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gested the need for change. And we will first listen to the Radical. He would find little difficulty in telling us what his change would begin with. He would fix on the barouche, and the county magnate sitting in it; and his aim, he would say, was to make that sort of thing impossible. The park, the country house, and the game-preserve-above all, the territorial influence, and the constant deference paid toit—these are the evils which the average Radical would fix upon; and he would say they formed an incubus that at present stifled society. Let the squire or the peer be impoverished, his footmen discharged, his house shut up, his barouche used as a hencoop, his estate sold in allotments, and his park laid out in building-plots — with the changes implied in this the Radical would be nearly satisfied. Next let us listen to his companion the more extreme and logical Democrat; and we shall find that such a change would by no means satisfy him. It was a right beginning, he would say, but a beginning only. Having done with the park
THE AIM OF MODERN DEMOCRACY.
and the country house, he would turn with even more severity to the large shop and its owner; and just as the Radical would abolish the aristocratic type of existence, so he would abolish that of the middle-class capitalist. Landlord and rich shopkeeper, each, he would say, were robbers, living on the labour of the people. The present status of each must be equally done away with ; and the suburban villa is to be respected no more than the mansion. The Democrat, in a word, would overturn everything; from all
property he would abstract some of their possessions; and what he left them, he would leave them on new conditions. It is indeed hard to imagine any existing arrangement of a household, any existing style of furniture, any existing habits, manners, modes of thought, or amusements, which would be left possible by such a change as he desiderates. Certainly all that hitherto has been connected with high breeding, or with personal culture, would at once be out of the question. The type of character that is born of leisure and study, of
freedom from common cares, of wide commerce with men, of the possession of works of art, and of memories of many lands—for this the democrat would be able to find no place. He might promise us a substitute, of what kind it is doubtful; but it would at any rate be very different from what he had taken away from us.
So under his régime would be everything. We should almost feel that we were living in a different planet.
It is to some such change as this—a change not merely in forms of government, or in particular lines of policy, but in the distribution of property, the relations between class and class, and the daily conditions of the private lives of each of us—that many men think the modern world is hurrying; and there seems to loom before them some vast social catastrophe of a kind new to history.
Nor is it possible to say that their views are without foundation. We are living at a moment of fierce political passions, and of social passions thinly disguised by politics, which on the surface connect themselves with many distinct questions, and do in their origin really depend on several. But let us study them where we will, in whatever country and whatever rank of life, and it is sufficiently plain that there is one idea behind all of them. It is an idea which, though it connects itself with national and constitutional movements, does this by the way only; and it rather hides than expresses itself in the local disputes it animates. Its main concern is with a question which, though far more complex in fact, yet appears to be far more simple; and which, partly in virtue of this appearance, appeals to the emotions with far greater directness. That question is the existing structure of society; or, to speak with more precision, its chief structural feature. I refer to its inequalities ; partly to those of nominal rank and authority, but principally to those of private life and circumstance. Above are the few who, without manual labour, command, at will, the manual labour of the many. Below are the many whose labour is thus commanded, and who never themselves taste any of the choicer fruits of it. The consequence is that though in the scale of classes there may at no special point be any distinct break, yet life at one extreme and life at the other are practically two wholly different things. Such is the arrangement with which we are all at present familiar. It is common to every civilised country, and is implied more or less in the daily life of all of us. It is precisely on this arrangement that modern thought is fixing itself; and for the first time in history it is being offered to our practical judgment as an arrangement that can, and consequently must, be altered.
Before our own epoch, the professed party of progress aimed only at equality in political rights; not at equality in the conditions of private life. The latter had no doubt been dreamed about by a few visionary philosophers; but so little was it contemplated by the common sense of men, that, amidst the wildest excesses of the first French Revolution, • landed and other property' was declared “ to be for ever sacred.' That Revolution attacked the power, but not the riches, of the aris