To the Electors of Central Edinburgh

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

To the Electors of Central Edinburgh is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Edinburgh Evening Dispatch on 25 september 1900.

To the Electors of Central Edinburgh

Gentlemen, — In asking you for your votes and your help in my Candidature, I do not come before you as a stranger. I was born in Edinburgh. I spent my boyhood there. I was educated at the University, and I graduated there. I owe much to the old City, and my proudest ambition would be that I should have the honour of representing its Citizens in Parliament.

The circumstances of this election are exceptional. All other questions are overshadowed by that prolonged and terrible war which has called for such national sacrifices, and plunged so many of us into mourning. Now at last we have won our way through many struggles to success and we will prove whether the wisdom of our people can secure that which the valour of our soldiers has gained, or whether at this last hour a great political mistake is to impair the results of our victory. That is the issue before the Electors.

At the outset of this war, I took upon myself the task of writing a history of it. This compelled me to examine the evidence with care, and I became deeply convinced of the Justice and Necessity of the struggle. There came a time of stress when each felt called upon to do what he could to help. I found myself in South Africa. My duties led me both to Bloemfontein and to Pretoria. I heard from their own lips the views of British loyalists, of Africanders, of Boers of every shade of opinion, of British officers, and of British officials. I returned with strong convictions as to the situation. The chief Of these is that a final and satisfactory settlement can only be hoped for by strong national support for the Government, which has amid many difficult carried the war to a successful conclusion. Any appearance of vacillation or change of purpose must encourage our enemies, dishearten our own people, and alienate the great Colonies which have stood by us so loyally in the struggle. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have given their gold and their blood to the Cause. Will you not give your votes and your work? The soldiers have done their part. It is our turn to do ours. It is not possible that in a struggle where Scottish troops have fought so heroically, the Electors of the Central Division of the Scottish Capital will be lukewarm or hostile.

Gentlemen, many have made sacrifices of home, of comfort, of life itself, in this war. I ask you also to make one. It is to sacrifice the other questions which may be dear to you in the face of this great question, which is essential and urgent. For the sake of your special interest in any one domestic subject, be it Temperance or Education or religion, do not give a vote which may weaken your country in the one paramount problem which has to be solved. How can you place the settlement of this question in the hands of a party, half of whom blame the Government for not having made war more vigorously, while the other half attack it for having made war at all?

My views upon Social questions will always be in favour of freedom, tolerance, and progress, following the lines marked out in the past by the great Whig party which was so long associated with Edinburgh. If I am returned upon a question of patriotism, I shall feel pledged to oppose all narrow or reactionary legislation, and to keep the interests of all my Constituents before my mind.

Hoping that you will vote upon broad national grounds, unprejudiced by other issues,


Your obedient Servant,


Dunard, Grange Loan, Edinburgh, Sept. 24, 1900