The Germans in Samoa.
The Apia correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald, writing on , says that the withdrawal of Tamasese’s adherents left him but a mere handful of supporters in his camp at Mulinuu. Tamasese himself was ignored by his party, and the chiefs began to discuss among themselves what they should do about the payment of the tax, and to consider the situation generally. It was already understood that the money would be paid only under pressure, and the question was whether it should be paid in full compliance with the dictated law, or lodged with the governors, to be retained by them until a proper method of government be adopted. These discussions took place in several parts of the islands. Along at Atua, the eastern end of this island, there is a feeling towards paying the tax, but exempting old men and women and boys and girls, instead of levying in the wholesale fashion ordered by Tamasese. At one of the strongest districts, a village on Savaii, the people are reluctant to pay at all. They want to see Malietoa again before they pay, and are willing to join in fighting against the enforcement of the tax, even if the Germans should go and burn their village. Like other villages. they ask where their money is going; they do not want to pay anything to Tamasese or Germany. If Tamasese owes money to the Germans, let him pay it himself. At Aana, Tamasese’s own district, there is an important discussion now in progress. There are engaged in it the leading chiefs of the party whose decision carries the day. This fono began last week. Tamasese heard of it, and sent a notification prohibiting it. The chiefs went on unheeding, and sent back a reply warning Tamasese against talking to them again in the same manner, reminding him that he had never been king before, and that as he had now been made king only by the force of Germany, it would be better for him to keep quiet and leave them alone to hold their fono. This debate will probably decide the whole situation, for the people will be guided for the most part by the decision of Aana and Atua. The crisis is close at hand, for after the Tamasese “Government” will have to begin imprisoning all who have not paid their taxes, or else face the consequences of failing to act upon its threat. At this moment it is impossible to gather whether, and how many of, the Samoans will pay the tax.
Saul Among the Prophets.
There is a piquancy which women tax-resisters will not fail to appreciate, in the declaration of Mr. Lloyd George that he is really one of their growing company — have not the Unionist business men in Belfast joined in? Can it be a result of the tax-resistance campaign now gathering strength in his own Principality, or is it the first indication of an intention to deal fairly with women over that million and a-half sterling which the Treasury conveniently pockets? Those who live will see.
The “John Bright” Tradition: No Taxation Without Representation.
For a Liberal Government which has repeatedly declared that there must be “No Taxation without Representation” to discover the grandson of John Bright amongst the tax resisters, must be seriously discomforting. Mrs. Clark, of Street, Somerset, wife of Mr. Roger Clark, grandson on his mother’s side of John Bright, is a member of the old constitutional society for Woman Suffrage, but is also a strong believer in the “No Vote No Tax” policy of the Women’s Tax Resistance League, considering that so long as women are taxed and refused representation it is their duty to make this constitutional protest against injustice. She, therefore, refused to pay her Income-tax, but was told that though the income was hers, her husband was the person liable to pay the tax. Mr. Clark, inheriting the “John Bright” tradition, upheld his wife in her determination to demonstrate that, as far as she was concerned, there should be “No Taxation without Representation”!
A silver jug and an Indian rose-bowl were taken to satisfy the claim of the law, and were sold by public auction on at the Crispinian Hall, Street. There was a crowded audience, and the auctioneer opened the proceedings by declaring himself a convinced Suffragist, which attitude of mind he attributed largely to a constant contact with women householders in his capacity as tax collector.
After the sale a public meeting was held, presided over by Mr. Roger Clark, at which Mrs. [Margaret] Kineton Parkes, organising secretary of the Women’s Tax Resistance League spoke, emphasising the constitutional character of tax resistance, and insisting that a nation which approved the action of John Hampden by erecting statues to his memory must also approve the action which tax-paying women are taking to protest against unrepresentative Government. At the close of the meeting many questions were asked, new members joined the League, and the following resolution was passed with enthusiasm, and only one dissentient:
“That this meeting is of opinion that women tax-payers are justified in refusing to pay all Imperial taxes until they are granted the same control over national expenditure as male tax-payers possess.”
A further and most startling piece of news has come to hand. In Belfast last week 5,000 men of business came to a “momentous decision.” They have pledged themselves to “keep back payment of all taxes which they can control, so long as any attempt to put into operation the provisions of the Home Rule Bill is persevered in.” It would almost seem as if these “hard-headed” men of business who represent £144,000,000 of capital, and who, we learn, are ready to risk the loss of everything, had taken a leaf out of the book of the “wild and evil spirits” whose contumacy they deplore.
But that to which we desire here to draw special attention is the extraordinary lack of any sort of principle on the part of those who govern us.
Women who persist in tax-resistance are imprisoned, and treated with the harshest rigour that the law permits; no recognition of motive; no first division; no permission, except under strict regulation, to see friends; one man is imprisoned for asking soldiers not to shoot their brothers — this in a civilised and Christian country; two or three others because they preached resistance against intolerable trade conditions, exposed the wickedness of the mere money-mongers, and advised hunger-stricken people not to pay rent until the industrial dispute was at an end. Other people meanwhile conspire to break the laws, should they not be to their liking, threaten armed resistance, and actually drill and organise a provisional citizen-army and government, and, so far from imprisoning and torturing them, the authorities speak them fair, invite them to confer, and hint at a possible compromise.