[Those curious about the history of the Victorian Web (which began before the WWW in another hypermedia environment) might be interested to learn that this document was one of the very first written specifically for what became this site by someone outside Brown University. (The materials on public health that Professor Wohl also contributed came from his previously published book [GPL].]

Victorian thinkers generally agreed that if without religion no true civilization was possible, the same might be said for property. The fact that for Mayhew and his readers thousands lived a roving life without any real property accumulation and displaying "looseness" in their "notions as to property" meant these members of the lower orders were uncivilized. The parliamentary debates on the 1832 Reform Act, for example, associated property with civilization, the lack of it with savage existence. No one expressed this view more powerfully than Macaulay, who emphasized that in enfranchising property Parliament was giving political recognition to "that great institution for the sake of which chiefly all other institutions exist, that great institution to which we owe all knowledge, all commerce, all industry, all civilization, all that makes us differ from the tattooed savages of the Pacific ocean."


Victorian Overview Victorian History Race & Class Race & Class Bibliography

Last modified 1990