THE TRURO ELECTION. T HE Standard chirps as shrilly as an
inebriated grasshopper over the "great Conservative triumph " at Truro,—and we should be very sorry indeed to deny that the Liberals have had a warning there which, after the still more significant West Surrey election, it would be extremely foolish to over- look. Only the triumph of the Conservatives is very far from great, and the facts properly understood contain almost as much warning for them as for the Liberals. Truro contains 1,435 registered electors, and at the election of 1868 the numbers were as follows
Sir F. Martin Williams, Bart. (Conservative) 781 Eon. J. Oranch W. Vivian (Liberal) 688 J. Passmore Edwards (Radical) 408
which, allowing for double votes, show, probably, that some- thing like 1,200, perhaps even 1,300, of the registered electors actually voted ; that a certain small number of the Liberals gave their second vote to the Tory, and, perhaps, that a certain small number of the Tories returned the compliment to the Ministerial Liberal, while a much larger number of Liberals probably plumped for the Radical candidate, Mr. 3. Passmore Edwards. At this last election the result was very different. Mr. Augustus Smith, the King of the Scilly Isles, as he is sometimes called, was the Ministerial Liberal candi- date; but a clever Radical, Mr. Jenkins, putative father of " Ginx's Baby," a man of certainly ardent and also bitterly anti-Ministerial, tendencies, appeared as before to divide the constituency ; and as there was in this case only one seat vacant, it was certain that with a divided Liberal canvas, the seat must fall to any Conservative who should happen to come into the field. Mr. Augustus Smith, finding that a certain number of the electors were much taken with the bitter satirist who had opened the campaign by writing publicly of Mr. Gladstone's "Ananias and Sapphire policy" in producing Liberal measures of which "ho keeps back part of the price," and that a Ministerialist could not expect anything like the full Liberal vote, retired early from the field, leaving Mr. Jenkins to win over the Ministerial Liberals to his own flag, if he could, after the cruel shell he had thrown amongst them. But in this Mr. Jenkins did not succeed. While Mr. Passmore Edwards had polled 406 Radical votes in 1868, Mr. Edward Jenkins, in spite of his talents, but in consequence of his acrimony, succeeded in polling only 436, i.e., only thirty more in 1871, though in this case he was the sole candidate with any pretension to be called a Liberal. Clearly there is no sign of a reaction in favour of the party below the gangway in the results of this hard-fought contest at Truro. The Ministerialists are discontented, that is evident ; but they are not disposed to vote for the knot of men who are doing their best to discredit the Ministerial leaders and break the party in pieces. But what is the omen for the Conservatives ? Is the Standard warranted in those frantic gesticulations of triumph in which it indulges itself ? Let us see. Where the Conservative candidate of 1868, fighting for only one of two seats, obtained 731 votes, the Conservative candi- date of 1871, fighting alone, and fighting against a keen Radical of the most bitter type, obtained only 605 votes. The Tory enthusiasm had cooled down by no less than 126 votes, in spite of the character of the contest, and the special opportunity it seemed to open out of making a decided pro- test against revolutionary views. Colonel Hogg obtained not only much fewer votes than his Conservative col- league obtained in 1868, but far fewer even than his Ministerial predecessor, Captain Vivian, who got 683. votes. The election then was, for every party, one of warning and discouragement. The Ministerial candidate got so little hearty support that he retired early from. the combat. The Radical could not persuade more than thirty of the moderate Liberals to join him, even though it was a question of losing the second seat to the Tories. The Conservative, though he had a " firebrand " opposed to him, could excite no enthusiasm, and had to be content with far less support than sufficed at the last election for the second on the poll. Truro felt coldly to all the candidates. The "great Conservative triumph" was but the least severe warn- ing of the three. Colonel IIogg should possess his soul in meekness ; he has not much to feel elated about, unless it elate him to know that the Liberals are not particularly pleased with themselves or their leaders. We suspect the true lesson to be drawn is, that while Mr. Gladstone's Government has really lost pop ularity,—partly, no doubt, by the mere fact of its slender Parliamentary success during last Session, partly through the unpopular and badly- defended Budget, and the disasters at sea which have befallen the Admiralty, — most of all through the dislike of Mr.. Gladstone to speak of our national duty and position with the natural dignity and pride of a great British Minister,—no other party has gained what the Ministry have lost. There is no spark of enthusiasm visible for any possible Conservative ministry. It was an election in which some 400 electors must have stayed at home, and many of these must have been Conservatives.
Not the least valuable lesson was given to Mr. Jenkins,-- a man of much vigour and ability, and of some wholesome ideas ; but excitable, a fanatic believer in the omnipotence- of legislation to save men from misery, and an extremely violent and uncharitable opponent. The letter to the Daily- News of the 1st September, with which he began his cam- paign, was a shriek, and a malignant shriek, against the Prime- Minister. To accuse Mr. Gladstone of pursuing in almost every measure "an Ananias and Sapphire policy,—he keeps back part of the price,"—seemed a very keen, but was really a very un. meaning epigram. It was meant, of course, as a reproach for not pressing the organizing clauses of the Army Regulation Bill, and the clauses of the Ballot Bill which threw election expenses on the rates. But to have any weight, the epigram ought to imply that Mr. Gladstone proposed these measures with the intention and in the hope of so maiming them. That is not only wholly inconsistent with the Prime Minister's personal character, but notorious facts show it to be false,—as to the election expenses, for instance, it is notori- ous that the shortsighted boroughs themselves resisted this- paltry addition to their burdens ;—and we confess we cannot regret that the electors of Truro have refused a place in Par- liament to a man who had given us such fair notice that one of his chief occupations, if sent there, would be to sow dissen- sion amongst the Liberal party, and hurl false accusations at its chief.
At the same time, the Government will do well to be wise. in time. We must have firmer and less vacillating adminis- tration ; no more revoked throats in England ; no more pro- voked collisions in Ireland ; no more happy thought' Budgets, —budgets, we mean, of which the policy is not carefully ex- pounded and defended ;—no more blind gropings after a military policy ; and no more mock-modesty as to the import- ance of keeping up the full strength and dignity of the Empire. What Mr. Gladstone's Ministry wants is not genuine zeal for- good works,—that it has ;—but firmness of mind and manner- in giving effect to its good intentions.