Castle Combe <1>
December 15th 1832
My Dear Talbot,
Thank you for giving me early intelligence of your success at Chippenham <2> on which I heartily congratulate you. My venture has proved an unlucky one. I had many & great difficulties to contend with. First non-residence in contrast with the large landed property of my opponent within the borough, his large local expenditure,
and private friendships and personal influence. 2ndly a snugly concocted requisition which had been circulated & signed by 3 or 400 voters before I came forward, nay even long before they had any other reason than a misprint in the Times <3> newspaper for supposing they would have a second member. 3rdly An unwillingness on my part to incur the expense of numerous agents, and the discreditable means necessary, even now, to influence Electors – treating & bribery – 4thly A want of Electioneering Experience among my friends. All this and more is necessary to account for my failure, backed as I was by the great majority of the Manufacturers and their tradesmen of the Borough, to whom especially the Reform Act intended to give the representation. But the district was most absurdly chalked out by the Commissioners. Some 50 or 60 square miles of the bleak & barren Cotswolds, containing two beggarly decayed towns (one Hampton the entire property of Mr Ricardo) <4> were added to and have swamped the purely manufacturing portion of the Constituency. I had a majority of between three and four hundred over him in the Stroud and Painswick booths – which he overpowered by his dependent voters, the farmers & petty shopkeepers of Bisley & Hampton, with a few manufacturers living immediately within smell of his kitchen, and the Bankers of Stroud, whose were the object it has been to make it a close borough in their hands and those of the landed aristocracy of the neighbourhood.
My defeat had the air of a triumph, for my opponent did not dare shew himself during the election; and I firmly believe if the thing was to be done over again, and by ballot, I should have five votes to his one. I have had many voters tell me with tears in their eyes they would have voted for me, if they had dared, or had not previously engaged themselves, before they knew what they were about. I tell you all this as a sort of sfogo, <5> not under the idea that it will interest you. Again I give you joy of your better fortune.
Believe me, my Dear Talbot,
ever very truly your’s <sic>
G. Poulett Scrope
Henry Fox Talbot Esqr MP.
31 Sackville Street <6>
1. Castle Combe, Wiltshire, 7 mi NW of Lacock.
2. Chippenham, Wiltshire: largest town near Lacock, 3 miles N.
3. The Times (London).
4. David Ricardo (1803–1864), MP of Whig principles elected for Stroud in 1832.
6. Readdressed in another hand.