[The following excerpt from The Victorian Age in Literature is based on Project Gutenberg's EBook #18639, which Karina Aleksandrova, Juliet Sutherland and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net produced.George P. Landow formatted the text and added links to other material in the Victorian Web]

part from this Ruskinian offshoot through Pre-Raphaelitism into what was called Æstheticism, the remains of the inspiration of Carlyle fill a very large part in the Victorian life, but not strictly so large a part in the Victorian literature. Charles Kingsley was a great publicist; a popular preacher; a popular novelist; and (in two cases at least) a very good novelist. His Water Babies is really a breezy and roaring freak; like a holiday at the seaside — a holiday where one talks natural history without taking it seriously. Some of the songs in this and other of his works are very real songs: notably, "When all the World is Young, Lad," which comes very near to being the only true defence of marriage in the controversies of the nineteenth century. But when all this is allowed, no one will seriously rank Kingsley, in the really literary sense, on the level of Carlyle or Ruskin, Tennyson or Dickens or Thackeray: and if such a place cannot be given to him, it can be given even less to his lusty and pleasant friend, Tom Hughes, whose personality floats towards the frankness of the Boy's Own Paper; or to his deep, suggestive metaphysical friend Maurice, who floats rather towards The Hibbert Journal. The moral and social influence of these things is not to be forgotten: but they leave the domain of letters. The voice of Carlyle is not heard again in letters till the coming of Kipling and Henley.


Chesterton, G (ilbert) K(eith). The Victorian Age in Literature. London: Butterworth: 1913. New York: Henry Holt and Co, 1913.

Victorian Overview G.K. Chesterton G.K. Chesterton

Last modified 31 December 2010