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The Election


And now the important day of the election had arrived, and some men's
hearts beat quickly enough. To be or not to a member of the British
Parliament is a question of very considerable moment in a man's mind.
Much is often said of the great penalties which the ambitious pay for
enjoying this honour; of the tremendous expenses of elections; of the
long, tedious hours of unpaid labour: of the weary days passed in the
House; but, nevertheless, the prize is one very well worth the price
paid for it - well worth any price that can be paid for it short of
wading through dirt and dishonour.

No other great European nation has anything like it to offer to the
ambition of its citizens; for in no other great country of Europe,
not even in those which are free, has the popular constitution
obtained, as with us, true sovereignty and power of rule. Here it is
so; and when a man lays himself out to be a member of Parliament, he
plays the highest game and for the highest stakes which the country
affords.

To some men, born silver-spooned, a seat in Parliament comes as
a matter of course. From the time of their early manhood they
hardly know what it is not to sit there; and the honour is hardly
appreciated, being too much a matter of course. As a rule, they
never know how great a thing it is to be in Parliament; though, when
reverse comes, as reverses occasionally will come, they fully feel
how dreadful it is to be left out.

But to men aspiring to be members, or to those who having been
once fortunate have again to fight the battle without assurance of
success, the coming election must be matter of dread concern. Oh, how
delightful to hear that the long-talked-of rival has declined the
contest, and that the course is clear! or to find by a short canvass
that one's majority is safe, and the pleasures of crowing over an
unlucky, friendless foe quite secured!

No such gratification as this filled the bosom of Mr Moffat on
the morning of the Barchester election. To him had been brought
no positive assurance of success by his indefatigable agent, Mr
Nearthewinde. It was admitted on all sides that the contest would be
a very close one; and Mr Nearthewinde would not do more than assert
that they ought to win unless things went very wrong with them.

Mr Nearthewinde had other elections to attend to, and had not been
remaining at Courcy Castle ever since the coming of Miss Dunstable:
but he had been there, and at Barchester, as often as possible, and
Mr Moffat was made greatly uneasy by reflecting how very high the
bill would be.

The two parties had outdone each other in the loudness of their
assertions, that each would on his side conduct the election in
strict conformity to law. There was to be no bribery. Bribery! who,
indeed, in these days would dare to bribe; to give absolute money for
an absolute vote, and pay for such an article in downright palpable
sovereigns? No. Purity was much too rampant for that, and the means
of detection too well understood. But purity was to be carried much
further than this. There should be no treating; no hiring of two
hundred voters to act as messengers at twenty shillings a day in
looking up some four hundred other voters; no bands were to be paid
for; no carriages furnished; no ribbons supplied. British voters were
to vote, if vote they would, for the love and respect they bore to
their chosen candidate. If so actuated, they would not vote, they
might stay away; no other inducement would be offered.

So much was said loudly - very loudly - by each party; but,
nevertheless, Mr Moffat, early in these election days, began to have
some misgivings about the bill. The proclaimed arrangement had been
one exactly suitable to his taste; for Mr Moffat loved his money. He
was a man in whose breast the ambition of being great in the world,
and of joining himself to aristocratic people was continually at war
with the great cost which such tastes occasioned. His last election
had not been a cheap triumph. In one way or another money had
been dragged from him for purposes which had been to his mind
unintelligible; and when, about the middle of his first session, he
had, with much grumbling, settled all demands, he had questioned with
himself whether his whistle was worth its cost.

He was therefore a great stickler for purity of election; although,
had he considered the matter, he should have known that with him
money was his only passport into that Elysium in which he had now
lived for two years. He probably did not consider it; for when, in
those canvassing days immediately preceding the election, he had
seen that all the beer-houses were open, and half the population
was drunk, he had asked Mr Nearthewinde whether this violation of
the treaty was taking place only on the part of his opponent, and
whether, in such case, it would not be duly noticed with a view to a
possible future petition.

Mr Nearthewinde assured him triumphantly that half at least of the
wallowing swine were his own especial friends; and that somewhat
more than half of the publicans of the town were eagerly engaged in
fighting his, Mr Moffat's battle. Mr Moffat groaned, and would have
expostulated had Mr Nearthewinde been willing to hear him. But that
gentleman's services had been put into requisition by Lord de Courcy
rather than by the candidate. For the candidate he cared but little.
To pay the bill would be enough for him. He, Mr Nearthewinde, was
doing his business as he well knew how to do it; and it was not
likely that he should submit to be lectured by such as Mr Moffat on a
trumpery score of expense.

