December 12, 1911, To the Editor of The Manchester Guardian
Among the charges leveled at the suffragettes was the charge that their partisans were paid employees, “hirelings” who were more interested in their pay than the cause that they worked to promote. Davison’s retort to such a charge leveled by one Katherine Beaumont reflects the reality of the situation. Middle class and upper class women of means were able to “support the cause,” but women without financial security required some sort of support in order to allow them to live and to protest. Just where Davison fell on the spectrum of the comfortable is not entirely clear. She speaks in passing of holding various kinds of employment—secretary, journalist—all related in some way or another to language and writing, which were her passions.
Miss Davison writes from 31, Coram-street, London: — Your correspondent Katharine Beaumont, of Bath, casts some unfounded aspersions on those who lifted up ‘the voice’ on behalf of women at Mr. Lloyd George’s meeting on November 24. She repeats as the remark of one of the men ejected the remark made by Mr. Lloyd George himself, that the interrupter had earned his railway fare. None of the men themselves would make such a remark as that. It was Mr. Lloyd George who on a previous occasion characterized such men as ‘paid hirelings.’ If Mr. Lloyd George knew the amount of batterings these brave men receive on these occasions he would rather exclaim that such heroism was ‘without money and without price.’ Miss Beaumont asserts that the curse of the women’s movement is the paid agitator. That shows how little she knows of this militant movement, of the countless sacrifices of position, money, friends, and all that enriches life. She apparently is ignorant of the fact that most of the militant and other work is done entirely voluntarily by those who can possibly afford to do so. As for the few who cannot possibly devote their lives to this movement that they love so well unless a little money is given to them to keep body and soul together, there is a true saying that ‘the labourer is worthy of his hire,’ and surely never were there more devoted labourers!