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History of the Burgh of Dumfries
Chapter LIV


GREAT REFORM AGITATION- THE BURGH PRONOUNCES IN FAVOUR OF REFORM -SELF-DENYING SUPPORT GIVEN TO IT BY THE SEVEN TRADES-COUNTY REFORM MEETING-GENERAL SHARPE, IN THE LIBERAL INTEREST, OPPOSES MR. KEITH DOUGLAS, THE TORY MEMBER FOR THE BURGHS-UPROARIOUS ELECTION MEETING IN THE COURT-HOUSE-VARYING FORTUNES OF THE REFORM BILL-SERIOUS DISTURBANCES IN THE BURGH ON ACCOUNT OF ITS REJECTION BY THE PEERS-ULTIMATE SUCCESS OF THE MEASUREGREAT `REFORM JUBILEE AND BANQUET -RETIREMENT OF MR. KEITH DOUGLAS -- ELECTION CONTEST BETWEEN GENERAL SHARPE AND MR. DAVID HANNAY.

BEFORE the generation that was contemporary with Burns had passed away, the very liberality in politics for which he was tabooed began to prevail, till the once Tory town again became Whiggish, if not something more. Throughout the country at large, a feeling had risen up against every thing that savoured of monopoly and exclusive privilege. So early as 1818, we find some faint traces of it in Dumfries, as manifested by the refusal of persons, when made burgesses, to pay the customary fines, and by non-freemen beginning business within the Burgh in defiance of the deacons and the dean of guild. [Town Council Minutes.] No doubt the financial mismanagement from which the town suffered so much, tended to make the inhabitants increasingly dissatisfied with the existing order of things, and prepared them to join heartily in the national cry that was soon afterwards raised for Parliamentary and Burgh Reform. Mr. David Staig, influenced by failing health, and the embarrassments of 1817, finally withdrew from public life that year-the last of the old provosts whose word was law; and with him the inveterate Conservatism of which he was at once the guardian and representative disappeared from the Council.

During his magisterial era, the Dumfriesians were accustomed to look upon the British Constitution as perfect, or nearly so, and the close burgh system as a worthy pendicle to it, which none save rash fools would interfere with; but in 1830 such a change had come over both the people and their rulers, that they with an almost unanimous voice repudiated the Duke of Wellington's memorable declaration to his fellow-peers, on the 26th of October, when he said, " I am thoroughly convinced that Britain possesses, at this moment, a Legislature which answers all the good purposes of a legislature in a higher degree than any scheme of government whatever has been found to do in any country in the world; that it possesses the confidence of the country; that it deservedly possesses that confidence; and that its decisions have justly the greatest weight and influence with the people." This anti-Reform manifesto of the Conservative Premier gave a mighty impulse to the popular countermovement. Enthusiastic meetings to protest against it, and pronounce in favour of the Reform Bill brought into the House of Commons by Lord John Russell, were held all over the country. Annan took the lead in Dumfriesshire; the County town followed soon after; and before 1831 was many weeks old, all the Royal Burghs, and numerous other places in the south of Scotland, had given in a hearty adhesion to the Reform cause.

