Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - London by Day and Night, by David W.Bartlett, 1852 - Chapter 9 - The Aristocracy

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CHAPTER IX.

THE ARISTOCRACY.

    THE aristocracy of England boast much of their descent from the Normans. The Normans were rapacious conquer. ors, and destitute of anything like Christian morality. They were moreover descended from the Danes, a barbarous race of people. The history of England shows clearly that whatever in that country is good and noble, has been earned by the common people. The civil and religious liberties of the nation were demanded and obtained by the people ; its glory in arms ; its still more brilliant fame in letters - everything worth preserving has sprung from the people. The aristocracy has been always the deadly enemy of liberty, and has always oppressed, and now oppresses the people. Says that great man, Richard Cobden:-
    "I warn the Aristocracy not to force the people to look into the subject of taxation,-not to force them to see how they have been robbed, plundered, and bamboozled for ages by them."
    Says John Bright, Cobden's coadjutor:-
    "I hope the day will arrive when the English people will throw off the burdens with which they are oppressed by this Aristocracy, and stand forth the bravest, the freest, and the most virtuous people on the face of the earth."
    The people are ground into the earth by taxation, which does not, as it ought, fall upon property. The enormous debt [-189-] of England was incurred by English aristocrats. In 1696 the ministers of William of Orange proposed the bold and iniquitous scheme of borrowing money at ruinous rates of interest, and saddling the debt upon the unborn generations of Britain. The aristocracy to wage war against liberty abroad, in one hundred and fifty years incurred a debt of eight hundred and thirty-four millions pounds sterling! The consequence was that provisions rose in price, that taxation became oppressive, while at the same time the common people were not allowed the privileges of citizenship, which is the case at present. The reader can scarcely imagine the extent of the rapacity of the English nobles. An enormous list of aristocrats are pensioned upon the Government. We will merely give a few samples

Earl Cowper has a hereditary pension of $6,000
Lord Colchester $15,000
Viscount Canning $15,000
Duke of Grafton  $50,000
Duke of Manchester $10,000
Duke of Marlborough $20,000
Duke of Wellington $20,000

    These are not a moiety of the whole number of pensioners Every ex-Ambassador has a pension for life there are legal pensions amounting yearly to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Every ex-Chancellor receives for life $25,000 a year. But perhaps the most iniquitous of all the pensions are those taken out of the Post Office revenue, and given to the heirs of Charles II's bastard children ; the sum annually amounting to $100,000! 
    The Government Offices are monopolized by the aristocracy, and have, as a matter of course, attached to them enormous salaries. The following are only a specimen:-

                                                 Salary
     [-190-] Lord Chancellor  $75,000
    Vice Chancellor $30,000
    Chief Justice, Queen's Bench $40,000
    Chief Clerk, ditto $45,000
    Chief Justice, Common Pleas $40,000
    Lord Chancellor of Ireland $40,000
    Lord Lieutenant of Ireland $100,000
    Governor General of Bengal - $125,000
    Home Secretary . $25,000
    Colonial Secretary - $25,000
    Chief Baron of Exchequer $35,000
    Master of Rolls $35,000

    These are specimens of the salaries attached to Government Offices, all of which are in the hands of the aristocracy.
    And yet the people laid the foundation of English free institutions-and the aristocracy tried to destroy them. The people have earned money, and the aristocracy have spent it. The people planted America, and the aristocracy lost it. The people pay the interest upon the National Debt, and the aristocracy invented it!

THE NOBLES.

