Suffragettes June 5 1913





An extraordinary incident marked the race for the Derby yesterday afternoon. As the horses were making for Tattenham Corner a woman rushed out on the course in front of the King’s horse Anmer, and put her hands above her head. The horse knocked her down and then turned a complete somersault on its jockey. Herbert Jones. When the animal recovered itself Jones was dragged a few yards. He is suffering from concussion, and the woman, who had a Suffragist flag wrapped round her waits, and whose name is Emily Wilding Davison, is in a very serious condition in Epsom Cottage Hospital. The King made immediate inquires regarding his jockey, who has no bones broken.

The horses [writes our Special Correspondent] were nearing Tattenham Corner – the danger spot of the course – when the woman was seen to rush from the inside rails on to the course. At the moment the field was beginning to tail; but it so happened that the King’s horse – Anmer – was just then outside to Nimbus, Henry jockey to the French owner of Nimbus pulled his horse out to avoid the woman and swerved into Anmer. In a moment the woman was trampled down by Anmer, which also stumbled, and Herbert Jones, the jockey, was thrown and then dragged a little distance. Police and course officials rushed to the aid of both the jockey and the woman. Superintendent Robinson commanding the Metropolitan Police at Epsom Races, and Superintendent McCarthy in charge of the detective force, were quickly on the scene. The woman who had brought about the disaster was seriously injured about the body and head and was unconscious. Superintendent McCarthy despatched her in charge of one of his men in a motor-car to Epsom Cottage Hospital. An inquiry on the spot by the chiefs of the police disclosed little information beyond the fact that the woman rushed from the rails as the field was coming along, and dived between the leading horses and those which looked virtually beaten, and missing Nimbus, was ridden down by Anmer. It is assumed that it was sheer accident that enabled her to reach the King’s horse. At such a point, and with the filed galloping, it would be next to impossible to single out the right moment. But the woman’s object, whatever it was, was achieved at the cost of grave injury to herself. When examined at the hospital for the purposes of identification, the clues to her connection with the Suffragist movement were a couple of small flags and a handkerchief marked “Emily Davison.” Last evening the hospital authorities announced that the woman’s skull was not fractured, and there were hopes of her recovery.

Only those in the vicinity of the incident were aware of the cause of the fall of Anmer. From the stand M. Aumont had observed, to use his own expression, “that something had happened.” He was naturally watching his horse, and was astounded to see it swerve away from the field. His jockey explained afterwards that he pulled the horse out to avoid the woman. In this way any chance of his getting up with the leaders passed away. M. Aumont could not veil his disappointment at the incident.

There was great consternation among those of the Grand Stand when they saw Herbert Jones, obviously unconscious, being brought on an ambulance into the weighing enclosure. His Majesty left the Royal Box and came down to the Jockey Club terraces to inquire as to the condition of his jockey. Jones was for a little time unconscious from concussion, and his face and arms were injured. But it is gratifying to learn that he is recovering from the shock and the fall. The King commanded Superintendent McCarthy to bring him details of the affair. These have been briefly set out as officially furnished. When the cause of the injury to Jones became known a feeling of resentment against the Suffragists was only natural. And yet outside the Epsom Downs Station about five o’clock when the return to town was in full swing, a woman in the Suffragist colours was to be seen endeavouring to sell the papers of the cause.

The woman knocked down by Anmer was Miss Emily Wilding Davison, a well-known Suffragist, who has been sentenced on several occasions for acts of militancy. The fact that a Women’s Social and Political Union card was found on her, and that she had the Suffragist colours tied around her waist, suggested that her action a deliberate one, but [says the Press Association] people who were close by her at the rails expressed view that she rushed on the course in the belief that all the horses had passed. Some of the spectators gave it as their opinion that she was crossing the course in order to get to a friend on the opposite side, and fainted when she saw the horses galloping on her. On the other hand, an eyewitness regarded it as a deliberate act. “We were,” he said, “all intent on the finish of the race, and were straining forward to see which of the leaders had won. Just at that moment there was a scream, and I saw a woman leaping forward and making a grab at the bridle of Anmer, the King’s horse. The horse reared and fell, bringing down its jockey. Jones seemed to be stunned and was taken away by ambulance men. The woman was lying on the ground, and when the crowd rush on to the course the police surrounded her. She was removed on a stretcher.

