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Title: Prisons & Prisoners - Some Personal Experiences
Author: Lytton, Constance
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Note


Words in italics are marked with _underscores_.

Words in small capitals are shown in UPPER CASE.

Words marked with =equals signs= were originally printed in bold,
italics and were underlined.

The names under the photographs were originally handwritten.

Footnotes have been moved to the end of paragraphs.

The photograph of Jane Warton has been moved, the page number in the
list of illustrations refers to its original position in the book.

Variant spelling, misspelt names and inconsistent hyphenation are
retained, a few palpable printing errors have been corrected.

The ⁂ character was originally printed as an inverted asterism.



PRISONS AND PRISONERS



  +----------------------------------------+
  |  MY FATHER                             |
  |                                        |
  |  PERSONAL AND SPIRITUAL REMINISCENCES  |
  |                                        |
  |  By ESTELLE W. STEAD                   |
  |                                        |
  |  Demy 8vo. Price 10/- net              |
  |                                        |
  |  LONDON WILLIAM HEINEMANN              |
  +----------------------------------------+



[Illustration:
  _Holman & Paget, photographers_
  _Emery Walker Ph. Sc._

  Constance Lytton]



  PRISONS & PRISONERS

  SOME PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

  By CONSTANCE LYTTON AND
  JANE WARTON, SPINSTER


  WITH PORTRAITS

  [Illustration: W H (Publisher’s logo)]

  LONDON WILLIAM HEINEMANN



_Copyright_, 1914.



CONTENTS


  CHAP.                                                  PAGE

        DEDICATION.

     I. INTRODUCTION                                        1

    II. MY CONVERSION                                       9

   III. A DEPUTATION TO THE PRIME MINISTER                 31

    IV. POLICE COURT TRIAL                                 54

     V. HOLLOWAY PRISON: MY FIRST IMPRISONMENT             68

    VI. THE HOSPITAL                                       92

   VII. SOME TYPES OF PRISONERS                           114

  VIII. “A TRACK TO THE WATER’S EDGE”                     138

    IX. FROM THE CELLS                                    173

     X. NEWCASTLE: POLICE STATION CELL                    201

    XI. NEWCASTLE PRISON: MY SECOND IMPRISONMENT          222

   XII. JANE WARTON                                       234

  XIII. WALTON GAOL, LIVERPOOL: MY THIRD IMPRISONMENT     259

   XIV. THE HOME OFFICE                                   296

    XV. THE CONCILIATION BILL                             311

   XVI. HOLLOWAY PRISON REVISITED: MY FOURTH IMPRISONMENT 320



PUBLISHER’S NOTE


_The Publisher hopes that fault will not be found if he disclaims
agreement with some of Lady Constance Lytton’s views expressed in
this volume, notwithstanding the fact that he is glad to offer it to
the public. He feels that personal disagreement over details should
not hinder him from publishing this splendid story of heroism and
unselfishness._



DEDICATION TO PRISONERS


When, for a short while, I shared your lot, I asked myself through all
my waking hours if there were any friendly thought which could act
beneficently for all prisoners, no matter how various the training
of their previous lives, no matter whether distress of circumstance,
drunkenness, selfish action, cruelty, or madness had been the cause
which brought them into prison.

And there seemed this one thing. It is a single idea, but needs many
words to give it shape.

Lay hold of your inward self and keep tight hold. Reverence yourself.
Be just, kind and forgiving to yourself. For the inner you of yourself
is surely the only means of communication for you with any good
influence you may once have enjoyed or hope some day to find, the only
window through which you can look upon a happier and more lovable
life, the only door through which some day you will be able to escape,
unbarring it to your own release from all that is helpless, selfish,
and unkind in your present self.

Public opinion, which sent you to prison, and your gaolers, who have to
keep you there, are mostly concerned with your failings. Every hour of
prison existence will remind you of these afresh. Unless you are able
to keep alight within yourself the remembrance of acts and thoughts
which were good, a belief in your own power to exist freely when you
are once more out of prison, how can any other human being help you? If
not the inward power, how can any external power avail?

But if you have this comforter within you, hourly keeping up
communication with all that you have known and loved of good in your
life, with all the possibilities for good that you know of--in your
hands, your mind, your heart--then when you are released from prison,
however lonely you may be, or poor, or despised by your neighbours, you
will have a friend who can really help you.

There will be people who visit you in prison, and who watch over you
at first when you come out. They will try to help you, but unless they
truly understand your lot, understanding your goodness as well as
your badness, and sympathising with your badness as well as with your
goodness, they will seem far off from you. Who knows, though, but what
you may help them? In my ignorance and impudence I went into prison
hoping to help prisoners. So far as I know, I was unable to do anything
for them. But the prisoners helped me. They seemed at times the direct
channels between me and God Himself, imbued with the most friendly and
powerful goodness that I have ever met.

Prisoners, I wish I could give to you, for your joy, something of the
help you gave to me, and that in many ways I could follow your example.



ILLUSTRATIONS


  PORTRAIT OF LADY CONSTANCE LYTTON      _Frontispiece_.

  PORTRAIT OF JANE WARTON, SPINSTER      _to face p. 114_.


  THE MEDALLION ON COVER BY MISS SYLVIA PANKHURST WITH GRATEFUL THANKS.



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION


Some of the experiences which I have to record are of so unusual a
character that I think it will help to a better understanding on the
part of my readers if I briefly outline the drift of my existence
before I became aware of the women’s movement, and in touch with that
section of it known as the “Militant Suffragettes.”

My father had been dead fifteen years and I was thirty-nine years
old in 1906, when my narrative begins. I lived with my mother in the
country. Two sisters and two brothers had left the home when they
were young--the sisters to marry, the brothers to train for and enter
their professions. I assumed, as did all my friends and relations,
that, being past the age when marriage was likely, I should always
remain at home. In my early girlhood I had a yearning to take up
music professionally; again, after father’s death, when unexpected
financial misfortunes caused my mother great anxiety, I had longed to
try my hand at journalism; and once more, a few years later, I had
the same ambition. But these wishes, finding no favour, had in each
case eventually to be repressed, and in 1906 I had neither equipment,
training nor inclination for an independent life.

I had been more or less of a chronic invalid through the greater part
of my youth. An overmastering laziness and a fatalistic submission
to events as they befell were guiding factors in my existence. I was
passionately fond of animals and of children, music was a great delight
to me; otherwise I was not given to intellectual pursuits. So far as
I know, I was an average ordinary human being, except perhaps for an
exaggerated dislike of society and of publicity in any form. I had many
intimate friends, both men and women, and also children. Such mental
training as I have known was chiefly due to intercourse with them. I
owed to them, as well as to my mother and many members of my family, a
happy life, in spite of considerable physical suffering.

In 1896 and successive years I had given secretarial help to my aunt,
Mrs. C. W. Earle, in the writing of her wonderfully delightful books,
beginning with “Pot Pourri from a Surrey Garden.” She insisted that,
in return for my small and mostly mechanical services, we should share
the profits of the sale. The book ran into many editions, and she held
to her bargain, but I never felt as if I had a right to the money. Her
widely sympathetic and stimulating companionship had a great influence
on my mind. Thanks to her investigations in theories of diet, I became
a strict vegetarian. My health gained in all directions and I gradually
freed myself from the so-called “constitutional” rheumatism from which
I had suffered since my infancy. I realised, too, that all these years
I had caused untold suffering that I might be fed, and determined that
in future the unnatural death of an animal should not be necessary to
make up my bill of fare. My vitality increased, but the notion of a
vocation apart from my family and home remained as foreign to my ideas
as it was then to the average British spinster of my class.

In the year 1906 my godmother, Lady Bloomfield, died. She had shown me
much kindness and I had never found an opportunity to serve her in any
way, the generosity had been all on her side; yet, at her death, she
left me some money, without any conditions as to how I should spend
it. It gave me a strange new feeling of power and exhilaration. I look
back upon this event as being spiritually the starting point in my
new life, of which this book will tell, although, from the practical
point of view, it seems only by a series of coincidences that my after
experiences were evolved from it.

I looked about me with a view to spending the money. I had a fancy
to put it to some public use. The commonly accepted channels of
philanthropy did not appeal to me. I shifted my inquiries in other
directions. I remember that at this time I was chiefly occupied
with the idea that reformers were for the most part town dwellers,
their philosophy and schemes attuned to those surroundings. There
seemed to me need for a counteracting influence to attempt reform and
regeneration on behalf of country dwellers. The noiseless revolution
which had been worked in a few decades by the system of compulsory
education seemed to me tainted throughout by the ideals of townsfolk.
The influence of teachers and clergy, of public authorities in general,
sets before the nation’s children and their parents ideals which mould
them into townsfolk. Country craft and country lore grow less, and
are less honoured in every decade. There is no room for them in the
national curriculum. This tendency, nevertheless, seems unnatural,
imposed by a species of force on a reluctant though inarticulate
people. Some temperaments cannot acclimatise themselves to town
dwelling. The life of cities will always appear to them artificial,
repellent from the physical conditions it imposes and the mental
outlook resulting from these. Rain, earth and air are better scavengers
than any municipal corporation. The ceaseless cleansing, yet never
making clean, of town existence has from my childhood fretted my
imagination and produced a sense of incarceration. In towns, the earth
is laid over with tombstones, metalled roads or floors of wood. Avenues
of bricks and mortar shut out a great part of the sky, limiting into
a mere ceiling the heavens which should be our surrounding. A town
had always seemed to me a “deterrent” workhouse at best, and often a
punitive prison besides.

The monster of industrialism, which followed in the wake of
the discovery of steam and the dethroning of handicraft by
artificially-propelled machinery, may one day be bridled and controlled
so as to be a servant of humanity, a fellow worker in the day-to-day
glory of creation; but for the present it is still a wild beast, a
dragon at large, dealing pestilence and death with its fiery breath,
combated in panic, its evils evaded rather than faced, its power a
nightmare breeding fear and subjection. Instead of harnessing this
new force to every branch of our existence, ordering it to serve us
at our command, we have cringed before it, left our normal lives and
drained our energies to congregate in its grimy temples and worship at
its shrine. Poor, blind force that it is, we are determined to make
it an idol, and for sake of the return in money which its mechanical
rotations produce, we have been willing to sacrifice the interests both
of the human beings which should control it and of the soil, the land,
which alone can produce the raw material for its task.

How to transform this Moloch from a tyrannous master to a helpful,
submissive friend, that was the problem which seemed to cry out for
solution above all others. I looked around to see how the needs of
country folk were able to express themselves, and everywhere there was
presented to my inquiries a complicated machinery of administration
both national and local--voting rights for election of parliamentary,
municipal, county, district and parish councils. But this machinery was
apparently born and bred of urban conditions, super-imposed upon the
rural districts, in no way native to them, not of spontaneous growth.
This succession of councils, instituted with the apparent purpose of
watching one another, and, if necessary, bringing pressure to bear
upon one another, were for the most part lifeless formalities, having
no organic life, no breath of reality to set them in motion. The only
function which gives them any tangible vitality is their power of
imposing taxation and levying rates. You find in the country districts
that members of these different bodies are the same individuals. The
parish councillor who is expected to bring pressure to bear on the
district councillor, who again must appeal, if need be, to the county
councillor, is one and the same person who, as likely as not, is also
the representative of the district on the board of guardians, and he is
sure to be selected again to work the administrative machinery of every
new device that comes along for the amelioration of social evils. In
other words, the elective principle is a farce in rural districts. The
electorate are dead both to their powers and their duties. They live,
in fact, under a system which is anything but representative. They live
rather, under the devitalised husk of the feudal system, the poorer
members of the community dependent, in the worst sense, upon those
who are their social superiors, but no longer receiving from them any
security of well-being, and neither class extending to the other, with
rare exceptions, either the loyalty or devotion which seem to have been
bound up with the feudal traditions of our forefathers. Was it possible
to wake up this inert mass, so that they should co-operate with one
another, and thus be strong enough to grasp the present machinery of
national Government, and either utilise it or alter it to one better
suited to their needs?

Each of my inquiries in turn led me back to the individuals concerned,
to the human beings themselves. What were their homes, their ambitions,
thoughts, beliefs? What guidance do they give to those who wish to
serve them? I groped my way blindly and acquired knowledge only in a
negative sense by a series of failures. I gleaned two general precepts
from my investigations. They were these: It is useless to try and help
the lives of a community without consulting the individuals whom you
hope to benefit, and that to benefit the life conditions of men does
not necessarily benefit the life conditions of women, although their
interests may be apparently identical as to social grade, locality,
religious and other beliefs.

After a series of barren experiments, I stumbled by chance on a piece
of social radium, a regenerative agency that bore good fruit and that
contained an element of spontaneous joy most refreshing compared to the
oppressive straight-jackets of national or private philanthropists.
I heard of the revival of folk songs and dances. I went to see and
hear them. The first performance opened the door for me into a new
paradise. The Esperance Club of working girls had been the means of
bringing to life researches of antiquarian musical students. This
club had evidently been for many years an unusually successful social
enterprise, but the discovery of a lost treasure in the shape of
traditional songs and dances gave it a new inspiration. Both words and
tunes of the songs have come, generation after generation, from the
heart of the English folk. Each generation, each individual who has
sung them, has added or omitted some little touch, so that in these
songs, which have been mostly collected from old men and women over
eighty years of age, is expressed the very soul of English national
sentiment. The same with the dances. They were traditional in families
or localities, they had been handed down from father to son, and were
as truly folk dances as the songs were folk songs. Songs and dances
alike are full of life on the land and love of the land, of flowers,
animals and crops, of the daily lives of men, women and children.
Dramatic, tragic and comic incidents find spontaneous expression, and
every one of them tells of a vigorous and mainly joyous existence. The
girls of this club learnt the Morris dance first from two Oxfordshire
countrymen. Both the dances and songs were acquired easily “by a sort
of spiritual sixth sense,” as if the rhythm and meaning of them were
latent in their being and were easily re-awakened. The girls not
only learnt quickly, but were inspired to teach others, young girls
of seventeen and eighteen showing an amazing facility and power of
organisation in this matter. One of these came, at my eager request, to
teach in our village, and, after one week, men, women and children were
alive with these friendly, joy-giving, native arts. The following year
a girl teacher came to us again with renewed success.

In the autumn, 1908, I was invited by the secretary of the club, Miss
Mary Neal, herself a wonderful organiser, to share a seaside holiday
with her girls. In those days I never left home save for family
reasons, or for some very exceptional matter. I, therefore, refused
the invitation. I happened to mention the proposal the next day to
my mother. She said: “Why don’t you go?” I immediately went, little
realising that this visit would lead to a most unexpected series of
experiences.



CHAPTER II

MY CONVERSION


It was in August-September, 1908, at “The Green Lady Hostel,”
Littlehampton, the holiday house of the Esperance Girls’ Club, that
I met Mrs. Pethick Lawrence and Miss Annie Kenney. I was two or
three days in the house with them without discovering that they were
Suffragettes or that there was anything unusual about their lives.
But I realised at once that I was face to face with women of strong
personality, and I felt, though at first vaguely, that they represented
something more than themselves, a force greater than their own seemed
behind them. Their remarkable individual powers seemed illumined and
enhanced by a light that was apart from them as are the colours and
patterns of a stained-glass window by the sun shining through it. I
had never before come across this kind of spirituality. I have since
found it a characteristic of all the leaders in the militant section
of the woman’s movement, and of many of the rank and file. I was much
attracted by Mrs. Lawrence, and became intimate with her at once on the
strength of our mutual friendship for Olive Schreiner. We had, besides,
many other interests and sympathies in common. The first Sunday that
we were together, the girls of the club were asked to come in early
that evening, so that Jessie Kenney, Annie Kenney’s sister, who had
only recently been released from Holloway, might tell them of her
prison experiences. I then realised that I was amongst Suffragettes.
I immediately confessed to them that although I shared their wish for
the enfranchisement of women, I did not at all sympathise with the
measures they adopted for bringing about that reform. I had, however,
always been interested in prisons and recognised from the first that,
incidentally, the fact of many educated women being sent to gaol for a
question of conscience must do a great deal for prison reform, and I
was delighted at this opportunity of hearing first-hand something about
the inner life of a prison. I listened eagerly and was horrified at
some of the facts recorded. Amongst these I remember specially that the
tins in which the drinking water stood were cleaned with soap and brick
dust and not washed out, the tins being filled only once or at most
twice in twenty-four hours; the want of air in the cells; the conduct
of prison officials towards the prisoners.

Having betrayed my disapproval of the Suffragette “tactics,” which
seemed to me unjustified, unreasonable, without a sense of political
responsibility, and as setting a bad example in connection with a
reform movement of such prominence, there was naturally something
of coolness and reserve in my further intercourse with Mrs. Pethick
Lawrence and the Kenneys. But before their brief stay at the club came
to an end, I achieved a talk with each of the leaders.

One evening, after incessant rain, Annie Kenney and I marched
arm-in-arm round the garden, under dripping trees. I explained that
though I had always been for the extension of the suffrage to women, it
did not seem to me a question of prime urgency, that many other matters
of social reform seemed more important, and I thought class prejudice
and barriers more injurious to national welfare than sex barriers. I
was deeply impressed with her reply. She said, in a tone of utmost
conviction: “Well, I can only tell you that I, who am a working-class
woman, have never known class distinction and class prejudice stand
in the way of my advancement, whereas the sex barrier meets me at
every turn.” Of course, she is a woman of great character, courage and
ability, which gives her exceptional facilities for overcoming these
drawbacks, but her contention that such powers availed her nothing
in the face of sex prejudices and disabilities, and the examples
she gave me to bear out her argument, began to lift the scales of
ignorance from my eyes. She was careful to point out that the members
of her own family had been remarkably free from sex prejudice, and
her illustrations had no taint of personal resentment. She explained
how the lot of women being not understood of men, and they being the
only legislators, the woman’s part had always got laid on one side,
made of less importance, sometimes forgotten altogether. She told how
amongst these offices of women was the glorious act of motherhood and
the tending of little children. Was there anything in a man’s career
that could be so honourable as this? Yet how often is the woman who
bears humanity neglected at such times, so that life goes from her,
or she is given no money to support her child. I felt that through
Annie Kenney’s whole being throbbed the passion of her soul for other
women, to lift from them the heavy burden, to give them life, strength,
freedom, joy, and the dignity of human beings, that in all things
they might be treated fairly with men. I was struck by her expression
and argument, it was straightforward in its simplicity, yet there was
inspiration about her. All that she said was obvious, but in it there
was a call from far off, something inevitable as the voice of fate. She
never sounded a note of sex-antipathy; it was an unalloyed claim for
justice and equity of development, for women as for men.

Then Mrs. Pethick Lawrence and I, during a day’s motoring expedition,
achieved a rare talk out. She met all my arguments, all my prejudices
and false deductions with counter-arguments, and above all with facts
of which I had till then no conception. I trusted her because of what I
had learnt of her personality, her character, mind, wide education and
experience, and was to a certain extent at once impressed; still I only
half believed many of the things she reported, the real purport of her
statements did not yet sink into my soul as they were soon to do, fact
upon fact, result upon result, as I found out their truth for myself.

During my stay at Littlehampton I witnessed a scene which produced
a great impression upon my conscience. One morning, while wandering
through the little town, I came on a crowd. All kinds of people were
forming a ring round a sheep which had escaped as it was being taken to
the slaughter-house. It looked old and misshapen. A vision suddenly
rose in my mind of what it should have been on its native mountain-side
with all its forces rightly developed, vigorous and independent. There
was a hideous contrast between that vision and the thing in the crowd.
With growing fear and distress the sheep ran about more clumsily and
became a source of amusement to the onlookers, who laughed and jeered
at it. At last it was caught by its two gaolers, and as they carried
it away one of them, resenting its struggles, gave it a great cuff in
the face. At that I felt exasperated. I went up to the men and said,
“Don’t you know your own business? You have this creature absolutely in
your power. If you were holding it properly it would be still. You are
taking it to be killed, you are doing your job badly to hurt and insult
it besides.” The men seemed ashamed, they adjusted their hold more
efficiently and the crowd slunk away. From my babyhood I have felt a
burning indignation against unkindness to animals, and in their defence
I have sometimes acted with a courage not natural to me. But on seeing
this sheep it seemed to reveal to me for the first time the position
of women throughout the world. I realised how often women are held
in contempt as beings outside the pale of human dignity, excluded or
confined, laughed at and insulted because of conditions in themselves
for which they are not responsible, but which are due to fundamental
injustices with regard to them, and to the mistakes of a civilisation
in the shaping of which they have had no free share. I was ashamed to
remember that although my sympathy had been spontaneous with regard
to the wrongs of animals, of children, of men and women who belonged
to down-trodden races or classes of society, yet that hitherto I had
been blind to the sufferings peculiar to women as such, which are
endured by women of every class, every race, every nationality, and
that although nearly all the great thinkers and teachers of humanity
have preached sex-equality, women have no champions among the various
accepted political or moral laws which serve to mould public opinion of
the present day.

Nothing could have exceeded the patience, the considerate sympathy
even, with which both Annie Kenney and Mrs. Lawrence endured my
arguments, arguments, as I now realise them to have been, without
any genuine element, stereotyped and shallow. Before we parted, Mrs.
Lawrence said to me, and it was the only one of her remarks which
savoured in the least of the contempt which my attitude at that time
so richly deserved, “You are sufficiently interested in our policy to
criticise it, will you be sufficiently interested to study its cause
and read up our case?”

For two months I “read up” the subject as I had never read in my
life before; I took in the weekly paper _Votes for Women_, the only
publication which gave events as they happened, not as they were
supposed to happen. I attended as many meetings as I could, and the
breakfasts of released suffrage prisoners, whereat the spirit behind
this movement, its driving force, seemed best exemplified. Above all, I
watched current politics from a different point of view. I still held
back from being converted, I criticised and argued at every turn, over
every fresh demonstration of the W.S.P.U., but I began to realise of
what stuff the workers in the movement were made; what price they paid
for their services so gladly given; how far removed they were from any
taint of self-glorification, and how amazingly they played the game of
incessantly advertising the Cause without ever developing the curse
of self-advertisement. I have never been amongst people of any sort
who were so entirely free from self-consciousness, self-seeking and
self-vaunting.

At this juncture of my conversion I was much concerned with the
arguments of Anti-Suffragists. I wrote a pamphlet to refute their
points of view, as generally presented in newspapers and magazines. I
was always, as it were, stopping on my road to combat their attitude.
It was only after considerably longer experience that I realised
the waste of energy entailed by this process, since the practical
opposition which blocks the way to the legal removal of sex disability
is not due to those men or women who have courage to publicly record
their opposition, but to those who take shelter in verbally advocating
the cause, while at the same time opposing any effective move for its
achievement. Anti-suffrage arguments or agitations should, of course,
be met whenever they present themselves, but it soon became clear to
me that in private intercourse many people put them forward without
any conviction, merely as a way of opening the conversation, and while
at heart much more interested in the positive than the negative side
of the question. The same is true of public audiences. The assertive
claim to the value of voting rights for men, wherever these are
denied, is perennially educating the public to our contention; one
has but to catch them “at it” to illustrate the claim of women. The
drawbacks resulting from laws and customs based on sex bias are also
constantly put forward by Anti-Suffragist men themselves, when they
are not considering the possible infringement of their own monopolies.
Lord Cromer has headed the agitation against freedom for women in
Great Britain. When he was responsible for the welfare of Egypt,
he wrote, concerning the Prophet Mahomet: “Unfortunately the great
Arabian reformer of the seventh century was driven by the necessities
of his position to do more than found a religion. He endeavoured
to found a social system. The reasons why Islam as a social system
has been a complete failure are manifold. First and foremost Islam
keeps women in a position of marked inferiority.” He quotes Stanley
Lane Poole in corroboration: “The degradation of women in the East
is a canker that begins its destructive work early in childhood, and
has eaten into the whole system of Islam.” Lord Cromer then draws
conclusions worthy of the most ardent Suffragette: “Look now to the
consequences which result from the degradation of women in Mahomedan
countries. It cannot be doubted that the seclusion of women exercises
a baneful effect on Eastern society. The arguments on this subject
are indeed so commonplace that it is unnecessary to dwell on them.
It will be sufficient to say that seclusion, by confining the sphere
of women’s interest to a very limited horizon, cramps the intellect
and withers the mental development of one-half of the population in
Moslem countries.... Moreover, inasmuch as women, in their capacities
of wives and mothers exercise a great influence over the characters
of their husbands and sons, it is obvious that the seclusion of women
must produce a deteriorating effect on the male population, in whose
presumed interests the custom was originally established, and is still
maintained” (“Modern Egypt,” Vol. II., chapter entitled “Dwellers in
Egypt,” pp. 134, 155, 156, First Edition). The contention of woman
Suffragists could not be more reasonably presented. Add to this the
belief of Englishmen in the power of the vote to lift from degradation
and to widen the outlook of citizens; their attitude towards rebellions
on behalf of constitutional rights by Russians, Turks, Persians, and
Uitlanders of South Africa; the principles of every constitution in
which Britishers have had a hand, notably in Australasia and South
Africa, and the case is complete. To meet the Anti-Woman Suffragist
arguments, it is only necessary to quote their own utterances.

My own researches had shown me not only the grievous harm to women from
the inequalities of law and custom with regard to them, but that in
many matters concerning men, and in practically all questions relating
to children, the help of women was needed with an urgency that would no
longer justify delay. I learnt that before resorting to militancy the
women’s organisations had for many years past succeeded in obtaining
a majority of supporters in the House of Commons, and the backing
of leading men of both parties. It was startling to realise that the
professed advocacy of such men as Lord Beaconsfield, the late Lord
Salisbury and Mr. Arthur Balfour had not moved the Conservative party
in any way to assist their cause. When the Liberal Government was
returned to power in 1906, under the leadership of Sir Henry Campbell
Bannerman, he himself was a declared Suffragist, as were all but a few
of the men of most influence in his Cabinet, including Mr. Birrell,
Mr. Buxton, Mr. John Morley and Mr. John Burns. Sir Edward Grey and
Mr. Haldane had themselves introduced a Woman Suffrage Bill in 1889.
Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Runciman and Mr. Winston Churchill, who joined
the Cabinet in 1908, were strong verbal advocates of votes for women.
The women had tried repeatedly, and always in vain, every peaceable
means open to them of influencing successive Governments. Processions
and petitions were absolutely useless. I saw the extreme need of
their position, the ineffectiveness of every method hitherto adopted
to persuade these professed Suffragists to put their theories into
practice. But I still held aloof from completely backing their militant
action owing to mistrustfulness bred of ignorance as to its true nature.

After six weeks I reached the stage when I had little left to say
against the movement and my enthusiasm for the workers in it was
considerable, but on the whole my attitude was of a negative order. I
was still not prepared to back my theoretic approval by action when,
on October 13, Mrs. Pankhurst, Mrs. Drummond and Christabel Pankhurst
were arrested for issuing the famous handbill calling upon the people
of London to witness the women’s deputation to the Prime Minister and
to help them “rush” the House of Commons.

At a crowded meeting at the Queen’s Hall the previous day, Monday,
October 12, the leaders announced that a warrant had been served upon
them and that at any moment the police might come in and arrest them
on the platform. The meeting was enthusiastically in their favour and
the announcement caused an outburst of indignation. This, however,
was instantly suppressed by the leaders, who explained that they were
under a compact with the managers of the hall never to use these weekly
meetings for any insubordinate demonstrations; that if the police
arrived and proceeded to arrest them they would only be carrying out
their orders; that if this happened, no interference, not a murmur
of resentment must come from the audience. After a few moments they
settled down under this decree with reluctant but strikingly obedient
resignation. Before long the police were announced to be at the door.
After some moments of interchanging messages with the leaders on the
platform, during which the suspense in the hall was tremendously taut,
the police left saying that the women arrested would have to report
themselves at Bow Street the following morning. The next day, Tuesday,
October 13, I called at the W.S.P.U. offices in Clement’s Inn to offer
my sympathy. I regretted that I was still not sufficiently in agreement
with their militant policy to join the deputation, but inquired
whether there were any lesser services which I could render them. I was
asked to try and approach the Home Secretary with a view to securing
1st Division treatment for the prisoners as political offenders instead
of ranking them, as hitherto, with criminals in the 2nd and 3rd
Divisions. From the first I had been in sympathy with this demand. To
publicly maintain that the Suffragists, even if their breaking of the
law were proved, had anything in common with the ordinary transgressor
for selfish ends, appeared to me ludicrous as well as tyrannous on
the part of the Government. I therefore willingly undertook the task,
although I was convinced that my efforts would meet with no immediate
success. I had already grasped this much of the spirit of the militants
that rightness of aim is the factor controlling their actions;
likeliness of achievement, in so far as this depends not on themselves
but on their opponents, is not a matter to be considered. Looking back
at the advance of their cause since militant action began in October,
1905, it seems to me that its amazing rapidity has been chiefly due
to the unswerving carrying out of this principle. At every stage the
militants selected a line of conduct, not in itself rebellious, but on
the contrary, morally and constitutionally in accordance with accepted
opinion and law. It has been the ignoring or deliberate repression
of their lawful claims which produced disturbances. The unreasoned
punishments which followed in no way altered the women’s need nor their
determined claim for legal redress. The sufferings of their comrades
merely heaped fuel on the fires of their enthusiasm and inevitably
exposed the reactionary nature of the Government’s attitude towards
them. I did not obtain 1st Division treatment for the prisoners, but my
observations during that memorable day made me a complete convert to
the policy of militancy.

From about 4 in the afternoon to 11.30 at night I was incessantly
on the move between Clement’s Inn, the House of Commons, Bow Street
Police Station and the private residence of the magistrate. I had ample
opportunity of noticing the nature of the crowd summoned by the famous
handbill and of studying the attitude of mind of the authorities,
of the Home Office, the magistrate, and of the police towards our
movement. The facts which I noted that day as a spectator were typical,
and corroborated afterwards in every respect when it came to my own
experience. The decisions of the Government as expressed through the
Home Office were pre-determined and detached from any consideration of
the political demand which was the root cause of the women’s rebellion.
The magistrate’s attitude was obviously affected, whether directly
or indirectly, by the Government’s lead. The political nature of the
offences of which our prisoners were accused was not admitted; their
purely nominal crimes were nevertheless punished with a severity
that was unheard of had they been judged as ordinary disturbers of
the peace. It was clear that the political motive of their actions
was recognised sufficiently to justify the authorities in assuming
that these actions would be continuous, an example to others, and a
dangerous appeal from an organised body, but the reason was ignored
when there was question of an inquiry into the political motive itself.
The police showed a much more straightforward and impartial attitude
whenever the conduct of our case was left entirely in their hands.
They never for a moment looked upon the suffrage prisoners as ordinary
rowdies, they realised that our motives were political and our actions
peaceable, but that our appeals were met in a quite different spirit
from those of other political agitators. The police, of course, in turn
came under the influence of those in authority over them, and when
under orders would knock us about in the streets, and accuse us in the
courts, according to the requirements imposed upon them. Under this
pressure, individual policemen would occasionally act with brutality
and unfairness, but in the main their treatment of Suffragists was
in striking contrast to that of the magistrates, the Home Office and
the Government. A great number of police constables are better versed
in the suffrage question and the woman question generally than most
politicians. They have been obliged to attend our meetings. They know
both the political and moral ethics of our policy. I have heard more
intelligent reasoning about votes for women from policemen (both when
my identity was known to them and when it was not) than has issued,
with but rare exceptions, from the House of Commons.

During the afternoon and evening of this day I had my first experience
of a suffrage crowd, immense in numbers, embracing every shade of
opinion on the question, from enthusiasm in favour to contemptuous or
angry hostility, largely interspersed with curiosity-mongers who were
fascinated by the fight although without interest for its cause. There
were men and women of all classes, but rowdyism was plainly not there,
and from that day forward I was convinced of the fact, self-evident
enough in all conscience, that the women never appealed to hooliganism
and that they had nothing to gain from and nothing to offer to that
element in the mob. The women, and the men too, who fight in this
cause, or assist it ever so remotely, have never been and never will be
of a self-seeking type, nor are they lovers of disturbance for its own
sake.

I first of all tried to interview the Home Secretary, Mr. Herbert
Gladstone,[1] at the House of Commons. I did not see him, but a
friendly member of Parliament acted as messenger boy between us. I
asked: (1) Would he use his powers to ensure that the three prisoners
should be sentenced to the 1st Division, and not to the 2nd Division
as though they were common criminals, which obviously they were not?
_Reply_: As the prisoners were not yet arrested he could not possibly
adjudicate on the question of their sentences. (2) If I returned at six
o’clock, the hour when they were to surrender to the summons, would he
then give me an answer? _Reply_: He had not the power, the question
rested with the police-court authorities; he had determined never to
interfere with sentences. (3) Would he give me a permit or some sort
of facilities to approach the magistrate? My messenger told me that it
would be useless to put this question, that Mr. Gladstone was in a
state of great anger over the whole proceedings, and that, even if he
had the power, nothing would induce him to help the Suffragettes to 1st
Division treatment. I then went to Bow Street Police Court. The crowds
were dense in Parliament Square, Parliament Street, and Trafalgar
Square, but extremely orderly. When I reached Bow Street it was past
six o’clock and the magistrate had left. On inquiring where I could
find him, I was ushered into an inner room before a superintendent who
wore a flat cap, not the usual policeman’s helmet. He was very civil,
but told me it was against the rules to give the private addresses
of magistrates and that Mr. Curtis Bennett would not be back until
ten o’clock the following morning for the Court. I put various other
questions. Though offering no practical assistance the answers led me
to realise a strangely unexpected atmosphere of sympathy, and after
a few moments hesitation I found myself telling this superintendent
the full purport of my mission. To my intense surprise he not only
expressed much approval, but burst out with a torrent of abuse against
the Government--“Why to goodness couldn’t the Prime Minister receive
the women’s deputation same as any other? The brunt of the whole
business falls on us, and it’s the beastliest job we’ve ever had.”
Then he added, “The prisoners are here now, in the cells, would you
like to see them?” I felt almost overwhelmed that so unworthy and
half-hearted a follower as myself should be the one to have this
grand opportunity, but, of course, I availed myself of it without a
moment’s hesitation. I was shown through a series of passages and up
a flight of stairs, where a wardress was in charge. This October day
was damp and foggy with the first sense of autumn chill, but as I was
led on towards the cells the atmosphere became perceptibly damper and
colder at every step, as in a vault. I realised for the first time
the actual meaning of the word “puanteur,” which haunts the pages of
Dostoievsky’s account of his imprisonments, the smell, as it were, of
deadness pervading, I should imagine, every building, however cleanly
washed, which is built and used to incarcerate human beings solely for
punitive purposes. I had never seen Mrs. Pankhurst except on a public
platform at moments when she was surrounded by public enthusiasm and
personal devotion, such as are rarely accorded even to great leaders.
My critical faculty is easily aroused by success, and although I
recognised the single-mindedness of her aims, the uprightness of her
character, the vigour of her intellect and convincing oratorical
gifts, the charm of her personality and, above all, the magnificent
power of her leadership, yet I had hitherto not felt drawn to this
remarkable woman. It was with no sense of hero-worship that in reply
to the wardress’ friendly question, “Which of the ladies do you wish
to see?” I answered, “Mrs. Pankhurst.” She went to a cell door, many
of which lined one side of a passage as the horse-boxes of a stable,
and drew aside the shutter of a small grating. I looked through into
a land of animal’s den, dimly lit and furnished only with a bare
wooden bench running along the side of the wall, and terminating
in a sanitary convenience. Standing erect as she moved towards the
grating, was a woman whose appearance struck awe into every fibre of
my being. A splendour of defiance and indignation pervaded her face,
yet she was controlled and her attitude conveyed no suggestion of
personal grievance. From that moment I recognised in her, and I have
held the vision undimmed ever since, the guardian protector of this
amazing woman’s movement, conscious not only of the thousands who
follow her lead to-day, but of the martyred generations of the past
and of the women of the future whose welfare depends upon the path
hewn out for them to-day. I seemed to grasp prophetically and all at
once the characteristic qualities which I learnt later on by closer
observation and experience. I saw that the quality of sternness, which
presented so unyielding a front to every opponent and every obstacle,
drew its force from deep fountains of understanding, of sympathy and
of love. While she most perfectly fulfilled her mission of pioneer,
and shirked none of the responsibilities accruing to the lead, yet the
efficiency and glamour attending the fulfilment of that mission were
due to her recognition of the elements behind her, as an arrow-head
derives its force from the construction of the whole weapon. The
seemingly miraculous power of leadership with which the controllers
of this militant movement are gifted is due to the fact that they too
are fellow servants of a cause which they recognise is of infinitely
greater importance than themselves or any other individual, they share
with the humblest member of the rank and file the sense of loyalty and
bond-allegiance to a common ideal--the welfare of women throughout the
world.

  FOOTNOTE: [1] Afterwards Lord Gladstone.

I was advised by Mrs. Pankhurst how to turn my services to the best
account and not to mind about the 1st Division, as they themselves
could plead it in court, but to get them released for that night
or they would not be able to plead properly, from fatigue. After a
fruitless search of some hours for the magistrate in the wilds of West
Kensington and a return to the office at Clement’s Inn for further
instructions, I at last ran my quarry to ground somewhere near Olympia.
The magistrate, Mr. Curtis Bennett,[2] received me courteously, but
his face promptly assumed an official-defensive expression on learning
my quest. If I had come to ask him about the trial next day he must
request me not to proceed, since he must keep his mind unbiassed. I
explained that I was altogether new to the rules of the game which
he had at his fingers’ ends. That, as I was ignorant which questions
I might or might not put to him, it would be best for me to unburden
myself and for him to select which of my demands he could answer.
He saw the reason of this and kindly consented to the arrangement.
In reply, he could make no statement as to which Division he would
sentence the prisoners, nor could they be let out on bail that night,
because of the late hour at which they had responded to the summonses.
As to taking them food and bedding, that was a matter for the police to
decide, it was beyond his jurisdiction. I was thankful to hear this,
knowing that the police were not likely to offer objections when
matters were left solely to their care. I went back to Mrs. Pethick
Lawrence, and in a few minutes we had taken bedding and rugs and were
off to the police station at Bow Street. We found that a Member of
Parliament, Mr. James Murray, had visited our friends and ordered
everything they wanted from an hotel, making them as comfortable as
possible for the night.

  FOOTNOTE: [2] Afterwards Sir Curtis Bennett, who since died in 1913.

The next day their trial took place. After the evidence of the police
had been taken, Christabel Pankhurst asked for an adjournment, in
order to take legal advice and to prepare a defence. This was granted
for one week. During the interval, Christabel secured the attendance
of Mr. Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and of Mr. Herbert
Gladstone, Home Secretary, as witnesses for the defence. The adjourned
hearing of the case on October 21 lasted from 10.30 to 7.30 at night,
with only two short intervals. The trial was immensely impressive, the
three figures stood up at different times, and it was obvious to all
who listened to the case that they were fighting against evil and were
in all things most essentially good, so that one was awed by them.
When the two members of the Cabinet gave evidence, the futility of the
part they played was most obvious and they presented an appearance
that was petty and contemptible to the last degree. There were a great
many other witnesses, of whom I was one, in support of the contention
that the crowd on the evening of October 13 was an orderly one, and
that no violence was done. At 7.30 Christabel Pankhurst said she had
still fifty witnesses to call, and the case was adjourned to Saturday,
October 24. It was owing to Mrs. Pankhurst’s speech on this occasion
that I felt taken hold of by the movement. Every sentence of it seemed
to be true, dignified, strong, entirely respectful. This passage I more
especially remember: “You know that women have tried to do something to
come to the aid of their own sex.... I was in the hospital at Holloway,
and when I was there I heard from one of the beds near me the moans
of a woman who was in the pangs of childbirth. I should like you to
realise how women feel at helpless little infants breathing their first
breath in the atmosphere of a prison. We believe that if we get the
vote we will find some more humane way of dealing with women than that.”

Mrs. Drummond made me feel faith in the woman’s movement, her type was
most lovable, full of daring for the enemies of woman, full of patience
in working for them, full of the most noble kind of humility in her
reverence for them.

Christabel Pankhurst was the sunrise of the woman’s movement, I cannot
describe her in any other way. The glow of her great vitality and
the joy of her being took hold of the movement and made it gladness.
Yet, her nature being so essentially a woman’s, there was a vein
of tenderness throughout her speech, and her strength lay in her
steadfast, resourceful and brilliant intellect.

With the exception of declining to give a pledge to keep the peace for
twelve months, a pledge which these women were quite unable to accept,
they had been guilty of no offence. Mrs. Pankhurst and Mrs. Drummond
were each sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, and Christabel
Pankhurst to ten weeks’ (two and a half months) imprisonment. It was
like darkness when these three were in prison. Mrs. Pethick Lawrence
and Sylvia Pankhurst, Christabel’s sister, kept the weekly meetings
going at the Queen’s Hall in a splendid way. Sylvia is an artist by
profession and an artist at heart, but whenever the women’s movement
wants her she is there for its bidding. She looked all that is most
modest and humble, but speaking seemed to come as a second nature to
her as to everyone of the Pankhursts, and at times I could not have
believed, but for having heard and seen, the splendid political speech
which came from that young girl. During this time I lived in the
country and seldom came to London. I needed no converting now and my
only wish was to convince my mother.



CHAPTER III

A DEPUTATION TO THE PRIME MINISTER


Throughout this month of January, 1909, I became convinced that
I should be justified in offering myself as a member of the next
deputation to the Prime Minister to demand the removal of women’s
disabilities to the Parliamentary franchise. I became a member of the
Women’s Social and Political Union, and on January 28 I wrote to Mrs.
Pethick Lawrence offering myself for the deputation. I did not tell
anybody but her of my decision. On the 30th I received her answer,
accepting my offer.

On February 24 I went up to London from Homewood, without telling
mother of the plan and actually without saying good-bye to her, as she
went out to the village before I started. I wrote her the following
letter at King’s Cross Station, but did not post it till later in the
day:--

 “Wednesday, February 24, 1909.

 “MY ANGEL MOTHER,--I don’t know whether I shall post this to you or
 see you first. I want to have a letter ready.

 “Don’t be startled or afraid. I have something to tell you which--with
 the help of recent presentiments--you, I know, are half expecting to
 hear.

 “If you ever see this letter it will mean that after joining the
 deputation I have been arrested and shall not see you again until I
 have been to Holloway. For months I have been planning this letter to
 you, but now that the time has come, it is not any easier to write
 for that. Of course, my hope has been all along that I should be
 able to take you into my confidence, that I should have the perhaps
 all-undeserved yet heaven-like joy of knowing that though you could
 not share all my views, yet that you would understand why I held them,
 and, granted these, you would further understand my action and the
 great sacrifice which I know it means to you. My darling Muddy, you
 will never know, I trust, the pain it is to have to do this thing
 without your sympathy and help--with, on the contrary, the certainty
 that it shocks you and hurts you and makes you suffer in numberless
 ways. Hardly a day has passed but what I have tried to feel my way
 with you, tried to convert you--not to my theoretic views, difference
 there does not matter, but to my intended conduct in connection with
 them. Every day I have failed. If I decided to do this thing, absolute
 secrecy was necessary, for, the whole of these police regulations
 being arbitrarily ordered and special to the case, they would never
 arrest me, not, I mean, unless I really broke the law, if they knew
 who I was. Unless I had your sympathy and understanding, it was, of
 course, hopeless to count on your secrecy. I had two alternatives,
 to give up the plan, or to keep it and deceive you about it. I chose
 this last. For your sake I have tried never to tell you an actual
 lie in words. I have not done this, and that is, perhaps, why you
 have your suspicions. But to my conscience that is no easier. It was
 my intention to deceive you, and I have deceived you, and, for all
 practical purposes, successfully. Once the intention is to deceive, it
 seems to me not to make any difference how it is done.

 “You will be angry. If it could be only that. But you will be hurt
 through and through. As I write the words their meaning is acute in my
 mind and heart. You will hardly care to know, but I must tell you what
 has decided me to take this torturing step.

 “Prisons, as you know, have been my hobby. What maternity there
 lurks in me has for years past been gradually awakening over the
 fate of prisoners, the deliberate, cruel harm that is done to them,
 their souls and bodies, the ignorant, exasperating waste of good
 opportunities in connection with them, till now the thought of them,
 the yearning after them, turns in me and tugs at me as vitally and
 irrepressibly as ever a physical child can call upon its mother.

 “The moment I got near the Suffragettes the way to this child of mine
 seemed easy and straight. But I knew the temptation to think this must
 make me doubly sure of my ground. I have felt from the first that I
 could not take this woman’s movement merely as an excuse for Holloway.
 I have waited till my conviction was genuine and deep at every point,
 and till the opportunity occurred for facing the police regulations in
 a way possible to my whole nature, temperament, conscience. There are
 several other things which the Suffragettes do, which I would not and
 could not do.

 “I finally made up my mind in about the middle of January, and soon
 after wrote to Mrs. Pethick Lawrence. Enclosed is her answer. I had
 not recently been seeing them, or going to meetings, or in any way
 specially communicating with them. I took the decision entirely on
 myself, in no way consulted her nor asked her advice; even had they
 not accepted me in the deputation I should have joined outside.

 “About the physical discomforts part of Holloway, don’t be distressed
 for that. These are already nothing to what they were. And I am such
 a muff, what remains of hardship will be wholesome for me--really
 ‘reformatory’ for me as imprisonment seldom is to others. If I could
 only know that you will help me face it, it would be nothing to me.
 It’s my journeying after the hobby that sucks up my soul like a tide,
 my Nile sources, my Thibet, my Ruvenzori. If you, my splendid Mother,
 will only help me in spirit that the little spark of Sven Hedin shall
 not fail in me. I am no hero, but the thought of other travellers’
 much worse privations on that road will, I believe, fizzle up my
 flimsy body enough for what is necessary, and if only I knew you were
 helping me in your heart I should not, could not, fail, Muddy darling.

 “You can’t forgive me now, but perhaps you will some day. Whatever you
 feel towards me, whatever I do, I shall still be always

 “Your most loving and devoted

 “CON.

 “The account papers, tradesmen addresses, wages paper, are in the
 lift-up place of desk on dining-room writing table. I expect I shall
 be away from you a month. The others will cling round you. If I were
 going a trip abroad you would not resent the separation. In my little
 warm cupboard nest in Holloway my only thought of the outer world will
 be of you. I shall try anyhow to get back to you to-night.

 “CON.”

I went to 4, Clement’s Inn, lunched there with Mrs. Pethick Lawrence,
Christabel, Mrs. Pankhurst and Mrs. Tuke; Miss Neal came too. She
kindly undertook to post my letter to mother and buy me a brush and
comb and toothbrush in case we should be sent to the 1st Division.

I had a cracking headache and felt quite dazed. They kindly put me to
lie down in the upstairs rest room boudoir, where Mrs. Pankhurst and
Christabel had remained hidden from the police on October 14, 1908.

At about six o’clock we had supper. I ate next to nothing. Miss Elsa
Gye, who had been summoned by telegraph to come and assist me through
the Deputation, was at supper. She was a delightful girl, young and
fresh-looking. I had been told that she was just engaged to be married,
and I felt it was horrible that she should risk weeks of imprisonment
solely because of me.

I had disguised myself by doing my hair in an early-Victorian way, so
that the police, if on the look out for me, should not recognise me and
so be tempted not to arrest me; for people whose relatives might make a
fuss effectively are considered awkward customers.

At about seven Miss Gye and I set out and hailed a taxi. I found I
had left my ticket behind for the Caxton Hall Meeting. So I flew back
to Clement’s Inn to get it. It was a raw, cold night, but I had been
advised to dispense with my muff and boa, as these, I was told, would
almost certainly be torn to shreds “in the hustling”; this gave one a
rather gruesome warning of what was to be expected from the handling
of the police. We were each given a copy of the resolution which was
to be put to the meeting. As we drove to Caxton Hall, it suddenly
struck me that I had not sufficiently learnt up my part. “What does
one have to do?” I asked. “I suppose I must do something to show
that I mean business.” “Oh, no,” my companion answered, “you needn’t
bother about what you’ll do. It will all be done _to_ you. There is
only one thing you must remember. It is our business to go forward,
and whatever is said to you and whatever is done to you, you must on
no account be turned back.” That seemed to me at the time, and has
seemed to me ever since, to be the essence of our militant tactics.
I afterwards heard it yet better summarised by Mrs. Pankhurst: “Our
demand is just and moderate. We press our cause reasonably and in a
law-abiding spirit, but in such a way that we give the Government but
two alternatives--either to do us justice or to do us violence.” My
companion also told me that if the police became too violent, I could
cut matters short and ensure instant arrest by the semblance of making
a speech or collecting a crowd round me for that purpose, since these
offences constituted a breach of the peace. Miss Gye and I sat in the
body of the hall, we had on the “Votes for Women” sashes and were to
join the Deputation unostentatiously as it left the building.

The appearance of the Deputation on the platform was remarkable for the
look of dignity and pathetic earnestness of the members, many of them
white-haired, and one or two young and pretty girls.[3] The speeches
seemed to be very much to the point. I could hardly listen to them for
the distracting thought of when my mother would hear about me and what
she would think and feel; but I had no wish to shirk, and never for a
moment did I doubt that I had done right.

  FOOTNOTE: [3] The Deputation was composed of our leader Mrs. Pethick
  Lawrence, Miss Daisy Solomon, Mrs. Vans Agnew Corbett, Miss Una
  Dugdale, Miss Madeline Petre, Miss E. H. Chesshire, Mrs. Caprina
  Fahey, Miss M. Barnet, Miss Margaret Davies Colley, Miss Margaret
  E. Rodgers, Miss Mary Allen, Miss Ellen Pitman, Miss Maud Freeman,
  Mrs. Katherine Richmond, Miss Mary Lethune, Miss M. Adair Roberts,
  Miss Leslie Lawless, Miss Caroline Townsend, Mrs. Tyson, Miss M.
  Tyson, Miss Ainsworth, Mrs. Lamartine Yates, Miss M. E. Thompson,
  Miss Helen Kirkpatrick Watts, Miss Kate Walsh, Miss Sara Carwin, Mrs.
  Saul Solomon, who was not eventually arrested, and Miss Elsa Gye and
  myself brought the number to twenty-nine.

Many friends had seen and not recognised me, at which I was delighted.
Others did recognise me, and seeing I had the sash on, which meant the
Deputation, they looked immensely surprised.

Presently the Deputation came down from the platform, formed up in
couples, headed by Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, and marched out of the hall.
Miss Gye and I joined in behind the sixth or seventh couple. We were
thirty women in all. By this time I had a feeling of exhilaration
that the moment for my own independent action had come at last. I had
a vague notion that I should have to encounter physical difficulties,
but since I had merely to meet them and endure them, knowing that I
could lay no claim to overcoming these by physical powers of which I
was deficient, the way from that moment seemed plain and easy. I felt
proud to be one of the active ones at last, to be the companion of
these women in particular, whom I had watched on the platform, and to
know that the Deputation was headed by one of our leaders who had first
revealed the woman’s movement to me.

The following resolution was put to the meeting and carried with
acclamation: “That this Parliament of women expresses its indignation
that while every measure in the King’s Speech vitally affects the
interests of their sex, and while heavier financial burdens are to
be laid upon woman tax-payers, the Government have not included in
the programme for the session a measure to confer the Parliamentary
vote upon duly qualified women. The women here assembled call upon
the Government to introduce and carry into law this session a measure
giving votes to women on the same terms as to men.

“A Deputation is hereby appointed, to whom is entrusted the duty of
forthwith conveying this resolution to the Prime Minister at the House
of Commons and eliciting his reply.”

A copy was then handed to each member of the Deputation.

Of all the undesirable possibilities before me, I dreaded most lest
by some horrible twist of fate the leaders of the Deputation should
be refused admittance, and I, if recognised, should have the lonely
privilege thrust upon me of being received. I had never made a regular
speech, and two attempts I had made at narrating my experiences of
the previous October to a village audience had not been reassuring.
My own point of view was definite enough, but I did not feel equipped
to speak for others. When deciding to go on the Deputation I had,
however, taken stock of my representative character and asked myself
for which group of women I should stand, what was my atom’s share in
this movement if I did not strain after any vicarious office but merely
added my own personal weight to the scale? Without doubt I myself was
one of that numerous gang of upper class leisured class spinsters,
unemployed, unpropertied, unendowed, uneducated, without equipment
or training for public service, economically dependent entirely upon
others, not masters of their own leisure, however oppressively abundant
that might seem to the onlooker. In a class where property runs with
primogeniture, the first-born, if a female, is overlooked. In a class
the whole status of which is based on property, on wealth to live at
ease and in luxury, property is only dealt out to women, if at all,
after male relatives have been served first, and then, as a rule, in
much less proportion. Posts of honour and remuneration are barred to
them in nearly all professions, in even those few they are allowed
to enter. They remain almost invariably without honour of titles or
lands or wealth, even where their services have been sought. Posts of
Government are exclusively for men, with the sole exception of the
Sovereign. Trained to luxury and untrained to remunerative work, they
are for the most part dependents from childhood to the grave. A maiming
subserviency is so conditional to their very existence that it becomes
an aim in itself, an ideal. Driven through life with blinkers on,
they are unresentful of the bridle, the rein and the whip, uncritical
of the direction in which they are driven, unmindful of the result
to others as well as to themselves of their maintainer’s beliefs and
policy, whatever they may be. The bride at the sacred ritual of her
marriage festival hears from her husband the words, “With this ring
I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, with all my worldly goods I
thee endow.” She knows at the time and she learns yet more intimately
as life goes on that those words have no practical bearing, and that
at her husband’s death the greater part of even that property which
had been seemingly made over to her during his lifetime will pass
from her hands at the wane of her lonely existence, when she needs
it most, into those of her son or some more distant relative. The
literal, practical, interpretation of that husband’s vow--yes, of the
vow even of good and well-intentioned husbands--most usually is: “With
this ring I thee bind, with my body I thee control, with none of my
worldly goods I thee endow.” As a widow more often than not she sinks,
because of her financial position, to a social state out of touch with
all her past life. But at least the wives, the widows, generally have
children through whom their powers of service to their families and
to the community in general are to a certain extent developed and
recognised, and which give them a certain insight into the realities of
existence. They also have known well-being and vicarious honour through
their husbands. But to the single woman, the old maid of later years,
the paralysing worship of incapacity dominates life, the chain of
limitations and restrictions is but seldom broken, and never overcome
save by exceptional force of character or ability. Even then how often
it is only the beating of wings against unyielding and maiming bars;
freedom, if attained, rendered useless by lack of preparation in the
competition against trained and privileged beings of the male sex, and
the vain ambition ends in a seeming mutiny, nothing more--a distortion,
an abnormality, an untidiness of creation.

I could stand indeed for the superfluous spinster, but who would
listen to a messenger from this mute array, who cares for the blind,
the lamed, the maimed and the dumb? The fearful unnecessity of their
disablement awakes no pity, no heart softens at thought of them, no
politician would feel his conscience pricked by the narration of their
grievances. A yoke so submitted to, so uselessly endured, can claim no
reverence of martyrdom. But before condemning those who submit to it, I
wish that our critics could realise what it means to be born under this
yoke and then try to shake it off.

