Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 47 (2016)
In late 1832 Great Britain was preparing for a special General Election. A Reform Bill passed in June had extended voting rights to the middle class, and parliamentary constituencies were re-distributed to enfranchise some of the larger industrial towns. Many Tory landed gentry had - unsuccessfully - opposed the change. So, early on in Felix Halt, the Radical, it comes as a surprise to the reader as well as his family when Harold Transome, heir to the Transome estates, declares his political allegiance. Just returned from abroad where he had made his fortune in business, he does not intend to stand as a Tory in the forthcoming post-reform election in December 1832. Landed gentry in North Warwickshire , thinly disguised as ' North Loamshire', were usually from this party and, fictionally, the Transome family tradition also reflected a strong attachment to the Tory principles of upholding Church and King. Harold, however, goes further than abandoning this party. Jumping over the Whigs, who had successfully pushed through the reform of parliament, he stands as a Radical, implying he would support further changes to the constitutional system.