Saturday, February 26, 2011

05Apr1880, Our Most Triumphant Campaign

BOLTON, HALIFAX, April 5th–11th, 1880.
—Each day has brought fresh tides of conquests—counties began going right this week, tho', alack ! at Bradford Liberal Committee room on Monday on our way to Halifax, we heard of Herbert's sound beating in Middlesex, as was doubtless to be expected; the time being very short, and as we have since heard, the Liberal registration in a sad state. He has won no end of praise, and polled a fine number of votes considering.

We left Bolton betimes for F. to vote at Ilkley for Sir John Ramsden and Sir Andrew Fairbairn (they both won, tho' neither is very popular!). Met Mr. Fison, our opponent of last election, in subdued spirits. Poor man, he said, "If our promises are kept, you ought not to win by 1,000." "Well," said I, "we will put up with 2,000" — knowing that the whole Liberal vote was going for us in one undivided rush. We had a splendid spread at a Mr. Booth's, then a meeting at Ovenden, then a never-to-be-forgotten final meeting in the drill-hall at Halifax; the whole area packed with men standing and two galleries filled besides. F. made a fine speech, and Sir Matthew was in the midst of his, pegging away with his usual spirit, when I became aware of an ecstatic whisper going round the platform "Gladstone's in! Gladstone's in!" By some magic, the multitude found out in a minute, and there uprose an immense cheer like a roar of many waters. It was minutes before they could stop to hear the number, and the short telegram was interrupted again and again by renewed outbursts. In the midst of the shouting, I wrote off a telegram in F.'s name, dictated by Mr. Stansfeld "6,000 Yorkshiremen at Halifax Liberal meeting have received news of your victory with enthusiasm such as no living man has ever seen the like." Before we left the platform Titus Salt said to me, "They will have Herbert Gladstone for Leeds!"

Tuesd. I spent in peace under the hospitable roof of the Louis Crossleys, F. going to vote in Derbyshire and returning in time to dine with the Edward Crossleys. I went with Mrs. Crossley all over the noble old church. Wednesday, our polling day, we spent in blissful repose at Bolton, poor F. sleeping a good part of the time, I ploughing thro' heavy arrears of newspapers.

Wednesday the 7th, Declaration of the Poll at Bradford : F.'s majority 3,700 — rather more than the highest expectations; and the total poll 100 more than the utmost stretch of imagination. Our poor opponents vanished into thin air. F. and Sir Matthew made their thank-you speeches out of the window of the Liberal Club (where Ly. Wilson and I were admitted) to a great throng of joyful people wedged in the open space below, and so ends our most triumphant campaign, with floods of enthusiasm. One gentleman in the club was seen with tears running down his face! We were cheered all the way to the station, and coming in for a crowd at Leeds waiting for another successful candidate (a townsman just elected for Newport), were ovation-ed there too, insomuch that F. had, in spite of himself, to spout his thanks in a "positively last speech" out of the railway-carriage. Got to Chatsworth at tea-time, driving from Chesterfield, resting on its laurels after the victory of Frank and his colleague. Thurs. was Eddy and Mr. Cheetham's polling-day; F. had to go off to vote in Lancashire after voting at Bakewell; Uncle George, Aunt Lou, and Jinny here.

Friday. Emma and I and the boys drove and rode into Bakewell for the declaration of the poll: triumphant return of both Eddy and his colleague, and warm enthusiasm. Eddy made a perfect little speech. Next came news of Cavendish and his colleague's victory. Such a tide of triumphs never was!

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