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to anything like the same degree. The shilling would be a great grievance, and the hottest of agitations would be got up against it; but though we might blaspheme, we should pay. As a matter of fact a private family contributes, we have little doubt, quite as much to the Post-office revenue now as it would have done had it paid all its letters in the days when 1s. 11d. was the postage from England to Scotland. A penny stamp is nothing, and few people consider how many of them are used daily. There is not a little maid-of-all-work nowadays who does not nobly spend her pence on stamps. Does this mean that we are richer than we were generally not the rich, who in such matters do not count, but the comparatively and the really poor? I think it must mean at least that those who have nothing to speak of are better off, and not kept so severely destitute of the little superfluities of life: and that there is a less exacting standard of frugality, an easier atmosphere in respect to money, and the small expenditures of every day. But this is a digression, and does not come in at present to the question of the changes that have happened in these sixty years.

The age of Victoria, in many ways so full of light, was not within doors and in its domestic centres a bright age when it began. Gas had, indeed, come into the world to light the streets, and more or less the shops, in great thoroughfares; but in our homes the lights were few. The primitive cruse of oil, with its rough wick and smoky flame, at once feeble and wavering, gave a very dim aid to the fire-light on a cottage hearth, and in the homes of middle-class respectability a mild


twilight lingered, with deep darkness in every corner. Dans l'intimité, when there was no company, a pair of candles, flanked by a snuffer-tray, was considered sufficient for ordinary family purposes. Lamps came slowly, and troublesome, and when the inventor reached the sober excellence of the Moderator there was a long pause, as if the climax of good lighting had been obtained. The twinkle of wax-candles, many of them surrounding a room in pretty clusters, was the ideal of perfect domestic illumination (and a very good one): but this was only for gala nights, except in those ineffable houses of the great which we spoke of with bated breath, but did not attempt to emulate. And there was one particular of this deprivation that left its impress upon the mind and also upon the literature of the generations. The children of the present day must, for example, find it difficult to understand the terror of the children of an elder age for the dark passages along which so many little heroes and heroines in the old story books made a breathless dart with their hearts in their mouths, not knowing what frightful danger might lurk behind this or that black corner. We remember well the excuses for another moment's delay in the drawingroom, which by comparison seemed so bright, or the nursery, in which perhaps one candle on the mantelpiece was an illumination, in comparison with the awful blackness of the passages between. There was one dread corner where we seemed to hear something breathing in the gloom, a door of a dark closet, from which we were certain one time or other something would dart forth upon us, fatal, horrible. How many blood-curdling thoughts, how many awful

possibilities, lurked on the way! and with what a sensation of heavenly relief we arrived safe at one end or another-a relief shadowed by the terrible fact that we should have to go back; though there was always the hope that some one with a candle might be caught up and followed on the return journey!

There are no dark passages now. One wonders how many people now existing realise what a wonderful difference that makes. Ghosts have gone wholly out of fashion with the children, and nobody under fifteen is afraid of them. Fifteen is the earliest age at which we can imagine a romantic apprehension of these bygone terrors to begin. The children are impervious to such fears; they don't know what a dark passage means.

Sir Edwin Arnold, in his book about the Queen's reign, mentions another little matter of much importance to daily life, which amid larger things is apt to be forgotten. He tells how on his way home, a child with his nurse, from one of the pageants of the Accession, he saw "a man in the street selling, evidently as a singular novelty, lucifer matches at a halfpenny apiece. He held up the little sticks, one at a time, and then drawing them through a folded piece of sand-paper, produced an instantaneous flame, to the intense amazement of the passers-by." Sir Edwin adds that there was nothing but the ancient expedient of flint and steel to strike a light before this. fancy, but cannot specify, that there was something which came in between, but the first match was unquestionably such a wonder as might have convulsed the world. How calmly we have all taken such discoveries! Before the lucifer match there were, we recollect,


little bundles of sticks tipped by a smudge of brimstone; but their quality was only that of lighting quickly at a fire or candle. In Scotland they were called spunks. The new matches when they came were objected to (as were also the spunks) for their bad smell. Indeed it must be added that all the new inventions which have added so greatly to our comfort were received without enthusiasm-from the railway, on which a cow errant was supposed to be capable of proving a serious embarrassment, to the matches which had a bad smell. When candles were made which wanted no snuffing, though it was manifestly a great convenience, there were revilings-it being supposed at first that they were not so bright as the old smoky flame!