    The English Aristocracy is, however, in point of morality and virtue, superior to that of any country in Europe. There can be no doubt of this we think. Not by any means are all of its members virtuous, but the general tone of aristocratic society in England is higher than on the continent. There are cases of notoriety where a worse than French morality is openly professed, but they are exceptions. The majority of English noblemen are quite respectable in their outward con duct, and some of them are worthy of being held up as mod-[-191-]els of true gentlemen the world over. But when you have given the class credit for common morality, you are done. They are not philanthropists, they are not workers--in fact they do nothing which is good, their great aim being pleasure. As a body they stand aloof from the rest of the world, superior to the vulgar herd in their own estimation, and are enormous consumers, hut no producers.
    Generally speaking, the members of the aristocracy are finely educated, have a cultivated love for the fine arts, and patronize men of genius. In this manner they, without intending it, do some good, for they give to learning and genius an importance which they would lack, in the eyes of the world, without their patronage. But they never use their own talents to any purpose-if they are blessed with any, which is not often the case. It is intensely disagreeable for a nobleman to work - to accomplish anything. Of course we speak of hereditary nobles - not of those who have earned their titles. Still a certain kind of good results from thus inactivity on the part of the nobles. It being entirely out of character for them to work, to trade, to paint, to write, or act as philanthropists as a natural result they devote their energies to themselves, and their homes. They employ the finest architects to build castles in which to dwell have created the most beautiful parks ; purchase paintings and statuary study constantly how they may beautify and improve their homes. Selfishness is at the root of it all, but notwithstanding that, a benefit of a certain kind accrues to the country and people. It begets a love for the beautiful, seduces the national mind away from its devotion to cold trade and commerce. But the good by no means compensates for the evil produced by the same class, and such an aristocracy is a dear one for any country.
    The nobles as a class are noted for generosity, and yet there are exceptions, one of which we will mention. 
   [-192-] There is a certain Duke in England who is notorious for his parsimony. A more selfish man does not exist. Often when at his country-seat, with his own hands he sells milk to the country-people, and on a certain occasion received a pungent rebuke from a little girl. One morning the daughter of poor parents, a young girl, came for a penny's worth of milk, and the Duke, being in his dairy-house, measured out a small quantity into the little girl's cup, saying
    "You can tell the world as long as you live, that a Duke once measured out for you a cup of milk!"
    "Yes," answered the innocent girl, looking wistfully at the copper coin which the Duke had received from her, and which now lay in his palm,
    " Yes-but you took the penny !"

