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Madame Robert seems to have been the foundress of the Republican party, which had thus by December 1790 come into being. It was not recruited from the suburbs or the workshops, its origins were in no sense popular. The Republic men were beginning to preach was of middle-class, almost aristocratic origin, and the first Republicans were a handful of refined and well-educated people, a woman of letters, a noble Academician, an advocate, some adventurous pamphleteers; an elect group, but a group so small that they could almost sit on one sofa, that of Madame Robert."
The societies of both sexes may be said to have started the Republican party in France, which was organised after the flight of the Royal family to Varennes. As long as these dual committees lasted in 1790 and 1791 the influence of women in the party appears to have been great, but it gradually sank into lower and worse hands, and the women wished to act alone."
The Society of revolutionary and Republican women, founded July 1793, and presided over first by Citoyenne Rousand, then by Citoyenne Champion, was not well looked on by the Convention of the Jacobins. The Section of the Markets denounced to the Committee of Public Safety the eccentricity of some of these women, who, dressed as men, wearing trousers and the red cap of Liberty, walked on the 28th of October through the markets and under the slaughter-houses of the Innocents. They were accused of having insulted other women and of having endeavoured to force them to adopt the same costume.
There were quarrels and a gathering of 6000 women.
At the sitting of the Convention on the 30th of October a number of female citizens were admitted to the bar, who presented a petition in which they complained of women, ostensibly revolutionary, who wished to compel them to wear the red cap of Liberty. The President (Moise Bayle) observed : 'The Convention can only applaud your request. The Committee of Public Safety is occupied with this subject. The Convention invites you to the honour of attending the sitting.' Then Fabre d'Eglantine got up and complained bitterly of the revolutionary women, saying that the clubs were not composed of women leading family lives of wives and mothers, but of adventuresses, single women, and female grenadiers. He moved that no citizen was to be compelled to dress other than as he pleased. He promised that Amar should give them his report later. A woman turned back to beg that women might be prevented forming clubs, as a woman had ruined France.
' Miall's trans of Aulard. • Revue Bleue, March 19, 1898, Aulard.
Two days after, Amar told the Convention that the Committee of Public Safety had demanded whether women could exercise political rights, take an active part in the affairs of government, and deliberate in political associations, and the answer was in the negative. Then, treating the question of women exhaustively, Amar defended the political privileges of men, and proposed to forbid all the popular clubs and societies of women.
Chartier answered, urging the right of women to assemble peaceably. Without asserting that women form no part of the human race,' he said, ' how can you deny them a right accorded to all reasonable beings?'
Basire objected for reasons of State, and stated that experience had proved that societies of women were dangerous.
The Convention voted the decree proposed by Amar on the 30th of October 1793. "The clubs of women were suppressed.'
Such is a brief and incomplete sketch of the action of women in the French Revolution. From it the present writer ventures to draw the following conclusions :
(1) The little known Madame Robert, whose political insight appears to have been most correct, and, judged by subsequent events, to have produced the most lasting effect in France, was associated with no violence, bad no vote, and, with the exception of the dual societies, took little part in political life. Yet M. Aulard, the man whose history of the Revolution is held in well-deserved honour, who has devoted a lifetime to the most painstaking and accurate study of his authorities, does not hesitate to credit her with having started the idea of France as a Republic.
(2) The women of the lowest class completely swamped the more educated ones. Madame Roland had enormous power at one time, but she and her party were cyphers at the date of the September massacres, and eventually she was guillotined.
(3) It is curious that the conduct of the women towards each other in 1793 was so bad that Amar and other Terrorists, whose ideas of liberty and humanity were not supposed to be very exalted, found it necessary to protect women from other women.
These conclusions at least merit serious thought. That they will obtain it is the hope with which this article is given to the public.
A. J. GRANT DUFF.
THE YELLOW PERIL
It is one of the penalties of the struggling materialism of the Western world, where nations of shopkeepers under armed guards worship their golden calves, that such ease and comfort as we enjoy must ever be marred by apprehensions of impending danger. To rouse us from the insidious sloth that is born of luxury and long periods of peace, our sentinels and our prophets must be for ever pointing to the horizon where, no bigger than a man's hand, hovers the cloud that shall presently burst upon us. Indeed, so many are the points from which danger threatens the prosperous modern State, so keen the vision of the apprehensive watchers, that many a peaceful citizen opens his morning paper in nervous expectation of Armageddon. Wealthy England, dependent for her very life on command of the seas, is become particularly subject to war-scares and alarms. As in the days of Bonaparte, the fear of invasion is an ever-present reality. A hundred years ago our bugbears were comparatively simple; to-day the world's everincreasing economic pressure and huge burden of armaments, the effect of sensational journalism on the imagination of town-bred masses, the swift action and reaction of political events in all parts of the earth : in a word, the struggle for life under conditions vastly modified by science, has induced in the civilised world a chronic condition of nerves, so that each nation goes to its day's work with a loaded weapon and a wary eye on its neighbours. England's eye is on Germany, America's on Japan, Spain's on France--each nation busy the while with its predestined business of annexing unprotected portions of the earth. Yet, at the menace of some new and strange bogey, like the Yellow Peril, these antagonists will run and huddle together, their feuds for the moment forgotten, in a common instinct of self-preservation.
