Page:Some aspects of the Victorian age.djvu/7

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SOME ASPECTS OF THE VICTORIAN AGE


It is a curious fact in English history that the only Sovereigns who have given their names to an epoch have been three reigning Queens. No one talks of the Age of Edward I, or of Henry VIII, or of George III, though their reigns were all times of great national movement, both in the sphere of action and in the sphere of thought. But the Age of Elizabeth, and the Age of Queen Anne, have passed into the conventional dialect of chronology: and although it is less than twenty years since the death of Queen Victoria, we can feel little doubt that, for generations to come, the historian will speak of the Victorian Age.

If we use the term Age, as we do in this context, in the sense of a particular and defined phase in the development of the nation, its boundaries obviously cannot be measured with the precision of an astronomical calendar. Both the Age of Elizabeth and the Age of Anne survived in point of time the monarchs who have given them their name. Shakespeare and Bacon—the two Elizabethan giants—produced their richest and most memorable work after the accession of James I. The achievements of the three greatest Englishmen in the reign of Anne (as great in their several departments as perhaps any three in English history), Newton, Marlborough, and Wren, were practi-