Skip to main content

Full text of "Charles Kingsley, Christian, socialist and social reformer;"

See other formats


*".- v : -.■■■ .:' 

M m 




1 I ■ " HI 






Class Cj5 £ 





author of 

"christian socialism;" "socialism: its nature, its dangers, 

and its remedies ; " " utopias j or, schemes of social improvement from 

sir thomas more to karl marx ; " " socialism and communism in 

their practical application," etc., etc. 

fHetijuen & (Co* 



[All rights reserved} 

Richard Clay & Sons, Limited, 
London & Bungay. 



Whose conscientious endeavours to minister to the necessities and to 
ameliorate the condition of the people in town and country, and 
experience in so doing, is a proof in point that what Charles 
Kingsley held up as ideal in fiction is translatable into fact ; 

That the progress of democracy does not by any means preclude a 
happy relationship of mutual affection and esteem between the 
lady of the manor and her dependents ; 

That the "silver link of sympathy " may yet unite the hearts of those 
born in high station and in low ; 

That is, where nobility of mind and heart becomes the parent of 
courteous kindliness in the one, and courteous recognition in the 
other ; 

And that where aristocracy of birth is accompanied by that of merit, 
so far from discouraging popular aspirations, it will help rather 
than hinder social progress in what is best in all classes. 


This Preface, like the clog Cerberus, has three heads, 
but only briefly to guard against three misconceptions 
at the entrance of this volume. 1. It is a monograph, 
not a biography, of Charles Kingsley, its object' being 
simply to present one aspect of his life, as a social and 
sanitary reformer, and this in the setting and framework 
of the thought, feelings, and condition of his time, with 
the light of our own thrown upon the picture to present 
a distinct view of his social aims, and to show how far 
what he aspired after has been attained, and what 
remains of achievements yet to be accomplished in the 
future. 2. As it is a tolerably well-known fact that the 
late Mrs. Kingsley strongly objected to any biography 
of her husband, it should be mentioned that the present 
work was undertaken before her death, and with the 
full knowledge and cordial consent of the family. 3. 
Nothing contained in this volume has appeared in 
print before. Two independent articles in reviews, after- 
wards incorporated in the author's work on Christian 
Socialism, were published, indeed, as fragments of the 
subject before the reader here, but except for the fact 
that they are founded on the same materials, they are 
not otherwise connected with it. To these prefatory 
remarks may be added the hope that this condensed 
view of Kingsley's words and works on social subjects 
may help in stimulating and directing enthusiasms and 
efforts in our own generation among that numerous class 
of readers who take an interest in social questions. 

May, 1892. 



INTRODUCTION ... ... ... ... ... 1 







FICTION AND FACT ... ... ... ... 115 

VII. KINGSLEY AND CARLYLE ... ... ... 175 


OF SOCIAL SCIENCE ... ... ... ... 201 








To understand the man and his social mission we 
must have before our mind a clear picture of the times 
in which he lived, and the condition of the people which 
called forth his generous sympathy and chivalric efforts 
in the cause of social reform. Of this, therefore, we 
will give a brief sketch before entering upon the 
main subject. The year 1848 marks an important 
epoch in the history of labour ; it threatened to prove 
a critical year in the history of modern European 
society. The signal of a great rising had been given 
by the outbreak of the Revolution in Paris. The 
significance of that event was the self-assertion of the 
Proletariat, as such, dictating to the State what should 
be done on its behalf. It was the starting-point of a 
movement which "has increased in force and momentum 
ever since; Social Democracy had become a self-conscious 

State socialism was accepted as a principle in the 


French Chamber by the establishment of national work- 
shops, and thus gave a powerful impulse to the creation 
of co-operative associations outside it. The Revolution 
itself was a social revolution, the result of social distress 
producing discontent among the masses ; it amounted 
to a declaration of war between the lower and the 
middle classes. Since 1830 a differentiation had been 
going on between capital and labour. The friction 
became more and more irksome as it became more and 
more evident that the power of capital had immensely 
increased with the use of machinery, whilst the de- 
pendence of labour on the rich capitalists was rendered 
more galling since the vast increase of wealth did not 
raise the toilers into a better position. Plutocracy had 
become the new tyrant, and factory labour its slave. 
In this new industrial society the gulf between rich 
and poor was becoming wider every day. The Bourgeoisie 
had displaced the privileged orders in the seat of power, 
money had become the master of the situation, but the 
era of steam and speculation, so far from promoting the 
interest of the manual labourer, had tended to lower 
wages, and to increase the prices of the necessaries of 
life and other commodities in the enlarged demand 
for greater self-indulgence among all classes. Labour 
was chained to the triumphal chariot of " industrial 
progress." It was the era of "free labour," but the 
labourers who had helped to procure liberty, fighting 
on the side of the middle class against the aristocracy, 
now had learned that the cry of liberty was an empty 
phrase, that_injdie_ J'ery fact iif free contract lay the 


secret of grej^r^inej^uality. They were angry beyond 
measure with the industrial despots, who dictated terms 
which it was impossible to refuse. True they were at 
liberty to refuse to labour at the terms offered. But 
in that case their families would starve. Capital had 
become omnipotent, the labourer was at its mercy, 
when at last, driven to despair by distress and famine, 
the populace revolted, and from Paris the spirit of revolt 
spread to Berlin and Vienna, and even to London. In 
Prussia and Austria the tricolour was unfurled as the 
emblem of German unity, and the symbol of Liberty, 
Equality, and Fraternity. In England the "People's 
Charter " was the formula which captivated the imagina- 
tion of the populace. People had not learned even yet 
how to dissociate the social from the political elements 
of revolution, though the dim notion prevailed that in 
the Legislature, if anywhere, the battle must be fought 
between the men and their new masters. Thus it 
happened that in the same eventful month of March, 
in 1848, when barricades were raised by workmen and 
students in Vienna, and the King of Prussia was com- 
pelled at the dictation of the mob to do honour bare- 
headed to the remains of those who had fallen fighting 
behind the barricades of Berlin, the Duke of Wellington 
made preparations on a large scale in view of the 
great Chartist demonstration on the 10th of April 
in London, and the troops were kept in readiness for 
possible eventualities. The bridges were barricaded, 
the bank and state offices and public buildings were 
carefully provisioned — everything in short was done to 


prevent a repetition on a larger scale of those riots in 
London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, and other large 
towns during the month of March. London was in a 
state of panic. The demands of the Proletariat were 
much the same all over Western Europe. Thus, in 
Germany one of the clauses of the programme submitted 
to the Frankfort Parliament contained suggestions for a 
settlement of the differences between labour and capital 
by a " special ministry of labour," which " should check 
usury, protect workmen, and secure them a share in the 
profits of work." 

In this country the Charter was to bring about 
pretty much the same effects by means of a larger and 
more direct representation in Parliament of the people's 
interests. There was nothing revolutionary in these 
demands, but the animus which inspired them, and the 
popular commotion aroused by the agitation, spread 
terror among the well-to-do classes. 

On the Continent the " rule of Bureau and Bayonet " 
had added intensity to the virulence of social dis- 
contents. Here, too, popular complaints had not been 
wanting ever since 1832, when, after the agitation of 
the Reform Bill, it was said that instead of promoting 
the interests of the people it had practically disenfran- 
chised labour, and rendered the moneyed class more 
powerful than it had been before the passing of that Bill. 
There were loud complaints, too, raised against the 
working of the new Poor Law, but the chief causes of 
discontent were in the first instance the " horrors of the 
factory system," and the temporary effects of the intro- 


duction of steam in displacing manual labour, intensified 
later on by over-production, with stagnation in trade 
and the reduction of -wages for its consequences. It 
led to many acts of violence, such as smashing of 
machinery, and setting fire to mills, and burning of 
hay-ricks in country districts. Scarcity of work, low 
wages, food at high prices, long-protracted hours of 
labour, even in mining districts, including female and 
child labour (in spite of legislation for their protection 
since 1833, mainly through the exertion of Lord 
Shaftesbury), failure of the crops, commercial reaction 
after excessive speculation — all these produced misery 
and privation, suffering and distress, which eventually 
brought in their train serious disturbances encouraged 
or organized by Chartist agitators. Military force had 
to be called in to quell insurrection in the coal districts, 
in the Potteries, and in Manchester. Other manu- 
facturing towns in the north were kept in terror by 
bands of excited workmen off and on since 1842. 
The potato famine in Ireland in 1846 glutted the labour 
market in England, and produced a further depression 
of wages. Things went, on from bad to worse in 1848. 
The time had come, so it seemed to many, which Lord 
Ashley had foretold in one of his speeches in Parliament 
in 1843, when he had said — 

" The danger is wider, deeper, fiercer, and no one who 
has heard these statements, and believes them, can hope 
that twenty years more will pass without some convulsion, 
some displacement of the whole system of society," — 

a saying which the author of Perils of the Nation, which 


appeared in the same year, fully endorsed, adding that, 
" if some stop be not put to the existing mischief (the 
growth of capital, with the growth pari passu of misery 
and distress), a few years more must land us in a Woody 
re col i' t ion !" Nor was it hard for the social agitators 
to convince excited mobs that " the panacea for all 
grievances is to be found in revolution." In short there 
was a general alarm. 

Socialism and Chartism were rampant, and to meet 
the danger of the hour, F. D. Maurice and his followers, 
guided by his genius and moderated by his wisdom, struck 
out a new line so as to bring the Church home to the 
people's heart and to plead the people's cause before 
their masters, taking their stand on the broad platform 
of ecclesiastical and social reform. What they pleaded for 
was a resolute return to the principles of Christianity 
freed from later accretions of ossified officialism and 
dogmatic harshness, and the repellent self-assertion of 
class pride among the clergy and religious laity. In their 
opinion it had become necessary to remind the religious 
world that modern society rests on a Christian basis ; 
that, accordingly, all social arrangements must be brought 
to the test of New Testament morality, that the 
organization of labour by means of association or 
co-operation implies the cultivation of those Christian 
virtues of mutual trust and forbearance, readiness for 
self-sacrifice and subordination, without which these 
social bonds would prove ineffectual. They affirmed, 
and among them more distinctly and emphatically than 
the rest, Charles Kingsley, that selfishness and the 


quest of self-interest is the main cause of our present 
social difficulties, for is it not the selfish pursuit of each 
individual and class without regard to the claims of 
society as a whole which lies at the root of social 
antagonism and social war ? The war of free competi- 
tion being accepted as a law of nature and lauded as 
the prime motive force of industrial progress, and the 
principle " every one for himself" being consecrated into 
a moral precept which, if obeyed by each individual or 
section of society representing a given class interest, 
would promote the happiness of all according to the 
pre-established laws of economic harmony, what follows 
from such principles but an internecine warfare of one 
against all, ending in the loosening and ultimate 
destruction of all social bonds ? Hence the importance 
of a unifying force and a process of re-union by Chris- 
tianity as a principle, and the Christian Church embody- 
ing it. " If the priests of the Lord are wanting to the 
cause now, woe to us ! " cries Kingsley in a letter to 
Ludlow in 1850. The words confirm the earnest 
anxiety and apprehension which filled the hearts of the 
Christian socialists, and made them stand out from 
among the body of the clergy and religious laity as 
God-sent apostles of a new social era. 

Maurice speaks of Kingsley as the " Thalaba with a 
commission to slay magicians and put the Eblis band 
which possesses our land to rout. I am jealous of any- 
thing which is likely to turn him out of his predestined 
course and may make him waste the God-given 


strength." It will be the object of this book to show 
how far Charles Kingsley corresponds to this descrip- 
tion, and to what extent he succeeded in verifying 
this glowing prediction of his revered friend and 



Although this does not pretend to be a biography, 
but simply an attempt to present one aspect of a life's 
history, it is none the less interesting and important to 
notice how far descent, inherited traits of character, the 
circumstances of early life and training, and the current 
of events were instrumental in preparing the subject of 
this sketch for his public career. Charles Kingsley had no 
reason to be ashamed of his ancestors. He was born in 
1819, " under the brow of Dartmoor," and inhaled, so to 
speak, the spirit of daring of the men of Devon which 
he so graphically describes in his most popular story, 
Westward Ho I From his mother, who, though of 
English parentage, was born in the West Indies, he 
inherited the love of luxuriant scenery and romantic 
sentiment, and that tendency to aristocratic condescen- 
sion, in spite of his popular sympathies, which Europeans 
acquire who live in the East or the Tropics, a tone of 
mind which made him in his popular leanings a 
democratic Tory rather than a follower of what is now 


called Tory Democracy. His father was a man of good 
points, a country gentleman by birth and habits, a 
clergyman by force of circumstances, but none the less 
faithful in the discharge of his duties, a lover of art, a 
sportsman, a natural historian. From him the son 
probably inherited that " healthy materialism " which 
somewhere he commends, and his bent towards " mus- 
cular Christianity," a phrase associated with his name 
which he never liked. He has been called a "bold 
thinker and a bold rider," both in consequence of a 
healthy physique and the possession of a healthy mind 
in a healthy body bequeathed to him by both parents. 
The more subtle and poetic appreciation of the mysteri- 
ous charm of nature and the power of artistic present- 
ment were probably owing to the combined influence 
of both parents, aided by surrounding conditions. His 
early childhood was spent in the great Fen country. 
The effect on his mind of its flat scenery and the wide 
sweep of the horizon of the Lincolnshire meres, hidden 
in mist, or suffused with the after-glow of the setting 
sun, were never forgotten, and in the prelude to 
Hcrcivard the Wake, a hero in whom, if we mistake not, 
the author sometimes portrays himself, though perhaps 
unconsciously, we are given to understand how the 
sturdy manliness of the Lowlander is generated by the 
sense of freedom as his eye wanders unimpeded over a 
vast exj)anse of open country. Here, in the absence 
of the overpowering sense of natural forces which 
inspire man with fear in the hill country, is generated 
a spirit of independence. These physical accidents, as 


Kingsley frequently remarks, exercise an important 
influence on spiritual development. The antiquity of 
the house in which he was born, Barnack Rectory, 
built in the fourteenth century, with its haunted chamber, 
helped, no doubt, to call out the spirit of chivalry which 
lends a special charm to his character and writings. 
When eleven years old, his father went to take charge 
of the living of Clovelly, where the boy was introduced l 
to the shifting scenes of a busy coast life, and his young 
mind filled with all the picturesque details of a sea- 
roving population. Here he learned to esteem those 
manly qualities, and here, perhaps, he caught the spirit 
of adventure which he noted in the rugged sons of 
the sea who inhabit the Cornish coast. Here, too, hel y 
acquired that love for the common people in their 
natural dignity, brought up as he was in close contact 
with them, as we may see by reading between the lines 
his description of them in Two Years Ago, Here he 
acquired that personal popularity which stood him in 
good stead afterwards when dealing with Chartists and 
popular leaders. It was not only the result of natural- 
ness and innate bonhommie, but the effect of having 
lived among the people and understanding their ways. 
That tact and sympathetic intelligence which inspires 
popular confidence is best taught by living among 
the people, though not of them, in early life, before 
the full consciousness of social demarcation and the 
differences of rank and fortune become a bar to free and 
easy intercourse. Kingsley had the additional advan- 
tage of being the son of a clergyman, as he says himself 


in a letter to a clergyman, and in answer to some 
strictures on Alton Locke — 

" From my cradle, as the son of an active clergyman, I 
have been brought up in the most familiar intercourse with 
the poor in town and country. My mother, a second Mrs. 
Fry, in spirit and act. For fourteen years my father has 
been the rector of a very large metropolitan parish, and I 
speak what I know, and testify that which I have seen." 

What the effect of these congenital tendencies and 
early experiences were on the character of the boy, and 
how far in his case the child proved to be the father of 
the man, may be gathered from a few incidents of early 
life, and a few scattered fragments of early thoughts 
preserved in the Life we possess by his own wife. 
Impulsiveness, precocity, conscientious susceptibility, 
shyness and eccentricity seem to have been his main 
characteristics in childhood. " Don't cant, Elizabeth ! " 
he says when six years old to a housemaid, condoling 
with him on the occasion of a quarrel with his mother. 
" Don't cant ! " was the burden of his cry throughout 
the whole extent of his mature life. 
.. A similar rough, reprimanding, John the Baptist tone 
runs through most of the sayings of " Parson Lot," with 
an underground grunt of indignant objurgation against 
social and religious pharisaisms more Gothic than 
Hebraistic in their rigour. We note, too, in the child 
something of the melancholy temperament peculiar to 
the period of childhood in men who become famous in 
after life, as a prelude of those later broodings over the 
deeper problems of life which may be discovered alike 


in such unlike persons as Goethe, J. S. Mill, and 
Lamennais. There is something of this serious and 
sombre sadness in Kingsley's earliest attempts in poetry ; 
the very title of one written when he was a youth of 
sixteen or seventeen speaks of deep dejection as the 
result of early speculation — Hypotheses Hypochondriacm, 
where he speaks of his " brooding melancholy." 

In Psyche, a Ehapsody, belonging to the same 
period, he breaks out into wailing on the lives led by 
the poor in cities, presages of those more definite com- 
plaints of social wrongs to be found in his maturer 
writings — 

" Then she passed on in her weary way through ancient 
cities, where the wealth and the glory of the world were 
heaped, for a strange desire was on her to seek for love 
through things above and things below, until she should 
rest in it for ever. 

" And she wandered on ; and from some houses came 
forth the glare of lamps, and the noise of song and revelry ; 
but with it curses and shouts of strife ; and from others the 
moaning of anguish, and the shrieks of despair. . . . 

" And she shuddered and turned away. ..." 

Five years before Charles Kingsley had penned the 
Rhapsody, he had witnessed strange things at Bristol 
during the riots. He was then a shy and timid boy 
of twelve or thirteen years of age, and the horror of the 
scenes then witnessed left a deep mark on his mind, as 
he says himself. The mqb_of Bristol was accounted 
then as the most notorious for fierceness in the country, 
and it Avas at the time roused to a paroxysm of passion 
by the appearance of Sir C. Wetherell, the most un- 


popular man in all England, visiting tlie city as Recorder. 
Groans and yells, hooting and hissing from the crowd 
greeted him wherever he appeared, and the business of 
the court had to be adjourned on account of these in- 
terruptions. He barely escaped personal violence by 
flight from the Mansion House in disguise, and troops 
had to be sent for to quell the riot. The mob set fire 
to some of the public buildings of the city, and the 
Bishop's palace was entirely destroyed, the Cathedral 
nearly sharing the same fate. With great difficulty, 
and not without some shedding of blood, order was 

In a work entitled The Working-Drum's Way in the 
World, being the Autobiography of a Journeyman Printer, 
published in 1844, we have the sober sentiments of a 
workman of the period dwelling on these events, and, 
what is remarkable as coining from this source, showing 
the darker side of the picture reflecting unfavourably 
on his own class, the writer speaks of the riots as 
" hideous bacchanals, where Gorgon ugliness, matured 
in the filth and squalor of Bristol's darkest dens, and 
slums of slime and excrement, was in strict keeping 
with the seething hell of riot and rapine around . . . 
the saturnalia of robbery and license got up under the 
pretence of liberty and reform." In a lecture delivered 
by Kingsley in Bristol twenty-seven years after this 
event, he tells us how it taught him his first lesson 
in social science. He speaks of the dark figures 
flitting to and fro across what seemed the mouth of 
the pit, but which was in reality a prison in flames ; 


the central mass of fire as he saw it from a distance 
rising behind Brandon Hill, and a day or two afterwards, 
in close proximity, the ghastly row of corpses, or frag- 
ments of corpses, in front of the ruins of burnt buildings. 
" It is good for a man," he adds, " to be brought once at 
least in his life face to face with fact, ultimate fact, 
however horrible may be " these base facts of life in 
lower regions, and the base morality it breeds. More of 
this he saw in later life, and describes, to show how the 
" dangerous classes " and the " dangers of society " arise 
from natural causes in the condition of things when 
the " better classes " neglect their social duty ; what 
things may happen when greed and grasping selfishness 
and heartless self-indulgence in the classes above bring 
out the tiger and the beast in those below — social revolts 
being neither more nor less than a reverting to a former 
type of social co-existence, where the elemental strife 
and struggle for existence prevails, unmitigated by the 
higher forces of civilization. " One day," relates Mr. 
John Martineau, in a letter to Mrs. Kingsley, printed in 
the Letters and Memories, " as he was reading with me, 
something led him to tell me of the Bristol riots in 
1832. He was in that year a school-boy of thirteen, at 
Bristol, and had slipped away, fascinated by the tumult 
and the horror, into the midst of it. He described — 
rapidly pacing up and down the room, and with glowing, 
saddened face, as though the sight was still before his 
eyes — the brave, patient soldiers, sitting hour after 
hour motionless on their horses, the blood streaming 
from wounds on their heads and faces, waiting for the 


order which the miserable, terrified Mayor had not 
courage to give ; the savage, brutal, hideous mob of 
inhuman wretches, plundering, destroying, burning; 
casks of spirit broken open, and set flowing in the 
streets, the wretched creatures drinking it on their 
knees from the gutter, till the flames from a burning 
house caught the stream, ran down it witli a horrible 
rushing sound, and, in one dreadful moment, the 
prostrate drunkards had become a row of blackened 
corpses. Lastly, he spoke of the shamelessness and 
the impurity of the guilty, the persecution and the 
suicide of the innocent. 

" ' That sight,' he said, suddenly turning to me, 'made 
me a Radical.' 

"'Whose fault is it,' I ventured to ask, 'that such 
things can be ? ' 

" ' Mine,' he said, ' and yours.' 

" I understood partly then, I have understood better 
now, what his radicalism was." 

The effect on an emotional and excitable nature like 
Kingsley's was both instantaneous and indelible, a 
photograph imprinted on the mind to become an ever- 
present image, like the figure or sketch in the studio of 
the artist catching the eye at times, and unconsciously 
directing the hand as it works at his own creation, and 
giving colour to the picture of his own imagination. 

When Kingsley's father removed to Chelsea in 183G, 
as rector of St. Luke's parish, another and by no means 
favourable view of social and clerical life presented 
itself to the son's mind. He is disgusted with the 



narrow conventionalities of middle-class respectability, 
and the hollowness of religious professions as then 
in vogue, and the paltriness of religious polemics, the 
reiteration of inane commonplaces, and the round of 
duties performed with puny egotism by the clerics and 
the clerically-minded lay-workers with whom he was 
brought into contact. His soul loathed much " the 
dapper young lady preachers " who visit the poor and 
read the Bible to them in " the most abominable scenes 
of filth, wretchedness, and indecency." The young 
ladies might have done worse, we think, and young 
Kingsley is rather too hard upon them, " falling in love 
with the preacher rather than the sermon," which is a 
practice not only of young women, but some old women 
of both sexes. We may imagine how Kingsley, a 
youth of seventeen, disgusted with the sight of these 
humdrum performances of " Church work," would turn 
to his Plato, which, his tutor at King's College, London, 
tells us, influenced much his mind at this period of his 
life, an influence, it may be inferred from his choice of 
Plato's works as a prize essay at Cambridge, continued 
long afterwards. Like most modern men of mark in 
the study of social and economic questions, Kingsley 
had to pass through a period of scepticism, a fact 
which it is not difficult to account for. Honest doubt 
is a characteristic of deeper minds, which are not easily 
satisfied with either the logical inconsequences of 
easy-going theological orthodoxy or the rank platitudes 
of social optimism. Eager souls are not as easily 
satisfied in their search after truth and social happiness 



as the sluggish in temperament and the slow in 
imagination and intellectual grasp. The excitable 
temper of a highly nervous nature quickly perceives 
flaws in argument, and with the rapidity of sympathetic 
insight notices faults in social arrangements which 
leave the average man indifferent to the sorrows and 
sufferings of toiling humanity. Kingsley belonged to the 
former class. He conquered his doubts as he did most 
things, in a manly fashion, and lived to restore the faith 
of others who came to him for guidance. But what is 
more to our purpose in this sketch, he was thus enabled 
to cope with the difficulties of belief as they presented 
themselves to the minds of Chartists and Secularist 
leaders of the people with whom in after life he was 
thrown together, and over whom he thus exercised a 
most powerful influence. It is also curious to note that 
among the intellectual restoratives of his own beliefs 
were the works of Carlyle. In this, too, he showed 
the feelings of that generation of thinking young men, 
who, like his distinguished friend and future brother-in- 
law, Professor Froude, dissatisfied with the shallowness 
of prevailing make-beliefs, found in Carlyle a master 
who taught them to seek refuge in work whilst trying 
to combat their doubts. " Toil is the condition of our 
being," Kingsley writes to an Oxford friend from 
Cambridge in 1842; "our sentence is to labour from 
the cradle to the grave. But there are Sabbaths 
allowed for the mi ad as well as the body, when the 
intellect is stilled, and the emotions alone perform 
their gentle and involuntary function." 


At this time, and in the interval between taking his 
degree and proceeding to his curacy, he began to write 
the life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the subject of the 
Saint's Tragedy, into which it was transformed a few 
years later. When it is finished, he says he will begin 
the life of St. Theresa, to show the contrast between 
the working ascetic and the dreamy mystic, the celibate 
and married saint. The two lives represent to him the 
social and religious aspects of the Christian's life on a 
high level which had now become Kingsley's Ideal. In 
a similar way, a kindred mind, the Comte de Mont- 
alembert in France, approached the life of St. Elizabeth. 
To both it came as an inspiration to prepare them for 
their future labours in the cause of social and political 
reform on a Christian basis, respectively. Thus the 
study of ideal characters and saintly lives attract the 
finer minds, and help in building up the spiritual 
system of souls, fitting them for the actualities of 
public life when the time has come for giving effect 
to ideal conceptions. It may be matter of surprise 
to some why an ardent spirit like that of Kingsley 
was not at this time attracted, as were other gifted 
Cambridge men, by the Oxford Movement, which was 
a "movement for deeper religion, for a more real 
and earnest self-discipline, and a loftier morality, and 
more genuine self-devotion to a serious life." The 
explanation is to be found mainly in his peculiar 
temperament, which in many respects was antipa- 
thetical to that of the men who set the movement 
a-going. His excitable nature was repelled from their 


studious reserve and reticence, and their cautious, 
almost conscientious, abstinence from emotional religion 
and the exhibition of warmth of religious sentiment. 
They, like him, were intense, but repressed sternly 
the feelings which were too deep almost for expres- 
sion. His impatience of trifles and proneness to in- 
accuracy in matters of detail, his hastiness in grasping 
at conclusions, his " impulsive and almost reckless 
generosity" — these and other characteristics naturally 
repelled him from the men who were the opposite of 
all this constitutionally, or by means of a self-deter- 
mination on high grounds and severe discipline. He 
finds himself crying like a child as he listens to the 
tunes of some strolling fiddler under the window at 
Eversley, and though half ashamed of the emotion, he 
records it unblushingly in a letter to his future wife. 
Such a mobility of temperament was utterly at variance 
with the studied evenness of tone which was the early 
note of the leaders in the Oxford Movement. Besides this, 
Kingsley was opposed toto ccelo to their ascetic views of 
life. When the Tracts for the Times appeared, we are told 
he discussed them from the merely human, and not 
the religious point of view. He fiercely denounced the 
ascetic view of sacred human ties, sapping, as he 
thought, the very foundation of family and national 
life. His honest naturalness shrank from what ap- 
peared to him and many others at the time the 
" non-natural " sense of accepting religious truths, and 
the tortuous party methods which he criticized later 
in his controversy with Newman, but which, if it 


turned out a mistake, was so far important that it 
provoked the publication of the Apologia, the most 
remarkable book of this descrij^tion in the English 
tongue. Nurtured as Kingsley's mind had been by the 
theological speculations of Coleridge and F. D. Maurice, 
it had some affinities with the intellectual side of 
the movement. For it was in one aspect, at least, a 
vigorous attempt to grapple intellectually with religious 
problems, to restore rationality and backbone to religious 
discussion. None could sympathize more than he did 
with those men of the movement who like him were 
"talking strong" against the inane mediocrities of the 
day, defending the truths, as they called it, without 
being able to grasp in their feeble ineptitude the 
deeper problems of life and religion. But Kingsley's 
conception of religion in its human as distinguished 
from its ecclesiastical as]3ect, gave him a leaning 
towards what was best in the Low Church party at this 
time, whose depth and subtlety of knowledge of the 
human heart he admired. Both high and low have 
their good points, but " we must be catholic," he says, 
" without the partial or favourite views of Christianity, 
like the Dissenters and the Tractarians." 

" Those who throw off humanity by lovelessness," he 
remarks elsewhere, " or Manicheism, seem to me, if 
they could succeed completely, beyond the pale of 
God's Church, which is the collective healthy humanity 
of the earth, and therefore beyond the pale of the 
spirit ! " 

He called himself a mystic in theory and an ultra- 


materialist in practice, "the most prosaic and matter- 
of-fact of parsons," fishing, riding, hunting for beetles, 
and sometimes after other game, yet, he said once to 
his curate, " I am nothing if not a priest." The fact 
is, he had, as the latter puts it, a certain ideal of his 
own as to personal holiness and Church regimen which 
left him " a free lance in the ecclesiastical field." His 
Broad Church opinions were a refuge from the more 
narrow conceptions of Evangelicalism and Sacerdotalism 
alike. He was ready to accept whatever good there 
was in either. { But he felt that both lacked the one 
thing which he felt was needful for the time, a deep 
sense of the importance of religion in its social bearings: 
Moreover he had in him, both as a child of nature and 
a naturalist, a form of natural religion and a dash of 
Wordsworthian nature-worship. 

Thus when he wanders about in his parish in the 
bright July sun shortly after settling down to work in 
Eversley, and takes one of his lonely woodland baths, 
as he called it, this suggests to him, he naively states, 
thoughts of Paradise. " I know not," he says, " whether 
they are foretastes of the simple bliss that shall be in 
the renovated earth, or whether they are back glimpses 
into the former ages, when we wandered beside the 
ocean of eternal love ! " Then after an apposite 
quotation from the ode on the Intimations of Im- 
mortality, he refers to the sermon of J. H. Newman 
on Reverence, as if in mind comparing his own nature- 
worship with the severe tone of a high-strung supra- 
natural devoutness in the great leader of the Tractarians, 


and remarks — " I was frightened at a sermon of 
Newman's on ' Christian Reverence,' in which he tries 
to show that Christ used to 'deter' people and repel 
them." But he adds further on, "Talking of the 
Tractators — so you still like their tone ! and so do I. 
There is a solemn and gentlemanlike and gentle 
earnestness which is most beautiful, and which I wish 
I may ever attain." But he has no symjuathy with 
"the moaning piety and something darker" in their 
writings. Yet, in a letter dated 1868, he speaks of the 
Dream of Gerontius, which he has just read, " with awe 
and admiration," and is glad that the man has appeared 
to teach our generation a sense of reverence which it is 
in danger of losing. The severe sternness with which 
the younger Kingsley could not readily sympathize was, 
as he felt later on, a tonic sadly needed at the time 
to restore a healthy vigour to the nabbiness of the 
religious nerves and muscles, to send a current of 
spiritual force through the system of National Religion, 
to restore a higher sense of sacredness of Divine 
things among a generation given to sanctimonious 
dallying and dawdling. Such was his own reverence 
and high tone in the performance of sacred functions, 
that a gentleman of the Press threatened to remove 
his son from Wellington College after attending College 
chapel where Kingsley was officiating on this occasion, 
because of his " high doctrine," a story vouched for by 
the present Archbishop of Canterbury, then head of the 

What might have happened if the Oxford Movement 


and the Christian Socialist movement had joined hands, 
and what impulse such a union of effort might have 
given to the social and religious reform which the 
country needed at the time, it is impossible to imagine. 
"Newman, too," we are told in the history of the 
Oxford Movement by Dean Church, lately published, 
" had laid down that the Church must rest on the people, 
and Froude looked forward to colleges of unmarried 
priests as the true way to evangelize the crowds." 
And, again, that as to Newman's sermons at St. Mary's, 
" what they aspired to revive and save, was the life of 
religion, the truth and substance of all that makes it 
the hope of human society." But the times were un- 
favourable to such a confluence of the streams of 
religious and social movement, and a coalescence of 
high and noble aims in their differently and diversely 
constituted and gifted promoters. 

The air was charged ' with religious controversy. 
Kingsley speaks of himself as an " Ishmael of Catho- 
licity," and complains of the state of religious opinion 
as the " salt asphaltic lake of polemics " — Popery and 
Puritanism fighting their battle over again in England 
on " the foul middle-ground of Mammonite infidelity." 
He longs for a new Order of St. Francis, a brotherhood 
of religious genius to cope with our social difficulties. 
For parsons have degenerated into a body of rural 
police in the country, and the Church has become an 
ecclesiastical system unable to meet the spiritual needs 
of a rioting democracy in the towns. He sees the 
finger on the wall writing its " ' menc, mene' against 


Anglicanism and Evangelicalism at once — both of 
which more and more daily prove to me their utter 
impotence to meet our social evils." ..." In plain 
truth, the English clergy must Arnold-ize, if they do 
not wish to go either to Rome or to the workhouse 
before fifty years are out. There is, I do believe, an 
Arnold-ite spirit rising ; but most laudant, noil seqtiun- 
tur. Decent Anglicanism, decent Evangelical Con- 
servatism (or Evangelicanism) having become the 
majority, is now quite Conservative, and each party 
playing Canute and the tide, as it can scramble in 
turn into the chair of authority." That in all this 
Kingsley in no way exaggerated the state of things, 
may be seen from what appears in the recorded sayings 
and writings of working-men leaders and the mouth- 
pieces of popular discontent at the time. Here Ave 
see the most forcible strictures of popular religion 
expressed in a tone of sad and sincere regret, and 
coupled with touching appeals to the representatives of 
the National Church to rise to the occasion, and to 
apply once more the force of religion as a spiritual 
leverage power for the elevation of the people. Thus 
William Lovett reminds religious people of this surpass- 
ing importance of duty as distinguished from doctrine 
in matters of religion, of conduct as more important 
than mere convictions which the religious world then 
thought all-important. 

