Here then is your own letter. In that, as we have seen, after asking for an opinion as to how to prevent war, you go on to suggest certain practical measures by which we can help you to prevent it. These are it appears that we should sign a manifesto, pledging ourselves ‘to protect culture and intellectual liberty’;1 that we should join a certain society, devoted to certain measures whose aim is to preserve peace; and, finally, that we should subscribe to that society which like the others is in need of funds.
First, then, let us consider how we can help you to prevent war by protecting culture and intellectual liberty, since you assure us that there is a connection between those rather abstract words and these very positive photographs — the photographs of dead bodies and ruined houses.
But if it was surprising to be asked for an opinion how to prevent war, it is still more surprising to be asked to help you in the rather abstract terms of your manifesto to protect culture and intellectual liberty. Consider, Sir, in the light of the facts given above, what this request of yours means. It means that in the year 1938 the sons of educated men are asking the daughters to help them to protect culture and intellectual liberty. And why, you may ask, is that so surprising? Suppose that the Duke of Devonshire, in his star and garter, stepped down into the kitchen and said to the maid who was peeling potatoes with a smudge on her cheek: ‘Stop your potato peeling, Mary, and help me to construe this rather difficult passage in Pindar,’ would not Mary be surprised and run screaming to Louisa the cook, ‘Lawks, Louie, Master must be mad!’ That, or something like it, is the cry that rises to our lips when the sons of educated men ask us, their sisters, to protect intellectual liberty and culture. But let us try to translate the kitchen-maid’s cry into the language of educated people.
Once more we must beg you, Sir, to look from our angle, from our point of view, at Arthur’s Education Fund. Try once more, difficult though it is to twist your head in that direction, to understand what it has meant to us to keep that receptacle filled all these centuries so that some 10,000 of our brothers may be educated every year at Oxford and Cambridge. It has meant that we have already contributed to the cause of culture and intellectual liberty more than any other class in the community. For have not the daughters of educated men paid into Arthur’s Education Fund from the year 1262 to the year 1870 all the money that was needed to educate themselves, bating such miserable sums as went to pay the governess, the German teacher, and the dancing master? Have they not paid with their own education for Eton and Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge, and all the great schools and universities on the continent — the Sorbonne and Heidelberg, Salamanca and Padua and Rome? Have they not paid so generously and lavishly if so indirectly, that when at last, in the nineteenth century, they won the right to some paid-for education for themselves, there was not a single woman who had received enough paid-for education to be able to teach them?2 And now, out of the blue, just as they were hoping that they might filch not only a little of that same university education for themselves but some of the trimmings — travel, pleasure, liberty — for themselves, here is your letter informing them that the whole of that vast, that fabulous sum — for whether counted directly in cash, or indirectly in things done without, the sum that filled Arthur’s Education Fund is vast — has been wasted or wrongly applied. With what other purpose were the universities of Oxford and Cambridge founded, save to protect culture and intellectual liberty? For what other object did your sisters go without teaching or travel or luxuries themselves except that with the money so saved their brothers should go to schools and universities and there learn to protect culture and intellectual liberty? But now since you proclaim them in danger and ask us to add our voice to yours, and our sixpence to your guinea, we must assume that the money so spent was wasted and that those societies have failed. Yet, the reflection must intrude, if the public schools and universities with their elaborate machinery for mind-training and body-training have failed, what reason is there to think that your society, sponsored though it is by distinguished names, is going to succeed, or that your manifesto, signed though it is by still more distinguished names, is going to convert? Ought you not, before you lease an office, hire a secretary, elect a committee and appeal for funds, to consider why those schools and universities have failed?
That, however, is a question for you to answer. The question which concerns us is what possible help we can give you in protecting culture and intellectual liberty — we, who have been shut out from the universities so repeatedly, and are only now admitted so restrictedly; we who have received no paid-for education whatsoever, or so little that we can only read our own tongue and write our own language, we who are, in fact, members not of the intelligentsia but of the ignorantsia? To confirm us in our modest estimate of our own culture and to prove that you in fact share it there is Whitaker with his facts. Not a single educated man’s daughter, Whitaker says, is thought capable of teaching the literature of her own language at either university. Nor is her opinion worth asking, Whitaker informs us, when it comes to buying a picture for the National Gallery, a portrait for the Portrait Gallery, or a mummy for the British Museum. How then can it be worth your while to ask us to protect culture and intellectual liberty when, as Whitaker proves with his cold facts, you have no belief that our advice is worth having when it comes to spending the money, to which we have contributed, in buying culture and intellectual liberty for the State? Do you wonder that the unexpected compliment takes us by surprise? Still, there is your letter. There are facts in that letter, too. In it you say that war is imminent; and you go on to say, in more languages than one — here is the French version:3 Seule la culture désintéressée peut garder le monde de sa ruine — you go on to say that by protecting intellectual liberty and our inheritance of culture we can help you to prevent war. And since the first statement at least is indisputable and any kitchenmaid even if her French is defective can read and understand the meaning of ‘Air Raid Precautions’ when written in large letters upon a blank wall, we cannot ignore your request on the plea of ignorance or remain silent on the plea of modesty. Just as any kitchen-maid would attempt to construe a passage in Pindar if told that her life depended on it, so the daughters of educated men, however little their training qualifies them, must consider what they can do to protect culture and intellectual liberty if by so doing they can help you to prevent war. So let us by all means in our power examine this further method of helping you, and see, before we consider your request that we should join your society, whether we can sign this manifesto in favour of culture and intellectual liberty with some intention of keeping our word.
What, then, is the meaning of those rather abstract words? If we are to help you to protect them it would be well to define them in the first place. But like all honorary treasurers you are pressed for time, and to ramble through English literature in search of a definition, though a delightful pastime in its way, might well lead us far. Let us agree, then, for the present, that we know what they are, and concentrate upon the practical question how we can help you to protect them. Now the daily paper with its provision of facts lies on the table; and a single quotation from it may save time and limit our inquiry. ‘It was decided yesterday at a conference of head masters that women were not fit teachers for boys over the age of fourteen.’ That fact is of instant help to us here, for it proves that certain kinds of help are beyond our reach. For us to attempt to reform the education of our brothers at public schools and universities would be to invite a shower of dead cats, rotten eggs and broken gates from which only street scavengers and locksmiths would benefit, while the gentlemen in authority, history assures us, would survey the tumult from their study windows without taking the cigars from their lips or ceasing to sip, slowly as its bouquet deserves, their admirable claret.4 The teaching of history, then, reinforced by the teaching of the daily paper, drives us to a more restricted position. We can only help you to defend culture and intellectual liberty by defending our own culture and our own intellectual liberty. That is to say, we can hint, if the treasurer of one of the women’s colleges asks us for a subscription, that some change might be made in that satellite body when it ceases to be satellite; or again, if the treasurer of some society for obtaining professional employment for women asks us for a subscription, suggest that some change might be desirable, in the interests of culture and intellectual liberty, in the practice of the professions. But as paid-for education is still raw and young, and as the number of those allowed to enjoy it at Oxford and Cambridge is still strictly limited, culture for the great majority of educated men’s daughters must still be that which is acquired outside the sacred gates, in public libraries or in private libraries, whose doors by some unaccountable oversight have been left unlocked. It must still, in the year 1938, largely consist in reading and writing our own tongue. The question thus becomes more manageable. Shorn of its glory it is easier to deal with. What we have to do now, then, Sir, is to lay your request before the daughters of educated men and to ask them to help you to prevent war, not by advising their brothers how they shall protect culture and intellectual liberty, but simply by reading and writing their own tongue in such a way as to protect those rather abstract goddesses themselves.
This would seem, on the face of it, a simple matter, and one that needs neither argument nor rhetoric. But we are met at the outset by a new difficulty. We have already noted the fact that the profession of literature, to give it a simple name, is the only profession which did not fight a series of battles in the nineteenth century. There has been no battle of Grub Street. That profession has never been shut to the daughters of educated men. This was due of course to the extreme cheapness of its professional requirements. Books, pens and paper are so cheap, reading and writing have been, since the eighteenth century at least, so universally taught in our class, that it was impossible for any body of men to corner the necessary knowledge or to refuse admittance, except on their own terms, to those who wished to read books or to write them. But it follows, since the profession of literature is open to the daughters of educated men, that there is no honorary treasurer of the profession in such need of a guinea with which to prosecute her battle that she will listen to our terms, and promise to do what she can to observe them. This places us, you will agree, in an awkward predicament. For how then can we bring pressure upon them — what can we do to persuade them to help us? The profession of literature differs, it would seem, from all the other professions. There is no head of the profession; no Lord Chancellor as in your own case: no official body with the power to lay down rules and enforce them.5 We cannot debar women from the use of libraries;6 or forbid them to buy ink and paper; or rule that metaphors shall only be used by one sex, as the male only in art schools was allowed to study from the nude; or rule that rhyme shall be used by one sex only as the male only in Academies of music was allowed to play in orchestras. Such is the inconceivable licence of the profession of letters that any daughter of an educated man may use a man’s name — say George Eliot or George Sand — with the result that an editor or a publisher, unlike the authorities in Whitehall, can detect no difference in the scent or savour of a manuscript, or even know for certain whether the writer is married or not.
Thus, since we have very little power over those who earn their livings by reading and writing, we must go to them humbly without bribes or penalties. We must go to them cap in hand, like beggars, and ask them of their goodness to spare time to listen to our request that they shall practise the profession of reading and writing in the interests of culture and intellectual liberty.
And now, clearly, some further definition of ‘culture and intellectual liberty’ would be useful. Fortunately, it need not be, for our purposes, exhaustive or elaborate. We need not consult Milton, Goethe, or Matthew Arnold; for their definition would apply to paid-for culture — the culture which, in Miss Weeton’s definition, includes physics, divinity, astronomy, chemistry, botany, logic and mathematics, as well as Latin, Greek and French. We are appealing in the main to those whose culture is the unpaid- for culture, that which consists in being able to read and write their own tongue. Happily your manifesto is at hand to help us to define the terms further; ‘disinterested’ is the word you use. Therefore let us define culture for our purposes as the disinterested pursuit of reading and writing the English language. And intellectual liberty may be defined for our purposes as the right to say or write what you think in your own words, and in your own way. These are very crude definitions, but they must serve. Our appeal then might begin: ‘Oh, daughters of educated men, this gentleman, whom we all respect, says that war is imminent; by protecting culture and intellectual liberty he says that we can help him to prevent war. We entreat you, therefore, who earn your livings by reading and writing . . . ’ But here the words falter on our lips, and the prayer peters out into three separate dots because of facts again — because of facts in books, facts in biographies, facts which make it difficult, perhaps impossible, to go on.
What are those facts then? Once more we must interrupt our appeal in order to examine them. And there is no difficulty in finding them. Here, for example, is an illuminating document before us, a most genuine and indeed moving piece of work, the autobiography of Mrs Oliphant, which is full of facts. She was an educated man’s daughter who earned her living by reading and writing. She wrote books of all kinds. Novels, biographies, histories, handbooks of Florence and Rome, reviews, newspaper articles innumerable came from her pen. With the proceeds she earned her living and educated her children. But how far did she protect culture and intellectual liberty? That you can judge for yourself by reading first a few of her novels; The Duke’s Daughter, Diana Trelawny, Harry Joscelyn, say; continue with the lives of Sheridan and Cervantes; go on to the Makers of Florence and Rome; conclude by sousing yourself in the innumerable faded articles, reviews, sketches of one kind and another which she contributed to literary papers. When you have done, examine the state of your own mind, and ask yourself whether that reading has led you to respect disinterested culture and intellectual liberty. Has it not on the contrary smeared your mind and dejected your imagination, and led you to deplore the fact that Mrs Oliphant sold her brain, her very admirable brain, prostituted her culture and enslaved her intellectual liberty in order that she might earn her living and educate her children?7 Inevitably, considering the damage that poverty inflicts upon mind and body, the necessity that is laid upon those who have children to see that they are fed and clothed, nursed and educated, we have to applaud her choice and to admire her courage. But if we applaud the choice and admire the courage of those who do what she did, we can spare ourselves the trouble of addressing our appeal to them, for they will no more be able to protect disinterested culture and intellectual liberty than she was. To ask them to sign your manifesto would be to ask a publican to sign a manifesto in favour of temperance. He may himself be a total abstainer; but since his wife and children depend upon the sale of beer, he must continue to sell beer, and his signature to the manifesto would be of no value to the cause of temperance because directly he had signed it he must be at the counter inducing his customers to drink more beer. So to ask the daughters of educated men who have to earn their livings by reading and writing to sign your manifesto would be of no value to the cause of disinterested culture and intellectual liberty, because directly they had signed it they must be at the desk writing those books, lectures and articles by which culture is prostituted and intellectual liberty is sold into slavery. As an expression of opinion it may have value; but if what you need is not merely an expression of opinion but positive help, you must frame your request rather differently. Then you will have to ask them to pledge themselves not to write anything that denies culture, or to sign any contract that infringes intellectual liberty. And to that the answer given us by biography would be short but sufficient: Have I not to earn my living? Thus, Sir, it becomes clear that we must make our appeal only to those daughters of educated men who have enough to live upon. To them we might address ourselves in this wise: ‘Daughters of educated men who have enough to live upon . . . ’ But again the voice falters: again the prayer peters out into separate dots. For how many of them are there? Dare we assume in the face of Whitaker, of the laws of property, of the wills in the newspapers, of facts in short, that 1,000, 500, or even 250 will answer when thus addressed? However that may be, let the plural stand and continue: ‘Daughters of educated men who have enough to live upon, and read and write your own language for your own pleasure, may we very humbly entreat you to sign this gentleman’s manifesto with some intention of putting your promise into practice?’
Here, if indeed they consent to listen, they might very reasonably ask us to be more explicit — not indeed to define culture and intellectual liberty, for they have books and leisure and can define the words for themselves. But what, they may well ask, is meant by this gentleman’s ‘disinterested’ culture, and how are we to protect that and intellectual liberty in practice? Now as they are daughters, not sons, we may begin by reminding them of a compliment once paid them by a great historian. ‘Mary’s conduct,’ says Macaulay, ‘was really a signal instance of that perfect disinterestedness and self-devotion of which man seems to be incapable, but which is sometimes found in women.’8 Compliments, when you are asking a favour, never come amiss. Next let us refer them to the tradition which has long been honoured in the private house — the tradition of chastity. ‘Just as for many centuries, Madam,’ we might plead, ‘it was thought vile for a woman to sell her body without love, but right to give it to the husband whom she loved, so it is wrong, you will agree, to sell your mind without love, but right to give it to the art which you love.’ ‘But what,’ she may ask, ‘is meant by “selling your mind without love”?’ ‘Briefly,’ we might reply, ‘to write at the command of another person what you do not want to write for the sake of money. But to sell a brain is worse than to sell a body, for when the body seller has sold her momentary pleasure she takes good care that the matter shall end there. But when a brain seller has sold her brain, its anaemic, vicious and diseased progeny are let loose upon the world to infect and corrupt and sow the seeds of disease in others. Thus we are asking you, Madam, to pledge yourself not to commit adultery of the brain because it is a much more serious offence than the other.’ ‘Adultery of the brain,’ she may reply, ‘means writing what I do not want to write for the sake of money. Therefore you ask me to refuse all publishers, editors, lecture agents and so on who bribe me to write or to speak what I do not want to write or to speak for the sake of money?’ ‘That is so, Madam; and we further ask that if you should receive proposals for such sales you will resent them and expose them as you would resent and expose such proposals for selling your body, both for your own sake and for the sake of others. But we would have you observe that the verb “to adulterate” means, according to the dictionary, “to falsify by admixture of baser ingredients.” Money is not the only baser ingredient. Advertisement and publicity are also adulterers. Thus, culture mixed with personal charm, or culture mixed with advertisement and publicity, are also adulterated forms of culture. We must ask you to abjure them; not to appear on public platforms; not to lecture; not to allow your private face to be published, or details of your private life; not to avail yourself, in short, of any of the forms of brain prostitution which are so insidiously suggested by the pimps and panders of the brain-selling trade; or to accept any of those baubles and labels by which brain merit is advertised and certified — medals, honours, degrees — we must ask you to refuse them absolutely, since they are all tokens that culture has been prostituted and intellectual liberty sold into captivity.’
Upon hearing this definition, mild and imperfect as it is, of what it means, not merely to sign your manifesto in favour of culture and intellectual liberty, but to put that opinion into practice, even those daughters of educated men who have enough to live upon may object that the terms are too hard for them to keep. For they would mean loss of money, which is desirable, loss of fame which is universally held to be agreeable, and censure and ridicule which are by no means negligible. Each would be the butt of all who have an interest to serve or money to make from the sale of brains. And for what reward? Only, in the rather abstract terms of your manifesto, that they would thus ‘protect culture and intellectual liberty’, not by their opinion but by their practice.
