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Address to Women Citizens.

“Citizens: You are among the few women in the world who possess the Parliamentary Franchise. You are the only women in the world, I think, who are potential Members of Parliament and possible Prime Ministers. I congratulate you on the dignity and houour which have come to you. I am well aware that some of you regard it as a Pandora's box, full of ills, with bright Hope alone as compensation. I suspect you realize that if you jostle men in competition for places and wages, and claim and use equal rights of citizenship, that you must expect an abatement of consideration and surrender. You have taken, you must be ready to give up. With the dignity and honour there are corresponding responsibilities and duties. Whether it be that your enfranchisement be a confession by men of their want of ability to legislate and govern, as some say; or whether it be a slow recognition on their part of your rights and capacities, as others affirm, Parliamentary Suffrage is yours. It is your clear duty to exercise it, and, in order to exercise it wisely, you must educate yourselves in the leading political matters of the Colony. In addition to household, social, and general literature, you must study the platform of the Defence League, and decide whether its conservatism and progressiveism will secure and increase the happiness and prosperity of the community. You must investigate the platform of the United Labour Party and conclude whether it is one broad and strong enough upon which to build a contented State. I direct your attention to the Land. Shall it be nationalized or retained by its present owners? And, if the latter, shall its annual rental value be appropriated as a tax for public uses? You will need to master the mysteries of the Unearned Increment, the Betterment principle, and the relative merits of the Land and Income tax, and a Wealth tax. Will you support the establishment of village settlements


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until all the unemployed are settled on the land, and, if necessary, kept there by Government aid and private charity? You must decide whether or not the Savings Bank deposits shall be controlled by the State and become available for founding a State Bank, issuing paper money and making advances to mortgagees who cannot borrow a current rates; and you must understand what constitutes a true Credit Foncier. The Referendum and the Initiative, as modes precedent to legislation, will claim your attention. The continuation or modification of the existing State school education awaits your decision. Shall the disputes between employers and employed be settled by the disputants or compulsorily by State Arbitration? Will you define the Standard and the Living wage? Shall individuals, firms, and companies continue to produce, manufacture, construct, and distribute, or shall the State assume the control over the instruments of production—land, capital and labour—and regulate everything, and distribute profits?

These are some of the subjects which, to vote wisely for members of parliament, you must study, investigate, and comprehend. You will require to extend your perusal of the newspaper beyond the columns devoted to the addition, multiplication, and substraction of humanity, and read up the topics of the day and the speeches of Members in and out of Parliament. It looks formidable and it it onerous; but if you are in earnest and conscientious it must be done.

Many talk as if you are certain to vote with the citizens who are your fathers, husbands, and brothers. I doubt that; rather should I say, I am sure many of you won't. Beneath most roof-trees, even the happiest, there are many matters on which there are two opinions, which are never reconciled, but the wise agree to differ. In many, too, the duties of the Home Secretaryship and of the Chancellorship of the Domestic Exchequer are most efficiently discharged by women, often more efficiently than by many men. The wife and mother has special opportunities for solving economic problems, and is often charged with heavy financial responsibilities, though the amounts are not large.

As Carlyle says:—“Men know not what the pantry is when it grows empty, only house-mothers know.” And I venture to think on all the laws affecting supply and the household commissariat, citizenesses will be quick to perceive, prompt to act, and resolute in their vote.

Not airy persiflage, nor vague generalities, nor windy theories, nor empty promises, will blind or satisfy the woman citizen who is charged with the responsibility that the table be supplied with food, and that the children be comfortably clothed.

The policy that will suit the Home Secretary and the Domestic Chancellor of the Exchequer, and for which I venture to think they will vote, is that, in industry, the industirous shall not be held in perpetual leading-strings, or be hemmed in by arbitrary restrictions, but, hand and brain, shall be free; that the national conditions shall preclude the domination of the selfish few and the selfish many, over the individual life; a policy that, in the spheres of hand-work, permits of choice both


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as to kind and extent, and protects the worker against the tyranny of one and of the majority; and which in the case of wage-earners conduces to just relationships, regular and full employment, fair wages, and which reduces to a minimum the possibility of ruinous strikes and lock-outs.

They who think that the vote of the woman citizen will be a kind of pocket vote for the man citizen who stands in the nearest relationship will find that they have reckoned without their hostess. A gentleman at the National Defence League meeting was evidently impressed with the truth of the lines on the pillar in the Dane John Field at Canterbury— “Where is the man who has the power and skill
To stem the torrent of a woman's will?
For if she will, she will, you may depend on't,
And if she won't, she won't, so there's an end on't.”

Where women are satisfied that men are wiser than they are, and that their judgment may be trusted, they will be much influenced, but where they are convinced that men are not very wise and are apt to be misled, they will vote in such a way that will surprise their erstwhile lords and masters, and other esteemed relatives of the male persuasion.

Citizens, you will vote, I am sure, as you think right, and as you please. You will keep your own counsel, too, and the issues of elections in the future will be much more difficult to predict than they have been in the past.

May I venture one counsel. Avoid “the falsehood of extremes,” and do not encourage legislation that aims at the impossible. Do not make the best that might be the enemy of the good that can be. Sacrifice the ideal for the real. Hold aloof from the meddlesome charlatans who proclaim that they can cure all the ills of the body politic, by a course of Legislative Acts, as quacks profess that they can cure all the ills that flesh is heir to, by a course of patent pills. For just as the worst treatment of disease is that which, for the sake of the outward appearance, drives it in to poison the fountains of life; so the worst legislation is that which, by undue stringency, provokes secret and sly law-breaking, and makes of honest men and women—hypocrites.

Citizens, may you live long. Be sure “that you enrol. May you vote wisely. May you bring in a better time, and be happy.”

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