It was an era of stunning inconsistencies and abundant ironies. Never had England's middle classes revealed in such prosperity - or made such a fetish of respectability. Never had its poor been more degraded. Christian piety attained unprecedented fervor, even as new scientific discoveries threatened the underpinnings of belief. The Victorian age gave birth both to the triumphant aestheticism of Oscar Wilde and to an all-encompassing sense of moral obligation. This anthology recalls Victorian England in all its splendor, squalor, high good humor, and remorseless conscience. Here are extensive selections from the novels of Charlotte Brönte, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, and Charles Dickens; the social and political observations of Benjamin Disraeli, Thomas Carlyle, and Friedrich Engels; the religious writings of Matthew Arnold and John Henry Newman; the scientific works of Charles Lyell, Thomas Huxley, and Charles Darwin; and art criticism by Oscar Wilde, John Ruskin, and Walter Pater, along with journalism, speeches, letters, and entries from the personal diaries of such luminaries as Queen Victoria herself.