15 MAY 1880, Page 13



SIR,—Unexpected circumstances, wholly unconnected with the Election, took me to Oxford on May 3rd, and detained me there -until the Monday after the conclusion of the contest. During -that time I had exceptional opportunities of watching the con- .duct of of the Election and the different influences brought into play, as well as of conversing with those actively interested on .both sides, from University professors and undergraduates -down to college porters, and from city magistrates down to .cabmen and bargees.

As the Conservative papers—and especially the provincial .ones—are affecting to consider the result of this struggle as the beginning of the next "reaction," and are drawing there- from the most momentous morals, will you permit me to briefly name three points that seem to me, as an observant out- sider, to have brought about the defeat of the Home Secretary ?

Firstly, personal popularity. Mr. Hall, owing to his muni- Ecence and geniality, is most exceptionally popular, whilst Sir William Harcourt (to say no more) has not the knack of win- ning friends in any wholesale fashion. One of the most ener- getic workers for Hall assured me that they would not have bad the slightest chance with any other candidate. His cans vassers most assiduously kept both foreign and domestic policy 'equally in the background, which was not the case at the 'General Election. You heard on all sides of Mr. Hall's gener- • osity to churches, to schools, to poor allotments, to coffee- houses, &c., of the Christmas beef and general or specific tips, but not a syllable as to the staunchness of his Tory views.

Secondly, Churchmanship. A great deal was made, in a "quiet way, of Mr. Hall having opposed the Public Worship Regulation Act, and of Sir William Harcourt having vehemently supported it. Liberal High-Churchmen, who had voted for 'Harcourt and Chitty in April, were reminded that the Govern- ment which had supported the Public Worship Regulation Act, which had made enemies of the Eastern Church, &c., was now hopelessly defeated ; that it was no longer a question of Crladstone or Beaconsfield, but between a sound Churchman and an indifferent one. These arguments, not in themselves illogi- cal, prevailed to my certain knowledge with several Churchmen, who on this occasion reversed their vote of the previous month. I was told that seventeen members of one congregation were 'known to have changed on these grounds, and that it was suspected of several others.

Thirdly, beer, and divers other influences, of which I need

not say a word, as they may come before the Election Judges. But of beer, whether the drinkers quaffed at their own or any one else's expense, I feel bound to make an additional remark. It might naturally be supposed, as Mr. Hall was the owner of a great number of small public-houses in the least aristocratic parts of the city, that beer would be freely consumed ; but I must own that I was amazed at the number and noise of the gangs of blaspheming drunkards who were nightly parading certain streets, profusely adorned with blue favours. I enclose my card, and you will see that I have had a somewhat excep- tional experience of elections and electioneering, not of a rose- water character, but I can safely say that I never saw or heard anything like so much drunkenness or foul language at an election as I did last week at Oxford. It was a grievous scandal.