It is easy to see that if women are to appeal effectively to a modern
parliament for the rights of liberty and representation which so long
have been recognised among men, it must be through the working women,
the bread-winning woman. Her situation is easily comparable to that
of the working-class man who quite recently has had himself to fight
in order to win his denied claim to freedom, a fact which he, and
others for him, still remember. The aristocracy, the landed proprietor,
the middle-class trader, each in turn was driven to claim and fight
for these same rights. But their struggle was of long ago, their
security in this right has remained unshaken for so many generations
that they have clean forgotten what it would mean to be without it.
It is by the side of the most recent victors that women must put
in their claim. With this class, the working-class women, though
at all times at one with them in point of sympathy from theoretic
understanding of their troubles and needs, I was not in direct touch
and laid no first-hand experiences that I could share with them. I
read the petitions of factory workers, of the sweated home workers,
of the professions--teachers, nurses, medical women--with respect and
whole-hearted sympathy, but how could I stand for them when I was not
equipped to represent them?

This was my state of mind until, walking from Holloway to the City in
one of our Suffragette processions, I heard for the first time with
my own ears the well-worn taunt “Go home and do your washing.” This
awoke in me a magic response. Since the days of my earliest childhood
washing had held great charm for me, and as a result I had revered
the washers exceptionally. In my youth, the pursuit was associated
exclusively with laundry-workers, but in later years I realised that,
except in that small proportion of houses where servants are kept,
every woman is a laundrymaid, and that in every house throughout the
land, or indeed throughout the world, the cleaning and the washing are
done mainly by women, by wives and mothers, their girl children or
women servants. Washing, the making clean that which had been dirty,
and making the crumpled and uncomfortable things smooth, was my hobby.
I was an amateur scrubber and laundry-woman in the same spirit as other
unemployed females dabble in water-colour drawings or hand embroidery.
But much as I personally enjoyed occasional experimenting in the craft,
it was easy to imagine how irksome the occupation might become if
one were driven to it week by week with no release, under unsuitable
conditions, without the necessary equipment, in a small house or single
room, surrounded by children, with a stinted water supply, inadequate
firing utensils, a weary body and a mind distraught as to how to exist
from day to day. From the moment I heard that “washing” taunt in the
street, I have had eyes for the work of the washers. If there is one
single industry highly deserving of recognition throughout the world of
human existence and of representation under parliamentary systems, it
surely is that of the washers, the renewers week by week, the makers
clean.

I determined, if I should find myself the solitary representative of
the Deputation and its untrained spokeswoman, I should point to the
collars and shirt fronts of the gentlemen who received me and claim the
freedom of citizenship for the washers. As I stepped out from Caxton
Hall, through the grime of a foggy February evening, I caught sight
of white collars here and there in the crowd, like little flashing
code-signals beckoning to us across the darkness. The gnarled hands,
the bent backs, the tear-dimmed eyes of those that had washed them
white seemed to cry out, “Remember us. Don’t be afraid to speak for
us if you get through to the presence of those who know nothing, heed
nothing of our toil.” I said in my heart, “I shall remember, and I
shall not be afraid in their presence.”

We had scarcely stepped into the street before we found ourselves
hedged in by a ∧ shaped avenue of police, narrowing as we advanced.
They asked no questions, said nothing, but proceeded to close upon
us from either side. My companion and I kept together. Very soon all
breath seemed to have been pressed out of my body, but remembering the
order of the day, “Don’t be turned back,” I tried to hold my ground
even when advance was out of the question. Miss Gye, however, soon
realised the situation and pulled me back, saying, “We are not yet
in Parliament Square; we must manage to get there somehow; let’s try
another way.” The police had forced themselves between the ranks of the
Deputation, keeping them apart and trying also to sever the couples,
but Miss Gye and I managed to regain hold of each other. I had not been
able to reconnoitre in the morning as I had intended. The whereabouts
of Caxton Hall was unknown to me, and in the darkness I felt quite at
sea as regards direction. We soon got clear of the police and found
ourselves in a friendly crowd who half hindered, half pushed, us
along. But I was already so incapacitated by breathlessness I could
not lift my chest and head. I had repeatedly to stop, and, but for
the kindly assistance of my companion and an unknown man and woman of
the crowd, I should have been unable to get any further. The main body
of the Deputation had made for the strangers’ entrance of the House of
Commons, near the House of Lords. I saw none of them again until we met
in the police station. In Parliament Square we soon became entangled
in a thick crowd, some of them friendly, as many not, the great bulk
curiosity-mongers. Miss Gye and I were, of course, recognisable as
members of the Deputation by our sashes, and though at first whenever
the police or the crowd pushed us apart she managed to return to me,
we eventually got completely separated and lost sight of each other.
My two stranger friends in the crowd, however, not being marked by
badges were always returning to my help. The occasion most literally
turned out to be one for “deeds, not words.” Being doubled up for want
of breath, I could scarcely see where I was going, but my instinct led
me to avoid the police in every way that I could. They were placed
about in twos and threes in no apparent special formation, but now and
then one came to a whole line of them, standing shoulder to shoulder.
I was during most of the time physically incapable of speech. I only
twice was able to express myself in words, on both occasions when I was
lifted off my feet and relieved of the toil of dragging my own body.
First when the crowd wedged me up against a policeman, I said to him:
“I know you are only doing your duty and I am doing mine.” His only
answer was to seize me with both his hands round the ribs, squeeze
the remaining breath out of my body and, lifting me completely into
the air, throw me with all his strength. Thanks to the crowd I did
not reach the ground; several of my companions in more isolated parts
of the square were thrown repeatedly on to the pavement. Another time
a policeman turned me round and, holding my arms behind me, drove me
ahead of him for several yards at a great pace. So that his violence
would not land me on to my face I exerted what pressure I could to
steady my feet. No doubt this looked very “violent” on my part to some
of the crowd who jeered and booed. I said to them, in gasps: “You ask
women to behave in a womanly way; do you think this is treating them in
a manly way?” Twice again I was thrown as before described. I offered
no resistance to this whatever, and being of light weight for my size,
I feared that I was becoming a specially desirable victim for the
experts in this line. Each time I was thrown to a greater distance and
the concussion on reaching the ground was painful and straining, though
in each case the crowd acted for me as sort of buffers. When seized
for the throw there is also a feeling of wrenching throughout the
body. But I gained in the direction of the House nevertheless, always
assisted by the crowd. The stranger woman in particular, a German lady
who was tall, well-built, and of considerable strength, had managed to
keep near me. Three times, after each of the “throws,” she came to my
help and warded off the crowd while I leant up against some railings,
or against her shoulder to recover my breath. Several times I said to
her, “I can’t go on; I simply can’t go on.” She answered, “Wait for a
little, you will be all right presently.” At the time and ever since I
have felt most inexpressibly grateful to this stranger friend.

I was goaded on most of all, perhaps, by the fear that I should be
taken off by an ambulance--I heard that some were about--and, if so,
that all I had achieved so far would have to be faced again, probably
with renewed difficulty. Flashes of vivid light and the sound of a
slight muffled explosion came about from time to time. I did not know
what these were, they added to the sense of incomprehensibleness and
general confusion. It was only towards the end of the day I realised
that they were the newspaper photographers’ flashlights. The irony of
their attentions seemed great.

It was cheering to find that in spite of everything I had gained
ground and was quite near to the House. The police were now far less
numerous, standing only in small groups of twos and threes. Several of
these to my surprise let me pass quite close by them unmolested. The
prospect of actually entering the House seemed now not unattainable. My
utterly dishevelled condition, my inability for want of breath to stand
upright or to string more than two words together at a time, should
have enhanced the nightmare of possibly being admitted to the presence
of the Prime Minister. But strange to say that fear had left me. The
instinct for achievement engendered by the rebuffs of the police, the
indignation aroused by the fact that such treatment of a deputation
of voteless citizens had been deliberately ordered and sanctioned by
the Government, had for the moment cured all fears as to my personal
inadequacy as a spokesman. I found myself at the gates of the members’
entrance. No crowd was near and only two policemen stood, ordinary
wise, at either side of the gate. They did not seem to be noticing
me. I straightened my back to assume as much of a normal appearance
as possible. I passed through the gate. At this the policeman nearest
to me turned and seized my arm. Expecting to be thrown as before, I
tried to hold my ground and said, “Please let me pass,” or words to
that effect. Another policeman promptly took me by the other arm and
I was led off at a great pace. The effort to try and realise what was
happening seemed to use up the last remnant of physical power at my
disposal. I supposed I was being led away, as I had been warned was
sometimes done as a means of disheartening the women, to some distant
and lonely street. But there was nothing of roughness or insult in the
attitude of the police who held me. I thought perhaps I had fainted
or fallen without knowing it and that they were ambulance men. I felt
unable to cope with the problem, my eyes shut and my head fell forward.
We seemed to be going a long way. “How shall I ever get back from
here,” I wondered. Presently there was an alteration in the sounds of
our footsteps and in the gestures of the men. I opened my eyes and
looked up. Close in front of me, over a doorway, was a blue lamp with
the words “Police Station” printed upon it. I knew then that I had been
arrested. The discovery was positively life-giving. To think that it
was over, that the struggle would not have to begin all over again! I
was able to lift my head and walk fairly easily; the crushing sense
of failure was gone. When anticipating events, and trying to prepare
myself for the various stages of the ordeal before me, I had supposed
that one of the worst moments would be this of being actually “had up,”
when I should find myself in the police station and know the first
step towards prison had been taken; that there could be no going back.
When it came to actual experience, Cannon Row police station had all
the attractions of a harbour after a storm. From the moment I set foot
inside this domain of the police nothing could exceed their courtesy
and even sympathy. In a large, nondescript kind of waiting room I
was taken up to a table at which a policeman sat making entries in a
ledger. I was asked my name, address, age, vocation, etc. I wondered
whether I was the only one that had been arrested, but presently two
more of the Deputation came in. The delight at seeing again some of my
companions was very great; it was only then I fully realised how the
isolation from the others had added to the toil and gruesomeness of the
struggle in Parliament Square. We were taken up to a large sort of club
room, in which there were billiard tables. Several of the Deputation
were already there. We were eager, of course, to hear each other’s
experiences. I quickly realised that I had had an unusually good time
of it. Several of them had been thrown on to the ground, some kicked,
one had had her thumb dislocated, another had a sprained ankle. One had
her face streaming with blood from a blow on the nose. Before long Mrs.
Pethick Lawrence joined us. It was a curious sensation on seeing her,
of mingled delight that she was with us again, and indignation that a
woman such as she is should have been arrested. The word quickly went
round that we were to conceal as best we might our various injuries.
It was no part of our policy to get the police into trouble. Except
where they were given definite orders to the contrary, they did their
best for us, and whenever they themselves controlled the situation
their good will towards us was most marked. I remember that the most
difficult thing to disguise was the wounded nose of Miss Dugdale, when
a policeman came up to inquire whether any were hurt or if a doctor
were wanted for us.

It was here, at Cannon Row, that I first tasted the delights of that
full, unfetterd companionship which is among the greatest immediate
rewards of those who work actively in this cause. No drudgery of
preliminary acquaintanceship has to be got through, no misdoubting
inquiries as to kindred temperaments or interests. The sense of
unity and mutual confidence is complete and begins from the first
unhesitatingly. It was most noticeable, as it had been to me before
when a mere looker-on, that this unity, so far from tending to
produce uniformity of type, had the very opposite effect, it enhanced
individuality. One felt like so many different bolts and cranks and
wheels of a machine, each bringing a different quality to serve a
different purpose for the smooth working of the whole. For the first
time in my life I felt of some use; since we all were so different from
each other, it seemed we could each contribute something to the general
solidarity of experience, of opinion, of conduct.

The throwing about had brought on an aggressive cough which at first
checked my ardour to brisk up with my companions. I found refuge in
a distant bow window where there was a seat, and where I managed to
allay the worst of my cough. Presently a wardress appeared. I asked her
if we might have a glass of water for myself and one other woman who
had a badly hurt ankle. She was most kind and quickly brought several
glasses. I wrote a letter to my mother, reassuring her as to our having
got through all right, assuming that some account of the way the women
had been treated would appear in the press the next morning, and
knowing how great would be her anxiety in consequence. As I recovered
from the excessive spasms of the cough, I was able to talk to some
of my companions. I felt, for about the fiftieth time since I had
come in touch with the W.S.P.U., ashamed of myself in their presence.
They were drawn from many different grades of society. Several were
women of considerable intellectual gifts, a good many were from the
leisured class, some belonged to the working class. Most of them could
look back on lives of much more useful service to the community than
I could boast, many had made sacrifices greater than my own to join
the Deputation, several were running much graver risk, physically,
in facing the hardship of prison than I incurred. Some had to face
a situation in their homes more distressing even than my own. My
little share of difficulty and sacrifice, of risk and dread, which had
completely filled my horizon for so many weeks, seemed insignificant
enough now. Time passed very slowly, but rather from intensity of
interest, acuteness of minute observation, than from boredom. We were
to be detained until the House of Commons rose. At last at about eleven
the light in the Clock Tower went out and our good friend, Mr. Pethick
Lawrence, appeared and bailed us out for the night. One by one we again
passed before a seated head constable and his book, and were handed an
official paper requiring us to appear at Bow Street the next morning.

I had made no arrangements as to where I should spend the night,
my chief concern having been to keep secret my share in the day’s
proceedings till they were over. I felt stunned and cold as ice. I
was in a sense, of course, satisfied and glad that, at least, I had
shared what the other women had endured, but for the first time during
that day it had come before me forcibly that, not only the Government,
but the general public too were to a great extent responsible for the
official treatment of the Deputation. I shuddered when I remembered
the crowd of curiosity mongers, most of them “respectable” looking
people who had treated the whole thing as a kind of cock-fight, and who
took sides with the baiters or the baited, according to their apparent
likeliness of victory. It was revolting, the kind of thing I could not
have believed of a London crowd unless I had myself witnessed it. It
made me feel ashamed to the marrow of my bones.[4]

  FOOTNOTE: [4] I met a lady, Winifred, Lady Arran, in July, 1911,
  who told me that she had been in Parliament Square and had seen our
  Deputation. She saw and recognised me. “But,” she said, “you seemed
  not to realise that all the men in the crowd were for you.”

I took a four-wheeler and made for my youngest sister’s house in
Bloomsbury Square. On the way, by as it seemed a strange coincidence,
I passed my eldest sister, who was just emerging from a theatre with a
friend. I stopped and spoke to her. She apparently did not notice my
dishevelled condition or suspect that I had been with the Deputation.
She told me that she too was staying in Bloomsbury Square. Arrived
there, I found my hostess in bed. I asked her if she could put me
up. “You’ve been with the Deputation?” she asked. “Yes.” “You’ve not
been arrested yourself?” “Yes.” Her look of mingled sympathy and
satisfaction was life-giving, I shall never forget it. Both my sisters
were immensely kind and helpful. The house was full and I shared a
bed with my eldest sister. All night she kept her strong arm round my
heart and steadied my throbbing body which, owing to the attentions
of the police, continued to shake all night. Several times in the
night my sister said with great distress, “Oh! Con, you are not fit to
go to prison;” but she of course, was thinking only of the physical
side of things. We were able to discuss what best could be done to
comfort Mother. Neither of my sisters ever tried to persuade me to take
advantage of any possible way out from imprisonment if it should be
offered at the trial. They knew my decision could only have been taken
after deep and prolonged consideration and for reasons good enough in
my estimation to outweigh all those against.



CHAPTER IV

POLICE COURT TRIAL


In the morning we telephoned to mother, supposing she would have
received my letter, telling her of the trial at Bow Street that
morning, but begging her not to come up for it unless she specially
wished to do so. This telephone message was, unfortunately, the first
news that reached her of my arrest, and was a great shock to her. She
could not have caught a train that would have brought her in time to
Bow Street; my eldest sister, Betty Balfour, and my eldest brother,
Vic, went down to her later in the day. I felt happier than I had
done for a long time. I knew that the first news would be the worst
to her, that had now reached her, all else would seem unimportant in
comparison; the most difficult, most dreaded part of my job was over.
I felt less ill in health than the day before, only played out. My
one anxiety was lest I should break down physically and be dismissed
from the prison at once “on medical grounds.” The wish to avoid this
contingency was about as stimulating a tonic as could be desired. It
had exactly the same happy effect upon me as some people seem to derive
from a glass of brandy.

My sister, Betty Balfour, drove with me in a hansom to Bow Street. A
considerable crowd was waiting outside the police station; we elbowed
our way through them with great difficulty and only by the help
of the police, to whom we appealed to ease matters “for one of the
accused.” I felt dazed with the press of people. Before long I found
myself in a sort of loose-box guard-room, or wide passage, where all
my fellow criminals and many of their friends were assembled. Many of
my personal friends were there and most heart-gladdeningly kind to me.
I had concocted a short speech, explaining the reasons of my action.
I was told it was not very likely that the magistrate would allow me
to deliver it; my friends kindly helped me to condense it as much
as possible. It consisted of about four short paragraphs, sentences
bearing on the reasonableness, justice and urgency of our demand. I
remember nothing of it but these words: “I have been more proud to
stand by my friends in their trouble than I have ever been of anything
in my life before.”

Presently there was a roll call and we were all told off to the various
policemen who had taken us prisoners. I had been so exhausted at the
moment of my capture the night before that I had not realised what sort
of a human being underlay the helmet and uniform responsible for my
arrest. In the morning I saw that he was a particularly pleasant-spoken
and obliging man, who seemed to understand all about it from our point
of view. He explained what I had to do. We were first congregated in a
sort of waiting-room with a wooden bench round the wall, and then, as
our time drew near, we were called out into a narrow passage where the
particular policemen who were charging us stood facing us against the
opposite wall. It looked as if we were _vis à vis_ partners waiting
for a country dance to strike up. We went into the court as our names
were called. I was thankful that I knew a little of the hang of the
business from having been present at the trial of Mrs. Pankhurst,
Christabel Pankhurst and Mrs. Drummond. It is the absolutely unknown
element in these kinds of ceremonies that adds considerably to their
fearfulness. My name came rather early on the list. I was thankful that
at least this time I had not to go into the awe-inspiring witness-box.
Sir Albert de Rützen was the magistrate; he seemed old for the work.
His manner throughout was querulous rather than dignified. The feeling
of publicity and exposure struck me as completely odious; I was
extremely nervous and rather dazed. I remember thinking, “If I feel
like this, what must it be for the ordinary prisoners, whether guilty
or not, who, day after day, file into this court?” I had a vague sense
that friends were present amongst the crowd at the back of the court,
but the mechanism of the official proceedings and the individuals who
worked it seemed all at enmity with us--all, that is, except my partner
the policeman. His look, manner and voice were so friendly that the
set phrases in which he told of my conduct in Parliament Square and
consequent arrest had a strangely incongruous and unreal ring about
them. Not that he accused me of anything very terrible. He reported
that I had pushed past him exclaiming, “I must see Mr. Asquith, I must
get to Mr. Asquith.” I had never said anything of the kind, but no
doubt, in the policeman’s estimation, this was a remark in keeping with
my actions, and he thought it most probable that I had said words to
that effect. I did not comment on the charge. It seemed all to be known
and settled beforehand, and the processes which had to be got through
seemed more or less farcical and unreal. When allowed to speak, I
managed hastily to blurt out some of my speech, but I felt that nobody
listened.

The sentence was one month, with the alternative of being bound over to
“keep the peace.” I was immensely relieved that there was no fine. At
the same time the length of the sentence was a surprise and somewhat
of a shock, although I had prepared myself for it. It seemed hardly
believable that what I had done was really considered worthy of four
weeks in prison. I must, nevertheless, have heard, though the fact did
not penetrate into my mind, that Miss Joachim and several others had,
less than a year ago, been given three months for this crime of going
on a deputation--they, like myself, were first offenders.

On leaving the court we were taken downstairs to the cells. Four or
five of us were put together. I was in one with Miss Daisy Solomon,
Miss Elsa Gye, my guide and friend of the day before, Miss Dugdale
and a sympathetic young girl unknown to me. These cells are narrow
compartments, unfurnished, except for a wide wooden bench running
the entire length of one wall and terminating in a lavatory seat.
This was unconcealed and without any means of drawing water from
within the cell. It was periodically flushed with water by a pulley
communicating with all the cells from outside. The door had a small
grating of iron bars, through which one could look and speak to
people outside. Many of our friends came by in the passage and spoke
to us through this grille. They also brought us some sandwiches and
fruit--very acceptable. This was the worst moment for the friends,
and several mothers who came to say goodbye to their daughters must
have left feeling very miserable. I felt thankful that my mother was
not there. For me, it seemed the best moment for many a long day. My
part was over, so far as initiative and activities were concerned,
the rest required only enduring, always a much easier job to my lazy
temperament. My sisters and youngest brother came to bid me goodbye.
Some other friends came and said “Well done,” or words of that kind.
Christabel Pankhurst came. She said “Thank you,” and seemed grateful
for my share in the day’s work. This was a most unlooked-for honour and
joy, from that moment I felt a very privileged and happy person. The
sound of her voice and the look in her eyes remained stamped upon my
mind, and played the part of a sort of talisman of consolation whenever
the trials of my imprisonment weighed upon my spirits.

As for the physical hardships of prison, these had been the first items
to be measured and prepared for when deciding to go on the Deputation;
of all the anticipatory difficulties they had been the least, and it
was a comfort to think that now, before long, one would know the worst
in this respect. I felt considerably exhausted still from the battering
about the day before, and I had a craving to be alone. Unlimited hours
of “solitary confinement” were the most desirable paradise I could
vision to myself.

It was a time of longer waiting than I had ever thought a single day
could contain. Already one began to taste that peculiar feature, most
markedly characteristic of the whole of prison life, that of being in
ignorance of what is going on outside your cell, of why you are being
kept there, and of what will happen to you when the keys jangle, bolts
rattle, the door is thrown open and you are ordered out. We passed
the time recommending to each other various dodges of how to keep in
touch while in prison. Knocks on the cell walls with a brush or boot,
and at the hour when the wardresses went to meals it was said to be
possible to communicate by speaking on the hot water pipe, which runs
through all the cells, at the point where it touches the wall. We were
to maintain the right to talk to each other at associated labour. Mrs.
Pankhurst had obtained the right to speak to her daughter when they
were in prison together. Otherwise the silence rule, at all other times
we were told, was very rigidly enforced. I showed my companions some
leg and arm exercises which I urged them to do, so as to counteract the
want of exercise and general stagnation of life which makes so many
people ill in prison. We had great fun over this. We were all able to
send messages and little scraps of letters to our relations. I was
distressed that the stranger girl seemed to have no friends, and no
one came to the grille to ask for her. It spoilt the pleasure of our
visitors. She seemed of a very retiring and unassertive nature, and I
did not like to make inquiries as to how we could help her communicate
with her friends for fear that she had none. Happily, just before the
passage was cleared of all visitors, three kind-looking women came to
the window and she sprang up. They were her friends.

The courtesy of the police continued, and Christabel Pankhurst and a
few others were allowed to remain talking to us for some time after the
general public had been sent out of the passage communicating with the
cells.

Knowing that we had yet a long day before us, we in turns took
advantage of the lavatory end of the cell, the others mounting
guard in a group round the grating to ensure privacy. This was my
first experience of the publicity attending this process throughout
prison life. It is, without doubt, one of the greatest trials to the
better-educated prisoner; my sympathy went out especially to the
younger members of our Deputation and to all young prisoners.

At about 2.30 there came a jangling of keys, rattling of bolts, and the
cell doors were thrown open. We came out and lined up in the passage
outside, and our names were called out in the order of our arrest.
There were again some delays and waiting in different passages. One
seemed to be dealt with much like goods at a custom house, certain
facts about one being recurringly inquired after, investigated, noted
in a book, and the goods then passed on for the same process to take
place elsewhere. Eventually we filed out into a courtyard where the
prison van, “Black Maria,” as the hull of a great dead ship, awaited
her cargo. The grim appearance of that celebrated vehicle had always
been a signal to me, when passing it in the street, for having to
repress an instinct to follow it, an awed reverence for the distressful
plight of those inside it, an almost maddening craving to know what
had been the cause of their law-breaking, the nature of their crimes,
how far their present degradation could morally uplift them, what was
happening to their human belongings, what would happen to themselves
when they were once more free, whether indignation, revolt, dull
indifference, remorse, or the harrowingly abject penitence so frequent
in suffering beings was uppermost in their minds. Now I myself was one
of the criminals. I should know the sensations from actual experience,
literally from within. Of course I in no sense regarded myself as a
criminal, and was aware of a detached spectator’s commentary running
through my mind all the while. It suddenly struck me, perhaps, after
all, this is a sensation common to many criminals. A good number of
them no doubt either know they have not, or think they have not,
committed the offence for which they are condemned. Many, while
admitting their acts, probably have a moral standard with regard to
them quite different from that which controls the law. Others, perhaps,
like myself, think their acts were entirely justified and right;
some, again, would feel consciously and aggressively at war with all
recognised standards.

I had several times seen men arrested and male prisoners in the
streets, travelling, outside prisons and police courts, but I had never
seen any women prisoners. Suddenly the picture of them and of women’s
crimes came into my mind with a rush. Who were the women who, day by
day, trod the very stones on which my feet now stood, whose eyes would
look up, a few minutes after mine, to the terrifying form of Black
Maria? How and why had they broken the law, in what way were they
enemies of Society? The impress of their feet seemed to be one with
mine, and up from that criminals’ pavement their mind seemed to get
into my own. Child-burdened women who were left without money, without
the means or opportunity or physical power to earn it, who had stolen
in order to save their lives and that of their children,--thieves!
Women who from their childhood had been trained to physical shame,
women who at their first adolescence had borne children by their own
fathers under circumstances when resistance was inconceivable. Women
who had been seduced by their employers. Women deceived and deserted
by their friends and lovers. Women employed by their own parents for
wage-earning prostitution. Women reduced to cruelty after being for
years the unconsulted churning mills for producing in degradation
and want and physical suffering the incessant annual babies of an
undesired family. Women who had been stolen in their bloom and
imprisoned for purposes of immoral gain. If amongst such women, such
criminals, there are many who are professionally thieves, prostitutes
“by choice,” immoral “past redemption” as it is called, sodden with
drink, undermined by drug taking, their maternity transformed into
cruelty, their brains worn to madness, what cause is there for surprise
or reproach, and what hope is there of cure by imprisonment? Before
they took to these muddy lanes have they not been driven out from the
fair road? What was their training, what their choice from the start?
Are not the doors of the professions and many trades still barred to
them? Their right to work, a fair value for their work, is it not
denied to them? When they undertake the burdensome but joyous labour
of maternity, is there any security to them of physical respect and
choice, of economic security, of rewardful honour and social influence?
Where is the recognition of the woman’s great service, how is she
helped to render it suitably and efficiently; does the State, the race,
the family, the individual, see to it that she has her reward?

I moved forward after the others. Black Maria looked like a sort of
hearse with elephantiasis--warranted to carry many coffins concealed
in her body and to bear them to as many graves. She fairly set one
shuddering. To get inside her seemed a sort of living death, certainly,
most literally, entry into another world. For a moment I hesitated and
thought, “Suppose I refuse to get in?” The mere notion called up the
forces arrayed against one and made me realise my utter helplessness.
The gates, the bolts, locks and chains, the cells we had just left, the
court and magistrate, the high walls all around, the enormous policemen
on every hand. The one who stood at the open door of the van said,
“Come along, please.” His words were civil enough and linked one back
to the normal outer world, but his voice and beckoning gesture were
authoritative and the sense of physical power seemed to wedge one in.
It was clear that henceforth all one’s actions would be initiated and
carried out without choice, solely by necessity of obedience.

The policeman who had special charge of us for the journey was a man
of jovial disposition, and he cracked witticisms as he played his
’bus-conductor’s part. We readily responded to his mood. An antidote
was needed to the grimness of the proceedings, but the merriment was
by no means all forced. As soon as I laid aside the remembrance of the
real prisoners and limited the outlook to that of our own immediate
experience, the comic element was rampant and seemed to dig one in
the ribs, making me laugh with heartiness. We were all, it seemed,
playing some ludicrous, babyish game, unsuited to our years, but all
the more absurd for that. The ’bus-conductor-policeman got inside; we
followed him one by one into the narrow central gangway that forms
the spinal marrow of Black Maria. On either side are tiny separate
cells, like the compartments of a cupboard, the doors of which when
opened completely obstruct the passage so that only one prisoner at a
time can be admitted or released. On first getting in it seems quite
dark, and the sensation of being rapidly pushed into a very small
hole, squeezed back, the door shut and locked to the accompanying
sound of banging and much jangling and turning of keys, is extremely
disagreeable. The cell contains a seat and is ventilated by a grating
in the door, by groups of small holes on either side, in the floor at
one’s feet, and by a wire-netted ventilator running under the roof of
the van, as in a ’bus. The cell was so small that my legs, which are
long, had to be tucked up almost under my chin; I could imagine that
in hot weather the want of air would be oppressive, but though the
sense of being so closely confined was disagreeable, the draughts from
the ventilators seemed to play upon one almost excessively and I felt
very cold. When the cells were all filled the passage was duly packed
with prisoners, standing one against the other like tinned sardines.
As the van was not high enough to admit of standing upright, this
must have been a most tiring position. Presently there was a final
shutting and locking of the outer door, in which was a small grating
window, as we know it from the outside. Then followed a rumbling jerk
and Black Maria’s great overcharged body began her long, jolting drive
to Holloway. The sensation reminded me of a bathing machine when it
sets out for the sea, but the noise and jolting and darkness were all
greater in degree. We tried to communicate with each other, to find
out who was in which cell and who was standing in the passage. We
started singing the Women’s Marseillaise and other of our songs. Those
in the passage managed to put a scarf with our colours through the
ventilator under the coachman’s seat, others passed a scarf through
the grating window of the door at the opposite end. These feats were,
of course, communicated to the whole Maria-full of us, and the news
that the police were allowing the scarves to remain was greeted with
much cheering. Possibly, the driver was unconscious of his magnanimous
action, since the scarf end, I expect, flowed out somewhere near his
feet. The colours every now and then were seen and loudly cheered
by friends in the street. This woke in me an appreciation of the
colours and understanding of their meaning in a way I had not grasped
before. There is so little need for symbolism in these days of print,
newspapers, advertisements, etc., but our movement has had to combat
all the conditions of an era of darkness, ignorance, and barbaric
repression. When newspapers will not accept, publishers will not print,
and booksellers will not sell the true facts concerning us, then a
rapid means of irrepressible communication had to be sought through the
symbolism of colours, purple, white and green--justice, purity, hope.
Wherever you see them you know we are there, and you know our meaning.

I joined in the songs for as long as I could and in the
counter-cheering whenever we had a cheer from the streets, but I soon
withdrew into the luxury of my solitude. I was exhilarated and happy
in mind, but my physical exhaustion was considerable. The physical tax
of the Deputation and the nervous tax of the trial proceedings had
strained my powers to their uttermost. At last I was alone with myself.
The sense of release from the necessity of keeping up appearances,
of having to put on a good front, was great. I wondered how often
the occupants of my cell in that black hive must have felt the same
after the anguish, suspense, complication of fears, connected with
their trial. I noticed that if for a moment I entertained the idea
of initiative, action, the wish to touch normal existence, to be and
behave like an ordinary being, then the sense of subjection, of being
buried alive was all but insufferable and might quickly drive one to
the verge of insanity. But the physical exhaustion which leads to the
craving for inanition, for solitude and privacy, turned that locked-up
slice of the van into a welcome sanctuary.

After a long drive, for seemingly the better part of an hour, the
sounds changed and Black Maria quivered over a courtyard pavement,
filling us with expectations of arrival. The jolting and noise ceased,
the doors were unlocked, one by one as we had been packed in we emerged
again and were quickly ushered into Holloway Prison, through what
seemed a back door in a yard surrounded by high walls. It made no
particular impression upon me. It might have been another police court,
less dingy and more clean.



CHAPTER V

HOLLOWAY PRISON


When we arrived at the prison we formed up along a passage in the order
of our arrest. We were taken in charge by two or three wardresses who,
without a word or sign of greeting, went through the routine of taking
our names, ages, sentences, etc. Then we were removed into waiting
cells, three or four of us to each one. I found myself, to my joy, in
a cell with our leader, Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, Miss Leslie Lawless and
Mrs. Fahey, daughter of the great sculptor Gilbert. Strength came back
into my bones with delight at being with Mrs. Lawrence. She having
been in the prison before gave us various directions and advice. The
cell was small and old, the walls and ceiling were dirty, the window
of grained glass looked extremely dingy; but Mrs. Lawrence said that
in all probability we should eventually be put into new and very clean
cells. There was only one stool. Mrs. Lawrence had to sacrifice herself
and sit on it, as we none of us would do so in her presence. We ranged
ourselves at her feet on the floor, some of us leaning back against
the wall. I was very happy to meet Mrs. Fahey, her father and mine had
known one another; everything about her had the indication that she was
a good woman and probably would become a great one.

I remember vaguely that conversation turned on to personal yarns as
to how we had severally fared during the Deputation, what had first
brought us into the movement, the experiences of ex-prisoners. We were
to try and claim associated labour and the right to speak to each other
at that time. All other rules so far as we could grasp them were to
be rigidly observed. If anything in the prison routine seemed to us
unjust we were to petition the Home Secretary about it, or ask for an
interview with the Governor. If we were ill or felt that any part of
the prison life was being seriously injurious to our health, we were
to ask to see the doctor. But my recollection of the two or three
hours spent in this cell are vague and shadowy. I was at the end of my
tether, and the craving to be alone overtopped everything else. Soon
after we were inside a light was lit from without, and I noticed for
the first time a curious aperture in the thick wall to the left of the
door. A piece of grained glass near to the passage side of this hole,
shielded the light which was lit from outside. The cell was thus lit
up with rays as from a bull’s eye lantern. These details interested me
very much. I was fascinated in a grim sort of way by the “eye” in the
door of which I had heard so much. An oval wedge-shaped indentation
in the thick nail-studded door, at about the height of one’s head,
was finished off in the centre by a small circular bit of glass about
the size of a large eye-glass. On the passage side of the door this
was overlaid with a bit of wood which could be turned aside like the
flap over a key-hole, for the warders and others to take a look at the
prisoner, unobserved, whenever they chose.

Presently there was a rattling of keys, the lock turned with what
seemed a thundering sound and the door burst open. I thought it must
be some remarkable and unexpected event that had caused so much hurry
and noise, a fire perhaps had broken out, but this was my first
introduction to the prison door drill; the thunder and rattle and haste
I was soon to learn were the invariable accompaniments of being visited
for no matter what cause. The door was opened only a very little way.
No face was to be seen, but a hand thrust in four tins of food and
loaves of bread on to a little shelf in the corner of the cell nearest
to the door. This was our supper--the last meal before the night. The
little brown loaves looked appetising, and we were hungry. The kind of
breakfast one eats before one’s first “trial” is nothing sumptuous,
and the sandwiches brought in by our friends made an excellent but not
too substantial lunch. The slice of cold pressed meat lying at the
bottom of a dirty-looking tin was not attractive, and the cocoa in a
can of the same metal was positively repellent. We most of us ate some
bread, one was bold enough to try the cocoa, no one sampled the meat. I
thought I would keep my loaf as a sleeping draught for whenever bedtime
came to this seemingly endless day.

Some time after supper had been let in upon us, the door was again
opened and “Lytton” was summoned to an unknown presence. I was
conducted to a room where a lady in a bonnet stood waiting to receive
me. She was the Matron. She told me in a civil and considerate manner
that she had a letter for me from my mother which she had been allowed
to give to me. I wondered if my mother were ill or inordinately
distressed at my sentence. I had a great longing to take the letter,
but I had prepared myself for special privileges being extended to me
and I was determined not to profit by anything of the sort unless I
could also secure it for my companions. I asked: “Is it not against
prison rules that I should have the letter?” She looked surprised,
but promptly answered, “We make the rules as the occasion calls for,
and you have been allowed to receive this letter.” “Will the other
Suffrage prisoners also be allowed to receive letters?” She hesitated,
but eventually said decisively, “No.” “Then I am afraid I can’t have
this letter either.” In spite of my effort to conceal it, I think she
saw or guessed my great desire to have the letter, for the look in
her eyes became very kind and she pleaded with me to take the letter.
I shook my head. Then she told me it was within the ordinary rules
that she should read the letter to me. I hesitated for a moment; there
might be something sacredly private in the letter and it seemed such
desecration that strangers should know what my mother felt. Then I
glanced at the envelope and realised that it had been officially opened
and probably read already. So I agreed. The letter had been written
under the agitation of the news about me and was not easily legible
in places, so that the matron, although she did her best, could not
decipher some passages, and the tension of deferred anxiety as to its
contents made my mind and hearing dull from overstrain. As a result,
I received the impression that my mother was more angry with me than
was actually the case. She did not speak of being ill or broken down
herself, and I felt I could bear everything but that; but the imagined
degree of her disapproval shadowed the whole of my imprisonment without
cause. However, when I was handed the letter on my release and read it
for myself, I found in it so much more sympathy than I expected that
the rebound of joy made up for everything. My mother had sent it by
her maid to London, telling her to deliver it into the hands of the
Governor with a covering letter to him asking him kindly to give it to
me. She had thought out all this most considerately so that at least
I might be reassured about herself, and be spared any unnecessary
anxiety. The maid, on arriving at Holloway Prison, had sent my mother’s
card up to the Governor as a passport to his presence and asking if
she, the maid, might see him. He understood it to mean that mother
herself was there, and he came rushing down the stairs in hot haste to
greet her! Poor man, how relieved he must have been to find it was only
her maid!

After the Matron had finished reading the letter I, for the moment,
forgot all wish to restrict my privileges into line with those of other
Suffragettes. I asked, “Can I write an answer to this letter?” “No.”
“Nor send a message?” The Matron shook her head. On returning to my
companions in the waiting cell I told them what had taken place. My
mind was filled with thoughts of my mother and I remember no details
until the door was again thrown open and a wardress told us to line
up in the passage, preparatory to inspection by the medical officer.
It was good to see the rest of the Deputation once more. We were
told to open our dresses and underclothes at the neck so that our
chests might be examined. There was some further waiting, during which
time I was able to take note of the wardresses, several of whom were
waiting about and superintending us while others came and went. They
were fine-looking women, young and vigorous, most of them had good
figures and all of them had beautifully-kept hair which gave me a deal
of pleasure to look at. They wore uniforms more or less in the style
of hospital nurses. Most of them wore dresses of dark blue cloth with
nurse-like, small black bonnets and strings. Some had holland dresses
with aprons, and black velvet bows on their heads. They held themselves
very upright, and their general bearing brought to my mind certain
types of the chaperon’s bench at Court balls.

I had made up my mind to ask the doctor for a few medical privileges.
I dreaded lest he was coming round to inspect and question us as we
stood in the passage, or that we should have to go before some “board”
or “committee” of men. To my relief I found that we were being shown
into a room singly, and when it came to my turn I found there only one
individual, a young man sitting at a table with a big book in front
of him. I stood beside him and answered his questions with regard to
my age, whether I was married or single, what illnesses I had had,
etc. He then tapped my lungs and examined my heart with a stethoscope.
An infancy and youth of chronic rheumatism had affected my heart,
and the treatment I had received as member of the Deputation had
taxed it severely. Moreover, the news of my mother’s distress, the
prison sounds of keys and bolts, the look of the cells, and my fears
lest the doctor should take alarm at my flimsy physique and order my
dismissal from the prison, each added considerably to my agitation of
that moment. The doctor’s impassive face and manner changed to one of
concerned inquiry after testing my heart. He asked many questions,
and seemed with difficulty to believe when I told him that strict
vegetarianism had cured my chronic rheumatism and that it was six
years since I had anything of an attack. I asked to be allowed flannel
underclothing and vegetarian food. It was a new and strange experience
to be so closely examined by a doctor and not to learn anything of his
verdict. I longed to ask him “What are you going to report about me?”
but I knew that I could do nothing if he should answer “Dismiss you,”
and I was anxious to end the interview as soon as possible.

After the medical examination we were soon taken off, separately, to
the changing room. Here my trinkets, money, watch, the combs in my
hair, and everything in my pocket were taken from me and a list made,
which I had to sign. I had a great longing to keep my handkerchiefs.
A wardress sitting at a desk with a large book on it asked a further
string of questions as to age, name, address, place of birth, previous
convictions. As I gave “Vienna, Austria,” for the place of my birth, my
father having been in the diplomatic service, I thought how impossible
it would have seemed had some seer foretold, at the time of my birth
in an official residence, that I was destined to be imprisoned in
Holloway as a common criminal. A description of the prisoner’s personal
appearance was also entered in the book. It was a comic moment when the
wardress looked up with her head on one side, as any portrait painter
might do, to investigate the colour of one’s hair and eyes. During all
these processes I had a first opportunity of noticing the manner of
the wardresses which so many Suffragette friends had described to me,
but which had conveyed no clear impression to my mind. I noticed that
there was no inflection in the voice when speaking to prisoners, nor
did the wardresses look at them when addressing them. As a prisoner, it
was almost impossible to look in the eyes of my keepers, they seemed to
fear that direct means of communication; it was as if the wardresses
wore a mask, and withdrew as much as possible all expression of their
own personality or recognition of it in the prisoner. At first, the
impression received was as of something farcical. I remember that it
amused me immensely and absorbed my attention with a sort of fascinated
curiosity. But this soon went off, and made way for a chilling,
deadening impression. When later on I saw it applied to the ordinary
prisoner, to my companions, to our leader, Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, it
aroused in me a feeling of indignation and strong resentment.

One corner of this room was divided off by a curtain. I was told to
go behind it and take off my clothes. As I removed them one by one
I wondered what would have been my experiences by the time I should
see them again. I was handed a cotton chemise, woollen stockings and
a petticoat. In this queer get-up I was taken to be weighed and
then shown to a bath. The bath compartments were close together in a
passage, like stalls in a stable, each one only just large enough to
contain the bath and a few inches of standing room at one end. The
door was of the cowshed order, about three feet deep, space above and
below, and without a fastening. As I was ushered into one of these,
an ordinary 3rd Division prisoner handed me a bundle of clothes and a
pair of laced shoes. She had a charming, sympathetic face, and I never
shall forget the look of deep kindness in her eyes and in her voice as
she whispered to me, “If the shoes are too small, ask the officer and
she’ll let you have a larger pair.” My tired body, my very soul, seemed
to bask in comfort at her words. I looked and nodded my thanks to her,
afraid to speak, for I had been warned how we might get the prisoners
into trouble by breaking the silence rule with them.

“So this is the bath of evil fame,” I thought, as I put down the
bundle of clothes on the floor and pulled the cowshed door after me.
For the most part, whatever bit of prison life I had heard about as
specially objectionable seemed to me less bad than I had expected, and
being prepared I was forearmed to put up with it without grumbling.
But the much-abused, dirty bath which had been so often described by
our prisoners, surpassed all expectations. The paint was blistered
and broken to a surface of mottled unevenness in a way to gather the
scum from the water into a thousand crevices every time the bath was
used. Whatever the original colour of the paint might have been, it
was now of a dull mud colour, sufficiently dirty-looking to arouse
every sort of suspicion, but not dark enough to conceal the marks of
the scum most recently added to the crevices. A large but well-worn
scrubbing brush was the only washing appliance, whether for the purpose
of scrubbing the bath or the bather was not stated, probably it was
used indiscriminately for both. I had been given a small towel of
oatmeal-coloured coarse linen striped with red, and a piece of soap
wrapped up in a rag of white flannelette. The water was clean and
delightfully hot. I tried to concentrate my mind on these two great
merits and to raise a sense of present luxury by remembering that this
was the last bath I should be able to indulge in for a week. The soap
had a smell of disinfectant like dog soap, clean and hygienic enough,
no doubt, but under the circumstances a disagreeable reminder of its
anti-verminous properties. The towel, which at first sight seemed
ludicrously small and inadequate for the purpose of drying a body so
large as mine, disclosed with use an almost miraculous faculty for
not absorbing moisture. It left one to dry by dint of friction; my
admiration for this towel grew even greater on closer acquaintance
with it. Then came the moment for the clothes. They certainly looked
a most repellent heap, and it was some time before I recognised their
respective uses, and could decide in what order to put them on. I was
pleased to see that the flannel garments promised by the doctor were
there. Some of my companions, although they asked for and received
permission for the same privilege, did not get any flannel clothes
until the second week, and some not through the whole term of their
imprisonment. Warmth being my first consideration I started off with
a low-necked flannel shirt without sleeves. It was patched in many
places, the patches being so coarsely joined that one could easily
trace their pattern from sensation while wearing it. The flannel was of
numerous shades of yellow and grey, stained in many places, and freely
marked with the broad arrow stamped on in black ink. The original
cut of the shirt had evidently been nondescript. It was very short,
reaching barely below the hips and low at the neck, and the patches set
in at random had added variety and counter design in many directions.
It looked like the production of a maniac. For propaganda purposes it
was an absolutely priceless garment and I determined that, if possible,
it should accompany me out of prison, for the enlightenment of those
critics who are appalled at the leniency of the prison treatment of
Suffragettes. Next I put on a chemise of unbleached, coarse cotton,
striped with red, fairly high at the neck, but without sleeves. This
however, was long to the knees and from its ample voluminous width was
one of the most warmth-producing of the garments. A pair of stays made
without bones but exceedingly stiff and straight in shape. They had
no fastenings and had to be laced up each time; the lace had no metal
tag so that it was a slow process. These stays were so unyielding that
I found it impossible to tie my petticoats around the sheer precipice
of their make, and the very next day I had the courage to dispense
with them. Flannel drawers, short like footballing “shorts,” ditto of
unbleached cotton. A very short flannel petticoat. An old-fashioned
under-petticoat of coarse, linseed-coloured material, thickly pleated
into a cotton band at the waist--it stuck out almost like a crinoline.
Then came the dress, skirt of dark green serge, pleated in same way
as the petticoat and tied with black tape strings, the shirt of same
material fastened by a single button at the neck; this was the only
garment with long sleeves. A blue check apron which tied in the shirt
and gave a very neat appearance. Finally, a small Dutch cap of starched
white calico, tied under the chin with tapes. These caps are full of
stains, from hairpin rust, etc., when seen from within, but outwardly
they have an extremely clean and attractive appearance, redeeming the
degraded look of the dress and decidedly becoming to many of the women.
They pleased me immensely from the first and were a constant joy to my
eyes in all my imprisonments. Two check dusters were supplied, one as a
handkerchief to hang from the apron string, one to be folded diagonally
and worn round the neck, under the serge shirt. I always have thought
this the most comfortable neck covering imaginable and the short
time it takes to put on was a daily renewed pleasure compared to the
complicated neck apparatus of more civilised modern garments with their
innumerable hooks and eyes, pins, brooches, etc. The drawback to this
duster-necktie was that it was identical with the handkerchief-duster,
and, as they were changed from week to week, there was no means of
knowing whether one’s neckerchief of one week had not been the nose
kerchief of another prisoner on previous occasions. As the clothes came
from the laundry with many stains, unironed, unmangled, and looking
in many respects as if they had not been washed, this detail of the
handkerchiefs remained throughout my time in prison one of the most
trying of the physical and minor disagreeables. All the clothes were
marked with the broad arrow, if light in colour they were marked with
black ink or some kind of tar-like sticky substance; if the clothes
were dark, as the petticoat and dress, then with whiting. The stockings
were of thick, rough wool, most irritating to the skin but warm. I
never had a pair that were long enough to cover my knees, and as the
drawers stopped short of the knees in the opposite direction I had the
chance of sampling the knee part of a Highlander’s dress. I thought it
very uncomfortable. Woollen strips were given for garters; I thought
these practical and hygienic. Last of all I turned to the shoes. They
were immensely heavy and looked large enough for a giant, they were new
and exceedingly stiff. After a great struggle I managed to get them on,
but they were so uncomfortable that I remembered the advice of the kind
woman and took them off again. I supposed that now would be my only
chance of asking for another pair, and, although I never have been able
to muster much courage in facing rebuffs, I had an impression that I
should not grow any bolder as prison life went on. It is comparatively
easy to plead or protest on behalf of some general principle, but to
do so for personal advantage was a more effortful business, and yet it
seemed foolish to go in for needless discomforts when a remedy had been
almost officially suggested. I gathered up my soap and towel and put
my head over the cowshed door to inquire if I might come out. My eyes
fell on a prisoner waiting in the passage. She was of the 2nd Division,
for she wore a green dress; those of the 3rd Division wear brown. Her
face had a genial expression and broke into a radiant smile as our eyes
met. I thought I had never seen a more attractive-looking being. In
spite of the subservient humility which the prison uniform conveys, the
look of self-mastery and consequent dignity was prominently expressed
in every line of her face and of her whole form. I felt drawn to
her by a feeling of mixed curiosity and sympathy and determined to
communicate with her if possible. It never occurred to me that she was
a Suffragette. She was Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, as the smile in her eyes
betrayed before many moments had passed. My delight at recognising her
was quickly succeeded by an almost irrepressible wave of indignant
feeling that she should be subjected to these outward symbols of
criminality and shame. However little they were able to degrade her,
the authorities had sentenced her to wear them with that intent. The
futility and injustice of their action seemed to me at that moment
about on a par with each other.

A wardress told me I might come out. I picked up my shoes and went with
them in my hand to an “officer” who seemed to be the most authoritative
person present. I said to her, “I find these shoes are rather small for
me. Could you kindly let me have a bigger pair?” She seemed not to have
heard what I said, did not look my way, but shouted past me into the
air, speaking in a loud voice, very rapidly, and without any variety of
intonation in a way that sounded strange and unnatural, as if she were
proclaiming an edict written by another person: “It’s -- no -- good --
complaining -- about -- those; they’re -- the -- largest -- size --
in -- stock; you -- can’t -- have -- any -- others -- so -- you’d --
better -- make -- the -- best -- of -- them.” As soon as I realised
that she was answering me I felt very curious and interested. “So that
is what it means,” I thought, “being in prison.” It required no flight
of the imagination, no tags of theory, to understand what the effect of
this manner would be on an ordinary prisoner.

Mrs. Lawrence and I waited together in the passage. Presently a
wardress came up to us with a paper in her hand and began reading out
the prison rules, which we were told had to be strictly observed under
pain of punishment. There were a great many dealing with a variety of
subjects. She read very fast like a wooden automaton, as if she herself
were weary of this too frequent job. Although I had heard of many of
the rules before from previous prisoners, I could with difficulty catch
the drift, and it struck me how little the ordinary prisoner would be
able to glean from this hurried reading of rules absolutely new to her,
framed in official language often far beyond her comprehension.

We were then led off through various corridors, taken out of doors and
into another building, weighed a second time, and taken up a staircase.
At the top we were told to remove our shoes and carry them in our
hands. In the passage there were cells with locked gates that looked
very grim, and locked doors behind them. One door opposite the stairs
was open and the gate only closed. This was unlocked for us and we
were ushered into a large high room. A fire burned brightly at one end
and beds were ranged on either side of the walls. It was evidently a
hospital ward. We were shown to the beds nearest the fire-place, on
either side of it, and told they would be ours. Mrs. Lawrence came over
to me and whispered, “They have put us in hospital.” The one thing
on which my hopes had centred throughout that seemingly eternal day
was the prospect of being completely alone at the end of it. Now that
was not to be. For the first time I was taken unawares, had made no
preparation for the contingency; I felt quite unnerved and could have
sobbed like a child. The fact that I was to remain with Mrs. Lawrence
was my only consolation.

The ward was large and high, with big windows of grained glass at
either end, opened at the top by pulleys so that one could not see out,
but the ventilation was perfect. There were grating ventilators as well
as the windows. It was well warmed by hot pipes running the length of
one wall and by a large coal fire. The furnishings of the fire-place
were both comic and grimly suggestive. A cage of thick iron bars
covered it, from the mantelpiece to the floor, the cage had a central
gate fastened by a padlock and inside this prison was a poker chained
to the side of the grate, as if it could not be trusted not to run away
and escape through the iron bars of the cage. I looked round to see how
much of lunacy, or violent criminality, such as were suggested by these
precautions, was represented amongst the present inmates. There were
ten beds in all, but only four or five occupants; most of them were
already in bed--one looked extremely ill. A wardress, like a nurse, in
a holland gown, came in accompanied by a 3rd Division prisoner carrying
a wicker tray fitted with bottles containing drugs--the “poison-basket”
I called it; it returned regularly twice a day. A dark-looking mixture
was poured into a little cup and handed to me. I explained that I
never took drugs and begged to be excused. “You’ve got to swallow that
to-night--those are my orders, there’s no choice about it. You can ask
the medical officer about it to-morrow.” I supposed that responsibility
for my refusal would fall upon the wardress, so I drank it down.

We were given slippers to replace the coarse nailed shoes which were
not allowed to be worn in hospital on account of the polished wooden
floor. The slippers were of yellow leather, blackened by much use.
They were extremely dirty, both outside and in, and I made up my mind
never to wear them without the protection of a stocking. Mine were not
a pair, each one had an independence of size and shape which seemed to
endow them with almost human personality; but they were comfortable,
and I grew strangely fond of them before the end of my time. Our
beds were already made; we were each brought a night-gown of coarse,
unbleached calico striped with an occasional red line and marked at
intervals with the broad arrow in tar-like ink; it had long sleeves. We
were also provided with a short, grey flannel dressing-gown and a small
tooth-brush. We were told to undress and to tie up our day clothes in
our aprons, all but the caps; these being both white and starched were
treated with the utmost reverence. I discovered that this arrangement
was most detrimental to the appearance of the apron the next day. Some
prison rules, however trivial and apparently unimportant, are rigidly
enforced, others after the first instructions are never referred to
again. This was one of those, luckily, for an appearance of neatness in
the prisoners depends entirely upon the cap and apron. I soon ventured
upon a different plan of damping the apron over night, folding it
evenly as for ironing and binding it tightly round the heating pipe
whenever I could secure a share of that much sought-after luxury, for
the pipe was not on my side of the ward. This device was successful to
the point of giving me a ludicrous amount of pleasure. When the clothes
were dealt out from the laundry once a week they looked as if they
had been washed in cold water by a child, but the hot-pipe dodge soon
gave them quite a presentable look. In the free world I am accustomed
to sleep in flannel sheets, woollen under-clothes, and a hot bottle,
also with two flannel pillows. The prison equipment was, of course,
not of that order. I took off the dress, stiff petticoat, stays and
neckerchief, but kept on all the rest of the day clothing and wore it
under my night-gown. I also kept on the night-gown in the day time, as
it was the only under-garment with long sleeves. This flagrant break of
the regulations on my part was either not observed or was winked at by
the authorities while I remained in hospital.

The bedsteads were of iron, the bedding much more luxurious than I had
expected--two mattresses, a pillow, three blankets and calico sheets,
unbleached, with red stripes, and marked frequently with the broad
arrow, as was the rest of the bedding. My sheet, where turned over at
the head, had a large stain, as if oil had been dropped upon it. The
stain was dry, but, nevertheless, extremely objectionable to look at.
I remade the bed, putting the other end of the sheet at the top, only
to find that the stains were everywhere. I seem to have been specially
unfortunate in my outfit on arrival, for both this sheet and my flannel
shirt were more revolting in appearance than anything I saw again in
the whole course of my imprisonments. In one respect I was lucky. My
dress skirt, though painted here and there with the broad arrow and not
new, was yet quite clean and of a convenient length; some of us had to
submit to a skirt that touched the ground, an undesirable length in a
place where dust abounds abnormally and no clothes brush is available,
or else so short that the legs were disagreeably exposed and gave
the appearance of a child’s dress. My dress shirt was quite new, had
evidently not been worn before, a luxury which I much appreciated,
since the sleeves were worn next to the skin and it was made of
non-washing material.

