Sunday, May 13, 2012

Eminent Victorians

The last couple of days I have been listening to someone read Eminent Victorians by  Giles Lytton Strachey. The book was a biography of the following Victorians:

  • Cardinal Manning
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Dr. Thomas Arnold
  • General Gordon
The book is famous, because it was no particularly respectful to its subjects. Also  perhaps the Victorians were once regarded as the people who built the British empire. Like the decline of the Roman Empire, most of the problems were caused by deep Christean beliefs.

Manning became head of the Catholic Church in the UK. He seemed a bit of politician type. He was famous during his lifetime, but now is forgotten. 

I was interesting to hear about Florence. She was a very driven person, who was very demanding. I didn't realize that she was really more an administrator.

The Arnold guy was the headmaster at Rugby public school. He could have reformed the public school system in a useful way, but instead he devised a system that has led the feeble public school boys, such as Cameron. Arnold was very religious -- which caused all the problems. I did like the way he delegated a lot of power to the sixth form.