     There are cases of open libertinism among the nobility, which would shock the reader - but still the general outward conduct of the English nobles is good. The women are however far superior to the men in virtue, beauty, and sympathy for the poor. Some of the ladies among the aristocracy, while in Paris, imitate the French women, and have their train of lovers, but it is foreign to the nature of an English woman to carry on an intrigue, and when she attempts it she generally fails. It constitutes the life of many French ladies, and their expertness in concealing secret love from the eyes of a careful mother or a jealous husband is surprising but he English woman, though she lacked principle, has not the exquisite tact of the Parisian.
    The women among the nobility are distinguished for their beauty, and with good reason. In many instances, however, their beauty is more masculine than that of the American women.
    We once met in an anteroom of the Italian Opera House [-193-] one of the most distinguished beauties of England. Said our friend in a whisper:
    "Do you see the lady yonder arranging a shawl - and the gentleman at her side ?"
    "Yes."
    "They are Lord and Lady H- !"
    You must be mistaken," we replied, "that woman cannot be Lady H-." But our friend was correct. We had often heard much of her beauty, and indeed she was beautiful, but there was no spirituality in her features, no intellect, but a rough, sensual beauty. Such is the case with some of the English female aristocracy, but as a class, in beauty we think they are peerless. At least as an aristocratic class of females they are so. There is an exquisite dignity in their manners one rarely sees out of England, and they have the art of preserving their beauty to old age. This is a striking characteristic of the female beauty of England - it does not decay until old age. Beautiful women at fifty years of age are no uncommon sight in London.
    The Duchess of Sutherland is, though old, yet a very beautiful woman. We saw her one day in a carriage with the Queen, and could hardly believe that there is a wide difference in years between them, which is the fact. For many years she was considered the most beautiful woman at court.
    There are several women whose names we might mention, who are noted for their great beauty, among the English female aristocracy, but we are not attempting to sketch the belles of London.
    Aristocracy in England is much more dignified than that of America - for it is useless denying that we have an aristocracy. Ours is as yet puny, young and not oppressive. The English aristocracy has at least an excuse for existence, as it ii incorporated with the Constitution, and if it be more highly [-194-] intellectual than ours, it is a thousand times more cruel in its exactions.
    Aristocracy in America is a plaything yet. - the great people laugh at it, knowing that real power is theirs in all political matters. Feeling thus, they care little about the pretensions of any family, or clique of families. There is no throne to endanger - no manner in which any such family or families can endanger the liberties of the land, for a band of shoemakers in a country-village are their equals in the eye of the law. A sorry sight it is when the aristocracy of the land, instead of being the plaything of the people, make a plaything of the people, eating out their incomes, starving them by terrible taxation, and stealing away their political rights. Such is the case, to a degree, in England.
    But there are men among the English nobility who are worthy of honor. The Earl of Carlisle is such a man, and his noble qualities are such, that we shall venture to draw his portrait on another page.
    Lord Ashley is widely known for his untiring philanthropy. Though a bigoted man in some respects, he is devotedly pious, and is constantly engaged in some good work. He is known extensively for his devotion to the cause of Ragged-Schools. Himself and lady are in high repute with the Queen. In looks Lord Ashley is Norman; he is a fair speaker, and has enthusiasm, a quality which the English nobles generally eschew. Not a shade of enthusiasm is ever perceptible in the oratory displayed in the House of Lords. Anything approaching to it is considered decidedly vulgar.
    The Earl of Arundel and Surrey is a devoted Christian, though a Roman Catholic, and compares favorably with many of the nobles who profess Protestantism. His devotion to his religion amounts almost to fanaticism.
    Lord Dudley Stuart is an ardent liberalist, and is chiefly known for his devotion to the cause of Poland. He was the [-195-] champion of Kossuth before he landed in England and is also now. He is a firm friend to liberty, and is an unpleasant thorn in the side of my Lord Palmerston, the Foreign Secretary. He is a member of Parliament, and is much respected.
    Sir William Molesworth is a thorough radical, and there are others among the titled class who are like him. It is because of such men that the nobles are held in such esteem in England. Were they openly to profess immoral principles, like some of tire nobles of Europe, and were they in conduct to become corrupt, they could not stand a year. Indeed, as it is, their position is far from being a stable one. Gradually the people are attacking their privileges, and they thus far have had the good sense to bow quietly before the will of the nation. Had they, in the days of the Reform Bill Agitation, or Anti-Corn Law excitement, remained firm, they would have been swept away by Revolution. The spirit of the age is against such a class - against its unjust usurpations of power.
    A member of the humble classes of society cannot gain admittance into noble society. Any man of business, of trade, unless a great and exceedingly wealthy man, and worth his millions, cannot enter the drawing-rooms of the nobility. An author of talent can go there ; so can a man of political importance, or your millionaire, if refined and educated, but no common man of business. Still every young man can hope to rise above his present position, amid if successful, he can relinquish his business, and with a million of dollars set up for a gentleman, if he possesses refinement, and then he can walk into. Lord Addlehead's parlor.
    A friend of ours, an English merchant, one day pointed out to us one of the wealthiest men in London, as a person who was once his father's boot-black He rose from his humble calling first to be a clerk; then he amassed a small property by close economy, and at an early age began. to speculate in [-196-] the Stocks. In a few years he became immensely rich, retired from business, and set up for a gentleman. He was by nature polite and intelligent, and soon married the daughter of a reduced baronet, a woman very celebrated for her beauty. He was now welcome to the best of society, but through the extravagant conduct of his wife he was nearly ruined. Such was her desperate fondness for a gay life, that only a few nights after a confinement she went to the theatre - and died two days after. After her death, the husband once more repaired to the Stock Exchange, to repair his damaged fortune. The first day he netted $45,000! After winning a second fortune, larger than the first, he again retired from business, and entered high society.
    But though there are occasionally such cases in England, the pressure is downward, and the majority of enterprising minds are crushed to the earth. The tendency of the monarchical and aristocratical system is to keep the masses degraded, to isolate a few from all the rest, to crush talent and genius among the multitude. Literary men do not have the position that they deserve, though they are honored, perhaps more than any other class of men who are mere commoners.

