Friday, 19 November 2010

Royal Wedding in the Nineteenth Century

I had intended to keep this a Royal Wedding-free zone, but could not resist reproducing this article from THE COMMONWEAL, Vol. 1, No. 7, August 1886. (Bear in mind that the sums quoted are from the late 19th. century, but the principle of the Royal Family being a drain on the public purse has hardly changed!!)
 The Commonweal was the journal of the Socialist League, and was edited by William Morris, who was also one of its major contributors. I came across this in the course of my research for a paper I'm about to give on Morris.

The author signs him- or herself J.B. - it is not clear who this is, but reader would probably have recognised the identity.


            The marriage is about to take place of a young lady of the Royal Family. The veteran manipulator of the taxes of the country obtained  for her £6,000 a year. It being subsequently discovered, apparently, that the intended husband had no money, £30,000 is proposed to buy their furniture. The couple have never worked, nor want to; they live on the earnings of the people. 
            In a room in Chelsea live a young man, his wife, and their child (an infant). The husband has been out of employment four months and owes rent. On Saturday night came a loud knock, followed by a timid 'Come in'. The landlord appeared. He wanted his rent. The woman answered, she had no money to buy food. "Then go on the streets and get some", replied the property-holder. The husband has sat silent, but this was too much for even a broken-spirited man. He rushed to put the landlord out - was seized; a scuffle ensued. The poor fellow being weak from want of food was easily mastered. "He might have killed me", he said afterwards; "he had me by the throat". His wife wept as she bathed his bruised face, and trembled at the cursings of the retiring landlord. This couple are workers, willing to work when work is obtainable, but compelled to assist to keep the Princes and Princesses in idleness.
        Are there not some things to account for the spread of Socialism?

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