It certainly did appear on the morning of the election as though some
great change had been made in that resolution of the candidates to be
very pure. From an early hour rough bands of music were to be heard
in every part of the usually quiet town; carts and gigs, omnibuses
and flys, all the old carriages from all the inn-yards, and every
vehicle of any description which could be pressed into the service
were in motion; if the horses and post-boys were not to be paid for
by the candidates, the voters themselves were certainly very liberal
in their mode of bringing themselves to the poll. The election
district of the city of Barchester extended for some miles on each
side of the city, so that the omnibuses and flys had enough to do.
Beer was to be had at the public-houses, almost without question, by
all who chose to ask for it; and rum and brandy were dispensed to
select circles within the bars with equal profusion. As for ribbons,
the mercers' shops must have been emptied of that article, as far as
scarlet and yellow were concerned. Scarlet was Sir Roger's colour,
while the friends of Mr Moffat were decked with yellow. Seeing what
he did see, Mr Moffat might well ask whether there had not been a
violation of the treaty of purity!

At the time of this election there was some question whether England
should go to war with all her energy; or whether it would not be
better for her to save her breath to cool her porridge, and not
meddle more than could be helped with foreign quarrels. The last view
of the matter was advocated by Sir Roger, and his motto of course
proclaimed the merits of domestic peace and quiet. "Peace abroad and
a big loaf at home," was consequently displayed on four or five huge
scarlet banners, and carried waving over the heads of the people. But
Mr Moffat was a staunch supporter of the Government, who were already
inclined to be belligerent, and "England's honour" was therefore the
legend under which he selected to do battle. It may, however, be
doubted whether there was in all Barchester one inhabitant - let alone
one elector - so fatuous as to suppose that England's honour was in
any special manner dear to Mr Moffat; or that he would be a whit more
sure of a big loaf than he was now, should Sir Roger happily become a
member of the legislature.

And then the fine arts were resorted to, seeing that language fell
short in telling all that was found necessary to be told. Poor Sir
Roger's failing as regards the bottle was too well known; and it was
also known that, in acquiring his title, he had not quite laid aside
the rough mode of speech which he had used in his early years. There
was, consequently, a great daub painted up on sundry walls, on which
a navvy, with a pimply, bloated face, was to be seen standing on a
railway bank, leaning on a spade holding a bottle in one hand, while
he invited a comrade to drink. "Come, Jack, shall us have a drop of
some'at short?" were the words coming out of the navvy's mouth; and
under this was painted in huge letters,


"THE LAST NEW BARONET."


But Mr Moffat hardly escaped on easier terms. The trade by which his
father had made his money was as well known as that of the railway
contractor; and every possible symbol of tailordom was displayed in
graphic portraiture on the walls and hoardings of the city. He was
drawn with his goose, with his scissors, with his needle, with his
tapes; he might be seen measuring, cutting, stitching, pressing,
carrying home his bundle, and presenting his little bill; and under
each of these representations was repeated his own motto: "England's
honour."

Such were the pleasant little amenities with which the people of
Barchester greeted the two candidates who were desirous of the honour
of serving them in Parliament.

The polling went on briskly and merrily. There were somewhat above
nine hundred registered voters, of whom the greater portion recorded
their votes early in the day. At two o'clock, according to Sir
Roger's committee, the numbers were as follows: -


Scatcherd 275
Moffat 268


Whereas, by the light afforded by Mr Moffat's people, they stood in a
slightly different ratio to each other, being written thus: -


Moffat 277
Scatcherd 269


This naturally heightened the excitement, and gave additional delight
to the proceedings. At half-past two it was agreed by both sides that
Mr Moffat was ahead; the Moffatites claiming a majority of twelve,
and the Scatcherdites allowing a majority of one. But by three
o'clock sundry good men and true, belonging to the railway interest,
had made their way to the booth in spite of the efforts of a band
of roughs from Courcy, and Sir Roger was again leading, by ten or a
dozen, according to his own showing.

