April 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
I came across this passage in Edith Bolling Wilson’s 1939 autobiography. She recounts an adventure in 1913 (before she married Woodrow Wilson) while accompanying friends around familiar London tourist attractions:
“… as I had been there many times before, I took my fountain pen and some writing paper in my bag to write some letters while the others went through the Tower.
On reaching the entrance [to the Tower of London] I was surprised to be told that on account of the outrages committed by the Suffragettes no one was allowed to carry anything in his hand; purses and bags must be sealed and checked at the gate. I took out the paper and fountain pen and asked if I could take them with me. The officer solemnly examined the pen and handed it back, saying: “Thank you, I see no harm in that.” I found a nice shady corner on one of the side entrances and settled myself to write. Deep in a letter, I suddenly became aware of being watched. I looked up to find a tall Britisher in a crimson-coated uniform, holding a gun, standing above me. I was so surprised that involuntarily I said: “What’s the matter?” and before he replied I realized I was the centre of a circle of onlookers. He said: “I am here to watch you; we don’t trust women these days.” It was the day of tight skirts, so I could not have concealed a bomb had I tried, but it was so funny that even the soldier smiled when two others joined him and the three stood over me until my friends returned. . .”
Edith Bolling Wilson, My Memoir (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1939), 42-43.