Suffragettes February 11 1913



Mrs Pankhurst, presiding at the weekly meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union at the London Pavilion yesterday afternoon, said there was news from the seat of war. (Laughter and cheers.) Three women had been arrested for window-breaking in Clubland. (Cheers.) One read also of the cutting of telegraph wires, and that for several hours on Saturday communication by telegraph was entirely cut off between London and Glasgow. (Cheers.) Not only had the overhead wires been cut, but the underground wires had also been put out of gear through the blowing up of a fuse box. Then they read about the orchid houses at Kew. She asked them in face of these facts whether women were capable of waging warfare against an unjust Government without loss of life just as effectively as the allies in the East were waging warfare against the Turks. It seemed to her that what the women of Glasgow did on Saturday was quite as effective as what the allies did in Adrianople. The Glasgow women absolutely stopped communication on a very important business day between the stockbrokers of London and Glasgow. (Loud cheers.) They were not destroying orchid houses, butting telegraph wires, breaking window, and injuring golf greens in order to win the approval of the people who were attacked. They did not intend that they should be pleased. They did not want the gentlemen in Piccadilly whose windows were broken to be pleased. They wish them to be angry. One of these gentlemen had put down a question to be asked in the House of Commons as to what had been done, and they were particularly angry with her, and quite rightly so, for inciting these other women to commit these various acts. (Cheers.) Since they were angry with her, and recognised that she was the head and front of the offending, let her answer them that they were wasting their indignation and their anger when they attacked her. If the Government arrested her and sent her to prison as she recognised they should, they would still be wasting their energy, because sooner or later they would have to admit that the whole of this trouble arose from the fact that a Government claiming to be a representative Government would not make itself responsible for giving women the rights enjoyed by men.

Since their last meeting there had been some casualties. Some women had been arrested, but not so many as were arrested last March, although a great deal of damage had been inflicted on the enemy, as was the case last March. So far as the popularity of the Union was concerned they had no reason to distress themselves. Their membership was increasing, and their funds were in a most healthy condition. (Cheers.) There was no lack in the supply of volunteers to take the places of the soldiers who were out of action. In these days their only regret was that women were arrested at all, and they were particularly pleased that in the case of the orchid houses there had not been one single arrest. (Cheers.) There were people who said it was wrong to destroy in a single night choice flowers which had taken years to reach that pitch of perfection, but how many lives were sacrificed in collection the plants from the swamps where they grew, and what a useless sacrifice that was as compared with the great benefits which they hoped would come out of the destruction of these orchids at Kew? Was it not necessary for women to do these things in order to call attention to the horrors that people had to suffer in the production of these beautiful flowers? The latest development in prison treatment showed that women were being subjected to every kind of indignity. There was one fresh form of indignity left. Miss Margaret James, who was sent to prison for shop breaking, had been put to the indignity of an attempt by force to take her finger prints. The ingenuity of the Government had been put to a very great strain. Miss James resisted with all her strength, and she believed that the authorities had not succeeded in their object satisfactorily (Laughter and cheers) The women would still go on with their movement, and the ingenuity with which Providence had endowed them would be used to hold up the forces of the country until the affairs of women were attended to. (Cheers.)

It has now been ascertained that the damage done to the plants in the orchid house at Kew Gardens, which was raided on Saturday morning, is not so serious as was at first supposed. Despite their rough handling, none of the plants are irretrievably ruined, and the staff will probably be able to save most, if not all.



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