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WOMEN AND POLiTiCS. A REPLY.
The writer of the article oil "Women and Politics," in the February number of this Review,* claims to speak for "a great though sileut multitude of women," who shrink from their own enfranchisement because their already burdened strength would not be equal to the duties and responsibilities of voting at parliamentary elections. She claims exemption as the special privilege of weakness, and a concession to what she conceives to be the retiring, unworldly nature of a large number of women. And if it is argued that, if women were enfranchised, no woman could possibly be forced to vote against her will, we are met with the unanswerable assertion that "any woman could, of course, abstain from voting, but would this shelter her from being canvassed for her vote?" Alas, that no one tries to shelter us from canvassing other people, n far more unpleasant task!
As a simple matter of justice, it does not seem fair, or even reasonable, that the height of one's personal intellectual ambition should be enforced as the legal limit of another person's activity. it may be that "nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room:" but surely that is no reason why we should all be shut up in cells. i do not say there are not many who would prefer to have "protecting barriers between them and the rough outer world," and who are only troubled and alienated by any appeal to their sympathies from the wider life of the nation, and the monotonous and involved issues of our present industrial struggle. The controversy is a very ancient one. There have been contemplative orders, and hermits, and enthusiasts, in all ages, who have consciously limited their •The Living Age, March 9.
sphere of action and shut out the business of the world, that they may the better pursue their own ideal of holiness and right living. i do not wish to undervalue the beauty of Miss Stephen's ideal of gentleness, piety, and devotion. But there is still a place in the world and a need for the sterner virtues, the more adventurous spirits. "Honor, anger, valor, fire," were the qualities that Stevenson exulted over in his wife. "She was," he says, "steeltrue and blade-straight." And surely, even in this domesticated generation there are some whose hearts will respond to the ring of those brave words.
Patient Grizzel may have her admirers, but who would not prefer to meet Christina of Sweden, or even Catherine de Medicis, or Maria Theresa, or Queen Elizabeth, or any other of the great stnteswomen of the past. indeed, there are many people who would go so far as to feel more interest in Catherine of Russia, in spite of her indefensible moral attitude. Sir Walter Scott, with all his enchantments, could not make a heroine of the fulr but passive Rowena. Who does not remember how, in their lirst youthful reading of iraulme, they wept over the sorrows of the fierce Rebecca, and skipped the parts about the mild and amiable Saxon lady. And while there are lovers of romance and poetry still left among us. there will be many who find their ideal of a woman's character in the heroic soul and indomitable will of the Antigone of Sophocles. "Yet remember in women, too. dwells the spirit of battle." says Orestes in the play, and some of us are unregenerutedly proud that this is still one of the profound facts of human nature.
But there is another side to this question. However unpleasant or wearisome the idea of political activity may be, and probably is, to some women, as it is to some men, this distaste, founded on a peculiarity of temperament, must not blind our eyes to the wide and deep issues involved. In this work-a-day world, wheu women, as women, are in no way sheltered from the severity of the industrial struggle, it is idle to hold up to them as women an ideal of intellectual aloofness and seclusion. Miss Stephen speaks for those who "dread the suffrage," retiring, well-to-do people who fear change and exertion, and on whom the present industrial condition does not press heavily in practical life. Without answering her arguments in detail, I would appeal to her and others on behalf of those women who have something more serious to dread than the intellectual effort of voting at an election. Against the fastidious shrinking of the women who would feel their own enfranchisement too great a strain on their nerves, I would set the really urgent and practical suffering of another "very great and very silent multitude," the multitude of the women workers. The five millions of women who depend on their own exertions for their daily bread cannot afford the luxury of nun-like seclusion. There is no possibility of shelter or protection for them. They are. whether they like it or no, in the thick of the world's battle, and the very disqualification that Miss Stephen welcomes as a kind of privilege Is a source of disablement and extreme weakness in industrial warfare. It is a fact of common observation among people Interested in economic questions, that In every trade where women are employed (with one or two local exceptions such as the weavers in Lancashire) they are paid at a much lower rate than men can earn for doing the same work, or work of a slightly different nature requiring the same
amount of skill. This is no question of men doing more work than women, because this rule holds good of trades where piecework rates are given. Nowadays this question assumes a very serious aspect, because the old industrial conditions have changed, and it is a fact that, from one cause or another—the illness, drunkenness, or desertion, so lamentably common in our great towns—many and many a woman Is forced Into the position of breadwinner for others beside herself. Now it is no easy matter to keep several people on what is considered a quite good wage for a woman, 15*. or 20s. a week; but when we come to the multitude of smaller and lesser skilled trades that swarm in all industrial centres, such as tailoring, fancy-box-making, shirtmaking, folding and sewing, clay-pipe finishing, machining, and dozens of others, the rates in most cases are so low that the workers nre never far removed from the starvation level, wages of 68. or 7*. a week being the limit of the earnings of hundreds and thousands of women. In the Potteries from 7s. to 10s. is a very usual wage for women, and the Cradley Heath chain-makers earn as little as 5s. or 6s. a week. The condition of things that has brought such a large body of workers to the extremes of poverty has also had Its effect upon the professional world. Roughly speaking, it may be said that the present position of women works out in the industrial market in this way. Educated and qualified women are able to earn as much as skilled working men. The salary of many highschool teachers Is no larger than the male spinner's wage of 21. a week, and often less than the wages of tailors' cutters. The wages of skilled working women at their best are about the same as those of unskilled working men, and at their worst a good deal lower: whilst the wages of the nnskilled working women, varying as they do between 5s. and 10s. a week, bave no parallel in the ranks of the inen workers.
