Sunday, February 19, 2017

Anahit Arustamyan writes


Our fantasies are two candles. No, they are not going to quench. Our dreams are becoming thinner as our century is laughing at them. Your time machine has a train on the silver rails on our way. Sir, this is Victorian London. I won't hesitate to say. A  horse-driven carriage is running with the light of our candles' rays. Is this Piccadilly Street which noticed our slow steps? Your time machine is a miracle made of your dreams' jade. Is this Victorian London? Our dreams have never been caged. Your time machine is a miracle, sir. I won't hesitate to say. A horse-driven carriage is running with our century's legs.

 Image result for 1890s london paintings
The Strand, London, 1899 -- John Atkinson Grimshaw



  1. The Victorian era was the period in English history defined by the reign of queen Victoria (20 June 1837 to 22 January 1901), though some historians mark the Reform Act of 1832 as the "real" beginning in .terms of sensibilities and political concerns. The "sun never set on the British Empire" of the time, and Victoria became mpress of India. London was the world's financial center and, by 1825, was the world's largest city other than Peking. Within the fields of social history and literature, "Victorianism" refers to the study of late-Victorian attitudes and culture, with a focus on the highly moralistic, straitlaced language and behavior of Victorian morality; the time frame roughly coincided with the first part of the Belle Époque era on continental Europe. It was marked by a transition away from the rationalism of the preceding Georgian period and toward romanticism and mysticism in regards to religion, social values, and the arts. The period was one of relative peace in Europe (the "Pax Britannica") as well as colonial, economic, and industrial growth and consolidation. Domestically, the agenda was increasingly liberal, with a number of shifts toward gradual political and industrial reform and the widening of the voting franchise. No catastrophic epidemic or famine occurred in England or Scotland in the 19th century (the first century without a major nationwide epidemic), the marriage rate increased, people married at a young age, fertility rates increased in every decade until 1901, and deaths per 1000 fell every year from 21.9 from 1848–54 to 17; in 1901 the population of England and Wales almost doubled from 16.8 million in 1851 to 30.5 million in 1901, and Scotland's from 2.8 million in 1851 to 4.4 million in 1901. The nation's national income per capita rose by 50%.

  2. Society was still ruled by the aristocracy and the gentry, who controlled high government offices, both houses of Parliament, the church, and the military; being a rich businessman was not as prestigious as inheriting a title and owning a landed estate. Taxes were low and government restrictions minimal. The large numbers of skilled and unskilled people looking for work kept wages down to a level which allowed for mere basic subsistence. Available housing was scarce and expensive, resulting in overcrowding. Companies generally provided employees with welfare services including housing, schools, churches, libraries, baths, and gymnasia. Opportunities for leisure activities increased dramatically as real wages continued to grow and hours of work continued to decline, and a system of routine annual vacations came into play as well as the invention of the "weekend." The UK was the leading world center for advanced engineering and technology, and its engineering firms were in worldwide demand for designing and constructing railways. By 1850, freight rates had fallen to a penny a ton mile for coal, at speeds of up to fifty miles an hour. Britain now had had the model for the world in a well integrated, well-engineered system that allowed fast, cheap movement of freight and people, and which could be replicated in other major nations.Trains became an important factor ordering society, with "railway time" being the standard by which clocks were set throughout Britain. The Penny Black, the first postage stamp, standardized postage to a flat price regardless of distance sent. A gas network for lighting and heating was introduced in London in the 1880s, and in 1882 incandescent electric lights were introduced as well. In 1840 only about 20% of the children in London had any schooling, but by 1860 about half of the children between 5 and 15 were in school (including religious Sunday school in the churches); but children as young as 4 were put to work. In coal mines, children began work at the age of 5 and generally died before the age of 25. Many children (and adults) worked 16-hour days. H. G. Wells published "The Time Machine" in 1895 (in "The Chronic Argonauts," a short story published in his college newspaper in 1888 he had earlier dealt with the notion of time travel). The novella's protagonist was an unnamed gentleman inventor who made a machine which took him to 802,701, where he encountered the passive Eloi, the evolutionary end-product of the leisure class, and the savage Morlocks, the descendants of the working class; in a section that he deleted from the story he traveled further ahead and found that the humans had devolved into kangaroo-like creatures. Then he proceeded 30 million years into the future, to the end of life on Earth.

  3. At just under 1 mile (1.6 km) in length, Piccadilly is one of the widest and straightest streets in central London andhas been a main road for centuries. Robert Baker, a tailor, bought  1 3⁄8 acres east of what is now Great Windmill Street in c. 1611–12 and then bought another 22 acres six or seven years later. He prospered by making and selling fashionable piccadills, large, broad collars of cut-work lace (similar to Spanish picaduras; both are derived from the Spanish "picado," meaning punctured or pierced). Shortly after purchasing the land, he enclosed it (fenced it in) and erected several dwellings, including a residence and shop for himself; within two years his house was known as Pikadilly Hall. Baker died in 1623, his eldest son shortly thereafter, and his widow and her father purchased the wardship of their surviving children; the death of the next eldest son, Robert, in 1630, allowed them to effectively control the estate. When their only daughter died, her widower, Sir Henry Oxenden, retained an interest in the land, though several relatives claimed it; with a speculator, Colonel Thomas Panton, Oxenden steadily developed the land. Nevertheless, a 1658 map described the street as "the way from Knightsbridge to Piccadilly Hall." (Shaver's Hall, a nearby gaming house, was known as "Pickadell Hall" or "Tart Hall.") But what is now Piccadilly was named Portugal Street in 1663, in honor of Charles II's wife Catarina de Bragança, and after he became king in 1660 he encouraged the development of Portugal Street and the area to the north (Mayfair) as fashionable residential locales. By 1673 the part of Portugal St. east of Swallow St. (and eventually the entire street) was again being referred to as "Piccadilly." In 1825 Nathan Mayer Rothschild moved his banking premises there, while Ferdinand James von Rothschild and Lionel de Rothschild lived nearby, causing part of the western section to be colloquially referred to as Rothschild Row.


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