EARL OF CARLISLE

    There are really so few lovable characters among the English nobility, that we plead no excuse for devoting a short space to the Earl of Carlisle, who is truly worthy of honor and renown, for his admirable qualities. Such a man, whether he springs from a hamlet or palace, whether his name is simple or garnished with lofty-sounding titles, deserves to be held up for the imitation of the world. Such men, we have observed, whatever their social position, are not proud. Believing in the worth of the soul, in the dig-[-197-]nity of simple manhood, they cannot be proud of mere titles, or garters.
    The Earl of Carlisle sits in the House of Lords, and is well known as an advocate of Liberalism. He was formerly (and is even now better known as) Lord Morpeth, until at the death of his father, when he became a peer of the realm through hereditary right, and took his seat in the House of Lords. He belongs to one of the noblest families in the kingdom, that of the Howards, whose blood, according to English notions, is perhaps the purest and gentlest in the land. He is also connected by marriage with the lenses of Rutland, Caudor, Durham, and Stafford. Among the aristocracy of England no one stands higher than the Earl of Carlisle, and at the same time he is universally popular with the middle and lower classes. There is a genial love for him everywhere, principally because of his mild and philanthropic disposition. As a matter of course his advocacy of liberal sentiments makes him popular with the people, and perhaps slightly disliked among the worst portion of the nobility. He is a friend of authors and artists, and in society does not exhibit any of that odious exclusiveness which disgraces so many of the English aristocrats.
    He seems to be above no man of real goodness or genius and in a thousand ways has testified his love of humanity. In a public speech he once happily spoke of Charles Dickens,
    "That bright and genial nature, the master of our sunniest smiles, and our most unselfish tears, whom, as it is impossible to read without the most ready and pliant sympathy, it is impossible to know (I at least have found it so) without a depth of respect and a warmth of affection which a singular union of rare qualities alike command."
    For many years Lord Morpeth (or the Earl of Carlisle) sat in Parliament for the West Riding, the largest and most hon-[-198-]orable constituency in England, but in 1841, strangely, he was defeated, to the great sorrow of the whole nation. A plenty of other places were open to him, but he refused to sit for any of them, and made a tour to America, where he made many admirers and friends both at the South and North. In Washington circles he will long be remembered.
    On the death of Lord Wharncliffe a vacancy occurred in the West Riding, and Lord Morpeth was returned to Parliament without the opposition of a single voter. Richard Cobden, the great champion of Free Trade, sits in the House of Commons for the West Riding at present, Lord Morpeth being in the House of Lords, having assumed the titles of his late father, the Earl of Carlisle.
    Through his whole political life he has been identified with the Liberal-Whig party, early giving in his adhesion to Cobden's Free Trade movement. Since 1846 he has been a member of the Russell Ministry, and is well known as an energetic friend of all sanitary reforms. His philanthropy is unquestionable, as he is very zealous in endeavoring to better the condition of the laboring population of Great Britain. When a man is zealous for freedom's cause abroad, but not at his own doors, one may well doubt his sincerity, but the Earl of Carlisle is anxious to improve the condition of his fellow-men in England. He does not hesitate to deliver lectures before common Mechanics' Institutes, and aids all educational schemes. He is a man of talent, and a very eloquent speaker, and can make himself acceptable to common men, and also to the best educated me,. for his best speeches are noted for the classical purity of their style.
    At a great dinner, given by the Mayor of London, before the Crystal Palace was built, and in honor of the (then) proposed project, the Earl of Carlisle, when called on for a toast, gave "The working-men of the United Kingdom" in connection with the great Exhibition of the Industry of the World, [-199-] and made a most eloquent speech in honor of those men who are the true glory of any land.
    We have often heard radicals in London who detest the aristocracy root and branch, speak enthusiastically in his praise as an exception to the rest. He is indeed an extraordinary man. It is extraordinary in Europe to find a man born to the highest titles, yet a simple-hearted philanthropist. Such a man stands out in bold relief from the great mass of the selfish English noblemen, and teaches us how much good they might accomplish if they were so disposed.
    The personal appearance of the Earl of Carlisle is good. When the stranger looks down upon him from the gallery in the gorgeous House of Lords, he at once selects him from among his peers, by his appearance, as the noblest of them all. He has a fine, full forehead ; full, pleasant face ; rich lips; and a mild pair of eyes. His hair is generally carelessly disposed, giving him an artless look, which is captivating. His dress is generally rich, but at the same time plain. It is vulgar in England to dress showily. The passion for gaudy dress, which possesses so many people, is entirely condemned among the nobles of England. Plainness of attire is proverbial in such circles.
    When speaking the Earl does not use much gesticulation, but what he does is graceful and true to nature.
    Since his return to England from America, he has in two or three public lectures stated some of his opinions of our country, its men, amid institutions, and they show his thorough liberality of sentiment. He is far more just towards us than many profound English radicals. He speaks fairly of our voluntaryism in religion, and of universal suffrage. In speaking of public men, he calls Henry Clay the most fascinating public man he ever knew, save Mr. Canning; Mr. Legar? of South Carolina (who died a few years since), he thinks was one of the best classical scholars in America. and John Quincy [-200-] Adams "was truly an 'old man eloquent!'" Congress he characterizes as "disorderly," at times, and as he witnessed some exciting scenes while in Washington, that is not to be wondered at.
    As a whole, the Earl of Carlisle is a man whose character is an honor to any country, and especially so to fine order to which he belongs. If there were more such men among the aristocracies of Europe, there would be no danger of bloody revolutions, for Revolution is the daughter of Oppression.

