Alice Duer Miller.

Are Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times online

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Father, what is a Legislature?

A representative body elected by the people of the state.

Are women people?

No, my son, criminals, lunatics and women are not people.

Do legislators legislate for nothing?

Oh, no; they are paid a salary.

By whom?

By the people.

Are women people?

Of course, my son, just as much as men are.

To the New York Tribune, in whose generous columns many of these
verses first appeared, the author here wishes to express her gratitude.









A Consistent Anti to Her Son

("Look at the hazards, the risks, the physical dangers that ladies would
be exposed to at the polls." - _Anti-suffrage speech_.)

You're twenty-one to-day, Willie,
And a danger lurks at the door,
I've known about it always,
But I never spoke before;
When you were only a baby
It seemed so very remote,
But you're twenty-one to-day, Willie,
And old enough to vote.

You must not go to the polls, Willie,
Never go to the polls,
They're dark and dreadful places
Where many lose their souls;
They smirch, degrade and coarsen,
Terrible things they do
To quiet, elderly women -
What would they do to you!

If you've a boyish fancy
For any measure or man,
Tell me, and I'll tell Father,
He'll vote for it, if he can.
He casts my vote, and Louisa's,
And Sarah, and dear Aunt Clo;
Wouldn't you let him vote for you?
Father, who loves you so?

I've guarded you always, Willie,
Body and soul from harm;
I'll guard your faith and honor,
Your innocence and charm
From the polls and their evil spirits,
Politics, rum and pelf;
Do you think I'd send my only son
Where I would not go myself?

Our Idea of Nothing at All

("I am opposed to woman suffrage, but I am not opposed to
woman." - _Anti-suffrage speech of Mr. Webb of North Carolina_.)

O women, have you heard the news
Of charity and grace?
Look, look, how joy and gratitude
Are beaming in my face!
For Mr. Webb is not opposed
To woman in her place!

O Mr. Webb, how kind you are
To let us live at all,
To let us light the kitchen range
And tidy up the hall;
To tolerate the female sex
In spite of Adam's fall.

O girls, suppose that Mr. Webb
Should alter his decree!
Suppose he were opposed to us -
Opposed to you and me.
What would be left for us to do -
Except to cease to be?

Lines to Mr. Bowdle of Ohio

("The women of this smart capital are beautiful. Their beauty is
disturbing to business; their feet are beautiful, their ankles are
beautiful, but here I must pause." - _Mr. Bowdle's anti-suffrage speech
in Congress, January 12, 1915_.)

You, who despise the so-called fairer sex,
Be brave. There really isn't any reason
You should not, if you wish, oppose and vex
And scold us in, and even out of season;
But don't regard it as your bounden duty
To open with a tribute to our beauty.

Say if you like that women have no sense,
No self-control, no power of concentration;
Say that hysterics is our one defence
Our virtue but an absence of temptation;
These I can bear, but, oh, I own it rankles
To hear you maundering on about our ankles.

Tell those old stories, which have now and then
Been from the Record thoughtfully deleted,
Repeat that favorite one about the hen,
Repeat the ones that cannot be repeated;
But in the midst of such enjoyments, smother
The impulse to extol your "sainted mother."

On Not Believing All You Hear

("Women are angels, they are jewels, they are queens and princesses of
our hearts." - _Anti-suffrage speech of Mr. Carter of Oklahoma_.)

"Angel, or jewel, or princess, or queen,
Tell me immediately, where have you been?"

"I've been to ask all my slaves so devoted
Why they against my enfranchisement voted."

"Angel and princess, that action was wrong.
Back to the kitchen, where angels belong."

The Revolt of Mother

("Every true woman feels - - " - _Speech of almost any Congressman_.)

I am old-fashioned, and I think it right
That man should know, by Nature's laws eternal,
The proper way to rule, to earn, to fight,
And exercise those functions called paternal;
But even I a little bit rebel
At finding that he knows my job as well.