The only exceptions to this category are cases of special demands or special Individual successes, as the special demand among some classes of women bas enabled women doctors to keep up their fees, In face of the fact that public recognition and honor is almost exclusively a masculine monopoly.
The power of amusing and entertaining the public is so rare, and in such demand, that it is paid for irrespective of sex. Thus popular novelists, actresses, dancers, opera-singers, and music-hall artistes are able to command wholly exceptional industrial and economic conditions. But these are the small minority, the few who succeed.
The universal low rate of wages is not traceable to any lack of organizing power amongst women. As elementary school teachers, men and women do the same work, their hours are the same, they have to go through the same training and pass the same examinations. Nobody even suggests that women are not as good teachers as men. And yet under every education committee In England there is a carefully calculated scale of salaries by which teachers of every grade are provided for; and in all cases, from pupil teachers up to headmasters and headmistresses, men are paid so much extra for being men, and women so much less for being women. And this in spite of the fact that there are 30,000 women members on the books of the National Union of Teachers. Again there are 96,000 women in the cotton trade unions, and yet Miss Collet (Board of Trade) gives the average of women's wages at 14s. a week, a rate practically unknown amongst skilled men workers. With unskilled men or women, owing to the compara
tive lack of value of the individual to the employer, Trade Unionism is never a great success, because people always know that, however large may be the number of the dissatisfied, the employer can easily fill their places at a moment's notice.
The laws of supply and demand go far to regulate, in normal cases, the rate of wages. But In the case of women's labor these natural economic forces have not had fair play. Artificial restrictions, that have narrowed down the sphere of women's activity, have resulted in the overcrowding of the few professions and trades open to them. Thus the natural supply of women's labor, arbitrarily forced into a few channels, has, in every case, largely exceeded the demand, with the Inevitable consequence of a reduction of wages. When it Is proposed to "shelter" women from some sphere of paid activity, as, for instance, in the case of the barmaids, it should always be remembered that every "protection" of this kind increases the competition, and thereby lowers the rate of wages in the other trades where they are employed. But it is in those Industries carried on under Government supervision that the direct industrial need of women for the franchise Is perhaps most apparent. In the evidence before the Royal Commission to inquire into the wages of postal servants, it was very clearly shown how rigidly the principle of a sex basis for wages is adhered to, and how severely the able but unlucky women clerks in the Post Office are fined for not being men.
The post of woman clerk is the highest in the service open to women by public competition. Candidates for these appointments are examined in English composition. Geography, Latin. French, and German (two of these three): English history, Algebra, Shorthand (two of these three). The minimum salary for this work is 55/. a year, the maximum 10W. The maximum salary of the second division of male clerks (lower grade) is 250i., whilst the higher grade of the second division of men are able to earn up to 3501. The disparity of salary holds good though men and women may be doing very similar, and in some eases identical, work.
Again, in the Pimlico Clothing Facory, 15s. per week is considered a good Wuge for a skilled woman worker, whilst, in answer to a question in the House of Commons last session, it was ascertained that 23s. per week is the lowest sum given to the most unskilled man laborer. it is an undoubted advantage to choose your employers by popular election, and it is easy to see how the men are able to bring pressure through the House of Commons to secure a fair rate of wages for themselves in the Government factories; whilst the whole weight and prestige of the Government as the largest employer of labor in the country goes to set an example of underpayment and sub-contracting amongst women. The effects of this evil extend far beyond the 30,000 women actually employed by Government, and react on the whole of the labor market. All local bodies are bound to keep down their expenses as much as they can. Government low rates have given them reason and justification for adjusting their wages to the Government standard; and directly one private emplorer, seeking naturally to buy labor at the cheapest rate, begins to follow the public example, other employers are at once bound by
The Nineteenth Century and After.
the laws of competition, if they do not wish to be ruined, to reduce the expenses of production in the same way.
