Monday, May 31, 2010

A Party for Mark Twain

A few years ago, a professor friend mentioned reading about Mark Twain's fabulous gala 70th birthday party at Delmonico's, which was attended by the leading literary lights of the day. The article was in Harper's Weekly for December 23, 1905, and I was all agog because I knew that my novelist grandmother Onoto Watanna was present, along with her friend Jean Webster, a great-niece of Twain (and author of Daddy-Long-Legs). Photographs were taken of each table, and I was delighted to obtain scans of the pictures through the good offices of my friend Peter Hanff and Bob Hirst of the Bancroft Library at Berkeley. I immediately began Googling the guests, and made some surprising discoveries. Later, I was fortunate to score a copy of Harpers myself, on eBay. Now it has belatedly occurred to me that my blog is an ideal format to show some of these pictures, tell about these literary celebrities, and in general try to recreate a magical evening at Delmonico's, over a century ago.

Mark Twain at his birthday dinner

There is not space for all the pictures (there are 20 group portraits, as well as an artist's rendering of the entire scene), but I can impart some of the cream. The guest list is fascinating...170 celebrities and authors at all stages of fame, including Willa Cather, Frances Hodgson Burnett, John Luther Long, Charles Chesnutt, William Dean Howells, Dorothy Canfield, Bliss Carman, Andrew Carnegie, Emily Post, May Sinclair, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, Princess Trebetzkov.  Each guest received a plaster of Paris bust of Twain. My grandmother's has come down in our family.

Mark Twain's Bust

Of course I was most eager to see the picture of my grandmother.  I longed to know if she wore Edwardian dress like the other ladies, or a kimono?  For Onoto Watanna is considered the first Asian American novelist, but she was born Winnifred Eaton (1875 - 1954) and was raised in an entirely English-speaking home in Montreal.  Her father was an English painter, Edward Eaton, her mother Grace Trefusius was Chinese but had been educated in England, as a missionary. They had 14 "half-caste" children, and the oldest daughter, Edith (1865 - 1914), was also a writer.  Together they are known as the "Eaton sisters," but Edith, who used the pen name Sui Sin Far and wrote stories of the immigrant Chinese, is held in high critical and social esteem, as the godmother of Asian American fiction. Winnifred, or Winnie, sought a frankly commercial career, and took on a fake "Japanese" identity, the better to publicize her fashionable pseudo-Japanese romances.  She was a mistress of publicity, a poseur who changed her ethnic identity as it suited her. 

Here is Winnie at her table, in conventional Western costume, the lady at the center of the picture:

Onoto Watanna (Winnifred Eaton), center; Gelett Burgess beside her. (Click on pictures to see larger)

Turning my attention to the others at her table, I was amazed and charmed to notice that she was sitting right next to Gelett Burgess.  He was the author of Goops and How to Be Them, then still a fairly new book (1900) as well as the immortal verse:

I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one!

Original Purple Cow illustration, 1895

What can the dinner table conversation have been like?  I imagine they didn't talk too much, judging by the length and number of the tribute speeches printed in Harpers. Winnie evidently came to the party unaccompanied; her hard-drinking newspaper reporter husband Bertrand Babcock was not present, but clearly nothing would have kept her away from the occasion - as evidenced by the fact that she was actually nine months pregnant with her third child (my Aunt Doris)!  In the picture, she manages to conceal this with some dexterity, slumping down so that only her head and shoulders are in view.  Yet she appears to be quite enjoying herself, and unless it is my imagination, she and Burgess have a sort of subtle conspiratorial look together.  He was of course one of the funniest men of the era, brilliantly playful with words, though I should have thought it daunting to eat in company with a man who wrote:

The Goops they lick their fingers
And the Goops they lick their knives
They spill their broth on the tablecloth -
Oh, they lead disgusting lives!

The Goops they talk while eating,
And loud and fast they chew
And that is why I'm glad that I
Am not a Goop - are you?