At least he's always ready to expound it,
Especially in legislative hall,
The joys, the cares, the halos that surround it,
"How women feel" - he knows that best of all.
In fact his thesis is that no one can
Know what is womanly except a man.

I am old-fashioned, and I am content
When he explains the world of art and science
And government - to him divinely sent -
I drink it in with ladylike compliance.
But cannot listen - no, I'm only human -
While he instructs me how to be a woman.

The Gallant Sex

(A woman engineer has been dismissed by the Board of Education, under
their new rule that women shall not attend high pressure boilers,
although her work has been satisfactory and she holds a license to
attend such boilers from the Police Department.)

Lady, dangers lurk in boilers,
Risks I could not let you face.
Men were meant to be the toilers,
Home, you know, is woman's place.
Have no home? Well, is that so?
Still, it's not my fault, you know.

Charming lady, work no more;
Fair you are and sweet as honey;
Work might make your fingers sore,
And, besides, I need the money.
Prithee rest, - or starve or rob -
Only let me have your job!


("My wife is against suffrage, and that settles me." - _Vice-President


My wife dislikes the income tax,
And so I cannot pay it;
She thinks that golf all interest lacks,
So now I never play it;
She is opposed to tolls repeal
(Though why I cannot say),
But woman's duty is to feel,
And man's is to obey.


I'm in a hard position for a perfect gentleman,
I want to please the ladies, but I don't see how I can,
My present wife's a suffragist, and counts on my support,
But my mother is an anti, of a rather biting sort;
One grandmother is on the fence, the other much opposed,
And my sister lives in Oregon, and thinks the question's closed;
Each one is counting on my vote to represent her view.
Now what should you think proper for a gentleman to do?


("Three bills known as the Thompson-Bewley cannery bills have been
advanced to third reading in the Senate and Assembly at Albany. One
permits the canners to work their employés seven days a week, a second
allows them to work women after 9 p.m. and a third removes every
restriction upon the hours of labor of women and minors." - _Zenas L.
Potter, former chief cannery investigator for New York State Factory
Investigating Commission_.)

Let us not to an unrestricted day
Impediments admit. Work is not work
To our employés, but a merry play;
They do not ask the law's excuse to shirk.
Ah, no, the canning season is at hand,
When summer scents are on the air distilled,
When golden fruits are ripening in the land,
And silvery tins are gaping to be filled.
Now to the cannery with jocund mien
Before the dawn come women, girls and boys,
Whose weekly hours (a hundred and nineteen)
Seem all too short for their industrious joys.
If this be error and be proved, alas
The Thompson-Bewley bills may fail to pass!

To President Wilson

("I hold it as a fundamental principle and so do you, that every people
has the right to determine its own form of government. And until
recently 50 per cent, of the people of Mexico have not had a look-in in
determining who should be their governors, or what their government
should be." - _Speech of President Wilson_.)

Wise and just man - for such I think you are -
How can you see so burningly and clear
Injustices and tyrannies afar,
Yet blind your eyes to one that lies so near?
How can you plead so earnestly for men
Who fight their own fight with a bloody hand;
How hold their cause so wildly dear, and then
Forget the women of your native land?
With your stern ardor and your scholar's word
You speak to us of human liberty;
Can you believe that women are not stirred
By this same human longing to be free?
He who for liberty would strike a blow
Need not take arms, or fly to Mexico.

Home and Where It Is

(An Indiana judge has recently ruled: As to the right of the husband to
decide the location of the home that "home is where the husband is.")

Home is where the husband is,
Be it near or be it far,
Office, theatre, Pullman car,
Poolroom, polls, or corner bar -
All good wives remember this -
Home is where the husband is.

Woman's place is home, I wis.
Leave your family bacon frying,
Leave your wash and dishes drying,
Leave your little children crying;
Join your husband, near or far,
At the club or corner bar,
For the court has taught us this:
"Home is where the husband is."

