Imatges de pàgina
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Ram Bagh Garden, which is situated above Agra on the banks of the river, a fisherman came to me and complained that my servants had dug a drain from the cook house and that from it dirty water was running into the river. The servants had made this drain by my orders, as I had a prejudice against the accumulation of stagnant water near to where my food was being prepared. On the fisherman making the complaint I hazarded the statement that it did not matter, since all up the banks of the river everywhere the natives were in the habit of depositing on its banks, as they often did at the margin of a tank, refuse which frequently fell into the water. The fisherman somewhat indignantly denied that this was the case, saying that men who would do such a thing must be of very low caste, and that higher caste people certainly always took pains to prevent the pollution of the river. To this I objected that the natives did not care whether the water was dirty or not, because a mile or two lower down the stream they were bathing at the ghats just where a large drain ran into the river. The fisherman admitted that they did this, because their ancestors had always bathed there, but at the same time he said they do not like the drain being run into the river, because the river is holy and they make many prayers to it. It appears to me that this incident well illustrates to what extent with these people cleanliness is godliness, and tends to make one regret that cleanliness has not been left a matter of common sense instead of having become. incorporated with their religion.

I have only attempted to describe some of the customs of the Hindoos in respect of their supply of drinking water. A further study of their customs would show that, with the higher castes of Hindoos, cleanliness and the avoidance of defilement are virtues to be cultivated in one's self and admired in others. Among the poorer classes and among men of lower castes these hygienic virtues are apt to be tempered with much original sin of the insanitary kind. But it cannot, I think, be denied, that even when only a few members of higher castes are present in a village they exert a beneficial influence in preserving the supply of drinking water from contamination. Unfortunately, their influence does not go far enough, but it appears to me that this is only a reason for trying to extend it in those directions in which it appears likely to be of use.8

The above remarks may seem like a eulogy of the caste system. This is far from my wishes. A system which enjoins that persons

$ For instance, I am engaged in writing a tract in Hindustani on the prevention of cholera in India. By way of advocating the imposition of a quarantine on persons returning from a pilgrimage who may possibly bring back the cholera virus with them, I suggested in my rough draft of the pamphlet that such persons should be regarded as unclean for a week after their return. But on translating it into Hindustani, I was unable on the one hand to find any word for unclean that did not mean unholy; and on the other hand I found that the custom already existed in the case of certain distant pilgrimages. My informant, whom I have every reason to rely on, tells me that Vol. XL-No. 236

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who are careful in avoiding defilement should be admired and respected, but not imitated, at any rate by part of the population, is far from satisfactory even from the hygienic standpoint. From the ethical standpoint, a system which tends to keep certain classes in a low position and to prevent them from rising to anything higher, no doubt leaves much to be desired. Further, it seems to make no distinction in importance between matters which might be of great use, such as those relating to the water supply, and those of trivial import, such as the position of the cooking vessels while food is being prepared.

E. H. HANKIN.

pilgrims returning from Goya and Budrinath are not allowed to eat with other members of their families or, I believe, to come near their wells, until they have bathed in the Ganges. I believe this custom to be the reverse of widespread, but in my tract I have explained its advantages, and suggested that it should be applied to every returning traveller, that his clothes should not be washed until they have been exposed in the sun to dry, that he should be allowed to bring none but dry food back with him into the village, &c.

1896

OF WOMEN IN ASSEMBLIES

I PROPOSE in the present paper to treat of the question of woman's co-operation with man in public work from a single point of view. I wish to support the general proposition that a real discussion of important matters, on which practical action is to follow, is impossible by men in any assembly in which women sit with them as fellowdebaters and fellow-voters. By real discussion I mean a discussion which shall be at once fair, exhaustive, and penetrating to all the vital issues of the matter. I make the proposition general because I believe the impossibility to be founded on a necessary relation between men and women, a relation as old as the Garden of Eden, or as any historic or semi-historic record. If this aspect of the matter has struck others, it has not, so far as I know, been publicly noticed, and it is possible that, unless noticed in the abstract, it would not force itself upon the general attention till public mischief had resulted in various directions from the neglect of it.

It will be granted that, with exceptions, woman is physically weaker than man. It will be granted also that, with few or no exceptions, she has enormous influence over him. If I could find a stronger word than enormous I would use it without fear. How did she obtain it? By fascination. Fascination is a word of wide and vague meaning, and therefore is a suitable one. One does not want to tie down fascination to one or two special methods, we are concerned chiefly with its results. Ugly women have fascinated men, and pretty ones, and old ones and young ones, and robust ones and very weak ones, and talkative ones and silent ones where found. I am not sure that a woman both ugly and silent has often reigned supreme, but I may be wrong. If so, she probably spoke to some purpose once. If they have all prevailed, it must have been from something which they had in common. The quality in common may be expressed by the word fascination. May fascination be described (not defined) as an effect not wholly dependent on the facts of the case? Woman's strength lies in having something to grant which can only be granted to the favoured ;' also in establishing such a relation with the other sex that any attempt to snatch the 1 It is a proverb tható kissing goes by favour.'

