Stress And Strain

Forward, forward let us range,

Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.


The greatest Revolutions are not always those which are accompanied

by riot and bloodshed. England's Revolution was peaceful, but it

worked vast and almost incredible changes.

We find, in the first place, that after the great Napoleonic Wars

and during the 'forty years' peace' a new class, the 'Middle Class,'

came into being. It had, of course, existed before this time, but

it had been unable to make its power felt. The astonishing increase

of trade and consequently of wealth, the application of steam power

with special influence upon land and sea transit, transformed

England into "the Workshop of the World."

By the year 1840 railways were no longer regarded as something in

the nature of an experiment, which might or might not prove

a success; they had, indeed, become an integral part of the social

life of the nation. In 1840 the Railway Regulation Act was passed,

followed in 1844 by the Cheap Trains Act, which required that

passengers must be carried in covered waggons at a charge of not more

than one penny a mile and at a speed of not less than twelve miles

an hour.

From 1844 onward the construction of railways proceeded apace, until

by the year 1874 no less than 16,449 miles had been laid. Ocean

traffic under steam progressed equally rapidly; in 1812 the first

steamer appeared upon the Clyde, and in 1838 the famous Great

Western steamed from Bristol to New York.

The quickening and cheapening of transport called for new and

improved methods of manufacture; small business concerns grew into

great mercantile houses with interests all over the face of the globe.

Everywhere movement and expansion; everywhere change. A powerful

commercial class came into existence, and power--that is, voting

power--passed to this class and was held by it until the year 1865.

From this year, roughly speaking, the power passed into the hands

of the democracy.

Education, which had been to a great extent a class monopoly,

gradually penetrated to all ranks and grades of society. In 1867 the

second Reform Act was passed; a very large proportion of the urban

working classes were given the power of voting, and it was naturally

impossible to entrust such powers for long to an illiterate democracy.

Therefore, in 1870, Mr Forster's Education Act was passed, which

required that in every district where sufficient voluntary schools

did not exist a School Board should be formed to build and maintain

the necessary school accommodation at the cost of the rates. By a

later Act of 1876 school attendance was made compulsory. Every effort

was made in succeeding years to raise the level of intelligence among

present and future citizens. Education became national and


During the period 1865-85 the population of the kingdom increased,

and the emigration to the British colonial possessions reached its

maximum in the year 1883, when the figures were 183,236.

The rapid rise in population of the large towns drew attention more

and more urgently to the question of public health. Every city and

every town had its own problems to face, and the necessity for solving

these cultivated and strengthened the sense of civic pride and

responsibility. We find during this period an ever-growing interest

throughout the country in the welfare, both moral and mental, of the

great mass of the workers. Municipal life became the training-ground

where many a member of Parliament served his apprenticeship.

Municipalities took charge of baths and washhouses, organized and

built public markets, ensured a cheap and ample supply of pure water,

installed modern systems of drainage, provided housing

accommodation at low rents for the poorer classes, built hospitals

for infectious diseases, and, finally, carried on the great and

important work of educating its citizens.

The power of Labour began, at last, to make itself felt. The first

attempt at co-operation made by the Rochdale Pioneers in 1844

stimulated others to follow their example, and in 1869 the

Co-operative Union was formed. The Trade Unions showed an increased

interest in education, in forming libraries and classes, and in

extending their somewhat narrow policy as their voting power

increased. Out of this movement sprang Working Men's Clubs attached

to the Unions and carrying on all branches of work, educational and

beneficial, amongst its members.

The standard of society was continually rising, and it was already

a far cry to the Early Victorian England described in an earlier


The world was growing smaller--that is to say, communications

between country and country, between continent and continent, were

growing more easy. The first insulated cable was laid in 1848, across

the Hudson River, from Jersey City to New York, and in 1857

an unsuccessful attempt was made to connect the New and the Old World.

In 1866 the Great Eastern, after two trials, succeeded in laying

a complete cable. The expansion of the powers of human invention led

to a great increase in the growth of comfort of all classes. To take

only a few striking examples: at the beginning of the century matches

were not yet invented, and only in 1827 were the 'Congreve' sulphur

matches put on the market; they were sold at the rate of one shilling

a box containing eighty-four matches! In the year 1821 gas was still

considered a luxury; soap and candles were both greatly improved and

cheapened. By the withdrawal of the window tax in 1851 obvious and

necessary advantages were gained in the building of houses.

In 1855 the stamp duty on newspapers was abolished. In these days

of cheap halfpenny papers with immense circulations it is difficult

to realize that at a date not very far distant from us, the poor

scarcely, if ever, saw a newspaper at all. Friends used to club

together to reduce the great expense of buying a single copy, and

agents hired out copies for the sum of one penny per hour. The only

effect of the stamp duty had been to cut off the poorer classes from

all sources of trustworthy information.

In 1834 not a single town in the kingdom with the exception of London

possessed a daily paper. The invention of steam printing, and the

introduction of shorthand reporting and the use of telegraph and

railways, revolutionized the whole world of journalism.

