« AnteriorContinuar »
standing in the dock for several hours with a baby in her arms, and that no advocate was assigned to plead her cause. Baghee lived with her first husband until he had brought a second wife into the household and until she had been driven away by the united persecution of her lord and master and his second choice. When she claimed maintenance he offered to take her back, and she remained until, unable to endure further ill-treatment, she slipped away in the night.' For the next ten years she neither troubled nor was troubled by her husband, but when in the course of last year she went through the form of marriage with another man his righteous indignation awoke, and at his instance she was arrested as a bigamist, and, as we have seen, promptly s. nt to gaol for three months. There are doubtless, many difficulties in the way of administering laws, which must necessarily be based upon native usages and customs, but there is surely no reason why England should sanction a penal enactment so unjust to the weak and the defenceless. If Baghee's crime can only be expiated by imprisonment, what is the penalty due to her villanous husband."
MEXICO. SENORITA MONTOYE of Puebla is a good pioneer for other Mexican ladies. At twelve years of age she had finished the usual course of study at the young ladies' Academy she attended, but could not pass a final examination as it is never given to pupils under sixteen. Resolved to waste no time she pursued alone the studies of botany, physiology, chemistry, and other subjects preparatory to the study of medicine on which her whole mind was bent. Before she was fifteen her father, an officer in the army, died, leaving the family penniless, and she at once, assuming the support of her widowed mother, took up the business of nursing, niaking a special study of the diseases of her own sex. Under a private tutor she studied Greek, Latin, and mathematics, and at length applied for admission to the medical college at Puebla. After much opposition she succeeded in obtaining permission from the Government to enter as special student. While pursuing her studies she has supported herself by teaching and by acting as physician in the women's hospital. She has recently passed an examination with high honours, and will soon receive her degree as Doctor of Medicine, she is now about twenty-five.
Art culture is also well developed among Mexican women. At the recent exhibition of painting held to celebrate the centennial of the Academy of Fine Arts in the city of Mexico, the second prize was awarded to Senorita Elena Barreiro, the first having been given to Felix Parra, a young Mexican artist of remarkable genius, now pursuing his studies in Europe.-Harper's Bazaar.
VICTORIA. In the Report of the Minister of Public Instruction for the colony of Victoria, presented to the Marquis of Normanby last year, it is stated that for the first time since the introduction of State School Exhibitions, a girl was one of the successful candidates. She has since taken
up her studies at the Corporate High Schools, Sandhurst.
ENGLISH WOMAN'S REVIEW.
No. CXVI.-DECEMBER 15TH, 1882.
ART. I.-A CHRISTMAS CAROL FOR 1882.
If it be true, as science would assure us, that the law of progress or expansion is in no case continuous advance at a uniform rate, but alternations of acceleration and retardation, we may congratulate ourselves that the record of the year which is now closing in upon us has been one of the most visible acceleration. It has many victories and no defeats to chronicle. It has witnessed the accomplishment of a fundamental reform in English law, and has carried forward towards their solution many other questions of the highest importance to women. It has seen their introduction into new fields of usefulness, and been witness also to an increase of good will and kindly feeling on the part of men, who, perhaps unwillingly at first, have been induced to cooperate with them.
Foremost among the triumphs of the year stands the passing of the Married Women's Property Act. This great measure, which has been emphatically called the Magna Charta of women, was carried at the exhausted close of the summer Session, in a House of less than eighty members, so that, as one M.P. observed, probably considerably more than half our legislators were entirely ignorant that it had become law. But the question had been threshed out” in parliamentary discussion year after year, till no new argument could have been dis
covered by the most inventive genius. A quarter of a century has passed since this measure
was first brought before Parliament, and a still longer time since, by the exertions of two or three undaunted ladies, it became the subject for discussion in the country. It has surprised many to hear that a measure, almost identical with this, which is įfraught with so much consequence to nearly half the community, passed its second reading in the House of Commons in 1857 by a large majority. From that day to this the slow up-hill progress
of this movement has forcibly exemplified the difficulties under which all measures affecting the welfare only of an unrepresented class, labour in the busy clash of active and powerful interests in Parliament. Can we suppose that any Bill
Bill affecting the
cting the property of Married Men would not have been passed in one tenth of the time? The Common Law of England which coupled the honourable estate of matrimony for all women who entered it, with restrictions and confiscations amounting to a practical negation of their legal existence, was so much in consonance with the tenor of public opinion, that for years hardly any progress was made. For ten years after Sir Erskine Perry's brilliant opening of the campaign, the movement was allowed to subside, its promoters being satisfied with a poor instalment of justice in the shape of a magistrate's Protection Orders. st only revived in 1867, and by that time the Women's Suffrage Question had taken form and coherence. Since then, the two movements have gone hand-in-hand, mutually assisting each other. Not one single meeting of the many hundreds, which have been held in support of Women's Suffrage, but has served as a lever to move the mountain of prejudice which weighed upon the claim of married women to their own property;
their own property; and on the other hand the successful issue of this agitation, by placing a large accession of wealth and power in the hands of the women of this country has hastened forward the time for the complete recognition of their equality, involved in the parliamentary franchise.
