in the House. We could know nothing of the protests and memorials that
were pouring in, on our behalf, from Oxford and Cambridge Universities,
from members of learned societies, and from distinguished men and women
of all professions, not only in England but in every country of Europe,
from the United States and Canada, and even from India. An international
memorial asking that we be treated as political prisoners was signed by
such great men and women as Prof. Paul Milyoukoff, leader of the
Constitutional Democrats in the Duma; Signor Enrico Ferri, of the
Italian Chamber of Deputies; Edward Bernstein, of the German Reichstag;
George Brandes, Edward Westermarck, Madame Curie, Ellen Key, Maurice
Maeterlinck, and many others. The greatest indignation was expressed in
the House, Keir Hardie and Mr. George Lansbury leading in the demand for
a drastic revision of our sentences and our immediate transference to
the first division. So much pressure was brought to bear that within a
few days the Home Secretary announced that he felt it his duty to
examine into the circumstances of the case without delay. He explained
that the prisoners had not at any time been forced to wear prison
clothes. Ultimately, which in this case means shortly before the
expiration of the seven Parliamentary days, we were all three placed in
the first division. Mrs. Pethick Lawrence was given the cell formerly
occupied by Dr. Jameson and I had the cell adjoining. Mr. Pethick
Lawrence, in Brixton Gaol, was similarly accommodated. We all had the
privilege of furnishing our cells with comfortable chairs, tables, our
own bedding, towels, and so on. We had meals sent in from the outside;
we wore our own clothing and had what books, newspapers and writing
materials we required. We were not permitted to write or receive letters
or to see our friends except in the ordinary two weeks' routine. Still
we had gained our point that suffrage prisoners were politicals.

We had gained it, but, as it turned out, only for ourselves. When we
made the inquiry, "Are all our women now transferred to the first
division?" the answer was that the order for transference referred only
to Mr. and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence and myself. Needless to say, we
immediately refused to accept this unfair advantage, and after we had
exhausted every means in our power to induce the Home Secretary to give
the other suffrage prisoners the same justice that we had received, we
adopted the protest of the hunger strike. The word flew swiftly through
Holloway, and in some mysterious way travelled to Brixton, to Aylesbury,
and Winson Green, and at once all the other suffrage prisoners followed
our lead. The Government then had over eighty hunger strikers on their
hands, and, as before, had ready only the argument of force, which means
that disgusting and cruel process of forcible feeding. Holloway became a
place of horror and torment. Sickening scenes of violence took place
almost every hour of the day, as the doctors went from cell to cell
performing their hideous office. One of the men did his work in such
brutal fashion that the very sight of him provoked cries of horror and
anguish. I shall never while I live forget the suffering I experienced
during the days when those cries were ringing in my ears. In her frenzy
of pain one woman threw herself from the gallery on which her cell
opened. A wire netting eight feet below broke her fall to the iron
staircase beneath, else she must inevitably have been killed. As it was
she was frightfully hurt.

The wholesale hunger strike created a tremendous stir throughout
England, and every day in the House the Ministers were harassed with
questions. The climax was reached on the third or fourth day of the
strike, when a stormy scene took place in the House of Commons. The
Under Home Secretary, Mr. Ellis Griffith, had been mercilessly
questioned as to conditions under which the forcible feeding was being
done, and as soon as this was over one of the suffragist members made a
moving appeal to the Prime Minister himself to order the release of all
the prisoners. Mr. Asquith, forced against his will to take part in the
controversy, rose and said that it was not for him to interfere with the
actions of his colleague, Mr. McKenna, and he added, in his own suave,
mendacious manner: "I must point out this, that there is not one single
prisoner who cannot go out of prison this afternoon on giving the
undertaking asked for by the Home Secretary." Meaning an undertaking to
refrain henceforth from militancy.

Instantly Mr. George Lansbury sprang to his feet and exclaimed: "You
know they cannot! It is perfectly disgraceful that the Prime Minister of
England should make such a statement."

Mr. Asquith glanced carelessly at the indignant Lansbury, but sank into
his seat without deigning to reply. Shocked to the depths of his soul by
the insult thrown at our women, Mr. Lansbury strode up to the
Ministerial bench and confronted the Prime Minister, saying again: "That
was a disgraceful thing for you to say, Sir. You are beneath contempt,
you and your colleagues. You call yourselves gentlemen, and you forcibly
feed and murder women in this fashion. You ought to be driven out of
office. Talk about protesting. It is the most disgraceful thing that
ever happened in the history of England. You will go down to history as
the men who tortured innocent women."

By this time the House was seething, and the indignant Labour member had
to shout at the top of his big voice in order to be heard over the din.
Mr. Asquith's pompous order that Mr. Lansbury leave the House for the
day was probably known to very few until it appeared in print next day.
At all events Mr. Lansbury continued his protest for five minutes
longer. "You murder, torture and drive women mad," he cried, "and then
you tell them they can walk out. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
You talk about principle--you talk about fighting in Ulster--you, too--"
turning to the Unionist benches--"You ought to be driven out of public
life. These women are showing you what principle is. You ought to
honour them for standing up for their womanhood. I tell you, Commons of
England, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves."

The Speaker came to Mr. Asquith's rescue at last and adjured Mr.
Lansbury that he must obey the Prime Minister's order to leave the
House, saying that such disorderly conduct would cause the House to lose
respect. "Sir," exclaimed Mr. Lansbury, in a final burst of righteous
rage, "it has lost it already."

This unprecedented explosion of wrath and scorn against the Government
was the sensation of the hour, and it was felt on all sides that the
release of the prisoners, or at least cessation of forcible feeding,
which amounted to the same thing, would be ordered. Every day the
Suffragettes marched in great crowds to Holloway, serenading the
prisoners and holding protest meetings to immense crowds. The music and
the cheering, faintly wafted to our straining ears, was inexpressibly
sweet. Yet it was while listening to one of these serenades that the
most dreadful moment of my imprisonment occurred. I was lying in bed,
very weak from starvation, when I heard a sudden scream from Mrs.
Lawrence's cell, then the sound of a prolonged and very violent
struggle, and I knew that they had dared to carry their brutal business
to our doors. I sprang out of bed and, shaking with weakness and with
anger, I set my back against the wall and waited for what might come. In
a few moments they had finished with Mrs. Lawrence and had flung open
the door of my cell. On the threshold I saw the doctors, and back of
them a large group of wardresses. "Mrs. Pankhurst," began the doctor.
Instantly I caught up a heavy earthenware water jug from a table hard
by, and with hands that now felt no weakness I swung the jug head high.

"If any of you dares so much as to take one step inside this cell I
shall defend myself," I cried. Nobody moved or spoke for a few seconds,
and then the doctor confusedly muttered something about to-morrow
morning doing as well, and they all retreated.

I demanded to be admitted to Mrs. Lawrence's cell, where I found my
companion in a desperate state. She is a strong woman, and a very
determined one, and it had required the united strength of nine
wardresses to overcome her. They had rushed into the cell without any
warning, and had seized her unawares, else they might not have succeeded
at all. As it was she resisted so violently that the doctors could not
apply the stethoscope, and they had very great difficulty in getting the
tube down. After the wretched affair was over Mrs. Lawrence fainted, and
for hours afterwards was very ill.

This was the last attempt made to forcibly feed either Mrs. Lawrence or
myself, and two days later we were ordered released on medical grounds.
The other hunger strikers were released in batches, as every day a few
more triumphant rebels approached the point where the Government stood
in danger of committing actual murder. Mr. Lawrence, who was forcibly
fed twice a day for more than ten days, was released in a state of
complete collapse on July 1st. Within a few days after that the last of
the prisoners were at liberty.

As soon as I was sufficiently recovered I went to Paris and had the joy
of seeing again my daughter Christabel, who, during all the days of
strife and misery, had kept her personal anxiety in the background and
had kept staunchly at her work of leadership. The absence of Mr. and
Mrs. Pethick Lawrence had thrown the entire responsibility of the
editorship of our paper, _Votes for Women_, on her shoulders, but as she
has invariably risen to meet new responsibility, she conducted the paper
with skill and discretion.

We had much to talk about and to consider, because it was evident that
militancy, instead of being dropped, as the other suffrage societies
were constantly suggesting, must go on very much more vigorously than
before. The struggle had been too long drawn out. We had to seek ways to
shorten it, to bring it to such a climax that the Government would
acknowledge that something had to be done. We had already demonstrated
that our forces were impregnable. We could not be conquered, we could
not be terrified, we could not even be kept in prison. Therefore, since
the Government had their war lost in advance, our task was merely to
hasten the surrender.

The situation in Parliament, as far as the suffrage question was
concerned, was clean swept and barren. The third Conciliation Bill had
failed to pass its second reading, the majority against it being

Many Liberal members were afraid to vote for the bill because Mr.
Lloyd-George and Mr. Lewis Harcourt had persistently spread the rumour
that its passage, at that time, would result in splitting the Cabinet.
The Irish Nationalist members had become hostile to the bill because
their leader, Mr. Redmond, was an anti-suffragist, and had refused to
include a woman suffrage clause in the Home Rule Bill. Our erstwhile
friends, the Labour members, were so apathetic, or so fearful for
certain of their own measures, that most of them stayed away from the
House on the day the bill reached its second reading. So it was lost,
and the Militants were blamed for its loss! In June the Government
announced that Mr. Asquith's manhood suffrage bill would soon be
introduced, and very soon after this the bill did appear. It simplified
the registration machinery, reduced the qualifying period of residence
to six months, and abolished property qualifications, plural voting and
University representation. In a word, it gave the Parliamentary
franchise to every man above the age of twenty-one and it denied it to
all women. Never in the history of the suffrage movement had such an
affront been offered to women, and never in the history of England had
such a blow been aimed at women's liberties. It is true that the Prime
Minister had pledged himself to introduce a bill capable of being
amended to include women's suffrage, and to permit any amendment that
passed its second reading to become a part of the bill. But we had no
faith in an amendment, nor in any bill that was not from its inception
an official Government measure. Mr. Asquith had broken every pledge he
had ever made the women, and this new pledge impressed us not at all.
Well we knew that he had given it only to cover his treachery in
torpedoing the Conciliation Bill, and in the hope of placating the
suffragists, perhaps securing another truce to militancy.

If this last was his hope he was most grievously disappointed. Signs
were constantly appearing to indicate that women would no longer be
contented with the symbolic militancy involved in window breaking. For
example, traces were found in the Home Secretary's office at Whitehall
of an attempt at arson. On the doorstep of another Cabinet Minister
similar traces were found. Had the Government acted upon these warnings,
by giving women the vote, all the serious acts of militancy that have
occurred since would have been averted. But like the heart of Pharaoh,
the heart of the Government hardened, and militant acts followed one
another in rapid succession. In July the W. S. P. U. issued a manifesto
which set forth our intentions in that regard. The manifesto read in
part as follows:

"The leaders of the Women's Social and Political Union have so often
warned the Government that unless the vote were granted to women in
response to the mild militancy of the past, a fiercer spirit of revolt
would be awakened which it would be impossible to control. The
Government have blindly disregarded the warning, and now they are
reaping the harvest of their unstatesmanlike folly."

This was issued immediately after a visit paid by Mr. Asquith to Dublin.
The occasion had been intended to be one of great pomp and circumstance,
a huge popular demonstration in honour of the sponsor of Home Rule, but
the Suffragettes turned it into the most lamentable fiasco imaginable.
From the hour of Mr. Asquith's attempted secret departure from London
until his return he lived and moved in momentary dread of Suffragettes.
Every time he entered or left a railway carriage or a steamer he was
confronted by women. Every time he rose to speak he was interrupted by
women. Every public appearance he made was turned into a riot by women.
As he left Dublin a woman threw a hatchet into his motor car, without,
however, doing him any injury. As a final protest against his reception
by Irishmen, the Theatre Royal was set on fire by two women. The theatre
was practically empty at the time, the performance having been
completed, and the damage done was comparatively small, yet the two
women chiefly concerned, Mrs. Leigh and Miss Evans, were given the
barbarous sentences of five years each in prison. These were the first
women sentenced to penal servitude in the history of our movement. Of
course they did not serve their sentences. On entering Mountjoy Prison
they put in the usual claim for first division treatment, and this being
refused, they immediately adopted the hunger strike. A number of Irish
Suffragettes were in Mountjoy at this time for a protest made against
the exclusion of women from the Home Rule Bill. They were in the first
division, and they were almost on the eve of their release, but such is
the indomitable spirit of militancy that these women entered upon a
sympathetic hunger strike. They were released, but the Government
forbade the release of Mrs. Leigh and Miss Evans, that is, they ordered
the authorities to retain the women as long as they could, by forcible
feeding, be kept alive. After a struggle which, for fierceness and
cruelty, is almost unparalleled in our annals, the two women fought
their way out.

All during that summer militancy surged up and down throughout the
Kingdom. A series of attacks on golf links was instituted, not at all in
a spirit of wanton mischief, but with the direct and very practical
object of reminding the dull and self-satisfied English public that when
the liberties of English women were being stolen from them was no time
to think of sports. The women selected country clubs where prominent
Liberal politicians were wont to take their week-end pleasures, and with
acids they burned great patches of turf, rendering the golf greens
useless for the time being. They burned the words, Votes for Women, in
some cases, and always they left behind them reminders that women were
warring for their freedom. On one occasion when the Court was at
Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the Suffragettes invaded the Royal golf
links, and when Sunday morning dawned all the marking flags were found
to have been replaced by W. S. P. U. flags hearing inscriptions such as
"Votes for Women means peace for Ministers," "Forcible feeding must be
stopped," and the like. The golf links were frequently visited by
Suffragettes in order to question recreant ministers. Two women followed
the Prime Minister to Inverness, where he was playing golf with Mr.
McKenna. Approaching the men one Suffragette exclaimed: "Mr. Asquith,
you must stop forcible feeding--" She got no farther, for Mr. Asquith,
turning pale with rage--perhaps--retreated behind the Home Secretary,
who, quite forgetting his manners, seized the Suffragette, crying out
that he was going to throw her into the pond. "Then we will take you
with us," the two retorted, after which a very lively scuffle ensued,
and the women were not thrown into the pond.


This golf green activity really aroused more hostility against us than
all the window-breaking. The papers published appeals to us not to
interfere with a game that helped weary politicians to think clearly,
but our reply to this was that it had not had any such effect on the
Prime Minister or Mr. Lloyd-George. We had undertaken to spoil their
sport and that of a large class of comfortable men in order that they
should be obliged to think clearly about women, and women's firm
determination to get justice.

I made my return to active work in the autumn by speaking at a great
meeting of the W. S. P. U., held in the Albert Hall. At that meeting I
had the announcement to make that the six years' association of Mr. and
Mrs. Pethick Lawrence with the W. S. P. U. had ended.

Since personal dissensions have never been dwelt upon in the
W. S. P. U., have never been allowed to halt the movement or to
interfere for an hour with its progress, I shall not here say any more
about this important dissension than I said at our first large meeting
in Albert Hall after the holiday, on October 17th. That day a new paper
was sold on the streets. It was called _The Suffragette_, it was edited
by Christabel Pankhurst, and was henceforth to be the official organ of
the Union. Both in this new paper and in _Votes for Women_, the
following announcement appeared:


     At the first reunion of the leaders after the enforced holiday,
     Mrs. Pankhurst and Miss Christabel Pankhurst outlined a new
     militant policy which Mr. and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence found
     themselves altogether unable to approve.

     Mrs. Pankhurst and Miss Christabel Pankhurst indicated that they
     were not prepared to modify their intentions, and recommended that
     Mr. and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence should resume control of the Paper,
     _Votes for Women_, and should leave the Women's Social and
     Political Union.

     Rather than make schism in the ranks of the Union Mr. and Mrs.
     Pethick Lawrence consented to take this course.

This was signed by all four. That night at the meeting I further
explained to the members that, hard as partings from old friends and
comrades unquestionably were, we must remember that we were fighting in
an army, and that unity of purpose and unity of policy are absolutely
necessary, because without them the army is hopelessly weakened. "It is
better," I said, "that those who cannot agree, cannot see eye to eye as
to policy, should set themselves free, should part, and should be free
to continue their policy as they see it in their own way, unfettered by
those with whom they can no longer agree."

Continuing I said: "I give place to none in appreciation and gratitude
to Mr. and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence for the incalculable services that they
have rendered the militant movement for Woman Suffrage, and I firmly
believe that the women's movement will be strengthened by their being
free to work for woman suffrage in the future as they think best, while
we of the Women's Social and Political Union shall continue the militant
agitation for Woman Suffrage initiated by my daughter and myself and a
handful of women more than six years ago."

