Victorian Era

1838. The Chartist Movement. The Chartists demanded (1) Annual

Parliaments; (2) Manhood Suffrage; (3) Vote by ballot; (4) Equal

electoral districts; (5) Abolition of the property qualification for

members of Parliament; (6) Payment for members of Parliament. The

Reform Act of 1832 had brought the middle classes into power, and

the working classes were now striving to better their own condition.

The Anti-Corn Law League, formed in this year, was largely a

middle-class agitation supported by merchants and manufacturers.

The great northern towns had been enfranchised by the Reform Bill,

and sent as leaders of the movement Richard Cobden and John Bright.

Both parties in Parliament were opposed to a total abolition of the

Corn Laws.

1842. A motion for Free Trade defeated in Parliament by a large


1843. Agitation in Ireland for the Repeal of the Union. Daniel

O'Connell, the leader, arrested. He was found guilty of conspiracy,

but his sentence was afterward revoked by the House of Lords.

1845. Failure of the potato crop in Ireland.

1846. Repeal of the Corn Laws, in order to open the ports free to

food stuffs. Free Trade established and the prices of food begin to


1848. The year of Revolution. France proclaims a Republic with Prince

Louis Napoleon, nephew of Napoleon I, as its President. Risings in

Austria and Italy.

Renewal of the Chartist agitation. The meeting in London to present

a Petition to Parliament proves a failure.

1853-56. Years of prosperity owing to Free Trade and growth of

intelligence among the working classes prove the chief causes of the

death of Chartism. The workers now begin to aim at reforms through

their Trades Unions. The Co-operative Movement set on foot in

Rochdale in 1844 leads to the formation of many other branches.

Between the years 1851 and 1865 national imports nearly treble, and

exports more than double, themselves.

THOMAS CARLYLE (1795-1881). His writings more than those of any other

man give us a key to the meaning of the early Victorian Age. 1839.

Chartism. 1841. Heroes and Hero Worship. 1843. Past and

Present. 1850. Latter-Day Pamphlets.

CHARLES DICKENS (1812-70). 1836. Pickwick Papers. 1838. Oliver

Twist (the evils of the Workhouse). 1850. David Copperfield

(contains sketches of Dickens' early life). 1853. Hard Times. 1857.

Little Dorrit (the Marshalsea prison for debtors).

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[7] (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


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