November 3, 1912, To the Editor of The Sunday Times, “Suffragist Mock Heroism”
This letter appeared the same day as the next letter, “Bachelor’s,” did in The Sunday Times . Its different focus and tone show that while many mocked and laughed at women’s hopes for political and ultimately social equality with men, many others—especially women—were putting their lives and health on the line for change. Davison’s recourse to Christian example, and the example of Christ above all, is a particularly vivid manifestation of the spiritual dimension of the suffrage movement, with its call to martyrdom.
Sir,– In your last week’s issue there was a letter, signed anonymously, which was a tirade against the ‘mock heroism’ of militant suffragists. All down the ages there have been found those who would jeer at that which they did not understand, that of which they themselves were incapable. It is the hall-mark of ignorance! Under the shadow of Calvary ‘the laughter of fools’ was not absent and yet was hushed into awe by the majesty of suffering grandly borne.
The British public has had before it two such examples this week. In the one case the magistrate, who, unlike so many of his colleagues, had a perception of the truth, when he declared that the law holds no terrors [terror?] for those who see its errors, therefore refused to put the law to shame by displaying its incompetency to quell the truth. The other example is afforded by the speedy release of another young girl, who dared to brave all consequences in her just cause. ‘Opprimit leges timor’ [fear oppresses laws]. The laughter of fools is silenced in terror before that which is higher and holier than all things temporal. ‘Deus est in pectore nostro’ [God is within our heart]. Yours, etc.,
EMILY WILDING DAVISON
Longhorsley, Northumberland, October 31