Since the terms are so hard, and there is no body in existence whose ruling they need respect or obey, let us consider what other method of persuasion is left to us. Only, it would seem, to point to the photographs — the photographs of dead bodies and ruined houses. Can we bring out the connection between them and prostituted culture and intellectual slavery and make it so clear that the one implies the other, that the daughters of educated men will prefer to refuse money and fame, and to be the objects of scorn and ridicule rather than suffer themselves, or allow others to suffer, the penalties there made visible? It is difficult in the short time at our disposal, and with the weak weapons in our possession, to make that connection clear, but if what you, Sir, say is true, and there is a connection and a very real one between them, we must try to prove it.
Let us then begin by summoning, if only from the world of imagination, some daughter of an educated man who has enough to live upon and can read and write for her own pleasure and, taking her to be the representative of what may in fact be no class at all, let us ask her to examine the products of that reading and writing which lie upon her own table. ‘Look, Madam,’ we might begin, ‘at the newspapers on your table. Why, may we ask, do you take in three dailies, and three weeklies?’ ‘Because,’ she replies, ‘I am interested in politics, and wish to know the facts.’ ‘An admirable desire, Madam. But why three? Do they differ then about facts, and if so, why?’ To which she replies, with some irony, ‘You call yourself an educated man’s daughter, and yet pretend not to know the facts — roughly that each paper is financed by a board; that each board has a policy; that each board employs writers to expound that policy, and if the writers do not agree with that policy, the writers, as you may remember after a moment’s reflection, find themselves unemployed in the street. Therefore if you want to know any fact about politics you must read at least three different papers, compare at least three different versions of the same fact, and come in the end to your own conclusion. Hence the three daily papers on my table.’ Now that we have discussed, very briefly, what may be called the literature of fact, let us turn to what may be called the literature of fiction. ‘There are such things, Madam,’ we may remind her, ‘as pictures, plays, music and books. Do you pursue the same rather extravagant policy there — glance at three daily papers and three weekly papers if you want to know the facts about pictures, plays, music and books, because those who write about art are in the pay of an editor, who is in the pay of a board, which has a policy to pursue, so that each paper takes a different view, so that it is only by comparing three different views that you can come to your own conclusion — what pictures to see, what play or concert to go to, which book to order from the library?’ And to that she replies, ‘Since I am an educated man’s daughter, with a smattering of culture picked up from reading, I should no more dream, given the conditions of journalism at present, of taking my opinions of pictures, plays, music or books from the newspapers than I would take my opinion of politics from the newspapers. Compare the views, make allowance for the distortions, and then judge for yourself. That is the only way. Hence the many newspapers on my table.’9
So then the literature of fact and the literature of opinion, to make a crude distinction, are not pure fact, or pure opinion, but adulterated fact and adulterated opinion, that is fact and opinion ‘adulterated by the admixture of baser ingredients’ as the dictionary has it. In other words you have to strip each statement of its money motive, of its power motive, of its advertisement motive, of its publicity motive, of its vanity motive, let alone of all the other motives which, as an educated man’s daughter, are familiar to you, before you make up your mind which fact about politics to believe, or even which opinion about art? ‘That is so,’ she agrees. But if you were told by somebody who had none of those motives for wrapping up truth that the fact was in his or her opinion this or that, you would believe him or her, always allowing of course for the fallibility of human judgement which, in judging works of art, must be considerable? ‘Naturally,’ she agrees. If such a person said that war was bad, you would believe him; or if such a person said that some picture, symphony, play or poem were good you would believe him? ‘Allowing for human fallibility, yes.’ Now suppose, Madam, that there were 250 or 50, or 25 such people in existence, people pledged not to commit adultery of the brain, so that it was unnecessary to strip what they said of its money motive, power motive, advertisement motive, publicity motive, vanity motive and so on, before we unwrapped the grain of truth, might not two very remarkable consequences follow? Is it not possible that if we knew the truth about war, the glory of war would be scotched and crushed where it lies curled up in the rotten cabbage leaves of our prostituted fact-purveyors; and if we knew the truth about art instead of shuffling and shambling through the smeared and dejected pages of those who must live by prostituting culture, the enjoyment and practice of art would become so desirable that by comparison the pursuit of war would be a tedious game for elderly dilettantes in search of a mildly sanitary amusement — the tossing of bombs instead of balls over frontiers instead of nets? In short, if newspapers were written by people whose sole object in writing was to tell the truth about politics and the truth about art we should not believe in war, and we should believe in art.
Hence there is a very clear connection between culture and intellectual liberty and those photographs of dead bodies and ruined houses. And to ask the daughters of educated men who have enough to live upon to commit adultery of the brain is to ask them to help in the most positive way now open to them — since the profession of literature is still that which stands widest open to them — to prevent war.
Thus, Sir, we might address this lady, crudely, briefly it is true; but time passes and we cannot define further. And to this appeal she might well reply, if indeed she exists: ‘What you say is obvious; so obvious that every educated man’s daughter already knows it for herself, or if she does not, has only to read the newspapers to be sure of it. But suppose she were well enough off not merely to sign this manifesto in favour of disinterested culture and intellectual liberty but to put her opinion into practice, how could she set about it? And do not,’ she may reasonably add, ‘dream dreams about ideal worlds behind the stars; consider actual facts in the actual world.’ Indeed, the actual world is much more difficult to deal with than the dream world. Still, Madam, the private printing press is an actual fact, and not beyond the reach of a moderate income. Typewriters and duplicators are actual facts and even cheaper. By using these cheap and so far unforbidden instruments you can at once rid yourself of the pressure of boards, policies and editors. They will speak your own mind, in your own words, at your own time, at your own length, at your own bidding. And that, we are agreed, is our definition of ‘intellectual liberty.’ ‘But,’ she may say, ‘“the public”? How can that be reached without putting my own mind through the mincing machine and turning it into sausage?’ ‘“The public,” Madam,’ we may assure her, ‘is very like ourselves; it lives in rooms; it walks in streets, and is said moreover to be tired of sausage. Fling leaflets down basements; expose them on stalls; trundle them along streets on barrows to be sold for a penny or given away. Find out new ways of approaching “the public”; single it into separate people instead of massing it into one monster, gross in body, feeble in mind. And then reflect — since you have enough to live on, you have a room, not necessarily “cosy” or “handsome” but still silent, private; a room where safe from publicity and its poison you could, even asking a reasonable fee for the service, speak the truth to artists, about pictures, music, books, without fear of affecting their sales, which are exiguous, or wounding their vanity, which is prodigious.10 Such at least was the criticism that Ben Jonson gave Shakespeare at the Mermaid and there is no reason to suppose, with Hamlet as evidence, that literature suffered in consequence. Are not the best critics private people, and is not the only criticism worth having spoken criticism? Those then are some of the active ways in which you, as a writer of your own tongue, can put your opinion into practice. But if you are passive, a reader, not a writer, then you must adopt not active but passive methods of protecting culture and intellectual liberty.’ ‘And what may they be?’ she will ask. ‘To abstain, obviously. Not to subscribe to papers that encourage intellectual slavery; not to attend lectures that prostitute culture; for we are agreed that to write at the command of another what you do not want to write is to be enslaved, and to mix culture with personal charm or advertisement is to prostitute culture. By these active and passive measures you would do all in your power to break the ring, the vicious circle, the dance round and round the mulberry tree, the poison tree of intellectual harlotry. The ring once broken, the captives would be freed. For who can doubt that once writers had the chance of writing what they enjoy writing they would find it so much more pleasurable that they would refuse to write on any other terms; or that readers once they had the chance of reading what writers enjoy writing, would find it so much more nourishing than what is written for money that they would refuse to be palmed off with the stale substitute any longer? Thus the slaves who are now kept hard at work piling words into books, piling words into articles, as the old slaves piled stones into pyramids, would shake the manacles from their wrists and give up their loathsome labour. And “culture”, that amorphous bundle, swaddled up as she now is in insincerity, emitting half truths from her timid lips, sweetening and diluting her message with whatever sugar or water serves to swell the writer’s fame or his master’s purse, would regain her shape and become, as Milton, Keats and other great writers assure us that she is in reality, muscular, adventurous, free. Whereas now, Madam, at the very mention of culture the head aches, the eyes close, the doors shut, the air thickens; we are in a lecture room, rank with the fumes of stale print, listening to a gentleman who is forced to lecture or to write every Wednesday, every Sunday, about Milton or about Keats, while the lilac shakes its branches in the garden free, and the gulls, swirling and swooping, suggest with wild laughter that such stale fish might with advantage be tossed to them. That is our plea to you, Madam; those are our reasons for urging it. Do not merely sign this manifesto in favour of culture and intellectual liberty; attempt at least to put your promise into practice.’
Whether the daughters of educated men who have enough to live upon and read and write their own tongue for their own pleasure will listen to this request or not, we cannot say, Sir. But if culture and intellectual liberty are to be protected, not by opinions merely but by practice, this would seem to be the way. It is not an easy way, it is true. Nevertheless, such as it is, there are reasons for thinking that the way is easier for them than for their brothers. They are immune, through no merit of their own, from certain compulsions. To protect culture and intellectual liberty in practice would mean, as we have said, ridicule and chastity, loss of publicity and poverty. But those, as we have seen, are their familiar teachers. Further, Whitaker with his facts is at hand to help them; for since he proves that all the fruits of professional culture — such as directorships of art galleries and museums, professorships and lectureships and editorships — are still beyond their reach, they should be able to take a more purely disinterested view of culture than their brothers, without for a moment claiming, as Macaulay asserts, that they are by nature more disinterested. Thus helped by tradition and by facts as they are, we have not only some right to ask them to help us to break the circle, the vicious circle of prostituted culture, but some hope that if such people exist they will help us. To return then to your manifesto: we will sign it if we can keep these terms; if we cannot keep them, we will not sign it.
Now that we have tried to see how we can help you to prevent war by attempting to define what is meant by protecting culture and intellectual liberty let us consider your next and inevitable request: that we should subscribe to the funds of your society. For you, too, are an honorary treasurer, and like the other honorary treasurers in need of money. Since you, too, are asking for money it might be possible to ask you, also, to define your aims, and to bargain and to impose terms as with the other honorary treasurers. What then are the aims of your society? To prevent war, of course. And by what means? Broadly speaking, by protecting the rights of the individual; by opposing dictatorship; by ensuring the democratic ideals of equal opportunity for all. Those are the chief means by which as you say, ‘the lasting peace of the world can be assured.’ Then, Sir, there is no need to bargain or to haggle. If those are your aims, and if, as it is impossible to doubt, you mean to do all in your power to achieve them, the guinea is yours — would that it were a million! The guinea is yours; and the guinea is a free gift, given freely.
But the word ‘free’ is used so often, and has come, like used words, to mean so little, that it may be well to explain exactly, even pedantically, what the word ‘free’ means in this context. It means here that no right or privilege is asked in return. The giver is not asking you to admit her to the priesthood of the Church of England; or to the Stock Exchange; or to the Diplomatic Service. The giver has no wish to be ‘English’ on the same terms that you yourself are ‘English’. The giver does not claim in return for the gift admission to any profession; any honour, title, or medal; any professorship or lectureship; any seat upon any society, committee or board. The gift is free from all such conditions because the one right of paramount importance to all human beings is already won. You cannot take away her right to earn a living. Now then for the first time in English history an educated man’s daughter can give her brother one guinea of her own making at his request for the purpose specified above without asking for anything in return. It is a free gift, given without fear, without flattery, and without conditions. That, Sir, is so momentous an occasion in the history of civilization that some celebration seems called for. But let us have done with the old ceremonies — the Lord Mayor, with turtles and sheriffs in attendance, tapping nine times with his mace upon a stone while the Archbishop of Canterbury in full canonicals invokes a blessing. Let us invent a new ceremony for this new occasion. What more fitting than to destroy an old word, a vicious and corrupt word that has done much harm in its day and is now obsolete? The word ‘feminist’ is the word indicated. That word, according to the dictionary, means ‘one who champions the rights of women’. Since the only right, the right to earn a living, has been won, the word no longer has a meaning. And a word without a meaning is a dead word, a corrupt word. Let us therefore celebrate this occasion by cremating the corpse. Let us write that word in large black letters on a sheet of foolscap; then solemnly apply a match to the paper. Look, how it burns! What a light dances over the world! Now let us bray the ashes in a mortar with a goose-feather pen, and declare in unison singing together that anyone who uses that word in future is a ring-the-bell-and-run-away-man,11 a mischief maker, a groper among old bones, the proof of whose defilement is written in a smudge of dirty water upon his face. The smoke has died down; the word is destroyed. Observe, Sir, what has happened as the result of our celebration. The word ‘feminist’ is destroyed; the air is cleared; and in that clearer air what do we see? Men and women working together for the same cause. The cloud has lifted from the past too. What were they working for in the nineteenth century — those queer dead women in their poke bonnets and shawls? The very same cause for which we are working now. ‘Our claim was no claim of women’s rights only;’— it is Josephine Butler who speaks —‘it was larger and deeper; it was a claim for the rights of all — all men and women — to the respect in their persons of the great principles of Justice and Equality and Liberty.’ The words are the same as yours; the claim is the same as yours. The daughters of educated men who were called, to their resentment, ‘feminists’ were in fact the advance guard of your own movement. They were fighting the same enemy that you are fighting and for the same reasons. They were fighting the tyranny of the patriarchal state as you are fighting the tyranny of the Fascist state. Thus we are merely carrying on the same fight that our mothers and grandmothers fought; their words prove it; your words prove it. But now with your letter before us we have your assurance that you are fighting with us, not against us. That fact is so inspiring that another celebration seems called for. What could be more fitting than to write more dead words, more corrupt words, upon more sheets of paper and burn them — the words, Tyrant, Dictator, for example? But, alas, those words are not yet obsolete. We can still shake out eggs from newspapers; still smell a peculiar and unmistakable odour in the region of Whitehall and Westminster. And abroad the monster has come more openly to the surface. There is no mistaking him there. He has widened his scope. He is interfering now with your liberty; he is dictating how you shall live; he is making distinctions not merely between the sexes, but between the races. You are feeling in your own persons what your mothers felt when they were shut out, when they were shut up, because they were women. Now you are being shut out, you are being shut up, because you are Jews, because you are democrats, because of race, because of religion. It is not a photograph that you look upon any longer; there you go, trapesing along in the procession yourselves. And that makes a difference. The whole iniquity of dictatorship, whether in Oxford or Cambridge, in Whitehall or Downing Street, against Jews or against women, in England, or in Germany, in Italy or in Spain is now apparent to you. But now we are fighting together. The daughters and sons of educated men are fighting side by side. That fact is so inspiring, even if no celebration is possible, that if this one guinea could be multiplied a million times all those guineas should be at your service without any other conditions than those that you have imposed upon yourself. Take this one guinea then and use it to assert ‘the rights of all — all men and women — to the respect in their persons of the great principles of Justice and Equality and Liberty.’ Put this penny candle in the window of your new society, and may we live to see the day when in the blaze of our common freedom the words tyrant and dictator shall be burnt to ashes, because the words tyrant and dictator shall be obsolete.
That request then for a guinea answered, and the cheque signed, only one further request of yours remains to be considered — it is that we should fill up a form and become members of your society. On the face of it that seems a simple request, easily granted. For what can be simpler than to join the society to which this guinea has just been contributed? On the face of it, how easy, how simple; but in the depths, how difficult, how complicated . . . What possible doubts, what possible hesitations can those dots stand for? What reason or what emotion can make us hesitate to become members of a society whose aims we approve, to whose funds we have contributed? It may be neither reason nor emotion, but something more profound and fundamental than either. It may be difference. Different we are, as facts have proved, both in sex and in education. And it is from that difference, as we have already said, that our help can come, if help we can, to protect liberty, to prevent war. But if we sign this form which implies a promise to become active members of your society, it would seem that we must lose that difference and therefore sacrifice that help. To explain why this is so is not easy, even though the gift of a guinea has made it possible (so we have boasted), to speak freely without fear or flattery. Let us then keep the form unsigned on the table before us while we discuss, so far as we are able, the reasons and the emotions which make us hesitate to sign it. For those reasons and emotions have their origin deep in the darkness of ancestral memory; they have grown together in some confusion; it is very difficult to untwist them in the light.
