Classic History Books


Great Britain and Her Queen - by Anne E. Keeling

elevation of purpose should tent to raise the moral standard among the men who work with them for the
uplifting of their fellow subjects. Such signs of the times may be noticed now, more evident than even

ten years ago.

The educational progress of the last decade has been very great, especially as regards the instruction of
women; yet the period has not been noticeably fruitful of literature in the highest sense. In the world of

fiction there is much that looks like degeneration; the lighter magazines and serials have multiplied past

computation, and form all the reading of not a few persons. To counteract the unhealthy "modern novel"

has arisen the Scottish school, the "literature of the kailyard," as it has been termed in scorn; yet a purer

air breathes in the pages of J. M. Barrie, "Ian Maclaren," and Crockett. Their many imitators are in some

danger of impairing the vogue of these masters, but still the tendency of the school is wholesome. Other

artists in fiction assume the part of censors of society, and write of its doings with a bitterness that may

or may not profit; the unveiling of cancerous sores is of doubtful advantage to health.

The death-roll from 1887 to 1897 is exceptionally heavy; in every department of science, art, literary and
religious life, the loss has been great. Many musicians have been taken from us since the well-beloved

Jenny Lind Goldschmidt; Canon Sir E. A. Gore Ouseley, Sir G. Macfarren, Principal of the Royal

Academy of Music, Rubinstein, Carrodus, and others.

English letters have suffered by the removal of many whose services in one way or another have been
great: the prose-painter Richard Jefferies; the pure and beneficent Mrs. Craik, better known as Miss

Muloch; Matthew Arnold, poet, educationalist, critic, whose verse should outlive his criticisms; the noble

astronomer Richard Proctor; Gustave Masson, the careful biographer of Milton; Laurence Oliphant,

gifted and eccentric visionary; the naturalist J. G. Wood; the explorer and orientalist Burton; the

historians Kinglake, Froude, and Freeman; the great ecclesiastics Bishop Lightfoot, Canon Liddon,

Archbishop Magee of York, Dean Church, Dean Plumptre, and the Cardinals Newman and Manning;

Tennyson and Browning, poets whose mantle has yet fallen on none; Huxley and Tyndall, eminent in

science; the justly popular preacher and writer Charles H. Spurgeon; the orator and philanthropist John

Bright, whose speeches delight many in book-form; and Robert Louis Stevenson, novelist, essayist, poet.

To these we may add Eliza Cook and Martin Tapper, widely popular a generation ago, and surviving into

our own day; Lord Lytton, known as "Owen Meredith," a literary artist, before he became viceroy of

India and British ambassador at Paris; and Professor Henry Drummond, dead since 1897 began, and

widely known by his "Natural Law in the Spiritual World." Even so our list is far from complete.

Of painters and sculptors we have lost since 1887 Frank Holl; Sir Edgar Boehm, buried in St. Paul's by
express wish of the Queen; Edwin Long; John Pettie; Sir Noel Paton; Sir Frederick Leighton; and Sir J.

E. Millais. The last two illustrious painters were successively Presidents of the Royal Academy, Millais,

who followed Leighton in that office, surviving him but a short time. Sir Frederick had been raised to the

peerage as Lord Leighton only a few days before he died, the patent arriving too late for him to receive it.

The English world is the poorer for these many losses, some of which took place under tragic
circumstances; yet hope may well be cherished that amongst us are those, not yet fully recognised, who

will nobly fill the places of the dead. Some hymn-writer may arise whose note will be as sweet as that of

the much loved singer, Dr. Horatius Bonar, some painter as spiritual and powerful as Paton, some poet as

grandly gifted as the late laureate and his compeer Browning. We do not at once recognise our greatest

while they are with us; therefore we need not think despairingly of our age because the good and the

great pass away, and we see not their place immediately filled. Nor, though there be great and crying

 

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