The New York Times gives a delightful description of the dinner at Delmonico's:

"The dinner began at 8 o'clock. Soon before that hour the guests began to gather in the parlor adjoining the Red Room. In the corridor outside, place had been prepared for an orchestra of forty directed by Nahan Franko. When the march, serving as a signal for the procession to the dining room, was played, Mr. Clemens led the way, with Mrs. Mary E. Wilkins Freeman on his arm. The couples that followed would have attracted attention wherever they were seen and recognized. Col. Harvey led Princess Troubetzkoy, who once was Amelia Rives and still writes under that name. Andrew Carnegie and Agnes Repplier, the essayist, followed side by side. After them came John Burroughs and Mrs. Louise Chandler Moulton, who was the first author from whom Henry Mills Alden received a contribution after becoming editor of Harper's Monthly, more than forty years ago. The Rev. Dr. Henry Van Dyke escorted Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett, while Bliss Carman, the poet, led Mrs. Ruth McEnery Stuart. While the dinner was in progress the guests - one table at a time - went out into another room and had their pictures taken in groups. The pictures will form the most conspicuous feature of an album which is to be given to Mr. Clemens as a souvenir of the occasion."

 Delmonico's was then in its heyday, the luxurious eatery where Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell held court, where Lobster Newberg and Oysters Rockefeller were invented, where the rich and famous generally enjoyed the high life.  This was definitely an occasion I'd like to travel back in time to attend!

An artist's rendition of the occasion

And now comes the luxury of speculation. Who are all these people and how did they happen to be seated as they were?  As the New York Times put it:

"...his friends and fellow-craftsmen in literature gathered in the Red Room at Delmonico's for the celebration. Barring a half dozen or so, all were guaranteed to be genuine creators of imaginative writings--or illustrators of such writings. The guarantee was furnished by Col. George Harvey, editor of The North American Review, who was the host of the evening as well as the Chairman."

Funny, isn't it, how all the notable literati of an era are but passing shadows - who knows all these names now?  Only scholars.  Some were nearing the end of their fame, others were still so early in their careers that you wonder how they got invited.  Winnie was at the apogee of hers, for her best selling novel A Japanese Nightingale had sold 200,000 copies in 1901 (a copy is in Mark Twain's library; the house site indicates that it is one of the last books that his wife Livy read), and the previous year (1904) was made into a Broadway play, which flopped:  a review said it the play died "like a poor little bird that had twisted its larynx."  At this stage of her life Winnie was doing what she called turning out "a book and a baby a year."  There she sits, demure, age 30, looking very pretty and concealing her pregnancy in her elegant Edwardian dress, her dark hair piled and rolled high, at a table of people who all look rather ineffably stiff and bored and as if they don't have a lot in common. Yet I like to think Winnie was well entertained by Burgess; at any rate, she looks as if she were.

Her neighbor on the other side, F. Hopkinson Smith, seems to have been quite a famous and venerable author, enough for several of his books to be on Gutenberg now. One, The Veiled Lady, that came out in 1907, features "a most charming and lovable Houri, to whom the nightingales sing lullabies." Could he have been inspired by Winnie, his dinner partner at this 1905 event? Although he looks like a disdainful grandee, leaning away from Winnie, they might have more in common than it seems...

Winnie, 1903

The other man at her table, Edwin Lefevre, is the author of Reminiscences of a Stock Operator - which is one of my husband Peter's favorite books. Imagine her sitting there with him and Goops! (I do hope they didn't lick their fingers).

The other two ladies at the table are Famous Poetesses. Josephine Daskam Bacon was a children's writer (Memoirs of a Baby) now remembered for writing the Girl Scout Handbook, but Alice Duer Miller is especially fascinating. Exactly Winnie's age, dark and beautiful, she was from a far loftier background than my raffish grandmother. Her family was wealthy, with a prominent history going back to the Revolutionary War; she was educated at Barnard and at the time of this party was already known as a poetess, though the most interesting part of her career was still to come.  She became a famous Suffragette, author of the satirical Suffrage movement poem "Are Women People?" but her greatest popular success was with her verse novel "The White Cliffs" (1940). This was about an American girl who marries an English aristocrat, and brings up his son in England after her husband is killed in World War I. It ends with the lines:

I am American bred
I have seen much to hate here - much to forgive,
But in a world in which England is finished and dead,
I do not wish to live.

Alice Duer Miller

The most exciting years of the Suffragette movement, World War II, and so much else, was still in the unknown future when these writers sat down in Delmonico's to honor Mark Twain, who was then four years away from his death.  The speech he gave on this occasion can be read here:

More on the glittering guests in my next post...

