Militant Suffragettes Astounded
On August 7 Mary Leigh, a suffragette, who was tried on the charge of wounding John Redmond, M. P., leader of the Irish Nationalist party in the House of Commons, with a hatchet, which she threw at the carriage of Mr, Asquith, the British Prime Minister, as it was being driven through the streets of Dublin, has been sentenced to five years’ penal servitude. Gladys Evans, another suffragette, who was convicted of the crime of attempting to set fire to the Theatre Royal, Dublin, in which the Premier was to speak on Home Rule on July 18, received a similar sentence. Lizzie Baker, her accomplice, who pleaded guilty, received a sentence of seven months’ imprisonment. A like charge against Mabel Capper was withdrawn.
The evidence showed that Gladys Evans and another woman were seen pouring oil on the carpet and curtains of the boxes and trying to set them on fire, and also putting matches in a cinematograph box with the intention of thereby causing a fire. The house was nearly empty when the attempt was made. Gladys Evans gave the police a hard tussle when they tried to arrest her. and cried out: “This is only the beginning. There will be more explosions at the next performance.” She declared she had gone to the theatre for the express purpose of burning it, and quoted C. E. Hobhouse, Chancellor of the Dutchy of Lancaster and a Cabinet Minister, as having approved of the line she and the others had taken.
She throughout the trial defended herself, but in so doing exemplified the truth of the old saying that a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client. Her plea was one that attempted to justify her violation of the law on the ground that in order to be successful in a righteous cause disobedience was not only allowable, but morally defensible, and she added that if Mr. Asquith, backed by the whole power of the country, would not permit her “to strike a blow for the honor of women,” she would disobey all orders. She gloried in having been already imprisoned for the cause, and in case of conviction and jail sentence would be prepared to stand in the dock again, for she “felt it was far better to have the number of a convict than to be without a vote.” The judge, unmoved by her plea, felt it to be his painful duty to pronounce sentences upon her and her associates that “would have a deterrent effect.” Miss Leigh, although at first dazed by what she called a “frightful sentence,” declared it would not have the deterrent effect the judge prophesied.