We may think of English history in the years…between the Jubilees as the epilogue to one age or the prehistory of another. But… the proud and sober confidence that irradiates the mid-Victorian landscape, that will not be seen again.
G. M. YOUNG,
Portrait of An Age, p. 148
Though the word ‘Victorian’ lives on in the vocabulary of the late twentieth century, to outface historians with a permanence not unlike that which by 1887 the Queen had begun to acquire for herself, historians rightly persist in their academically reputable dislike of dividing English history in accordance with the accession and death of its monarchs. And almost all are agreed that, at some point which they hesitate to specify, and in a variety of ways they are uncertain how to elucidate, the late-Victorian age had characteristics profoundly unlike those of early-and mid-Victorian times. That most felicitous of writers on the Victorian age, Sir George Young, clearly found the Victorians distasteful long before he had fully reached the terminal date of his study, asserting that, whereas he found the early-and mid-Victorian public ‘so alert, so masculine and so responsible’, their late-Victorian (and Edwardian) successors ‘were ceasing to be a ruling or a reasonable stock’. They were become ‘easily excited, easily satisfied’, and guilty of remissness ‘of intelligence, character and purpose’. More cautious in declaring the scope of his own later study, The Making of Victorian England, George Kitson Clark goes so far as to