Page:Women's suffrage.djvu/19

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15
SUFFRAGE QUESTION IN PARLIAMENT

helped people to see that Empire is built on the lives of women as well as on the lives of men."

"On the bones of the English
The English flag is stayed,
"

means that women as well as men have laid down their lives for their country.

In 1857 the movement among women for political recognition was stimulated in quite a different way. In that year the Divorce Act was passed, and, as is well known, set up by law a different moral standard for men and women. Under this Act, which is still in force (1911), a man can obtain the dissolution of his marriage if he can prove one act of infidelity on the part of his wife; but a woman cannot get her marriage dissolved unless she can prove that her husband has been guilty both of infidelity and cruelty. Mr. Gladstone vehemently opposed this Bill. It is said that "in a ten hours' debate on a single clause he made no less than twenty-nine speeches, some of them of considerable length."[1] All these things prepared the way for the movement which took definite shape in the next decade.

CHAPTER II


WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE QUESTION IN PARLIAMENT—FIRST STAGE

"All who live in a country should take an interest in that country, love that country, and the vote gives that sense of interest, fosters that love."—Rt. Hon. W. E. Gladstone.

The women's suffrage question in 1860 was on the point of entering a new phase—the phase of practical politics. Parliamentary Reform was again before the country; the principles of representation were constantly discussed in newspapers, and in every social circle where intelligent men and women met.

James Mill's article on "Government," referred to in Chapter I., has been described as being "out of sight

  1. Morley's Life of Gladstone, vol. i. p. 571.