To Be Continued

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pizza and Prostatectomy

...not even I can charm away a sore throat..." - Emma

Making low-carb pizza for Peter

I might not ordinarily consider my husband's prostate surgery to be an edifying or entertaining topic for a Light, Bright, and Sparkling blog post, but it is a logical continuation of my posts about how the low-carb diet improved his diabetes, and made the surgery possible.  So, here are the notes I wrote during the experience.  (Pizza recipe follows.)

Thursday, May 13. 


Peter was wheeled into surgery discussing Chinese literature with the all-Asian surgical staff! That's so Peter. I also couldn't believe he actually asked the admitting lady if he could have a visit from his cat.

Peter and Pindar

However, she took it seriously and said only guide dogs could visit patients, and they had to be shampooed first. Who knew. Now Paul and I are in the waiting room, more than halfway through the surgery, which takes 3.5 - 4 hours. We had to be at the hospital at 5 AM, so we haven't slept, except for naps last night. We've got our laptops to try to distract us, and we had scrambled eggs in the hospital cafeteria. It's interesting to watch all the people come and go and wait, it's like a multi-ring theater here at Cedars Sinai, with goodness knows how many operations going on. Everything's pretty reassuringly routine and assembly-line, with kind staff. But there's nothing that can stop the hands shaking. People are just sitting around, chatting, reading, having tea, all very normal - except that everyone is a family member of somebody going through major surgery (most of them hearts), and every now and then a surgeon comes out to talk to somebody, and you're aware that there are $50,000 life or death operations happening all around. There's something electrically tense in the air. We're coping, but having a loved one be operated on for hours by a robot puts you into a strange area of stress where your respond with involuntary coping mechanisms, unexpected if you haven't been through anything similar to this extent before. Yesterday I spent the entire day sorting and alphabetizing and reshelving and dusting all the books in Peter's study (maybe 1500 of them), a job that we always projected would take weeks and weeks: I did it in five hours. To be doing something constructive seemed absolutely essential. I wasn't thinking about the surgery while deciding whether to put a book in the Greek or the Chinese sections. It really helped.

"Ah, my dear, as Perry says, where health is at stake, nothing else should be considered" - Emma


Peter survived his surgery and is well and strong, and the small, confined cancer is completely OUT in the garbage along with his prostate!

It was quite an ordeal. Peter was taken in for surgery at 7:15, and at 8:30 they called me and Paul in the waiting room to say "the robot" had begun its work. Around noon we were figuring it must be almost done, but they called again to say it would be another hour and a half. At 2 I started to get very nervous. I googled all the complications of robotic laparascopic prostatectomy, and had just finished reading about the morbidity of the perforated rectum, when mercifully they called and said they were DONE! Well I cried and Paul stared at me like I'd grown two heads (I don't think he'd ever seen his brass monkey balled mom cry before!). It was then 2:30, the actual surgery took six hours.  A long time for a diabetic to be under anesthesia and for our fears to get truly lurid.

At about 3 the doctor staggered out, sweaty and shaken and utterly exhausted. I spoke first, "A rough one?" "A nightmare. That was the worst, most difficult one of those procedures I have ever done," said this world's expert in robotics. He explained that Peter was too obese for the machine, he hadn't expected him to be so heavy (he gained weight because of a recent medication, Actos), and he almost abandoned it halfway through because the tubes and things just wouldn't stretch. But he managed, and succeeded at last. "I've never been so exhausted in my life," he said. "Never been through anything like that." "But how is PETER?" I asked. "Oh, he's fine, no problems at all," he replied. "But what an ordeal!"

(Poor Perry is bilious, and he has not time to take care of himself -- he tells me he has not time to take care of himself -- which is very sad -- but he is always wanted all round the country. I suppose there is not a man in such practice any where. But then, there is not so clever a man anywhere." - Emma)

After that, I thought I'd find Peter half dead, but no! He is strong and weathered it very well. His diabetes numbers remained low throughout the surgery, and I found him sitting up, healthily pink-complexioned, anxiously asking the infectious diseases doctor if he thought he'd lost brain function from the anesthesia, all the while telling him about the Chinese legends he was reading. He'll probably have to wear the catheter for an extra week, because of being slow to heal, but he is fine. What a relief! I thought I'd stay at the hospital overnight, but after having no sleep and all that stress, I was crashing, and the nurses finally told me to go home. So here I am. Hallelujah.

