17 APRIL 1880, Page 11



have had considerable experience has an election agent in many contests, and as the cause of the great electoral change is of historic interest, I may perhaps be allowed to give my views. On the present occasion, I have been engaged in three very severe comity contests, in all of which the Liberals have been successful, notwithstanding that the landlords have been almost to a man against Bs, and have brought every kind of pressure to bear upon their tenants. I have not found in these contests that farmers who were previously Con- servative have changed their politics. They have, it is true, been rather more apathetic than usual; but this is not the cause of the Liberal success. It has entirely been owing to the con- duct of the Nonconformists, and I think it is only their due to mention this. They took but a passive interest in the contest

in which I was engaged in 1874, owing mainly, I believe, to their dislike to the Education Act of 1870, and their feeling that the Liberals had betrayed them. On the present occasion, however, all was changed. I have never seen equalled the passionate zeal and self-sacrifice with which all Nonconformists, including Wesleyans (who have lately allied themselves in political matters with other Dissenters), threw themselves into the contests. Their ministers canvassed everywhere, addressed innumerable meetings, and undertook any kind of office, from that of bill-poster up to agent at the polling-booth. Hence our victories. I do not believe in the three counties in which I have been engaged there could be found fifty Nonconformists who voted for the Conservative candidates, and these were marked men by their fellows. Our contests were won not so much by the decrease of Conservative votes, as by the increase of Liberal votes.

I must add that this was not a surprise to me, as having studied the Nonconformist newspapers before the elections, I saw that the foreign policy of Lord Beaconsfield had excited in them such intense disgust, that they intended to sink all minor considerations in the one great desire "to turn Lord Beaconsfield out." The Loudon newspapers which quote in obscure para- graphs the doings of Nonconformists bad evidently nearly over- looked this factor in the contest, and hence their amazement and disappointment.

I must add, too, with deepest regret, that the present contests have in all the counties where I was engaged completed the estrangement of the Clergy of the Church of England from their flocks. In one of these counties, only one clergyman avowed himself a Liberal, and his brethren, from the dean down to the lowest curate, tried their best to ensure the success of the Con- servative candidate. One rector preached from the text, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians," — the goddess Diana being represented by Mr. Gladstone !—I am, Sir, &c., LEX.