Dora B. Montefiore, New Age August 1905
Source: New Age, p. 490, 3 August 1905;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
After December, 1906, women who wish to take degrees at Trinity College, Dublin, will have to keep their terms and attend lectures at their University. Till then those women who have passed the degree examination at Oxford and Cambridge, can, on payment of the necessary fee, become graduates of Dublin; and many distinguished women scholars, amongst them Miss Philippa Fawcett, who beat the Senior Wrangler of her year at Cambridge, and Mrs. Bryant, head mistress of the North London Collegiate School, have lately applied for and taken the Dublin degree. It will be interesting to see what effect this action on the part of Dublin will have on the less progressive Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. When, in 1907, women students have to decide between the latter Universities, where they cannot get degrees, and Dublin, where they can, they will, as it now appears in many cases, choose Dublin; with the result that the two leading English Universities will either see their women’s colleges emptied of students, who desire the hall-mark of a degree or they will have to go with the times, and give equality of opportunity in the shape of a degree to those women students who have passed the degree examination. In connection with the subject of examinations, I note that Mlle. Josée Martin, the daughter of Mme. Maria Martin, the Editor for so many years of Le journal des Femmes, has just passed successfully in Paris her first examination for the degree of Doctor of Law.
Fruit growing in England is an industry that many women with a taste for country life might profitably undertake. According to the lately published report of a Departmental Committee appointed by Lord Onslow, fruit growing is the only form of agriculture which has exhibited any sign of progress in recent years. There has been an increase in orchards alone from 148,221 acres in 1873 to 243,008 acres in 1904, which means an increase of 63.9 per cent. in 31 years. In small fruit also, such as currants, raspberries, and strawberries, there has been an increase in the last seven years of 11.7 per cent. There is little doubt also but that there is a steadily increasing demand for fruit and vegetables, a demand which is met to a great extent in London by foreign growers, who can put their produce on the London market at cheaper steamer rates than home producers can do with English railway rates. It is, consequently, in the country districts of England that fruit and vegetables are dearest, and most difficult to obtain; and women who wish to make a Commercial success of fruit-growing should turn their attention to cooperative fruit-farming. After selecting the suitable soil and aspect in one of the southern counties, from 50 to 100 acres should be bought, as no security of tenure as a tenant is possible under our present land laws if the value of the land is greatly increased by the labour and enterprise of the tenant. This estate should then be sub-divided into 3, 7, or 10-acre plots, according to the needs of the dozen or twenty co-operative women fruit-growers, and a small jam factory should be erected in the centre, so that all fruit that could not be disposed of profitably when in perfection could be at once made into jam, for autumn and winter sales. Home made marmalade might be made in the factory during the winter months, and once a demand for these home made preserves, free from glucose and colouring matter, was created, few would care to return to the consumption of the ordinary factory products. Each woman co-operator would, of course, have her bungalow or cottage erected to her own design on her plot of land; and where two liked to join forces, money could naturally be saved in the building expenses. In any case there would be none of the loneliness and isolation of country life that so many women dread, whilst the expense of getting books, newspapers, labour, etc., would be much less when shared through co-operation. As a proof how land increases in value under fruit cultivation, the report already referred to states that land which a few years ago was let as agricultural land at £1 an acre, is now fetching an acre as a fruit plantation.
We have staying in England at present a distinguished Australian woman writer, Miss Alice Henry, who has for some years devoted much time and labour to the question of prison reforms in connection with the young. She was the first to advocate special children’s courts for the trial of juvenile offenders, and such courts, modelled on those in America, have been already instituted in some of our Australian Colonies. She was present the other day at an interesting meeting at the Home Office, with the Colonial Secretary in the chair, when the first annual meeting of the Borstal Prison Association was held. The present Governor of Borstal Prison, Rochester, holds what may be called advanced opinions on the subject of the treatment, both in confinement and afterwards, of the more difficult among his young charges. At the meeting in question, Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Prise, Chairman of the Prison Commissioners, drew attention to the circumstance that it was the first time such an unofficial body as the Borstal Association had ever met in a Government office. The members of the Association, besides undertaking as honorary probation officers the oversight of discharged prisoners, plead for such a change in the criminal law as will enable magistrates to commit to Borstal for a long period, with power of discharge on licence. At the close of the proceedings, Miss Alice Henry mentioned that such was already the practice in several of the Australian States, where many, though not all, sentences of offenders under 18 carried with them the possibility of detention in a reformatory until 21, but with the corresponding possibility of being released under supervision at any time; it having been found far easier to induce a lad to remain in a situation found for him before that period of legal control expires, than to place him satisfactorily at the crucial moment of final release.
DORA B. MONTEFIORE.