The Dumfries meeting, held in the Court-house on the 2nd of December, 1830, was the greatest political gathering that had ever, up till that date, taken place in the town, at least in modern times. It was densely crowded, comprised most of the principal burgesses, and, to give it increased influence and eclat, the Provost, Mr. John Fraser, though a Conservative, presided-seemingly not unwilling to be carried with the current of the prevailing tide. The, resolutions, eight in number, declared the dissatisfaction of the inhabitants with the existing mode of election, as not affording "a full, free, and equal representation of the people" in the Commons House of Parliament; and they especially pointed out the defective nature of the Scottish representative system, inasmuch as "the whole number of voters for all the burghs in Scotland was conform to a Parliamentary report of 1825," according to which "the right of voting is exercised by delegates from the several burghs, who are chosen by the Town Councils themselves, being self-elected bodies, and uncontrolled by their nominal constituents, the great body of the inhabitants." Among those who took a prominent part in the business were the following gentlemen: Mr. Robert Murray, writer, afterwards provost; Mr. Thomas Harkness, writer; Mr. David Hannay, banker; Mr. William M'Gowan, writer, afterwards provost; Mr. John M'Diarmid, editor of the Dumfries Courier; Mr. Benjamin Oney, clothier; Mr. Miles Leighton, merchant, afterwards provost; Mr. William M'Gowan, builder; Mr. Robert Wallace, writer; Mr. James M'Whir, merchant; Mr. Robert M'Harg, merchant; Mr. Archibald Hamilton, writer; Dr. M'Cracken, and Captain M'Dowall; making up in themselves-not to name others of the same standing present-no inadequate representation of the worth, intelligence, and material interests of the town. All the resolutions, with a petition to the House of Commons based upon them, were unanimously adopted. Mr. Adam Rankine, a gentleman noted for his fervid temperament and public spirit, was so pleased with the meeting, that he forwarded an account of it by express to Lord Advocate Jeffrey, the substance of which was communicated by Mr. Gibson Craig to a great Edinburgh Reform meeting, and elicited from it a round of cheers in honour of "the judicious resolutions and patriotic example of the citizens of Dumfries."

Patriotic and unselfish the movement certainly was, so far as men of the councillor stamp were concerned. They had long enjoyed a monopoly which gave them exclusive political and municipal power, and trading privileges; and now they united with their less-favoured fellow-countrymen in demanding its abolition. The Incorporated Trades of Dumfries manifested the same self-denying spirit. The pending Reform Bill was rife with a more sweeping revolution for them than even for the merchants of the guild; and it would not have been wonderful if they had obstinately opposed the measure, or given to it a sullen, passive resistance. Were the bill to pass, farewell then to their time-hallowed heritage of seven seats at the Council Board, with all the political influence, social status, and (more precious than any thing else to some) all the pleasant hobnobbing with nobility which these involved; whilst, following fast in the wake of the bill, were coming kindred measures by which their ancient incorporation was to be broken up as if it had never been. Rising above such selfish considerations, the Seven Trades met in their own Hall on the 4th of March, 1831, under the chairmanship of their chief, Mr. James Thomson, convener, and voted a unanimous address to his Majesty, William the Fourth, expressing their sincere approval of, and gratitude for, "the liberal, safe, equitable, and comprehensive Bill of Reform which has been lately introduced into the House of Commons." [Seven Trades' Minutes.]

On the 15th of the same month, a general meeting of the inhabitants was held, presided over by Provost Fraser, at which the Reform Bill was approved of with the same cordiality and unanimity that characterized the first Dumfries meeting. Mr. Robert Murray, after explaining its chief provisions, was warmly cheered when he exhorted those present to be up and doing in support of the Throne and the Cabinet at the present crisis; and he took occasion to pay a high compliment to the Trades, whose address to the King, he said, had been read by him with the liveliest pleasure; and proud he felt in being the townsman of persons who, unlike the great borough-mongers, were willing to waive their exclusive privileges, and sacrifice their private interests for the good of the public. [Dumfries Courier.]