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favour roughly will be resented by other possible aspirants to it. From this has resulted a different way of speaking to the man from the man's way of speaking to her; an unfair way, let us say at once, if we assume the point of view and the object aimed at by both sexes to be the same. And there has resulted, too, that woman has prevailed to have it assumed as a social axiom that the way shall be different, and to have the sense of its unfairness lost in the sense of the objects of intercourse being different, as between man and man and between woman and man. And at this early period of my remarks I can conceive a champion of woman's public appearances saying, 'Oh, but this is all so antediluvian. It is assuming the perpetuity of an old-fashioned relation. This old-fashioned relation is one of the very things we are incidentally going to destroy. It is of no use to reply, 'Are you?' The other side will not regard the question as conclusive. And it is enough to call the attention of the impartial to the fact that the very women who wish to establish the right to every responsible public appearance are, rather more than the old-fashioned woman, precise upon the point of etiquette, rather more ready than the old-fashioned woman to say, 'Oh, of course, he could not contradict a woman,' • Of course he could not say that to me, because I am a woman.' Roughly speaking, men are polite to one another because they fear something; they fear retaliation. And this retaliation is a defence of exactly the same kind as their attack. And, roughly speaking, they know that words may be backed up by deeds, which, as between themselves, are exactly of the same kind. Ignoring all the finer issues of feeling which have grown up upon these original fears, such are the foundations of manly courtesy, with the result that manly courtesy is unexaggerated, tempered, and moderately truth-telling. That is, it fears no plain speaking but such as a man must give an account for to his equal. There is no shrinking whatever in an assembly of men from expressing the sense that folly is folly, and had better be cut short as soon as possible. And on this expression, and the fear of it, is all sensible and fruitful debate founded. No man yet has gained influence in a useful public assembly of men who had not been made to feel that he had conquered a hostile atmosphere and could live in it. He has been made to feel that he is acceptable to a body of men who, while friendly to all comers, would have shown their sense of a fool or a bore. It is not said from love of paradox, but from conviction which could be justified in detail, that the possibility of rudeness is the indispensable condition of fruitful debate. So is the rod an indispensable condition of a good school, though rarely used.

And there is no doubt that, neglecting the finer issues which are results and after-growths, the courtesy of man to woman is founded on the fear of retaliation, but what a different retaliation it is! The retaliation is the loss of favour, and the whole attitude of man to

woman,

woman is a request for favour. 'Here is this antediluvianism again,' says the New Woman. But the New Woman, like the Old, can dispense favour, except perhaps that she wishes to be asked for it rather more, and that she dispenses less. It results from this that in discussion woman, within her womanly limits, speaks to man pretty much as she likes, and will continue to do so. She will continue to do so whether emperors or presidents govern and whatever be the limits of suffrage. She will do so not as voter or non-voter but as

There is no form of government which has not been already tried, and under all of them the relation of man to woman has been the same—that of a despicable and cowardly tyrant whose every toil has been undertaken for her sake, who has been rewarded by her smile and abashed by her frown, and two-thirds of whose spoil, holy or unholy, she has less appropriated than had thrown upon her.

I shall by this time be gleefully reminded that the principle of the admission of women into assemblies which propose to take practical and legislative action founded on discussion has already been established in more than one sphere, and that I cannot hope to push back the hands of the clock. It is so.

It is so. And the whole question of the public development of women has been attended with assertions of limitation of their ultimate intentions which it is difficult to think can have been believed by any one at the time they were made, and which certainly were not believed by the opponents of the general principle. This system, however, of laying down a new limitation to demands at every step, and then crying out for logic, is not confined to the woman's movement, though it has been more systematically used there than in any political departure.

It will be well first for any reader who has attended a discussion club where the sexes are mixed to try and remember what has generally happened at these comparatively harmless institutions. No make-believe is absolutely harmless, but here, since practical action does not result, there has already been opportunity to study facts, which have developed themselves freely because no exasperation of a cause won or lost has followed. In mixed discussion clubs I think it will be allowed by the impartial that the arguments of the women are not really met and answered. I mean that the men consciously do not dissect and answer them as thoroughly as they

The women think they do. This is all part of the usual social game, with its usual limitations. It is much like mixed lawn-tennis. The real deadly unapproachable serve does not get delivered by the man to the woman, not even to the professed lawn-tennis-playing

If the man has had a nice father and mother I defy him to deliver it. In this matter of the body the women are more ready to acknowledge this, though they often dispute it; but in the matter of the discussion club the same thing happens, though it is not so readily acknowledged by the sex. And why are the arguments not

can.

woman.

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