previous next

Another recent event illustrates clearly, to Americans at least, this baseless and now meaningless institution, which nevertheless so dazzles many. The claims to the Lauderdale peerage, in regard to which several of our own lawyers have been summoned to testify, rests wholly on the question whether the heir to a certain English title was legally married in New York at the close of the last century to a woman who had borne him several children without marriage. If the final union was legal, it legalized these children; and Major Maitland, who is descended from one of these, is an English peer; if otherwise, he is not; and on this point Mr. Phelps and Senator Edmunds give opposite opinions. Now it is obvious that this tardy decision cannot affect in the slightest degree the personal qualities, mental, moral, or physical, of Major Maitland. He is what he is, in all these respects, whether he is a lord or not; and yet in one case he is entitled by birth to legislate in what is still called the. “Upper house” of the British Empire, and to have the enormous social precedence implied in a title; while in the other case he loses it. There could hardly be a better reductio ad absurdum of the whole system of hereditary rank.

It is true that the old French theory that the blood of a nobleman was chemically distinct from that of a plebeian has pretty well disappeared from

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Maitland (2)
E. J. Phelps (1)
George F. Edmunds (1)
Americans (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: