29 DECEMBER 1866, Page 7

the proposal to enfranchise the negroes and increase the so

much moral necessity for them. We do not agree at all chance of defeating it. It was a proposal made in the same with Mr. Williams, of Oregon, that the grant of political spirit as that of Mr. Henley, a year or two ago, on occasion rights to women would be both needless (because they exercise of Mr. Villiers' Bill for diminishing the time during which the so much influence already), and dangerous because it would poor are removable to the parish of their settlement from three break up the framework of society, and turn every house into years to one. Mr. Henley tried to outflank the motion by pro- "a hell upon earth." We suspect it would practically posing to abolish the law of settlement altogether, but the be needless and, if given, inoperative, except as tending party which, voted with him were almost solely those who to multiply the number of votes given without altering wished to make no change in the law of settlement at all, the proportions of parties, or modifying in any way And this was so far the case with Mr. Cowan's proposal to the character of political measures. Ninety-nine out of strike out the limitation of sex in the district of Columbia, every hundred women would vote at present on personal that several senators professed their intention of voting against grounds, most likely as father, or brother, or husband wished, him in order to carry the Bill who also professed that they were and there would be an end of it ;—unless some talking women heartily in favour of women's voting,—for example, Mr. Wilson, like Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Mrs. Susan B. Anthony, the well known senator for Massachusetts, and Mr. Yates, and Mrs. Frances D. Gage, were, as Mr. Cowan prophesied, senator for Illinois. Both these gentlemen declared for the always "at the heels of politicians with their banners flying,"— principle, though they opposed the amendment as treacherous, in which ease the ancient Eumenides' pursuit of Orestes would Had the question been raised substantively, and not as a side- be nothing in tragic horror to the anguish of the owners of wind to get rid of the Bill, it is certain that, even after giving those heels. The positive arguments urged in the Senate of Mr. Cowan back to his proper party, the numbers would have the United States to prove the terrible danger of granting stood 36 to 10, and very likely still more favourably to political votes to women, were quite as poor as the arguments urged to women in the United States. Mr. Wade and Mr. Wilson, prove the immense advantages of that course. The only moreover, both of whom avowed their adhesion to the prin- effective line taken was that, in America at least, the onus ciple, stand as high in the general esteem of their States as probandi lies with the party who objects, and that this party any New Englanders in the Senate. can now furnish no proofs of resulting mischief at all worthy The vote was very promising, but the arguments on both sides of comparison with those which can be produced against other were apparently less so. Mr. Wade, the great advocate of the possessors of votes. If a case with very weak special argu-

female voters, admitted frankly that it was only because so little ments both for and against, but a general presumption in education and knowledge is needed to choose political represen- favour of all applicants for the suffrage, is sufficient to carry tatives that he was for completely universal suffrage. "If he the political women's case in Washington, they are likely believed, as some gentlemen did, that to participate in the enough to succeed in their campaign.

Government required intellect of the highest character, the But they would not be in the same position in England. Here greatest perspicacity of mind, the greatest discipline from edu- we demand, and we think rightly, that the inclusion of any

cation and experience, if only such persons should be admitted new class of voters shall be shown to be likely to give a new to participate in the Government, he should know that a repub- force to Parliament and Government, to increase our delibe- lican form of govenunent could not live. It was because rative force, or to exert a tonic influence over our Executive, may hold the Bible to be a miracle of verbal inspiration, some he believed that all that was essential to government for the may regard it as a very imperfect human record of divine actions. welfare of the community WaS plain to the simplest intellect, But between all these, discussion, mutual help, and mutual roc- that he believed this Government ought to stand, and would tifications are always possible. But between those whorely on the stand for ever." And therefore women, who on political virtues of a magical caste to summon God to the altar and those affairs have " the simplest intellects," need not be excluded, who regard God as revealing Himself freely to the individull any more than the negroes. Clearly this argument comes to soul without the interposition of any such caste, we cannot see this,—not that women would give any fresh power to the that any useful discussion is possible. The two elements only State, nor that their representation would secure the redress paralyze, instead of complementing each other,—and create of special wrongs (as with the negroes), but that they would mutual embarrassment, instead of enlarging the area of the be no worse voters than the most politically ignorant class of Church. As a mere question of taste, we often greatly prefer ordinary voters, and should not, therefore, be excluded for special the Bacerdotalists to the extreme Calvinists and Evangelicals. incompetence. " It would puzzle any one to draw the line of The former are usually more cultivated, more moderate, wider- demarcation between the female and the male, so long as both minded men, with a larger view of God's mercy, and a stronger alike were subject to the same law," said Mr. Wade,— sense of the value of historical order. But they work on a an argument much ridiculed, we see, by the Times' corre- wholly different and, as we believe, a false method. They spondent, but really the best which can be produced at the assert that the evidence for the divine authority of external present time, and an almost unanswerable one in America, institutions is more convincing to human minds than is the where the onus probandi is so completely thrown on the divine truth and holiness itself to human spirits. They want opponents of the proposal to grant the suffrage to us to find our Church before we find our God, to believe, if we any persons of mature age who ask for it,—where the may put it plainly, that the authority of the Church is more universal assumption is in favour of granting the franchise evidently divine than God himself. We cannot but hold without special reason against it. The truth is that Mr. that Dr. Stanley is mistaken in thinking that anything but Wade's second argument is the best you could bring, and in paralysis and embarrassment can be derived from any attempt America, under the present condition of things there, is of our Church to keep her hold on these thorough-going almost, if not quite, logically invulnerable. The positive argu- sacerdotalists, while her own most characteristic teaching ments in favour of giving women votes in America are very engages in a conflict so internecine with their first axiom of poor and very weak. The argument against refusing them is