On arrival at the hospital Miss Davison was attended by Dr. W. B. Peacock, house surgeon, and a surgeon from one of the London hospitals who happened to be on the scene. She was suffering from concussion, but it is not believed that there is any fracture of the skull. It is thought that she was struck by the horse’s shoulder, and that as there are no marks on her face or head she could not have been kicked on the head by the horse. She was still unconscious late last night.

The Queen sent a messenger to Epsom Hospital last night to inquire as to Miss Davison’s condition.

The career of Miss Davison is given as follows in “Women’s Who’s Who’s”:

Davison, Miss Emily Wilding, B.A. Honours [London], Oxford Final Honour School in English Language and Literature [Class 1], &c., Society: W.S.P.U.; born at Blackheath; daughter of Charles Edward and Margaret Davison; joined W.S.P.U. November, 1906. Imprisoned: [1] March 30, 1909, one month for going on deputation: [2] July 30, 1909, two months’ for obstruction at Limehouse, released after five and a half day’s hunger strike; [3] September 4, 1909, stone-throwing at White City, Manchester, two months, but released after two and a half days’ hunger strike; [4] October 20, 1909, stone-throwing at Radcliffe, one month’s hard labour on each count, hunger struck, forcibly fed, hosepipe incident in Strangeways Prison, and released at end of eight days; [5] November 19,1910, broke a window inside the House of Commons; one month, hunger struck, forcibly fed, and released after eight days; [6] December 14, 1911, arrested for setting fire to pillar-boxes in City of Westminster, Holloway, remand one week; and [7] January 10, 1912, for above, sentenced at Old Bailey to six months’ imprisonment; hunger struck twice with others, and twice forcibly fed; released 10 days before sentence finished on account of injuries sustained in protest made against forcible feeding; [8] November 30, 1912, sentenced to 10 days imprisonment for assaulting a Baptist minister by mistake for Mr. Lloyd George at Aberdeen Station; hunger struck, and released at end of four days’ fast; was attested on great deputation, together with Mrs. Pankhurst, June 29, 1901; January 19, 1910, won case against visiting Magistrates at Strangeways Prison, Manchester; has three times hidden in House of Commons – April, 1910, in hot-air shaft; April, 1911, in crypt; and also in June, 1911; marches in which took part – March, 1907; July, 1910; June, 1911; and July, 1911. Publications: Articles in Votes for Women and other papers. Recreations: Swimming, cycling, and studying. Address: Longhorsley S.O. Northumberland.

THE MORNING POST JUNE 9 1913 ………. Derby Day Suffragist incident – Death of Miss Davison

Yesterday a woman ran out to stop the KING’S horse in the chief race at Epsom, and her action resulted in serious injury to herself, and considerable damage to the jockey. Early yesterday morning some women succeeded in burning a valuable house near Trowbridge. In the night of Monday to Tuesday ROUGH’S boathouse on the river at Oxford, near the Long Bridges, was seen to be on fire. It was impossible to save the building or the boats which it contained. Nailed to the bridge near was found a card with the words “Votes for women. No peace till we get the vote.” The presumption is that the boathouse was set on fire, the KING’S horse was stopped, and the Trowbridge mansion was destroyed by some of the females who are discontented with the structure of society. Whether that be the case or not – it is quite possible that the truth may not be ascertained – the action is typical of much that has happened lately and deserves thinking about. Indeed, if we are to believe the leaders of the “movement”, the purpose with which these things are done is to make men think. The question is, What are we to think? The planned and deliberate destruction of property is intelligible as an expression of anger against the owner. But as the wellbeing of society depends upon the security of persons and property against wilful attacks, such attacks are regarded as crimes, and one of the principal purpose for which society is organised is to prevent such acts and to punish those who commit them. But in the class or cases which we are considering there is not motive or animosity against the particular person whose property is destroyed. Those who do them have not the personal hatred which usually explains such doings. If this were an isolated case, if it were found that a house had been wilfully set on fire by a young lady well brought up and accustomed in other respects to behave herself well, a jury would probably come to the conclusion that she was not in her right mind, and the Court order that she should be taken care of until she was restored to complete sanity. But the present case is not isolated. There is an epidemic of the state of mind which produced it; it is but one of a large number of similar cases. This frame of mind cannot possibly be considered healthy. The acts which it produces constitute a war, not only upon society as at present constituted but upon any conceivable state of society because it is impossible to imagine any community of human beings not based upon laws for preserving the security of property as well as of life and society, the propounds of the most astounding schemes for the reconstruction of the community, have ever propounded a plan which would not guarantee the work of and man’s hands against wanton and wilful destruction. The women who go about setting fire to houses seem, therefore to have their thoughts out of gear. In most respects apparently their minds work as other people’s do, but the epidemic of arson appears to be a form of monomania. This quality of the minds concerned noes not disappear under an examination of the alleged motive. These ladies say that women ought to have the same political rights as men, and in particular the Parliamentary franchise, and they assert that women are qualified to be members of the body polite. But it is unthinkable that a person who refuses to recognise the fundamental condition upon which every society is founded can be qualified for membership in that society. The person whose mind works in that way is inaccessible to reasonable arguments. There is no common basis of discussion between such a mind and that of the healthy man or woman. There seems, therefore, no escape from the conclusion that society has to deal with an epidemic of monomania.

