Election Violence – In Verse

This week’s blog is taking a break from Short Accounts, instead publishing a somewhat amusing 1835 poem on the topic of post-polling election violence and the general spectacle associated with elections:  


The Poll is closed—Electors hurry,

All the town in a scurry,

The bells are ringing—folks are shouting,

The crowd too close to get your snout in:

Flags are flying—music playing—

Drunken fools like asses braying,

Reeling, staggering, through the street,

With palsied legs, and tottering feet,

Glaring with “lack-lustre” eye,

Roaring forth the party cry,

‘Midst fumes of brandy, gin, and beer,

And good old England’s stouter cheer;

D––– bawls one—C–––, another,

Missiles fly, and mud to smother;

Windows crack—rare work for glaziers,

Fools find fists cut sharp as razors,

To the backbone, high or low,

Party blood is sure to flow,

As if the victory at the close,

Depended on a bloody nose,

Or the stake of candidate,

Rested on a broken pate.

Ribbons stuck in button holes,

With tawdry silk on painted poles,

Display the colours of the party,

And wave about mid shouts so hearty,

T’would seem some mystic power did lag,

Within the ribbon, or the flag,

What mighty honour to—a rag.

Now the crowd to hear the speeches

With ragged coats, and tattered breeches

Crush close to each—like sucking leeches.

Tailors, anon—have mending jobs,

And doctors smile at broken nobs;

Force of weight, the crowd is borne off,

Lappels of coats are nobly torn off;

While constables with wooden pokers,

Are dealing blows to charm the jokers.

All is uproar, noise, and din,

As though ’twere life and soul to win,

As though upon the casting die,

Were hung the source of peace and joy.

Ah me! cried I, in sad dejection,

“Folks will run mad at an election”

N––P –– [Delta]

(Source: Northampton Mercury, 24 January 1835. Retrieved 2019, via British Newspaper Archive. Newspaper Images © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

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