Even the County of Dumfries could not help having its Reform meeting. It took place on the 18th of March - Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Laurie in the chair. A series of resolutions was proposed by Sir William Jardine of Applegarth, and seconded by Mr. Leny of Dalswinton, approving of the Bill so far as it affected the Scottish burghs, but disapproving of it on the ground that it fixed the franchise for counties too low, and dealt too sweepingly with the English pocket boroughs. Major-General Matthew Sharp of Hoddam, [General Sharpe was of the old Kirkpatrick line, whose ancestor Ivon held lands in Annandale in the middle of the twelfth century. The Kirkpatricks, as we have seen, possessed the estate of Closeburn for centuries; but in 1780 it was sold to Mr. Menteath by Sir James Kirkpatrick, whose son, Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, sheriff-depute of Dumfriesshire, married Jane, daughter of Charles Sharpe of Hoddam, descended from John Sharpe, who purchased that estate from the Earl of Southesk in 1690. William Kirkpatrick of Ellisland, grand-son of Sir Thomas, married a daughter of Lord Justice-Clerk Erskine; and their son Charles succeeding to the estate of Hoddam, assumed the name of Sharpe. Burns, in 1791, addressed to Mr. Sharpe a humorous epistle under a fictitious signature, enclosing three stanzas written by him to what he calls a charming Scots air of Mr. Sharpe's composition, and complimenting him on his being an exquisite violinist (as he was). Mr. Sharpe married a daughter of Renton of Lamberton, a lady whose beauty is celebrated in "Humphrey Clinker." Their eldest son was General Sharpe; their second, Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, the celebrated wit, artist, and antiquary. Another son, William Sharpe, is the present proprietor of Hoddam.] "the coming man" for the Dumfries District of Burghs, then stepped forward on behalf of the whole bill, thereby fluttering the timid Volscians of the Shire. His amendment to that effect was seconded by Mr. Monteath of Closeburn, and lost by the narrow majority of one vote; eighteen gentlemen having supported the resolutions, and seventeen the amendment.

Three days afterwards, the second reading of the bill was carried in the House of Commons by the same small majority of one; the minority including the member for the Dumfries Burghs, Mr. Keith Douglas. [Mr. William Robert Keith Douglas was the fifth son of Sir William Douglas of Kelhead, M. P. for the Dumfries burghs, by Grace Johnstone of Lockerbie. He represented the Burghs from 1812 till 1832.] In the following month an amendment was adopted in committee which was deemed fatal to the integrity of the measure. That ministers might appeal to the country on its behalf, Parliament was forthwith dissolved; and a large majority of members pledged to support the bill were returned. Dumfries was bent on giving a practical rebuke to its peccant representative; so was Annan. No doubt was entertained as to what these two burghs could and would do in the matter; but there was no such certainty as regarded the other three " carlines," they being still largely pervaded by the old exclusive leaven. On the 20th of May the Dumfries Council met in their chamber for the purpose of choosing a delegate to vote for them at the ensuing election. As the public were admitted, the place was packed to suffocation, and the proceedings were gone through under circumstances of great excitement. General Sharpe was present with the view of promoting the candidature on which he had fairly entered. Mr. Keith Douglas was also there to defend his obnoxious vote, and endeavour to placate the fierce opposition which it had aroused. His explanations were received with impatience; and when he went on to say that he could not engage to support the Reform Bill when next brought forward, the audience greeted the intimation with hisses and groans -sweet music to the honourable gentleman's rival, who on rising afterwards, and giving an unhesitating approval of the bill, received in return a boisterous ovation from the crowd. Bailie Thomson moved that Provost Fraser be appointed delegate, seeing that he had always acted consistently, and would vote for the Liberal candidate, General Sharpe. The motion was seconded by Bailie Corson, and carried unanimously; not a vote being proffered or voice raised in favour of the Tory candidate, though he had represented the burghs for eighteen years. Bailie Thomson, with the view of preventing any mistake as to the delegate's intentions, begged to ask if he accepted the office on the condition proposed. "Undoubtedly," was Provost Fraser's reply, "I shall be happy to give effect to the intentions of the Council;" [Dumfries Courier. ] and with this satisfactory assurance the meeting quietly dispersed.

Annan, with the same unanimity, elected a commissioner pledged to vote for the Reform candidate; Lochmaben was divided on the subject, but eventually chose a pro-Douglas delegate by a majority of seven votes to six; and delegates of the same stamp were elected unanimously by Sanquhar and Kirkcudbright : so that, however much the populace might rage and storm, the old member was sure of being once more returned. The parliamentary election took place on Monday the 23rd of May, at Dumfries, and was preceded by a demonstration which, for numbers, scenic effect, and enthusiasm, was quite unprecedented.