"...she had been within half a minute of sending for Mr. Perry." - Emma

Catully Contemplates the Poisonous Peonies

Day after surgery - Friday

Peter is continuing to recover well, and will be going home from the hospital tomorrow! After just the normal routine stay for this procedure, thanks to the low carb diet.

I'm thinking about what Mr. Knightley says about Frank Churchill, in Emma -

"What years of felicity that man, in all human calculation, has before him!"

Of course, Jane Austen was writing ironically, in a way that almost makes you believe in the notorious "secret subtext," because we only know from tradition, not from the novel, that Jane Fairfax dies a few years after her marriage. The phrase "in all human calculation" thus takes on significance, for how reliable ever is human calculation?

So I can only say "in all human calculation," that now Peter at least has the possibility to live to old age. The cancer is gone.  His diabetes will be much better controlled and his body greatly healed, by living on a completely low carb diet in future. Prognosis:  Good! What relief - and after all, who of us ever has anything more than "human calculation"?

Second day after surgery - Saturday

Peter is home!  I was still befuddled and stressed, and mislaid the car in the parking garage, but we made it, catheter and all.  My friend Ellen writes:

"What I'm impressed by for real is the pure love you've shown. You really love this guy -- you really value him. I say nothing about the personal case or your or his characteristics but there has been something so utterly selfless in what you've done -- since on a fundamental economic and social level you are so independent."

So that started me thinking about Love, and I wrote to her:

"Well, yes, it is love - we both of us have it for each other, with Paul included.  Peter may depend on me in some ways (and I on him in others), but that has nothing to do with what we feel, which evolved naturally. We began to feel that feeling 40 years ago, and over the years the original feeling itself has endured and has profoundly flowered and strengthened and come to beautiful fruition. Now that we're Darby and Joan with a catheter bag, it is only stronger than ever. It has recently occurred to us, with naive pleasure, that this is the real meaning of "growing old together." Deep love and unfailing support surrounding, cushioning and enfolding us, as we come to increasingly need it, now more than ever. It's how things are meant to be, and in this, at least, we are - to use a quaint word - very blessed.


It was hard setting up a boot camp to get Peter ready for surgery, it's not something that came easily to me, or something I would think of myself as being any good at.  And a hospital is an extremely stressful place for even for a healthy person to be. After a single day spent there with Peter I came home utterly beyond whipped. But there was this little matter of getting rid of his cancer, and we as a family had to pull together and launch all our three combined best forces to make it work successfully. It was a case where an "I'm not good at this" would not have been good enough. There's nothing wrong with "I'm not good at this" if all it means is that your tapes won't work or you have a computer muddle. "I'm not good at this" is unacceptable if it's life or death. Whatever one's inhibitions, incapacities, distastes, weaknesses and frustrations, however manifold and incapacitating they are - you have to do it anyway, you have to step up to the plate in these vital situations, even if you feel you're sick with dread and fear and helplessness. There's just no other choice. "I'm not good at this" is something you can say about being unable to operate the VCR. Not about negotiating health care systems when your beloved has a mortal illness. I'm not good at it. It doesn't come naturally. But to save Peter's life I made myself great at it.

Third day after surgery - Sunday

Letter to a friend whose husband had the same surgery a few months before Peter:

No, Peter's not getting stir crazy, because he's already gone out!  Can you believe, he had the surgery Thursday, went home Saturday, and tonight he went out to the coffeehouse to see his friends and have a cappuccino! 

I was going to write to you, though, to desperately ask how on earth you dealt with the catheter. Peter doesn't mind wearing it, it doesn't hurt, but they are SO complicated to use. We stand around the bathroom having conversations like this:

"Loosen the blue toggle."
"No, I think that one's supposed to have a clamp!"
"I never saw any clamp. Did we lose it?"
"No, it's that thing. Murder! How in the hell do I open that?"
"I think those little clips open it - push them up - "
(Urine spills all over floor)
"Yikes! Wipe the nozzle with the alcohol wipe!"
"No, clean up the floor first!"
"No, then my hands will get dirty! You do it!"
"I can't bend down, remember?"
"Oh, Jesus, well don't step in it, here, hold the toggle..."