There was but a scanty budget of letters on the breakfast-table in those days, and perhaps, except in London, no newspaper at all. Only in London did such a thing as a daily paper exist. The greatest of provincial towns had not progressed beyond a bi-weekly, as they were called, and once a-week satisfied most people. The kinds of news were those which came by ordinary channels of communication

by ship, by road, no quicker than other travellers. A bearer of despatches to the Foreign Office was probably the most rapid of agencies; and across the Continent the ways were still more interrupted than in this country the few lines of railways breaking short off here and there, leaving posthorses, or a little steamboat on a river, as the quickest method of travel. But no one knew how slow and imperfect were those methods of information, for there was nothing else with which to compare them, and they were accepted as the course of nature.

From America news was still more difficult to obtain, for Steam was slow of adventuring over the Atlantic. And India was months away in the beginning of the reign. Commotions in Canada, Maori wars, the constant little conflicts going on with one people or another in India, must have been the occasion of greater agony than any war need cause now; for one mail might bring the news of a battle, and only in the slow course of the next and following ships would the list of killed and wounded come home; so that the friends of those who were safe had many an unnecessary pang, and those who had suffered many an intolerable hope to go through, before definite news put a period to their misery. Thus dim at home and clouded with dreadful shadows abroad was the life of Great Britain in the earlier Victorian days. We had not half the alleviations of life which we have now. When accident happened to us we had little more than the primitive brutal methods to tear off a leg or an arm-humanity hurrying the operator's hand, that at least the anguish he inflicted should be as short as possible, and no harmless agency known to mitigate the pain. Men suffer always and in all ages. There will probably never be a time when they will escape to any general degree the ills that flesh is heir to; but we have learnt now to soften suffering in a way undreamed of sixty years ago. That one amelioration of life is worth more than all the millions of increase that have come since to the British Crown.

What a strange difference in morals as well as in facts should this sterner fashion of living have developed! Men who knew that, should any surgical operation be

performed upon them, it would be at the cost of indescribable agony; women to whom there was no escape from the inevitable pangs of nature and no softening of their violence; people who had to wait perforce, sometimes for long months, ere they could hear what had befallen those who were most dear to them-if suffering is an improving process, as people say, what patience, what resignation, what courage, ought to have been theirs! But human nature is of a tough fibre, which resists many influences. Our grandfathers were not aware that they were so much worse off, any more than we are generally aware how much better off we are.

It is seldom, however, by modifications of human feeling that we can trace the revolutions of history. Those which have happened in our age, especially the two great agencies which changed all the circumstances of our life, have nothing at all to do with our higher nature, except in so far as they are the offspring of that genius which creates and invents, and which is as truly genius as that which touched the harp of Shakespeare. The Victorian age is like one of those Magicians of eastern story who caught and bound to the accomplishment of their will some of the great Genii, Afreets, Jins, whatever name Oriental fancy may have given them, whose force infinitely transcended every human force, yet who were at the mercy of the wise man who knew how to secure and train them. It is difficult to believe when one sees a great Steam - engine at work, filling the atmosphere with clamour, steam, and smoke, that there is not some volition in the great irresponsible monster in addition to that temporary meaning which the directing finger of a man gives to its superlative

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force, or that by some touch unseen, at some mysterious moment, it might not throw off the bonds in which it is held, and dart forth upon some appalling career of its own, unsuspected, tremendous, and destructive. The wonderful machine moves us rather as it moved Mr Ruskin than as in later days it affected the imagination of a younger poet. Even that fastidious Master in all the arts was impressed with the extraordinary sense of Being in the iron monster upon which he looked a sense more impressive to the imagination than anything else we know of in earth or heaven. With "amazed awe," with "crushed humility," he describes himself as watching "a locomotive take its breath at a railway station." "What manner of men must they be," he cries, "who dig brown ironstone out of the ground and forge it into that: what assemblage of accurate and mighty faculties in them, more than fleshly power over melting crag and coiling fire, fettered and finessed at last into the precision of watchmaking! Titanian hammer-strokes beating out of lava those glittering cylinders and timely respondent valves and fine-ribbed rods, which touch each other as a serpent writhes, in noiseless gliding and omnipotence of grasp, infinitely complex anatomy of active steel." To ourselves the feeling produced by a great Engine is more in sympathy with that of Frankenstein after he had made his monster than of the triumphant mechanician who first overcame all difficulties, the resistance of the dead things in which he worked and of every passive force of nature, and at last compelled the senseless thing to work and whirl and breathe at his will. The Thing once made cannot be unmade again, whatever might be the turn

