Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.

By Israel Zangwill

(English poet and novelist, born 1864; has written with tenderness and charm of the struggles of Judaism in contact with modern commercialism)
HECKLING became a fine art, and even a joyous: for, despite all the suffering it cost them, they carried it through with such inexhaustible spirit and invention as to restore a touch of chic and bravado to our drab life and add to the gaiety of nations. Miss Pankhurst even managed to badger Cabinet Ministers in the witness-box.… There was no meeting, however guarded, to which, by hook or crook, organ-pipe or drain-pipe, she did not gain admission, padlocking herself against easy expulsion; while, even were her bodily presence averted, always, like the horns of Elfland faintly blowing, came from some well-placed megaphone that inevitable and implacable slogan “Votes for Women.” Chalked on pavement or scrawled on walls or blazoned on sky-signs, it became a universal, ubiquitous obsession. Streamers carried it under the terrace of Parliament or balloons suspended it from above. Cabinet Ministers were dogged to their privatest haunts, for the leakages of information were everywhere. Since Christianity no such force has arisen to divide families. No household, however Philistine, was safe from a jail-bird. If Lady Anon asked Lady Alamode when her daughter was coming out, it no longer referred to the young lady’s début. The most obstinate autocrat since Pharaoh, Mr. Asquith, has been shown similar signs and wonders. “We are the appointed plagues,” said Mrs. Pankhurst, with a rare touch of humor. And nothing has plagued British society more than that outbreak of religion which brought disgrace upon so many respectable homes. Incidentally, the prisons and the courts were improved by receiving critics instead of criminals. “We do not care for ourselves,” cried Christabel Pankhurst at the London Police Court, “because prison is nothing to us. But the injustice done here to thousands of helpless creatures is too terrible to contemplate.” Warders and wardresses, too, profited by the society of their new prisoners. It was like a rise in the social scale to them. Nor was even the Bench immune from education.  1
  “Boyle!” called the magistrate. “Miss Boyle” corrected the prisoner. “We always call our prisoners by their surnames,” explained the magistrate. “We are here to teach you better manners” said the Suffragette.  2

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