Page:Some aspects of the Victorian age.djvu/25

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THE VICTORIAN AGE

controverted topic—I will venture only a word. Turner can hardly be said to belong to them: but an Age which produced Millais and the Pre-Raphaelites and Watts, and in a later generation Frederick Walker and Cecil Lawson, can never (to put it at the lowest) be treated as a barren interlude in the annals of the English School of Painting.

I have left to the last a department in which the pre-eminence of the Victorians can hardly be challenged. Faraday, Joule, Kelvin, Lyell are four of the most illustrious names on the roll of English science. The researches of the first three in Chemistry and Physics have not only added enormously to the exactness and the amplitude of those sciences, but were the source and the condition of the vast developments in mechanics, and the application of electricity, which have transformed the face of the world and the habits of mankind. A catalogue of the great Victorian men of Science, and of their achievements, would include W. K. Clifford and F. M. Balfour: whose early deaths were declared by Huxley to be the greatest loss in his time to that department of Thought, not only in England but in the world.

If not actually the most important, certainly the most interesting, intellectual event in the Age was the appearance of Darwin's 'Origin of Species' in 1859. There was nothing new in the conception of Evolution: it had a pedigree which stretched down from Heraclitus to Lamarck. It had even in certain of its aspects been popularized in Great Britain in a once famous book—the 'Vestiges of Creation'—which between 1844, when it was first published, and 1853, ran through nine