its forces might take. It might hate and destroy the race it was made to serve like the other monster of flesh and blood. It is difficult not to put a mind into it, a purpose of its own, a possibility of action, if at any time some unsuspected new influence might get at that "anatomy of steel." The Röntgen rays were a great surprise, showing what things unseen were hid in the visible, and sending the thrill as of a first perception of many latent wonders into the mind. What if among those hidden yet revealable powers of the atmosphere there might be something which would supply the artful combination of screw and valve and piston with force and motion of its own? No one, we suppose, ever ministered to an engine without feeling a personality in it. Nay, there is not a little boat but is She, a creature full of life, exacting, capricious, fantastical to those whose lives are dependent on her.

Mr Kipling has given us this view in the strongest presentation, when he claims for his great Sea - engine, as it tramps across the waters, faithful and obedient, keeping its beat to the minute, responding to the eager hand that hastens its pace for human purposes, always dutiful to the skilled touch, like the finest and most delicate of sentient beings - the credit of being the Romance incarnate and great fairy tale of our later days. 'Lord, send a man like Robbie Burns to sing the Song o' Steam!" cries M'Andrew the engineer, throwing himself with enthusiasm into the description of those iron thews and sinews that form the Being: and the joy of life, one of the highest of mortal sentiments, which inspires its perfect organisation. Has not this great created thing

its part, he asks almost indignantly, in the universal song of praise?

"The crank-throws give the double bass,

the feed-pump sobs and heaves, And now the main eccentrics start their quarrel on the sheaves;

world in general, notwithstanding that we had colonies and possessions round all the circle of the Our children were conveyed inseas, as in the days of Elizabeth. deed in ships that perhaps sailed more swiftly, but were little more

Her time, her own appointed time, the commodious, than those of Drake

rocking linkhead bides, Till-hear that note? the rod's return whings glimmering through the guides.

They're all awa'! true beat, full power, the clanging chorus goes, Clear to the tunnel where they sit, my purring dynamoes: Interdependence absolute, foreseen, ordained, decreed,

To work, ye'll note, at any tilt and

every rate of speed; Frae skylight lift to furnace - bars, backed, bolted, braced, and stayed, And singing like the morning stars for joy that they are made; While out o' touch o' vanity the sweating thrust-block says, 'Not unto us the praise, or man-not unto us the praise !'

Now a' together hear them lift their lesson-theirs and mine,

'Law, order, duty, an' restraint, Obedience, Discipline':

Mill, forge, and try - pit taught them

that, when roarin' they arose, And whiles I wonder if a soul was gied them with the blows."

This new embodiment of life and power, this Jin, this Afreet, has been, perhaps, the greatest distinction, as it is the strongest vassal, of Queen Victoria's empire. It was not the creation of the age it was but a feeble undeveloped creature, moving gingerly upon its few first errands, rustling with primitive paddle wheels from one home port to another, making little runs here and there on land from one town to another, when this auspicious reign began. We were still as far from India, from America, from the ends of the

and Anson; and otherwise we were still as far away from them


when the Spanish galleons held the main and were the objects of pursuit instead of peaceful commerce and trade. The seas were brave with white sailed ships, great towers of swelling canvas, far more graceful and beautiful than those monsters of the deep with which we are so familiar now; but were we turned back again to the number and the capabilities of our navies, mercantile or national, then, Britain would be ruined, and have lost her empire of the seas. When the first steamer went away groping into the darkness of the great Atlantic, with what anxiety and wonder did all hearts beat. Would she ever reach that dim and distant shore! Would the sound of her rushing paddles and the pressure of her steam carry wonder and delight to the world of the West? or would they disappear among the icebergs and never be heard of more?

There seemed at first a kind of sanction out of the unknown to all terrors and alarms. The powers of nature rose against one at least of those strange pioneers. The President disappeared without a word into the dark, and her fate has been but conjectured, never known. This might have seemed to an earlier age a sign that heaven itself forbade such hazards: but Science, inaccessible to fear, indifferent to loss, counting human

1 Mr Kipling does his Scotch wonderfully well, as he does most things; but it should be gi'en (past participle), not gied (past tense).

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