The Victorian Period (1870 v/s 1900).
The Victorian age can be described as the age of transition, which by definition has a dual aspect when change is revolutionary: destruction and reconstruction. The Victorians recognised that they were breaking down the systems of: Christian orthodoxy under the rule of the church, civil government under the rule of the king and nobility, the social structure of fixed classes, each with its recognised rights and duties and the economic organisation. That was "the old European system of dominant ideas and facts" which Arnold saw dissolving in the 19th Century. As the older doctrines and institutions were attacked and until they could be modified, discarded and a new order proposed or inaugurated, the people lived in a constant state of confusion and uncertainty. The Victorians reacted to their age with hope and dismay, optimism and anxiety.
The breakdown of the old conception of status was primarily caused by the economy. The development of commerce, drawing men off from the land and opening new and independent careers to talent, had been the main instrument in dissolving the feudal nexus of society.
The old system of fixed regulations was abandoned by the principle of "laissez faire" on which the manufacturer bought his materials in the cheapest market and sold them in the highest, and hired his labour whenever he liked at the lowest wages he could pay.
The early 19th Century saw the introduction of more canals, roads, railways and steamboats that hastened the growth of large-scale production by making possible a vast expansion of commerce.
The growing wealth of the wealthy advanced the style of living in the middle and upper classes to a point where the Victorian had to struggle for things his father had been able to ignore.
Thomas Arnold recognised the a new "atmosphere of unrest and paradox", referring to questions "as to great points in moral and intellectual matters; where things which have been settled for centuries seem to be again brought into discussion.