Charles Dickens, on the occasion of his presiding, in May 1865, at

the second annual dinner of the Newspaper Press Fund, gave his

hearers an idea of what newspaper reporters were and what they

suffered in the early days. "I have pursued the calling of a reporter

under circumstances of which many of my brethren here can form no

adequate conception. I have often transcribed for the printer, from

my shorthand notes, important public speeches in which the strictest

accuracy was required, and a mistake in which would have been to a

young man severely compromising, writing on the palm of my hand, by

the light of a dark lantern, in a post-chaise and four, galloping

through a wild country, and through the dead of the night, at the

then surprising rate of fifteen miles an hour. . . . I have worn my

knees by writing on them on the old back-row of the old gallery of

the old House of Commons; and I have worn my feet by standing to write

in a preposterous pen in the old House of Lords, where we used to

be huddled together like so many sheep--kept in waiting, say, until

the woolsack might want re-stuffing. Returning home from exciting

political meetings in the country to the waiting press in London,

I do verily believe I have been upset in almost every description

of vehicle known in this country. I have been, in my time, belated

on miry by-roads, towards the small hours, forty or fifty miles from

London, in a wheelless carriage, with exhausted horses and drunken

post-boys, and have got back in time for publication, to be received

with never-forgotten compliments by the late Mr Black, coming in the

broadest of Scotch from the broadest of hearts I ever knew."

During these later years England came to look upon her duties and

responsibilities toward her colonial possessions in quite a

different light. Imperialism became a factor in the political life

of the nation.

The builders of Empire in the time of Queen Elizabeth took a very

narrow view of their responsibilities; they were not in the least

degree concerned about the well-being of a colony or possession for

its own sake. The state of Ireland in those days spoke for itself.

The horrors of the Indian Mutiny in 1857 was the first lesson which

opened England's eyes to the fact that an Empire, if it is to be

anything more than a name, must be a united whole under wise and

sympathetic guidance.

The rebellion proved to be the end of the old East Indian Company.

England took over the administration of Indian affairs into her own

hands. An "Act for the better Government of India" was passed in 1858,

which provided that all the territories previously under the

government of the Company were to be vested in Her Majesty, and all

the Company's powers to be exercised in her name. The Viceroy, with

the assistance of a Council, was to be supreme in India.

In 1867 a great colonial reform was carried out, the Confederation

of the North American Provinces of the British Empire. By this Act

the names of Upper and Lower Canada were changed respectively to

Ontario and Quebec. The first Dominion Parliament met in the autumn

of the same year, and lost no time in passing an Act to construct

an Inter-Colonial Railway affording proper means of communication

between the maritime and central provinces.

In 1869 the Hudson Bay territory was acquired from the Company which

held it, and after the Red River Insurrection, headed by a half-breed,

Louis Riel, had been successfully crushed by the Wolseley Expedition,

the territory was made part of the Federation. In 1871 British

Columbia became part of the Dominion, on condition that a railway

was constructed within the following ten years which should extend

from the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains and connect with the existing

railway system.

The great Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, opening

out the West to all-comers.

The rise and growth of the Imperialistic spirit has been greatly

influenced by the literature on the subject, which dated its

commencement from Professor Seeley's Expansion of England in 1883.

This was followed by an immense number of works by various writers,

the chief of whom, Rudyard Kipling, has popularized the conception

of Imperialism and extended its meaning:

Never was isle so little, never was sea so lone,

But over the scud and the palm-trees an English flag was flown.

The Empire was not, however, to be consolidated without war and

bloodshed, for relations with the two Boer Republics, the Transvaal

and the Orange River, became more and more strained as years went

on. The last years of the Queen's life were destined to be saddened

by the outbreak of war in South Africa.

The facts which led to the outbreak were briefly these, though it

is but fair to state that there are, even now, various theories

current as to the causes. The discovery and opening up of the gold

mines of the Transvaal had brought a stream of adventurous emigrants

into the country, and it was these 'Outlanders' of whom the Dutch

were suspicious. The Transvaal Government refused to admit them to

equal political rights with the Dutch inhabitants. It was certain,

however, that the Outlanders would never submit to be dependent on

the policy of President Kruger, although the Dutch declared that they

had only accepted the suzerainty of Great Britain under compulsion.

Negotiations between the two Governments led to nothing, as neither

side would give way, and at last, in 1899, following upon an ultimatum

demanding the withdrawal of British troops from the borders of the

Republic, war broke out. It had undoubtedly been hastened by the

ill-fated and ill-advised raid in 1896 of Dr Jameson, the

administrator of Rhodesia.

It is scarcely necessary to review the details of this war at any

length. It proved conclusively that the Government of this country

had vastly underrated the resisting powers of the Boers. For three

years the British army was forced to wage a guerilla warfare, and

adapt itself to entirely new methods of campaigning.

On May 28, 1900, the Orange Free State was annexed under the name

of the Orange River Colony. In June Lord Roberts entered Pretoria,

but the war dragged on until 1902, when a Peace Conference was held

and the Boer Republics became part of the British Empire. Very

liberal terms were offered to and accepted by the conquered Dutch.

But long before this event took place Queen Victoria had passed away.

She had followed the whole course of the war with the deepest interest

and anxiety, and when Lord Roberts returned to this country, leaving

Lord Kitchener in command in South Africa, the Queen was desirous

of hearing from his own lips the story of the campaign.

The public was already uneasy about the state of her health, and on

January 20th it was announced that her condition had become serious.

On Tuesday, January 22, she was conscious and recognized the members

of her family watching by her bedside, but on the afternoon of the

same day she peacefully passed away. One of the last wishes she

expressed was that her body should be borne to rest on a gun-carriage,

for she had never forgotten that she was a soldier's daughter.

On the day of the funeral the horses attached to the gun-carriage

became restive, and the sailors who formed the guard of honour took

their place, and drew the coffin, draped in the Union Jack, to its

last resting-place.

Through the streets of London, which had witnessed two great Jubilee

processions, festivals of rejoicing and thanksgiving, the funeral

cortege passed, and a great reign and a great epoch in history had

come to an end.

Sketch Of The Princess Charlotte Strife facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail