Suffragettes February 20 1913






A house built on an estate owned by Sir George Riddell, quite close to Walton Heath Golf course, was partly wrecked yesterday by the explosion of one of two “bombs” placed upon the premises, it is believed, by members of the militant section of the Suffragists. The act showed deliberate preparation, and the police authorities regard it as the outcome of a conspiracy, of which they have had knowledge for some time, on the part of the extremists to resort to the use of explosives to terrorise the public.

For several weeks past the members of the Walton Heath Golf Club have been aware that attempts on the golf greens on the course might be made by the women, and James Braid, the professional, who is in charge of the links, made arrangements to have the place watched during the night. A number of women have at different times visited Tadworth village and Walton-on-the-Hill, and made inquiries as to the visits of prominent politicians to the course. Inquiries were also made by the women about the houses occupied by these gentlemen when they came to play at the week-end. The course is a favourite one with members of Parliament. Mr. Balfour has played there several times, and among the members of the club are Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. Masterman, and others. Mr. Lloyd George and some of his colleagues in the Ministry took such a liking to the Walton Heath links that they arranged to occupy houses in the immediate neighbourhood. Many attractive residences have been built recently quite close to the fine heath, and one of these was selected by Mr. Lloyd George, and was built by Sir George Ridd.


There is no essential difference between the breaking of shop windows and the carving of legends in the surface of putting-greens. Both acts violate the rights of property, and both indicate in the minds of their perpetrators a belief that the end justifies the means. It is not likely that any militant advocate of Female Suffrage will be dissuaded from further outrage by the repetition of truism. It is idle to remind such person that the rights of property form no small part of the foundation on which the fabric of society rests, or that the doing of evil in order that good may result has been universally condemned on abstract grounds by philosophers of every school. But it may be worth while to point out that persecution has always produced a result contrary to that proposed by the persecutors to be effected. The persecuted individual suffers, but the opinions for which he undergoes martyrdom triumph. The title of martyr is wrongly applied to those persons who break windows, damage putting greens, destroy letters, and, when sent to prison do the hunger strike. They draw attention not to their own creed but to its opposite. There must be hundreds and thousands of voters who a year or two ago would have listened patiently to arguments about the propriety of giving votes to women, but now have arrived at a firm determination not to support any candidate known to be favour of extending the franchise to both sexes. There are two sides to the question of Female Suffrage, and the upholders of the one opinion must be making a tactical error when they raise a prejudice in favour of the other. One word of warning to any militants who intend to attack the putting-greens of golf courses. The green-keepers, who create and tend the turf on which men putt, are artists. An artist ceases to be responsible for his action when he finds anybody wilfully injuring his work. Golf courses, even in the neighbourhood of London, are comparatively solitary places; and there would be small chance of rescue for an iconoclast caught in flagrante delicto. Personally should be sorry to hear that even an exasperated green-keeper had made reprisals in kind for injuries done to his beloved greens. The thing most to be desired is that everybody, whatever his or her political opinions, should realise that those who cease to “play the game” are doing irretrievable damage to their own interests. They are rousing opposition which is none the weaker because it may be unreasoned. There is a line in the chorus of a once popular song which sums up the present situation exactly. It runs: “We’re bothered if we’ll be bothered about.” After all, broken windows can be replaced, damaged putting-greens repaired. But causes are delicate things, and foolish actions can do them harm out of all proportion to their folly.



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