Wednesday, June 29, 2005

One hundred and fifty years ago

The lead editorial of the first edition of The Daily Telegraph and Courier, 29 June 1855 (reprinted in today's Daily Telegraph):

The gradual improvement in the moral and intellectual condition of the great masses of people of this country, within the last half century, may be ascribed to the more general diffusion of knowledge and the extension of education among the lower classes. Beacons of hope have arisen in all parts of the kingdom, shedding the light of knowledge upon the aspirations of free-born reflecting men. The people, when once enabled to avail themselves of this boom, turned their thoughts upon analyzing the laws by which they were governed.

No longer kept in an ignorant state of serfdom, they were capable of reasoning, and the result of thought was a loud and determined, though constitutional resistance to that by which they had hitherto been oppressed. Step by step they manfully fought for that which was dearer than life – the altars of a free people. Their path to freedom had been cleared when the enslaving dominion of a foreign potentiate was hurled forth from these shores, when the lazy sanctuaries of bigoted priesthood were razed to the ground and a line of sovereigns placed upon the throne of the United Kingdom, whose chief claim to so great an inheritance arose from their acknowledging but one pure faith.

Abuse after abuse was pointed out, and the people insisted upon changes and so surely each wrong was redressed. The Parliament and the Press re-echoed the sentiments of the classes, and the Crown assented to the wishes of the subject.
Where did we go wrong?

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