" When our religious convictions are based on duty, 
when we are clearly led to perceive that a certain and 
conscientious course of conduct is necessary to be observed 


by every individual in this world to secure individual 
happiness and human well-being, we have a hopeful and 
stable religion, urging us from day to day, and from year 
to year, to our best efforts for the enlightenment, moral 
elevation, and general improvement of humanity." 

And after dwelling on the futility of great reverence for 
religion in theory in the bishops and clergy and religious 
people generally, whilst neglecting its practical appli- 
cation to the duty of the individual and social life — 

" Eemember that the highest Christian duty, the highest 
moral duty, as well as the highest of our political duties, 
all point to the same great end — that of improving and 
perfecting our fellow-creatures intellectually, morally, and 
physically, so that they may be enabled to enjoy the highest 
amount of happiness in this world, and be the better 
prepared for the enjoyment of the next." 1 

From such expressions we may learn what warmed 
really the spirit of such a man as Kingsley to something 
like fever-heat. The plot is thickening, as Kingsley calls 
it, with " the poor Church of England, the clergy busy 
with their commenting and squabbling and doctrine- 
picking, while the world of labour turned away from 
the Church with disgust." Things came to a head in 
1848. He had been watching the rising tide of Chart- 
ism in his own parish. He had done his best, had 
preached to the people on the subjects of the day, on 
emigration, poaching, and the political and social dis- 
turbances of the hour. Now he felt he must join his 

1 T)\e Life and Struggles of William Lovctt, in his pursuit of 
Bread, Knowledge, and Freedom. London, 1S76, pp. 383-5, 435, 
and passim. 


friends in London and take his share in the work of 
quelling the storm. His utterances in this first essay of 
coping with the question are supposed to have been 
very outre', and are excused by some of his friendly 
critics and apologists, defended on the ground that he 
lest his head a little in the first blush of the general 
excitement. We cannot see anything of the kind in 
the sayings and writings of the period to justify this 
line of defence. We note, on the contrary, a wonderful 
amount of calm judgment considering the man's 
character and the state of the public mind at the 
moment. It is his critics who at the time lost their 
heads, not he, in their formidable fear of the dangers 
with which they supposed society was threatened. He, 
braced up by years of quiet repose and communings 
with nature in his country retreat, keeping sufficiently 
in touch with the intellectual and social movement 
throughout the country, by means of correspondence 
and personal intercourse with his London friends, was 
well equipped to form a judgment on the state of 
affairs, better at least than those who lived in the 
whirlpool of excitement. This comes out in one of the 
papers to Chartists, which he wrote for Politics of the 
People, specially addressed to the Chartists at the time. 
Its subject is the British Museum, which he calls " a 
true, equalizing place, in the deepest and most spiritual 
sense," and then goes on to show how in the higher and 
ideal enjoyments of man all are equal ; how the poorest 
journeyman contributing cheerfully his mite to the 
palace of Art in the National Museum stands on the 


same platform with the wealthiest contributor to such 
national institutions, and accordingly may claim the 
same right to enjoy the noble treasures there stored up. 
He adds : " I never felt this more strongly than some six 
months ago, as I was looking in at the windows of a 
splendid curiosity shop in Oxford Street, at a case of 
humming-birds. I was gloating over the beauty of 
these feathered jewels, and then wondering what was 
the meaning, what was the use of it all. . . . Xext me 
stood a huge, brawny coalheaver, in his shovel-hat and 
white stocks and highlows, gazing at the humming- 
birds as earnestly as myself. As I turned he turned, 
and I saw a bright, manly face, with a broad, soot- 
grimed forehead, from under which a pair of keen 
flashing eyes gleamed wondering, smiling sympathy into 
mine. In that moment we felt ourselves to be friends. 
... I never felt more thoroughly than at that minute 
(though, thank God, I had often felt it before) that all 
men were brothers ; that fraternity and equality were 
not mere political doctrines, but blessed, God-ordained 
facts ; that the party Avails of rank and fashion and 
money were but a paper prison of our own making, 
which we might break through any moment by a 
single hearty and kindly feeling ; that the one Spirit 
of God was given without respect of persons ; that 
the beautiful things were beautiful alike to the coal- 
heaver and the parson ; and that before the wondrous 
works of God, and of God-inspired genius, the rich 
and the poor might meet together, and feel that what- 
ever the coat or the creed may be, ' A man's a man for 


a' that,' and one Lord the maker of them all." And 
then the clenching argument founded on all this : 
" For believe me, my friends, rich and poor — and I 
beseech you to think deeply over this great truth — that 
men will never be joined in true brotherhood by mere 
plans to give them a self-interest in common, as the 
Socialists have tried to do. No : to feel for each other 
they must first feel like each other. To have their 
sympathies in common, they must have not one object 
of gain, but an object of admiration in common; to 
know that they were brothers, they must feel that they 
have one Father ; and a way to feel that they have one 
common Father, is to see each other wondering side 
by side at His glorious works." 

Not all his utterances reach this high level of serene 
impartiality and unclouded vision in the rarefied region 
of true social philosophy. He himself describes his 
own state of mind at this time as chaotic, piecemeal, 
passionate ; he feels like the " wild man of the woods," 
who cannot speak the truth without disturbing in his 
own soul " a hornet-swarm of lies." But it is a Divine 
mania which has taken hold of him ; it is " the word of 
the Lord like fire in my bones." But his self-deprecia- 
tion must not be taken too seriously. One thing is 
certain, the Chartists thought him mealy-mouthed like 
the rest of his cloth. He is wounded when they and 
their clients approach him with suspicion. He gives 
expression to this in a letter to Thomas Cooper, after 
reading the latter's poem, The Purgatory of Suicides, and 
appealing to a poet's sympathy to understand him better 


than the rest. " Just because I am a clergyman," he 
says, " the very office which ought to have testified 
above all others for libert\ r , equality, brotherhood, for 
time and eternity," becomes the occasion of distrust. " I 
felt myself bound, then, to write to you, to see if among 
the nobler spirits of the working-classes I could not 
make one friend who would understand me ... I 
would shed the last drop of my life-blood for the social 
and political emancipation of the people of England. 
... I want to work with them ; I want to realize my 
brotherhood with them. I want some one like yourself, 
intimately acquainted with the mind of the working- 
classes, to give me such an insight into their life and 
thoughts as may enable me to consecrate my jDowers 
effectually to their service." 

His health broke down under the pressure of work 
and excitement, and he had to seek rest at Ilfracombe. 
Before returning thence to his parish he goes to London 
to attend again Chartist meetings, and meetings in con- 
nection with land colonization and the association of 
tailors. He is delighted to discover by this time that 
his village sermons are lent from hand to hand among 
the South London Chartists, and that the Manchester 
men actually stole a copy of the Saint's Tragedy — a 
sign of their better understanding of his sympathies 
with their cause. The old spirit is upon him again ; 
we see it from the manner in which he describes his 
master at the business meeting of this Tailors' Associa- 
tion. "Last night," he writes June 12th, 1849, "will 
never be forgotten by many, many men. Maurice 


was — I cannot describe it. Chartists told me this 
morning that many were affected even to tears. The 
man was inspired — prophetic. No one commented on 
what he said. He stunned us ! I will tell you when I 
can collect myself." 

And with this impression on his mind as to the 
magnitude of the task before them, and the magnanimity 
of the man who led them to discharge it, he returns to 
Eversley. His life there, as a country parson, as the 
minister of reconciliation in things sacred and social, 
engaged in the literary labours which quickly estab- 
lished his fame, and how far some of them helped to 
popularize the movement, will be described in the next 
and following chapters. 



In 1842 Kingsley took charge of the curacy of 
Eversley, to which he was appointed as Rector two 
years later, and where he spent thirty-three years of his 
life. Here, remarks one who knew him intimately 
in this beautiful home-scene and truly ideal English 
Rectory, was " the fountain-head of all his strength and 
greatness." The surrounding scenery though lovely is 
not exciting. With acacias on the lawn, a glimpse of 
the fir forest and moors at a distance, the old Windsor 
forest forming part of the parish boundaries, there was 
just enough and not too much in the environment to 
inspire a quiet and young parish priest in his labours. 
The people among whom he was to minister were 
" heth-croppers," and, we are told, poachers by instinct, 
and there is a curiously half disguised sympathy with 
poachers in the poems written about this time. How 
quickly Kingsley caught the spirit of his surroundings, 
and learned to assimilate his nature and identify his 
own instincts with those of the people whose spiritual 


director he had become, may be seen in a passage 
taken from the Prose Idylls, and quoted in the Letters 
and Memories of his Life. 

" The clod of these parts is the descendant of many- 
generations of broom squires and deer-stealers ; the instinct 
of sport is strong within him still, though no more of the 
Queen's deer are to be shot in the winter turnip-fields, 
or even caught by an apple-baited hook hung from an 
orchard bough. He now limits his aspirations to hares and 
pheasants, and too probably once in his life 'hits the 
keeper into the river,' and re-considers himself for awhile 
over a crank in Winchester gaol. "Well, he has his faults, 
and I have mine. But he is a thorough good fellow, 
nevertheless ; civil, contented, industrious, and often very 
handsome, a far shrewder fellow, too — owing to his dash of 
wild forest blood, from gipsy highwaymen, and what not — 
than his bullet-headed and flaxen-polled cousin, the poor 
south Saxon of the chalk downs. Dark-haired he is, ruddy, 
and tall of bone, swaggering in his youth ; but when he 
grows old, a thin gentleman, reserved, stately, and courteous 
as a prince." 

With such a fund of sympathetic intelligence in 
descrying the character of his people, and accordingly 
adapting himself, as he says somewhere, "trying to 
catch men by their leading ideas, and so draw them 
off insensibly to my leading ideas," he gains respect 
and affection. Found to be by these wild young fellows 
neither a " young Methodist " nor an " effeminate 
ascetic," " they dare not gainsay, but rather look up to 
a man who they see is their superior, if he choose to 
exert his power in physical as well as intellectual skill." 
And this Ave are told was the secret of his influence 



and success in Eversley. He could discuss the rotation 
of crops with the farmers, and understood hedging and 
ditching as well as the labourer. He could swing a 
flail and pitch hay as well as the best of them, nor was 
he surpassed by a sportsman all the country round for 
his knowledge and skill as a fisherman or a huntsman, 
yet he is the clergyman all the same, and whilst using 
these subsidiary means for ingratiating himself with his 
parishioners, he does so because they are auxiliary to 
higher ends. The parish had been badly neglected 
before he came, and he sets to work at once to redeem 
it "from barbarism," and the evil effects of pauperism. 
" I am trying in my way to do good ; but what is the 
use of talking to hungry paupers about heaven? 'Sir,' as 
my clerk said to me yesterday, ' there is a weight upon 
their hearts, and they care for no hope and no change, 
for they know they can be no worse off than they are.' 
And so they have no spirit to arise, and go to their 
Father. Those who lounge upon down beds, and 
throw away thousands at Crockford's and Almack's — 
they, the refined of this earth, have crushed it out of 
them. I have been very sad lately, seeing this, and 
seeing, too, the horrid effects of that new Poor Law." 
The man who felt like this and looked into the condition- 
of-the-people question with clear eves, would naturally 
attract toward his person, and influence by his teaching 
the people of his parish, whose trials he so well under- 
stood, and helped to bear. Everybody knew and loved 
him for his naturalness and perfect ease. There was 
a perfectly good understanding between minister and 


people. He really respected the poor, as all will who 
them intimately; he revere 1 them in their heroic and innate kindliness, there was the 
chivalric courtesy and consideration for them 
all the rest, and there was no artificiality in it. li 
■.led the ideal country parson drawn by Words- 
ly ho is, or was then, more common in 
Scotland than in England. 

" Man he I 
As man ; and, to the mean and the ol 
And all the homely in their homely | 
Tran.ferrd a courte-y which had no air 
Of conde-.oen.don." 

Of course he set in motion the whole mac 
of ordinary parish institutions on a more ex- 
scale even than that of the v. ell -organized parish 
of the present day, a very unusual thing in ti. 
of country p m tes ' 

, loan fund, lending library, adult evening i 
held three- times in the v.eek at the Rectory 
through his ezeri ihool-room was built, village 

B, singing classes for adults to introduce Church 
music on Hullah's plan to supersede the instrui 
music of trombone and clarionet, and much 1 
In other things he- not only equalled but e 
in self-sacrificing energy and effort the earnest <• 

do lack of earnestness and zeal 
in the ordinary routine of parochial work, though there 

of the- .-' 

starched clerical officialism which mars the 


work of many a good clergyman who is too much 
of the cleric and too little of the man. Besides this 
Kingsley somehow found time for a multiplicity of other 
important engagements, literary and tutorial, as well as 
for simple and healthy enjoyments in field and forest, 
stream and mountain, for which others have neither 
the capacity nor the will, but which vastly added to 
his own usefulness. His good-humour and love of 
fun and frolic endeared him to all with whom he 
came into contact, and it helped him considerably to 
make life tolerable and happy in his country retreat. 

In a letter written in the first year at Eversley and 
signed humorously "Boanerges Roar-at-the-Clods," he 
invites a friend to come and cheer up his loneliness. 
Peter comes and sees him living in a thatched cottage, 
but, as he remarks, as happy as if it had been 
a palace, and cheerful withal notwithstanding the 
monotony of the daily task. Nor in after life at 
any time does he express any desire to leave the 
simple village. He found the monotony "pleasant in 
itself, morally pleasant and morally useful," as he puts 
it, and we may add intellectually fruitful. Here in 
the heart of the country and amid the occupations 
of rural life he found the calming and healthily 
stimulating and never exciting influences to steady 
and brace his susceptible mind for his best work. 
Yeast and Alton Locke might have lost little if Kingsley 
had composed them amid the stirring life of towns. 
But the Saint's Tragedy, Hypatia, and the most 
finished productions of his pen, not excluding his 


more important contributions to the Christian socialist 
publications, were the better for his life in comparative 
retirement. He seldom went to London, and when 
a friend pressed him to come up and hear one of his 
own songs finely sung in public, he refused. "I love 
home and green fields more and more, and never lust 
either after Babylon or the Continent." A quick in- 
telligence, like Kingsley's, readily followed the move- 
ments in the world beyond his own church steeple, and 
there was little in the current of events which escaped 
his notice. The fact is, the true nature and tendency 
of the more prominent movements in society and the 
current of events can be watched with a closer scrutiny 
and more intelligent interest from a distance and a per- 
manent standpoint, such as life in the country affords, 
than by an observer placed in the midst of the shifting 
scenes and turmoil of town life, especially if the observer 
be a man of Kingsley's excitable temperament. 

Nor is a country parson's life as uneventful as some 
imagine, especially if, like Charles Kingsley, he is 
ever on the alert to see the significance of events, 
and to turn them to spiritual profit. Thus, when the 
cholera broke out in his own parish, he does not take 
simply precautions to seal the Rectory hermetically 
against infection, and to improve the occasion on 
Sundays by preaching sermons full of "precautionary 
piety," teaching his people to think of the uncertainty 
of life and to prepare for that which is to come ; but 
himself ubiquitous in his parish, a true parish priest, 
like Aaron standing between the living and the dead, 


lie inculcates from the pulpit the duty of sanitary 
precaution to save life, and varies his parochial work 
by laying out plans for draining the parish at those 
points where low fever had prevailed, and, moreover, 
engaged in a crusade against dirt and bad drainage 
elsewhere by speech and pen. So, again, when diph- 
theria breaks out in Eversley, he disregards the great 
duty of self-preservation, and runs at the risk of his 
own life and that of his dear ones from cottage to 
cottage with bottles of gargle and other medicaments 
to prevent the progress of the disease. Again, when 
a great heath fire breaks out among the flats, even 
if it happens in the middle of Divine Service, the Rector 
is seen actually rushing out of church, leaving the 
curate to finish the service, whilst he sallies forth 
armed with bill-hook, organizing bands of beaters, going 
forth, himself among the rest, to resist the further 
advance of the flames, and during the night going 
round to inspect the country and cheering the watchers, 
and so preserving the firs he loved so much from being 
consumed by fire. Thus, as Mr. C. Kegan Paul puts 
it, Kingsley, " with a twenty-parson power," though un- 
like the ordinary conventional parson in most respects, 
managed to administer his parish so ably, to read with 
his pupils, to write his books, to keep up a consider- 
able correspondence, yet always having a considerable 
reserve of nervous tissue for interesting conversation, 
and for occasional fishing, riding, and walking. And 
all this with a physical frame powerful and wiry 
indeed, but having the seeds of decay which shortened 


his life. It shows how much may be done by a wise 
economy of labour, and avoidance of frittering away 
the best hours of the day by what the French term 
choses pour Hen dire. How he managed it may be 
seen from the agenda of a single day as sketched by 
his wife, referring to his work in the winter of 1850. 
He rose every morning at five, and wrote till breakfast. 
He then worked with his pupils and at his sermons. 
In the afternoons he visited the people ; the evenings 
were occupied in teaching the adult school and super- 
intending the fair copy of Alton Locke made by his 
wife. In his w r alks, or at the trout-stream, or engaged 
in any out-door occupations he would think out most 
of the thoughts committed to writing, mostly by dicta- 
tion, afterwards. Sometimes when pressed for time he 
would write during the greater part of the night after 
everybody had gone to rest. Thus, as will be seen, 
he lost little time, and crowded much work into a 
comparatively short but "highly vital life," as Bishop 
Wilberforce calls it in a letter addressed to Kingsley 
in 1869, containing the compliment, which coming 
from such a source adds the stamp of orthodoxy on 
Ins life and labours : " I am quite certain of your 
powers being used on the side of that truth which 
so many, as it seems to me, in their way longing to 
support it, distrust and dishonour." The restlessness 
of Kingsley's mind prevented him from coming under 
that dreadful bane of even the gifted country parson, 
namely, intellectual immobility or retarded intellectual 
development, because all things round him move 


so slowly, and the discharge of his simple duties is 
apt to generate perfunctoriness in their performance, 
and a relapse into learned or it may be unlearned 
ease. His case is an instance to point a comforting 
lesson to the friends and relatives of " able " young 
men, for whom they are in constant fear lest they 
should be " lost in the country." As a safe and sound 
fulcrum for a wider influence, Kingsley's position in 
the country was of much value. Mr. J. Martineau 
bears testimony to this in a letter to Mrs. Kingsley 
giving his recollections of him — 

" As it was an unspeakable blessing to Eversley to have 
him for its Rector, so also it was an inestimable benefit to 
him to have had so early in life a definite work to do 
which gave te his generous sympathetic impulses abundant 
objects and responsibilities, and a clearer purpose and 
direction. Conscious, too, as he could not but be, of great 
powers, and impatient of dictation and control, the repose 
and isolation of a country parish afforded him the best and 
healthiest opportunities of development, and full liberty of 
thought and speech, with sufficient leisure for reading and 

Besides this, the truly able clergyman makes every 
event and circumstance and act, unimportant to 
ordinary persons or parsons, significant and interesting 
by the reality he gives to it, and raising it by his 
own innate elevation of tone to a higher level. Club- 
day in a country district is a kind of holiday, important 
to those concerned in it, but to the eye of the outsider 
presenting little interest, having even an air about it 
of the ludicrous in the exhibition of antiquated forms 


of a would-be grand paraphernalia, and the quaint 
titles of the chief office-bearers not always supported 
by corresponding dignity in person and bearing. 
Kingsley sees the kernel of which these are only the 
outward shell. He preaches to the people assembled in 
the church on that verse of the twelfth chapter of the 
Corinthians, in which the Church is represented as an 
association, with its spiritual force and functions dis- 
tributed on a unifying principle ; shows how the world as 
it is, is a " selfish competitive isolating form of society," 
and holds up the social ideal of the Church, in which 
diverse powers differently used contribute to the common 
end; shows how the early Christians had all things in 
common in accordance with this principle, i. e. " the 
uniting socialist one" — socialist, that is, as opposed 
to selfish individualism — and leads the minds of his 
hearers on to what he calls the millennium, the king- 
dom of God a perfect society here on earth. Thus 
he hallows the occasion, and lifts the minds of his 
hearers out of the region of commonplace reflection 
to something higher and better. In the letter which 
records this fact he speaks of his occupation during this 
Whitsun-week. On Friday he goes a-fishing, but the 
perch will not bite. Then goes to see E. H. to read 
and pray with her. On this he remarks, " How one 
gets to love consumptive patients ! She seems in a 
most happy, holy state of mind, thanks to Smith " (the 
curate). He sees another patient, and sits a long time 
with her. Then he goes to look up John, who had had 
bad luck in fishing, hooking a huge jack, which broke 


everything in a moment, and went off with all his 
spinning-tackle. They were caught in a storm, which 
Kingsley describes with his realistic intensity, not 
omitting to state how he prayed when he saw the 
danger they were in. Then follows a vivid account of 
birds nesting, and an inventory of his treasures re- 
served for hen and chicks, and so forth. In all this 
we have the man exactly as he is, a strange mixture 
of earnestness and fun, deep reverence and rollicking 
cheerfulness, serious without falsity or affectation, 
bright and brimful with high spirits, yet with a real 
sanctity visible in all he does and says, without a 
shadow of sanctimoniousness, varying his occupations 
from grave to gay without losing his moral equilibrium, 
work and relaxation alternating with each other to 
keep up the intellectual balance. Only on rare occa- 
sions he gives way to a momentary feeling of weariness 
arising from over-exertion and exhaustion, when — and 
this more towards the close of his life — he says at 
times to his wife, " How blessed it will be when it is all 
over ! " 

It will not be out of place here to say a few words on 
Kingsley in his own parish church ; of the Rector sur- 
rounded by visitors on the lawn ; of the man in his 
home life and the circle of his family and intimates, to 
show how well he succeeds in that peculiar mission of 
the country parson, civilizing, enlightening, elevating, 
energizing rural life, and raising it above the low level 
of mental dulness and grovelling care into a nobler 
and more fruitful existence. The present taste for 


biographical sketches of the personal and home life of 
celebrated men and women is not altogether a bad sign 
of the times. People desire to know whether the man 
whose public work they admire so much is really what 
he seems to be in his writings, what are his personal 
habits and his life at home, for there have been cases 
of social philanthropists, and even religious reformers, 
who deserved the epithet, "A devil at home, and a saint 
abroad." The power of moral tension demanded in 
private virtues is much greater than what will suffice 
in the exhibition of public beneficence, because it is 
constantly called into requisition and under constant 
observation. Kingsley's life in the small area circum- 
scribed by the parish boundaries, bears inspection. The 
man and the social missionary, the writer and the 
person who wrote, were all of one piece, and cast in 
one mould. What struck those who watched him in 
the regular performance of his ecclesiastical functions in 
the church at Eversley, was the unprofessional sincerity 
of his devoutness, the loyal and loving rendering of the 
Church services without the slightest accretion of would- 
be pious attitudinizing, or over-studious attention to 
ritualistic detail, that kind of scrupulous and punctilious 
carefulness in gesture and movement which lessens 
rather than increases the solemnity of worship, and 
tends to magnify the officiating priest rather than the 
Creator and Preserver of all mankind. As to his teaching, 
he accepted ex animo, and without mental reservation, 
the teaching of the Church to which he belonged, avoid- 
ing conscientiously the vagaries of Broad Churchism, as 


well as those of the High and Low Churchmanship. 
To accept anything in the formularies in what Mr. 
Ward called a "non-natural sense," was simply impos- 
sible to a man of such transparent naturalness as 
Kingsley. To express unnatural feelings, so as to arouse 
the religious emotions in others, would to him have been 
as impossible as seeing its display in others would have 
been to him a loathing sight. For this reason the 
present Archbishop, as Chancellor Benson and head 
of the Lincoln Theological School, held up Kingsley as 
a pattern for young clergymen. " I never did," he says, 
in his letter to Mrs. Kingsley, "and I believe I never 
shall, see anything that spoke so loud for the Church 
of England as never to be put away, as did the morning 
service in Eversley Church, whether he read or preached." 
It is a long way from an archbishop to a curate ; but 
curates — and every curate is a potential archbishop — 
can be severe critics at times ; we would quote, therefore, 
the impressions made on the mind of one of Kingsley's 
curates by way of contrast. After describing how, one 
Sunday morning, the Rector walking from the altar to 
the pulpit suddenly disappeared, owing to the fact, as 
was afterwards discovered, that en route a lame butter- 
fly arrested his attention, and which accordingly he 
conveyed to the vestry as a place of refuge pro tem., 
he goes on to compare his village to his town sermons, 
and remarks : " To my mind, he was never heard to 
greater advantage than in his own village pulpit. I 
have sometimes been so moved by what he then said, 
that I could scarcely restrain myself from calling out, 


as he poured forth words, now exquisitely sad and 
tender, now grand and heroic, with an insight into 
character, a knowledge of the world, and a sustained 
eloquence which, each in its own way, were matchless." 
In the manner of preaching we note the same charac- 
teristics of complete unconventionality, the ring of 
artless sincerity, transparent truthfulness, telling direct- 
ness of speech and definiteness of thought, never too 
deep, and never approaching shallowness, a style always 
plain and never bald, original in the sense of not being 
a repetition of commonplaces, which made the spoken 
word powerful, because it came from the inner depths 
of the man himself. His sermons, short, pithy, unpre- 
tentious, have the merit above all things of what Mr. 
Matthew Arnold would call lucidity. They are clear 
with the clearness of a narrow trout-stream such as 
his soul loved, but not to be compared with the 
breadth and depth of the ocean of thought such as we 
look for in the sermons of Robertson or Newman. We 
can understand how the poor men in the free sittings 
would settle themselves into an attitude of attention, 
as we are told they did as soon as he gave out his text, 
and how in preaching he would try, but ineffectually, 
to maintain calmness, his eager intensity and power of 
emotional force within him gaining the mastery over 
him ; his eyes aflame, his wiry frame vibrating with 
terrible earnestness, as he delivered his message here in 
the dimly-lit and sparsely-attended church. During the 
evenings in Passion Week he would exhibit the same 
solemn tone and look of inspiration, overpowered by 


the subject, and forgetting the surroundings, damping 
enough to the ordinary preacher — a sure sign of depth 
of feeling and self-forgetful enthusiasm, thus unsustained 
by the real or supposed sympathetic rebound of feeling 
from a large assembly of appreciative hearers. To this 
quality of spiritual force in the man and his message, 
must be ascribed the power of his sermons and their 
immediate effect, and also in a secondary manner on 
those who read them in their published form. A 
clergyman, working in an important city parish, speaks 
of the twentj^-five village sermons as " a plank to a 
drowning man," which " kept me from sinking in the 
' blackness of darkness ' which surrounds the unbeliever. 
Leaning upon these, while, carried about by every wind 
of doctrine, I drifted hither and thither, at last, thanks 
be to God, I found standing-ground." 

We have read a number of them and other published 
sermons of Kingsley's, preached on different occasions 
and in a variety of places, including the Westminster 
sermons among the rest, with a view to discover the 
secret of their power and popularity. But, to be per- 
fectly candid, much as we feel inclined to pass a favour- 
able dictum, much as we admire the ease of diction, the 
shrewd common sense, the charm of simplicity which 
pervades them, the complete freedom from tedious 
circumlocution and turgid verbosity which spoils the 
sermons of even able but much-occupied men ; much, 
too, as we admire the undoubted eloquence of a number 
of passages here and there, specially as in the case of 
the sermon preached at Bideford on " Public Spirit," or 


the sermon on " Human Soot," preached in Liverpool, 
under the inspiration of the place and the congenial 
nature of the theme, we cannot, speaking critically, 
place these sermons in the first rank of pulpit oratory. 
What rendered them popular at the time was no doubt 
their utter unlikeness to the dreary sermons of the 
day delivered by scholarly and good men with all 
the droning dignity and somnolent solemnity of re- 
spectable Church of Englandism, and also their un- 
likeness to the highly-spiced, flashy, and inflammatory 
effusions of O'Blare-aways, the men of sound without 
sense of whom he gives a picture in Yeast, and who 
are so mercilessly held ujd to ridicule and contempt in 
the stories of Anthony Trollope and other painters of 
the clerical life of that time. It was refreshing at last 
to hear a man say exactly what he meant, and who 
meant something in what he said to his hearers; to 
listen to one who never affected what he did not feel, 
and who felt very deeply every word he said ; a preacher 
whose aim was not to produce pleasant ripples of 
emotion in well-dressed, pious virgins, and waves of 
approval in severely critical dames, even those whom 
Robertson when in Cheltenham called his Muslin 
Episcopate, causing at the same time deep sleep to 
fall on the men, not, as in the case of Eliphaz the 
Temanite, accompanied by thrilling inspiration. In 
Kingsley's racy, manly village sermons there were no 
asides for the benefit of the cushioned pews, to show- 
how the parson could lecture inferiors on their duties 
to the powers that be, including perhaps the Deity, but 


certainly not excluding the squire. As if acute villagers 
could not see through such a trick, and despise the 
parson accordingly, and justly so ! Nor were there here 
in these sermons the usual appeals in vogue at that 
time to selfish fears and debasing hopes. " You know," 
he said to a clergyman of our acquaintance who came 
to be interviewed as his future curate, " I don't allow 
swearing in my church." What he meant was, of 
course, he never would encourage denunciation against 
the guilty in the " old style," though he could hold up 
the stern aspect of religious truth when the occasion 
required it. Here, then, there were sermons free from 
conventional phrases and party passwords, without a 
painful attention to word-building, written as the ideas 
welled up in the heart, put into appropriate words, 
spontaneous, suggestive, informal; they had actuality, 
the very quality which was wanting mostly in the 
average sermon of the day. Freshness of treatment, 
truthfulness in utterance, a poet's quickness and per- 
ception in the use of tropes and illustrations, and a 
shrewd man's directness of aim, a power of seizing 
rapidly a few salient points, expressed in simple, well- 
selected words and phrases, distinguished by conciseness 
of form rather than completeness in substance, adapted 
to the power of attention in an average audience, which 
cannot bear the strain of close and prolonged reasoning, 
— such were the qualities of his discourses, qualities in 
themselves quite sufficient to gain for them a widely- 
enjoyed and well-earned popularity, enhanced by the 
fact that these sermons were preached by a man rendered 


famous by his other works, and certainly not diminished 
by Charles Kingsley's well-known acceptableness as a 
court preacher. 

The parish itself after a time became the centre of 
attraction to many who either sympathized with the 
social aims or had become interested in the literary 
productions of the Eector. One of these was the Eight 
Hon. Thomas Erskine, who came to reside in it, and 
soon became the friend and counsellor of Charles 
Kingsley. At his house, Fir Grove, Kingsley met many 
men of congenial minds, and formed some of the most 
important friendships of his life. Visitors, too, came 
to Eversley from many quarters, either drawn by 
curiosity or coming to receive counsel and advice : 
Americans, and among them a formidable rival as a 
writer of social fiction, Mrs. Beecher Stowe ; philan- 
thropists, and social and sanitary reformers nearer 
home, notably Mr. Chadwick, to mention one out of 
many. At the church on Sundays might be seen 
Crimean officers, who had come over from Sandhurst 
or Aldershot to hear the author of those stirring stories 
which had whiled away weary hours in field hospitals 
in strange lands whilst their wounds were healing. 
Other strangers came to fill the church during the 
summer months, a by no means unmingled source of 
gratification to the Rector, who often used to say, " I 
cannot bear having my place turned into a fair on 
Sundays, and all this talking after church." More 
congenial to his tastes were the talks on the lawn 
under the fir-trees, with a group of guests often including 



men either famous at the time or become distinguished 
since. It was a motley crowd of Churchmen and 
Dissenters, Unitarian ministers and future Archbishops ; 
even Queen Emma of the Sandwich Islands came to 
visit the author of the Water Babies, which her husband 
had been reading to their young prince. 

Letters, too, streamed in from various quarters when 
personal intercourse was rendered impracticable, some- 
times from unknown persons, as one signed " A Chartist 
and a Cabman," thanking him for the pleasure derived 
from Alton Locke ; another from a barrister writing from 
South Australia, thanking him for the comfort derived 
from his sermons ; one from a Wesleyan minister from 
Grahamstown; from China; another from the other 
side of the Rocky Mountains — in short, from all points 
of the compass these missives came to assure him of 
his wide influence. At the same time he corresponds 
on subjects of scientific and literary interest with such 
>,men as Darwin, Huxley, Matthew Arnold, and Lionel 
Tollemache, not to mention a host of others. One feels 
almost overwhelmed by the variety of subjects and the 
versatility of a mind which could address itself to all 
of them with intense interest, for his letters on these 
different subjects invariably display a carefully-directed 
attention to each point under discussion ; they are not 
replies written off in the eager rapidity which the 
severity of strain on the minds of most men of note in 
the present day almost renders an obligation ; but they 
are carefully- weighed and patiently-considered judg- 
ments formed by a quick but thoroughly conscientious 


mind. We might instance among them those letters on 
Strikes and Trades Unions, written in reply to questions 
put to him by his London friends, who, though 
writing themselves from the scene of action to one who 
lived far from it, could not help acknowledging the 
wisdom and good sense of his advice. If it be recol- 
lected, moreover, that all this while Kingsley has a 
multiplicity of other engagements, brain work of the 
highest order, and the multiplicity of small worries which 
take so much out of a man, however free from or able 
to conquer impending mental irritability, Kingsley never 
lost the cheerful tenor of his even temper, and the 
unfailing genial humour in his home-life and in contact 
with those around him. To his own children, and those 
of his friends, he was always the same bright, cheerful, 
light-hearted friend and playfellow. " I am staying 
near Kingsley with my wife and children," writes F. D. 
Maurice to Daniel Macmillan in 1852, "who love him 
almost as much as I do." Equally touching was his 
unfailing tenderness to his aged mother, brightening up 
her last years of failing health, always having a cheer- 
ing word in her moments of depression, and equally 
touching attention to a delicate wife, forgetting or 
trying to forget his own hard work and worry in the 
interest of his family. " There he sat," says his son, 
" with one hand in mother's, forgetting his own hard 
work and worry in leading our fun and frolic, with a 
kindly smile on his lips, and a loving light in that bright 
eye that made us feel that in the broadest sense of the 
word he was our father." His curate, speaking of his 


own reminiscences of Kingsley's "heroism in home- 
life," tells the same story, and we have heard others 
who knew him in the intimacy of the home circle con- 
firm the same impression, and one who by no means 
loved Kingsley as a man after his own heart, that he 
was never greater than at his own fireside. " Home 
was to him the sweetest, the fairest, the most romantic 
thing in life ; and there all that was best and brightest 
in him shone with steady and purest lustre." 