Society, the, and its organs, the Law Courts and the Administration, have to deal with a problem of hygiene, and the question to be answered is, What is the remedy? In all matters of national urgency it is important to put the right question, because until that is done there is little chance of the right answer being found. Once it is clear that we have to do with disease it follows that diagnosis must precede the search for a cure, and the diagnosis which we have reached so far is too general to lead directly to the remedy. Place the house-burning lady in confinement and she refuses food. The disease becomes more acute. Confine a number of them together in a home where they will be detained and kept from continuing the campaign of house burning, and they will brood together and develop fresh symptoms. To treat symptoms is always unsatisfactory. It is necessary to ascertain the cause of the epidemic. In the human body pain, if not caused by some external accident, leads the patient to send for a doctor, who traces the pain to something that has gone wrong in some part of the organism, and the object of his remedies is to restore the organism to its normal condition. The analogy suggests that what is called “militant suffragism” is, like a pain in the body, a symptom of something abnormal, or out of order, in the social organism. It is necessary to ascertain the cause of the epidemic. In the human body pain, if not caused by some external accident, leads the patient to send for a doctor, who traces the pain to something that has gone wrong in some part of the ortganism, and the object of his remedies is to restore the organism to its normal condition. The analogy suggests that what is called “militant suffragism” is, like a pain in the body, a symptom of something abnormal or out of order, in the social organism. It is the business of the statesmen, or physicians of society, to find out what is the matter. In the meantime they obliged to treat symptoms, thereby admitting that they have not discovered the real nature of the disease. For the moment they are obliged to use force – policemen and the goal – and no doubt by that means the symptoms will be moderated. But for the ailments of the body politic force is no remedy. It may for a time suppress the symptoms, but so long as the causes continue to be at work the signs of distress will recur, though they may appear in different shapes

The matter would be less serious than it is if we, or anyone else, could offer a diagnosis. It is clear, however, that the diagnosis offered by the Suffragists themselves is wide of the mark. Their idea is that the body social is out of order because women have not votes, and that therefore to give them votes would put things right. Does anyone believe this? Is it not evident that this remedy would aggravate the disease? Some of the clever ladies who are the ferment which works so vigorously would initiate a Parliamentary campaign, and by way of emphasising the particular demand which commended itself to them, whatever that might be, would have recourse to the methods which they have invented and tried. Their proposals would be advertised by conflagrations, and their eloquence confirmed by brief periods of abstention from food. The epidemic would become the plague. We must reject, then, the diagnosis given by those whom we are tempted to call the patients, though probably the real patient is society, and the angry ladies are merely the bacteria swarming in its veins. The sore point appears to be the relations between men and women. The notion of the Suffragists is that the conditions of women’s lives should be, as much as possible, assimilated to the conditions of mens’ lives. This is their notion of giving women a chance. Everybody, and certainly all the men, are most anxious to give women a chance, but a chance of what? Common sense tells us that it would be good to give every woman a chance of being a mother, and every man a chance of being a father. But that result would differentiate rather than assimilate the conditions of the lives of men and women. It has become the fashion, perhaps by importation from abroad, to propose that any function recognised as a good one should be imposed by law as an obligation upon those capable of performing it. It is, for example a manly function to fight for one’s country if and when it has to fight. So it is proposed that every man should be trained for the purpose and liable to be called out when wanted. We could imagine a proposal to impose by law upon every man the duty of being a father and upon every woman that of being a mother. It is probably not a very practicable proposal, and we have no intention of making it. There are too many obvious difficulties. To start with, in this country there are not enough men to go round, so that at least a million women would have to be left out. But the mere idea of such a proposal suggests thoughts which might perhaps lead a statesman towards a preliminary diagnosis of the problem disclosed by the burning of the boathouse at Oxford.



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