|THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 1913.|
A MEMORABLE DERBY.
The desperate act of a woman who rushed from the rails on to the course as the horses swept round Tattenham Corner, apparently from some mad notion that she could spoil the race, will impress the general public even more, perhaps, than the disqualification of the winner. She did not interfere with the race, but she nearly killed a jockey as well as herself, and she brought down a valuable horse. She seems to have run right in front of Anmer, which JONES was riding for the KING. It was impossible to avoid her. She was ridden down, the horse turned a complete somersault and fell upon his rider. That the horse was the KING’S was doubtless an accident : it would need almost miraculous skill or fortune to single out any particular animal as they passed a particular point. Some of the spectators close to the woman supposed that she was under the impression that the horses had all gone by and that she was merely attempting to cross the course. The evidence, however, is strong that her action was deliberate, and that it was planned and executed in the supposed interests of the suffragist movement. Whether she intended to commit suicide, or was simply reckless, it is hard to surmise. She very nearly took JONES’S life and her own. Had Anmer brought down the other horses which were close behind him, a scene might have followed of which it is horrible even to think, and nobody could have maintained, had it occurred, that it was not a natural consequence of what she did. She is said to be a person well known in the suffragist movement, to have had a card of a suffragist association upon her, and to have had the so-called “Suffragist colours” tied around her waist. It is further alleged that just after she had run out in front of the horses, holding her hands above her head, a placard with the words “Votes for Women” was raised by some person in the crowd. The circumstances are not, of course, conclusive, but they are, to say the least, suggestive.
The case will, of course, become the subject of investigation by the police, and we may possibly learn from the offender herself what exactly she intended to do and how she fancied that it could assist the suffragist cause. A deed of the kind, we need hardly say, is not likely to increase the popularity of any cause with the ordinary public. Reckless fanaticism is not regarded by them as a qualification for the franchise. They are disposed to look upon manifestations of that temper with contempt and with disgust. When these manifestations are attended by indifference to human life, they begin to suspect that they are not altogether sane. They say that persons who want only destroy property and endanger innocent lives must be either desperately wicked or entirely unbalanced. Where women are concerned, the natural gallantry of the public always inclines them to take a favourable view, and accordingly they are gradually coming to the conclusion that many of the militant suffragists are not entirely responsible for their acts. The growth of that belief will not improve the prospects of woman suffrage. The bulk of the suffragist party, and the abler of its leaders, are doubtless conscious of this truth. They seem, however, to be quite unable to lay the spirit which some of them have helped to raise, and to prevent the perpetration of crimes, the utter inanity of which as a means of political propaganda is even more striking than their wickedness. We are much mistaken if yesterday’s exhibition does not do more hurt to the cause of woman suffrage than years of agitation can undo. The militant school will long have reason to remember Aboyeur’s Derby.
The Times, 5 June 1913, page 9
|Jones, the King’s jockey, and Emily Davison both lie unconscious after Davison walked onto the course during the Derby of 4 June 1913. Jones escaped serious injury but Davison never regained consciousness and died four days later, though it was more a bungled attempt to spoil the race than a suicide mission (she was later found to have had a return ticket). The suffragettes’ campaign was of increasingly sensational and criminal actions deliberately intended to attract press attention but which, by 1914, had lost them what public support they had.|