The same cheerfulness of a loving temperament 
and affectionate thoughtfulness for others accompanied 
him in his walks through the parish ; it was the power 
of radiating warmth and light which drew all men 
towards him. The parish was near his heart at all 
times, and therefore all hearts were full of affection for 
him, though, of course, not all in the same degree ; but 
none could resist such genuine and perfectly natural 
love for his people as was that of the Rector of Eversley. 
He identified himself with Eversley, and when the 
enclosure of Eversley Common was decided upon it was 
a real distress to him. " Eversley will be no longer the 
same Eversley to me," he said with a pang. Imme- 
diately on his return from the American tour, though 
not yet recovered from his illness in Colorado, he throws 
himself into his parish work eagerly, glad to return to 
his simple parishioners, and in the prevalence of much 
sickness and mortality among them, visiting them twice 
and three times a day in a burning sun and dry easterly 
wind. One or two such facts are quite enough to show 
the relation of parson and people. There are excellent 


men and conscientious, who, somehow, when placed in 
country parishes, forfeit not only their ministerial, but 
personal and social influence exactly from the want of 
this common feeling, and the absence of anything like 
a common interest between them and their parishioners. 
They and their friends complain of the want of appre- 
ciation of their hard work and good intentions all thrown 
away on people who cannot understand the purity of 
their motives and excellence of their intentions. Not 
so with Charles Kingsley. He did not think of himself, 
and his dignity was never offended ; he thought and 
lived for others, and so they thought well of him, and 
loved him because they simply could not help it, and, 
like his Master, " having loved his own, he loved them 
to the end." For this reason he would never leave it 
for any promotion except a canonry, which permitted 
him to stay there. "Even a deanery I should shrink 
from," he writes in 1869 to a friend congratulating him 
on his appointment to a canonry at Chester ; " the home 
to which I was ordained, where I came when I was 
married, I intend shall be my last home : for go where 
I will in this hard-working world, I shall take care to 
get my last sleep in Eversley churchyard." 

The angel of death made his appearance in the 
Eversley home sooner than was expected. When for 
the last time he returned to it from Westminster 
Abbey in 1874, and his wife was taken seriously ill, so 
much so that hopes of her recovery were abandoned, he 
said, "My own death-warrant was signed with these 
words." She recovered, but he was taken ill, and 


though he made a "splendid fight for life," he suc- 
cumbed, and the night came in which he said, "No 
more fighting — no more fighting," and resignedly he 
passed away. Villagers, selected by himself on his death- 
bed, carried him to his resting-place in the church- 
yard — those who had known, loved, and trusted him for 
years. The highest and lowest in the land stood round 
that grave, representatives of every phase of life, because 
the capacious mind and large-hearted soul of Charles 
Kingsley had a sympathy which knew no bounds for 
all, and on the white marble cross placed on his grave, 
and "under a spray of his favourite passion-flower, were 
the words of his choice, the story of his life — " 

"Amavimus, amamus, amabimus," 

and above them circling round the cross — 

" God is Love." 

Such was Kingsley's life in Eversley from first to 
last. It was in complete harmony with the noble 
chivalry and the high aims breathing in his writings 
and social aims, extending wide and far his influences 
beyond it. It is a remarkable proof of the unity of 
his life and mind, his simple activity in a small sphere 
entirely corresponding with the creations of his genius 
penetrating the wider world beyond. 



" The Abbey is open for the Canon and the Poet," 
wrote Dean Stanley to Mrs. Kingsley immediately after 
the death of her husband, and no one would have 
grudged him a place in Poets' Corner at that time, or 
now. Still, it is not on his poetry — i. e. in the restricted 
sense, to the exclusion of poetic fiction — that his fame 
must permanently rest. In ballad poetry among moderns 
Kingsley has not his equal, and his songs and some of 
his shorter pieces are exquisite. Moreover, all his prose 
writings, especially his novels, were interpenetrated 
with the spirit of poetry, and it may be added, without 
taking upon ourselves in this place to speak of Kingsley 
as the man of letters, had he devoted himself entirely 
to poetry and the drama, his emotional force, his un- 
doubted power of description, his spiritual insight which 
enabled him to read nature like an "illuminated 
missal," the characters of which he understood suffi- 
ciently, as he puts it, so as to represent the unseen 
by the seen, and his aptness to throw a poetic charm 
around the most commonplace situations and events, 


his love for the romantic, and above all his idealism — 

all these were calculated to make of him a great poet. 

But here we are only concerned to speak of his poetry 

as interpreting his social aims and subjective experiences 

in his social studies; as when in 1841 he tells us how — 

" Through sunless cities, and the weary haunts 
Of smoke-grimed labour, and foul revelry, 
My flagging wing has swept." 

Why he flagged so soon after producing seven years later 
the Saint's Tragedy, he has told us in one of his letters : 

" I never wrote five hundred lines in my life before the 
Saint's Tragedy . . . and I have not read half enough. 
I have been studying all physical sciences which deal with 
phenomena. I have been watching nature in every mood ; 
I bave been poring over sculptures and paintings since I 
was a little boy — and all I can say is, I do not know half 
enough to be a poet in the nineteenth century, and have 
cut the Muse pro tempore? 

This was in December 18-iS, after the appearance of 
his chef d'oeuvrc, his first and last attempt as far as Ave 
know at dramatic writing. It was the product of his 
youthful mind, written under the pressure of social 
and religious problems which then occupied him and 
all the world, and bearing the unmistakable impress 
of an overpowering intensity. Hence it is not in 
manner, polish of style, and artistic skill, all that 
might be desired. Though received with favour at 
Oxford, Professor Conington wrote an unfavourable 
review of it, which, however, led to a lifelong friend- 
ship between author and critic — a professor of Greek 
comparing it with classic models could not fail finding 


fault with its incoherencies. The Saint's Tragedy 
conies nearer in its forcefulness and wealth of diction 
to the Elizabethan drama, though it could not bear 
a close comparison with Shakespere in his maturer 
productions, and Chevalier Bunsen's prediction that 
Kingsley was destined to carry on Shakespere's historical 
plays has not been fulfilled. The Saint's Tragedy bears 
traces of the restlessness of the nineteenth century, 
and Kingsley's own state of mental excitement ; it lacks 
the quality of calm development and severe solemnity 
in the progress of its action which we look for in 
the most finished works of the tragedian. As in 
the poem on The Bad Squire, and A New Forest 
Battle, only preceding the Saint's Tragedy by a year, 
and some other poems in Yeast of the same period, 
there is too much visible effort, the fever-heat of the 
social passion is not only expanding the poet's soul, 
but detrimental to calm workmanship, cool self-recol- 
lection, and plastic force under control. 

But there is the passionate glow in the poet's soul 
which richly compensates for the absence of these 
formative powers, and if we miss perfection of form, we 
are reconciled by the thought that there is here a 
perfect freedom from that artificiality and close attention 
to purity of style which, as in the case of the French 
tragedians, produces a sense of unreality and ineffective- 
ness. Kingsley was not the man to " behowl the moon 
in any poetry, however exquisite." We have here the 
poet at work, as described by himself, a 
"Joyous knight-errant of God, thirsting for labour and strife, "' 


throwing himself heart and soul into his subject, seeing 
in St. Elizabeth a kindred spirit haunted by the 
thoughts and struggling with the problems which 
agitated his own soul, though how far and to what 
extent in his then disturbed state of mind he could 
not clearly determine. In one thing the aims were 
identical, to quote the last line in the poem addressed 
to the authoress of Our Village, in whom, too, he saw 
a kindred aim — 

" To knit in loving knowledge rich and poor." 

In the mediaeval saint he saw the qualities of "wisdom, 
self-sacrifice, daring, and love" imperfectly displayed, 
which he knew were needed in all their plenitude for 
such a task. Love for the people was the link which 
most strongly attached the poet to the chief person in 
his creation. In this respect the Saint's Tragedy differs 
from the dramas of Shakespere and Goethe, in which 
" the people " do not form a conspicuous element, or 
where, at least, popular aspirations are not treated so 
seriously or sympathetically. In the Tempest the com- 
munistic ideal is held up to gentle ridicule. In the Roman 
and one or two English historical plays of Shakespere, 
popular leaders and those they lead receive scant con- 
sideration. We might quote a number of passages 
from Faust to illustrate Goethe's serene contempt 
for the social aspirations generally associated with the 
French Revolution. Love for the people, the demo- 
cratic element in poetry, is of later growth. Even 
Tennyson's social philosophy has been characterized as 


anti-popular in this sense, the Poet Laureate himself 
as a " conservative believer in progress," and an " un- 
reformmg optimist," rather than as an advocate of those 
who spend their life in laborious poverty and a prophet 
of social reform. 1 This was in 1874. Lord Tennyson 
has since become less a believer in progress, but not 
more a believer in popular movements and the power 
of the people to work out their own destiny. Kingsley 
in the Saint's Tragedy has nothing in his composition 
of the " Poet — Pangloss." He indeed knew the faults 
of the people, but never treats them with contemptuous 
pity. Yet his hand turns more readily to their would- 
be deliverer, St. Elizabeth, "the only healthy popish 
saint" in the Calendar. 

As far back as 1843 the study of her life had occupied 
Kingsley's mind. Unlike the Comte de Montalembert, 
he has not told us how first he became acquainted with 
it. But as he shared some of the characteristics of the 
French nobleman — his impetuosity, his chivalry, and his 
manly love of fighting on the losing side for " God and 
Society," his immovable cloudless faith, his belief in the 
Church to become a "league for social good"; so, too, 
it may be surmised that in both cases it was elective 
affinity which drew both men to the same character in 
similar states of mind. 

Similar but not identical feelings attracted the 
mind of Kingsley towards the Hungarian princess. To 
Kingsley the character of " Dear Elizabeth " has a 

1 See an article on Mr. Tennyson's " Social Philosophy," by 
Lionel Tollemache, in the Fortnightly Review for February 1874. 


peculiar fascination, and in 1846, "Dear Elizabeth is 
now becoming too far developed to cut her in pieces, 
and serve her up in a magazine : she shall appear in a 
poem, if I wait seven years to finish her." But be- 
hold, in another year this resolution to follow the 
Horatian maxim is broken. After consulting with some 
of his friends, and encouraged by them to publish, 
especially by Maurice, who undertakes to submit the 
MS. to Mr. W. Coleridge, Tennyson, and "Van Arte- 
velde Taylor," he hands it over to Parker, and writes 
to his friend Powles : " St. Mizaheth is in the press, 
having been taken off my hands by the heroic mag- 
nanimity of Mr. John Parker ... no one else would 
have it." 

A version of the story of Elizabeth in a dainty poetic 
form, peculiar to himself, has been lately given by 
Lewis Morris in his Vision of Saints, including many 
of the apocryphal incidents of her life omitted by 
Charles Kingsley, and we scarcely need dwell on these 
by way of introduction — how the young princess, living 
as a child and maiden in the uncongenial atmosphere of 
the Thuringian court as the affianced bride and wife of 
the young Landgrave Lewis, becomes a rare example of 
humble piety ; how in her " great pity for the labouring 
world " she strips herself of gorgeous apparel to clothe 
the naked, and is reduced to beggary in feeding the 
hungry ; how she empties the royal granaries to save 
the starving multitude, and when expelled the castle 
by court intrigues in the absence of her husband, she, 
even in a life of privation at Marburg, continues her 


work of charity ; how at last, and by order of her 
relentless father confessor, the last luxury of giving is 
withdrawn, and under a "soul-crushing asceticism" and 
severe discipline her feeble frame gives way, and she 
dies at the age of twenty-four, reverenced as a martyred 
saint by those who, in her lifetime, added to the weight 
of cares by their want of appreciating her single-minded 
devotedness to duty. Mr. Maurice in the preface to the 
Tragedy, and Kingsley in his own introduction to it, 
have given us clearly to understand that the subjective 
struggles of the heroine are intended to symbolize the 
mental struggles of her age, the conflict between the 
manly or human, and monkish or ecclesiastical ideal of 
perfection, and also that the Tragedy is intended for the 
study of those who watch or engage in the struggles of 
soul peculiar to our own times, that here we have 
reflected, in a picture of thirteenth-century life, the 
spiritual conflicts of eager and earnest souls in the 
nineteenth. Accordingly, we find in the first two Acts, 
the theme is discussed how far marital love and the 
possession of goods may be lawful and expedient for 
those who would live the religious life ; whether in an 
age of "heathenry," where people swear "by the sleeve 
of beauty, Madam," it is not the duty of the religious 
to stem the tide of secularism by a complete abstraction 
from the world : therefore, says Elizabeth — 

" I'd die a saint ! 
Win heaven for her by prayers, and build great minster 

chantries and hospitals for her ; wipe out 
By mighty deeds our race's guilt and shame." 


Lewis, her affianced husband, almost anticipating 
Rousseau's revolt against the positive laws of property 
in civilized society, speaks of it thus : 

" Possession's naught ; 
A parchment ghost ; a word I am ashamed 
To claim even here, lest all the forest spirits, 
And bees who drain unasked the free-born flowers, 
Should mock, and cry, ' Vain man, not theirs, but ours. ' " 

When Walter of Varila, the incarnation of " healthy 
animalism," points out that " possession's beef and ale " 
— and moreover " the easiest trade of all, too " — Lewis 
inquires — 

" How now ? What need then of long discipline, 
Not to mere feats of arms, but feats of soul, 
To courtesies and high self-sacrifice, 
To order and obedience, and the grace 
Which makes commands, requests, and service, favour. 

Why then, if I but need, like stalled ox, 
To chew the grass cut for me." 

Walter has his worldly-wise answer ready for him — 

" Custom and selfishness will keep all steady 
For half a life.'' 

So speaks the " dawning manhood of Europe " in the 

restraints of Christian ethics. Of course the high- 
flown sentimentality of Lewis and Elizabeth meet with 
little favour in the world around them. To it Elizabeth 
is only " a canting baby," who was christened a " brown 
mouse for her stillness," Lewis a besotted fool with his 
conscientious scruples. Yet, fool as he is, he wisely 


discerns the unwisdom in the two extremes of Walter 
the Worldling and Conrad the Churchman. He re- 
minds the former of the duties of property — " Toil is the 
true knight's portion " ; he tells the latter that labour 
without love and the service of humanity without 
chivalric sentiment are incomplete. The worship of 
the Virgin, he shows, is not inconsistent with woman 
worship ; as for himself, he prefers a living saint who 
can incite him to noble acts. 

" From her lips 
To learn my daily task ; — in her pure eyes 
To see the living type of those heaven-glories 
I dare not look on ; — let her work her -will 
Of love and wisdom as these straining hinds ; — 
To squire a saint around her labour field, 
And she and it both mine ; — that was possession." 

That living saint is Elizabeth, only she is too high 
above him in her exalted sense of duty, yet he reasons — 

" Is wedlock treason to that purity 
Which is the jewel and the soul of wedlock 1 
Elizabeth ! my saint ! " 

" You love her, then ? " inquires the shrewd Walter, 
who sees a healing quality in this mundane love for 
the " male hysterics " of impractical idealism and emas- 
culating pietism. In answer to this a passage follows 
as near akin to Shakespere's playful muse as is to be 
met anywhere in its expression of youthful fondness. 
Elizabeth's struggle consists in this, that she has 
neither the stuff to be a nun right out, or to be a 
complete wife either, as she says herself — 

" Too weak to face the world, too weak to leave it." 


But she is a woman, and all things bid her love. 
She, not being mistress of herself, sends for Lewis, 
accordingly, — " bring him to me — he is mine." And 
thus human love triumphs. After that doubt and 
self-distrust return with renewed force. " Have I two 
husbands ? " Can she be at the same time the spouse 
of Lewis and Heaven ? Taming " the rebel flesh " is 
hard. In her religious struggles she seeks refuge in a 
" boiling crater field of labour," healing the sick and 
soothing the sad. Thus, then, "two weakling chil- 
dren" err in their earnest search for the true path of 
duty. Thus the revelation comes to Elizabeth of the 
fearful state of things in the condition of those below 

" We sit in a cloud and sing like pictured angels, 
And say, the world runs smooth — while right below 
"Welters the black fermenting heap of life 
On which our state is built." 

She experiences what so many experience in the 

present day, resolves what some few high-souled men 

high-placed socially or intellectually above the crowd 

have attempted in their yearning to help the poor in 

their struggles — to mention a modern instance, Laurence 

Oliphant, to show that this species of mystic is not yet 

extinct — 

" I will taste somewhat this same poverty, 
Try these temptations, grudges, gnawing shames, 
For which 'tis blamed : how probe her unfelt ill ? 
Would'st be the poor man's friend ? Must freeze with him — 
Test sleepless hunger — let thy crippled back 
Ache o'er the endless furrow ; how was He, 
The blessed One, made perfect ? Why, by grief — 


He read the tear-stained book of poor men's souls, 
As I must learn to read it." 

And so far from repenting of this act of self-effacement, 
forgets the whirl of doubt in happy toil, and exhorts 
others to find consolation in such holy effort. 

" Be earnest, earnest, earnest ; mad, if thou wilt : 
Do what thou dost as if the stake were heaven, 
And that thy last deed ere the judgment day. 
When all's done, nothing's done. There's rest above — 
Below let work be death, if work be love ! " 

In contrast with this there follows a scene in which 
nobles and Church dignitaries discuss economic ques- 
tions quite in the orthodox fashion of the students of 
political economy in Kingsley's time. They talk fiercely 
of " the stern benevolence of Providence," teaching the 
poor " the need of self-exertion," and in the course of 
the conversation Conrad's sermon is mentioned in which 
he speaks of clerics " aping the artless cant of an aris- 
tocracy who made them, use them, and despise them" — 
was Kingsley acquainted with any such, we wonder, in 
his own day ? — and Count Walter breaks out in bitter 
persiflage against the small pedant, — " your closet philo- 
sopher, who has just courage enough to bestride his 
theory ... for truly man was made for theories, not 
theories for man. A doctrine is then men's God — touch 
but that shrine, and lo ! your simpering philanthropist 
becomes a ruthless Dominican." 

But the upshot of it all is, that Elizabeth follows 
her inner promptings during the short spell of happy 
married life, until Lewis follows his call, and goes forth 


as a Crusader. In the severe trial of parting Elizabeth 

nearly gives way to feminine weakness, all but gratifying 

her enemy's sneer — 

" Those saints who fain would ' wean themselves from earth,' 
Still yield to the affections they despise 
When the game's earnest." 

But then she recovers her power of resolve after a 
temporary yielding to human infirmity, and says — 

" Life is too short for mean anxieties : 
Soul, thou must work, though blindfold." 

The next two Acts of the tragedy are full of her 
personal trials and wrongs endured heroically on the 
removal of her natural protector ; she experiences, too, 
what few escape who come in close contact with the 
crowd, specially those who fall from high estate, how- 
ever undeserved the fall may be — the ingratitude of the 
ignorant and the coarse unfeelingness^ of the ignoble. 
But perfected through suffering, she attains at last to 
" the strength which comes by suffering." She is far 
from being crushed by the failure of her self-imposed 
mission. For as her waiting-woman says — 

" These higher spirits must not bend 
To common methods ; in their inner world 
They move by broader laws." 

When the old nurse in the chamber of the "Wart- 
burg remonstrates with her for taking all this trouble 
" about the ungracious poor," Elizabeth only speaks of 
the duty of fasting and mourning while the bridegroom 
is away. When the new Landgrave's man sent to turn 
her out becomes rude with the coarseness of his kind, 


she reasons sweetly with him, reminding him how she 
nursed his wife in sickness, and when he proves imper- 
vious to this argument, she still persists in trusting to 
the higher instincts of the people — 

" Lead on : a people's love 
Shall right me." 

When the monks refuse reluctantly to give her shelter 
on the ground that they must obey the powers that be, 
and Guta, her waiting-woman, exclaims — 

" Mean-spirited ! 
Fair frocks hide foul hearts. Why, their altar now 
Is hlazing with your gifts " — 

Elizabeth gently retorts — 

" Well — here's one lesson learned ! I thank thee, Lord ! 
Henceforth I'll straight to Thee, and to Thy poor." 

When an unworthy object of her bounty in better 
days reads her a rasping lecture on her false humility 
and "selfish hypocritic pride," using the poor man's 
body as "stones to build withal your Jacob's ladder," 
to raise herself in the Scala Dei, Elizabeth accepts it as 
a heaven-sent lesson, and even discerns much wisdom 
in the crone's rebuke. 

"Dull boors 
See deeper than we think, and hide within 
Their leathern hulls unfathomable truths, 
Which we amid thought's glittering mazes lose. 
They grind among the iron facts of life, 
And have no time for self-deception." 

Then again, by way of contrast, there follows an 
exquisite bit of dialogue between Elizabeth and her 


uncle the Bishop of Bamberg — a kind of Bishop Blou- 
gram, the very picture of a mediaeval Gallio, whose 
great motto is, " We must be moderate : I hate over- 
doing anything — especially religion," and he certainly 
never errs in excess of religious zeal except in sanction- 
ing the persecution of heretics. He serves as a foil 
to bring out the ardour of his niece, whom an adverse 
world has not been able to subdue, and who has been 
taught a noble self-reliance by misfortune ; henceforth 
she is independent of the world's praise and blame in 
following her own ideal — 

" I have snapt opinion's chains, and now I'll soar 
Up to the hlazing sunlight, and be free." 

And so she leaves her uncle's palace for a hut or 
cottage in Marburg. Here the climax of the struggle 
is reached. She is taught to give up all, even her 
children, though not without agonizing thought full of 
doubt and despair accompanying the act of self-renunci- 
ation. Here we hear the voice of the world's sorrow 
muffled by mediaeval surroundings, but, like the cry of 
the human heart in all ages, as in Job, in the Prometheus, 
in the Divine Comedy, in Hamlet, in Faust, so here in 
St. Elizabeth it ends with a tone of sad resignedness, 
in which we read something like the neo-stoicism of 
our age, the Christian Iphigeneia self-immolated on 
the Marburg high altar — 

"Come, the victim's ready." 

Kingsley's power of entering into the mediaeval spirit, 
and speaking through Conrad the " heretic-catcher," 


from whom not only several centuries of thought, but 
an impassable gulf of diversity of temperament separates 
him, in his own thought more than once displays a gift 
of spiritual assimilation rarely met even in kindred 
minds. But here, as in the poem of St. Maura, we 
have the same sympathetic appreciation of saintly 
asceticism and pious mysticism which in turns attract 
and repel his ardent spirit. "Even self-torture," he 
remarks in the notes to the Saint's Tragedy, " will have 
charms after the utter dryness and life-in-death of mere 
ecclesiastical pedantry." But his inmost thoughts were 
put into the lips of Walter of Varila, when he accuses 
monkish piety, or rather charity, as " double-distilled 
selfishness," which gives a " halfpenny for every half- 
penny worth of eternal life " — " a private workshop in 
which to work out her own salvation." What the 
Catholic layman says of the merit-seeking saint in the 
thirteenth has a meaning for the "piety pays best" 
style of travestied Christianity held up to scorn by 
Charles Kingsley in the nineteenth century — " I have 
watched you and your crew, how you preach up selfish 
ambition for Divine charity." Still Kingsley can see 
deeper than this. He knows that the stuff of which 
martyrs and mystics are made is finer by far than the 
coarse clay which is moulded into our matter-of-fact 
practical man of the world; that those who follow 
Christ's law and example of self-extinction and self- 
effacement find true happiness in altruistic endeavour, 
though without seeking it. Quoth Elizabeth : 


" Ay, there lies the secret — 
Could we but crush that ever-craving lust 
For bliss, which kills all bliss, and lose our life, 
Our barren unit life, to find again 
A thousand lives in those for whom we die." 

" Is selfishness 
For time a sin — spun out to eternity 
Celestial prudence 1 Shame ! oh, thrust me forth, — 
Forth, Lord, from self, until I toil and die 
No more for heaven and bliss, but duty, Lord, 
Duty to Thee, although my meed should be 
The hell which I deserve ! " 

Thus we find Elizabeth canonized not only in the 
Marburg convent, but in the literature of England, 
and at the very period when religious conventionality 
reigns supreme, pvhen many there were ready to say 
with the monk in this tragedy, dwelling on the futility 
of social and religious reform, and the efforts of the 
"reformation bitten" Christian philanthropist: "Behold 
the fruit of your reformers ! This comes of their realized 
ideals, and centralizations, and organizations," &o, &c. 
Even the character of Conrad, whose narrow creed and 
cruel spirit of religious domination repels, assumes a 
nobler aspect towards the close ; the tragic horror in- 
spired by his deeds and sufferings, in the end is softened 
into pity as we listen to the eager self-questionings of 
his perturbed soul, and the humble confession of his 
partial failure and mistakes made in good faith. 

" We make and moil, like children in their gardens, 
And spoil with dabbled hands our flowers i' the planting, 
And yet a saint is made." 


" And yet what matter 1 
Better that I, this paltry, sinful saint, 
Fall fighting, crushed into the nether pit, 
If my dead corpse may bridge the path to heaven, 
And damn itself, to save the souls of others." 

He, too, has his terrible doubts of the efficacy of the 
religious system to which his life is consecrated ; but 
his powers are willingly sacrificed to it, and so he finds 
satisfaction in the one great work of his life, though, 
alas ! like all the rest, incomplete. 

" The work is done ! Diva Elizabeth ! 
And I have trained one saint before I die ! " 

And so he expires himself, a victim of his own im- 
moderate zeal, unshaken to the last in his faith in God 
and the power of one saintly life, exclaiming — 

" God ! a martyr's crown ! Elizabeth." 

With these words concludes the Saint's Tragedy. 

Elizabeth, this ethereal creature who will not wear a 
coronet in church, who prefers the cross to the crown, 
" Who shrines heaven's graces in earth's rich casket," 

who, in her sweet humility, shrinks from her high task 

in dread of the weakness of her own fine-wrought 

nature, and yet, "to find my strength in vastness," 

requiring a stronger will to lean against ; so fair in her 

innocent loveliness, that even the stern priests cannot 

help admiring it from a distance — 

" With such looks 
The Queen of heaven, perchance, slow pacing came 
Adown our sleeping wards, when Dominic 
Sank fainting, drunk with beauty ; she is most fair — " 


so womanly in her affection for the husband, so devoted 
as a mother to the babes, while all the time more than 
half afraid of robbing heaven of its due of love and 
loyalty — is held up throughout as an example of con- 
scientious performance of duty under difficulty, trying 
to reconcile the claims of personal and domestic duties 
with those appertaining to " God and society " and 
" God's poor." 

Here, then, we have a drama and a tragedy, a 
picture of high life and low life with their limita- 
tions, in which the principal figure as well as the 
subordinate personages are very far from perfect, incon- 
sistent with themselves, and often out of proper relation 
with the age in which they live ; out of place, so to 
speak, on the stage of life on which they appear. 
Thus Lewis wants the power of action in addition to 
his virtuous amiability and high notion of the sacred- 
ness of marriage. Conrad's noble character, with its 
depth of religious feeling and height of aspiration, 
lacking the breadth which prevents his becoming a 
really great reformer of his Church. The " noble lay- 
religion" of Walter is warj>ed by a touch of scornful 
worldliness, and so — not to proceed any further into an 
analysis of less important personages — the drama be- 
comes a tragedy. The actors being what they are, the 
whole must end in a catastrophe or failure. In this 
consists the tragic element. 

We have been told that in this tragedy Kingsley sets 
up straw men to knock them down, that he keeps on 
thrashing a dead horse, or slaying the slain ; in short, 


that the clanger of asceticism gaining the upper hand in 
England is an imaginary foe which it was not worth 
while fighting. This may be true at this present 
moment, though even now some forms of asceticism 
have a charm for many minds, such as Pessimists with 
Schopenhauer at their head, Theosophists, and modern 
Buddhists, not to mention several varieties of Christian 
ascetics in the Anglican and Roman Communion. In 
1847, the danger, as it appeared to Kingsley's inflamed 
brain, assumed more formidable proportions, and others, 
more calm by disposition, shared with him both the 
fear of Papal aggression and the revival of ascetic forms 
of religion as represented by the Newmanites. Of these 
were the late Prince Consort, a great admirer of the 
Saint's Tragedy, and who, writing to his daughter in 
Berlin in 1860, thus remarks on it — 

" My best thanks for your kind letter of the twentieth of 
June. I was certain that the Saint's Tragedy would not only 
interest and impress you, but that you would comprehend 
and grasp the inner spirit of the work. The substitution 
of doctrines made by stupid men for laws of God-made 
nature is the core of Catholicism — the good God did 
not understand how to make His own world, nature is 
wicked, given over to destruction — a thing to be abhorred. 
Yet stay. Not so. The good God made it in the beginning 
altogether good, and the devil has spoiled His handiwork ; 
it is, to speak properly, the workmanship of the latter, and 
God is unable to help; Himself. Then comes the Church 
and helps Him out of His trouble ; she destroys the 
wicked, degenerate nature for Him, and magnanimously 
gives Him His own. 

" This is the true meaning of the flesh and the devil, 


as presented by the Church. Kingsley has depicted this 
work of the Church in all its purity in ' Elizabeth the Saint,' 
and the reader's own nature shudders before the image of 
what the Church has substituted for God's own work." 1 

But we must also take into account another sense 
under the immediate influence of which the Saint's 
Tragedy was written — the public mind was so agitated 
by the " social condition of the people " question, and the 
attitude of the Church towards it. This gives it its social 
colouring, and when the time has come for the literary 
history of England in the nineteenth century to be written 
by a competent hand, the Saint's Tragedy will in it occupy 
an honoured place as a powerful dramatic expression of 
the social aspirations, from a religious point of view, in 
1848, as conceived not too clearly, but entertained none 
the less fervently by one of the most generous spirits 
of that time. 

In the same way perhaps Ibsen's social dramas will 
rank high as an expression of a similar feeling at a later 
period of the same eventful century, which still more 
than Kingsley's tragedy reflect the disheartening sense 
of futility in attempts of social amelioration and the 
struggles after a higher ideal against surrounding 
prejudice and passion, besotted ignorance, and irrational 
opposition to new ideas. We may be pardoned, there- 
fore, if we add a few remarks by way of comparison 
and contrast between these two writers by way of 
concluding this chapter. Both the Saint's Tragedy and 

1 Tlic Life of the Prince Consort, by Theodore Martin, vol. iv. 
p. 340. 


most of Ibsen's plays have this in common — that they 
were not intended for actual representation on the 
stage, though Ibsen, having himself been royal stage- 
manager at one period of his life, has this advantage 
over Kingsley in knowing the possibilities and limit- 
ations of tragic effect, and the secrets of the art in 
bringing them about. Again, we have in both more or 
less burning questions of the day as affecting modern 
society and social morality discussed, though this is 
done directly by Ibsen, and only indirectly by Kingsley. 
In this discussion, however, there is a wide difference in 
the attitude of mind of the respective writers, separated 
as they are by nearly half a century of continually de- 
veloped thought and discussion since the Saint's Tragedy 
was written. Ibsen is a realist, and writes with the 
" realistic temper " ; Kingsley is an idealist, and writes 
under the full sway of the " idealistic fancy." True, there 
is much realism in his art, so much, indeed, that to some 
minds he has proved even offensive. Ibsen is an idealist 
in his own way. " Do not despise idealists," says one of 
the characters in Gliosis, " or they will avenge them- 
selves." But a trenchant and severe criticism of our 
present society rather than the creation of ideal 
characters, such as St. Elizabeth, is the predominating 
trait of Ibsen's work. 

Another coincidence in connection with this subject 
is the place assigned to woman in the regeneration 
of society ; both Ibsen and Kingsley look to woman's 
influence as a means for the possible realization of a 
higher social ideal. Most of the women in Ibsen's 


dramas are better than the men ; and the perfect 
woman, though very far from coming up to the 
standard of Elizabeth, appears on the stage as the 
saving power amid the deformities of social life. This 
comes out especially in Pillars of Society, where 
Lona reforms one of these " Pillars," who has well- 
nigh ruined the lives of three women, assisted by her 
younger brother, the supposed scapegrace, but who 
really becomes the scapegoat to redeem the really 
worthless character of Bernick. But the grand energy 
of the women in these plays does not compare with the 
manifold graces of Diva Elizabeth, nor the description 
given of woman's saving power in the " Triumph of 
Woman," sketched in Yeast. 

