Australian Access Federation

You are here: Home Corpora Corpus of Oz Early English 4-178 (Raw)

4-178 (Raw)

Item metadata
author,male,Finn, Edmund,69 addressee
Narrative Discourse
Word Count :
Plaint Text :
Public Written
Ward, 1969
Document metadata

4-178-raw.txt — 2 KB

File contents

The first election polling day was an event to be long remembered in Melbourne, for never, in the election annals of the colony was there fiercer animosity, grosser provocation, or more riotous excesses. The opposition was an intensely factious one, started not so much to oust Curr as to glut the morbid appetite of national and religious malignity. To accomplish this the fierce flame of unholy bigotry was lit up alike in the public meeting and the tap-room, on the canvassing tour, and in the ranting conventicle. The two cliques of which the Corporation was composed, were answerable in no small degree for such a deplorable state of things; and the arch-disturber Lang was on the spot stirring up the fires of fanaticism in something of the manner of a stoker raking his furnace. It was providential that the day passed over without loss of life, and miraculous that Lang was able to retire that night to his peaceful pillow without sustaining grievous bodily harm.
There was one polling place in each of the four Wards, opening at 9 a.m. and closing at 4 p.m. Then, and for years after, there was no such thing as vote by ballot - nothing but straight, outspoken, open voting in much the Corporation style. It was done in this way. Each elector on presenting himself received a card on which the names of the several candidates were printed. He erased the names for which he did not vote, and after signing returned the document to the Returning Officer, who thus read aloud 'John Smith votes for Tom Jones', and if Tom Jones was a popular idol, John Smith was greeted with loud cheering; but if not, the voter, after performing a duty to his country, on leaving the room was pushed and knocked about, and getting into the street was lucky if he did not meet with even rougher treatment from a half drunken crowd loafing outside; and the hugging and hustling, cheering and groaning, blessing and cursing, according to the humour of the rabble, was a source of anything but amusement to the victim of them. Furthermore, the receptacles into which the cards were dropped, were repeatedly opened, the votes counted, and the state of the poll issued on slips every hour, sometimes oftener. These bulletins would be posted outside the door, and so far from allaying, only served to increase the excitement tenfold, and heated the bubbling passions of the populace to boiling point. The friends of the candidates were to be seen from cock-crow running about, buzzing and busying like bees, their fussiness encumbering their utility, and their verba embarrassing their facto. Curr's adherents worked openly; Condell's to a great extent sub rosa; and yet, contrary to general expectation, the Mayor led from the start, was never collared during the race, and was landed at the winning post by a majority of 34, the numbers at the close of the poll being - Condell 295, Curr 261. [293]