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Social Transformations of the Victorian Age
A Survey of Court and Country

written by "Escott, T. H. S. (Thomas Hay Sweet), 1844-1924"
... generally goes by local interest. The latter depends usually on political service, on personal merit, or individual achievement. That distinction was unknown before the present generation. Macaulay, a great writer and the best informed man of his day, received a peerage. His personal claims to the honour were admitted by reason of his place in the party which from 1832 he had continuously served in Parliament. His pretensions to a peerage were emphasized by his services as a State official. He had occupied Cabinet rank; he had been Secretary at War when that office was equivalent to a Secretaryship of State. No coronet was ever given to literary genius alone before that conferred upon Lord Tennyson. The younger Pitt is reported to have said that any man with £40,000 a year had a right to a seat in the House of Lords. Some of his creations notably that of Lord Carrington gave effect to that opinion. These peerages, however, did but foreshadow faintly the elevations of men actually engaged in commerce as in the case of Lord Armstrong, vicariously through his widow in that of Mr W. H. Smith, and many more. The press, too, is not less representative than the House of Commons. Nor in all probability is Lord Glenesk the last representative of journalism, as he has been the first to receive a seat in the Hereditary legislature. Under any circumstances, the well placed English newspaper is likely to be not less expository of public opinion than any body of gentlemen, by whatever mode elected,[Pg 266] sitting at Westminster. Special tendencies of the time make the press an exceptionally lifelike measure of the thoughts and wishes in every department of life of every section of the English people. Newspaper proprietorship has in fact become not less a fashion of the day than theatrical lesseeship was a few years since. A number of men agreed on certain points such as the development or exploitation of particular enterprises, are seized wit...

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