Another coincidence we find in the common faith 
of both Kingsley and Ibsen in the effects of sanitary 
reform. In An Enemy of Society the principal 
character, Doctor Stockmann, is proved in the end 
to be after all " a true friend of the town ; he is 
the saviour of society," in pointing out the dangerous 
condition of watering-places from a sanitary point of 
view. But he is overpowered by the selfish greed of 
his fellow-citizens, who would much rather the truth 
were suppressed, so as not to hinder a considerable 
influx of visitors; from which the man of science 
deduces a theory most pessimistic in its character. 
Not only are the water-works poisonous and the 
hygienic baths built on soil teeming with pestilence, 
but there is a further discovery, that " all our spiritual 
sources of life are poisoned, and that our whole 


bourgeois society rests upon a soil teeming with the 
pestilence of lies." Here we have none of the hope- 
fulness of Kingsley on the same subject ; and that the 
author speaks here his own thoughts is evident from 
the conclusion of the drama, where the hero of the play 
says in view of the rottenness of society — " You see, the 
fact is, that the strongest man upon earth is he who 
stands most alone." The development of the indi- 
vidual seems to be Ibsen's ideal ; it is Carlyle's one-man 
theory. The man of iron will is wanted to save the 
worldly crew we call Society, and woman's destiny it 
is to help in forming strong characters. "All these 
majority-truths are like last year's salt pork ; they are 
like rancid, mouldy ham, producing all the moral 
scrofula that devastates society." Thus speak the men, 
mostly like cynics and fatalists, whilst the women are 
strong in character, standing by the few strong indi- 
vidual souls to support them in their manly struggles. 
Such are Lona, Mrs. Alving, Petra, even in a way 
Iletta. What is required, therefore, according to 
Ibsen's social philosophy, is the creation of a masculine 
aristocracy, an aristocracy of will, to make every man 
in the land a nobleman, and so counteract the morally 
depressing influences of democratic institutions. 

We have here some of the social theories of 
Kingsley, too, but with a difference. Ibsen dwells 
mainly on variation of type in his belief in the evolu- 
tion of a higher morality, and only brings in the 
principle of heredity in its power of transmitting evil 
qualities. Kingsley, as a believer in fixity of form, is a 


believer in hereditary powers and qualities, ancestral 
traits for good preserved as types of moral excellence, 
and therefore he writes in a letter to a friend — "A 
true democracy, such as you and I should wish to see, 
is impossible 'without a Church and a Queen, and, as I 
believe, without a gentry." 1 Moreover, he is a thorough 
believer in the gradual development of the aristocratic 
temper of mind, and with a chivalric love of the past 
combines a better hope for man generally in the 
social evolution of the future. He, too, sees like Ibsen 
much that raises anger and disgust in the social falsities 
of our modern life ; but he does not think with the 
Danish dramatist the world is all built over with 
whited sepulchres. Ibsen is hopeless because unin- 
spired by the religious faith which sustains Kingsley. 
Herein lies the essential discrepancy between the two 
writers, in whom all along we have traced so many 
striking resemblances. And yet such is the power of 
faith in the future, even in the most hopelessly 
desponding social pessimist, that even Bernick in the 
closing words of the play is made to say by way of 
giving effect to the author's theory, " It is you women 
who are the pillars of society." Lona replies, " No, no, 
the spirits of truth and freedom — these are the pillars 
of society." To this saying Kingsley could not have 
objected, though he probably would have added, " Where 

1 In one of the sermons on national subjects he points out that 
the true gentleman or lady are known by their unselfish love and 
devotion to the common weal, irrespective of birth and inherited 


the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," and again, 
" The truth shall make you free." 

In short, Kings! ey's social drama is religious not 
only in the choice of its subject, but in its conception 
and tendencies. To borrow the words of Maurice in the 
preface to it, where he expresses the confidence, " that 
the life of each man, and the life of this world, is a 
drama, in which a perfectly Good and True Being is 
unveiling His own purposes, and carrying on a conflict 
with evil, which must issue in complete victory." 
Religion after all is optimistic. Ibsen, in his power of 
dissecting in a merciless severity and unerring force of 
delineation the vices of society, being only a natural 
realist, keeps too close on the ordinary level of the stage 
of life ; we miss the lifting power supplied by religion 
of soaring above this " low-roofed life " of ours. 
Kingsley, without losing sight of the base facts of life 
and the hypocrisies in the social world, the brutality of 
personal egotism and the insufficiency in many respects 
of social institutions in counteracting these powers of 
evil, yet has sufficient faith in individual regeneration 
and social reform to place a figure on the stage which is 
the noble exhibition of self-sacrifice. She becomes an 
instrument of healing like the serpent raised in the 
wilderness, in conscious endeavour of imitating Him 
whose life and sufferings it was intended to prefigure. 
"Work and despair not" is its lesson. The individual, 
who is striving to rise above the dead level of ordinary 
ethics, individual or social, according to Ibsen, is in 
constant danger of being crushed by the all-powerful- 


ness of a faulty system of society. According to 
Kingsley, the personal excellences of individual 
character and the spiritual forces in society combined, 
mutually elevating, and conjointly developing under a 
Divine impulse, and constantly subjected to Divine 
direction, bring about a gradual transformation in the 
unit and the aggregate. The old Berseker spirit in 
both these modern men cries out, " Be strong." " Be 
strong in yourself," says Ibsen. " Be strong in the Lord, 
and the power of His might," says Kingsley. It is not 
hard to see which of the two has the most bracing 
effect on effort and endeavour in the moral and social 
elevation of mankind. In their differences of style 
and treatment arising from their different views of man 
in society, we note the impassable chasm which 
separates the mere social critic or modern social 
neologian from the Christian socialist — a chasm wide as 
the difference between hope and despair. 


yeast; or, agrarian socialism in the novel. 

What was said of the social drama in the last 
chapter applies with equal force to the social novel, i.e. 
the novel written with a purpose, either to describe the 
effects of certain social evils, or to propound given 
methods of dealing with social problems. It spoils the 
novel from the purely artistic point of view, and fails to 
produce the effect expected from it, in rousing a feeling 
of antagonism in the general reader, who resents being 
taken in by what pretends to be a story told for his 
amusement, but is really " a story with a meaning," a 
parable to convey dry lessons in political economy. 
Yet novelists of the day, such as e. g. Tourgenieff, in 
drawing vivid pictures of country life in Russia, calling 
the attention of the reader to the severe trials and 
troubles of the agricultural labourer, or Mr. Gissing, 
describing with earnestness and fervour the struggles 
of the " nether world " in English cities as " a protest 
against those brute forces of society which fill with 
wreck the abysses of the nether world," have been 
eminently successful in this modern department of 



light literature. But this, we think, not so much 
because of the increased interest taken nowadays in 
social problems, though that counts for something, but 
because novel readers are so much captivated by the 
style of these proficients in story-telling that they resign 
themselves to being lectured on social subjects conveyed 
so pleasantly and without taxing too severely their atten- 
tion. Thus, Father and Sons, or Mr. Baring Gould's 
Arminel, are devoured greedily by men or women who 
care little for Russian Mujics or plain English John 
Hodge. : But this cannot be said of the construction or 
contents of Yeast. It was written under pressure, 
and somewhat hurriedly. But then, it appeared at the 
right moment, and was the natural outcome of strong 
feeling in the author appealing to others who felt 
strongly in sympathy with him. Kingsley's mind as 
well as that of the country was in a state of seething, 
as the title of the novel suggests. To this must be 
attributed its success. It took up the agricultural 
labour question in a forcible way, and it occupied itself 
with another stirring question of the hour, the religious 
controversy in connection with Tracts for the Times. 
Moreover, appearing as it did in the form of a serial 
story in Fraser, it " took " the public from the first, and 
did not weary, as the economic and ecclesiastic con- 
troversies with which it is interlarded were administered 
in small doses, one at a time by way of monthly 
instalments, the intervals of suspense keeping up an 
interest in the course of the story. We are told that, 
written for the greater part at night when the day's 


work was over, it proved too much for brain and nerves, 
and that the author broke down at last from over- 
exertion, and that even temporary change and rest did 
not restore him entirely, and that he sunk again under 
it. This accounts for some of its faults, which none 
knew better than Charles Kingsley. Writing in 1848 to 
Professor Conington, and dwelling on its demerits, he 
expresses an intention of laying it aside pro tern., to 
ferment for a few years ; but the fermentation, as far 
as we know, never led to anything like a thorough 
redaction; there are at least no signs of mellow 
maturity. It is as well, perhaps, that it should be so. 
For the chief merit of Yeast is its being written 
under the inspiration of the moment, and therefore 
presenting us with an exact portrait of the author's 
state of mind at the time, and an equally faithful 
picture of that of the public, both agitated and distracted, 
tossed about by the social cyclone then passing over the 
country. Its vivid description of field sports proved so 
attractive to some readers, that officers in the army, 
returning from foreign service, would go straight to 
Eversley to see with their own eyes and hear with their 
own ears the parson who " could give such a picture of 
a hunting scene as the one in the opening chapter of 
Yeast." Moreover, the dwellers in cities, who were 
called upon in the then discontented state of the 
country districts to form an opinion on the Agrarian 
question, readily turned to these pleasant papers in a 
popular magazine, written by a man who professed to 
be and was something of a "practical agriculturist," 


and whom the peasants would listen to when he 
preached to thern on such exciting subjects as poaching, 
emigration, and the rest of the burning questions of the 

We will now give a short analysis of the book, which 
will best indicate its character and tendencies. The 
hero is introduced in the hunting scene referred to 
above, with these two sides to his character, as dashing 
and devout, clever and melancholy, at the same time ; 
" an unlicked bear, with sorrows before him. " On 
riding dreamily after hounds he is arrested in the 
midst of solemn reflections, as unusual in the hunting 
field as a copy of the Devoid Life of Francis of Sales, 
which by a mischance tumbles out of his pocket, by 
the sudden appearance of the heroine, " with her perfect 
masque, and queenly figure and earnest, upward gaze, 
who might have been the very model from which 
Raphael conceived his glorious Catharine." Her sudden 
apparition produces a mighty rush, followed by a fearful 
fall of the hero with momentous consequences, for the 
disabled huntsman is carried to her father's mansion to 
recover from the severe injuries received. Argemone 
is a fair specimen of the ritualistic devotee, and 
possesses in her character the elements of graceful 
asceticism and elegant mysticism. In a walk by moon- 
light with the hero, who by this time has sufficiently 
advanced in convalescence, she discovers that she is 
the destined instrument to bring about his conversion, 
and takes steps accordingly to bring it about. The 
interesting fox-hunter's stay is prolonged, and he makes 


the acquaintance of Tregarva, " a stately, thoughtful- 
looking Cornishman, some six feet three in height, 
with thews and sinews in proportion," one of the 
keepers, who throughout the book is the principal 
spokesman of his class, from whom we learn the state 
of the country, and who suggests the remedies to im- 
prove the condition of agricultural labour. All his 
sayings might be prefaced with loquitur Charles 
Kingsley. Take for example the following — 

" Do you mean," says Lancelot (the hero of the story), 
" that the unhealthiness of the country is chiefly caused by 
the river ? " 

" No, sir," replies Tregarva, " the river damps are God's 
sending ; and so they are not too bad to bear." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Are men likely to be healthy when they are worse 
housed than a pig?" 

" No." 

" And worse fed than a hound 1 " 

" Good Heavens ! No ! " 

" Or packed together to sleep like pilchards in a 
barrel «" 

" But, my good fellow, do you mean that the labourers 
here are in that state ? " 

" It isn't far to walk, sir. Perhaps some day, when the 
May-fly is gone off, and the fish won't rise awhile, you 
could walk down and see. I beg your pardon, sir, though, 
for thinking of such a thing. They are not places fit for 
gentlemen, that's certain." 

Here we hear, as it were, Kingsley discoursing on 
health. Tregarva, in the course of the same convers- 
ation, speaks of the parsons ; and he does so very much 
a la Kingsley — 


"The parsons are afraid of the landlords. They must 
see these things, for they are not blind ; and they try to 
plaster them up out of their own pockets. . . . And 
as for the charitable great people, sir, when they see 
poor folk sick or hungry before their eyes they pull out 
their purses fast enough, God bless them ! — for they 
would u't like to be so themselves. But the oppression 
that goes on all the year round ; and the want that goes 
on all the year round ; and the filth, and the lying, and the 
swearing, and the profligacy that go on all the year round ; 
and the sickening weight of debt, and the miserable grind- 
ing anxiety from rent-day to rent-day, and Saturday night 
to Saturday night, that crushes a man's soul down, and 
drives every thought out of his head but how he is to fill 
his stomach, and warm his back, and keep a house over his 
head, till he daren't for his life take his thoughts one 
moment off the meat that perisheth — oh, sir, they never 
felt this ; and, therefore, they never dream that there are 
thousands who feel this, and feel nothing else." 

Tregarva is attracted towards and attracts in turn 
the sister of Argemone, Honoria, which introduces 
another element of the romantic to give additional 
spice to the story, because of the disparity of station 
in the principals of this story. As an instance, showing 
how Kingsley manages to weave social theories into the 
texture of his novel, the following passage may serve to 
illustrate — 

" Ask that sweet and heavenly angel, Miss Honoria," — 
and the keeper again blushed, — " and she, too, will tell you. 
I think sometimes if she had been born and bred like her 
father's tenants' daughters, to sleep where they sleep, to 
hear the talk they hear, and see the things they see, what 
would she have been now ? We mustn't think of it." And 


the keeper turned his head away, and fairly burst into 

At intervals, as we have hinted already, by way of 
interlude, or intermezzo, we are treated with, bits of 
epistolary controversy carried on between Lancelot and 
his cousin Luke, a victim of Puseyism, which at this 
time was Kingsley's bete noire, and which he represents 
in its most unattractive features; even in his arguments 
on the subject with his lady-love he shies stones "at 
the rickety old windmill of sham-Popery which you 
have taken for a real giant." In opposing the mediaeval 
idea of sanctity, as he does in the Saint's Tragedy, he 
almost approaches the Scylla of modern Philistinism in 
the attempt at escaping from the Charybdis of mystic 
pietism, as when in one of his letters to Luke he 

" Give me the political economist, the sanitary reformer, 
the engineer ; and take your saints and virgins, relics and 
miracles. The spinning-jenny and the railroad, Canard's 
liners and electric telegraph, are to me, if not to you, signs 
that we are, on some points at least, in harmony with the 
universe ; that there is a mighty spirit working among us, 
who cannot be your anarchic and destroying devil, and 
therefore may be the Ordering and Creating God." 

From such digressions into the field of theological 
controversy we are all the more ready to follow our 
author returning to discuss the main problem. For 
this purpose he arranges a dinner-party. Here we are 
invited to listen to a conversation on the condition of 
the agricultural labourer by representative persons 


connected with the " landed interest." There is Lord 
Mincharnpstead, at whose table they meet, a keen, 
ready, and business-like strong man, the son of plain 
Mr. Obadiah Newbroom, who had stood behind the 
loom, but in course of time had developed into a manu- 
facturer, and tells his son, " I have made a gentleman of 
you ; you must make a nobleman of yourself." The son 
followed out his father's advice., and so becomes " the 
owner of Alinchampstead Park and 10,000 acres, for 
two-thirds its real value, from that enthusiastic sports- 
man Lord Peu de Cervelle, whose family had come in 
with- the Conqueror, and gone out with George IV." 
But though he had avowed at his own table soon after 
he came into the country that " he had bought Minch- 
arnpstead for merely commercial purposes, as a profit- 
able investment of capital, and he would see that, 
whatever else it did, it should 2 M y" ue was none the 
less a fair and good-natured landlord, not forgetting his 
duty to his tenantry and subordinates. Here, too, was 
Colonel Bracebridge, the plucky sportsman, with better 
ideals in his head than could appear from the record 
of his life, a class of well-bred scapegrace for whom 
Kingsley entertained a sneaking affection; it is he who 
points to the clergy as the potential social reformers in 
country districts : " They have the game in their own 
hands, if they did but know how to play it." The host, 
of course, takes a different view. 

"All the modern schemes for their amelioration, which 
ignore the laws of competition, must end either in pauper- 
ization, or in the destruction of property." 


Lord Vieuxbois represents the country magnate of 
the old school. 

" Eeall y I do not see," said Vieuxbois, "why people 

should wish to rise in life. They had no such self-willed 

fancy in the good old times. The whole notion is a product 
of these modern days'." 

Here our hero breaks in with Kingsley's own char- 
acteristic vehemence — 

" "I think honestly," said Lancelot, whose blood was up, 
" that we gentlemen all run into the same fallacy. We 
fancy ourselves the fixed and necessary element in society, 
to which all others are to accommodate themselves : ' Given 
the rights of the few rich, to find the condition of the many 
poor.' It seems to me that other postulate is quite as fair : 
1 Given the rights of the many poor, to find the condition 
of the few rich.y" 

Lord Minchampstead laughed. 

" If you hit us so hard, Mr. Smith, I must really de- 
nounce you as a communist. Lord Vieuxbois, shall we 
join the ladies ? " 

Thenceforward the hero begins in earnest the study 
of the problem, and this by means of personal observ- 
ation. One of the subjects of social dissection is the 
poacher Crawey, of whom as well as his natural enemy 
Harry, the old-fashioned gamekeeper, we have a most 
powerful description ; there are besides some thrilling 
scenes of poachers' frays full of esprit and instinct with 
passion, and all this to awaken interest in such lives as 
theirs, especially poor Crawey's; but the reader is more 
puzzled than ever with the problem before him. Is 
society answerable for the wrongs of law-breakers like 


Crawey ? is he past recovery ? is he capable of higher 
things? who is at fault? has this man sinned or his 
betters in putting him where he is, and leaving him to 
the tender mercies of the Game Laws ? The riddle is 
left unsolved, arid poor Crawey unreclaimed. Argemone 
in the meantime has succeeded not in converting 
Lancelot, but in making him her slave. He avows his 
love in a sketch he draws of the " Triumph of Woman," 
which is an elaborate, perhaps too elaborate, piece of 
writing, and, like most of Kingsley's best bits, spoiled 
slightly by a tone of exaggeration ; but as a confession 
of love it is, as may be expected, successful, and hence- 
forth the ideas of social reformation are shared by the 
two lovers. The interest of the story turns on the 
question, who is to win the victory, the hero or the 
father-confessor of Argemone, i. e. her parish priest ? 
where is her lot to be cast, in the world or in the church ? 
will she embrace the spiritual life, or become the wife 
of Lancelot ? The course of true love does not run 
smooth, and Tregarva gets into serious trouble. He 
has written a ballad on the Game Laws with a strong 
flavour of rural socialism ; it falls into the hands of the 
Squire, who in his wrath dismisses him on the spot. A 
blow, too, is impending over the hero's head. His 
uncle's bank, where his whole fortune is invested, is on 
the point of stopping payment. The catastrophe might 
be averted by Argemone's spiritual director, the Yicar, 
who carries a letter from the banker to Lancelot, on 
the prompt delivery of which all depends. But in an 
evil hour the priest elects to delay it, knowing full well 


that this involves the ruin of Lancelot, and so would 
put an end to the plan of his union with Argemone. 
The letter is not delivered in time, and the crash 
comes. Here is a fair opportunity for attacking our 
modern credit system, and the author avails himself of 
it promptly enough, showing at the same time the 
inconsistency of modern religious profession, and modern 
methods of money-making. 

" If I were a Christian," said Lancelot, " like you, I 
would call this credit system, of yours the devil's selfish 
counterfeit of God's order of mutual love and trust ; the 
child of that miserable dream which, as Dr. Chalmers well 
said, expects universal selfishness to do the work of uni- 
versal love. . . ." " Selfishness can collect, not unite, a 
herd of cowardly wild cattle that they may feed together, 
breed together, keep off the wolf and bear together. But 
when one of your wild cattle falls sick, what becomes of the 
corporate feeling of the herd then? For one man of your 
class who is nobly helped by his fellows, are not the 
thousand left behind to perish ] Your Bible talks of society, 
not as a herd, but as a living tree, an organic, individual 
body, a holy brotherhood, and Kingdom of God. And 
here is an idol which you have set up instead of it." 

In this complicated state of affairs, aDeus ex machind 
is brought on the scene in the next chapter, but without 
satisfactorily clearing up the dirficulties of the plot, and 
so to the last we are left to a great extent mystified as 
to the final issue. This strange person, Barnakill by 
name, who also severely inveighs against capitalism in its 
alliance with modern Pharisaism, is not very successful 
in his attempt to throw a " supra-lunar illumination on 


social questions " ; there is but a very dim light thrown 
by him on the leaden sky of economic disquisition. 
There is little interest in the rest of the story except its 
tragical close. The heroine dies of a fever caught in 
visiting some of her father's cottages ; it is the Nemesis 
avenging culpable neglect of sanitary precautions. Her 
sister, too, falls a victim to disease, the curse of the 
Lavingtons which has come upon them both. But 
Argemone in her dying words bids Lancelot to labour 
on in the cause of the poor. What he actually performs 
under such an inspiration we are not told. Omnia 
exeunt in mysterium, that is the phrase which Charles 
Kingsley quotes in the Epilogue by way of excuse for 
such a mystified ending. Goethe, too, referring to the 
mystical close of the second Faust, once remarked, in 
"old age we all turn mystics." But then Kingsley 
could not plead old age when he concluded his story, 
and Lancelot is not like Faust, the author's own 
portrait, although Yeast was from the first, like Faust, 
to be mythical and typical. Kingsley also anticipates 
adverse criticism on the fragmentary character of the 
book as a whole, without making out a good case for 
himself. But what is the most melancholy part of the 
book, is the desponding tone in which it speaks of 
possible future reforms — 

"For the present, the poor of Whitford, owing, as it 
seems to them and me, to quite other causes than an ' over- 
stocked labour-market,' or ' too rapid multiplication of the 
species,' are growing more profligate, reckless, pauperized, 
year by year. 


" I have set forth, as far as in me lay, the data of the 
problem ; and surely if the premises be given, wise men will 
not have to look far for the conclusion. In homely English 
I have given my readers Yeast ; if they be what I take them 
for, they will be able to bake with it themselves." 

We may inquire how far are the data supported by 
the sober statements of others, and what is pure fancy 
and fiction ? and again, what success have the bakers 
with such yeast attained to thus far in producing bread 
and not a stone for those who ask for it ? Some of the 
data are referred to by the author of Perils of the Nation, 
a work which Kingsley had studied with deep interest. 
He quotes p. xxv from Mr. Twistleton's report on the 
"Sanitary Inquiry," where we are told that owing to the 
paucity of small farms the English agricultural labourer 
has not the slightest prospect of rising in the world and 
becoming a small farmer himself except by emigration. 
Again, on pp. 77, 78, speaking of the enormous ac- 
cumulations of property in one hand, he points out the 
dangerous power thus placed in that hand over labourers 
depending entirely on their weekly wages and the roof 
over their head on the large landed proprietor who 
employs them. Living as they do " in hovels, singly or 
clustered, destitute of comfort, cramping the body, and 
depressing the mind," ..." they follow the lowest 
instincts and impulses of animal life, and are perfectly 
prepared to become the scourges of those orders of 
society who have trampled them down to so wretched a 
level." If we compare this with what the author of 
Yeast says in the chapter entitled " A Village Revel," 



giving what might seem a too dreary description of the 
daily life of English rustics, we may see how sadly true 
to life it was then, how sadly true to life it is but in 
too many instances even now; "they are a stupid, 
pig-headed generation at the best." Lancelot had 
expected at the end "to hear something of pastoral 
sentiment, and of genial, frolicsome humour; to see 
some innocent, simple enjoyment; but instead, what 
had he seen but vanity, jealousy, hoggish sensuality, 
dull vacuity — drudges struggling for one night to forget 
their drudgery. And yet, withal, their songs and the 
effect which they produced showed that in these poor 
creatures, too, lay the germs of pathos, taste, melody, 
soft and noble affections." 

And what can you expect from men in their hopeless 
state ? " Day-labourer born, day-labourer live, from 
hand to mouth, scraping and grinding to get not meat 
and beer even, but bread and potatoes ; and then, at the 
end of it all, for a worthy reward, half-a-crown a week 
of parish pay — or the workhouse. That's a lively, 
hopeful prospect for a Christian man." What does 
such a one say but Nihil habeo, nihil euro. " What 
makes me maddest of all, sir," says Tregarva, " is to 
see that everybody sees these evils except just the men 
who can cure them — the squires and the parsons." 
True, they are ready enough with patronizing charities. 
There is Lord Vieuxbois spending his whole life and 
time among the poor ; "he fats prize labourers, sir, just 
as Lord Minchampstead fats prize oxen and pigs." 

What Kingsley says of the pressure of the system in 


degrading the women and driving the men to despair, 
and depopulating the country districts, leaving a resi- 
duum sunk to the lowest depth, and a race of children 
growing up over-educated and under-fed ; of the waste 
of human life, in fact waste of everything ; " waste of 
manure, waste of land, waste of muscle, waste of brain, 
waste of population — and we call ourselves the workshop 
of the world !" — all this is fully corroborated by the state- 
ments drawn from official reports and writers of the time 
speaking with authority, and receive further illustration 
from the letters of S. G. O., Kingsley's brother-in-law 
and brother-in-arms, fighting against the same enemy — 
agricultural distress, physical, moral, and spiritual. 

What Kingsley suggested by way of solving it must 
be gathered from hints in Yeast, and a published lecture 
on "the application of associative principles and methods 
to agriculture," in which he addresses himself to the 
task in an unwonted spirit of calm deliberation, and 
also some few allusions to the subject scattered over 
the two volumes of Memories of his life. But before 
we proceed to compare his proposals with those of some 
others, we would in this place compare the manner in 
which the general question is treated in Yeast and 
Coningsly, as these two novels may be said to repre- 
sent the rival theories on the agricultural question of 
the two Young England parties of that day, the reaction- 
ary jcunessc dorie, led by Lord Beaconsfield, and the 
partj T , if we may so call it, of Religious Radicalism led 
by Charles Kingsley and his master, F. D. Maurice, as 
far as the latter permitted himself to be forced into 


such a prominent position of leadership. The Tories 
agreed with the Christian Socialists in this, that the 
squires and the clergy were the men to cure the evils 
complained of. " Property is the natural protector of 
labour," said the former, but replies Kingsley in Yeast, 
"I question whether it will suit the people themselves, 
unless they can make property understand that it owes 
them something more definite than protection." And 
it is in this that the two novels differ most radically in 
both their principles and proposals. The author of 
Coningsby is more skilful as a novelist, if not in the 
inventiveness of plot — both novels are poor in this 
respect — at least in the literary art of interesting pre- 
sentment and exquisite workmanship. He also excels 
the author of Yeast in the grasp of political questions, 
and his experience in the practical working of social 
politics. This, however, suggests one of its principal 
faults ; all is made to subserve his political party ends, 
whereas Yeast has the advantage of being a work evi- 
dently coming from the heart, and in its absorbing 
earnestness and unadulterated enthusiasms appealing 
to the generous youth of England. In working out its 
social problems, or rather in putting the problem before 
the reader with perfect frankness and high-toned moral 
and religious fervour, it touches a sympathetic chord in 
the more emotional, and carries conviction to the more 
rational inquirers into the great questions of the day. 
The Church, to Mr. Disraeli, is an institution among 
others important in the national life, and helping in 
shaping the destiny of the people. He is, above all 

' yeast; or agrarian socialism. 97 

things, a politician, and as such he speaks of the clergy 
in Coningsby in this fashion, " The priests of God are 
the tribunes of the people " — though he adds, in a tone 
almost the same as that we note in Yeast, " O, 
ignorant ! that with such a mission they should ever 
have cringed in the antechambers of ministers, or bowed 
before parliamentary committees." But he is very far 
from attaching the spiritual importance to the moral 
and religious force exercised by "the priests of the 
Lord " in the emergency of great social movements, 
like Kingsley, who, referring to the democratic element 
in Christ, and the mistaken notion of the Chartists 
about the Church being an outworn aristocratic in- 
stitution, writes to Ludlow in 1850 — " If the priests of 
the Lord are wanting to the cause now, woe to us ! " 
Both denounce with equally trenchant severity the 
utilitarian selfishness of the age. " Life is much 
easier," said Lord Everingham. " Life easy ! " said 
Lord Henry Sydney ; " life appears to me to be a 
fierce struggle." " Manners are easy," said Coningsby ; 
" and life is hard." " And I wish things exactly the 
reverse," said Lord Henry. " The means and modes of 
subsistence less difficult ; the conduct of life more 
ceremonious." " Civilization has no time for ceremony," 
said Lord Everingham. This may be called the 
Romanticist aspect of the question. It is the cry of 
Wordsworth in his sonnet on Milton — 

" We are selfish men. 
Oh, raise us up, return to us again ; 
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power." 



* Or that of another sonnet of the same year, 1802 — 

" Rapine, avarice, expense, 
This is idolatry ; and these we adore : 
Plain living and high thinking are no more : 
The homely beauty of the good old cause 
Is gone ; our peace, our fearful innocence, 
And pure religion, breathing household laws." 

Kingsley goes further into the marrow of the matter 
in pointing out the rottenness of the selfish basis of 
society. Both attribute the evils complained of to the 
industrial revolution commencing when Wordsworth thus 
wrote, " the hurry-scurry of money-making, men-making, 
machine-making," which put the social organism out 
of joint, and the consequent clamour of suffering labour 
in what Kingsley calls the spirit of these rattling rail- 
way days ; it brought in a new social force, the " social 
power " of Demos, seeking, as Coningsby says, " a specific 
for the evils of our social system in the general suffrage 
of the population." 

But whereas the restoration of "the ancient order 
of the peasantry " to its pristine conditiou is the one 
; thing needed, according to the chief speaker in Con- 
ingsby, Kingsley points to education, sanitary reform, 
and the raising of the status in the agricultural 
population in keeping with modern requirements and 
aspirations growing out of modern ideas. " Let me see 
property acknowledging, as in the old time of faith, 
that labour is its twin-brother, and that the essence of 
all tenure is the performance of duty," says Coningsby. 
That duty consists in paying better wages, giving better 


homes, and holding out better prospects of rising in the 
social scale, is the answer to this given in Yeast. In 
Goningsby it is the rich manufacturer, the enemy of 
an hereditary aristocracy, and an abettor of democratic 
Radicalism as a means to crush the latter, who has 
the moral and physical well-being of the people at heart, 
building homes and cottages on a new system of ventila- 
tion, allotted gardens, and the rest, not an aristocratic 
landlord like the Duke. This is significant. Lord 
Minchampstead is represented in the same way, but to 
show that he follows the aristocratic tendencies of the 
ancient order of landed proprietors. Here the authors 
of Yeast and Goningsby change sides, and for this 
reason. The latter wants to stimulate his own party of 
squirearchy to emulate the Plutocracy in popular social 
reforms which shall preserve the order ; the former sets 
forth the importance of creating, not only preserving, 
the aristocratic element in a new society, to give a new 
meaning to noblesse oblige in an age given to ignoble 
money-grubbing and self-seeking, and finding, so to 
speak, a middle course between feudal ties which are of 
the past and money ones wdiich are of the present ; in 
looking to the new proprietors gradually superseding the 
old, traders become rich and ennobled, buying up estates 
here, there, and everywhere, displacing the ancient 
nobility ; and, as he says in another place, entering " into 
a true chivalrous competition against the ancestral 
owners of the neighbouring estates, to see if he cannot 
surpass them ... an excellent landlord, presenting to 
me one of the most pleasant spectacles on English soil 


at this day." But, again, the position of the two repre- 
sentatives of the old order and the new, respectively, 
are the reverse of what we should expect them to be 
when Disraeli speaks in glowing terms of Manchester 
as the "metropolis of labour," and goes on magnilo- 
quently after his fashion to say that, rightly understood, 
"Manchester is as great a human exploit as Athens. 
... It is the philosopher alone who can conceive the 
grandeur of Manchester, and the immensity of its 
future." " The earth hath bubbles, and such cities as 
Manchester are of them," says Kingsley. The reason 
of this divergence is that love of a " splendid materiality," 
of which the mind of Disraeli with its Semitic bent 
could not divest itself to the last, for Endymion is full 
of it, whilst that of Kingsley, full of that spirituality 
which his purely Arian mind imbibed from Plato, 
is after all antagonistic to the trading class, though it 
produces its princely merchants vying in princely muni- 
ficence with landed magnates who lack the money which 
can alone purchase magnificence in these degenerate days. 
They are necessary, he would say, for the present distress; 
they and their capital help to bridge over the transition 
from the old social order of the past to the new social 
order of rural industry in the future. 

Both authors are in perfect agreement on one point, 
that the attempt to reconstruct society in its present 
state of disorganization " on a purely rational basis," 
as Sidonia calls it, is a mistake. " There has been an 
attempt to reconstruct society on a basis of material 
motives and calculations. It has failed," he says. Of 


course, this is an attack against individualism from the 
Conservative point of view, to hint at the disintegrating 
effects of weakening the authority of custom and long- 
established institutions. Kingsley, on the other hand, 
directs his attack against individualism in its economic 
rather than its political aspect, and tries to show in Yeast 
how God has set His seal on " a state of society which 
confesses its economic relations to be so utterly rotten and 
confused that it actually cannot afford to save yearly 
millions of pounds' worth of the materials of food, not to 
mention thousands of human lives." He derides this nine- 
teenth century with its " Franklin-Benthamite religion," 
i. e. with rationalism for its profession of faith — " a vast 
prosaic Cockaigne of steam-mills for grinding sausages 
— for those who can get them. And all this in spite 
of all Manchester schools, and high and dry orthodox 
schools. Here were the strangest phantasms, new and 
old, sane and insane, starting up suddenly into live 
practical power, to give their prosaic theories the lie — 
Popish conversions, Mormonisms, Mesmerisms, Cali- 
fornias, Continental revolutions, Paris days of June. Ye 
hypocrites ! ye can discern the face of the sky, and yet 
ye cannot discern the signs of the time ! " When 
Lancelot, again, expresses his impotence of working for 
this end of social reconstruction under such unfavour- 
able circumstances, his better genius, Barnakill, inspires 
him with confidence. " No," he says, " I dare not 
despair of you English, as long as I hear your priest- 
hood forced by Providence, even in spite of themselves, 
thus to speak God's words about an age in which the 


condition of the poor and the rights and duties of 
man are becoming a rallying-point for all thought 
and all organization." Further, when Lancelot, ready 
to attempt the task, though with a sad heart, complains 
that in the natural order of things he can hear nothing 
but " the grinding of the iron wheels of mechanical 
necessity," Barnakill replies, " Which is the will of 
God. Henceforth you shall obey not Nature, but Him." 
The heroes in both novels are idealists ; even Disraeli 
can rise for a moment to the heights from whence he 
can look down with noble disdain on party politics, 
and spend some of his superb satire on partisan alle- 
giance to a cause which only affects a fraction of the 
nation, or humanity. " Come what may," cries Con- 
ingsby, " I will cling to the heroic principle. It can 
is alone save my soul." Both agree in this, that the 
future of the nation rests with her young men under 
twenty-five years of age, for both were the spokesmen 
of two sections of young England at the time, and both 
attribute an important share to feminine influence in 
the work of social regeneration. "Women are the 
Priestesses of Predestination," and this we presume on 
the ground "that the surest means to elevate the 
character of the people is to appeal to their affections," 
not to the material cravings of the Utilitarian School, 
or the pure reason of the abstract political thinkers. 
For, as the author of Levana says beautifully — " On the 
blue hills of the obscure age of childhood, to which we 
look back ever and anon, there stand out the figures of 
our mothers, who thence pointed out the path of life 


for us; and to forget that warmest of hearts is as 
impossible as it is to forget the most blissful moments 
of existence." This view of woman's place in the 
social system and the work of social development and 
amelioration is too little noticed by our modern writers. 