Etc., etc.  Fortunately we seem to have a better handle on it today. ;-) And we are calling the catheter the Cat Heater because the cats can't keep away from it!  Said Cat-Heater comes out in nine days, three hours and thirty-eight minutes, but who's counting?

Monday, surgery plus four

If I haven't put you off your food completely, I must tell you that I made the most wonderful, low carb pizza ever for dinner tonight.  Recipe was courtesy of Debbie, my low carb guru, and here it is.

"Mr. Perry recommended nourishing food." - Emma

Low Carb Pizza

2 cups cauliflower, grated, then sauteed for a few minutes in a little olive oil.
2 eggs
2 cups mozzarella cheese.  (I used two lumps, and grated them.)
1 tsp. fennel
2 tsps. oregano
4 tsps. parsley
1 8-ounce jar of Trader Joe's pizza sauce

Toppings: A sausage, sliced.
Package of thinly sliced brown mushrooms.
A few cut-up marinated artichoke hearts.
Shredded mozzarella

Pre-heat oven to 450.
Spread a little olive oil lightly on a cookie sheet.
In a bowl, combine grated cauliflower, grated mozzarella, and eggs. Press evenly on the pan. I spread ithe "dough" thinly all over the cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes.
Remove pan from the oven. To the crust, add toppings, with mozzarella sprinkled on top. Broil until the cheese is melted. Serves 3-4.

Crust, baked and ready for toppings

Tomato sauce going on!

With toppings, ready for final broiling

Being eaten too fast to photograph!

"Do not you think, Miss Woodhouse, our saucy little friend here is charmingly recovered? Do not you think her cure does Perry the highest credit? - Emma

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Springtime at the Salvation Army

"Emma had a charitable visit to pay to a poor sick family, who lived a little way out of Highbury."

I've always been vaguely aware of the Salvation Army and its thrift shop here in Santa Monica, but hadn't set foot inside it in years, until recently, when an unmoneyed friend who was furnishing an apartment kept exclaiming about the treasures she was finding.  So I went with her, and it was the beginning of a series of surprisingly delightful shopping adventures. 

Here I am at the Santa Monica store

And here is my son Paul, inside

Examining bric-a-brac

"Emma was very compassionate; and the distresses of the poor were as sure of relief from her personal attention and kindness, her counsel and her patience, as from her purse."

Here are some interesting facts about the Salvation Army.

 It was founded in London in 1865 by William and Catherine Booth, as an evangelical charitable mission.

It is called Sally Ann in Canada.

The Salvation Army salute consists of raising the arm above shoulder length with the index finger pointing up to Heaven, and shouting, "Hallelujah!"

Today the Salvation Army is the second largest charity in the United States.

The Salvation Army operates in 120 countries, is organized like an army though most of its workers or adherents are not soldiers but church members. It is well regarded as one of the world's largest providers of social aid and disaster relief, though there was a murky episode when the organization was accused of discriminating against homosexuals in its hiring practices.

The Beatles' song Strawberry Fields was inspired by a Salvation Army children's home of that name in Liverpool.

And these are some of the things I've acquired at the Salvation Army in recent weeks, for your viewing delectation.

An oak rocking chair for Christabel-Catullus

Green glass candle holder ($12)

Pretty blue glasses, and cups in my favorite "Blue Danube" pattern

A nice little mosaic table for Paul

Tiffany style desk lamp

... "[Elizabeth] had finally proposed these two branches of economy, to cut off some unnecessary charities, and to refrain from new furnishing the drawing-room" - Persuasion

I liked this crystal candle holder ($12)

"her writing–desk, and her works of charity and ingenuity, were all within her reach"
- Mansfield Park

Pindar examines my Tiffany style desk lamp

"Upon the whole, Emma left her with such softened, charitable feelings"

Pindar sniffs the green glass candle holder

One day when I brought home a new stash of treasures I asked Paul to guess which ones they were.  He commented that it was like the scene in Ozma of Oz, when they have to guess which ornaments are actually people who've been transformed.  The seeker has to go around touching the ornaments and saying the word "Ev," and if he guesses right, the transformed person turns back into himself.  So Paul went around guessing and saying "Ev - that's Salvation Army, isn't it?"  Nobody got transformed, but he was most often right.