The parliamentary history of this Act has been already so frequently repeated that it is familiar to our readers. It was carried through the House of Lords
early in the Session, under the powerful guardianship of the Lord Chancellor, was brought down to the Commons on May 22nd, and after receiving some unimportant amendments, was finally returned by them to the Lords on August 16th, and received the Royal Assent on the 18th. "It will be for future days a monument of quiet perseverance and undaunted perseverance on the part of its supporters and friends, and of baffled obstinacy and slowly dying prejudice on the side of its opponents. In commemorating the names of those who have toiled in any movement which has endured so many years there must be some losses to record, and while the grateful thanks of all the women of this broad isle are due to Lord Cairns, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Bright, Mr. Hinde Palmer, Mrs. Wolstenholme-Elmy, Mr. Osborne Morgan, Mr. Hastings and many others, they are no less due to Sir Erskine Perry who initiated the reform, and the Recorder of London, Mr. Russell Gurney, who for years was its most powerful friend in Parliament.
The Married Women's Property Act is of incalculable importance to rich women whom it frees from the continual vexations and harassing interference of trustees and family settlements; but its chief benefits will be felt by the women of the humbler classes, who have been hitherto out of reach of settlements; women who could not afford to sacrifice a large portion of their little savings in order to secure the remainder into their own possession, women who needed to make contracts or to sue in courts of law for the management of their separate business, women who had known all the anxieties of self-dependence with none of its freedom.
To such as these, ja revolution has been silently accomplished in their domestic life. A woman is now legally able to sort of property of which she becomes possessed in any way, with no more reference to her husband than he need employ with regard to her. For the first time, it becomes her property not her husband's, and he becomes her friend, adviser and partner in its disposal, as far as she chooses to allow him to be so, but no longer the absolute master. Such a change as this is equivalent to a revolution, even if there were not
use any papers,
other possibilities latent in the measure which may leave, as the Times observed, little of the Common Law intact.
Next in importance is the completion of the Municipal Franchise for Women in Scotland. It will be remembered that this measure was the great victory won in the cause of women during the Session of 1881; but it was still incomplete, as it only enfranchised the women in the Royal and Parliamentary burghs. During the early part of the Session which has just closed, Dr. Cameron with quiet perseverance carried through a further extension of this Act, conferring the municipal franchise on female ratepayers in the police burghs which are endowed with powers of local self-government under the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act, of 1862. Dr. Cameron's new Act gives the female “ occupier of lands or premises of the yearly value of £4 or upwards,” the right not merely of voting at elections of the burgh-commissioners, but also of voting with the other inhabitants as to whether a populous place shall become a police burgh or not. This extension of the Act was manifestly necessary to make the Scottish franchise enjoyed by women as complete as the English.
On November 8th the first election in wbich Scotch women have exercised this privilege took place. As the voting was done under the restrictions of the Ballot, Act it was impossible to tell, with any degree of accuracy, the exact extent to which they used their electoral rights, but from the reports given in the Daily Review and other
that in some towns the women came in great numbers to the poll. There was considerable variation in this respect; at Airdrie all the female electors but four exercised the privilege, while at Ailsa, the next on the list, not a single woman voted; at Dunfermline also no woman gave her vote, and more than 200 did so in Dunoon. In many of the towns we hear that one half the women, who were on the rate book, voted. Local politics, of course, influenced the direction in which these votes were given, but that such a large proportion came forward on this, the first election that the new law has been in force, conclusively proves that women
are eager to avail