Page:Some aspects of the Victorian age.djvu/20

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SOME ASPECTS OF

It is certainly not easy to say how far the philosophic developments, which went on in England during the Victorian Age, tinged or biased the thoughts of the average man. I may say nothing to-day about the religious aspect of the matter. The rise and fall of Tractarianism; the fears and the hopes aroused by the Roman Catholic propaganda and the so-called Papal Aggression; the powerful influence of that remarkable set of personalities who were rather crudely grouped as the 'Broad Church'; the sway of the Preachers, such as Robertson at one extreme, and Spurgeon at the other (for the Victorians were a Church-going and Chapel-going people): all these are topics which an historian of the Age will have to sort into their due proportions and perspective.

We are free, however, to indicate the general speculative tendencies which were at work, and, incidentally, to form a rough estimate of their place in the history of Thought. During the first twenty-five years of the Queen's reign, Utilitarianism (to borrow an apt phrase from Mr. Chesterton) was the 'philosophy in office'—Utilitarianism, not in the crude and aggressive dogmatic setting of Bentham and the elder Mill, but with its rough edges smoothed, its corners rounded, and its Hedonism refined and sublimated, by John Stuart Mill. The younger Mill may, indeed, be styled Purveyor-general of Thought for the early Victorians. He supplied their men of science with Logic, and their men of business with Political Economy; and such men of pure thought as there were, for the most part, sat for a generation at his feet. Even when I came up to Oxford in 1870 his influence was still predominant,