Collection: Victorian Worthies

Gallery of Victorian Worthies

The following images reflect men instrumental during the period titled “Victorian.” They compromise a group of men who were authors, artists, statesmen, missionaries, soldiers, philanthropists, surgeons, craftsmen, historian and priest. Charles Dickens Lord Lister Lord Lawrence John Richard Green John Bright George Frederick Watts Dickens Dream Painted 1875. Donated by the artist’s grandson – 1931 Charles Kingsley Cecil Rhodes Bishop Patteson William Morris The Earl Of Shaftesbury Sir Robert Peel Sir Robert Morier Sir Charles Napier Lord Tennyson Thomas...

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Biography of Charles Dickens

Novelist and Social Reformer. In these days when critics so often repeat the cry of ‘art for art’s sake’ and denounce Ruskin for bringing moral canons into his judgments of pictures or buildings, it is dangerous to couple these two titles together, and to label Dickens as anything but a novelist pure and simple. And indeed, all would admit that the creator of Sam Weller and Sarah Gamp will live when the crusade against ‘Bumbledom’ and its abuses is forgotten and the need for such a crusade seems incredible. But when so many recent critics have done justice to...

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Biography of John Bright

Tribune. The word ‘tribune’ comes to us from the early days of the Roman Republic; and even in Rome the tribunate was unlike all other magistracies. The holder had no outward signs of office, no satellites to execute his commands, no definite department to administer like the consul or the praetor. It was his first function to protest on behalf of the poorer citizens against the violent exercise of authority, and, on certain occasions, to thwart the action of other magistrates. He was to be the champion of the weak and helpless against the privileged orders; and his power...

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Biography of John Lawrence

Indian Administrator. The north of Ireland and its Scoto-Irish stock has given birth to some of the toughest human material that our British Isles have produced. Of this stock was John Wesley, who at the age of eighty-five attributed his good health to rising every day at four and preaching every day at five. Of this was Arthur Wellesley, who never knew defeat and ‘never lost a British gun’. Of this was Alexander Lawrence, sole survivor among the officers of the storming party at Seringapatam, who lived to rear seven stout sons, five of whom went out to service...

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Biography of Anthony Ashley Cooper

Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury. Philanthropist. The word ‘Philanthropist’ has suffered the same fate as many other words in our language. It has become hackneyed and corrupted; it has taken a professional taint; it has almost become a byword. We are apt to think of the philanthropist as an excitable, contentious creature, at the mercy of every fad, an ultra-radical in politics, craving for notoriety, filled with self-confidence, and meddling with other people’s business. Anthony Ashley Cooper, the greatest philanthropist of the nineteenth century, was of a different type. By temper he was strongly conservative. He always loved best to...

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Biography of Alfred Tennyson

Poet. The Victorians, as a whole, were a generation of fighters. They battled against Nature’s forces, subduing floods and mountain barriers, pestilence and the worst extremes of heat and cold; they also went forth into the market-place and battled with their fellow men for laws, for tariffs, for empire. Their triumphs, like those of the Romans, are mostly to be seen in the practical sphere. But there were others of that day who chose the contemplative life of the recluse, and who yet, by high imaginings, contributed in no less degree to enrich the fame of their age; and...

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Biography of Charles James Napier

The famous Napier brothers, Charles, George, and William, came of no mean parentage. Their father, Colonel the Hon. George Napier, of a distinguished Scotch family, was remarkable alike for physical strength and mental ability. In the fervor of his admiration his son Charles relates how he could ‘take a pewter quart and squeeze it flat in his hand like a bit of paper’. In height 6 feet 3 inches, in person very handsome, he won the admiration of others besides his sons. He had served in the American war, but his later years were passed in organizing work, and...

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Biography of Sir Robert Peel

In the years that lay between the Treaty of Utrecht and the close of the Napoleonic wars British politics were largely dominated by Walpole and the two Pitts: their great figures only stand out in stronger relief because their place was filled for a time by such weak ministers as Newcastle and Bute, as Grafton and North. In the nineteenth century there were many gifted statesmen who held the position of first minister of the Crown. Disraeli and Palmerston by shrewdness and force of character, Canning and Derby by brilliant oratorical gifts, Russell and Aberdeen by earnest devotion to...

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Biography of Thomas Carlyle

North-west of Carlisle (from which town the Carlyle family in all probability first took their name), a little way along the border, the river Annan comes down its green valley from the lowland hills to lose itself in the wide sands of the Solway Firth. At the foot of these hills is the village of Ecclefechan, some eight miles inland. Here in the wide irregular street, down the side of which flows a little beck, stands the grey cottage, built by the stonemason James Carlyle, where he lived with his second wife, Margaret Aitken; and here on December 4,...

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Biography of Joseph Lister

In a corner of the north transept of Westminster Abbey, almost lost among the colossal statues of our prime ministers, our judges, and our soldiers, will be found a small group of memorials preserving the illustrious names of Darwin, Lister, Stokes, Adams, and Watt, and reminding us of the great place which Science has taken in the progress of the last century. Watt, thanks partly to his successors, may be said to have changed the face of this earth more than any other inhabitant of our isles; but he is of the eighteenth century, and between those who developed...

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Biography of George Frederick Watts

Artist. The great age of British art was past before Queen Victoria began her long and memorable reign. Reynolds and Gainsborough had died in the last years of the eighteenth century, Romney and Hoppner in the first decade of the nineteenth; Lawrence, the last of the Georgian portrait-painters, did not live beyond 1830. Of the landscapists Crome died in 1821 and Constable in 1837. Turner, the one survivor of the Giants, had done three-quarters of his work before 1837 and can hardly be reckoned as a Victorian worthy. In the reign of Queen Victoria many thousands of trivial anecdotic...

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Biography of John Coleridge Patteson

Missionary. New Zealand, discovered by Captain Cook in 1769, lay derelict for half a century, and like others of our Colonies it came very near to passing under the rule of France. From this it was saved in 1840 by the foresight and energy of Gibbon Wakefield, who forced the hand of our reluctant Government; and its steady progress was secured by the sagacity of Sir George Grey, one of our greatest empire-builders in Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. Thanks to them and to others, there has arisen in the Southern Pacific a state which, more than any...

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Biography of Robert Morier

Diplomatist. Diplomacy as a profession is a product of modern history. As Europe emerged from the Middle Ages, the dividing walls between State and State were broken down, and Governments found it necessary to have trained agents resident at foreign courts to conduct the questions of growing importance which arose between them. Churchmen were at first best qualified to undertake such duties, and Nicholas Wotton, Dean of Canterbury, who enjoyed the confidence of four Tudor sovereigns, came to be as much at home in France or in the Netherlands as he was in his own Deanery. It was his...

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Biography of William Morris

Craftsman and Social Reformer. In general it is difficult to account for the birth of an original man at a particular place and time. As Carlyle says: ‘Priceless Shakespeare was the free gift of nature, given altogether silently, received altogether silently.’ Of his childhood history has almost nothing to relate, and what is true of Shakespeare is true in large measure of Burns, of Shelley, of Keats. Even in an age when records are more common, we can only discern a little and can explain less of the silent influences at work that begin to make the man. There...

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