One little transaction which took place in the earlier part of the
day deserves to be recorded. There was in Barchester an honest
publican - honest as the world of publicans goes - who not only was
possessed of a vote, but possessed also of a son who was a voter.
He was one Reddypalm, and in former days, before he had learned to
appreciate the full value of an Englishman's franchise, he had been a
declared Liberal and an early friend of Roger Scatcherd's. In latter
days he had governed his political feelings with more decorum, and
had not allowed himself to be carried away by such foolish fervour as
he had evinced in his youth. On this special occasion, however, his
line of conduct was so mysterious as for a while to baffle even those
who knew him best.

His house was apparently open in Sir Roger's interest. Beer, at any
rate, was flowing there as elsewhere; and scarlet ribbons going
in - not, perhaps, in a state of perfect steadiness - came out more
unsteady than before. Still had Mr Reddypalm been deaf to the voice
of that charmer, Closerstil, though he had charmed with all his
wisdom. Mr Reddypalm had stated, first his unwillingness to vote at
all: - he had, he said, given over politics, and was not inclined to
trouble his mind again with the subject; then he had spoken of his
great devotion to the Duke of Omnium, under whose grandfathers his
grandfather had been bred: Mr Nearthewinde had, as he said, been
with him, and proved to him beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would
show the deepest ingratitude on his part to vote against the duke's
candidate.

Mr Closerstil thought he understood all this, and sent more, and
still more men to drink beer. He even caused - taking infinite trouble
to secure secrecy in the matter - three gallons of British brandy to
be ordered and paid for as the best French. But, nevertheless, Mr
Reddypalm made no sign to show that he considered that the right
thing had been done. On the evening before the election, he told
one of Mr Closerstil's confidential men, that he had thought a good
deal about it, and that he believed he should be constrained by his
conscience to vote for Mr Moffat.

We have said that Mr Closerstil was accompanied by a learned friend
of his, one Mr Romer, a barrister, who was greatly interested in Sir
Roger, and who, being a strong Liberal, was assisting in the canvass
with much energy. He, hearing how matters were likely to go with
this conscientious publican, and feeling himself peculiarly capable
of dealing with such delicate scruples, undertook to look into the
case in hand. Early, therefore, on the morning of the election, he
sauntered down the cross street in which hung out the sign of the
Brown Bear, and, as he expected, found Mr Reddypalm near his own
door.

Now it was quite an understood thing that there was to be no bribery.
This was understood by no one better than by Mr Romer, who had, in
truth, drawn up many of the published assurances to that effect. And,
to give him his due, he was fully minded to act in accordance with
these assurances. The object of all the parties was to make it worth
the voters' while to give their votes; but to do so without bribery.
Mr Romer had repeatedly declared that he would have nothing to do
with any illegal practising; but he had also declared that, as long
as all was done according to law, he was ready to lend his best
efforts to assist Sir Roger. How he assisted Sir Roger, and adhered
to the law, will now be seen.

Oh, Mr Romer! Mr Romer! is it not the case with thee that thou
"wouldst not play false, and yet wouldst wrongly win?" Not in
electioneering, Mr Romer, any more than in other pursuits, can a man
touch pitch and not be defiled; as thou, innocent as thou art, wilt
soon learn to thy terrible cost.

"Well, Reddypalm," said Mr Romer, shaking hands with him. Mr Romer
had not been equally cautious as Nearthewinde, and had already drunk
sundry glasses of ale at the Brown Bear, in the hope of softening the
stern Bear-warden. "How is it to be to-day? Which is to be the man?"

"If any one knows that, Mr Romer, you must be the man. A poor
numbskull like me knows nothing of them matters. How should I?
All I looks to, Mr Romer, is selling a trifle of drink now and
then - selling it, and getting paid for it, you know, Mr Romer."

"Yes, that's important, no doubt. But come, Reddypalm, such an old
friend of Sir Roger as you are, a man he speaks of as one of his
intimate friends, I wonder how you can hesitate about it? Now with
another man, I should think that he wanted to be paid for voting - "

"Oh, Mr Romer! - fie - fie - fie!"

"I know it's not the case with you. It would be an insult to offer
you money, even if money were going. I should not mention this, only
as money is not going, neither on our side nor on the other, no harm
can be done."