Early in the morning, the Trades and many of the other inhabitants mustered in great force, and with flags, emblematic devices, and music, marched out to Gastown with the view of giving an imposing welcome to General Sharpe, and Mr. Scott, banker, the Annan delegate. On the hero of the day being descried advancing in an open carriage, accompanied by several of his friends, a shout was raised which made the welkin ring. Mr. Scott, who followed with Provost Irving of Annan in another vehicle, was also warmly greeted. As if by magic, the horses were loosed from the carriages, and the latter drawn townwards by a stud of stout lads and men, only too glad to honour in this questionable way the gallant champion of Reform. The procession, with this curious cavalcade in the van, occupied more than a mile of the road, each marcher having a knot of ribbons at his breast of the true-blue colour, whilst no fewer than forty-three banners fluttered overhead. It passed up a portion of English Street, then by Loreburn Street and Townhead into the main thoroughfare. As the magnificent procession defiled down High Street, the voice of the Mid-Steeple bells ringing welcome could scarcely be heard for the deafening cheers with which its leading figure was saluted. After a brief breathing time in the King's Arms Hotel, the General, with a large retinue of supporters, walked to the scene of contest, receiving flattering salutes by the way; whilst there was none so poor or polite as to do any reverence to the rival candidate as he also passed up to the place of meeting-the Court-house -already filled to overflowing with an impassioned multitude.

The preliminaries are conducted in a pantomimic style; for no sooner does Mr. Keith Douglas take his seat, than a tumultuous uproar begins. Shouts of "Bribery!" "Perjury?" mingle with the inarticulate din; and, as thunder-clouds answer each other, hoarse voices from Buccleuch Street swell responsive to the Babel sounds within. During a slight lull in the tempest, Mr. Murray, writer, protests, on technical grounds, against the delegates from Sanquhar and Lochmaben being permitted to vote; and Mr. Patrick Robertson, advocate, who is present with Mr. Douglas, contends that their commissions are quite valid, and must be received, which opinion is supported by the sheriff who presides. The votes are taken. Provost Fraser of Dumfries and Mr. Scott of Annan give their suffrages for General Sharpe, and are loudly cheered. Major Crichton of Sanquhar votes for Mr. Keith Douglas; so do Provost Shand of Kirkcudbright and Mr. John J. Henderson of Lochmaben, amid a chorus of hisses and yells. The returning officer thereupon announces, or is understood to announce, that William Robert Keith Douglas, Esquire, has been duly elected as representative of the Dumfries District of Burghs in the Commons House of parliament. The honourable gentleman must, of course, rise to return thanks. He need not. He may feel grateful to the small majority of the Lochmaben councillors, who sent a commissoner to turn the scale in his favour; but he owes nothing to the audience he now endeavours to address. They reject him will have none of his thanks - his eloquence is reduced to dumb, fantastic show; the noise that greeted him being, says an earwitness, so terrific that it "would have utterly overwhelmed the voice of the most stentorian-lunged orator that ever fretted his hour on a hustings." [Dumfries Courier.] On the contrary, the defeated candidate, though but a poor speaker, is listened to, not with patience merely, but delight. Though beaten to-day, he sees with prophetic eye that victory will be his within the next six months; and there is tremendous cheering when he makes an oracular declaration to that effect.

