Mrs. Harvey’s Sale.
Few places could seem so unpropitious as a field for Suffrage propaganda as
Bromley, in spite of the constant presence of a Suffragist of the calibre of
Mrs. [Kate] Harvey; yet, strange to say, the outcome of her protest meeting on
Monday was more than gratifying, and the event must be chronicled as an
unmitigated success. By the skilful handling of Miss Munro, a dense crowd
which threatened disorder settled down to listen in patience to four speeches
of more than average excellence; and when at the close three cheers were
raised for Mrs. Harvey, there was a definite show of goodwill and
appreciation of the attitude and view which inspired the protest.
From early in the day Mrs. Huntsman and a noble band of sandwich-women had
paraded the town announcing the sale and distributing leaflets. In the
afternoon a contingent of the Tax Resistance League arrived with the John
Hampden banner and the brown and black pennons and flags. These marched
through the town and market square before entering the hall in which the sale
and meeting were to be held, and which was decorated with the flags and
colours of the Women’s Freedom League. Mr. Croome, the King’s officer,
conducted the sale in person, the goods sold being a quantity of table silver,
a silver toilette set, and one or two other articles. The prices fetched were
trifling, Mrs. Harvey desiring that no one should buy the goods in for her.
Much hostility was displayed throughout the proceedings; and several Freedom
Leaguers were of opinion that it was long since so much unpleasantness had
been experienced as during the day’s campaign.
When the Inland Revenue vacated the rostrum and Miss [Anna] Munro took the
chair, an ugly spirit appeared to possess the meeting for a few brief
moments; but it was charmed away by the chairman’s tact and firmness, and an
excellent and most courteous hearing was given to all the speakers — melting,
towards the end, into real sympathy.
The first speech was from Mrs. [Charlotte] Despard, in her most spirited
style, winning a hearty meed of applause; and she was followed by Mrs.
[Margaret] Kineton Parkes, who has an admirable “way” with a crowd. Miss [C.
Nina] Boyle then spoke, provoking much amused laughter; and the last speaker,
Miss Hicks, closed the “case for the defence” with a well-pointed and
finely-balanced argument. After that came questions, which Miss Munro dealt
with in her usual adroit manner. The audience departed well satisfied and
good-humoured, and several new members were won.
Tea was served at Brackenhill after the meeting, a party of ten having been
entertained to lunch earlier in the day by Mrs. Clarkson Swann.
In the forenoon Mrs. Harvey and some of her friends, including Mrs. Snow,
Mrs. Fisher, Miss Boyle, Mrs. Kineton Parkes, Mrs. Clarkson-Swann, and some
members of Mrs. Harvey’s household held rendezvouz
at the local Sessions Court to hear the case against Mrs. Harvey in respect
of not paying a tax on her gardener. As when
Dr. [Elizabeth] Knight was
summoned, the representative of the London County Council brought his case
into court in the most slovenly, scandalous fashion — these cases
furnishing a lurid light on the way the liberties of the public are held
cheap by careless authorities. A spirited defence, which made the cocksure
representative aforesaid look extremely foolish, was put up by Mrs. Harvey’s
counsel; the verdict of the court being
30s. fine, and costs. Mrs.
Harvey declared she would not pay fine or costs, and the ultimate verdict
was “distraint or seven days” — in the second division.
Among those who were at Bromley for the protest were Mrs. [Anne] Cobden
Sanderson, Mrs. Huntsman, Mrs. Kux, Mrs. Macpherson, Mrs. Smith, Miss
F[lorence]. A. Underwood, Miss Howard, Miss Rowell, Mrs. Thomas, Mrs.
[Emily] Juson Kerr, Miss Barrow, and Miss Taylor.