The Maiden's Vow

(A speaker at the National Education Association advised girls not to
study algebra. Many girls, he said, had lost their souls through this
study. The idea has been taken up with enthusiasm.)

I will avoid equations,
And shun the naughty surd,
I must beware the perfect square,
Through it young girls have erred:
And when men mention Rule of Three
Pretend I have not heard.

Through Sturm's delightful theorems
Illicit joys assure,
Though permutations and combinations
My woman's heart allure,
I'll never study algebra,
But keep my spirit pure.

Such Nonsense

("Where on earth did the idea come from that the ballot is a boon, a
privilege and an honor? From men." - _Mrs. Prestonia Mann Martin_.)

Who is it thinks the vote some use?
Man. (Man is often such a goose!)
Indeed it makes me laugh to see
How men have struggled to be free.

Poor Washington, who meant so well,
And Nathan Hale and William Tell,
Hampden and Bolivar and Pym,
And L'Ouverture - remember him?

And Garibaldi and Kossuth,
And some who threw away their youth,
All bitten by the stupid notion
That liberty was worth emotion.

They could not get it through their heads
That if they stayed tucked up in beds,
Avoiding politics and strife,
They'd lead a pleasant, peaceful life.

Let us, dear sisters, never make
Such a ridiculous mistake;
But teach our children o'er and o'er
That liberty is just a chore.

A Suggested Campaign Song

("No brass bands. No speeches. Instead a still, silent, effective
influence." - _Anti-suffrage speech_.)

We are waging - can you doubt it?
A campaign so calm and still
No one knows a thing about it,
And we hope they never will.
No one knows
What we oppose,
And we hope they never will.

We are ladylike and quiet,
Here a whisper - there a hint;
Never speeches, bands or riot,
Nothing suitable for print.
No one knows
What we oppose,
For we never speak for print.

Sometimes in profound seclusion,
In some far (but homelike) spot,
We will make a dark allusion:
"We're opposed to you-know-what."
No one knows
What we oppose,
For we call it "You-Know-What."

The Woman of Charm

("I hate a woman who is not a mystery to herself, as well as to
me." - _The Phoenix_.)

If you want a receipt for that popular mystery
Known to the world as a Woman of Charm,
Take all the conspicuous ladies of history,
Mix them all up without doing them harm.
The beauty of Helen, the warmth of Cleopatra,
Salome's notorious skill in the dance,
The dusky allure of the belles of Sumatra,
The fashion and finish of ladies from France.
The youth of Susanna, beloved by an elder,
The wit of a Chambers' incomparable minx,
The conjugal views of the patient Griselda,
The fire of Sappho, the calm of the Sphinx,
The eyes of La Vallière, the voice of Cordelia,
The musical gifts of the sainted Cecelia,
Trilby and Carmen and Ruth and Ophelia,
Madame de Staël and the matron Cornelia,
Iseult, Hypatia and naughty Nell Gwynn,
Una, Titania and Elinor Glyn.
Take of these elements all that is fusible,
Melt 'em all down in a pipkin or crucible,
Set 'em to simmer and take off the scum,
And a Woman of Charm is the residuum!
(Slightly adapted from W.S. Gilbert.)

A Modern Proposal

(It has been said that the feminist movement is the true solution of the
mother-in-law problem.)

Sylvia, my dear, I would be yours with pleasure,
All that you are seems excellent to me,
Except your mother, who's much more at leisure
Than mothers ought to be.

Find her a fad, a job, an occupation,
Eugenics, dancing, uplift, yes, or crime,
Set her to work for her Emancipation -
That takes a lot of time.

Or, if the suffrage doctrine fails to charm her,
There are the Antis - rather in her line -
Guarding the Home from Maine to Alabama
Would keep her out of mine.

The Newer Lullaby

("Good heavens, when I think what the young boy of to-day is growing up
to I gasp. He has too many women around him all the time. He has his
mother when he is a baby." - _Bernard Fagin, Probation Officer_.)