The meeting has put down Douglas, but is not yet done with him; for the indomitable Annan delegate rises, intent on giving him a "heckling." "Will Mr. Douglas support those parts of the ministerial measure, Schedules A and B, which disfranchise the rotten boroughs? Let him say yes or no to this plain question." The honourable gentleman does not wish to be made further sport of by the Philistines of Reform. He keeps his seat, and makes no sign, intending to reserve his answer till a more convenient season, and for the safer latitude of Westminster; and the inquisitorial Annanite, on tendering the same question to the worthy hero of Hoddam, receives a reply that will fall like a bomb-shell on the camp of the borough-mongers. He means to give these pestilent gentry no quarter, and goes for the whole alphabet of Reform, from A and B down to Z; and thus elicits a fresh acclamation from the audience. The newly-elected member now moves as if he wished to speak-under what impulse, none can tell; but there is as little disposition as ever to hear him. He gives up the vain attempt; and as the sheriff declares the business finished, the populace slowly retire, with loud cries of "Let him no gang back to Parliament and say he is oor member?" "Bribery and corruption!" "Let us have a look at the Lochmaben delegate!" Mr. Douglas, with the commissioners who voted for him, retired by a back door leading to a street in the rear of the Court-house, and, entering the carriage of Mr. Peter Johnston of Carnsalloch, that was kept waiting for him, drove off to that gentleman's residence with the utmost speed. This arrangement was fortunately kept secret, otherwise the exciting scenes of the Hare hunt of 1829 might possibly have been repeated with higher game in view. General Sharpe's procession back to his hotel was like that of a triumphant conqueror. It was even more brilliant and imposing than his entry into the Burgh on that eventful day.

Dumfries showed conclusively that it had become Whiggish once more, as in the period before and long subsequent to the Revolution. Forty years ago, poor Burns was forced to tremble at his own audacity in hinting that a better "creed of British liberty" would by-and-by be obtained than the British Constitution as expounded by De Lolme; now the member for the Burghs is ostracized for adhering too closely to De Lolme, and there is an earnest, importunate, all but universal cry raised in Dumfries for an extensive reform of the Constitution. In the national agitation for this purpose, the Burgh, according to its size, took a full share. Every critical stage of Lord John Russell's bill was watched with feverish anxiety: bonfires blazed at the Monument or the Cross when it made any decided advance; indignant meetings were convened in the Town Hall or Court-house when its progress was arrested by opposing factions. More especially was the Burgh stirred to its utmost depths when, on the 10th of October, 1831, the astounding intelligence arrived that the bill, which had been read a third time in the House of Commons on the 21st of September by a majority of 109, had been rejected in the Upper House by a majority of 41. "Yesterday," says the Courier of the 11th, "was a doleful day in Dumfries-by far the most doleful we ever remember. ... At the post-office and other parts of the town, particularly High Street, the greatest anxiety prevailed to obtain a peep of the newspapers or hear the news. Before eleven o'clock a.m. a number of our townsmen-some of them men of extensive property-had assembled together, each enquiring of his neighbour what was to be done. Despondency was altogether out of the question; and in all our experience we never saw men more confident of the high vantage-ground on which they stand. A public meeting was of course determined on, which, having been called by the Provost on a requisition addressed to him, passed a series of strong resolutions regretting the fate of the bill, expressing a hope that his Majesty would still retain the Reform ministry in office, and that he would take such constitutional steps as they might advise for ultimately securing the success of the measure."

The bill, in a somewhat altered form, was reintroduced next session; its second reading was carried in the Lower House by 32-I to 162, a majority of two to one ; and on the 19th of December it passed its final stage in the Commons by the reduced majority of 116. When, in the following April, the bill was allowed to be read a second time in the Upper House without opposition, the country was agreeably surprised; but that feeling gave way to indignation when the tactics of the Tory peers came to be understood. The Opposition, led by Lord Lyndhurst, opened an ambuscade upon the measure when in committee: they insisted upon deferring the disfranchising clauses till after the enfranchising clauses had been considered -a device which was supported by 151 votes to 116; and the result was looked upon as indicative of such inveterate hostility to the bill on the part of their lordships, that Earl Grey and his colleagues at once resigned office. Never in modern times has the country been nearer the verge of revolution than during the few days which intervened between the noble lord's surrender of the seals, and his reacceptance of them after the Duke of Wellington failed in his endeavours to form a ministry.

