History as a Temporal Continuum: From Walter Scott to William Stubbs

  • Helen Kingstone
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


Victorian thinkers followed Hegel’s historicist principle that the same processes unite past, present, and future: what Kingstone terms a temporal continuum. This is visible in writers as diverse as Walter Scott, Auguste Comte, Charles Lyell, Karl Marx, and John Ruskin. Kingstone argues that the nineteenth-century “death of religion” is better understood as a transfer of religious feeling to history. The second half contrasts early-Victorian fluidity between history and journalism with late-Victorian professionalization. Early-Victorian critiques of hindsight by Thomas Carlyle and Thomas Macaulay are contrasted with William Stubbs’ and J. R. Seeley’s definitions of history as a scientific discipline modelled on Leopold von Ranke. The final section shows how histories by David Hume, Charles Dickens, and others all finish with the 1688 Glorious Revolution and avoid contemporary history.


Nineteenth Century Temporal Continuum Modern History History Textbook Contemporary History 
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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Kingstone
    • 1
  1. 1.Leeds Centre for Victorian StudiesLeeds Trinity UniversityLeedsUnited Kingdom

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