Underlying all his thought is a deep belief in the “God of our fathers,” a God just to punish or reward, whom the English have reverenced through all their history. Linked with this faith is an intense feeling of patriotism toward that larger England of his imperialistic vision.
These qualities justly brought Kipling the 1907 Nobel prize for idealism in literature. He is truly the idealist of a practical age, teaching the romance, the joy, the vision in the common facts and virtues of present-day life.
The history and literature of the Victorian age show the influence of science. Darwin’s conception of evolution affected all fields of thought. The tendency toward analysis and dissection is a result of scientific influence.
In describing the prose of the Victorian age, we have considered the work of thirteen writers; namely, Macaulay, the brilliant essayist and historian of the material advancement of England; Newman, essayist and theologian, who is noted for clear style, acute thought, and argumentative power; Carlyle, who awoke in his generation a desire for greater achievement, and who championed the spiritual interpretation of life in philosophy and history; Ruskin, the apostle of the beautiful and of more ideal relations in social life; the essayist Pater, whose prose is tinged with poetic color and mystic thought; Arnold, the great analytical critic; Dickens, educational and social reformer, whose novels deal chiefly with the lower classes; Thackeray, whose fiction is not surpassed in keen, satiric analysis of the upper classes of society; George Eliot, whose realistic stories of middle-class life show the influence of science in her conception of character as an orderly ethical growth; Stevenson, an artist in style, writer of romances, essays, and poems for children; Meredith, subtle novelist, distinguished for his comic spirit and portrayal of male egotism; Hardy, realistic novelist of the lowly life of Wessex; Kipling, whose Jungle Books are an original creation, and whose short stories surpass those of all other contemporaries.
In poetry, the age is best represented by five men; namely, Arnold, who voices the feeling of doubt and unrest; Browning, who, by his optimistic philosophy, leads to impregnable heights of faith, who analyzes emotions and notes the development of souls as they struggle against opposition from within and without, until they reach moments of supreme victory or defeat; Tennyson, whose careful art mirrors in beautiful verse much of the thought of the age, the influence of science, the unrest, the desire to know the problems of the future, as well as to steal occasional glances at beauty for its own sake; Swinburne, the greatest artist since Milton in the technique of verse; and Kipling, the poet of imperialistic England, whose ballads sing of her soldiers and sailors, and whose lyrics proclaim the Anglo-Saxon faith and joy in working.