Page:The Victorian Age.djvu/55

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[51]

have said that we ought to burn instead of Guy Fawkes. We were unpopular on the Continent just when we thought that all other nations were envying us. They did envy us; but with the underlying conviction that there must be something wrong in a world where the Palmerstonian John Bull comes out top.

The greatness of the age, as I have said, depended on a combination of circumstances in their nature transient. It resembled the short-lived greatness of Venice, Genoa, and Holland. Before the end of the reign society had begun to disintegrate, so that we find antagonistic movements flourishing together. Theoretical socialism reached its zenith; but there was also an outburst of romantic imperialism, of which Sir John Seeley, Regius Professor of History at Cambridge, was one of the founders, Froude and Dilke powerful propagandists, Rudyard Kipling the poet, and Joseph Chamberlain the practical manager. It was a mild attack of the epidemic which afterwards enticed Germany into the Great War, and the worst that can be said of it is that it en-