The House of Lords reversed this judgment, confirming the award of the assizes. In , the legislature passed a severe act against bribery and treating, the first of a series of similar preventative measures which have been found requisite from time to time down to our own day.
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That this act was needed is proved by the records of the immense sums expended in corrupting the suffrage. He managed to return from twenty to thirty members, at an expenditure of thousands, backed by a happy persuasive knack of carrying all before him. Nor did he stop at an occasional duel by the way. In the general election of alone, he spent twelve thousand pounds.
His Whig lordship having recommended two candidates of his own choice, the staunch Church party, in a flutter of indignation, put up two High Tory candidates, and money was freely spent on both sides. To the said marquis does Dr. The Whigs were equally unscrupulous in the audacity of their assertions; the fatally damaging effect of a startling calumny, no matter how improbable, so that it be bold enough, exploded on an opponent by way of surprise--a resource much relied upon when matters looked desperate at these times of unsparing warfare--is illustrated in the next extract A deeply designed stroke of electioneering policy is credited to Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, who excelled in the subtle tactics invaluable in these emergencies, which raised her to the level of Wharton in election fame, while promoting the success of her nominees.
The Tories were forced, after their failure to proclaim the Pretender as successor to Queen Anne, to subscribe their loyalty on the accession of George I. This they did with a reservation, as hinted by their opponents, who now held the good things of the administration It was not without reasonable suspicions of the Jacobite party that the ministers of George I.
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Whatever prospects the Pretender and his good friends the Tories might have cherished on the accession of George I. Hats are thrown into the air, and a general sense of satisfaction is shown to prevail. Although not strictly a contemporaneous picture of the event, the engraving which represents the chairing of Sir Robert Walpole on his election for Castle Rising, Norfolk, in , is the earliest of our election illustrations as regards the date of the incident depicted. Walpole, in succession to his father, sat for Castle Rising, in the last two short parliaments which preceded the death of William III.
The Commons in voting him guilty of a high breach of trust and notorious corruption in his office as secretary at war, it was resolved to expel him from the House, and that he should be committed to the Tower.
Under this vindictive persecution, he was, by his party, regarded as a martyr to the cause, nor does there appear sufficient proof to justify this severity. The bitterness of party warfare was mostly manifested at election times. In March, , when the first of the succession of triennial parliaments dissolved, the country was already in a state of fermentation at the prospect of the coming contest.
Violence was now utilized in new methods, such as beating off voters of opposition candidates; while hostile electors were surrounded by mobs hired for the purpose, and cut off from the polling-booths; and in some cases voters were carried off forcibly, and locked up until the election was over. In country boroughs much agitation was manifested, and in several places, such as Coventry, formidable riots took place.
The metropolis shared the general excitement. It was on this occasion that the Westminster contest began to be regarded as of the first consequence, it being a point of ambition with the rival parties to return their candidates for this constituency, the results of which conflict were expected to exercise an influence upon other places. The election for this city set in uproariously in , and, as the progress of these electioneering memorials will demonstrate, it continued the same throughout its history, even when in other places the elections were tranquil and uneventful.
The Tories did not allow Walpole to triumph without a struggle for the ascendency, although, by his foresight, and a lavish employment of his universal salve--gold, he managed to diminish the influence both of his opponents and of the mobocracy; and in the new House the Government secured a powerful majority, leaving the Tory organs, towards the close of the elections, when the results were no longer doubtful, to vent their spleen in political squibs and caricatures. The candidate, it is implied, is a Court nominee; the screen is used to conceal the true movers of the wires, who are at the back of the canvasser; their reflection is shown in the mirror behind, above the console-table, on which bags of money are in readiness to be used for bribery.
The wooden shoes symbolize a threatened relapse to slavery. The accompanying verses explain the meaning intended to be conveyed by the principal figures. The personage bribed is the mayor of the place. These functionaries for a long time held the elections in their power, and were amenable to corrupt treatment; in fact, they were expected to make the bargain most advantageous for the court of livery or aldermen, in whom the votes were generally vested.
The elections of , in spite of the exertions of Bolingbroke and Pulteney in the Craftsman , and the intrigues of the former with the Duchess of Kendal, mistress of George I. On the death of George I. Queen Caroline, the consort of George II. The hopes placed by the Tories in the elections were altogether frustrated; in the parliament chosen in the ministerial majority was greater than before, and their opponents were reduced to vent their mortification in strictures against the bribery, corruption, undue influence, and those secret intrigues in which they were themselves such adepts.
