Page:The Victorian Age.djvu/56

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[52]

couraged a temper of sentimental brutalism in the English people, and brought us for the first time into danger from a coalition of foreign powers. The second Jubilee was its day of triumph ; the Boer War the beginning of its downfall.

The fusion of social classes proceeded more and more rapidly as the century went on. At the beginning of the reign the territorial oligarchs purchased another lease of power by an alliance with the successful commercial class which, with the Indian Nabobs, had been violently radical until the aristocracy recognised them. The two parties quarrelled about the Corn Laws and Factory Acts, but when these questions were settled, they gradually drew together, while lavish new creations of peers turned the House of Lords into the predominantly middle class body which it is now. Towards the end of the reign the higher gentry began again to go into trade, as they had done until the Georges brought in German ideas, and the way was prepared for the complete destruction of social barriers which the Great War effected. Meanwhile,