In full sympathy with the feeling of the times, a political union was established in Dumfries "to preserve the peace," "to guard the people from being betrayed into acts of disorder," and to use every effort for the purpose of obtaining "a full and efficient representation of the people" in Parliament; whilst the Council and the general public voted addresses to the King, urging him to recall Earl Grey, and signed petitions to the Commons, adjuring them to "withhold all supplies" until the Reform Bill should be clothed with the authority of law. Hitherto the political meetings in the Burgh had been always closed with a round of cheers in honour of Royalty; but there was no such sequel to the demonstration in the Court-house on this occasion. The vocation of the gallant officer, Captain M`Dowall, who invariably acted as fugleman, was for once in abeyance. "In anticipation of a different state of things," says the Courier of May 15th, "a great dinner was projected for the King's birth-day, but the order has been countermanded, and bids fair to be postponed sine die. The addresses [adopted at the meeting] were extended as speedily as possible, and in the course of ten hours were signed by 2,002 persons; being 800 more names than were attached to any previous petition, even where they remained for signatures at least an equal number of days."

Dumfries thus manifested its steadfast adhesion to the principles of Reform; and it is to be regretted that the mob of the town insisted on supplementing the constitutional movement by a manifesto of its own. On the evening of the 14th of May, a pot-orator held forth in the market-place; the burden of his harangue being the iniquity of the borough-mongers, and the threatened ruin of the kingdom by the stubbornness of the anti-Reform King and the Tory peers. So much was the speaker's eloquence relished by the listening crowd, composed mostly of boys, that they paraded him shoulder high through the principal streets; and then, after dropping him on terra firma, they, seized by a destructive impulse, broke the windows of a house in George Street, and of another elsewhere, whose inmates were believed to belong to the unpopular party which the speaker had denounced. This affair, trifling in itself, would have received no notice here, had it not been the prelude of a more serious disturbance. The tribune of the streets having resumed his dangerous vocation next day at dusk, he was, in virtue of a magisterial sentence, committed to "durance vile." On Thursday the good news arrived that the reins of power had been once more put into the hands of Earl Grey; and whilst the populace were busy burning tar-barrels in honour of this event, the thought of the imprisoned orator - a martyr in the cause of Reform-darted across their minds, and turned their joy into rage. As if with one consent, they, to the number of fifteen hundred or more, hurried to Buccleuch Street, assailed the prison door with stones, tried to destroy it by fire when the missiles proved ineffectual; and a fearful night, like that in which Hare was besieged, seemed about to set in, when a powerful body of constables charged the rioters, and off they set, reluctantly leaving the captive demagogue to his fate.

In the course of a few weeks afterwards, the Burgh presented quite a different aspect with reference to the battle for Reform. The Opposition, overawed by the Prime Minister's resolution to recruit his ranks by an extensive creation of new peers, at length gave way, and allowed the bill to be read a third time, by a majority of 106 to 84, and the royal assent was given to it on the 7th of June. As a necessary pendant to it, the measure for Scotland was passed by the Lords, and became law in the following month. It increased the number of the Scotch members from forty-five to fifty-three; but its value consisted chiefly in the change it made in the class of electors, which, as Sir Archibald Alison remarks, "was so great as to amount to a total revolution. The old town councils, in great part self-elected, were succeeded by a host of ten-pound shopkeepers and householders, actuated by different interests, and swayed by different influences; while the old parchment freeholders, who followed their directing magnate to the poll, were superseded by a multitude of independent feuars in villages, and of tenants in rural districts." A jubilee, to celebrate this great constitutional triumph, was resolved upon by the Dumfriesians; and rejoicings worthy of that imposing title were held on the 11th of August. The old town itself was daintily bedizened for the gala-day. Flags floating from windows and pinnacles-garlands crossing from street to street-triumphal arches rising in all the principal thoroughfares, made the place look quite grand and gay. "In walking along the streets it was difficult to get quit of the impression that Birnam or some other woods had mistaken Dumfries for Dunsinane. We have witnessed many anniversaries of Waterloo, but never within our recollection were the gardens and groves laid under contribution to anything like the same extent." [Dumfries Courier.] And then there was such a procession! For centuries the Seven Trades had been famed for this sort of pageant; and now, when inaugurating a new political era, fraught with ruin to all their peculiar privileges, they seemed bent on making their last public march under the old close system the most imposing one that had been seen in modern times. The incorporated craftsmen were well supported by other operatives; and the great civic regiment formed by these bodies was wound up by a juvenile company just as eager as their elders to take part in the parade and in the triumph. But this processing through the crowded town, occupying as it did from one o'clock till three, made the marchers hungry and thirsty-ravenous, in fact, for the goodly supplies of meat and drink provided for them at their own firesides, in taverns or public halls; and before gloamin' vanished in the mirk, and for hours afterwards, Convener Grainger's huge punch-bowl was in extraordinary request, and all and sundry were busy refreshing their wearied frames and toasting the good cause in brimming cups, illustrating that connection which, according to the national poet, exists between freedom and whisky.

