Once again, I bring you startlingly au courant political delineation from Victorian England, specifically from Anthony Trollope’s 1880 novel, The Duke’s Children.
In a conversation the Duke of Omnium, né Plantagenet Palliser, has with his 22-year old heir, Lord Silverbridge, the Duke is troubled that his son will now be running for Parliament not for the Pallisers’ traditional party, the Liberals, but as a Conservative.
The Duke has devoted his life to his Liberal Party and its ideals. (Silverbridge, as you’ll note, is callow.)
As a delicate prompt to thoughts about our own political divisions and heated accusations I’ve bolded some sentences.
Says Silverbridge to his father:
“I’ve got my own ideas. We’ve got to protect our position as well as we can against the Radicals and Communists.”
“I cannot admit that at all, Silverbridge. There is no great political party in this country anxious either for Communism or for revolution. But, putting that aside for the present, do you think that a man’s political opinions should be held in regard to his own individual interests, or to the much wider interests of others, whom we call the public?”
“To his own interest,” said the young man with decision.
“It is simply self-protection then?”
“His own and his class. The people will look after themselves, and we must look after ourselves. We are so few and they are so many, that we shall have quite enough to do.”
Then the Duke gave his son a somewhat lengthy political lecture, which was intended to teach him that the greatest benefit of the greatest number was the object to which all political studies should tend.
“You believe that you must be right, — you, who have never given an hour’s study to the subject!” [said the Duke]
“No, sir. In comparison with a great many men, I know that I am a fool. Perhaps it is because I know that, that I am a Conservative. The Radicals are always saying that a Conservative must be a fool. Then a fool ought to be a Conservative.”