The Bribery Box  (1832) 
by Anonymous

[From the Bristol Mercury, Saturday, Dec. 22, 1832.]


"At a house, No. 8, in King-Street, the parlour window was darkened, by the shutters within having been closed, with the exception of the lower row of panes in the centre: these were whitened over, except one, which had been removed, an a sliding panel put in its place. At this panel the blue voter, after he had polled, tapped, and, on its being raised sufficiently high to admit his hand, he thrust in his election scrip, properly authenticated, and received in return a check containing the name of an individual on whom he was to call for the price of his degradation; and this was practiced in the open street, in the face of a crowd throughout the whole of Thursday!" Vide Bristol Mercury, December 15, 1832.



And addressed to the Trades that WERE TRUE.

All you who, though freemen, yet dare to be free,
Spite of tyrants and slaves, come and listen to me;
I sing how Conservative roguery mocks
All your honest intents by a Bribery Box.
Derry down, down,
down, derry down.

Independent and virtuous, you set at defiance
Dictation and bribes; with the strongest reliance
On victory, you went to the charge firm as rocks,
When the enemy set up a Bribery Box.
Derry down, &c.

With honour unstain'd we the battle have fought,
But in Bristol, alas! there are votes to be bought;
And, knowing this well, some Conservative fox,
To purchase them, fashioned the Bribery Box.
Derry down, &c.

You all know the plan, when in London rogues join
To carry on business in counterfeit coin,
At a pannel, which slides in the wall, one rogue knocks,
And t'other supplies the base coin from the box.
Derry down, &c.

Thus in Bristol, base freemen being wanted, you meet
Such a pannel at work at 8 in King-street;
To it, open and shameless, the hired voter flocks,
Having polled for the Blue, for his price from the Box.
Derry down, &c.

Time was when corruption in darkness would stay,
But the tyrant now dares, in the broad face of day,
To bind our free limbs in his fetters and locks,
By means of such slaves and a Bribery Box.
Derry down, &c.

Dictation is bad, undue influence a curse,
Coalition between Whig and Tory is worse;
Trading votes and more infamous still, but it shocks
The soul to be sold by a Bribery Box.
Derry down, &c.

But we, who ne'er voted for money nor meat,
Unbiassed, unbought, and unchanged by defeat,
Will stand by Reform, till the pillory and stocks
Shall punish such tricks as the Bribery Box.
Derry down, &c.

But, my friends, though a Bribery Box you detest,
There's a Box which will set all our troubles at rest;
We'll defy bribe, beer, promise, threat, slave, ass, and ox,
When our rights are secur'd by a Balloting Box.
Derry down, &c.

Master and Man.—When the freemen in the employ of a certain coppersmith, in this city, came up to the booth opposite the Bell-avenue, on the second day of the poll, to tender their votes for Vyvyan and Baillie, the first who voted, on being thanked on behalf of those gentlemen, replied, "Don't thank me, Sir! you should thank my employer: I vote against my will, and so do my shopmates"!!! Another of the party actually shed tears on giving his vote.

Air—"The Woodpecker."

I knew by the scamps that in King-street were brought
To the trap, No. 8, that corruption was near;
And I said, if there's cash for a vote to be got,
The heart that is venal might hope for it here.
Every conscience was sear'd, and I heard not a sound
But the burgesses tapping the pane for their fee.

And here, as I waited my turn, I exclaim'd,
With the cash that I love, for the men what care I?
Be Vyvyan unwelcome, let Baillie be blamed,
The Member for me is the man that will buy.
Every conscience, &c.

By the shade of yon banner, whose pink deeply dips
In the hue of the Tories, how sweet to recline,
And to know, while I sell my vote, that the sly tricks
Of the Bright-Blue West Indians are darker than mine.
Every conscience, &c.



During the progress of the late contest for the representation of our city, the above motto was very freely chalked, and, in some cases, painted, upon its walls; and it was a part of the tactics of the Tories to impress upon all classes the certain revival of the commerce of the port, as a consequence that would naturally follow the ascendancy of their principles. Those principles, to use their own words, have now triumphed—by which means is but too well known; and it would, even now, be but fair if we were to ask, "What have they benefitted us?" We say this would be but fair, because the Tories, with as little reason, have a thousand times demanded, "What good has the Reform Bill done?"—knowing, full well, that no benefit could possibly result from that measure until a Parliament, chosen under the new system, had been elected, and that, even then, the results could only be slowly developed. But the effects of the dominance of Toryism, in our city, come more rapidly. They are, unhappily, not quite in accordance with the delusion held forth; on the contrary, they furnish a proof that that delusion never will be realised, and that the insolence of the Tory faction, inflated by its late success, is calculated rather to drive property away from the city, than to extend its commercial intercourse. As a sample of the close alliance between "True Blue" and "trade," as regards the interests of Bristol, we give the following genuine document, received yesterday from a highly respectable gentleman by his landlord:—

"Dec. 21, 1832.—I very much regret that any cause should have arisen to render it necessary I should give you notice of my intention to quit the house I now occupy, on the 24th June next. The late Election for this city has produced a system of persecution on the part of some of our merchants, which, if persisted in, will render it requisite for me to take up my abode in some other part of the world. I remain, &c. ————."

This work was published before January 1, 1928 and is anonymous or pseudonymous due to unknown authorship. It is in the public domain in the United States as well as countries and areas where the copyright terms of anonymous or pseudonymous works are 95 years or less since publication.