Besides many private parties, there were at least eight public dinners on the evening of this joyous day. The people were exhilarated to an unexampled pitch by the success that had been achieved, and their faith in a practical Utopia that was to follow in its wake, though it has never yet arrived. In such a rosy and inspiring atmosphere, liberally-we do not say intemperately-moistened with mountain dew, it was natural that they should be hearty in their revels, and also exuberant in their eloquence. We are told by the local chronicler of the jubilee, that "never before did Dumfries hear so many speeches spoken-see so many merry hearts met together." The elevated nature of the oratory, which elicited deafening after-dinner plaudits from sympathizing listeners, may be gathered from the following extract of a speech given by Mr. M`Whir when presiding at the merchants' meeting in the old Assembly Rooms, crowded by the presence of more than a hundred and fifty gentlemen. After showing that the British people had encountered the conqueror of Napoleon and the hero of a hundred fights, the chairman said: " Such, my countrymen, such was the high and gallant bearing of the men of Britain; and what is their reward? They have gained a victory and a triumph unparalleled in the history of the world; and they have gained them in peace. The victory and the triumph they would at all events have gained - no power under heaven could prevent it; but it might have been a victory won at the cannon's mouth - a triumph cradled on the bloody battlefield. And what are the consequences? Listen, my countrymen-listen to the words of Henry Brougham, thirty months ago, when on his canvass in Yorkshire. 'Take,' says he, 'all broad Scotland-from east to west, from north to south, in her cities and in her provinces-she is one vast rotten burgh:' And what is broad Scotland now? Why, the beams, the radiant beams of the glorious sun of liberty are now shining, and showering, and streaming over every hill and every vale, every mountain, every strath, and every glen, in our beloved native land; and you have the pleasure, the indescribable delight, of knowing that, in common with your countrymen, you have secured to yourselves, to your children, to your children's children, those rights and privileges to which as free-born Britons you are justly entitled. And to whom, to whom are you indebted for this mighty boon? You know it well: it is to the high-minded, the united, the brave British people. Pledge me, then, in a flowing, in a brimless bumper, and drain it off to the very lees--to the people, to the brave British people!" [Dumfries Courier.]

Pretty good, that; though it may on cool reflection seem rather too highly poised. But it suited the taste and temperature of the meeting, and the sentiment was rapturously responded to with that highest of festive numbers, "three times three." In a district where such sentiments prevailed, Mr. William Robert Keith Douglas, M.P., could expect no more favours. Feeling himself to be foredoomed, lie quietly withdrew into private life.

