Page:Some aspects of the Victorian age.djvu/11

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7
THE VICTORIAN AGE

ever of being forgotten, now that they have been re-created for the English readers of the future (not in a spirit of blind hero-worship) by Mr. Strachey's subtle and suggestive art. But men and women of action tend to gravitate in the direction either of politics or religion; the two fields which are fenced off from us here to-day. So let me for the moment leave them out of the account.

In the intellectual sphere it will be found that most of the great names of the Victorian Age are those of men and women born in the ten years between 1809 and 1819. Carlyle, Macaulay, Disraeli, J. S. Mill are all a little earlier, and Herbert Spencer, Matthew Arnold, Millais, George Meredith a little later. But the Calendar of those ten years is worth recounting:

In 1809 Darwin, Gladstone, Tennyson.[1]
 „ 1811 Thackeray.
 „ 1812 Dickens, Robert Browning.
 „ 1816 Charlotte Brontë.
 „ 1819 (the birth year of Queen Victoria herself) George Eliot, Charles Kingsley, Ruskin.

I have included Disraeli and Gladstone not because, but in spite, of their being politicians.

At the Queen's accession the eldest of these was twenty-eight and the youngest eighteen. That year (1837) the opening scene of the Victorian Drama fitly heralded the future; for in it were given to the English world two immortal works, opposite as the poles in character, but each disclosing for the first time the real genius of its author: Dickens's 'Pickwick Papers', and Carlyle's 'French Revolution'. During the decade

  1. In America, Lincoln and Poe.