THE PRESTON ELECTION AND THE WORKING CLASSES OF LONDON. -
THE late Preston election, and Mr. HUNT'S public entry into London on Monday last, 'are signs of the times deserving par- ticular notice. The election appears to have been a triumph gained by the Radical leader over the Coryphaeus of our aristo- cratic youth ; whilst the procession, a total failure on the part of the Huntites, seems to indicate that the Working Classes of Lon- don are in a state of political contentment. We have heard per- sons who deeply regretted Mr. HUNT'S return to Parliament, speak quite joyfully of his disappointment on Monday ; arguing that, since the honourable Member for Preston was not well received in London, his victory at the election must not be attributed to the Radical opinions of the Preston voters. The truth we believe to be far wide of these appearances and this conclusion. The Preston election was not a victory gained by Mr. HUNT over Mr. E. 0-. STANLEY. It was a victory of two principles— those of the Ballot and Free Trade in Corn—over two other prin- ciples, or rather facts, viz. Undue Influence at elections, and the Bread Tax. If Mr. STANLEY had been willing to pledge himself against the Corn-Laws and in favour of the ballot, Mr. HUNT would not have been even proposed at the election, much less chosen ; and as it was, Mr. STANLEY was virtually defeated and Mr. HUNT elected, before the latter became a candidate by any act of his own. Any man whatsoever, on whose promises the electors could have depended, and who would have promised to support the Ballot and oppose the Corn-Laws, might have become member for Preston without the least trouble. It is not to be in- ferred, therefore, or at least. not from this electiOn, that the people of the Northern manufacturing districts are devotedly attached to Mr. HUNT. The election proves three things, only one of which regards Mr. HUNT,—first, that the electors of Preston are very friendly to the Ballot and cheap bread ; secondly, that there exists amongst them a degree of political excitement so strong as to exert a greater influence than bribes and threats—than all the money and power of the house of Derby, hitherto omnipotent at Preston ; and thirdly, that they so far confide in Mr. HUNT as to believe that he will keep a solemn promise. What occasion for alarm is here ? Alarm to the Duke of NEWCASTLE and Lord EXETER, and the like of them—yes! But what of that ? "The Ultra-So- lomon," as the Times calls him, • " who rejoices in the name of Newcastle," was, doubtless, "alarmed" at the publication of the Pension List ; but what happened ? Why, instantly the Duchess of NEWCASTLE withdrew her hand from the public purse. Lord EXETER is, or was, "alarmed," no doubt, at the petition of the electors of Stamford, which prays the House of Commons to de- prive those unfortunate persons of their privilege as electors, if it ivill not prevent Lord EXETER from converting that privilege into an intolerable burthen. Hitherto nothing has conic of that remark- able petition, unless we may describe as one of its fruits a very snug place for the champion of the Stamford malcontents ; but we may be nearly sure that other events, more favourable to the morality and happiness of the country, will arise out of Lord EXETER'S "alarm." Alarm, indeed, because the people of Preston wish for the Ballot and cheap bread, and happen to think Mr. HUNT a man of his word! Did they not think Mr. STANLEY also a man of his vord, when they offered to return him, if he would give the de- sired promises ? They did more ; they made a personal distinction between Mr. STANLEY and Mr. HUNT, very favourable to the /wealthy and educated candidate, offering him their support in the Erst instance, and giving it to the other solely on account of their attachment to two great principles of which Mr. Hum was known to be the advocate. Let them not be blamed, then, for overween- ing attachment to "the Orator," " the Radical," "the Dema- gogue," "the Blacking-man," and so forth. No—but let us do them only justice, praising them as they deserve for a degree of public principle, which puts to shame the selfish, greedy, drunken, degraded electors of Liverpool. Mr. HUNT is no favourite of ours ; but, acknowledging this prejudice, we will speak without prejudice of his constituents, repeating once more that they elected him, not from any attachment to the man, but merely because Mr. STAN- MEN' refused to be their member on public conditions, the accept- ance of which they made a sine uá non of their support. We dissent, also, from the conclusion before mentioned, which is drawn from the failure of Mr. Humes procession. We suspect that those deceive themselves, who imagine that because the fol- lowers of Mr. HUNT, on Monday, were few in number, the work- ing classes of the metropolis, generally, are not in a. state of strong political excitement. Indeed, without reference to what we know, we take the fact to prove, in some degree, the very reverse of the conclusion drawn from it. Men in a state of great excitement do not run after mere shows and amusements. Political excitement has two stages—the cold and the hot fit—the stage of discontent and the stage of violence. The working classes of London are discontented, but not, as yet, by any means inclined to violence. Discontented men are sulky, morose, and given to solitude. They carefully avoid raree-shows and exhibitions and crowds. Being already excited, they want not the excitement of numbers, noise, hurry, and confusion. Habitual drunkards often become temperate under strong mental agitation. The people of the barricades in Paris called for "water, but no wine !" Now, besides the above reasons in favour of our view of the subject, we happen to know that the better sort of' London workmen ex- erted themselves to prevent others from following Mr. HUNT, speaking almost with scorn of the procession as " a foolish busi- ness, which could do no good." Do no good! Mark that, ye who think that the absence of the working people from Mr. HUNT'S procession proves their indifference to politics. The workmen, of whom we speak, have strong political opinions, and political feel- ings too ; for they gave money—to them an immense sacrifice—to- wards defraying the legal expenses of the Preston election ; and many of them have been known to shed tears, whilst reading one of those disquisitions on the courage of Frenchmen and the cowardice of Englishmen with which the newspapers were wont to teem some three months back. They are greatly re- spected by their brethren, and by their employers also ; being industrious, skilful, frugal, sober, cleanly in their persons, and not only anxious to cultivate their minds, but really—as Mr. HUME lately caused shouts of laughter in the House of Commons by saying—better informed on some subjects of great public import- ance than three-fourths of the high aristocracy. This is the class of
men—a class which was unknown thirty years ago—who, when- ever they please to exert themselves, have almost unlimited power
over the workmen of the metropolis. They spoke with contempt of Mr. HUNT'S procession ; and to their opinion of it must be at- tributed its total failure as a display of revolutionary materials. But let not the enemies of Reform imagine that the working classes are indifferent to that momentous question, or that they lack po- litical excitement generally. Just the reverse of this is the fact ; and if the Ministers are ignorant of it, we shall have done them a service by thus directing their inquiries to the proper quarter. If
the Ministers are not watching the working classes, the working classes are watching the Ministers. Both parties will be satisfied if the promises of the Ministers should be honourably fulfilled ; not to mention the satisfaction of our own principal readers, the respectable middle classes, for whose information especially this article is written.