At each end of the bed was a small iron shelf. At the head were kept
a pint mug for water, tooth-brush, soap, towel, brush and comb. On
the shelf at the foot were a Bible, prayer book, hymn book, small
devotional book, called “The Narrow Way,” and an instructive book on
domestic hygiene, “A Perfect Home and How To Keep It.” This contained
two chapters on the necessity of perfect ventilation in sleeping
rooms, the want of which gave rise to ceaseless complaints from the
Suffragettes in the cells, and the attempt to instruct prisoners by
means of a book, while denying them the primal need therein declared
to be essential, seemed a cruel as well as a rather ludicrous form of
sarcasm.

We proceeded to undress. I took down my hair, which in those days I
wore puffed out round the head by means of fluffing the inner hair.
The hair brush was of the size and shape of a small shoe brush, black
and with black bristles which, in this particular brush of mine, were
almost worn away. The comb was like a doll’s comb, exactly the size
of my first finger. Though my hair was not particularly abundant,
I struggled in vain for the first two days to get it completely
disentangled with these utterly inadequate tools. There were no looking
glasses anywhere in the prison except, so I heard it rumoured, in the
doctor’s room, but I never saw it when there. I did not attempt to
dress my hair, but did it up in a tight “bun” at the back of my head.
This not only seemed to me most suitable for the prison cap and dress,
but also I had an eye to seizing the advantages of the prison life.
If one was not to have the comforts and luxuries of free, civilised
existence, I thought one had better shed as many as possible of its
burdens; I have always ranked hair dressing as one of these. Some
ex-prisoners had told me that the hair pins we took into prison in
our hair would have to suffice us till our release. Others said that
more could be obtained for the asking. I very soon found out that
asking for extras of this kind generally produced a refusal and often
something of a scolding as well, so that I limited my requests to those
which would, I thought, be of general advantage to others as well as
to myself. I never saw any hair pins being given out, and by the day
of my release my own supply had fallen to three. Despite this lazy
decision on my part I had the greatest admiration for those prisoners
who took a contrary view and who in the teeth of difficulties, such
as no looking glass, an ever-diminishing supply of hair pins, and the
brush and comb as described, yet managed to produce elaborately dressed
heads of hair. Amongst the Suffragettes, a large proportion of them had
remarkably beautiful and abundant hair, which when, towards the end of
my sentence, I saw them in the exercise yard gave me an immense amount
of pleasure. Some of these managed to dress their hair in puffed out
and fashionable ways. Amongst the ordinary prisoners I remember one
in particular who, in the way of hair dressing, excited my admiration
almost to the point of awe. She could boast of no good looks, her face
and her hair were of almost the same shade of pale sand-colour. Through
all the week-days, whenever I saw her, a generous portion of her front
hair was rolled up with bits of the thin, brown toilet paper, of which
a practically unlimited supply is served out to each prisoner, and
which is put to a great variety of uses. On Sunday morning the curl
papers were there as usual, but on Sunday afternoon the bond-hair was
made free and a glory of frizzled hair encircled and brightened her
poor, tired face. This adherence to outer-world Sabbatarian tradition
and conformity to the requirements of orthodox public opinion had a
meaning, an artistic and moral expression almost, in prison, such
as they lack when occurring in ordinary life. The good-will and
neighbourliness of which, no doubt, they were the outward symbol, had
met with their reward, for this woman was allowed a share in some of
the more privileged duties of the prison service.

I felt very tired as I laid down in the bed, but my brain was screwed
to a pitch of nervous excitement that drove away all possibility of
sleep. The bed and pillow were stonily hard. My pulses beat against the
pillow; the stuffing of it gave back a sort of rattling echo to every
beat. A naked gas jet immediately in front of my eyes was alight all
night. At a long table underneath it sat a wardress reading or sewing
at her own clothes. One of the patients in a bed next but one to mine
seemed to be very ill. She tossed and turned continually, as if in a
high fever, and her voice sounded parched as she coughed or called out
in a half delirious sleep. My distress for her grew as I watched her.
The wardress took not the smallest notice of her. I kept on scheming
as to how I could help her, but my courage repeatedly failed me. At
last I could bear it no longer. I went up to her bed and whispered, “Is
there anything I can do for you?” She answered, “I should like a little
water.” I took the pint mug of white earthenware from the shelf behind
her. It was empty; I took it to the wardress. “May I get that patient
some water?” I asked. She nodded assent. I went to a washing-stand with
two jugs and basins on it that stood against the wall opposite the
entrance door. The wardress beckoned to me and pointed towards another
door which led to a small vestibule giving on to a sink and lavatory.
This door was kept locked in the day time, but now it was open, another
door leading from the vestibule to the landing being locked at night.
I drew some fresh water from the tap. The water in Holloway seemed
to be like mountain water, better than any I have ever tasted in a
town--I suppose because the dry air in prison combined with much dust
makes one very thirsty. The prisoner thanked me most gratifyingly and
told me she was very ill with influenza. I ventured to whisper before
leaving her, “Are you a Suffragette?” “Rather,” came the prompt reply,
and her face brightened at the word. She was a nurse, Miss Povey, of
the Freedom League. The wardress herself had a hard, hacking, bronchial
cough, which must have hurt her a good deal. I longed to suggest
various things to her to ease it, but I had not the courage. Though I
was immensely tired, all possibility of sleep seemed to go further and
further from me, and I was too much on view for my thoughts to rest
on my home and our people. Finally, I settled down to watching the
wardress and the other prisoners, and wondering who they were and what
their crimes. I had never seen many people in bed at night before. It
was amusing to watch their various ways of lying and gestures, but none
of them seemed to be really asleep, or only for very short spells at a
time. The wardress had meals brought to her, and there would be short
snatches of whispered conversation with the wardress who brought them
in. It seemed to me that it must be an appalling way of passing one’s
time. There was not the interest of a night nurse nor the excitement of
a policeman on the beat. There was a large clock at one end of the ward
above a swing door leading to a lavatory. It was an unexpected luxury
to be able to watch the time.



CHAPTER VI

THE HOSPITAL


At about 5.15 a.m. the stillness of the prison was broken by many
sounds. One of the unexpected things in prison life are the number of
sounds one hears which one cannot interpret at the time, and which are
never accounted for afterwards. One early morning sound, or rather
wrenching noise, seemed to come from the ward or passages below our
own, as if a giant iron fender, with the fireirons loose and rattling
within it, were being dragged from one end of the building to the other.

At home I am no early riser, and I had looked forward with most
cowardly dread to the prison routine in this respect. The puritanical
elements in my character, which hitherto had failed to drill the rest
of me on this point, took on a triumphant air of sanctimonious glee
with the expectation that a fundamental reform would be wrought in me
by at least this portion of my punishment. But neither the fears of
my vices nor the hopes of my virtues were realised. To rise at 5.30
requires no heroism, under any conditions, when you have been allowed
to retire to rest at 6.30 or even earlier; but when in addition your
bed is extremely uncomfortable, your pillow seems stuffed with thunder,
you have with difficulty been able to keep warm, and when you have
scarcely been able to sleep a wink all night, then the virtue necessary
to make you rise early is _nil_.

At 5.30 punctually, a little 3rd Division prisoner, who slept in one of
the infirmary cells along our passage, came in to clean the grate and
light the fire. She moved very quickly and did her work with precision
and dexterity. She had a most attractive and lovable face, refined
features and a beautiful expression. I wondered for what crime she had
been sent to prison. She wore several stripes on her arm denoting good
conduct during a protracted sentence.

Soon after this the wardress came near my bed and said it was time to
get up. She told me to make my bed and gave me what she called a duster
for the purpose of cleaning the iron bedstead. The duster was a strip
of thick sail-cloth, which moved the dust but refused to absorb it. I
dusted every part of the iron, turned the mattresses and re-made the
bed. A thin counterpane of blue check gave a rather pleasing finish.
This had to be folded in a particular way at the foot of the bed so as
to fall over the side in rectangular fashion. The wardress came up to
show me how to do it. It required a certain dodge which pleased me very
much, as did all the other old-maidish fads of the kind in the prison
routine. But I found that no two experts achieved this bed-cover fold
in quite the same way. On that first morning several of the prisoners,
two wardresses, and one of the overseeing wardresses (“officers” is the
correct term) came up to my bed and refolded the corners of the bed
cover, saying, “You haven’t got that quite right,” or “That’s wrong;
this is the way you should do it.”

We took it in turns to wash. Hot water was brought by the 3rd Division
servant of the ward in jugs. There were two crockery basins on the
washing-stand, which stood against the wall in the centre of the ward.
Such appointments seemed positively luxurious, but one detail was
sorely lacking, and its absence marred all the rest--privacy.

When dressed a superintendent “officer” came into the ward. She looked
extremely severe. She asked, “Had I dusted my bed thoroughly before I
made it?” “Yes.” “Had I turned up the movable half of the iron frame,
and dusted it underneath?” “No, I did not know there was a part that
turned up.” She said that was wrong, that another morning I must be
sure and do it, but she did not tell me to make the bed again. I was
fortunate, for I heard afterwards that this same officer took hold of
the bedclothes and threw them all off without explaining to their owner
anything of what it was about.

Breakfast was brought in at about 6.30. The patients who were well
enough to be out of bed laid the cloth and put out plates from a small
cupboard hung on the wall near the door. Then a wardress and two 3rd
Division prisoners carried in the hot milk and tea in large cans,
loaves of bread, a small supply of butter and boiled eggs. The tea
was ladled out from the cans with a long tin spoon and poured into
the earthenware mugs. It looked as if it must make a great mess, but
was always very skilfully done. The mugs and plates, I was pleased to
notice, were made of leadless glaze. In ordinary life I have always
considered hot boiled milk a very disagreeable drink, but that
morning, after the long wide-awake night, it seemed to me positive
nectar. In hospital we were allowed white bread; it was of excellent
quality, made of seconds flour. Tea and eggs are no part of my diet,
so I was limited to the milk and bread and butter, but they were dealt
out abundantly, all except the butter, which was fresh and of fairly
good quality. Those of us who were well sat at the table all together
and waited on the patients in bed. We were not supposed to talk to
each other, but we were allowed to communicate to a certain extent in
whispers. We were very much amused at each other’s appearance in the
strange clothes and cap.

After breakfast we cleared the table, the gate of the ward was unlocked
and we carried the crockery to baskets on the floor in the passage.
From there the 3rd Division prisoners took them and washed them out in
the bath room cell next door. The hospital wardress had to stand at
the gate all the time that we were doing this. Some wardresses allowed
us sometimes to come and go freely; others, or the same wardresses on
different days, would allow only one of us out of the ward at a time.
This and all other rules of the kind would hardly ever be told to us in
so many words, but suddenly the wardress would step out and block the
way, laying her hand upon us without a word as if we were animals. This
being handled when there is no occasion for it seems very insulting.
Like all these prison methods, it seemed curious and interesting when
first done to oneself, but aroused a feeling of indignation when one
saw it being done to others. It gave one the feeling of belonging to a
race apart, something degraded and imbecile, despised not only for the
particular crime one had committed but as an all-round inferior being.
The moral influence of this kind of treatment is rubbed in afresh
through every hour of prison life and has a bad moral influence on both
prisoners and wardresses. It seemed, moreover, quite unnecessary.

After breakfast the chief wardress who had reproved us for not lifting
up the movable section of the beds, beckoned me to her--“Take off your
slippers. Bring your shoes; you have to go before the Senior Medical
Officer.” This made me anxious. I knew quite well that I was not in a
state of ill-health to cause the release of an ordinary prisoner; I
knew, too, that many suffrage prisoners had been kept in prison when
much more seriously ill than I was. But I remembered the specially
constructed rule which had sanctioned a letter being delivered to
me, and I was on the look-out for more privileges of the kind. The
wish was strong in me to have personal experience of the inflictions
which a Liberal Government thought suitable to woman Suffragists, to
share every incident of the treatment which my leaders and friends
had suffered in our cause and to gain some experience of prison life
from within for the sake of one day being equipped to work for prison
reforms.

Outside the ward I was told to put on my shoes. I hated those shoes
with the vigorous hatred of a child. The laces had no tags, my fingers
were very cold, and being hurried up by the wardress made them the more
awkward. I was given a cloak of green cloth and taken downstairs.
The staircase was of stone and, with my feet encased in these thick
unyielding shoes, I was afraid of slipping. I laid my hand on the
banister to steady myself. “If you must have hold of that rail, can’t
you use the uprights? Don’t you see the top’s polished, you’ll soil
it.” This remark was made by the wardress who shouted past me with a
sort of bark. At the foot of the stairs she pulled at my cloak, “Got
it on inside out, is that how you mean to wear it?” This was said in
the same voice, but I thought I caught something of a twinkle in her
eye as if she were not without a sense of humour and would welcome an
appeal to the same. I noted this for future experimenting, but was at
the moment unable to take advantage of it. I felt mentally stunned,
physically cowed, morally indignant, a blend of sensations which I
think must be common to many prisoners.

The doctor’s room was a sort of office well lit by several large
windows. The Senior Medical Officer was a different man from the doctor
who had inspected us the previous night. I had expected a struggle
on the question of tonics, but to my delight he quickly agreed that
I should survive without drugs. He spoke in an ordinary voice, his
expression of face and the things he said were quite natural, he
treated me as though I were an ordinary mortal. After even twelve hours
of prison customs this seemed a remarkable and gladdening thing. Up
till that moment I had incessantly wished that I should some day be
able to tell the officials the entirely harmful impression conveyed
by their manner to the prisoners. It was obvious that this official
manner was quite detached from the individual personality of those
who assumed it. They looked and spoke in this way, not to serve their
private ends, but in compliance with some strangely mistaken tradition,
as a matter of conformity. When under the heel of it, one felt a
conviction that no reform of prison regulations would alter the maiming
influence of prison life until this tradition were altered. Now, on
the contrary, I felt equally desirous of proclaiming that here was an
individual with an innate gift to usefully fill the part of prison
official; he had mastered the fundamental matter of treating prisoners
as he would treat other human beings. I think this doctor tried some
slight persuasion to obtain my release by consenting to be bound over.
He quickly saw, however, that my imprisonment was not due to any hasty
or unconsidered act, and he did not press the matter for long.

It was agreed that I should go back to bed for the benefit of my heart
condition. After the prolonged strain I was only too glad to do this.
The morning, however, was taken up with many visits of inspection.
The Governor made his rounds in a formal way and never relaxed his
official muscles, but he seemed kindly, nevertheless, and I felt sorry
for him having to play what I supposed was a disagreeable game for him.
The matron wore a quite different expression from when I had seen her
the evening before. She looked very tired, and I wondered whether any
part of her work gave her satisfaction. The Chaplain, too, looked ill
and I thought what a harrowing life his must be, always pouring out
sympathy for sorrows and sufferings that he had no power to relieve.
He came up to my bed with a smile and said, in a voice well-flavoured
with contempt: “Well, you must have done something very wicked to
find yourself in here?” I was surprised, supposed he meant it for a
joke; supposed, too, that possibly from his point of view it was an
entirely comic thing that we should be in prison. But it seemed odd
that his imagination and sympathy should not at least have led him to
inquire first what was our point of view in the matter, and he seemed
not to consider it possible that our actions should have entailed
self-sacrifice and the pain of bringing anxiety to those we loved. I
answered: “If I had thought what I did very wicked, I should not have
done it.”

At ten o’clock hot milk was again brought into the ward for those who
wished for it, also fruit, but, to my great relief, this was optional.
The morning was taken up with cleaning the ward. The 3rd Division
prisoner by a series of processes and with the aid of a long-handled
polisher, first swept, then beeswaxed, then polished the wooden floor.
She did it with the skill of an expert and her graceful gestures were
a pleasure to watch. She never paused for a moment in her work except
when the entry of some official necessitated a temporary suspension.

Then followed a polishing of metal fixtures and dusting of the walls,
shelves, books, etc. To my great joy, the patients not in bed were
ordered to take part in the dusting. It was a means of practising
my favourite hobby of cleaning, also of keeping warm, of helping
the little 3rd Division prisoner, and occasionally exchanging a
whispered word with her, though this was rarely achieved. The dust
was continuously stirred throughout the morning, moved from the floor,
then from the wall. The grey fluff that came from the bedding and
floated about the floor gathered a certain amount of dust as it was
swept up and eventually burnt in the fire, but no damping or reasonable
process to get rid of the dust was used, so that shelves, books, beds,
were no sooner dusted than they were again covered as before. On one
or two occasions I ventured to damp my duster, but this, of course,
made it very dirty, which result met with disfavour. It was no doubt
felt that as the more vigorous patients had nothing much better to
do, they might as well go on dusting throughout the morning. In an
ordinary home the daily processes of sweeping and dusting always seem
to me absurdly laborious, elaborate and inadequate; the workers at
these household crafts having had so little share in the application of
modern invention to their toil, and little appeal on behalf of public
service and utility has been made to women of higher education and
greater leisure than the workers themselves. The housecraft of prison,
as one watched it day by day, pressed one’s thoughts on to the subject.
The collecting of dust by means of damp cloths immediately followed by
a dry rubber would certainly be more effective.

At about twelve the midday food was served, it was the most solid
meal in the twenty-four hours. It consisted every day of fried fish,
potatoes, cabbage, bread, butter and a custard pudding or boiled rice
pudding made with eggs. I, being a vegetarian, did not eat fish. After
some days I had the courage to ask for a rice pudding made without
eggs and was allowed this. The food was good and well cooked, but the
absolute monotony of the bill of fare was a great trial to some of the
prisoners, more especially the bed patients.

In the afternoon, those who were allowed out exercised for an hour
walking round and round a yard with high walls to it. We were exercised
at a different time from ordinary prisoners. We were not allowed to
talk to each other and had to walk single file one behind the other at
a given distance apart. As there were never more than four or five of
us from the hospital a certain amount of laxness was allowed. We could
go our own pace, the faster walkers from time to time overtaking the
slower and now and then one was allowed to stop and lean up against
the wall. The weather was cold, we had frost and snow, during most of
my time in Holloway, and being used to furs, gloves and muffs, I felt
the cold very much especially in my hands. The only extra garment for
out of doors was an unlined cloth cape with hood attached. This was
warmer than it looked. I used to do arm exercises as I walked to stir
my blood. The discomfort of the shoes prevented any joy in walking,
there was no yield in the soles and the hard leather pressed the feet
in a way to make every footstep a consideration. I have sensitive feet
and may have suffered more in this respect than others, but to judge
from appearance the tread and gait of all prisoners is laborious and
artificial, affecting the hang of the whole body, on account of the
shoes.

I did not go out for the first two or three days. In the afternoon
the sense of fatigue overcame one. Unless the patients were ill enough
to undress and get into bed, they were not allowed to lie on it, we,
however, sometimes sat on a chair close to the bed, leaned our heads
upon the pillow and slept.

Some read books, others did needlework, others tended the bed patients.

I am a little deaf, and found it a tiring business after no sleep
at night to hold intercourse by means of whispers, the only form
of conversation allowed, but nevertheless this was far the most
interesting occupation available. People are inclined to be
communicative, although total strangers to each other, when cut off
from their homes and friends and all sharing the same fate. I heard
life stories in Holloway hospital that would fill many novels. I
wondered, as I have always done, how it is that people can trouble to
read books when romance, adventure, comedy, tragedy and pathos are to
hand at all times in more living form and with far greater variety of
event and character.

At about five the supper was brought in, the food being the same as
at breakfast. I sometimes kept back a potato from the midday meal to
eat cold with the bread and butter. As soon as this was cleared away
we were let out in turns to the bath-room, where a hot foot bath was
provided, and privacy. This was a most welcome luxury. Two mornings
after we had been in, a screen was put round the washing table so that
the morning ablutions became more effective. From this time forward I
experienced nothing to complain of in the washing line.

These first days of prison, although immensely interesting, were,
nevertheless, longer in point of time than anything I remember in life,
not excluding early childhood. The novelty of every detail and the fact
that observation was sharpened to a pitch only known at moments of
great emotion, no doubt partly accounted for this.

I knew that my eldest sister had intended to come and visit me as soon
as she could get a permit; I supposed she would have no difficulty.
The first and second day went by and she did not come. I became a
prey to a morbid depression of spirits. Being completely cut off from
previous existence, one rapidly fell into the belief that all friends
and belongings had discarded and forgotten one. This state of mind was
one of the most melancholy experiences of prison. It seems childish and
absurdly unreasonable when remembered after release. It nevertheless
was bitterly real at the time, and a few hours within prison walls were
sufficient to develop the illusion. As with so many other prisoner
sensations, it is akin to child life, engendered from complete
helplessness, subjection to others, ignorance and uninformedness as to
what is happening outside the cramped horizon of the life to which one
is subject. The sense of continuous expectancy and comfort for present
distressful monotony in the belief that undreamed of good might happen
at any moment is also very similar to the mental outlook of children.

The next day, February 26, Mrs. Pethick Lawrence was summoned out of
the ward. She came back radiant, having had a visit from her husband.
Her happiness and the news she brought back of the outer world shed
joy upon us all, but, nevertheless, I had the feeling all the more
strongly that my own people had forgotten me, since they, I argued,
could have obtained the same privileges as Mr. Lawrence. The ordinary
prisoner is usually allowed a visitor only after the first month of the
sentence has expired.

The members of the Freedom League were in great excitement, expecting
that their leader would be coming to prison that day and very likely
be sent to hospital. She had been arrested at the head of a deputation
when the other members of the Freedom League had been imprisoned, but
her case had been remanded. In the afternoon the prayer card at the
head of one of the spare beds was altered to one of Roman Catholic
prayers. This was taken to indicate beyond doubt the coming of Mrs.
Despard. I read the Roman Catholic card and thought it compared
favourably, in point of suitability to prisoners, with the selection
made by the Church of England. The hymns, biblical passages and prayers
were more tender and personal and less concerned with misdoing. They
were rather childish, but, as I have pointed out, prisoners resemble
children.

In the evening, when the curfew hour of our bedtime was already past, a
stranger prisoner, a very remarkable looking woman with white hair, a
fine face, and stately carriage came into the ward, and was immediately
recognised by her followers as their deservedly beloved leader. She
came up to greet Mrs. Lawrence, and they were about to shake hands with
cordiality when the wardress interfered, angrily forbidding them to
touch one another.

When the poison basket came round that night, I noticed with
admiration and envy Mrs. Despard’s dignified but effectively determined
refusal of the proffered tonic. She discarded the hospital whisper and
said out loud to the drug dispenser: “I have never taken medicine in
my life and I am not going to begin now; I will explain to the doctor
to-morrow.” She was a most vigorous lady. I have never heard of a
prisoner before or since who slept soundly through the first night of
sentence. She walked round the exercise yard, too, at a pace beyond my
powers. I was fortunate in achieving one very interesting conversation
with her, when she told me of how the women’s workrooms instituted
under the recent Local Government Board’s Central Unemployment Fund had
been closed down, on the ground that they were not self-supporting,
although they were worked at less loss and at far less cost per head
than some of the workshops for unemployed male workers. £28,000 was
said to have been spent on one farm colony for men which had produced
only £1,000 return. Yet there was no complaint, no talk of closing
down because of its unremunerative character. £750 had been allotted
for widows’ and single women’s workrooms. These, too, were worked at a
loss as there was not sufficient sale for the clothes they made, and
because of this loss, small in total and far smaller in proportion than
in the men’s work, the room was closed. To our great surprise Mrs.
Despard was released “on medical grounds,” after serving only a week of
her sentence, although she was in robust health. The weekly paper _The
Christian Commonwealth_ had taken up her case and the House of Commons
was circularised by the editor, Mr. Dawson. This is supposed to have
moved the Home Office to clemency.

One of the patients who slept in a separate cell, but came to the
ward for meals, had a particularly attractive face and personality.
She was exceptionally gentle and courteous in her manner, but her
outward calm nevertheless suggested a reserve of inward force; her
eyes had a way of lighting up suddenly with sympathy, pathos, or fun.
I longed to have a free talk with her. Her name was Mrs. Clarke; she
was one of three Suffragettes, the others being Miss Irene Dallas and
Miss Douglas Smith, who had been arrested on a deputation to Downing
Street on January 24. I had sent in my name for the larger deputation
to the House of Commons. I had been invited to go instead on this
smaller one to Downing Street, but I had refused. When I saw the women
afterwards who had undertaken this much more disagreeable job than
mine, I felt again thoroughly ashamed of myself. I should say they were
all three unusually sensitive to the odiousness of the errand which
had appalled me to the point of shirking it. I did not realise until
after she had left the prison that Mrs. Clarke was a sister of Mrs.
Pankhurst.[5] These three were released on the morning of February 27.
We could just hear the sounds of their welcome and the band playing the
_Marseillaise_ outside the prison, but, of course, could see nothing
through the high, grained-glass windows. One was filled with a great
longing to join them. This was after only thirty-six hours of prison,
I imagined what it must be to those under long sentences when a fellow
prisoner is released.

  FOOTNOTE: [5] Mrs. Clarke was released from Holloway the second time
  on December 23, 1910. She died on December 25, 1910.

On that day, Saturday, at about the time for our exercise, one of
the superior officers came into the ward and, singling me out from
the others, ordered me to leave my slippers, bring my shoes to put
on outside and follow her. I had already learnt the order of the
daily routine, and every event that was slightly exceptional filled
me with hope that my turn had come for a “visitor,” but I had had
several disappointments in this line and so steeled myself not to
expect too readily. I was taken across the yard of the main entrance
and ushered through a part of the prison where I had not been before
to a row of rooms looking like small offices with glass doors, giving
on to a passage. On the door to which I was led was written the word
“Solicitor,” and almost before I had time for joyous conjectures as
to who my “visitor” could be, the door was opened and my sister,
Betty Balfour, was facing me. It was like seeing the sun after a long
time of darkness. I only then realised to what an extent the gloom of
prison surroundings and anxiety about my home people had taken hold
of my mind. The sight of my sister did not dispel them, but seemed
to take me from within their grip to an independent position outside
of them, the physical trials of my fellow Suffragettes in our ward,
the anti-happiness get up of the prison building, clothing, food,
equipment, and the general vitality-destroying framework of the prison
system and its officials, seemed suddenly to be a thing apart from me
instead of one with my very self.

We were told to seat ourselves on opposite sides of a small table and
not to touch each other nor pass anything from one to the other. The
door was left open and the wardress sat just outside so as to hear,
and if necessary control our communications. She was a benignant,
kindly woman whom I had not seen before; she reminded me of Madeleine
de Rohan, of the Theatre Français, in _Le Monde où l’on s’ennui_.
She was dignified, gentle, sympathetic. I was nevertheless afraid of
her, or rather of the office which she filled, and wished her miles
away. I never saw her again, either during my month in Holloway or on
the many occasions when I have since revisited it on behalf of other
prisoners. I have tried several times to write down my impressions
of this “visit” from my sister. I have to own myself beaten. The joy
of it seems so exaggerated, I cannot trust myself to convey it for
publication. All prison sensations are exaggerated from the point of
view of those out of prison, that is their essential characteristic.
Still more exaggerated must a genuine description of them seem to a
prison official who is used to witness without sharing them. For men
and women who have experienced them, it is never again possible to
discredit their intensity or to be contemptuous towards those who try
to give expression to them. My own recollections of prison are isolated
from other parts of my life by a kind of halo of reverence. Awe comes
over me whenever they are in my mind; this awe and reverence are twice
as powerful in connection with those moments when joy had her turn,
and these rare occasions of gladness outweigh from their importance the
much more numerous experiences of gloom, anxiety, anger and physical
suffering.

After twenty minutes of eager and joyful ecstasy of communication,
during which I drank in the sight and sound of my sister’s loved
personality, the wardress told us that our time was up and I was taken
away. My sister and I were allowed to kiss each other before parting.
When I got back to hospital I had three very distinct sensations.
That of having experienced a good thing which was over; distress at
not being able to impart my joy to my companions nor discuss it with
them, since none of them knew my sister; indignation when I realised
that no ordinary prisoner, who needed the help of joy so much more
than I did, and no Suffragette prisoner without influential friends,
would be able to have a similar experience until after the first
month of imprisonment. In the practical sense more especially, for
the settlement of business and family affairs, it is on first being
imprisoned that letters and interviews are needed by prisoners.

The glow of my own happiness, however, triumphed over all else until
bed time, when with a perversity born, I suppose, of the accumulated
fatigue of recent days and nights, the one flaw in my sister’s
visit came uppermost in my thoughts and possessed my brain with an
unconquerable tyranny. Some days before the deputation, she had been
in correspondence with a leading Conservative M.P., one whose lifelong
belief in Woman Suffrage had become a little rusty. The questions he
put to my sister proved that he had not kept pace with recent events
in the movement and was unaware of the tremendous demand made by women
themselves for the vote as evidenced by the resolutions, petitions,
and unreceived deputations of organised societies of working and
professional women, quite apart from the unions that had sprung up
everywhere expressly in support of the Suffrage. I had sent her a
collection of printed evidence to this effect for the benefit of her
correspondent and I inquired of her eagerly that afternoon as to the
result. She told me that she had unfortunately lost the papers. I was
annoyed and wasted several minutes of our precious time together in
reproof. The memory of my anger came back to me now in exaggerated
dimensions. Why had I allowed myself to be reproachful to her? She had
been so dear to me, so prompt and efficient in her efforts to come and
see me, so comforting in her wealth of sympathy, and I had rewarded her
with reproaches! As I went back over the scene, my heart was wrung with
longing to send her some little message of good-will and my inability
to do so appeared to me then as nothing short of a tragedy. For the
fiftieth time in those first hours of imprisonment I seemed to be and
to feel like a child, at the mercy of fluctuating emotions extreme in
their intensity. I longed to be alone, but that night the ward patients
kept unusually wide awake and I had to restrain myself over and over
again. As the night wore on, the avenue of beds became less troubled, a
sense of privacy grew in proportion and at last I gave way to my grief
and sobbed. I covered my face in the bedclothes, but in spite of this
precaution the wardress heard me and before long she came and stood by
my side. I expected a scolding. She very seldom took any notice of the
patients till morning, I knew it was her business to reprove me, but on
looking up at her face I saw that the customary mask-like expression
had vanished. She was kind, she inquired tenderly why I was crying,
sat down on my bed and held my hands, told me that my sister would not
remember my reproaches but would be unhappy if she knew of my present
distress. She did not laugh at me, she showed as much sympathy as a
friend. It was a great surprise. She stayed talking to me in whispers
for a considerable time, though looking continually towards the door as
if in fear of being detected in a kindness, for through the night as
through the day, she was liable to unseen inspection through the locked
gate and open door, or through the spy-hole of the door when closed.
I was most deeply grateful to her, it was a delightful discovery that
underneath her rigid exterior she was an unspoiled human being. I
longed to return her kindness and ventured to propose that I should rub
her chest to ease her hacking cough. At first she would not hear of it,
but at last, after I had fetched some ointment from the bed-head of
one of the patients who had a cough, she consented and allowed me to
open her dress. She seemed much afraid and told me she would probably
be dismissed if we were seen. My attempts to allay her distress eased
my own mind of its childish trouble, for which reason she had probably
allowed me to help her. I would gladly have talked to her all night
about prisoners, the working conditions of wardresses, her own life,
but this, of course, was forbidden. She soon went back to her table,
her face resumed its former expression and I never again held any
intercourse with her. If the horrors of prison existence are enshrined
in an atmosphere of nightmare, the rare happy moments have the glamour
of a good dream. This kind act of the night-wardress remains as one of
the sunlit flower patches of my time in Holloway.

The next morning after the superior officer had been her rounds taking
temperatures, she beckoned me to her. “What have you been complaining
about?” she asked sharply. “I haven’t been complaining,” I answered.
“Yes, you have--you complained of something to a visitor.” I then
remembered that, when reassuring my sister as to my health and to
prove to her the genuineness of my statements as to prison conditions
being in no way harmful to me, I had mentioned two things which proved
rather trying, viz., that my underclothes and stockings were too short
to cover my knees, and the fact that one small towel had to do service
for all purposes during a week. I reported this to the wardress, but
explained that I had mentioned these not in complaint but to prove to
my sister that my discomforts were insignificant. “Well,” she retorted,
“next time you have anything to complain of come to me with it--if
not I shall get into trouble.” This seemed the very reverse of prison
regulations, for usually the trouble was caused by anything out of the
ordinary being granted to a prisoner. From that time forward I was
supplied with two towels, one of them renewed every week, and two rolls
of flannel bandages were brought to me to cover my knees. I supposed
that the ordinary cells, to which I expected soon to be transferred,
would be much colder than the hospital, so I held the flannel bandages
in reserve. After I came out of prison I heard that my family were
troubled, knowing how dependent I was upon warm underclothes,
especially at night. My eldest brother had interviewed the head of the
Prison Commissioners Department, Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Brise, who had said
that I should at once be supplied with bed-socks. Bed-socks, of course,
do not grow in prisons. They were represented, I suppose, by my flannel
bandages, but the official statement had the desired result of quieting
my family’s anxiety.



CHAPTER VII

SOME TYPES OF PRISONERS


There was no chapel for us on Sunday and it seemed an unusually long
day. My thoughts yearned towards my home people, and I rehearsed
the joy of my sister’s visit over and over again. The excitement of
seeing her had now given way to a wholesome and relaxed fatigue and
I looked forward to another night with a sure expectation of sleep.
In the evening at about six o’clock, our bed time, a new patient was
brought into the ward. She was carried in by 3rd Division prisoners,
helped by a head officer, sitting upright in an ordinary armchair with
carrying poles attached to the arms. She looked extremely ill and ashy
pale. She was evidently in great pain, though she did not groan or
call out. There was nothing in the way she was treated to suggest a
surgical case, and I concluded that she had been brought in for some
fever or acute internal complaint; from the look on her face I thought
it not unlikely that she might die in the night. She was a stranger
to me and after the first few minutes my instinct was to turn away
and not look at her, remembering the distressing sense of publicity
which I myself had felt so acutely on first coming to hospital. The
news quickly spread in the ward that she was a member of the Freedom
League, by name Mrs. Meredith Macdonald. She had several friends in
the ward, but they scarcely recognised her when she was first brought
in. They told me that she had fallen down that morning in the exercise
yard, which was slippery from frost, and had injured her leg at the
hip joint. I soon got to know her myself and talked much with her. No
nurse was in attendance on her during the night, only the ordinary
night officer (wardress). The anguish of acute suffering in this
newcomer and her harrowingly unassisted condition, drove all thoughts
of my own people from my mind and all question of sleep from my eyes.
The accident had taken place at about 9.30 a.m. She had slipped over a
small gutter and fallen with great suddenness to the ground. She lay
for several minutes stunned in the snow. The wardress in charge ordered
her to “go into the middle,” where those who cannot walk fast drag
round in a smaller circle, but she did not attempt to move. Some of her
fellow prisoners came to her assistance, they were immediately ordered
away by the officers. She looked across the yard to the wardress of her
own corridor who then came to help her. “I have hurt my thigh,” she
said; “I think I had better go in.” The wardress answered, “Very well.”
As soon as she began to walk she felt pain in the hip bone and put
her hand on the wardress’s shoulder for support. It was a very short
distance to her block (D X) of the building and on reaching it she was
handed over to another wardress who suggested she should sit down and
rest before going up to her cell. She was about to do this when her
right leg collapsed completely under her and she would have fallen,
but that a wardress held her up and put her into a chair. She was then
told to go upstairs “before you get any stiffer.” The leg was useless,
but by help of the double banisters she hopped up two flights to her
cell, an older wardress from the upper corridor lending her assistance.
She had no control over her foot and said to the elder wardress that
there must be something wrong. The wardress answered, “I am afraid
you have injured the muscles and that is a very painful thing,” and
offered to put her to bed. She could not face the additional pain of
being undressed. About half an hour later a doctor and the hospital
superintendent visited her, and she was subjected to extreme pain by a
reckless testing. She herself suspected a fracture and suggested having
recourse to X-rays as the only means of satisfactorily testing this.
She pleaded the special need in her case of, if possible, retaining her
walking power on account of her young children. The doctor sent her
a draught to ease the pain, but this was quite ineffective. She lay
in her cell all day unable to keep still for long on account of the
pressure of the injured part on the mattress, and yet every move was
exquisitely painful. In the evening the doctor came again and renewed
his agonising overhauling. She was then removed to hospital, the chair
in which they carried her, having no foot rest, the injured leg came in
frequent contact with the porters, causing her the intensest pain. It
is not surprising that she looked more dead than alive on reaching the
ward.

The injury and the rough methods of investigation combined produced a
feverish and most painful condition in the patient. The case was taken
over by another doctor (Dr. Sullivan) who at least handled the injury
much less brutally, but no attempt was made to treat it surgically.
A slight wound in the lower part of the leg was occasionally dressed
and bandaged by the hospital wardress, who visited us twice a day
when temperatures were taken and drugs distributed. There was no
other nursing whatever. The doctor’s examinations consisted only of
measurements to compare the length of the injured leg with the healthy
one. Nothing was done, in recognition of fracture, to reset the bones
or keep the limb in one position, no weight was applied to stretch
the shorter injured leg; there seemed to be no aim in the doctor’s
recommendations beyond that of helping to restore a bruised bone by
as nearly a natural use of it as the patient could be urged to make.
A circular air-cushion was supplied and extra pillows; also a night
table by the side of the patient’s bed, and a bed pan was kept in the
ward which could be used for bed-patients with the voluntary assistance
either of the wardress in charge or of the fellow-prisoners. Mrs.
Macdonald was kept in bed for the first few days, but the extremely
painful pressure from lying on the injured bone with the legs in
flat position caused her incessant restlessness, and before long she
begged leave to get up and sit in an armchair. This was allowed and
soon she was urged to move about, walk and use the leg as much as
possible. In spite of the most heroic efforts, the last recommendation
was impossible. She moved about leaning on a chair by way of crutch
and getting up or sitting down with the help of her fellow-prisoners.
The complete loss of control over the injured leg pointed, in my
estimation, to much more serious harm than mere bruising. I felt the
greatest indignation from that first evening of her entrance among us
at the way this prisoner was treated. Her suggestion about the X-rays
was ignored, her request to the Governor, and eventually her petition
to the Home Secretary, that she might be visited by her own doctor was
refused. When the doctors talked with her about her case they seemed to
pay no attention to her own views, but rather accentuated the official
prison manner of ignoring individuals as though she had been a child or
an irresponsible person. Yet there was no trace of exaggeration or a
tendency to work up grievances over her own case. Through all her acute
and continuous physical suffering she showed keen powers of observation
and a sense of humour that constantly relieved the nightmare of horror
with which I watched her pain. Her heroism under physical suffering
surpassed anything I have ever come across or imagined possible. During
the nights I was with her in the ward, about four or five, I slept very
little myself and whenever I looked at her she was awake. I did not
once see her asleep by day or night while I was with her in prison. It
is only since seeing her in free life that I have been able to compare
her face under normal conditions and realised the intensity of distress
which must have caused the continually strained expression she had in
Holloway, varied at times by contortions due to acute pain. Yet she
spoke little of her sufferings, seldom complained of anything, never
once was irritable under her trials or indignant at the treatment of
them, never once groaned or cried. She was uniformly patient, gentle,
self-contained, considerate of others.

I still was unable to get any sleep at night, but when a few days had
gone by I ventured to make up my bed so that I faced the wall instead
of the ward. This gave a greater sense of privacy and sheltered my
eyes from the blinding light of the naked gas jet. I very much missed
a habit I have of doing various physical exercises before going to
bed. About halfway through the night I made amends for this by going
to the little ante-room near the sink and lavatory, the door of which
communicating with the ward was left unlocked at night. Here, taking it
corner ways, there was just room for me to stretch my arms full length.
I consider it was thanks to this midnight practice that I was able to
keep my digestion in better order than is usual among prisoners.

Hospital patients are not allowed to go to the daily service in chapel,
but occasionally we were taken down to a morning service, in the nature
of family prayers, which was held in the ward below ours. This was
given over mostly to feeble-minded patients, several of whom were in
bed. My place was always the same, close to the bed of a woman whose
face will haunt me, I think, as long as I live. I never saw her move,
she lay quite flat, her head alone appearing above the bed clothes.
She took no part in the service and seemed to be unconscious of it.
She was young, her skin was remarkably smooth and devoid of expressive
lines, but yellow as if she had jaundice. Her appearance illustrated
to me the meaning of despair more clearly than I have seen it hitherto
in any living being. She was entirely passive and unresentful, but if
hope had tried to enter into her mind it would find no lodging there.
It seemed to me that neither life nor death had anything to offer her,
nor was there anything she possessed of which they could rob her. While
I stood or sat through the service my back was turned on her, but when
I knelt down I was facing her. One could not feel pity for her--there
was a rigid dignity and detachedness about her as of someone living
in an atmosphere different from our own. All my thoughts and prayers
were bent towards her, but I never had the sensation of in any way
communicating with her.

I noticed regretfully that there were no hymns, hardly any passages
from the Bible were read, the prayers selected were of a dolorous
order, and the greater part of the time was taken up by an address
from the chaplain. He spoke to us of the temptation in the wilderness,
how that Christ was tempted in the same way that we are, but that
He was good and we were bad. He instanced how wrong it would be if,
when we were hungry, we yielded to the temptation of stealing bread.
At this remark an old woman stood up. She was tall and gaunt, her
face seamed with life, her hands gnarled and worn with work. One saw
that whatever her crimes might have been she had evidently toiled
incessantly. At this moment her face wore an expression of strained
intensity as though some irresistible tide of inward emotion had forced
her to act. The tears streamed down her furrowed cheeks as she said
in a pleading, reverent voice, “Oh, sir, don’t be so hard on us.” The
wardresses immediately came up to her, took her by the shoulders and
hustled her out of the ward; we never saw her again. The Chaplain
did not answer nor even look at her, and continued his address as if
nothing had happened. A feeling of passionate indignation took hold
of me, succeeded by the feeling of helplessness and irresponsibility
which stifles vitality and above all every good impulse in prison.
Sympathy for the ejected prisoner, disagreement with the man who
officially represented the teaching of Christianity, neither of these
thoughts could find vent in words or actions; they become stored up
in a brooding, malignant attitude of resentment towards the whole
prison system, its infamous aim, its profound unreason, and the cruelly
devitalising distortion of its results.

When we were back in our ward the Chaplain came to visit us. This time,
he knew who I was. I asked him about the prison library which was under
his charge. I wished to send some books when I was free, amongst others
George Moore’s story of “Esther Waters.” I thought that novel ought
to be in every woman’s prison because of the heroic and triumphant
struggle depicted in it of the mother of an illegitimate child. I
asked the Chaplain if he knew it and would allow me to send it. He
answered that he did not know the book, and added, “But your ladyship
is such a good judge of literature, I should leave the choice of books
entirely to you.” Whenever officials visited the ward we were supposed
each to stand at the foot of the bed allotted to us. Complete silence
was the rule. This remark of the Chaplain’s was, therefore, overheard
by many of my fellow-prisoners. From that moment I was nick-named
“your ladyship.” As soon as the official round was over several of
us came together and, as was inevitable, compared the attitude of
the Chaplain towards the prisoner who had appealed to him during his
address and towards myself. It was on this occasion I first noticed
that the dress-jacket I wore was different from those of my companions;
mine was evidently quite new and without the broad arrow markings. A
fellow-prisoner, Miss Povey, member of the Freedom League, to whom I
had brought a glass of water during the first night, came to my rescue.
She was now sufficiently recovered to be out of bed during part of the
day. She had a great sense of humour and immediately responded to my
need. We seized a brief moment when the wardress was standing in the
doorway, we took shelter behind the open door and swopped each other’s
serge shirts. She was small made and for once this portion of the
clothing had been more or less well adapted to our respective sizes.
The sleeves of my shirt were half a length longer than she required,
and though she put a large tuck in them they retained their superfluity
of size. The sleeves of her shirt did not reach my wrists and as the
solitary button at the neck did not secure the closing of the jacket
down the front, I had continually to be pulling it together again in
the course of the day. It was marked in many places with the broad
arrow, but had been so well worn, as the lining of the neck and cuffs
attested, that the white paint of the markings had almost chipped off
in several places. From this time onward it became a sort of game to
watch for the privileges that were accorded to me. Prisoners who had
been in before explained that until I came there were never knives and
forks supplied as we now enjoyed, the fare, too, had been made more
luxurious.

After three or four days I had practically recovered from the effects
of the treatment meted out to the Deputation, and, but for the want
of sleep and its results, had regained my normal health. I was very
anxious to leave the hospital, partly because I wanted to share the lot
of the bulk of my Suffragette companions and to ensure that they should
benefit by whatever unusual privileges were accorded to me. Secondly,
I wished to know from my own experience the routine life of ordinary
prisoners and to see more of them, which I supposed would be possible
away from the ward. Finally, my appetite for solitude grew from hour
to hour. I feared that continued lack of sleep (I am a slave to sleep)
might tell on me in a way to seriously handicap my health and cause my
friends and belongings anxiety after my release, which could easily be
avoided. Consequently, every morning when the Governor and doctor came
on their round I asked leave to go to “the other side,” as the ordinary
cell buildings were called. My monotonous request was as monotonously
refused from day to day. The Governor replied that I must first
obtain consent from the doctors, the doctors insisted that my heart
was in a condition to make the routine of floor-washing, plank bed,
etc., injurious to me. One of the doctors did not trouble to continue
feeling my pulse, he simply dismissed my request to be moved with the
statement, “As for you, you are suffering from serious heart disease,
you can’t be let out of hospital.”

To harden myself for the cell routine I shared more and more in the
cleaning processes of the ward. Besides the emptying of basins and
dusting the walls as high as my arms could reach, the big table had
to be moved for floor polishing, and I helped the little 3rd Division
ward-cleaner with this. She was very small and worked unremittingly all
day. She used to flush very much over the floor-polishing, although she
was most dexterous with the heavy, long-handled polisher, and did all
her duties with admirable labour-saving skill and sequence. I wondered
how much her heart condition was considered. I felt a great interest
in her. Her face, expression, and manners were those of an essentially
good woman, she was intelligent, had a sense of humour, was loyal to
both the officials and her fellow-prisoners; she seemed in every way
above the average of mortals. I wondered what offence against the law
could have brought her to prison, she had several bars on her sleeve,
implying a long sentence. I found she had committed one of the most
grievous crimes which it is possible to commit, the most unnatural, and
opposed to all that lies at the root well-being of a race or nation.
She had killed her own child. Yet when I came to know the facts, it
seemed to me that her actions were fully accounted for, and even
had her child-killing been more deliberate than it actually was, it
was impossible to condemn this action in a human being who had been
squeezed by such opposing forces. Her story was told me in snatches
partly by the other prisoners, partly by one of the wardresses, and
partly by herself as I used to kneel by her side to put floor refuse
into the fire at the rare moments when the enormous padlock of the
fender door had been released. Her story was this. She was a servant,
and had been seduced by her master. She, of course, was dismissed from
his service. When the child was born, he had at first contributed to
its support, but after a while had ceased to do so and disappeared,
leaving no address. She had taken the greatest pride in bringing up her
child, a boy, to whom she was devoted. Her cell was one of those just
outside the general ward. It was sometimes used for the reception of
visitors to hospital patients who were too ill to go across the way.
When this happened she always asked the prisoners eagerly on their
return, “Did you see the photo of my boy?” Having been in prison many
months she was allowed to receive and keep this photograph. To return
to her story, as time went on the struggle to maintain herself and her
child was considerable. She made a friend, a man of her own class, who
knew her history, respected her for her good motherhood and promised
to marry her as soon as a sufficiently good job came his way. Before
long the job was said to have been offered him, marriage was in sight,
and they plighted their troth with the seal which knows no undoing. The
work failed, marriage prospects paled, her friend deserted her and she
found herself faced with the prospect which she now understood only too
well, of disabled health, unemployment, disgrace, and a second child to
maintain unaided. She kept on at her employment--in a laundry--until
the very hour of her premature confinement. Then worn out in body and
spirit, and quite alone at the moment of her trouble, she had in her
distraction and misery strangled her baby. She went on with her work
at the laundry. It was the father of her child who gave her up to the
police; according to one rendering, he did so because she was so ill he
thought it the only way to secure for her “a rest.” She had an uncle,
a citizen of London, a publican, who used his influence on her behalf
at her trial so that she was condemned on the charge of “concealment
of birth,” not of child-murder. Prisoners are allowed visitors once a
month, but no one had been to see her for several months. I determined
I should be one of her visitors as soon as I was again free, so
that we might hold a sustained conversation of a kind impossible to
fellow-prisoners.

I often tell the story of this girl as an example of the neglect of
women’s interests and the consequent need for the recognition of their
citizenship so that legislation and administrators of the law should
be responsible to both sexes. My listeners have sometimes commented:
“But what difference could the vote make? and how could legislation
alter these admittedly tragic situations?” At this very time (March,
1909) the women of Norway who had recently been enfranchised, but had
not yet exercised the vote, were drafting a bill for the protection
of illegitimate children. I think there could not be a better example
of how a fundamental change could be made in both the educative and
protective side of legislation as between men and women, pre-eminently
just and without any reactionary vindictiveness on the part of women.
The essence of this law is simply recognition of the fact that
every child has two parents and that the burden and responsibility
of producing children should, therefore, be shared by both in so
far as law can secure equality. According to this Norwegian law,
_the mother is given the right during pregnancy to inform the local
authorities of the name of the father. The man whose name is given
may deny responsibility within fourteen days. If he does not, he is
registered as the father; if he denies it the burden of proof rests
with the mother. The father can be compelled to support the mother
for three months before_ (in England the law gives her no claim upon
the father until after the birth of the child), _and, in certain
instances, for nine months after confinement, and he is bound to
support the child until it is sixteen years old_. A man at the time
of intimacy is comparatively willing to undertake his share of these
situations; after the lapse of many months he is more inclined to
try and shirk them. In the case of denial on the part of the man,
how much easier it would be for the woman to prove her case when the
friendship had been recent and witnesses could be brought forward in
support of corroborating evidence. Ten or twelve months later such
witnesses have often dispersed or their memories grown hazy. Owing to
the undefended, economically unsupported position of these mothers,
certain results inevitably follow--loss of respectable situations and
consequent necessity for the women to have recourse to more precarious,
more laborious, and worse paid employment, with their lowered social
status pressing heavily upon them in every direction. These conditions,
reacting on the exceptional physical state of the mother, claim their
inevitable toll from the life-blood of the child. It is not surprising
that the deaths of illegitimate children are nearly double those of
children born in wedlock; for 1911, the statistics, the latest issued,
show deaths of infants under one year in England and Wales, in wedlock
249.37 per thousand births, illegitimate 489.99. With the mother’s
maintenance secured, something tangible is being done to save the
health as well as the life of future generations. _The woman can draw
the amount of her claim through the local authorities who recover
it from the father._ This is an immense safeguard. Constantly under
the legal conditions here, when the mother’s claim has been proved,
admitted by the father and paid by him for a few weeks, he moves away
before long, leaving no address and the woman, even if she knows of his
whereabouts, cannot enforce her claim without irksome and difficult
legal procedure. It is far easier for the public authority to pursue
him, but even if this proves in some cases impossible, it is better for
the State to lose its money than the life or health of its citizens.
The State always pays in the end. _The child has the right to bear the
father’s name and, in the event of his intestacy, has the same rights
of succession as his legitimate children._ Just imagine how this clause
would alter the outlook of parents when educating their sons, more
especially in those spheres of society where such unions on the part of
men are almost invariably with women of a lower class than their own,
and it is these unions which produce tragic and evil results far more
socially and racially injurious than illegitimate unions among men and
women of the same class.[6]

  FOOTNOTE: [6] This bill, I believe, was passed in Norway, with some
  alterations.

Another of the hospital patients, a member of our Deputation, Miss
Leslie Lawless, was gravely ill with her lungs. She seemed in a high
fever and we were very anxious about her. The prison clothes hang
loosely upon one, and, though this is healthy in principle, they
seem draughty and cold after modern garments, such as close-fitting
undervests, etc. She had caught a severe chill waiting about for more
than an hour in the draughty passages after the reception bath. She had
been very ill and suffered much in her cell before being brought, only
after the third day, to hospital. Mrs. Duval, a member of the Freedom
League, was another really suffering patient. She had come up to London
to see the results of the Freedom League Deputation. She was walking
about the street when the Deputation had already been arrested. She
was not taking part in any form of disturbance or demonstration. She
was arrested on the ground that she was “known to be one of them.” Two
gentlemen, total strangers, who witnessed her arrest, volunteered to
come into court and speak on her behalf. She was nevertheless found
guilty and sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment. She had twice been
in prison before; she had not intended to risk arrest as she was in a
very delicate state of health, having suffered considerably from her
previous imprisonments. She was now in hospital with acute neuritis and
a most irritating rash. She had many children at home and was anxious
about them, not having been able to make adequate arrangements for them
owing to her sudden and unexpected imprisonment. When I looked into her
suffering face and heard from our whispered conversation that this was
her third imprisonment I felt overcome. I envied her courage, but felt
myself quite incapable of following her example.

Flowers were provided by the prison authorities, both in our ward and
the one below; sometimes, too, our friends sent them to us. We were not
allowed to know from whom they came, and they could not be destined
for any particular prisoner, but flowers are expert ambassadors, and
their messages of good-will from our friends were generally understood.
They had to be taken out of the ward at night and returned to the
ward in the morning; they had to be refreshed, the water changed and
dead leaves picked off. I usurped this office. I feel ashamed, on
looking back, to remember with what selfish greed I took it over,
never giving the others a choice or chance in the matter. The joy of
handling the flowers seemed like food and rest rolled into one. All
the patients rejoiced in them. When a new lot were sent in they were
handed round for each prisoner to see them and smell them at close
quarters. Their appearance in prison used to remind me of Filippino
Lippi’s Florentine picture of the Virgin appearing through the sky with
a trail of coloured angels behind her to St. Bernard in his ascetic and
joyless surroundings. They brought moments of rapture which revitalised
one’s spirit and counteracted many of the stunning effects of prison
existence. Some people whom I told of this have resented the fact
that prisoners should be given the joy of flowers, but unless it be
recognised as part of the punitive system to impose physical illness, I
think the prison hospital authorities are to be congratulated on their
wisdom in this respect; the flowers did more than the drug-basket to
heal our complaints.

