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Press Cuttings
by [?]

MITCHENER. Why didnt you telephone?

BALSQUITH. They tap the telephone. Every switchboard in London is in their hands or in those of their young men.

MITCHENER. Where on Earth did you get that dress?

BALSQUITH. I stole it from a little Exhibition got up by my wife in Downing Street.

MITCHENER. You dont mean to say its a French dress?

BALSQUITH. Great Heavens, no. My wife isnt allowed even to put on her gloves with French chalk. Everything labelled Made in Camberwell. She advised me to come to you. And what I have to say must be said here to you personally, in the most intimate confidence, with the most urgent persuasion. Mitchener: Sandstone has resigned.

MITCHENER (amazed). Old Red resigned!

BALSQUITH. Resigned.

MITCHENER. But how? Why? Oh, impossible! the proclamation of martial law last Tuesday made Sandstone virtually Dictator in the metropolis, and to resign now is flat desertion.

BALSQUITH. Yes, yes, my dear Mitchener; I know all that as well as you do: I argued with him until I was black in the face and he so red about the neck that if I had gone on he would have burst. He is furious because we have abandoned his plan.

MITCHENER. But you accepted it unconditionally.

BALSQUITH. Yes, before we knew what it was. It was unworkable, you know.

MITCHENER. I dont know. Why is it unworkable?

BALSQUITH. I mean the part about drawing a cordon round Westminster at a distance of two miles; and turning all women out of it.

MITCHENER. A masterpiece of strategy. Let me explain. The Suffragets are a very small body; but they are numerous enough to be troublesome–even dangerous–when they are all concentrated in one place–say in Parliament Square. But by making a two-mile radius and pushing them beyond it, you scatter their attack over a circular line twelve miles long. A superb piece of tactics. Just what Wellington would have done.

BALSQUITH. But the women wont go.

MITCHENER. Nonsense: they must go.

BALSQUITH. They wont.

MITCHENER. What does Sandstone say?

BALSQUITH. He says: Shoot them down.

MITCHENER. Of course.

BALSQUITH. Youre not serious?

MITCHENER. Im perfectly serious.

BALSQUITH. But you cant shoot them down! Women, you know!

MITCHENER (straddling confidently). Yes you can. Strange as it may seem to you as a civilian, Balsquith, if you point a rifle at a woman and fire it, she will drop exactly as a man drops.

BALSQUITH. But suppose your own daughters–Helen and Georgina.

MITCHENER. My daughters would not dream of disobeying the proclamation. (As an after thought.) At least Helen wouldnt.

BALSQUITH. But Georgina?

MITCHENER. Georgina would if she knew shed be shot if she didnt. Thats how the thing would work. Military methods are really the most merciful in the end. You keep sending these misguided women to Holloway and killing them slowly and inhumanely by ruining their health; and it does no good: they go on worse than ever. Shoot a few, promptly and humanely; and there will be an end at once of all resistance and of all the suffering that resistance entails.

BALSQUITH. But public opinion would never stand it.

MITCHENER (walking about and laying down the law). Theres no such thing as public opinion.

BALSQUITH. No such thing as public opinion!!

MITCHENER. Absolutely no such thing as public opinion. There are certain persons who entertain certain opinions. Well, shoot them down. When you have shot them down, there are no longer any persons entertaining those opinions alive: consequently there is no longer any more of the public opinion you are so much afraid of. Grasp that fact, my dear Balsquith; and you have grasped the secret of government. Public opinion is mind. Mind is inseparable from matter. Shoot down the matter and you kill the mind.

BALSQUITH. But hang it all–

MITCHENER (intolerantly). No I wont hang it all. It’s no use coming to me and talking about public opinion. You have put yourself into the hands of the army; and you are committed to military methods. And the basis of all military methods is that when people wont do what they are told to do, you shoot them down.