Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/157

This page needs to be proofread.


144

The Green Bag

substantial foundation, in a contribution to the Outlook of August 26, 1911. The story contains, in fact, internal evidences of a want of authenticity. From what we know of Hamilton, we are led to believe that he would have secured the acquittal of a prisoner by the force of his eloquence and skill as an advocate, rather than by resorting to melodramatic devices. That he should have shifted suspicion to the actual culprit without any effort to bring him to the bar of justice taxes credulity even more.

THE CASE OF MARK WILKS {Communicated by Alvin Waggoner, Esq.) THE fact, not generally known, that in England, a man may be im prisoned for his wife's failure to pay her income tax, should be of interest just now in this country where we are in the act of adopting an income tax amendment to our own Constitution. With a proposed exemption of five thousand dollars we need not remind ourselves that few lawyers are likely to go to jail for failure to pay the tax on their annual incomes, but if the English procedure should be adopted here, who can foresee what may come upon any one of us for a wife's delinquency in this regard. It behooves us then to consider the case of one Mark Wilks. Dr. Elizabeth Wilks is an English physician. From her practice and prop erty she has an income sufficient to bring her within the tax on incomes. Dr. Wilks is a suffragette. With others of her sex, she believes that taxation with out votes is tyranny, and is an enthusi astic member of the Woman's Tax Resis tance League. As concrete evidence of opposition to a man-made government, when her income tax became due, she refused to pay it. The government decided to make an example of

Mr. Wilks! He was called upon, under the statute, for the tax his wife owed. Whether it was a matter of principle or cash with him does not appear, but he also failed to pay the tax. Where upon he was taken to jail. A wife, less conscientious and fixed in her opinions, might have wavered, but not Dr. Elizabeth Wilks. She stood on the doorstep and watched the detestable government cart her husband off to jail, feeling, no doubt, that her martyrdom was as sweet as it was peculiar. Other women had gone to jail for the cause; she had sent her husband! The situation was sufficiently novel to attract a great deal of public atten tion. It was seized upon by the con servative press as a new subject for ridicule of the present government and its policies. The Wilks case soon assumed an importance equaled only by the Home Rule Campaign. A great meeting of protest was held under the auspices of the Woman's Tax Resistance League in London early in October. Sir John Cockburn presided. George Bernard Shaw was the principal speaker, and a newspaper report quotes him as saying: I knew of cases in my boyhood where women managed to make homes for their children- and themselves, and then the husbands sold the furniture, turned the wife and children out, and got drunk. The Married Woman's Property Act was then carried, under which the husband retained the responsibility of the property, and the wife had the property to herself. As Mrs. Wilks would not pay the tax on her own in come Mr. Wilks went to jail. If my wife did that to me, the very moment I came out of prison I would get another wife. It is indefen sible. Mr. Israel Zangwill, the novelist, added to the gaiety of the occasion by suggesting that "marrying an heiress might be the ruin of a man." Possible American complications, involving some