I then went on to survey the situation in which the W. S. P. U. now
stood and to outline the new militant policy which he had decided upon.
This policy, to begin with, was relentless opposition, not only to the
party in power, the Liberal Party, but to all parties in the coalition.
I reminded the women that the Government that had tricked and betrayed
us and was now plotting to make our progress towards citizenship doubly
difficult, was kept in office through the coalition of three parties.
There was the Liberal Party, nominally the governing party, but they
could not live another day without the coalition of the Nationalist and
the Labour parties. So we should say, not only to the Liberal Party but
to the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party, "So long as you keep in
office an anti-suffrage Government, you are parties to their guilt, and
from henceforth we offer you the same opposition which we give to the
people whom you are keeping in power with your support." I said further:
"We have summoned the Labour Party to do their duty by their own
programme, and to go into opposition to the Government on every question
until the Government do justice to women. They apparently are not
willing to do that. Some of them tell us that other things are more
important than the liberty of women--than the liberty of working women.
We say, 'Then, gentlemen, we must teach you the value of your own
principles, and until you are prepared to stand for the right of women
to decide their lives and the laws under which they shall live, you,
with Mr. Asquith and company, are equally responsible for all that has
happened and is happening to women in this struggle for emancipation.'"

Outlining further our new and stronger policy of aggression, I said:
"There is a great deal of criticism, ladies and gentlemen, of this
movement. It always seems to me when the anti-suffrage members of the
Government criticise militancy in women that it is very like beasts of
prey reproaching the gentler animals who turn in desperate resistance
when at the point of death. Criticism from gentlemen who do not hesitate
to order out armies to kill and slay their opponents, who do not
hesitate to encourage party mobs to attack defenceless women in public
meetings--criticism from them hardly rings true. Then I get letters from
people who tell me that they are ardent suffragists but who say that
they do not like the recent developments in the militant movement, and
implore me to urge the members not to be reckless with human life.
Ladies and gentlemen, the only recklessness the militant suffragists
have shown about human life has been about their own lives and not about
the lives of others, and I say here and now that it has never been and
never will be the policy of the Women's Social and Political Union
recklessly to endanger human life. We leave that to the enemy. We leave
that to the men in their warfare. It is not the method of women. No,
even from the point of view of public policy, militancy affecting the
security of human life would be out of place. _There is something that
governments care far more for than human life, and that is the security
of property, and so it is through property that we shall strike the
enemy._ From henceforward the women who agree with me will say, 'We
disregard your laws, gentlemen, we set the liberty and the dignity and
the welfare of women above all such considerations, and we shall
continue this war, as we have done in the past; and what sacrifice of
property, or what injury to property accrues will not be our fault. It
will be the fault of that Government who admit the justice of our
demands, but refuses to concede them without the evidence, so they have
told us, afforded to governments of the past, that those who asked for
liberty were in earnest in their demands!"

I called upon the women of the meeting to join me in this new militancy,
and I reminded them anew that the women who were fighting in the
Suffragette army had a great mission, the greatest mission the world has
ever known--the freeing of one-half the human race, and through that
freedom the saving of the other half. I said to them: "Be militant each
in your own way. Those of you who can express your militancy by going to
the House of Commons and refusing to leave without satisfaction, as we
did in the early days--do so. Those of you who can express militancy by
facing party mobs at Cabinet Ministers' meetings, when you remind them
of their falseness to principle--do so. Those of you who can express
your militancy by joining us in our anti-Government by-election
policy--do so. Those of you who can break windows--break them. Those of
you who can still further attack the secret idol of property, so as to
make the Government realise that property is as greatly endangered by
women's suffrage as it was by the Chartists of old--do so. And my last
word is to the Government: I incite this meeting to rebellion. I say to
the Government: You have not dared to take the leaders of Ulster for
their incitement to rebellion. Take me if you dare, but if you dare I
tell you this, that so long as those who incited to armed rebellion and
the destruction of human life in Ulster are at liberty, you will not
keep me in prison. So long as men rebels--and voters--are at liberty,
we will not remain in prison, first division or no first division."

I ask my readers, some of whom no doubt will be shocked and displeased
at these words of mine that I have so frankly set down, to put
themselves in the place of those women who for years had given their
lives entirely and unstintingly to the work of securing political
freedom for women; who had converted so great a proportion of the
electorate that, had the House of Commons been a free body, we should
have won that freedom years before; who had seen their freedom withheld
from them through treachery and misuse of power. I ask you to consider
that we had used, in our agitation, only peaceful means until we saw
clearly that peaceful means were absolutely of no avail, and then for
years we had used only the mildest militancy, until we were taunted by
Cabinet Ministers, and told that we should never get the vote until we
employed the same violence that men had used in their agitation for
suffrage. After that we had used stronger militancy, but even that, by
comparison with the militancy of men in labour disputes, could not
possibly be counted as violent. Through all these stages of our
agitation we had been punished with the greatest severity, sent to
prison like common criminals, and of late years tortured as no criminals
have been tortured for a century in civilised countries of the world.
And during all these years we had seen disastrous strikes that had
caused suffering and death, to say nothing at all of the enormous
economic waste, and we had never seen a single strike leader punished as
we had been. We, who had suffered sentences of nine months' imprisonment
for inciting women to mild rebellion, had seen a labour leader who had
done his best to incite an army to mutiny released from prison in two
months by the Government. And now we had come to a point where we saw
civil war threatened, where we read in the papers every day reports of
speeches a thousand times more incendiary than anything we had ever
said. We heard prominent members of Parliament openly declaring that if
the Home Rule Bill was passed Ulster would fight, and Ulster would be
right. None of these men were arrested. Instead they were applauded.
Lord Selborne, one of our sternest critics, referring to the fact that
Ulstermen were drilling under arms, said publicly: "The method which the
people of Ulster are adopting to show the depths of their convictions
and the intensity of their feelings will impress the imagination of the
whole country." But Lord Selborne was not arrested. Neither were the
mutinous officers who resigned their commissions when ordered to report
for duty against the men of Ulster who were actually preparing for civil

What does all this mean? Why is it that men's blood-shedding militancy
is applauded and women's symbolic militancy punished with a prison cell
and the forcible feeding horror? It means simply this, that men's double
standard of sex morals, whereby the victims of their lust are counted as
outcasts, while the men themselves escape all social censure, really
applies to morals in all departments of life. Men make the moral code
and they expect women to accept it. They have decided that it is
entirely right and proper for men to fight for their liberties and their
rights, but that it is not right and proper for women to fight for

They have decided that for men to remain silently quiescent while
tyrannical rulers impose bonds of slavery upon them is cowardly and
dishonourable, but that for women to do that same thing is not cowardly
and dishonourable, but merely respectable. Well, the Suffragettes
absolutely repudiate that double standard of morals. If it is right for
men to fight for their freedom, and God knows what the human race would
be like to-day if men had not, since time began, fought for their
freedom, then it is right for women to fight for their freedom and the
freedom of the children they bear. On this declaration of faith the
militant women of England rest their case.


[3] There is no question that a great deal of the animus directed
against us during 1913 and 1914 by the Government was due to sex
bitterness stirred up by a series of articles written by Christabel
Pankhurst and published in _The Suffragette_. These articles, a fearless
and authoritative exposé of the evils of sexual immoralities and their
blasting effect on innocent wives and children, have since been
published in a book called "The Great Scourge, and how to end it,"
issued by David Nutt, New Oxford Street, London W. C.


I had called upon women to join me in striking at the Government through
the only thing that governments are really very much concerned
about--property--and the response was immediate. Within a few days the
newspapers rang with the story of the attack made on letter boxes in
London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol, and half a dozen other cities.
In some cases the boxes, when opened by postmen, mysteriously burst into
flame; in others the letters were destroyed by corrosive chemicals; in
still others the addresses were rendered illegible by black fluids.
Altogether it was estimated that over 5,000 letters were completely
destroyed and many thousands more were delayed in transit.

It was with a deep sense of their gravity that these letter-burning
protests were undertaken, but we felt that something drastic must be
done in order to destroy the apathy of the men of England who view with
indifference the suffering of women oppressed by unjust laws. As we
pointed out, letters, precious though they may be, are less precious
than human bodies and souls. This fact was universally realised at the
sinking of the _Titanic_. Letters and valuables disappeared forever, but
their loss was forgotten in the far more terrible loss of the multitude
of human lives. And so, in order to call attention to greater crimes
against human beings, our letter burnings continued.

In only a few cases were the offenders apprehended, and one of the few
women arrested was a helpless cripple, a woman who could move about only
in a wheeled chair. She received a sentence of eight months in the first
division, and, resolutely hunger striking, was forcibly fed with unusual
brutality, the prison doctor deliberately breaking one of her teeth in
order to insert a gag. In spite of her disabilities and her weakness the
crippled girl persisted in her hunger strike and her resistance to
prison rules, and within a short time had to be released. The excessive
sentences of the other pillar box destroyers resolved themselves into
very short terms because of the resistance of the prisoners, every one
of whom adopted the hunger strike.

Having shown the Government that we were in deadly earnest when we
declared that we would adopt guerrilla warfare, and also that we would
not remain in prison, we announced a truce in order that the Government
might have full opportunity to fulfil their pledge in regard to a woman
suffrage amendment to the Franchise Bill. We did not, for one moment,
believe that Mr. Asquith would willingly keep his word. We knew that he
would break it if he could, but there was a bare chance that he would
not find this possible. However, our principal reason for declaring the
truce was that we believed that the Prime Minister would find a way of
evading his promise, and we were determined that the blame should be
placed, not on militancy, but on the shoulders of the real traitor. We
reviewed the history of past suffrage bills: In 1908 the bill had passed
its second reading by a majority of 179; and then Mr. Asquith had
refused to allow it to go on; in 1910 the Conciliation Bill passed its
second reading by a majority of 110, and again Mr. Asquith blocked its
progress, pledging himself that if the bill were reintroduced in 1911,
in a form rendering it capable of free amendment, it would be given full
facilities for becoming law; these conditions were met in 1911, and we
saw how the bill, after receiving the increased majority of 167 votes,
was torpedoed by the introduction of a Government manhood suffrage bill.
Mr. Asquith this time had pledged himself that the bill would be so
framed that a woman suffrage amendment could be added, and he further
pledged that in case such an amendment was carried through its second
reading, he would allow it to become a part of the bill. Just exactly
how the Government would manage to wriggle out of their promise was a
matter of excited speculation.

All sorts of rumours were flying about, some hinting at the resignation
of the Prime Minister, some suggesting the possibility of a general
election, others that the amended bill would carry with it a forced
referendum on women's suffrage. It was also said that the intention of
the Government was to delay the bill so long that, after it was passed
in the House, it would be excluded from the benefits of the Parliament
Acts, according to which a bill, delayed of passage beyond the first two
years of the life of a Parliament, has no chance of being considered by
the Lords. In order to become a law without the sanction of the House
of Lords, a bill must pass three times through the House of Commons. The
prospect of a woman suffrage bill doing that was practically nil.

To none of the rumours would Mr. Asquith give specific denial, and in
fact the only positive utterance he made on the subject of the Franchise
Bill was that he considered it highly improbable that the House would
pass a woman suffrage amendment. In order to discourage woman suffrage
sentiment in the House, Mr. Lloyd-George and Mr. Lewis Harcourt again
busied themselves with spreading pessimistic prophecies of a Cabinet
split in case an amendment was carried. No other threat, they well knew,
would so terrorize the timid back bench Liberals, who, in addition to
their blind party loyalty, stood in fear of losing their seats in the
general election which would follow such a split. Rather than risk their
political jobs they would have sacrificed any principle. Of course the
hint of a Cabinet split was pure buncombe, and it deceived few of the
members. But it established very clearly one thing, and this was that
Mr. Asquith's promise that the House should be left absolutely free to
decide the suffrage issue, and that the Cabinet stood ready to bow to
the decision of the House was never meant to be fulfilled.

The Franchise Bill unamended, by its very wording, specifically denied
the right of any woman to vote. Sir Edward Grey moved an amendment
deleting from the bill the word male, thus leaving room for a women's
suffrage amendment. Two such amendments were moved, one providing for
adult suffrage for men and women, and the other providing full suffrage
for women householders and wives of householders. The latter postponed
the voting age of women to twenty-five years, instead of the men's
twenty-one. On January 24th, 1913, debate on the first of the amendments
was begun. A day and a half had been allotted to consideration of Sir
Edward Grey's amendment, which if carried would leave the way clear for
consideration of the other two, to each of which one-third of a day was

We had arranged for huge meetings to be held every day during the
debates, and on the day before they were to open we sent a deputation of
working women, led by Mrs. Drummond and Miss Annie Kenney, to interview
Mr. Lloyd-George and Sir Edward Grey. We had asked Mr. Asquith to
receive the deputation, but, as usual, he refused. The deputation
consisted of the two leaders, four cotton mill operatives from
Lancashire, four workers in sweated trades of London, two pit brow
lassies, two teachers, two trained nurses, one shop assistant, one
laundress, one boot and shoe worker and one domestic worker, twenty in
all, the exact number specified by Mr. Lloyd-George. Some hundreds of
working women escorted the deputation to the official residence of the
Chancellor of the Exchequer and waited anxiously in the street to hear
the result of the audience.

The result was, of course, barren. Mr. Lloyd-George glibly repeated his
confidence in the "great opportunity" afforded by the Franchise Bill,
and Sir Edward Grey, reminding the women of the divergence of view held
by the members of Cabinet on the suffrage question, assured them that
their best opportunity for success lay in an amendment to the present
bill. The women spoke with the greatest candour to the two ministers and
questioned them sharply as to the integrity of the Prime Minister's
pledge to accept the amendments, if passed. To such depth of infamy had
English politics sunk that it was possible for women openly to question
the plighted word of the King's chief Minister! Mrs. Drummond, who
stands in awe of no human being, in plain words invited the slippery Mr.
Lloyd-George to clear his own character from obloquy. In the closing
words of her speech she put the whole matter clearly up to him, saying:
"Now, Mr. Lloyd-George, you have doggedly stuck to your old age
pensions, and the insurance act, and secured them, and what you have
done for these measures you can do also for the women."

The House met on the following afternoon to debate Sir Edward Grey's
permissive amendment, but no sooner had the discussion opened than a
veritable bombshell was cast into the situation. Mr. Bonar Law arose and
asked for a ruling on the constitutionality of a woman's suffrage
amendment to the bill as framed. The Speaker, who, besides acting as the
presiding officer of the House, is its official parliamentarian, replied
that, in his opinion, such an amendment would make a huge difference in
the bill, and that he would be obliged, at a later stage of the debates,
to consider carefully whether, if carried, any woman suffrage amendment
would not so materially alter the bill that it would have to be
withdrawn. In spite of this sinister pronouncement, the House continued
to debate the Grey amendment, which was ably supported by Lord Hugh
Cecil, Sir John Rolleston, and others.

During the intervening week-end holiday two Cabinet councils were held,
and when the House met on Monday the Prime Minister called upon the
Speaker for his ruling. The Speaker declared that, in his opinion, the
passage of any one of the woman suffrage amendments would so alter the
scope of the Franchise Bill as practically to create a new bill, because
the measure, as it was framed, did not have for its main object the
bestowal of the franchise on a hitherto excluded class. Had it been so
framed a woman suffrage amendment would have been entirely proper. But
the main object of the bill was to alter the qualification, or the basis
of registration for a Parliamentary vote. It would increase the male
electorate, but only as an indirect result of the changed
qualifications. An amendment to the bill removing the sex barrier from
the election laws was not, in the Speaker's opinion, a proper one.

The Prime Minister then announced the intentions of the Cabinet, which
were to withdraw the Franchise Bill and to refrain from introducing,
during that session, a plural voting bill. Mr. Asquith blandly admitted
that his pledge in regard to women's suffrage had been rendered
incapable of fulfilment, and he said that he felt constrained to give a
new pledge to take its place. There were only two that could be given.
The first was that the Government should bring in a bill to enfranchise
women, and this the Government would not do. The second was that the
Government agree to give full facilities as to time, during the next
session of Parliament, to a private member's bill, so drafted as to be
capable of free amendment. This was the course that the Government had
decided to adopt. Mr. Asquith had the effrontery to say in conclusion
that he thought that the House would agree that he had striven and had
succeeded in giving effect, both in letter and in spirit, to every
undertaking which the Government had given.

Two members only, Mr. Henderson and Mr. Keir Hardie had the courage to
stand up on the floor of the House and denounce the Government's
treachery, for treachery it unquestionably was. Mr. Asquith had pledged
his sacred honour to introduce a bill that would be capable of an
amendment to include women's suffrage, and he had framed a bill that
could not be so amended. Whether he had done the thing deliberately,
with the plain intention of selling out the women, or whether ignorance
of Parliamentary rules accounted for the failure of the bill was
immaterial. The bill need not have been drawn in ignorance. The fount of
wisdom represented by Mr. Speaker could have been consulted at the time
the bill was under construction quite as easily as when it had reached
the debating stage. Our paper said editorially, representing and
perfectly expressing our member's views: "Either the Government are so
ignorant of Parliamentary procedure that they are unfit to occupy any
position of responsibility, or else they are scoundrels of the worst

I am inclined to think that the verdict of posterity will lean towards
the later conclusion. If Mr. Asquith had been a man of honour he would
have reframed the Franchise Bill in such a way that it could have
included a suffrage amendment, or else he would have made amends for his
stupendous blunder--if it was a blunder--by introducing a Government
measure for women's suffrage. He did neither, but disposed of the matter
by promising facilities for a private member's bill which he knew, and
which everybody knew, could not possibly pass.

