True womanliness, in the highest sense of the term, is not sacrificed by the awakening of women to a wider field of activity. The day is gone by when a wife and mother with interests outside her home was subjected to the pleasantry of being compared to " Mrs. Jellyby." It is common knowledge that the woman of bright and active mind, with large human sympathies, makes the most companionable wife, the most popular and inspiring mother, and the most capable organiser of her household. The mere domestic drudge is not an attractive type of woman, even to men. If woman's progress towards a wider outlook and participation in public affairs is to accomplish a betterment of the race, it will be by the cultivation of her distinctive feminine qualities as a complement to the masculine attributes in the work of the world:
. . . . Let her make herself her own ; To give or keep, to live and learn and be All that not harms distinctive womanhood.
Sport occupies a prominent place in her triumphs. From cycling and tennis, she has passed to hockey, golf, and swimming. We have before us the feat of Miss Thould, of Weston-super-mare, who has beaten the world's swimming record for 300 metres. The official time previously was 5 min. 33 3/5 sec.
The triumphs of women have also been signally instanced in that newest and most startling sport and science of our time, aviation. Who would have predicted, even so recently as two years ago, that a woman would be holding a pilot's certificate as an aviator, and that she would be one of the founders of a school for flying to which officers of our Army and Navy would come for instruction ? Yet Mrs. Maurice Hewlett has accomplished all this, and presides over her school at Brooklands, in partnership with M. Blondeau, with as much practical unconcern as if she were running a laundry. The number of women who fly increases by leaps and bounds, and it is within the realms of possibility that within a few years women who now drive their motor-cars will be piloting their aeroplanes. Flying is certainly not a matter of sex. It may be a matter of nerve, and the whole trend of a modern girl's education is calculated to brace her nerves and muscles.
It is, in fact, becoming an offence to the old-fashioned man that women are rising superior to nerves and mice.
When the international balloon race was taking place, a few years ago, from the grounds of Ranelagh Club, I heard an elderly beau exclaim, as he watched Mrs. Harbord waving her white-gloved hands to her friends below as her balloon soared over the tree-tops, " Why, that woman has no nerves! "
Hooligans have discovered, too, that there is no fun to be had from letting mice loose in a woman's meeting; it is the mice whose nerves are upset.
In the wonderful science of the conquest of the air women have been foremost also in playing a patriotic part. They promptly started the Ladies' Aerial League when it was seen that the defence of our country might necessitate ships for aerial war as well as for naval conflicts, and that we were behind other nations in our knowledge of the new science.
Under the inspiring presidentship of Lady O'hagan the league has laboured to promote the study of aviation by the holding of public meetings and At-homes. With womanly intuition the promoters founded a juvenile branch of the league, so that boys and girls may be trained in a patriotic appreciation of aviation and encouraged to study the science. It was an interesting sight to watch the fascinated look of the youthful "leaguers" when Miss Gertrude Bacon, one of the most intrepid aeronauts of the day and the first woman to go up in a flying machine, lectured to them at the Society of Arts.
But to descend to earth, the triumphs of women as travellers and explorers are amongst the wonders of our time. Here, again, on land, as in the air, woman triumphs because she i free to do what she listeth. She is not handicapped by repressive legislation. Her only handicap is sex.
When Mrs. Bullock Workman set out to conquer the giant peaks of the Himalayas, she did not require to ask the permission of Parliament or consult the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge ! The result is seen in her accomplishment of three successive world mountaineering records for women (Siegfriedhorn, 18,600 feet, Mount Bullock Workman, 19,450 feet, and Koser Gunge 21,000 feet), as well as the first ascent of a peak of the Nun Kun range, 23,300 feet, by which she obtained the world record.
We may draw examples, too, from the brilliant adventures of Mrs. Aubrey le Blond amid the regions of perpetual snow and ice on the " Roof of the World " ; of Mrs. French Sheldon's personally conducted expedition to Africa, and her exploration of the Congo ; of Mrs. Frank Savile's record walking tour across Montenegro ; and of Miss Isabel Savory's travels and hunting adventures in India.
In an earlier age Lady Hester Stanhope, the Queen of the Desert, rode her Arab horse at the head of fierce bands of Bedouin warriors, and explored Western Asia. Lady Baker and Lady Burton courageously shared the perilous travels and explorations of their respective husbands. Mrs. Bishop (Isabella
Bird) trod the " Unbeaten Tracks of Japan," and penetrated into Thibet, Persia, Kurdistan, and parts of China where no European woman had ever been seen before. True, she had often to sit in peril, with her gun beside her, but she continued her travels even into old age.