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16. CHAPTER XVI - BEVERLEY (continued)
My friendly agent in his raillery had of course exaggerated the cost. He had, when I arrived at Beverley, asked me for a cheque for œ400, and told me that that sum would suffice. It did suffice. How it came to pass that exactly that sum should be required I never knew, but such was the case. Then there came a petition,--not from me, but from the town. The inquiry was made, the two gentlemen were unseated, the borough was disfranchised, Sir Henry Edwards was put on his trial for some kind of Parliamentary offence and was acquitted. In this way Beverley's privilege as a borough and my Parliamentary ambition were brought to an end at the same time.
When I knew the result I did not altogether regret it. It may be that Beverley might have been brought to political confusion and Sir Henry Edwards relegated to private life without the expenditure of my hard-earned money, and without that fortnight of misery; but connecting the things together, as it was natural that I should do, I did flatter myself that I had done some good. It had seemed to me that nothing could be worse, nothing more unpatriotic, nothing more absolutely opposed to the system of representative government, than the time-honoured practices of the borough of Beverley. It had come to pass that political cleanliness was odious to the citizens. There was something grand in the scorn with which a leading Liberal there turned up his nose at me when I told him that there should be no bribery, no treating, not even a pot of beer on one side. It was a matter for study to see how at Beverley politics were appreciated because they might subserve electoral purposes, and how little it was understood that electoral purposes, which are in themselves a nuisance, should be endured in order that they may subserve politics. And then the time, the money, the mental energy, which had been expended in making the borough a secure seat for a gentleman who had realised the idea that it would become him to be a member of Parliament! This use of the borough seemed to be realised and approved in the borough generally. The inhabitants had taught themselves to think that it was for such purposes that boroughs were intended! To have assisted in putting an end to this, even in one town, was to a certain extent a satisfaction.
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