To begin with an elementary distinction: a society is a conglomeration of people joined together for certain aims; while you, who write in your own person with your own hand are single. You the individual are a man whom we have reason to respect; a man of the brotherhood, to which, as biography proves, many brothers have belonged. Thus Anne Clough, describing her brother, says: ‘Arthur is my best friend and adviser . . . Arthur is the comfort and joy of my life; it is for him, and from him, that I am incited to seek after all that is lovely and of good report.’ To which William Wordsworth, speaking of his sister but answering the other as if one nightingale called to another in the forests of the past, replies:
The Blessing of my later years
Was with me when a Boy:
She gave me eyes, she gave me ears;
And humble cares, and delicate fears;
A heart, the fountain of sweet tears;
And love, and thought, and joy.12
Such was, such perhaps still is, the relationship of many brothers and sisters in private, as individuals. They respect each other and help each other and have aims in common. Why then, if such can be their private relationship, as biography and poetry prove, should their public relationship, as law and history prove, be so very different? And here, since you are a lawyer, with a lawyer’s memory, it is not necessary to remind you of certain decrees of English law from its first records to the year 1919 by way of proving that the public, the society relationship of brother and sister has been very different from the private. The very word ‘society’ sets tolling in memory the dismal bells of a harsh music: shall not, shall not, shall not. You shall not learn; you shall not earn; you shall not own; you shall not — such was the society relationship of brother to sister for many centuries. And though it is possible, and to the optimistic credible, that in time a new society may ring a carillon of splendid harmony, and your letter heralds it, that day is far distant. Inevitably we ask ourselves, is there not something in the conglomeration of people into societies that releases what is most selfish and violent, least rational and humane in the individuals themselves? Inevitably we look upon society, so kind to you, so harsh to us, as an ill- fitting form that distorts the truth; deforms the mind; fetters the will. Inevitably we look upon societies as conspiracies that sink the private brother, whom many of us have reason to respect, and inflate in his stead a monstrous male, loud of voice, hard of fist, childishly intent upon scoring the floor of the earth with chalk marks, within whose mystic boundaries human beings are penned, rigidly, separately, artificially; where, daubed red and gold, decorated like a savage with feathers he goes through mystic rites and enjoys the dubious pleasures of power and dominion while we, ‘his’ women, are locked in the private house without share in the many societies of which his society is composed. For such reasons compact as they are of many memories and emotions — for who shall analyse the complexity of a mind that holds so deep a reservoir of time past within it? — it seems both wrong for us rationally and impossible for us emotionally to fill up your form and join your society. For by so doing we should merge our identity in yours; follow and repeat and score still deeper the old worn ruts in which society, like a gramophone whose needle has stuck, is grinding out with intolerable unanimity ‘Three hundred millions spent upon arms.’ We should not give effect to a view which our own experience of ‘society’ should have helped us to envisage. Thus, Sir, while we respect you as a private person and prove it by giving you a guinea to spend as you choose, we believe that we can help you most effectively by refusing to join your society; by working for our common ends — justice and equality and liberty for all men and women — outside your society, not within.
But this, you will say, if it means anything, can only mean that you, the daughters of educated men, who have promised us your positive help, refuse to join our society in order that you may make another of your own. And what sort of society do you propose to found outside ours, but in cooperation with it, so that we may both work together for our common ends? That is a question which you have every right to ask, and which we must try to answer in order to justify our refusal to sign the form you send. Let us then draw rapidly in outline the kind of society which the daughters of educated men might found and join outside your society but in cooperation with its ends. In the first place, this new society, you will be relieved to learn, would have no honorary treasurer, for it would need no funds. It would have no office, no committee, no secretary; it would call no meetings; it would hold no conferences. If name it must have, it could be called the Outsiders Society. That is not a resonant name, but it has the advantage that it squares with facts — the facts of history, of law, of biography; even, it may be, with the still hidden facts of our still unknown psychology. It would consist of educated men’s daughters working in their own class — how indeed can they work in any other?13 — and by their own methods for liberty, equality and peace. Their first duty, to which they would bind themselves not by oath, for oaths and ceremonies have no part in a society which must be anonymous and elastic before everything would be not to fight with arms. This is easy for them to observe, for in fact, as the papers inform us, ‘the Army Council have no intention of opening recruiting for any women’s corps.’14 The country ensures it. Next they would refuse in the event of war to make munitions or nurse the wounded. Since in the last war both these activities were mainly discharged by the daughters of working men, the pressure upon them here too would be slight, though probably disagreeable. On the other hand the next duty to which they would pledge themselves is one of considerable difficulty, and calls not only for courage and initiative, but for the special knowledge of the educated man’s daughter. It is, briefly, not to incite their brothers to fight, or to dissuade them, but to maintain an attitude of complete indifference. But the attitude expressed by the word ‘indifference’ is so complex and of such importance that it needs even here further definition. Indifference in the first place must be given a firm footing upon fact. As it is a fact that she cannot understand what instinct compels him, what glory, what interest, what manly satisfaction fighting provides for him —‘without war there would be no outlet for the manly qualities which fighting develops’— as fighting thus is a sex characteristic which she cannot share, the counterpart some claim of the maternal instinct which he cannot share, so is it an instinct which she cannot judge. The outsider therefore must leave him free to deal with this instinct by himself, because liberty of opinion must be respected, especially when it is based upon an instinct which is as foreign to her as centuries of tradition and education can make it.15 This is a fundamental and instinctive distinction upon which indifference may be based. But the outsider will make it her duty not merely to base her indifference upon instinct, but upon reason. When he says, as history proves that he has said, and may say again, ‘I am fighting to protect our country’ and thus seeks to rouse her patriotic emotion, she will ask herself, ‘What does “our country” mean to me an outsider?’ To decide this she will analyse the meaning of patriotism in her own case. She will inform herself of the position of her sex and her class in the past. She will inform herself of the amount of land, wealth and property in the possession of her own sex and class in the present — how much of ‘England’ in fact belongs to her. From the same sources she will inform herself of the legal protection which the law has given her in the past and now gives her. And if he adds that he is fighting to protect her body, she will reflect upon the degree of physical protection that she now enjoys when the words ‘Air Raid Precaution’ are written on blank walls. And if he says that he is fighting to protect England from foreign rule, she will reflect that for her there are no ‘foreigners’, since by law she becomes a foreigner if she marries a foreigner. And she will do her best to make this a fact, not by forced fraternity, but by human sympathy. All these facts will convince her reason (to put it in a nutshell) that her sex and class has very little to thank England for in the past; not much to thank England for in the present; while the security of her person in the future is highly dubious. But probably she will have imbibed, even from the governess, some romantic notion that Englishmen, those fathers and grandfathers whom she sees marching in the picture of history, are ‘superior’ to the men of other countries. This she will consider it her duty to check by comparing French historians with English; German with French; the testimony of the ruled — the Indians or the Irish, say — with the claims made by their rulers. Still some ‘patriotic’ emotion, some ingrained belief in the intellectual superiority of her own country over other countries may remain. Then she will compare English painting with French painting; English music with German music; English literature with Greek literature, for translations abound. When all these comparisons have been faithfully made by the use of reason, the outsider will find herself in possession of very good reasons for her indifference. She will find that she has no good reason to ask her brother to fight on her behalf to protect ‘our’ country. ‘“Our country,”’ she will say, ‘throughout the greater part of its history has treated me as a slave; it has denied me education or any share in its possessions. “Our” country still ceases to be mine if I marry a foreigner. “Our” country denies me the means of protecting myself, forces me to pay others a very large sum annually to protect me, and is so little able, even so, to protect me that Air Raid precautions are written on the wall. Therefore if you insist upon fighting to protect me, or “our” country, let it be understood, soberly and rationally between us, that you are fighting to gratify a sex instinct which I cannot share; to procure benefits which I have not shared and probably will not share; but not to gratify my instincts, or to protect either myself or my country. For,’ the outsider will say, ‘in fact, as a woman, I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.’ And if, when reason has said its say, still some obstinate emotion remains, some love of England dropped into a child’s ears by the cawing of rooks in an elm tree, by the splash of waves on a beach, or by English voices murmuring nursery rhymes, this drop of pure, if irrational, emotion she will make serve her to give to England first what she desires of peace and freedom for the whole world.
Such then will be the nature of her ‘indifference’ and from this indifference certain actions must follow. She will bind herself to take no share in patriotic demonstrations; to assent to no form of national self-praise; to make no part of any claque or audience that encourages war; to absent herself from military displays, tournaments, tattoos, prize-givings and all such ceremonies as encourage the desire to impose ‘our’ civilization or ‘our’ dominion upon other people. The psychology of private life, moreover, warrants the belief that this use of indifference by the daughters of educated men would help materially to prevent war. For psychology would seem to show that it is far harder for human beings to take action when other people are indifferent and allow them complete freedom of action, than when their actions are made the centre of excited emotion. The small boy struts and trumpets outside the window: implore him to stop; he goes on; say nothing; he stops. That the daughters of educated men then should give their brothers neither the white feather of cowardice nor the red feather of courage, but no feather at all; that they should shut the bright eyes that rain influence, or let those eyes look elsewhere when war is discussed — that is the duty to which outsiders will train themselves in peace before the threat of death inevitably makes reason powerless.
Such then are some of the methods by which the society, the anonymous and secret Society of Outsiders would help you, Sir, to prevent war and to ensure freedom. Whatever value you may attach to them you will agree that they are duties which your own sex would find it more difficult to carry out than ours; and duties moreover which are specially appropriate to the daughters of educated men. For they would need some acquaintance with the psychology of educated men, and the minds of educated men are more highly trained and their words subtler than those of working men.16 There are other duties, of course — many have already been outlined in the letters to the other honorary treasurers. But at the risk of some repetition let us roughly and rapidly repeat them, so that they may form a basis for a society of outsiders to take its stand upon. First, they would bind themselves to earn their own livings. The importance of this as a method of ending war is obvious; sufficient stress has already been laid upon the superior cogency of an opinion based upon economic independence over an opinion based upon no income at all or upon a spiritual right to an income to make further proof unnecessary. It follows that an outsider must make it her business to press for a living wage in all the professions now open to her sex; further that she must create new professions in which she can earn the right to an independent opinion. Therefore she must bind herself to press for a money wage for the unpaid worker in her own class — the daughters and sisters of educated men who, as biographies have shown us, are now paid on the truck system, with food, lodging and a pittance of £40 a year. But above all she must press for a wage to be paid by the State legally to the mothers of educated men. The importance of this to our common fight is immeasurable; for it is the most effective way in which we can ensure that the large and very honourable class of married women shall have a mind and a will of their own, with which, if his mind and will are good in her eyes, to support her husband, if bad to resist him, in any case to cease to be ‘his woman’ and to be her self. You will agree, Sir, without any aspersion upon the lady who bears your name, that to depend upon her for your income would effect a most subtle and undesirable change in your psychology. Apart from that, this measure is of such importance directly to yourselves, in your own fight for liberty and equality and peace, that if any condition were to be attached to the guinea it would be this: that you should provide a wage to be paid by the State to those whose profession is marriage and motherhood. Consider, even at the risk of a digression, what effect this would have upon the birth-rate, in the very class where the birth-rate is falling, in the very class where births are desirable — the educated class. Just as the increase in the pay of soldiers has resulted, the papers say, in additional recruits to the force of arm-bearers, so the same inducement would serve to recruit the child-bearing force, which we can hardly deny to be as necessary and as honourable, but which, because of its poverty, and its hardships, is now failing to attract recruits. That method might succeed where the one in use at present — abuse and ridicule — has failed. But the point which, at the risk of further digression, the outsiders would press upon you is one that vitally concerns your own lives as educated men and the honour and vigour of your professions. For if your wife were paid for her work, the work of bearing and bringing up children, a real wage, a money wage, so that it became an attractive profession instead of being as it is now an unpaid profession, an unpensioned profession, and therefore a precarious and dishonoured profession, your own slavery would be lightened.17 No longer need you go to the office at nine-thirty and stay there till six. Work could be equally distributed. Patients could be sent to the patientless. Briefs to the briefless. Articles could be left unwritten. Culture would thus be stimulated. You could see the fruit trees flower in spring. You could share the prime of life with your children. And after that prime was over no longer need you be thrown from the machine on to the scrap heap without any life left or interests surviving to parade the environs of Bath or Cheltenham in the care of some unfortunate slave. No longer would you be the Saturday caller, the albatross on the neck of society, the sympathy addict, the deflated work slave calling for replenishment; or, as Herr Hitler puts it, the hero requiring recreation, or, as Signor Mussolini puts it, the wounded warrior requiring female dependants to bandage his wounds.18 If the State paid your wife a living wage for her work which, sacred though it is, can scarcely be called more sacred than that of the clergyman, yet as his work is paid without derogation so may hers be — if this step which is even more essential to your freedom than to hers were taken the old mill in which the professional man now grinds out his round, often so wearily, with so little pleasure to himself or profit to his profession, would be broken; the opportunity of freedom would be yours; the most degrading of all servitudes, the intellectual servitude, would be ended; the half-man might become whole. But since three hundred millions or so have to be spent upon the arm- bearers, such expenditure is obviously, to use a convenient word supplied by the politicians, ‘impracticable’ and it is time to return to more feasible projects.
The outsiders then would bind themselves not only to earn their own livings, but to earn them so expertly that their refusal to earn them would be a matter of concern to the work master. They would bind themselves to obtain full knowledge of professional practices, and to reveal any instance of tyranny or abuse in their professions. And they would bind themselves not to continue to make money in any profession, but to cease all competition and to practise their profession experimentally, in the interests of research and for love of the work itself, when they had earned enough to live upon. Also they would bind themselves to remain outside any profession hostile to freedom, such as the making or the improvement of the weapons of war. And they would bind themselves to refuse to take office or honour from any society which, while professing to respect liberty, restricts it, like the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. And they would consider it their duty to investigate the claims of all public societies to which, like the Church and the universities, they are forced to contribute as taxpayers as carefully and fearlessly as they would investigate the claims of private societies to which they contribute voluntarily. They would make it their business to scrutinize the endowments of the schools and universities and the objects upon which that money is spent. As with the educational, so with the religious profession. By reading the New Testament in the first place and next those divines and historians whose works are all easily accessible to the daughters of educated men, they would make it their business to have some knowledge of the Christian religion and its history. Further they would inform themselves of the practice of that religion by attending Church services, by analysing the spiritual and intellectual value of sermons; by criticizing the opinions of men whose profession is religion as freely as they would criticize the opinions of any other body of men. Thus they would be creative in their activities, not merely critical. By criticizing education they would help to create a civilized society which protects culture and intellectual liberty. By criticizing religion they would attempt to free the religious spirit from its present servitude and would help, if need be, to create a new religion based it might well be upon the New Testament, but, it might well be, very different from the religion now erected upon that basis. And in all this, and in much more than we have time to particularize, they would be helped, you will agree, by their position as outsiders, that freedom from unreal loyalties, that freedom from interested motives which are at present assured them by the State.
It would be easy to define in greater number and more exactly the duties of those who belong to the Society of Outsiders, but not profitable. Elasticity is essential: and some degree of secrecy, as will be shown later, is at present even more essential. But the description thus loosely and imperfectly given is enough to show you, Sir, that the Society of Outsiders has the same ends as your society — freedom, equality, peace; but that it seeks to achieve them by the means that a different sex, a different tradition, a different education, and the different values which result from those differences have placed within our reach. Broadly speaking, the main distinction between us who are outside society and you who are inside society must be that whereas you will make use of the means provided by your position — leagues, conferences, campaigns, great names, and all such public measures as your wealth and political influence place within your reach — we, remaining outside, will experiment not with public means in public but with private means in private. Those experiments will not be merely critical but creative. To take two obvious instances:— the outsiders will dispense with pageantry not from any puritanical dislike of beauty. On the contrary, it will be one of their aims to increase private beauty; the beauty of spring, summer, autumn; the beauty of flowers, silks, clothes; the beauty which brims not only every field and wood but every barrow in Oxford Street; the scattered beauty which needs only to be combined by artists in order to become visible to all. But they will dispense with the dictated, regimented, official pageantry, in which only one sex takes an active part — those ceremonies, for example, which depend upon the deaths of kings, or their coronations to inspire them. Again, they will dispense with personal distinctions — medals, ribbons, badges, hoods, gowns — not from any dislike of personal adornment, but because of the obvious effect of such distinctions to constrict, to stereotype and to destroy. Here, as so often, the example of the Fascist States is at hand to instruct us — for if we have no example of what we wish to be, we have, what is perhaps equally valuable, a daily and illuminating example of what we do not wish to be. With the example then, that they give us of the power of medals, symbols, orders and even, it would seem, of decorated ink-pots19 to hypnotize the human mind it must be our aim not to submit ourselves to such hypnotism. We must extinguish the coarse glare of advertisement and publicity, not merely because the limelight is apt to be held in incompetent hands, but because of the psychological effect of such illumination upon those who receive it. Consider next time you drive along a country road the attitude of a rabbit caught in the glare of a head-lamp — its glazed eyes, its rigid paws. Is there not good reason to think without going outside our own country, that the ‘attitudes’, the false and unreal positions taken by the human form in England as well as in Germany, are due to the limelight which paralyses the free action of the human faculties and inhibits the human power to change and create new wholes much as a strong head-lamp paralyses the little creatures who run out of the darkness into its beams? It is a guess; guessing is dangerous; yet we have some reason to guide us in the guess that ease and freedom, the power to change and the power to grow, can only be preserved by obscurity; and that if we wish to help the human mind to create, and to prevent it from scoring the same rut repeatedly, we must do what we can to shroud it in darkness.
