Escaping the Guillotine

Many years ago I developed a theory that the reason why we in Britain didn’t guillotine our aristocrats in revolutionary times was that they played this clever game of making themselves out to be cuddly and eccentric old half-wits who were not dangerous enough to be worth executing. (I’m sure I put this in an early book, though I can’t now remember which.) But of course this was only a disguise – as we’re learning today with our present batch of recently-surfaced Old Etonians. OK, so these are not echt  aristocrats; but they’ve taken on all the characteristics of the old PG Wodehouse class, in order to lead the rest of us into a sense of false security. Who would believe that such a teddy-bear as Boris, or the Beano’s Lord Snooty-Rees-Mogg, could ever be dangerous? That’s what we were supposed to think. Cunning, these aristos.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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2 Responses to Escaping the Guillotine

  1. Tony says:

    As we wait for another old Etonian to become prime minister, the popularity of Johnson and Rees-Mogg with the Tory faithful shows that social deference lives on in the English Tory Party at least, and I suspect in much of England. But what do you expect in a country that is only a partial democracy, with the great weight of the monarchy and unelected House of Lords looming over it. And the next prime minister is about to be selected by 160,000 members of the Tory Party and the rest of population can accept what they are given.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This ploy has a long history in the aristocracy apparently. Prince Hamlet, for example, affects an antic disposition to fool the king about his murderous intentions.
    “I essentially am not in madness,
    But mad in craft.”
    (III. iv. 187-8.)
    Needless to say, it all ends very badly.

    Liked by 1 person

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