Felix Holt (1866) and Middlemarch (1871–72)
Our working classes are eminently inferior to the mass of the French people. In France, the mind of the people is highly electrified — they are full of ideas on social subjects — they really desire social reform — not merely an acting out of Sancho Panza’s favourite proverb ‘Yesterday for you, to-day for me.’ The revolutionary animus extended over the whole nation, and embraced the rural population — not merely as with us, the artisans of the towns. Here there is so much larger a proportion of selfish radicalism and unsatisfied, brute sensuality (in the agricultural and mining districts especially) than of perception or desire of justice, that a revolutionary movement would be simply destructive — not constructive. Besides, it would be put down. Our military have no notion of ‘fraternizing.’ They have the same sort of inveteracy as dogs have for the ill-drest canaille. They are as mere a brute force as a battering ram and the aristocracy have got firm hold of them. Our little humbug of a queen is more endurable than the rest of her race because she calls forth a chivalrous feeling, and there is nothing in our constitution to obstruct the slow progress of political reform. This is all we are fit for at present. The social reform which may prepare us for great changes is more and more the object of effort both in Parliament and out of it. But we English are slow crawlers.
(L, i, 254)
KeywordsPolitical Reform Social Reform Heroic Action Literary Life Title Character
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 3.The Study of Poetry’, Essays in Criticism, second series, ed. R.S. Littlewood ( London: Macmillan, 1960 ), 2.Google Scholar