DISRAELI, LORD BEACONSFIELD (1804-81). 1844. Coningsby (political life and the ‘Young England’ policy). 1845. Sybil (the claims of the people). 1847. Tancred (the Church and the State).
EBENEZER ELLIOTT (1781-1849). 1828. Corn Law Rhymes (the poet of the workers and of sorrow).
ELIZABETH CLEGHORN GASKELL (1810-65). 1848. Mary Barton (Industrial Lancashire during the crisis of 1842). 1855. North and South (the struggle between Master and Man).
CHARLES KINGSLEY (1819-75). 1848. Yeast (the hard lives of the agricultural labourers). 1850. Alton Locke (life and labour of the city poor).
[Footnote 7: The Prince Consort was a great admirer of the works of Charles Kingsley, which, he said, in speaking of Two Years Ago, showed “profound knowledge of human nature, and insight into the relations between man, his actions, his destiny, and God.” The Queen was also one of his admirers, and in 1859 she appointed him one of her chaplains. Later on he delivered a series of lectures on history to the Prince of Wales.]
CHARLES READE (1814-84). 1856. It is Never too Late to Mend (life in an English prison). 1863. Hard Cash (an exposure of bad administration of lunatic asylums).
JOHN RUSKIN (1819-1900). 1859. The Two Paths. 1862. Unto this Last. 1871. Fors Clavigera. (In the last-named book Ruskin describes the scheme of his St George’s Guild, an attempt to restore happiness to England by allying art and science with commercial industry.)
CHAPTER VII: The Children of England
“From the folding of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. . . . They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. . . . ‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ’And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.’"
[Footnote 8: Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.]
In surveying the long reign of Queen Victoria nothing strikes one more than the gradual growth of interest in children, and the many changes in the nation’s ideas of their upbringing and education. At the beginning of her reign the little children of the poor were for the most part slaves, and were often punished more cruelly by their taskmasters than the slaves one reads of in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
When Disraeli, afterward Lord Beaconsfield and Prime Minister, wrote Sybil, he drew, in that book, a terrible picture of the life of children in the manufacturing districts and in the country villages. The following extract speaks for itself: