As a Post Script, on August 1st 1865 John Bowring [then Sir John Bowing] sent a letter to William Durham giving an account of his reminiscences of the election and of the people of Blackburn. It read
The flight of a third of a century has not erased from my mind the recollections of those old electoral contests at Blackburn, and the kind of exertion of your family on my behalf. Mr George Dewhurst was one of my most energetic friends.
After the Reform Bill, several constituencies did me the honour of asking me to become a candidate. Blackburn appeared to have an irresistible and superior claim. Mr James Pilkington, father of the late member, was my special friend, and my hospitable host.
It was on the 30th of July, 1832, that my first public reception took place. At Darwen, twenty thousand people came out to meet me with flags, banners, and music, and reiterated bursts of enthusiasm broke out in the whole line of the procession. Vast crowds accompanied us on our canvass the following day, and at every house we entered “Bowring forever” was the cry.
There were four candidates in the field, and every inquiry led to the conclusion that I should have a large majority, and be returned at the top of the poll. It was believed that Mr. Feilden's success was certain; he belonged to a very respectable family—was a gentleman, and though certainly not a zealous Liberal, he had been a partizan of the Reform Bill; indeed, it was scarcely possible for any one to be otherwise, who desired to represent a constituency which had been created by that Bill. Though he never took any active part in any parliamentary measures, [In fact William Feilden never spoke once in the House of Commons in his fourteen years as a M.P. for Blackburn.]
or did anything to distinguish himself from the mass of the mediocrities who, from local influence, or the possession of money, make their way into parliament, he was quite entitled to rank among respectable M.P.’s. Mr. Turner had absolutely no [his italics] recommendation whatever, but that he had wealth and was willing to spend it to obtain the honour [his italics] of a position which he was about as fitted to fill as to quadrate the circle, to calculate an eclipse, or to give a lecture on Plato. He had the distinction of being the father of the young lady who was abducted by Edward Gibbon Wakefield. His success was due, and could only be due, to a fixed purpose, to accomplish his objective by the drunkenness and demoralisation of the people. A third candidate was a Mr. Hindle, whose opinions were not much known, but who was believed to belong to the Tory party. He had never any chance of being elected. He withdrew, but his withdrawal flung all his votes into the hands of Feilden and Turner, who naturally brought a great amount of local influence, to oppose a stranger [up until the 1900’s no outsider was ever elected a M.P. for Blackburn.] who had no other claim than that of his long devotion to the cause of reform. I had, therefore, to struggle not only with all the powers of corruption—with gross intimidation, exercised by masters over their dependents—but against that connection with the manufacturing interests of the adjacent districts, which my opponents had at their command; besides which I determined that neither in drink nor bribery should a single farthing be spent by me or with my sanction. I knew that it was my mission to elevate and not brutalise, the people—to make them wiser and happier, and never to degrade and disgrace them. But the evil influences had the ascendancy, and on the 13th December 832, the state of the poll was declared to be Feilden, 376; Turner, 346, Bowring 334. Elections so conducted are an opprobrium to the national character, and the men who employ such instruments to obtain the honour of being the makers [his italics] of laws for their country, only show emphatically that they are the breakers [his italics] of the higher laws of sobriety and truth, and are more deserving of punishment for their own offences than fitted to award punishment for the offences of others. The analysis of the poll is instructive. The number of voters was 637.
Plumpers Bowring 126; Turner 20; Feilden 6;
Bowring and Feilden 126 126
Bowring and Turner 82 82
Turner and Feilden 244 244
Total Bowring 334; Turner 346; Feilden 376.
[Plumpers are those who voted for only one candidate]
Thus if the plumpers had the same value as the divided votes, the state of opinion would have been represented by Bowring, 460; Feilden, 382; Turner, 366.”
The figures in the letter Bowring’s and do not match with other sources. The numbers of voters in Blackburn at that time was 627 and not 637 as Bowring suggests.
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