But enough of guessing. To return to facts — what chance is there, you may ask, that such a Society of Outsiders without office, meetings, leaders or any hierarchy, without so much as a form to be filled up, or a secretary to be paid, can be brought into existence, let alone work to any purpose? Indeed it would have been waste of time to write even so rough a definition of the Outsiders’ Society were it merely a bubble of words, a covert form of sex or class glorification, serving, as so many such expressions do, to relieve the writer’s emotion, lay the blame elsewhere, and then burst. Happily there is a model in being, a model from which the above sketch has been taken, furtively it is true, for the model, far from sitting still to be painted, dodges and disappears. That model then, the evidence that such a body, whether named or unnamed, exists and works is provided not yet by history or biography, for the outsiders have only had a positive existence for twenty years — that is since the professions were opened to the daughters of educated men. But evidence of their existence is provided by history and biography in the raw — by the newspapers that is, sometimes openly in the lines, sometimes covertly between them. There, anyone who wishes to verify the existence of such a body, can find innumerable proofs. Many, it is obvious, are of dubious value. For example, the fact that an immense amount of work is done by the daughters of educated men without pay or for very little pay need not be taken as a proof that they are experimenting of their own free will in the psychological value of poverty. Nor need the fact that many daughters of educated men do not ‘eat properly’20 serve as a proof that they are experimenting in the physical value of undernourishment. Nor need the fact that a very small proportion of women compared with men accept honours be held to prove that they are experimenting in the virtues of obscurity. Many such experiments are forced experiments and therefore of no positive value. But others of a much more positive kind are coming daily to the surface of the Press. Let us examine three only, in order that we may prove our statement that the Society of Outsiders is in being. The first is straightforward enough.
Speaking at a bazaar last week at the Plumstead Common Baptist Church the Mayoress (of Woolwich) said: ‘ . . . I myself would not even do as much as darn a sock to help in a war.’ These remarks are resented by the majority of the Woolwich public, who hold that the Mayoress was, to say the least, rather tactless. Some 12,000 Woolwich electors are employed in Woolwich Arsenal on armament making.21
There is no need to comment upon the tactlessness of such a statement made publicly, in such circumstances; but the courage can scarcely fail to command our admiration, and the value of the experiment, from a practical point of view, should other mayoresses in other towns and other countries where the electors are employed in armament-making follow suit may well be immeasurable. At any rate, we shall agree that the Mayoress of Woolwich, Mrs Kathleen Rance, has made a courageous and effective experiment in the prevention of war by not knitting socks. For a second proof that the outsiders are at work let us choose another example from the daily paper, one that is less obvious, but still you will agree an outsider’s experiment, a very original experiment, and one that may be of great value to the cause of peace.
Speaking of the work of the great voluntary associations for the playing of certain games, Miss Clarke [Miss E. R. Clarke of the Board of Education] referred to the women’s organizations for hockey, lacrosse, netball, and cricket, and pointed out that under the rules there could be no cup or award of any kind to a successful team. The ‘gates’ for their matches might be a little smaller than for the men’s games, but their players played the game for the love of it, and they seemed to be proving that cups and awards are not necessary to stimulate interest for each year the numbers of players steadily continued to increase.22
That, you will agree, is an extraordinarily interesting experiment, one that may well bring about a psychological change of great value in human nature, and a change that may be of real help in preventing war. It is further of interest because it is an experiment that outsiders, owing to their comparative freedom from certain inhibitions and persuasions, can carry out much more easily than those who are necessarily exposed to such influences inside. That statement is corroborated in a very interesting way by the following quotation:
Official football circles here [Wellingborough, Northants] regard with anxiety the growing popularity of girl’s football. A secret meeting of the Northants Football Association’s consultative committee was held here last night to discuss the playing of a girl’s match on the Peterborough ground. Members of the Committee are reticent . . . One member, however, said today: ‘The Northants Football Association is to forbid women’s football. This popularity of girls’ football comes when many men’s clubs in the country are in a parlous state through lack of support. Another serious aspect is the possibility of grave injury to women players.’23
There we have proof positive of those inhibitions and persuasions which make it harder for your sex to experiment freely in altering current values than for ours; and without spending time upon the delicacies of psychological analysis even a hasty glance at the reasons given by this Association for its decision will throw a valuable light upon the reasons which lead other and even more important associations to come to their decisions. But to return to the outsiders’ experiments. For our third example let us choose what we may call an experiment in passivity.
A remarkable change in the attitude of young women to the Church was discussed by Canon F. A. Barry, vicar of St Mary the Virgin (the University Church), at Oxford last night . . . The task before the Church, he said, was nothing less than to make civilization moral, and this was a great cooperative task which demanded all that Christians could bring to it. It simply could not be carried through by men alone. For a century, or a couple of centuries, women had predominated in the congregations in roughly the ratio of 75 per cent to 25 per cent. The whole situation was now changing, and what the keen observer would notice in almost any church in England was the paucity of young women . . . Among the student population the young women were, on the whole, farther away from the Church of England and the Christian faith than the young men.24
That again is an experiment of very great interest. It is, as we have said, a passive experiment. For while the first example was an outspoken refusal to knit socks in order to discourage war, and the second was an attempt to prove whether cups and awards are necessary to stimulate interest in games, the third is an attempt to discover what happens if the daughters of educated men absent themselves from church. Without being in itself more valuable than the others, it is of more practical interest because it is obviously the kind of experiment that great numbers of outsiders can practise with very little difficulty or danger. To absent yourself — that is easier than to speak aloud at a bazaar, or to draw up rules of an original kind for playing games. Therefore it is worth watching very carefully to see what effect the experiment of absenting oneself has had — if any. The results are positive and they are encouraging. There can be no doubt that the Church is becoming concerned about the attitude to the Church of educated men’s daughters at the universities. The report of the Archbishops’ Commission on the Ministry of Women is there to prove it. This document, which costs only one shilling and should be in the hands of all educated men’s daughters, points out that ‘one outstanding difference between men’s colleges and women’s colleges is the absence in the latter of a chaplain.’ It reflects that ‘It is natural that in this period of their lives they [the students] exercise to the full their critical faculties.’ It deplores the fact that ‘Very few women coming to the universities can now afford to offer continuous voluntary service either in social or in directly religious work.’ And it concludes that ‘There are many special spheres in which such services are particularly needed, and the time has clearly come when the functions and position of women within the Church require further determination.’25 Whether this concern is due to the empty churches at Oxford, or whether the voices of the ‘older schoolgirls’ at Isleworth expressing ‘very grave dissatisfaction at the way in which organized religion was carried on’26 have somehow penetrated to those august spheres where their sex is not supposed to speak, or whether our incorrigibly idealistic sex is at last beginning to take to heart Bishop Gore’s warning, ‘Men do not value ministrations which are gratuitous,’27 and to express the opinion that a salary of £150 a year — the highest that the Church allows her daughters as deaconesses — is not enough — whatever the reason, considerable uneasiness at the attitude of educated men’s daughters is apparent; and this experiment in passivity, whatever our belief in the value of the Church of England as a spiritual agency, is highly encouraging to us as outsiders. For it seems to show that to be passive is to be active; those also serve who remain outside. By making their absence felt their presence becomes desirable. What light this throws upon the power of outsiders to abolish or modify other institutions of which they disapprove, whether public dinners, public speeches, Lord Mayors’ banquets and other obsolete ceremonies are pervious to indifference and will yield to its pressure, are questions, frivolous questions, that may well amuse our leisure and stimulate our curiosity. But that is not now the object before us. We have tried to prove to you, Sir, by giving three different examples of three different kinds of experiment that the Society of Outsiders is in being and at work. When you consider that these examples have all come to the surface of the newspaper you will agree that they represent a far greater number of private and submerged experiments of which there is no public proof. Also you will agree that they substantiate the model of the society given above, and prove that it was no visionary sketch drawn at random but based upon a real body working by different means for the same ends that you have set before us in your own society. Keen observers, like Canon Barry, could, if they liked, discover many more proofs that experiments are being made not only in the empty churches of Oxford. Mr Wells even might be led to believe if he put his ear to the ground that a movement is going forward, not altogether imperceptibly, among educated men’s daughters against the Nazi and the Fascist. But it is essential that the movement should escape the notice even of keen observers and of famous novelists.
Secrecy is essential. We must still hide what we are doing and thinking even though what we are doing and thinking is for our common cause. The necessity for this, in certain circumstances, is not hard to discover. When salaries are low, as Whitaker proves that they are, and jobs are hard to get and keep, as everybody knows them to be, it is, ‘to say the least, rather tactless,’ as the newspaper puts it, to criticize your master. Still, in country districts, as you yourself may be aware, farm labourers will not vote Labour. Economically, the educated man’s daughter is much on a level with the farm labourer. But it is scarcely necessary for us to waste time in searching out what reason it is that inspires both his and her secrecy. Fear is a powerful reason; those who are economically dependent have strong reasons for fear. We need explore no further. But here you may remind us of a certain guinea, and draw our attention to the proud boast that our gift, small though it was, had made it possible not merely to burn a certain corrupt word, but to speak freely without fear or flattery. The boast it seems had an element of brag in it. Some fear, some ancestral memory prophesying war, still remains, it seems. There are still subjects that educated people, when they are of different sexes, even though financially independent, veil, or hint at in guarded terms and then pass on. You may have observed it in real life; you may have detected it in biography. Even when they meet privately and talk, as we have boasted, about ‘politics and people, war and peace, barbarism and civilization’, yet they evade and conceal. But it is so important to accustom ourselves to the duties of free speech, for without private there can be no public freedom, that we must try to uncover this fear and to face it. What then can be the nature of the fear that still makes concealment necessary between educated people and reduces our boasted freedom to a farce? . . . Again there are three dots; again they represent a gulf — of silence this time, of silence inspired by fear. And since we lack both the courage to explain it and the skill, let us lower the veil of St Paul between us, in other words take shelter behind an interpreter. Happily we have one at hand whose credentials are above suspicion. It is none other than the pamphlet from which quotation has already been made, the report of the Archbishops’ Commission on the Ministry of Women — a document of the highest interest for many reasons. For not only does it throw light of a searching and scientific nature upon this fear, but it gives us an opportunity to consider that profession which, since it is the highest of all may be taken as the type of all, the profession of religion, about which, purposely, very little has yet been said. And since it is the type of all it may throw light upon the other professions about which something has been said. You will pardon us therefore if we pause here to examine this report in some detail.
The Commission was appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York ‘in order to examine any theological or other relevant principles which have governed or ought to govern the Church in the development of the Ministry of Women.’28 Now the profession of religion, for our purposes the Church of England, though it seems on the surface to resemble the others in certain respects — it enjoys, Whitaker says, a large income, owns much property, and has a hierarchy of officials drawing salaries and taking precedence one of the other — yet ranks above all the professions. The Archbishop of Canterbury precedes the Lord High Chancellor; the Archbishop of York precedes the Prime Minister. And it is the highest of all the professions because it is the profession of religion. But what, we may ask, is ‘religion’? What the Christian religion is has been laid down once and for all by the founder of that religion in words that can be read by all in a translation of singular beauty; and whether or not we accept the interpretation that has been put on them we cannot deny them to be words of the most profound meaning. It can thus safely be said that whereas few people know what medicine is, or what law is, everyone who owns a copy of the New Testament knows what religion meant in the mind of its founder. Therefore, when in the year 1935 the daughters of educated men said that they wished to have the profession of religion opened to them, the priests of that profession, who correspond roughly to the doctors and barristers in the other professions, were forced not merely to consult some statute or charter which reserves the right to practise that profession professionally to the male sex; they were forced to consult the New Testament. They did so; and the result, as the Commissioners point out, was that they found that ‘the Gospels show us that our Lord regarded men and women alike as members of the same spiritual kingdom, as children of God’s family, and as possessors of the same spiritual capacities . . . ’ In proof of this they quote: ‘There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Gal. iii, 28). It would seem then that the founder of Christianity believed that neither training nor sex was needed for this profession. He chose his disciples from the working class from which he sprang himself. The prime qualification was some rare gift which in those early days was bestowed capriciously upon carpenters and fishermen, and upon women also. As the Commission points out there can be no doubt that in those early days there were prophetesses — women upon whom the divine gift had descended. Also they were allowed to preach. St Paul, for example, lays it down that women, when praying in public, should be veiled. ‘The implication is that if veiled a woman might prophesy [i.e. preach] and lead in prayer.’ How then can they be excluded from the priesthood since they were thought fit by the founder of the religion and by one of his apostles to preach? That was the question, and the Commission solved it by appealing not to the mind of the founder, but to the mind of the Church. That, of course, involved a distinction. For the mind of the Church had to be interpreted by another mind, and that mind was St Paul’s mind; and St Paul, in interpreting that mind, changed his mind. For after summoning from the depths of the past certain venerable if obscure figures — Lydia and Chloe, Euodia and Syntyche, Tryphoena and Tryphosa and Persis, debating their status, and deciding what was the difference between a prophetess and presbyteress, what the standing of a deaconess in the pre-Nicene Church and what in the post-Nicene Church, the Commissioners once more have recourse to St Paul, and say: ‘In any case it is clear that the author of the Pastoral Epistles, be he St Paul or another, regarded woman as being debarred on the ground of her sex from the position of an official “teacher” in the Church, or from any office involving the exercise of a governmental authority over a man’ (1 Tim. ii, 12). That, it may frankly be said, is not so satisfactory as it might be; for we cannot altogether reconcile the ruling of St Paul, or another, with the ruling of Christ himself who ‘regarded men and women alike as members of the same spiritual kingdom . . . and as possessors of the same spiritual capacities.’ But it is futile to quibble over the meaning of the words, when we are so soon in the presence of facts. Whatever Christ meant, or St Paul meant, the fact was that in the fourth or fifth century the profession of religion had become so highly organized that ‘the deacon (unlike the deaconess) may, “after serving unto well-pleasing the ministry committed unto him”, aspire to be appointed eventually to higher offices in the Church; whereas for the deaconess the Church prays simply that God “would grant unto her the Holy Spirit . . . that she may worthily accomplish the work committed to her.”’ In three or four centuries, it appears, the prophet or prophetess whose message was voluntary and untaught became extinct; and their places were taken by the three orders of bishops, priests and deacons, who are invariably men, and invariably, as Whitaker points out, paid men, for when the Church became a profession its professors were paid. Thus the profession of religion seems to have been originally much what the profession of literature is now.29 It was originally open to anyone who had received the gift of prophecy. No training was needed; the professional requirements were simple in the extreme — a voice and a market-place, a pen and paper. Emily Brontë, for instance, who wrote
No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere;
I see Heaven’s glories shine.
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.
O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life — that in me has rest,
As I— undying Life — have power in Thee!
though not worthy to be a priest in the Church of England, is the spiritual descendant of some ancient prophetess, who prophesied when prophecy was a voluntary and unpaid occupation. But when the Church became a profession, required special knowledge of its prophets and paid them for imparting it, one sex remained inside; the other was excluded. ‘The deacons rose in dignity — partly no doubt from their close association with the bishops — and become subordinate ministers of worship and of the sacraments; but the deaconess shared only in the preliminary stages of this evolution.’ How elementary that evolution has been is proved by the fact that in England in 1938 the salary of an archbishop is £15,000; the salary of a bishop is £10,000 and the salary of a dean is £3,000. But the salary of a deaconess is £150; and as for the ‘parish worker’, who ‘is called upon to assist in almost every department of parish life’, whose ‘work is exacting and often solitary . . . ’ she is paid from £120 to £150 a year; nor is there anything to surprise us in the statement that ‘prayer needs to be the very centre of her activities’. Thus we might even go further than the Commissioners and say that the evolution of the deaconess is not merely ‘elementary’, it is positively stunted; for though she is ordained, and ‘ordination . . . conveys an indelible character, and involves the obligation of lifelong service’, she must remain outside the Church; and rank beneath the humblest curate. Such is the decision of the Church. For the Commission, having consulted the mind and tradition of the Church, reported finally; ‘While the Commission as a whole would not give their positive assent to the view that a woman is inherently incapable of receiving the grace of Order, and consequently to admission to any of the three Orders, we believe that the general mind of the Church is still in accord with the continuous tradition of a male priesthood.’
