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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Lady Constance Lytton


The lines we take in as children remain with us forever. One evening when I was a child the BBC series "Shoulder to Shoulder" was on TV. It was the episode about the very courageous Lady Constance Lytton (daughter of the Viceroy of India and Queen Victoria's lady-in-waiting) who, having been arrested several times for protesting in favour of votes for women and receiving preferential treatment on account of her aristocratic background, disguised herself as a poor seamstress and was subsequently arrested, went on hunger strike and was brutally forcibly-fed, without a medical examination which would have revealed her chronic heart complaint which had kept her as a semi-invalid all her life. Gentle animal loving Constance became known as a militant suffragette, when she had never harmed anyone but, against all her upbringing and instincts took a stand for justice. I think, what kept her an invalid and what led to that heart complaint was simply the stifling of who she really was and the smothering of all her talents. She broke out of that in a most courageous way and wrote a book about her experiences - "Prisons & Prisoners" - which is largely forgotten now.

The lines that really stuck with me came from something she quoted:

"Have you seen the locusts, how they cross a stream? First one comes down to the water's edge and is swept away. Then another comes and another, and gradually their bodies pile up and make a bridge for the rest to pass over." She ended by saying, "Well, perhaps I made a track to the water's edge."

It's a beautiful thought when follow our own paths, even when they seem to veer away from what is expected...

2 comments:

Mikaela D'Eigh said...

What a lovely thought! I was unfamiliar with her. Thanks for sharing, Christina!

Christina said...

Thank you, Mikaela for your kind comment. It is a lovely quotation, isn't it?

(Sorry for being so late in responding, I only just saw your comment :-) )