The changing decorum of women in law and assessing the double emphasis on a phrase in a 1950s article.

Law Society’s Gazette, May 1960

Women of law, by Joan LittlewoodWith regard to acceptance by the profession itself, I think that we are coming nearer. There are some who will never take kindly to women but the younger generation, broadly speaking, take us for granted. A defending solicitor, for example, does not look either alarmed or surprised when he discovers that a woman is prosecuting his client.

I may say that I have always been treated with complete courtesy by the men in the profession and also, on many occasions, with much kindness. The main thing a woman has to remember is not to try to trade on the fact she is a woman but just do her job to the best of her ability.

L­eaderPerhaps Miss Carrie Morrison [the first Englishwoman to become a solicitor] had more difficulties in her professional life than Miss Littlewood has encountered, for a certain bitterness may be detected when, presented with the question, ‘Do you suffer from any physical disability?’ on an official form, Miss Morrison replied, ‘No, except being a woman.’

Law Society’s Gazette, May 1950

Letters to the editorI have read with great interest Mr Heap’s article on town and country planning, but I wonder if you could assist me on one small point – the reference on page 140 to land being designated ‘at one below’.

I dismiss out of hand the thought that this is a misprint for ‘at one bellow’ having regard to the double emphasis on the phrase, by inverted commas, and, more pointedly, by the words ‘as it were’. Other variae lectiones come to mind, but I believe in the golden rule of not attempting textual emendation until all possibility of making sense of the passage has been exhausted.

The phrase seems to contain an ellipsis (or should it be aposiopesis?). Below par? Below decks? Below normal? None of these supplies the sense satisfactorily. ‘Below the belt’ expresses most nearly perhaps the view many of us take of a Declaratory Order, but if that is the meaning I stumble over the word ‘at’.

Many again have felt that town planning orders in general, and declaratory orders in particular, are inventions of the devil himself, and it has occurred to me, taking everything into consideration, that ‘one below’ is an oblique reference to this. Is this what the learned author meant?Thomas F Barton, Norwich