But to sum up ! Both in their divergences and agree- 
ments the authors of Yeast and Coningsby point to one 
great truth, which their novels abundantly illustrate 
with all the wealth of a glowing imagination ; in botli 
these novels we meet with given social evils which 
demand specific remedies, and these are described 
in almost identical terms, and traced to the same 
causes. When two writers so vastly different in their 
views come to conclusions so wonderfully alike, the 
facts, at least, on which their reasoning is based must 
be real, and to accuse one of these writers, as did the 
chief organ of the Party of which Lord Beaconsfield was 
the brilliant spokesman, of exaggeration and wilful 
misrepresentation, was grossly unjust and unjustifiable. 

But it is time now to turn to the actual proposals 
of Charles Kingsley. At an early stage he proposed 
emigration, land colonization, such as " General " Booth is 
now carrying on in his " Home Colony," x and the like # 
But, with the writers of the "Tracts by Christian 
Socialists," he learned to regard them as mere palliatives 
of the evils of competition. Reclaiming waste land was 
another remedy which at one time had its attractions 
for him ; but in a letter on the subject written in 1858, 

1 See article on " General Booth's Farm Colony," in Spectator, 
Sept. 12th, 1891. 


and going into the matter in a very business-like 
manner, he points out the defect of this form of land 
redemption — 

" It must be remembered," he says, " that if the land is 
waste, it is because it is poor, remote, or both, and therefore 
too expensive for profitable cultivation by the tenant 
farmers ; and that therefore it will probably yield very ill, 
after a great outlay." 

He suggests hereditary tenancies, for he had but 
little faith in spade husbandry — la petite culture — as 
generally understood, i. e. as identical with peasant pro- 
prietorship, for the want of capital in the latter case is 
a serious obstacle ; he wants — an impossible ideal — to 
" restore the feudal system, the highest form of civiliza- 
tion — in ideal, not in practice — which Europe has seen 
yet." In the meantime, as we cannot take Time by the 
forelock and turn it backwards to " the good old times," 
he looks hopefully forward to the future, when " science 
should discover " — this was written in 1871 — " some 
raw article of manufacture which can be grown freely 
on English soil, and which will require careful hand- 
labour — like the vine, mulberry, tea, coffee, cocoa, &c. 
Then, indeed, would the small farmer have a chance, 
if he had saved money enough to start with in the mean- 
timer Twenty years of further experience have not 
brought us much nearer to the discovery, and, unless 
we are mistaken, have not added considerably in swelling 
the working capital of the small farmer. 

Here, then, and thus far, we have no proposals for 
heroic remedies. In the tract containing the substance 


of a lecture delivered in London, on the 18th May, 
1857, shortly after his controversy in connection with 
Yeast, he sets forth at large his plans for the amelioration 
of the agricultural labourer. The lecture was delivered 
on behalf of the Society for Promoting Working Men's 
Associations, and dealt with the "application of associa- 
tion principles and methods of agriculture." A bar- 
rister who heard it, speaks of it in a letter to Mrs. 
Kingsley as " the manliest thing " he ever did hear, 
" and certainly never audience was kept for nearly two 
hours and a half so attentive, by the mere weight of 
the subject, and the force with which it was wielded." 
Here we must take Kingsley seriously ; he deals with 
facts in a matter-of-fact way, and takes facts as they 
are. The farm-labourers he has in view were not 
exceptional characters like Tregarva, nor the landlords 
models like Lord Minchampstead, but ordinary landed 
proprietors, with " no such stock of high farming 
maxims," with commonplace bucolics to work under 
them. Taking them as he finds them, he reminds the 
former that all landed property is " held in fief of God," 
and that the Divine laws of conduct in the mutual 
exchanges of human service and commodities are 
superior to the laws of the market and commercial 
expediency, and that these " remnants of feudal and 
parochial socialism," by which he understands cus- 
tomary laws still acted upon now and then in country 
districts, " which some people are now so impatient to 
abolish, as interfering with the free battle between 
covetousness and the labouring man," are the very means 


of preventing the agricultural masses from sharing the 
fate of their houseless " white slaves " at " the mercy of 
Mammon " in the towns ; that to destroy them is to 
open the field to cunning and cupidity, and a total 
disregard of justice in the contract entered upon 
between man and master. The Poor Law, from this 
/point of view, is described " as an ingenious means of 
/ keeping the poor man a slave, without starving him 
J into revolution." What he suggests as a remedy for 
the unsatisfactory relationship as at present subsisting 
between the employers of labour and their men, is 
association. He refers to Cromwell's method of draining, 
by means of associated labour, the fens of Cambridge- 
shire, which enabled him to found " the magnificent 
socialist organization, by which they have now become 
the fattest land in England." He gives a sketch, for 
which we have not room here, of the modus operandi 
in doing something of the kind now by large manu- 
facturers; for example, establishing flax farms in a 
convenient spot, with a mill to work the flax when 
grown, " and round them locate, as thickly as possible, 
all mechanics and labourers employed," with a common 
kitchen and wash-houses for all, a common and well- 
organized system of sewage for sanitary purposes, and 
as a means of cheapening the cost of subsistence. Such 
an establishment he thinks might be made " chemically, 
as well as economically, self-supporting." It might be 
combined with the method of associating the labourers 
by means of profit-sharing. Thus you might create an 
industrial parish, with its library, club-house, co-opera- 


live store, and the rest, without interfering with in- 
dividual rights, or breaking the laws of political 
economy. This would come under the head of what 
the French call patronage, in associated labour under a 
head. But he has another plan, according to which ten 
families of agricultural industrials might combine to 
buy or rent land to be worked on the co-operative 
principle. But, he concludes, nothing of this sort will 
succeed without faith, and unless founded " on the rock 
of everlasting justice"; and he adds, "I shall have more 
hope in the long run, even of associate ignorance than 
of competive wisdom, for justice without science is but 
a poor blind child-angel, while science without justice 
is a full-grown devil." Some may think that in all 
this Charles Kingsley was too sanguine, and it has to 
be acknowledged that attempts to carry out co-operative 
farming thus far have not been crowned with signal 
success, and in some cases have been attended by 
lamentable failures. But the principles laid down in 
this tract, and the motives furnished for their applica- 
tion in Yeast, have been more fully recognized every 
year since they were published. 

From the last report presented at the Co-operative 
Congress at Lincoln in 1891, we learn that in 1890 
there were 2022 acres of land in cultivation on co- 
operative principles, with a working capital of £28,648, 
and a rental of £2745. The profits amounted to £794, 
the losses to £1155 ; but as to the latter, two societies, out 
of twenty-two in England and Scotland, almost entirely 
shared between them the losses; also it has to be noted, 


that all societies holding less than ten acres are ex- 
cluded from the list. The conclusion drawn from these 
results is, that agricultural co-operation is on its trial ; 
that so far from dying out, eleven new associations were 
created in the course of 1890. It is a proof of Charles 
Kingsley's soundness of judgment to find, as the present 
writer has discovered on making inquiries as to the 
causes of the losses here indicated, that they were 
mainly owing to the unwillingness of the societies to 
pay for the best management; for, as his informant 
puts it, "in order to get good results, they will have 
to pay in a liberal spirit for the brains which were 
supposed to manage it." This is the aristocracy of 
talent to which Kingsley alludes in his tract above 
referred to. 

But apart from this, even within twelve years of the 
publication of Yeast, in the preface to the fourth edition, 
Kingsley could speak cheerfully of the progress made 
in the improvement going on in agricultural districts. 
There he speaks of the growth of self-help and inde- 
pendence among the labourers, of cottage sanitation 
by landlords, and in general the country parson may 
see "a rosier, fatter, bigger-boned race growing up" 
around him than that ill-fed generation of 1815 to 
1845. Kingsley also notices "the altered temper of 
the young gentlemen," and an improvement in the 
clergy in their mutual relations with the people, and 
speaks of the social effects of the Anglican Movement 
indirectly in developing not only a more stately and 
reverent tone of mind in religious matters, but also 


arousing the feelings of chivalry and Christian self- 
sacrifice ; in short, a spirit " more genial and human 
than can be learned from that religion of the Stock 
Exchange which reigned triumphant — for a year and 
a day — in the popular pulpits." These roseate hues 
in the tincture of rural life and progress as here 
pictured are a little too highly coloured. Still, after 
making due allowance for the prepossessions and ex- 
aggerations of a mind, eager in its happy moods to see 
things in their brightest light, equally apt in its sadder 
moments to add shadows deeper than facts warranted, 
there can be no doubt that there has been some move- 
ment in advance in these directions. 

Take, for example, the reforms recommended in the 
Radical Programme put forward under Mr. Chamberlain's 
patronage and approval a few years ago, or the pro- 
posals of one so well versed in agricultural subjects as 
the late Professor Thorold Rogers, in the short-lived 
periodical, Subjects of the Day, and making due allow- 
ance for the prepossessions and proclivities of the 
writers, Ave may be able to see how much remains to 
be done in the lines indicated in Yeast. 

First and foremost among agrarian reforms is the 
desideratum mentioned by one and all of those who 
have given their attention to the subject — " The object of 
all land reform must be the multiplication of landowners." 
And this, according to a writer in the Radical Progra m m e, 
is to be effected in formally conferring on the State 
larger powers, such e. g. as the creation of small owners, 
a graduated probate duty levied on landed proprietors 


over a certain size. 1 Professor Thorold Rogers, in the 
article referred to, speaks of the settlement of agri- 
cultural labourers on such plots of land as the Act of 
Elizabeth prescribed, as "urgent," but he does not 
enter into details how it is to be brought about. " It 
is the landowners who made them social pariahs, and 
serfs without land;" therefore, says Mr. Rogers, quoting 
Cobden, " the English labourer has been divorced from 
the soil, and must be restored to it." 

These are drastic measures to bring about the 
"golden age of agriculture," as Mr. H. George calls it, 
having his own well-known method of a single tax on 
land for effecting the same end, with which the author 
of Yeast could not have had much sympathy. But 
we are told in the last report of the Land National- 
ization Society, there are signs of the spread of such 
and similar opinions both in Parliament and in the 
Press. In the religious world, too, we note a greater 
readiness to accept such theories. Papers like that 
read (and since published) by Mr. Albert Spicer at the 
Congregational Union of England and Wales, held at 
Hull in 1889, on " Christian Economics with reference 
to the Land Question," and the establishment of the 
" Land Restoration League " by a body of men repre- 
senting the extreme wing of the High Church party in 
the Establishment, show a similar tendency in religious 

1 "Occupying ownership and peasant proprietary established 
under certain conditions, by the aid of the Stale, acting through 
local authorities, seem to be the direction in which these objects 
can be attained." — Badical Programme, p. 127. 

•yeast; or agrarian socialism. m 

Next in order comes the subject of cottage accom- 
modation, and that of improved dwellings for the 
operative classes in the country. These have received 
serious attention in the legislation of the last ten years, 
though strangely enough a writer on the subject in a 
recent article of the Quarterly Review — an unbiassed 
witness on such a subject — speaks of the condition of 
the labourers' dwellings generally as twice as bad as it 
was a century ago. The fact is, that owing to the 
obstructive tendencies of the local sanitary authorities, 
the Parliamentary Acts are rendered in many if not 
most cases inoperative. This, too, applies to the Allot- 
ment Acts, and the Allotment Amendment Act of 1890, 
which meet with the same obstruction even in the teeth 
of the scheme for carrying out " compulsor} r purchase 
at a fair market value," either for the purpose 
of cottage building or land used for allotments. The 
demand by the author of the Remedies nearly forty 
years ago, substantially repeated by the writer in the 
Radical Programme now, for at least half an acre of 
garden attached to each cottage, which, as the former 
pointed out at the time, would only require one acre 
out of seventy-two, or 270 out of an estate of 10,000 
acres, to be divided for the purpose of supplying the 
labouring class with 760,000 in all, a modest demand 
enough, waits as yet realization, though noble-minded 
individuals have done as much and more without 
legislative direction or compulsion. 

Thus, from a paper published by the Small Farm 
and Labourers' Holding Company, relating to Lord 


Tollemache's cottagers, not many years ago, we learn 
that in this case three acres of land are allotted to 
each cottager, sufficient for the maintenance of a cow, 
and it is " the cow," it is added, which " is the anchor 
which fastens the labourer comfortably to his fair 
haven." From Parliamentary returns it appears that 
in 1886 the number of allotments detached from 
cottages was 386,513, that attached to cottages 256,802, 
i. e. a total of 643,315, for the estimated total of 800,000 
agricultural labourers in England and Wales in 1881, 
which is so far encouraging. 1 

From the Report of the Rural Labourers' League, 
over which Mr. Jesse Collings presides, referring to the 
Allotment Act of 1887, it would appear that in 1889 
from some 8000 to 9000 men were assisted by its 
means to obtain pieces of land, if not more, in one way 
or another. 1 In the matter of small holdings the 
Report of the Select Committee on this subject recom- 
mends that five million pounds sterling should be 
placed in the hands of the local authorities by way 
of loan, to advance to intending purchasers three-fourths 
or four-fifths of the purchase price, a certain portion to 
be repaid, the rest to remain a perpetual charge on the 
land, with a view to encourage the augmentation of 
such holdings, as their diminution from natural causes 
is matter of universal regret. A Bill introduced by 
Mr. Jesse Collings to give effect to this passed the first 
reading without a division. 

1 "We quote from the Times, 27th July, 1887 ; see Spectator, 
Oct. 12th. 1889. 

' yeast; or agrarian socialism. 113 

All these are attempts, to use the words of Lord 
Ripon on the occasion of founding the National Land 
Company under the name of " The Small Farm and 
Labourers' Holding Company," at an influential meeting 
under the late Lord Carnarvon's presidency five years 
ago, for " bringing the possession of land within reach of 
the working-classes," as was also the suggestion made a 
year or two ago, but not as yet acted upon as far as we 
are aware, that the Church Commissioners should let a 
portion of land under their control in small holdings, 
with the same object in view. It shows how much is 
I being done and considered within the limit of practi- 
cability now, as the result of that awakening of the 
public conscience following upon the appearance of 
Yeast, though we are far from saying that the stirring- 
appeal made in it to landowners and the country 
generally was the only or even the principal cause of 
this awakening. 

The publication of Yeast was one of the factors, and 
a very powerful one at the time, though less so since, 
in the general movement for the amelioration of the 
working-man's lot in town and country, which the 
circumstances and events as well as the passions of the 
men, including the passion of philanthropy, set in motion 
in 1848. The author of Yeast shrank from suggesting 
measures; he believed in the working of reformatory 
tendencies in men, gradually bringing about practical 
results in the work of the individual or the State. In 
this he was a true follower of Maurice. But to give 
direction to these vague tendencies and aims, it was 



essential to state forcefully the data of the problem. 
In this he succeeded, and for this purpose the novel 
was an excellent and effective vehicle. Landlords, 
farmers, intelligent labourers, and not to omit the 
" intelligent public," all could here learn what was 
required to bring about a readjustment of mutual 
relations among the various subdivisions of the "landed 
interest" under its present altered conditions. 



In Alton Locke Kingsley presents us with a picture 
of the London artisan, and the hardships of workers in 
cities, as in Yeast he sets himself to describe the trials 
of the agricultural labourer. An enthusiastic friend 
and former pupil speaks of Alton Locke as at once " his 
greatest poem and his grandest sermon." Even so 
calm and cautious a writer as Leslie Stephen says that 
" Alton Locke may be fairly regarded as his best piece of 
work." To these may be added the tribute paid to its 
merits quite lately by a German critic, who, pronounc- 
ing judgment on the recently-published translation of 
the work into German, remarks that, though written 
forty years ago, it might almost be regarded as a 
faithful picture of the labouring world now ; and that, 
moreover, as a realistic novel and in its power of social 
vivisection, it contrasts favourably with more recent 
works of fiction of the same description; that in the 
faithful presentation of social distress and its power of 
moving the heart to pity it even surpasses some of 




these, such for example as Zola's Germinal. For here 
the author in dissecting social maladies remains a cold 
anatomist throughout, whereas in Alton Locke the warmth u 
of compassionate ardour is felt throughout. It is to 
this predominating quality, no doubt, that the book owes 
its popularity. Its vigorous and unflinching delineation 
of suffering among the labouring poor, and its scathing 
criticism of indifference and selfishness among the well- 
to-do classes during that season of acute struggles, secured 
for the book a place in the households of England. In 
itself a book having for its chief contents the " self- 
exenterations " of a tailor with a turn for poetry, using 
what gifts he had for agitatorial purposes, was not 
calculated to secure the favour of the reading world on 
its own merits. But the fact that the dreams of the 
tailor-poet, confused, inchoate, often wild in their weird 
incoherence as here described, purported accurately to 
represent the state of mind in the industrial world, 
rendered the book attractive. Kingsley, with a re- 
markable amount of poetic insight, gave here an account 
of the religious and social creed of a class whose inner 
life was a terra incognita to the general public. He 
wrote the book when still comparatively young, and 
w r ith a rare vividness of perception, seeing, as it were at 
a glance, and interpreting with clearness and fidelity 
for others what he had seen in the interior workings 
of a working-man's brain. He succeeded in seizing the 
chief characteristics of such a mind with the quick 
intuition of genius. Here we have a description true 
to nature of the intensity of hatred accumulated in the 


heart of one thwarted in his endeavours to rise above 
the dead level of his class under adverse conditions ; of ; 
his jealous querulousness at the artificial restraints and! 
restrictions of society ; of the bitterness of spirit with | 
which such an one would regard the limitations of enjoy- \ 
meat in his own order compared with the liberation of I 
mind enjoyed by the privileged few. Kingsley showed 
how rancour and spite would supervene on finding how 
under the most favourable circumstances and under dis- 
tinguished patronage even the poor man of genius is 
hampered, foiled, and frustrated in a world whose best 
gifts are at the disposal of the wealthy classes ; how 
mental and moral superiority count as nothing when 
pitted against the. respectable mediocrity or even inferi- 
ority of those who are fortunate enough to be born the 
children of parents in easy circumstances. Kingsley 
almost identifies himself with his hero in this. The in- 
tensity of passion displayed in describing the struggles of 
Alton Locke makes one feel that here we have a picture 
of what Kingsley would have been and felt, had his lot 
been to be born and bred under such conditions. The rage 
and iconoclastic fervour of the demagogue were there in 
his own heart ; though an aristocrat by birth and dis- 
position, the opportunity was fortunately wanting to 
bring it out. This is the reason why he, in a totally 
different plane of life, sees so clearly the attitude of mind 
of one belonging to a lower social grade, and why he 
describes so ably his inner experiences. He himself 
had lived them through in imagination. He explains 
himself in a letter to Thomas Cooper, a working-man 


who had come under his influence, had joined the 
Christian Socialists, and was hated and misrepresented 
as a deserter by his former atheistic friends accordingly. 

" The man who wrote Alton Locke must know a little of 
Avhat a man like you could feel to a man like me, if the 
devil entered into him. And yet I tell you, Thomas Cooper, 
that there was a period in my life — and one not of months, 
but for years — in which I would have gladly exchanged your 
circumstantia, yea, yourself, as it is now for any circum- 
stantia, and myself, as they were then. And yet I had 
the best of parents, and a home, if not luxurious, still as 
good as any man's need be. You are a far happier man 
now, I firmly believe, than I was for years of my life. The 
dark cloud has passed with me now. Be but brave and 
patient, and (I will swear now), by God, Sir ! it will pass 
with you." 

The man who could in the overpowering sympathy of 
his impulsive nature write this in 1856, was the very 
man required six or seven years earlier to delineate 
with intelligent sympathy the feelings of the working- 
class in that important epoch in the history of English 
Industry. The book, like Yeast, was written under 
pressure in the busy winter of 1850. He rose every 
morning at five o'clock, writing until breakfast, so as 
not to let it interfere with his other occupations. It 
was the only book of which he made a fair copy, a 
proof in itself that it was not published in haste, though 
in after life he apologizes for its faults on the score of 
" my own youth, inexperience, hastiness, illusiveness." 
Parker refused to take it, as he feared the firm had 
suffered in reputation by the publication of Yeast. 


Through Carlyle, Chapman undertook the publication. 
" And so," concludes the letter announcing the fact in 
Carlyle's most characteristic style, " right glad myself to | y 
hear of a new explosion, a salvo of red-hot shot against I 
the devil's dung-heap from that particular battery." 
As Mr. Froude speaks in the second volume of the life 
in London of the depth of depression in Carlyle's mind at 
this time, it speaks volumes for the merit of the book he 
was thus favourably criticizing, that at such a time he 
could take pleasure in it at all. In after years Kingsley 
speaks of it as a venture which brought him in so much 
in hard cash. Comparing himself to others in the work 
of 1848, he writes to Thomas Hughes in his own head- 
a-go fun and frolic style — 

" You fellows worked like bricks, spent money. ... I 
risked no money ; 'cause why, I had none ; but made 
money out of the movement, and fame too ... I made 
£150 by Alton Locke, and never lost a farthing." 

But he proceeds, and we can believe him — 

"And if I had had £100,000, I'd have, and should have, 
staked and lost it all in 1848-50. I should, Tom, for my 
heart was and is in it, and you'll see it will beat yet." 

The fact is, like everybody else at this time, he 
strongly felt on the subject, and shared in the general 
consternation. " The truth is, I feel we are going on in 
the dark, towards something wonderful and awful, but 
whether to a precipice or a paradise, or neither, or both, 
I cannot tell. All my roots are tearing up one by one, 
and though I keep a gallant ' front ' before the Charlotte 
Street people {i.e. the Council of Association), little 


they know of the struggles within me, the laziness, the 
terror. Pray for me ; I could lie down and cry at 
times." In this state of mind he wrote Alton Locke 
and its little companion, the tract Cheap Clothes and 
Nasty, which contains a still more fervent exposure of 
the slop-selling system. The transparent sincerity of 
both, coming as they did from his heart and going 
direct to hearts capable of generous sympathy, soon 
made them popular in the ranks of labour as well as 
among the friends of the working-class. Rarely do the 
labourers themselves, whether in town or country, 
mistake the true ring of sympathy in one not of their 
class speaking to or for them. The book, which was 
written "for the sake of the rich who read, and the 
poor who suffer," captivated both by its great earnest- 
ness and unmistakable enthusiasm. Kingsley speaks 
of " abuse-puffs " in the press, and "dogs barking" in 
the religious world, at the time of its appearance, but 
in 1857 expresses wonder at the " steady-goiDg, respect- 
able people who approve more or less of Alton Locke? 
and the steady sale of his two socialistic novels. Fifteen 
years later he received a letter from a " Chartist and a 
cabman " from Brighton, thanking him for Alton Locke, 
another from abroad who had read the book " in a time 
of overwhelming misery," and found it the means of 
saving him from ruin ; and yet again another letter 
from a compositor in Leeds, who speaks of it as " the 
means of preventing me from becoming perhaps one of 
the dregs and scum of idle scoundrelism." Even from 
Wesleyan missionaries in South Africa he received such 


assurances of the spiritual benefit the book had proved 
to thousands in distant lands. The religious character 
of the book is unique as an attempt not only to show 
the connection between honest work and honest doubt, 
which has been repeated more than once since the 
publication of Joshua Davison, but as an attempt in 
fiction to show the reasonableness of Christianity as jv 
the working-man's creed. Kingsley makes it clear at \ 
the outset that he fully comprehends and appreciates / 
the difficulties of belief in sincere sceptics of this class. ] 
" With the most of us, sedentary and monotonous ) 
occupations, as has long been known, create of them- v 
selves a morbidly-meditative and fantastic turn of 
mind," says Alton Locke somewhere, giving the natural 
history of unbelief in his own class. On the other 
hand, remarks the same person, " I cannot help fancy- 
ing that our unnatural atmosphere of excitement, 
physical as well as moral, is to blame for very much 
of the working-man's restlessness and fierceness." And 
so it comes to pass that "they must either dream or 
agitate; perhaps they are now learning how to do 
both to some purpose." Yet at the same time, as 
Mackaye points out with his shrewd contempt of false 
pretensions, the very creed which has lost its power on 
the workman — " The moon of Calvinism, far gone in 
the fourth quarter when it's come to the like o' that," 
has left behind it the seclusive spirit it bred in the 
dite of the working-man, as their own organs in the 
press show abundantly. And for this reason he prefers 
to go back to Christianity pure and simple, as the true 


religion of equality. Kingsley is no believer in natural 
equality, as he says in 1866, though he speaks of a time 
when he held a different doctrine. But if the period 
of his life when Alton Locke was written is referred to, 
it is hard to see how the writer of this book can be 
said to be an advocate of the principles of 1789." He 
is here and throughout a believer in " the divine 
equality of virtue and wisdom which is open to all 
men in a free land," and therefore here more perhaps 
than in any other of his works does he invite the 
working-men to " try to take their place among ' the 
aristocracy of God.' " 

But we must go now to the novel to see this, and 
it will not be out of place here to give an analytic view 
of its drift and scope, with a few samples by way of 
quotation from it which may throw light upon its general 
teaching. Alton Locke, a " sickly and decrepit Cockney," 
is the child of a broken-down small tradesman, who dies 
early, and of a mother whose narrow creed warps her 
mind and produces a stint of affection acutely felt by 
the sensitive boy. The religious atmosphere of home- 
life is rendered stifling even to suffocation by the 
frequent presence and sinister influence of one or two 
of the least worthy representatives of the sectarian 
ministry. When he is old enough, his uncle, a prosper- 
ous man of business, puts him as an apprentice into 
a West End tailor-shop. Here the nauseous physical 
surroundings, and the presence of elements threatening 
moral infection, affect the delicate constitution of the 
youth bodily and almost spiritually; but he is saved 


from the worst by Crosstliwaite, a hot-headed but true- 
hearted tailor journeyman and a Chartist. He inspires 
Alton Locke with a thirst for knowledge, and in his 
pursuit of intellectual improvement the latter frequents 
a secondhand bookstall, where, with tears in his eyes, 
he is seen reading Bethune's life and sufferings. The 
owner of the shop, Sandy Mackaye, by far the best- 
drawn character in the story, takes an interest in the 
lad, and becomes his guide in the study of books, and 
puts him through a course of Milton and Virgil by way 
of mental discipline. As by degrees an intellectual 
revolution is effected by such readings, the ambition of 
Alton Locke is roused with a consciousness of power, 
encouraged by Crossthwaite's assurances that he is a 
born genius. With it comes the dissatisfaction of 
struggling genius. 

" It canae to me as a revelation, celestial-infernal, full of 
glorious hopes of the possible future in store for me through 
the perfect development of all my faculties ; and full, too, 
of fierce present rage, wounded vanity, bitter grudgings 
against those more favoured than myself, which grew in 
time almost to cursing against the God who had made 
me a poor untutored working man, and seemed to have 
given me genius only to keep me in a Tantalus' hell of un- 
satisfied thirst. . . . 

. . . Yes ; the Chartist poet is vain, conceited, ambitious, 
uneducated, shallow, inexperienced, envious, ferocious, scur- 
rilous, traitorous .... We have our time and you have 
yours ; ours may be the more gross and barbaric, but yours 
are none the less damnable ; perhaps all the more so, for 
being the sleek, subtle, respectable religious vices they are." 

With the new ideas fermenting in his mind the last 


vestiges of old beliefs, or fragments of faith, disappear, 
concealment becomes impossible, and the declaration 
of his sceptical creed to his mother leads to a final 
separation, he is banished from his home, and finds a 
refuge with Mackaye. Here he is visited by his uncle's 
son, now an undergraduate at Cambridge, who takes 
him to the Dulwich gallery of paintings. It is here 
that he meets with his fate. It is the old story — " Who 
is she ? " A dean's daughter whom, with her cousin and 
the stately Churchman, he encounters here as he stands 
ia raptures before a painting of St. Sebastian. The dean 
takes notice of the artisan, whilst the latter has only 
eyes for the young beauty, whose picture thenceforward 
haunts his steps until nine years later by accident he 
has another glimpse of her in Cambridge. In the 
interval, like most young men in love, he writes verses 
beginning with an impossible subject, is ridiculed by 
Mackaye out of it, and is persuaded by the latter to 
address himself to better things. He now, in company 
with the Scotchman, hunts up the scenes where poverty 
struggles with vice for a fit subject of a democratic 
poet's muse. These scenes are described with all the 
harrowing realism of which Kingsley's pen is capable. 

" Those narrow, brawling torrents of filth, and poverty, 
and sin — the houses with their teeming load of life, were piled 
up into the dingy choking night. A ghastly, deafening, 
sickly sight it was. . . . And stopping suddenly before the 
entrance of a miserable alley — ' Look,' says Sandy Mac- 
kaye with his Scotch grim humour, as Virgil might speak to 
the author of the Inferno, ' Look ! there is not a soul 
down that yard but's either beggar, drunkard, thief, or 


worse. Write anent that ! Say how ye saw the mouth o* 
hell, and the twa pillars thereof at the entry — the pawn- 
broker's shop o' one side and the gin-palace at the other — 
twa monstrous deevils, eating up men, and women, and 
bairns, body and soul. Look at the jaws o' the monsters, 
how they open and open, and swallow in anither victim and 
anither. "Write anent that.' " 

Equally powerful are the descriptions of the home of 
the seamstress, the " phalanstery of all the fiends." 
Personal observation, combined with a study of Carlyle 
and Tennyson, determines our young poet to apply 
himself assiduously to what he calls the democratic art 
of stating the people's case in measured rhyme, and this 
he does in close contact with the Chartist. The tailor- 
shop in which he works having been turned into a slop- 
shop, a strike is organized. It is in this way that 
Chartists are produced, we are informed. The men 
must call upon government to redeem their wrongs, and 
in order that this call may not be in vain, their voice 
must be beard in parliament. " If neither government 
nor members of parliament can help us, we must help 
ourselves. Help yourselves," says Crossthwaite, the 
organizer of the strike, "and Heaven will help you. 
Combination among ourselves is the only cha>nce. One 
thing we can do — sit still. ' And starve ! ' said some 

However, our hero discovers before long the weak 
points of Chartism. "Fool that I am ! It was from 
within rather than without that I needed reform. 
For my part, I seem to have learnt that the only 
to regenerate the world is not more of any 

ly thing \ 
system,. L 


good or bad, but simply more of the Spirit of God." 
JIackaye advises the hero to proceed to Cambridge, and 
'with his cousin's aid to work his way through the 
University. Here, as he arrives in the middle of a 
boat-race, he is made to meet the vision of his dream, 
Lillian, but also feels the distance which separates them, 
which leaves ample room for morbid reflections and 
resentful sentiment, which it must be confessed are a 
trifle unreasonable. However, literary hack-work is 
found for him, and with it an entrance, too, into the 
Dean's house, though a damper is put on the ardour of 
the young man when, listening with ecstasies as Lillian 
sings one of his own songs, the Churchman overhearing 
it says to his daughter — 

" What's that about brotherhood and freedom, 
Lillian ? we don't want anything of that kind here." 

Now the publication of his poems is thought of and 
effected with the help of the Dean, but rrotTT!vtTl>ljv the 
latter's advice, the more objectionable passages breatEhag 
Chartism and democratic sentiment are expunged. 
They secure a great success. Alton Locke now returns 
to Mackaye, who does not approve of this concession 
to aristocratic patronage. The hero's occupation now 
undergoes another change. He becomes a contributor 
to an inflammatory print, and writhes under the tyranny 
of the editor of the Weekly Wharwhoop. 

