Britain 'really ruled the waves' throughout Gilbert's own lifetime. He lived from 1836 to 1911, during the reigns of Victoria and her successor, Edward VII.
The Victorians wrestled with this schizoid legacy of industrialism. The Victorian town symbolised Britain's progress and world pre-eminence, but it also witnessed some of the most deprived people, and depraved habits, in the civilised world.
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In 1882 Britain was in the later stages of acquiring the largest empire the world had ever seen. By the end of Victoria's reign, the British empire extended over about one-fifth of the earth's surface and almost a quarter of the world's population at least theoretically owed allegiance to the 'queen empress'.
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The single European conflict fought during Victoria's reign - the Crimean War of 1854 - 1856 - contrasted markedly with the 18th century, during which the British were involved in at least five major wars, none of which lasted less than seven years.
Language is a social-cultural-geographical phenomenon
During the Victorian age, Britain was the world's most powerful nation. Though not always effortlessly, it was able to maintain a world order which rarely threatened Britain's wider strategic interests.
There is a deep relationship between language, culture and society
Americans are Ruining English
For more than 200 years, right up through Prince Charles, peoplehave complained that Americans trash the English language. But is itcorruption — or simply normal change? investigateshow both American and British Englishes have evolved. (The research inthis essay was first published in 1999.)
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It would be a gross exaggeration to claim, as many contemporaries did, that those living in a British colony felt privileged to be ruled by a people anxious to spread the virtues of an ordered, advanced and politically sophisticated Christian nation to those 'lesser breeds' previously 'without the law'.