Hush-a-bye, baby,
Feel no alarm,
Gunmen shall guard you,
Lest Mother should harm.
Wake in your cradle,
Hear father curse!
Isn't that better
Than Mother or Nurse?

The Protected Sex

_With apologies to James Whitcomb Riley_.

("The result of taking second place to girls at school is that the boy
feels a sense of inferiority that he is never afterward able entirely to
shake off." - _Editorial in London Globe against co-education_.)

There, little girl, don't read,
You're fond of your books, I know,
But Brother might mope
If he had no hope
Of getting ahead of you.
It's dull for a boy who cannot lead.
There, little girl, don't read.

Warning to Suffragists

("The Latin man believes that giving woman the vote will make her less
attractive." - _Anna H. Shaw_.)

They must sacrifice their beauty
Who would do their civic duty,
Who the polling booth would enter,
Who the ballot box would use;
As they drop their ballots in it
Men and women in a minute,
Lose their charm, the antis tell us,
But - the men have less to lose.


("Our laws have not yet reached the point of holding that property which
is the result of the husband's earnings and the wife's savings becomes
their joint property.... In this most important of all partnerships
there is no partnership property." - _Recent decision of the New York
Supreme Court_.)

Lady, lovely lady, come and share
All my care;
Oh how gladly I will hurry
To confide my every worry
(And they're very dark and drear)
In your ear.

Lady, share the praise I obtain
Now and again;
Though I'm shy, it doesn't matter,
I will tell you how they flatter:
Every compliment I'll share
Fair and square.

Lady, I my toil will divide
At your side;
I outside the home, you within;
You shall wash and cook and spin,
I'll provide the flax and food,
If you're good.

Partners, lady, we shall be,
You and me,
Partners in the highest sense
Looking for no recompense,
For, the savings that we make,
I shall take.

What Governments Say to Women

(The law compels a married woman to take the nationality of her


_In Time of War_

Help us. Your country needs you;
Show that you love her,
Give her your men to fight,
Ay, even to fall;
The fair, free land of your birth,
Set nothing above her,
Not husband nor son,
She must come first of all.


_In Time of Peace_

What's this? You've wed an alien,
Yet you ask for legislation
To guard your nationality?
We're shocked at your demand.
A woman when she marries
Takes her husband's name and nation:
She should love her husband only.
What's a woman's native land?

"Oh, That 'Twere Possible!"

_With apologies to Lord Tennyson._

("The grant of suffrage to women is repugnant to instincts that strike
their roots deep in the order of nature. It runs counter to human
reason, it flouts the teachings of experience and the admonitions of
common sense." - _N.Y. Times, Feb. 7, 1915_.)

Oh, that 'twere possible
After those words inane
For me to read _The Times_
Ever again!

When I was wont to read it
In the early morning hours,
In a mood 'twixt wrath and mirth,
I exclaimed: "Alas, Ye Powers,
These ideas are fainter, quainter
Than anything on earth!"

A paper's laid before me.
Not thou, not like to thee.
Dear me, if it were possible
_The Times_ should ever see
How very far the times have moved
(Spelt with a little "t").

_The Times_ Editorials

Lovely Antiques, breathing in every line
The perfume of an age long passed away,
Wafting us back to 1829,
Museum pieces of a by-gone day,
You should not languish in the public press
Where modern thought might reach and do you harm,
And vulgar youth insult your hoariness,
Missing the flavor of your old world charm;
You should be locked, where rust cannot corrode
In some old rosewood cabinet, dimmed by age,
With silver-lustre, tortoise shell and Spode;
And all would cry, who read your yellowing page:
"Yes, that's the sort of thing that men believed
Before the First Reform Bill was conceived!"