"Mr Romer, if you speak of such a thing, you'll hurt me. I know the
value of an Englishman's franchise too well to wish to sell it. I
would not demean myself so low; no, not though five-and-twenty pound
a vote was going, as there was in the good old times - and that's not
so long ago neither."

"I am sure you wouldn't, Reddypalm; I'm sure you wouldn't. But an
honest man like you should stick to old friends. Now, tell me," and
putting his arm through Reddypalm's, he walked with him into the
passage of his own house; "Now, tell me - is there anything wrong?
It's between friends, you know. Is there anything wrong?"

"I wouldn't sell my vote for untold gold," said Reddypalm, who was
perhaps aware that untold gold would hardly be offered to him for it.

"I am sure you would not," said Mr Romer.

"But," said Reddypalm, "a man likes to be paid his little bill."

"Surely, surely," said the barrister.

"And I did say two years since, when your friend Mr Closerstil
brought a friend of his down to stand here - it wasn't Sir Roger
then - but when he brought a friend of his down, and when I drew
two or three hogsheads of ale on their side, and when my bill was
questioned and only half-settled, I did say that I wouldn't interfere
with no election no more. And no more I will, Mr Romer - unless it be
to give a quiet vote for the nobleman under whom I and mine always
lived respectable."

"Oh!" said Mr Romer.

"A man do like to have his bill paid, you know, Mr Romer."

Mr Romer could not but acknowledge that this was a natural feeling on
the part of an ordinary mortal publican.

"It goes agin the grain with a man not to have his little bill paid,
and specially at election time," again urged Mr Reddypalm.

Mr Romer had not much time to think about it; but he knew well that
matters were so nearly balanced, that the votes of Mr Reddypalm and
his son were of inestimable value.

"If it's only about your bill," said Mr Romer, "I'll see to have that
settled. I'll speak to Closerstil about that."

"All right!" said Reddypalm, seizing the young barrister's hand, and
shaking it warmly; "all right!" And late in the afternoon when a vote
or two became matter of intense interest, Mr Reddypalm and his son
came up to the hustings and boldly tendered theirs for their old
friend, Sir Roger.

There was a great deal of eloquence heard in Barchester on that day.
Sir Roger had by this time so far recovered as to be able to go
through the dreadfully hard work of canvassing and addressing the
electors from eight in the morning till near sunset. A very perfect
recovery, most men will say. Yes; a perfect recovery as regarded the
temporary use of his faculties, both physical and mental; though
it may be doubted whether there can be any permanent recovery from
such disease as his. What amount of brandy he consumed to enable
him to perform this election work, and what lurking evil effect the
excitement might have on him - of these matters no record was kept in
the history of those proceedings.

Sir Roger's eloquence was of a rough kind; but not perhaps the less
operative on those for whom it was intended. The aristocracy of
Barchester consisted chiefly of clerical dignitaries, bishops, deans,
prebendaries, and such like: on them and theirs it was not probable
that anything said by Sir Roger would have much effect. Those men
would either abstain from voting, or vote for the railway hero,
with the view of keeping out the de Courcy candidate. Then came the
shopkeepers, who might also be regarded as a stiff-necked generation,
impervious to electioneering eloquence. They would, generally,
support Mr Moffat. But there was an inferior class of voters,
ten-pound freeholders, and such like, who, at this period, were
somewhat given to have an opinion of their own, and over them it was
supposed that Sir Roger did obtain some power by his gift of talking.

"Now, gentlemen, will you tell me this," said he, bawling at the top
of his voice from off the portico which graced the door of the Dragon
of Wantley, at which celebrated inn Sir Roger's committee sat: - "Who
is Mr Moffat, and what has he done for us? There have been some
picture-makers about the town this week past. The Lord knows who
they are; I don't. These clever fellows do tell you who I am, and
what I've done. I ain't very proud of the way they've painted me,
though there's something about it I ain't ashamed of either. See
here," and he held up on one side of him one of the great daubs of
himself - "just hold it there till I can explain it," and he handed
the paper to one of his friends. "That's me," said Sir Roger, putting
up his stick, and pointing to the pimply-nosed representation of
himself.

