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remained, Louise by making a variety of tasteful banners and flags, Adolphe by a number of little attentions and activities, which kept him busy from morning till night. Adolphe, indeed, as it soon turned out, was a great deal too energetic; and so was Dr. Page, from whom a sounder discretion might have been expected. The latter, instead of returning quietly to his sober bottle of port at Underwood, lingered in town by way of transacting electioneering business; and before the evening was over, having most probably exceeded that temperate allowance, got into a fresh personal conflict with Mr. Pigwidgeon, which ended in their both being bound over by Mr. Cox to keep the peace, not only towards each other, but all the rest of his Majesty's subjects. Dr. Pigwidgeon made no objection to enter into these recognisances, but Page vehemently remonstrated, and begged with amusing earnestness to have his obligations limited to his particular antagonist, being anxious (though he did not own it at the time) to keep himself free to redeem the engagements he had entered into in the morning, with the apothecary and Mr. Griffin. Mr. Cox, however, was inexorable ; and the two doctors were manacled together in a figurative way, as tight as the law could bind them.
“ By Jove !” said Page to the old magistrate, when the coast was clear, “ you little know the mischief you have done by your untimely interference. You may be a justice of the peace, but you have served the interests of peace better than those of justice. I heartily wish I had paid those libellous scoundrels in ready money, instead of passing my note to them for a thrashing."
“ Never mind,” said Reynard, taking him by the arm ; “if they abuse us, we'll abuse them; that's my system, and I know something about conducting a contested election."
Reynard had brought down a little corps of libellers with him, quite as expert and unscrupulous in that respectable line of business; and it was not without the greatest difficulty that Mr. Medlicott (who had no taste for such tactics) succeeded in preventing his partisans from retaliating upon the other party with the same abominable system of warfare, calumny for calumny, and lie for lie. Mr. Pigwidgeon, however, met with contumely enough in all conscience ; in fact, he was abused and disparaged by Mr. Medlicott's friends more than was consistent with a prudent regard to their own interests. Running a man down unjustly or excessively is a certain way to give him a lift in the general estimation. He rises in opinion much as a ball does, which, by rolling down one inclined plane, acquires a momentum that carries it to some extent up another.
So it was with Mr. Pigwidgeon. He was nothing, in fact, but an empty, vapouring blockhead, not for a moment to be compared to his educated and accomplished opponent (allowing for all Mr. Medlicott's faults and deficiencies); but Pigwidgeon was set up a little by the violence with which he was decried ; and Reuben himself felt this so much, that whenever he mentioned Mr. Pigwidgeon, he carefully refrained from adopting the tone which his party generally employed in speaking of him.
And here let us do Mr. Medlicott the justice and the honour of saying, that one admirable and remarkable quality distinguished him as a public speaker: he never loved to indulge in coarse or scurrilous language ; his diction was generally refined and gentlemanlike, more tending to the extreme of too much delicacy, than too much force. His flowers of speech, as he would have expressed it himself, were often exotics, but they were never unsavoury weeds. From Billingsgate he shrunk with instinctive horror. When he assailed an adversary, it was not with the mire from the pool, but the shining pebble from the brook; much the most effective, as well as the most creditable, mode of levelling either a dwarf or a giant.
On the part of the Magpies, however, there was no restraint of either tongue or pen. Dr. Page's anticipations were perfectly correct. The fear of his cudgel being removed from the eyes of the slanderers, not only was the retractation dictated by Page flung into the fire, but the assault was renewed and continued, with the most malignant aggravations and embellishments, to the end of the contest. Upon one occasion only was personal retribution exacted. Though the apothecary escaped the cudgel, he was not so fortunate as to elude another corrector of the press, in the still more irregular shape of an umbrella. A crowd of Reuben's friends were standing one morning at an open window in the Parrot, reading the last and most scandalous production of the enemy, containing the broadest and vilest allusions to the Beauvoisins, and their domestic relations with Mr. Medlicott.
“ It ought to be calmly answered," said Mr. Cox.
6 there is only one way of prosecuting an article like that; if my hands were not tied, I know the answer it would receive from me. This comes of binding a man over to keep the peace towards all the rascals in England, at a great constitutional crisis like this. I'll never forgive you for it, Mr. Cox.”
Mr. Broad and the Frenchman (the latter very naturally) were also among the indignants; the latter venting his wrath with all the grotesque action and in all the odd imprecations of his country. Presently some one near a window called out—" There goes the scoundrel himself, the leader of the gang !" The apothecary was sneaking past the Parrot on his way to his son's committee at the Magpie. Everybody ran to the window to hiss and groan him; but the Frenchman (after a single look to make certain of Mr. Pigwidgeon's person) rushed down stairs, out into the street, shouting that he was not bound to keep de peace towards Monsieur Pigviggin,” and the next moment was seen banging the unfortunate apothecary about the head, and everywhere else, with his umbrella, kicking him at the same time in the most ignominious manner; and in return to all demands on the part of the kickee to know the reason for such outrage, simply replying, “ You are Pigviggin, dat is de reason! you are Pigviggin, dat is reason enough, sare!" still banging him until the umbrella almost went to pieces, and the bystanders at length interposed on behalf of order and humanity.
“Seize him and hold him !" shouted Mr. Cox, hastening to arrest the assailant, and calling on the Aldermen to support him; but the mob in the neigbourhood of the Parrot, encouraged by the cheers of Dr. Page and others from the window, were only too ready to take the part of the foreigner on an occasion of this kind ; so that before the magistrate could reach the scene of action, the perpetrator of the outrage had got clean off. The apothecary was sadly bemauled, and slunk away to the Magpie to stimulate his friends to revenge his affronts, which, in the finest spirit of even-handed justice, they did in the course of the day, by bemauling an apothecary of the Reubenite party, a most inoffensive man, who took no active part in the contest, and had never molested anybody in his life.
With this exception, Mr. Medlicott succeeded in keeping not only the pens, but the hands of his friends tolerably quiet, wishing to owe his return to moral superiority alone. It was not, however, so easy to prevent unlawful practices of another kind. Perhaps no man ever set his affections upon a seat in the House of Commons with a stronger aversion to every profligate art by which that distinguished and desirable object is too frequently obtained, or a sincerer desire to win it by honourable means only. He was certainly an exception to the general rule; and though he knew there existed such iniquitous dens as Guinea Lane and Yellow Row, he had no more notion of the deeds that were done upon his behalf in the former of those dark corners, than he had of the transactions in the Georgium Sidus. Perhaps he ought to have watched the proceedings of his friends more narrowly ; but a man cannot have the aid of friends without implicitly confiding in them ; and besides, his opponents, and not his supporters, were surely the proper objects of his suspicion. As to his own committee, nothing but honour and probity was ever talked of there—when he was present. The house in Guinea Lane was treated as an audacious fiction of the enemy, though nobody entertained a shadow of a doubt of the reality of the rival establishment in Yellow Row. When Mr. Medlicott repeated, as he did every hour in the day, that he stood for the city only on the three conditions of there being no bribery, no intimidation, and no treating, he was always lustily cheered, and by none so loud as by his attorney, who had organized as perfect a system of corruption in all its branches, as ever was recorded in a blue book. Not even Mr. Broad and Dr. Page were cognizant of all the lengths to which Reynard went; but as to Mr. Medlicott, he was completely blinded by being led round the town to canvass, in due form, the identical knaves who had their bribes already in their pockets, for this was a ceremony with which that astute and experienced agent never dispensed. As to the treating, it was going on merrily all the time in at least twenty public-houses and places of entertainment, but nowhere so profusely as at the Parrot, under Mr. Medlicott's very nose; which naturally made many think that he must have had a cold during the contest, as he never smelt the roast beef or the gin, though the former was turning on a dozen spits, and the latter flowing in rivers and torrents.
The worst of all this was, that in truth it was a superfluity of naughtiness. It was a waste of that commodity which Mr. Jonathan Wild, in his philosophy of knavery, considered too good a thing to be thrown away—a waste of roguery and mischief. The Parrots greatly over-estimated the strength and resources of the Magpies, who, having little or nothing but bribery to depend on, and not so much cash in their bank as their opponents, had already renounced all hopes of success, and only kept their candidate in the field to harass and worry Mr. Medlicott and enhance the market-price of votes. Mr. Pigwidgeon himself acted
discreetly; he freely and handsomely expended Mr. Barsac's money, but took heed not to encroach on his own funds, so as to have the fair borough of Blarney always to fall back upon in the last resort. In fact, before the election took place, all doubt as to Mr. Medlicott's return was at an end. All that remained was to go through the riotous farce at the hustings, the usual dumb-show of addressing the electors, the perils of chairing, and the dangers of the dinner.
A POLITICAL VIOTORY FOLLOWED BY A DOMESTIO TRIUMPH.
The election was a cross between a farce and a riot; it is scarcely possible to describe it more accurately. Fortunately, however, Mr. Pigwidgeon was not able to keep the poll open for more than a single day, so that the scene of hubbub and folly proved a short one. The candidates were proposed and seconded in dumb-show. A forest of hands were raised for Mr. Medlicott, but a considerable grove also were displayed in Dr. Pigwidgeon's favour. Which were the dirtier was very uncertain ; and the same doubt existed as to the comparative sweetness of the voices that shouted for the rival interests. No other voices, of course, were audible, not even those of the candidates, except a few words at intervals, through the enormous tumult of the day. Mr. Pigwidgeon addressed the electors first, amidst terrific cries of "No Pigwidgeons !" “Go back to Blarney!” “No quacks !" “Who sent for you?” “You are only fit for Ireland !” “ You sha'n't doctor us " " He is only an apothecary's boy; go back to the mortar!" One of the Parrots, a fellow of stentorian lungs, proposed a groan for the apothecary.
“I am not ashamed of my father!"—roared the orator, directly the groaning ceased.
“ More shame for you!" cried a free-born British cobbler in his green apron, standing at the speaker's elbow.
"continued the candidate. “ The less you say about him the better!" re-bellowed the eobbler.
say this for
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