Halleck's New English Literature eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 491 pages of information about Halleck's New English Literature.

The Boer war in South Africa (1899-1902)required the largest number of troops that England ever mustered into service in any of her wars.  The final outcome of this desperate struggle was the further extension of her South African possessions.

In the nineteenth century, England’s most notable political achievement was “her successful rule over colonies, ranging from India, with its 280,000,000 subjects, to Fanning Island with its population of thirty.”  Her tactful guidance was for the must part directed toward enabling them to develop and to govern themselves.  She had learned a valuable lesson from the American revolution.

Ireland, however, failed to secure her share of the benefits that usually resulted from English rule.  She was neither regarded as a colony, like Australia, nor as an integral part of England.  For the greater part of the century her condition was deplorable.  The great prime minister, William E. Gladstone (1809-1898), tried to secure needed home rule for her, but did not succeed.  Toward the end of the century, more liberal laws regarding the tenure of the land and more self-government afforded some relief from unjust conditions.

During the Victorian age the government of England became more democratic.  Two reform bills (1867 and 1884) gave almost unrestricted suffrage to men.  The extension of the franchise and the granting of local self-government to her counties (1888) made England one of the most democratic of all nations.  Her monarch has less power than the president of the United States.

The Victorian age saw the rise of trades unions and the passing of many laws to improve the condition of the working classes.  As the tariff protecting the home grower of wheat had raised the price of bread and caused much suffering to the poor, England not only repealed this duty (1846) but also became practically a free-trade country.  The age won laurels in providing more educational facilities for all, in abridging class privileges, and in showing increasing recognition of human rights, without a bloody revolution such as took place in France.  A rough indication of the amount of social and moral progress is the decrease in the number of convicts in England, from about 50,000 at the accession of Victoria to less than 6000 at her death.

An Age of Science and Invention.—­In the extent and the variety of inventions, in their rapid improvement and utilization for human needs, and in general scientific progress, the sixty-three years of the Victorian age surpassed all the rest of historic time.

When Victoria ascended the throne, the stage coach was the common means of traveling; only two short pieces of railroad had been constructed; the electric telegraph had not been developed; few steamships had crossed the Atlantic.  The modern use of the telephone would then have seemed as improbable as the wildest Arabian Nights’ tale.  Before her reign ended, the railroad, the telegraph, the steamship, and the telephone had wrought an almost magical change in travel and in communication.

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Halleck's New English Literature from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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