Dora B. Montefiore, New Age July 1905

Women’s Interests

A hint to women who like outdoor life.

Source: New Age, p. 441-442, 13 July 1905;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

At the close of the South African war an ill-judged, hair-brained appeal was made to women to emigrate in numbers to that Colony, with the idea of starting poultry and fruit-farms, and in some near rosy future, of marrying a khaki-clad, bronzed, be-medalled defender of the Empire. There seemed a likelihood of there being a rush on the part of “the odd women” who were stifling in England for want of outlets and careers; and all such were seriously warned in an article in this column against the blandishments of the energetic, but irresponsible, Imperialists who were luring cultured women to certain disappointment and tragedy, and to possible ruin. An offer comes now, however, from Western Australia, which it may be worth the while of women with outdoor tastes, with good health, and with mother wit, to inquire further into. There are in that Colony 70,000 square miles of magnificent soil, well fitted for wheat-growing, and dairy and fruit-farming. Australia already supplies England with more butter than any other part of the world, except Denmark; and the demand is constantly growing. The present Government of Western Australia, which is most democratic in tendency, has conceived an emigration scheme under which an approved emigrant may have a 160 acre farm free, or can buy first-class land at 10s an acre, the money payments to be spread over 20 years. Approved emigrants will be granted a passage for 412; and if possessed of a capital of £100, the passage will only cost £9. On arrival in the Colony, the emigrant can, if he or she wishes, go to one of the State farms, where, on payment of 10s. a week, practical instruction can be obtained on local farming conditions; and thus many initial mistakes, which might otherwise discourage the new settler, can be avoided. The climate is hot, dry, but healthy; abundance of grapes and other fruit can be grown with comparative ease; and – one important point which should induce women who think of settling abroad to choose an Australian Colony before any other – they would possess there the full rights of citizenship, and have power, through the exercise of the vote, to control the conditions of their life and labour.

Women lead, men follow.

The Women’s Trade Union Review tells how, following in the footsteps of the women, the men in the employment of the National Telephone Company have organised themselves into the National Society of Telephone Employees; an organisation which includes the Construction, Maintenance, Clerical, and Engineering Staffs. The women’s union, formed little more than a year ago, has now branches in Manchester and Liverpool, and boasts a total membership of 1,200. That solidarity amongst Government Telephone Operators is extremely necessary may be gathered by an incident recorded by the Women’s Trade Union Review. The annual increment to salaries is supposed to be 12s., but this is frequently deferred for varying periods without explanation. Recently an operator whose increase was six months overdue, applied to her senior officer for an explanation. She was informed that there was no complaint against her efficiency, but the explanation of the delay was that on one occasion she had been “discovered laughing contrary to rules.” That unlucky laugh cost the operator 26s., or two weeks’ salary!

The Sociological Society.

I have received the first Report of the Sociological Society, with an address by the Right Hon. James Bryce on the aims and programme of the Society. Amongst the papers contributed during the year to the Society, the most interesting seem to be one on “Eugenics,” by Mr. Francis Galton, and one on “Civics: As Applied Sociology,” by Professor Patrick Geddes. As both of these appear to me to be subjects of which women should make a special study, I am glad to bring under their, notice this first volume of Sociological Papers, containing, besides those already mentioned and others, a paper by Dr. E. Westermarck on “The Position of Women in Early Civilisation.” The subject of “Eugenics,” or in other words, the best methods for improving the breed of the human race, is one in which men and women should be equally interested; and Mr. Galton, in his Paper, recommended as methods for increasing and concentrating interest on the subject: –

1. “The dissemination of a knowledge of the laws of heredity, so far as they are surely known, and promotion of their further study.

2. “Historical inquiry into the rates at which the various classes of society (classified according to civic usefulness) have contributed to the population at various times in ancient and modern nations.

3. “Systematic collection of facts showing the circumstances under which gifted families have most frequently originated; the names of such families in England have yet to be learnt, and the conditions under which they have arisen.”

(In connection with this method an investigation by means of a carefully-drafted questionnaire is suggested.)

4. “The study of influences affecting marriage.”

5. “Persistence in setting forth the national importance of eugenics.”

Professor Geddes’ Paper on “Civics” is naturally closely allied with the above subject – the first dealing with the citizen, and the second with cities. The Times devoted a leading article to Professor Geddes’ Paper, exhorting the municipal authorities of our great cities to consider the sociological view of city development, for only therein was to be found the basis of an adequate civic polity. These Papers can be read at most public libraries, and I urge women ratepayers who are also municipal voters to study them, and on the basis of the knowledge gained to question the candidates for seats on municipal councils as to their grasp of the administrative duties which they aspire to fulfil.

The hatless brigade.

The fashion of riding, driving, and bicycling in the early mornings or evenings without hats is rapidly spreading, and is much to be recommended both from the hygienic and economical point of view. A hat is really only necessary as a protection from the fiercest rays of the sun. Against cold winds and rain, a hood such as that worn by French officers, officials and schoolboys is much more efficient and practical. That head coverings are a superfluity is proved by the French ouvrière and bonne-a-tout-faire, who invariably go out “en cheveux” – not to mention the Christ’s Hospital boy, who for some hundreds of years has discarded all head covering. Anyone who has ridden or driven in the long- summer evenings without a hat will never wish to return to hat-pins and hat-fasteners; and I recommend the practice to all who suffer from nervous headache or neuralgia.