Littell's Living Age/Volume 127/Issue 1645/Mr. Ruskin on Women and War
From Peace Society's Papers.
MR. RUSKIN ON WOMEN AND WAR.
Mr. Ruskin, in his "Crown of Wild Olive," says that women, if they wished, could easily put a stop to war — that all war is waged for their sakes, and because they desire it. Although this view may exaggerate their power, it is certain that they could do much to prevent war if they would only be in earnest about it. Most women profess to dislike war; but when a conflict is imminent, they will not move a finger to prevent it. Is it not true, as Mr. Ruskin adds, that they "draw the curtains of their boxes and muffle the openings, so that from the pit of the circus of slaughter there may reach them only at intervals the half-heard cry and a murmur as of the wind's sighing when myriads of souls expire. They shut out the death-cries, and are happy, and talk wittily among themselves." A lay writer, in quoting the above, remarks, "Or if their hearts are moved with pity, and they meet together to prepare lint and clothing for the sufferers, it is a nice occupation, and they are rather sorry when it is over. They rarely take the trouble to inquire into the effects of war upon their fellow-countrywomen and the women of other lands. As to the military system, with all its surroundings, they have a positive admiration for it. Every officer is to them a hero, and a prospective Leonidas; every soldier is a devoted patriot. They will go out of their road any day to see a regiment, or to hear a military band; not simply for the sake of the bright colours and tuneful strains, but for the warlike element in the show. As long as women's practice differs so widely from their professions, it will be in vain to expect any good results from their influence upon society. Again, women must use their practical influence at home in the cause of peace. An irritable, unjust mother will probably make an irritable, unjust son, who will grow up into a narrow-minded man, incapable of comprehending the laws of right and justice. Public opinion in each country must greatly depend upon the conduct of the mothers of the nation. And further, let all women who have time to spare, devote a portion of their leisure hours to earnest work for the cause of peace in union with the men and women who are already labouring for this end. For it is no destructive and revolutionary work which the Peace Society advocates. It is the gradual reduction of the armaments which are filling the world with dismay; the establishment of law in the place of anarchy; the avoidance of quarrels whenever possible, and the peaceful settlement of such disputes as must arise. It is no unfeminine and degrading work, unfit to be touched by a woman's hand; neither is it effeminate and undignified, beneath the efforts of a brave man. It is the work of ennobling the human race, and spreading order, peace, and love throughout the earth."