Item 115 - Extract from a letter from Lady Betty Balfour to Lady Constance Lytton(?)

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Extract from a letter from Lady Betty Balfour to Lady Constance Lytton(?)


  • 27 Jan. 1912 (Creation)

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Fisher’s Hill, Woking, Surrey.—Responds to comments on women’s suffrage by Bonar Law and others, and reports on her meeting with Maud Selborne.

(In an unidentified hand.)



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Fishers Hill: Woking: Surrey. Sat Jan. 27. 1912.

… I am bitterly disappointed in Bonar Law as reported in the Times—but Gerald says he is sure he said Womanhood suffrage which would have been better {1}. I have not looked in the Standard yet. Times sentence on Belfast seems to be ludicrously inconsistent with their anti-militant attitude, but Gerald wont see it. I thought the “Votes” article on Catholic Emancipation most striking as a parallel. Do read it.

Maude† (Selborne) was quite charming to me. She is working Suffrage very hard locally & she too is on her Hampshire Education Committee—we talked that too. About Referendum she agrees with me that Grey did not mean what he is supposed to have to have meant. It was only in answer to a question—& he meant “Oh! If the H. of Commons press for a Referendum, that is a new question”—just as he might say “If the H. of Commons cease to want W.S. the situation is changed.” But G. saw in the paper yesterday that Lloyd George too is coming round to the Referendum. This in the face of his former strong statements! I cant yet believe it.

Maud says we shant get one {2} Conservative to vote against Referendum, because they are keen to get it tried, realising that the machinery once established it cant be refused for other questions. But she believes if it were to be put in the form “Are you in favour of women who pay rates & taxes having the vote?” we should win.

She told me of a row she has been having with Pole Carew (Gen[era]l Sir Reginald) on Suffrage. She really is a splendid worker on her own lines—& she says Lady Willoughby (De Broke) is first rate.


{1} The reference is to Bonar Law’s address to a large political meeting at the Albert Hall the night before, as reported in the The Times. The relevant passage is as follows: ‘The first item on their [the Government’s] programme is manhood suffrage, which I venture to say was not mentioned before the election by any single member of the Government. And it is not manhood suffrage only. It may be woman suffrage as well. The Prime Minister has told us that woman suffrage would be a disaster, and in the same breath he says that he is ready to be the instrument for perpetrating that disaster. Has ever British statesmanship fallen so low?’ (The Times, 27 Jan. 1912, p. 10.)

{2} Reading uncertain.

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This description was created by A. C. Green in 2020.




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