Page:Some aspects of the Victorian age.djvu/8

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SOME ASPECTS OF

cally completed before the Queen's death; but Pope, Bolingbroke, Addison, and not a few others, continued to preserve the traditions of the Age of Anne, projecting like a salient into the dull prosaic levels of the early Hanoverian era.

On the other hand, that which we roughly call the Victorian Age, in those of its features which will give it a characteristic and individual place in history, was over some time—a decade at least—before the end of the great Queen s reign. Not only had its dominating personalities, with one or two exceptions, disappeared; but the transformation, subtle, at first almost imperceptible, of which we are still witnessing the development, had already set in; and a new chapter (perhaps one might say a new volume) had been opened in the story of our national life.

It is of some aspects of the Victorian Age—in this limited sense—that I propose to speak to-day. I say purposely of 'some aspects '; for not only would anything in the nature of an exhaustive review be impossible within the confines of an hour, but the terms of the Trust under which this Lecture is given exclude by implication from permissible subjects the two great controversial domains of politics and theology; each of which absorbed a large part of the energies of the Victorians, great and small; and which together will supply—unless and until the current estimates of what is relatively important in the life of communities are revised—the most copious material to the future historian of the time.

Within the area as so circumscribed, the first and most obvious thing to arrest the attention, in any survey