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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Politics and History

British Aristocracy

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -

British Aristocracy.In reply to this objection, it may be observed, in vindication of the unenfranchised operatives of this country, that they have constantly before their eyes a most encouraging and magnificent demonstration of power of union and organization to benefit a class. What, sir, is the whole British aristocracy, with its splendid possessions, its gorgeous dwelling, its proud privileges, its enormous social and political influence, but a living and irrefragable proof of the capacity of human beings to improve their circumstances and condition by means of combinations? A grander illustration of the truth of the proverb that “Union is power” than the existence and condition of the English ruling classes, the whole world does not contain. By the efficiency of their combination the nobles of this country, with the monarch at their head, have made themselves owners of the land of the British isles, and reduced the rest of the community – that is, nineteen twentieths of the entire population – to a sate of servitude and dependency upon their power. By means of combination the supremacy over the rest of the people is perpetuated. Then, again, look at the variety of the trades – the innumerable “demands,” and gigantic “supplies,” that have been created and kept up through the instrumentality of the aristocracy and their organizations. The traffic in human flesh, in womanly beauty, in the costly superfluities of life, in religion, in war, in political imposture, and governmental humbug – all of which are maintained for the advantage of the ruling class – is directly traceable to the superior capacity of the ruling classes for combined and simultaneous action. I promised in my last to point out the “reason why” Prince Albert and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the rest of the idle and superfluous classes, are placed above the penury, the anxiety, and the contempt which, are the portion of the Industrious and indispensable classes. This promise I now fulfil. The reason, then, is simply this: Prince Albert and the archbishop belong to a class, or caste, whose members know how to combine and co-operate for the benefit of the whole body – to a class who can “strike” for purpose of aggrandizement – a class that has struck the rest of the community with the heavy remorseless hand of feudal and military power, and which will again “strike a bloody and remorseless blow are it surrenders those magnificent usurpations on which its greatness and splendour are founded. When the working classes of England shall have acquired and practised the capacity for combined, simultaneous, and sustained action which has always characterized their oppressors – then, but not till then, will the shame and the misery, the contempt and the weakness, of their present condition cease to exist.