The whole question of the relation of industry and polities is too involved to enter into here. But it is nevertheless true that, whether we like it or not, since the days of Lord Shaftesbury's Factory Act we have seen a great change, and a gradual shifting of the ground on which industrial questions are fought out. Technical difficulties relating to obscure processes in different trades are now national difficulties decided in Parliament . Working men have realized this, and the great sums of Trade Union money that in old days were kept exclusively for industrial objects, are now devoted unhesitatingly to parliamentary purposes. The employers also have their political organizations and methods of attack and defence. it is not to be wondered at if, in the clash of powerful conflicting interests, the grievances and claims of those millions of workers who are not allowed to make their voices hoard should be ignored. The late Lord Salisbury said that the condition of the working women of England was a ''blot and a menace to our civilization." Miss Stephen, on the other hand, congratulates women on possessing the key to men's reverence. it may be that she is right, that men reverence "sheltered" women; but this i do know, that there are many hundreds of thousands of half-starved wage-earning women who are seeking yet in vain the key to men's justice. Eva Qore-Booth.
ELECTRiC WAVES AND WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY.
Five years ago, in the month of February, in the year 1902, Mr. Marconi, travelling across the Atlantic in the steamship Philadelphia, received a
•wireless message" printed in ordinary Morse type from bis station at Poldhu. near the Lizard. To-day such messages pass hourly between ships at sea, and from ships at sea to stations on land. and "wireless telegraphy'' has become a matter of such general importance that as i sit down to write this article representatives of the nations are assembled in Berlin to consider and, if possible, to regulate the various political and commercial interests involved in the new art. But in 1902 the thing was unique. How was it done? Who made it possible? And what is the physical basis of this newest invention built up with such mushroom-like rapidity by modern physicists? One thing seems clear. The man who "pressed the button" in 1902 was Mr. Marconi. But who set him to work? Who started the idea? And what equipment of data did the pathfinders provide for their successors? Was it Faraday, working, for the sake of quiet, first in a cellar at the Royal institution, and later at the Shot Tower by Waterloo Bridge? Was it James Clerk Maxwell, the originator of the famous system of equations known as "Maxwell's Theory," or was it Hertz, with his "philosophical experiments" and their epochmaking results, who gave the impulse? Was it to one or all of these great pioneers that we owe the marvels of wireless telegraphy, and what was the nature of their contributions to the subject? Here we have problems enough to demand a whole number of the Comhill Magazine for their solution. What can we do with them in a single article?
it will simplify our task a good deal if i say at once that, looking at the matter from the physical point of view and in the simplest way. there is no essential difference between the flickers of light used as signals by a savage tribesman when he waves a beacon to warn bis friends a few miles away of the approach of danger, and the invisible signals sent over the ocean from the station at Poldhu. The savage with his torch and the highly trained electrician
at Poldhu each in his own way generates waves in that "ether" which, as we believe, permeates every speck of matter and fills every nook and cranny of the universe, and the success of the signal in the one case as in the other depends upon those waves falling upon a suitable receiver, the human eye or some substitute for the eye, at the end of their journey through space. And yet there is this difference between the light waves produced by the savage and the electric waves generated at Poldhu. The latter, to put it very broadly, for there is a big gap, may be said to begin where the former cease. For, whil • light waves are so small that many thousands of them can be packed within the compass of a single inch, electric waves are so big that they may be feet, miles, or even thousands of miles in length. in all essential qualities, however, except in size, light waves and electrical waves, so far as we know at present, are identical. The human eye is responsive to the small waves, but not to the big waves. That is why th-big waves were not recognized until a special instrument had been constructed for the purpose.
The first electrician to construct an instrument which would detect electric waves, and the first to recognize an electric wave, was Helnrich Hertz. His account of his experiments was done into English a few years ago by Mr. P. B. Jones, and published under the title of "Electric Waves."
The questions asked on the first page of this article now resolve themselves into two which are comparatively straightforward. How were electric waves discovered and identified with light waves? How have they been applied to "Hertzian wave telegraphy" by Hertz's successors? Before we can gain answers to these two questious, simple as they seem, it will be necessary to go over some old ground, and recall for a moment some of the i'ea