As the title implies, bribery is the motive power of the entire action. A large open space on the outskirts of the town is the scene of action.
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The candidates and their numerous supporters are raised above the multitude, and standing on the hustings. Round this erection is a great crowd of electors, many of whom are on horseback. Tories, which they had pledged themselves to promote, the followers of their party wear sprigs of oak in their hats--a memorial of the Restoration of the Stuarts. The Earl of Middlesex was not a member of the former Parliament. These gentlemen finally threw up the poll, the victory of their opponents being assured, May 16, Of the successful candidates, Viscount Vane and Sir Edward Dering, the former had voted against the Excise Bill, and the latter was absent on the division.
Something in the way of influencing suffrages seems to have been done on a large scale by Viscount Vane.
Two hogsheads of French brandy were sent down to his seat in Kent according to the Daily Post , together with sixty dozen of knives and forks, in preparation for the entertainment his lordship offered the freeholders. The Grub Street Journal devotes some attention to the treats with which the successful candidates regaled their constituents at an early stage of their canvass, and these hospitalities were returned in kind. Dering, Bart. On the same authority No. An early design upon bribery at elections is attributed to Hogarth. Sir Robert Fagg was member for Steyning, Sussex.
The print is sufficiently described by the original advertisement, inserted at the time of its publication in the Grub Street Journal No. The candidate welcomed into the town by music and electors on horseback, attended by a mob of men, women, and children. The candidates are very complaisant to a country clown, and offering presents a bag marked 50 l.
The candidates making an entertainment for the electors and their wives, to whom they show great respect; at the upper end of the table the parson of the parish sitting, his clerk standing by him.
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The place of electing and polling, with mob attending. It is rather alarming to think of the huge amount of perjury which has followed electioneering. Britannia and her patriotic friends? Beneath is a coat of arms, a favourite figure with the satirists, as if designed for the sign of a tavern; the bearings are, 1. A fox running away with a goose. The popular interest excited by the Westminster contest generally seemed to make that election the most prominent in every appeal to the country.
This account, by W. Coxe, epitomizes the situation.
These sentiments characterize the spirit abroad on the Westminster contest of , which gave rise to many songs, broadsides, and pictorial satires uniformly unfavourable to the minister and his adherents. The results of the election were undetermined when this engraving appeared, so the engraver has anticipated the ultimate results of the petition, and made the ministerial candidates unsuccessful.
Sir Charles Wager, Lord Sundon, Admiral Vernon, Charles Edwin, At this stage of the proceedings, when the independent candidates claimed to have many votes in reserve, while the ministers had exhausted every subterfuge and all their resources, Lord Sundon very injudiciously appealed to an armed intervention, forcibly closed the poll, and ordered a body of grenadiers to surround the hustings, and prevent any further voting; while the high bailiff countenanced these high-handed illegalities, and made his return accordingly.
This proceeding ruined the chances of the Government in this contest of a petition was presented against the return of Wager and Sundon, and, although Walpole fought with all his influence, the subject was made a party question; in the new session, a warm contest arose in the Commons, which reassembled June 25, , and the return of the sitting members was decided against by a majority of four, the numbers told being to Pulteney presented an immense piece of parchment, which he said he could but just lift; and was the Westminster Petition, and is to be heard next Tuesday, when we shall all have our brains knocked out by the mob.
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Vernon had been chosen for several places, and had already taken his seat for Ipswich. The admiral was regarded by the populace as a hero of the first water, whose victories, though for the honour of his country, were thorns in the side of the Administration, the members of which were accused of taking bribes from the enemy.
The bards compared Vernon to Cincinnatus Beside the heir apparent is a female divinity, balancing the scales of justice above the figure of Edwin. Other verses appear in a version with a woodcut heading of a party of jolly citizens toping and toasting healths A second ballad bears a strong resemblance to the foregoing; one or two verses only are selected A second version of the same ballad was published as An invitation was issued to the voters to meet together to celebrate this anniversary; a copperplate, neatly engraved, surmounted by an allegorical design, and surrounded by an elegant frame or border, formed the ticket The design which heads this dinner-ticket represents Hercules and Britannia driving away the Harpies presumed to have been preying upon corruption; the Goddess of Liberty, with the British lion by her side, is trampling on prostrate venality,--two figures, with bags of money and a heap of gold, cast down ignominiously.