religious thought. almost complete in the mouth of any man who goes heartily

with the present political tendencies, apart from the -woman question. There is no such argument for giving the

POLITICAL WOMEN AT WASHINGTON. women votes as there is for giving the negroes. No doubt

POLITICAL WOMEN may be said to be almost in view of their votes are less likely to do active harm. They will be their promised land. In the Senate of the United States, more intelligent, and when not intelligent, more "under —the aristocratic body of the American Constitution,—a direction," than the negro votes. But then there is no proposal to admit women to the franchise in the district of urgent occasion for them. There is no fear that women's Columbia has been defeated by a majority of only four to one, civil rights will be in danger if they have no votes. more aeeurately thirty-seven to nine. Nor does even this There is no fear of their being whipped, or shot, or proportion fairly represent the magnitude of the minority in turned out of street cars, or hung up by the thumbs their favour. The proposal to strike out the word " male " for vagrancy, or tortured in any of the other ways now from the clause enabling all "male citizens of mature age" so common in the Southern States, if their political to vote, was made by a member of the Democratic party, and privileges are indefinitely postponed. To give the negroes, no doubt with the view of defeating the Bill altogether, be- ignorant and narrow-minded as they are, political power, cause it enfranchised all the negroes and persons of colour. Mr. would be the greatest possible mischief for the nation, were Cowan, the Democrat who proposed the amendment, hoped by not the social injustice with which they are treated incurable carrying out the principle of ignoring physical distinctions to in any other way, and itself a far greater evil than even its complete logical consequences, and ignoring, therefore, dis- ignorant and narrow-minded popular constituencies. The tinetions of sex, no less than of colour, to throw ridicule on women can plead fewer disabilities as voters, but nothing like before we admit them. ,We demand evidence of absolute capacity, not merely of no sufficient rebutting case against a general presumption. If we admit the artizans, it is because the artizans have shown themselves faithful in times of trial to a very clear and intelligent political creed—because they have shown signs of acuteness and intelligence in political affairs greater even than those of the ten-pounders in general,—and because they have a special case topresent to Parliament on many political and economical questions which no one else can present for them satisfactorily. We can scarcely say this of any of our women. So far as women in general have any political wishes, they can get them heard as effectually as men them- selves. The Bill for legalizing marriage with a deceased wife's sister has been thrown out of Parliament, as members have again and again admitted, chiefly by women. No doubt if the men of the working class were duly represented, the women of the working class might have an opinion of their own on this as on other matters, and might carry it. But at present the vast majority of women belonging to represented classes have all the political influence they wish,—which is not much. If they want more, let them show the capacity to use it well,— the demand we fairly make of every class before adding it to the register of electors. There is a very great evil in merely diluting the electors with a great infusion of voters who add little or nothing to the significance of the electoral process. A weak and flexible element in any constituency which has no distinct views of its own, and is liable, if not to corrupt, yet to capricious influences, greatly distorts and enfeebles the expression of the country's opinion. We re- quire, therefore, and we think rightly, what America does not require, a good long political apprenticeship in any class which has not yet given evidence of its political intelligence and earnestness. We look for signs that they have tried to act indirectly on public opinion before we ask them to elect members of Parliament. We need a Parliament with strength and purpose behind it,—a Parliament chosen by people with a will and meaning of their own, and not simply by persons who have the minimum of political intelligence and interest that is requisite to prevent positive mischief. Throw in the women in England, and at present at least you would simply turn your political wine into neg-us. The time may come, probably will come, when women will know and care as much about political principles, and as little about mere personal politics, as men ; and if it does, they will probably have no great difficulty in asserting their direct influence over the English Parliament.