"Hurrah! Hur-r-rah! more power to you - we all know who you are,
Roger. You're the boy! When did you get drunk last?" Such-like
greetings, together with a dead cat which was flung at him from the
crowd, and which he dexterously parried with his stick, were the
answers which he received to this exordium.

"Yes," said he, quite undismayed by this little missile which had
so nearly reached him: "that's me. And look here; this brown,
dirty-looking broad streak here is intended for a railway; and that
thing in my hand - not the right hand; I'll come to that presently - "

"How about the brandy, Roger?"

"I'll come to that presently. I'll tell you about the brandy in good
time. But that thing in my left hand is a spade. Now, I never handled
a spade, and never could; but, boys, I handled a chisel and mallet;
and many a hundred block of stone has come out smooth from under that
hand;" and Sir Roger lifted up his great broad palm wide open.

"So you did, Roger, and well we minds it."

"The meaning, however, of that spade is to show that I made the
railway. Now I'm very much obliged to those gentlemen over at the
White Horse for putting up this picture of me. It's a true picture,
and it tells you who I am. I did make that railway. I have made
thousands of miles of railway; I am making thousands of miles of
railways - some in Europe, some in Asia, some in America. It's a
true picture," and he poked his stick through it and held it up to
the crowd. "A true picture: but for that spade and that railway, I
shouldn't be now here asking your votes; and, when next February
comes, I shouldn't be sitting in Westminster to represent you, as, by
God's grace, I certainly will do. That tells you who I am. But now,
will you tell me who Mr Moffat is?"

"How about the brandy, Roger?"

"Oh, yes, the brandy! I was forgetting that and the little speech
that is coming out of my mouth - a deal shorter speech, and a better
one than what I am making now. Here, in the right hand you see a
brandy bottle. Well, boys, I'm not a bit ashamed of that; as long
as a man does his work - and the spade shows that - it's only fair he
should have something to comfort him. I'm always able to work, and
few men work much harder. I'm always able to work, and no man has a
right to expect more of me. I never expect more than that from those
who work for me."

"No more you don't, Roger: a little drop's very good, ain't it,
Roger? Keeps the cold from the stomach, eh, Roger?"

"Then as to this speech, 'Come, Jack, let's have a drop of some'at
short.' Why, that's a good speech too. When I do drink I like to
share with a friend; and I don't care how humble that friend is."

"Hurrah! more power. That's true too, Roger; may you never be without
a drop to wet your whistle."

"They say I'm the last new baronet. Well, I ain't ashamed of that;
not a bit. When will Mr Moffat get himself made a baronet? No man
can truly say I'm too proud of it. I have never stuck myself up; no,
nor stuck my wife up either: but I don't see much to be ashamed of
because the bigwigs chose to make a baronet of me."

"Nor, no more thee h'ant, Roger. We'd all be barrownites if so be we
knew the way."

"But now, having polished off this bit of picture, let me ask you who
Mr Moffat is? There are pictures enough about him, too; though Heaven
knows where they all come from. I think Sir Edwin Landseer must have
done this one of the goose; it is so deadly natural. Look at it;
there he is. Upon my word, whoever did that ought to make his fortune
at some of these exhibitions. Here he is again, with a big pair
of scissors. He calls himself 'England's honour;' what the deuce
England's honour has to do with tailoring, I can't tell you: perhaps
Mr Moffat can. But mind you, my friends, I don't say anything against
tailoring: some of you are tailors, I dare say."

"Yes, we be," said a little squeaking voice from out of the crowd.

"And a good trade it is. When I first knew Barchester there were
tailors here could lick any stone-mason in the trade; I say nothing
against tailors. But it isn't enough for a man to be a tailor unless
he's something else along with it. You're not so fond of tailors that
you'll send one up to Parliament merely because he is a tailor."

"We won't have no tailors. No; nor yet no cabbaging. Take a go of
brandy, Roger; you're blown."

"No, I'm not blown yet. I've a deal more to say about Mr Moffat
before I shall be blown. What has he done to entitle him to come here
before you and ask you to send him to Parliament? Why; he isn't even
a tailor. I wish he were. There's always some good in a fellow who
knows how to earn his own bread. But he isn't a tailor; he can't even
put a stitch in towards mending England's honour. His father was a



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