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PAGE 3

Lord Carlisle On Pope
by [?]

Accordingly, as one of the means most clamorously invoked by our social position for averting some dreadful convulsion constantly brooding over England, he insists upon a closer approximation between our highest classes and our lowest. Especially he seems to think that the peasantry needed to be conciliated by more familiar intercourse, or more open expressions of interest in their concerns, and by domiciliary visits not offered in too oppressive a spirit of condescension. But the close observer of our social condition will differ with Dr. Arnold at starting, as to the facts. The ancient territorial nobility are not those who offend by hauteur. On the contrary, a spirit of parental kindness marks the intercourse of the old authentic aristocracy with their dependants, and especially with the two classes of peasants on their own estates, and their domestic servants. [Footnote 2] Those who really offend on this point, are the nouveaux riches–the parvenus. And yet it would be great injustice to say that even these offend habitually. No laws of classification are so false as those which originate in human scurrility. Aldermen, until very lately, were by an old traditional scurrility so proverbially classed as gluttons and cormorants, hovering over dinner-tables, with no other characteristics whatever, or openings to any redeeming qualities, that men became as seriously perplexed in our days at meeting an eloquent, enlightened, and accomplished alderman, as they would have been by an introduction to a benevolent cut-throat, or a patriotic incendiary. The same thing happened in ancient days. Quite as obstinate as any modern prejudice against a London alderman was the old Attic prejudice against the natives of Boeotia. Originally it had grown up under two causes–first, the animosities incident to neighborhood too close; secondly, the difference of bodily constitution consequent upon a radically different descent. The blood was different; and by a wider difference, perhaps, than that between Celtic and Teutonic. The garrulous Athenian despised the hesitating (but for that reason more reflecting) Boeotian; and this feeling was carried so far, that at last it provoked satire itself to turn round with scorn upon the very prejudice which the spirit of satire had originally kindled. Disgusted with this arrogant assumption of disgust, the Roman satirist reminded the scorners that men not inferior to the greatest of their own had been bred, or might be bred, amongst those whom they scorned:–

‘Summos posse viros, et magna exempla daturos,
Vervecum in patria, crassoque sub are nasci.’

Now, if there is any similar alienation between our lowest classes and our highest, such as Doctor Arnold imagined to exist in England, at least it does not assume any such character of disgust, nor clothe itself in similar expressions of scorn. Practical jealousy, so far as it exists at all, lies between classes much less widely separated. The master manufacturer is sometimes jealous of those amongst his ministerial agents who tread too nearly upon his own traces; he is jealous sometimes of their advances in domestic refinement, he is jealous of their aspirations after a higher education. And on their part, the workmen are apt to regard their masters as having an ultimate interest violently conflicting with their own. In these strata of society there really are symptoms of mutual distrust and hostility. Capital and the aristocracy of wealth is a standing object of suspicion, of fear, and therefore of angry irritation to the working-classes. But as to the aristocracy of rank and high birth, either it is little known to those classes, as happens in the most populous hives of our manufacturing industry, and is regarded, therefore, with no positive feeling of any kind, or else, as in the more exclusively agricultural and pastoral districts, is looked up to by the peasantry with blind feelings of reverence as amongst the immemorial monuments of the past– involved in one common mist of antiquity with the rivers and the hills of the district, with the cathedrals and their own ancestors. A half-religious sentiment of reverence for an old time-out-of-mind family associated with some antique residence, hall, or abbey, or castle, is a well-known affection of the rural mind in England; and if in one half it points to an infirmity not far off from legendary superstition, in the other half it wears the grace of chivalry and legendary romance. Any malignant scoff, therefore, against the peerage of England, such as calling the House of Lords a Hospital of Incurables, has always been a town-bred scurrility, not only never adopted by the simple rural laborer, but not even known to him, or distinctly intelligible supposing it were.