Page:On the Political Status of Women (Annie Besant).pdf/18

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which will give them the proper opportunity. But why should political disagreement be specially fatal to domestic peace? Theology is now a fruitful source of disagreement. If the husband is the free-thinker, he does not suffer, because he does not allow his wife to worry him too far; but if the free-thinking is on the side of the wife, matters are apt to become uncomfortable. There is only one way to remedy this difficulty. Let the husband feel, as the wife now does, that between two grown-up people, control of one by the other is an absurdity. Bitterness arises now from disagreement, because the wife who forms her opinion for herself is regarded as a rebel to lawful authority. Remove the authority, which is a tyranny, and people will readily "agree to differ." There will possibly be a little more care before marriage about the opinions of the lady wooed, than there is now when the man fancies that he can mould the docile girl into what shape he pleases, and the future happiness of both is marred if the woman happens to be made of bright steel instead of plastic clay. In any case, Parliament is scarcely bound to treat one half of England with injustice, lest the other half should find its authority curtailed.

The last argument, which is to crush us, is the authority of the Bible. Frederick Maurice warned people of the danger they ran when they "turned the bread of life into stones to cast at their enemies." Now, passing by the fact that many of us do not consider the Bible as the bread of life in any sense, I would suggest that using it as a pebble to sling at the forehead of Liberty has not, in the past, tended to exalt it, nor is it likely to be more successful in the future. Long ago, a king sat on a beach to warn back the advancing tide. Wave after wave broke into laughter on the strand, and the water rose higher and higher, till it washed the kingly feet, and began to surround the kingly chair. The sea knew no master. And so for centuries has religion stood, with the Bible in her lifted hand; she has warned back each wave of the rising tide of liberty, and each wave has rippled forward regardless of her threats. "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers," said the Bible to Cromwell, and Cromwell, though he took off his hat to the Bible, struck down the tyrant who strove to enchain the people. "Honour the king," said the Bible to Washington, and Washington defied the king, and founded the