From west to east, and from north to south, the mechanical principle, the philosophy of the nineteenth century, will spread and extend itself. The world has received a new impulse. The genius of the age, like a mighty river of the new world, flows onward, full, rapid, irresistible.
HENRY BOOTH, treasurer of the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway, 1830
The term manufacture is no longer confined to its original signification—the production of human manipulation—but is now generally applied to articles made by machinery, from raw materials, supplied by a beneficent Providence, for adaptation by the industry and ingenuity of man for the wants and enjoyments of civilized society.
LEWIS D. B. GORDON, Regius Professor of
Mechanics, University of Glasgow, 1851
The breakthrough towards an industrialized society had already occurred before the Victorian period began. But although, taking the long-term view, the transformation proceeded with ever-increasing momentum throughout the century, this was by no means how contemporaries always saw it. In the six years after the wars with Napoleon there were serious doubts that the expansion of the previous thirty years could be maintained. Though the years from 1831 to 1836 were a time of considerable growth this was not reflected in any marked increase in real wages, while from 1836 to 1842