By thus showing that the highest of all the professions has many points of similarity with the other professions our interpreter, you will admit, has thrown further light upon the soul or essence of those professions. We must now ask him to help us, if he will, to analyse the nature of that fear which still, as we have admitted, makes it impossible for us to speak freely as free people should. Here again he is of service. Though identical in many respects, one very profound difference between the religious profession and other professions has been noted above: the Church being a spiritual profession has to give spiritual and not merely historical reasons for its actions; it has to consult the mind, not the law. Therefore when the daughters of educated men wished to be admitted to the profession of the Church it seemed advisable to the Commissioners to give psychological and not merely historical reasons for their refusal to admit them. They therefore called in Professor Grensted, D. D., the Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion in the University of Oxford, and asked him ‘to summarize the relevant psychological and physiological material’, and to indicate ‘the grounds for the opinions and recommendations put forward by the Commission’. Now psychology is not theology; and the psychology of the sexes, as the Professor insisted, and ‘its bearing upon human conduct, is still a matter for specialists . . . and . . . its interpretation remains controversial, in many respects obscure.’ But he gave his evidence for what it was worth, and it is evidence that throws so much light upon the origin of the fear which we have admitted and deplored that we can do no better than follow his words exactly.
It was represented [he said] in evidence before the Commission that man has a natural precedence of woman. This view, in the sense intended, cannot be supported psychologically. Psychologists fully recognize the fact of male dominance, but this must not be confused with male superiority, still less with any type of precedence which could have a bearing upon questions as to the admissibility of one sex rather than the other to Holy Orders.
The psychologist, therefore, can only throw light upon certain facts. And this was the first fact that he investigated.
It is clearly a fact of the very greatest practical importance that strong feeling is aroused by any suggestion that women should be admitted to the status and functions of the threefold Order of the Ministry. The evidence before the Commission went to show that this feeling is predominantly hostile to such proposals . . . This strength of feeling, conjoined with a wide variety of rational explanations, is clear evidence of the presence of powerful and widespread subconscious motive. In the absence of detailed analytical material, of which there seems to be no record in this particular connection, it nevertheless remains clear that infantile fixation plays a predominant part in determining the strong emotion with which this whole subject is commonly approached.
The exact nature of this fixation must necessarily differ with different individuals, and suggestions which can be made as to its origin can only be general in character. But whatever be the exact value and interpretation of the material upon which theories of the ‘Oedipus complex’ and the ‘castration complex’ have been founded, it is clear that the general acceptance of male dominance, and still more of feminine inferiority, resting upon subconscious ideas of woman as ‘man manqué’, has its background in infantile conceptions of this type. These commonly, and even usually, survive in the adult, despite their irrationality, and betray their presence, below the level of conscious thought, by the strength of the emotions to which they give rise. It is strongly in support of this view that the admission of women to Holy Orders, and especially to the ministry of the sanctuary, is so commonly regarded as something shameful. This sense of shame cannot be regarded in any other light than as a non-rational sex-taboo.
Here we can take the Professor’s word for it that he has sought, and found, ‘ample evidence of these unconscious forces’, both in Pagan religions and in the Old Testament, and so follow him to his conclusion:
At the same time it must not be forgotten that the Christian conception of the priesthood rests not upon these subconscious emotional factors, but upon the institution of Christ. It thus not only fulfils but supersedes the priesthoods of paganism and the Old Testament. So far as psychology is concerned there is no theoretical reason why this Christian priesthood should not be exercised by women as well as by men and in exactly the same sense. The difficulties which the psychologist foresees are emotional and practical only.30
With that conclusion we may leave him.
The Commissioners, you will agree, have performed the delicate and difficult task that we asked them to undertake. They have acted as interpreters between us. They have given us an admirable example of a profession in its purest state; and shown us how a profession bases itself upon mind and tradition. They have further explained why it is that educated people when they are of different sexes do not speak openly upon certain subjects. They have shown why the outsiders, even when there is no question of financial dependence, may still be afraid to speak freely or to experiment openly. And, finally, in words of scientific precision, they have revealed to us the nature of that fear. For as Professor Grensted gave his evidence, we, the daughters of educated men, seemed to be watching a surgeon at work — an impartial and scientific operator, who, as he dissected the human mind by human means laid bare for all to see what cause, what root lies at the bottom of our fear. It is an egg. Its scientific name is ‘infantile fixation’. We, being unscientific, have named it wrongly. An egg we called it; a germ. We smelt it in the atmosphere; we detected its presence in Whitehall, in the universities, in the Church. Now undoubtedly the Professor has defined it and described it so accurately that no daughter of an educated man, however uneducated she may be, can miscall it or misinterpret it in future. Listen to the description. ‘Strong feeling is aroused by any suggestion that women be admitted’— it matters not to which priesthood; the priesthood of medicine or the priesthood of science or the priesthood of the Church. Strong feeling, she can corroborate the Professor, is undoubtedly shown should she ask to be admitted. ‘This strength of feeling is clear evidence of the presence of powerful and subconscious motive.’ She will take the Professor’s word for that, and even supply him with some motives that have escaped him. Let us draw attention to two only. There is the money motive for excluding her, to put it plainly. Are not salaries motives now, whatever they may have been in the time of Christ? The archbishop has £15,000, the deaconess £150; and the Church, so the Commissioners say, is poor. To pay women more would be to pay men less. Secondly, is there not a motive, a psychological motive, for excluding her, hidden beneath what the Commissioners call a ‘practical consideration’? ‘At present a married priest’, they tell us, ‘is able to fulfil the requirements of the ordination service “to forsake and set aside all worldly cares and studies” largely because his wife can undertake the care of the household and the family, . . . ’31 To be able to set aside all worldly cares and studies and lay them upon another person is a motive, to some of great attractive force; for some undoubtedly wish to withdraw and study, as theology with its refinements, and scholarship with its subtleties, prove; to others, it is true, the motive is a bad motive, a vicious motive, the cause of that separation between the Church and the people; between literature and the people; between the husband and the wife which has had its part in putting the whole of our Commonwealth out of gear. But whatever the powerful and subconscious motives may be that lie behind the exclusion of women from the priesthoods, and plainly we cannot count them, let alone dig to the roots of them here, the educated man’s daughter can testify from her own experience that they ‘commonly, and even usually, survive in the adult and betray their presence, below the level of conscious thought, by the strength of the emotions to which they give rise.’ And you will agree that to oppose strong emotion needs courage; and that when courage fails, silence and evasion are likely to manifest themselves.
But now that the interpreters have performed their task, it is time for us to raise the veil of St Paul and to attempt, face to face, a rough and clumsy analysis of that fear and of the anger which causes that fear; for they may have some bearing upon the question you put us, how we can help you to prevent war. Let us suppose, then, that in the course of that bi-sexual private conversation about politics and people, war and peace, barbarism and civilization, some question has cropped up, about admitting, shall we say, the daughters of educated men to the Church or the Stock Exchange or the diplomatic service. The question is adumbrated merely; but we on our side of the table become aware at once of some ‘strong emotion’ on your side ‘arising from some motive below the level of conscious thought’ by the ringing of an alarm bell within us; a confused but tumultuous clamour: You shall not, shall not, shall not . . . The physical symptoms are unmistakable. Nerves erect themselves; fingers automatically tighten upon spoon or cigarette; a glance at the private psychometer shows that the emotional temperature has risen from ten to twenty degrees above normal. Intellectually, there is a strong desire either to be silent; or to change the conversation; to drag in, for example, some old family servant, called Crosby, perhaps, whose dog Rover has died . . . and so evade the issue and lower the temperature.
But what analysis can we attempt of the emotions on the other side of the table — your side? Often, to be candid, while we are talking about Crosby, we are asking questions — hence a certain flatness in the dialogue — about you. What are the powerful and subconscious motives that are raising the hackles on your side of the table? Is the old savage who has killed a bison asking the other old savage to admire his prowess? Is the tired professional man demanding sympathy and resenting competition? Is the patriach calling for the siren? Is dominance craving for submission? And, most persistent and difficult of all the questions that our silence covers, what possible satisfaction can dominance give to the dominator?32 Now, since Professor Grensted has said that the psychology of the sexes is ‘still a matter for specialists’, while ‘its interpretation remains controversial and in many respects obscure’, it would be politic perhaps to leave these questions to be answered by specialists. But since, on the other hand, if common men and women are to be free they must learn to speak freely, we cannot leave the psychology of the sexes to the charge of specialists. There are two good reasons why we must try to analyse both our fear and your anger; first, because such fear and anger prevent real freedom in the private house; second, because such fear and anger may prevent real freedom in the public world: they may have a positive share in causing war. Let us then grope our way amateurishly enough among these very ancient and obscure emotions which we have known ever since the time of Antigone and Ismene and Creon at least; which St Paul himself seems to have felt; but which the Professors have only lately brought to the surface and named ‘infantile fixation’, ‘Oedipus complex’, and the rest. We must try, however feebly, to analyse those emotions since you have asked us to help you in any way we can to protect liberty and to prevent war.
Let us then examine this ‘infantile fixation’, for such it seems is the proper name, in order that we may connect it with the question you have put to us. Once more, since we are generalists not specialists, we must rely upon such evidence as we can collect from history, biography, and from the daily paper — the only evidence that is available to the daughters of educated men. We will take our first example of infantile fixation from biography, and once more we will have recourse to Victorian biography because it is only in the Victorian age that biography becomes rich and representative. Now there are so many cases of infantile fixation as defined by Professor Grensted in Victorian biography that we scarcely know which to choose. The case of Mr Barrett of Wimpole Street is, perhaps, the most famous and the best authenticated. Indeed, it is so famous that the facts scarcely bear repetition. We all know the story of the father who would allow neither sons nor daughters to marry; we all know in greatest detail how his daughter Elizabeth was forced to conceal her lover from her father; how she fled with her lover from the house in Wimpole Street; and how her father never forgave her for that act of disobedience. We shall agree that Mr Barrett’s emotions were strong in the extreme; and their strength makes it obvious that they had their origin in some dark place below the level of conscious thought. That is a typical, a classical case of infantile fixation which we can all bear in mind. But there are others less famous which a little investigation will bring to the surface and show to be of the same nature. There is the case of the Rev. Patrick Brontë. The Rev. Arthur Nicholls was in love with his daughter, Charlotte; ‘What his words were,’ she wrote, when Mr Nicholls proposed to her, ‘you can imagine; his manner you can hardly realize nor can I forget it . . . I asked if he had spoken to Papa. He said he dared not.’ Why did he dare not? He was strong and young and passionately in love; the father was old. The reason is immediately apparent. ‘He [the Rev. Patrick Brontë] always disapproved of marriages, and constantly talked against them. But he more than disapproved this time; he could not bear the idea of this attachment of Mr Nicholls to his daughter. Fearing the consequences . . . she made haste to give her father a promise that, on the morrow, Mr Nicholls should have a distinct refusal.’33 Mr Nicholls left Haworth; Charlotte remained with her father. Her married life — it was to be a short one — was shortened still further by her father’s wish.
For a third example of infantile fixation let us choose one that is less simple, but for that reason more illuminating. There is the case of Mr Jex-Blake. Here we have the case of a father who is not confronted with his daughter’s marriage but with his daughter’s wish to earn her living. That wish also would seem to have aroused in the father a very strong emotion and an emotion which also seems to have its origin in the levels below conscious thought. Again with your leave we will call it a case of infantile fixation. The daughter, Sophia, was offered a small sum for teaching mathematics; and she asked her father’s permission to take it. That permission was instantly and heatedly refused. ‘Dearest, I have only this moment heard that you contemplate being paid for the tutorship. It would be quite beneath you, darling, and I CANNOT CONSENT to it.’ [The italics are the father’s.] ‘Take the post as one of honour and usefulness, and I shall be glad . . . But to be PAID for the work would be to alter the thing COMPLETELY, and would lower you sadly in the eyes of almost everybody.’ That is a very interesting statement. Sophia, indeed, was led to argue the matter. Why was it beneath her, she asked, why should it lower her? Taking money for work did not lower Tom in anybody’s eyes. That, Mr Jex-Blake explained, was quite a different matter; Tom was a man; Tom ‘feels bound as a man . . . to support his wife and family’; Tom had therefore taken ‘the PLAIN PATH of duty’. Still Sophia was not satisfied. She argued — not only was she poor and wanted the money; but also she felt strongly ‘the honest, and I believe perfectly justifiable pride of earning’. Thus pressed Mr Jex-Blake at last gave, under a semi-transparent cover, the real reason why he objected to her taking money. He offered to give her the money himself if she would refuse to take it from the College. It was plain, therefore, that he did not object to her taking money: what he objected to was her taking money from another man. The curious nature of his proposal did not escape Sophia’s scrutiny. ‘In that case,’ she said, ‘I must say to the Dean, not, “I am willing to work without payment,” but “My Father prefers that I should receive payment from HIM, not from the College,” and I think the Dean would think us both ridiculous, or at least foolish.’ Whatever interpretation the Dean might have put upon Mr Jex-Blake’s behaviour, we can have no doubt what emotion was at the root of it. He wished to keep his daughter in his own power. If she took money from him she remained in his power; if she took it from another man not only was she becoming independent of Mr Jex-Blake, she was becoming dependent upon another man. That he wished her to depend upon him, and felt obscurely that this desirable dependence could only be secured by financial dependence is proved indirectly by another of his veiled statements. ‘If you married tomorrow to my liking — and I don’t believe you would ever marry otherwise — I should give you a good fortune.’34 If she became a wage-earner, she could dispense with the fortune and marry whom she liked. The case of Mr Jex-Blake is very easily diagnosed, but it is a very important case because it is a normal case, a typical case. Mr Jex-Blake was no monster of Wimpole Street; he was an ordinary father; he was doing what thousands of other Victorian fathers whose cases remain unpublished were doing daily. It is a case, therefore, that explains much that lies at the root of Victorian psychology — that psychology of the sexes which is still, Professor Grensted tells us, so obscure. The case of Mr Jex-Blake shows that the daughter must not on any account be allowed to make money because if she makes money she will be independent of her father and free to marry any man she chooses. Therefore the daughter’s desire to earn her living rouses two different forms of jealousy. Each is strong separately; together they are very strong. It is further significant that in order to justify this very strong emotion which has its origin below the levels of conscious thought Mr Jex-Blake had recourse to one of the commonest of all evasions; the argument which is not an argument but an appeal to the emotions. He appealed to the very deep, ancient and complex emotion which we may, as amateurs, call the womanhood emotion. To take money was beneath her he said; if she took money she would lower herself in the eyes of almost everybody. Tom being a man would not be lowered; it was her sex that made the difference. He appealed to her womanhood.
Whenever a man makes that appeal to a woman he rouses in her, it is safe to say, a conflict of emotions of a very deep and primitive kind which it is extremely difficult for her to analyse or to reconcile. It may serve to transmit the feeling if we compare it with the confused conflict of manhood emotions that is roused in you, Sir, should a woman hand you a white feather.35 It is interesting to see how Sophia, in the year 1859, tried to deal with this emotion. Her first instinct was to attack the most obvious form of womanhood, that which lay uppermost in her consciousness and seemed to be responsible for her father’s attitude — her ladyhood. Like other educated men’s daughters Sophia Jex-Blake was what is called ‘a lady’. It was the lady who could not earn money; therefore the lady must be killed. ‘Do you honestly, father, think,’ she asked, ‘any lady lowered by the mere act of receiving money? Did you think the less of Mrs Teed because you paid her?’ Then, as if aware that Mrs Teed, being a governess, was not on a par with herself who came of an upper middle-class family, ‘whose lineage will be found in Burke’s Landed Gentry’, she quickly called in to help her to kill the lady ‘Mary Jane Evans . . . one of the proudest families of our relations’, and then Miss Wodehouse, ‘whose family is better and older than mine’— they both thought her right in wishing to earn money. And not only did Miss Wodehouse think her right in wishing to earn money; Miss Wodehouse ‘showed she agreed with my opinions by her actions. She sees no meanness in earning, but in those that think it mean. When accepting Maurice’s school, she said to him, most nobly, I think, “If you think it better that I should work as a paid mistress, I will take any salary you please; if not, I am willing to do the work freely and for nothing”.’ The lady, sometimes, was a noble lady; and that lady it was hard to kill; but killed she must be, as Sophia realized, if Sophia were to enter that Paradise where ‘lots of girls walk about London when and where they please,’ that ‘Elysium upon earth’, which is (or was), Queen’s College, Harley Street, where the daughters of educated men enjoy the happiness not of ladies ‘but of Queens — Work and independence!’36 Thus Sophia’s first instinct was to kill the lady;37 but when the lady was killed the woman still remained. We can see her, concealing and excusing the disease of infantile fixation, more clearly in the other two cases. It was the woman, the human being whose sex made it her sacred duty to sacrifice herself to the father, whom Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Barrett had to kill. If it was difficult to kill the lady, it was even more difficult to kill the woman. Charlotte found it at first almost impossible. She refused her lover. ‘ . . . thus thoughtfully for her father, and unselfishly for herself [she] put aside all consideration of how she should reply, excepting as he wished.’ She loved Arthur Nicholls; but she refused him. ‘ . . . she held herself simply passive, as far as words and actions went, while she suffered acute pain from the strong expressions which her father used in speaking of Mr Nicholls.’ She waited; she suffered; until ‘the great conqueror Time’, as Mrs Gaskell puts it, ‘achieved his victory over strong prejudice and human resolve.’ Her father consented. The great conqueror, however, had met his match in Mr Barrett; Elizabeth Barrett waited; Elizabeth suffered; at last Elizabeth fled.
