Classic History Books


Great Britain and Her Queen - by Anne E. Keeling

the complications with the Transvaal since the discovery of gold there may be regarded as
counterbalancing the material advantages secured. Ceylon has a happier record, having more than

regained her imperilled prosperity through the successful enterprise of her settlers in cultivating the fine

tea which has almost displaced China tea in the British market, Ceylon exporting 100,000,000 lbs. in

1895 as against 2,000,000 lbs. ten years previously. Canada also now takes rank as a great maritime state,

and the fortunes of Australia, though much shaken a few years ago by a great financial crisis, are again

brilliant; in the world of social progress and democracy it is still the colonial marvel of our times.

The last census, taken in 1891, in Great Britain and Ireland showed a vast increase of population,
sixty-two towns in England and Wales returning more than 50,000 inhabitants, and the total population

of the United Kingdom being 38,104,975. Alarmists warned us that, with the ratio of increase shown,

neither food nor place would soon be found for our people; and a great impetus being given to

emigration, our colonies benefited. But despite such alarms, articles of luxury were in greater demand

than ever, the tobacco duty reaching in 1892 the sum of L10,135,666, half a million, more than in the

previous year; and the consumption of tea and spirits increased in due proportion. The same year saw

great improvements in sanitation put into practice as the result of an alarm of cholera, that plague

ravaging Hamburg.

Vast engineering works, of which the Manchester Ship Canal is the most familiar instance, have been
carried on. This great waterway, thirty-five miles long, and placing an inland town in touch with the sea,

was begun in 1887 and finished in 1894. Numerous exhibitions, at home and abroad, have stimulated

industrial and aesthetic progress; and science has continued to advance with bewildering rapidity,

developing chiefly in practical directions. The bacteriologist has unveiled much of the mystery of

disease, showing that seed-germs produce it; the photographer comes in aid of surgery, for the discovery

of the X or Roentgen rays, by the German professor whose name is associated with them, now enables

the surgeon to discover foreign bodies lodged within the human frame, and to decide with authority their

position and the means of removing them. Burial reforms, in the interests of health and economy, have

been introduced, and nursing, elevated into a science, has become an honourable profession for cultured

women. In 1894 that eminent savant Lord Rayleigh brought before the British Association his

discovery of a hitherto unknown constituent in the atmosphere. The use of steam as a motive power,

almost contemporaneous with the Queen's reign, has bound our land in a network of railways: now it is

electricity which is being utilised in the same sense, and to the telephone and the telegraph as means of

verbal communication is added the motorcar as a means of rapid progression, 1896 seeing its use in

streets sanctioned by Parliament. It may not yet supersede the bicycle, which in ten years has greatly

increased in favour. Electric lighting, in the same period, has become very general; and further

adaptations of this mysterious force to man's service are in the air.

This is an age of great explorers. Stanley has succeeded to Livingstone, Nansen to Franklin; but it has
been only within comparatively recent years that women have emulated men in penetrating to remote

regions. Within the decade we have seen Mrs. Bishop a veteran traveller, visiting south-west Persia; Mrs.

French Sheldon has shown how far beyond the beaten track a woman's adventurous spirit may lead her;

and Miss Mary Kingsley, a niece of the late Charles Kingsley, has intrepidly explored the interior of

Africa, her scientific observations being welcomed by British savants. In 1896 women, who had

long sought the privilege, were permitted to compete for the diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons,

and in many other walks of usefulness the barriers excluding women have been removed, with benefit to

all concerned. It is not other than natural that under the reign of a noble woman there should arise women

noble-minded as herself, cherishing ideas of life and duty lofty as her own, and that their greatest

 

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