One of the reasons I took on as many housemaiding jobs as I could
was that it enabled me to be let out of the ward for the emptying of
slops, and this afforded a good opportunity for seeing and occasionally
communicating with ordinary prisoners. They seemed to come and go
pretty quickly from our floor of the hospital, and I seldom saw any
of them more than twice or three times. The prisoner’s dress has a
wonderfully disguising and unifying power, and it was a never-ending
interest to try quickly to diagnose the type of prisoner, so as to
make the most of any possible communication by whispers. Washing up
was done in the bath-room cell and the door left open. Sometimes the
handling of plates would prove that such work was unaccustomed and
uncongenial, others were skilled but sullen and grudging in their
service, some again would be keen and willing and showed the pathetic
eagerness of a newcomer to inquire as to rules, to be friendly with her
fellow-prisoners, to court the approval or advice of the wardresses.
But such liveliness was not the fashion and was always repressed. One
could watch the light and spirit of these human beings wane, as a
lamp wanes for want of oil. Sometimes many days would go by without
opportunity for the smallest communication with ordinary prisoners,
then again there would be occasions of unexpected good luck. Once when
emptying a basin at the sink a little woman, newcomer, who was dusting
the top of the walls and fittings with a long-handled broom, came close
up behind me. In prison one seems to develop eyes at the back of one’s
head and that kind of cunning which is engendered in human beings and
animals who are much restricted. I realised that no official eye for
the moment was upon us. The splashing of the tap covered the sound of
our low voices; without looking round, without changing expression
or gesture so as not to arouse suspicion, the following conversation
took place. _Self_: “The dust collects quickly here, doesn’t it?”
_Prisoner_: “Yes, how long have you got?” (The invariable first
question for all prisoners.) _Self_: “A month.” _Prisoner_: “I’m on
remand for a week.” _Self_: “What is it for?” _Prisoner_: “Attempted
suicide.” _Self_: “Poor you. Why did you do that?” _Prisoner_: “Well,
I had a pot of trouble and I thought it was the quickest way out.”
_Self_: “I remember feeling like that too, once, but I don’t now.”
_Prisoner_: “And nor do I now, life’s sweet while it lasts, isn’t it?”
This with a beaming smile. We had meanwhile exchanged furtive glances
at each other. She had a round, rose-like face, with a look of abundant
health and kindliness. Apparently, the “pot of trouble” had been of no
long duration. _Self_: “It seems odd to send people here for suicide?”
_Prisoner_ (eagerly): “Yes, it does indeed. It seems a shame.” Then,
with some hesitation, “What are you in for?” _Self_: “Suffragette.”
She looked at me wonderingly, as if she supposed this to be the
technical term for some form of vice unknown to her, though her
sympathy and respect were not withdrawn. We were, however, interrupted
at this point and I was summoned to return with my much scrubbed basin
to the ward. I never saw the little rose-like face again.

Beside the sink there was a tiny sash window about the level of my
head. When this was open I could catch sight of the yard where remand
prisoners exercised. I was surprised to see that many of them wore
prison dress. This meant either that they had been made to change
their clothes, or that remand and convicted prisoners were exercising
together. Seeing a great number of prisoners in a group was a most
depressing sight. They were packed quite close, touching each other as
they went round the narrow asphalt path in single file. They nearly
all of them looked ill. Their faces wore an expression of extreme
dejection; the lifeless, listless way they walked, enhanced the look of
entire detachment of one from the other; in spite of being so closely
herded, each seemed in a world of her own individual sorrow. Anxiety,
suffering, bitterness, and a harrowing tale of want or degradation was
told by the clothes of those not in prison dress. The procession was
more heartrending than anything my imagination could have conceived;
it took away my breath to look at them. Why are they there? What has
driven these poor wrecks into this harbour? What is being done for
them here to give them courage, self-reliance, hope, belief in better
possibilities for themselves and their children, opportunity to mend
their own lives, better conditions of work, fairer payment, and above
all a more honourable recognition of their services as women, of
their needs, and of their rights; the vitality to fight for their own
welfare against unjust handicaps, prejudiced ignorance of their wants
and tyrannous repression of their attempts to cry out for wider labour
markets?

We of the remand hospital No. 2 most often exercised in this same yard
in the afternoon. We were only about six in number, sometimes only
two or three, but, since seeing the procession of the morning, their
personalities seemed to haunt the yard. I thought of them as beads of
a necklace, detached, helpless and useless, and wondered how long it
would be before they were threaded together by means of the women’s
movement into a great organised band, self-expressive yet co-ordinated,
and ruled by the bond of mutual service. The test of a chain’s strength
is in its weakest link. Where is our chain weakest? Not in the wretched
victims who daily paced this yard, not in the debtor, the drunkard, the
thief, the hooligan, the prostitute, the child murderer. These miseries
were mostly the direct outcome of harmful and unjust laws. Amongst
the few that remain of spontaneously criminal type, their number is
insignificant, their influence negligible; they act as cautions rather
than instigators, although they call for all the remedial forces which
the State or individuals can devote to them. They themselves are
diseased exceptions, but they belong to groups of women, home workers,
wage earners, skilled craftswomen, who have kept alight the old
traditions of serviceableness, utility, and the powers of women. They
have already made many efforts to unite and to preserve their nobility
of independence. They, moreover, are quick to respond and eager to
serve the modern women’s movement. No, the weakest link in the chain of
womanhood is the woman of the leisured class. Isolated and detached,
she has but little sense of kinship with other women. For her there is
no bond of labour, no ties of mutual service; her whole life is spent
in the preservation of appearances, and she seems hardly ever to probe
down to the bone of realities. Child-having remains her glory, the one
bit of full-livedness in an otherwise most arid desert. This is the one
basis on which she feels herself united to other women, and the wrongs
and sufferings of child-bearers stand out as the exception on which you
can sometimes get her to move on behalf of other women. Until these
women can be educated as to the lives of the bulk of women, brought
up against the laws with regard to them that now disgrace the statute
book, made to feel the horror of custom which still undermines their
own existence, and to burst through the gilded bars which hold their
own lives in bondage, they act upon the social organism in a way that
is almost wholly harmful. Only when their eyes have been opened will
their “influence” and “example” bear out a reasonable meaning of those
words and their position of privilege make them worthy to lead.

As I had watched the prisoners I saw before me a counter-procession
of women of this leisured class, herded as I have so often seen them
at ball-rooms and parties, enduring the labours, the penalties,
of futile, superficial, sordidly useless lives, quarrelling in
their marriage market, revelling in their petty triumphs, concerned
continually with money, yielding all opinion to social exigencies,
grovelling to those they consider above them, despising and crushing
those they think beneath them, pretending to be lovers of art and
intellect, but concerned at heart only with the appearance of being
so. Subservient to a superficial morality, tested not by the question,
“What has been done?” but “What is the general opinion about what has
been done?” And immediately the procession of Holloway yard seemed
human, dignified, almost enviable by the side of that other. It is
these leisured women the women’s movement has hitherto cast aside.
They are the dross, the dead fruit. All others have responded in some
way, however feeble their power of service, when they have heard the
call; but these have not. As I thought of them my pity moved from the
procession in Holloway to these other women. Success is impossible for
a social system that takes no heed to its outcasts, the pathological
victims of national existence are the symptoms which can lead us to
diagnose its fundamental flaws. Whether or not the women alive to-day
in the ruling class can be cured is of comparatively little importance,
but clearly the causes which have brought them forth must be altered
at the root. The conditions which go to produce a ruling caste are
shifting their ground throughout the world. Such things are moulded
by involuntary forces; they cannot, except in the immediate future,
be foreshadowed or decreed. But it is now obvious that, whatever this
basis, women must have a fair and honourable share in it. Rulers
of the best are not reared by bondwomen. The bi-sexual powers must
be released at all costs in those sections of the community which,
whether by intellect, by birth, or by wealth, have the guiding reins of
national life in their hands. The question of what that basis shall be
is an altogether separate matter. Who can turn the force of our women’s
movement in that direction, who can be a missionary to preach war in
their peace-bedeadened country? The answer that came to me in Holloway,
and ever since it has seemed to me the only answer, was this--the
example of working class organisations, and above all, of those few
splendid women who have given their lives to lead this movement. Where
doctrine, precept and example all fail to penetrate, the spirit of
sacrifice, which wakes an echo in all human hearts, will find a way.



CHAPTER VIII

“A TRACK TO THE WATER’S EDGE”


On March 2, as a result of my pleading to be dismissed from the
hospital, I was put to sleep in a separate cell along the passage of
our ward. This cell had a floor of unpolished wooden boards, contained
a fixed iron bedstead, movable washing stand furnished with tin
utensils, a wooden chair, a square plank fixed to the wall near the
door as a table, and a corner shelf under the window to hold Bible,
prayer and hymn book, prayer card, list of rules, salt cellar, toilet
paper, slate and slate pencil. A small basket to contain my clothes was
kept under the bed. A bell near the door communicated with the outer
passage. The cell was lit by a thickly barred window of small panes of
glass, having in the centre a box-like apparatus, with a lid, opened
by a rope pulley to let in the air without enabling one to see out, as
in church windows. There was a grating ventilator below the window. In
the wall of the cell giving on to the passage was a glazed aperture,
through which the cell was lighted at night from a gas-jet, as in the
“reception” cell. Besides the heavily metalled door, these hospital
cells had iron gates, so that the door could be left open when patients
had to be watched. At eight o’clock the night wardress went her rounds,
lifting the spy hole and shouting through the door “All right?” to
which the prisoners have to answer “Yes.” If they are asleep, the
question is repeated until they wake and answer it. The gas was then
lowered to a light by which it would have been difficult to read, but
not extinguished. It was explained to me afterwards, when I pleaded for
darkness, that I was an “observation” case on account of my “serious
heart disease.” The luxury of privacy after five nights and days of
unrelieved publicity seemed very great, and as soon as this last
“inspection” was over my imagination conjured up into my presence every
friend I have ever had, including my dog who died twenty years ago. I
held intercourse with them, “dreamed true,” and had a happy time. I
then rolled round and gave myself up to perfect sleep.

After, as it seemed, a very short night, I woke with a start and a
feeling of great horror. I supposed I had had a bad dream, but quickly
realised that the nightmare was on the waking side of my existence.
I sat up in bed. There was a sound of footsteps which I could not at
first locate or interpret. They came nearer, clear foot-falls and a
shuffling sound in between, as if some of the feet were reluctant and
were being dragged along. Then a voice in great distress, half shriek,
half groan, that came in broken snatches. The sounds came rapidly
nearer and grew more definite. The massive walls of the building
seemed to become thin and the doors flimsy with the penetrating
noise. I expected that any moment these night-wanderers might enter
my cell, I supposed it was a case of delirium tremens or madness. The
footsteps stopped. A violent scuffle was apparently taking place.
Then followed a jangle of keys, the banging of a gate, more turning
of keys, and I realised that a frenzied woman had been shut into the
cell below mine. She immediately seized hold of the gate and shook it
so that it rattled on its hinges, suggesting almost more than human
strength. The wolf-like barking sounds of her voice turned into a
human yell as she screamed out, “Nurse! Nurse! Let me out.” It seemed
a most reasonable remark. The words broke the spell of horror and woke
instead my intensest sympathy. She was expressing the one desire that
is constantly uppermost in prisoners’ minds, the walls echoed it as
a thought most familiar to them. The gate shivered unceasingly under
her onslaught as she hurled herself against it, and her words came
at intervals, “Nurse! Nurse! Open the gate.” The sounds suggested in
turn madness, fury, despair. I strained to interpret and understand,
but there was no clue. I yearned to console her. Presently footsteps
came outside my door, a rattling of keys and locks, my door was burst
open and a wardress I had not seen before put her head in, saying, “I
thought you might be startled.” Her face was inflexible and revealed
nothing. I threw out questions, “Was it a maternity case?” “Was she
ill?” “Why was she so wild?” but the door was slammed to without any
answer being given. However, even this attention was a relief and
unfroze my blood a little. I wondered if the other prisoners, if the
poor distracted woman herself in the cell below, had been offered as
much consolation.

I was kept in bed that morning until after the rounds of inspection.
The Governor was very civil. He urged me to give the required assurance
and bind myself over “to be of good behaviour,” that I might leave the
prison. He asked if I had “considered” my mother. I have no doubt he
thought it his duty to talk in this way, and probably he was trying
to be kind as well. At the time, however, his insinuation seemed more
like a blow in the face. The words rushed to my lips: “If you knew
my Mother, if you had seen her only once, you would know that it was
impossible to risk causing her anxiety without immensely considering
it,” but I restrained myself and merely said: “I am not the only woman
here who has a mother.” I remembered that when Mrs. Pankhurst had been
imprisoned she had been punished for exchanging a few words with her
daughter. The Governor then brought out a stethoscope to examine my
heart. This was surprising, as I had not realised that he was a doctor.
He urged tonics, but did not insist. Eventually I consented to take
maltine and a banana after the mid-day meal, as they were distressed
that I was so thin.

The shrieks and cries from the cell below had grown less towards
morning, but they were renewed at intervals throughout the day. When I
went into the general ward the horror of the night was still hanging
over my companions. A wardress told one of us that the woman had killed
her child and been put into the condemned cell after being sentenced
to be hanged. After my release it was officially stated that the woman
who had been sentenced to death for baby-murder had been perfectly
quiet and that the “condemned cell” was in a part of the prison far
removed from the remand hospital. The shrieks we had heard were those
of a mad woman, under remand for larceny, who had since been removed
to a workhouse infirmary. The distressful cries went on intermittently
for several days, after which they lapsed into groans like those of
the dying. My longing to communicate with her became at moments almost
unendurable. I hoped she would die; she seemed too far gone in distress
for any other remedy. One morning before it was light I thought I heard
the throaty sound of the death rattle from her cell. After that she was
removed, whether dead or alive I could never find out until after my
release.

I went into the general ward for the greater part of the day. I made
my bed and dusted my cell, but was not allowed to wash the floor or
clean the tin utensils because of my “heart disease.” The quieter
nights enabled me to eat more food, and I think I gained in weight
and became generally restored to quite normal health. It was obvious
that no ordinary prisoner nor Suffragette prisoner would, in my state
of health, have been put in hospital, and that I was being kept there
either to give me a soft time or for some other impenetrable reason.
I told the Senior Medical Officer that unless I were allowed to the
“other side” I should feel obliged to protest by means which he would
probably regret when it was too late. He looked very much alarmed,
but my threat produced no practical result. I then asked leave to
petition the Home Secretary, a right allowed to all prisoners. Blue
official paper, ink and a pen were brought to my cell, only one sheet
of paper being allowed, but it was a large one. I forget the wording
of my letter. I stated that I had been rather severely knocked about
by the police while on a peaceable Deputation to the House of Commons
to petition that, when the accepted conditions for which voting rights
are granted have been fulfilled the vote should follow, in the case
of women as of men, a claim which he, the Home Secretary himself,
and a majority of the Cabinet and House of Commons had recognised as
just. That I therefore was grateful for the privilege of being placed
in hospital during the first few days, where the careful and kindly
treatment of the officials and excellent food had quickly restored
me to my normal health. I told how I had asked permission to join my
companions in the cells, but hitherto had asked in vain. I explained
that the cell routine of floor scrubbing, tin polishing, etc., would be
no exceptional exertion in my case, since I was an amateur scrubber,
having patronised that craft in much the same spirit in which other
unemployed women took up water-colour drawing or hand-embroidery.
I found that my fellow prisoners were kept in the cells when much
more seriously ill than I was, and I was driven reluctantly to the
conclusion that the preferential treatment meted out to me was for no
better reason than that I had influential friends whose criticism, if
my health should suffer in prison, was feared by the authorities. I
resented such favouritism on the part of officials, both as a Liberal
in politics, as a believer in the teachings of Christ, and as a woman,
and if the special treatment of my case continued I should feel bound
on my release to make it known from every platform of our campaign
throughout the country. I found there was a tradition amongst prisoners
that petitions to the Home Secretary were always in vain. As I put
forward a moderate and reasonable request, consistent with the prison
regulations, I hoped it would serve as an instance for proving this
tradition to be false. This letter, perhaps, gave a slightly coloured
version of the hospital _régime_, but I knew that, in spite of their
aims to the contrary, officials are human, and that if I could express
some sort of praise that was fairly justified, my letter would be more
likely to reach the higher dignitaries and be attended to by them.
Perhaps, I thought, the combination of a very reasonable request with
an allowance of judicious flattery might even result in the request
being granted.

The following day I noticed a peculiar and welcome expression on the
faces of various officials as of a smile hidden behind the mask,
plainly indicating that my letter had been read in Holloway, however
much the valentine might be destined for waste-paper basket furniture
at the Home Office. I piled on my good behaviour and ate as much food
as I could, to conciliate the prison authorities. On the third day
following I received a written answer, a formal statement that my
petition had been received, but that the Home Secretary did not see
his way to granting it. This led to further altercations with the
Governor and doctor. They insisted that the cell _regime_ would be too
severe for me. I replied that unless they allowed me to experience it
for myself I should probably carry away an exaggerated version of the
hardships imposed on my companions. They pleaded that my exceptional
physique and heart disease required “rest.” I answered that prison
was not a “rest cure” and that in the case of my fellow prisoners,
more especially of Miss Lawless and Mrs. Meredith Macdonald, no such
reverend attention had been paid to their physical needs. Every day I
put forward the request and argued the point, always in vain. I felt
that the time had come to carry out my threat. My mind brooded on what
form it should take, but for various reasons it had to be deferred. I
had contracted the cold which was rampant in the ward. The prisoner’s
handkerchief, a duster hanging from the waist of the skirt which did
service for a week, was an inevitable conveyer of infection. This
forbidding form of handkerchief became doubly a trial with a cold in
the head. I used when at exercise to hold it out as I walked, in the
style of a bull-fighting matador, in order to dry it and shake it out,
and I used toilet paper in its stead whenever opportunity offered, but
no efforts could counteract the disgusting overuse and exposure of the
duster. I determined not to press my request to go to the cells while
there was any rational excuse for keeping me in hospital. When my cold
was wearing off I had the misfortune to meet with an accident and cut
myself with some broken crockery. This necessitated bandaging, and
again I put off my threat. The days went by with unvarying monotony.
Although I had known for several weeks of my decision to go on the
Deputation and had full time to prepare for a likely imprisonment, I
was continually remembering some concern of my home life, the wheels of
which would be getting clogged in my absence. At first these thoughts
were very worrying and kept my mind continually on the fret at my
inability to communicate with the outside world, but the realisation
of one’s helplessness gradually subdued these desires. One day,
however, I heard from a more experienced “gaol-bird” that permission
to write a letter was sometimes granted if “on business.” I promptly
determined to try for this privilege, since it had been granted to
other Suffragists. I chose a matter connected with the village in
which I lived, so that the fact of my being “all right,” as the cell
inspectors put it, might be conveyed to my mother. I asked leave to
write to the Rector’s wife about a flower show committee of which
I was secretary. Leave was granted. I was asked to confine myself
exclusively to the “business” for which permission had been given;
the luxury of writing it was nevertheless very great. Later on I was
allowed to write a second letter to a friend on the Stock Exchange who
manages my money affairs. I wanted some money for a prisoner friend
who was to be released before me. Cheque books were, of course, not
available in prison, and although a letter to my banker would probably
have been sufficient, I thought a personal friend would be more likely
to let the news of my continued “all right”-ness filter through to my
mother, although I was not allowed to send a definite message. There
seemed, too, something attractive in addressing a letter direct from
Holloway to the Stock Exchange, as I did not know my friend’s private
address. This letter, of course, required an answer which I was allowed
to receive and keep. The rule for prisoners is that letters addressed
to them by a spontaneous correspondence from outside are forbidden,
but if permission is granted to a prisoner to write a letter which
requires an answer, that answer can be received and kept. This answer
was about the money I had asked for, duly enclosed, and contained also
a casual reference to a remote relative. “I suppose you have heard
that X. has been down with influenza.” Evidently the writer assumed
that I had been carrying on my correspondence as usual. I ungratefully
wished that if I was to be allowed news of the outside world it might
have been an item connected with my more immediate belongings. But the
letter gave me a pleasure difficult to describe, bringing, as it did, a
ventilating whiff of ordinary human, free existence into prison life. I
clung to every particle of it, envelope and all, and generally carried
it about in my clothes for fear it should be destroyed while I was
out of my cell; no love-letter was ever more watchfully guarded by a
girl of sixteen. It, of course, had been opened and read before it was
delivered to me.

I pleaded that as the cell prisoners were allowed a change of
vegetables, cabbage, onions, haricot beans, succeeding each other
in turn at the midday meal, the hospital patients might be allowed
the same, anyhow the bed patients, to whom the daily cabbage became
extremely distasteful through monotony. The medical officer who took
the inspection rounds that morning was not favourable to petitions of
this kind. He answered gruffly, “If you were given the variety, depend
upon it you’d be petitioning before long to be put back on one kind
only,” and the daily cabbage continued. But one gets used to snubs in
prison and before long I tried again. For three days in succession we
had been given salt butter of a rather rancid kind, instead of fresh
butter as had been supplied before. I kept a small sample of it in a
saucer and showed it to the Senior Medical Officer when he came round.
This man, according to my experience, was uniformly obliging, just as
if he had been an ordinary man and not a prison official. He did not
scoff, but took the saucer in his hands and marched out of the ward
with it, saying: “I think I had better see to this myself.” We were not
given salt butter again. Emboldened by this success when next he came I
put the vegetable question before him. He said nothing, but from that
time forward we were given a change every day.

One day there was a stir in the atmosphere owing to an unusual event,
the fortnightly visit of the Visiting Magistrates was due. This was
an opportunity for prisoners to air their grievances. Experience had
taught us that, at any rate as regards Suffragettes, prison officials
and Visiting Magistrates were one and the same authority, indeed
prison officials, Prison Commissioners, Home Office, police, and
police Magistrates, all played to the same tune as conducted by the
attitude of the Government, and we knew that there was no tribunal of
an independent character to which we could make appeal. Nevertheless,
as a matter of principle, we left no stone unturned to get injustice
redressed by constitutional means. Among the hospital patients there
were several cases of glaring injustice. The false charge before
mentioned on which Mrs. Duval (Freedom League) had been arrested and
sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment. Mrs. Pethick Lawrence’s sentence
of two months when other second offenders in the same Deputation
were given only four weeks and some six, and when Mrs. Despard, also
a prominent leader, had been sentenced to only one month (second
imprisonment) and released after one week “on medical grounds,” her
health at the time being excellent. Finally, the disgraceful medical
diagnosis and treatment of Mrs. Macdonald after her accident in the
yard. Mrs. Macdonald and Mrs. Duval were unable to leave their beds to
appear before the Magistrates. Mrs. Macdonald decided not to appeal
on her own behalf. The Magistrates were not medical men and an appeal
against the doctor would have been useless and perhaps would have
aroused fresh prejudice against her. She was allowed to send a written
communication suggesting some excellent reforms on general lines for
prison management.

That afternoon, when I was locked into my cell, at an unexpected hour
a wardress ushered in a gentleman, apparently an official, whom I had
not seen before. I expected him to order my dress to be opened and
to begin stethoscoping my heart--that was the usual procedure when a
male official appeared. Instead he stood before me and said with some
dignity: “I am Sir Alfred Reynolds.” The name conveyed nothing to me,
so I did not answer, but merely bowed. He went on to ask if I wanted
anything, to say he might be seeing Lord Lytton soon and did I want any
message conveyed to him or to my home. The sense of bewilderment which
prisoners feel when the unusual happens, breaking into the monotonous
routine of their lives without explanation, overcame me. I did not
know with what object the stranger put these questions, the wildest
interpretations rushed through my mind--that the authorities were
seeking some fresh excuse to release me, that my home people had heard
some untrue report and were in a panic, that there was some underlying
purpose connected with my fellow prisoners, to which I had no clue. My
instinct was to be on my guard, and to shield myself against intrusion.
I answered coldly that I was “All right, thank you,” and that I had no
messages to send. That evening I was told that this gentleman was one
of the Visiting Magistrates. After my release I realised that he was a
neighbour in our county of Hertfordshire and knew my brother. It was
very kind of him to visit me in that considerate way and I much regret
that I did not respond to his friendliness at the time.

Mrs. Lawrence put her case, guarded by a wardress, standing before the
seated board of Magistrates. They had nothing to say in explanation or
defence of her sentence, but offered no redress.

On Friday, March 12, I had an unexpected and altogether delightful
surprise. In the afternoon I was summoned out of the ward and taken
across the yard. Was I being changed to the other side? A deliriously
joyful thought suggested itself, could it be a visitor? I had already
had my due in this respect, but several visitors were occasionally
allowed to prisoners. Since privileges towards me were the order of the
day it was a possibility. I was shown into the same “solicitor’s” room
as before; this time it was empty. I was left in charge of a wardress
I had not seen before; she was very amiable. I felt quite distraught
with the unusual excitement, and with the torrent of questions that
ramped through my brain. Although I had had no reason to expect
another visitor, I had recently longed for one with accelerated zest
because of the patient with the injured leg. I had grown daily more
exasperated over the attitude of the authorities towards her case, and
felt that the seeming brutality on their part was probably due to an
official inability to realise all that it entailed to this suffering
woman, that if only one could get the facts known outside the prison
a reconsideration might bring about the granting of some of the very
moderate requests she had made with regard to her release, and also
by exposure of her treatment make it unlikely that physically injured
prisoners should be subject to the same hardships in future. She was
a woman of abnormal courage, and in spite of her crippled condition
was planning to go straight home by rail to Marlow on the day of her
release. She did not keep a servant; her three children who had been
cared for by friends were to return with her. It seemed to me she was
unfit for her ordinary life and I was most anxious that she should see
a surgeon before attempting the journey by rail. I urged her, too,
to make some arrangement for being nursed in her own house or to go
for a while to a “home” or hospital. For all these matters it was
imperative that she should see her husband and discuss possible plans
with him. She asked leave of the Governor to write to him. This was
refused unless she obtained a permit from the Home Secretary. It took
three days to write to and obtain an answer from the Home Office. When
the reply came, permission was granted to write to her husband, but no
mention was made as to his visiting her. The prison authorities would
not allow this without a further permit from the Home Office. There
was no time to receive and act upon this before her release. When I
compared such treatment of an urgently needful situation with my own,
the ease with which I obtained leave direct from the prison authorities
to write two letters, one of them of no particular importance, and the
ease with which two of my relatives had been allowed to visit me, I
felt exasperated. The action of the authorities made no pretence at
inflexible, even-handed justice, and the partiality shown was all on
behalf of the prisoner who needed it least.

After a few minutes, to my surprise and intense delight, my eldest
brother was shown in. He gave me good news of those at home. Before
long I was pouring out to him the facts and my pent-up commentary
concerning Mrs. Macdonald, in spite of frequent protests from the
wardress, who exclaimed from time to time that it was against the rules
to make communications to outsiders about fellow-prisoners or the
prison authorities. This time I was careful not to reprove my loved
visitor for anything, and before our all-too-short interview came to
an end I was able to send a message to my sister to make good my
regrets about her visit.

The variety of leniency of the different officials, and of the same
officials on different days, gave a certain savour of adventure to the
dreariness of prison life. Here are two instances of the brighter side.
Mrs. Lawrence and I were one afternoon allowed to walk up and down
the length of the ward side by side talking in low voices. She told
me about the early days of the militant movement and supplemented my
book-study of that miraculous fairy tale in which I was now privileged
to take part. As I listened and reproached myself continually with
the thought, “Women had all this to face and I was not helping them,”
there seemed a positive charm in the trials of imprisonment--the
suffering about my home people, the grim sights and sounds of our
surroundings, the rudeness of prison officers, the physical discomforts
of unaccustomed clothing, thunder-stuffed pillows, etc. Now that I
passed the nights in a cell and came into the ward only for meals and
part of the day, I noticed with keener insight how remarkably the
atmosphere of leadership clung round Mrs. Pethick Lawrence. Her clothes
and the disciplined routine were exactly the same in her case as in
ours, she conformed to all the rules and seemed to adapt herself to
the life as if it had been of her choice and not imposed upon her. Yet
the authority, and above all, the wisdom in her personality seemed
to shine out more prominently even than they did in free life when
she was controlling the many departments of the office at Clement’s
Inn for which she was responsible, or of the public movement from a
platform. Everyone came to her for advice, even the prison officers
seemed instinctively to refer matters to her. It was, for once, quite
intelligible why they had separated her from the bulk of the Suffragist
prisoners by putting her in hospital. It was obvious that her control
over them would far outweigh the authority of prison rules and rulers
should she choose to exert it. The reason given, however, was that
she too was suffering from heart disease, but this medical verdict
did not prevent her being sent to the cells, where the full prison
labour of floor washing and tin polishing was exacted of her, as soon
as our shorter sentences had expired and she was left to finish her
unjustifiably longer term in solitude.

Another unexpected privilege had been carefully planned so that the
joy of it was spread over several days. The Freedom League prisoners
were soon to be released. We schemed a jollification to take place on
the Sunday evening before their departure. The Sabbath day reflected
national customs in prison as outside. The morning was characterised
by clean clothing and an unusual rigidity of behaviour, but towards
the latter half of the afternoon the air of solemnity wore away, some
of the officers had an afternoon off, bringing back with them an
indefinable sense of the outer world, and the evening hours sometimes
produced an atmosphere almost of amiability. Much would depend on
whether a lovable wardress, who often did duty in our ward and had
shown herself invariably friendly towards us, should be “on” or “off.”
The patients, who had increased to nine, were all of them now out of
bed during part of the day. We were to gather round the fire, and to
tell yarns, stories or poems, as if we were in camp in the free world.
A sense of excitement and expectancy pervaded the ward all day. I felt
as children do before a self-schemed escapade into the dominions of
forbidden joys, my delight only slightly marred by the prospect of
having to contribute to the recitations, a performance not at all in
my line. I spent the spare moments of the day trying to remember and
write down on my slate Coventry Patmore’s poem “The Toys.” Parts of it
had constantly floated into my mind while in Holloway from the striking
resemblance between prisoners and children. I treasured more especially
the actual list of toys which the child, a seven times breaker of the
law, when punished and dismissed “with hard words and unkiss’d,” had
put beside his bed:--

   “A box of counters and a red-vein’d stone,
    A piece of glass abraded by the beach,
    And six or seven shells,
    A bottle with bluebells,
    And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art
    To comfort his sad heart.”

When evening came after the supper meal our little plot developed with
unexpected smoothness. The kindly wardress was in charge, activity and
“inspection” in the passage outside subsided altogether and we were
left to our own devices. What chairs there were we set round the fire
and the rest of the company sat on the floor. An unwonted expression
of happiness beamed from the fire-lit faces of these prison-clad
individuals, drawn together from many parts of the country and from
widely-differing walks of life. Each one contributed her share to
our spontaneous entertainment. Even the wardress, completely casting
aside her official manner and addressing herself deferentially to
Mrs. Lawrence, for whom she had a great admiration, told a pathetic
little story with a surprising gift of narration and concentrated
expression. I remember I had dreaded lest one or two of the company
besides myself should not be “up” to an adequate contribution, and
that our little entertainment would be marred by those uncomfortable
moments of both conscious and unconscious failure such as are common
to “social” gatherings, no matter where they take place. However,
everyone played up. There was great variety in the different speakers,
each in turn adding a new element to the programme, each was good of
its kind and there was no need for pity anywhere. My friend with the
injured leg contributed a remarkable political poem of her own making,
but far the most artistic items were given by Mrs. Lawrence. She told
us first an Arab story which she had heard from a Dragoman sitting
round a real camp fire in Egypt. It was full of the detail dear to the
East, which suited the associations of superfluous time in our then
experience. It was intricate and humorous, lifting our minds completely
out of our present surroundings. She was pressed for “more.” She then
repeated Olive Schreiner’s “Three Dreams in a Desert.” I had read
this allegory many years ago when it was first published. I remember
that the painter Watts and my father had been enthusiastic over the
poetical beauty of these “Dreams.” Their lyrical force, the imaginative
woof and warp of their parables and the dignified cadence of their
language had impressed me in my youth so that I read them many times
for sheer emotional joy, but their meaning had evidently not penetrated
to me. Olive Schreiner, more than any one other author, has rightly
interpreted the woman’s movement and symbolised and immortalised it by
her writings. Now after even so short an experience of the movement
as I had known, this “Dream” seemed scarcely an allegory. The words
hit out a bare literal description of the pilgrimage of women. It fell
on our ears more like an A B C railway guide to our journey than a
figurative parable, though its poetic strength was all the greater for
that. The woman wanderer goes forth to seek the Land of Freedom....
“‘_How am I to get there?’ The old man, Reason, answers, ‘There is
one way and one only. Down the banks of Labour, through the water of
suffering. There is no other._’ ... ‘Is there a track to show where
the best fording is?’ ... ‘_It has to be made_....’ And she threw from
her gladly the mantle of ancient-received opinions she wore, for it
was worn full of holes. And she took the girdle from her waist that
she had treasured so long, and the moths flew out of it in a cloud.
And he said, ‘_Take the shoes of dependence off your feet._’ And she
stood there naked but for one white garment that clung close to her,
the garment of Truth, which she is told to keep. She is given a staff,
Reason, ‘a stick that curled.’ ‘_Take this stick, hold it fast. In that
day when it slips from your hand you are lost. Put it down before you,
where it cannot find a bottom, do not set your foot._’ The woman having
discarded all to which she had formerly clung cries out: ‘For what do
I go to this far land which no one has ever reached? I am alone! I am
utterly alone!’ But soon she hears the sound of feet, ‘a thousand times
ten thousand and thousands of thousands and they beat this way.’ ...
‘_They are the feet of those that shall follow you._’ ... ‘_Have you
seen the locusts how they cross a stream? First one comes down to the
water’s edge, and it is swept away, and then another comes and then
another, and at last with their bodies piled up a bridge is built and
the rest pass over._’ ... And of those that come first some are swept
away, and are heard of no more; their bodies do not even build the
bridge? ... ‘_What of that? They make a track to the water’s edge._’”
And in the last dream she sees in that land of Freedom where Love is no
longer a child but has grown to a man. “On the hills walked brave women
and brave men, hand in hand. And they looked into each other’s eyes,
and they were not afraid.”

We dispersed and went back to our hard beds, to the thought of our
homes, to the depressing surroundings of fellow prisoners, to the
groans and cries of agonised women--content. As I laid my head on the
rattling pillow I surrendered my normal attitude towards literature,
and thought “There is some point, some purpose in it after all.”

Since I had left the general ward there were more opportunities for
the officers to show kindness without being detected in “favouritism,”
and I had come to be on very good terms with several of them. Even the
ward superintendent, who made a special hobby of outward severity, had
relaxed on several occasions. For instance, she stood in the doorway
one morning watching me make my bed. She remarked, with the same
outward air of contempt that was habitual to her, but with a kindly
look in her eyes: “You’re not much used to that, I expect?” I answered:
“Do you think I do it so badly?” She smiled and seemed distressed
that I had interpreted her that way. Her anxiety that I should put
on flesh while under her charge made her almost motherly at times. I
accounted for my small appetite by explaining that I did not spend
myself in prison life. “Don’t know about spending yourself, but how
about your sensitiveness? Doesn’t that ‘spend’ you?” This taunt was
because when she renewed the plasters on my cut, which she did very
skilfully, I winced a good deal. The sticky plaster adhered closely
and the process of removing it generally made me feel faint. I didn’t
know till she said this that she had even noticed it, but her contempt
was softened by a kind smile. I had determined to begin my strike in
real earnest the following week if I failed by reasonable pleadings
to get sent to the cells. I was anxious that the responsibility of
my bad behaviour should not fall on her, and I wished to make very
clear that I had no malicious intentions towards her, or anyone else,
beyond giving proof to the doctors that I should be better the “other
side.” She was extremely busy and her visits to me never lasted more
than a few seconds. I took the first opportunity to say unconcernedly
and not looking at her, but with the hope of arousing her curiosity
sufficiently for her consent: “If you should have a spare minute
before Sunday, come in to me when I am in my cell, I want to ask you
something.” She looked surprised, but said nothing and avoided me for
the rest of the day. The following afternoon she looked in hurriedly,
saying in her most official voice: “What is it you want?” I resented
the scolding tone and answered without humility, as one would to a
fellow-being outside, “Come near to me, I want to speak to you, but
only if you can spare the time.” I was lying on my bed, a privilege
I was allowed in the separate cell. She came in, pushed the door to,
stood close to my bed-side and said again gruffly, “What is it?” I
reached out my hand to take hers, but meeting with no response I drew
it in again. I did not want to get angry with the rebuffs of her
officialdom, so I kept my eyes down as I said: “I like you because
you have always treated me the same as the others, yet you have never
really been unkind to me. I want to ask you something now, because
by Sunday either I shall have had leave to go to the other side or I
shall have begun my strike in real earnest and you will be getting more
and more angry with me.” She stooped down and said in a low voice of
extreme tenderness as if I had been a child: “Why, I have never been
angry with you yet.” I looked up into her eyes. They were lit with
kindliness and her whole face beamed on me with genial goodwill. It
was a surprising change. The personality was the same, but the mask
was off and I realised something of the sacrifice it must be to this
woman continually to conceal her good nature under so forbidding a
manner. I felt more than ever how wasteful and unreasonable is a
system which represses the natural powers of good influence in such
a woman and exacts of her, in their stead, an attitude towards the
prisoners of so much less worth. Her kindness made my determination
to carry out my strike at all costs a much harder job than any amount
of her official hardness and reproof would have done. If it had been
for any less object than a matter of principle I could not have done
it. “No,” I answered, “but I haven’t yet begun my strike seriously.” I
added: “I don’t wish to discuss that now. I want you to tell me when
you could come and see us after I am out. Mother will wish to thank
you for being kind to me, and to hear about my wicked ways from you.
You must come down to us in the country. We are on this line and quite
near London.” Her face grew serious again, but remained without the
official mask. She shook her head. “That’s impossible,” she said with
decision, “it would be against the rules.” “There are no prison rules
for me once I am free again, and you surely have some holidays when
you can do as you like.” “No, that would be quite against the rules.”
I pleaded afresh and with determination. She then tried another tack,
said that she had friends of her own to visit in the little time at
her disposal. I answered she must bring one of these with her and they
would spend the day together with us. But she would have none of it. I
said she, of course, felt obliged to rub in the rules and regulations
while I was prisoner under her charge and that I respected her for
that. It was obvious, however, that such rules would have nothing to
do with me once I was free again, that I should write to her after my
release, as an ordinary outsider, and make fresh suggestions. I had in
mind several instances in which prisoners and warders had continued
friendly after release. I asked her to give me her home address or, at
least, to tell me her Christian name, for, as several of her sisters
were also prison officers in Holloway, I did not want my letter to go
to them. She, however, would not tell me any of these things. I asked
why it would be against the rules. She answered, “We are not allowed
to hold communication with ex-prisoners,” and vouchsafed no further
explanation. I said I thought we Suffragettes might be looked upon
as different from the ordinary ex-prisoners. She remained adamant. I
felt fresh enmity for the system which continually admitted variation
from its rules on the side of less kindness or for reasons of snobbish
privilege, but which showed itself rigid and unelastic when it was a
case of reasonable, unharmful good-will. But, of course, I immensely
respected this woman’s loyalty to the system she served and her
punctilious adherence to its rules. She had, nevertheless, let go her
own voice and her own smile just once upon me. They remained among the
joy experiences of Holloway. I wondered if she had ever shown them to
the poor woman who screamed and groaned in the cell below mine, or to
the yellow-faced patient in the lower ward.

I began my strike gently; I knocked off all diet extras, such as the
maltine and its accompanying banana or the pudding at the mid-day
meal, and kept to the food which would be mine the other side, viz.,
_Breakfast_: Brown bread, butter, milk. _Mid-day_: Brown bread,
potatoes, one vegetable. _Supper_: Brown bread, butter, milk. Both
doctors and wardresses talked of the plank bed as one of the hardships
likely to be too much for me in the cells, so I took one of the two
mattresses from my bed and slept with it on the floor. I clambered up
on the furniture and cleaned the windows of my cell to show I could do
some extra housemaiding without harm. The first night of my floor-bed I
was left undisturbed. The second night, at the time of the “All right?”
rounds, the hospital superintendent came in. To my surprise she was
not angry, did not scold. She asked quite gently and interestedly why
I was lying on the floor. “Because the doctors suggest that I would
get ill or die if I laid on a wooden bed instead of an iron one, so I
am just showing that I can manage it all right; I am very comfortable,
thanks.” But she didn’t go away. The cell, of course, was small, the
fixed bedstead down the centre of it taking up most of the floor-room,
so I had laid the mattress cross-ways under the bed, my head sticking
out on one side, my feet on the other. The wardress suggested that if I
woke suddenly in the night I might hit and hurt myself against the bed.
I assured her that sleep in Holloway was not of a kind heavy enough to
wake from it unconsciously. It was true I had enjoyed such a sleep one
night, the first in my private cell, but the ghastly sounds of human
desperation and suffering by which it had been broken had driven away
sound sleep for the remainder of my imprisonment. At last she went
away. The following night she again came and argued about the bed. She
said she would worry lest harm should happen while she was responsible
for me and it would drive away her own rest. I respected her for at
last using a sensible form of argument, but for the moment I did not
relent. When she had gone, however, I managed by judicious shifting of
the movable furniture to find room for the mattress along the wall with
my head behind the door. I rang my bell, the night wardress appeared.
Peremptory fashion, I sent her with an invitation to the superintendent
to come again if she had not yet gone to bed. The wardress positively
laughed at my effrontery, but evidently delivered my message, for in
a few minutes my friend the superintendent returned. She tried to
look severe, but a broad grin enveloped her face when she saw my new
contrivance. “However much I jump about now, I can’t hurt myself. Will
you be able to sleep all right?” I asked. She said she would try, and
left me.

My continued appeals to the authorities to treat me as they did my
fellow-prisoners and not keep me in hospital now that I was in normal
health, having proved unavailing, I entered upon the last phase of
my strike. I had decided to write the words “Votes for Women” on my
body, scratching it in my skin with a needle, beginning over the
heart and ending it on my face. I proposed to show the first half of
the inscription to the doctors, telling them that as I knew how much
appearances were respected by officials, I thought it well to warn them
that the last letter and a full stop would come upon my cheek, and be
still quite fresh and visible on the day of my release. My difficulty
was to find suitable tools. My skin proved much tougher than I had
expected and the small needle supplied to me for sewing purposes was
quite inadequate. I procured another and stronger one for darning my
stockings, but neither of them produced the required result. I thought
of a hairpin but had only three left of these precious articles and
could not make up my mind to spare one. I had the good luck, however,
while exercising, to find one, the black enamel of which was already
partially worn off. I cleaned and polished it with a stone under my
cloak as I walked the round. The next morning before breakfast I set
to work in real earnest and, using each of these implements in turn,
I succeeded in producing a very fine V just over my heart. This was
the work of fully twenty minutes, and in my zeal I made a deeper
impression than I had intended. The scratch bled to a certain extent.
I had no wish for a blood-poisoning sequel, and, fearing the contact
with the coarse prison clothes, when the wardress came to fetch me
for breakfast I asked her for a small piece of lint and plaster. On a
previous occasion I had been allowed these without further inquiry,
when the frosty weather, cold water, and lack of gloves had produced
a sore on my hand. But this time the superintendent herself appeared
and refused to produce the dressing without hearing for what purpose
it was required. I was anxious to proceed further with my inscription
before letting the authorities know of it, fearing that it was not
yet sufficient to be imposing and that all tools might be taken from
me. However, thanks to our previous conversations, my friend was
suspicious. She ordered me to show the scratch. She looked very much
startled on seeing it and asked how it had happened. I explained. She
at first did not know how to take it, but evidently did not think it a
laughing matter, to my great relief, for I hoped this meant the misdeed
was grave enough to suggest to the authorities that I was becoming an
awkward customer in hospital. She was restrained in manner, but looked
rather angry as she solemnly applied a large piece of lint and many
plasterings which, to my delight, gave the scratch a quite imposing
look, as if half my chest had been hacked open. So that no blame should
fall on her, I gave her all the information for which she asked and
the incriminating tools were gathered together as if they had been
witnesses in a detective case. After breakfast I was summoned into
the presence of the Governor and given a scolding, but no sentence of
punishment was passed and I remained in doubt as to whether my evil
deed had been sufficiently impressive. Later on I was taken down to the
Senior Medical Officer. Scolding was not in his line and the official
requirements of the occasion were evidently effortful to him, but his
laborious sermon of reproofs was all the more punitive on that account.
As he had invariably been kind to me and civil to all other prisoners,
I was sorry to have to vex him. I reminded him of the warning I had
previously given and how often I had patiently renewed my request in
a reasonable way before having recourse to these stronger measures.
Of course he had to pretend that he saw not the remotest connection
between his refusal to let me leave hospital and my “outrageous”
conduct of the morning. He and the ward superintendent, who ushered
me into his presence and exposed the scratched “V” for his inspection,
were evidently much put out. I felt all a craftsman’s satisfaction
in my job. The V was very clearly and evenly printed in spite of the
varying material of its background, a rib bone forming an awkward bump.
As I pointed out to the doctor, it had been placed exactly over the
heart, and visibly recorded the pulsation of that organ as clearly
as a watch hand, so that he no longer need be put to the trouble of
the stethoscope. I also explained how useful the mark would be at the
inquest, to which he had alluded, when they wanted quickly to extract
the heart in proof that its “serious disease” was responsible for
my demise and not the prison regimen. But he was not in a mood for
chaff and became more and more distraught as to how to deal with the
situation. At last he hit on a brilliant idea and said, “If you go on
like this we shall have to dismiss you from the prison altogether.”
I could have congratulated him with both hands for this really
understanding remark. It was obvious that such a sentence wouldn’t at
all meet with my aims, and would secure my return to good behaviour if
anything could. He had effectively checkmated me, at any rate for the
moment. I promptly capitulated and capped this suggestion by saying:
“I think I had better be sent back to the general ward; I seem to
give a lot of extra trouble in the separate cell.” The superintendent
wardress exclaimed with gusto, “Yes, you do,” and the doctor jumped at
the suggestion. As there were now only ten days before our release I
had decided to push through my efforts to get to the cells regardless
of all else, but I was exceedingly anxious about the patient with the
injured leg. Her release was due, with other members of the Freedom
League, the next day (Wednesday, March 17). I had a feeling that I
could to a certain degree watch over her welfare and was to this extent
glad of the opportunity to return to the hospital. While waiting for
the hospital gate to be unlocked a small gang of ordinary prisoners
had for some reason or another congregated in the passage and blocked
the way. My friend, the superintendent, took the opportunity to give
me a severe scolding in their presence. Now that the extent of my
criminality had been duly notified and received, as it were, official
recognition, her pent up indignation let fly and she gave me a regular
dressing down. She did not, of course, allude to the nature of my
crime; this was left to the imagination of the onlookers, but, as
on all other occasions of the kind that I can recall, the sympathy
of prisoners turns automatically to a fellow-prisoner, not to the
officials. Intercourse by means of speech being forbidden, the language
of the eyes becomes perfected. Inquiry, interest, fellow-feeling,
loyalty, encouragement, sympathy of the best, all these emotions are
expressed in prisoners’ eyes in a way that outbids the meaning of words
and the intonations of the voice. I respected this superintendent as
before, because of the impartiality with which she treated me, but this
example of public reproof before other prisoners was typical of the way
this sort of prison discipline defeats its own ends.

Mrs. Macdonald was still suffering acutely. She had been taken out
of the ward for the injury to be photographed by X-rays. She was
carried up and down the stairs, as before, in a chair with no rest
for the feet. She had been told that the photographs had not been
distinct and left them “none the wiser,” but “Depend upon it,” said
the doctor, “you had better keep moving about as much as you can.” The
prison authorities recognised that she was unfit to travel by rail.
As she had no home in London and could not afford to rent rooms, they
proposed sending her to a hospital. For various reasons, the thought
of an ordinary public hospital was extremely repellent to her. The
prison officials now discussed the matter with her and seemed to show a
certain amount of interest and even kindness towards her.

My wound being the nominal ground on which I had been returned to
hospital, it had to be treated with official respect. The ward
superintendent told me she would come and inspect it the last thing
before she went to bed herself. I looked forward to this opportunity of
pacifying her displeasure with me, but when she came she was already
in her most benignant mood. My chief concern was to inquire her view
as to my chances of ever being sent to the other side. “They’ll never
send you out of hospital, nothing you can do will make any difference,
so what’s the use of going on trying?” In some mysterious way this
despairing speech of hers put new mettle into me, and I determined I
would renew my attempts. To reassure her with regard to my villainous
intentions I told her that the doctor had hit on a really effective
deterrent by threatening to turn me out of prison. “That’s what you
deserve,” she said, severely, but with something of a wink. “So you
think,” I retorted.

The hospital atmosphere soon drew my thoughts away from my strike and
its object. Several of the patients were less restless than when I
had last been amongst them. The night wardress with the hacking cough
had been changed. The sick patients had agreed to make no complaints
for fear they should get her into trouble or perhaps be given a more
disagreeable wardress in her place. But when our numbers had been
increased by a patient who was in fairly vigorous health but for the
most painful neuritis in her arm, she found the continuous disturbance
of her all too precious sleep intolerable and she reported the
wardress’s cough to the doctor. We were then all questioned and had to
admit the fact, whereupon we were given another night wardress. This
one, as had been feared, was more rigid in her ways and interpreted
the absurdly inhuman prison regulations literally. For instance, one
night a patient who was quite incapable of moving out of bed had been
given medicine which disturbed her during the night. The wardress
at first refused to wait upon her, but after reluctantly consenting
to do this, she then refused to empty the slops. A fellow-prisoner
volunteered to do this, but was not allowed. At last, after putting
the patient to much distress, the wardress did the work. On hearing of
this the next morning I was indignant and reported the matter to the
ward superintendent. She answered, “The officer was quite within her
rights. She is not a nurse and it is no part of her duty to wait on the
patients. She was quite right, too, not to allow the other patients to
do it.” I expostulated as to the brutality of putting a patient who
was really ill to such distress and on the unwholesomeness of having
slops in the ward all night. “The only thing that can be done in such a
case,” she replied, “would be to ring the night bell for me.” As this
woman was on her feet for sixteen hours, from six in the morning to ten
at night, the patients would be most reluctant to disturb her, apart
from the fact that they would never dream of this being the right thing
to do unless they had been specially informed of the regulation.

I found that my poor friend of the injured leg was suffering more than
ever. I did my best to ease her pain by rubbing and trying to lift
the cruel pressure from the disturbed bones. The wardress did not
interfere with me as I had rather expected she would, but the next
morning she said, “I must report you for being out of bed half the
night.” When the doctor came on his rounds he had, I suppose, received
the “report,” for he shook his head at me reprovingly but with a kind
look as if he at least understood the motive of my most recent crime.
I felt very despondent all day. The members of the Freedom League were
released that morning, all except Mrs. Duval, who had to serve a longer
sentence, and Mrs. Macdonald, as the authorities had not yet decided
what was to happen to her on release.

In the afternoon the sun shone brightly and the air was full of that
indefinable sense of spring. The “spring-running” of the jungle seemed
to penetrate even through prison walls and into the minds of prison
officials. Whether because of this or for some less good cause we were
accorded exceptional benefits. Hospital patients who had not been out
before were allowed to come to exercise and we were told to walk in
couples, arm-in-arm, the healthier patients supporting the others.
Amazing privilege! It seemed like a bit of heaven. We, of course,
discarded the “silence” rule at the same time. We were exercised in
a larger space, not one of the narrowly-enclosed exercise yards. The
prison officials passed by--Governor, Matron, doctors--but they made no
comment at the unusual sight, seemed, on the contrary, quite pleased as
we grinned our pleasure boldly into their faces.



CHAPTER IX

FROM THE CELLS


The following morning, Thursday, March 18, I was again summoned before
the Governor. He looked as if he had an important announcement to
make to me. “Do you still wish to leave the hospital?” he asked. I
was afraid this might mean my dismissal. “Do you mean going to the
other side?” I said. He answered “Yes.” “Rather!” I exclaimed, and
could hardly contain myself for surprise and delight. He proceeded to
explain: “The weather having changed, the medical officer gives his
consent to your being moved to the cells.” I should not be allowed to
scrub my floor nor do any of the routine “labour,” but if my health and
behaviour (!) remained good, I might be moved next day.

The weather, of course, had changed many times since we had been in
Holloway, varieties of cold or mild, damp or dry succeeding each other
day by day, after the familiar fashion of our national climate in
February and March. But I was too well content to be sarcastic over the
reasons given for the official surrender to my request. I simply said
“Thank you very much indeed.” I had already announced this decision
to several of the ward patients, when the superintendent came on her
rounds and I rushed up to her unceremoniously with, “Have you heard
my good news?” Her official mood was on and she ordered me off with a
“Hush! not now.” I gathered from various questions put to me by the
Governor that the authorities hoped I had not told of my carving-strike
to the other patients. It would never do, of course, to conciliate the
wishes of a striker! But I was not able to comfort them on this score,
and my triumph was public as well as complete.

Later in the morning the superintendent took me before the Senior
Medical Officer. With him it was a real temptation to say, “If now,
why not before?” to point out how effective had been the behaviour
which two days previously he had professed to find so incomprehensible,
also to draw the analogy between this little prison episode and the
women’s fight for the vote--a reasonable demand, continuously pressed
in a reasonable way and with great patience; result, blank refusal on
the part of responsible powers. Militant action, by means of strike
and protest; result, anger, condemnation, and the request is granted.
The vote is not yet granted to women, but who now doubts that “they’ll
get it” before long; but I restrained myself and trusted that the
lesson would sink home unassisted. The doctor pointed to a chair by the
side of his desk for me to sit while he sounded me. In my excitement
I forgot all prison decorum and shook him cordially by the hand. He
and the ward superintendent seemed nearly as pleased as I was myself.
I felt how differently the prison system would work and with what
different results if the officials were more often allowed to please
themselves by pleasing their prisoners.

That afternoon Mrs. Macdonald was released and sent, by arrangement
with the Prison Commissioners, to a private hospital. The ward
superintendent accompanied her, but on the return of this officer no
word escaped her as to how the patient had stood the transit, nor as
to the result of the further radiograph which had been taken the day
before. As soon as I was released, I heard that her leg was broken
and had been from the first. A committee was formed for her care and
her redress. The Home Secretary, Mr. Gladstone, was sure that the leg
had been broken before and refused to read our statement. It was not
till 1910, when Mr. Winston Churchill was made Home Secretary, that he
read the case and paid her £500 compensation. She was taken to another
hospital and had a serious operation to her leg. Had it been treated at
once, the fractured bone would have been restored to its own length,
but after about eighteen days of her being in prison, when nothing was
done for it, the bone had overlapped and the muscles hardened round
it. This, of course, inevitably shortened the bone. The operation was
successful, but she is lame for life.

The only item in the cell-life routine to which I looked forward with
considerable misgiving was discarding the hospital slippers and having
to wear the hard shoes continuously all day. I felt quite absurdly
pleased with the reward of my efforts. At the mid-day meal I drank,
or rather ate, the doctor’s health in rice pudding and insisted that
the wardress in charge should do the same. That day there happened to
be on duty one of the outwardly least human of her kind, but my good
spirits were irrepressible, and these being so rarely seen in prison,
they gave me a certain air of authority, I suppose, for her severity
melted and she ate the rice pudding, as ordered, with even the flicker
of a smile.

The luxury of a bath was allowed once a week, my turn was due that
evening. The superintendent said: “If I let you have it, will you
promise me not to cut yourself about or any nonsense of that kind?”
I answered: “Is it likely now that I’ve achieved all that I’ve been
struggling for?” That evening, when she came to my bed for a last
inspection, I said, “You see, they have given way after all.” “Yes,”
she answered; “I never thought they would, but there, you never can
tell what is happening behind the scenes.” I cordially agreed with
this last sentiment. “That is why,” I answered, “one should never grow
disheartened when things seem to be impossible.”