The extreme force of the emotions to which the infantile fixation gives rise is proved by these three cases. It is remarkable, we may agree. It was a force that could quell not only Charlotte Brontë but Arthur Nicholls; not only Elizabeth Barrett but Robert Browning. It was a force thus that could do battle with the strongest of human passions — the love of men and women; and could compel the most brilliant and the boldest of Victorian sons and daughters to quail before it; to cheat the father, to deceive the father, and then to fly from the father. But to what did it owe this amazing force? Partly as these cases make clear, to the fact that the infantile fixation was protected by society. Nature, law and property were all ready to excuse and conceal it. It was easy for Mr Barrett, Mr Jex-Blake and the Rev. Patrick Brontë to hide the real nature of their emotions from themselves. If they wished that their daughter should stay at home, society agreed that they were right. If the daughter protested, then nature came to their help. A daughter who left her father was an unnatural daughter; her womanhood was suspect. Should she persist further, then law came to his help. A daughter who left her father had no means of supporting herself. The lawful professions were shut to her. Finally, if she earned money in the one profession that was open to her, the oldest profession of all, she unsexed herself. There can be no question — the infantile fixation is powerful, even when a mother is infected. But when the father is infected it has a threefold power; he has nature to protect him, law to protect him; and property to protect him. Thus protected it was perfectly possible for the Rev. Patrick Brontë to cause ‘acute pain’ to his daughter Charlotte for several months, and to steal several months of her short married happiness without incurring any censure from the society in which he practised the profession of a priest of the Church of England; though had he tortured a dog, or stolen a watch, that same society would have unfrocked him and cast him forth. Society it seems was a father, and afflicted with the infantile fixation too.
Since society protected and indeed excused the victims of the infantile fixation in the nineteenth century, it is not surprising that the disease, though unnamed, was rampant. Whatever biography we open we find almost always the familiar symptoms — the father is opposed to his daughter’s marriage; the father is opposed to his daughter’s earning her living. Her wish either to marry, or to earn her living, rouses strong emotion in him; and he gives the same excuses for that strong emotion; the lady will debase her ladyhood; the daughter will outrage her womanhood. But now and again, very rarely, we find a father who was completely immune from the disease. The results are then extremely interesting. There is the case of Mr Leigh Smith.38 This gentleman was contemporary with Mr Jex-Blake, and came of the same social caste. He, too, had property in Sussex; he, too, had horses and carriages; and he, too, had children. But there the resemblance ends. Mr Leigh Smith was devoted to his children; he objected to schools; he kept his children at home. It would be interesting to discuss Mr Leigh Smith’s educational methods; how he had masters to teach them; how, in a large carriage built like an omnibus, he took them with him on long journeys yearly all over England. But like so many experimentalists, Mr Leigh Smith remains obscure; and we must content ourselves with the fact that he ‘held the unusual opinion that daughters should have an equal provision with sons.’ So completely immune was he from the infantile fixation that ‘he did not adopt the ordinary plan of paying his daughter’s bills and giving them an occasional present, but when Barbara came of age in 1848 he gave her an allowance of £300 a year.’ The results of that immunity from the infantile fixation were remarkable. For ‘treating her money as a power to do good, one of the first uses to which Barbara put it was educational.’ She founded a school; a school that was open not only to different sexes and different classes, but to different creeds; Roman Catholics, Jews and ‘pupils from families of advanced free thought’ were received in it. ‘It was a most unusual school,’ an outsiders’ school. But that was not all that she attempted upon three hundred a year. One thing led to another. A friend, with her help, started a cooperative evening class for ladies ‘for drawing from an undraped model’. In 1858 only one life class in London was open to ladies. And then a petition was got up to the Royal Academy; its schools were actually, though as so often happens only nominally, opened to women in 1861;39 next Barbara went into the question of the laws concerning women; so that actually in 1871 married women were allowed to own their property; and finally she helped Miss Davies to found Girton. When we reflect what one father who was immune from infantile fixation could do by allowing one daughter £300 a year we need not wonder that most fathers firmly refused to allow their daughters more than £40 a year with bed and board thrown in.
The infantile fixation in the fathers then was, it is clear, a strong force, and all the stronger because it was a concealed force. But the fathers were met, as the nineteenth century drew on, by a force which had become so strong in its turn that it is much to be hoped that the psychologists will find some name for it. The old names as we have seen are futile and false. ‘Feminism’, we have had to destroy. ‘The emancipation of women’ is equally inexpressive and corrupt. To say that the daughters were inspired prematurely by the principles of anti-Fascism is merely to repeat the fashionable and hideous jargon of the moment. To call them champions of intellectual liberty and culture is to cloud the air with the dust of lecture halls and the damp dowdiness of public meetings. Moreover, none of these tags and labels express the real emotions that inspired the daughters’ opposition to the infantile fixation of the fathers, because, as biography shows, that force had behind it many different emotions, and many that were contradictory. Tears were behind it, of course — tears, bitter tears: the tears of those whose desire for knowledge was frustrated. One daughter longed to learn chemistry; the books at home only taught her alchemy. She ‘cried bitterly at not being taught things’. Also the desire for an open and rational love was behind it. Again there were tears — angry tears. ‘She flung herself on the bed in tears . . . “Oh,” she said, “Harry is on the roof.” “Who’s Harry?” said I; “which roof? Why?” “Oh, don’t be silly,” she said; “he had to go.”’40 But again the desire not to love, to lead a rational existence without love, was behind it. ‘I make the confession humbly . . . I know nothing myself of love,’41 wrote one of them. An odd confession from one of the class whose only profession for so many centuries had been marriage; but significant. Others wanted to travel; to explore Africa; to dig in Greece and Palestine. Some wanted to learn music, not to tinkle domestic airs, but to compose — operas, symphonies, quartets. Others wanted to paint, not ivy-clad cottages, but naked bodies. They all wanted — but what one word can sum up the variety of the things that they wanted, and had wanted, consciously or subconsciously, for so long? Josephine Butler’s label — Justice, Equality, Liberty — is a fine one; but it is only a label, and in our age of innumerable labels, of multi-coloured labels, we have become suspicious of labels; they kill and constrict. Nor does the old word ‘freedom’ serve, for it was not freedom in the sense of licence that they wanted; they wanted, like Antigone, not to break the laws, but to find the law.42 Ignorant as we are of human motives and ill supplied with words, let us then admit that no one word expresses the force which in the nineteenth century opposed itself to the force of the fathers. All we can safely say about that force was that it was a force of tremendous power. It forced open the doors of the private house. It opened Bond Street and Piccadilly; it opened cricket grounds and football grounds; it shrivelled flounces and stays; it made the oldest profession in the world (but Whitaker supplies no figures) unprofitable. In fifty years, in short, that force made the life lived by Lady Lovelace and Gertrude Bell unlivable, and almost incredible. The fathers, who had triumphed over the strongest emotions of strong men, had to yield.
If that full stop were the end of the story, the final slam of the door, we could turn at once to your letter, Sir, and to the form which you have asked us to fill up. But it was not the end; it was the beginning. Indeed though we have used the past, we shall soon find ourselves using the present tense. The fathers in private, it is true, yielded; but the fathers in public, massed together in societies, in professions, were even more subject to the fatal disease than the fathers in private. The disease had acquired a motive, had connected itself with a right, a conception, which made it still more virulent outside the house than within. The desire to support wife and children — what motive could be more powerful, or deeply rooted? For it was connected with manhood itself — a man who could not support his family failed in his own conception of manliness. And was not that conception as deep in him as the conception of womanhood in his daughter? It was those motives, those rights and conceptions that were now challenged. To protect them, and from women, gave, and gives, rise it can scarcely be doubted to an emotion perhaps below the level of conscious thought but certainly of the utmost violence. The infantile fixation develops, directly the priest’s right to practise his profession is challenged, to an aggravated and exacerbated emotion to which the name sex taboo is scientifically applied. Take two instances; one private, the other public. A scholar has ‘to mark his disapproval of the admission of women to his university by refusing to enter his beloved college or city.’43 A hospital has to decline an offer to endow a scholarship because it is made by a woman on behalf of women.44 Can we doubt that both actions are inspired by that sense of shame which, as Professor Grensted says ‘cannot be regarded in any other light than as a non-rational sex taboo?’ But since the emotion itself had increased in strength it became necessary to invoke the help of stronger allies to excuse and conceal it. Nature was called in; Nature it was claimed who is not only omniscient but unchanging, had made the brain of woman of the wrong shape or size. ‘Anyone’, writes Bertrand Russell, ‘who desires amusement may be advised to look up the tergiversations of eminent craniologists in their attempts to prove from brain measurements that women are stupider than men.’45 Science, it would seem, is not sexless; she is a man, a father, and infected too. Science, thus infected, produced measurements to order: the brain was too small to be examined. Many years were spent waiting before the sacred gates of the universities and hospitals for permission to have the brains that the professors said that Nature had made incapable of passing examinations examined. When at last permission was granted the examinations were passed. A long and dreary list of those barren if necessary triumphs lies presumably along with other broken records46 in college archives, and harassed head mistresses still consult them, it is said, when desiring official proof of impeccable mediocrity. Still Nature held out. The brain that could pass examinations was not the creative brain; the brain that can bear responibility and earn the higher salaries. It was a practical brain, a pettifogging brain, a brain fitted for routine work under the command of a superior. And since the professions were shut, it was undeniable — the daughters had not ruled Empires, commanded fleets, or led armies to victory; only a few trivial books testified to their professional ability, for literature was the only profession that had been open to them. And, moreover, whatever the brain might do when the professions were opened to it, the body remained. Nature, the priests said, in her infinite wisdom, had laid down the unalterable law that man is the creator. He enjoys; she only passively endures. Pain was more beneficial than pleasure to the body that endures. ‘The views of medical men on pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation were until fairly recently’, Bertrand Russell writes, ‘impregnated with sadism. It required, for example, more evidence to persuade them that anaesthetics may be used in childbirth than it would have required to persuade them of the opposite.’ So science argued, so the professors agreed. And when at last the daughters interposed, But are not brain and body affected by training? Does not the wild rabbit differ from the rabbit in the hutch? And must we not, and do we not change this unalterable nature? By setting a match to a fire frost is defied; Nature’s decree of death is postponed. And the breakfast egg, they persisted, is it all the work of the cock? Without yolk, without white, how far would your breakfasts, oh priests and professors, be fertile? Then the priests and professors in solemn unison intoned: But childbirth itself, that burden you cannot deny, is laid upon woman alone. Nor could they deny it, nor wish to renounce it. Still they declared, consulting the statistics in books, the time occupied by woman in childbirth is under modern conditions — remember we are in the twentieth century now — only a fraction.47 Did that fraction incapacitate us from working in Whitehall, in fields and factories, when our country was in danger? To which the fathers replied: The war is over; we are in England now.
And if, Sir, pausing in England now, we turn on the wireless of the daily press we shall hear what answer the fathers who are infected with infantile fixation now are making to those questions now. ‘Homes are the real places of the women . . . Let them go back to their homes . . . The Government should give work to men. . . . A strong protest is to be made by the Ministry of Labour. . . . Women must not rule over men . . . There are two worlds, one for women, the other for men . . . Let them learn to cook our dinners . . . Women have failed . . . They have failed . . . They have failed . . . ’
Even now the clamour, the uproar that infantile fixation is making even here is such that we can hardly hear ourselves speak; it takes the words out of our mouths; it makes us say what we have not said. As we listen to the voices we seem to hear an infant crying in the night, the black night that now covers Europe, and with no language but a cry, Ay, ay, ay, ay. .. But it is not a new cry, it is a very old cry. Let us shut off the wireless and listen to the past. We are in Greece now; Christ has not been born yet, nor St Paul either. But listen:
‘Whomsoever the city may appoint, that man must be obeyed, in little things and great, in just things and unjust . . . disobedience is the worst of evils . . . We must support the cause of order, and in no wise suffer a woman to worst us . . . They must be women, and not range at large. Servants, take them within.’ That is the voice of Creon, the dictator. To whom Antigone, who was to have been his daughter, answered, ‘Not such are the laws set among men by the justice who dwells with the gods below.’ But she had neither capital nor force behind her. And Creon said: ‘I will take her where the path is loneliest, and hide her, living, in a rocky vault.’ And he shut her not in Holloway or in a concentration camp, but in a tomb. And Creon we read brought ruin on his house, and scattered the land with the bodies of the dead. It seems, Sir, as we listen to the voices of the past, as if we were looking at the photograph again, at the picture of dead bodies and ruined houses that the Spanish Government sends us almost weekly. Things repeat themselves it seems. Pictures and voices are the same today as they were 2,000 years ago.
Such then is the conclusion to which our inquiry into the nature of fear has brought us — the fear which forbids freedom in the private house. That fear, small, insignificant and private as it is, is connected with the other fear, the public fear, which is neither small nor insignificant, the fear which has led you to ask us to help you to prevent war. Otherwise we should not be looking at the picture again. But it is not the same picture that caused us at the beginning of this letter to feel the same emotions — you called them ‘horror and disgust’; we called them horror and disgust. For as this letter has gone on, adding fact to fact, another picture has imposed itself upon the foreground. It is the figure of a man; some say, others deny, that he is Man himself,48 the quintessence of virility, the perfect type of which all the others are imperfect adumbrations. He is a man certainly. His eyes are glazed; his eyes glare. His body, which is braced in an unnatural position, is tightly cased in a uniform. Upon the breast of that uniform are sewn several medals and other mystic symbols. His hand is upon a sword. He is called in German and Italian Führer or Duce; in our own language Tyrant or Dictator. And behind him lie ruined houses and dead bodies — men, women and children. But we have not laid that picture before you in order to excite once more the sterile emotion of hate. On the contrary it is in order to release other emotions such as the human figure, even thus crudely in a coloured photograph, arouses in us who are human beings. For it suggests a connection and for us a very important connection. It suggests that the public and the private worlds are inseparably connected; that the tyrannies and servilities of the one are the tyrannies and servilities of the other. But the human figure even in a photograph suggests other and more complex emotions. It suggests that we cannot dissociate ourselves from that figure but are ourselves that figure. It suggests that we are not passive spectators doomed to unresisting obedience but by our thoughts and actions can ourselves change that figure. A common interest unites us; it is one world, one life. How essential it is that we should realize that unity the dead bodies, the ruined houses prove. For such will be our ruin if you, in the immensity of your public abstractions forget the private figure, or if we in the intensity of our private emotions forget the public world. Both houses will be ruined, the public and the private, the material and the spiritual, for they are inseparably connected. But with your letter before us we have reason to hope. For by asking our help you recognize that connection; and by reading your words we are reminded of other connections that lie far deeper than the facts on the surface. Even here, even now your letter tempts us to shut our ears to these little facts, these trivial details, to listen not to the bark of the guns and the bray of the gramophones but to the voices of the poets, answering each other, assuring us of a unity that rubs out divisions as if they were chalk marks only; to discuss with you the capacity of the human spirit to overflow boundaries and make unity out of multiplicity. But that would be to dream — to dream the recurring dream that has haunted the human mind since the beginning of time; the dream of peace, the dream of freedom. But, with the sound of the guns in your ears you have not asked us to dream. You have not asked us what peace is; you have asked us how to prevent war. Let us then leave it to the poets to tell us what the dream is; and fix our eyes upon the photograph again: the fact. Whatever the verdict of others may be upon the man in uniform — and opinions differ — there is your letter to prove that to you the picture is the picture of evil. And though we look upon that picture from different angles our conclusion is the same as yours — it is evil. We are both determined to do what we can to destroy the evil which that picture represents, you by your methods, we by ours. And since we are different, our help must be different. What ours can be we have tried to show — how imperfectly, how superficially there is no need to say.49 But as a result the answer to your question must be that we can best help you to prevent war not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods. We can best help you to prevent war not by joining your society but by remaining outside your society but in cooperation with its aim. That aim is the same for us both. It is to assert ‘the rights of all — all men and women — to the respect in their persons of the great principles of Justice and Equality and Liberty.’ To elaborate further is unnecessary, for we have every confidence that you interpret those words as we do. And excuses are unnecessary, for we can trust you to make allowances for those deficiencies which we foretold and which this letter has abundantly displayed.