" It was miserable work, there is no denying it — only 
not worse than tailoring." He breaks with O'Flvnn, 
and this brings another humiliation on his head. The 
angry editor denounces him as a traitor to the people 


in his paper, in thus mutilating his poems. To redeem 
his character in the eyes of his workmen, Alton Locke 
determines on a step which leads to his ruin. He 
volunteers to go forth as a delegate into a disturbed 
country district, which happens to be within easy 
distance of the residence of his patron the Dean, 
there " to preach Chartism to discontented mobs." He 
attends the meeting convened for this purpose, listens 
with suppressed rage to the wild harangues of some of 
the speakers present, and, losing his self-possession when 
his own more reasonable proposals meet with a surly 
demand for bread, he exclaims, "between disappoint- 
ment and the maddening desire of influence " : 

" Go and get bread ! After all you have a right to it. 
No man is bound to starve. There are rights above all 
laws, and the right to live is one. Laws were made for 
man, not man for laws. If you had made the laws your- 
selves, they may bind you even in this extremity ; but they 
were made in spite of you — against you. They rob you, 
crush you ; even now they deny you bread. God has made 
the earth free to all, like the air and sunshine, and you are 
shut out from off it. The earth is yours, for you till it. 
Without you it would be a desert. . . Go and demand 
your share of that corn, the fruit of your ow T n industry : 
what matter if your tyrants imprison, murder you 1 " 

His speech in this tone of desperation produces a 
result he scarcely dreamed of — a hideous riot ensues. In 
vain he tries to stem it. A detachment of yeomanry 
are sent for to quell it, and he as the supposed ringleader 
is taken to prison. Then follows a vivid description of 
the trial scene, and the horror and madness of the hero 



condemned to three years' solitary confinement. From 
the grated window of his cell he sees the new 
church built for his cousin, who is at the bottom of 
all this treachery which has led to his own downfall. 
For it was he who informed the editor, and through 
him his Chartist friends, of the facts in connection 
with the volume of poems, and it is he who now, to 
keep Alton away from Lillian, keeps the truth from 
the Dean in connection with the hero's conduct on the 
occasion of the riot, who would otherwise willingly 
have effected Alton Locke's deliverance. In the 
bitterness of his heart, on leaving the prison he becomes 
a confirmed conspirator. At this very moment the 
Chartist movement is reaching its climax, and Cross- 
thwaite is in the thick of it. Mackaye, who had discerned 
its futility all along, dies on the memorable 10th of 
August, when it came to a contemptible end. His last 
words are finely told in a scene full of tragic effect, 
ileanor, the cousin of Lillian, appears now in her true 
character of a friend of the people's cause, though all 
along Alton Locke had regarded her as an enemy. From 
her lips he hears what makes up the full measure of 
his grief and shame, that Lillian is married to his 
cousin. Poetic justice is done by the latter's premature 
death from fever, caught in the performance of his dxitj. 
The hero, w r ith the intention of committing suicide, 
actually saves a wretch from it, Jemmy Downes, a 
victim of the sweating system, now reduced by long 
years of bad usage to the condition of the "gaunt, 
ragged, sodden, blear-eyed, drivelling, worn-out gin- 


drinker." Alton Locke accompanies him to his domicile, 
which is described with horrible reality, with the dead 
wife, whose unclosed eyes stare on the drunken husband 
reproachfully, and " on each side of her a little, 
shrivelled, impish child-corpse," with their arms round 
the mother's neck. 

"Look!" cries the wretch, "I watched them dying! 
day after day I saw the devils come up through the cracks, 
like little maggots and beetles, and all manner of ugly 
things, creeping down their throats ; and I asked 'em, and 
they said they were the fever devils." 

Shortly after this the speaker drowns himself in the 
poisoned sewer below. After the vials of wrath are 
thus poured out on our present social system in its foul 
effects on human bodies and souls, a rhapsody follows 
in the style of Lamennais' Paroles d'un Groyant. Eleanor 
once more appears on the scene, and directs attention to 
the Great Healer, who alone can renovate human society. 

" She spoke of him as the great reformer, and yet as the 
true conservative ; the inspirer of all new truths, revealing 
in his Bible to every age abysses of new wisdom, as the 
times require ; and yet the indicator of all which is ancient 
and eternal — the justifier of his own dealings with man 
from the beginning. She spoke of him as the true dema- 
gogue — the champion of the poor ; and yet as the true king, 
above and below all earthly rank ; on whose will alone all 
real superiority of man to man, all time-justified and time- 
honoured usages of the family, the society, the nation, 
stand and shall stand for ever. . . . 

" Look, too, at the great societies of our own days, which, 
however imperfectly, still lovingly and earnestly do their 
measure of God's work at home and abroad \ and say, 



when was there ever real union, co-operation, philanthropy, 
equality, brotherhood among men, save in loyalty to Him — 
Jesus who died upon the cross 1 . . . 

" I see it — I see it all now. Oh, my God ! my God ! 
what infidels we have been ! " 

/ So cries Crossthwaite, who has been listening all the 
while, and so the book ends with a confession of faith 
on the part of the Chartist, and unfeigned hope in the 
regenerating influences of Christianity as applied to 
society on the part of the reformer, and an appeal to 
the Christian priesthood as the chosen instruments for 
this purpose. 

" If they would be truly priests of God, the priests of 
the Universal Church, they must be priests of the people, 
priests of the masses." 

In short, " The people can never be themselves without 
co-operation with the priesthood ; and the priesthood can 
never be themselves without co-operation with the people." 

The hero, by Mackaye's will, emigrates, and dies 
suddenly on his voyage to Texas just before the ship 
touches land, when the ink is as yet wet on the last page 
of the MS., which is supposed to contain the "Auto- 
biography of Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet," the book here 
under consideration. A strange end to a very improb- 
able story, as stories go, no doubt, and this general air 
of unreality about it is its chief fault. This must be 
acknowledged unreservedly, that as a novel it is almost 
a failure, but not so as a propagandist work of fiction. 
In its presentation of fact it is a complete success. In 
f the description of fetid and filthy workshops and fever 
V dens of the sweaters, in its exposure of the causes which 


turned honest and peaceable workmen into conspirators, V 
the author of Alton Loclcc did the work of half a dozen t , 
labour commissions, and did it much more effectually ] 
by appealing in fervid tones of passionate sympathy to \ 
the well-to-do people of his day, calling upon them to ' 
rescue their fellow-men from destruction of soul and 
body, and stimulating private and public philanthropy ' 
to set about and face the social problem with honesty 
of purpose. Complaints were made against " the bitter, 
indiscriminate, and unsparing indignation which is 
poured out upon the rich, the government, and the 
clergy " in its pages, though equally severe are the de- 
nunciations pronounced there against the irrationalities 
of Chartism. The tone of indignation is maintained 
throughout against the faults and shortcomings of all 
concerned. And in this tone of real and unfeigned 
righteous indignation, the strength of feeling displayed 
in the volume, lies its chief merit. A milder and more f 
measured presentment of the case would scarcely have 
elicited such a response as that produced by it in the 
mind of the public. The world had been lulled to sleep 
by the drowsy commonplaces and " the discretion of 
dullness " in its trusted and authoritative teachers, and 
though at first it resented the " impatience of philan- 
thropy " on the part of Kingsley in this book, it thanked 
him before long for waking it out of the torpor of self- 
indulgence and indifference to the welfare of the masses 
— " his influence was great in enthusiastic young minds 
in the fifties," says a correspondent who had felt its 
power, in a letter to the author written quite recently. 


Kingsley himself, in a letter dated January 13th, 1851, 
to a clergyman in answer to criticisms on Alton Locke, 
shows what were his feelings and intentions at the time 
he wrote it. 

" First. I do not think the cry ' get on ' to be anything 
but a devil's cry. The moral of my book is, that the 
working-man who tries to get on, to desert his class and 
rise above it, enters into a lie, and leaves God's path for 
his own — with consequences. 

" Second. I believe that a man might be as a tailor or a 
costermonger, every inch of him a saint, a scholar, and a 
gentleman, &c. 

" Third. The workmen are tired of idols, ready and yearn- 
ing for the Church and the gospel, and such men as your 
friend may laugh at Julian Harvey, Feargus O'Connor, 
and the rest of that smoke of the pit. Only we live in a 
great crisis, and the Lord requires great things of us. The 
fields are white for the harvest. 

" Fourth. By the neglect of the Church, by her dealing 
(like the Popish Church and all weak Churches) only with 
women, children, and beggars, the cream and pith of working 
intellect is almost exclusively self-educated, and therefore, 
alas ! infidel. 

"Fifth. "We are teaching them to become Christians 
by teaching them gradually that true socialism, true 
liberty, brotherhood and true equality (not the carnal dead- 
level equality of the Communist, but the spiritual equality 
of the Church idea, which gives every man an equal chance 
of developing and using God's gifts, and rewards every 
man according to his work, without respect of person), is 
only to be found in loyalty and obedience to Christ." 

And so forth. And the contents of a volume written on 
these lines was characterized by the Times of October 
18th, 1850, as "wild and wanton teaching." Was 


the reviewer one of those " stupid, or careless, or ill- 
willed persons " referred to by Kingsley in the preface 
to another edition of Alton Locke, written in 1854, and 
addressed to the working-men of Great Britain, who in 
speaking of the thoughts and feelings of the hero " have 
represented these as my opinions, having as it seems 
to me turned the book upside down before they began 
to read it " ? 

The "more ponderous batteries" of the Edinburgh 
Review, as one of the writers in the Christian Socialist 
calls them, were directed mainly against the supposed 
economic fallacies contained in Alton Locke. Whilst 
acknowledging the importance of tackling with the 
social anomalies attempted here, it took exception to 
the heat of feeling and proportionate absence of scien- 
tific light in the arguments. Kingsley is described 
condescendingly as " a zealous and experienced parish- 
priest, a gentleman of great literary ability, of very 
impatient benevolence, and evidently of somewhat 
imperious and aggressive temper towards all who 
check his hasty conclusions ; " whilst the work itself 
"abounds in passages of wild and unchastened elo- 
quence ; and amid much aimless declamation, and 
not a little language which Christian feeling and 
scholarly taste must alike condemn, it breathes through 
every page a profound and passionate sympathy with 
the sufferings of the poor." As to the matter, apart 
from the manner, it is pointed out fairly enough that 
the economic doctrine taught here is the importance \ 
of replacing competition and contention by co-operation 


and concert as the method of industry. But, said the 
reviewer, the principle of association as such is not 
a new discovery, nor in itself opposed to the teaching 
of political economy. At the same time, to hold it 
up as a social panacea could only end either in a 
chimaera or tyranny ; " associations " (the spread of 
which the reviewer thinks would in itself be an ex- 
cellent thing in raising materially, morally, and 
mentally the individual workman) " when they differ 
from practical partnerships must be either lost 
in the whirlpool of competition, or wrecked on the 
rock of monopoly." True, when society has been 
Christianized, association may succeed ; but then, when 
this spiritual remodelling of man's nature is effected, 
it will not matter very much what industrial system 
is adopted ; but until then, and so long as human 
beings remain practically what they are now, the 
multiplication of associations would imply a continu- 
ation of competition with its evils, whilst merging 
them all into one would imply the greater evil of 
monopoly. To this Mr. F. J. Furnivall replied in 
the Christian Socialist, showing that according to the 
rules laid down in their tracts, containing the rules 
and bye-laws of such associations, the price of articles 
sold by the different associations of the same trade and 
place shall be regulated by these associations, subject 
to the control of the Central Board, in such a manner 
as to prevent either monopoly or unfair competition!' 

The Edinburgh reviewer had assured the Christian 
Socialists that they were only attacking the symptoms, 


not the source of the social malady, and wrapping 
round him the philosopher's cloak with imposing 
dignity, he added — 

" "SVe cast in our lot with their more systematic fellow- 
labourers who address themselves to the harder, rougher, 
more unthankful task of attacking the source rather than 
the symptoms — of eradicating social evils rather than 
alleviating them." 

To this Ludlow, under the signature of J. T. in the 
Christian Socialist, replied thus — 

" I believe the principle of socialism is one that commends 
itself to the mind of every one who has first embraced it 
with his heart, precisely because it does go to the root of 
social misery, whilst the political economy of the day only 
crops the weed at the surface ; because it does deal with 
causes, whilst that political economy only deals with certain 
resulting formulas which it calls laws. . . . Socialism, by 
taking account of those moral causes which the economists 
neglect, by placing realities in the place of abstractions, 
' labourers ' and ' capitalists ' in the place of ' labour ' and 
1 capital,' shows how selfishness and dishonesty, or fair 
dealing and public spirit, must ever vary that proportion." 

And disclaiming altogether originality or novelty 
in emphasizing the importance of industrial association, 
he proceeds to say — 

" We deny that we are introducing new elements or new 
arrangements (except so far as it always is and always 
shall be a new element, a new arrangement, a new com- 
mandment, to ' love one another ') ; we say that we are 
developing the old and true elements, restoring the old 
and true arrangements. As Madame de Stael said that 
' freedom was ancient, and tyranny alone new-fangled ; ' 


so we assert that brotherhood eternally precedes division, 
• and love hatred ; that brotherhood and love can alone 
remodel and renovate, division and hatred only deform and 
dissolve society." 

It is not an easy task to defend Alton Locke on 
artistic grounds. The hero even compared with Stephen 
Morley in Sybil as a typical agitator is inferior in moral 
calibre, though Lord Beaconsfield found it expedient to 
spoil the character of the people's advocate for the 
purpose of establishing his theory, that the salvation 
of the working-classes must come from the aristocracy. 
Still less favourably does Alton Locke compare with 
Felix Holt, a more recent creation of the same type of 
aspiring artisan, who, in spite of his aims in leading the 
rabble, succumbs in the struggle, the force of circum- 
stances being too much for him. George Eliot's radical 
is a more finely-wrought character, self-poised in a more 
eminent degree, less the creature of circumstances, re- 
sisting nobly, however ineffectually, the temptations of 
his trying position ; as a son, for example, which " re- 
quired the utmost exertion of patience, that required 
those little rill-like outflowings of goodness which in 
minds of great energy must be fed from deep sources 
of thought and passionate devotedness." There is a 
resemblance in the speech-making of the two heroes at 
excited meetings, with equally disastrous effects in both 
cases. But on comparing that of Felix Holt with that 
of Alton Locke, the moral tone of the former, it will be 
found, is the more elevated of the two. " I'll tell you 
what's the greatest power under heaven," said Felix, 


" and that is public opinion — the ruling belief in society 
about what is right and what is wrong, what is honour- 
able and what is shameful." So, again, in his divine 
discontent Felix Holt never reaches the bathos of ir- 
rational querulousness justly censured in Alton Locke, 
who, when he speaks of his aristocratic rivals able to 
gratify the wish denied him of looking on his lady-love 
adored from a distance, though he assumes " they 
could not adore, appreciate that beauty as he did," 
grows mad over the thought that the very garment 
he has been stitching might touch her dress, and he 
making coats for them ! These are not Kingsley's 
sentiments, but what he supposed to be the feelings 
of the discontented artisans of his day. George Eliot 
cannot form such a conception of a working-man hero. 
" You are discontented with the world," says Felix Holt 
to Miss Lyon, " because you can't get just the small 
things that suit your pleasure, not because it's a world 
where myriads of men and women are ground by wrong 
and misery, and tainted with pollution." And yet 
George Eliot has much in common with the author of 
Alton Locke. She shares in full his contempt for " push- 
ing middle-class gentility." But she is more tolerant 
to it and the weakness of the populace alike, raised 
above the arena of contending passions. Kingsley is 
in the middle of the fight, and almost enjoys it. Like 
his hero, he arrives after many and some futile struggles 
at the higher platform, where the lesson is learned that, 
in the words of Felix Holt, " the way to get rid of folly 
is to get rid of vain expectations, and of thoughts that 


don't agree with the nature of things." But here again 
it must be repeated that the intenseness and restless 
impetuosity of Kingsley, his " spasms of sympathy " with 
his own hero's position, and his identification with him, 
and the intellectual fermentation around him, became 
a force in the great struggle for the emancipation of 
labour at this time. There is confusion and excite- 
ment; Pegasus rides away at full speed with his 
rider ; the author is overmastered by passion, and 
does not entirely master his art, it gets beyond his 
control. What is a fault in the writer of fiction is a 
virtue in the social reformer. This overmastering 
eagerness and earnestness tells on the sluggish public, 
captivated by one who takes the kingdom of heaven 
by force, and follows his lead for the time being at 
least. George Eliot's mental discipline and ascetic 
restraint in speculation does not permit her social 
sympathies full flow. She took an interest in the 
revolution of 1848, which was a social revolution in 
intention ; but she speaks disparagingly in her journal 
of Louis Blanc, one of the principal actors in it, on 
meeting him in London society. We are told that she 
read industriously the writings of Robert Owen and 
Saint Simon, but they appear not to have made any 
profound impression on her severely analytical mind. 
The reverse of all this is true of Charles Kingsley. His 
f mind is thrown into a paroxysm of excitement by the 
events of 1848-9, and in this state of mind he wrote 
Alton Locke. The time came when he cooled down, 
when in Two Years Ago he speaks contemptuously of 


Fourier's Casino-Paradise. But this novel belongs to 
what has been called the reactionary period of his 
literary life. 

A curious fact, proving how much the author in this 
book is merged in the social reformer, is the temporary 
absence of humour, for apart from the sardonic humour 
of Sandy Mackaye, there is an almost complete absence 
of this quality in Alton Locke. Kingsley was too much 
in earnest to give way to his natural tendencies, for no 
one can doubt that he possessed it in an eminent 
degree. But his humour forsakes him so that he 
cannot see the grotesque situations of his hero on 
more than one occasion. He himself was so sensitive 
to the sense of the ridiculous that on one occasion, at 
a meeting of the promoters, we are told, " he was quite 
upset and silenced by the appearance of a bearded 
member of council at an important deputation in a 
sti-aw hat and blue plush gloves. He did not recover 
from the depression produced by those gloves for days." 
That one who attributed humour to the Deity, and who, 
in the Saint's Tragedy, belonging to the same period, 
serious as was its intention, introduces more than one 
humorous passage, failed to do so almost completely in 
Alton Locke, cannot be explained on any other theory 
except this, that he was too intense to note its absence. 
The creator of Dick Hammerhand in Hereivard the 
Wake, and the writer of those humorous epistles to 
Thomas Hughes which are dispersed over the pages 
of bis Life and Letters, was too shrewd not to see the 
absurd aspects of Alton Locke's character and sayings, 


but his complete absorption in the subject or moral of 
his tale was such as to deprive him, for the time being, 
of his critical acuteness and sense of humour. 

We may ask now, How far did Kingsley succeed by 
reason of this very earnestness in advancing the cause 
lie had taken in hand ? what progress has been made 
in the direction of putting down the sweating system ? 
what improvement in the conditions of that particular 
domain of labour which he attempted to reform ? and 
lastly, what advance in the adoption of co-operative 
principles in modern industry, in the direction of re- 
alizing the dream of " the organization of fraternity " ? 

As to the first, we find from the report of the Chief 
Inspector of Factories and Workshops for the year 
ending 31st October, 1889, that in most of those 
" workshops wherein young persons are employed there 
is a manifest improvement in sanitation," and " that 
the employment of females has been for some time 
past more regular and fairly confined to legal limits " 
(p. 94). Still, it is admitted a few pages further on 
(p. 104), "we have thousands of domestic workshops, 
dark, dirty, over-crowded." Mr. C. Booth, in his 
cautious and elaborate method of induction, balancing 
the pros and cons of sanitary and material progress 
among the working-classes, tells us — " In bad sanitation, 
over-crowding, long and irregular hours, the life of the 
English home-worker too often presents the worst 
features of the ' sweating system.' " And again, " Good 
workshops are the exception ; many of them are in a 
very unhealthy condition, badly lighted, ventilated, and 


dirty." From statements such as these by competent 
and unprejudiced inquirers, it would appear that little 
progress has been made since Kingsley wrote Alton 
Locke, but it has to be remembered that our standard 
since then has been raised considerably, hence the 
disappointment is more poignant. Also we meet in the 
same volumes with other statements which show that 
there has been considerable mitigation of the worst 
horrors of this kind ; still, "allowing that many of the 
troubles attributed to sweating are not industrial, and 
admitting that those which were industrial are neither 
essentially connected with any system of employment 
nor to be attributed to inhumanity, still, the trades 
of East London undoubtedly present a serious case 
of economic disease, with painful and alarming 
symptoms." * 

But it is encouraging to read in the same volumes, 
containing a mass of evidence on the existence of so 
many festering social evils in the very metropolis of 
European commerce and British enterprise — " I am 
inclined to think that if an inquiry such as the present 
had been made at any previous time in the history of 
London, it would have shown a greater proportion of 
depravity and misery than now exists, and a lower 
general standard of life." 2 And is it too much to say 
that this improvement is partly owing to the exertions 
of the Christian Socialists and the publication of Alton 

1 Labour and Life of the People, vol. i., East London ; edited 
by Charles Booth, p. 487 ; cf. pp. 214, 238, 487 ; vol. ii. pp. 313-14. 
1 Vul. i. pp. 593-4. 


Locke ? Kingsley himself in the preface to it, written 
in 1854, speaks of the improved condition of things 
eve a then ; and in his preface addressed to the under- 
graduates of Cambridge, he congratulates them that 
"for thirty years past, gentlemen and ladies of all 
shades of opinion have been labouring for and among 
the working-classes, as no aristocracy on earth ever 
laboured before ; " and he inquires, " Do you suppose 
that all that labour has been in vain ? " It was not in 
vain. Probably the improvements had not been as 
great as he supposed and wished to believe. Kingsley 's 
was a very sanguine disposition, and men of strong 
sympathies are apt to become optimists in spite of 

In the introduction to Two Years Ago, Claude gives 
expression to the most comforting sentiments of self- 
congratulation on the great social improvement since 
1846-8, the spirit of self-reform and self-education, with 
the tone of morals raised considerably among all classes ; 
" as for the outward and material improvements — you 
know as well as I, that since free trade and emigration 
the labourers confess themselves better off than they 
have been for fifty years." Charles Kingsley was not 
one of those preachers of smooth things whom he 
characterizes in Alton Locke as "daubing the rotten 
walls of careless luxury and self-satisfied covetousness 
with the untempered mortar of party statistics." When 
in later life he could look back on his earlier struggles 
with comparative self-satisfaction and composure, it is 
only natural that he should give way to a pardonable 


weakness in believing that the world around him was 
much more improved than was actually the case. 

As to the progress of co-operation, he never was 
deceived on this point, in fact he never ceased to deplore 
its comparative failure. The application of the prin- 
ciples of association to commerce and industry must be 
a matter of time and slow development, and simply for 
this reason, that, as Kingsley and his friends constantly 
affirmed, that depends on the growth of the non-self- 
regarding principles in the human heart ; that, in the 
language of The Co-operative Manual, " to harmonize 
the discords of conflicting impulses, and convert the 
scorching heat of competition into a life-giving, cheering 
warmth," reason, "the fosterer of invention and incen- 
tive to progress," is not sufficient, but " requires the 
assistance of some power capable of moving the will by 
the influence of emotion to chose to do what the 
reason points out as fitting to be done " (p. 18) ; that 
Christianity alone can inspire and maintain this senti- 
ment and supply this emotional force. Even in that 
branch of co-operative industry, namely distribution, / 
which has attained to a phenomenal success, this idea 
has been almost entirely lost sight of. 

Kingsley in 1854 complains of this reluctance on 
the part of the workmen themselves to adopt the prin- / 
ciple which alone can raise their class morally and 
materially. " How little have the working-men done," 
he says in the preface to Alton Loclze, addressed to the 
working-men of Great Britain, "to carry out that idea of 
association in which, in 1848-9, they were all willing to 


confess their salvation lay." And, writing to John 
Bullar in 1857, he confesses with regret that " ' associa- 
tions' are a failure,' because the working-men are not 
fit for them." But as for his and Maurice's schemes, 
a failure of a hundred of them does not alter his 

" I shall die in hope, not having received the promises, 
but beholding them afar off, and confessing myself a 
stranger and a pilgrim in a [world of laissez-faire. For 
this is my belief, that not self-interest, but self-sacrifice, is 
the only law upon which human society can be grounded 
with any hope of prosperity and permanence. That self- 
interest is a law of nature I know well. That it ought to 
be the root-law of human society I deny, unless society is 
to sink down into a Roman Empire, and a cage of wild 
beasts, as it very probably may — as it certainly will, if 
your theory is accepted, that God has meant one man to 
rule, and many to obey." 

This is in complete correspondence with what is said 
proleptically by the would-be reformer's last words in 
Alton Locke — 

" And I have succeeded, as others will succeed long after 
my name, my small endeavours are forgotten amid the great 
new world — new church I should have said — of enfran- 
chised and fraternal labour." 

We are very far from acknowledging failure in the 
attempts here referred to ; to establish a vital prin- 
ciple and firmly fix it on the public mind is a task 
which is not easily accomplished ; it wants time for 
maturing, and the progress of growth in ideas which 
run counter to human selfishness must be of necessity 


very slow : what appears to be failure is only like the 
slowness of movement which resembles immobility to 
a hasty onlooker. The idea is gaining ground from 
day to day, that co-operation is destined to be the 
future mode of carrying on industry, that friendly 
association will take the place of militant industrialism, 
in a measure at least justifying the unfeigned faith of 
Charles Kingsley — 

" Association will be the next form of industrial develop- 
ment, I doubt not, for production ; but it will require two 
generations of previous training, both in morality and in 
drill, to make the workman capable of it." 

This was said in 1856 ; one generation has passed 
away, and the prospect of fulfilment is not as near by 
any means as the true friends of co-operation might 
wish — still there is no real reason to despair of ultimate 



At one of the gatherings of the Christian Socialists 
in the house of Mr. Maurice during the years 1847-48, 
Kingsley, finding himself in a minority of one, said 
jokingly that he felt much as Lot must have felt in the 
cities of the plain, when he seemed as one that mocked 
to his sons-in-law. The name of Parson Lot was then 
and there suggested, and by him adopted as a nom de 
plume. Two years later, in one of the humorous epistles 
in verse addressed to his friend Thomas Hughes, and 
included, as is the above anecdote, in the Memoir 
prefixed to Alton Locke, Kingsley thus concludes with 
one of his most characteristic clinchers — " Says Parson 
Lot the socialist chief." It was in keeping with this 
mode of using expletives and using strong language 
vigorously, that at the Cranbourne Tavern, and in a 
mixed assembly, he threw back his head and folded his 
arms deliberately, exclaiming, " I am a Church of 
England clergyman — and a Chartist!" It was im- 
possible for him to be cautious in speech. But when 
he added in ''burning language" that for him the 
Charter did not go far enough, he proceeds to explain — 


an explanation his opponents omitted to notice — " my 
only quarrel with the Charter is, that it does not go far 
enough in reform." By reform he meant moral reform 
from within, not the changes to be effected by any 
number of reform bills passed through Parliament. " I 
think you have fallen into just the same mistake as the 
rich of whom you complain — the very mistake which has 
been our curse and our nightmare. I mean the mis- 
take of fancying that legislative reform is social reform, 
or that men's hearts can be changed by Act of Parliament. 
If any one will tell me of a country where a charter 
made the rogues honest, or the idle industrious, I will 
alter my opinion of the Charter, but not till then. It 
disappointed me bitterly when I read it. It seemed 
a harmless cry enough, but a poor, bald, constitution- 
mongering cry as ever I heard," &c. &c. " God will only 
reform society on the condition of our reforming every 
man his own self." 

We have quoted this here in the forefront of a 
chapter which deals with Kingsley as a controversialist 
and a pamphleteer, or, as some would call him, a 
social agitator in the Press, for Politics for the People, 
and the Christian Socialist, in which some of these 
controversies were carried on, were organs of the Press 
for agitatorial purposes. In them Kingsley's name 
appears attached both to poetry and fiction. The story 
of the " Nun's Pool," which had some difficulty in being 
inserted in the Christian Socialist, after being actually 
refused admittance to Politics for the People, and such 
songs as The Day of the Lord and the Eagle, the latter 


written near the Rhine, and both suggested by the 
troubles of '48, but left uncorrected in subsequent 
editions of the Poems, belong to the poetry of passion. 
The tract on Cheap Clothes and Nasty cannot be called 
a model of reasoned eloquence, it is full of righteous 
' indignation against the iniquities of the sweating 
system. Here Parson Lot, having his righteous soul 
vexed, forgets for the time being the advice of Eccle- 
siastes to young men, " to remove vexation from their 
hearts." He is eloquent, but his eloquence is un- 
chastened; he gives the reins to his righteous anger. 
The effect it produced was instantaneous. Published 
in January 1850, it was followed by a practical applica- 
tion of its teaching in the following month, when the 
first Tailors' Association was opened in Castle Street, 
with Walter Cooper, the ex-Chartist, as manager. The 
opening sentence of the tract, now published with 
Alton Locke, so severely censured b}^ Mr. Greg in the 
Edinburgh Bcview as a " Tract full of raving," gives the 

" King Ryence, says the legend of Prince Arthur, wore a 
paletot trimmed with kings' beards. In the first French 
Revolution (so Carlyle assures us) there were at Meudon 
tanneries of human skins. Mammon, at once tyrant and 
revolutionary, follows both these noble examples — in a 
more respectable way, doubtless, for Mammon hates cruelty, 
bodily pain is his devil, the worst evil of which he, in his 
effeminacy, can conceive. So he shrinks benevolently when 
a drunken soldier is flogged ; but he trims his paletots 
and adorns his legs with the flesh of men and the skins 
of women, with degradation, pestilence, heathendom, and 


despair ; and then chuckles self-complacently over the 
smallness of his tailor's bills. Hypocrite ! — stx-aining at a 
gnat and swallowing a camel ! What is flogging or hanging, 
King Ryence's paletot, or the tanneries of Meudon, to the 
slavery, starvation, waste of life, yea, long imprisonment 
in dungeons narrower and fouler than those of the In- 
quisition, which goes on among thousands of free English 
clothes-makers of this day?" 

Mr. Greg condescendingly extends his pardon to this 
and similar outbursts on the score of Kingsley's excited 
state of mind as it dwells on the wretched condition of 
the victims of the system he attacks so fiercely. But 
he is inexorable on the severe attack on competition. 

" Sweet competition ! Heavenly maid ! Nowadays 
hymned alike by penny-a-liners and philosophers as the 
ground of all society — the only real preserver of all the 
earth ! Why not of heaven too 1 Perhaps there is com- 
petition among the angels, and Gabriel and Raphael have 
won their rank by doing the maximum of worship on the 
minimum of grace. We shall know some day. In the 
meanwhile, 'these are Thy works, Thou parent of all 
good ! ' Man eating man, eaten by man, in every variety 
of degree and method ! Why does not some enthusiastic 
political economist write an epic on "The Consecration of 
Cannibalism "I" 

This was the unpardonable sin. A tract of this kind 
written in the present day by a man of equal calibre 
would be read with approval by thousands. In the 
form of a lecture at a popular meeting at St. James's 
Hall, it would be received with deafening plaudits by 
the benevolent, and probably form an avenue of success 
to an enterprising genius of modern philanthropy, since 


it has become one of the liberal professions, so great is 
the change in the public mind since then. The facts 
and figures placed side by side of these two very strong 
passages fully explain the tone of mind in which they 
were written; they also are an answer to Mr. Greg's 
insinuations that Kingsley had failed to make himself 
acquainted with the actual state of things before writing. 
The victims of the slop system are described from 
veritable accounts and personal observation; "like 
Ulysses' companions in the cave of Polyphemus, the 
only question among them is, to scramble so far back 
as to have a chance of being eaten at last. Before them 
is ever-nearing slavery, disease, and starvation. What 
can be done ? " The respectable customers are warned 
not to enter " the temples of Moloch — their thresholds 
are rank with human blood. God's curse is on them, 
and on those who, by supporting them, are partakers of 
their sins." 

His contributions to the Christian Socialist bear 
more the impress of cool collectedness than this tract, 
but in the very letter in which he suggests to Mr. 
Ludlow what subjects might be treated in it and how, 
he also gives reasons for only speaking his mind in 
this bold fashion. 

" This is a puling, quill-driving, soft-handed age — among 
our own rank, I mean. Cowardice is called weakness ; to 
temporize is to be charitable and reverent ; to speak truth 
and shame the devil, is to offend weak brethren, who, 
somehow or other, never complain of their weak consciences 
till you hit them hard. And yet, my dear fellow, I still 


remain of my old mind — that it is better to say too much 
than too little, and more merciful to knock a man down 
with a pickaxe than to prick him to death with pins. The 
world says, No. It hates anything demonstrative or 
violent (except on its own side) or unrefined." 

On this point Maurice and his disciple were quite 
agreed. Maurice had defended the flaming title of 
the tract, Christian Socialist, on the ground that in 
approaching the English public " we must not beat 
about the bush." He expresses his approval of the 
tract referred to above, and with all his caution on this 
subject recommended a bold plunge. Kingsley was 
not the kind of man to hesitate when thus bidden. 
With him it was not so much matter of principle as 
predisposition; he simply could not help himself; he 
was a born fighter, sometimes adopting the language 
of the camp for that of the forum, or that of still more 
sacred places, as when he says, " If you want to get 
mankind, if not to heaven, at least out of hell, kick 
them out." When he talked of the "Scribes and 
Pharisees in white cravats laying on men heavy burdens, 
and grievous to be borne, and then not touching them 
themselves with one of their fingers," he was apt to use 
forcible language which, though it might be necessary, 
was not welcome to those whom he struck hip and 
thigh. But then Kingsley in some occasional fits of 
self-humiliation would readily acknowledge his ex- 
cesses, and calls himself, with a charming air of genuine 
self-conviction, a " foul-mouthed, hot-tempered man." 
But those whom his written words had wounded had 


no opportunity of knowing his penitential regrets, and 
no wonder some of the clerical organs were up in arms 
against him. 

But the fair-minded critic may always find in the 
collocation of several passages in the same letter or 
paper, or whatever it is that Kingsley writes at the 
time being, a fair and balanced statement of the truth 
he desires to convey. Take, e. g., Letter III. to the 
Chartists. He begins by saying that he and they are 
all longing for the same thing, namely, " to see all hum- 
hug, idleness, injustice, swept out of England," and this 
is, as a matter of course, put into italics. Farther 
down the page we read, " What are the things which 
you demand most earnestly ? Is not one of them, that 
no man shall enjoy wages without doing work ? 

" The Bible says at once, that ' he that will not work, 
neither shall he cat,' and as the Bible speaks to rich as 
well as poor, so is that speech meant for the idle rich 
as well as the idle poor." 

