It’s half past three by my pocket-watch; and by my stomach, time for tea.
Luckily, Mr Charles Ross MP is bang on time at the Malakoff – his carriage and pair stepping smartly up the hill. There’s an enormous crowd: “some 1500 persons, the greater portion… young persons, the feminine portion of the population mustering especially strongly”. There are two brass bands, a fine display of bunting, and even some of the shipping has seen fit to display appropriate flags.
But we shall have to wait a little while for our treat. For now, the horses have been taken out of harness and replaced by willing and sturdy men: Mr Ross, his wife and friends, are to be drawn about the town by their supporters. All around the streets they go, two of Mr Ross’ party sitting up beside the coachman, waving their hats and calling for hearty cheers.
But at last, here we are at Mr Conley’s workshop on Fore Street, where tea is waiting. A thousand tickets have been sold, folk willingly paying their sixpence to show their support for Mr Ross. Just as one might expect from the size of the crowd, there’s a “great rush for admission”, and “considerable crushing and confusion”, with tea “served in relays”. Mr and Mrs Ross, and our own Mayor Mr Kernick and his wife, have had quite a scramble to reach their seats before being served with the cup that cheers, currant cake and buttered bun.
As soon as he has finished eating, and it must be admitted before all ticket-holders have even been seated, Mr Kernick waves his teacup and proposes a toast to Her Majesty. And then he holds forth mightily on the good fortune of the St Ives Conservative Association, denouncing the sharp practice that kept Mr Ross from the seat in 1880, and explaining how – by the perfectly legitimate means of “placing their friends on the voting list” - the Tories have now confounded the upstart Liberals and secured the seat for Mr Ross with a “splendid” majority.
It is most unfortunate that Mr Ross’ reply, and further words from his fellow MP Mr Northcote , are all but drowned out by the clink of teacups, business with cakestands, and “incessant” (and one might add, disrespectful) chatter. But no matter! There will be dancing! There will be fireworks!
Cornishman Thursday 2nd October 1884 page 5
Cornish Telegraph Thursday 2nd October 1884 page 8
For more on the electoral fortunes of Mr Ross, see the Penwith Papers published on this site in May and July 2017