On Victorian Morality

“But isn’t that kind of a Victorian attitude?” I asked.

“We’re all Victorians,” Mr. Magundi replied, “and never more than when we condemn Victorianism. We judge by Victorian standards: we pass the same humorless and scientistic moral judgment on everything as the Victorians did. We demand, as they did, that all human actions must be consistent and virtuous; and when we condemn the Victorians, we really condemn them for being insufficiently Victorian—that is, for not being scientific and consistent enough in their moral judgments. I think sometimes that I might like to revert to a less scientific and more charitable pre-Victorian idea of morality; but I’m a Victorian, living in the moral world the Victorians made, and I can no more escape that world than anyone else can.”

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