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'-GREAT BRITAIN, 1910-1935 EDGAR McINNIS I T IS natural that a Royal Jubilee should be a time of retrospect. I t is especially natural that such a ' celebration, descending upon us at a time which offers few obvious reasons for rejoicing in the present or confidence in the future, should move us to cast a backward glance at a quarter-century which, if it 'was not glorious, was at least colourful and eventful in an unusual degree. And because this was to be expected, it has perhaps escaped attention that the flood of articles and publications on this special occasion does not r'epresent an interest newly awakened or suddenly evoked. Rather it accentuat~s a tendency, steadily growing during the past few years, to look back upon the present reign as the dose of a definite historical period, and to treat it as part of an era which, if not already over) is certainly close to its end.* , The roots of this period go back far beyond the accession of George V. They may be traced at least as far ·as the eighteen-seventies. One might say-\vith a cautious sidelong glance at the economists-that from those years of depression- dates the second major phase of the industrial revolution. The technique of machine production has been established. -The transition from an agricultural to an industrial basis has been effected and accepted. The salient anachronisms which hampered that- transition have been abolished. But the problems *The King's Grace, 1910-1935, by John Buchan, Hodder and Stoughton (Musson Book C()mpany). _!he Reign oj King Gcorge Ihe Fifth, by D. C. Somervell, Faber and Faber. .d Short His/ory oj Our Timcs, by J. A. Spender, Cassell. These Hurrying Years, by Gerald Heard, Chatto and Windus. 468 GREAT BRITAlN, 1910-1935, presented by the new national economy have still to . e solved, and their full nature is at last becoming forcibly apparent. It is: the search for a solution that forms the theme of the succeeding peria-d. The new king came to -the throne just as the struggle for readjustment was reaching. a climax. The first false dawn, manifested in the" Unauthorized Program-·nle" of Joseph Chamberlain, had been. blotted out by the crisis over Home Rule. By the time Queen Victoria died, a- new movement was in the making. I t burst forth under Edward, gathering impetus as the new Liberal government plunged into the task of making up .the arrears of two decades. As the program· me of reform grew: more arid more sweeping, resistance stiffened. \Vhen George V succeeded his father (prematurely christened the Peacemaker) he inherited a conflict that had been joined all along the lines. I ts 'manifestations were varied. Education and the Established Church, women's suffrage and old age pensions , birth control and the Borstal system-all th~se were matters of fierce- controversy as the effort to adju'st the social lag ran headlong into established institutions and vested interests.. The reformers' felt that they could wait no. longer. The Old Guard would neither die nor surrender. And in the constitutional. issue which faced .the new king at the outset oJ his reign, all the other ' issues were summed up. The root of the matter was the growing self-consciousness of the working class. This class, made articulate by the second and third Reform Acts, still lingered before the citadel of political power, uncertain whether to crash the gates or to wait patiently until they opened of their own accord; But behind their indecision was a potential menace growIng more and more alarming.. 469 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY The new industrial unions were moving toward a vast concentration of forces which' threatened to place the whole industrial life of the nation, and perhaps the government as well, at the mercy of these bodies. The entry of labour into the political sphere had met with a success which, though distinctly limited, was enough to be disturbing. I t is true that labour was still far from socialistic. I t did not want to transform either the polidcal or the economic system; it merely wanted certain concessions to its...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 468-482
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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