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How He Lied to Her Husband


Many people have been puzzled by the fact that whilst stage
entert ainments which are frankly meant to act on the spectators
as aphrodisiacs, are everywhere tolerated, plays which have an
almost horrifyingly contrary eect are fiercely attacked by
persons and papers not oriously indierent to public morals on
all other occasions. The explanation is very simple. The profits
of Mrs Warren’s profession are shared not only by Mrs Warren and
Sir George Crofts, but by the landlords of their houses, the
news papers which advertize them, the restaurants which cater for
them, and, in short, all the trades to which they are good
customers, not to mention the public ocials and
representatives whom they silence by complicity, corruption, or
blackmail. Add to these the employers who profit by cheap female
labor, and the shareholders whose dividends depend on it [you
find such people everywhere, even on the judicial bench and in
the highest places in Church and State], and you get a large and
powerful class with a strong pecuniary incentive to protect Mrs
Warren’s profession, and a correspondingly strong incentive to
conceal, from their own consciences no less than from t he world,
the real sources of their gain. These are the people who declare
that it is feminine vic e and not poverty that drives women to the
streets, as if vicious women wit h independent incomes ever went
there. These are the people who, indulgent or indierent to
aphrodisiac plays, raise the moral hue and cry against
performances of Mrs Warren’s Profession, and drag actresses to
the police court to be insulted, bullied, and threatened for
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fulfilling their engagements. For please observe that the
judicial decision in New York State in favor of the play does not
end the matter. In Kansas City, for instance, the municipality,
finding itself restrained by the courts from preventing the
performance, fell back on a local bye -law against indecency to
evade the Constitution of the United States. They summoned the
actress who impersonated Mrs Warren to the police court, and
oered her and her colleagues the alternative of leaving the
city or being prosecuted under this bye -law.
Now nothing is more possible than that the city councillors who
suddenly displayed such concern for the morals of the theatre
were either Mrs Warren’s landlords, or employers of women at
starvation wages, or restaurant keepers, or newspaper
proprietors, or in some other more or less direct way sharers of
the profits of her trade. No doubt it is equally possible that
they were simply stupid men who thought that indecency consists,
not in evil, but in mentioning it. I have, however, been myself a
member of a municipal council, and have not found municipal
councillors quite so simple and inexperienced as this. At all
events I do not propose to give the Kansas councillors the
benefit of the doubt. I therefore advise the public at large,
which will finally decide the matter, to keep a vigilant eye on
gentlemen who will stand anything at the theatre except a
performance of Mrs Warren’s Profession, and who assert in the
same breath that [a] the play is too loathsome to be bearable by
civilized people, and [b] that unless its performanc e is
prohibited the whole town will throng to see it. They may be
merely excited and foolish; but I am bound to warn the public
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