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overwhelmed with the filthy missiles from the crowd, he abandoned the contest to his rivals.
I will close my letter with a short description of the manner in which the elections are conducted. At the opening of the poll, London is covered with placards, announcing to the electors of different counties who reside there, that, if they are disposed to vote for such or such a candidate, they will be furnished, at a certain tavern, with carriages to convey them to the place of election; that there they will be lodged, boarded and indemnified at the expense
of their candidate. The necessary and enormous expenses, have the effect of deterring all candidates who have not a considerable presumption of success. The expenses of the election consist, 1st, in the hire of a house in which the committee assembles; 2dly, in the charges of printing addresses to the electors, puffs in the newspapers, &c. 3dly, in the money paid to agents and persons employed in canvassing; 4thly, in the payment of travelling expenses for those who are unable to pay them; 5thly, in the cost of building the hustings, and the allowances of officers employed to register the votes; 6thly, in the charge for ribands and other gewgaws, flags, banners, music, and refreshments provided all day at taverns, &c. lastly, in the price of a dinner, which always crowns the success, and often terminates the defeat of a candidate. These expenses, which vary according to the number of electors, to their fortune, &c.
amount sometimes to $60,000! The purchase of ribands alone sometimes costs $10,000; and, in some counties, the money paid for travel. ling, &c. for a single elector, amounts to $250!
The candidates do not content themselves with causing the suffrages of electors to be solicited in their favour by their agents; they take the pains to visit in person all those who have agreed to vote for them. These visits are of. ten a mere matter of form, which a candidate makes even to those electors who are engaged in the interest of his rival, lest he should be thought proud, at a time when it is expected he should " lower his colours" before the sovereign people! M. Cotter, in his work on the Criminal Code of England, thinks that this system operates in tempering the inequalities of aristocracy: a simple artisan, (says he finds a great lord come to him in the attitude of a suppliant, and ask him eagerly for his support; nor must it be supposed that the smallest assistance is to be neglected. Ope vote has decided the election.
The hustings are divided into as many compartments as there are parishes possessing the right of voting. In each of these compartments are seated two public officers, of whom one holds in his hand, an alphabetical list of all those entitled to vote, and the other a great book for the electors to write their names in. On the day fixed for opening the poll, the candidates repair to the hustings, sometimes without parade, and sometimes in splendid equipages ornamented with ribands of their colour.
Before giving his vote, the elector takes an oath that he acts solely from the impulse of his conscience, and that he is biassed by no pecuniary or private considerations; his vote is then inscribed before his eyes, in the column of his favoured candidate. Disputes are settled by the sheriff's court in counties, and by the mayor in cities. The hustings are surrounded with an immense number of people, who come to give their support to the candidate whom they prefer, to encourage him by their plaudits, and to uphold him against his rivals, whom they overwhelm with their hootings, mud, &c. From a window in King street, Covent Garden, I viewed the area paved with heads below me, and heard the shouting, hisses and imprecations of the enlightened multitude. The ministerial candidate was saluted with groans and cries of“ get off and be dd to you!” Sir Francis Burdett and Mr. Hobhouse were always received with the most enthusiastic applause. Sir Francis was the hero of the day; it is impossible to give an adequate idea of the loud and continued cheers, and the expressions of attachment with which the people hailed this eminently popular personage. Hobhouse and his friend Kinneard appeared now and then at the windows of their committee room, and harangued the multitude, who seemed to be the scum of the creation; they looked even worse off than Falstaff's soldiers!
During the election, the mob is " thrown into tumult, raptured and alarmed” by the speeches of the candidates; but when the contest is over, the people, like a sovereign preparing for a long journey, (says Cotter,) descend tranquilly from their throne, delegating all their authority to their representatives, and admonishing them that their conduct will be watched, and that, on their return, either their services will be acknowledged, or themselves punished for their negligence or prevarication.
Some time after the election, the day of chairing arrives,-i. e. of the triumph (or
ovation,” as Burke would call it,) of the fortunate candidate. All the partisans of the returned member make a point of embellishing the ceremony; ladies place themselves at the windows by which the candidate passes, in the most sumptuous dresses, and decorated with his colours; the men accompany him on horseback, or in their carriages; banners covered with appropriate devices precede his carriage, and are greeted with the loudest acclamations. The representative appears himself like a tri. umphant Roman in an open chariot, tawdry enough for the wedding of Cupid and Psyche!
“ The statesman of the day
The fete is terminated by a grand dinner, at which are sometimes assembled 500 electors; whilst, out of the room, streams of porter flow in abundance among the people. Toasts are afterwards proposed, to the royal family, the independence of England, the constitution, the revolution of 1688, &c. These toasts are communicated to the multitude by the guests nearest the windows, and are answered by shouts and transports.
All the government offices, the East and West India warehouses and docks were ransacked for voters in favour of the ministerial candidate. The Maxwellites even went to the alms' houses, from one of which, belonging to the East India Company, they actually lirought about a dozen old fellows in tattered weeds
and overwhelming brows,” and tendered them , to poll!
I have been told several electioneering anecdotes, which would amuse you. I will content myself with relating one of them. Mr. Harvey canvassed a quaker on a Sunday, who reprehended him for working on that sacred day, and referred him to the passage in the Holy Writ,“ thou shalt do no manner of work, &c.” Mr. H. replied, “ very true, my friend, but there is another passage, that seems to have escaped your recollection, which says, “make your calling and your election sure.""*
* In the Middlesex elections in 1820, an eminent ale-brewer called, with one of Mellish (the ministerial candidate's) canvassing parties, on a cooper who received annually a considerable