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Daily Snippet #16: Page 134 / 100 Words

Élie Halévy. A History of the English People in 1815. Introd. Asa Briggs. London: AKA Paperbacks, 1987. Originally published in Great Britain in 1924. Volume I of A History of the English People.

In Ch. II: The Legislature and the Supremacy of Public Opinion / Popular Liberties / The Right to Rebellion:

“This right of noisy and disorderly demonstration during an election was an integral part of the old English system. The seat was being contested by two candidates who both belonged to the same class of society. The electors would vote for the candidate who had managed to make himself the more popular, who had displayed the greater activity in organizing those periodical saturnalia of which Johnson speaks, the great political carnival which the common people regarded as their right. Even if we take into consideration the material advantages which the candidates might derive from victory at the polls, the enormous [sums swallowed up in one election often exceeded all reasonable bounds. They are only explicable, if we regard the electoral contests in the light of a national sport, as popular, indeed more popular than horseracing. The rich incurred the expense for their own pleasure and for the pleasure of the people, and the passion which they put into the contest was a form of the gambling mania. Though the system was illogical and anarchic, it was free and popular].”

[Ok this is way over 100 words – 179 to be exact, but I had to finish the thought – times have not changed!]

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