To return then to the form that you have sent and ask us to fill up: for the reasons given we will leave it unsigned. But in order to prove as substantially as possible that our aims are the same as yours, here is the guinea, a free gift, given freely, without any other conditions than you choose to impose upon yourself. It is the third of three guineas; but the three guineas, you will observe, though given to three different treasurers are all given to the same cause, for the causes are the same and inseparable.
Now, since you are pressed for time, let me make an end; apologizing three times over to the three of you, first for the length of this letter, second for the smallness of the contribution, and thirdly for writing at all. The blame for that however rests upon you, for this letter would never have been written had you not asked for an answer to your own.
1. It is to be hoped that some methodical person has made a collection of the various manifestos and questionnaires issued broadcast during the years 1936-7. Private people of no political training were invited to sign appeals asking their own and foreign governments to change their policy; artists were asked to fill up forms stating the proper relations of the artist to the State, to religion, to morality; pledges were required that the writer should use English grammatically and avoid vulgar expressions; and dreamers were invited to analyse their dreams. By way of inducement it was generally proposed to publish the results in the daily or weekly Press. What effect this inquisition has had upon governments it is for the politician to say. Upon literature, since the output of books is unstaunched, and grammar would seem to be neither better nor worse, the effect is problematical. But the inquisition is of great psychological and social interest. Presumably it originated in the state of mind suggested by Dean Inge (The Rickman Godlee Lecture, reported in The Times, 23 November 1937), ‘whether in our own interests we were moving in the right direction. If we went on as we were doing now, would the man of the future be superior to us or not? . . . Thoughtful people were beginning to realize that before congratulating ourselves on moving fast we ought to have some idea where we were moving to’: a general self-dissatisfaction and desire ‘to live differently’. It also points, indirectly, to the death of the Siren, that much ridiculed and often upper-class lady who by keeping open house for the aristocracy, plutocracy, intelligentsia, ignorantsia, etc., tried to provide all classes with a talking-ground or scratching- post where they could rub up minds, manners, and morals more privately, and perhaps as usefully. The part that the Siren played in promoting culture and intellectual liberty in the eighteenth century is held by historians to be of some importance. Even in our own day she had her uses. Witness W. B. Yeats —‘How often I have wished that he [Synge] might live long enough to enjoy that communion with idle, charming, cultivated women which Balzac in one of his dedications calls “the chief consolation of genius”!’ (Dramatis Personae, W. B. Yeats, p. 127.) Lady St Helier who, as Lady Jeune, preserved the eighteenth-century tradition, informs us, however, that ‘Plovers’ eggs at 2s. 6d. apiece, forced strawberries, early asparagus, petits poussins . . . are now considered almost a necessity by anyone aspiring to give a good dinner’ (1909); and her remark that the reception day was ‘very fatiguing . . . how exhausted I felt when half-past seven came, and how gladly at eight o’clock I sat down to a peaceful tête-à-tête dinner with my husband!’ (Memories of Fifty Years, by Lady St Helier, pp. 3, 5, 182) may explain why such houses are shut, why such hostesses are dead, and why therefore the intelligentsia, the ignorantsia, the aristocracy, the bureaucracy, the bourgeoisie, etc., are driven (unless somebody will revive that society on an economic basis) to do their talking in public. But in view of the multitude of manifestos and questionnaires now in circulation it would be foolish to suggest another into the minds and motives of the Inquisitors.
2. ‘He did begin however on 13 May (1844) to lecture weekly at Queen’s College which Maurice and other professors at King’s had established a year before, primarily for the examination and training of governesses. Kingsley was ready to share in this unpopular task because he believed in the higher education of women.’ (Charles Kingsley, by Margaret Farrand Thorp, p. 65.)
3. The French, as the above quotation shows, are as active as the English in issuing manifestos. That the French, who refuse to allow the women of France to vote, and still inflict upon them laws whose almost medieval severity can be studied in The Position of Women in Contemporary France, by Frances Clark, should appeal to English women to help them to protect liberty and culture must cause surprise.
4. Strict accuracy, here slightly in conflict with rhythm and euphony, requires the word ‘port’. A photograph in the daily Press of ‘Dons in a Senior Common Room after dinner’ (1937) showed ‘a railed trolley in which the port decanter travels across a gap between diners at the fireplace, and thus continues its round without passing against the sun’. Another picture shows the ‘sconce’ cup in use. ‘This old Oxford custom ordains that mention of certain subjects in Hall shall be punished by the offender drinking three pints of beer at one draught . . . ’ Such examples are by themselves enough to prove how impossible it is for a woman’s pen to describe life at a man’s college without committing some unpardonable solecism. But the gentlemen whose customs are often, it is to be feared, travestied, will extend their indulgence when they reflect that the female novelist, however reverent in intention, works under grave physical drawbacks. Should she wish, for example, to describe a Feast at Trinity, Cambridge, she has to ‘listen through the peephole in the room of Mrs Butler (the Master’s wife) to the speeches taking place at the Feast which was held in Trinity College’. Miss Haldane’s observation was made in 1907, when she reflected that ‘The whole surroundings seemed medieval.’ (From One Century to Another, by E. Haldane, p. 235.)
5. According to Whitaker there is a Royal Society of Literature and also the British Academy, both presumably, since they have offices and officers, official bodies, but what their powers are it is impossible to say, since if Whitaker had not vouched for their existence it would scarcely have been suspected.
6. Women were apparently excluded from the British Museum Reading- Room in the eighteenth century. Thus: ‘Miss Chudleigh solicits permission to be received into the reading-room. The only female student who as yet has honoured us was Mrs Macaulay; and your Lordship may recollect what an untoward event offended her delicacy.’ (Daniel Wray to Lord Harwicke, 22 October 1768. Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, vol. I, p. 137.) The editor adds in a footnote: ‘This alludes to the indelicacy of a gentleman there, in Mrs Macaulay’s presence; of which the particulars will not bear to be repeated.’
7. The Autobiography and Letters of Mrs M. O. W. Oliphant, arranged and edited by Mrs Harry Coghill. Mrs Oliphant (1825-97) ‘lived in perpetual embarrassment owing to her undertaking education and maintenance of her widowed brother’s children in addition to her own two sons . . . ’ (Dictionary of National Biography.)
8. Macaulay’s History of England, vol. III, p. 278 (standard edition).
9. Mr Littlewood, until recently dramatic critic of the Morning Post, described the condition of Journalism at Present at a dinner given in his honour, 6 December 1937. Mr Littlewood said: ‘that he had in season and out of season fought for more space for the theatre in the columns of the London daily papers. It was Fleet Street where, between eleven and half-past twelve, not to mention before and after, thousands of beautiful words and thoughts were systematically massacred. It had been his lot for at least two out of his four decades to return to that shambles every night with the sure and certain prospect of being told that the paper was already full with important news, and that there was no room for any sanguinary stuff about the theatre. It had been his luck to wake up the next morning to find himself answerable for the mangled remains of what was once a good notice . . . It was not the fault of the men in the office. Some of them put the blue pencil through with tears in their eyes. The real culprit was that huge public who knew nothing about the theatre and could not be expected to care.’ The Times, 6 December 1937.
Mr Douglas Jerrold describes the treatment of politics in the Press. ‘In those few brief years [between 1928-33] truth had fled from Fleet Street. You could never tell all the truth all the time. You never will be able to do so. But you used at least to be able to tell the truth about other countries. By 1933, you did it at your peril. In 1928 there was no direct political pressure from advertisers. Today it is not only direct but effective.’
Literary criticism would seem to be in much the same case and for the same reason: ‘There are no critics in whom the public have any more confidence. They trust, if at all, to the different Book Societies, and the selections of individual newspapers, and on the whole they are wise . . . The Book Society are frankly book sellers, and the great national newspapers cannot afford to puzzle their readers. They must all choose books which have, at the prevailing level of public taste, a potentially large sale.’ (Georgian Adventure, by Douglas Jerrold, pp. 282, 283, 298.)
10. While it is obvious that under the conditions of journalism at present the criticism of literature must be unsatisfactory, it is also obvious that no change can be made, without changing the economic structure of society and the psychological structure of the artist. Economically, it is necessary that the reviewer should herald the publication of a new book with his town-crier’s shout ‘O yez, O yez, O yez, such and such a book has been published; its subject is this, that or the other.’ Psychologically, vanity and the desire for ‘recognition’ are still so strong among artists that to starve them of advertisement and to deny them frequent if contrasted shocks of praise and blame would be as rash as the introduction of rabbits into Australia: the balance of nature would be upset and the consequences might well be disastrous. The suggestion in the text is not to abolish public criticism; but to supplement it by a new service based on the example of the medical profession. A panel of critics recruited from reviewers (many of whom are potential critics of genuine taste and learning) would practise like doctors and in strictest privacy. Publicity removed, it follows that most of the distractions and corruptions which inevitably make contemporary criticism worthless to the writer would be abolished; all inducement to praise or blame for personal reasons would be destroyed; neither sales nor vanity would be affected; the author could attend to criticism without considering the effect upon public or friends; the critic could criticize without considering the editor’s blue pencil or the public taste. Since criticism is much desired by the living, as the constant demand for it proves, and since fresh books are as essential for the critic’s mind as fresh meat for his body, each would gain; literature even might benefit. The advantages of the present system of public criticism are mainly economic; the evil effects psychologically are shown by the two famous Quarterly reviews of Keats and Tennyson. Keats was deeply wounded; and ‘the effect . . . upon Tennyson himself was penetrating and prolonged. His first act was at once to withdraw from the press The Lover’s Tale . . . We find him thinking of leaving England altogether, of living abroad.’ (Tennyson, by Harold Nicolson, p. 118.) The effect of Mr Churton Collins upon Sir Edmund Gosse was much the same: ‘His self-confidence was undermined, his personality reduced . . . was not everyone watching his struggles regarding him as doomed? . . . His own account of his sensations was that he went about feeling that he had been flayed alive.’ (The Life and Letters of Sir Edmund Gosse, by Evan Charteris, p. 196.)
11. ‘A-ring-the-bell-and-run-away-man.’ This word has been coined in order to define those who make use of words with the desire to hurt but at the same time to escape detection. In a transitional age when many qualities are changing their value, new words to express new values are much to be desired. Vanity, for example, which would seem to lead to severe complications of cruelty and tyranny, judging from evidence supplied abroad, is still masked by a name with trivial associations. A supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary is indicated.
12. Memoir of Anne J. Clough, by B. A. Clough, pp. 38, 67.
‘The Sparrow’s Nest’, by William Wordsworth.
13. In the nineteenth century much valuable work was done for the working class by educated men’s daughters in the only way that was then open to them. But now that some of them at least have received an expensive education, it is arguable that they can work much more effectively by remaining in their own class and using the methods of that class to improve a class which stands much in need of improvement. If on the other hand the educated (as so often happens) renounce the very qualities which education should have bought — reason, tolerance, knowledge — and play at belonging to the working class and adopting its cause, they merely expose that cause to the ridicule of the educated class, and do nothing to improve their own. But the number of books written by the educated about the working class would seem to show that the glamour of the working class and the emotional relief afforded by adopting its cause, are today as irresistible to the middle class as the glamour of the aristocracy was twenty years ago (see A La Recherche du Temps Perdu.) Meanwhile it would be interesting to know what the true-born working man or woman thinks of the playboys and playgirls of the educated class who adopt the working-class cause without sacrificing middle-class capital, or sharing working-class experience. ‘The average housewife’, according to Mrs Murphy, Home Service Director of the British Commercial Gas Association, ‘washed an acre of dirty dishes, a mile of glass and three miles of clothes and scrubbed five miles of floor yearly.’ (Daily Telegraph, 29 September 1937.) For a more detailed account of working-class life, see Life as We Have Known It, by Cooperative working women, edited by Margaret Llewelyn Davies. The Life of Joseph Wright also gives a remarkable account of working-class life at first hand and not through pro-proletarian spectacles.
14. ‘It was stated yesterday at the War Office that the Army Council have no intention of opening recruiting for any women’s corps.’ (The Times, 22 October 1937.) This marks a prime distinction between the sexes. Pacifism is enforced upon women. Men are still allowed liberty of choice.
15. The following quotation shows, however, that if sanctioned the fighting instinct easily develops. ‘The eyes deeply sunk into the sockets, the features acute, the amazon keeps herself very straight on the stirrups at the head of her squadron . . . Five English parlementaries look at this woman with the respectful and a bit restless admiration one feels for a “fauve” of an unknown species . . .
— Come nearer Amalia — orders the commandant. She pushes her horse towards us and salutes her chief with the sword.
— Sergeant Amalia Bonilla — continues the chief of the squadron — how old are you? — Thirty-six — Where were you born? — In Granada — Why have you joined the army? — My two daughters were militiawomen. The younger has been killed in the Alto de Leon. I thought I had to supersede her and avenge her. — And how many enemies have you killed to avenge her? — You know it, commandant, five. The sixth is not sure. — No, but you have taken his horse. The amazon Amalia rides in fact a magnificent dapple-grey horse, with glossy hair, which flatters like a parade horse . . . This woman who has killed five men — but who feels not sure about the sixth — was for the envoys of the House of Commons an excellent introducer to the Spanish war.’ (The Martyrdom of Madrid, Inedited Witnesses, by Louis Delaprée, pp. 34, 5, 6. Madrid, 1937.)
16. By way of proof, an attempt may be made to elucidate the reasons given by various Cabinet Ministers in various Parliaments from about 1870 to 1918 for opposing the Suffrage Bill. An able effort has been made by Mrs Oliver Strachey (see chapter ‘The Deceitfulness of Polities’ in her The Cause).
17. ‘We have had women’s civil and political status before the League only since 1935.’ From reports sent in as to the position of the woman as wife, mother and home maker, ‘the sorry fact was discovered that her economic position in many countries (including Great Britain) was unstable. She is entitled neither to salary nor wages and has definite duties to perform. In England, though she may have devoted her whole life to husband and children, her husband, no matter how wealthy, can leave her destitute at his death and she has no legal redress. We must alter this — by legislation (Linda P. Littlejohn, reported in the Listener, 10 November 1937.)
18. This particular definition of woman’s task comes not from an Italian but from a German source. There are so many versions and all are so much alike that it seems unnecessary to verify each separately. But it is curious to find how easy it is to cap them from English sources. Mr Gerhardi for example writes: ‘Never yet have I committed the error of looking on women writers as serious fellow artists. I enjoy them rather as spiritual helpers who, endowed with a sensitive capacity for appreciation, may help the few of us afflicted with genius to bear our cross with good grace. Their true role, therefore, is rather to hold out the sponge to us, cool our brow, while we bleed. If their sympathetic understanding may indeed be put to a more romantic use, how we cherish them for it!’ (Memoirs of a Polyglot, by William Gerhardi, pp. 320, 321.) This conception of woman’s role tallies almost exactly with that quoted above.
19. To speak accurately, ‘a large silver plaque in the form of the Reich eagle . . . was created by President Hindenburg for scientists and other distinguished civilians . . . It may not be worn. It is usually placed on the writing-desk of the recipient.’ (Daily paper, 21 April 1936.)
20. ‘It is a common thing to see the business girl contenting herself with a bun or a sandwich for her midday meal; and though there are theories that this is from choice . . . the truth is that they often cannot afford to eat properly.’ (Careers and Openings for Women, by Ray Strachey, p. 74.) Compare also Miss E. Turner: ‘ . . . many offices had been wondering why they were unable to get through their work as smoothly as formerly. It had been found that junior typists were fagged out in the afternoons because they could afford only an apple and a sandwich for lunch. Employers should meet the increased cost of living by increased salaries.’ (The Times, 28 March 1938.)
21. The Mayoress of Woolwich (Mrs Kathleen Rance) speaking at a bazaar, reported in Evening Standard, 20 December 1937.
22. Miss E. R. Clarke, reported in The Times, 24 September 1937.
23. Reported in Daily Herald, 15 August 1936.
24. Canon F. R. Barry, speaking at conference arranged by Anglican Group at Oxford, reported in The Times, 10 January 1933.
25. The Ministry of Women, Report of the Archbishops’ Commission. VII. Secondary Schools and Universities, p. 65.
26. ‘Miss D. Carruthers, Head Mistress of the Green School, Isleworth, said there was a “very grave dissatisfaction” among older schoolgirls at the way in which organized religion was carried on. “The Churches seem somehow to be failing to supply the spiritual needs of young people,” she said. “It is a fault that seems common to all churches.”’ (Sunday Times, 21 November 1937.)