LORD BROUGHAM.

    Perhaps there is no man in England about whom there is such a strong curiosity among strangers as Lord Brougham. His reputation has been so great and wide, his connection with political matters so notorious, that when the foreigner enters the House of Lords he first asks for Brougham. But when he is pointed out, when you gaze upon the man, you are wofully disappointed. What! -that man the Ex-Chancellor Brougham, upon whose face, lips, nose, cheeks, and chin seem all crowded together ? That man who cannot sit still for five consecutive minutes ; who jumps up continually with interruptions of the speaker ; who has a painful, nervous twitching of the face; the man, in short, who impresses you with the idea of some harmless lunatic ? Yes- that certainly is the wreck of the great Brougham. For we believe that none of his best friends contend that he mow possesses all the faculties which he once possessed. Age has rusted out some of them, and there are people who believe the man insane. We presume not, however. He is certainly very erratic, incomprehensible, without Christian principles, and yet a great genius still. He is the wonder of the nation, though the nation no longer loves him, no longer is charmed with his siren eloquence. But because of great services he [-201-] once rendered, because he once sunk upon his knees in the House of Lords, and, in tones of wondrous magic, plead for the cause of freedom ; because he once dared to say therein reference to the influence of the Queen over the mind of the King - those remarkable and daring words "She has done it all!" - the people of England, though he has deserted them, will not entirely forget him.
    There was perhaps never a commoner in England, with more ambition than Harry Brougham. He asked place and power with the utmost sang froid. The Government wished his services, amid offered him as respectable a post as they thought it wise and proper to give a mere commoner. He replied to the offer of the Premier, that he would not take such an office.
    "What do you wish ?" was the question of the surprised Minister.
    "Nothing or the Lord Chancellorship!" was the reply. This was one of the highest offices in the kingdom, and the occupant must by virtue of his office become the Speaker of the House of Lords. and of course a peer of the realm. But Brougham was a mere commoner.
    "You are not a peer," said the Prime Minister.
    "I know that," was Brougham's laconic reply.
    Before night he was made not only a peer, but Lord Chancellor. The Government could not afford to lose him, as he was the great idol of the people, and so it bribed him over to the cause of the aristocracy. Only a few days before at a great public meeting, Brougham denied a rumor that he was to be made a peer, and told the people never to believe that he would desert them until they saw it. They did see it, and will never forget the base desertion. Ever since, he has been detested by the masses of the nation. and it would seem as if then, he lost his greatest powers, for since he has been a peevish, erratic old man - and yet at times, his mighty genius [-202-] will break forth, and astonish the nation. Perhaps this age can boast no other man who has the varied acquirements of Brougham. He has been one of the world's greatest orators; is a great lawyer; a severe student of the physical sciences and a skilful political economist.
    Mr. Brougham was born in Scotland, and was admitted to the Scottish Bar in the year 1800. In 1820 he was appointed Attorney-General to the unfortunate Queen Caroline, and made a speech which lasted two days, in her defence, so eloquent, so masterly, that Lord Liverpool abandoned the prosecution against her Majesty. For many years, plain Henry Brougham sat in the House of Commons. He was elected Lord Rector of the Glasgow University by the casting vote of Sir James Macintosh, in opposition to Sir Walter Scott, the great poet and novelist. He now enjoys a pension of $25,000 a year as retired Chancellor ; is a Privy Councillor; President of the London University ; ad an member of the National Institute of France, where at Cannes he has a country-seat.
    He is a strange character. Just after the French Revolution of 1848, he applied to the French Government, to be made a citizen of the republic, and yet all the while a member of the House of Lords in England ! All Europe was in laughter at his foolery. Yet it was a fair sample of the man. He seems insane upon some points. He sometimes dresses foppishly, and then again as carelessly as any mechanic in the streets. Yet he is not demented - he possesses a violent love for eccentricity and originality. He has before now attacked himself in one newspaper, and defended himself in another! A thousand singular stories are current in London society respecting him.; some invalidating his reputation for intellect, and others his morality. Enough of them are true to give countenance to the rest, and thus he is obliged to shoulder a greater amount of obloquy than he in reality deserves

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