The next morning, while dusting the ward, the little 3rd Division
cleaner came up to me and, without looking at me after the manner of
prisoners, said in a low voice, “I shall miss you.” I took her to mean
that my housemaiding had to a certain extent lightened her labours, and
I was filled with pride; I have seldom received praise that gave me
more pleasure. I redoubled my energies and turned over and dusted the
beds that were unoccupied. The superintendent passed and said, “What
are you doing there?” I explained. “Oh!” she answered, “That’s good
of you.” It’s wonderful how luck, good or bad, never comes singly.
Everything seemed to win approval that day.

In the afternoon I was sewing a new stripe on to Mrs. Duval’s sleeve, a
good conduct badge that had been dealt out to her, as the first month
of her sentence had been served (she was in for six weeks), when a
stranger wardress came into the ward and summoned me to “bring your
things and come with me.” This meant the other side at last! Now that
the long-fought privilege was actually mine I felt self-reproachful at
leaving Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, but she thought I had done right to try
and join the others. No time was allowed for goodbyes. As I retreated
through the gate I waved the hated shoes at my companions, in token
of my good wishes. I was made to change all my clothes. The wardress
was reluctant to allow me to wear my nightdress, as I had done from
the first in the day time. I insisted, fearing that I might catch cold
without it, and I promised the doctor to care for my health in every
way if allowed out of hospital. She relented, but told me I must inform
the matron about it. I was taken over to the new building “D X,” and
shown to a cell on the third floor, No. 10. It was very clean, had no
bars on the window and no gate, and was in every respect much brighter
looking and without so much of the death’s-head element as the hospital
cell I had just left in the older part of the prison. It had a hot pipe
and, to my surprise, was considerably warmer than the hospital cell or
general ward, so that the official excuse about the change of weather
seemed less to the point than ever. After depositing the sheets,
towel, soap, etc., which I had brought with me, I was taken to join
the others, who were sitting at associated labour on the ground floor
passage. The building had a strange appearance, as of an enormous bird
cage. The cells are ranged on either side of a barrack-like hall giving
on to narrow galleries with iron rails. The different storeys are
reached by a small iron stairway in the centre. These and the balconies
are covered over with wire netting for the prevention of suicide, a
precaution in every way most characteristic of the prison system,
a symbol of the suicide of its own success. The wire netting gives
the building an abnormal appearance; newcomers question “Why is it
there?” The explanation fills the mind with horror and revolt. A deeper
investigation into prison life brings to light the fact that nothing is
done to prevent or counteract the desire for suicide in prisoners, the
evil is only met by artificial prevention of its consequences when the
mutilation of all spontaneous wishes, human instincts and reasonable
paths of self-interest have engendered the passionate longing to cease
existing.

The moment of joining my companions was most exhilarating. They
were sitting on chairs placed in regular rows, knitting stockings
or sewing women’s underclothes and men’s shirts. I was put into a
vacant place about six rows from the front. Patients who had returned
to the cells from hospital had spread the news of my continued but
vain attempts to rejoin the bulk of my fellow-prisoners, so that my
appearance among them caused great surprise. Some of them were almost
unrecognisably changed by the prison dress, others I was distressed
to see looked extremely ill, but, as the news spread amongst them of
my presence, they looked my way in turn and gave me a welcoming smile
that momentarily changed prison into paradise. I quickly understood
that the right we had claimed to talk with one another at associated
labour had been effectively maintained, but for the sake of not getting
the wardresses into trouble we talked only in low voices or whispers
to our immediate neighbours. The greatest eagerness, of course, was
for news of Mrs. Lawrence. She had sent a special message of thanks to
Mrs. Corbett and to Miss Carling, news having reached the hospital that
these two had been particularly active in maintaining the rights and
decencies that had been won by our predecessors through much hardship,
also in their efforts to secure fresh reforms of the same kind. These
were mostly connected with ordinary prison routine and affected
the welfare of all prisoners besides ourselves. They were, amongst
others--the use of an earthenware mug for drinking purposes instead of
a tin; permission to empty slops more frequently; a chair with a back
to it had been substituted for the stool; a better standard of food,
cooking and clothing through complaint whenever these were amiss; the
right to appeal direct to the Governor--previously the applications
to see the Governor had frequently not been delivered, this being, of
course, more especially the case when it was suspected that complaint
would be made about any of the officers; protest whenever prisoners
were unjustly punished for offences they had not committed; the right
to speak to each other at associated labour.

The prisoners near me were eager to point out these two valiant women
and cordially endorsed the report of their splendid persistency. They
were sitting near the front, and it was several days before I achieved
getting a place near enough to convey to them Mrs. Lawrence’s message.
They were immensely pleased. One of the reforms for which they had
asked most continuously, but always in vain, was for alteration in the
lavatory doors. These, which we nick-named “the cowsheds,” were only
about three feet in depth and left a space of one foot from the ground,
there was no lock or bolt or catch of any kind and they could not be
fastened. As the lavatories occupied a position next door to the sink
and in the very centre of the gallery, there was no sense of privacy
whatever. Both feet and head of the occupant could be seen from the
passage, and in the hurried passing to and fro of prisoners to the sink
to draw water or empty slops the lavatory door was frequently flung
open. The excuse given for this arrangement was that it was in the
interests of cleanliness and because of the tendency amongst prisoners
to commit suicide. If they were invisible or could lock themselves
in, it was stated that besides foul behaviour they would seize the
opportunity to kill themselves. Obviously neither of these precautions
were necessary in the case of Suffragettes, and we pleaded that when
our numbers exceeded sixteen, the number of cells to which a lavatory
was provided, one might be set apart for our use. With the W.S.P.U.
and Freedom League together the Suffragette prisoners during my time
amounted to about forty. We asked that a bolt should be put on the
inside of the door, and a curtain hung from the top of the doorway.
This would have been easy and inexpensive, and the wardress in charge
could, at any time necessary, draw the curtain and open the bolt from
outside the door. It is difficult to see how this arrangement would be
harmful even to the ordinary prisoner. The modern cells are fitted with
electric light, the lamps of which have glass shades. The prisoners
are locked into these cells and pass the night without inspection. If
they intended suicide nothing would be easier than to break the glass
and open a vein with it. The lavatories contain no such easy implements
for suicide. The almost unanimous experience of our prisoners, and
of many ordinary prisoners with whom I have compared notes since my
release, is that prison life disorganises digestion. The unaccustomed
food, the many hours of sitting still, the want of air, the inability
to leave the cell except at stated times, and the great depression of
spirit, are all of them certain to produce digestive disorders. Bread
is the staple food of prisoners. The prison brown bread is excellent
in quality and in nutritive properties to those who can digest it,
but to most moderns, of whatever class or sex, it is an unaccustomed
food. To some people it is too coarse and acts as an irritant, while
producing the opposite effect on others. The white bread of the
hospital, also excellent of its kind, though not so irritating, is also
not easily digested because of the stagnant life and small quantity
of vegetables or butter allowed. The part played by the drug-basket
in prison routine, and the surprise of its attendant if purgatives
were not required, is proof sufficient that prison conditions in this
matter are abnormal. The cells are supplied with tin chambers fitted
with a lid which can be used in an emergency, but the close atmosphere
of the cells makes this extremely undesirable to people trained in any
sense of cleanliness. Every cell has an electric bell for summoning
a wardress, but frequently no notice is taken of such a summons, and
the bells are often out of order and do not work. Many of our Suffrage
prisoners have had their health permanently impaired, some have had to
undergo operations, as a result of the prison life in these respects.
From the writings of ordinary prisoners and from what I have heard from
them direct, digestive disorders seem to be common to most prisoners.
My own comparative immunity I ascribe to the following precautions:
Doing physical exercises twice or three times a day, saving potatoes
from the midday dinner so that I had some vegetable food at every
meal; keeping my allowance of bread until it was stale; the extra milk
and butter allowed to vegetarians; the freedom from drug taking made
possible by these precautions; the privileges extended to me in the
way of occasional permission to leave my cell out of the drill routine
limitations.

After we had returned to our cells the Matron came to visit me. I
reported the fact that I was wearing my nightgown under my day clothes.
She said I could not be allowed to do this without special permission
from the medical officer. I accordingly put in “an application” to see
him the next day.

I think there must be something of Asiatic origin in me, for, contrary
to Western customs, I never feel that meals are a suitable time for
conviviality, but, on the contrary, that eating should be in solitude.
I enjoyed the change to the cell routine in this respect. It was good
to have always the same drinking mug, the cleaning of which I had
done myself, and I was glad to be rid of the hospital tablecloth,
for this was changed only once a week, and the over-filled dishes of
fish and vegetables, as well as tea and milk, left their mark upon
it abundantly, so that during the last days of the week it presented
anything but an appetising appearance. In the cells, milk was poured
into my own pint mug, vegetables were served in an unpolished tin which
looked very dirty and sometimes smelt objectionably, but the potatoes
were in their skins and I ate of the vegetables only that part which
did not touch the tin. A tin plate and spoon were provided in the
cells, and a curious piece of tin, oblong in shape, doubled over up one
side to make a rounded surface and corrugated on the other to make an
uneven saw-like edge, was handed in with the meal to serve as knife.
This I used as it was put out again with the empty tins, but I soon
learned that if the plate and spoon were greased with food it was very
difficult to get them clean again, as they can only be washed in cold
water. The pail of water allowed to stand in the cell quickly became
greasy itself, and there was no time, when let out to the tap to draw
water, to wash up these things at the sink. I therefore used some of
the freely supplied brown toilet paper to cover my plate and helped
myself with my fingers instead of the spoon as they were much easier
to wash. We were allowed a small supply of hot water at the same time
that supper, consisting of hot milk and bread, was brought round. It
was rather a trial that under conditions where luxuries were scarce,
two should be supplied together in a way to make the full enjoyment
of them both impossible. I preferred a hot wash to a hot supper and
performed my ablutions first.

I had hoped that having left hospital I should be allowed to sleep
in the dark, but it was a disappointment to find I was still an
“observation case” because of my “heart disease.” I did not sleep much
and when morning came I felt strangely tired, but supposed it was due
to the unusual excitement of rejoining my companions and of having
at last attained to “the other side.” One of the hospital patients
had kindly given me elaborate instructions as to the mysterious and
dexterous craft of bed-rolling in the cells. As the failure to achieve
this correctly was a frequent cause of reproof and as the instructions
given by wardresses were often inadequate I was very grateful for
this special training. I remember that the patient, Mrs. Manson, of
the Freedom League, was reading George Elliot’s “Mill on the Floss,”
and it was on the cover of this book that she elaborated to me the
furniture of the cell, where each thing should be placed and how the
bedding was to be folded, then rolled into a kind of Swiss-roll coil.
In the cells the mattress is stuffed with some kind of chaff, a not
uncomfortable form of bedding if not stuffed too full. But mine was
a new one, it seemed filled to its utmost capacity, so that it was
as hard as a pincushion to lie upon, and it was only after repeated
efforts, requiring my utmost strength for about fifteen minutes, that
I succeeded at last in curling it up and buttoning it together in the
required fashion. I was sufficiently exhausted after doing this to
necessitate a long pause before I started afresh on the folding of
the sheets and blankets which had to be done with minute exactness.
Much more prolonged physical labours in hospital had never produced
this effect upon me even during the first days when my heart was
in an actively disturbed state. I wondered whether there was some
health-maiming condition in this much-yearned-after “other side” which
had really justified my retention in hospital. I then remembered the
ventilation system of the cells against which Suffragette prisoners
had made such a determined stand. The Governor and doctors had never
once mentioned this lack of air in the cells as among their reasons
for keeping me out of them, but now I became convinced that this was
the cause of my faintness. Beyond a general feeling of what might be
described as extreme slackness I did not notice anything peculiar
until I exerted myself, but then the absolutely stagnant quality of
the atmosphere seemed to overwhelm me. The window had no opening of
any kind, the sixteen small panes of glass in their wooden framework
were hermetically sealed. There were three ventilators in all, but on
placing my hand upon them there was no feeling whatever of a current
of air. The window was not fogged, so proving that the air was not yet
vitiated to that degree, but whatever the scientific diagnosis of the
results of this ventilation, there could be no doubt to an occupant of
the cell that it was difficult to breathe in it after the eleven or
twelve hours of close confinement.[7]

  FOOTNOTE: [7] In the Report of the Commissioners of Prisons for
  the year ending March 31, 1911 (Part I.), the Surveyor of Prisons
  tells that: “The provision of opening panes and clear glass in cell
  windows has been continued ... another two years’ work (if funds are
  forthcoming) should complete the prisons.” Two years to wait--and for
  want of money from the richest exchequer in the world! But they would
  have waited much longer if it had not been for the Suffragettes.

During the morning, following on my “application,” I was visited by
the medical officer. I put the request, as ordered by the Matron, of
wearing my nightgown in the day time. He turned to the wardress and
said, “What an extraordinary request to put before a doctor. That
has nothing to do with me.” I explained that the leaving off of this
garment would probably affect my health injuriously, but as it was
contrary to prison discipline a doctor’s permit was required. He made
some contemptuous remarks, but, when pressed, reluctantly gave his
consent. This seems a very trifling incident as I record it here,
but I vividly remember how it seemed another link in the chain of
degradation which is forged afresh continuously around every prisoner.
Some exceptional treatment becomes necessary, one is ordered to apply
for it through some particular channel, on application the prisoner is
refused, reproved or laughed at, as if this were a fresh instance of
misdeed or foolishness. In this instance I reminded the doctor that the
authorities were anxious that my health should be good at my release,
and that in making this request I was assisting them, otherwise I
should prefer to go without a privilege which would not be extended
equally to all prisoners under like conditions. I had intended bringing
forward the question of ventilation, but felt that it would be useless
to appeal to this particular official, who had invariably treated all
my requests as unreasonable. On looking back after my release on this
man’s conduct, it has occurred to me that possibly he adopted his
attitude towards me from a righteous indignation at the orders for
specially favourable treatment which were ordered for my case from
headquarters. I have heard from other Suffragette prisoners and also
from ordinary prisoners of his considerate kindness to them on several
occasions. I afterwards told the Chief Medical Officer about the
airlessness of these cells, I think with some effect.

We were exercised in the morning, not in the afternoon as from the
hospital. It was a moment of great delight to see my companions in the
yard, where I had a better view of them than at associated labour. We
were exercised in sections of about sixteen at a time for an hour, in
the central yard of the prison, as it seemed, a triangular yard flanked
by high walls of the oldest blocks of cells and adjoining the high
central tower, which enables Holloway prison to stand as a landmark
for many miles distant. It can be seen from the Great Northern Railway
on the line between Holloway and Finsbury Park Stations. I never
look at it without recalling the sensations that gripped my soul and
checked my breath when I first set eyes on this inner yard. It seemed
the quintessence of prison, the very heart of it. The length of each
side of the rough, triangular formation is, I should think, about
twenty-four feet. The walls facing south-west and east are very high,
so that a deep shadow lies across the yard at all hours; on the right,
as we entered from D X, is a low walled building used apparently, for
cooking and laundry purposes and facing south. This seems to be a
more modern erection, and from its low, single-storey construction is
responsible for most of the sunlight allowed to enter the enclosure.
The remarkable feature of the yard, which caused the first feeling of
horror that has remained a nightmare in my mind ever since, is the
tier upon tier of cell shutters, they could not be called windows, in
the two high walls giving on to the yard. They are designed to let in
the very minimum of light or air, the shuttered layers of wood are,
moreover, coated with refuse of the pigeons which fly freely about the
yard, and are in every other respect a great delight to prisoners.
The prison from here looks like a great hive of human creeping things
impelled to their joyless labours and unwilling seclusion by some
hidden force, the very reverse of natural, and which has in it no
element of organic life, cohesion, or self-sufficing reason. A hive of
hideous purpose from which flows back day by day into the surrounding
city a stream of evil honey, blackened in the making and poisonous in
result. The high central tower seemed to me a jam pot, indicative of
the foul preserve that seethed within this factory for potting human
souls.

Sometimes, in momentary reaction from the pent-up feelings of
indignation and revolt, which were chronic with me during my
imprisonments, I could have laughed out loud at the imbecility and
pathos of human fallibility, that civilised (?) educated beings could
continue such processes by way of ridding themselves from the dangers
and active harmfulness of crime. Wardresses stood at different points
of the yard. Whenever in our march round there was a tendency for
the single file to draw closer together, the wardresses would say
nothing, but catch hold of one of us by the arm until the spacing was
again correct. This handling of prisoners instead of appealing to
their ordinary intelligence was typical of the mistaken routine, as in
hospital, imposed upon prison officials.

Once, to my delight, I recognised among these superintending wardresses
one who had been with us, and exceptionally kind, in hospital. I hoped
that she would manage somehow to give me news of Mrs. Pethick Lawrence
and possibly also of my friend with the injured leg, whose fate I
thought must surely have filtered through to the wardresses. For some
days no opportunity occurred, although this officer smiled at me once
or twice with a friendly recognition that was quite unofficial, but
only at carefully chosen moments, showing that such a smile would not
be allowed by higher authorities. At last, when I purposely crowded up
rather near to the prisoner ahead of me, she took the opportunity to
check my progress by putting her arm in front of me in the recognised
fashion, meanwhile telling me in a hasty whisper and without looking
at me, just as prisoners communicate, that Mrs. Lawrence was well, but
that Mrs. Macdonald had been found to have a fractured hip-joint and
would have to stay in hospital a long while.

Although my cell was considerably warmer than that in the hospital,
I still had not grown accustomed to the insufficiency of my
underclothing, and as now there was no worse condition of things ahead
of me I put into use the strip of flannel that had been given me for
knee-binders. I found that either they slipped off immediately or had
to be bound so tight that they impeded circulation and the free use of
the limbs. As one had to be constantly kneeling down for bed making,
etc., this device proved quite impracticable. Fearing lest fresh
suggestion on my part would have to be passed by a series of officials
and finally submitted to the judgment of a doctor who might, as in
the nightgown question, satirically exclaim that this was a point not
suitable to put to him, I took advantage of the light that was left
on all night, and during the uninspected hours sewed the strips of
flannel on to the flannel drawers; this enabled me to tuck them into
the stockings knickerbocker-wise.

The chaplain kindly came to visit me and remained for quite a long
talk. He is the only male prison official who visits the prisoners
without an attendant, the Governor and Deputy Governor being
accompanied generally by the Matron, and the medical officer by
a hospital attendant or wardress. He told me that many prisoners
after release wrote to him with gratitude for his kindness and help;
nevertheless he seemed to me to have but little fellow-feeling for
the flocks he shepherded in Holloway. I appealed to him, in a way
I had not been able to do within hearing of the other patients in
the hospital, about the case of Mrs. Macdonald. I told how it seemed
to me an instance of the way in which prison officials left to
themselves could not possibly have shown such brutality and neglect
as was actually the case, had not the tradition of the prison system
exacted a lower standard of conduct than was natural. I summed up the
special grievances--her being made to walk across the yard, to walk
up the three flights of stairs, being left a whole day in her cell
before being conveyed to hospital, the refusal of the doctors to use
the X-rays for investigation in the first instance, the contempt with
which they had ignored the suggestions of this unusually intelligent
woman, the refusal to allow her to see a doctor from outside when she
was dissatisfied with their diagnosis, in spite of the fact that she
could not in any sense be regarded as a criminal, having been charged
for “obstruction” only when on a perfectly peaceable deputation to the
House of Commons. The difficulties put in the way of her communication
with her husband relative to her release. The cruel, needless
physical suffering as well as mental worry which such treatment had
entailed, perhaps resulting in maiming her for life. He had no word of
sympathy to offer in connection with this case, and when I compared
the treatment with that meted out to myself, when much greater
consideration was shown with much less need, he took the official line
that all that was done by officials must be right, and that his own
wife had had a similar fall, some friends had advised X-rays, others
had said they would be useless. Nothing was done, the injury turned
out to be slight and her recovery had been complete. At the time he
was using such arguments to me, it was already known that in Mrs.
Macdonald’s case the hip-joint had been fractured.

I know that it is a very serious matter to tell of these things in a
published book. I shall be reminded that officials are unable to answer
back or to defend themselves in public. It must, however, be remembered
that prisoners are in a yet more defenceless position, and that having
personally witnessed and experienced the effect on prisoners of certain
kinds of official infallibility, it is a matter of conscience to speak
out. But in all these instances it is the bad tradition, the wrong
standard of conduct exacted, not the personal character of officials,
that has to be attacked. This chaplain, given ordinary surroundings,
would no doubt be according to his light a well-meaning, and according
to his powers a well-doing man. If his work were in a West End parish
or in a rural district among people whom he genuinely revered, I can
conceive that his sympathy and understanding would be considerable.
The blame of his attitude towards prisoners should rest on those who
selected him for a prison job and on the many elements responsible for
a system which instils contempt for the prisoner as a fundamental tenet
of the prison official. I was told by a fellow-prisoner, a Suffragette,
who on admission had entered her religious beliefs under the title
“atheist,” that this chaplain several times discussed religious
matters with her in a spirit of tolerant reverence for points of view
differing from his own. The combination of the two offices, priest
and prison official, seem to be almost incompatible, anyhow while the
prison system rests upon its present basis. It would be more suitable
if religious and moral teachers could come into the prison solely as
representatives of the ethical bodies they represent. They could then
offer their spiritual guidance and consolations to the unfortunate
inmates, as they would to free individuals, without in any way
compromising the “system” or the officials who have to carry it out.

On Sunday we were allowed to go to Holy Communion. This impressed one
very strangely. An attempt was made to treat one more freely, combined
with many of the same restrictions as at other times. There were about
ten or twelve women altogether, of whom about six were Suffragettes. To
our great delight Mrs. Lawrence was one of them. It seemed ages since I
had left her, and I was delighted to see her again. The beautiful words
of the service were almost more than one could bear, and every one of
them seemed to contain freedom. It seemed as if we must be holding
it privately among ourselves. “Drink ye all of this, for this is My
Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many for the
remission of sins: Do this as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance
of Me.” Yet there was the wardress with her face from which neither
good nor bad could be told, neither kind nor unkind, and the face of
the parson which seemed of the very nature of officialdom. After the
service we left the chapel by different doors, Mrs. Lawrence’s batch
and ours, and we did not see each other again.

The next morning when we were returning, through the many halls of the
building, single file, our huge boots ringing out on the stone floor,
at one door a hospital superintendent stood and said to each one as she
passed: “Any application for the doctor?” When it came to my turn, I
saw that it was my friend from the hospital, but no look of recognition
betrayed itself in her face. She put out her arm to stop me and wheeled
me round to the back. When several others had passed her she turned to
me, began quickly undoing my dress and said rapidly, but with still
no look of recognition: “Well, have you been all right?” “Oh, yes,”
I said, “but surely you are not going to look at it here?” She made
no answer, but began to inspect me even more quickly. I insisted on
turning my back on the long file which seemed never to end. She asked
kindly questions, and said she would come and see the other wound that
afternoon. She did not come, however, but sent one of the younger
superintendents. She came once in the early morning, and it was very
nice to see her again; it was the last time.

On one of the latter days a girl was wrongfully accused of laughing in
chapel, and confined to her cell in consequence the following day. It
is possible that someone was guilty of this. The severity which some
of the wardresses used at chapel seated above the prisoners, one at
every two or three rows, their backs to the altar and their attention
completely taken up with the prisoners, gave one a strange sensation
in church; it took away all reverence of the usual kind, and made
one nervous and possibly inclined to laugh. But, as it happened, the
girl punished for this offence was far removed from the possibility
of laughing. She was one of those I had noticed with particularly long
hair; it must have reached below her knees. We had come away together
once from an Albert Hall meeting in a four-wheel cab when I had been
lucky in securing it, and a wet evening made me invite strangers who
were anxious to get away. She was particularly deferential and modest
in her ways, her manner in chapel was irreproachable, and that she
was picked out for punishment was most singularly ill-judged. We
volunteered punishment of the same order as hers, and neither chapel,
exercise, nor concerted labour had the benefit of us during the day.

The last days were spent in burning excitement. Nothing that I can
say will explain the feeling I had that I was going to be free once
more. The food, the clothes, the getting up at 5.30 a.m., these
were bad enough, but they were as nothing compared to the incessant
brutal treatment of the official manner, as with Mrs. Macdonald more
especially, but also with Mrs. Duval, Miss Lawless, and others; in the
constantly being ordered about and spoken to as if one had no feelings
or perceptions, there was nothing but an extreme severity of manner
without the smallest variation. On the third or fourth day before our
last, someone had a visitor while we were at associated labour. On her
return along the line she said to me: “A speech is expected of you;
they hope great things of you at the feast.” My heart gave one bound.
This meant release without a doubt, but a speech! How was it such a
thing was expected of me? “I’ll simply tell some of the things that
take place here,” I thought, and I felt that this was necessary.

The morning of March 24 we were released. My excitement was great, I
had not slept, and from 4.30 onwards it was impossible to keep quiet.
At 5.30 we were called in the regulation way and towards 7 we were
taken down to other cells. I was put into one with a stranger whom I
had not seen before. She was a servant, a lady’s maid, who had left her
last place, or, rather, they had left her, because of her opinions.
She had determined to go in for the Deputation, although probably it
would mean that she got no place again.[8] The cell where we were was
dirty and smelt horribly, but I said nothing, hoping that my companion
would not notice it. She soon did, however, for the smell nearly made
her faint. I was given a packet of letters--a large heap from friends
and strangers all the world over. At the head of the telegrams was a
two-sheet one from our baker in the country, sent off the moment I was
a prisoner, addressed to “The Castle where Suffragettes are confined,
Holloway,” most anxious about my food, and might he send the special
bread he always made for me! I read my mother’s letter again and again;
it was all kindness, and I could hardly wait to see her. We were
arranged in a long, close file, in the same order in which we had been
ushered in, and put to stand in the big gateway. I never knew what it
was that kept us, but there we stood for nearly an hour. A wardress or
two were watching us, and we were not allowed to move. At last the big
doors were unbolted, we were half pushed from where we stood, we were
out in the open--we were free. My sister and her eldest girl and boy
had somehow gained permission to come within the outer gates. I saw
them and forgot all else. There was no release-breakfast feast; we were
told that we were to meet that evening at the Inns of Court Hotel and
make our speeches there.

  FOOTNOTE: [8] I heard afterwards that the married daughter of the
  lady she was last with had taken her gladly and at once.

Some days had passed when I went back to the prison. I thought I should
be glad to get within reach of the ordinary prisoner, I in no way
dreaded it. I had more to find out about X., the 3rd Division prisoner
of the hospital. But, strangely enough, when I saw the big tower of
Holloway, that looked quite different from anything else, and which
brought back the inevitable picture of the women that go in, are kept
in durance, and let out again to a life more horribly unnatural, I felt
my legs begin to shake, and by the time I was shown in to the Governor,
who kindly saw me, it was all I could do to walk upstairs. I could not
see X.; they said that someone else had been to visit her that month. I
got in touch with her case through the Prisoners’ Aid Society but they
said that she was being “attended to” by another lady.

I went again to Holloway the morning that X. was to be released. Her
freedom was due at 8 a.m. Two women and her little boy were waiting for
her, they had kept the boy from all harm during the long months of her
imprisonment. They didn’t know where she was going to live, or what
she would do, they had heard nothing from her. Soon after eight the
great doors swung open, and the prisoners for that morning were let
out, but there was no X., among them. I inquired at the door, but they
would give no information there. After waiting another three-quarters
of an hour I put in an appeal to see the Governor. The little boy of
four years old had waited more than an hour outside, I had petitioned
for him and one of the women to wait inside, but in vain. I was shown
up to the Governor, who kindly saw me and made inquiries for me about
X.’s case. She was booked to go out that morning, but was waiting for
her uncle, a well-to-do man, to take her away. I said her little boy
was there, might he not spend the time with her, as she would be taking
him away. The answer was “No.” The Governor said it was a case in which
the Chaplain and a lady visitor had taken a special interest, that he
knew very little about it. He asked me very kindly to wait in his room,
but as he had nothing more to tell me I went back to the women outside.
They told me more fully about X. She seems to have been in every way a
good and hard-working woman. She had killed her child, knowing that it
would be impossible to keep it alive. The man, the father, lived in the
same street, but now he had gone, they did not know where. They hoped
that she would come back and live where she had been before, but they
feared the rich uncle, a publican. X. had been to live with him and her
aunt when quite a young girl, but they had insisted that she must tout
the men for them, and engage in illegal intercourse as an attraction.
She had run away, and would not live with them. At her trial the uncle
had been called in, and he, being a Citizen of London, had kindly
managed that she should be tried only for concealment of birth. He had
done well for her at the trial, but now they feared he would get hold
of her again. My feelings were indeed torn when I had to tell them the
Governor’s news. They had kept the child without help from anybody,
sometimes it was a very hard thing, but they had always kept it in
good health. Presently a tall man came by and went into the prison.
About a quarter of an hour after he came out. X. was with him. She
walked head down, her face in tears. Scarcely knowing what she did, she
advanced towards her little boy, stretched out both arms and gave him
a passionate embrace. He had rushed towards her calling out “Mother!”
Then, sobbing as if her heart would break, she followed the man to the
public-house opposite. The two women made as if they would follow her,
and I slipped into her hand a letter I had written in case I did not
see her. The man then rounded on the women, and driving them away with
his hand, said: “Keep away, we don’t want you--your money shall be paid
you all right,” and he fled along the pavement, taking X. by the arm.
We went and had some belated breakfast at a shop. I took the address of
the women and the little boy, but I unfortunately lost it when I was
abroad. I had given them mine, but I have never heard of them from that
day.

I went abroad with my mother, and in the meanwhile things happened
apace in England. The deputations, in ever-increasing numbers,
succeeded one another with imprisonments of two or three months. The
officials treated all the deputations with the utmost indifference.
Miss Wallace Dunlop wrote up on the walls of the House of Commons:
“Women’s Deputation, June 29. Bill of Rights. It is the right of all
subjects to petition the King. All commitments and prosecutions for
such petitioning are illegal.” This is one of the most fundamental laws
of Great Britain, but the vote has rendered it unnecessary for men. For
this she was given one month’s imprisonment, and she it was who began
the hunger strike, and was let free after four days. For several months
succeeding prisoners followed Miss Dunlop’s fine example, and the Home
Secretary, Mr. Herbert Gladstone, let them out after four or five
days, some of them were kept five or six days. When they were let out
they were released unconditionally. Towards the middle of September,
Mr. Gladstone thought that he would make another move and, instead of
releasing them, he had them fed by force in the prisons. The horror
this created was at first small, for there were but few people who
realised what it meant. I shall never forget the impression that it
made on me.



CHAPTER X

NEWCASTLE: POLICE STATION CELL


I was at Birmingham in October, 1909, and I had two meetings with
Mrs. Pankhurst. Whenever this happened one felt most singularly
useless beside that great woman. I was overcome by the sense of being
superfluous, and oppressed at having to go through the same ordeal
in the evening. After the first meeting she took me with her to a
nursing home to see the girl who had been the first to be released
after the hunger-strike and forcible feeding. It was a fine evening,
and a beautiful red light lit up the window as we came in; against it
was merely the shadow of a girl, sitting in an arm-chair. She did not
look ill in an ordinary way, but young and fresh, only so absolutely
thin and wasted, it would not have surprised us if life had gone out.
She told her story very simply, just the bare facts and nothing more.
She had been fed for a month. Mrs. Pankhurst, in cross-questioning
her, elicited some of the horrors. She had resisted the gag as long as
possible, then, with the increasing weakness, she had not the strength
to resist much. Yes, the tube was a long one, pushed down the throat,
in spite of all attempts to prevent it, and into the stomach. The
feeling was that the tube was absolutely choking you, and when it was
withdrawn that it dragged after it the whole of your inside.

She looked absolutely ethereal as she smiled at us and said “Good-bye.”
For several days her face haunted me, it was startlingly like
something. Then I remembered the paintings of Fra Angelico in the
Chapel of St. Mark’s at Florence. I bought one of the little sixpenny
editions of his pictures. There it was, the thing I had seen lately,
the look of spiritual strength shining through physical weakness.
I looked through the book to choose one specially like the girl at
Birmingham; there were several that reminded me of her. I had looked
at these pictures in my younger days, and their great beauty had given
me joy, but I had felt annoyed with the man for painting beings so
inhuman, women that were ethereal but so little real, a look of purity
that no living creature has. Now I had longed for them, having seen the
thing portrayed in life. As I looked through the book, I turned over
suddenly on a picture that was quite different. There was a crowd of
women, real women, doing battle with men. One hit out at a soldier--the
men were soldiers--another thrust out her arm, and with her hand over
his face, kept him away with all the strength she could, a third had
been thrown to the ground, but, with a face of raging despair was
thrusting out in every direction. The soldiers were simply carrying out
their duty, an order had gone forth and they obeyed it; in the arms
of the women were little babies, they had been told to kill them, and
they did as they were told. In a seat above, looking on quite calmly,
was Herod. It was the Massacre of the Innocents. The picture made a
deep impression upon me, yet it all seemed so small compared with
the unnecessary death rates of now. I was, just then, reading some
facts that dealt with the death rate of infants. I found in one of the
booklets by J. Johnston, Esq., M.D., 1909, this passage: “The first
big fact which faces us upon this subject is that while the death rate
for England and Wales for 1906 was 15.4, the infantile mortality--the
death rate of children under twelve months--was 132.” This means that
one in eight of the children born in this country dies before its first
birthday--a death roll of 339 per day--a massacre of the innocents
greater than that of King Herod at Bethlehem. And this wholesale
slaughter of young life goes on, not for one day, as did that historic
butchery, but is repeated every day, every week, every month, year in
and year out, until in the year 1906 the army of baby martyrs reached
a grand total of 123,895. Well might the African monarch, King Khama,
say, “You English take great care of your goods, but you throw away
your children.”

I left that room in Birmingham in a maze of feelings. An angel had been
in my presence and I, who agreed with all she did, had left her and
many others to go through with this alone. My mind was made up. I would
take the very next opportunity of making my protest with a stone.

       *       *       *       *       *

On Friday, October 8, Christabel Pankhurst and I were on our way to
Newcastle. We were seated opposite to each other in the midst of a
crowded third-class carriage. It was on this occasion that I realised,
as I had not yet done, the wonderful character, the imperturable good
temper, the brilliant intellect of my companion. As we could not talk
in this crowded train, I showed her some letters and papers on which I
wanted her advice, or which I wanted her to know about. Whether they
were print, typewritten, or manuscript, she had read them all in a
moment, so as to discuss them with me afterwards. When we arrived at
Newcastle we found that we had accompanied Mr. Lloyd George; there
was a small crowd that welcomed him and that cheered half-heartedly.
We went, after depositing our things at an hotel, to join an outdoor
meeting. Christabel spoke. I sold _Votes for Women_ in the crowd,
which, though a large one, was mostly composed of out-of-work men,
who took little interest in what was said. We drove round the town
in honour of Miss New, who had just come out of prison, and went to
a tea in her honour in an hotel where some fifty or sixty women were
assembled. After this there was a strange meeting in the ground-floor
room of a lodging-house. There were twelve women; we were all intending
stone-throwers, and Christabel was there to hearten us up and to go
into details about the way in which we were to do it. Mrs. Brailsford
was there, whose husband was lately on the staff of the _Daily News_;
he and Mr. Nevinson had resigned their posts because of the shameful
way in which that paper and the Liberal Government had forsaken the
women.

I had made up my mind that I was going to throw a stone--that was
as sure as death, but the manner of it was going to be my own; I
was equally sure of that. I was not sure of “the stone-throwers.”
I had vaguely felt that they would have different reasons from mine
for this errand, that perhaps, though they could not be more certain
than myself, they would mind it less. I had not been in the room with
them five minutes before I realised that I was mistaken. I was the
“hooligan,” if there were one amongst them. One I specially remember.
She was pretty, with a great deal of fair hair. She had not, I thought,
the look of determination, of silent, unhesitating determination, which
gave an air of inflexibility to the others. She leaned forward and
asked many questions: the wardresses, would they, too, be disagreeable,
would they pull down her hair and tear out the tortoise-shell combs?
One somehow knew by her voice that she was not ready, she asked her
questions as if something of a nightmare was in her mind; they were
asked quite simply, but seemed to say, “Oh! save me from this!” I asked
Christabel, when alone with her at the hotel, if I might tell her
there was no need for her to do it, that I thought she was not quite
prepared. “Of course,” she answered, “if she does not feel up to it,
let her stand aside. One cannot tell how one is going to feel, she has
never done anything before.” Not long ago Mrs. Pethick Lawrence had met
her, it was at a bazaar. She wore a big hat and looked as remote as it
is possible to look from stone throwing. She expressed the greatest
admiration for the militants. “There is only one thing,” she said,
“which I cannot think worth while--that they should go to prison.” I
was to get her out of it the next morning, the day of Lloyd George’s
meetings and of our militancy.

That evening there was an immense meeting at the drill hall where
Christabel was to speak, but before she began a gang of about forty
students howled and threw squibs, so that nothing could be heard. When
she got up for a moment the applause drowned everything, but it soon
was again impossible to hear her. The students broke up the seats and
threw everything about. Then some ten of them charged the platform.
A row of stewards hastily ranged themselves and tried to check their
advance, but their arms were wrenched apart, until the husband of one
of them took his turn and gave it to one of the students, whereupon the
other men turned tail and ran. At this man coming forward the police
interfered, they had been appealed to in vain by some of the stewards.
It was most difficult not to help them, but I had sworn to keep myself
till the next day. The row made by the other students went on unabated.
Meanwhile, Christabel remained perfectly good-tempered. For the first
quarter of an hour she spoke up, but as it was impossible for her
voice to carry above the noise she lowered her voice and spoke only to
reporters. The next day her speech appeared in full in all the local
press.

The next morning, October 9, we were to meet early at the same
lodging-house. The morning papers were full of Mr. Lloyd George, and in
biographical sketches emphasised the glory of his having been militant,
and successfully militant, through several questions that he cared
about in his early days. It was different in the lodging-house from
the night before. All was hurry and determination. Two of the women
had gone already to deliver their stony messages. The organiser, a
very straightforward and reasonable woman, was sending each one to a
different place. She said, “There is a stone wants to be put through
the door of the Palace Theatre in the Haymarket. It must be done at
once or the gang of detectives will have become too thick.” A firm
voice said: “I’ll go.” It was the young girl with fair hair who had
asked so many questions the night before, and whom I was going to set
free. “Oh, no,” said the organiser, “this job will have to be done
alone--two would be detected at once.” “I’ll go.” It was like a force
of nature that reiterated this, and there was something of adamant at
the back of the voice. She picked up two or three papers to sell, and
was out in the street before we any of us knew what she was doing. I
dashed after her. I couldn’t believe that there was so much change in
her since the night before. I moved quickly, but it was only down the
street that led out of the lodging-house street that I caught her up.
“I had thought of getting you out of it, because you seemed too young
to do the work,” I said. “That was last night; to-day all is quite
different.” “But let me try and say what I have in my mind. You are
going to throw a stone. Think, as you lift your arm to do it, of the
majority in the House of Commons who for years have said they are for
Votes for Women, who over and over again for twenty years have voted
for the second reading of a Woman’s Bill, and were quite content that
it should stop there. Think of the nearly total Cabinet for Woman
Suffrage when the Liberals came in, under a Suffrage Prime Minister,
but all attempts to pass a Bill were treated as futile. Think of the
women who work with a sweated wage, who have not the energy to rebel,
who are cloaked with poverty; the thousands who, stricken with poverty
more hideous than we can think of on one side, and tempted with money
on the other, sink into a life of shame, which is endured for five
or six years, till death releases them. Think of Lloyd George, whose
speech is always fair but who carefully prevents anything being done
for women. Think of the women who have been sent to prison for their
protest against these things, who have hunger-struck as a fresh protest
and who now have been fed by force. Then throw your stone and make it
do its work.”

“Thank you,” she said, “thank you.” I looked up at her, as I had not
liked to do till that minute. A changed being stood before me. I had
noticed that she had changed from the night before, she had changed
unbelievably at this minute, and all that strength, determination,
complete forgetfulness of self could give her, were with her now.

We parted. I went back to the others. The next thing I heard of her
was in the other office, where we provided ourselves with stones. A
little girl of about sixteen, who kept on running messages for us, came
rapidly into the room. “Miss X.,” she said, “has thrown her stone,
broken her window, and been arrested.” Then she went out. From that
moment I knew that all was well. Miss X. got through the two days
in the police-court, the trial, the hunger strike, and the forcible
feeding that followed for the space of fourteen days, as did the
others. Her body was weakness, but her soul was strength.

No particular job was given to me. Miss Emily Davison and I were to
keep together. It was still early, and first we had to make sure of our
stones. We went to the other office to get them. I was doing up mine
in brown paper, double thick. “You will not be able to throw those,”
said the organiser, “if there is the least bit of wind, it will get
inside and send them you don’t know where.” That was true. I found
some much thinner paper which kept closely round the stone. I took
four or five. On each one I wrote a different thing, I think they were
all taken from Mr. Lloyd George’s recent speech. I put them into my
pockets and went out. Miss Davison had been speaking from every part
of the town during the last week. I recommended her to buy another
hat for partial disguise. We went into a hat shop and did so. In the
shop there was a fascinating little black kitten which it was hard
to leave. Then we went into an eating shop, thinking it was as well
to have some luncheon. The shop was overpoweringly stuffy and hot. I
had not met Miss Davison before, and it was most interesting to hear
her experiences. Still, we could neither of us speak nor listen with
anything but effort. We decided to go and see what it was like at the
Haymarket, a large, open space, where the car with Mr. Lloyd George
would probably pass. There was still more than an hour before he could
come. The crowd was already considerable. Nearly every woman that I saw
looked friendly; this was probably my imagination, but it did me good.
The Suffragettes were greatly thought of that day. The place, we found,
was divided in two by a hoarding of about ten feet in height; there
was a space, guarded by police, that could be opened to let a carriage
through. We looked round at the windows of all the adjacent buildings,
but they were not of an official or of a sufficiently conspicuous
character for our stones. Presently a man in front of us--the crowd
now was pretty thick--was twirling round one of his cards in his hands
which were folded behind him. He then held it up, so that we could
see there was writing on it. At last his signals grew more desperate.
One of us took the card from him. On it was written his deferential
greeting, that he knew what we were out for, could he help us in any
way, run messages for us or anything? We answered, writing on the other
side, that we thanked him cordially, but as we had no particular job,
it was best for him to “wait and see.” He had a kindly face and looked
the right sort, but we thought it was just as well that this was the
true answer. There was a monument to the soldiers who had died in the
war in the midst of the open space. Their names were written on it, and
the little boys were clambering up the monument to see above the crowd.
They had died for their country, that was the one fact which seemed to
stand out very clearly from the monument. Yes, nobly, and in a good
fight, they had died--where is the statue to the women who had given
their lives to the nation?

We heard cheering in the distance, it was the arrival of Mr. Lloyd
George at the theatre, he having driven by another way. My companion
began to think that our chance was over until the evening. A feeling
came over me that I could not wait any longer, and that somehow or
other I must throw my stone. As it would anyhow be but symbolical, it
seemed to me one could find an occasion as well here as elsewhere. One
thing, however, I was determined upon--it must be more zealously done,
more deliberate in its character than the stone-throwing at ordinary
windows, which had been done lately. I was determined that when they
had me in court my act should inevitably be worse than that of other
women. At this moment there was a hurry in the crowd, the police were
making a clearing and opening the carriage entrance for a motor-car. We
found ourselves on the very edge of the crowd. As the motor appeared,
I whispered to Miss Davison: “Is this any good?” “Not the least in
the world,” was her reply, “just one of the motors coming back.” I
knew this, of course, but the instinct was too much for me. To throw a
stone against the car as it ran along the side was dangerous, as there
were two men in the front. I stepped out into the road, stood straight
in front of the car, shouted out “How can you, who say you back the
women’s cause, stay on in a Government which refuses them the vote, and
is persecuting them for asking it,” and threw a stone at the car, but
very low down. I thought I had thrown it too low, so that it would
not hit the car. I was going on, in the space of time which seemed
infinitely long, to tell the car to turn back and get their answer from
Mr. Lloyd George, then call to the people to come through the gap and
hear his answer. I had time to think out all this. Miss Davison came to
my side, and I saw someone take hold of her before she could throw her
stone. Then two plain-clothes detectives caught hold of me, but what
was my intense surprise, without any violence whatever. They simply
led me back through the crowd which surged around on every side. I had
thought there were no actual friends where we stood, but I at once saw
one or two ready to come and help me if I wanted it. So I was still
and said not a word. My part was finished, and I saw that anything
said might easily cause a tremendous disturbance at those close
quarters. Miss Davison was arrested at the same time, though she had
done nothing, and we were led away together. It was a business getting
through the crowd. When we had left the Haymarket the crush was very
much less, and the two detectives in plain clothes who were responsible
for me walked on either side without touching me. This went rather
strangely with the newspaper contention that I was “very excitable.”
Another incident which got put into the papers was, that when we were
going down a main street, two tramcars, going different ways, were
about to meet. This pressed the crowd that followed us and pushed us
all together. We were walking, of course, in the roadway. A little girl
with a baby in a perambulator and a small boy on foot had got on to the
island and were wishing to pass to the pavement, being afraid of the
two trams. I realised that I was the policeman of that show. I stopped
and just held out my hand to the detective on my right. We let the baby
and its leaders pass, then we moved on.

We were taken to the central police station of the town. The police
here were most civil, and, indeed, kind. We gave our names and
addresses, and then we waited in the main room. Poor Miss Davison
was very distressed at doing nothing. Her heroism had to wait for
another day.[9] Mrs. Baines came into the police court and spoke to
us. I was filled with disappointment that I had not been able to do
more. She told me that she was quite content, that I had thrown my
stone straight, and, she believed, hit the car. She was delightfully
encouraging, and made one think one had done well. Presently Mrs.
Brailsford joined us, she had done exactly what she meant to do, and
with a hatchet had hit one of the barricades.

  FOOTNOTE: [9] Soon after this Miss Davison was forcibly fed in
  Manchester Prison, and, on barricading her cell, the hose-pipe was
  played upon her from the window, a process of force that caused
  her infinite pain. She fainted, and it was many days before she
  recovered. She owed her life probably to being released from prison,
  and to the fact that she was a great swimmer, used to the shock
  of cold water and to withstanding its force. In 1913 she met her
  death with the most heroic courage at the Derby race. It was her
  opportunity of proclaiming to the whole world, perhaps heedless till
  then, that women claim citizenship and human rights. She stood in
  front of the race and was knocked down by the King’s horse Anmer,
  rendered unconscious, and died the following Sunday, June 8. Millions
  of people, not only in our own but other countries, knew, from this
  act, that there are women who care so passionately for the vote and
  all it means that they are willing to die for it.

I noticed in this central police station a large iron cage. It was
empty, and we wondered what purpose it could serve. On one of the
benches a little boy was sitting, of about seven or eight years old. He
had on ragged clothes, but seemed quite happy with a cup of soup which
he had been given. It seemed odd though to bring small children to such
a place, with nothing but policemen, although several of these were
good-natured.

After we had been here a considerable time and were joined by some
of our companions, we heard that it was unlikely they would allow us
bail, and we were taken off to the cells. Who could have believed that
in the central police station of a place like Newcastle they could be
so dirty? Mine was No. 2. It was on the left side of a broad gangway,
which could be shut off by an iron gate. It was October and inclined to
be dark, and when I was first put into the cell it was impossible to
see what it was like or what it contained. It was rather high, the very
small window opposite the doorway was either of foggy glass or grimed
with dirt, it scarcely lit up anything but itself. To the right was a
plank, rather wide and long, and with a kind of bolster made of wood.
This was all for seat or bed. When the evening light was lit above the
door, where it was barred with iron on the side of the cell, I saw
that the wood was filthy. There was a plenitude of fleas, but no lice.
Under the window to the right was a lavatory, it was extremely dirty,
the water could only be turned on from outside. There was a ledge about
three feet high, which sheltered the seat. Under the window, but this
I could not see till the second day, was a men’s urinal, there was a
gutter in the floor for this, but no water. The cleanliness of the wall
can be imagined. The smell in the cell was continuously foul.[10] I was
very tired, but only liked to sit, not lie, on the bed.

  FOOTNOTE: [10] I have been in police station cells in several other
  places--a variety in London and two in Liverpool--but never have I
  seen anything like this. The other cells were scrupulously clean.

After what seemed a very long time, a policeman summoned me, and said
we were all to have food together in the wardresses’ room. As I was let
out I noticed seven of the others being let out too--Winifred Jones,
Ellen Wines Pitman, Kathleen Brown, Kitty Marion, Dorothy Pethick and
Emily Davison. Mrs. Brailsford was the only one I did not see. The
four others--Violet Bryant, Ellen Pitfield, Lily Asquith and Dorothy
Shallard--had all done their work the previous evening, and had been
sentenced on this, Saturday, morning to two weeks’ imprisonment.
It was, of course, a joy to see them. It seemed so very long since
that morning. When we had passed the central police office, and were
ushered into the wardresses’ room, it appeared that Mrs. Brailsford
was shut into the wardresses’ bedroom--whether for a more honourable
imprisonment, she being a woman whose public work none could call
deficient in selflessness and courage, or whether because she was a
“dangerous criminal,” having used a hatchet in making her mark on
the barricade, we did not know. I remember catching sight of her as
the door was opened to let in a cup of tea. There she sat, calm and
erect, and Mr. Brailsford, who had been let in to see her, in piteous
trouble, having the one thought--“Will my wife be fed by force--how can
they dare to do it? How will she be able to bear it?”

Most of the others I had not seen before, yet I felt exuberant delight
at being with them. One only I knew well, and that was Miss Ellen
Pitman. She was in the Deputation of February and, after being in
prison some ten days, she was brought to the hospital for neuralgic
pains in her leg. She was a trained nurse, we had got to know each
other well, and her fine face will always be very dear to me. We now
got to know the wardresses--they were as kind to us as possible.
I was so tired I could scarcely see, and after a time we retired
to rest. There was a deafening noise; the cells were filled mostly
with drunkards, for it was Saturday. Thundering blows on the doors,
accompanied by a string of oaths, went on all through the night. The
police were very kind to them, bringing them fresh water to drink,
chaffing them and coaxing them. No bedding of any kind or rugs were
provided by the police, but our friends outside were most wonderfully
good to us, and, when they found we were not to be bailed out, they
were busy collecting rugs and blankets. At about 12 they sent me
in a rug and a sort of air-cushion bed, which would have been most
delightful, but I tried every end in vain, I didn’t know how to put air
into it. I was stiff for several days from my rest on the plank, but I
owed it to the friends that I did not have two nights of it. On Sunday
they brought a mattress instead of the air bed, and my flannel sheets
which gave me a restful night.

On Sunday I sent for the district visitor, supposing she would be a
woman, but was told there was no district visitor; a police-court
missionary? not one either; finally, I sent for the doctor. My
complaint was that no toilet paper was provided, and no sanitary towels
for the women. Prisoners are kept from Saturday afternoon until Monday.
I said, were not these people the same as those who go to prison, they
have these necessaries there? “I don’t know about a prison, I’m sure
they would never use them in Police Station cells.” Exactly the same
remark was made about the prisons, but all the same these things were
instituted and now used by prisoners. I begged that, at least, they
might be kept in charge of the wardress.

Not long after I had seen the doctor, I was summoned out to see someone
else. To my great delight it was Mrs. Pankhurst. She was all sympathy,
and it was delightful seeing her.

I was had out of my cell yet another time, for my name, age, etc.,
to be “taken down” by a policeman in a book. I was able to look over
the book as he wrote, and I saw, to my intense surprise, that the law
brought three charges against me, first, of assault on Sir Walter
Runciman, who was in the car; secondly, of malicious injury to the car
at £4; thirdly, of disorderly behaviour in a public place. I felt very
exalted to think I had done so much, and thought that three months was
the least they could give me. I could not help being pleased to think
that the car had contained the host of Mr. Lloyd George, not merely the
chauffeur. But what pleased me most was the £4 damage. How I could
have done it was indeed a mystery, but I was glad to know that the
stone had not gone on the ground, as I had feared. As I went through
the central room on one of these occasions, the cage which I had seen
before, to my astonishment, was inhabited--by a man, I expected to see
some fierce brute, but he was small, frail and miserably degraded,
without power to do anyone an injury, with marks of abnormal weakness
in his face. When I saw him, the feeling came over me with a great
tide, that I should throw myself at his feet and try to bear something
of his burden, because if I had done my duty, and if my contemporary
women and those who went before had done their duty, we should have
given him another life, by securing better, more human conditions, for
himself and for his mother who gave him birth. He had lived in that
terrible state of things which make it hardly possible to survive.
Here, at any rate, was a man intensely feeble in his body, and he was
put in an iron cage as the only suitable place!

We were called out and made to stand at the doors of our cells.
Presently, the plain-clothes police came to “learn our faces,” and
after looking at us steadfastly for some minutes, we were put back
again.

The food was brought for us by our friends from outside, who provided
for us deliciously, and we had our meals all together in the
wardresses’ room. Only Mrs. Brailsford never appeared, being shut in
the inner room, but we sent her some of our food. On Sunday night, the
wardress had brought us a little basin with some warm water to our
cells, which was indeed a boon.

That Sunday night the police were most kind, they allowed me to sit
at a table outside my cell and write. My cell was much too dark for
writing. To-night the place was more full of noise than it had been
before. The wild yells, and blows on the doors, made my hand shake so
that at first I could not write, but by holding the pencil, lent to me
by the police, over the paper, it came sufficiently legibly at last.
I wrote to my mother and my sister. I also wrote to the _Times_ the
following letter, from the eleven[11] who were imprisoned:--

 “SIR,--We ask you to give us our last opportunity, before we go
 through the ordeal awaiting us in Newcastle Prison, of explaining to
 the public the action which we are now about to take.

 “We want to make it known that we shall carry on our protest in our
 prison cells. We shall put before the Government by means of the
 hunger-strike four alternatives: To release us in a few days; to
 inflict violence upon our bodies; to add death to the champions of our
 cause by leaving us to starve; or, and this is the best and only wise
 alternative, to give women the vote.

 “We appeal to the Government to yield, not to the violence of our
 protest, but to the reasonableness of our demand, and to grant the
 vote to the duly qualified women of the country. We shall then serve
 our full sentence quietly and obediently and without complaint. Our
 protest is against the action of the Government in opposing Woman
 Suffrage, and against that alone. We have no quarrel with those who
 may be ordered to maltreat us.

 “Yours sincerely,

 “LILY ASQUITH.
 “JANE E. BRAILSFORD.
 “KATHLEEN BROWN.
 “VIOLET BRYANT.
 “ELLEN PITFIELD.
 “DOROTHY SHALLARD.
 “WINIFRED JONES.
 “CONSTANCE LYTTON.
 “KITTY MARION.
 “DOROTHY PETHICK.
 “ELLEN W. PITMAN.

 “CENTRAL POLICE STATION,
 “NEWCASTLE,
 “_October 10, 1909_.”

  FOOTNOTE: [11] I handed this letter to a friend on Monday morning. At
  the trial Miss Davison was dismissed, so her name was taken from the
  signatures.

I wrote on the wall of my cell my name and the words which rung in my
head over and over again, from the Book of Joshua: “Only be thou strong
and very courageous.”

