Page:The Victorian Age.djvu/57

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[53]

there were ominous signs that our civilisation, like others in the past, might be poisoned by the noxious by-products of its own activities. Parasitism at both ends of the scale, but far most at the lower, became an ever-increasing burden on industry, and symptoms of race-deterioration became apparent to the very few who have eyes for such things. Legislation removed most of the obvious evils in the workmen's lot, but one evil it could not remove, and this became more grievous and more resented every year. The great industry was turning human beings into mere cogs in machines, and as mechanism every year tended to supplant manual skill, the clever craftsman of the past was functionally obsolescent, and a type of workman was evolved who needed no craftsmanship such as an intelligent man could be proud to acquire and happy to exercise. This problem, which threatens the life of our civilisation, was already beginning to loom darkly before the eyes of the late Victorians.

I have no doubt that the Elizabethan and the Victorian Ages will appear to the