He then, referring to the passage in the Psalms 
where we read, "He helpeth the poor out of misery," 
and concluding with the words, " The patient abiding 
of the meek shall endure for ever," exclaims, " Only, 
my friends, let it be ' the patient abiding of the meek' 
not the frantic boast of the bloodthirsty." 

Throughout, an equal proportion of solemn warning 
is administered impartially to rich and poor. 

In the pamphlet, Who are the Friends of Order? he 
complains, that for having adopted the mode of speaking 
their mind without fear or favour, he and his friends 


were cursed by demagogues as aristocrats, and by Tories 
as Democrats, when in reality they were neither. He 
takes credit to himself and them as to the practical 
good they have effected in showing how many in " the 
upper classes of society" cared for the poor and the 
working-classes. " I cannot call it either a doubtful or 
a contingent one (the practical good referred to), to 
make ardent and discontented spirits among the work- 
ing-classes more patient and contented, more respect- 
ful to those institutions of which they have been taught 
the value, and of which they have often, but too little, 
experienced the benefit; to turn their minds from those 
frantic and suicidal dreams of revolution which have 
been the stock-in-trade of such men as Feargus 
O'Connor, to deliberate and orderly self-improvement, 
and the pursuit of honourable independence." 

He showed how as Christian Socialists they were 1 
" fighting for the very existence of that property and 1 
that order which we are accused by some of en- 

We may now examine a few characteristic passages 
in what we must call his controversial writings — we are 
not touching here on theological controversy, and pass 
over the most important of these between Kingsley 
and Newman — to see how far the extremists on either 
side were justified in some of their strictures. We will 
first take Politics for the People. When he said here 
(p. 58), " that the true reformer's guide, the true poor / 
man's book, the true ' God's Voice against tyrants, 
idlers, and humbugs,' was the Bible," he certainly 


laid himself open to the charge of using severe 
language. But then St. James had done so before him. 
If his opponents applied the description to themselves, 
they must have had a poor idea of their own civic 
virtues. None but tyrannical employers of labour, idle 
good-for-nothings, or actual social humbugs need have 
taken offence ; surely not the respectable supporters of 
the Quarterlies, and the two leading Church organs of 
the day ! But the rich are specially stigmatized, it 
might be said, for the warning is addressed to them — 
" The Bible ... is the poor man's comfort and the rich 
man's warning." Our Lord, if we are not mistaken, 
utters similar warnings to the classes and comforting 
assurances to the masses in the Roman province where 
He preached His Gospel to the poor. But in the Third 
Letter, of the series occur one or two passages which 
might even set at rest rich fools, if any such there were 
then. For there the idle rich and idle poor come in for 
an equal share of condemnation, and the ranting hum- 
bugs under either description, as we have seen already. 
Whether he chastises the "Mammonite" in Cheap 
Clothes and Nasty, in a temporary state of unnatural 
excitement produced by the revelations of the Morning 
Chronicle, or whether he tells hard truths to his Chartist 
friends, in either case it is done for the reason given 
in one of his letters written about this time — 

" A man cannot write in the fear of God without run- 
ning against the devil in every step. He cannot sit down 
to speak the truth without disturbing in his own soul a 
hornet-swarm of lies. Your hack-writer of no creed, your 


bigot Polyphemus, whose one eye just helps him to see to 
eat men, they do not understand this ; their pens run on 
joyful and light of heart. But no more talk about 

Not unlike to one in many respects who occupied 
a similar standpoint in relation to the French, as 
did Charles Kingsley to the English public, Lacor- 
daire, sharing with the latter the characteristics of 
^tenderness, loftiness of character, and candour all com- 
bined with an intense manliness and studious love of 
solitude, he also shared the latter's fate of being dis- 
trusted and misjudged by his fellow-defenders of the 
Church among the clergy and clerically-minded laity. 
Kingsley differed from Lacordaire in this, that he had 
not the Frenchman's unbounded faith in democracy. 
His own standpoint was rather that of the noble 
Montalembert, the friend of Lacordaire, that of a 
cautious acceptance of democracy rather than a hailing 
of it as a God-sent boon. 1 He shrinks from making 
his children hanausoi, insolent, scoffing radicals. " Ah," 
he writes to T. Dixon of Sunderland in 1866, "that 
more men in all ranks would chose the part which you 
and your lost friend have chosen ! Then they could 

1 Pere Lacordaire brought out a democratic Catholic organ, 
VEre Nouvelle, at the outbreak of the French Revolution, and 
when, on the 4th of May, the National Assembly appeared on the 
peristyle of the Palais Bourbon to proclaim the Republic, the ton- 
sured monk who stood in the midst of them, conspicuous by his 
white cowl, was cheered enthusiastically as he descended the steps, 
and conducted by the populace in a sort of triumphal march to the 
gates of the Corps Legislatif." — Frederick Ozanam, Uis Life and 
li'orks, by K. O'Meara, pp. 316-20. 


look on the inequalities of position in this world as 
slight matters, while they toiled after the divine 
equality of virtue and wisdom, which is open to all men 
in a free land, and try to take their place among the 
aristocracy of God." 

That Lacordaire and Kingsley should be suspected 
of ultra-democratic tendencies, shows the penetration 
of the religious mind on both sides of the British 
Channel ; clerical obtuseness of this kind is not a thing 
of the past. Ozanam explains the reason in the case of 
his friend "Lacordaire. "Not a word was to be said 
against his orthodoxy, but the form and manner of its 
enunciation was novel, and novelty was next to heresy. 
Nothing was held in greater horror at archiepiscopal 
head-quarters than novelty." The same explanation 
may be applied to Kingsley's case. Moreover, in his 
case there was his " blessed habit of intensity," which 
bishops and archbishops and minor office-bearers of 
the English Church certainly do not affect, and cannot 
appreciate. When the Dons of Oxford grudged an 
honorary degree to Kingsley, they strongly anim- 
adverted on the tone of Hijjxitia. And of this work, 
which Kingsley said was written with his life-blood, 
he also writes to Mr. Maurice in 1850, "My idea in 
the romance is to set forth Christianity as the only 
really democratic creed, and philosophy, above all 
spiritualism, as the most exclusively aristocratic creed." 
The tone of Hypatia is much calmer in this respect 
than that of the earlier writings, when he was labouring 


Chartist times, which both to him and Carlyle was 
" our reign of terror," " a manifestation of the Supreme." 
" The truth is," he writes from Eversley to his ' dearest 
master,' " I feel we are going on in the dark, towards 
somethiug wonderful and awful; but whether to a 
precipice or a paradise, or neither, or both, I cannot 
tell. I could lie clown and cry at times. A poor fuol 
of a fellow, and yet feeling thrust upon all sorts of great 
and unspeakable paths, instead of being left in peace to 
classify butterflies and catch trout. If it were not for 
the Psalms, and Prophets, and the Gospels, I should 
turn tail, and flee shamefully, giving up the whole 
question, and all others, as cegri somnia." This is talk- 
ing excitedly, but it was .talking aloud his thoughts 
without reserve. But reserve was then held to be the 
greatest force of the English Church, the width and 
height of the clerical neckties of that day symbolizing 
that choking dignity of which the present Bishop of 
Liverpool then complained the Church was dying. Let 
us hear Kingsley giving his impressions of the Frimley 
murder, which had a terrorizing effect on his own 
neighbourhood. He writes in the Christian Socialist, 
and under the pseudonym " Parson Lot," and shows the 
connection between political economy and such excuses 
arising from economic causes : — 

"I believe political economy to be all but the highest 
and most spiritual of sciences; the science of organizing 
politics and of making men good citizens ; of realizing out- 
wardly the ideas of the Kingdom of God ; but I will say 
nothing about it now : I will simply ask, ' If you allow 


us to use moral means to hop-pickers, why not to their 
masters 1 If to the outward accidents and symptoms of the 
system, why not to the system itself ? 

" If it be replied, you must not interfere between employer 
and employed," 

he says in return — 

" These are not moral questions ; they are material facts, 
affecting material interests ; and a political economy which 
cannot alter these facts is not worthy the name of a science ; 
it does not even show us how to regulate those very material 
interests which it claims as its exclusive sphere ... I 
believe that political economy can and will learn how to 
cure these evils, and that, in accordance with the formula? 
inductively discovered by such men as Bentham, Ricardo, 
Mill, and Chalmers . . . . ' Nature is conquered in obeying 
her ' ought to be held as true in political economy as in 
chemistry ; and the man who tells us that we ought to in- 
vestigate nature, simply to sit still patiently under her, and 
let her freeze, and ruin, and starve, and stink us to death, 
is a goose, whether he call himself a chemist or a political 

Professor Marshall or Professor Sidgwick could not 
object to this. They would use different phrases to 
convey their meaning. The " reigning school of political 
economy " — as it was then — Kingsley says further on — 

" was furious with Mr. Mill and Miss Martineau for having, 
even in a single sentence, deserted the devil of competition 
for the angel of association." 

The old system which simply made political economy 
a system of organized selfishness is falling to pieces, as 
Kingsley predicted, to him it was even then u ready to 


vanish away." The fulfilment of prophecy has at all 
times been taken as a proof of the sacred mission of the 

In the second volume of the Christian Socialist, in 
the story of the " Nun's Pool," Kingsley speaks rashly 
of the " wholesale robbery of the poor — a robbery the 
most shamelessly hypocritical, effected, not by the voice 
of the nation, but by a single despot, abhorrent alike to 
the laws of God and of human justice" — he refers to 
the alienation of the land from the people, and the 
secularization of Church property in the time of Henry 
VIII. In the first volume he had drawn a parallel 
between the Exodus of the children of Israel from 
Egyptian bondage, and the deliverance of the working- 
classes from their modern "tyrants." Here he is 
frequently using the expression, "aristocratic tyranny," 
and also some arguments more in the spirit of Cobbett 
than that of a man professedly "justifying God to the 
people " on Church of England lines. We do not 
attempt to justify these outbursts; the managers of 
the Christian Socialist organs evidently did not relish 
them. Kingsley is not quite himself here. At all 
events, he is not at his best ; rather at his worst. There 
are papers on the " Long game " which display a fair 
knowledge of political economy fairly stated, and there 
are papers passing for " Bible Radicalism," which are 
neither a credit to his biblical scholarship nor his radical 
opinions. His reasoning is at low ebb here, though in 
the main his advice is good ; all he can counsel is for 
the workmen to associate. 


That Kingsley's views and opinions, thus somewhat 
loosely stated, and evidently bearing the impress of 
over-hasty composition — the papers really were pub- 
lished in fragments, and the series which was left in some 
cases unfinished — were severely canvassed by his oppo- 
nents, goes without saying. Nor did he lack vigorous 
defenders. The columns of the Christian Socialist were 
fairly opened to opponents, and one writing under the 
name of Tory Bill makes a vigorous attack on " Parson 
Lot and his principles," to which " Radical Tom " 
replies, but it is not necessary to repeat these sayings. 
Nor need we quote at length Kingsley's in this public- 
ation to defend the Christian Socialist movement against 
some attacks on it by the Guardian. " Why connect 
them (the Christian Socialists) with the suspicious word 
socialism ? " the Guardian had asked. " For this 
reason : because we do not regard men as so many 
weights, and an association as a mere aggregate of 
individuals ; because we consider that men are moral 
beings, and that earthly circumstances, work amongst 
others, are to supply a moral discipline ; because we 
believe that no endeavour really to raise their condition 
by connected efforts can be successful which does not 
proceed on the feeling of brotherhood, and demand the 
exercise of self-sacrifice ; that we learn, in the divinely- 
ordained religion of the family, a lesson which is to be 
carried out in the wider circles of human society ; be- 
cause we are convinced that it is God's will that men 
should work together as well as pray together, for a 
common benefit and a common blessing." 



And again, in a second letter on the same subject — 
" There is now in England a mass, an ever-increasing 
mass of unemployed labourers, supplying victims for 
unprincipled and short-sighted capitalists, or filling our 
gaols and workhouses ; try whether association will not 
gradually assimilate this mass, and render it the strength 
and not the poison, the blessing and not the curse of 
our country." He shows how association — and this is 
all he meant by socialism — is the fundamental principle 
of any Church system. It is curious that the High 
Church organ in close touch with the Oxford Move- 
ment had thus to be taught that the individualism run 
riot in economics corresponds to the disintegration of 
Church life, and the dissidency of dissent and in matters 
ecclesiastical, that the tendency of Christian Socialism 
is really a tendency in favour of organized life, and a 
restitution of that corporate union which lies at the 
foundation of any Church system. When, however, 
the Guardian made a personal attack on Kingsley in 
" a cruel article " on the republication of Yeast, and 
accused him of teaching heresy in doctrine and morals, 
Parson Lot fairly lost his temper, as Mr. Hughes tells 
us, and answered, " as was answered to the Jesuits of 
old — mentiris inqntdentissimc." 

Kingsley was involved in another controversy some- 
what later, which pained his sensitive nature a great deal 
more. He had been asked to preach one of the series 
of sermons arranged during the time of the first great 
exhibition by the incumbent of St. John's Church, 
Charlotte St., Fitzroy Square. Kingsley was unknown, 



except by his writings, by Mr. Drew, who professed to 
have read them with great interest, and had begged him 
through Maurice to preach the sermon. He agreed, 
though at some inconvenience, and took for his subject 
The Message of the Church to the Labouring Man. It 
was suggested by Maurice, and met with the most cordial 
approval of the incumbent ; no questions were asked 
and no guarantees given, and " Mr. Kingsley took 
precisely that view of the message of the Church to 
labouring men which every reader "of his books would 
have expected him to take." His text was " The Spirit 
of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to 
preach the gospel to the poor," &c. (Luke iv. 18 — 21) ; 
and in the course of his sermon he had said — 

" I assert that the business for which God sends a 
Christian priest in a Christian nation is, to preach freedom, 
equality, and brotherhood in the fullest, deepest, widest 
meaning of these three great words ; that in as far as he 
does, he is a true priest, doing his Lord's work with his 
Lord's blessing on him ; that in as far as he does not he is 
no priest at all, but a traitor to God and men." And 
again — " I say that these words express the very pith and 
marrow of a priest's business ; I say that they preach 
freedom, equality, and brotherhood, to rich and poor for 
ever and ever." 

He pointed out the two kinds of liberty — the one to 
do as one pleases, which is false, the other to exercise 
moral freedom "to do what he ought," which is right; 
the two kinds of equality — " the false, which reduces all 
intellects and all characters to a dead level .... the 
true, wherein each man has equal power to educate 


and use whatever faculties or talents God has given 
him, be they less or more. This is the divine equality 
which the Church proclaims." Then he proceeded to 
distinguish between two brotherhoods — " the false, where 
man chooses who shall be his brothers and whom he will 
treat as such ; the true, in which a man believes that all 
are his brothers, not by the will of the flesh, or the will of 
man, but by the will of God, whose children they all 
are alike. The Church has these special possessions 
and treasures : the Bible, which proclaims man's free- 
dom ; baptism, his equality ; the Lord's Supper, his 

The sermon was listened to with profound attention 
by a large congregation, many of whom were working- 
men. At the close, just as Mr. Kingsley was about to 
give the blessing, the incumbent rose in the reading-desk 
and declared, " that while he agreed with much that 
had been said by the preacher, it was his painful duty 
to add that he believed much to be dangerous and 
much untrue." The excitement in the congregation 
was intense. The working-men could scarcely be kept 
quiet and prevented from hissing, and otherwise ex- 
pressing disapproval ; the preacher bowed his head, 
descended the pulpit, solemnly and silently passed 
through the crowd, which thronged around him with 
outstretched hands and an eager " God bless you, sir." 
In the vestry friends met him to express sympathy, 
and by their special request the sermon was printed 
exactly as it was delivered. Kingsley returned much 
depressed to Eversley. Nor was this all. When a 


leading morning paper opened an attack on him as the 
" apostle of socialism," and this was followed up by a 
letter from the Bishop of London putting an interdict 
on his preaching in his Diocese in consequence of a 
report of the incident which had reached him, Kingsley 
replied respectfully, requesting suspension of judgment 
till he had read the printed sermon. Letters of 
sympathy came streaming in, but few from his brother 
clergy ; a meeting was held by working-men at Kenning- 
ton Common to express their warm allegiance and 
sympathy. A proposal even was made before the 
Bishop's prohibition was withdrawn, to ask Mr. 
Kingsley to start a free church independent of 
episcopal rule, with a promise of a huge following. Of 
course it was not entertained. When the Bishop had 
read the sermon he withdrew in a gracious manner, in a 
personal interview with Kingsley, his prohibition, and 
a fortnight later the latter preached in his father's 
church in Chelsea. It may be as well to quote one or 
two more salient passages from this sermon to show 
why Mr. Drew got so unduly frightened of having 
conjured up spirits of revolt which in his panic he felt 
he must lay, though at the cost of courtesy and good 

" In Judtea," Kingsley had said among other things, 

1 " there could be no absolute or eternal alienation of the 

\ soil, but only, as Moses ordered, a lease of it according to 

J its value, between the time of sale and the next year of 

jubilee. If I wanted one proof above all others of the 

inspired wisdom of Moses, I should chose this unparalleled 

contrivance for preventing the accumulation of large 


estates, and the reduction of the people into the state of 
serfs and day-labourers." 

Again, in a similar spirit — 

" All systems of society which favour the accumulation of 
capital in a few hands — which oust the masses from the 
soil which their forefathers possessed of old — which reduce 
them to the level of serfs and day-labourers, living on 
wages and on alms — which crush them down with debt, or 
in any wise degrade or enslave them, or deny them a per- 
manent stake in the Commonwealth, are contrary to the 
Kingdom of God." 

Again, connecting the symbolical act of the " mystical 
washing away of sin " in baptism with sanitary reform — 

" How dare you, in the face of that baptismal sign 
of the sprinkled water, keep God's children exposed to 
filth, brutality, and temptation, which festers in your 
courts and alleys, making cleanliness impossible — drunk- 
enness all but excusable — prostitution all but natural — self- 
respect and decency unknown 1 ... In that font is a 
witness for education and for sanitary reform, which will 
conquer with the might of an archangel, when every other 
argument has failed to prove that the masses are after all 
not mere machines and hands to be used up in the pro- 
duction of a wealth of which they never taste, when their 
numbers are, as far as possible, kept down by economical and 
prudent rulers to the market demand for members of Christ, 
children of God, and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven." 

There may be a few clergymen still living — we think 
we have met them in the flesh, and it is a weariness to 
the flesh to meet them in what they are pleased to call 
argument — whom words like these spoken in their 
pulpits would frighten as much as they did poor Mr. Drew. 
But the less unintelligent among the main body of the 


clergy now would listen with composure if not with 
complete assent to such a discourse by such a man on 
such an occasion. Things have been said by speakers at 
Church congresses quite as strong, and have met with a 
favourable reception. Yet it must be acknowledged that 
there is something in the profound tone of a few of 
these passages of the sermon quoted above which go far 
to explain, if they do not excuse, the irrational fear 
inspired by them in the minds of slow and steady-going 
people in Kingsley's day. Yet he could be calm enough 
at times. When consulted, as he often was, by the 
council of promoters on questions which turned up from 
time to time, and in the settling of disputes, he was 
judicious to the last degree. Thus, e. g., in the great lock- 
out of the iron-trade in January 1852, his opinion was 
asked on the subject. The promoters had been requested 
by the men on strike to help them in putting their case 
before the public. He counselled non-interference 
between the masters and the men. 

" I think whatever battle is fought must be fought by 
the men themselves. The present dodge of the Manchester 
school is to cry out against us, as Greg did, ' These Christian 
Socialists are a set of mediaeval parsons, who want to 
hinder the independence and self-help of the men, and bring 
them back to absolute feudal maxims ' ; and then, with 
the most absurd inconsistency, when we get up a co-operative 
workshop, to let the men work on the very independence 
and self-help of which they talk so fine, they turn round 
and raise just the opposite yell, and cry, • The men can't be 
independent of capitalists ; these associations will fail 
because the men are helping themselves.' " 


He insists though on the men combining or asso- 
ciating as the only power to raise themselves by, but 
"if they can't fight their own battles, no men in 
England can, and the people are not ripe for association, 
and we must hark back into the competitive rot-heap 
again." So, again, when he delivers himself on such a 
subject as intemperance, a subject on which so many 
are apt to show a considerable amount of insobriety in 
judgment and licence in expression, Kingsley's remarks 
are a pattern of judicial calm. Referring to a dis- 
cussion of this topic in the columns of the Christian 
Socialist, he expresses regret at the amount of space 
allotted to the subject, and then goes on to say, " It 
seems to me, that if the teetotal party persevere in their 
new eleventh commandment, the thing can only issue, 
some fifty years hence, in a great social split between 
water-drinkers and beer-drinkers, each party despising 
and reviling the other. I regard this teetotal move- 
ment with extreme dread. I deeply sympathize with 
the horror of our English drunkenness that produced 
it. I honour every teetotaler, as I honour every man 
who proves by his actions that he possesses high 
principle, and manful self-restraint ; . . . but I think 
temperance in beer, like temperance in clothes, is 
at once a more rational and a higher virtue either 
than sackcloth or water." Again, " I dread the spread 
of teetotalisra — first, because it will beget that 
subtlest of sins, spiritual pride and Pharisaism. . . . 
Believe me, my teetotal friends, every gin-sot in 
London will help you at that work. The many always 


find comfort to their souls in the thought — ' Well, at 
least, if we do not abstain, we know that abstinence is 
right, and we will prove it by compelling our teachers 
to abstain. So we go to balls and parties, but we 
won't let the parsons. We are married ourselves, but 
we are too pure to let the clergy be so. If we are sots, 
we will take very good care that only a teetotaler shall 
preach to us." The true remedies, he thinks, against 
drunkenness are two — sanitary reform, which by 
improving the atmosphere of the dwellings of the 
poor will take away the morbid craving for drink, and 
the establishment of " small associate home breweries," 
to escape the dangers of adulteration and public-house 
tyranny. The fanatics of teetotalism would not love 
" Parson Lot " the more for such prescriptions, nor for 
the warning with which he concludes, that those who 
try to prevent their adoption are " with whatsoever 
good intentions doing the devil's work." 

Again, on a question as often approached with 
passion by both sides of the controversy, nothing can 
surpass the judicious tone in which he advises the 
advocates of woman's rights to act with tact and 
judgment. He writes from Chester in 1870 to Mrs. 
Peter Taylor, in reply to her letter respecting the 
"Women's Suffrage Question," and whilst expressing 
sympathy he adds, 

" By pamphleteering we shall not win. Pamphlets now 
are too common. They melt on the debauched and 
distracted sensorium of the public like snow on water. 
By quiet, modest, silent, private influence we shall win. 


' Neither strive, nor cry, nor let your voice be heard in the 
streets,' was good advice of old, and is still. I have seen 
many a movement succeed by it. I have seen many a 
movement tried by the other method, of striving and 
crying and making a noise in the street ; but 1 have 
never seen one succeed thereby, and never shall." 

Hearing about this time that Charles Kingsley had 
withdrawn from the movement, John Stuart Mill wrote 
to him to ask the reason. It was the mode of pro- 
cedure of some of its advocates which had shocked 
him so that he refused to attend any more meetings, 
the only branch of the movement to which he con- 
tinued to give his influence being that for the medical 
education of women, to which he had always attached 
the greatest importance. In his reply he quotes 
Professor Huxley's words as expressing his own idea 
as applied to this subject — "'To reconstruct society 
according to science,' we must steer clear of the hysteric 
clement" and he expresses his determination to set forth 
" in every book I write (as I have done in twenty-five 
) 7 ears) woman as the teacher, the natural, and therefore 
divine, guide, purifier, inspirer of the man. And so, 
perhaps, I may be as useful to the cause of chivalry, 
dear equally to you and me, as if I attended many 
meetings, and spoke, or caused to be spoken, many 
speeches." This did not please the screamers for 
women's rights. 

Probably in noue of his utterances was he more 
self-restrained and cautious than in his addresses to 
women. Was it from the very dread of excessive 


sympathy, conscious as lie was, that with all his 
manliness he had more of the feminine element in his 
composition than was good for him, and that he had to 
guard against this weakness ? Take the following bit 
of calm and cautious advice in a lecture to ladies on 
ladies' work in a country parish, as a sample. Speaking 
of visits to cottagers, he tells them (advice not out of 
place in these days, when women are divided into 
" men's women " and " women's women ") — 

" Let your visits be those of women to vtomen. Consider 
to whom you go — to poor souls whose life, compared with 
yours, is one long malaise of body and soul and spirit — 
and do as you would be done by ; instead of reproving and 
fault-finding, encourage. In God's name encourage. They 
scramble through life's rocks, bogs, and thorn-brakes 
clumsily enough, and have many a fall, poor things ! But 
why, in the name of a God of love and justice, is the lady 
rolling along the smooth turnpike road in her comfortable 
carriage, to be calling out all day long to the poor soul who 
drags on beside her, over hedge and ditch, moss and moor, 
bare-footed and weary-hearted, with half a dozen children 
at her back, — ' You ought not to have fallen here ; and it 
was very cowardly to lie down there ; and it was your duty 
as a mother to have helped that child through the puddle ; 
while as for sleeping under that bush, it is most imprudent 
and inadmissible ? ' "Whv not encourage her, praise her, 
cheer her on her weary way by loving words, and keep your 
reproofs for yourself? Even your advice," etc., Arc. 

" Piety, earnestness, affectionateness, eloquence — all may 
be nullified and stultified by keeping a poor woman stand- 
ing in her own cottage, while you sit, or entering her home, 
even at her own request, while she is at meals. 

"Neither like the poor such unceremonious mercy, such 


tin tender tenderness, benevolence at horse-play, mistaking 
kicks for caresses. They do not like it, they will not 
respond to it, save in parishes which have been demoralized 
by officious and indiscriminate benevolence, and where the 
last remaining virtues of the poor, savage self-help and 
independence, have been exchanged for organized begging 
and hypocrisy." 

No doubt as he grew older, like most of us, Kiugsley 
{became, if not more reticent, at least more careful in the 
jchoice of words and phrases. His whole mind and soul 
became more self-poised and quiet. He had cooled 
down, as it was but natural that he should do. The 
\ caloric temperament, like everything else in nature, 
\ follows the law that dissipation of force which produces 
heat is accompanied or followed by a cooling process. 
Thus it was that he arrived at that stage when men are 
japt to look back with some regret to earlier ebullitions 
[of feelings and methods peculiar to youth and early 
manhood, but which the wisdom of old age has learned 
to disapprove of. And so he says in a letter to Ludlow, 
referred to already, " For myself, on looking back I see 
clearly, with shame and sorrow, that the obloquy which 
I have brought often on myself and on the good cause, 
has been almost all of it of my own fault ; " and he goes 
on to explain, "I mean the proud, self-willed, self- 
conceited spirit which made no allowance for other 
men's weakness or ignorance ; nor, again, for their 
superior experience and wisdom on points which I had 
never considered — which took a pride in shocking and 
startling, and defying, and hitting as hard as I could, 
and fancied blasphemously, as I thiuk, that the Word 


of God had come to me only, and went out from me 

The time came when Kingsley settled down, as he 
promised that he would when writing from the "West 
Indies, "into the quietest old theologian, serving God, 
I hope, and doing nothing else, in humility and peace." 
But he really never became a reactionary in his old 
age, as } 7 oung radicals are apt to do when they have 
become extinct volcanoes. 

" To me, looking back at what he was when be wrote 
Yeast and Alton Locke," says one who knew him intimately, 
" the change seems rather the natural development of his 
mind and character under more or less altered circum- 
stances, partly because be saw the world about him really 
improving, partly because by experience he found society 
and other existing institutions more full of healthy life, 
more available as instruments of good, more willing to be 
taught, than be formerly thought." 

Some think that when he became a dignitary of the 
Church his expressions became more decorous, and his 
mauner more acquiescent in the social facts which had 
assumed a less satisfactory aspect in his less prosperous 
days; that when his own struggles with fortune had 
been crowned with success he got tired of fighting 
the good cause for others. He himself is conscious of 
this, and thinks it incumbent upon him to explain it. 

" If I have held back from the socialist movement, it has 
been because I have seen that the world was not going to 
be set right by any such rose-pink way, excellent as it is, 
and that there are heavy arrears of destruction to be made 
up before construction can even begin ; and I wanted to see 


a little. At least I see that the old Phoenix must bum, 
before the new one can rise out of its ashes." 

But this was written in 1855, that is long before his 
dignities had in the estimation of his detractors or 
critics spoiled him. Nor is this theory of theirs borne 
out by the calm tone of gentle regret and resignation 
breathiug in his last contribution to the dying Christian 
Socialist — it had changed its name by this time into 
that of Journal of Association. There he bids i'arewell 
to militant Christian Socialism, not as a warrior laying 
aside his armour from lassitude and fatigue, or in the 
Achilles' mood of renouncing the scenes of conflict in 
which he delights no longer, but as a fighting man who 
thinks that for the present the season of combat is 
over, the battle must be suspended for a while, Fabian 
counsels must prevail. 

" Let us say little and work the more, we shall be the 
more respected, and the more feared too, for it. People 
will begin to believe that we really know what we want, 
and really do intend to get it, and really believe in its 
righteousness. And the spectacle of silent working faith is 
one at once so rare and so noble that it tells more, even 
on opponents, than ten thousand platform pyrotechnics. 
In the meantime it will be no bad thing for us if we are 
beaten sometimes. Success at first is dangerous, and defeat 
an excellent medicine for testing people's honesty — for set- 
ting them earnestly to work, to see what they want, and 
what are the best methods of attaining it. Our sound 
thrashings as a nation in the first French war were the 
making of our armies ; and it is good for an idea, as well 
as for a man, to 'bear the yoke in his youth.' The return 
match will come off, and many who are now our foes will 
then be our friends ; and in the meantime — 


" The proper impulse las been given, 

Wait a little longer." — Parson Lot. 

This was bis last signature under that name. He 
wrote at the same time to the editor, " If you want an 
Epicedium, I send one. It is written in a hurry, so if 
you like, reject it; but I have tried to get the maximum 
of terseness and melody." As it marks the close of the 
career of the Christian Socialist, so it may fitly be quoted 
here, at the close of the chapter — 

" So die, tlou cMld of stormy dawn, 

Thou winter flower, forlorn of nurse ; 

Chilled early by the bigot's curse, 
The pedant's frown, the worldling's yawn. 
Fair death, to fall in teeming June, 

"When every seed which drops to earth 

Takes root and wins a second birth 
From streaming shower and gleaming moon. 
Fall warm, fall fast, thou mellow rain ; 

Thou rain of God, make fat the land ; 

That roots, which parch in burning sand, 
May bud to flower and fruit again ; 
To grace, perchance, a fairer morn 

In mighty lands beyond the sea, 

"While honour falls to such as we, 
From hearts of heroes yet unborn, 

Wlo in the light of fuller day, 
Of loving science, holier laws, 
Bless us, faint heralds of their cause, 

Dim beacons of their glorious way. 

Failure ? — while tide-floods rise and boil 
Round cape and isle, in port and cave 
Resistless, starded from above ; 

"What though our tiny wave recoil ? " 

Charles Kingsley. 
June 9, 1852. 



" I cannot say what I personally owe to that man's 
writings," says Charles Kingsley, in a letter addressed 
to Thomas Cooper, and dated Feb. 15th, 1850. It is 
not by any means the only passage in the Letters and 
Memories acknowledging this indebtedness to Carlyle. 
However, it is not so much our purpose to show how 
far this indebtedness extends as it is to indicate the 
joint labours of Carlyle and Kingsley in their work of 
social reform, mainly through literature, each working 
in his own sphere, though in a measure as master and 
disciple respectively. Carlyle was "full of thoughts on 
the great social question of the day," as far back as 
1828, 1 that is when Kingsley was a boy nine years old. 
But the doctrines taught in Chartism on the condition- 
of-England question, published eleven years later, and 
devoured by the young Kingsley with all the ardour of 
early impressionableness, may be seen faithfully reflected 
in the pages of Alton Locke — " Carlyle is an old Hebrew 
prophet, who goes to prince and beggar, and says, ' If 

1 Tltomas Carlyle : a history of the first forty years of his life, 
by J. A. Froude, vol. ii. p. 60. 


you do this or that, you will go to hell — not the hell 
that the priests talk of, but a hell on this earth,' " said 
Kingsley to a Cambridge College friend. It was this 
touch of sympathy with Hebraistic intenseness which 
accounts fur the kinship of the two souls, moving in 
worlds apart, and moulded by different influences from 
beginning to end. How well Kingsley understood the 
chief characteristics of Carlyle is evident from the 
life-drawing he gives of him in the person of Sandy 
Mackaye, though, strangely enough, Carlyle failed to 
recognize himself in this portrait. 

The two men, in spite of disparity of age and up- 
bringing, had much in common, more at one, perhaps, in 
their hates — both satisfied Dr. Johnson's requirements 
of a good hater — than their loves, their dislikes than 
their likes. Both from their very soul loathed conven- 
tionality and cant, both were ardent in their attachment 
to truth and plain-speaking, and often overdid this. 
Both, though friends of the people, were the friends of 
order, but very far from joining the common cry about 
" order and progress." Both had a touch of Imperialism 
in their composition, and for this reason perhaps were 
a trifle too much frightened by " our French Revolu- 
tion." Both abominated that real child" of the Revolu- 
tion, the doctrine of laissez-faire, and with it the 
egoistic mammonisiu it engendered; neither Carlyle nor 
Kingsley had any pity for the " plumpy, comfortable, pot- 
bellied reality of materialistic Manchester schools," and 
both aprjealed to the really spiritual side of human 
nature, and a higher altruistic ideal, and both waxed 


eloquent on the " Chivalry of Labour " that is to be, 
organized by the " captains of Industry." Both spoke 
of the supreme " sanctity of work " and the " holiness of 
suffering," and both were terribly in earnest in reminding 
their countrymen that there is a Providence presiding 
over the affairs of man, individually and in the aggregate. 
Neither believed in coercion to put down the " Chimera 
of Chartism," so long as " the living essence of Chartism 
has not been put down. Chartism means the bitter 
discontent grown fierce and mad, the wrong condition 
therefore, or the wrong disposition, of the working-classes 
of England . . . the essence continuing, new and 
ever new embodiments, chimeras madder or less mad, 
have to continue." Both addressed themselves to the 
task of speaking to and for " that great dumb toiling 
class which cannot speak." But neither was a believer 
in "Morrison's Pills" for curing social diseases; "for 
my part," Alton Locke says, "I seem to have learned that 
the only thing to regenerate the world is not more of 
any system, good or bad, but simply more of the Spirit 
of God." Inner reform is the thing required, not 
Reform Bills. 

