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VI.

ELECTIONS

Dickens's Pickwick Papers appeared from April 1836 to November 1837, after the Reform Act, that is to say, but it is unnecessary to inquire whether the famous Eatanswill election (the description of which notable event we insert here) was fought under the old or under the new dispensation. After 1832 as before electioneering methods differed vastly from those of our own day. In the first place an election lasted many days and was carried on in the most public manner. On the first day the two candidates were presented to the people who were invited to indicate by a show of hands which was their favourite. The verdict of the crowd, however, which included probably a majority of people without a legal right to vote was an empty formality. "No ceremonial could be at once more useless and more mischievous. The candidates were proposed and seconded in face of each other on a public platform in some open street or market-place in the presence of a vast tumultuous crowd, three-fourths of whom were generally drunk and all of whom were inflamed by the passion of a furious partisanship. Fortunate indeed was the orator whose speech was anything more than dumb show. The Conservative part of the crowd usually made it a point of honour not to listen to the Liberal candidate or allow him to be heard; the Liberal partisans were equally resolute to drown the eloquence of the Tory candidate. Brass bands and drums not unusually accompanied the efforts of the speakers to make themselves heard. Brickbats, dead cats, and rotten eggs came flying like bewildering meteors round the ears of the rival politicians on the hustings. The crowds generally enlivened the time by a series of faction fights among themselves. Anything more grotesque, more absurd, more outrageous it would be impossible to imagine." (McCarthy, History of our own Times, ch. LIX).

For many days after this performance (Nomination Day) the votes of qualified electors were taken. Every elector had publicly to state his choice, — a practice which offered a wide field to

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