Can you guess?  The blue glass ball is new, and the green hen.

We call the hen Billina of Ev.  ($7.50)

The blue glass ball is magical indeed

And the new green dish clearly comes from the Emerald City. ($7.50)

Ozma of Oz, 1907.  (Is she wearing a Suffragette pin?)

There is a perfectly thumpingly astounding Salvation Army lyric by Vachel Lindsay entitled "General William Booth Enters into Heaven" (1913), with a chorus of "Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?" Here's the first verse:

BOOTH led boldly with his big bass drum—
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
The Saints smiled gravely and they said: “He’s come.”
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
Walking lepers followed, rank on rank,
Lurching bravoes from the ditches dank,
Drabs from the alleyways and drug fiends pale—
Minds still passion-ridden, soul-powers frail:—
Vermin-eaten saints with mouldy breath,
Unwashed legions with the ways of Death—
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)

And so on. Perhaps the best known verse associated with the Salvation Army, however, is the one we all sang in summer camp:

Sing Hallelujah! Sing Hallelujah!
Put a nickel on the drum,
Save another drunken bum
Sing Hallelujah! Sing Hallelujah!
Put a nicked on the drum and you'll be saved.

I was lying in the gutter,
I was covered up in beer,
Pretzels in my moustache,
I thought the end was near,
Then along came [Name]!
And saved me from my curse,
Glory glory Hallelujah sing another verse

"The adieu is charity itself."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cats and Suffragettes

The Cat and Mouse Act of 1913 was the act that ended force-feeding of the Suffragettes who went on hunger strikes in prison.  Today, this curious poster has descended to a humbler use, as an emblem for my blog, with its united themes of Cats and Suffragettes (though I assure you, neither Pindar, Marshwiggle, or Christabel-the-cat-formerly-known-as-Catullus, ever look as fierce as the Suffragette-chewing cat, above!).

Now, I have just finished reading Lady Constance Lytton's book, Prisons and Prisoners:  The Stirring Testimony of a Suffragette, and stirring indeed it was.  Nothing can be more powerful than a first-person memoir of this kind, and Lady Constance, in simple eloquent language, puts us in the picture in a "you are there" way, as she describes her Suffragette and prison experiences. 

Prisons and Prisoners by Constance Lytton

Lady Constance (1869-1923) was an aristocrat, the daughter of Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton, Viceroy of India, and Edith Villiers, Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria; the novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton was her grandfather. From an early age Constance rejected the aristocratic way of life, and she never married, having been forbidden to marry a man from a "lower social order." She suffered from chronic heart disease, and lived quietly in the country with her mother, no other life seeming possible, until her godmother left her a small bequest, and she decided to use it to combat the inhumanity of industrialism.  It was while teaching working-girls traditional English folk music that she met Suffragettes Mrs. Pethick Lawrence and Annie Kenney, and her life changed. Converted to Suffragism, she offered herself as a member of the next deputation to the Prime Minister.

Lady Constance Lytton

Leaving home, knowing she would be arrested, she wrote a letter of explanation to her mother, who would be appalled by her action. "I must tell you what has decided me to take this torturing step," she wrote. "Prisons, as you know, have been my hobby. What maternity there lurks in me has for years past been gradually awakening over the fate of prisoners, the deliberate, cruel harm that is done to them, their souls and bodies...The moment I got near the Suffragettes the way to this child of mine seemed easy and straight."

Her descriptions of her experiences in Holloway Prison are vivid, but she was aware of being given preferential treatment because of who she was, and her fragile health. "My continual appeals to the authorities to treat me as they did my fellow-prisoners...having proved unavailing, I...decided to write the words 'Votes for Women' on my body, scratching it in my skin with a needle, beginning over the heart and ending it on my face." She got as far as the V, over her heart.

Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst in Prison

Constance's second arrest, in 1909, came after Mrs. Pankhurst took her to visit a girl who had been released from prison after undergoing the torture of forcible feeding.  Constance went with a deputation of women led by Christabel, "intending stone-throwers" protesting a speech by Lloyd George. She told a young girl, "You are going to throw a stone. Think, as you lift your arm to do it, of the majority in the House of Commons...Think of the women who work with a sweated wage, who have not the energy to rebel...Think of the women who have been sent to prison for their protest against these things...Then throw your stone and make it do its work."