It is a poor bogey at best, this Yellow Peril, bred by ignorance out of a bad national conscience : a bogey that must stand confessed a tatter'd boggart in the light of ancieñt history and recent experience : yet a phantom that has served, and should serve again, many a politician's turn. The modern world fears, even while it seeks, these grisly phantoms which make its comfortable flesh creep, and in the Yellow Peril the fervid imagination of
yellow journalists has found a perennial source of thrills and shudders. Preaching from the text of Japan's military achievements, they have assumed for all Asia a vivifying community of interests and ideals, attributing to the patient pacific millions of India and China a sudden and complete change of all their inherited tendencies, beliefs, and institutions. They forget that these inherited customs and beliefs constitute the very soul of a people, the essence of its national life; they ignore the fact that the Spartan qualities of endurance and energy which animate the statesmen and warriors of unconquered Japan are the ripe fruit of long centuries of training and sustained ideals; and, forgetting these truths, they hear, in the intellectual and emotional ferment of India and China the rumble of the distant drums that shall lead new conquering hordes to the overthrow of Europe's civilisation. Not from the barren mountain-lands of Turkestan and Manchuria, as of old, are to come the fierce invading hosts, but from the long-gowned peaceful peoples of the great plains, from those races whose philosophy and ideals have made them, through long centuries, the unresisting victims of invasion and tyranny.
It is a fantastic dream, reflecting, no doubt, the eternal and unbreakable spell of the Orient over the West, the unconscious reverence that materialism pays to intellectual dignity, but wholly lacking, nevertheless, in historical sense and recognition of fundamental conditions. For it is impossible, considering the actual and historic facts of Asiatic life, to assume for the East that unity of purposes and ideals which is the basic assùmption underlying the Yellow Peril : as impossible as to imagine an effective coalition of Western Europe against North or South America. The stern law of nature and evolution, which prescribes the survival of the fittest, is not suspended in Asia ; there are predestined hewers of wood and drawers of water amongst its peoples to-day as in the time of Joshua-a fact emphasised by the recent history of Korea. Neither patriotic student, politician, nor fervent ideal. ist can take from Asia, by any incantation of new formulæ, her deep-rooted instincts and beliefs, bred of long centuries of isolation, of the Confucian philosophy and Buddha's contemplative creed-instincts and beliefs that have made the whole inspiration of Oriental philosophy and civilisation essentially non-aggressive, and have made the Chinese, in particular, a race of passive resisters. Neither warrior class nor code of chivalry exists in China, like that of bushido in Japan, to temper the hereditary servility of the masses with precepts and examples of loyalty, valour, and endurance; and the recent manifestations of political and social unrest amongst the educated classes reveal but little hope of national unity and cohesion for the future. By all precedents and principles of history, it must require several generations of patient
educative process to develop in the Chinese people the qualities requisite for military and administrative efficiency.
The Manchu tribute-eaters have gone their ignominious way to obscurity; Sun Yat-Sen and his following of book-taught theorists have proclaimed the dawn of a new era in the Chinese Republic; and already, amidst the tumult and the shouting of leaders who have not learned to lead, the North is ranging itself against the South in rivalry, whilst Mongolia looks towards Russia for protection, Thibet casts off her allegiance, and Manchuria prepares to follow Korea on the path of geographical gravitation.
Nevertheless, and in spite of all these things, the Yellow Peril bogey continues to oppress the imagination of the Western world : this persistent vision of the Chinese race, roused from its long lethargy, and feverishly arming itself for wars of conquest and revenge. It is a ghost that refuses to be lightly laid. Only a few weeks ago the British Press, gravely discussing the decision of the National Assembly at Nanking to introduce national conscription (they might as well have decided to introduce the minimum wage), estimated China's standing army of the near future at forty millions of men. Some of the most critical and competent of recent observers have succumbed to this obsession, and to that tendency towards generalisation which seeks a common battle-cry for India, China, and Japan. Professor Reinsch, for instance, whose scholarly work on 'The Intellectual and Political Currents in the Far East' deserves more than passing attention, has studied the history and literature of China sufficiently to realise and to declare that 'no more fantastic idea has ever played a part in serious politics than that of the military Yellow Peril.' He knows that 'the traditional temper of the Chinese is eminently pacific and quietist.' Yet he apparently ignores the results which follow naturally from the emotional and idealistic qualities of this word-spinning people -qualities which greatly detract from the ostensible importance of its Imperial Edicts and other official pronouncements. Because of the vigorous wording of the Edict of April 1911 on military reform, he is led to believe, in spite of his own convictions, that:
Today we are witnessing the awakening of this vast people to new energies and to more active conduct of affairs. Peaceful China, the land of non-assertion, is fast becoming military. The ideal of national energy, efficiency and strength expresses itself in all public utterances. Great sacrifices are made for military preparation, and throughout the provinces even the children in the schools are put into uniforms and trained in soldierly fashion.