The following fragment sketches the religious physiognomy of a man whose activities in the cause of social reform we have already noted, Lord Shaftesbury (Ashley). It has an additional interest in'that it presents the spiritual background against which "the most important and active champion of the Evangelical movement" appears. The Evangelical movement can be said to be the reflection within the Established Church of the Wesleyan movement, which did so much, since the last decades of the IS^ century, to revive the religious feelings of the masses outside it. Many of the most prominent statesmen of this time were influenced by the Evangelical spirit, and it contributed powerfully to impress upon the Victorian age its distinguishing feature of moral strictness, which easily degenerated into censoriousness1) and sanctimoniousness ), but which was not unaccompanied by an earnest striving after justice and humanity and decidedly raised the tone of public life.
In the last paragraph of our quotation the authors draw an effective contrast between Lord Shaftesbury and his stepfatherin-law, Lord Palmerston, a statesman who achieved during the last ten or twenty years of his long life an immense popularity by appealing (to remain within the phraseology of our quotation) to the unregenerated feelings of his countrymen. He could venture to do so, however, only in foreign politics (as we shall see in the succeeding fragments). In domestic politics he had outwardly to conform to the prevailing temper even though he was really out of sympathy with it.
}. censoriousness: tendency to be over-critical of other people's actions, especially in the moral sphere.
2. sanctimoniousness: making a show and taking a pride in one's own piety and goodness.