Parliamentary Elections – Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith is a great English poet, essayist and novelist. Indeed he is the classic writer in English literature. He was a versatile genius. In this essay “Parliamentary Elections” Goldsmith writes about the parliamentary elections of
England during his period. At that
time magistrates were chosen by the people to parliament every seventh year. It
was a great occasion for eating beef and drinking brandy. The merit of every
candidate was judged not by his service and dedication to people but by the
quantities of his beef and brandy.
Oliver Goldsmith humorously says that Parliamentary election is indeed a great festival of eating because every candidate supply a lot of food stuff and liquors for the people to eat and thus the candidate earn their votes. Thus the merit of the candidate is in fact decided by the quantity of food and liquor supplied by him to the voters. The Feast of the Lanterns is famous for its magnificence and splendour. The daughter of a famous mandarin fell into a lake and was drowning. It qwa in the late evening. So the father with all his neighbours went with lanterns to look for her and happily she was rescued. In memory of this incident an annual festival was held on the spot. The rich man supplied food and drinks to the villagers at night on the bank of the lake in the light of hundreds of lanterns and it became famous as “Feast of the Lanterns”.But no festival in the world can compare with Parliamentary elections for eating. It is indeed a festival of eating Besides English people are big eaters. Every English programme, party and conferences cannot take place without eating. In fact eating is the most important agenda of every function, sports, entertainments or meeting. But in parliamentary elections the eating habit of English people shock every outsider because every voter eats many a number of times and drinks too much liquor and every English man is angry with his rival party worker and fight against each other. When they are tired of too much fighting, they start eating and resume fighting with fresh energy and vigour.
Oliver Goldsmith is amazed that good food and liquor does not improve the good humour of English people. Most of the people are peace loving, kind hearted and soft spoken, and they looked like rabbits before dinner but after attending a single election dinner these English voters became as dangerous and violent as a machine gun or cannon. Thus during the Parliamentary election, Englandwas in the danger of a civil war. But they fought each other on silly reasons. For instance a candidate treated his voters with gin, a spirit of their own manufacture, another treated his candidate with brandy, a foreign liquor and this was the cause of their quarrel. The gin drinking party accused the other party of wasting national income by importing brandy from foreign countries. The brandy drinkers accused the other party of spoiling the health of the countrymen by making spurious local liquor whichwas harmful to body.
The author wished to be a spectator of the election meetings. So he went to the neighbouring village in company with three fiddlers, nine dozen hams and a poet and reached the headquarters. Both party workers welcomed the author because they heard the music and saw the pigs. English people loved music and were very fond of bacon in dinner.