There was no chance for a private member's bill, even with facilities,
because of a number of reasons, but principally because the torpedoing
of the Conciliation Bill had destroyed utterly the spirit of
conciliation in which Conservatives, Liberals and Radicals in the House
of Commons, and militant and non-militant women throughout the Kingdom
had set aside their differences of opinion and agreed to come together
on a compromise measure. When the second Conciliation Bill, of 1911, was
under discussion, Lord Lytton had said: "If this bill does not go
through, the woman suffrage movement will not be stopped, but the spirit
of conciliation of which this bill is an expression will be destroyed,
and there will he war throughout the country, raging, tearing, fierce,
bitter strife, though nobody wants it."

Lord Lytton's words were prophetic. At this last brazen piece of
trickery on the part of the Government the country blazed with bitter
wrath. All the suffrage societies united in calling for a Government
measure for women's suffrage to be introduced without delay. The idle
promise of facilities for a private member's bill was rejected with
contumely and scorn. The Liberal women's executive committee met, and a
strong effort was made to pass a resolution threatening the withdrawal
from party work of the entire federation, but this failed and the
executive merely passed a feeble resolution of regret.

The membership of the Women's Liberal Federation was, at that time,
close to 200,000, and if the executive had passed the strong resolution,
refusing to do any more work for the party until a Government measure
had been introduced, the Government would have been forced to yield.
They could not have faced the country without the support of the women.
But these women, many of them, were wives of men in the service, the
paid service of the Liberal Party. Many of them were wives of Liberal
members. They lacked the courage, or the intelligence, or the insight,
to declare war as a body on the Government. A large number of women, and
also many men, did resign from the Liberal Party, but the defections
were not serious enough to affect the Government.

The militants declared, and proceeded instantly to carry out,
unrelenting warfare. We announced that either we must have a Government
measure, or a Cabinet split--those men in the Cabinet calling themselves
suffragists going out--or we would take up the sword again, never to lay
it down until the enfranchisement of the women of England was won.

It was at this time, February, 1913, less than two years ago as I write
these words, that militancy, as it is now generally understood by the
public began--militancy in the sense of continued, destructive, guerilla
warfare against the Government through injury to private property. Some
property had been destroyed before this time, but the attacks were
sporadic, and were meant to be in the nature of a warning as to what
might become a settled policy. Now we indeed lighted the torch, and we
did it with the absolute conviction that no other course was open to us.
We had tried every other measure, as I am sure that I have demonstrated
to my readers, and our years of work and suffering and sacrifice had
taught us that the Government would not yield to right and justice, what
the majority of members of the House of Commons admitted was right and
justice, but that the Government would, as other governments invariably
do, yield to expediency. Now our task was to show the Government that it
was expedient to yield to the women's just demands. In order to do that
we had to make England and every department of English life insecure and
unsafe. We had to make English law a failure and the courts farce comedy
theatres; we had to discredit the Government and Parliament in the eyes
of the world; we had to spoil English sports, hurt business, destroy
valuable property, demoralise the world of society, shame the churches,
upset the whole orderly conduct of life--

That is, we had to do as much of this guerilla warfare as the people of
England would tolerate. When they came to the point of saying to the
Government: "Stop this, in the only way it can be stopped, by giving
the women of England representation," then we should extinguish our

Americans, of all people, ought to see the logic of our reasoning. There
is one piece of American oratory, beloved of schoolboys, which has often
been quoted from militant platforms. In a speech now included among the
classics of the English language your great statesman, Patrick Henry,
summed up the causes that led to the American Revolution. He said: "We
have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we have supplicated, we have
prostrated ourselves at the foot of the throne, and it has all been in
vain. We must fight--I repeat it, sir, we must fight."

Patrick Henry, remember, was advocating killing people, as well as
destroying private property, as the proper means of securing the
political freedom of men. The Suffragettes have not done that, and they
never will. In fact the moving spirit of militancy is deep and abiding
reverence for human life. In the latter course of our agitation I have
been called upon to discuss our policies with many eminent men,
politicians, literary men, barristers, scientists, clergymen. One of the
last named, a high dignitary of the Church of England, told me that
while he was a convinced suffragist, he found it impossible to justify
our doing wrong that right might follow. I said to him: "We are not
doing wrong--we are doing right in our use of revolutionary methods
against private property. It is our work to restore thereby true values,
to emphasise the value of human rights against property rights. You are
well aware, sir, that property has assumed a value in the eyes of men,
and in the eyes of the law, that it ought never to claim. It is placed
above all human values. The lives and health and happiness, and even the
virtue of women and children--that is to say, the race itself--are being
ruthlessly sacrificed to the god of property every day of the world."

To this my reverend friend agreed, and I said: "If we women are wrong in
destroying private property in order that human values may be restored,
then I say, in all reverence, that it was wrong for the Founder of
Christianity to destroy private property, as He did when He lashed the
money changers out of the Temple and when He drove the Gaderene swine
into the sea."

It was absolutely in this spirit that our women went forth to war. In
the first month of guerilla warfare an enormous amount of property was
damaged and destroyed. On January 31st a number of putting greens were
burned with acids; on February 7th and 8th telegraph and telephone wires
were cut in several places and for some hours all communication between
London and Glasgow were suspended; a few days later windows in various
of London's smartest clubs were broken, and the orchid houses at Kew
were wrecked and many valuable blooms destroyed by cold. The jewel room
at the Tower of London was invaded and a showcase broken. The residence
of H. R. H. Prince Christian and Lambeth Palace, seat of the Archbishop
of Canterbury, were visited and had windows broken. The refreshment
house in Regents Park was burned to the ground on February 12th and on
February 18th a country house which was being built at
Walton-on-the-Hill for Mr. Lloyd-George was partially destroyed, a bomb
having been exploded in the early morning before the arrival of the
workmen. A hat pin and a hair pin picked up near the house--coupled with
the fact that care had been taken not to endanger any lives--led the
police to believe that the deed had been done by women enemies of Mr.
Lloyd-George. Four days later I was arrested and brought up in Epsom
police court, where I was charged with having "counselled and procured"
the persons who did the damage. Admitted to bail for the night, I
appeared next morning in court, where the case was fully reviewed.
Speeches of mine were read, one speech, made at a meeting held on
January 22nd, in which I called for volunteers to act with me in a
particular engagement; and another, made the day after the explosion, in
which I publicly accepted responsibility for all militant acts done in
the past, and even for what had been done at Walton. At the conclusion
of the hearing I was committed for trial at the May Assizes at
Guildford. Bail would be allowed, it was stated, if I would agree to
give the usual undertaking to refrain from all militancy or incitement
to militancy.

I asked that the case be set for speedy trial at the Assizes then in
progress. I was entirely willing, I said, to give an undertaking for a
short period, for a week, or even two weeks, but I could not possibly do
so for a much longer period, looking at the fact that a new session of
Parliament began in March, and was vitally concerned with the interests
of women. The request was refused, and I was ordered to be taken to
Holloway. I warned the magistrate that I should at once adopt the hunger
strike, and I told him that if I lived at all until the summer it would
be a dying woman who would come up for trial.

Arriving at Holloway I carried out my intention, but within twenty-four
hours I heard that the authorities had arranged that my trial should
take place on April 1st, instead of at the end of June, and at the
Central Criminal Court, London, instead of the Guildford Court. I then
gave the required under-takings and was immediately released on bail.


When I entered Old Bailey on that memorable Wednesday, April 2nd, 1913,
to be tried for inciting to commit a felony, the court was packed with
women. A great crowd of women who could not obtain the necessary tickets
remained in the streets below for hours waiting news of the trial. A
large number of detectives from Scotland Yard, and a still larger number
of uniformed police were on duty both inside and outside the court. I
could not imagine why it was considered necessary to have such a
regiment of police on hand, for I had not, at that time, realised the
state of terror into which the militant movement, in its new
development, had thrown the authorities.

Mr. Bodkin and Mr. Travers Humphreys appeared to prosecute on behalf of
the Crown, and I conducted my own case, in consultation with my
solicitor, Mr. Marshall. The Judge, Mr. Justice Lush, having taken his
seat I entered the dock and listened to the reading of the indictment. I
pled "not guilty," not because I wished to evade responsibility for the
explosion,--I had already assumed that responsibility--but because the
indictment accused me of having wickedly and maliciously incited women
to crime. What I had done was not wicked of purpose, but quite the
opposite of wicked. I could not therefore truthfully plead guilty. The
trial having opened the Judge courteously asked me if I would like to
sit down. I thanked him, and asked if I might also have a small table on
which to place my papers. By orders of the Judge a table was brought me.

Mr. Bodkin opened the case by explaining the "Malicious Damages to
Property Act" of 1861, under which I was charged, and after describing
the explosion which had damaged the Lloyd-George house at Walton, said
that I was accused of being in the affair an accessory before the fact.
It was not suggested, he said, that I was present when the crime was
committed, but it was charged that I had moved and incited, counselled
and procured women whose names were unknown to carry out that crime. It
would be for the jury to decide, after the evidence had been presented,
whether the facts did not point most clearly to the conclusion that
women, probably two in number, who committed the crime were members of
the Women's Social and Political Union, which had its office in Kingsway
in London, and of which the defendant was the head, moving spirit and
recognised leader.

The blowing up of Mr. Lloyd-George's house was then described in detail.
That the damage was intended as an act against Mr. Lloyd-George was
clear, Mr. Bodkin said, from the malicious statements made against him
by the prisoner. He produced a private letter written by me to a friend
in which I had defended militancy, and said that not only had it become
a duty but in the circumstances it had also become a political
necessity. Said Mr. Bodkin:

"A letter of that kind proves very clearly several things. It shows
that she is the leader. It shows her influence over the emotional
members of this organisation. It shows that according to her, militancy
can be withheld for a time and let loose upon society at another time.
And it further shows that any person or any woman who wants to indulge
in militancy, which is only a picturesque expression for committing
crimes against society, has to communicate with her, and with her alone,
by word of mouth or by letter. That is the Proclamation which went out
to the members of this organisation. The plain language of that letter
is, 'If we don't get what we want, the Government and their members will
be responsible, and the Government and the public will be bullied into
giving us what we want.'"

Many extracts from my speeches made in January and February were read,
and the final speech made just before my arrest at Chelsea. But before
they were read I said:

"I wish to lodge an objection now to the police reports of my speeches.
They have been supplied to me, and the only report I accept is that of
the journalist of Cardiff who is one of the witnesses. He has furnished
a fairly accurate report of what I said in that town. The police reports
I do not accept. They are grossly inaccurate and ignorant and
ungrammatical, and they convey an absolutely wrong impression of what I
said in many respects."

Witnesses were then examined; the carter who heard and reported the
explosion; the foreman in charge of the damaged house, who told the
cost of the damages, and described the explosives, etc., found on the
premises; several police officers who told of finding hairpins and a
woman's rubber golosh in the house, and so on. Absolutely nothing was
brought out that tended to show that the Suffragettes had anything to do
with the affair. The Judge noted this for he said to Mr. Bodkin:

"I am not quite sure how you present this case. There are two ways of
looking at it. Do you only ask the jury to say that the defendant
specifically counselled the perpetration of this crime, or do you also
say that, looking at her speeches that you read--assuming you prove that
they were uttered--that the language used being a general incitement to
damage property, any one who acted on this invitation and perpetrated
this outrage would be incited by her to do it?"

Mr. Bodkin replied that the latter assumption was correct.

"I say that the speeches generally are incitement to all kinds of acts
of violence against property, and that they present evidence of attacks
against property and a particular individual, and that there is evidence
in the speeches which have been read, and which will be proved, of
admissions by Mrs. Pankhurst of having been connected with the
particular outrage in a way which makes her in law an accessory before
the fact."

"But you do not confine the case to the latter way of putting it?"

"No," replied Mr. Bodkin.

"Even if the jury are satisfied," said the Judge, "that Mrs. Pankhurst
was not directly connected with this outrage by counselling it, you
still ask the jury to say that by counselling, as you say she had in the
speeches, the destruction of property, especially that belonging to a
particular gentleman, anybody who acted on that and committed this
outrage would have been incited by her to do it?"

"Yes, my lord."

"I think, Mrs. Pankhurst, you now understand the way it is put?" asked
the Judge.

"I understand it quite well, my lord," I replied.

Proceedings were resumed on the following day, and the examination of
witnesses for the prosecution went on. At the close of the examination,
the Judge inquired whether I desired to call any witnesses. I replied:

"I do not desire to give evidence or to call any witnesses, but I desire
to address your Lordship."

I began by objecting to some of the things Mr. Bodkin had said in his
speech which concerned me personally. He had referred to me--or at least
his words conveyed the suggestion--that I was a woman riding about in my
motor car inciting other women to do acts which entail imprisonment and
great suffering, while I, perhaps indulging in some curious form of
pleasure, was protected, or thought myself protected, from serious
consequences. I said that Mr. Bodkin knew perfectly well that I shared
all the dangers the other women faced, that I had been in prison three
times, serving two of the sentences in full, and being treated like an
ordinary felon--searched, put in prison clothes, eating prison fare,
given solitary confinement and conforming to all the abominable rules
imposed upon women who commit crimes in England. I thought I owed it to
myself, especially as the same suggestions--in regard to the luxury in
which I lived, supported by the members of the W. S. P. U.--had been
made, not only by Mr. Bodkin in court, but by members of the Government
in the House of Commons--I thought I owed it to myself to say that I
owned no motor car and never had owned one. The car in which I
occasionally rode was owned by the organisation and was used for general
propaganda work. In that car, and in cars owned by friends I had gone
about my work as a speaker in the Woman Suffrage movement. It was
equally untrue, I said, that some of us were making incomes of £1,000 to
£1,500 a year out of the suffrage movement, as had actually been alleged
in the debates in the House in which members of Parliament were trying
to decide how to crush militancy. No woman in our organisation was
making any such income, or anything remotely like it. Myself, I had
sacrificed a considerable portion of my income because I had to
surrender a very important part of it in order to be free to do what I
thought was my duty in the movement.

Addressing myself to my defence I told the Court that it was a very
serious condition of things when a large number of respectable and
naturally law abiding people, people of upright lives, came to hold the
law in contempt, came seriously to making up their minds that they were
justified in breaking the law.

"The whole of good government," I said, "rests upon acceptance of the
law, upon respect of the law, and I say to you seriously, my lord, and
gentlemen of the jury, that women of intelligence, women of training,
women of upright life, have for many years ceased to respect the laws of
this country. It is an absolute fact, and when you look at the laws of
this country as they effect women it is not to be wondered at."

At some length I went over these laws, laws that made it possible for
the Judge to send me, if found guilty, to prison for fourteen years,
while the maximum penalty for offences of the most revolting kind
against little girls was only two years' imprisonment. The laws of
inheritance, the laws of divorce, the laws of guardianship of
children--all so scandalously unjust to women, I sketched briefly, and I
said that not only these laws and others, but the administration of the
laws fell so far short of adequacy that women felt that they must be
permitted to share the work of cleaning up the entire situation. I tried
here to tell of certain dreadful things that I had learned as the wife
of a barrister, things about some of the men in high places who are
entrusted with the administration of the law, of a judge of Assizes
where many hideous crimes against women were tried, this judge himself
being found dead one morning in a brothel, but the Court would not allow
me to go into personalities, as he called it, with regard to
"distinguished people," and told me that the sole question before the
jury was whether or not I was guilty as charged. I must speak on that
subject and on no other.

After a hard fight to be allowed to tell the jury the reasons why women
had lost respect for the law, and were making such a struggle in order
to become law makers themselves, I closed my speech by saying:

"Over one thousand women have gone to prison in the course of this
agitation, have suffered their imprisonment, have come out of prison
injured in health, weakened in body, but not in spirit. I come to stand
my trial from the bedside of one of my daughters, who has come out of
Holloway Prison, sent there for two months' hard labour for
participating with four other people in breaking a small pane of glass.
She has hunger-struck in prison. She submitted herself for more than
five weeks to the horrible ordeal of feeding by force, and she has come
out of prison having lost nearly two stone in weight. She is so weak
that she cannot get out of her bed. And I say to you, gentlemen, that is
the kind of punishment you are inflicting upon me or any other woman who
may be brought before you. I ask you if you are prepared to send an
incalculable number of women to prison--I speak to you as representing
others in the same position--if you are prepared to go on doing that
kind of thing indefinitely, because that is what is going to happen.
There is absolutely no doubt about it. I think you have seen enough even
in this present case to convince you that we are not women who are
notoriety hunters. We could get that, heaven knows, much more cheaply if
we sought it. We are women, rightly or wrongly, convinced that this is
the only way in which we can win power to alter what for us are
intolerable conditions, absolutely intolerable conditions. A London
clergyman only the other day said that 60 per cent. of the married women
in his parish were breadwinners, supporting their husbands as well as
their children. When you think of the wages women earn, when you think
of what this means to the future of the children of this country, I ask
you to take this question very, very seriously. Only this morning I have
had information brought to me which could be supported by sworn
affidavits, that there is in this country, in this very city of London
of ours, a regulated traffic, not only in women of full age, but in
little children; that they are being purchased, that they are being
entrapped, and that they are being trained to minister to the vicious
pleasures of persons who ought to know better in their positions of

"Well, these are the things that have made us women determined to go on,
determined to face everything, determined to see this thing out to the
end, let it cost us what it may. And if you convict me, gentlemen, if
you find me guilty, I tell you quite honestly and quite frankly, that
whether the sentence is a long sentence, whether the sentence is a short
sentence, I shall not submit to it. I shall, the moment I leave this
court, if I am sent to prison, whether to penal servitude or to the
lighter form of imprisonment--because I am not sufficiently versed in
the law to know what his lordship may decide; but whatever my sentence
is, from the moment I leave this court I shall quite deliberately refuse
to eat food--I shall join the women who are already in Holloway on the
hunger strike. I shall come out of prison, dead or alive, at the
earliest possible moment; and once out again, as soon as I am physically
fit I shall enter into this fight again. Life is very dear to all of us.
I am not seeking, as was said by the Home Secretary, to commit suicide.
I do not want to commit suicide. I want to see the women of this country
enfranchised, and I want to live until that is done. Those are the
feelings by which we are animated. We offer ourselves as sacrifices,
just as your forefathers did in the past, in this cause, and I would ask
you all to put this question to yourselves:--Have you the right, as
human beings, to condemn another human being to death--because that is
what it amounts to? Can you throw the first stone? Have you the right to
judge women?

"You have not the right in human justice, not the right by the
constitution of this country, if rightly interpreted, to judge me,
because you are not my peers. You know, every one of you, that I should
not be standing here, that I should not break one single law--if I had
the rights that you possess, if I had a share in electing those who make
the laws I have to obey; if I had a voice in controlling the taxes I am
called upon to pay, I should not be standing here. And I say to you it
is a very serious state of things. I say to you, my lord, it is a very
serious situation, that women of upright life, women who have devoted
the best of their years to the public weal, that women who are engaged
in trying to undo some of the terrible mistakes that men in their
government of the country have made, because after all, in the last
resort, men are responsible for the present state of affairs--I put it
to you that it is a very serious situation. You are not accustomed to
deal with people like me in the ordinary discharge of your duties; but
you are called upon to deal with people who break the law from selfish
motives. I break the law from no selfish motive. I have no personal end
to serve, neither have any of the other women who have gone through this
court during the past few weeks, like sheep to the slaughter. Not one of
these women would, if women were free, be law-breakers. They are women
who seriously believe that this hard path that they are treading is the
only path to their enfranchisement. They seriously believe that the
welfare of humanity demands this sacrifice; they believe that the
horrible evils which are ravaging our civilisation will never be removed
until women get the vote. They know that the very fount of life is being
poisoned; they know that homes are being destroyed; that because of bad
education, because of the unequal standard of morals, even the mothers
and children are destroyed by one of the vilest and most horrible
diseases that ravage humanity.

"There is only one way to put a stop to this agitation; there is only
one way to break down this agitation. It is not by deporting us, it is
not by locking us up in gaol; it is by doing us justice. And so I appeal
to you gentlemen, in this case of mine, to give a verdict, not only on
my case, but upon the whole of this agitation. I ask you to find me not
guilty of malicious incitement to a breach of the law.

"These are my last words. My incitement is not malicious. If I had
power to deal with these things, I would be in absolute obedience to the
law. I would say to women, 'You have a constitutional means of getting
redress for your grievances; use your votes, convince your fellow-voters
of the righteousness of your demands. That is the way to obtain
justice.' I am not guilty of malicious incitement, and I appeal to you,
for the welfare of the country, for the welfare of the race, to return a
verdict of not guilty in this case that you are called upon to try."

After recapitulating the charge the Judge, in summing up, said:

"It is scarcely necessary for me to tell you that the topics urged by
the defendant in her address to you with regard to provocation by the
laws of the country and the injustice done to women because they are not
given the vote as men are, have no bearing upon the question you have to

"The motive at the back of her mind, or at the back of the minds of
those who actually did put the gunpowder there, would afford no defence
to this indictment. I am quite sure you will deal with this case upon
the evidence, and the evidence alone, without regard to any question as
to whether you think the law is just or unjust. It has nothing to do
with the case. I should think you will probably have no doubt that this
defendant, if she did these things charged against her, is not actuated
by the ordinary selfish motive that leads most of the criminals who are
in this dock to commit the crimes that they do commit. She is none the
less guilty if she did these things which are charged against her,
although she believes that by means of this kind the condition of
society will be altered."

The jury retired, and soon after the afternoon session of the court
opened they filed in, and in reply to the usual question asked by the
clerk of arraigns, said that they had agreed upon a verdict. Said the

"Do you find Mrs. Pankhurst guilty or not guilty?"

"Guilty," said the foreman, "with a strong recommendation to mercy."

I spoke once more to the Judge.

"The jury have found me guilty, with a strong recommendation to mercy,
and I do not see, since motive is not taken into account in human laws,
that they could do otherwise after your summing up. But since motive is
not taken into account in human laws, and since I, whose motives are not
ordinary motives, am about to be sentenced by you to the punishment
which is accorded to people whose motives are selfish motives, I have
only this to say: If it was impossible for a different verdict to be
found; if it is your duty to sentence me, as it will be presently, then
I want to say to you, as a private citizen, and to the jury as private
citizens, that I, standing here, found guilty by the laws of my country,
I say to you it is your duty, as private citizens, to do what you can to
put an end to this intolerable state of affairs. I put that duty upon
you. And I want to say, _whatever the sentence you pass upon me, I shall
do what is humanly possible to terminate that sentence at the earliest
possible moment. I have no sense of guilt. I feel I have done my duty. I
look upon myself as a prisoner of war. I am under no moral obligation
to conform to, or in any way accept, the sentence imposed upon me._ I
shall take the desperate remedy that other women have taken. It is
obvious to you that the struggle will be an unequal one, but I shall
make it--I shall make it as long as I have an ounce of strength left in
me, or any life left in me.

"I shall fight, I shall fight, I shall fight, from the moment I enter
prison to struggle against overwhelming odds; I shall resist the doctors
if they attempt to feed me. I was sentenced last May in this court to
nine months' imprisonment. I remained in prison six weeks. There are
people who have laughed at the ordeal of hunger-striking and forcible
feeding. All I can say is, and the doctors can bear me out, that I was
released because, had I remained there much longer, I should have been a
dead woman.

"I know what it is because I have gone through it. My own daughter[4]
has only just left it. There are women there still facing that ordeal,
facing it twice a day. Think of it, my lord, twice a day this fight is
gone through. Twice a day a weak woman resisting overwhelming force,
fights and fights as long as she has strength left; fights against women
and even against men, resisting with her tongue, with her teeth, this
ordeal. Last night in the House of Commons some alternative was
discussed, or rather, some additional punishment. Is it not a strange
thing, my lord, that laws which have sufficed to restrain men
throughout the history of this country do not suffice now to restrain
women--decent women, honourable women?

"Well, my lord, I do want you to realise it. I am not whining about my
punishment, I invited it. I deliberately broke the law, not hysterically
or emotionally, but of set serious purpose, because I honestly feel it
is the only way. Now, I put the responsibility of what is to follow upon
you, my lord, as a private citizen, and upon the gentlemen of the jury,
as private citizens, and upon all the men in this court--what are you,
with your political powers, going to do to end this intolerable

"_To the women I have represented, to the women who, in response to my
incitement, have faced these terrible consequences, have broken laws, to
them, I want to say I am not going to fail them, but to face it as they
face it, to go through with it, and I know that they will go on with the
fight whether I live or whether I die._

"_This movement will go on and on until we have the rights of citizens
in this country, as women have in our Colonies, as they will have
throughout the civilised world before this woman's war is ended._

"That is all I have to say."

Mr. Justice Lush, in passing sentence, said: "It is my duty, Mrs.
Emmeline Pankhurst, and a very painful duty it is, to pass what, in my
opinion, is a suitable and adequate sentence for the crime of which you
have been most properly convicted, having regard to the strong
recommendation to mercy by the jury. I quite recognise, as I have
already said, that the motives that have actuated you in committing
this crime are not the selfish motives that actuate most of the persons
who stand in your position, but although you blind your eyes to it, I
cannot help pointing out to you that the crime of which you have been
convicted is not only a very serious one, but, in spite of your motives,
it is, in fact, a wicked one. It is wicked because it not only leads to
the destruction of property of persons who have done you no wrong, but
in spite of your calculations, it may expose other people to the danger
of being maimed or even killed. It is wicked because you are, and have
been, luring other people--young women, it may be--to engage in such
crimes, possibly to their own ruin; and it is wicked, because you cannot
help being alive to it if you would only think.

"You are setting an example to other persons who may have other
grievances that they legitimately want to have put right by embarking on
a similar scheme to yours, and trying to effect their object by
attacking the property, if not the lives, of other people. I know,
unfortunately--at least, I feel sure--you will pay no heed to what I
say. I only beg of you to think of these things."

"I have thought of them," I interjected.

"Think, if only for one short hour, dispassionately," continued the
majesty of law, "I can only say that, although the sentence I am going
to pass must be a severe one, must be adequate to the crime of which you
have been found guilty, if you would only realise the wrong you are
doing, and the mistake you are making, and would see the error you have
committed, and undertake to amend matters by using your influence in a
right direction, I would be the first to use all my best endeavours to
bring about a mitigation of the sentence I am about to pass.

"I cannot, and I will not, regard your crime as a merely trivial one. It
is not. It is a most serious one, and, whatever you may think, it is a
wicked one. I have paid regard to the recommendation of the jury. You
yourself have stated the maximum sentence which this particular offence
is by the legislature thought to deserve. The least sentence I can pass
upon you is a sentence of three years' penal servitude."

As soon as the sentence was pronounced the intense silence which had
reigned throughout the trial was broken, and an absolute pandemonium
broke out among the spectators. At first it was merely a confused and
angry murmur of "Shame!" "Shame!" The murmurs quickly swelled into loud
and indignant cries, and then from gallery and court there arose a great
chorus uttered with the utmost intensity and passion. "Shame!" "Shame!"
The women sprang to their feet, in many instances stood on their seats,
shouting "Shame!" "Shame!" as I was conducted out of the dock in charge
of two wardresses. "Keep the flag flying!" shouted a woman's voice, and
the response came in a chorus: "We will!" "Bravo!" "Three cheers for
Mrs. Pankhurst!" That was the last I heard of the courtroom protest.

Afterwards I heard that the noise and confusion was kept up for several
minutes longer, the Judge and the police being quite powerless to
obtain order. Then the women filed out singing the Women's

     "March on, march on,
     Face to the dawn,
     The dawn of liberty."

The Judge flung after their retreating forms the dire threat of prison
for any woman who dared repeat such a scene. Threat of prison--to
Suffragettes! The women's song only swelled the louder and the corridors
of Old Bailey reverberated with their shouts. Certainly that venerable
building had never in its checkered history witnessed such a scene. The
great crowd of detectives and police who were on duty seemed actually
paralysed by the audacity of the protest, for they made no attempt to

At three o'clock, when I left the court by a side entrance in Newgate
Street, I found a crowd of women waiting to cheer me. With the two
wardresses I entered a four wheeler and was driven to Holloway to begin
my hunger strike. Scores of women followed in taxicabs, and when I
arrived at the prison gates there was another protest of cheers for the
cause and boos for the law. In the midst of all this intense excitement
I passed through the grim gates into the twilight of prison, now become
a battle-ground.


[4] Sylvia Pankhurst, who was forcibly fed for five weeks, during an
original sentence of two months imposed for breaking one window.


Prison had indeed been for us a battle-ground ever since the time when
we had solemnly resolved that, as a matter of principle, we would not
submit to the rules that bound ordinary offenders against the law. But
when I entered Holloway on that April day in 1913, it was with full
knowledge that I had before me a far more prolonged struggle than any
that the militant suffragists had hitherto faced. I have described the
hunger strike, that terrible weapon with which we had repeatedly broken
our prison bars. The Government, at their wits' end to cope with the
hunger strikers, and to overcome a situation which had brought the laws
of England into such scandalous disrepute, had had recourse to a
measure, surely the most savagely devised ever brought before a modern

In March of that year, while I was waiting trial on the charge of
conspiring to destroy Mr. Lloyd-George's country house, a bill was
introduced into the House of Commons by the Home Secretary, Mr. Reginald
McKenna, a bill which had for its avowed object the breaking down of the
hunger strike. This measure, now universally known as the "Cat and Mouse
Act," provided that when a hunger striking suffrage prisoner (the law
was frankly admitted to apply only to suffrage prisoners) was certified
by the prison doctors to be in danger of death, she could be ordered
released on a sort of a ticket of leave for the purpose of regaining
strength enough to undergo the remainder of her sentence. Released, she
was still a prisoner, the prisoner, or the patient, or the victim, as
you may choose to call her, being kept under constant police
surveillance. According to the terms of the bill the prisoner was
released for a specified number of days, at the expiration of which she
was supposed to return to prison on her own account. Says the Act:

     "The period of temporary discharge may, if the Secretary of State
     thinks fit, be extended on a representation of the prisoner that
     the state of her health renders her unfit to return to prison. If
     such representation be made, the prisoner shall submit herself, if
     so required, for medical examination by the medical officer of the
     above mentioned prison, or other registered medical practitioner
     appointed by the Secretary of State.

     The prisoner shall notify to the Commissioner of Police of the
     Metropolis the place of residence to which she goes on her
     discharge. She shall not change her residence without giving one
     clear day's notice in writing to the Commissioner, specifying the
     residence to which she is going and she shall not be temporarily
     absent from her residence for more than twelve hours without giving
     a like notice," etc.

The idea of militant suffragists respecting a law of this order is
almost humorous, and yet the smile dies before the pity one feels for
the Minister whose confession of failure is embodied in such a measure.
Here was a mighty Government weakly resolved that justice to women it
would not grant, knowing that submission of women it could not force,
and so was willing to compromise with a piece of class legislation
absolutely contrary to all of its avowed principles. Said Mr. McKenna,
pleading in the House for the advancement of his odious measure: "At the
present time I cannot make these prisoners undergo their sentences
without serious risk of death and I want to have power to enable me to
compel a prisoner to undergo the sentence, and I want that power in all
cases where the prisoner adopts the system of the hunger strike. At the
present moment, although I have the power of release, I cannot release a
prisoner without a pardon, and I have to discharge them for good. I want
the power of releasing a prisoner without a pardon, with the sentence
remaining alive.... I want to enforce the Law, and I want, if I can, to
enforce it without forcible feeding, and without undergoing the risk of
some one else's life."

Interrogated by several members, Mr. McKenna admitted that the "Cat and
Mouse" bill, if passed, would not inevitably do away with forcible
feeding, but he promised that the hateful and disgusting process would
be resorted to only when "absolutely necessary." We shall see later how
hypocritical this representation was.

Parliament, which had never had time to consider, beyond its initial
stages, a women's suffrage measure, passed the Cat and Mouse Act through
both houses within the limits of a few days. It was already law when I
entered Holloway on April 3rd, 1913, and I grieve to state that many
members of the Labour Party, pledged to support woman suffrage, helped
to make it into law.

Of course the Act was, from its inception, treated by the suffragists
with the utmost contempt. We had not the slightest intention of
assisting Mr. McKenna in enforcing unjust sentences against soldiers in
the army of freedom, and when the prison doors closed behind me I
adopted the hunger strike exactly as though I expected it to prove, as
formerly, a means of gaining my liberty.

That struggle is not a pleasant one to recall. Every possible means of
breaking down my resolution was resorted to. The daintiest and most
tempting food was placed in my cell. All sorts of arguments were brought
to bear against me--the futility of resisting the Cat and Mouse Act, the
wickedness of risking suicide--I shall not attempt to record all the
arguments. They fell against a blank wall of consciousness, for my
thoughts were all very far away from Holloway and all its torments. I
knew, what afterwards I learned as a fact, that my imprisonment was
followed by the greatest revolutionary outbreak that had been witnessed
in England since 1832. From one end of the island to the other the
beacons of the women's revolution blazed night and day. Many country
houses--all unoccupied--were fired, the grand stand of Ayr race course
was burned to the ground, a bomb was exploded in Oxted Station, London,
blowing out walls and windows, some empty railroad carriages were blown
up, the glass of thirteen famous paintings in the Manchester Art Gallery
were smashed with hammers--these are simply random specimens of the
general outbreak of secret guerilla warfare waged by women to whose
liberties every other approach had been barricaded by the Liberal
Government of free England. The only answer of the Government was the
closing of the British Museum, the National Gallery, Windsor Castle, and
other tourist resorts. As for the result on the people of England, that
was exactly what we had anticipated. The public were thrown into a state
of emotion of insecurity and frightened expectancy. Not yet did they
show themselves ready to demand of the Government that the outrages be
stopped in the only way they could be stopped--by giving votes to women.
I knew that it would be so. Lying in my lonely cell in Holloway, racked
with pain, oppressed with increasing weakness, depressed with the heavy
responsibility of unknown happenings, I was sadly aware that we were but
approaching a far goal. The end, though certain, was still distant.
Patience, and still more patience, faith and still more faith, well, we
had called upon these souls' help before and it was certain that they
would not fail us at this greatest crisis of all.

