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Press Cuttings
by [?]

BALSQUITH. Oh, yes; it’s all jolly fine for you and Old Red. You dont depend on votes for your places. What do you suppose will happen at the next election?

MITCHENER. Have no next election. Bring in a Bill at once repealing all the reform Acts and vesting the Government in a properly trained magistracy responsible only to a Council of War. It answers perfectly in India. If anyone objects, shoot him down.

BALSQUITH. But none of the members of my party would be on the Council of War. Neither should I. Do you expect us to vote for making ourselves nobodies?

MITCHENER. You’ll have to, sooner or later, or the Socialists will make nobodies of the lot of you by collaring every penny you possess. Do you suppose this damned democracy can be allowed to go on now that the mob is beginning to take it seriously and using its power to lay hands on property? Parliament must abolish itself. The Irish parliament voted for its own extinction. The English parliament will do the same if the same means are taken to persuade it.

BALSQUITH. That would cost a lot of money.

MITCHENER. Not money necessarily. Bribe them with titles.

BALSQUITH. Do you think we dare?

MITCHENER (scornfully). Dare! Dare! What is life but daring, man? “To dare, to dare, and again to dare”–


Mitchener, revolver in hand, rushes to the door and locks it. Balsquith hides under the table.

A shot is heard.

BALSQUITH (emerging in the greatest alarm). Good heavens, you havent given orders to fire on them have you?

MITCHENER. No; but its a sentinel’s duty to fire on anyone who persists in attempting to pass without giving the word.

BALSQUITH (wiping his brow). This military business is really awful.

MITCHENER. Be calm, Balsquith. These things must happen; they save bloodshed in the long run, believe me. Ive seen plenty of it; and I know.

BALSQUITH. I havent; and I dont know. I wish those guns didnt make such a devil of a noise. We must adopt Maxim’s Silencer for the army rifles if we are going to shoot women. I really couldnt stand hearing it.

Some one outside tries to open the door and then knocks.


MITCHENER. Whos there?

THE ORDERLY. It’s only me, governor. Its all right.

MITCHENER (unlocking the door and admitting the Orderly, who comes between them). What was it?

THE ORDERLY. Suffraget, Sir.

BALSQUITH. Did the sentry shoot her?

THE ORDERLY. No, Sir: she shot the sentry.

BALSQUITH (relieved). Oh: is that all?

MITCHENER (most indignantly). All? A civilian shoots down one of His Majesty’s soldiers on duty; and the Prime Minister of England asks Is that all? Have you no regard for the sanctity of human life?

BALSQUITH (much relieved). Well, getting shot is what a soldier is for. Besides, he doesnt vote.

MITCHENER. Neither do the Suffragets.

BALSQUITH. Their husbands do. (To the Orderly.) By the way, did she kill him?

THE ORDERLY. No, Sir. He got a stinger on his trousers, Sir; but it didnt penetrate. He lost his temper a bit and put down his gun and clouted her head for her. So she said he was no gentleman; and we let her go, thinking she’d had enough, Sir.

MITCHENER (groaning). Clouted her head! These women are making the army as lawless as themselves. Clouted her head indeed! A purely civil procedure.

THE ORDERLY. Any orders, Sir?

MITCHENER. No. Yes. No. Yes: send everybody who took part in this disgraceful scene to the guardroom. No. Ill address the men on the subject after lunch. Parade them for that purpose–full kit. Don’t grin at me, Sir. Right about face. March. (The Orderly obeys and goes out.)

BALSQUITH (taking Mitchener affectionately by the arm and walking him persuasively to and fro). And now, Mitchener, will you come to the rescue of the Government and take the command that Old Red has thrown up?

MITCHENER. How can I? You know that the people are devoted heart and soul to Sandstone. He is only bringing you “on the knee,” as we say in the army. Could any other living man have persuaded the British nation to accept universal compulsory military service as he did last year? Why, even the Church refused exemption. He is supreme–omnipotent.