Thursday, 14 June 2012

Those evil Victorian values

'Watson, we're off to Paris, so remember to bring your revolver'

"A handicap, which we have placed upon youth by expunging the lat remnants of a liberty which took centuries to evolve and which we once knew, is no small part of the charge which justice will lay at the door of the passing generation. Those of us who have passed middle life owe it as a duty to the rest to go on boring them with stories of the world as we knew it. Some day those stories will be remembered, and their value realised. Most young people are totally unaware that the Victorians moved about the world without any form of let or hindrance. Such a thing as a passport was unknown for practical purposes until the war. Travellers in Russia and stranger lands sometimes furnished themselves with a passport - a parchment sheet issues by the Foreign Office on the application of a banker - but even when secured very few of these documents were ever found to be necessary or useful. We walked from ship to quay, or from quay to ship in any port of the world without a question from anybody. No doubt the was on most of the landing stages a police agent on the look out for known criminals, criminals who under a passport system now appear to be the only persons who really succeed in moving freely from country to country.

Modern youth is incapable of understanding the moral indignation and the sense of degradation which afflicts us older people, bred in liberty , as we find ourselves queueing up to pass the iron grid at Dover, and entering even our own country with all the outward appearance of criminals entering gaol."

Sir Ernest J. P Benn - 'Honest Doubt' (1932)


Tarka the Rotter said...

That's a fantastic piece - well done Trooper for finding it and posting it. Sir Ernest sounds like a jolly decent buffer who had lots of fun...

Trooper Thompson said...

He's one of the last of the true liberals, and his work is definitely worth checking out. As I stated on an earlier post, his analysis of Britain in the post WWI period is very relevant to now. All that's happened is that we've travelled further along the road to hell.

There are a couple of his works in the Mises Institute literature section.

James Higham said...

"True liberals", of course, being used in a non-hijacked way.