"When democracy turns, as it often does, into a corrupt plutocracy, both national decadence and social revolution are being prepared." So wrote the Irish-born historian, W E H Lecky (1838-1903) in this devastating assault on mass democracy. Lecky spoke for the landed gentry and the upper middle classes of late Victorian England when he warned his countrymen that an unfettered democracy would destroy the balance of interests in the community and thereby undermine the Constitution. "A tendency to democracy," said Lecky, "does not mean a tendency to parliamentary government, or even a tendency toward greater liberty." Indeed, the type of democracy emerging in Britain seemed to be the rudiment of socialism.