Thus in great anguish of mind and body passed nine terrible days, each
one longer and more acutely miserable than the preceding. Towards the
last, I was mercifully half unconscious of my surroundings. A curious
indifference took possession of my over-wrought mind, and it was almost
without emotion that I heard, on the morning of the tenth day, that I
was to be released temporarily in order to recover my health. The
Governor came to my cell and read me my licence, which commanded me to
return to Holloway in fifteen days, and meanwhile to observe all the
obsequious terms as to informing the police of my movements. With what
strength my hands retained I tore the document in strips and dropped it
on the floor of the cell. "I have no intention," I said, "of obeying
this infamous law. You release me knowing perfectly well that I shall
never voluntarily return to any of your prisons."

They sent me away, sitting bolt upright in a cab, unmindful of the fact
that I was in a dangerous condition of weakness, having lost two stone
in weight and suffered seriously from irregularities of heart action. As
I left the prison I was gratefully aware of groups of our women standing
bravely at the gates, as though enduring a long vigil. As a matter of
fact, relays of women had picketed the place night and day during the
whole term of my imprisonment. The first pickets were arrested, but as
others constantly arrived to fill their places the police finally gave
in and allowed the women to march up and down before the prison carrying
the flag.

At the nursing home to which I was conveyed I learned that Annie Kenney,
Mrs. Drummond, and our staunch friend, Mr. George Lansbury,[5] had been
arrested during my imprisonment, and that all three had adopted the
hunger strike. I also learned on my own account how desperately the
Government were striving to make their Cat and Mouse Act--the last stand
in their losing campaign--a success. Without regard to the extra expense
laid on the unfortunate tax payers of the country, the Government
employed a large extra force of police especially for this purpose. As
I lay in bed, being assisted by every medical resource to return to life
and health, these special police, colloquially termed "Cats," guarded
the nursing home as if it were a besieged castle. In the street under my
windows two detectives and a constable stood on guard night and day. In
a house at right angles to my refuge three more detectives kept constant
watch. In the mews at the rear of the house were more detectives, and
diligently patrolling the road, as if in expectation of a rescuing
regiment, two taxicabs, each with its quota of detectives, guarded the

All this made recovery slow and difficult. But worse was to come. On
April 30th, just as I was beginning to rally somewhat, came the news
that the police had swooped down on our headquarters in Kingsway and had
arrested the entire official force. Miss Barrett, associate editor of
_The Suffragette_; Miss Lennox, the sub-editor; Miss Lake, business
manager; Miss Kerr, office manager, and Mrs. Sanders, financial
secretary of the Union, were arrested, although not one of them had ever
appeared in any militant action. Mr. E. G. Clayton, a chemist, was also
arrested, accused of furnishing the W. S. P. U. with explosive
materials. The offices were thoroughly searched, and, as on a former
occasion, stripped of all books and papers. While this was being done
another party of police, armed with a special warrant, proceeded to the
printing office where our paper, _The Suffragette_, was published. The
printer, Mr. Drew, was placed under arrest and the material for the
paper, which was to appear on the following day, was seized. By one
o'clock in the afternoon the entire plant and the headquarters of the
Union were in the hands of the police, and to all appearances the
militant movement--temporarily at least--was brought to a full stop. In
my state of semi-prostration it at first seemed to me best to let the
week's issue of the paper lapse, but on second thought I decided that
even the appearance of surrender was not to be thought of. How we
managed it need not here be told, but we actually did, overnight, with
hardly any material, except Christabel's leading article, and with
hastily summoned helpers, get out the paper as usual, and side by side
with the morning journals which bore front page stories of the
suppression of the Suffragette organ, our paper sellers sold _The
Suffragette_. The front page bore, instead of the usual cartoon, the
single word in bold faced type--


the full story of the police search and the arrests being related in the
other pages. Our headquarters, I may say in passing, remained closed
less than forty-eight hours. We are so organised that the arrest of
leaders does not seriously cripple us. Every one has an understudy, and
when one leader drops out her substitute is ready instantly to take her

In this emergency there appeared as chief organiser in Miss Kenney's
place, Miss Grace Roe, one of the young Suffragettes of whom I, as
belonging to the older generation, am so proud. Faced by difficulties
as great as the Government could make them, Miss Roe at once showed
herself to be equal to the situation, and to have the gift of unswerving
loyalty combined with a strong and rapid judgment of things and people.
Aiding her was Mrs. Dacre Fox, who surprised us all by her amazing
ability to act as assistant editor of _The Suffragette_, manage a host
of affairs in the office, and preside at our weekly meetings. Another
member of the Union who came prominently to the front at the time of
this crisis was Mrs. Mansel.

In two days' time the office was open and running quite as usual, no
outward sign showing the grief and indignation felt for our imprisoned
comrades. Most of them refused bail and instantly hunger struck
appearing in court for trial three days later in a pitiful state. Mrs.
Drummond was so obviously ill and in need of medical attention that she
was discharged and was very soon afterwards operated upon. Mr. Drew, the
printer, was forced to sign an undertaking not to publish the paper
again. The others were sentenced to terms varying from six to eighteen
months. Mr. Clayton was sentenced to twenty-one months, and after
desperate resistance, during which he was forcibly fed many times,
escaped his prison. The others, following the same example, starved
their way to liberty, and have ever since been pursued at intervals and
rearrested under the Cat and Mouse Act.

After my discharge, April 12th, I remained in the nursing home until
partially restored, then, under the eyes of the police, I motored out to
Woking, the country home of my friend, Dr. Ethel Smyth. This house,
like the nursing home, was guarded by a small army of police. I never
went to the window, I never took the air in the garden without being
conscious of watching eyes. The situation became intolerable, and I
determined to end it. On May 26th there was a great meeting at the
London Pavillion, and I gave notice that I would attend it. Supported by
Dr. Flora Murray, Dr. Ethel Smyth and my devoted Nurse Pine, I walked
downstairs, to be confronted at the door by a detective, who demanded to
know where I was going. I was in a weak state, much weaker than I had
imagined, and in refusing the right of a man to question my movements I
exhausted the last remnant of my strength and sank fainting in the arms
of my friends. As soon as I recovered I got into the motor car. The
detective instantly took his place beside me and told the chauffeur to
drive to Bow Street Station. The chauffeur replied that he took his
orders only from Mrs. Pankhurst, whereupon the detective summoned a
taxicab and, placing me under arrest, took me to Bow Street.

Under the Cat and Mouse Act a paroled prisoner can be thus arrested
without the formality of a warrant, nor does the time she has spent at
liberty, in regaining her health, count off from her prison sentence.
The magistrate at Bow Street was therefore quite within his legal rights
when he ordered me returned to Holloway. I felt it my duty,
nevertheless, to point out to him the inhumanity of his act. I said to
him: "I was released from Holloway on account of my health. Since then I
have been treated exactly as if I were in prison. It has become
absolutely impossible for any one to recover health under such
conditions, and this morning I decided to make this protest against a
state of affairs unparalleled in a civilised country."


_May 26, 1913_]

The magistrate replied formally: "You quite understand what the position
is. You have been arrested on this warrant and all I have to do is to
make an order recommending you to prison."

"I think" I said, "that you should do so, with a full sense of
responsibility. If I am taken to Holloway on your warrant I shall resume
the protest I made before which led to my release, and I shall go on
indefinitely until I die, or until the Government decide, since they
have taken upon themselves to employ you and other people to administer
the laws, that they must recognise women as citizens and give them some
control over the laws of this country."

It was a five days' hunger strike this time, because the extreme
weakness of my condition made it impossible for me to endure a longer
term. I was released on May 30th on a seven days' licence, and in a
half-alive state was again carried to a nursing home. Less than a week
later, while I was still bed-ridden, a terrible event occurred, one that
should have shaken the stolid British public into a realisation of the
seriousness of the situation precipitated by the Government. Emily
Wilding Davison, who had been associated with the militant movement
since 1906, gave up her life for the women's cause by throwing herself
in the path of the thing, next to property, held most sacred to
Englishmen--sport. Miss Davison went to the races at Epsom, and
breaking through the barriers which separated the vast crowds from the
race course, rushed in the path of the galloping horses and caught the
bridle of the King's horse, which was leading all the others. The horse
fell, throwing his jockey and crushing Miss Davison in such shocking
fashion that she was carried from the course in a dying condition.
Everything possible was done to save her life. The great surgeon, Mr.
Mansell Moullin, put everything aside and devoted himself to her case,
but though he operated most skilfully, the injuries she had received
were so frightful that she died four days later without once having
recovered consciousness. Members of the Union were beside her when she
breathed her last, on June 8th, and on June 14th they gave her a great
public funeral in London. Crowds lined the streets as the funeral car,
followed by thousands of women, passed slowly and sadly to St. George's
Church, Bloomsbury, where the memorial services were held.

Emily Wilding Davison was a character almost inevitably developed by a
struggle such as ours. She was a B. A. of London University, and had
taken first class honours at Oxford in English Language and Literature.
Yet the women's cause made such an appeal to her reason and her
sympathies that she put every intellectual and social appeal aside and
devoted herself untiringly and fearlessly to the work of the Union. She
had suffered many imprisonments, had been forcibly fed and most brutally
treated. On one occasion when she had barricaded her cell against the
prison doctors, a hose pipe was turned on her from the window and she
was drenched and all but drowned in the icy water while workmen were
breaking down her cell door. Miss Davison, after this experience,
expressed to several of her friends the deep conviction that now, as in
days called uncivilised, the conscience of the people would awaken only
to the sacrifice of a human life. At one time in prison she tried to
kill herself by throwing herself head-long from one of the upper
galleries, but she succeeded only in sustaining cruel injuries. Ever
after that time she clung to her conviction that one great tragedy, the
deliberate throwing into the breach of a human life, would put an end to
the intolerable torture of women. And so she threw herself at the King's
horse, in full view of the King and Queen and a great multitude of their
Majesties' subjects, offering up her life as a petition to the King,
praying for the release of suffering women throughout England and the
world. No one can possibly doubt that that prayer can forever remain
unanswered, for she took it straight to the Throne of the King of all
the worlds.

The death of Miss Davison was a great shock to me and a very great grief
as well, and although I was scarcely able to leave my bed I determined
to risk everything to attend her funeral. This was not to be, however,
for as I left the house I was again arrested by detectives who lay in
waiting. Again the farce of trying to make me serve a three years'
sentence was undertaken. But now the militant women had discovered a new
and more terrible weapon with which to defy the unjust laws of England,
and this weapon--the thirst strike--I turned against my gaolers with
such effect that they were forced within three days to release me.

The hunger strike I have described as a dreadful ordeal, but it is a
mild experience compared with the thirst strike, which is from beginning
to end simple and unmitigated torture. Hunger striking reduces a
prisoner's weight very quickly, but thirst striking reduces weight so
alarmingly fast that prison doctors were at first thrown into absolute
panic of fright. Later they became somewhat hardened, but even now they
regard the thirst strike with terror. I am not sure that I can convey to
the reader the effect of days spent without a single drop of water taken
into the system. The body cannot endure loss of moisture. It cries out
in protest with every nerve. The muscles waste, the skin becomes
shrunken and flabby, the facial appearance alters horribly, all these
outward symptoms being eloquent of the acute suffering of the entire
physical being. Every natural function is, of course, suspended, and the
poisons which are unable to pass out of the body are retained and
absorbed. The body becomes cold and shivery, there is constant headache
and nausea, and sometimes there is fever. The mouth and tongue become
coated and swollen, the throat thickens and the voice sinks to a thready

When, at the end of the third day of my first thirst strike, I was sent
home I was in a condition of jaundice from which I have never completely
recovered. So badly was I affected that the prison authorities made no
attempt to arrest me for nearly a month after my release. On July 13th I
felt strong enough once more to protest against the odious Cat and Mouse
Act, and, with Miss Annie Kenney, who was also at liberty "on medical
grounds," I went to a meeting at the London Pavillion. At the close of
the meeting, during which Miss Kenney's prison licence was auctioned off
for £12, we attempted for the first time the open escape which we have
so frequently since effected. Miss Kenney, from the platform, announced
that we should openly leave the hall, and she forthwith walked coolly
down into the audience. The police rushed in in overwhelming numbers,
and after a desperate fight, succeeded in capturing her. Other
detectives and policemen hurried to the side door of the hall to
intercept me, but I disappointed them by leaving by the front door and
escaping to a friend's house in a cab.

The police soon traced me to the house of my friend, the distinguished
scientist, Mrs. Hertha Ayrton, and the place straightway became a
besieged fortress. Day and night the house was surrounded, not only by
police, but by crowds of women sympathisers. On the Saturday following
my appearance at the Pavillion we gave the police a bit of excitement of
a kind they do not relish. A cab drove up to Mrs. Ayrton's door, and
several well-known members of the Union alighted and hurried indoors. At
once the word was circulated that a rescue was being attempted, and the
police drew resolutely around the cab. Soon a veiled woman appeared in
the doorway, surrounded by Suffragettes, who, when the veiled lady
attempted to get into the cab, resisted with all their strength the
efforts of the police to lay hands upon her. The cry went up from all
sides: "They are arresting Mrs. Pankhurst!" Something very like a free
fight ensued, occupying all the attention of the police who were not in
the immediate vicinity of the cab. The men surrounding that rocking
vehicle succeeded in tearing the veiled figure from the arms of the
other women and piling into the cab ordered the chauffeur to drive full
speed to Bow Street. Before they reached their destination, however, the
veiled lady raised her veil--alas, it was not Mrs. Pankhurst, who by
that time was speeding away in another taxicab in quite another

Our ruse infuriated the police, and they determined to arrest me at my
first public appearance, which was at the Pavillion on the Monday
following the episode just related. When I reached the Pavillion I found
it literally surrounded by police, hundreds of them. I managed to slip
past the outside cordon, but Scotland Yard had its best men inside the
hall, and I was not permitted to reach the platform. Surrounded by plain
clothes men, batons drawn, I could not escape, but I called out to the
women that I was being taken, and so valiantly did they rush to the
rescue that the police had their hands full for nearly half an hour
before they got me into a taxicab bound for Holloway. Six women were
arrested that day, and many more than six policemen were temporarily
incapacitated for duty.

By this time I had made up my mind that I would not only resist staying
in prison, I would resist to the utmost of my ability going to prison.
Therefore, when we reached Holloway I refused to get out of the cab,
declaring to my captors that I would no longer acquiesce in the slow
judicial murder to which the Government were subjecting women. I was
lifted out and carried into a cell in the convicted hospital wing of the
gaol. The wardresses who were on duty there spoke with some kindness to
me, suggesting that, as I was very apparently exhausted and ill, I
should do well to undress and go to bed. "No," I replied, "I shall not
go to bed, not once while I am kept here. I am weary of this brutal
game, and I intend to end it."

Without undressing, I lay down on the outside of the bed. Later in the
evening the prison doctor visited me, but I refused to be examined. In
the morning he came again, and with him the Governor and the head
wardress. As I had taken neither food nor water since the previous day
my appearance had become altered to such an extent that the doctor was
plainly perturbed. He begged me, "as a small concession," to allow him
to feel my pulse, but I shook my head, and they left me alone for the
day. That night I was so ill that I felt some alarm for my own
condition, but I knew of nothing that could be done except to wait. On
Wednesday morning the Governor came again and asked me with an
assumption of carelessness if it were true that I was refusing both food
and water. "It is true," I said, and he replied brutally: "You are very
cheap to keep." Then, as if the thing were not a ridiculous farce, he
announced that I was sentenced to close confinement for three days,
with deprivation of all privileges, after which he left my cell.

Twice that day the doctor visited me, but I would not allow him to touch
me. Later came a medical officer from the Home Office, to which I had
complained, as I had complained to the Governor and the prison doctor,
of the pain I still suffered from the rough treatment I had received at
the Pavillion. Both of the medical men insisted that I allow them to
examine me, but I said: "I will not be examined by you because your
intention is not to help me as a patient, but merely to ascertain how
much longer it will be possible to keep me alive in prison. I am not
prepared to assist you or the Government in any such way. I am not
prepared to relieve you of any responsibility in this matter." I added
that it must be quite obvious that I was very ill and unfit to be
confined in prison. They hesitated for a moment or two, then left me.

