The Nelson Evening Mail. MONDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1867.
A valued correspondent has forwarded for our perusal, and we presume, as a corollary to the Spectator's article on the Incw Social Danger, which was republished last week in the Examiner, two pamphlets bearing on the subject of enfranchisement of women, received by the last mail. One of these is entitled 'Objections to the Enfranchisement of Women considered,' by Mrs Bodichon, and the other is an article 'On the Claim of Englishwomen to the Suffrage constitutionally considered,' re printed from the Westminster Review. Our readers will not have forgotten that ia Juue last a petition, signed by fifteen hundred ladies, and setting forth that the possession of property in the British empire carried with it the right to vote in the election of representatives in Parliament; that the exclusion from this right of women holding- property is therefore anomalous; and that the petitioners prayed that tlie representation of householders might he provided for without distinction of sex was presented to the House of Com.mons. This petition was supported by Mr J. Stuart Mill, the well-known political economist, and the eminently logical speech which he delivered in favor of it was met for tbe most part with 'chaff;' yet as banter is but an amiable way of showing the dearth of reason, it may fairly be assumed tiiat the opponents of female enfranchisement are not well supplied with arguments, or, it may be, too gallant to employ them.
The number of members whom Mr Mills induced to vote fjr his proposition — 75, including the tellers — was also very respectable for a first division on a subject which had hitherto had great difficulty iv obtaining serious attention. Taking these facts into consideration, it is impossible not to see that the apprehensions which the Spectator half seriously, half-jokingly enunciates, are not without foundation. There have been other reforms by no means less startling which began with a much smaller minority, and at ail events, in the present Parliamentary position of the question there is nothing to dishearten those who have undertaken it, but very much the reverse.
As far as we are aware, the question of female enfranchisement has not been mooted in either of the colonies, but we fpllow so swiftly in the steps of the legislative, euaetments of the mother-country, nay, in some instances have anticipated her progress in that direction, that we cannot suppose that, this quesiiou will long be. allowed, to go unveutilated amougst us.
We own to no petticoat government, butVwe fairly state our decided opinion that the ladies have the best of ihe arguSBientr The controversy, so far as that can beVcalled a^Qntroyersy of which the one aide at present consists of arguments and the other of jokesj may be stated in a few jror ds. T^ere ar« many reasons adduced
■why women should be enfranchised. They are ratepayers, and as such are electors for parochial purposes, and may even serve as guardians, they are also taxpayers, but are neither permitted to vote the supplies nor to elect these who do vole ihem. Moreover the exclusion of women from
Parliamentary rights is an infringement of the primary law of constitutional government that there should.be no taxation without representation. Such a prejudice ought not to prevail at all events in a state which repudiates tbe Salic law, and which has a woman at its head. • It would be impossible in the limits of our present article to deal with, or even allude to the various arguments which have been adduced for and against female enfranchisement, and which are disposed of in a very masterly fashion in the pamphlets before us. The most bigott.ed misogynist must allow that women are, intellectually speaking, as a rule equally entitled to be entrusted with the franchise with those of the opposite sex, and it is no less certaiu that a determination to keep women down has been shown in all past legislation, which is hardly consistent with the boosted impartiality of the British Constitution. It may suit men to declare that a woman would always vote for the handsomest man, which, by the way, i<s not quite so bad as voting for the richest ; they may declare thafc a woman will vote ior the man who gives her the handsomest earrings, which is not worse than voting for the man who gives the most beer; but the real reason is that men love power, that they now monopolise it aud will not part with it so long as they can avoid the sacrifice. The The same motive inspires the vapid nonsense about the undesirableness of spoiling women by bringing them into contact with the turmoil of public life. It is said we like when we go home to have about us light, fairy-like creatures, who will sing and play to us, or talk to us about art or read poetry to vs — not politicians, for we have had enough of politics during the day. The utte'' selfishness of this is not suspected perhaps by eilher party, and yet it is the very climax of that odious vice.
Woman is made for man, to amuse him, to
make him comfortable, to keep him in good humor; and anything that interferes with that highest of ends must not be suffered. Of course this selfishness defeats its own ends, as selfishness always does. Women brought up according to these ideas become either insipid fools or household drudges : tbey have no intelligent appreciation of the events of their own time, for though a woman may possibly, and at the risk of being called ' blue,' be permitted to know something of
the politics of Pitt nnd Fox, she must not, as she values her chance in the matrimonial market, venture to know anything of the politics 0f... the day. What is the consequence ? Every year the Englishman's home becomes less nnd less domestic; the master finds his fairy pall upon him, and goes to his club, or in less highly civilised communities, tc his favorite barparlor; the mistress finds her hero a bore, and gives herself up to the ball and the opera, or to the piquant scandal of her neighbor's tea-table. Men should change all this for their own s.-ikes. If they prefer intelligent helpmates and companions to frivolous associates, they should not muffle up the souls of their women as tho Arabs muffle their women's bodies. Wo say, simply for our own interests, let women be citizens as we are; !efc them be our acknowledged rivals even in the arts and sciences and learning. Their participation will help to purify and refine our politics; (heir emulation will make tbe race of life the nobler, defeat more tolerable, and victory more precious.
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The Nelson Evening Mail. MONDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1867., Nelson Evening Mail, Volume II, Issue 297, 16 December 1867
The Nelson Evening Mail. MONDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1867. Nelson Evening Mail, Volume II, Issue 297, 16 December 1867
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