I received a letter in the police cell, saying that I had thrown my
stone not far from a family residence of relatives of ours--did I not
feel it hence a double disgrace? In answer to this I had thought some
time. Who were those for whom we fought? I seemed to hear them in my
cell, the defenceless ones who had no one to speak for their hungry
need. The sweated workers, the mothers widowed with little children,
the women on the streets, and I saw that their backs were bent, their
eyes grown sorrowful, their hearts dead without hope. And they were not
a few, but thousands upon thousands. Side by side I considered what
they could do, what they had done, where women had the vote. The wife
has half her husband’s wages, by law, and when he does not give it,
she can have the amount paid direct to her. She is given money for her
children by the State when her husband dies. When she is not married,
if she has a child she is paid for it, not by the father direct, but
through the public authority, and she has not to apply to the father
for her money. I thought of all these helpless women, of the Parliament
that had given its theoretic consent for over twenty years, but refused
to pass a Bill, and I thought what are my relations? I do not know,
but if anything, they are for us, and if they are still asleep, in the
fog of the “don’t know and don’t care,” am I bound to consider their
dreaming?

I wrote on the wall:--

   “To defend the oppressed,
    To fight for the defenceless,
    Not counting the cost.”



CHAPTER XI

NEWCASTLE PRISON: MY SECOND IMPRISONMENT


The next morning, Monday, October 11, we got up early, with a sense
of excitement that we were to be “tried.” We were allowed to wash in
a basin arrangement all together. The water was cold, but clean and
fresh. The roll towel was horrible, I have never seen anything so
dirty--blood had freely been wiped upon it. Nothing could surpass the
kindness and civility of the wardresses. One, who thought only of the
hunger-strike, cried as we left. We were then led off to the cells
upstairs, which were rather cleaner and much lighter. A man came to
mend something outside my window; it was open and I could see out by
two or three square inches. He looked in at me with great curiosity,
but without ill-will. I had the policeman’s pencil still, and wrote
on a paper to hand up to him that he should not be afraid of the
Suffragettes, but help them to get the vote. I was still thinking about
it when the police began to rattle the keys, so I refrained, although
it was some time before they came to fetch me.

They led us forth to the other side of the building where the court
was. We waited in a passage underneath it, and were led up in turns to
the prisoner’s box. The others, who had done nothing but break glass,
were sentenced to the 3rd Division and hard labour for fourteen days,
and some a month, without any option. Mrs. Brailsford and I were both
given the alternative of being bound in money sureties for a year.
In reality, this offered us no alternative, but in the estimation of
the magistrate, I, who had done deliberately most harm, was given the
option of going free, while the others, who were many of them younger
than I was, first offenders and all had done much less damage than I
had, were prisoners beyond their recall.

When it was my turn, I was prepared for the three charges I had seen
on the paper the day before. First came the charge of assault on Sir
Walter Runciman. I said that I did not know it was Sir Walter Runciman
in the car, and that I threw the stone low down, so that it should not
hit the chauffeur or anyone. They did not take up this charge. Then
came the charge of damage, at which I was well pleased. But the man
facing the magistrate, the clerk, who conducts most of the affairs in
several courts I have been into, would not let this charge come on.
He said that I had evidently not intended the damage to the car, and
that part of the case was dismissed. I tried to tell him that I had no
concern for the motor-car, and, though I didn’t know how a stone so
small could have done so much harm, I was not in the least concerned
over the £4 worth of damage, but he would not let me speak and passed
on to the third charge, “disorderly behaviour in a public place.” I put
in, with a loud voice, “My disorderly behaviour of throwing a stone
with violence in a public place was deliberate and intentional.” After
this, they could not but go on with it, since the whole court had heard
what I had said. They apparently treated me as a lunatic, and began to
ask if it was through not knowing what I was doing that I had thrown a
stone? “If I had not known what I was about to do, I should not have
held a stone in my hand,” I answered.

I had made up my mind, at one time of the trial, that I would deny the
tales that had circulated about the Suffragettes and Mr. Lloyd George’s
children. It had been said that we tried to kidnap them, that we had
wished for their illness, and all kinds of invented evil. Who are the
Suffragettes that they should make war on children? If the child of Mr.
Lloyd George were ill or in any way suffering, we were sorry, we were
sympathetic, as with every other child, and we were sad for him as the
loving father of that child. I tried to speak, when I first was called
on, and repeatedly afterwards, but I was always stopped and could
get no innings. Finally, the magistrates convicted me of “disorderly
behaviour with intent to disturb the peace,” and bound me over,
myself in the sum of £50 and two sureties of £25 each, to be enforced
for twelve months; in default, one month’s imprisonment in the 2nd
Division. I, of course, had no option of finding sureties for twelve
months, and was sentenced to the month’s imprisonment. My companion,
Miss Davison, was dismissed, as she had literally done nothing.

Mrs. Brailsford, who had struck at the barricade with an axe, was also
given the option of being bound over, which she, of course, refused,
with the alternative of a month’s imprisonment in the 2nd Division. She
had not, as I had, committed any offence before. She was a splendid
woman who had gone out to help with the Macedonian relief fund in
1903. She had fed the hungry and nursed the sick and wounded until she
contracted typhus fever. The whole “trial” was unworthy of the name--it
was a device whereby Mrs. Brailsford and I should be separated from the
others and treated with more respect, I having been the only one to do
a glaring act and an, apparently, harmful or greatly risky one. The
others, without exception, were treated to the 3rd Division.

We were put again into a van, but had only a short way to drive.
We were shown into a passage of the prison where the governor came
and spoke to us. He was very civil, and begged us not to go on the
hunger-strike. Then the Matron came, a charming and very refined woman,
who walked with a stick, being lame. Miss Davison had headed our
little band of twelve; when she was dismissed, Miss Dorothy Pethick,
Mrs. Pethick Lawrence’s youngest sister, was our head and spoke for
us. Her face had all the beauty that freshness, youth and grace could
give it, and with it all for her age--she was twenty-seven--there was
a wonderful strength about it. She spoke civilly to the Governor, but
in a very determined way. He could not do enough for us. “Don’t break
your windows--please don’t break your windows.” “We will not break
them if they can open. You must understand that we have come here, not
to please ourselves; we have pleaded for windows to open in the cells
through two years in vain. Now we break the glass to make more sure. It
is for the poor things who are shut up in these little cells for weeks
and months at a time. Whether they know it or not, their bodies know
it--it is all that is bad for them to sleep and live in a room supposed
to be ventilated, without a window, and to be given a book telling them
elaborately how a window may be kept open in all weathers by placing a
board in front of it on a slant, will not make things any better. And
what is more, if you feed us by force, we shall break every window we
can lay hands on.” “Very well,” said the Governor, “choose your own
cells; come round and see.” Then, with the Governor and Matron, we
went round. Several cells were shown to us. We were left in some that
were small but new--the windows did not open. Finally, Mrs. Brailsford
and I were taken to different cells on the ground floor where we were
separated completely from the others. We were allowed to have our doors
open all the time, and some iron gates only shut us in. Compared with
Holloway, their good manners made a great difference, but the kindness
about the cells was mostly put on; at least, they had not windows
that opened, so they could do little. Mrs. Brailsford and I had cells
next door to each other, we spoke together frequently all day. The
wardresses were dear northern women, affectionate in their ways. The
Matron we found to be even more charming than she looked. She took Mrs.
Brailsford and me for exercise, and we talked to her nearly the whole
time. She was quite a Suffragette and understood our rebellion.

There was no attempt to put us into prison clothes; we had small
packages of things with us. My underclothes were not all that one
could wish after two days and nights in the police-station cells. They
were amongst other things covered with fleas, and I had at my trial,
and on various occasions, become exceedingly hot, which, now that the
hunger-strike had begun, was exchanged for extreme cold. The prospect
of a month in them as they were was extremely undesirable. I wrote to
the Home Secretary, as I was told this was the only means, but I knew
that anything I asked for from him might as well be let alone.

The first day, Tuesday, was fairly fine. At exercise in the morning
we looked around and we noticed some broken glass windows. We shouted
“Votes for Women, Hurrah! Hurrah!” but were not sure of any response.
They had put our companions, of two days before us, into the punishment
cells. We were scarcely back in our cells before there were hasty
footsteps; they slammed our doors shut, we could only dimly hear the
steps as they passed our cells and then above. Soon after we heard
shrieks, always coming from the same direction. It seemed as if the
others were being fed by force. During about half an hour the sounds
were terrible. Then the doctors, two of them, came to us. They had on
white jackets, as if they had just come from an operation, as indeed
they had. I said to them, “You have been feeding our friends by force?”
One of them answered, “Well, yes, we were bound to have a food trial
with one or two of them.” They felt my pulse, first one, then the
other; they felt it over again, then they went out. Mrs. Brailsford and
I discussed the feeding of our friends, which had sounded most awful;
we did not know what to do. We had, of course, not touched any food
since our breakfast in the police-station cells. We ourselves had met
with nothing but kindness.

The knotting in my stomach from lack of food was fairly painful by the
second night. Whenever I fell asleep I woke with my knees curled under
my chin. I had also a great aching in my back, probably through fatigue
and the plank bed in the police-station. The night wardress was very
kind to me. I asked once if she couldn’t come in and rub my back just a
little. “Why, my dear, the gate’s locked and I have nae got the key.”
Mrs. Brailsford said she felt well in every way, save that she could do
nothing but think of the other prisoners who were being fed by force.
When we walked round the exercise yard on Wednesday morning it was
snowing hard. It made me think of Robert Buchanan’s poem, “The Ballade
of Judas Iscariot.”

   “’Twas the wedding guests cried out within,
      And their eyes were fierce and bright--
    ‘Scourge the soul of Judas Iscariot
      Away into the night!’

   “The Bridegroom stood in the open door,
      And he waved hands still and slow,
    And the third time that he waved his hands
      The air was thick with snow.

   “And of every flake of falling snow
      Before it touched the ground,
    There came a dove, and a thousand doves
      Made sweet doves’ sound.

   “’Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
      Floated away full fleet,
    And the wings of the dove that bore it off
      Were like its winding-sheet.

   “’Twas the Bridegroom stood at the open door
      And beckon’d, smiling sweet;
    ’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
      Stole in, and fell at his feet.”

As I looked upon that dreary scene I saw the prison walls, the cell
windows, looking more like tiny shutters, the infinitesimal small
windows of the punishment cells in the ground below where we were. The
Matron stood on a ledge above us. She was considerate and kind in all
her ways. We were either alone and quite unguarded or else she was with
us. One evening, when a wardress was letting me back into my cell, I
heard the most melancholy sound of a woman calling out to herself again
and again, in a tone of uttermost misery. As always, I thought, in a
prison, no one answered her, no one said anything. Presently there came
the Matron’s consoling voice. Very gently I heard it on the floor above
ours, it sounded almost like a mother’s voice: “Oh! there is that poor
woman again. Can’t you some of you go and comfort her?” And some one
did, for all was quiet after that. I watched at my gate all day, and
was pleased to notice that the prisoners who worked outside the cells
moved happily, ran about with a springing step and seemed like ordinary
servants about their work. How different this was from Holloway!

The first morning the Chaplain came to visit me. He was a
pleasant-looking man, with a fine beard. He laughed as he told me he
was the father of fifteen children; he said this as he left. I longed
to tell him I hoped that he had had at least two wives to bring them
into the world!

The second morning, Wednesday, October 13, when the doctors came, I
stood in the corner of my cell with my arms crossed and my fingers
caught in my nostrils and my mouth. It was the best position I knew
of for them not to be able to feed me by nose or mouth without having
first a considerable struggle. They came, and after I saw that they had
no tube I came out from my corner and let them both look at my heart.
They thumped, each of them in turn, and felt my pulse as well. Then
they appeared to be agreed and went out. I said to them, “You seemed
to be puzzled by my heart; I can tell you about it if you like.” But
they had made up their minds about something, and did not want any help
from me. Later in the day they came in again with another man in their
company. I was again in the corner, my hands in my mouth and nose, but
they brought no feeding things. At first I thought the third man was
another prison official; but soon, from the way they talked to him, I
gathered that he was an outside doctor, apparently from London. He was
very civil. He tapped my heart repeatedly and then brought out a tube,
which at first I thought was a feeding tube, but it was only another
way of testing the heart. He was about a quarter of an hour or twenty
minutes over the whole thing, then they went out.

As I had no answer from the Home Office, though I had written on the
Monday of my arrival in the prison, I thought I would begin to wash
some of my things, as the doctors would not come back unless to feed
me, and that would be nearer six o’clock. I washed my brush and a
few other things in the large pail of my cell, then asked if I might
empty it, and as I did this, I held the things some seconds under the
tap. It was only cold water, of course, but I was glad of even that.
I then put them on the chair to dry as best they might, and lay down
on my plank bed, for the pain in my back was terrible, when a wardress
came in and announced that I was released, because of the state of my
heart! Though this was fairly evident from the visit of the outside
doctor, I had not realised it. I gathered my things together and went
out. I called to Mrs. Brailsford; she was released too. We were put
to wait in the Governor’s room; he was not there. We wondered if we
were the only two to be released, and if so, why not the others? How
about the heart of Nurse Pitman, who was close on sixty, or of Miss
Brown, who had only just been released from a recent hunger-strike!
Mrs. Brailsford had seen a doctor before she came on this expedition
to Newcastle, and he had declared her absolutely sound in every way,
so we did not know why she was released, except for the fact that she
was, through her husband, closely connected with Liberal journalism and
herself had the noblest reputation for public service in Macedonia. I
had heart disease, though only slightly; it had been marked in me since
the Deputation on which I had been to the House of Commons, at the
beginning of this year. But I was not in so bad a condition as either
Nurse Pitman or Miss Brown. After a time the news came that we were
the only two released! Poor Mrs. Brailsford was so overcome at this
news that she was unable to drink the glass of hot milk that was given
to us before we were let out. The Governor came back to his room. He
had always told us how keen he was for the vote, and he seemed very
glad for us that we were to be released. The cab was ready and we drove
away, I think at about 3.30 in the afternoon. It seemed appalling to go
and to leave the others in prison, to the hunger-strike and to forcible
feeding.

Nurse Pitman and Miss Brown were released the next day. It was not
possible to understand for what reason they should have been kept
twenty-four hours longer on hunger-strike than Mrs. Brailsford and
myself; the only reason that we could see was that our names were
known, theirs were not!

The only thing which made an impression on me, not told in the above,
was that once the wardress led me out to one of the lavatories. Just in
front of it a woman had been sick, and I was taken away to another. It
showed the great loneliness of prison life. There, in rows thickly set
all around me, were the cells, in each a prisoner. One had been taken
out immediately before I had, but she was put back and all the cells
were locked before I came. The mystery was intense, the silence, the
loneliness as great as they could be.

My sister, Betty Balfour, came from Scotland to see if she could do
anything to help me when she heard that I was in prison. She was
convinced that I should not be forcibly fed because of the state
of my heart, but that I should be let out after a day or two of
hunger-strike. It was delightful to be with her, and the next day we
travelled south together to my home.

In December I went to speak at Glasgow, and Dr. Marion Gilchrist
listened to my heart. This was her verdict: “I have examined Lady
Constance Lytton’s heart and find she has a chronic valvular lesion,
but it is acting well in spite of the fact that she has just undergone
great exertion.” She said it was easily understood why I had been let
out of Newcastle Prison.



[Illustration: Jane Warton]



CHAPTER XII

JANE WARTON

 “Under a Government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a
 just man (or woman) is also a prison.”


I was sent to Liverpool and Manchester to join in working an
Anti-Government campaign during a General Election in January, 1910.
Just before I went, there came the news of the barbarous ill-treatment
of Miss Selina Martin and Miss Leslie Hall, while on remand in Walton
Gaol. They had been refused bail, and, while awaiting their trial,
their friends were not allowed to communicate with them. This is
contrary to law and precedent for prisoners on remand. As a protest
they had started a hunger-strike. They were fed by force, in answer to
which they broke the windows of their cells. They were put in irons
for days and nights together, and one of them was frog-marched in the
most brutal fashion to and from the room where the forcible feeding was
performed. These facts they made known to their friends at the police
court on the day of their trial.

I heard, too, of another prisoner in Liverpool, Miss Bertha Brewster,
who had been re-arrested after her release from prison, and charged
with breaking the windows of her prison cell, which she had done as a
protest against being fed by force. She had been punished for this
offence while in prison. She did not respond to the summons, and when
arrested on a warrant, three and a half months later, she was sentenced
to six weeks’ hard labour for this offence.

I felt a great wish to be in Liverpool, if possible, to get public
opinion in that town to protest against such treatment of women
political prisoners. If I failed in this, I determined myself to share
the fate of these women.

When I was in Manchester, Mary Gawthorpe was ill with the internal
complaint which has since obliged her to give up work. She saw me in
her room one day. We had been distressed beyond words to hear of the
sufferings of Selina Martin and Leslie Hall. Mary Gawthorpe said, with
tears in her eyes, as she threw her arms round me: “Oh, and these are
women quite unknown--nobody knows or cares about them except their
own friends. They go to prison again and again to be treated like
this, until it kills them!” That was enough. My mind was made up.
The altogether shameless way I had been preferred against the others
at Newcastle, except Mrs. Brailsford who shared with me the special
treatment, made me determine to try whether they would recognise my
need for exceptional favours without my name.

Our meetings were always crowded and enthusiastic, especially in
Manchester. This was my first experience of meetings in a really
poverty-stricken district. I never shall forget one in the Salford
Division of Manchester. A small room was packed as close as it would
hold of the poorest working women. How eagerly and intelligently they
listened, and what a wonderful light came into their eyes as the hope
dawned in their minds: “Can it be that Parliament would really begin
to think of _us_ and attend to _our_ interests?” All their questions
were to the point and practical. How different was the atmosphere
from that of the typical drawing-room meeting, where many women came
together with the remark: “I am all for _propertied_ women having the
vote,” but their fear is lest the electorate should be flooded with
working women voters. I have never yet been asked by a working-class
woman whether our Bill, to give votes to women for the same reason as
men have it, would not give undue power to propertied women. That is
a man’s question, though often taken over by women of the leisured
or professional class who identify themselves with the objections of
theoretic politicians. To the working-class women the matter presents
itself easily and naturally, as it actually is--a woman’s question,
not a class question. To have their right to labour unrestricted,
their protection controlled by themselves, their economic position
independent and on the straightforward footing of being judged by its
value and by that alone; their property, earnings, and their persons
to be defended by law, and their right over their children to be
acknowledged by law. In fact, their freedom as human beings, their full
recognition as equal members of the community with men--that is how
the Votes-for-Women question appeals to them. They see it neither as a
party question nor as a class question.

Suddenly I had my opportunity. The Press and the people in each
different constituency were entirely engrossed with the elections.
Up till now, protest meetings were being held by our Union every
week outside Walton Gaol, Liverpool. These were not held during the
elections, but I told the Liverpool organiser, Miss Flatman, and the
general organiser, Mrs. Jennie Baines, that if they would have one more
of these protest meetings on Friday, January 14, it was my intention
to go in disguise, call upon the crowd to follow me to the Governor’s
house, and insist upon the release of the Suffrage prisoners who had
been tortured by forcible feeding. It was not our wont to do any
militancy or to hold any protest meetings during election time, that
being a time, as it were, when no Government is in, but it seemed to
me that this was the opportunity to make the Governor of the prison
responsible. It was a case of nothing less than cruelty and did not
specially concern, unless they chose to back it up, the Government.

I joined the W.S.P.U. again, filling up the membership card as Miss
Jane Warton. The choice of a name had been easy. When I came out of
Holloway Prison, a distant relative, by name Mr. F. Warburton, wrote
me an appreciative letter, thanking me for having been a prisoner in
this cause. I determined that if it were necessary to go to prison
under another name, I should take the name of Warburton. When I went
to Newcastle, my family raised no objection. Now nobody was to know of
my disguise, but Warburton was too distinguished a name; that would
at once attract attention. I must leave out the “bur” and make it
“Warton.” “Jane” was the name of Joan of Arc (for Jeanne is more often
translated into “Jane” than “Joan”) and would bring me comfort in
distress. A family sympathetic to our cause, who lived in the suburb
near Walton Gaol, were informed that a keen member, Miss Warton, would
call at their house in the afternoon before the protest meeting,
to investigate the outside of the gaol and the Governor’s house by
daylight, and that she was ready to be arrested if she could not obtain
the release of the prisoners.

I spent the previous day and night in Manchester where no one knew
of my intentions. In the afternoon, at a drawing-room meeting, I was
introduced, after I had spoken, to a woman who was a factory inspector.
She had very often to attend in the police courts. She said to me: “I
think it is impossible to attend these cases, and hear the other cases
while you wait, and not be a convert to votes for women if you were not
one before. The other day a man and two women were had up before the
magistrate. They had been found in the street, the man and one woman
had been cohabiting together, the other woman mounted guard. The case
was quite clear, and the facts were not denied, the man had bribed the
women. The man was let free, the two women were sent to prison. If
women had the vote such things could not be; in those countries where
women have the vote they get altered in less than a year.”

In the evening we went to a meeting in a large hall. It was full of
working men and working women; it looked as if there were not room to
move, so crowded were the seats and gangways. They were tremendously
enthusiastic, many of them shook me by the hand, and the thought of
them remained for a long time in my heart.

The next morning I took leave of my two kind hostesses. Their last
injunction to me was, the agitation of my impending task having
affected my appetite, “You should eat more; mind you eat more.”

I accomplished my disguise in Manchester, going to a different shop for
every part of it, for safety’s sake. I had noticed several times while
I was in prison that prisoners of unprepossessing appearance obtained
least favour, so I was determined to put ugliness to the test. I had my
hair cut short and parted, in early Victorian fashion, in smooth bands
down the side of my face. This, combined with the resentful bristles of
my newly-cut back hair, produced a curious effect. I wished to bleach
my hair as well, but the hairdresser refused point-blank to do this,
and the stuff that I bought for the purpose at a chemist’s proved quite
ineffective. A tweed hat, a long green cloth coat, which I purchased
for 8_s._ 6_d._, a woollen scarf and woollen gloves, a white silk
neck-kerchief, a pair of pince-nez spectacles, a purse, a net-bag to
contain some of my papers, and my costume was complete. I had removed
my own initials from my underclothing, and bought the ready-made
initials “J. W.” to sew on in their stead, but to my regret I had not
time to achieve this finishing touch.

All this sounds simple enough, but I suppose it was due to my
preoccupation of mind that I have never known a day’s shopping fraught
with such complications and difficulties. At the frowzy little
hairdresser’s shop, the only one that seemed to me inconspicuous enough
for so important a part of my disguise, the attendant was busy, and I
had to return in an hour’s time. I told him that I was going a journey
and wanted the hair short, since that would be less trouble. He cut
it off. Then I wanted what remained to be worn in a parting, with the
hair falling straight on either side. This part of the process was most
absurd, for that way of wearing my hair was obviously disfiguring to
me. “Ah! now that looks very becoming,” said the hairdresser, and with
that I left the shop in haste.

The eye-glasses I had first bought made me feel giddy from the quality
of the lens. I had to take them back and have the glasses changed to
the weakest possible. At the first place, in spite of all my protests,
the shopman insisted on elaborately testing my sight, afterwards
requiring me to wait for half an hour or so while he fitted up the
glasses. So I went to another shop, and in self-defence invented the
story that the glasses were for stage purposes, for a friend of mine
who had very good sight, and that if she was not to trip up in her part
the glasses must be as nearly plain as possible. This time I was more
successful with the lens, but the grip of the folders was still galling
to the very large bridge of my nose.

When I had finished this errand I was startled to see walking along
the street one of my kind hostesses, whom I had parted from early
that morning, professedly to return to Liverpool without delay. I took
refuge down a side-street until she had passed by. Then I had strayed
into the more opulent quarters of Manchester, in my search for another
spectacle shop. All the shops were of a high-class order, and Jane
Warton could find nothing to her requirements. On inquiry for a “cheap”
draper, three different people recommended me to a certain shop named
“Lewis.” A sale was on there and Jane found that it was the very place
for her. So many Miss Wartons were of the same mind that the street
was blocked with customers for some distance down; but I was obliged
to wait, for no other shop was of the same description. The hat was a
special difficulty; every article of millinery was of the fashionable
order, warranted to cover half the body as well as the head. This
did not suit Jane. Finally she succeeded in getting the right one of
stitched cloth, with a plait of cloth round the crown. Before leaving
Manchester I realised that my ugly disguise was a success. I was an
object of the greatest derision to street-boys, and shop-girls could
hardly keep their countenances while serving me.

I had done my shopping at last, and hurried off to the station. I took
out my box, put in it my own hat and jacket, put on the label “Miss
Jane Warton, Cloak Room,” and left it there. In the refreshment room,
where I went to take a last hurried meal, a delightful big, brown dog,
a mongrel, came and talked to me. He was with a party of two men and a
woman, who sat at a distant corner of the room. The dog came up to me
at once; he put his head on my lap and was most dear.

After this I got into the train. I finished a letter to my mother,
telling her of yesterday’s meetings and that I might not write to her
for some little time because of being so busy with the elections.

Arrived at Liverpool, and not knowing my way to Walton, I took a cab
and drove out for nearly an hour before reaching my destination. I was
already racing hard with daylight and, thanks to a damp fog, it was
already quite dark when I arrived there.

The house to which I had been directed was in a new quarter and nowhere
to be found. We drove up and down the roads and inquired at shops
and post offices. Presently I spotted the familiar sight of a woman
stooping to chalk on the pavement some announcement--it was our protest
meeting. I felt happy again, it was like seeing a friend. She turned
out to be one of the daughters of the very house I was seeking. There
were three daughters who lived with their mother. The daughters were
zealots and welcomed Jane without a sign of criticism. I saw the mother
gasp a little when I entered her drawing-room, but she was nevertheless
most courteous and kind.

I was escorted to the gaol and took my bearings. To anyone who has
been in prison, few things, I think, are more exasperating than the
unrevealing face of the outer walls. On this occasion I felt an
overmastering longing to inquire after the prisoners who had stirred
me to my coming deed. What was the degree of their suffering and
exhaustion? What should I be able to do for their release? If by some
miracle I obtained it, would it be too late to help them? I thought
more especially of Miss Selina Martin. I had seen her in Birmingham a
fortnight after her release from the weeks that she had been fed in the
prison there. She was in the nursing home, together with Mrs. Leigh,
that splendid fighter for the women’s cause and most heroic woman.
Their look of illness haunted me still. The idea that Selina Martin was
again, perhaps at that very moment, undergoing the same cruel treatment
exasperated me. I felt so feeble, had so little faith in the utility of
what I was about to do, yet I was athirst to do it, and the strength of
my wish that it should be effective made me feel, at moments, capable
of anything. But to all this the prison walls had nothing to say. They
revealed nothing. They looked angry with all the world, angry above all
because of an uneasy conscience.

I returned to the house of my friends, selected from their garden
small, flat stones in case of need, which I wrapped in paper, and
snatched a hasty meal. My kind hostess had heard that I was a
vegetarian, and had provided a most appetising dish of stewed white
pears. My mouth was parched with the weary work of the day and the
thought of what lay before me, but I had no time except to taste the
pears; the memory of them during the hunger-strike filled my dreams.

Again we set out for the prison. All through the day I had been dogged
by the nightmare thought that I should be too late for the meeting, or
for some other reason should be prevented from achieving my purpose.
As we neared the place, a crowd of between two and three hundred men
and women were following the carriage in which were our speakers.
It had been agreed that I should mix with the crowd, not join with
the speakers, but at the end of the meeting should have my say from
below. I passed the carriage to report myself to the organisers. Many
of our members were standing around, but I think most of them did not
recognise me, except from my voice later on.

Miss Flatman, Miss Patricia Woodlock and Mrs. Baines made stirring
speeches, but the crowd had mostly gathered out of curiosity and
were not many of them likely to listen to my coming appeal. I was
afraid lest they should disperse before I had my chance, so I rudely
interrupted Mrs. Baines and spoke from the outer rim of the crowd, on
the side of the Governor’s house.

I reminded the audience of how the men of Dundee, when forcible feeding
of Suffrage prisoners was threatened in that town, had assembled to
the number of two thousand and protested against it. How thereupon
the hunger-strikers had been released and no forcible feeding to our
women had been inflicted in Scotland. Could not Englishmen have done
the same? Let the men of Liverpool be the first to wipe out the stain
that had been tolerated up till now. We were outside the gaol where
these and other barbarities were actually going on. The Home Secretary
had denied responsibility and asserted that it rested with the prison
officials. Let us put this to the test and call upon the Governor of
the prison to release these women. No violence was needed, but let us
go to his house, insist upon his replying to our request and refuse to
be dispersed until he had released these women. “If there are no men
in Liverpool who will stand up for these prisoners, let the women do
their part--I call on you all to follow me to the Governor’s house.”
With this I turned towards the house, a separate building surrounded by
a little garden. To my surprise, the crowd began to follow me. Again I
shouted out to them--“No violence, remember, but call for the Governor
and refuse to be dispersed till you have secured the release of the
prisoners.”

A policeman began leisurely to follow me; there were only two or
three of them about. I took to running and urged on the crowd. The
police then took hold of me. As for once it was my object above all
else to get arrested and imprisoned, I began discharging my stones,
not throwing them, but limply dropping them over the hedge into the
Governor’s garden. One of them just touched the shoulder of a man who
had rushed up on seeing me arrested. I apologised to him. Two policemen
then held me fast by the arms and marched me off to the police station.
The crowd followed excitedly, and our members gathered round me,
appealing for my release and saying that I had done nothing.

It had been agreed with the organisers that I should be the only one
arrested. As I have said, militant tactics were in abeyance because of
the elections, the less disturbance was made, therefore, the better;
as it was, I feared lest my action, being out of the straight course,
should be displeasing to the leaders. I said to the other members: “I
am all right, don’t bother about me, but take the crowd back to the
Governor’s house.” I did not wish to be recognised.

As they marched me off at a great pace, the police, who were very civil
and considerate, questioned me: “What was you a-doin’? You weren’t in
the carriage with the others, were you? What was that you was sayin’?”
They knew they would have to make up a charge against me, and wisely
thought the best plan was to ask me direct for information! I told them
that I made towards the Governor’s house, appealed to the crowd to
follow, and refused to desist when called upon by the police. I feared
that this might not be enough to achieve a conviction. I was thinking,
“Was there nothing else?” when the man appeared whose shoulder had been
touched by my stone; he carried the missile in his hand, still wrapped
in the purple hand-bill announcing this very meeting, no doubt a most
evil-looking document in the eyes of the authorities. I knew then that
I was safe.

Presently, two others who had been arrested were brought in. It was a
most unlooked-for consolation to have their company through the night,
though I hoped, of course, that they would be let off and not share the
rest of the ordeal with me. Two of the members, on hearing my voice,
determined that I should not be alone, so they returned, and one of
them poked a flag through a window in the Governor’s house, breaking
the glass; the other mounted guard while she did this. They were both
arrested. One was Miss Elsie Howey, a valiant as well as most dear one
of our members; the other was a local member, who gave the name of Mrs.
Nugent. I had twice stayed with her and her husband when at Liverpool.
She was not only most charming, but also of attractive appearance,
which awoke a great deal of curiosity in the police as to her identity,
and luckily drew off all possible suspicions from me.

We all played up to the situation; Elsie Howey and I treated her with
deference, as a person of great importance; we nicknamed her “the
Princess.”

The police were exceptionally friendly to us, although they were
punctilious as to the regulations. For instance, Miss Howey and I were
suffering from bad colds and had eucalyptus inhalers in our pockets. We
were not allowed to keep these; they were removed with other things,
such as a purse, stylo pen, brooches, watch, etc. We were all three
allowed to be together and away from other prisoners, locked into a
cell of the usual police-station description--that is, unfurnished
but for the bare plank, serving as seat or bed, along the wall, and
about one and a-half feet from the ground, terminating in a lavatory
accommodation under a high-barred window, but now lighted by an
electric light in the wall above the door. This cell was scrupulously
clean and blankets were supplied to us. Our friends sent us some
sandwiches and fruit, and the police themselves provided us with an
evening newspaper.

We had been arrested at about 8 o’clock; the police station was some
distance from Walton, so it was getting on for 9 o’clock when we were
at last shut up after the charges were reported and entered, and we had
been stripped by a wardress of our small belongings.

The quick walk from the scene of our arrest, hurried along between two
policemen, had been a warming process, after which the cold in the
cell seemed intense. The bench being wider than most in police-station
cells, Mrs. Nugent lay down at one end, while Elsie Howey and I lay
side by side under the same blanket and warmed each other. Mrs. Nugent
and Elsie kept up an animated conversation. Elsie told anecdotes of her
former imprisonments and those of the fellow-prisoners. I was short of
breath and fearfully tired, so I rolled round and kept quite quiet.

At about 12 o’clock the husband of Mrs. Nugent had heard of her arrest,
and came off to the police station to see her. He came to the door of
our cell and was greatly distressed. It was ever so nice to see him.
His visit had caused a great deal of concern amongst the police, who
recognised him as one of the magistrates. He put himself out to do what
he could, and we offered him the comforting news that we were almost
sure that his wife would get off, as she had done nothing at all. With
that, as his wife was kept standing at the little window so long as he
was there, he felt obliged to leave us.

Towards about 3 a.m. we were taken out of the cell and ranged along a
seat by the wall of a large room; at the other end was a desk with a
policeman sitting at it. We went up in turn to give our names, ages,
etc., that is, about seven or eight other prisoners, all females, and
our three selves. It was the turn of Jane Warton. She walked across
to the policeman, one shoulder hitched slightly above the other,
her hair sticking out straight behind and worn in slick bandeaus on
either side of her face, her hat trailing in a melancholy way on her
head. The large, grey woollen gloves were drawn up over the too short
sleeves of her coat; on the collar of it were worn portraits of Mrs.
Pankhurst, Mrs. Lawrence and Christabel, in small china brooches; her
hat had a bit of tape with “Votes for Women” written on it, interlaced
with the cloth plait that went round it, and eye-glasses were fixed on
her nose. Her standing out in the room was the signal for a convulsed
titter from the other prisoners. “It’s a shame to laugh at one of
your fellow-prisoners,” said the policeman behind the desk, and the
tittering was hushed. It was all I could do not to laugh, and I thought
to myself “Is the _Punch_ version of a Suffragette overdone?” As I
got back to my companions they too were laughing, but I thought it
wonderfully kind of the policeman to have spoken on my behalf.

When this process was finished, we three Suffragettes were taken to the
policemen’s room, where there was a good fire, to wait for our Black
Maria. The other prisoners had disappeared. The police sat round and
spoke quite pleasantly; there were two or three of them at times. We
discussed the chances of women getting the vote, they seemed quite in
favour. Elsie Howey and Mrs. Nugent did most of the talking. I warmed
myself and saw the police looking at me from time to time, wondering
why I did not talk too.

At about 3.30 a.m. or 4 o’clock, Black Maria came and we were put in.
This was different from the prison vans I had hitherto seen; it was not
broken up into separate cell-like compartments, but was in the form of
a double omnibus, one side for men and the other for women, divided by
a thin wooden partition, each side having two seats facing each other
and extending the length of the carriage. There were no windows; the
light filtered in only through the grated ventilators. When we got into
this Black Maria there was no one but us three, but we were told to sit
near the door, so Mrs. Nugent sat first, then Elsie Howey, and then
myself. The jolting of the van is excessive and suggests a complete
absence of springs, the noise of its passage through the streets is
terrific, to the point of excluding all other sounds--a noise of
thundering wheels, of jolts and jars and bumps. I have not yet made out
the reason why 3.30 a.m. was selected, none was given at the time to
the prisoners.

Our destination was the Bridewell Police Station, but we called on
our way at the other police stations in the town, picking up whatever
unfortunates they had netted during the night. We called at four
different stations, if I remember right. The drive in all took about an
hour, and seemed a very long one.

We had not gone far before the rumbling and jolting ceased, the door
was thrown open with a sound of keys and great rattling, a shaft of
light fell along the ’bus, and lit up momentarily ourselves and those
who were thrown in to add to our number. These were the only moments
when the occupants had a chance of seeing each other. The door then
hastily closed again, darkness, jolting and noise reasserted their grim
influence. Drunken voices, the smell of the gin palace, an occasional
query and reply shouted through the thin wall to the men on the
other side, that was all. Knee to knee, and breath to breath we sat,
companions of this world of darkness, fellow-sisters of the order of
the outcasts. Before we had finished, we had taken up six women in all.

At the first stop, two Irish girls were let in; some men were put into
the other side. The girls were only sufficiently drunk to make them
intensely cheerful; they laughed and talked gaily at first and shouted
lustily to their companions on the other side. But the effect of the
pitch darkness was depressing, and after a time their communications
ceased. They sat opposite to us near the door, and whenever there was
a gleam of light I watched them, for they gave me immense pleasure.
They were quite young, with beautiful arms, which one could see as
their sleeves were rolled up; they had shawls on, and their faces were
fresh and strong, and pretty, too, had it not been for the effect of
the drink; they were as far removed as possible from the degraded town
type, in every way they were healthy specimens, fresh from an Irish
fishing village. They spoke to us several times, and there was a
delightful feeling that disguise or no disguise did not matter with
them, but it was difficult to hear what they said in the fearful noise
of the Black Maria, and we felt that our answers were mostly lost on
them. They put the question in a friendly way: “What did you get taken
up for?” “We’re Suffragettes,” was the all-sufficient reply. This was
very interesting, and they had to try to tell the men on the other
side, with many a laugh, as a tremendous bit of news.

At another stop, a little woman got in with fair hair, a fluttering
white boa, and in a white dress. She was dead drunk, but whereas
the others smelt of cheap drink, her breath was of good brandy. She
laughed, and now and then gave vent to a half sentence or two that
rolled in and out of her sleep.

At the next stop, two were shot in who seemed really deformed with
poverty, their complexions yellow, their hands gnarled and worn, their
faces of utmost sadness. They said something to each other as they got
in--something to give comfort, but their sentences were full of oaths
of a senseless kind, and their speech, too, was broken with drink.

Finally, it was another type altogether who was let in. A woman who
looked any age, her face of utmost melancholy had yet the appearance
of having drunk heavily; she had all the hang of an “habitual,” her
clothes were the dregs of clothes and tumbling off her. When the door
was opened for her to be put in, she murmured a few broken words to
the effect that her salvation didn’t lie in prison.

The Irish girls and the little woman with the white boa were young, the
others looked old and worn out.

I think I shall never forget the self-reproach that stung through my
whole being when I had thought my intervention necessary between one
prisoner and another. On passing some unusual light in the street,
which momentarily lit up our van, not enough to see our faces but only
to distinguish the outlines of forms, I noticed that the prisoner
opposite to Elsie Howey, my neighbour, was leaning forward and bent
towards her. The momentary flash of light was too short-lived to
judge whether this was a rapid movement perhaps, as I thought, of
assault or drunken affection, or whether it was that the position of
physical weariness could find no rest from leaning back on the walls
of the jolting van. I was unable to see Elsie, but I imagined that
she too might be scared by the attention of the prisoner opposite. As
the darkness closed in upon us, I thrust my hand into hers; it was
welcomed, but quite unnecessary. Before the end of our drive two things
were clear--the prisoners might be evil-minded towards all the rest of
the world, they might be blind drunk or raging with misery at their own
plight, but the one thing impossible to them would have been to hurt
a fellow-prisoner. Every one of those pathetic human wrecks, deformed
by drink, so that one could not tell if they were guilty of crime
besides, overtaken at a moment when their self-respect was lowest, and
captured by a punitive system which would do its utmost to dissolve
what remained of it, as they were thrust into the black cavity of the
van, made a vigorous appeal to their own courage and met with instant
response from their unknown companions. It might be only some drunken
joke, it was almost invariably accompanied by a laugh, but for each
one it had a call on their inmost strength, and it made its appeal to
those in the van. Issuing from different spheres of existence, each one
representing lives the most remote from one another, scarcely any two
alike in a single respect as to detail, their one point of similarity
being poverty and that they had given way to drink, the instinct of our
first contact, doubtless to each one of us, was repulsion, mistrust,
fear of one another. But it lasted for less than the flash of a moment,
less than the inhaling of one breath. Our differences were there,
but for the time unimportant, whereas the all-embracing fact was our
similarity of fate. No need for social laws to bind that company, no
rules of the club were necessary, the code of instinct, expediency and
honour were all one and spontaneous to us. “We are all of one blood,”
may be a great tie, but “We are all of one fate” is, while it lasts, a
better; the bond of the outcast needs no seal.

We arrived for the fifth time in a courtyard, with a deal of jolting
and din; it was the Bridewell Police Station, and we all got out. The
little woman in the white dress and fur boa tumbled from the van into
the arms of a policeman--she assured us that she loved him on finding
herself thus closely against him; he remained stalwart as a piece of
wood.

We Suffragettes were put into a cell by ourselves, it was perfectly
clean. We had not been there very long before the door was opened with
a clang and another woman was thrust in. She was reassuring to look
at, smartly dressed with fashionably-shaped brown furs draped round
her neck. She had come from Ireland that night and was terribly cold.
We gave her the blankets that had been given to us; nothing, however,
did much good. She had come over with another woman, who on landing had
been taken as “wanted by the police.” This woman had been arrested,
too, as “her friend,” but she said she was quite sure of getting off,
as she had only known the other woman quite a short time, and had no
idea that she was in any way “suspected.” The concern of this woman to
get free was natural enough, but she seemed to care not at all for the
other one, for whom my heart welled over with sympathy. I thought of
her with a more or less deceitful face, but I loved her because she was
“wanted by the police,” and this woman who was with us I wanted to get
off, of course, but that was all; I could not feel any sympathy towards
her.

We waited in this cell until it was dawning light. It was not a place
for sleep, and the cold was terrible. As it was getting towards
morning, we were taken out of the cell and led off to wash our hands
and faces in another part of the prison. It was fearfully dark in one
part, with only a light occasionally here and there, so that one could
not see where one was going. On a bench, some ten or twelve little boys
were sitting.

It was the first time I thought of children as prisoners. At Newcastle,
it was true, I had seen one little boy in the police court, but he
was enjoying himself over a cup of soup in the central room with
the police, and he was much too small to be convicted, whatever his
offences; possibly, if his parents were hopeless, he would have been
sent to a reformatory school. That, of course, was bad enough; one knew
that for half of the money that would have to be expended there was
many a woman in the country who would have cared for him with motherly
tenderness. But with these boys, who looked about nine years to fifteen
or sixteen years old, it was another matter. The place where they sat,
though public, for it was a gangway, was terrible, it was just where
the passages seemed to go underground; they were extremely dark, on
one side they abutted into a regular network of cells, with small
communicating alleys in between. There the boys sat and gazed at the
grown-up criminals who appeared from time to time; they looked at us
with the greatest curiosity. It was horrible to see them in a place so
profoundly ill-suited to children.

The Liverpool organiser, Miss Flatman, and Miss Maude Joachim came to
us with the daylight of Saturday, January 15. It was a most unexpected
joy to see them--not alone, for that was not allowed, but in one of the
many passages near a window with a policeman standing by. I was able to
write a little scrap of a letter to Mrs. Pethick Lawrence in the name
of “Jane Warton.” This made me very happy. I believe we were offered
breakfast, or should have been able to get it had we asked for it,
but, in any case, those surroundings were so wretched that we almost as
soon went without, and I was eager to begin the hunger-strike.

As the time of the assembling of the court, 10 o’clock, drew near we
waited in different parts of a large and rambling building. At last we
were conveyed, through what seemed an underground court, to the foot of
a staircase that led right up into the prisoner’s dock.

I was the first of the Suffragettes to be taken up. Mr. Shepherd Little
was the magistrate; he seemed to be thoroughly out of temper. They
took only two or three minutes convicting me. When the policeman had
done his work of charging me with urging the crowd to follow me to
the Governor’s house, with refusing to desist when called upon by the
police, and with throwing a “missile” (small stone wrapped in paper), I
put in, “I had three stones upon me which I let fall in the Governor’s
garden. A man in the crowd ran past me just as I was letting go the
third--it fell on his shoulder; I apologised to him.”

On the strength of its being my first imprisonment, I was sentenced to
a fortnight, 3rd Division, with option of a fine. Just when I had left
the court I was called back. The magistrate thought I ought to have
a longer sentence, thanks to my having thrown stones, but the clerk
thought not, and in the little altercation he got the best of it.

The women of last night were waiting on the stairs. “How long have you
got?” they all said to me. “Ah! well, buck up,” they added on hearing
of fourteen days. Miss Elsie Howey, with the admission of her former
imprisonments, got six weeks, and Mrs. Nugent was, to our great joy,
released. The policeman downstairs told me that hard labour always
accompanied the 3rd Division sentences, unless stated to the contrary.



CHAPTER XIII

WALTON GAOL, LIVERPOOL: MY THIRD IMPRISONMENT


Elsie Howey and I waited together at the Bridewell Police Station for
the greater part of that day (Saturday, January 15). Towards evening
they took us away in a partition van, alone, to Walton Green Gaol, we
arrived at about 7 o’clock at night. The other prisoners must have
journeyed here when we did, though by a different van, for we were
all together again when we were to give our names, vocation, etc., to
the prison warders. We stood up by a wall, all in a row, and waited
our turn. The prisoner with the white boa and the apparently white
gown, I was able to see closely and by a high light. The boa was in
imitation fur and extremely dirty, the white dress was of some thin
cotton, nearly transparent; it was open on her chest and she seemed
to have hardly any clothes underneath. I did not like to think what
she must have suffered this wintry day, in and out of the icy cold
police station cells. The effect of the drink was wearing off, and she
waved her head about as though she had a very bad headache; all her
cheerfulness had gone. Poor little thing, I felt extremely sorry for
her, she had been given plenty of the best brandy and she had done
what was wanted of her; the next day she found herself in prison. When
her imprisonment was over, in all probability, to go the same road of
drunkenness and prostitution would seem the only one open to her.

There were several other prisoners besides those we had seen before.
Some were so familiar with the place that they reeled off their age,
religion, birthplace, calling, without waiting to be asked, and then
walked through into a large hall in which were the waiting cubicles.
Suddenly I felt awed, a feeling of supremest pity almost took my breath
away. Passing in front of me into the larger hall was a woman of great
beauty, her features were intensely refined, and in every part of her
there seemed to be some great determination, not in respect of the
prison she was in now, that was only part of it, but with regard to
her life of shame that went before; the whole face and figure were
virtuous and good. The other woman who had come over from Ireland was
not there, but this was the one, I felt quite sure, who was “wanted by
the police.” I had not heard her tell anything to the officer, I had
not seen her till that moment, and I never saw her again, but I shall
never forget her face which will rest always on my memory, beautiful,
commanding, and of an absorbing sadness.

It was our turn at last. We gave the required details, and then Elsie
Howey said that we should refuse all food and all the prison rules. “We
are sorry if it will give trouble; we shall give as little as possible;
but our fast is against the Government, and we shall fight them with
our lives, not hurting anyone else.” The wardress gave no answer, but
with a wave of her hand showed us towards the cubicles. Before we went
in there we were separated; we had to part, and I never saw Elsie
again till long after I came out. A wardress came and showed me to
a room with two other officers, the place where I was to undress. I
said that I did not bow to the imprisonment and so would not undress
myself, whereupon a wardress began to pull my things off, but I showed
them this was not from disagreeableness but only through the prison
strike. On taking out of my pocket a clean handkerchief I noticed that
it had the initials “C. L.” still upon it, and when next there came a
reel of cotton with the name “Lytton” written quite distinctly round
the top, I felt overwhelmed with horror. Scarcely knowing what I was
about, I seized them both in my hand and put them on the fire which
burnt in a stove near where I was standing. The next moment I thought I
had done wrong and that the attention of the officers would inevitably
be called to my action, but they seemed not to have noticed and never
said anything, so I thanked my stars that I was safe. The look of Jane
Warton was still comic in the extreme, the two wardresses laughed as
they undressed her. Her glasses were the subject of excessive care and
she was allowed to keep them with her. I would most gladly have given
them up, for they hurt the bridge of my nose which was far too wide for
them, but it was good, of course, to help the disguise for some while
longer. I had my bath, and was put into a 3rd Division dress of coarse,
brown serge, and my cap and apron were tied on. I was put before a
large basket of worn boots, not in pairs, and told to pick out two
for myself. I chose the largest I saw, but they were not nearly big
enough, and it was only after a tremendous effort that I got my feet
into them. I was then taken to the large hall and put into a cubicle.
These were like cupboards, without ceiling, giving on to the hall for
light and air, so that they had not the stuffiness of the cells. By
this time I was dropping with fatigue, the seat seemed there for me to
sleep on, and being alone was immensely restful. But the sounds of the
other prisoners made it too painful for rest; one of them sobbed all
the time, and soon I saw we were here only to be inspected. The door
opened and a wardress put in a pair of sheets for me to take to the
cell. Then the Matron came, a capable-looking woman, but severe. She
spoke to me of the hunger-strike, and of how very wrong it was. I said
that of course without an object it was very wrong, but the Government
had been petitioned in every other way, we thought they would not like
hunger-strikes for ever, that now there were still comparatively few,
but later there would, if necessary, be many more; that feeding by
force was horrible, besides it did not meet the difficulty of keeping
the women in prison. When one saw what the wrongs of women were to
redress, it seemed a little thing that some women should die for the
sake of the others. She did not stay to prolong the discussion.

The next to come was a young doctor accompanied by a female officer. He
called me out, and the ordinary questions were put to me. I said that I
was free from any infectious disease, but that I could not answer any
other questions. He seemed to have expected me to say this, and told
the officer to put it down in the book she carried with her. I had
decided, as on the occasion of my previous hunger-strike, to refuse
to answer medical questions, but not to resist medical inspection.
However, to my great relief, it was not attempted. This was the same at
Newcastle, so seemed to me nothing extraordinary.

At last the longed-for moment had arrived, and I was taken off to my
cell. To my joy there was a window which opened a little bit; at night
it was lit by a gas jet that was set in the depth of the wall behind
the door, the passage side, and covered in by a thick glass. I was ever
so tired--I laid down and slept.

The next day was Sunday (January 16), but they did not ask us to go to
chapel. For several days I did not wear my cap and apron in my cell,
but did not in other ways continue my protest against the clothes. The
cold seemed to me intense, and I wore the skirt of my dress fastened
round my neck for warmth. The Governor, accompanied by the Matron, came
to see me, but he was in a temper about our having broken his windows,
so I said nothing. He was in a fury at the way I had fastened my skirt.
I answered that it was for warmth and that I would gladly put on more
clothes and warmer ones if he gave them to me. Later on the Senior
Medical Officer came in. He was a short, fat, little man, with a long
waxed moustache. I should have said he disliked being unkind; he liked
to chaff over things; but as I looked at him I thought I would rather
be forcibly fed by anyone in the world than by him, the coarse doctors
at Newcastle and the cross little doctor I had seen the night before. I
said I had not asked to see him, but he made no examination and asked
no questions.

I lay in my bed most of the day, for they did not disturb me, and I
tried to keep warm, as I felt the cold fearfully. They brought me all
my meals the same as usual, porridge in the morning at 7, meat and
potatoes mid-day at 12, porridge at 4.30. When they were hot I fed on
the smell of them, which seemed quite delicious; I said “I don’t want
any, thank you,” to each meal, as they brought it in. I had made up my
mind that this time I would not drink any water, and would only rinse
out my mouth morning and evening without swallowing any. I wrote on
the walls of my cell with my slate pencil and soap mixed with the dirt
of the floor for ink, “Votes for Women,” and the saying from Thoreau’s
_Duty of Civil Disobedience_--“Under a Government which imprisons any
unjustly, the true place for a just man (or woman) is also a prison”;
on the wall opposite my bed I wrote the text from Joshua, “Only be thou
strong and very courageous.” That night I dreamt of fruits, melons,
peaches and nectarines, and of a moonlit balcony that was hung with
sweetest smelling flowers, honeysuckle and jessamine, apple-blossom
and sweet scented verbena; there was only the sound of night birds
throbbing over the hills that ranged themselves below the balcony. On
it there slept my sister-in-law, and on the balustrade, but making no
noise, was a figure awake and alert, which was my brother. My dream
was of a land which was seen by my father in his poem of “King Poppy,”
where the princess and the shepherd boy are the types etherealised.
I woke suddenly. I could sleep a little in detached moments, but this
dream had made the prison cell beautiful to me; it had a way out.

The strain was great of having to put on my shoes, which were too
small, every time I was taken out of my cell to empty slops or to see
the Governor. The Matron was shocked that I did not put the right heel
in at all and every day I was given another pair, but they were all
alike in being too small for my right foot.

The next day, Monday (January 17), the wardress took my bed and bedding
away because I would not make it up, but lay on it in the day-time. I
told her if she wished she must roll me off, but that I did not intend
voluntarily to give it up. She was quite amiable, but rolled me towards
the wall and took the bed and bedding from underneath me. There was a
little table in my cell which was not fastened to the wall. I turned
it upside down and was able to sit in it with my body resting against
one of the legs. It was very uncomfortable, but I felt too ill to sit
up in the chair, and the concrete floor was much too cold without the
bed. Every now and then I got up and walked backwards and forwards in
the cell to get a little warmth into me. The Chaplain came in for a
moment. He was a tall, good-looking man, of the burly, healthy sort.
It seemed to me, from his talk, that he would be very well suited to
be a cricket match or football parson, if there were such a thing, but
he was totally unsuited to be the Chaplain of a prison, or anyhow of a
woman’s prison. He thought it wise to speak to me as a “Suffragette.”
“Look here, it’s no good your thinking that there’s anything to be
done with the women here--the men sometimes are not such bad fellows,
and there are many who write to me after they’ve left here, but the
women, they’re all as bad as bad can be, there’s absolutely no good in
them.” I did not answer, but I felt inclined to say “Then good-bye to
you, since you say you can do no good with the women here.”

Presently an officer came and led me out. The manner of nearly all the
officers was severe; one or two were friends but most of them treated
me like dirt. I was shown along the gangway of the ward, which seemed
to me very large, much larger than the D X at Holloway, and went in
various directions like a star. I was shown into the Governor’s room,
which lay at the end of the gangway. It was warm, there were hot pipes
against which I was made to stand with my back to the wall, and for a
moment, as I put my feet to rest on the pipes, I could think of nothing
else but the delight of their heat. The Governor was very cross. I had
decided not to do the needlework which constituted the hard labour,
for this he gave me three days on bread and water. He would not let
me speak to him at all and I was led out, but, before I had got to my
cell, I was called back into his presence. “I hear you are refusing to
take your food, so it’s three days in a special cell.” I was taken out
and down a staircase till we reached the ground floor. I think my cell
was two stories above, but I am not sure; then down again and into a
short passage that looked as if it was underground, with a window at
the top seemingly only just level with the ground. The door of a cell
was opened, I was put inside and the door locked. It was larger than
the cell upstairs, and the jug, basin, etc., were all made of black
guttapercha, not of tin, placed on the floor. This would have been bad
for the ordinary prisoner; as it was quite impossible to tell whether
the eating things were clean or not and, in any case, it smelt fairly
strong of guttapercha; but as the rule for me was neither to eat nor
drink, I was able to put up with it well. The bed was wider than an
ordinary plank bed and nailed to the ground, so that I was able to lie
on it without being disturbed. Best of all was the fact that it was
nearer to the heating apparatus and so seemed quite warm when I was led
in. I did not notice at first that the window did not open, but when
I had been there six or seven hours it became wonderfully airless. I
only left my cell for minutes at a time, when I was allowed to draw
water, and the air of the corridor then seemed fresh as mountain air by
comparison. I had an idea that Elsie Howey or some of the others would
have been put into a punishment cell too. I called, but in vain, my
voice had grown weak and my tongue and throat felt thick as a carpet,
probably from not drinking anything. I tried signalling with raps on
the wall, “No surrender--no surrender,” Mrs. Leigh’s favourite motto,
but I was never sure of corresponding raps, though sometimes I thought
I heard them. I could not sleep for more than about an hour at a time,
my legs drew up into a cramped position whenever I went off and the
choking thickness in my mouth woke me.