Wednesday night was a long nightmare of suffering, and by Thursday
morning I must have presented an almost mummified appearance. From the
faces of the Governor and the doctor when they came into my cell and
looked at me I thought that they would at once arrange for my release.
But the hours passed and no order for release came. I decided that I
must force my release, and I got up from the bed where I had been lying
and began to stagger up and down the cell. When all strength failed me
and I could keep my feet no longer I lay down on the stone floor, and
there, at four in the afternoon, they found me, gasping and half
unconscious. And then they sent me away. I was in a very weakened
condition this time, and had to be treated with saline solutions to save
my life. I felt, however, that I had broken my prison walls for a time
at least, and so this proved. It was on July 24th that I was released. A
few days later I was borne in an invalid's chair to the platform of the
London Pavillion. I could not speak, but I was there, as I had promised
to be. My licence, which by this time I had ceased to tear up because it
had an auction value, was sold to an American present for the sum of one
hundred pounds. I had told the Governor on leaving that I intended to
sell the licence and to spend the money for militant purposes, but I had
not expected to raise such a splendid sum as one hundred pounds. I shall
always remember the generosity of that unknown American friend.

A great medical congress was being held in London in the summer of 1913,
and on August 11th we held a large meeting at Kingsway Hall, which was
attended by hundreds of visiting doctors. I addressed this meeting, at
which a ringing resolution against forcible feeding was passed, and I
was allowed to go home without police interference. It was, as a matter
of fact, the second time during that month that I had spoken in public
without molestation. The presence of so many distinguished medical men
in London may have suggested to the authorities that I had better be
left alone for the time being. At all events I was left alone, and late
in the month I went, quite publicly, to Paris, to see my daughter
Christabel and plan with her the campaign for the coming autumn. I
needed rest after the struggles of the past five months, during which I
had served, of my three years' prison sentence, not quite three weeks.


[5] Mr. Lansbury shortly before this had resigned his seat in Parliament
and had gone to his constituents on the question of women's suffrage.
Both the Liberal and the Conservative parties had united against him,
with the result that a Unionist candidate was returned in his place. Mr.
Lloyd-George publicly rejoiced in the result of this election, saying
that Mr. Marsh, the Conservative candidate, had been his man. The Labour
Party, in Parliament and out, meekly accepted this piece of Liberal
chicanery without protest.


The two months of the summer of 1913 which were spent with my daughter
in Paris were almost the last days of peace and rest I have been
destined since to enjoy. I spent the days, or some hours of them, in the
initial preparation of this volume, because it seemed to me that I had a
duty to perform in giving to the world my own plain statement of the
events which have led up to the women's revolution in England. Other
histories of the militant movement will undoubtedly be written; in times
to come when in all constitutional countries of the world, women's votes
will be as universally accepted as men's votes are now; when men and
women occupy the world of industry on equal terms, as co-workers rather
than as cut-throat competitors; when, in a word, all the dreadful and
criminal discriminations which exist now between the sexes are
abolished, as they must one day be abolished, the historian will be able
to sit down in leisurely fashion and do full justice to the strange
story of how the women of England took up arms against the blind and
obstinate Government of England and fought their way to political
freedom. I should like to live long enough to read such a history,
calmly considered, carefully analysed, conscientiously set forth. It
will be a better book to read than this one, written, as it were, in
camp between battles. But perhaps this one, hastily prepared as it has
been, will give the reader of the future a clearer impression of the
strenuousness and the desperation of the conflict, and also something of
the heretofore undreamed of courage and fighting strength of women, who,
having learned the joy of battle, lose all sense of fear and continue
their struggle up to and past the gates of death, never flinching at any
step of the way.

Every step since that meeting in October, 1912, when we definitely
declared war on the peace of England, has been beset with danger and
difficulty, often unexpected and undeclared. In October, 1913, I sailed
in the French liner, _La Provence_, for my third visit to the United
States. My intention was published in the public press of England,
France and America. No attempt at concealment of my purpose was made,
and in fact, my departure was witnessed by two men from Scotland Yard.
Some hints had reached my ears that an attempt would be made by the
Immigration Officers at the port of New York to exclude me as an
undesirable alien, but I gave little credit to these reports. American
friends wrote and cabled encouraging words, and so I passed my time
aboard ship quite peacefully, working part of the time, resting also
against the fatigue always attendant on a lecture tour.


We came to anchor in the harbour of New York on October 26th, and there,
to my astonishment, the Immigration authorities notified me that I was
ordered to Ellis Island to appear before a Board of Special Inquiry. The
officers who served the order of detention did so with all courtesy,
even with a certain air of reluctance. They allowed my American
travelling companion, Mrs. Rheta Childe Dorr, to accompany me to the
Island, but no one, not even the solicitor sent by Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont
to defend me, was permitted to attend me before the Board of Special
Inquiry. I went before these three men quite alone, as many a poor,
friendless woman, without any of my resources, has had to appear. The
moment of my entrance to the room I knew that extraordinary means had
been employed against me, for on the desk behind which the Board sat I
saw a complete _dossier_ of my case in English legal papers. These
papers may have been supplied by Scotland Yard, or they may have been
supplied by the Government. I cannot tell, of course. They sufficed to
convince the Board of Special Inquiry that I was a person of doubtful
character, to say the least of it, and I was informed that I should have
to be detained until the higher authorities at Washington examined my
case. Everything was done to make me comfortable, the rooms of the
Commissioner of Immigration being turned over to me and my companion.
The very men who found me guilty of moral obloquy--something of which no
British jury has ever yet accused me--put themselves out in a number of
ways to make my detention agreeable. I was escorted all over the Island
and through the quarters assigned detained immigrants, whose right to
land in the United States is in question. The huge dining-rooms, the
spotless kitchens and the admirably varied bill of fare interested and
impressed me. Nothing like them exists in any English institution.

I remained at Ellis Island two and a half days, long enough for the
Commissioner of Immigration at Washington to take my case to the
President who instantly ordered my release. Whoever was responsible for
my detention entirely overlooked the advertising value of the incident.
My lecture tour was made much more successful for it and I embarked for
England late in November with a very generous American contribution to
our war chest, a contribution, alas, that I was not permitted to deliver
in person.

The night before the White Star liner _Majestic_ reached Plymouth a
wireless message from headquarters informed me that the Government had
decided to arrest me on my arrival. The arrest was made, under very
dramatic conditions, the next day shortly before noon. The steamer came
to anchor in the outer harbour, and we saw at once that the bay, usually
so animated with passing vessels, had been cleared of all craft. Far in
the distance the tender, which on other occasions had always met the
steamer, rested at anchor between two huge grey warships. For a moment
or two the scene halted, the passengers crowding to the deckrails in
speechless curiosity to see what was to happen next. Suddenly a
fisherman's dory, power driven, dashed across the harbour, directly
under the noses of the grim war vessels. Two women, spray drenched,
stood up in the boat, and as it ploughed swiftly past our steamer the
women called out to me: "The Cats are here, Mrs. Pankhurst! They're
close on you--" Their voices trailed away into the mist and we heard no
more. Within a minute or two a frightened ship's boy appeared on deck
and delivered a message from the purser asking me to step down to his
office. I answered that I would certainly do nothing of the kind, and
next the police swarmed out on deck and I heard, for the fifth time that
I was arrested under the Cat and Mouse Act. They had sent five men from
Scotland Yard, two men from Plymouth and a wardress from Holloway, a
sufficient number, it will be allowed, to take one woman from a ship
anchored two miles out at sea.

Following my firm resolve not to assist in any way the enforcing of the
infamous law, I refused to go with the men, who thereupon picked me up
and carried me to the waiting police tender. We steamed some miles up
the Cornish coast, the police refusing absolutely to tell me whither
they were conveying me, and finally disembarked at Bull Point, a
Government landing-stage, closed to the general public. Here a motor car
was waiting, and accompanied by my bodyguard from Scotland Yard and
Holloway, I was driven across Dartmoor to Exeter, where I had a not
unendurable imprisonment and hunger strike of four days. Everyone from
the Governor of the prison to the wardresses were openly sympathetic and
kind, and I was told by one confidential official that they kept me only
because they had orders to do so until after the great meeting at
Empress Theatre, Earls Court, London, which had been arranged as a
welcome home for me. The meeting was held on the Sunday night following
my arrest, and the great sum of £15,000 was poured into the coffers of
militancy. This included the £4,500 which had been collected during my
American tour.

Several days after my release from Exeter I went openly to Paris to
confer with my daughter on matters relating to the campaign about to
open, returning to attend a W. S. P. U. meeting on the day before my
license expired. Nevertheless the boat train carriage in which I
travelled with my doctor and nurse was invaded at Dover town by two
detectives who told me to consider myself under arrest. We were making
tea when the men entered, but this we immediately threw out of the
window, because a hunger strike always began at the instant of arrest.
We never compromised at all, but resisted from the very first moment of

The reason for this uncalled for arrest at Dover was the fear on the
part of the police of the body guard of women, just then organised for
the expressed purpose of resisting attempts to arrest me. That the
police, as well as the Government were afraid to risk encountering women
who were not afraid to fight we had had abundant testimony. We certainly
had it on this occasion, for knowing that the body guard was waiting at
Victoria Station, the authorities had cut off all approaches to the
arrival platform and the place was guarded by battalions of police. Not
a passenger was permitted to leave a carriage until I had been carried
across the arrival platform between a double line of police and
detectives and thrown into a forty horse power motor car, guarded within
by two plain clothes men and a wardress, and without by three more
policemen. Around this motor car were twelve taxi-cabs filled with plain
clothes men, four to each vehicle, and three guarding the outside, not
to mention the driver, who was also in the employ of the police
department. Detectives on motor cycles were on guard at various points
ready to follow any rescuing taxicab.

Arrived at Holloway I was again lifted from the car and taken to the
reception room and placed on the floor in a state of great exhaustion.
When the doctor came in and told me curtly to stand up I was obliged to
tell him that I could not stand. I utterly refused to be examined,
saying that I was resolved to make the Government assume full
responsibility for my condition. "I refuse to be examined by you or any
prison doctor," I declared, "and I do this as a protest against my
sentence, and against my being here at all. I no longer recognise a
prison doctor as a medical man in the proper sense of the word. I have
withdrawn my consent to be governed by the rules of prison; I refuse to
recognise the authority of any prison official, and I therefore make it
impossible for the Government to carry out the sentence they have
imposed upon me."

Wardresses were summoned, I was placed in an invalid chair and so
carried up three flights of stairs and put into an unwarmed cell with a
concrete floor. Refusing to leave the chair I was lifted out and placed
on the bed, where I lay all night without removing my coat or loosening
my garments. It was on a Saturday that the arrest had been made, and I
was kept in prison until the following Wednesday morning. During all
that time no food or water passed my lips, and I added to this the sleep
strike, which means that as far as was humanly possible I refused all
sleep and rest. For two nights I sat or lay on the concrete floor,
resolutely refusing the oft repeated offers of medical examination. "You
are not a doctor," I told the man. "You are a Government torturer, and
all you want to do is to satisfy yourself that I am not quite ready to
die." The doctor, a new man since my last imprisonment, flushed and
looked extremely unhappy. "I suppose you do think that," he mumbled.

On Tuesday morning the Governor came to look at me, and no doubt I
presented by that time a fairly bad appearance. At least I gathered as
much from the alarmed expression of the wardress who accompanied him. To
the Governor I made the simple announcement that I was ready to leave
prison and that I intended to leave very soon, dead or alive. I told him
that from that moment I should not even rest on the concrete floor, but
should walk my cell until I was released or until I died from
exhaustion. All day I kept to this resolution, pacing up and down the
narrow cell, many times stumbling and falling, until the doctor came in
at evening to tell me that I was ordered released on the following
morning. Then I loosened my gown and lay down, absolutely spent, and
fell almost instantly into a death-like sleep. The next morning a motor
ambulance took me to the Kingsway headquarters where a hospital room had
been arranged for my reception. The two imprisonments in less than ten
days had made terrible drafts on my strength, and the coldness of the
Holloway cell had brought on a painful neuralgia. It was many days
before I recovered even a tithe of my usual health.

These two arrests resulted exactly as the Government should have known
that they would result, in a great outbreak of fresh militancy. As soon
as the news spread that I had been taken at Plymouth a huge fire broke
out in the timber yards at Richmond Walk, Devenport, and an acre and a
half of timber, beside a pleasure fair and a scenic railway adjacent, to
the value of thousands of pounds was destroyed. No one ever discovered
the cause of the fire, the greatest that ever occurred in the
neighbourhood, but tied to one of the railings was a copy of the
_Suffragette_ and to another railing two cards, on one of which was
written a message to the Government: "How dare you arrest Mrs. Pankhurst
and allow Sir Edward Carson and Mr. Bonar Law to go free?" The second
card bore the words: "Our reply to the torture of Mrs. Pankhurst, and
her cowardly arrest at Plymouth."

Besides this fire, which waged fiercely from midnight until dawn, a
large unoccupied house at Bristol was destroyed by fire; a fine
residence in Scotland, also unoccupied, was badly damaged by fire; St.
Anne's Church in a suburb of Liverpool was partly destroyed; and many
pillar boxes in London, Edinburgh, Derby and other cities were fired. In
churches all over the Kingdom our women created consternation by
interpolating into the services reverently spoken prayers for prisoners
who were suffering for conscience' sake. The reader no doubt has heard
of these interruptions, and if so he has read of brawling, shrieking
women, breaking into the sanctity of religious services, and creating
riot in the House of God. I think the reader should know exactly what
does happen when militants, who are usually religious women, interrupt
church services. On the Sunday when I was in Holloway, following my
arrest at Dover, certain women attending the afternoon service at
Westminster Abbey, chanted in concert the following prayer: "God save
Emmeline Pankhurst, help us with Thy love and strength to guard her,
spare those who suffer for conscience' sake. Hear us when we pray to
Thee." They had hardly finished this prayer when vergers fell upon them
and with great violence hustled them out of the Abbey. One kneeling man,
who happened to be near one of the women, forgot his Christian
intercessions long enough to beat her in the face with his fists before
the vergers came.

Similar scenes have taken place in churches and cathedrals throughout
England and Scotland, and in many instances the women have been most
barbarously treated by vergers and members of the congregations. In
other cases the women not only have been left unmolested, but have been
allowed to finish their prayers amid deep and sympathetic silence. Some
clergymen have even been brave enough to add a reverent amen to these
prayers for women in prison, and it has happened that clergymen have
voluntarily offered prayers for us. The Church as a whole, however, has
undoubtedly failed to live up to its obligation to demand justice for
women, and to protest against the torture of forcible feeding. During
the year just closing we sent many deputations to Church authorities,
the Bishops, one after another having been visited in this manner. Some
of the Bishops, including the reactionary Archbishop of Canterbury,
refused to accord the desired interview, and when that happened, the
answer of the deputation was to sit on the doorstep of the episcopal
residence until surrender followed--as it invariably did.

As Holloway Gaol is within his diocese, the Bishop of London was visited
by the W. S. P. U. and the demand was made that the Bishop himself
should witness forcible feeding in order to realise the horror of the
proceeding. He did visit two of the tortured women, but he did not see
them forcibly fed, and when he came out he gave the public an account of
his interview with them which was in effect the Government's version of
the facts. The W. S. P. U. was naturally indignant, while all the
Government's friends hailed the Bishop as a supporter of the policy of
torture. Only those who have suffered the pain and agony, not to speak
of the moral humiliation of forcible feeding can realise the depths of
the iniquity which the Bishop of London was manoeuvred by the
Government to whitewash. It may be true, as the Bishop comforted himself
by saying, that the victims of forcible feeding suffered the more
because they struggled under the process. But, as Mary Richardson wrote
in the _Suffragette_, to expect a victim not to struggle was the same as
telling her that she would suffer less if she did not jump on getting a
cinder in her eye. "The principle," declared Miss Richardson, "is the
same. One struggles because the pain is excruciating, and the nerves of
the eyes, ears and face are so tortured that it would be impossible not
to resist to the uttermost. One struggles, also, because of another
reason--a moral reason--for forcible feeding is an immoral assault as
well as a painful physical one, and to remain passive under it would
give one the feeling of sin; the sin of concurrence. One's whole nature
is revolted; resistance is therefore inevitable."

I think it proper here to explain also the policy upon which we embarked
in 1914 of taking our cause directly to the King. The reader has perhaps
heard of Suffragette "insults" to King George and Queen Mary, and it is
but just that he should hear a direct account of how these "insults" are
offered. Several isolated attempts had been made to present petitions to
the King, once when he was on his way to Westminster to open Parliament,
and again on an occasion when he paid a visit to Bristol. On the latter
occasion the woman who tried to present the petition was assaulted by
one of the King's equerries, who struck her with the flat of his sword.