Constance waited in a hat shop until it was her turn.  "In the shop there was a fascinating little black kitten which it was hard to leave."  Then she stepped out in front of a car in Lloyd George's procession, and shouted out, "How can you, who say you back the women's cause, stay on in a Government which refuses them the vote, and is persecuting them for asking it?" and threw her stone. She was arrested, and in prison wrote her name on the wall with these words:

"To defend the oppressed,
To fight for the defenceless,
Not counting the cost."

She escaped force-feeding on this occasion, and determined, for her next imprisonment, to go in disguise, so as to receive ordinary treatment. Calling herself Jane Warton, she dressed in a disfiguring working woman's outfit, and threw stones into the garden of a prison governor. This time there was nothing preferential about her treatment, and she underwent force-feeding. Her description of this is horrific:

Constance as "Jane Warton"

"He said if I resisted so much with my teeth, he would have to feed me through the nose. The pain of it was intense and at last I must have given way for he got the gag between my teeth, when he proceeded to turn it much more than necessary until my jaws were fastened wide apart, far more than they could go naturally. Then he put down my throat a tube which seemed to me much too wide and was something like four feet in length. The irritation of the tube was excessive. I choked the moment it touched my throat until it had got down. Then the food was poured in quickly; it made me sick a few seconds after it was down and the action of the sickness made my body and legs double up, but the wardresses instantly pressed back my head and the doctor leant on my knees. The horror of it was more than I can describe. I was sick over the doctor and wardresses, and it seemed a long time before they took the tube out. As the doctor left he gave me a slap on the cheek, not violently, but, as it were, to express his contemptuous disapproval, and he seemed to take for granted that my distress was assumed... Before long I heard the sounds of the forced feeding in the next cell to mine. It was almost more than I could bear, it was Elsie Howey, I was sure. When the ghastly process was over and all quiet, I tapped on the wall and called out at the top of my voice, which wasn't much just then, 'No surrender,' and there came the answer past any doubt in Elsie's voice, 'No surrender.'"

Forcible feeding

After many such experiences, her health was broken, and in the months after her release she suffered several heart attacks and strokes. Yet she managed to write her book, which was influential in prison reform. She died in 1923, the Suffragette colors being placed on her coffin. Her book is available online:

The Suffragette colors were purple, white, and green.  Their banners were made in those colors, and jewelry too, badges and pins and necklaces.  It was Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence of the WSPU who started the idea, and explained in the newspaper Votes for Women (1908):  

"Purple as everyone knows is the royal colour. It stands for the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the instinct of freedom and dignity...white stands for purity in private and public is the colour of hope and the emblem of spring...The colours enable us to make that appeal to the eye which is so irresistible. The result of our processions is that this movement becomes identified in the mind of the onlooker with colour, gay sound, movement, and beauty."

The Holloway brooch, designed by Sylvia Pankhurst, who was an artist, was the "Victoria Cross" given by the WSPU to members who had been jailed.  The Holloway brooch doesn't show its colors here, but was enameled in the Suffragette colors.

There was also a Hunger Strike Medal, a bar pin, inscribed "For Valour."  Two of the three that still exist belonged to Mrs. Pankhurst and Lady Constance Lytton.

Some Suffragette jewelry still survives.  Here are two antique examples, a gorgeous brooch of 1910:

And a lovely necklace that inspired my own design:
Wanting a Suffragette necklace of my own, I designed this one, from amethysts, freshwater seed pearls, and Venetian green glass beads:

It is in the shape of V for Votes, and may be worn to commemorate such women as Lady Constance Lytton (I would say over the heart, but let's not go there!).  I have enough beads left, if anyone else would like me and Beatriz to make you one.  Now, the closing cat thought:

In 1911, Constance Lytton, carrying hammer and stones, was on her way to the House of Commons and to her fourth imprisonment, and was joined by some of her "active" friends in Victoria Street.  She wrote:

"We turned into a 'Lyons' for some tea, the whole place was full of our friends and a detective or two. A cat was there; she came to lie on my lap and I had to turn her off when we left."

My gentle cat Marsh-wiggle, on my lap.

Cats do not need votes, as they have full power.  Marshy's golden eyes have been known to hypnotize.