Once more has Mrs. Harvey made her defiant protest in the police-courts, and
received a sentence of £5 and
14s. costs, with distraint
on her goods, or in default one month’s imprisonment in the second division.
The action was in relation to the license of a man-servant, to wit, the
man-servant [William David] Asquith; and this is the second conviction on the
Brackenhill is still barricaded against the tax-collector, and there is still
another tax unpaid. Another special warrant will be necessary to break in for
distraint; and the sentence imposed last week has not yet been carried out.
It will relieve the anxiety felt by many of Mrs. Harvey’s friends to know
that, if imprisoned, she will probably be committed to Holloway Gaol, where
she will be among comrades, and not to Maidstone as was at first anticipated.
Miss [C. Nina] Boyle and Mrs. [Margaret] Kineton Parkes were at Bromley
Police Court to support Mrs. Harvey on , and by the courtesy of the Bench Miss Boyle was allowed to speak
for her. She maintained that the prosecution was a vindictive one, because of
Mrs. Harvey’s well-known views, and pointed out that her defence was not
based on any legal quibble or evasion, but on a fundamental principle of the
Constitution; and that principle she could not depart from. She stood for
constitutional rights against statutory wrongs; all the grosser abuses of
legislation had been purged from the statute-book by similar action in the
past, and even by more violent and disorderly action. The only people now
subject to such gross injustice were those who for physical reasons were
unable to resort to armed rebellion. Such rebellion as she was capable of
against these constant encroachments by statute on the Constitution and on
the rights of the people, Mrs. Harvey held to be a sacred duty.
The County Council Collector, like the Insurance Commissioner’s agent, asked
for special costs against Mrs. Harvey, whereupon Miss Boyle protested
“But she is contumacious,” asserted the scandalised Bench.
Miss Boyle maintained that it was at any rate a high-minded contumacy, and
that it would be disgraceful to impose special penalties on persons who were
beyond question inspired by righteous and not by vicious motives. Eventually
a fine of £5 was imposed — the minimum penalty allowable for a second
offence; and only 14s.
costs. Distraint was ordered after the simple-minded officials of the Court
had asked for the money and found themselves refused. They further asked
whether there were any goods on which to distrain, but were told that they
must find that out for themselves.
Mrs. Harvey reiterated her determination not to pay, and thus remains with
two sentences hanging over her. The sentence for resisting the Insurance Act
has not yet been carried out; the house is still barricaded and can only be
entered on a warrant.
…There is another form of persecution of a petty nature, but none the less
ignoble, that is being tried on one of the members of the Women’s Tax
Resistance League, Miss Alice M. Walters, of Bristol.
The lady owns a dog on which she refuses to pay a license, as she is
determined to pay no taxes till women are represented in Parliament. In
she was summoned for
having no license, and as she had no goods on which to distrain, was
imprisoned for seven days for non-payment of fine. In
she was again summoned for being
without a dog license. She refused to appear in Court this time, but the
constable swore that “he saw a terrier sitting on the window-sill,” and on
this grave evidence the owner of the guilty-innocent was again fined, and on
non-payment, cast into prison for another seven days. Not satisfied, the
attack has been renewed a third time, and quite recently Miss Walters was
imprisoned a third time for the same offence, i.e., keeping a dog
without license. This time she appeared in Court, and on being asked if she
had goods on which to distrain, made an answer that was caught up by the
Press: “No, but I have a castle in Spain.” “Beyond the jurisdiction of the
English Courts?” asked the clerk.
So the game goes on. Meanwhile, pending the fourth summons, mistress and dog
are enjoying a good holiday. “His name is Daniel,” said Miss Walters, “but I
think I shall re-christen him ‘Peg,’ because I use him to hang my protest on.”