27. Life of Charles Gore, by G. L. Prestige, D.D., p. 353.
28. The Ministry of Women. Report of the Archbishops’ Commission, passim.
29. Whether or not the gift of prophecy and the gift of poetry were originally the same, a distinction has been made between those gifts and professions for many centuries. But the fact that the Song of Songs, the work of a poet, is included among the sacred books, and that propagandist poems and novels, the works of prophets, are included among the secular, points to some confusion. Lovers of English literature can scarcely be too thankful that Shakespeare lived too late to be canonized by the Church. Had the plays been ranked among the sacred books they must have received the same treatment as the Old and New Testaments; we should have had them doled out on Sundays from the mouths of priests in snatches; now a soliloquy from Hamlet; now a corrupt passage from the pen of some drowsy reporter; now a bawdy song; now half a page from Antony and Cleopatra, as the Old and New Testaments have been sliced up and interspersed with hymns in the Church of England service; and Shakespeare would have been as unreadable as the Bible. Yet those who have not been forced from childhood to hear it thus dismembered weekly assert that the Bible is a work of the greatest interest, much beauty, and deep meaning.
30. The Ministry of Women, Appendix I. ‘Certain Psychological and Physiological Considerations’, by Professor Grensted, D.D., pp. 79- 87.
31. ‘At present a married priest is able to fulfil the requirements of the ordination service, “to forsake and set aside all worldly cares and studies”, largely because his wife can undertake the care of the household and the family . . . ’ (The Ministry of Women, p. 32.)
The Commissioners are here stating and approving a principle which is frequently stated and approved by the dictators. Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini have both often in very similar words expressed the opinion that ‘There are two worlds in the life of the nation, the world of men and the world of women’; and proceeded to much the same definition of the duties. The effect which this division has had upon the woman; the petty and personal nature of her interests; her absorption in the practical; her apparent incapacity for the poetical and adventurous — all this has been made the staple of so many novels, the target for so much satire, has confirmed so many theorists in the theory that by the law of nature the woman is less spiritual than the man, that nothing more need be said to prove that she has carried out, willingly or unwillingly, her share of the contract. But very little attention has yet been paid to the intellectual and spiritual effect of this division of duties upon those who are enabled by it ‘to forsake all worldly cares and studies’. Yet there can be no doubt that we owe to this segregation the immense elaboration of modern instruments and methods of war; the astonishing complexities of theology; the vast deposit of notes at the bottom of Greek, Latin and even English texts; the innumerable carvings, chasings and unnecessary ornamentations of our common furniture and crockery; the myriad distinctions of Debrett and Burke; and all those meaningless but highly ingenious turnings and twistings into which the intellect ties itself when rid of ‘the cares of the household and the family’. The emphasis which both priests and dictators place upon the necessity for two worlds is enough to prove that it is essential to the domination.
32. Evidence of the complex nature of satisfaction of dominance is provided by the following quotation: ‘My husband insists that I call him “Sir”,’ said a woman at the Bristol Police Court yesterday, when she applied for a maintenance order. ‘To keep the peace I have complied with his request,’ she added. ‘I also have to clean his boots, fetch his razor when he shaves, and speak up promptly when he asks me questions.’ In the same issue of the same paper Sir E. F. Fletcher is reported to have ‘urged the House of Commons to stand up to dictators.’ (Daily Herald, 1 August 1926.) This would seem to show that the common consciousness which includes husband, wife and House of Commons is feeling at one and the same moment the desire to dominate, the need to comply in order to keep the peace, and the necessity of dominating the desire for dominance — a psychological conflict which serves to explain much that appears inconsistent and turbulent in contemporary opinion. The pleasure of dominance is of course further complicated by the fact that it is still, in the educated class, closely allied with the pleasures of wealth, social and professional prestige. Its distinction from the comparatively simple pleasures — e.g. the pleasure of a country walk — is proved by the fear of ridicule which great psychologists, like Sophocles, detect in the dominator; who is also peculiarly susceptible according to the same authority either to ridicule or defiance on the part of the female sex. An essential element in this pleasure therefore would seem to be derived not from the feeling itself but from the reflection of other people’s feelings, and it would follow that it can be influenced by a change in those feelings. Laughter as an antidote to dominance is perhaps indicated.
33. The Life of Charlotte Brontë, by Mrs Gaskell.
34. The Life of Sophia Jex-Blake, by Margaret Todd, pp. 67-9, 70- 71, 72.
35. External observation would suggest that a man still feels it a peculiar insult to be taunted with cowardice by a woman in much the same way that a woman feels it a peculiar insult to be taunted with unchastity by a man. The following quotation supports this view. Mr Bernard Shaw writes: ‘I am not forgetting the gratification that war gives to the instinct of pugnacity and admiration of courage that are so strong in women . . . In England on the outbreak of war civilized young women rush about handing white feathers to all young men who are not in uniform. This,’ he continues, ‘like other survivals from savagery is quite natural,’ and he points out that ‘in old days a woman’s life and that of her children depended on the courage and killing capacity of her mate.’ Since vast numbers of young men did their work all through the war in offices without any such adornment, and the number of ‘civilized young women’ who stuck feathers in coats must have been infinitesimal compared with those who did nothing of the kind, Mr Shaw’s exaggeration is sufficient proof of the immense psychological impression that fifty or sixty feathers (no actual statistics are available) can still make. This would seem to show that the male still preserves an abnormal susceptibility to such taunts; therefore that courage and pugnacity are still among the prime attributes of manliness; therefore that he still wishes to be admired for possessing them; therefore that any derision of such qualities would have a proportionate effect. That ‘the manhood emotion’ is also connected with economic independence seems probable. ‘We have never known a man who was not, openly or secretly, proud of being able to support women; whether they were his sisters or his mistresses. We have never known a woman who did not regard the change from economic independence on an employer to economic dependence on a man, as an honourable promotion. What is the good of men and women lying to each other about these things? It is not we that have made them’—(A. H. Orage, by Philip Mairet, vii)— an interesting statement, attributed by G. K. Chesterton to A. H. Orage.
36. Until the beginning of the eighties, according to Miss Haldane, the sister of R. B. Haldane, no lady could work. ‘I should, of course, have liked to study for a profession, but that was an impossible idea unless one were in the sad position of “having to work for one’s bread” and that would have been a terrible state of affairs. Even a brother wrote of the melancholy fact after he had been to see Mrs Langtry act. “She was a lady and acted like a lady, but what a sad thing it was that she should have to do so!’” (From One Century to Another, by Elizabeth Haldane, pp. 73-4.) Harriet Martineau earlier in the century was delighted when her family lost its money, for thus she lost her ‘gentility’ and was allowed to work.
37. Life of Sophia Jex-Blake, by Margaret Todd, pp. 69, 70.
38. For an account of Mr Leigh Smith, see The Life of Emily Davies, by Barbara Stephen. Barbara Leigh Smith became Madame Bodichon.
39. How nominal that opening was is shown by the following account of the actual conditions under which women worked in the R.A. Schools about 1900. ‘Why the female of the species should never be given the same advantages as the male it is difficult to understand. At the R.A. Schools we women had to compete against men for all the prizes and medals that were given each year, and we were only allowed half the amount of tuition and less than half their opportunities for study. .. No nude model was allowed to be posed in the women’s painting room at the R.A. Schools . . . The male students not only worked from nude models, both male and female, during the day, but they were given an evening class as well, at which they could make studies from the figure, the visiting R.A. instructing.’ This seemed to the women students ‘very unfair indeed’; Miss Collyer had the courage and the social standing necessary to beard first Mr Franklin Dicksee, who argued that since girls marry, money spent on their teaching is money wasted; next Lord Leighton; and at length the thin edge of the wedge, that is the undraped figure, was allowed. But ‘the advantages of the night class we never did succeed in obtaining . . . ” The women students therefore clubbed together and hired a photographer’s studio in Baker Street. ‘The money that we, as the committee, had to find, reduced our meals to near starvation diet.’ (Life of an Artist, by Margaret Collyer, pp. 19-81, 82.) The same rule was in force at the Nottingham Art School in the twentieth century. ‘Women were not allowed to draw from the nude. If the men worked from the living figure I had to go into the Antique Room . . . the hatred of those plaster figures stays with me till this day. I never got any benefit out of their study.’ (Oil Paint and Grease Paint, by Dame Laura Knight, p. 47.) But the profession of art is not the only profession that is thus nominally open. The profession of medicine is ‘open’, but ‘ . . . nearly all the Schools attached to London Hospitals are barred to women students, whose training in London is mainly carried on at the London School of Medicine.’ (Memorandum on the Position of English Women in Relation to that of English Men, by Philippa Strachey, 1935, p. 26.) ‘Some of the girl “medicals” at Cambridge University have formed themselves into a group to ventilate the grievance.’ (Evening News, 25 March 1937.) In 1922 women students were admitted to the Royal Veterinary College, Camden Town. “ . . . since then the profession has attracted so many women that the number has recently been restricted to 50.’ (Daily Telegraph, 1 October 1937.)
40 and 41. The Life of Mary Kingsley, by Stephen Gwyn, pp. 18, 26. In a fragment of a letter Mary Kingsley writes: ‘I am useful occasionally, but that is all — very useful a few months ago when on calling on a friend she asked me to go up to her bedroom and see her new hat — a suggestion that staggered me, I knowing her opinion of mine in such matters.’ ‘The letter,’ says Mr Gwyn, ‘did not complete this adventure of an unauthorised fiancé, but I am sure she got him off the roof and enjoyed the experience riotously.’
42. According to Antigone there are two kinds of law, the written and the unwritten, and Mrs Drummond maintains that it may sometimes be necessary to improve the written law by breaking it. But the many and varied activities of the educated man’s daughter in the nineteenth century were clearly not simply or even mainly directed towards breaking the laws. They were, on the contrary, endeavours of an experimental kind to discover what are the unwritten laws; that is the private laws that should regulate certain instincts, passions, mental and physical desires. That such laws exist and are observed by civilized people, is fairly generally allowed; but it is beginning to be agreed that they were not laid down by ‘God’, who is now very generally held to be a conception, of patriarchial origin, valid only for certain races, at certain stages and times; nor by nature, who is now known to vary greatly in her commands and to be largely under control; but have to be discovered afresh by successive generations, largely by their own efforts of reason and imagination. Since, however, reason and imagination are to some extent the product of our bodies, and there are two kinds of body, male and female, and since these two bodies have been proved within the past few years to differ fundamentally, it is clear that the laws that they perceive and respect must be differently interpreted. Thus Professor Julian Huxley says: ‘ . . . from the moment of fertilization onwards, man and woman differ in every cell of their body in regard to the number of their chromosomes — those bodies which, for all the world’s unfamiliarity, have been shown by the last decade’s work to be the bearers of heredity, the determiners of our characters and qualities.’ In spite of the fact, therefore, that ‘the superstructure of intellectual and practical life is potentially the same in both sexes,’ and that ‘The recent Board of Education Report of the Committee on the Differentiation of the Curriculum for Boys and Girls in Secondary Schools (London, 1923), has established that the intellectual differences between the sexes are very much slighter than popular belief allows,’ (Essays in Popular Science, by Julian Huxley, pp. 62-3), it is clear that the sexes now differ and will always differ. If it were possible not only for each sex to ascertain what laws hold good in its own case, and to respect each other’s laws; but also to share the results of those discoveries, it might be possible for each sex to develop fully and improve in quality without surrendering its special characteristics. The old conception that one sex must ‘dominate’ another would then become not only obsolete, but so odious that if it were necessary for practical purposes that a dominant power should decide certain matters, the repulsive task of coercion and dominion would be relegated to an inferior and secret society, much as the flogging and execution of criminals is now carried out by masked beings in profound obscurity. But this is to anticipate.
43. From The Times obituary notice of H. W. Greene, fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, familiarly called ‘Grugger’, 6 February 1933.
44. ‘In 1747 the quarterly court (of the Middlesex Hospital) decided to set apart some of the beds for lying-in cases under rules which precluded any woman from acting as midwife. The exclusion of women has remained the traditional attitude. In 1861 Miss Garrett, afterwards Dr Garrett Anderson, obtained permission to attend classes . . . and was permitted to visit the wards with the resident officers, but the students protested and the medical officers gave way. The Board declined an offer from her to endow a scholarship for women students.’ (The Times, 17 May 1935.)
45. ‘There is, in the modern world, a great body of well-attested knowledge . . . but as soon as any strong passion intervenes to warp the expert’s judgment he becomes unreliable, whatever scientific equipment he may possess.’ (The Scientific Outlook, by Bertrand Russell, p. 17.)
46. One of the record-breakers, however, gave a reason for record- breaking which must compel respect: ‘Then, too, there was my belief that now and then women should do for themselves what men have already done — and occasionally what men have not done — thereby establishing themselves as persons, and perhaps encouraging other women towards greater independence of thought and action . . . When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.’ (The Last Flight, by Amelia Earhart, pp. 21, 65.)
47. ‘In point of fact this process [childbirth] actually disables women only for a very small fraction in most of their lives — even a woman who has six children is only necessarily laid up for twelve months out of her whole lifetime.’ (Careers and Openings for Women, by Ray Strachey, pp. 47-8.) At present, however, she is necessarily occupied for much longer. The bold suggestion has been made that the occupation is not exclusively maternal, but could be shared by both parents to the common good.
48. The nature of manhood and the nature of womanhood are frequently defined both by Italian and German dictators. Both repeatedly insist that it is the nature of man and indeed the essence of manhood to fight. Hitler, for example, draws a distinction between ‘a nation of pacifists and a nation of men’. Both repeatedly insist that it is the nature of womanhood to heal the wounds of the fighter. Nevertheless a very strong movement is on foot towards emancipating man from the old ‘natural and eternal law’ that man is essentially a fighter; witness the growth of pacifism among the male sex today. Compare further Lord Knebworth’s statement ‘that if permanent peace were ever achieved, and armies and navies ceased to exist, there would be no outlet for the manly qualities which fighting developed,’ with the following statement by another young man of the same social caste a few months ago: ‘ . . . it is not true to say that every boy at heart longs for war. It is only other people who teach it us by giving us swords and guns, soldiers and uniforms to play with.’ (Conquest of the Past, by Prince Hubertus Loewenstein, p. 215.) It is possible that the Fascist States by revealing to the younger generation at least the need for emancipation from the old conception of virility are doing for the male sex what the Crimean and the European wars did for their sisters. Professor Huxley, however, warns us that ‘any considerable alteration of the hereditary constitution is an affair of millennia, not of decades.’ On the other hand, as science also assures us that our life on earth is ‘an affair of millennia, not of decades’, some alteration in the hereditary constitution may be worth attempting.
49. Coleridge however expresses the views and aims of the outsiders with some accuracy in the following passage: ‘Man must be FREE or to what purpose was he made a Spirit of Reason, and not a Machine of Instinct? Man must OBEY; or wherefore has he a conscience? The powers, which create this difficulty, contain its solution likewise; for THEIR service is perfect freedom. And whatever law or system of law compels any other service, disennobles our nature, leagues itself with the animal against the godlike, kills in us the very principle of joyous well-doing, and fights against humanity . . . If therefore society is to be under a RIGHTFUL constitution of government, and one that can impose on rational Beings a true and moral obligation to obey it, it must be framed on such principles that every individual follows his own Reason, while he obeys the laws of the constitution, and performs the will of the State while he follows the dictates of his own Reason. This is expressly asserted by Rousseau, who states the problem of a perfect constitution of government in the following words: Trouver une forme d’Association — par laquelle chacun s’unisant à tous, n’obeisse pourtant qu’à lui même, et reste aussi libre qu’auparavant, i.e. To find a form of society according to which each one uniting with the whole shall yet obey himself only and remain as free as before.’ (The Friend, by S. T. Coleridge, vol. I, pp. 333, 334, 335, 1818 edition.) To which may be added a quotation from Walt Whitman:
‘Of Equality — as if it harm’d me, giving others the same chances and rights as myself — as if it were not indispensable to my own rights that others possess the same.’
And finally the words of a half-forgotten novelist, George Sand, are worth considering:
‘Toutes les existences sont solidaires les unes des autres, et tout être humain qui présenterait la sienne isolément, sans la rattacher à celle de ses semblables, n’offrirait qu’une énigme à débrouiller . . . Cette individualité n’a par elle seule ni signification ni importance aucune. Elle ne prend un sens quelconque qu’en devenant une parcelle de la vie générale, en se fondant avec l’individualité de chacun de mes semblables, et c’est par là qu’elle devient de l’histoire.’ (Histoire de ma Vie, by George Sand, pp. 240-41.)
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University of Adelaide
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Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01