15 March, 1913
The Saturday Review.
concern the franchise, but merely the municipal vole,
elsewhere has gradually been pressed into the service
which F##ench women do not vel possess; finally, we
of industrialism, they have so far failed to rcalise that
lind that in the mass of journalistic chitchat apparently
P corporative organisation is their only chance, and they
devoted to suffragism there is mostly question ol the
are not likely to place it in a mere political reform ar
much wider claims of feminism, andthe confusion arises
atime when the strongest impression in the milicus
from insuflicient interest. When weare told that eighi
to which they belong is the absolute futilityof politics
million women leave their home every day 1o work, and
und the worthlessness of politicians, It is not when
that a great many of them are underpaid and placed
imperialism or something like it is in the air, and when
on a terrible dilemma, that over u hundred and
the popular reform of the exisling suffrage might be
fiftr thousand State servants are woinen, und thaf this
transformed with the lenst dexterily into positive
being a new development corresponding changes ought
inequality, that a demonstration in the spirit of 1848
to follow, we know we are in presence ol in cco¬
can have ang serious chances. The only women who
nomie, not of a political problem; and is we sce cleurly
sccm to have the proper suffragist spirit are the handful
that ihe cconomic solutions are gillieult, we do not
of women-professors, doctors and lawyers who form
perceive how the franchise for women cnn help 10 lind
the kernel of Madame Vincent’s Union, and it is re¬
them: there are cnough unsolved economie problemns
markable that they secm to be, as a rule, mere indi¬
for men who, however, are elcctors. A great deal of
vidualists with no corporative tendencies: this, being
interpreted, means that they are politicians in desire, and
all this is mere talk.
they have come too late in loo old a world.
Probably the coincidence ol the English agitation
But if Suffragism is little better than a name in
with two Parisian events—a play bv M. Brieux, and
this country, and if, supposing it were left to its natural
another by M. Donnay—is responsible for the corre¬
champions, it would soon vanish from public attention,
sponding movements in the conversations and the flood
it does not follow that the suffrage will not, sooner or
of empty prose in the newspapers. The stage some¬
later, be givento women. There exists atthe Ministry
times mirrors society, it often irritates passions, it
of Justice a Board for the Reform of the Civil Code, in
hardly ever helps or even presents with any force or
which the intuitions of men like M. Brieux, M. Prévost
clarity a controverted question. M. Brieux, who
andthe brothers Margueritte have long collaborated
appears to many people as a sort of oracle, may be a
with the more practical knowledge of jurists like the
remarkable dramatist; he is only a geod dramatist
late Raymond Saleilles, and the efforts of these men
because he does not approach his subjects onthe stage
have already eliminated some of the more shocking legal
as he does in the artieles which cause him to be
incqualities between men and women. Such results,
regarded as an craele. How does he enlighten us on
as well as those obtained at the Labour Oflice by the
the future of the working woman by telling us in“ La
Conseil du Travail, do more for the adjustment of
Femme Seule?' that his heroine Thérèse was engaged
to a cad who gave her up when he found she was no
wrongs than all the outward agitation of stage, Press
and publie demonstrations.
heiress as he thought, that she tried to get work Trom
The extension of suftrage prepared by the juridical
another cad, or worse than cad, who took advantage of
studies ofthe Board may be realised some dav in Parlia¬
her destitution, that she started a business exclusively
employing women, and so drew on herself the Turious
ment by a tacit understanding of the Socialists with
a group of Conservatives believing in it for mere poli¬
jealousy of male rivals, that eventually end number one
turned out to be a good fellow after all, and married
tical reasons. There are no signs of this change besides
Thérèse, who was not very loth? We do not see ilg
the sees C DusS
we only sce a more or less successful play with onc
Buisson which I mentioned above, but the groups in
Parliament are as reticent as the Chamber itself is
dramatic iden¬the possible antagonism of men and
women—which nobody wishes to see come truc. But
talkative, and in the present instance quiet is the best
as M. Brieux after his play wrote highly feminist com¬
help. If French women were rabid instead of being in¬
ments on it in the papers, the effect was the same as
different or amused on the subject, their chances would
if the play itself had been a valuable contribution to
be small, for Suffragism is the worst enemy of the#
the discussion ofthe suffrage. In“ Les Eclaireuses?'—
suffrage. As it is, they may find themselves voters
now on at the Comédie-Marigny—M. Donnay makes a
without having fretted over the vote, and this alone
ruthless satire of the militant feminists, among whom
matters; the English suffragists will find that their life
a silly little creature happens to fall after giving up a
was much more exciting when they were non¬voters
good husband and before marrying another far inferior;
than when they are; and what is the good of only
but this dees not prevent M. Victor Margueritte—a
changing disappointments?
great apostle of the cause, whose chief merit is to be

the brother of Paul Margueritte—from writing exult¬
ingly in the“ Figaro?' of the service done to the!
emancipation of women by M. Donnay. A good deal
of uncriticalness and a little enthusiasm go a long way,
EMESIS is not a myth. I was a weck ago
andthere is little else in the French interest in Women’s
lamenting that in the dramatic world to-day it
#is always afterncon; that there is nothing worth
There is not the least doubt that if the question
beating one’s brains about, or beating out the brains
were left to women, ihe suffrage would soon ecase even
of other people; that the present position is made up
to be talked about in France. With verv few excep¬
of causes alrendy lost, or causes not yet in being.
tions the more refined women are not only indifferent
Immediately the“ Stage Society?’ presents the London
but decidedly opposedtoit: whether it be from modesty
critics with a Schnitzler matinée, and immediately every
or from coquettishness, thevthink it unwomanly; they
blockhead is a prophet in his own country. No longer
refuse to enter into the niccties of the question, but
is it a question of having no heads to hit. It is worse.
they feel that the effort of the Suffragists to carry their
The heads are, in more senses than one, so thick that
point betrays more sexual antagonism than the resist¬
enterprise becomes absurd. Fighting is well enough;
ance of the men; they realise more or less explicitly
but butchery is vulgar. One fears to be caught at
that if it takes a fool to deny the fundamental equality
the limit of onc’s passion, like Ajax among the herds.
of the sexes, it takes the silly uxoriousness of a suffra¬
Schnitzler’s critics are past argument:
gette’s husband to assert it outside the smoking-room;
in short, thev fear that serious inconveniences are lurk¬
The nursery lisps out in all they utter;
ing under the superficial ludicrousness of the whol
Besides, they always smell of bread and butter *.
affair; with that rare specimen of shrewdness and
To some of my readers Schnitzler may be little more
energy, ihe French middle-class woman, the case is
than a name. Let me therefore explain by analogy the
clearer. She is fully convinced that if she had to vote
Precise character of the blunders so thickly scattered
she would vote sensibly, but in the meantime she thinks
through the newspapers of Tuesday last. The out¬
all this talk about nothing a foolish waste of time; as
10 the army of working women, which in France ás rages perpetrated bythe London critics upon Schnitzler