We finally resolved on the policy of direct petition to the king because
we had been forced to abandon all hope of successful petitioning to his
Ministers. Tricked and betrayed at every turn by the Liberal Government,
we announced that we would not again put even a pretence of confidence
in them. We would carry our demand for justice to the throne of the
Monarch. Late in December, 1913, while I was in prison for the second
time since my return to England, a great gala performance was given at
Covent Garden, the opera being the Jeanne d'Arc of Raymond Rôze. The
King and Queen and the entire Court were present, and the scene was
expected to be one of unusual brilliance. Our women took advantage of
the occasion to make one of the most successful demonstrations of the
year. A box was secured directly opposite the Royal Box, and this was
occupied by three women, beautifully gowned. On entering they had
managed, without attracting the slightest attention, to lock and
barricade the door, and at the close of the first act, as soon as the
orchestra had disappeared, the women stood up, and one of them, with the
aid of a megaphone, addressed the King. Calling attention to the
impressive scenes on the stage, the speaker told the King that women
were to-day fighting, as Joan of Arc fought centuries ago, for human
liberty, and that they, like the maid of Orleans, were being tortured
and done to death, in the name of the King, in the name of the Church,
and with the full knowledge and responsibility of established
Government. At this very hour the leader of these fighters in the army
of liberty was being held in prison and tortured by the King's

The vast audience was thrown into a panic of excitement and horror, and
amid a perfect turmoil of cries and adjurations, the door of the box was
finally broken down and the women ejected. As soon as they had left the
house others of our women, to the number of forty or more, who had been
sitting quietly in an upper gallery, rose to their feet and rained
suffrage literature on the heads of the audience below. It was fully
three quarters of an hour before the excitement subsided and the singers
could go on with the opera.

The sensation caused by this direct address to Royalty inspired us to
make a second attempt to arouse the King's conscience, and early in
January, as soon as Parliament re-assembled, we announced that I would
personally lead a deputation to Buckingham Palace. The plan was welcomed
with enthusiasm by our members and a very large number of women
volunteered to join the deputation, which was intended to make a protest
against three things--the continued disfranchisement of women; the
forcible feeding and the cat and mouse torture of those who were
fighting against this injustice; and the scandalous manner in which the
Government, while coercing and torturing militant women, were allowing
perfect freedom to the men opponents of Home Rule in Ireland, men who
openly announced that they were about to carry out a policy, not merely
of attacking property, but of destroying human life.

I wrote a letter to the King, conveying to him "the respectful and loyal
request of the Women's Social and Political Union that Your Majesty will
give audience to a deputation of women." The letter went on: "The
deputation desire to submit to Your Majesty in person their claim to the
Parliamentary vote, which is the only protection against the grievous
industrial and social wrongs that women suffer; is the symbol and
guarantee of British citizenship; and means the recognition of women's
equal dignity and worth, as members of our great Empire.

"The Deputation will further lay before Your Majesty a complaint of the
mediæval and barbarous methods of torture whereby Your Majesty's
Ministers are seeking to repress women's revolt against the deprivation
of citizen rights--a revolt as noble and glorious in its spirit and
purpose as any of those past struggles for liberty which are the pride
of the British race.

"We have been told by the unthinking--by those who are heedless of the
constitutional principles upon which is based our loyal request for an
audience of Your Majesty in person--that our conversation should be with
Your Majesty's Ministers.

"We repudiate this suggestion. In the first place, it would not only be
repugnant to our womanly sense of dignity, but it would be absurd and
futile for us to interview the very men against whom we bring the
accusations of betraying the Women's Cause and torturing those who fight
for that Cause.

"In the second place, we will not be referred to, and we will not
recognise the authority of men who, in our eyes, have no legal or
constitutional standing in the matter, because we have not been
consulted as to their election to Parliament nor as to their appointment
as Ministers of the Crown."

I then cited as a precedent in support of our claim to be heard by the
King in person, the case of the Deputation of Irish Catholics, which, in
the year 1793, was received by King George III in person.

I further said:

"Our right as women to be heard and to be aided by Your Majesty is far
stronger than any such right possessed by men, because it is based upon
our lack of every other constitutional means of securing the redress of
our grievances. We have no power to vote for Members of Parliament, and
therefore for us there is no House of Commons. We have no voice in the
House of Lords. But we have a King, and to him we make our appeal.

"Constitutionally speaking, we are, as voteless women, living in the
time when the power of the Monarch was unlimited. In that old time,
which is passed for men though not for women, men who were oppressed had
recourse to the King--the source of power, of justice, and of reform.

"Precisely in the same way we now claim the right to come to the foot of
the Throne and to make of the King in person our demand for the redress
of the political grievance which we cannot, and will not, any longer

"Because women are voteless, there are in our midst to-day sweated
workers, white slaves, outraged children, and innocent mothers and their
babes stricken by horrible disease. It is for the sake and in the cause
of these unhappy members of our sex, that we ask of Your Majesty the
audience that we are confident will be granted to us."

It was some days before we had the answer to this letter, and in the
meantime some uncommonly stirring and painful occurrences attracted the
public attention.


For months before my return to England from my American lecture tour,
the Ulster situation had been increasingly serious. Sir Edward Carson
and his followers had declared that if Home Rule government should be
created and set up in Dublin, they would--law or no law--establish a
rival and independent Government in Ulster. It was known that arms and
ammunition were being shipped to Ireland, and that men--and women too,
for that matter--were drilling and otherwise getting ready for civil
war. The W. S. P. U. approached Sir Edward Carson and asked him if the
proposed Ulster Government would give equal voting rights to women. We
frankly declared that in case the Ulster men alone were to have the
vote, that we should deal with "King Carson" and his colleagues exactly
in the same manner that we had adopted towards the British Government
centred at Westminster. Sir Edward Carson at first promised us that the
rebel Ulster Government, should it come into existence, would give votes
to Ulster women. This pledge was later repudiated, and in the early
winter months of 1914 militancy appeared in Ulster. It had been raging
in Scotland for some time, and now the imprisoned Suffragettes in that
country were being forcibly fed as in England. The answer to this was,
of course, more militancy. The ancient Scottish church of Whitekirk, a
relic of pre-Reformation days, was destroyed by fire. Several unoccupied
country houses were also burned.

It was about this time, February, 1914, that I undertook a series of
meetings outside London, the first of which was to be held in Glasgow,
in the St. Andrews Hall, which holds many thousands of people. In order
that I might be free on the night of the meeting, I left London unknown
to the police, in a motor car. In spite of all efforts to apprehend me I
succeeded in reaching Glasgow and in getting to the platform of St.
Andrews' where I found myself face to face with an enormous, and
manifestly sympathetic audience.

As it was suspected that the police might rush the platform, plans had
been made to offer resistance, and the bodyguard was present in force.
My speech was one of the shortest I have ever made. I said:

"I have kept my promise, and in spite of His Majesty's Government I am
here to-night. Very few people in this audience, very few people in this
country, know how much of the nation's money is being spent to silence
women. But the wit and ingenuity of women is overcoming the power and
money of the British Government. It is well that we should have this
meeting to-night, because to-day is a memorable day in the annals of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. To-day in the House of
Commons has been witnessed the triumph of militancy--men's
militancy--and to-night I hope to make it clear to the people in this
meeting that if there is any distinction to be drawn at all between
militancy in Ulster and the militancy of women, it is all to the
advantage of the women. Our greatest task in this women's movement is to
prove that we are human beings like men, and every stage of our fight is
forcing home that very difficult lesson into the minds of men, and
especially into the minds of politicians. I propose to-night at this
political meeting to have a text. Texts are usually given from pulpits,
but perhaps you will forgive me if I have a text to-night. My text is:
'Equal justice for men and women, equal political justice, equal legal
justice, equal industrial justice, and equal social justice.' I want as
clearly and briefly as I can to make it clear to you to-night that if it
is justifiable to fight for common ordinary equal justice, then women
have ample justification, nay, have greater justification, for
revolution and rebellion, than ever men have had in the whole history of
the human race. Now that is a big contention to make, but I am going to
prove it. You get the proof of the political injustice--"

As I finished the word "injustice," a steward uttered a warning shout,
there was a tramp of heavy feet, and a large body of police burst into
the hall, and rushed up to the platform, drawing their truncheons as
they ran. Headed by detectives from Scotland Yard, they surged in on all
sides, but as the foremost members attempted to storm the platform, they
were met by a fusillade of flower-pots, tables, chairs, and other
missiles. They seized the platform railing, in order to tear it down,
but they found that under the decorations barbed wires were concealed.
This gave them pause for a moment.

Meanwhile, more of the invading host came from other directions. The
bodyguard and members of the audience vigorously repelled the attack,
wielding clubs, batons, poles, planks, or anything they could seize,
while the police laid about right and left with their batons, their
violence being far the greater. Men and women were seen on all sides
with blood streaming down their faces, and there were cries for a
doctor. In the middle of the struggle, several revolver shots rang out,
and the woman who was firing the revolver--which I should explain was
loaded with blank cartridges only--was able to terrorise and keep at bay
a whole body of police.

I had been surrounded by members of the bodyguard, who hurried me
towards the stairs from the platform. The police, however, overtook us,
and in spite of the resistance of the bodyguard, they seized me and
dragged me down the narrow stair at the back of the hall. There a cab
was waiting. I was pushed violently into it, and thrown on the floor,
the seats being occupied by as many constables as could crowd inside.

The meeting was left in a state of tremendous turmoil, and the people of
Glasgow who were present expressed their sense of outrage at the
behavior of the police, who, acting under the Government's instructions,
had so disgraced the city. General Drummond, who was present on the
platform, took hold of the situation and delivered a rousing speech, in
which she exhorted the audience to make the Government feel the force of
their indignation.

I was kept in the Glasgow police-cells all night, and the next morning
was taken, a hunger and thirst striking prisoner, to Holloway, where I
remained for five memorable days. This was the seventh attempt the
Government had made to make me serve a three years' term of penal
servitude on a conspiracy charge, in connection with the blowing up of
Mr. Lloyd-George's country house. In the eleven and a half months since
I had received that sentence I had spent just thirty days in prison. On
March 14th I was again released, still suffering severely, not only from
the hunger and thirst strike, but from injuries received at the time of
my brutal arrest in Glasgow.

The answer to that arrest had been swift and strong. In Bristol, the
scene of great riots and destruction when men were fighting for votes, a
large timber-yard was burnt. In Scotland a mansion was destroyed by
fire. A milder protest consisted of a raid upon the house of the Home
Secretary, in the course of which eighteen windows were broken.

The greatest and most startling of all protests hitherto made was the
attack at this time on the Rokeby "Venus" in the National Gallery. Mary
Richardson, the young woman who carried out this protest, is possessed
of a very fine artistic sense, and nothing but the most compelling sense
of duty would have moved her to the deed. Miss Richardson being placed
on trial, made a moving address to the Court, in the course of which she
said that her act was premeditated, and that she had thought it over
very seriously before it was undertaken. She added: "I have been a
student of art, and I suppose care as much for art as any one who was in
the gallery when I made my protest. But I care more for justice than I
do for art, and I firmly believe than when a nation shuts its eyes to
justice, and prefers to have women who are fighting for justice
ill-treated, mal-treated, and tortured, that such action as mine should
be understandable; I don't say excusable, but it should be understood.

"I should like to point out that the outrage which the Government has
committed upon Mrs. Pankhurst is an ultimatum of outrages. It is murder,
slow murder, and premeditated murder. That is how I have looked at

"How you can hold women up to ridicule and contempt, and put them in
prison, and yet say nothing to the Government for murdering people, I
cannot understand....

"The fact is that the nation is either dead or asleep. In my opinion
there is undoubted evidence that the nation is dead, because women have
knocked in vain at the door of administrators, archbishops, and even the
King himself. The Government have closed all doors to us. And remember
this--a state of death in a nation, as well as in an individual, leads
to one thing, and that is dissolution. I do not hesitate to say that if
the men of the country do not at this eleventh hour put their hand out
and save Mrs. Pankhurst, before a few more years are passed they will
stretch out their hand in vain to save the Empire."

In sentencing Miss Richardson to six month's imprisonment the
Magistrate said regretfully that if she had smashed a window instead of
an art treasure he could have given her a maximum sentence of eighteen
months, which illustrates, I think, one more queer anomaly of English

A few weeks later another famous painting, the Sargent portrait of Henry
James, was attacked by a Suffragette, who, like Miss Richardson, was
sent through the farce of a trial and a prison sentence which she did
not serve. By this time practically all the picture galleries and other
public galleries and museums had been closed to the public. The
Suffragettes had succeeded in large measure in making England
unattractive to tourists, and hence unprofitable to the world of
business. As we had anticipated, the reaction against the Liberal
Government began to manifest itself. Questions were asked daily, in the
press, in the House of Commons, everywhere, as to the responsibility of
the Government in the Suffragette activities. People began to place that
responsibility where it belonged, at the doors of the Government, rather
than at our own.

Especially did the public begin to contrast the treatment meted out to
the rebel women with that accorded to the rebel men of Ulster. For a
whole year the Government had been attacking the women's right of free
speech, by their refusal to allow the W. S. P. U. to hold public
meetings in Hyde Park. The excuse given for this was that we advocated
and defended a militant policy. But the Government permitted the Ulster
militants to advocate their war policy in Hyde Park, and we determined
that, with or without the Government's permission, we should, on the
day of the Ulster meeting, hold a suffrage meeting in Hyde Park. General
Drummond was announced as the chief speaker at this meeting, and when
the day came, militant Ulster men and militant women assembled in Hyde
Park. The militant men were allowed to speak in defence of bloodshed;
but General Drummond was arrested before she had uttered more than a few

Another proof that the Government had a law of leniency for militant men
and a law of persecution for militant women was shown at this time by
the case of Miss Dorothy Evans, our organiser in Ulster. She and another
Suffragette, Miss Maud Muir, were arrested in Belfast charged with
having in their possession a quantity of explosives. It was well known
that there were houses in Belfast that secreted tons of gunpowder and
ammunition for the use of the rebels against Home Rule, but none of
those houses were entered and searched by the police. The authorities
reserved their energies in this direction for the headquarters of the
militant women. Naturally enough the two suffrage prisoners, on being
arraigned in court, refused to be tried unless the Government proceeded
also against the men rebels. The prisoners throughout the proceedings
kept up such a disturbance that the trial could not properly go on. When
the case was called Miss Evans rose and protested loudly, saying: "I
deny your jurisdiction entirely until there are in the dock beside us
men who are well known leaders of the Ulster militant movement." Miss
Muir joined Miss Evans in her protest and both women were dragged from
the court. After an hour's adjournment the trial was resumed, but the
women again began to speak, and the case was hurried through in the
midst of indescribable din and commotion. The women were sent to prison
on remand, and after a four days' hunger and thirst strike were released

The result of this case was a severe outbreak of militancy, three fires
destroying Belfast mansions within a few days. Fires blazed almost daily
throughout England, a very important instance being the destruction of
the Bath Hotel at Felixstowe, valued at £35,000. The two women
responsible for this were afterwards arrested, and as their trials were
delayed, they were, although unconvicted prisoners, tortured by forcible
feeding for several months. This occurred in April, a few weeks before
the day appointed for our deputation to the King.

I had appointed May 21st for the deputation, in spite of the fact that
the King had, through his Ministers, refused to receive us. Replying to
this I had written, again directly to the King, that we utterly denied
the constitutional right of Ministers, who not being elected by women
were not responsible to them, to stand between ourselves and the Throne,
and to prevent us from having an audience of His Majesty. I declared
further that we would, on the date announced, present ourselves at the
gates of Buckingham Palace to demand an interview.

Following the despatch of this letter my life was made as uncomfortable
and as insecure as the Government, through their police department,
could contrive. I was not allowed to make a public appearance, but I
addressed several huge meetings from the balcony of houses where I had
taken refuge. These were all publicly announced, and each time the
police, mingling with crowds, made strenuous efforts to arrest me. By
strategy, and through the valiant efforts of the bodyguard, I was able
each time to make my speech and afterwards to escape from the house. All
of these occasions were marked by fierce opposition from the police and
splendid courage and resistance on the part of the women.

The deputation to the King was, of course, marked by the Government as
an occasion on which I could be arrested, and when, on the day
appointed, I led the great deputation of women to the gates of
Buckingham Palace, an army of several thousand police were sent out
against us. The conduct of the police showed plainly that they had been
instructed to repeat the tactics of Black Friday, described in an
earlier chapter. Indeed, the violence, brutality and insult of Black
Friday were excelled on this day, and at the gates of the King of
England. I myself did not suffer so greatly as others, because I had
advanced towards the Palace unnoticed by the police, who were looking
for me at a more distant point. When I arrived at the gates I was
recognised by an Inspector, who at once seized me bodily, and conveyed
me to Holloway.

