LIBELLED BALLET GIRLS.
(From Our Own Correspondent.]
London, August 10,
It is difficult to Understand the position taken up by Mr Winterbotham, M.P. Upon a recent occasion in the House of Commons he stated it as his belief that the majority of ballet girls fi -iished their careers on the streets. Mr Winterbotham did not pretend to be possessed of any special information which enabled him to speak with anything like extraordinary authority. Nevertheless he made this utterly reckless statement, and the result (as might have been expected) can be less easily described than imagined. The indignant ladies of the ballet, in solemn and agitated session assembled, passed a resolution and instructed their secretary to write to the rash reformer somewhat in the following strain
Alhambra Theatre. To Mr Winterbotham, M.P. Sir,—At a meeting of tho ballet ladies of the Alhambra, Lyric, and Empire Theatres, I was requested to forward to you the following resolution, which was carried unanimously :—“ We have heard with indignation and disgust your statement that ‘the majority of ballet girls end by becoming street-walkers.' We deliberately tell you that this statement is a cruel and cowardly untiuth. We challenge you to prove it is true or publicly withdraw it. It is a disgrace that anyone professing to be a gentleman should thus libel women who arc earning their living by an honorable and useful calling. If we were men we should know how to deal with you; as it is we despise you. Signed on behalf of meeting, Julie Seale.
Mr Winterbotham may probably congratulate himself upon tho fact that it has seldom fallen to his lot to receive a letter couched in such forcible, and at the same time elegantly contemptuous, language. The privilege of Parliament is a fearful aud wonderful thing, and, like charity, it covers a multitude of sins. Mr Winterbotham, however, who seems scarcely to understand what a hornet’s nest he has brought about his ears, does not attempt to shelter himself behind this privilege. His method of replying to the communication of the “ indignant” and “disgusted” ballet ladies is unique, and, as one may say, Winterbothamic. He has been having a chat with Mrs Fawcett, a well-meaning lady whose virtue alternates between smug self-satisfaction on the one hand and hysterical impulsiveness on the other. Accordingly he says : I spoke from information given me by good men and women who do good work among the fallen; and I have had many letters since which show that in the opinion of the writers the sad estimate I gave was not exaggerated. If this means anything, and I suppose Mr Winterbotham attached some significance to it when he wrote it, it is a justification. One cannot help feeling that if Mr Winterbotham had only known a little more of the real life of the girls—their ambitions (for there are few of them who do not aspire| to higher ranks in the profession) their true feminine love of “ respectability,” the jealous care with which they guard their reputation for personal chastity, and their home life amid connections who are, for the most part, engaged in similar callings—hf would not as in this instance—must I say so? —have made such a fool of himself. Personally, as I happen to be aware, he is a thoroughly amiable, level-headed, worthy man. He has no ascetic contempt for creature comforts, and does not despise a good dinner. He keeps good cigars and good wines, and his bachelor parties are things of joy, all which make his position on the ballet girl question the more difficult to be comprehended, The ladies of the Alhambra, etc., Theatres are going to send a deputation to argue the point with him. The deputation has been selected, and notice has keen given to Mr Winterbotham of their intention to interview him. He has left town. Tho Gaiety chorus pretends to discuss the matter from a perfectly disinterested standpoint, being, of course, composed of “superior persons.”
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LIBELLED BALLET GIRLS., Evening Star, Issue 8024, 28 September 1889, Supplement
LIBELLED BALLET GIRLS. Evening Star, Issue 8024, 28 September 1889, Supplement
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