Tuesday, January 18, I was visited again by the Senior Medical
Officer, who asked me how long I had been without food. I said I had
eaten a buttered scone and a banana sent in by friends to the police
station on Friday at about midnight. He said, “Oh, then, this is the
fourth day; that is too long, I shall have to feed you, I must feed you
at once,” but he went out and nothing happened till about 6 o’clock
in the evening, when he returned with, I think, five wardresses and
the feeding apparatus. He urged me to take food voluntarily. I told
him that was absolutely out of the question, that when our legislators
ceased to resist enfranchising women then I should cease to resist
taking food in prison. He did not examine my heart nor feel my pulse;
he did not ask to do so, nor did I say anything which could possibly
induce him to think I would refuse to be examined. I offered no
resistance to being placed in position, but lay down voluntarily on the
plank bed. Two of the wardresses took hold of my arms, one held my head
and one my feet. One wardress helped to pour the food. The doctor leant
on my knees as he stooped over my chest to get at my mouth. I shut
my mouth and clenched my teeth. I had looked forward to this moment
with so much anxiety lest my identity should be discovered beforehand,
that I felt positively glad when the time had come. The sense of being
overpowered by more force than I could possibly resist was complete,
but I resisted nothing except with my mouth. The doctor offered me the
choice of a wooden or steel gag; he explained elaborately, as he did
on most subsequent occasions, that the steel gag would hurt and the
wooden one not, and he urged me not to force him to use the steel
gag. But I did not speak nor open my mouth, so that after playing
about for a moment or two with the wooden one he finally had recourse
to the steel. He seemed annoyed at my resistance and he broke into a
temper as he plied my teeth with the steel implement. He found that on
either side at the back I had false teeth mounted on a bridge which
did not take out. The superintending wardress asked if I had any false
teeth, if so, that they must be taken out; I made no answer and the
process went on. He dug his instrument down on to the sham tooth, it
pressed fearfully on the gum. He said if I resisted so much with my
teeth, he would have to feed me through the nose. The pain of it was
intense and at last I must have given way for he got the gag between my
teeth, when he proceeded to turn it much more than necessary until my
jaws were fastened wide apart, far more than they could go naturally.
Then he put down my throat a tube which seemed to me much too wide and
was something like four feet in length. The irritation of the tube
was excessive. I choked the moment it touched my throat until it had
got down. Then the food was poured in quickly; it made me sick a few
seconds after it was down and the action of the sickness made my body
and legs double up, but the wardresses instantly pressed back my head
and the doctor leant on my knees. The horror of it was more than I can
describe. I was sick over the doctor and wardresses, and it seemed a
long time before they took the tube out. As the doctor left he gave me
a slap on the cheek, not violently, but, as it were, to express his
contemptuous disapproval, and he seemed to take for granted that my
distress was assumed. At first it seemed such an utterly contemptible
thing to have done that I could only laugh in my mind. Then suddenly I
saw Jane Warton lying before me, and it seemed as if I were outside of
her. She was the most despised, ignorant and helpless prisoner that I
had seen. When she had served her time and was out of the prison, no
one would believe anything she said, and the doctor when he had fed her
by force and tortured her body, struck her on the cheek to show how he
despised her! That was Jane Warton, and I had come to help her.

When the doctor had gone out of the cell, I lay quite helpless. The
wardresses were kind and knelt round to comfort me, but there was
nothing to be done, I could not move, and remained there in what, under
different conditions, would have been an intolerable mess. I had been
sick over my hair, which, though short, hung on either side of my face,
all over the wall near my bed, and my clothes seemed saturated with it,
but the wardresses told me they could not get me a change that night
as it was too late, the office was shut. I lay quite motionless, it
seemed paradise to be without the suffocating tube, without the liquid
food going in and out of my body and without the gag between my teeth.
Presently the wardresses all left me, they had orders to go, which were
carried out with the usual promptness. Before long I heard the sounds
of the forced feeding in the next cell to mine. It was almost more than
I could bear, it was Elsie Howey, I was sure. When the ghastly process
was over and all quiet, I tapped on the wall and called out at the top
of my voice, which wasn’t much just then, “No surrender,” and there
came the answer past any doubt in Elsie’s voice, “No surrender.” After
this I fell back and lay as I fell. It was not very long before the
wardress came and announced that I was to go back upstairs as, because
of the feeding, my time in the punishment cell was over. I was taken
into the same cell which I had before; the long hours till morning were
a nightmare of agonised dread for a repetition of the process.

The next day, Wednesday, January 19, they brought me clean clothes.
When the wardresses were away at breakfast I determined to break the
thick glass of my gas jet to show what I thought of the forcible
feeding, it seemed the last time that I should have the strength
required. I took one of my shoes, which always lay at my side except
when I moved from my cell, let it get a good swing by holding it at the
back of my shoulder and then hurled it against the glass with all the
strength that I had. The glass broke in pieces with a great smashing
sound. The two wardresses, who were in charge of the whole ward while
the others were away, came into my cell together; I was already back in
my bed. They were young, new to the work, and looked rather frightened.
I told them I had done it with a shoe, and why. “But that is enough,” I
said, “I am not going to do any more now.” This reassured them and they
both laughed. They took away the shoes as “dangerous,” and brought me
slippers instead, and, to my intense relief, I never saw them again. As
the morning wore on, one after the other of the officials proclaimed
that I had done a shameful thing. On being changed to the cell next
door, one of the head wardresses--I never made out exactly who she
was--was in a great temper. I had told her, as I did every one of the
officials, why I had broken my gas jet. “Broken it, yes, I should
just think you had, indeed. And all that writing scribbled over your
cell; can’t keep the place decent.” “I’m so sorry,” I said; “I assure
you there was nothing indecent in what I wrote on the wall.” “No, not
indecent, but----” she hesitated and, as the words would not come to
her assistance, the remark remained unfinished.

I had not been long in the other cell before the doctor and four or
five wardresses appeared. He was apparently angry because I had broken
the jet glass; he seized one of the tin vessels and began waving
it about. “I suppose you want to smash me with one of these?” he
exclaimed. I said to him, so that all the wardresses with him could
hear, “Unless you consider it part of your duty, would you please not
strike me when you have finished your odious job” (or I may have said
“slap me,” I do not remember). He did not answer, but, after a little
pause, he signed to me to lie down on the bed. Again the choice of
the wooden or steel implement, again the force, which after a time I
could not withstand, in the same place as yesterday where the gum was
sore and aching. Then the feeling of the suffocating tube thrust down
and the gate of life seemed shut. The tube was pressed down much too
far, it seemed to me, causing me at times great pain in my side. The
sickness was worse than the time before. As the tube was removed I was
unavoidably sick over the doctor. He flew away from me and out of the
cell, exclaiming angrily, “If you do that again next time I shall feed
you twice.” I had removed my serge jacket and taken several precautions
for my bed, but I am afraid one or two of the officers and the floor
and wall were drenched. I shut my eyes and lay back quite helpless for
a while. They presently brought in fresh clothes, and a woman, another
prisoner, came and washed the floor. It seemed terrible that another
prisoner should do this, it was altogether a revolting business. Two
wardresses came and overlooked her work, one of them said, in a voice
of displeased authority: “Look at her! Just look at her! The _way_
she’s doing it!” The woman washed on and took no notice; her face was
intensely sad. I roused myself and said, “Well, at any rate, she’s
doing what I should be doing myself and I am very grateful to her.” The
wardresses looked surprised at me, but they said nothing.

The Governor came in for a moment to see me. To my surprise his anger
had cooled a little. He had before spoken to me in a rage and, if I
asked questions which implied a complaint, had told me they were not
proper questions for me to ask, or that I must not argue or raise
discussions. After failing to get a definite answer as to under whose
authority the forcible feeding was done, I said it surely could not be
right for him to allow such a thing in the prison over which he had
jurisdiction, unless he had seen it and at least fully realised what
it entailed. With apparently some reluctance, he admitted that he had
witnessed it. I asked, “And after that you sanction and approve of such
a thing being done to prisoners who have committed _only nominal crimes
with no criminal object and in defence of a claim which they have no
recognised constitutional means to enforce_?” The last italicised part
of this remark remained unheard, for the Governor interrupted me with
“That is not a fitting question for you to ask.” Later, I was had up
before him in his room and was severely reprimanded for breaking the
glass of the gas-box and “inspection” glass, and for defacing the walls
of my cell, but I was dismissed with a caution for glass breaking, and
my punishment was reserved for the Visiting Magistrates.

When it was evening the light was lit and the doctor and wardresses
came again to feed me. I asked if I could not sit up in a chair and
the doctor said “Yes.” I told him that I was a small eater, that the
capacity of my body was very limited and if only he would give less
quantities the result might be better. I also begged that he would not
press the tube so far down into my body. He treated the request with
contempt, saying that anyhow my stomach must be longer than his, since
I was taller than he was. This third time, though I was continually
sick, the doctor pressed the tube down firmly into my body and
continued to pour food in. At last this produced a sort of shivering
fit and my teeth chattered when the gag was removed; I suppose that
every vestige of colour must have left my face, for the doctor seemed
surprised and alarmed. He removed the tube and told the wardresses
to lay me on the floor-bed and lower my head. He then came and lay
over my chest and seemed very sorry for what he had done. I told him
I should not faint, that I was not liable to this or any form of
collapse; I did not mention the slight chronic debility of heart from
which I suffered. He called in the junior medical officer, who happened
to be passing at the time, to test my heart. The junior doctor, who
was in a jovial mood, stooped down and listened to my heart through
the stethoscope for barely the space of a second--he could not have
heard two beats--and exclaimed, “Oh, ripping, splendid heart! You can
go on with her”; with that he left the cell. But the senior doctor
seemed not to be reassured and he was kind to me for the first time. He
tried to feed me with a spoon, but I was still able to clench my teeth
and no food got down. He then pleaded with me, saying in a beseeching
voice, “I do beg of you--I appeal to you, not as a prison doctor but
as a man--to give over. You are a delicate woman, you are not fit for
this sort of thing.” I answered, “Is anybody fit for it? And I beg of
you--I appeal to you, not as a prisoner but as a woman--to give over
and refuse to continue this inhuman treatment.” After I had lain quiet
for some time I managed to clean the cell myself. I took out two pails
to the sink, but had only strength to carry them a few yards. As I was
journeying like this, getting on very slowly, a wardress told me to
take only one at a time; her sympathy was moved to this extent, but
no further. I took one pail back to my cell, went on with the other,
and then came back for the first. When I had finished this business
of washing up--which I was glad to do myself, even if it took half
the day, that it might not be given to another prisoner, and also for
the better cleaning of the hideous mess--I fell on my bed and lay
there till evening; they now left me both bed and bedding, which was a
tremendous blessing.

I lay facing the window, which was high up, and very little light
seemed to come from it. As the sun went down I saw the shadow of the
wooden mouldings fall across the glass,--three crosses, and they were
the shape of the three familiar crosses at the scene of Calvary, one in
the centre and one on either side. It looked different from any of the
pictures I had seen. The cross of Christ, the cross of the repentant
thief, and the cross of the sinner who had not repented--that cross
looked blacker than the others, and behind it was an immense crowd. The
light from the other two crosses seemed to shine on this one, and the
Christ was crucified that He might undo all the harm that was done. I
saw amongst the crowd the poor little doctor and the Governor, and all
that helped to torture these women in prison, but they were nothing
compared to the men in the Cabinet who wielded their force over them.
There were the upholders of vice and the men who support the thousand
injustices to women, some knowingly and some unconscious of the harm
and cruelty entailed. Then the room grew dark and I fell asleep. When
the doctor came again with his apparatus he had bovril and brandy, and
the tube was left for only one second in my body. The next morning,
Thursday, January 20, I told him that the brandy, which at first had
the effect of warming me, left me freezing cold after about two hours,
and I thought it was no use. As for the bovril, I had the strongest
objection to it of a vegetarian kind, and I begged him not to give it
to me again; he said he would not. It was only when I was sick that I
knew what were the ingredients put down my body. That morning it was
again milk and plasmon that was given me, and I was horribly sick. The
doctor said to me, “You are absolutely not fit for this kind of thing.
How could your Union send a woman like you to do a thing of this kind?
It is like sending a wisp of wind to fight against a----” I did not
hear the end of the sentence, but I think he said “a rock.” I was not
able to answer, but the next time he came I said to him, “Our Union
does not send anyone; service of this kind is absolutely voluntary.
In my case not one of the leaders even knew of my action. I did it
entirely off my own bat and only told the local organisers.”

From the third feeding, when the junior doctor had felt my heart on
Wednesday evening, the senior doctor had been much kinder to me; in
fact I noticed a change in the way I was treated generally, so much
so that I concluded my identity had been discovered or was at least
suspected. I left off wearing my hair in a parting, as it was almost
impossible to keep it away when I was sick. I brushed it back and did
it up in a towel every time when I was fed. I left off wearing my
glasses, which were too uncomfortable to be tolerated now that the
necessity for them had worn off and they were forcibly feeding me
quite happily. I then decided to take the utmost advantage of any
privilege, in order to bring the officials to act reasonably, to check
their recklessness as much as possible, and to bring them to strain the
regulations so far as might be--not, as heretofore, in the direction
of brutality, but in the direction of hygiene, if not of humanity. I
pleaded afresh with the doctor to try the experiment of giving me less
quantity of food, of putting less of the tube into the body, of using
less glycerine, which greatly irritated my throat the moment the tube
touched it, or to use oil instead of glycerine. He listened to what I
said, and though except as to the glycerine--he wiped the tube almost
free of it, and called my attention to the fact--there was not much
difference in what he did, yet his manner of doing it was different.

When I was at the sink on Thursday morning, two or three other
prisoners were there, and they hastily whispered to me, “It _is_ your
friend next to you, No. 21.” The kindness which beamed from all their
faces did my heart good, but I could never hear or see Elsie Howey next
door, and eventually I imagined that they must have mistaken me for her
when I threw back my hair after the third feeding.

That day I thought I would clean my window, through which I had
seen such a wonderful vision the evening before. Though the day was
generally spent in loneliness, I knew that I might be visited at any
hour, so I put off till about 3.30, when the ward was generally quiet
for a time. All the furniture in the cell was movable, so I placed the
table in front of the window and the chair on the top, then I climbed
up. Through the small part of the window that opened I looked down, and
in a beautiful red glow of the sinking sun I saw a sight that filled
my very soul with joy. In the gloaming light--it was an exercise ground
that I looked down upon--I saw walking round, all alone, a woman in her
prisoner’s dress, and in her arms she carried another little prisoner,
a baby done up in a blanket. I was too high up to hear her, but I could
see distinctly that she cooed and laughed to her little companion, and
perhaps she sang to it too. I never saw maternal love more naturally
displayed. The words of the Chaplain came back to my mind--“The women,
they’re all as bad as bad can be, there’s absolutely no good in them.”
No good in them! and yet amongst them there was this little woman who,
at least, loved her child and played with it as only a mother-heart can!

I got down and put the table and chair in their place; I felt amazed,
having seen a sight as beautiful as the most beautiful picture in the
world.

The wardress who came most often to my cell was kind to me. I said to
her, “Oh! if you only knew what a nightmare it is, the feeding. I have
never been any good at bearing pain, and each time it comes I feel as
if I simply couldn’t endure it.” “Oh! well,” she answered, “it gets
better, you’ll see.” She said this in a comforting voice, but the
vistas of experience it gave of other prisoners who had gone through
the process made it anything but a comfort to me. Most of them had been
let out half dead before the end of their time, and I had but very
little faith in the assurance that it would “get better.” I asked her
after the other Suffrage prisoners, but she could tell me nothing of
them. This wardress came back to my cell rather late one day and said
to me hurriedly: “I am going away to the other side of the prison.
Will you write to me when you get out?” I told her that I was afraid
my letters might get her into trouble, for I felt sure it would not be
allowed. She said she was quite sure it would be all right, if I sent
it to her name, Miss ----. I said, “Very well, then, I will.”

I was filled with terror in the morning when the gas-jet was put out
and in the evening when it was lighted again; within about half an hour
of these changes in the light came the doctor and wardresses, the gag
and all the fiendish consequences. I walked up and down my cell in a
fever of fear, stopping now and then and looking up at the window, from
which all good things had seemed to come. I said, “Oh, God, help me!
Oh, God, help me!”

After, I think, the sixth meal, I complained to the doctor that the
processes of digestion were absolutely stagnant. I suggested to him
that he should leave out one meal, with a view to allowing the natural
forces of the body to readjust themselves, unhampered by the kind
of paralysing cramp and arresting of the natural functions which
resulted from fear. I also suggested that instead of brandy--he had
given me another meal of bovril and brandy--fruit juice or the water
in which a pear or apple had been stewed should be added to my food.
He did not answer me, but turned to the head assistant, whom he had
already assured me was a fully-trained nurse, and in a half-insolent,
half-contemptuous tone of voice, said: “Do you understand her? I
don’t. Does she mean that she is constipated? If so, you see about it.”
Very likely I had spoken unintelligibly. I seldom had interviewed a
doctor on my own behalf, and am not versed in their technical language.
Whenever I spoke to this doctor it was either immediately before or
after the feeding, so that my nerves were unstrung. Moreover, prisoners
are made to feel in the presence of nearly every prison official that
they are the scum of the earth, suspected of deceit, prejudged and
found wanting; this has a paralysing effect on a prisoner’s powers of
expression. The chief assistant was the woman who took me daily to the
weighing machine. She was kind and refined in her ways. I explained
to her what I wanted, I reminded her several times about this; once I
spoke again to the doctor of it, but I was never given either a drug,
or, so far as I know, the fruit juice in my food.

I asked the doctor if a smaller tube could not be used for the feeding.
He answered, “If I fed you through the nose it would be with a smaller
tube.” I suggested that the smaller tube should be used through the
mouth, if he thought that process the easiest. He said, “Well, that
might be,” but the tube was never changed to a smaller one. As to my
suggestion about omitting a meal, he also seemed to think it plausible,
but he promised nothing, and fed me in the evening, saying that I had
again lost weight, so that he could not leave me without food. Of
course, this quite ignored my argument that until I began to keep down
the food I could not profit by it or gain in weight.

My limbs, hands and feet, were stiff with cold at all times. I
was allowed flannel underclothes and an extra blanket. In spite of
continued reproof from the wardresses I kept on my nightdress in the
day time, the only under-garment with long sleeves, and I passed the
night in all my day-clothes. At last I was able to do this without
comment from the authorities. They also, as a great favour, allowed me
yet another blanket when I asked for it after some days; I then had
three. I was allowed to keep the cape, usually only for out-door use,
in my cell. But it was like trying to warm a stone by clothing it. Hot
water was allowed in a pail once a day after the evening feeding.

Most of my friends had been fed by the doctor standing at the back of
the patient, whereas this doctor adjusted the tube and fed me from
the front, a process which he carried out by sitting across my knees.
By this time I could not feel my legs and arms, except just by the
joints where I felt the pain of the cold. At night I used to get up
and walk from time to time to prevent them from becoming useless. But
on Thursday night, my sixth in prison, I fell really asleep and when
I awoke I had an unexpected feeling of ease and freedom from pain or
fear. I was unconscious of my nearly rigid limbs, the beat of my heart
was scarcely perceptible; I supposed I had only a little while to live.
The prospect of release was inexpressibly welcome. Presently I heard,
as distinctly as if the wall of my cell had a mouth and had spoken, the
words which Mrs. Leigh has made glorious in connection with our cause:
“No surrender.” They beat upon my brain with a new meaning; not only to
a repressive Government, not only to heedless laws and their attendant
punishments, but to the temptations of our inabilities, no surrender.
What was I about, to abdicate my job in this ease-loving way? I rubbed
the painful life back into my feet, hands and limbs, and forced myself
to walk up and down my cell. Pictures succeeded each other rapidly in
my mind of our fellow-prisoners in the “Black Maria,” of all undefended
women, of children’s blighted lives, of down-trodden men and women,
undeveloped or ill of body or mind, whose fate women, through their
abject surrender of the woman’s part in the world’s jurisdiction, must
to a certain extent have laid at their door. How misplaced, unrighteous
and unwomanly did non-resistance appear to me then. With every throb
of my returning pulses I seemed to feel the rhythm of the world’s soul
calling to us women to uncramp our powers from the thraldom of long
disuse. My whole being responded and I yearned to hand on the message
as I myself had in spirit received it--“Women, you are wanted. Women,
as women, because you are women, come out in all your womanliness,
and whether or not victory is for your day, at least each one of you
make sure that the one course impossible to you is surrender of your
share in the struggle.” To you, dear, faithful Suffragettes at heart,
whatever the handcuffs of circumstance which may limit your powers of
visible service, I pass on this message.

I had been told that the Visiting Magistrates were due to come to the
prison on Friday (January 21), and that my offences would be judged
by them. On Wednesday morning I asked if I could be allowed to go
to chapel, as on Thursday, probably, I should move with difficulty
and after that I would not have a chance, as they would have me
put in irons for breaking the glass of my gas-jet--they had put my
friends in irons for less than that. The wardress seemed to think
this improbable, but she gave her consent to my going to chapel. That
morning at 10 o’clock, I was taken downstairs and put in a long row
of waiting prisoners, we were close enough to be touching each other,
all perfectly silent. They changed me about, putting me in a different
place each time, for no apparent reason. We had waited about a quarter
of an hour, when the order came to move along, and we went through
several buildings to the chapel. The men, who were much the most
numerous, were seated below, the women in a gallery above with a screen
of wood jutting out, so that nothing could be seen by one of the other.
I was shunted several times from my place, and at last was put in a
row by myself. I looked in vain for any of my companions, they were
not there. The service was short and with several hymns, in which, as
in Holloway, the prisoners joined heartily. Then the Chaplain got up
into the pulpit and preached a sermon with a great deal of energy. He
told of a wreck, evidently a quite recent one, in which the lifeboat
men had behaved splendidly. Many were saved, and they gave thanks to
God and to the lifeboat men. Then he went on to describe how we were
born, helpless and ignorant, in the world. As we thought of it, we must
give thanks to God. I listened with interest, but nothing further was
said. There was apparently no mother to thank, who through nine months
had tended the little one in her body, and through pain, sometimes
excruciating, brought it to birth. These were entirely forgotten. Was
it because the women were “as bad as bad can be”?

The next day, Thursday, January 20, I asked if I could go out. The
longing for more air than I could get in the cell was intense, though
the window of this one opened just enough to let in some air. I found
that I could walk all right, although it seemed as if my legs were
painful things attached to my body. The wardress told me I might go
that afternoon. As I was taken out of my cell that morning to be
weighed, I passed a little girl prisoner. She was not more than a
child. For aught I knew she may have been taken straight from the life
of the streets the night before, but she had at that moment the face
of an angel, and she looked down on me from the steps that she was
cleaning above with a smile which you can never see out of prison. Her
whole face seemed lit up with it and it touched my very soul. I never
saw her again, but I felt that all my resentment and anger were gone.
In a way my physical courage was no greater than before, but at least I
should go on; I knew that I should last out.

In the afternoon the wardress came to let me go out. I saw none of my
companions on the way, and I was put in an exercise yard quite alone.
A pain in my side had by this time grown acutely. I rested against the
wall, but nothing did it any good. The sight of the grey, frosty sky
and the feel of air were a delight, but I could not bear the cold nor
hold myself up, and after a little while I asked to come in.

The next day, Friday, January 21, as I was being fed--the wardresses
had given up holding me--the pain of the tube in my body was more than
I could bear; I seized hold of it and pulled it up. The wardresses
reproved me for interfering, but they did not put the tube in again;
the doctor said nothing. I was overwhelmed with the horror of the
process, and for the first time I was convulsed with sobs. The doctor
was kind to me. I said that I only cried from having no strength to
resist, but that I meant to live out my sentence if I could.

This was the day the Visiting Magistrates were due. Later in the
morning they came to my cell with the Governor, who said, “Have you
any complaint? If only about the forcible feeding, you will have the
opportunity later on in my room; don’t talk of that now.” I answered,
“I have complaints to make not only about being fed by force, but as to
the manner in which it was done.” He said, “Your opportunity for that
also will come later on.” I think it was now, in the presence of the
Visiting Magistrates, that I said to the Governor, “I shall be saying
several things when I am out of prison, and it seems to me more fair
and square to tell you of them now while I am still in your hands, and
you can refute them if you like.” He allowed me to proceed, so I went
on: “About the Governor, I shall say that while he was shocked at
the great wickedness of breaking glass as a protest against forcible
feeding, he sanctioned and approved of the violence and brutality of
the forcible feeding itself.” He almost smiled, and replied hastily
that he had never said anything of the kind. I began to ask which
part of my statement he denied--his condemnation of glass-breaking or
approval of the forced feeding, but he stopped me and would not allow
any further remarks on that point.

Soon afterwards, when summoned before the Magistrates in the Governor’s
room, I was allowed, in replying to the charge of glass-breaking,
to which I pleaded guilty, to make my protest against the forcible
feeding. I said I had been unable to ascertain on whose authority it
was done; if by the order of an individual it seemed to me cruel and
abominable, but if by order of the departmental authority, and in the
name of law, I thought it much worse; then it was sheer barbarism, for
under cover of such an order, kindly and well-meaning subordinates were
made to assist, for the sake of duty, in the performance of many things
which they would never tolerate under different circumstances. As a
protest, I owned a feeble one, against this barbarism I had actually
been guilty of defacing the walls of my cell with inscriptions and of
breaking a valuable piece of glass. The latter part of my remarks, I
think, were scarcely heard, for the Magistrates had begun to interrupt
me. My breath gave out; I looked round at the Magistrates, at the
Governor, at the Matron. They had ordinary faces, neither kind nor
unkind; they were displeased with what I said, they looked angry--that
was all. Then I asked if I might now lodge my complaint against
various points as to the manner in which I had been forcibly fed. The
Governor replied, “No, not now. You will have another opportunity for
that later on.” After a lengthy and severe reprimand for my prison
offences and condemnatory remarks on the subject of the behaviour of
Suffragettes outside, the Magistrates waived the matter of the wall
inscriptions as having been already dealt with by the Governor, and
with regard to the broken glass they deferred judgment _sine die_.

When back in my cell, the Governor presently visited me. I said I had
understood I was to have an opportunity of seeing the Magistrates
again to lodge my further complaint against the manner of feeding.
The Governor said, “You will not see the Magistrates again; but now
is your time, I have come on purpose to hear your complaints.” I had
the impression, probably not uncommon to all prisoners, that the
higher the authority the less likelihood would there be of an appeal
to them taking effect. Certainly there had been nothing in the manner
and remarks of the Visiting Magistrates to alter this impression.
I was therefore well pleased to make my complaint to the Governor
alone. It is no part of the prison protest to plead for merciful or
even rational treatment, and though I had deliberately decided upon a
different course, I was haunted by the fear of breaking our policy and
proving disloyal to my comrades then in prison. The Matron was present,
as always when the Governor visits prisoners in their cells, and he
allowed me to remain on my bed. For the first time he listened to all I
had to say without attempting to interrupt me, or to curtail or change
the drift of my remarks. I reported to him having been forcibly fed
without my heart having been tested or the doctor even feeling my
pulse. I said I mentioned this in no spirit of personal complaint, for,
though suffering from slight chronic heart disease, my heart happened
to have great resisting and recuperative power; but I didn’t suppose
it was possible to diagnose this fact merely from looking at me, and
that on general medical grounds, as a matter of principle, I thought
the heart ought most carefully to be tested before any prisoner who had
been on hunger-strike was forcibly fed, since both these processes were
theoretically believed to tax the heart.

I said, “There is another thing which I think I had better mention.
After the first time of feeding me, the doctor seemed very irritated
and, before leaving, he slapped me on the cheek; he did not hurt me,
but seemed to wish to show his contempt; about this, too, I do not
wish to complain as of an insult to me personally. He no doubt was
irritated by his repulsive job, but this is hardly the right mood for
an official, and what he could do to one woman he might possibly do
to another. I think such things should not be done. I asked him the
next morning, unless he thought it part of his duty, not to do such a
thing again, and he never has.” I made further complaints about too
much food at a time being poured in through the tube, and about the one
occasion when the tube was left in for some considerable time and the
feeding repeated again and again, in spite of my continuous vomiting.
I did not, however, complain of these things in any detail to the
Governor, since they seemed to be matters chiefly suitable for the
medical officer. I think I added, as I certainly did on one occasion
to the doctor himself, what a mercy it was that at least the doctor was
skilled in adjusting the tube into the throat. The Governor made no
reply but listened to all I said.

It was on the afternoon of this day, Friday, that the door of my cell
was suddenly thrown open, and the man who stood outside was announced
to me as the Government inspector. I asked, had he come from London?
“Yes.” He inquired in a hurried way, as if he had a train to catch,
had I any complaint? “Yes,” I replied, “first of all about being fed
by force.” He said, in a hurried and insolent manner, all in one
breath, so that it was scarcely intelligible, “Are you refusing to
take your food--If so, the remedy is in your hands, you have no reason
to complain--Any further complaints?” I hesitated for a moment, then,
as it seemed to me my complaints against the doctor would certainly
in this man’s estimation come under the head of grievances easily
remediable by the surrender of the hunger-strike, I answered, “No, I
suppose not,” upon which he abruptly left me.

On this day, Friday, the Governor before he left me had suggested
that under certain conditions he would allow me to write a letter.
“For instance,” he said, “if you had a mother you were anxious about,
perhaps I could give you leave to write to her.” I had so arranged
matters before being arrested that I knew my people, if they had
traced me, would conclude that by this time my hunger-strike had been
superseded by forcible feeding; that those most dear to me had implicit
faith in the reasonableness of all officials, that if at any moment
they chose to take advantages of the privileges available to them,
they could hear all about me; and, finally, that if they were anxious
to the point of disregard for those of my principles which they did
not share, they could pay my fine; but hastily on these reflections
there followed the panic fear that it was my mother who was ill, and
the Governor was breaking the news to me. He, however, reassured me on
this point and he left me. The permission reeled in my brain. My mother
would by this time certainly suspect something. If I could write to her
and yet not let her know where I was! The prison paper would alone make
this impossible. I thought about it all night. The next day, Saturday,
January 22, I determined to eat my breakfast so that I might be in a
fit state to write, otherwise my hands trembled and I could not steady
my mind to a letter. I told the wardress very early that morning that
I would eat my breakfast, and that I should like someone to witness
it. The little woman, whom the doctor had told me was a nurse, brought
me in a cup of milk and a piece of white bread and butter. It was the
most delicious food I have ever tasted; the “nurse” was very kind to
me and stayed till I had finished. Then I wrote my letter; it was only
on the slate, of course; I must ask the Governor’s leave before I was
allowed writing-paper. I asked to see the Governor, by letter written
on another slate. I said that, if it were the same to him, might I go
to his room to see him, as there I could stand near the hot pipes,
which was a great luxury. He came to my cell, and I told him I would
gladly avail myself of the privilege to write to my mother, provided
he would grant the same privilege to my fellow Suffrage prisoners. I
assumed, too, that he had done the same in the case of Elsie Howey as
in mine, omitted to punish her for glass-breaking--I believed, from the
sound, that someone besides myself had broken glass--and I reminded him
of a remark he had made as to the law being no respecter of persons. By
this time I had an almost certain conviction that he knew who I was.
But he would not give me any assurance as to like favours being granted
to other prisoners, so I refused to avail myself of the letter-writing
privilege. In the afternoon, however, I had decided that I could convey
news to my mother without revealing my identity to the officials,
supposing that they were not yet fully aware of the truth, and that I
had better use every available privilege offered, since I was in the
dark as to the grounds on which it was made. I determined to write to
the nurse of my sister’s children, who lived in Bloomsbury Square,
telling her to forward my letter at once to my mother. I asked to see
the Governor again, but he had left. I was taken before the Matron, who
told me the privilege would anyhow be conditional, dependent upon to
whom my letter was addressed and the urgency of the motive for writing
it. I said there was no extreme urgency; she answered I must await the
Governor’s return on Monday morning.

I wrote in my letter on the slate that the forcible feeding was “only
pain,” and that my mother would think that good for me. I made no other
complaint, but said the short sentence would soon let me be with her.
My only object was to conceal all that I endured. In the evening I was
again fed by force.

On Sunday morning, January 23, the cold was intense. I asked for some
hearthstone to polish my tins--they had taken everything of the kind
away and the tins were dull and spotted. I hoped to keep some sense
of life in my hands and arms by trying to scrub with them. But it did
not come. Presently the door opened and the Governor appeared; I could
not think why he came so early. Then I saw the doctor behind him, and
the thought of the forcible feeding blocked my mind. I supposed the
Governor had come to see it. He was nervous about startling me, I
suppose, for he told me the great news twice before I understood. He
told me of my release and that my youngest sister, Emily Lutyens, had
come to fetch me away. I felt stunned with the quite unexpected shock
of joy, it was too good to be true. After ascertaining that my fine
had not been paid, but that I had been released on medical grounds,
and that it had nothing to do with my mother’s health, the chief aim
for which I tried to pull myself together was to obtain what news I
could of my fellow-prisoners. The Governor and doctor, however, left
me without giving me any information. Again I was brought white bread
and butter and milk for my breakfast, and the “nurse” stayed with me
while I ate it. They brought me my clothes, but the more I realised the
news the slower my movements became; all strength seemed to have ebbed
from my body. The wardresses knew nothing of the other Suffragette
prisoners, whether they were released or not. When dressed I was taken
out far away to what was called “the Governor’s room,” but it was not
the same one that I had seen before. The doctor came and talked to me,
then after a little while my sister came. We greeted each other, of
course, by a tremendously warm embrace. The doctor looked away like a
witness in a melodrama. I sat there as in a dream talking to him and
to the Governor, who presently came in. The doctor said, “I have been
kind to you?” “Latterly you were,” I answered, “if you had not fed me.
At first you were angry and not kind.” I told the Governor that the one
thing I wanted to know about was the other Suffragette prisoners, were
they fed--were they released? He answered that they were not released,
that one of them was in hospital, that they were all quite well. I said
that was a curious answer; if they were all quite well, why was one
in hospital? He said that he could tell me nothing more. The doctor
said they were none of them as bad as I was over the feeding. That was
all that I could get from them about the other prisoners. I did not
go over again with them the points about which I had protested, while
still a prisoner, as to my own treatment. The Governor and doctor were
courteous to me after my release and to my sister, and the Governor’s
wife had been very kind to her on her arrival in the early morning.

Why we waited I do not know, but in about half an hour we drove away
in a four-wheeler. The Chaplain was just coming in to the prison as
we drove out through the gates; he bowed to me. I went to the station
first and got my trunk, or rather my sister got it for me, then we went
to the hotel. We telephoned to Dr. Kerr that I was released and going
with my sister to London. She sent her young daughter and man-servant
to see us at the hotel, and we left word with them for Miss Flatman,
who was not on the telephone and whose Sunday address we did not know.

I had a long bath, which was a tremendous luxury, although my legs were
so thin I could not sit down without pain. My dear sister stayed with
me the whole time; my voice shook and I could not speak properly. We
had a meal before we left.



CHAPTER XIV

THE HOME OFFICE


We got into the train for London and I had a long sleep. During the
last part of the journey my sister, Emily Lutyens, told how she had
heard of me in Walton Gaol. She had a telephone message forwarded to
her on Saturday night, January 15, from the Press Association. It
was addressed to my eldest brother, who was abroad, saying it was
rumoured that I was imprisoned in Liverpool--was it true? She rang up
our friend, Mr. Arthur Chapman, who after an infinity of trouble got
into communication with Mr. Thompson, one of the Prison Commissioners
from the Home Office. In answering the telephone, he welcomed Mr.
Chapman gleefully, as having news they had wanted much. “There is a
prisoner at Walton Gaol, Liverpool,” he said, “whom they have for some
days suspected of being other than her declaration. We have wanted to
release her, but have not been able to find out who her people were.”
This was a most extraordinary thing for a Home Office official to say.
Why had they not released me to the W.S.P.U. organiser in Liverpool,
or asked me with whom they should communicate? And why were they more
anxious to set me free than the other Suffragettes? They had signed an
order for my release. The reason given was loss of weight; they did
not mention my heart, since they knew nothing about it! Mr. Thompson
recommended that my sister should telephone to the doctor at Walton
and he would arrange with the Governor to release me. With this news
Mr. Chapman went to my sister Emily, who was dining out. They rang up
Dr. Price, of Walton, and after communicating with him my sister felt
almost sure the prisoner was myself. Without a moment’s hesitation, and
dressed just as she was, she caught the midnight train to Liverpool,
where she arrived at about six in the morning. She reached the doctor’s
house at about seven and still was uncertain whether she would find me
in the prison. Dr. Price, after some talk, took her to the Governor’s
house. The Governor’s wife was very kind at that early hour and gave
her breakfast. She said she thought it was inhuman to dress the
prisoners in such frightfully ugly clothes, she felt only horror when
she looked at them; she would have different clothing for them if she
had anything to do with it.

Dr. Price told my sister that he had written the report of me to the
Home Office. “I said she was spare, very spare, and that she had a
nose--I did not say aquiline, but of a somewhat Wellingtonian bend.” We
roared with laughter at this description of me.

The following is my sister’s statement of a conversation which she
had with the doctor on arriving at Walton: “After a preliminary
conversation with Dr. Price in regard to what had taken place in
connection with our telephonic communication with him the previous
night, I asked him whether he could tell me anything with regard to my
sister’s behaviour in gaol and the treatment she had been obliged to
undergo. In reply, he stated that she had fasted for four days, that
he had begged her to take her food, and explained that if she refused
he would be obliged to forcibly feed her. As she had persisted in her
refusal, he had been obliged to feed her through the mouth up to the
date of her release, with the exception of one meal, which she took of
her own accord on Saturday morning. He further stated that, unlike some
other Suffragettes, she had shown no violence beyond refusing to take
her food, but that, in all his experience, he had never seen such a bad
case of forcible feeding. I asked him what he meant by a ‘bad case,’
and he said ‘_She was practically asphyxiated every time._’ I then
told him that the medical officers at Holloway and Newcastle reported
to us that my sister was suffering from serious valvular disease of
the heart, and I asked him if his examination had led him to the same
conclusion. He replied ‘Certainly not. My subordinate’ (or some such
word), ‘who is a very clever doctor, thoroughly examined her heart
and found no trace of disease whatever,’ and I need hardly say that
this was a great relief to my mind, as the reports of the other prison
doctors had caused us so much anxiety. He further stated that, in spite
of the forcible feeding, my sister had lost weight at the rate of 2
lbs. a day, and that, consequently, he had been obliged to advise her
being released.

“Dr. Price several times repeated how much my sister had suffered from
the treatment, and, after I had told him about her heart, said that it
might possibly have been due to her heart condition, though he had not
been able to detect it.”

My sister took me to their house in Bloomsbury Square, which we reached
at about 8.30 p.m. There was our friend, Mr. Chapman, to whom I gave a
brief account of my imprisonment. He went off with it the next day to
the Home Office Prison Department, and returned with the news that the
officials would be grateful to me if I would make a statement on paper,
whereupon they would have it investigated. There were reasons why they
would be very glad to have an open inquiry at Walton Gaol.

All that night I woke off and on with cold, and also with terror at
the forcible feeding. My sister was most kind to me; she reheated my
hot-bottles and at last came and slept with me. I stayed in bed the
next morning (Monday, January 24). In the afternoon I saw some of my
friends--Mrs. Pethick Lawrence and Christabel Pankhurst. Some days
after, when she returned to London, I saw Mrs. Pankhurst. They were all
of them content with what I had done and the way I had done it. This
was a most tremendous joy and relief to me.

I managed to write a letter to the _Times_ and an article for _Votes
for Women_. I could only do everything so slowly that I had not
finished these until eight o’clock the next morning, after writing all
night. I stayed in bed the whole of that day, Tuesday. On Wednesday
and Thursday (26th and 27th) I stayed in bed in the morning, but led
a more or less normal life after. These days I could hardly sit in a
chair, because my emaciated condition rendered it very painful; I ate
my meals, very often, kneeling down at the table on a cushion.

On Tuesday, January 25, I wrote to Mr. Gladstone, the Home Secretary,
to explain that it was not as the newspapers said, to play a practical
joke upon him, that I had gone to prison in disguise. It was because
of the totally different category of treatment meted out to one set of
people from another, and the object of my disguise was to expose this
for the sake of bringing such a state of things to an end.

On Monday, January 31, I woke with a blistered heel. I spoke at the
meeting at the Queen’s Hall, and it was heart-filling to meet all my
friends again; the whole audience seemed to understand. I stood for an
hour on one foot. On coming home I had to wait about to get a statement
finished and typewritten. I had written very carefully for the Home
Office of what happened to me in prison. After that I went to bed and
stopped there for six weeks. The next day, Tuesday, February 1, the
blister on my heel was much worse and my sister wished to send for a
doctor. I had always been ill in the country and did not know of one.
My sister called in Dr. Marion Vaughan, who from that moment was my
doctor, and after she had been to see me I had a nurse. This is her
report:--

 “REPORT OF PHYSICAL CONDITION OF LADY CONSTANCE LYTTON.

 “Tuesday, February 1, 1910.
 “21, THURLOE SQUARE, S.W.
 “February 4, 1910.

 “I was called in to see Lady Constance Lytton, staying at 29,
 Bloomsbury Square, W.C., on account of pain, swelling and reddening
 of right leg and heel; with enlarged tender glands behind the
 knee, associated with an inflamed blister on the heel.[12] There
 was cellulitis of the right leg, extending to the knee. Both legs
 were considerably swollen (evidently due to failing heart), though
 the patient and her sister, Lady Emily Lutyens, said this was much
 less marked than on the previous day. The patient’s look of extreme
 illness, malnutrition, and bad colour led me to examine her heart
 carefully. This I found to be in a serious condition, considerably
 larger than normal, with its apex beat in 6th intercostal space,
 1½ inches beyond the nipple line; extremely irregular in force and
 frequency, a marked difference between heart and pulse rate, due
 to feeble transmission to terminal vessels. The heart sounds were
 ‘trembling’ in character. The pulse then (February 1, 1910, at 10.30
 a.m.) and now is slow, small in volume and irregular; its rate varying
 from 48 to 52 per minute. (There is perfectly clear evidence of mitral
 disease of the heart, with præsystolic murmur.) The most superficial
 examination of the heart cannot fail to reveal the grave risk to
 health and life to which the patient was exposed during the forcible
 methods of feeding recently adopted in Walton Gaol.”

         Report by DR. MARION HUNTER (MRS. VAUGHAN), Plague Medical
              Officer to Government of India, 1897–1898; Plague Medical
              Officer to British Government in Egypt, 1899; Assistant
              Medical Officer to London County Council (Education) 4½
              years.

  FOOTNOTE: [12] The shoes in Walton Gaol were exceptionally stiff,
  even, as it seemed to me, for prison footwear. They hurt my feet
  badly and made the heel of my right foot very sore. As I have told,
  after I broke my gas-jet, the shoes were changed to comfortable
  slippers, but I think this accounted for the blister after my
  release, when my foot came to life again.

On Monday, January 31, Mr. Arthur Chapman wrote to Mr. Gladstone,
enclosing the statement which I had made, and begging for an interview,
in which he could explain matters to the full; this was refused. On
February 4 Mr. Chapman wrote again, appealing for a full and impartial
investigation. The following letter was received:--

 “Please quote 187, 986/10,
 “and address to the Under-Secretary of State,
 “Home Office, London, S.W.

 “HOME OFFICE, WHITEHALL,
 “9th February, 1910.

 “Sir,--With reference to your letter of the 31st ultimo, forwarding
 statement made by Lady Constance Lytton, as to her treatment in H.M.
 Prison, Liverpool, and your further letter of the 4th inst., I am
 directed by the Secretary of State to say that he has caused careful
 and detailed inquiry to be made by the Prison Commissioners into
 the truth of the charges brought by Lady Constance Lytton against
 the officers of the prison, and as the result of that inquiry he is
 satisfied that those charges are without foundation and that there is
 no justification for Lady Constance Lytton’s account of her experience
 while she was in the prison.

 “The Secretary of State cannot discuss her statements in detail. A
 single instance must suffice. Lady Constance, with a view to showing
 that her treatment as ‘Jane Warton’ differed from her treatment when
 her identity was known, asserts that, whereas she was thoroughly
 examined at Holloway and Newcastle Prisons and was found to be
 suffering from heart disease, no attempt was made to examine her at
 Liverpool before she was forcibly fed. On reception at Liverpool
 Prison on the 15th ultimo, Lady Constance refused to allow herself
 to be examined and told the deputy medical officer, who was on duty,
 that she was quite well. He asked her a second time to allow him to
 examine her and she again refused. His evidence on this point is
 corroborated by that of the wardress who was present, and the matter
 is placed beyond doubt by the entry ‘refused examination’ which was
 made at the time in the medical reception register at the prison.
 Before artificially feeding her for the first time, the senior medical
 officer applied his ear to the chest wall and satisfied himself that
 the condition of her heart was such that the operation of artificial
 feeding could, in the absence of active resistance by the patient,
 be performed without any immediate risk of injury to her health. In
 this connection you will observe that the diagnosis of the medical
 officers at Holloway and Newcastle, arrived at after thorough
 examination, is fully confirmed by the report of Lady Constance
 Lytton’s own medical attendant, which you have been good enough to
 forward. ‘Jane Warton’s’ foolish conduct in refusing to allow herself
 to be examined and the deception which deprived the medical officers
 of all knowledge of the medical history of her case, must be held
 responsible for the fact that the true condition of her heart remained
 undiscovered while she was in Liverpool Prison. When it was found that
 the injury to her health caused by her persistent refusal to take
 food could not be prevented by artificial feeding, her discharge was
 recommended by the medical officer and was authorised by the Secretary
 of State, and this was done before anyone at the Home Office or at
 the prison was aware of her identity. The statement that the medical
 officer was guilty of slapping his patient’s face is utterly devoid of
 truth, and can only be the outcome of the imagination.

 “In these circumstances the Secretary of State does not consider
 that any further inquiry as to the truth of the statements made
 and published by Lady Constance Lytton is called for, and he must
 therefore decline to accede to your request for further investigation.

 “I am, sir,
 “Your obedient servant,
 “(Signed) EDWARD TROUP.”

 “ARTHUR W. CHAPMAN, ESQ.,
 “33, Whitehall Court, S.W.”

In this letter it seems to be thought that it does not matter
mis-stating things, provided the mis-statement is a small one, then the
small things can be added together. Even supposing everything to be
true in this letter, no mention is made of calling in the other doctor
five days before I was released, on purpose to test my heart. He did so
with a stethoscope on the heart itself, though anything but carefully,
and pronounced it quite sound.

Eighteen days after my release I called in Dr. Anders Ryman, of 4,
Wetherby Place, to give me Swedish treatment. He found that my heart
had regained its normal size, but he thought my condition too critical
for any but the very mildest form of treatment; insisted on my being
kept entirely in bed, absolutely quiet, and forbade all visitors or
letters being brought to me. He would not let me be moved to the
country for another four weeks, and, even after that, urged me to exert
myself as little as possible and only walk upstairs backwards. He
seemed to be alarmed at the great fluctuations between the heart beat
when still and when I moved or spoke.

During my imprisonment, the side of the jaw on which the gag was used
became painful and the whole mouth very sensitive, but five or six days
after release all swelling had subsided and pain was only occasional
and mild. About ten days after my release, the crown of my artificial
tooth broke away entirely. Owing to this and to sensitiveness in the
upper tooth affected, I did not use that side of my mouth in eating,
but I was unable to leave my bed to visit the dentist. Some time after
I was up the doctors urged upon me that I was still unfit to undergo
dental treatment. I went in March, but my dentist thought I could
not undergo any but a temporary treatment of the harmfully exposed
surfaces. It was not till April that full treatment was finally given;
that is why the date of the report made by the dentist is so long after
the release from prison:--

 “10, PARK CRESCENT,
 “Portland Place, W.,
 “April 14, 1910.

 “LADY CONSTANCE LYTTON.

 “In order to restore the masticatory efficiency of the left side of
 the lower jaw, a bridge consisting of one gold crown and two porcelain
 crowns was constructed. This was attached in May, 1896, and has
 continued in satisfactory condition until the application of a gag,
 recently employed in forcible feeding, cracked and broke away the
 face of the crown of the bicuspid on the lower jaw, also breaking the
 enamel of the upper natural tooth.

 “Sufficient force having been employed to occasion this damage, it was
 feared that the root of the tooth which forms the front anchorage of
 the bridge was split, but this is not the case, and the inflammatory
 symptoms have now subsided.

 “H. UREN OLVER.”

On February 3 came the news that Selina Martin and Elsie Howey were
released from Walton Gaol. I was by this time in bed and received no
news and no letters; when the information was brought to me, I felt
quite overwhelmed with joy. This release was more than three weeks
before their sentence had expired.

By the time the last letter had been received from the Home Office,
February 9, my eldest brother had returned from abroad, and he took
up the case. All his attempts to have a public inquiry failed. Mr.
Gladstone was relieved of the Home Office preparatory to taking up the
work of High Commissioner in South Africa, and my brother pleaded in
vain with everyone that had to do with the matter. In the meantime, the
W.S.P.U. was asked not to take up my case in any way for fear that the
authorities would thereupon refuse to listen, and a letter from Sir
Edward Troup to the _Times_, in which he said there was no foundation
for the declarations against the officials, remained unanswered.

On March 30, my brother had the following letter in the _Times_:--

 “SIR,--On February 10 a letter was sent to the Press by Sir Edward
 Troup, relative to a statement made by my sister, Lady Constance
 Lytton, regarding her treatment in Liverpool Prison, in which he
 declared on behalf of the Home Secretary that there was no foundation
 for any of the charges which she had made. I am anxious to explain
 why this official imputation of untruthfulness has hitherto remained
 unanswered.

 “Lady Constance was seriously ill at the time as the result of
 her prison experiences, and unable to defend herself. I therefore
 undertook the task of vindicating her veracity. Before making any
 public statement on her behalf I was anxious to find out what steps
 had been taken by the Home Office to investigate the matters referred
 to in her statement, and I hoped by a friendly intervention to secure
 a full and impartial inquiry into all the circumstances of her
 treatment by the prison officials.

 “I have had several communications with the Home Office on the
 subject, and owing to the retirement of Mr. Gladstone and the
 appointment of a new Home Secretary, they have necessarily been
 protracted over a considerable period. My attitude throughout has
 been entirely conciliatory, and the only claim which I have made was
 that in the interests of justice, charges of this nature should be
 submitted to a full and impartial inquiry which would, of course,
 involve a separate examination of both the parties concerned. This
 claim has been refused by the Home Office on the grounds that the
 prison officials have been closely interrogated, and that as they deny
 entirely every one of the charges made, ‘no useful purpose would be
 served’ by granting my request.

 “In the absence of such an inquiry as I asked for, the matter must
 be left to the opinion of unbiassed minds. I desire, however, to say
 that nothing which I have been able to learn has in any way shaken my
 belief in the substantial accuracy of my sister’s account. The idea
 that her charges can be disposed of by the bare denial of the persons
 against whom they are made, is not likely to commend itself to anyone
 outside the Home Office, and no amount of denial can get over the
 following facts:--

 “1. Lady Constance Lytton, when imprisoned in Newcastle, after
 refusing to answer the medical questions put to her and adopting the
 hunger-strike, received a careful and thorough medical examination,
 which disclosed symptoms of ‘serious heart disease,’ and on these
 grounds she was released as unfit to submit to forcible feeding.

 “2. Three months later ‘Jane Warton,’ when imprisoned at Liverpool,
 also refused to answer medical questions or to take prison food. On
 this occasion she was entered in the prison books as having refused
 medical examination, and was forcibly fed eight times. Such medical
 examination as took place during the forcible feeding failed,
 according to the medical officer’s report, to disclose any symptoms of
 heart disease, and she was eventually released on the grounds of loss
 of weight and general physical weakness.

 “These facts are incontrovertible, and though the Home Office is quite
 satisfied that in both cases the prison officials performed their
 duty in the most exemplary fashion, your readers will form their
 own opinions of the justice of a Government Department which brings
 accusations of untruthfulness against an individual whilst refusing
 the only means by which the truth can be established.

 “I am, your obedient servant,
 “LYTTON.”

My brother did not give up his efforts till in April Mr. Winston
Churchill, the new Home Secretary, who was well known to him, came to
stay at Knebworth, his country place. Mr. Churchill read through the
whole case, until he came to the report of the letter to my mother
written on the slate. “’Twould be hopeless,” he said, “to bring forward
any complaint with this letter in the background.” I don’t know, of
course, what they had made of it, as it had been rubbed out long ago,
but I know that I had not told my mother anything of the treatment. I
had said that the forcible feeding was “only pain”--so it was.

In the autumn of this year, 1910, I had a slight heart-seizure. I got
out of bed in the morning, and was taken with paralysis down one side.
I could not move for about an hour, when I managed to crawl back to
bed. I had a nurse for six weeks and then it was over.



CHAPTER XV

THE CONCILIATION BILL


On June 12, 1910, I received a letter from Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, in
which she told me that I had been made a paid organizer to the Union,
at £2 a week, and that the committee wished to make this appointment
retrospective for the past six months from January, 1910. I felt very
much honoured and pleased. It enabled me to take a small flat in
London near the Euston Road, so that I was not far from the office at
Clement’s Inn and close, too, to a good many railway stations. It was
quicker for me than having to go home to the country when I was on
speaking tours, and also far more convenient for the London work.

In February, 1910, a truce was called after the elections.
Mr. Gladstone, made Lord Gladstone, went to South Africa as
Governor-General, and he was succeeded by Mr. Winston Churchill at the
Home Office. Mr. Brailsford had spent much time and effort negotiating
between all the Suffrage parties in the House of Commons, and he as
secretary, and my brother, Lord Lytton, as president, negotiated a
committee for the “Conciliation Bill.” This is the Bill in full:--

 “THE CONCILIATION BILL FOR WOMAN SUFFRAGE.

 “A Bill to confer the Parliamentary Franchise on Women.

 “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 for
 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 from 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.”

That is the Bill which was slightly modified in 1911, so as to remove
any reasonable fear of plural or faggot voting. It looked as if the
Conciliation Bill had everything in its favour and that it would pass.
Ninety city, town and county councils, and thirty district councils
petitioned or passed resolutions that the Bill should become law.
These included the city councils of Birmingham, Bradford, Cardiff,
Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle,
Nottingham, Sheffield. In 1910 the Bill was carried on second reading
by a majority of 110. In 1911 it was again read a second time and
secured a majority of 167. Among those who voted for it were Mr.
Birrell, Mr. John Burns, Sir Edward Grey, Mr. Runciman; Mr. Balfour,
Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. Lyttelton, Mr. Wyndham; Mr. Barnes, Mr. Keir Hardie,
Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, Mr. Snowden; Mr. Devlin, Mr. Healy, Mr. Swift
MacNeill, Mr. W. Redmond. All parties made friends over it.