The excitement evoked by the rising of the Scottish clans and proclamation of the Young Pretender in was still at its height; the gaols were filled with Scotch rebels, and the famous trial of Lord Lovat, which only commenced on the 9th of March, was absorbing popular attention to the extinction of everything but Jacobite plots, both real and feigned. Bamfylde, George Heathcote, and Thomas Carew. On the conclusion of the business of the afternoon, and after the festivities, toasts, as was customary, began to be proposed.
MARCH, On the 24th of March The whole matter is obscured by party misrepresentations. Lord Trentham was the son of that Earl Gower who was for some time the head of the Opposition, and at this juncture was one of the recent recruits of the Court party. The Duke of Cumberland and the Prince of Wales appeared in support of the rival factions. Butcher, the agent to the Duke of Bedford, whose residence is introduced in the rear. The results of the election were at this time uncertain.
Head Bona fide? Other caricatures appeared on the same subject, which excited, as usual, the largest share of public interest during the elections throughout the country. The most prominent figure is a butcher; and no doubt, according to Mr. The adherents rallying round this questionable house, intended as a reflection upon the Association of Independent Electors of Westminster, who were stigmatized as friends of the Jacobites, are dressed for the most part in plaids, and wear Scotch bonnets, to imply their Jacobite sympathies.
Thus, at Lichfield were held Tory race weeks, succeeded by similar gatherings on the part of their opponents. Some rather extraordinary doings occurred there, the general description of which is conveyed by the caricature; the two factions by some means came into collision, and his Grace of Bedford received a sound hiding with a horsewhip as an acknowledgment of his services to the House of Hanover and his antagonism to the Patriotic party, denounced as Jacobites by their Hanoverian rivals; Earl Gower, and his modish son, Lord Trentham, were also roughly handled.
Various freaks of an extravagant nature were performed, ladies and gentlemen of the Patriotic faction appearing dressed in Scottish plaids. In the design this circumstance is specially embodied: a party of enthusiasts, assembled in a booth on the course, are toasting the Pretender, whose sun is seen in the distance, falsely depicted as in the ascendant. In , Lord Trentham, having been appointed one of the lords of the admiralty, had to vacate his seat, and every exertion was made by the Opposition to hinder his re-election.
The night after his ministerial appointment there was a great riot at the French theatre, in which Lord Trentham was accused of being personally active, although he denied it to the electors. A flight of satirical ballads appeared upon these events. The best of these compositions, which were remarkable for point and spirit, was entitled The caricaturists endorsed this view.
This Westminster election is said to have been one of the most expensive contests that the Government had as yet experienced. The following epigram describes a supposed conversation between Lord Trentham and his father At the conclusion of the polling there appeared a majority for Lord Trentham, but his opponents demanded a scrutiny; and this scrutiny proved so laborious and difficult, or the parties interested in opposing the Court threw so many obstacles in the way, that it led to a quarrel with the House of Commons, which lasted some months, and gave a double celebrity to the Westminster Election of The following handbill is an example of the squibs circulated by his opponents during the election Great favour was shown to docile voters, while the refractory were subject to crying injustices.
The following handbill, circulated at the time, exposes the meannesses to which a Duke of Bedford could descend in the interests of his candidate The general election of furnished Hogarth with a suggestion which employed his attention anterior to his more ambitious election series.
The subject of the stage-coach and inn-yard is generally familiar. It contains the figures of the fat woman of abnormal proportions being assisted into the coach by the efforts of her meagre husband; while the equally obese landlady, seen at the bar window, which she fills, is vigorously pulling the bell to summons the coach passengers.
It is the background of the picture which illustrates the present subject. The sleek landlord, wearing an apron, and with a pair of snuffers pendent at his girdle, is presenting to an election agent a bill for the expenses incurred for the entertainment of his party; that the amount is excessive is conveyed by the expression of suspicion which pervades the features of the agent, who is preparing to settle the account; the landlord is evidently protesting as to his immaculate reputation, while a part of the Act against bribery on elections is projecting from his pocket.
John Child, whose family, by Act of Parliament, took the name of Tylney in A cartoon appeared at the time of these elections reflecting upon the tricks of administration.
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