Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The conservatives have been in control of the government for more than a year. The liberals, in planning a return to power, want to get every good man they can muster. Thirty years of age, Phineas Finn had retired from politics two years earlier to marry his childhood sweetheart and settle down in a modest but permanent position in Ireland. He is invited back to resume his political career. His wife had died in the interval, and he had saved enough to permit him to live two or three years without being given an office. The urging of his friends seems to imply that he will not have to wait long for an office, so he agrees to give up his security for the more exciting life of a member of Parliament. He is to run for the borough of Tankerville, which is held by a corrupt conservative named Browborough.
While awaiting the election, Phineas visits Lord Chiltern and Violet, who are happily married. Chiltern has at last found the occupation perfectly suited to his temperament and enthusiasm for hunting—master of the Brake Hounds. Also visiting the Chilterns are Adelaid Palliser and Mr. Maule, a gloomy and idle but rather pleasing young man, who is devoted to and loved by Adelaid.
In the Tankerville election, Phineas campaigns for separation of church and state. Although Browborough wins by seven votes, the seat is to be contested on evidence that Browborough bought votes. In a desperate effort to keep his party in power, the conservative leader...
(The entire section is 1438 words.)
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