[Illustration: © _International News Service_


Before the Deputation had gone forth, I had made a short speech to them,
warning them of what might happen, and my final message was: "Whatever
happens, do not turn back." They did not, and in spite of all the
violence inflicted upon them, they went forward, resolved, so long as
they were free, not to give up the attempt to reach the Palace. Many
arrests were made, and of those arrested many were sent to prison.
Although for the majority, this was the first imprisonment, these brave
women adopted the hunger strike, and passed seven or eight days without
food and water before they were released, weak and ill as may be


In the weeks following the disgraceful events before Buckingham Palace
the Government made several last, desperate efforts to crush the
W. S. P. U., to remove all the leaders and to destroy our paper, the
_Suffragette_. They issued summonses against Mrs. Drummond, Mrs. Dacre
Fox and Miss Grace Roe; they raided our headquarters at Lincolns Inn
House; twice they raided other headquarters temporarily in use, not to
speak of raids made upon private dwellings where the new leaders, who
had risen to take the places of those arrested, were at their work for
the organisation. But with each successive raid the disturbances which
the Government were able to make in our affairs became less, because we
were better able, each time, to provide against them. Every effort made
by the Government to suppress the _Suffragette_ failed, and it continued
to come out regularly every week. Although the paper was issued
regularly, we had to use almost super-human energy to get it
distributed. The Government sent to all the great wholesale news agents
a letter which was designed to terrorise and bully them into refusing to
handle the paper or to sell it to the retail news agents. Temporarily,
at any rate, the letter produced in many cases the desired effect, but
we overcame the emergency by taking immediate steps to build up a
system of distribution which was worked by women themselves,
independently of the newspaper trade. We also opened a "Suffragette
Defence Fund," to meet the extra expense of publishing and distributing
the paper.

Twice more the Government attempted to force me to serve the three
years' term of penal servitude, one arrest being made when I was being
carried to a meeting in an ambulance. Wholesale arrests and hunger
strikes occurred at the same time, but our women continued their work of
militancy, and money flowed into our Protest and Defence Fund. At one
great meeting in July the fund was increased by nearly £16,000.

But now unmistakable signs began to appear that our long and bitter
struggle was drawing to a close. The last resort of the Government of
inciting the street mobs against us had been little successful, and we
could see in the temper of the public abundant hope that the reaction
against the Government, long hoped for by us, had actually begun.

Every day of the militant movement was so extraordinarily full of events
and changes that it is difficult to choose a point at which this
narrative should be brought to a close. I think, however, that an
account of a recent debate which took place in the House of Commons will
give the reader the best idea of the complete breakdown of the
Government in their effort to crush the women's fight for liberty.

On June 11th, when the House of Commons had gone into a Committee of
Supply, Lord Robert Cecil moved a reduction of 100 pounds on the Home
Office vote, thus precipitating a discussion of militancy. Lord Robert
said that he had read with some surprise that the Government were not
dissatisfied with the measures which they had taken to deal with the
violent suffragists, and he added with some asperity that the Government
took a much more sanguine view of the matter than anybody else in the
United Kingdom. The House, Lord Robert went on to declare, would not be
in a position to deal with the case satisfactorily unless they realised
the devotion of the followers to their leaders, who were almost fully
responsible for what was going on. Ministerial cheers greeted this
utterance, but they ceased suddenly when the speaker went on to say that
these leaders could never have induced their followers to enter upon a
career of crime but for the serious mistakes which had been made over
and over again by the Government. Among these mistakes Lord Robert cited
the shameful treatment of the women on Black Friday, the policy of
forcible feeding and the scandal of the different treatment accorded
Lady Constance Lytton and "Jane Warton." There were Opposition cheers at
this, and they were again raised when Lord Robert deplored the terrible
waste of energy, and "admirable material" involved in the militant
movement. Although Lord Robert Cecil deemed it unjust as well as futile
for Suffragist Members to withhold their support from the woman suffrage
movement on account of militancy he himself was in favor of deportation
for Suffragettes. At this there were cries of "Where to?" and "Ulster!"

Mr. McKenna replied by first calling attention to the fact that in the
militant movement they had a phenomenon "absolutely without precedent in
our history." Women in numbers were committing crimes, beginning with
window breaking, and proceeding to arson, not with the motives of
ordinary criminals, but with the intention of advertising a political
cause and of forcing the public to grant their demands. Mr. McKenna
continuing said:

"The number of women who commit crimes of that kind is extremely small,
but the number of those who sympathise with them is extremely large. One
of the difficulties which the police have in detecting this form of
crime and in bringing home the offence to the criminal is that the
criminals find so many sympathisers among the well-to-do and thoroughly
respectable classes that the ordinary administration of the law is
rendered comparatively impossible. Let me give the House some figures
showing the number of women who have been committed to prison for
offences since the beginning of the militant agitation in 1906. In that
year the total number of commitments to prison was 31, all the persons
charged being women. In 1909 the figure rose to 156; in 1911 to 188 (182
women and six men); and in 1912 to 290 (288 women and two men). In 1913
the number dropped to 183, and so far this year it has dropped to 108.
These figures include all commitments to prison and rearrests under the
Cat and Mouse Act. What is the obvious lesson to be drawn? Up to 1912
the number of offences committed for which imprisonment was the
punishment was steadily increasing, but since the beginning of last
year--that is to say, since the new Act came into force--the number of
individual offences has been very greatly reduced. On the other hand, we
see that the seriousness of the offences is much greater."

This statement, that the number of imprisonments had decreased since the
adoption of the Cat and Mouse Act, was of course, incorrect, or at best
misleading. The fact was that the number of imprisonments decreased
because, where formerly the militants went willingly to prison for their
acts, they now escaped prison wherever possible. A comparatively small
number of "mice" were ever rearrested by the police.

Mr. McKenna went on to say that he realised fully the growing sense of
indignation against the militant suffragists and he added, "Their one
hope is, rightly or wrongly, that the well advertised indignation of the
public will recoil on the head of the Government."

"And so it will," interpolated a voice.

"My honourable friend," replied Mr. McKenna, "says so it will. I believe
that he is mistaken." But he gave no reasons for so believing. Referring
to what he called the "recent grave rudenesses which have been committed
against the King," Mr. McKenna said: "It is true that all subjects have
the right of petitioning His Majesty, providing the petition is couched
in respectful terms, but there is no right on the part of the subjects
generally to personal audience for the purpose of the presentation of
the petition or otherwise. It is the duty of the Home Secretary to
present all such petitions to the King, and further to advise His
Majesty what action should be taken. It was therefore ridiculous for any
Suffragist to assert that there had been any breach of constitutional
propriety on the part of the King in refusing, on the advice of the Home
Secretary to receive the deputation."

Also, said Mr. McKenna, in view of the fact that the petition for an
audience was sent by a person under sentence of penal
servitude--myself--it was the plain duty of the Home Secretary to advise
the King not to grant it. He referred to the incident, he said, only
because it was illustrative of the militant's methods of advertising
their cause. He gave them credit, he was bound to say, for a certain
degree of intelligence in adopting their methods. "No action has been so
fruitful of advertisement as the recent absurdities which they have
perpetrated in relation to the King."

Coming down to the question of methods of meeting and overcoming
militancy, Mr. McKenna said that he had received an almost unlimited
correspondence on the subject from every section of the public. "Four
methods were suggested," said he. "The first is to let them die. (Hear,
hear.) That is, I should say, at the present moment, the most popular
(laughter), judging by the number of letters I have received. The second
is to deport them. (Hear, hear.) The third is to treat them as lunatics.
(Hear, hear.) And the fourth is to give them the franchise. (Hear, hear,
and laughter.) I think that is an exhaustive list. I notice each one of
them is received with a certain very moderate amount of applause in this
House. I hope to give reason why at the present time I think we should
not adopt any one of them."

The first suggestion was usually, not always, based on the assumption
that the women would take their food if they knew that the alternative
was death. Mr. McKenna read to the House in opposition to that view "the
opinion of a great medical expert who had had intimate knowledge of the
Suffragettes from the first." "We have to face the fact, therefore, that
they would die," continued Mr. McKenna.

"Let me say, also, with actual experience of dealing with suffragists,
in many cases they have got in their refusal of food and water beyond
the point when they could help themselves, and they have clearly done
all that they could do to show their readiness to die.... There are
those who hold another assumption. They think that after one or two
deaths in prison militancy would cease. In my judgment there was never a
greater delusion. I readily admit that this is the issue upon which I
stand and upon which I feel I would fight to the end those who would
adopt as their policy to let the prisoners die. So far from putting an
end to militancy, I believe it would be the greatest incentive to
militancy which could ever happen. For every woman who dies, there would
be scores of women who would come forward for the honour, as they would
deem it, of earning the crown of martyrdom."

"How do you know?" called out an Opposition member.

"How do I know?" retorted the Home Secretary. "I have had more to do
with these women than the honourable member, much more. Those who hold
that opinion leave out of account all recognition of the nature of these
women. I do not speak in admiration of them. They are hysterical
fanatics, but, coupled with their hysterical fanaticism, they have a
courage, part of their fanaticism, which undoubtedly stands at nothing,
and the honourable member who thinks that they would not come forward,
not merely to risk death, but to undergo it, for what they deem the
greatest cause on earth is making, in my judgment, a profound
mistake.... They would seek death, and I am sure that however strong
public opinion outside might be to-day in favour of allowing them to
die, when there were twenty, thirty, forty, or more deaths in prison,
you would have a violent reaction of public opinion, and the honourable
gentleman who now so glibly says 'Let them die' would be among the first
to blame the Government for what he would describe as the inhuman
attitude they had adopted.

"That policy," continued Mr. McKenna, "could not be adopted without an
Act of Parliament. For the reason I have given I have not asked
Parliament to remove from prison officials the responsibility under
which they now rest for doing their best to keep those committed to
their charge alive. But, supposing this legal responsibility were
removed from the prison officials, let honourable members for a moment
transport themselves in imagination to a prison cell and conceive of a
prison doctor, a humane man, standing by watching a woman slowly being
done to death by starvation and thirst, knowing that he could help her
and that he could keep her alive. Did they think that any doctor would
go on with such action, or that we should be able to retain medical men
under such conditions in our service? I do not believe it.

"The doctor would think, as I should think if I saw a woman lying there,
'What has been this woman's offence?' It may have been obstructing the
police, coupled with the obstinacy derived from fanaticism which leads
her to refuse food and water. Obstructing the police and she is to die!
I could not distinguish, and no Home Secretary could ever say, that this
woman should be left to die and that that woman should not. Once we were
committed to a policy of allowing them to die if they did not take their
food we should have to go on with it, and we should have woman after
woman whose only offence may have been obstructing the police, breaking
a window, or even burning down an empty house, dying because she was
obstinate. I do not believe that that is a policy which on consideration
will ever recommend itself to the British people, and I am bound to say
for myself I could never take a hand in carrying that policy out."

Lord Robert Cecil's favourite remedy of deportation Mr. McKenna
dismissed on the grounds that this would be merely removing the
difficulty to some other country than Great Britain. If the suggested
distant island were treated as a prison the women would hunger strike
there as they did in English prisons. If the island were not treated as
a prison, the Suffragettes' rich friends would come and rescue them in

The suggestion that the militants be treated as lunatics was also
dismissed as impossible. Admitting that he had tried to get them
certified as lunatics and had failed because the medical profession
would not consent to such a course, Mr. McKenna said that he could not,
contrary to the advice of the doctors, get certification by Act of
Parliament. "There remains," said Mr. McKenna, "the last proposal, that
we should give them the franchise."

"That is the right one," exclaimed Mr. William Redmond, but the Home
Secretary replied:

"Whatever may be said as to the merits or demerits of that proposal, it
is clearly not one I can discuss now in Committee of Supply. I am not
responsible, as Home Secretary, for the state of the law on the
franchise, nor is there any occasion for me to express or conceal my own
opinions on the point; but I certainly do not think, and I am sure the
Committee will agree with me, that that could be seriously treated as a
remedy for the existing state of lawlessness."

Coming at last to the constructive part of his speech Mr. McKenna told
the House of Commons that the Government had one last resort, which was
to take legal proceedings against subscribers to the funds of the
W. S. P. U. The funds of the society, he said, were undoubtedly beyond
the arm of the British law. But the Government were in hopes of stopping
future subscriptions. "We are now not without hope," he concluded, "that
we have evidence which will enable us to proceed against the
subscribers" (loud cheers) "in civil action, and if we succeed the
subscribers will become personally liable for all the damage done."
(Cheers.) "It is a question of evidence.... I have further directed that
the question should be considered whether the subscribers could not be
proceeded against criminally as well as by civil action." (Cheers.) "We
have only been able to obtain this evidence by our now not infrequent
raids upon the offices, and such property as we can get at of the
society.... A year ago a raid was made on the offices of the society,
but we obtained no such evidence. If we succeed in making the
subscribers personally responsible individually for the whole damage
done I have no doubt that the insurance companies will quickly follow
the example set them by the Government, and in turn bring actions to
recover the cost which has been thrown upon them. If that is done I have
no doubt the days of militancy are over.

"The militants live only by the subscriptions of rich women" (cheers)
"who themselves enjoy all the advantages of wealth secured for them by
the labour of others" (cheers) "and use their wealth against the
interests of society, paying their unfortunate victims to undergo all
the horrors of a hunger and thirst strike in the commission of a crime.
Whatever feelings we may have against the wretched women who for 30s.
and £2 a week go about the country burning and destroying, what must our
feelings be for the women who give their money to induce the
perpetration of these crimes and leave their sisters to undergo the
punishment while they live in luxury?" (Cheers.) "If we can succeed
against them we will spare no pains. If the action is successful in the
total destruction of the means of revenue of the Women's Social and
Political Union I think we shall see the last of the power of Mrs.
Pankhurst and her friends." (Cheers.)

In the general debate which followed the Government were obliged to
listen to very severe criticisms of their past and present policy
towards the militant women. Mr. Keir Hardie said in part:

"We may not to-day discuss the question of the franchise, but surely it
was possible for the Home Secretary, without any transgression on the
rules of the House, to have held out just a ray of hope for the future
as to the intentions of the Government in regard to this most urgent
question. On that point, may I say that I am not one of those who
believe that a right thing should be withheld because some of the
advocates of it resort to weapons of which we do not approve. That note
has been sounded more than once, and if it be true, and it is true, that
a section of the public outside are strongly opposed to this conduct, it
is equally true that the bulk of the people look with a very calm and
indifferent eye upon what is happening so long as the vote is withheld
from women."

Mr. Hardie concluded by regretting that the House, instead of discussing
Woman Suffrage, was discussing methods of penalising militant women.

Mr. Rupert Gwynne said: "Nobody is in a more ridiculous position than
the members on the Treasury Bench. They cannot address a meeting, or go
to a railway station, or even get into a taxicab, without having
detectives with them. Even if they like it, we, the public do not,
because we have to pay for it. It is not worth the expense that it costs
to have a detective staff following Cabinet Ministers wherever they go,
whether in a private or a public capacity.

"Further," said Mr. Gwynne, "if the Home Secretary is correct in saying
that these women are prepared to die, and invite death, in order to
advertise their devotion to their cause, does he really think they are
going to mind if their funds are attached?"

Another friend of the Suffragists, Mr. Wedgwood said: "We are dealing
with a problem which is a very serious one indeed. To my mind, when you
find a large body of public opinion, and a large number of people
capable of going to these lengths, there is only one thing for a
respectable House of Commons to do, and that is to consider very closely
and clearly whether the complaints of those who complain are or are not
justified. We are not justified in acting in panic. What it is our duty
to do is to consider the rights and wrongs of these people who have
acted in this way. I attribute myself no value to the vote, but I do
think that when we seriously consider the question of Woman Suffrage,
which has not been done by this House up to the present, we should
remember that when you see people capable of this amount of
self-sacrifice, that the one duty of the House of Commons is not to
stamp the iron heel upon them, but to see how far their cause is just,
and to act according to justice."

When such a debate as this was possible in the House of Commons, it must
be plain to every disinterested reader that militancy never set the
cause of suffrage back, but on the contrary, set it forward at least
half a century. When I remember how that same House of Commons, a few
years ago, treated the mention of woman suffrage with scorn and
contempt, how they permitted the most insulting things to be said of the
women who were begging for their political freedom, how, with indecent
laughter and coarse jokes they allowed suffrage bills to be talked out,
I cannot but marvel at the change our militancy so quickly brought
about. Mr. McKenna's speech was in itself a token of the complete
surrender of the Government.

Of course the promise of the Home Secretary that subscribers to our
funds should, if possible, be held legally responsible for damage done
to private property by the Suffragettes, was never meant to be adhered
to. It was, in fact, a perfectly absurd promise, and I think that very
few Members of Parliament were deceived by it. Our subscribers can
always remain anonymous if they choose, and if it should ever be
possible to attack them for our deeds, they would naturally take refuge
behind that privilege.

Our battles are practically over, we confidently believe. For the
present at least our arms are grounded, for directly the threat of
foreign war descended on our nation we declared a complete truce from
militancy. What will come out of this European war--so terrible in its
effects on the women who had no voice in averting it--so baneful in the
suffering it must necessarily bring on innocent children--no human being
can calculate. But one thing is reasonably certain, and that is that the
Cabinet changes which will necessarily result from warfare will make
future militancy on the part of women unnecessary. No future Government
will repeat the mistakes and the brutality of the Asquith Ministry. None
will be willing to undertake the impossible task of crushing or even
delaying the march of women towards their rightful heritage of political
liberty and social and industrial freedom.


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