BBC Radio 4's In Our Time last week was on the subject of Victorian Pessimism.
I must admit, I thought it was a pretty odd choice of subject, but the programme turned out to be extremely interesting. The consensus among the assembled experts was that the generally optimistic can do attitude of the early Victorians was gradually replaced by a far more pessimistic world view that was reflected in the poetry, literature and art of the second half of the Nineteenth Century. They made a convincing case.
And who was to blame for this new-found pessimism? That's right, you've guessed it: the likes of Charles Darwin and his mate Sir Charles Lyell, for eroding people's already crumbling faith in the scriptures, showing that mankind, rather than being at the centre of creation, really is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Definitely worth a listen, if you have a spare 40 minutes.