Monday, January 31, 2005

Heightened by darkening the age which went immediately before

"We are told that the eighteenth century was a time of 'general decay of religion,' of 'poisoning of the blood,' or 'a black spot on the shining history of England.' The least injurious reproaches are accusations of slovenliness, sloth, 'marasmus,' and on the part of the clergy of attention only to fees and preferment. Some of these attacks have been made by men belonging to the Church of England, made, most likely, in good faith, but of late to be traced to a mere following of the multitude and of the prejudices and fashion of the day. Perhaps there was a leaning on the part of the writers of the nineteenth century and of the Victorian epoch to plume themselves on the supposed excellency of their own age, as an age of 'progress,' 'enlightenment,' etc. The lustre of the age in which they wrote could be heightened by darkening the age which went immediately before."
J. Wickham Legg, English Life from the Restoration to the Tractarian Movement

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