On Friday, November 18, 1910, Mr. Asquith made a statement in the House
of Commons omitting all reference to Woman Suffrage, but announcing the
Dissolution for Monday, November 28. On learning that Mr. Asquith had
definitely decided to shelve the Conciliation Bill, it was determined
to send a Deputation to him forthwith. At the head were Mrs. Pankhurst,
the founder of the W.S.P.U. and Mrs. Garatt Anderson, twice Mayor of
Aldeburgh, who is one of the pioneer women doctors and sister of Mrs.
Fawcett. Among other well-known women were Mrs. Hertha Ayrton, the
distinguished scientist, Mrs. Cobden Sanderson, Mrs. Saul Solomon,
Mrs. Brackenbury, widow of General Brackenbury, over seventy years of
age, Miss Neligan, who is seventy-eight years of age, the Hon. Mrs.
Haverfield, and the Princess Sophia Dhuleep Singh. The Deputation was
composed of 300 women, but was divided into detachments of twelve
each. They were not received and were treated worse than any since the
conflict between women and the Government began. The orders of the Home
Secretary were, it appears, that the police were to be present, both
in uniform and in plain clothes among the crowd, and that the women
were to be thrown from one to the other. The police were guilty both
of torture and of indecency. The women were accused of violence and
mendacity. Reports were afterwards made by Lord Robert Cecil, K.C.,
and Mr. Ellis J. Griffith, K.C., M.P., on the women whom they had
examined. Lord Robert Cecil writes in his letter to the _Times_:--

 “All that can be said at present is that the women strenuously deny
 that they were guilty of any such violence. If they were, it is at
 least curious that they were not immediately arrested, and that, as I
 understand, no evidence of any serious assault was offered against any
 of those who were ultimately brought before the Court....

 “Mr. Churchill accuses them of mendacity. Such an accusation requires
 more than the _ipse dixit_ of a Minister to support it. Nor is it in
 accordance with the principles of British justice to reject without
 investigation the evidence of scores of apparently respectable women.

 “In conclusion, may I ask whether anyone thinks that if the Deputation
 had consisted of unarmed men of the same character, their demand
 for an inquiry would have been refused? Who can doubt that the Home
 Secretary and the other Ministers would have tumbled over one another
 in their eagerness to grant anything that was asked? Are we then to
 take it as officially admitted that in this country there is one law
 for male electors and another for voteless women?

  “Yours obediently,
  “ROBERT CECIL.”

Mr. Ellis Griffith wrote at the end of his letter to the _Times_:--

 “It is certainly difficult, under the circumstances, to bring
 responsibility home to individuals, but I am amply satisfied that
 there was unnecessary and excessive violence used against the women
 who took part in the Deputation, and that they were assaulted in a way
 that cannot be justified.

 “Under these circumstances, I strongly support a searching and
 impartial inquiry....

 “Yours faithfully,
 “ELLIS J. GRIFFITH.”

The Home Secretary refused all idea of a public inquiry.

The morning after the Deputation, Saturday, November 19, 1910, those
who had been arrested the night before were all dismissed; it was
thought bad election tactics to be responsible for the imprisonment of
women of good reputation who were merely fighting for their freedom.

Mr. Asquith on Friday, November 18, promised that he would make a
statement about the Women’s Bill on the following Tuesday. On Tuesday,
November 22, accordingly, it was made: “The Government will, if
they are still in power, give facilities in the next Parliament for
effectively proceeding with a Bill which is so framed as to admit of
free amendment.” The statement fulfilled none of the conditions which
had been made by the W.S.P.U. We held that the pledge must be to give
full facilities for a Woman Suffrage Bill next Session--next Parliament
was a mockery of a pledge. The Bill in question must be no more
extended in scope than the Bill introduced by Mr. Shackleton or the
Women’s Enfranchisement Bill introduced two years ago by Mr. Stanger.
A pledge to give facilities to a Bill on a so-called democratic basis
would be worthless, it would not have a chance of passing through
either House of Parliament.

The House rose immediately when Mr. Asquith had made his statements.
The women waited this pronouncement in the Caxton Hall, and on receipt
of it marched to Downing Street, Mrs. Pankhurst at their head, to see
Mr. Asquith. Here the detachment of police at first was small and the
line was broken by the onrush of the women. But reinforcements of
police rapidly arrived and a severe struggle ensued. Many women were
hurt who were thrown about the street or crushed, and there were 150 to
160 charged at the police court the next day. In the evening parties
of women visited the houses of the Cabinet and threw stones, breaking
some of their windows. Mr. Muskett, who prosecuted the next day,
withdrew all the cases of “simple obstruction,” and only allowed the
cases of “stone-throwing and assault.” From the day of “Black Friday,”
as November 18, 1910, was called, stone-throwing became easy to the
women--it ensured arrest instead of being assaulted and injured.

This was the eve of the election. The policy of the W.S.P.U. was
to oppose all Liberal candidates unless they could get a definite
pledge from the Prime Minister that, if in power, he would allow the
Conciliation Bill to be taken through all its stages next Session. The
Liberals were returned, still commanding a Parliamentary majority in
the House of Commons, and the House of Commons contained an even larger
majority of members prepared to vote for a practicable scheme of Woman
Suffrage, on the lines of the Conciliation Bill. In May, 1911, this
Bill was brought in by Sir Alfred Mond; it triumphantly passed the
second reading by a majority of 167.

In June Lord Lytton had written to Mr. Asquith asking for assurances
(1) that the facilities offered for next Session were intended as
an effective opportunity for carrying the Bill, and not merely for
academic discussion; (2) that the week offered would not be construed
rigidly, and also that provided the Committee stage were got through
in the time, additional days for report and third reading would be
forthcoming; and (3) that there would be reasonable opportunities for
making use of the closure. To this Mr. Asquith replied (on Friday, June
16, 1911):--

 “MY DEAR LYTTON,--In reply to your letter on the subject of facilities
 for 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 express the intentions of the
 Government.

 “It follows (to answer your specific inquiries) that ‘the week’
 offered will be interpreted with reasonable elasticity, that the
 Government will interpose no obstacle to a 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
 would 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 Election.

 “Yours, etc.,
 “H. H. ASQUITH.”

This letter was further certified in August:--

 “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 for the ‘Conciliation Bill,’ will be strictly adhered to,
 both in letter and spirit.

 “Yours sincerely,
 “H. H. ASQUITH.

 “August 23, 1911.”

This promise, after the phenomenal majority in the House of Commons,
was a solemn pledge made by Mr. Asquith to be fulfilled in the next
year. It was a pledge which the friends of women took absolutely in
good faith. On the strength of it, the truce was prolonged in 1911 with
belief in the guarantee for the following year.

On November 7, 1911, Mr. Asquith announced to a deputation of the
People’s Suffrage Federation that he was going to bring in a Manhood
Suffrage Bill next Session. There was no agitation or demand for more
votes for men; this was in answer to the widespread demand of votes
for women. The majority already recorded for Woman Suffrage in the
House of Commons was composed of members of all political parties.
The Government’s present policy destroyed this composite majority by
alienating Unionists and moderate Liberals. In other words, it rendered
impossible the non-party solution of the Woman Suffrage question,
towards which we had been working for months. We consented to the
Conciliation Bill because it gave virtual equality to women with men,
and because it made inevitable the equality of the sexes under any
subsequent franchise measure. But we absolutely refused to accept the
Conciliation Bill as the accompaniment of Manhood Suffrage Bill.

We and many other of the Suffrage Societies were received in deputation
by Mr. Asquith, only to be told the case over again. He had not changed
his opinion since 1908. The Manhood Suffrage Bill would make no
difference to us, who could bring in an amendment!

The leaders of the W.S.P.U. determined to go on a deputation to the
House of Commons on Tuesday, November 21, with Mrs. Pethick Lawrence
to lead them. I intended to accompany them as a stone-thrower; the
police on Black Friday (1910) had made the other way--that of going on
a deputation--impossible for me, unless I were to see death, and this
seemed useless. It was an understood thing that this time, if we were
imprisoned, we should not hunger-strike.



CHAPTER XVI

HOLLOWAY REVISITED: MY FOURTH IMPRISONMENT


I determined that I would do my work alone. I was afraid that, if
I combined with others, I might fail them, through illness, when
they counted on me. Some days later Miss Lawless said she would come
too, and, as she kindly chose to do the job with me, all was well. I
selected a post office window in Victoria Street, on the left-hand
side, facing Westminster. I went to buy some stamps there the day
before to make sure of my bearings. I studied all the windows where it
would be safe, and where not safe, to do the work of smashing without
hurting anyone inside.

A friend, Mrs. MacLeod, came to see me the evening before, November
20, 1911. She brought me flowers, lovely lilies-of-the-valley and two
bunches of violets. She told me she had bought them in Piccadilly from
a girl that was sitting round the fountain. “They are for a friend of
mine who is going to fight for the women to-morrow”; she wasn’t sure
she had said it in a way the girl could understand. “Oh! May God bless
her, God bless them all! Here, lady, take this extra bunch of violets
for her.” She called this out enthusiastically, as she collected the
flowers.

This time I had a small hammer as well as three stones wrapped in
paper. The hammer, of course, was the safest as well as the most
efficient of my tools, but one had to be quite near to the window in
order to use it. Another dear friend, Dr. Alice Ker, came to me from
Liverpool on the day, Tuesday, November 21. She was coming to the fray
in Westminster, but she did not wish to get arrested. Towards six
o’clock we took a taxi and went together to the beginning of Victoria
Street. Then we got out and each went our own way. I walked up and down
the street, first along one side, then along the other, and I inspected
the side parallel streets. Victoria Street I had always supposed was
rather a long one, but on this occasion it was infinitely short, and
I seemed to pass the same people over and over again. Once I jumped
into a ’bus to go up again towards Westminster, and there I came across
many of my friends, who doubtless were going to the preliminary meeting
at Caxton Hall. At last when standing, as it seemed to me, for the
fiftieth time in front of a door with pillars, which was our trysting
place, I met Miss Lawless and soon after Miss Douglas Smith, who had
said she would join us for a little, as she had to go to all who were
“active” in Victoria Street. We turned into a “Lyons” for some tea, the
whole place was full of our friends and a detective or two. A cat was
there; she came to lie on my lap and I had to turn her off when we left.

The time was getting near; we were to wait until the clock struck 8; we
were none of us to move before and not much later. At last there was a
noise of many people coming round the corner of a street; it was Mrs.
Pethick Lawrence walking at the head of her Deputation. A large crowd
surrounded them and cheered them on their way to Westminster. Miss
Lawless and I had taken up our position already on the steps leading
to the post office we had selected. As soon as the Deputation had
passed, the clock of Big Ben began striking eight. I said, “I can wait
no longer,” and I turned and smashed the glass of two doors and one
window. I raised my arms and did it deliberately, so that every one in
the street could see. Miss Lawless smashed the windows to my right. We
were going down the steps and I was afraid no policemen had been near,
when two came from over the way. All was peaceable and friendly. My
policeman said to me with a smile, “I’ll take you this way, lady, see?
And that won’t inconvenience you.” With that he adjusted his grasp at
my elbow. I said to him: “Unless you are obliged, don’t hurry your pace
more than you can help,” and he walked at my pace through Westminster
to Cannon Row. He also disarmed me, taking my hammer. In Westminster
the crowd was immense and at the bottom of Whitehall, but we got
through all right, and Miss Lawless kept close behind me.

Cannon Row was already crowded with women. We stood in a closely packed
ring to give our names, and afterwards our names were called out before
we went upstairs. To my surprise and great delight Lady Sybil Smith
was there. I knew she herself had been wishing to go on a deputation
for some time. We were taken into the cells to be searched, but this
was not the grim business that it sounds. We were left to walk quite
by ourselves; a policeman showed us in and we were put four or five
together in a cell. The door was left open, and a wardress asked
respectfully if she might search us. We said, “Yes, most certainly,”
and began to deliver up our stones. The wardress’s face was all
kindness, and no sooner had the policeman gone away from the door than
she burst out with: “Oh! you ladies, I’d be with you to-morrow if
it weren’t for my child. I am a widow with one child. If only these
politicians knew what that meant! They can talk fine about the widow,
but when it comes to her earning a livelihood they don’t help her.” It
seemed wonderful, she understood. Meanwhile she was picking out the
stones from our pockets. We were allowed to go back to the central
room as soon as it was finished, we left a friend behind us in the
wardress. Upstairs, in the policemen’s billiard room, we sat in crowds,
and everything was noticeably different from last time. All was joy and
triumph, and there seemed the echo of these from the street. I felt
quite an old hand, and was going about the room collecting telegrams;
I had bought a packet of forms on the chance. A policeman was singled
out and stood waiting for them in a meek and respectful attitude. One
woman, who looked about sixty or sixty-five, had written a telegram but
had put no signature; I asked if there was to be none. She hesitated
for a moment and then added: “Well--put Mother.” I thought it must
be rather trying when it was a “daughter,” but much more when it was
a “mother,” and she getting on in years. There was a girl lying down
in the window recess where I had gone with my cough last time; she
was ashy pale. I went up to her and asked her if she felt ill. Her
face immediately lit up with a radiant smile--“I’m not ill now, but
I have been for three months.” I said how wonderful was the feeling
of the movement, as one realised the difference which a year had made
it was impossible that one should feel depressed, though one might be
depressed for oneself. “No,” she said, “I am never depressed now.” Had
she a mother? “Oh! mother would be here too, only she is a cripple.”

Mrs. Pethick Lawrence had come and was given a great cheer. She
looked well and beamingly happy. The Deputation had been much more
hustled about than we who had done damage, but still, there was no
real roughness that I could hear of, and they had been arrested
comparatively quickly. Mr. Lawrence’s welcome face came and he bailed
us out, though it was a long business this time. When we drove away,
every window in Whitehall bore the mark of the women upon it, with the
unmistakable smashing, till it looked, as I passed, as though every
window smiled.

On Wednesday, November 22, I sent off a telegram, saying that I was
arrested, to our organiser at Liverpool for a meeting at which I was
going to speak. It was a joint meeting of W.S.P.U., National Unionist
and Conservative Suffragists; Lord Selborne was to speak for the
Conservatives. It had been arranged when we were at peace with the
Government; that peace was now at an end. I then went to Bow Street.
There were crowds of women; we each took luggage and wraps, for under
Mr. Winston Churchill’s new rule we were allowed to wear our own
day and night clothes, and not obliged to have prison food. There
was no difference in being allowed to see visitors or have letters.
Books not dealing with current events were allowed, but one could not
take them out of prison. At Bow Street we were put into the big room
upstairs; again a policemen’s billiard room. Large as it was, it was
very crowded, and I kept my seat on my luggage in the passage outside.
Amongst others, there was a little American woman, whose husband stuck
by her like a man till he should be separated by imprisonment. They had
been in India, had heard much there about the Suffragettes, and one
lady with whom they had dined had warned him against his wife becoming
one of them. I saw there two Hertfordshire members, which did my
heart good, when I remembered that a little time ago the whole county
was asleep. Whenever I was able, I sat back on my luggage and wrote
letters; it was the only way I could escape from talking to everyone,
which was most delightful but I was very tired. We waited all day to
learn in the evening that we must return to-morrow. I went to my mother
from Bow Street who was staying in London at that time.

Three times this autumn, after making a speech, I had been taken with
heart-seizure and incapacitated for about a quarter of an hour. On
Thursday morning, November 23, I was ill, on waking, with a heart
collapse. In spite of my best efforts, I could scarcely hold up my head
or speak. Mrs. Francis Smith, one of my dearest friends, had come to my
rooms to see how I was, and she determined to call at Bow Street and
find out for me if I could not put off going there till the afternoon.
She came back, saying that she had had an interview with Inspector
A----, who had already shown great kindness to me, and he had said I
was not to trouble about the morning, that it would do quite well if
I came in the afternoon. I lay down on my bed till nearly 2 o’clock,
when I felt much better. Then I went to Bow Street. The woman who did
my room came with me and carried my luggage; she also fetched me milk
into the police station. She knew several of the policeman personally,
so she managed everything very easily. I went on a deputation with Mrs.
Haverfield and Mrs. Mansell-Moulin to Inspector A----, to say that
unless the women could be told on leaving whether they would be wanted
the next day, they would not go away. As this meant finding cells for
all of us--we were 220 women in all--probably we should have to be put
four or five in a cell together; it was speedily arranged and we were
told that night when we should be wanted; I was one of those who came
the following day. I went again that evening to my mother.

The next morning, Friday, November 24, I woke all right and went to
Bow Street quite happily. Before our trial we were taken down into the
passage next the police court, and put _vis-à-vis_ to the policemen who
had arrested us, as at my first trial. The magistrate was Sir Albert
de Rutzen, who was too old for his work. Miss Lawless was accused
with me. The hammers and stones were shown in witness against us, and
the damage estimated at £3 15_s_. Mr. Muskett, the prosecutor, in
totalling up my record, mentioned that I had been to Holloway after a
deputation to the House of Commons, and in Newcastle I was imprisoned
for throwing a stone at a motor car, but he did not mention “Jane
Warton” at Liverpool. When I reminded him that he had left her out,
he said testily, “Well, I’m very glad if I have.” I said it was quite
true that I used a hammer and stones to break windows. I realised that
this was the only effective means of protest left to us by a Government
which boasts of Liberalism and representation where men are concerned,
but ignores the elementary principles of representation where women are
concerned. Votes and riot are the only form of appeal to which this
Government will respond. They refuse us votes, we fall back on riot.
The wrongs they inflict on women are intolerable, and we will no longer
tolerate them---- Here the magistrate interrupted me; he could not
enter into a discussion on the subject, and referred to the fact that
Mr. Asquith had received a deputation last Friday. I said, “I heard Mr.
Asquith say he would do nothing in regard to women.” The magistrate
then advocated peaceful agitation. I answered that this Government
have said they will do absolutely nothing as a Government, and Mr.
Asquith is exactly where he was in 1908; all our peaceful agitation
has been valueless in his eyes. I said that although we committed the
acts alleged, we were not guilty of crime, our conduct being fully
justified by the circumstances of the case. “I appeal to you, Sir, to
vindicate the fundamental laws of liberty which our country has revered
for generations,” and with that I concluded. Miss Leslie Lawless said
that if to fight for one’s liberty was a crime, she was guilty, but she
pleaded not guilty, as that was the only protest that this Government
understood. Our sentence was one of a fine of 40_s._ and 37_s._ 6_d._
damage each, or fourteen days’ imprisonment--half the sentence that
I had received when I went to the House of Commons, doing absolutely
nothing and being mauled by the police.

We were not put into the cells, but again taken upstairs to a room
close to the larger one. There was my friend, Adela Smith, with Olive
Schreiner’s friend, Mrs. Purcell, and Mrs. Tudor, of St. Albans. All
these were not among the condemned, but had been let in to see their
friends. Towards half-past five Inspector A---- came and told me that
presently a taxi would be round to take me to Holloway, that there
would be a policeman inside, but that the other two could be any
“fellow criminals” I liked. I at once chose Mrs. Leigh, who had been
condemned to two months’ imprisonment, though she was said only to have
struck a policeman in defence of another woman. I was immensely proud
to take her with me. I also chose Miss Lawless. The policeman was in
plain clothes and very amiable. Miss Lawless discovered that she had
left her purse behind. We went back for it, and, on arriving at Bow
Street, I decided that the constable should get out with Miss Lawless,
put her in charge of another policeman, then return and mount guard on
us. He was delighted to do this. From the point of view of our safety,
of course, nothing could have been more absurd; we were not in the
courtyard of the police-station, and nothing would have been easier
than to open the door the other side of the pavement and, with the
noise of the street, Mrs. Leigh or I could have escaped. But it was
understood all round that this was not the game, and we waited quietly
for the policeman to return and, finally, Miss Lawless and the purse.

At Holloway all was civility; it was unrecognisable from the first time
I had been there. There were no reception cells for us, but we were
taken at once to our separate cells in D X, where, after a time the
Matron, and afterwards the doctor came to see us. Nothing could have
been more charming than the Matron--another woman than had been there
before. She asked me at once after Miss Davison; was she coming this
time? The Matron had been at Manchester when the hose-pipe had been
played on her. This she asked before two wardresses, and in a voice
of sympathetic intonation. I said I did not think she was coming this
time, but it would not be long probably before she was in prison again.
Then came Dr. Sullivan. His manner was kind, as it had always been,
but I no longer felt the same towards him since he had fed some of the
prisoners by force. He said at once, after testing my heart, that I
could not stay there, but must go at once to hospital. I said I was
much more comfortable where I was than in the general ward, and that
I could not sleep there. He said he meant to put me in a cell apart.
I was then moved over to the hospital side. There on the ground floor
was the superintendent officer I had known before. I smiled, but she
looked as if she did not recognise me. She went with me upstairs. “I
believe,” I said, as she opened a door, “it is the very same cell I had
before.” “No,” she answered, “the one next door,” and her reserve, to
my great delight, broke down. I unpacked my flannel sheets, my flannel
nightgown, and my long bed-socks, and made myself ready for the night.
It was almost unbelievable to have so much comfort in a place which
before had been the very acme of discomfort. They brought me a pint mug
of milk and a small white loaf before the night. It was about eight
o’clock by the time I got to bed, but the hours, I supposed, were the
same as they had been in Holloway before, and besides, I was dead tired.

The next day, Saturday, November 25, I felt ill in the morning. The
prison was scarce of food--at least, there were no vegetables; they
gave me bread and butter and a pudding for luncheon. The Governor came,
Dr. Scott, and he was amiability itself, I was only to take care of
myself. Since all was made easy, I stayed in bed that day.

The girl who was let in to wash my floor was fair-haired, with a most
pleasant and intelligent face. I longed to know about her, but a
wardress stood at the door looking on at her work all the time, and I
did not once catch her eye. On Sunday, November 26, I felt no better
and again stayed in bed. The second doctor, a new man, who was pleasant
in his manner, came to see me. In the morning when I had been let out
to the sink, the little prisoner who washed my floor met me coming out.
My back was turned for a moment; she patted my shoulder and said, in a
tone of voice of utmost comfort, “Cheer up!” By the time I looked round
she was off somewhere else and no one would have supposed that she had
communicated with me. After that I was determined to get some snatch
conversation with her when she was in my cell. When she washed out that
morning, I said to her--it was always the first thing--“How long have
you got?” “Three years,” was the answer. This greatly surprised me,
for Holloway was not the place for long sentences, but I could not ask
her then, there was not time to tell, only time for bare questions and
answers. I asked, “What was it for?” “Stealing my mother’s skirt,” she
said. This was more startling than ever. Where was the mother’s skirt
one could “steal”? But the wardress looked in and we were obliged to
stop. On another occasion she told me that she had been very ill on
first coming to Holloway, and that was why she had been kept there.
Another time she slipped this notice under the door, and signalled to
me by opening the gas-jet glass from the passage. On one side of the
little torn bit of paper was written, “Z-- A--, Boardstil Institution,
Hailsbray”; on the other side, “I shall be glad to hear from you
because I have no friends at all and it will cheer me up.” I longed to
speak to her, but I did not see her again after this. It was my last
morning in prison when she put this paper under the door. After I came
out I, of course, wrote to her, thanked her for her cheering words to
me, asked if I might go and see her, and sent her a little 3_d._ book
of extracts from my father’s poems. I sent these to the chaplain at
Aylesbury and asked him if he would deliver them. He sent my letter
back, saying that he would not be allowed to give it, for she had
already chosen as her correspondent her grandmother or some old lady.
I do not know anything of her, of her failings or virtues; I only know
that there was no loosening the net that clung round her so tightly for
three years.

On Sunday, November 26, in the afternoon I went out to exercise. This
was indeed a changed world. All of us assembled were walking about
arm in arm, as we liked, in rows facing each other, or round the
ground; some of us went apart in a little side-walk, all talking to
one another, and all, of course, wearing our own clothes. One or two
wardresses were there, but they were smiling all the time and chatted
with us. One of them asked me why I had not come to visit Holloway. I
told her that they would not allow “criminals” to come back except as
prisoners, that I had tried in vain. She said I could come as someone
who visited the cooking places, or something of that kind. I was afraid
I was too well known in Holloway, as I had paid rather frequent visits
to the Governor. I saw and walked with Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, arm in
arm, and nothing that we did caused any disturbance.

On Monday, November 27, I stayed in bed again, and at about 11 o’clock
the doctor came and offered me vegetable soup from outside, and massage
from my masseur-doctor, Mr. May. I said surely that would not be
allowed! He told me that of course in the ordinary course of things it
was not allowed, but, if I wished for it, he would see what he could
do. I refused all these offers, which were not, so far as I knew,
offered to the others. I heard after my release, how my dear friends
had put themselves about to get me all these things, and how my servant
had brought soup to the prison every day, which she had made. I had
a tin of biscuits sent in to me and some orange sweets. As I was not
feeling well, I was unable to eat these, but I managed to give a good
many to the girls who washed my cell. I only once got a look into the
general ward. I saw Mrs. Mansell-Moullin, Mrs. Mansel and others, but
it did not seem to be the thing for the prisoners from the cells to
go into the general ward. That night Mrs. Mansel came in to see me
from there. She and some others were to be released the next day. She
had suffered from influenza and had a bad time of it while she was in
prison. We had a long talk, and she gave me _The Man-made World_, by
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, to read, as a wonderful book that had just
come out. She was not allowed to take it out with her. The publisher,
Mr. Fisher Unwin, had kindly sent me the book, but I had not yet had
time to read it. I read it that night and found it all that she had
said--a most remarkable book. It is dedicated to a man, showing that
the woman’s movement has in it nothing, as is sometimes supposed,
against men, but only against the vices of some men. In a chapter
called “Crime and Punishment,” this passage struck me with intense
truth: “Does a child offend? Punish it! Does a woman offend? Punish
her! Does a man offend? Punish him! Does a group offend? Punish them!
‘What for?’ someone suddenly asks. ‘To make them stop doing it!’ ‘But
they have done it.’ ‘To make them not do it again, then.’ ‘But they do
it again and worse.’ ‘To prevent other people’s doing it, then.’ But it
does not prevent them--the crime keeps on. What good is your punishment
to crime? Its base, its prehistoric base, is simply retaliation.”

On Tuesday, November 28, I felt much better and went out to exercise in
the morning. While there I was summoned to see the Governor. He told
me that my fine had been paid anonymously and that I was free. Among
my friends there is none that I can think of who would have paid my
fine; my state of health, I suppose, after the forcible feeding, was
“dangerous,” and it was thought safest to pay the fine “officially.”
To my great surprise, the superintendent came with me to my flat.
She was very dear but quite “official.” As I had packed up my things
rather quickly, I felt ill and not inclined to talk much. She told me
how very overworked the superintendent officers had been with the 220
Suffragette prisoners there were this time, she herself sometimes not
getting to bed till one or two in the morning. She looked very tired
and I felt very sorry for her. It seemed hard that, when they made us
prisoners, so much extra work should fall upon the wardresses. When
we reached the Duke’s Road, I did not like to ask her into my rooms,
not knowing who would be there, so I said good-bye to her, kissed her,
and begged her to take back the taxi at my expense. This, however, she
refused to do; she preferred to go home by omnibus, and we parted at
the front door. I went upstairs and found three of my friends. We were
delighted to see each other, but they soon went away, and I rolled
wearily into bed.

I frequently had to lie up during the winter and spring months
that followed. On May 5, 1912, I had a stroke and my right arm was
paralysed; also, slightly, my right foot and leg. I was taken from my
flat to my sister Emily Lutyen’s house, and for many long months she
and my mother and Dr. Marion Vaughan were kindness itself to me. From
that day to this I have been incapacited for working for the Women’s
Social and Political Union, but I am with them still with my whole soul.

And what is this which yet comes to us from the prisons? The torture
of the “Cat-and-Mouse” Act and of forcible feeding! Oh! if only
people could know what these things signify! But surely they must
understand that they are barbarous practices such as we have not
tolerated for long in our prisons. “Cat-and-Mouse” Act--what does it
mean? The prisoner does not eat or drink, nothing to pass the lips;
it may be three days, it may be a week, it may be nine days. Then the
prisoner is let out, watched day and night, and taken back to prison,
back to hunger and thirst, till she is again at death’s door. This
they do twice, three times, four times, five times, till life is all
but out. Not yet have the Government admitted that they will stop
the “Cat-and-Mouse” torture short of death itself. And the forcible
feeding--what is that? The only possible excuse for it is that it
prolongs the prisoner’s sentence by so many days, so many weeks, and
that is all. But heed what it is. I have described it exactly as it
was done to me. See what it has meant in the recent case of Mary
Richardson. It took eight wardresses and one man to overcome her. On
two occasions it was said: “Twist her arms--the only way to unlock
them.” They held her feet by pressing in the hollow of her ankles.
Occasionally the doctor pressed her in the chest to hold her down. He
announced that he was going to use the stomach tube. As he could not
get through her teeth, he put his fingers to the extremity of her jaw,
and with his finger-nail deliberately cut her gum and cheek until her
mouth was bleeding badly. He then inserted the gag and stomach tube,
but she was so choked by the process that he stopped the feeding, and
said he would return to the nasal tube. This is inhuman, like the
feeding of a beast--no, of an insentient thing. Where is the gain?
A week or several weeks more of imprisonment, and you have let in
torture to our form of punishment; yes, and repeated torture, for these
prisoners are let out by the “Cat-and-Mouse” Act, and, on those ghastly
terms, the police will mount guard on them to seize them again if,
according to their judgment, they have regained sufficient fitness.

And why are these women imprisoned? Because they and many thousands, or
rather several millions, of women with them, have asked for the vote,
but the Government would not give it to them. For forty-five years
women have supported their demand in Parliament for enfranchisement
with ever increasing vigour. Petitions, processions, meetings and
resolutions all over the country were infinitely greater in number
than have been achieved for any other reform. When the Conciliation
Bill was framed, women waited to see what the Government would do for
them; the vote on the second reading of the Bill, for the second time,
was immense. Women listened to the pledges of the Government and they
seemed to hold out a certainty of the vote. Now, when these promises
have all been broken, women have taken to burning empty houses, railway
stations and stacks, though they have respected life and refrained from
wounding, as men would do for far less a cause. Yes, and they will burn
buildings until they are treated rationally as an equal part of the
human race.

I hear the cry go up from all parts of the country, “How long? How
long?” The time is fully ripe, when will women be represented in
Parliament by the vote, equally with men?


BRADBURY, AGNEW, & CO. LD., PRINTERS, LONDON AND TONBRIDGE.



SOME PRESS OPINIONS


 “The author has written her book with a broadness of sympathy that
 adds dignity and conviction to a document of commendable frankness.
 It should serve as a presage of hope and reform for those who suffer
 by our present penal system; it also sheds much needed light on the
 hidebound officialism that is responsible for what Lady Constance
 Lytton has experienced and portrayed. This is, perhaps, the first time
 that the inequalities of treatment meted out to the rich and poor has
 been so clearly expressed in book form.”
 --_Athenæum._

 “It is the clever and eloquent plea of a remarkable woman.”
 --_Pall Mall Gazette._

 “_A deeply impressive work_ ... holds the attention from the first,
 and leaves an impression that is likely to prove indelible ... it
 is impossible to read this narrative without being struck by the
 sustained heroism that has been exhibited.”
 --_Daily Telegraph._

 “This sincere and illuminating book ... an extremely fine and
 sensitive study of an English lady.”
 --_Westminster Gazette._

 “A very moving and remarkable addition to the literature of the
 prison.... This unpretending and generous volume is likely to be one
 of the classic books of reference in regard to the sufferings of the
 revolutionary woman.”
 --_Daily News._

 “One of the most fascinating books you ever read.”
 --_Manchester Courier._

 “Her story is certainly impressive. As a piece of literature it is
 admirable, and as a contribution to our knowledge of what prison life
 is and of what its effect upon the individual may be it is important
 and valuable.”
 --_Liverpool Daily Post._

 “Its direct and immediate appeal extends far beyond the confine of
 any movement, however significant and great. It is a story for all
 sorts and all conditions of women and men, irrespective of individual
 differences in matters of political and social faith.”
 --_Votes for Women._

 “Constance Lytton is an incarnation of the Christ spirit, if ever
 there was one. The story of her deeds--the motive that inspired
 them--is worthy of being enshrined in the Sacred Books of the
 race.”
 --_Christian Commonwealth._

 “... not politics but psychology, and a fluent and brilliant
 exposition it is.”
 --_Observer._

 “... life itself, facts lived and suffered within the past year
 or two, an autobiography written with the tears and blood of a
 woman.... Her book is a tragic document which leaves a man sad and
 wondering.”
 --_Graphic._



A LIST OF

CURRENT FICTION

PUBLISHED BY

WILLIAM HEINEMANN

AT 21 BEDFORD ST., LONDON, W.C.

[Illustration: W H (Publisher’s logo)]


MR HEINEMANN will always be pleased to send periodically particulars
of his forthcoming publications to any reader who desires them. In
applying please state whether you are interested in works of Fiction,
Memoirs, History, Art, Science, etc.


  THE DARK FLOWER
  by JOHN GALSWORTHY

   “Human emotion at the intensity that is begotten of
   conflict insoluble, and not merely of satiable and sated
   aspiration, is, at least, the novelist’s pre-occupation
   in this volume. And, like the old tragedians, he stands
   apart from his grim rendering of life, drawing no moral
   save that of pity and terror.... One need scarcely say
   that with this novel Mr. Galsworthy has added another to
   his series of powerful, vivid, and sincere studies of
   human nature. His characters stand out with the firmness
   of life.”
   --_Daily Telegraph._

   Author of

   MAN OF PROPERTY
   THE ISLAND PHARISEES
   THE PATRICIAN
   A MOTLEY
   COUNTRY HOUSE
   FRATERNITY
   THE INN OF TRANQUILITY
   MOODS, SONGS & DOGGERELS


  MARRYING OF HESTER RAINSBROOK
  by J. A. REVERMORT

   “This novel is permeated not only by real culture, but
   by genuine insight into character, and the romance of
   ‘Hester Rainsbrook’ with the man whose dark background
   she redeems is well worth reading. The minor characters,
   too, stand out in excellent perspective.”
   --_T.P.’s Weekly._


  THE PERFECT WIFE
  by JOSEPH KEATING

   “It is all written in the gayest, happiest spirit
   of light comedy ... the whole thing is cleverly and
   entertainingly done ... the story holds you interested
   and amused throughout.”
   --_The Bookman._

   “It is a pure comedy ... it makes excellent and
   exciting and humorous reading. There is plenty of good
   character-drawing to boot, and the writing is simple and
   effective and often witty.... Mr. Keating has written a
   very entertaining story, and we are grateful to him.”
   --_Daily Chronicle._


  THE MILKY WAY
  by F. TENNYSON JESSE

   “A light-hearted medley, the spirit and picturesqueness
   of which the author cleverly keeps alive to the last
   act.”
   --_Times Literary Supplement._

   “A book of youth and high spirits! That is the
   definition of this altogether delightful ‘Milky Way’ ...
   this wholly enchanting ‘Viv,’ her entourage ... as gay
   and irresponsible as herself.... Miss Tennyson Jesse has
   great gifts; skill and insight, candour, enthusiasm, and
   a pleasant way of taking her readers into her confidence
   ... the final impression is that she enjoyed writing her
   book just as much as this reviewer has enjoyed reading
   it.”
   --_Daily Mail._


  INDISCRETIONS OF DR. CARSTAIRS
  by A. de O.

   “The art of the short story is a rare one, and A. de
   O. not only possesses it in a general way, but adds to
   it what seems to be the skill of a specialist in the
   treatment of the professional motive inspiring all his
   tales ... he is undeniably entertaining.”
   --_Observer._


  DIANA AND TWO SYMPHONIES
  by FRANCIS TOYE

   “There is much in this novel that goes crash
   through sentimentalism, and there is some excellent
   characterisation ... the whole breathes such a clear
   desentimentalised air that it is invigorating.”
   --_Daily News and Leader._

   “The hose of common sense is turned on the persisting
   remnants of the romance of Bohemianism.... The book
   gives us the contrast between the trivial round of
   ‘respectable’ society and life among the intellectuals.”
   --_Morning Post._


  GOSLINGS
  by J. D. BERESFORD
  6/-
  Author of “Joseph Stahl,” “A Candidate for Truth.”

   “Many of the scenes of his book will live long in the
   imagination. The book is packed with such striking
   episodes, which purge the intellect, if not always the
   soul, with pity and terror and wonder. Mr. Beresford
   has, in fact, proved once again that, even if he may
   appear somewhat unsympathetic on the emotional side, he
   has an intellectual grasp as strong and as sure as that
   of any living novelist.”
   --_Morning Post._

   “It is a wild and airy fantasy, and it embodies some
   uncommonly grim home truths. A book of whose success it
   is hardly possible to feel uncertain, unless the public
   have lost all palate for a tale that can make them
   thrill and make them think.”
   --_Observer._


  GROWING PAINS
  by IVY LOW
  (2nd Impression)
  6/-

   “It is a clever study of a modern young woman that Miss
   Ivy Low has written, clever in its frank presentation
   of the thoughts and actions of a somewhat over
   self-conscious girl who wishes to find her place in the
   world and fumbles and blunders in the seeking.”
   --_Daily Telegraph._


  THE AMBASSADRESS
  by WILLIAM WRIOTHESLEY
  6/-

   “‘The Ambassadress,’ among many good and brilliant
   points, has the supreme merit of knowing what it talks
   about. It is the ‘_vie intime_’ itself of a brilliant
   côterie. The play and interplay of the different
   nationalities, the way in which their German background
   affects them all, the little incidental scandals and
   piquancies, the thumb-nail portraits of pretty, restless
   women and blasé cynical men, with the sprinkling of
   the strong and the sincere which is the salt of all
   such brews; the beautiful natures of Alexa and of her
   wonderful stepmother; the impression of the Wagner
   opera, and the sudden plunge into the depths below the
   music, which show that Mr. Wriothesley has some of the
   gift of vision as well as observation; all these things
   make the book a vivid and uncommon one that can hardly
   fail to claim attention.”
   --_Evening Standard._


  THE SIXTY-FIRST SECOND
  by OWEN JOHNSON
  6/-

   “What an excellent title, and what an excellent story is
   so named!”
   --_Evening News._

   “The plot of the novel is ingenious, and the love
   affair--though really a side issue--is conducted on
   lines that are refreshingly original.”
   --_Yorkshire Post._


  THE KINGDOM
  by HAROLD GOAD
  6/-

   “Its style and its fine handling will commend it to
   the judicious, especially as, despite the knowledge it
   displays of the monastic life of to-day and its insight
   into the mystical temper, it reveals no bias other than
   the artist’s sympathy with the struggles of a human
   soul.”
   --_The Times._

   “The book is excellently written and is a clever study
   of a man’s spiritual life.”
   --_Daily Graphic._


  JAMES HURD
  by R. O. PROWSE
  6/-

   “Thoughtful, able and interesting novel. The story
   cannot but enhance its author’s reputation.”
   --_Scotsman._


  GUTTER BABIES
  by DOROTHEA SLADE
  6/-

   “She has brought from the heart of the slums some of
   the most delicately pathetic and most quaintly humorous
   stories that have ever been published. The gutter babies
   really live and play and work and die in her delightful
   realistic book, and one feels at the end as closely akin
   to those small, wild people of the back streets and
   alleys, as if one had stolen a little of Miss Slade’s
   deep understanding and tender sympathy.

   “An altogether pleasing and attractive book.”
   --_Bookman._


  A BAND OF BROTHERS
  by CHARLES TURLEY

   “The plot of ‘A Band of Brothers’ is not only excellent,
   but quite original.... Mr. Turley’s book, though as
   a story it will give abundant pleasure to juniors,
   will appeal with even greater effect to parents and
   guardians.”
   --_Spectator._

   “Mr. Turley has a greater gift for interpreting the mind
   of the school boy and for envisaging his conditions,
   than any living writer. We are inclined, after reading
   ‘A Band of Brothers,’ to say that he is our greatest
   writer of school stories, not excluding Thomas Hughes.”
   --_Pall Mall Gazette._


  LU OF THE RANGES
  by ELEANOR MORDAUNT
  6/-
  Author of “The Cost of It.”

   “Miss Eleanor Mordaunt has the art, not only of
   visualizing scenes with such imminent force that the
   reader feels the shock of reality, but of sensating the
   emotions she describes. A finely written book, full of
   strong situations.”
   --_Everyman._


  VIRGINIA
  by ELLEN GLASGOW
  (2nd Impression)
  6/-
  Author of “Phases of an Inferior Planet.”

   “From beginning to end the book is alive with absorbing
   interest, and all the characters are convincing in their
   realism. A sure touch is manifested throughout. It is
   a striking work in style, in thought, in sympathy and
   understanding. We expect something distinctive from this
   author and her latest book splendidly fulfils our hopes.”
   --_Daily Herald._


  THE WOMAN THOU
  GAVEST ME
  by HALL CAINE
  6/-

   “The filling in of the story is marked by all Mr. Hall
   Caine’s accustomed skill. There is a wealth of varied
   characterisation, even the people who make but brief and
   occasional appearances standing out as real individuals,
   and not as mere names.... In description, too, the
   novelist shows that his hand has lost nothing of its
   cunning.... Deeply interesting as a story--perhaps
   one of the best stories that Mr. Hall Caine has
   given us--the book will make a further appeal to all
   thoughtful readers for its frank and fearless discussion
   of some of the problems and aspects of modern social and
   religious life.”
   --_Daily Telegraph._

   “Hall Caine’s voice reaches far; in this way ‘The Woman
   Thou Gavest Me’ strikes a great blow for righteousness.
   There is probably no other European novelist who could
   have made so poignant a tale of such simple materials.
   In that light Mr. Hall Caine’s new novel is his greatest
   achievement.”
   --_Daily Chronicle._


Other NOVELS of HALL CAINE

(of which over 3 million copies have been sold).

   “These volumes are in every way a pleasure to read. Of
   living authors, Mr. Hall Caine must certainly sway as
   multitudinous a following as any living man. A novel
   from his pen has become indeed for England and America
   something of an international event.”
   --_Times._

Author of

   THE BONDMAN      6/-, 2/-, 7d. net.
   CAPT’N DAVEYS HONEYMOON         2/-
   MY STORY              6/-, 2/- net.
   THE WHITE PROPHET               6/-
   THE ETERNAL CITY           6/-, 2/-
   THE MANXMAN                6/-, 2/-
   THE PRODIGAL SON                6/-
   THE SCAPEGOAT         6/-, 7d. net.
   THE CHRISTIAN              6/-, 2/-


  THE GARDEN WITHOUT
  WALLS
  by CONINGSBY DAWSON

   “ ... work of such genuine ability that its perusal is
   a delight and its recommendation to others a duty....
   It is a strong book, strong in every way, and it is
   conceived and executed on a large scale. But long as it
   is, there is nothing superfluous in it; its march is as
   orderly and stately as the pageant of life itself ...
   and it is a book, too, that grows on you as you read
   it ... and compels admiration of the talent and skill
   that have gone to its writing and the observation and
   reflection that have evolved its philosophy of life.”
   --_Glasgow Herald._


  THE REWARD OF VIRTUE
  by AMBER REEVES
  6/-

   “There is cleverness enough and to spare, but it is
   ... a spontaneous cleverness, innate, not laboriously
   acquired.... The dialogue ... is so natural, so
   unaffected, that it is quite possible to read it without
   noticing the high artistic quality of it.... For a first
   novel Miss Reeves’s is a remarkable achievement; it
   would be a distinct achievement even were it not a first
   novel.”
   --_Daily Chronicle._


  YONDER
  by E. H. YOUNG
  Author of “A Corn of Wheat.”

   “The beauty of life shines through it all. The book is
   more than a conventional love story. Nothing could be
   more beautiful than the affection between Theresa and
   her Father, and it is a touch for which alone the story
   is worth reading. The Book is written throughout with
   sympathy and dignity, and in places sounds a note of
   poetry.”
   --_Daily Mail._


  THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA
  by GERTRUDE HALL

   “I have not for a long time past come across a more
   vivid personality in fiction.”
   --_Punch._

   “Camilla never fails the reader, and we are sure very
   few readers will fail to give her enough admiration and
   affection to satisfy her passionate amour propre. For
   ourselves, we think her as delightful as she is amazing.
   If this be a first adventure in fiction it is certainly
   an extraordinarily good one, and the author is to be
   congratulated on what, with little exaggeration, may be
   described as a ‘tour de force.’”
   --_Pall Mall Gazette._


  THE MERRY MARAUDERS
  by ARTHUR J. REES

   “‘The Merry Marauders’ in no way belies its title. In a
   gay, light-hearted fashion, whose fun is infectious, it
   tells of the vicissitudes of a humble dramatic company
   in their efforts to amuse New Zealand.... A book in
   which there is a laugh on every page is a rare thing
   now-a-days. And ‘The Merry Marauders’ have left us their
   debtor.”
   --_Outlook._


  LESS THAN THE DUST
  by MARY AGNES HAMILTON
  6/-

   “There is something delightfully fresh in the method of
   treatment, something that seems to mark the passing of
   another milestone in the work of the literary woman.
   Literary is the right word, for Miss Hamilton’s style
   bears the stamp of a natural purity of diction, while
   her analysis of emotion and character is keen without
   being over-protracted.”
   --_Daily Telegraph._


  SET TO PARTNERS
  by Mrs. HENRY DUDENEY
  6/-

 Author of “A Runaway Ring,” “The Orchard Thief,” “A Large
 Room,” etc.

   “If we were asked to say what is in ‘Set to Partners’
   that we find so arresting, we should be likely to place
   the impression of reality which it conveys above its
   grim choice of situation, or even above Mrs. Henry
   Dudeney’s gift of delineating character, which is out
   of the common and yet never vague ... a piece out of
   life ... none will deny the splendid vitality of the
   work, which is by far the best that Mrs. Dudeney has yet
   done.”
   --_Daily Graphic._


  THE HIPPODROME
  by RACHEL HAYWARD
  6/-
  Illustrated by CLARA WATERS.

   A brightly coloured story, the scene of which is laid
   in Barcelona. A young Irish girl who is dependent on
   herself for a means of subsistence becomes a “star” turn
   at a circus. While in the back-waters of that existence
   she falls in with certain gentlemen of international
   importance. She becomes their dupe and slave and passes
   through many adventures. But there is a way of escape
   and she takes it. Decidedly a book of swift movement and
   keen excitement.


  LIBBY ANN
  by SADIE CASEY

   “A delightful story of Irish village life, written with
   intimate knowledge, and a very vivid pen, resulting in
   a charming mosaic of small happenings, none of them
   made magically interesting by the craft of the author.
   If this is a first book, as it appears to be, it is a
   grateful duty to welcome the writer to the realms of
   fiction, and to hope that she will add many more such
   works to her record.... This is an entirely charming
   book, full of humour, and affording a particularly
   interesting picture of life in rural Ireland.”
   --_Daily Graphic._


  KING ERRANT
  by FLORA ANNIE STEEL
  (2nd Impression)
  6/-
  Author of “On the Face of the Waters,” etc.

   “Mrs. Steel has made for herself a high reputation by
   the excellence of her Indian novels; in the vividness of
   the Oriental picture which it presents her ‘King Errant’
   stands on quite as high a level as her other books.

   “Historically accurate and sufficiently absorbing,
   and the results of Mrs. Steel’s careful study of his
   character is that Baber stands out from the mists of
   nearly four centuries as a very real and attractive
   person.”
   --_Times._

   Author of

   A PRINCE OF DREAMERS
   THE FLOWER OF FORGIVENESS
   FROM THE FIVE RIVERS
   THE HOSTS OF THE LORD
   IN THE GUARDIANSHIP OF GOD
   IN THE PERMANENT WAY
   MISS STUART’S LEGACY
   ON THE FACE OF THE WATERS
   THE POTTER’S THUMB
   RED ROWANS
   A SOVEREIGN REMEDY
   VOICES IN THE NIGHT
   and other stories.


  O PIONEERS
  by WILLA S. CATHER

   “An admirably written tale of life in Nebraska.... The
   pioneer spirit has been seized and rendered without
   gesticulation, and the heroine is an altogether charming
   and natural figure.”
   --_T. P’s Weekly._

   “Vivid pictures of the old country life of those early
   pioneering years are provided, and the sunshine of
   romance and the shadow of tragedy flit across the pages
   and lift the story to fascinating heights at times.”
   --_Scotsman._


  THE MOUNTAIN APART
  by JAMES PROSPER

   “This is not merely a ‘clever’ novel, but a book of
   marked originality, in which are neither villains
   nor saints, but real people whom we come to know
   intimately.... It is a book that should be read
   carefully, and we wish its author the large public that
   such work deserves.”
   --_Academy._


   THE LIFE MASK
   6/-
   by the Author of “He Who Passed.”

   “A highly remarkable novel, with a plot both striking
   and original, and written in a style quite distinctive
   and charming.”

   “Seldom, if ever, has a tale given me so genuine a
   surprise or such an unexpectedly creepy sensation.”
   --_Punch._


  HE WHO PASSED
  To M. L. G.
  6/-

   “As a story, it is one of the most enthralling I
   have read for a long time.... Six--seven o’clock
   struck--half-past-seven--and yet this extraordinary
   narrative of a woman’s life held me absolutely
   enthralled.... I forgot the weather; I forgot my own
   grievances; I forgot everything, in fact, under the
   spell of this wonderful book.... In fact the whole book
   bears the stamp of reality from cover to cover. There
   is hardly a false or strained note in it. It is the
   ruthless study of a woman’s life.... If it is not the
   novel of the season, the season is not likely to give us
   anything much better.”--_The Tatler._


  JOHN CHRISTOPHER:

  I. Dawn and Morning.
  II. Storm and Stress.
  III. John Christopher in Paris
  IV. The Journey’s End

  by ROMAIN ROLLAND
  each 6/-

  Translated by GILBERT CANNAN. Author of “Little Brother,” etc.

   “To most readers he will be a revelation, a new interest
   in their lives. Take the book up where you will, and you
   feel interested at once. You can read it and re-read it.
   It never wearies nor grows irritating.”
   --_The Daily Telegraph._

   “His English exercises so easy an effect that the
   reader has never for an instant the irritating sense of
   missing beauties through the inadequacies of a borrowed
   language; we have also compared it in many cases with
   the original and found it remarkably accurate. Readers
   may then be assured that they will lose but little of
   Mr. Rolland’s beauty and wisdom, even though they are
   unable to read him in the original, and Mr. Cannan is to
   be warmly congratulated.”
   --_The Standard._

   “A noble piece of work, which must, without any doubt
   whatever, ultimately receive the praise and attention
   which it so undoubtedly merits.... There is hardly a
   single book more illustrative, more informing and more
   inspiring ... than M. Romain Rolland’s creative work,
   ‘John Christopher’.”
   --_The Daily Telegraph._


  =THE NOVELS OF DOSTOEVSKY=

  Translated by CONSTANCE GARNETT

   “By the genius of Dostoevsky you are always in the
   presence of living, passionate characters. They are not
   puppets, they are not acting to keep the plot in motion.
   They are men and women--I should say you can hear
   them breathe--irresistibly moving to their appointed
   ends.”--_Evening News._

   I. THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
   3/6 net

   “No other writer perhaps has given to materials so ugly,
   not merely strength and life, but grave pathos and
   tragic beauty.”
   --_Times._

   II. THE IDIOT
   3/6 net

   “In many of his novels, Dostoevsky has contrasted
   spiritual love and physical passion, but in no other has
   the terror of the conflict culminated in such tragic
   loneliness as in the final scene of ‘The Idiot.’”
   --_Daily Chronicle._

   THE POSSESSED


  =THE NOVELS OF LEO TOLSTOY=

  Translated by CONSTANCE GARNETT

   ANNA KARENIN
   2/6 net
   WAR AND PEACE
   3/6 net

   “Mrs. Garnett’s translations from the Russian are always
   distinguished by most careful accuracy and a fine
   literary flavour.”
   --_The Bookman._

   “Mrs. Garnett’s translation has all the ease and vigour
   which Matthew Arnold found in French versions of
   Russian novels and missed in English. She is indeed so
   successful that, but for the names, one might easily
   forget he was reading a foreign author.”
   --_The Contemporary Review._


  THE HEADQUARTER RECRUIT
  by RICHARD DEHAN
  (2nd Impression)
  6/-

   “There is real truth and pathos in the ‘Fourth Volume,’
   originality in ‘The Tribute of Offa,’ and pith in nearly
   all of them.”
   --_Times._

   “There is not one of the tales which will fail to
   excite, amuse, entertain, or in some way delight the
   reader.”
   --_Liverpool Daily Post._

  BY THE SAME AUTHOR

  BETWEEN TWO THIEVES
  (2nd Impression)
  6/-

   “The book is really an amazing piece of work. Its
   abounding energy, its grip on our attention, its biting
   humour, its strong, if sometimes lurid word painting
   have an effect of richness and fullness of teeming life,
   that sweeps one with it. What an ample chance for praise
   and whole-hearted enjoyment. The thing unrols with a
   vividness that never fails.”--_Daily News and Leader._


  THE DOP DOCTOR
  (_Now in its 16th Edition_).
  2/- net

   “Pulsatingly real--gloomy, tragic, humorous, dignified,
   real. The cruelty of battle, the depth of disgusting
   villainy, the struggles of great souls, the irony of
   coincidence are all in its pages.... Who touches this
   book touches a man. I am grateful for the wonderful
   thrills ‘The Dop Doctor’ has given me. It is a novel
   among a thousand.”
   --_The Daily Express._


  A LIKELY STORY
  by WILLIAM DE MORGAN
  6/-

   “How delightful it all is.... Mr. De Morgan is worth
   having for himself alone and for the point of view of
   the world that he shows us.”
   --_Standard._

   “The book is great fun.... Much amusement, much cause
   for sly chuckling throughout the book.... I have enjoyed
   every line of it.”
   --_T. P.’s Weekly._

   “You cannot resist the charm of the narrator, who makes
   you feel as if you were listening to an improvisation.”
   --_The Spectator._

   Author of

   JOSEPH VANCE
   ALICE FOR SHORT
   AN AFFAIR OF DISHONOUR
   IT NEVER CAN HAPPEN AGAIN
   SOMEHOW GOOD


  THE WEAKER VESSEL
  by E. F. BENSON
  6/-

   “Among the writers of the present day who can make
   fiction the reflection of reality, one of the foremost
   is Mr. E. F. Benson. From the very beginning the
   interest is enchained.”
   --_Daily Telegraph._

  Author of

  JUGGERNAUT
  *ACCOUNT RENDERED
  AN ACT IN A BACKWATER
  *THE ANGEL OF PAIN
  *THE BOOK OF MONTHS
  *THE CHALLONERS
  *THE CLIMBER
  THE HOUSE OF DEFENCE
  *THE IMAGE IN THE SAND
  *THE LUCK OF THE VAILS
  *MAMMON & CO.
  *PAUL
  THE PRINCESS SOPHIA
  *A REAPING
  THE RELENTLESS CITY
  *SCARLET AND HYSSOP
  *SHEAVES

  Each Crn. 8vo. Price 6/-.

  Those volumes marked * can also be obtained in the Two Shilling
  net Edition, and also the following volumes

  THE OSBORNES
  THE VINTAGE
  DODO

  ⁂ “The Book of Months” and “A Reaping” form one volume
  in this Edition.


21 BEDFORD STREET, LONDON, W.C.





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