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Sketches by Boz

4. The Election for Beadle
A great event has recently occurred in our parish. A contest of paramount interest has
just terminated; a parochial convulsion has taken place. It has been succeeded by a
glorious triumph, which the country - or at least the parish - it is all the same - will long
remember. We have had an election; an election for beadle. The supporters of the old
beadle system have been defeated in their stronghold, and the advocates of the great
new beadle principles have achieved a proud victory.
Our parish, which, like all other parishes, is a little world of its own, has long been
divided into two parties, whose contentions, slumbering for a while, have never failed to
burst forth with unabated vigour, on any occasion on which they could by possibility be
renewed. Watching-rates, lighting-rates, paving-rates, sewer's- rates, church-rates,
poor's-rates - all sorts of rates, have been in their turns the subjects of a grand struggle;
and as to questions of patronage, the asperity and determination with which they have
been contested is scarcely credible.
The leader of the official party - the steady advocate of the churchwardens, and the
unflinching supporter of the overseers - is an old gentleman who lives in our row. He
owns some half a dozen houses in it, and always walks on the opposite side of the way,
so that he may be able to take in a view of the whole of his property at once. He is a tall,
thin, bony man, with an interrogative nose, and little restless perking eyes, which appear
to have been given him for the sole purpose of peeping into other people's affairs with.
He is deeply impressed with the importance of our parish business, and prides himself,
not a little, on his style of addressing the parishioners in vestry assembled. His views
are rather confined than extensive; his principles more narrow than liberal. He has been
heard to declaim very loudly in favour of the liberty of the press, and advocates the
repeal of the stamp duty on newspapers, because the daily journals who now have a
monopoly of the public, never give VERBATIM reports of vestry meetings. He would not
appear egotistical for the world, but at the same time he must say, that there are
SPEECHES - that celebrated speech of his own, on the emoluments of the sexton, and
the duties of the office, for instance - which might be communicated to the public,
greatly to their improvement and advantage.
His great opponent in public life is Captain Purday, the old naval officer on half-pay, to
whom we have already introduced our readers. The captain being a determined
opponent of the constituted authorities, whoever they may chance to be, and our other
friend being their steady supporter, with an equal disregard of their individual merits, it
will readily be supposed, that occasions for their coming into direct collision are neither
few nor far between. They divided the vestry fourteen times on a motion for heating the
 
 
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