Though this was the case, General Sharpe did not get leave to walk the course. A new rival of liberal politics, Mr. David Hannay of Carlinwark House, agent for the National Bank in Dumfries, entered the field and received a considerable amount of support. The first election for the Five Burghs under the new Act took place on the 18th of December, 1832. It was a scene of intense excitement. Once more General Sharpe, who continued to be the popular candidate, was met by a grand procession in the English road, and escorted to the hustings which were erected in Queensberry Square. Mr. Hannay having also reached the arena, accompanied by a goodly retinue of gentlemen, the business was proceeded with. Provost Corson, seconded by Mr. M'Diarmid, proposed General Sharpe; and the other candidate was nominated by Mr. Sinclair, bookseller, and seconded by the provost of Maxwelltown, Mr. John Hairstens. Both candidates addressed the immense crowd assembled in the Square; but it was long before Hannay, who was a capital speaker, could command a hearing. On a show of hands being called for, the presiding officer, Sheriff Kirkpatrick, said: " It seems almost impossible for me to decide which party has the majority; but my impression is that General Sharpe's is the most numerous." Provost Corson, on being consulted on the point, cried, " Two to one, and far more, in favour of General Sharpe!" [Dumfries Courier.] "Then," said Mr. Hannay, "I demand a poll;" and accordingly the battle was fought out in the polling booths on the following Thursday and Friday. From the first it was looked upon as a matter of certainty by all save a few sanguine Hannayites, that Sharpe would be returned; yet, as the voting went on, the parties seemed to be well-balanced in the chief burgh; and Kirkcudbright, with a clannish feeling for the Galloway candidate, supported him so well, that had it not been for the powerful muster made by his Annanite opponents he would have borne away the prize. But, as on a previous memorable contest,

"Up sprang Bess o' Annandale,
And a deadly aith she's taen,
That she wad vote the Border knight,
Though she should vote her lane."

So fully and faithfully did the Annan electors carry out this resolution, that they soon and finally decided the wavering balance in favour of General Sharpe.

At half-past twelve o'clock on Friday, a return was issued as follows:- For Sharpe, 229; for Hannay, 225. This was but a small majority for the former gentleman; shortly afterwards, however, a messenger from the General's citadel burgh, "fiery red with haste," he having ridden sixteen miles in seventy minutes, brought a despatch couched in these terms:- "Annan," half-past twelve o'clock, Friday,-For General Sharpe, 143; for Mr. Hannay, 16; majority, 127; nine only to poll." This news was not simply discouraging to Mr. Hannay's committee-it was overwhelmingly crushing. Fight as you may, stout burghers of Kirkcudbright, you cannot, unless doubled in number, change the fortunes of the day. Seventy-nine of them supported the squire of Carlinwark : twice seventy-nine, with Annan so dead against him, could not have secured his success. It was known late on Friday night in Dumfries, that not only had Sharpe been returned, but that his majority was most decided; and the public sentiment found vent, as usual, in bell-ringing and barrelburning outside-in convivial gatherings within. Next morning printed returns, which proved to be nearly correct, were issued, as follows:- "Close of the poll. For General Sharpe: Dumfries, 275; Annan, 144; Kirkcudbright, 28; Sanquhar, 22; Lochmaben, 19. For Mr. Hannay: Dumfries, 265; Annan, 17; Kirkcudbright, 79; Sanquhar, 18; Lochmaben, 10." At twelve o'clock, the sheriff, in the audience of a rejoicing multitude, declared the state of the poll: that in all the burghs General Sharpe had received 487 votes, and Mr. Hannay 375; and that General Sharpe had been duly elected by a majority of 112.

Thus the honest, unvarnished chief of Hoddam rose to the summit of his earthly ambition. He was worthy of the honour awarded to him, and was proud and grateful for having received it. In tendering his thanks, he warmly repudiated the charge brought against him by his opponents, of a want of interest in the County town; and closed by saying, "Some of my ancestors repose in St. Michael's churchyard; and as further proof of my alleged want of sympathy, it is my wish that my ashes shall rest in the same spot. Provided I do my duty to the satisfaction of the constituency, I hope some surviving friend, after my course is run, will inscribe on my tombstone-for I can desire no prouder epitaph-'Here rest the remains of the first representative of the Independent Constituency of the Dumfries District of Burghs."' [The old monument of the Sharpe family, erected at the south-western corner of the cemetery, is enriched with fine carved work, and two mourning cherubs, beautifully executed. General Sharpe died in 1841, and was buried in the churchyard of Hoddam.]


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