(_For Both Sides_)

Our Own Twelve Anti-suffragist Reasons

1. Because no woman will leave her domestic duties to vote.

2. Because no woman who may vote will attend to her domestic duties.

3. Because it will make dissension between husband and wife.

4. Because every woman will vote as her husband tells her to.

5. Because bad women will corrupt politics.

6. Because bad politics will corrupt women.

7. Because women have no power of organization.

8. Because women will form a solid party and outvote men.

9. Because men and women are so different that they must stick to
different duties.

10. Because men and women are so much alike that men, with one vote
each, can represent their own views and ours too.

11. Because women cannot use force.

12. Because the militants did use force.

Why We Oppose Pockets for Women

1. Because pockets are not a natural right.

2. Because the great majority of women do not want pockets. If they did
they would have them.

3. Because whenever women have had pockets they have not used them.

4. Because women are required to carry enough things as it is, without
the additional burden of pockets.

5. Because it would make dissension between husband and wife as to whose
pockets were to be filled.

6. Because it would destroy man's chivalry toward woman, if he did not
have to carry all her things in his pockets.

7. Because men are men, and women are women. We must not fly in the face
of nature.

8. Because pockets have been used by men to carry tobacco, pipes,
whiskey flasks, chewing gum and compromising letters. We see no reason
to suppose that women would use them more wisely.

Fashion Notes: Past and Present

1880 - Anti-suffrage arguments are being worn long, calm and flowing this
year, with the dominant note that of woman's intellectual inferiority.

1890 - Violence is very evident in this season's modes, and our more
conservative thinkers are saying that woman suffrage threatens the home,
the Church and the Republic.

1900 - A complete change of style has taken place. Everything is being
worn _a l'aristocrate_, with the repeated assertion that too many people
are voting already.

1915 - The best line of goods shown by the leading anti-suffrage houses
this spring is the statement that woman suffrage is the same thing as
free love. The effect is extremely piquant and surprising.

Why We Oppose Women Travelling in Railway Trains

1. Because travelling in trains is not a natural right.

2. Because our great-grandmothers never asked to travel in trains.

3. Because woman's place is the home, not the train.

4. Because it is unnecessary; there is no point reached by a train that
cannot be reached on foot.

5. Because it will double the work of conductors, engineers and brakemen
who are already overburdened.

6. Because men smoke and play cards in trains. Is there any reason to
believe that women will behave better?

Why We Oppose Schools for Children

(_By the Children's Anti-School League_.)

1. Because education is a burden, not a right.

2. Because not one-tenth of one per cent. of the children of this
country have demanded education.

3. Because if we are educated we should have to behave as if we were and
we don't want to.

4. Because it is essentially against the nature of a child to be

5. Because we can't see that it has done so much for grown-ups, and
there is no reason for thinking it will make children perfect.

6. Because the time of children is already sufficiently occupied without
going to school.

7. Because it would make dissension between parent and child. Imagine
the home life of a parent who turned out to be more ignorant than his
(or her) child?

8. Because we believe in the indirect education of the theatre, the
baseball field and the moving picture. We believe that schools would in
a great measure deprive us of this.

9. Because our parents went to school. They love us, they take care of
us, they tell us what to do. We are content that they should be educated
for us.

But Then Who Cares for Figures

An argument sometimes used against paying women as highly as men for the
same work is that women are only temporarily in industry.

Forty-four per cent of the women teachers in the public schools of New
York have been more than ten years in the service, while only twenty-six
per cent of the men teachers have served as long.

* * * * *

The Bundesrath of Germany has decided to furnish medical and financial
assistance to women at the time of childbirth, in order "to alleviate
the anxiety of husbands at the front."

How strange this would sound: "The Bundesrath has decided to furnish
medical assistance to the wounded at the front, in order to alleviate
the anxiety of wives and mothers at home."

When a benefit is suggested for men, the question asked is: "Will it
benefit men?"

When a benefit is suggested for women, the question is: "Will it benefit

Why We Oppose Votes for Men

1. Because man's place is the armory.

2. Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise
than by fighting about it.

3. Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer
look up to them.

4. Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural
sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms,
uniforms and drums.

5. Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball


Online LibraryAlice Duer MillerAre Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times → online text (page 1 of 2)