E. Sylvia Pankhurst

from The Suffragette

Source: The Cry For Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest, ed. by Upton Sinclair, John C. Winston Co., 1915;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan for marxists.org in 2002.

SHE was then surrounded and held down, whilst the chair was tilted backwards. She clenched her teeth, but the doctor pulled her mouth away to form a pouch and the wardress poured in milk and brandy, some of which trickled in through the crevices. Later in the day the doctors and wardresses again appeared. They forced her down on to the bed and held her there. One of the doctors then produced a tube two yards in length with a glass junction in the center and a funnel at one end. He forced the other end of the tube up her nostril, hurting her so terribly that the matron and two of the wardresses burst into tears and the second doctor interfered. At last the tube was pushed down into the stomach. She felt the pain of it to the end of the breast bone. Then one of the doctors stood upon a chair holding the funnel end of the tube at arm’s length, and poured food down whilst the wardress and the other doctor all gripped her tight. She felt as though she would suffocate. There was a rushing, burning sensation in her head, the drums of her ears seemed to be bursting. The agony of pain in the throat and breast bone continued. The thing seemed to go on for hours. When at last the tube was withdrawn, she felt as though all the back of her nose and throat were being torn out with it.

Then almost fainting she was carried back to the punishment cell and put to bed. For hours the pain in the chest, nose and ears continued and she felt terribly sick and faint. Day after day the struggle continued; she used no violence, but each time resisted and was overcome by force of numbers. Often she vomited during the operation. When the food did not go down quickly enough the doctor pinched her nose with the tube in it, causing her even greater pain.