E. Belfort Bax

A Word to Herbert Burrows

(13 February 1897)

A Word to Herbert Burrows, Justice, 13th February 1897, p.5 (letter).
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

DEAR COMRADES, The attempt at “bluff” made by Herbert Burrows anent the Legal Subjection pamphlet in your issue of January 30 will certainly deceive no one. A confident attitude is the last and only resource of a man in straits when all other weapons fail him.

It seems, from Burrow’s letter, that my information was correct as to the prohibition of discussion at a feminist meeting at which he was the speaker, though his explanation and exculpation of himself in the matter will, of course, be gladly accepted.

In Burrow’s opinion, it would appear that to publish a statement of law and fact without, appending the name is to be an “anonymous reviler.” However this may be, I, who am, perhaps, rather “nominous” in this question than otherwise, am always willing and anxious to “come out into the open.” Burrows a surmise as to the improbability of my presence at 337, Strand, on February 28 (based, as it probably was, on authentic information as to my topographical position) being correct, I feel it incumbent upon me to make him the same offer I made Mrs. Aveling more than a year ago. I therefore challenge him to meet me in a written debate on this question. Should he accept I shall “have the pleasure of showing him” that statements anent the position of woman, published in Justice and elsewhere as having been made by him, and which have certainly remained uncontradicted by him, are lies (I say nothing about “deliberate” lying, because I do not like to be rude). Burrows does not state whether his “refusal” to discuss, this question in the columns of Justice extends to other publications (say, for example, the new Social-Democrat) though I rather suspect it does. For I have observed that nothing horrifies a controversial feminist so much as black and white. The old “tags” and sentimental “wheezes” which, when spoken, bring plaudits from an audience just as snuff brings sneezing, the traditional devices for evading the issue – all these little dodges “won’t work” so well when translated into the cold medium of type, However, I make my offer, whether it be accepted or not.

In conclusion, I congratulate Barrows on the probability of his being capable of proving successfully on the 28th certain discrepancies between the law as stated by the “Two Barristers” and the law as expounded in that copy of Blackstone (!), which I am told, he carries in his bag on these occasions. On this basis he will be doubtless able to “show the rogues they lied” to the satisfaction of every sympathetic devotee of female domination in his audience, and I wish him joy of the cheers which will, as doubtless, be meted out to him in consequence.


Yours fraternally,
E. Belfort Bax


Last updated on 22.6.2004