Bust of John Passmore Edwards

The Autobiography of John Passmore Edwards

A Candidate for Parliament


Well remembering the rejoicing in Cornwall over the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832, and taking part, as I did, in promoting the Reform Bill of 1867, it might be expected that, like hundreds of others, I should be smitten with a desire to get into the new reformed Parliament. I received, and accepted, an invitation to contest Truro in 1868, when the chances were decidedly against me. The character and colour of my political creed at the time may be seen from the following extract from my address :-
Richard Cobden " I would repeal the rate-paying clauses of the last Reform Bill; I would place the means of education within the reach of every child in the Kingdom; I am in favour of the ballot and an equalised distribution of Parliamentary constituencies ; I would insist on a wise economy in every department of the State; I would endeavour to apply the teachings of Cobden, and cultivate a policy of non-intervention, and, wherever possible, substitute arbitration for war in the settlement of national disputes ; I would abolish the purchase system in the army; I would put an end to the game laws; I would make the privileges of our national universities accessible to men of every religious creed; I would do my best to make the colonies self-supporting; I would abolish death punishments; and I would vote for an equalisation of the poor law and a more useful administration of charitable endowments.
There are other social questions which would claim my attention, such as improved dwellings for the working classes, the institution of courts of arbitration for the protection of the funds of all legally constituted trade societies, and the cultivation of waste lands and revision of the licensing system." My address, written thirty-seven years ago, carried too much reform sail to captivate a majority of Truro electors. Besides, Truro, in 1868, returned two members, and every voter had two votes, and I had to sustain a contest single-handed against the old members, both connected with powerful county families-one a Conservative, and the other a Liberal-who offered themselves for re-election, and who united their forces to secure my defeat. The main points of my address carry with them now a flavour of ancient history, as most of them have since been embodied in legislation. Sir F. M. Williams, my chief opponent, left me between three and four hundred votes below him at the poll. His political creed was locally successful then; mine, in the main, has been nationally triumphant since.
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    © Dean Evans 2003
April 18, 2005