"The only progress to which Carlyle would allow 
the name was moral progress, the only prosperity the 
growth of better and nobler men and women ; and 
as humanity could only expand into high dimensions 
in an organized Society, where the wise ruled and 
the ignorant obeyed, the progress which consisted in 
destroying authority and leaving every one to follow 
his own will and pleasure, was progress down to the 



devil and his angels." His only Lope of avoiding the 
catastrophe was "a recovered sense of religion," 1 to 
teach the " sacred meaning of duty." For this reason 
even Carlyle acknowledges that "without a Church 
there can be little or no religion. The action of mind 
on mind is mystical, infinite ; religion, worship can 
hardly (perhaps not at all) support itself without this 
aid." Of course it would be easy to point out diverg- 
encies and discrepancies and a difference of opinion in 
the numerous works of two writers, each possessed of 
a strongly-marked individuality, and each eminently 
original. But it is not our object in this place to point 
out the contrasts ; let it suffice to note coincidences of 
thought and conjoint influences in their effect on the 
development of English thought and sentiment turned 
to social questions. 

To enter a little more fully into each of the resem- 
blances only hinted at above, we may now first dwell 
for a moment on the veracity of the two men, which 
constitutes their chief strength. " Veracity, true sim- 
plicity of heart," Carlyle says in Past and Present, " how 
valuable are these always ! He that speaks what is 
really in him will find men to listen, though under never 
such impediments." And applying this to the subject 
in hand, he says in the essay on Chartism — " Infidelity 
to truth and fact and Nature's order being properly the 
one evil under the sun, and the feeling of injustice the 
one intolerable pain under the sun, our grand question 

1 Thomas Carlyle : London Life, ii. pp. 453-4 ; History of the 
first Forty Years, ii. p. 80. 


as to the condition of these working-men would be : Is 
it just ? " Kingsley was a man of such transparent 
honesty, that Maurice on one occasion speaks con- 
temptuously of any one who could even imagine his 
friend capable of innuendo — " the notion of accusing 
Kingsley of innuendo ! or of any language or acts but 
the most straightforward." This straightforward way of 
facing social problems in the Church and in the world, 
this honest effort of grappling with actualities and 
facing the supposed enemies of society with fairness of 
argument, is becoming nowadays more the rule than 
the exception, mainly through the surviving influence 
of these two writers, though the exceptions are still 
more numerous than we could wish them to be. There 
is still too much of that " pedantry and inane grey 
haze " in the inarticulate expressions, misty conceptions, 
and mystified utterances on the part even of the most 
outspoken friends of the people in their pronounce- 
ments on social questions, mainly because of the fear 
and dread of that intangible public opinion, which like 
a Damocles' sword seems ever hanging over their 

Carlyle and Kingsley are lovers of order and har- 
monious organization, though both are not backward 
in sharply criticizing the "existing order," which they 
were apt to call disorder. Both agreed that a social 
order which was founded on a money contract and held 
together by selfish greed was no order at all, but 
anarchy, Mammon being the great Anarch ; " that 
laissez-faire, ' supply and demand,' ' cash payment for 


the sole nexus,' and so forth, were not, are not, and will 
never be, a practicable law of union for a society of 

They noted how the new industry by machinery which 
all the world worshipped was apt to turn men into 
" menials of the steam-engine," how multitudes of work- 
men, women and children, were sacrificed to this " huge 
demon of mechanism," that the poverty and miseiy of 
those thrown out of employment in any of the crises 
following upon reckless over-production were the real 
j^arents of " reckless unthrift, rebellion, rancour, in- 
dignation, against themselves and all men." What 
Kingsley had seen in Bristol riots, as a boy, Carlyle 
had noted in Glasgow, Birmingham, and even Paris 
and other places, as a youth, and in later manhood. 
They both could say, " we have seen and do testify," and 
they looked on with unprejudiced eyes. They clearly 
understood — the rest of the world -with some few 
exceptions blinked the fact — that in the struggle for 
existence in what Carlyle called " this poor sordid era of 
ours," and Kingsley " this base generation," and the 
rest of the world " the age of progress," the weak must 
go against the wall, that freedom of contract becomes 
- a hollow pretence where one of the contracting parties 
must work or starve, and his liberty consists in choosing 
between the two alternatives. They also saw nothing 
for it but some power to step in to protect the weaker 
' \ party. Kingsley was less of a State-socialist than 
Carlyle. When, about the time of the Crimean War, 
the manager of one of the associations, at a council 


meeting, asked Kingsley's opinion as to what should be 
done in view of the impending bread-riots, and Kingsley 
replied that one way was to let the merchants buy it 
up and sell it six months hence, which answers best, 
and the other was Joseph's plan, and when the manager 
broke in, " Why didn't our Government step in then, 
and buy largely, and store in public granaries ? " — 
" Yes," said Kingsley, " and why ain't you and I flying 
about with wings and dewdrops hanging to our tails ? 
Joseph's plan won't do for us. What minister could I 
we trust with money enough to buy corn for the 
people, a power to buy where he chose ? " And, we are 
told by Mr. Hughes, " he went on to give his questioner 
a lecture on political economy, which the most orthodox 
opponent of the popular notions about socialism could 
have applauded to the echo." 

Carlyle, on the contrary, leans towards some form of 
State socialism, though he is not very clear about it, 
and his State socialism does not amount to much more 
than a more real use and forceful application of the 
existing powers and acknowledged principles of Govern- 
ment by way of State-aided education, emigration, and 
the like. What both aim at is what French and 
Belgian writers understand by -patronage, a return in 
some form to a patriarchal relationship of master and 
man, with the State in loco parentis where needed by 
way of supplement, a real aristocracy of governors and 

"We do say," remarks Carlyle in Chartism, and with 
this Kingsley would be in full agreement, "that the old 


aristocracy were the governors of the lower classes, the 
guides of the lower classes, and even at bottom that they 
existed as an aristocracy because they were found adequate 
for that. Not by charity balls and soup-kitchens, &c. ; in 
one word cash payment had not then grown to be the 
universal sole nexus of man to man ; it was something 
other than money that the high then expected from the 
low, and could not live without getting from the low. 
Not as buyer and seller alone, of land or what else it 
might be, but in many senses still as soldier and captain, 
as clansman and head, as loyal subject and guiding king, 
was the low related to the high. With the supreme 
triumph of Cash, a changed time has entered ; then must a 
changed aristocracy enter. "\Ye invite the British reader 
to meditate earnestly on these things." 

He wants as does Kingsley more " Organization of 
labour." He sees the beginnings of a development of 
that new aristocracy he had demanded. He saw 
governments upset in France, and others raised in their 
place to do this very work of organizing " captainless " 
industry. But while he clamours for "Regiments of 
the new Era," and severely inveighs against " a blind 
loquacious pruriency of indiscriminate philanthropism," 
he after all calls for nothing else by way of Government 
interference than " a State grounding itself on veracities," 
not simply satisfied "with the most dexterous keeping 
of the peace," but establishing " real secretaryships " 
for " domestic peace and utility " — that is all. True, he 
says further on, " Suppose the State to have fairly 
started its Industrial regiments of the new Era," and 
got its " men able to command men " in ways of industrial 
and moral well-doing ; " that the State would give its 


very life for such men ; that such men were the State 
. . . what a new dawn of evei'lasting day for all British 
souls ! " But all this is in posse, and, if we are not 
mistaken, is to be carried out in the works of national 
workshops or model workshops by the State, for imme- 
diately afterwards we read, " Mill-operatives, all manner 
of free operatives, as yet unregimented, nomadic under 
private masters, they, seeing such examples and its 
blessedness, will say : ' Masters, you must regiment us a 
little, make our interests with you permanent a little 
instead of temporary and nomadic ; we will enlist with 
the State otherwise ! ' " What he really requires is a 
mode of industry in which under the constitutional 
government of the master or masters in the plan of 
"constituted anarchy," the "poor blind methods," 
leaving everything to the free play of competition, are 
to be abandoned, leading as they do to " Stygian 
anarchy." Better too much government than none at 
all ; the State must become " the keystone of a most 1 
real organization of labour," for " it exists here to 
render existence possible, existence desirable and noble 
for the State's subjects." King Capital has proved 
but a poor ruler. New kings and governors like 
Cromwell and the great Frederick are wanted to rule 
industry, a new order of nobles, " the captains of 
industry," to support the throne. This in turn will 
produce a new " chivalry of labour." 

As to democracy, strange to say, Carlyle is much 
more severe on its shortcomings than Kingsley, and it 
is in the Latter-day pamphlets where he is most severe. 


" Everywhere immeasurable democracy rose monstrous, 
loud, blatant, inarticulate as the voice of chaos." And 
what is this irresistible force, composed "of most 
inflammable, mutinous, chaotic elements " ? What is 
this " huge inevitable product of the Destinies," this 
" big, black Democracy " ? There lies the question for us. 
In trying to answer it, Carlyle speaks in what has been 
called the "Conservative Barricade style." Kingsley, 
with more moderation and tolerant breadth of thought, 
accepts democracy as a fact and a force, and sees the 
supreme need of Christianizing it. " The new element 
is democracy in Church and State. Waiving the 
question of its evil or its good, we cannot stop it. Let 
us Christianize it instead; " and he begs his correspond- 
ent to consider carefully whether "democracy ... be 
not the pith and marrow of the New Testament." 

In the extracts given by Mr. Froude from Carlyle's 
Journal (1830-2), it seems that at this time the rise of 
democracy was regarded with composure, if not with 
indifference, by him. " La classe la plus pauvre is 
evidently in the way of rising from its present deepest 
abasement. In time the world will be better divided, 
so that he that has the toil of ploughing will have the 
first cut at the reaping." Again, " Democracy gets along 
with accelerated pace — whither ? . . I am purely an on- 
looker, in any other capacity there being no need of me." 
It is curious that twenty years later Carlyle should 
have assumed an attitude so much less in favour of the 
rise of democracy, except on the supposition that the 
revolutionary socialism of France and Chartism in Eng- 


laud had disgusted him with democracy, which he 
thenceforward describes as a" self-cancelling business." 
Carlyle was a Girondist, and disliked revolutionary 
excesses. In his reminiscences of Lord Jeffrey this comes 
out still more clearly — 

"Democracy, the gradual uprise and rule in all things 
of roaring, million-headed, unreflecting, doubly suffering, 
doubly sinniog ' Demos,' come to call its old superiors to 
account at its maddest of tribunals ; nothing in my time 
has so forwarded all this as Jeffrey and his once famous 
Edinburgh Bevieiv." 

Kingsley, innate aristocrat as he was, is not afraid of 
democracy. As late as 1872 he writes thus of himself 
to Thomas Cooper — "I can give no more solid proof 
that, while Radical cockneys howl at me as an aristo- 
crat and a renegade, I am none ; but a believer in the 
persons of my children, that ' a man's a man for a' that.' " 
True, unlike Carlyle, he never regarded Jesus Christ as 
" the greatest of all past and present antigigmen ; " but 
lie regarded Him as the great Regenerator of society. 

" I have discovered also that the world is already 
regenerated by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that all efforts 
of our own to regenerate it are denials of Him and of the 
perfect regeneration which He accomplished when He sat 
down on the Right Hand of God, having all power given to 
Him in heaven and on earth, that He might rule the earth 
in righteousness for ever." 

In this, however, Carlyle and Kingsley agreed, that 
is in looking forward to the creation of an " industrial 
aristocracy." " That," in Carlyle's words, referring 
apparently to Kingsley's expression, " a ' splendour of 


God? in one form or another, will have to unfold itself 
from the heart of these our Industrial ages too . . . an 
actual new sovereignty, Industrial aristocracy." And 
in order to this there must be higher ideals. On this, 
too, both are agreed. The enemy of ideals at the 
time was " Midas-eared " Mammonism, " pure egotism," 
with " try-to-get-on " for its shibboleth, and " devil-take- 
the-hindmost " for its corollary, " the shabbiest gospel 
that had been taught among men." 

An able German writer, Dr. Gerhart von Schulze- 
Gaevernitz, a friend and disciple of L. Brentano, in a 
lately published work of considerable merit, on " the 
social, political education of the Euglish People in the 
nineteenth century," gives a prominent place to Carlyle, 
the " Isaiah of the nineteenth century," in counteracting 
this tendency. He regards Carlyle as a spiritual force 
to which more than to any other must be ascribed the 
revulsion which has taken place in English thought 
against exclusive individualism. Perhaps the author 
rather over-estimates this influence of Carlyle's. For 
the revulsion of feeling against the anti-social tendencies 
of the past, and the profession rather than the practical 
adoption of altruistic principles in the present day, are 
the result of a general advance in European thought of 
which both Carlyle's and Kingsley's writings were as 
much consequence as cause. 1 Carlyle in the Reminis- 

1 See Zum socialen Frieden. Eine Darstelhtng der socialpoliti- 
schen Erziehung des englischen Volkes im nennzehnten Jahrhundert, 
von Dr. Gerhart von Schulze-Gaevernitz (1890), vol. i. 74-5 ; 87-9 ; 
179 ; 235. The book is well worth studying. 


cences mentions the year (1825) of his own Hegira 
from the " soul-murdering mud-gods," when he attained 
to spirit-emancipation from "Stygian quagmires." 

" I have for the spiritual part ever since lived, looking 
down upon the welterings of my poor fellow-creatures, in 
such multitudes and millions still stuck in that fatal ele- 
ment, and have had no concern whatever with the Pusey- 
isms, Ritualisms, metaphysical controversies and cobweb- 
beries, and no feeling of my own except honest silent pity 
for the serious and religious part of them, and occasional 
indignation, for the poor world's sake, at the frivolous, 
secular, and impious part, with their universal suffrages, 
their nigger emancipation, sluggard and scoundrel pro- 
tection societies, and ' unexampled prosperities' for the time 

Henceforth he becomes the prophet fighting against 
the infidelity to fact and unbelief in the Divine reality 
behind the facts of the universe, against all unbelievers 
in the Divine veracity, in their love for semblances and 
" simulacra " ; the " aim of the man of letters should be 
to feel in himself, and reveal to others, the ' Divine idea 
of the world ' " ; and so in a letter to his brother John in 
1833 he says, " My mind would so fain deliver itself of 
that ' Divine idea of the w r orld.' " Starting from this 
high conception of their mission and their message to 
the times, both Carlyle and Kingsley cast to the winds 
any considerations of private interest, determined once 
and for all to " refuse to do the devil's work in this 
which is God's earth, let the issue be simply what it 
may. ' I must live, sir,' say many ; to which I answer, 
' No, sir, you need not live ; if your body cannot be 


kept together without selling your soul, then let the 
body fall asunder, and the soul be unsold.' " Thus 
Carlyle in 1837. Corresponding with this we read about 
Kingsley, that when his friends urged Lira to withdraw 
in 1848 from the sympathy with the people which was 
likely to spoil his prospects in life, he writes to his wife — 

" I will not be a liar. I will speak in season and out of 
season. I will not shun to declare the whole counsel of 
God. I will not take counsel with flesh and blood, and 
flatter myself into the dream that while every man on 
earth, from Maurice back to Abel, who ever tried to testify 
against the world, has been laughed at, misunderstood, 
slandered, and that, bitterest of all, by the very people he 
loved best and understood best, I alone am to escape. My 
faith is clear, and I will follow in it. He who died for 
me, and who gave me you, shall I not trust Him through 
whatsoever new strange paths He may lead me 1 " 

For this reason both men, whose smaller failings and 
human infirmities have afforded such an infinity of 
comfort and consolation to the moral pigmies who are 
ever ready to drag through the mud the great names of 
men whose intellectual and moral grandeur they could 
not measure, being the small-statured mortals that 
they are, not only dwell emphatically on the sanctity 
of labour — " He who has found his work," says both 
Carlyle and Kingsley, " let him ask no other blessed- 
ness" — but they also emphasize the duty of self-sacrific- 
ing and self-denying activity. Society, from being an 
/ \ agglomerate of self-seeking units chaotically thrown 
| together, must be restored to a belief in a Divine 
Unity, and find here a Divine centre of Union. London 


is to Carlyle a " huge aggregate of little systems, each 
of which is again a small anarchy, the members of 
which do not work together, but scramble against each 
other." ..." Nevertheless, God is in it." And so he 
emphasizes the fact in Past and Present, that the 
universe is not "a great unintelligible Perhaps"; it 
is the same important truth on which Kingsley dwells 
in his novels, his lectures, his academical addresses. 
" In the heart of its tumultuous Appearances, Embroil- 
ments, and mad time-vortexes, is there not silent, 
Eternal, an All-just, an All-beautiful, sole Reality, and 
ultimate controlling Power of the whole ? " Coming 
from Carlyle, such words produced a deeper effect than 
coming from a clergyman preaching on the text, " The 
Lord God omnipotent reigneth," for this is the idea 
which underlies all Kingsley's teaching, and on which 
he dwells most impressively, both in expatiating on the 
facts of natural history and the history of man. The 
fact is, these two men addressed in this respect two 
different constituencies on the same subject of supreme 
importance, each with its own prepossessions and con- 
victions. Carlyle held up the belief in a Divine idea to 
the large body of men who had lost faith in the beliefs 
of their childhood, and were in search for a substitute. 
Kingsley addressed those who had their secret doubts, 
but were anxious to keep to the " old paths," or as near j 
at least to the ancient landmarks as was compatible 
with truth. Both in their own way and in their own 
sphere did much towards restoring the faith in Provi- 
dence, combined with a high sense of dutv, and dis- 


associated entirely from those emasculated makeshift 
beliefs, which were virtually concealed unbeliefs, accepted 
by men at the time. 

Apart from the matter of their teaching, there was 
much in their manner which was alike. There are 
fewer " splenetic sputterings " and " atrabilious utter- 
ances " in Kingsley than in Carlyle, but at times there 
is the same impatient abruptness. He does not call 
men contemptuously "Dead Sea apes," but he hits hard 
at times, though with the velvet glove of gentlemanly 
toleration. But in both there is the same terrible 
earnestness which Jeffrey used to complain of in his 
kinsman contributor. Both men had the faculty which 
Carlyle ascribes to Shakespere, " that high vaies talent 
of interpreting confused human actualities," and both 
use it for the purpose of drawing vivid pictures which 
do not, indeed, unfold " what divine, melodious Ideals, 
or Thoughts of the Supreme were embodied in them" — 
for these were lost for awhile, they imagined — but 
describe " the living chaos of ignorance and hunger," 
which was the actuality of the day. Carlyle does so in 
the sombre chiaroscuro of Rembrandt, Kingsley in the 
rich colouring of Rubens. Carlyle breaks out in a 
" torrent of sulphurous denunciation," when he describes 
the Past and Present Era of thirty years ago — " your 
cotton-spinners and thrice-miraculous mechanism, what 
is this too, by itself, but a larger kind of animalism ? " 
Nothing can be more severe than his strictures on the 
" Pig Philosophy " of the age, nothing more solemn 
than his warnings to turn away from such a degrading 


materialism. Still, he is not quite hopeless. " Me- 
chanism is not always to be our hard taskmaster, but 
one day to be our pliant, all-ministering servant " ; "a 
new and brighter spiritual era is slowly evolving itself 
for all men." From the German, from Fichte in 
particular, he had learned to put his faith in idealism ; 
and Christianity afforded him, as well as Fichte, the 
highest ideal for the individual and society. " Make an 
organ of thyself," says Carlyle, with the profound con- 
viction that the higher development of the individual 
lies at the root of a higher social organization ; and so he 
shows in Characteristics, which is "the most condensed 
example of Carlyle's peculiar teaching," that " society 
is the vital articulation of many individuals into a new 
collective individual," i. e. as we say nowadays, the 
individual is the cell of the social organism. Hence the 
importance, as Kingsley put it in his inaugural lecture 
on taking the Chair of History in Cambridge, " of the 
self-determining power of the individual" as a factor 
in the " orderly progress of humanity," denying the 
mechanical theory of an "inevitable sequence" in 
human affairs, which denies or ignores "the self- 
arbitrating power of man." 

But que /aire ? What practical remedies are there 
to raise the individual and society, and for the pre- 
sent distress what ought to be done ? They agree 
rather in what ought not to be done. Neither re- 
actionary nor revolutionary measures will bring about 
a better state of things. Both dislike anything like an 
attempt to return to old and worn-out systems. Both 


are bitter in their attacks on " Puseyisms " and 
"Jesuitisms," the attempts in the Anglican and Roman 
Churches to regain the people alienated from the faith 
by attempts to improve their social condition a la 
Cardinal Manning. In their strong prejudices they 
were prevented from seeing any good in such sympa- 
thetic efforts, ready, as the Germans say, to throw out 
the child with the bath-water. 

On the other hand, Carlyle notes with his peculiar 
sardonic humour the advances of " horny - handed 
Radicalism." He notes with grim satisfaction its 
earnestness. " Radical Murphy (at a meeting in the 
City of London Tavern), with cylindrical high hat (like 
a water-can), pot-belly, and voice like the great bell of 
Moscow, All in Earnest." This was in 1834. A few 
years before that Mr. Froude tells us he indulged him- 
self in an " impatient Radicalism " of his own. But 
when writing to Emerson he says — " Radicalism I feel 
to be a wretched necessity, unfit for me ; Conservatism 
being not unfit only, but false for me ; yet these two 
are the grand categories under which all English 
spiritual activity that so much as thinks remuneration 
possible must range itself." Kingsley is much less 
severe as a critic on Chartism, though his strictures 
on its errors, as we have seen already, are pointed and 
just. He, too, is equally averse to either reactionary 
or revolutionary measures, and has as little faith as his 
master Carlyle in mere accession of the masses to parlia- 
mentary influences and political power, or that the 
possession of a twenty-thousandth part of a Talker 


in our National Palaver will do " the people " much 
good. In fact, it is not political reform, but the inner 
reform of each man that is required in the opinion of 
both. To effect a happy union of society you must 
improve the social unit. It is a quite insoluble and im- 
possible problem : " Given a world of knaves, to produce 
an honesty from their united action ;" it is the moral not 
the political constitution that wants reforming ; " it is 
not by mechanism but by religion, not by Self-interest 
but by Loyalty, that men are governed or governable." 
" Therefore," says Carlyle in his Journal, " ' Society for 
the diffusion of common Honesty ' were the usefullest 
of all societies could it take effect." By honesty Carlyle 
meant a great deal more than keeping one's hands from 
picking and stealing ; he and Kingsley meant by this 
a more unconventional, more really outspoken honesty 
in speech and action, in religious profession, in moral 
practice. The current half-truths, morbid self-contem- 
plation and weak self-pity, and utter inability to see 
straight and look facts courageously in the face, both 
men hated with a perfect hatred ; what they felt 
was needed were honesty of purpose and honest effort, 
eradicating the false, the feeble in thought and feeling. 
" The whole life of Society," complains Carlyle in the 
Characteristics, " must now be carried on by drugs ; 
doctor after doctor appears with his nostrums, of Co- 
operative Societies, Universal Suffrage, Cottage-and- 
Cow Systems, Depression of Population, Vote by Ballot. 
To such height has the dyspepsia of society reached ; 
as indeed the constant, grinding internal pain, or from 



time to time the spasmodic spasm throes, of all Society 
do otherwise too mournfully indicate." The myriads of 
mechanical inventions of a society, self-conscious of its 
sickly condition cannot save it, unless each member 
effects a personal cure in himself first. " To reform a 
world," says Carlyle in Signs of the Times, " to reform a 
nation, no wise man will undertake ; and all but foolish 
men know, that the only solid, though a far slower 
reformation, is what each begins and perfects in himself." 
But what are the prospects of this moral amelior- 
ation ? On this point Carlyle and Kingsley differed. 
The former is inclined to Pessimism, though even 
in " chaotic London " he sees blissful symptoms here 
and there discernible of palingcnesia. But at the very 
best he only clings to a desperate hope, for in his view 
the whole frame of society is rotten. "Where the new 
is to come from when the old has vanished away he 
knows not, though out of all evil comes good, " this 
wonderous mankind is advancing somewhither," though 
" perfection of practice, like completeness of opinion, 
is always approaching, never arrived ; truth, in the 
words of Schiller, immcr ivird, nie ist ; never is, always 
is a-bcing." Allan Cunningham's " gingerbread Lubber- 
land" is pleasant to him as "streams of ambrosial 
ditch-water;" yet says Kingsley, in justification of his 
own optimism, "All men worth anything, old men 
especially, have strong fits of optimism — even Carlyle 
has — because they can't help hoping, and sometimes 
feeling, that the world is going right, and will go 
right, not your way, or any way, but its own way. 


Yes, we've all tried our Holloway's Pills, Tom, to cure 
all the ills of the world, and we've all found out, I hope, 
by this time, that the tough old world has more in its 
inside than any Holloway's Pills will clear out." He 
himself had learned to disbelieve in the efficacy of 
the specific, but had not lost his faith in the panacea 
for all human ills, the remedial power of Christianity, 
and the Church of England as an institution for 
the promotion of righteousness, individual and social. 
" Strange to say," he says in a letter to Captain 
Alston in 1862, " Thomas Carlyle now says that the 
Church of England is the most rational thing he sees 
now going, and that it is the duty of every wise man 
to support it to the uttermost." Perhaps Carlyle die 7 
not mean quite as much as is implied here. " That 
thing, the Church of England," as at one time he 
had spoken of it with supreme contempt, could scarcely 
have risen in his estimation to such an extent as to 
warrant this saying of Kingsley's. Towards the close 
of his life, we are told by Mr. Froude, Carlyle was taken 
by a friend to the Abbey to hear a great and popular 
preacher — was it Kingsley? — but before the service 
was over the friend began to regret his temerity in 
acting as bear-keeper to such a man in such a place. 
For every moment as the sermon went on its way, 
Carlyle's stick threatened to drop on the pavement 
to give expression to the holder's dissent and dis- 
approval of it. Even the genial dean close by watched 
with some apprehension the movements of his friend, 
though happily the threatened signals of disagreement 




were not given, to the great relief of all concerned ; 
but the story is characteristic of Carlyle. It does 
not, however, go far to prove the completeness of his 
conversion to good Churchmanship. 

In the end Carlyle and Kingsley fought shy of each 
other, we are told by Mr. Garnett, and we can under- 
stand this easily enough. In his younger days Kingsley 
had looked up to Carlyle, not only as a prophet, but 
as his prophet; but as Kingsley grew older, Carlyle, 
like some others, probably thought that worldly success 
had taught him to prophesy smooth things. His later 
writings would seem, to Carlyle's eye, to be too opti- 
mistic, apologetic, and in the nature of compromising 
matters when antagonism and contention would be 
more in keeping with the demands of truth and justice. 
Probably the only Churchman with whom Carlyle 
entirely sympathized — Maurice even was never quite 
at ease with him — was John Sterling, but then John 
Sterling had separated from the Church, which he had 
entered without due consideration. Carlyle respected 
his conscientious scruples ; he himself had refused for 
similar reasons to join the Scotch Kirk. 

Now John Sterling and Charles Kingsley bore many 
resemblances. There was in both the same velocity of 
thought and intellectual impetuosity, the same headlong 
alacrity in arriving at resolves and conclusions, the same 
impatient rashness and self-conscious sensitiveness; 
both had been attracted for a time by what Carlyle 
calls "the transcendental moonshine of Coleridge's 
Christian philosophy." There was the same bright 


ingenuity which pleased Carlyle so much — both had 
the bent of the artist and some of the traits of the 
saintly character. But there was this fundamental 
difference. Kingsley was physically vigorous, though 
he wore himself out prematurely by the "very excess 
of life " which in John Sterling brought on disease and 
death. Hence the greater joyousness of existence in 
Kingsley, which reconciled him more easily to life's 
contradictions. Sterling's life was to Carlyle " a tragical 
history, as all histories are; yet a gallant, brave, and 
noble one, as not many are." Kingsley's could 
scarcely be called so. Sterling had given up his 
"democratic philosophies and mutinous radicalisms," 
as Carlyle himself, as Kingsley had done. But though 
to Sterling, as to Kingsley, religion per se was an in- 
dubitable fact — as, indeed, it was to Carlyle — yet " the 
Sun" of "English priesthood" rising over "vast ruins 
and extinct volcanoes of his dead radical world" was, 
in the case of John Sterling, to sink again. In the 
case of Kingsley nothing, we are told by a Cambridge 
acquaintance, who knew him as the Professor of History, 
was more patent than his desire to pass for an orthodox 
English priest. The fact is, Charles Kingsley, like De 
Maistre and Lamennais, both of whom were diligent 
students and admirers of Tertullian, had something of 
the African's fiery spirit, and not a little of the style 
and forcefulness of the Punic apologist in his com- 
position. So far as he shared the fiery temper of 
Tertullian, he was a man after Carlyle's own heart. 
But by degrees Kingsley became more reconciled to 


the existing order of things, and had learned to tolerate 
the shortcomings of current thought, and in a measure 
I tried to justify the age he lived in ; whilst Carlyle 
remained in opposition to the end of his days. 

Kingsley, who in his younger days had called Arch- 
bishop Whately, the apostle of tolerance and the 
exponent of political economy as taught then, "the 
greatest mind of the present day " ; Kingsley, who had 
never for a moment swerved from his allegiance to 
the large-minded and large-hearted teaching of his 
" master," F. D. Maurice, was a man too broad in his 
sympathies, too wide in his catholicity and all-embracing 
affectionateness, too joyous in his undying hopefulness, 
to satisfy the severe and stern demands of the Philo- 
sopher of Chelsea, in whom the intellectual hardihood 
as well as the hardness of the Covenanter had left their 
indelible mark. Kingsley, like his Major Campbell, 
was "a man very tender and pitiful to weak women 
and children, but very terrible to full-grown knaves." 
Carlyle shared with him the latter ; less so, if at all, 
the former qualities of mind and heart; he had not, 
or at all events he had in much smaller degree, the 
softer, gentle, pitiful forbearance with human foibles 
and folly which his ci-devant disciple possessed in 
an eminent degree. The peculiarities of character 
come out most distinctly in the view the two men 
take of heroes. To Carlyle the sincere man is the true, 
" a veritable hero, if he prove a true man ! " Kingsley 
was attracted, as we see in his essay on Heroism, 
" by the more tender and saintly ideal of heroism 


which had sprung up during the earlier middle ages." 
Stoicism, a self-poised self-concentration, is what Carlyle 
admired most. "True heroism must involve self- 
sacrifice," according to Kingsley. Therefore, however 
unheroic the age may be, it is not necessary to be a 
social Luther or a Knox thundering forth anathemas ; 
" any man or woman who will, in any age and under 
any circumstances, can live the heroic life and exercise 
heroic influences." Carlyle was attracted by the 
stoicism of the English aristocracy. The reason is not 
far to seek. Like the ancient, like some of our modern 
stoics, he was himself an aristocrat morally and mentally 
standing aloof from the common crowd. Kingsley, as 
he showed in Hypatia and in the incomparable lectures 
on " Neo-Platonism " delivered before a Scotch audience 
— and Carlyle's cultured countrymen are apt to be 
conscious of this moral and intellectual superiority 
of the select few, an heirloom, perhaps, of the Calvin- 
istic doctrine of election — is too deeply imbued with 
the democratic creed of Christendom which permits 
slaves and harlots to "gaze on the very deepest root- 
ideas of their philosophy." " There was a truly practical 
element here in Christian teaching ; purely ethical and 
metaphysical, and yet palpable to the simplest and 
lowest, which gave to it a regenerating force which 
the highest effort of Neo-Platonism could never attain." 
Thus disparity of age, and growing diversity of views, 
prevented that coalescence of opinion and harmonious 
intercourse between these two noble-minded and faith- 
ful teachers of their day and generation, which would 


enable a writer who admires both, each in his own 
way, to say of them, much as he should have wished 
to do so, that like Saul and Jonathan they " were lovely 
and pleasant in their lives, and in their deaths they 
were not divided." 



" I see one work to be done ere I die, in which (men 
are beginning to discover) Nature must be counteracted, 
lest she prove a curse and a destroyer, not a blessing 
and a mother ; and that is, Sanitary Reform. Politics 
and political economy may go their way for me. If I 
can help to save the lives of a few thousand working- 
people and their children, I may earn the blessing of 
God." Thus writes Kingsley in a letter to J. Bullar, 
dated Nov. 26th, 1857. Of this work he never grew 
tired, and two years afterwards, when writing to Lady 
Harding, who had established a Convalescent Home for 
Children, shortly after the first meeting of the Ladies' 
Sanitary Association, of which from the first he was a 
warm friend and supporter, he says, " I am going to 
throw myself into this movement. I am tired of most 
things in the world. Of sanitary reform I shall never 
grow tired. . . . There can be no mistake about the 
saving of human lives, and the training up a healthy 
generation. God bless you and all good ladies who 


have discovered that human beings have bodies as 
well as souls, and that the state of the soul too often 
depends on that of the body." In his lecture on 
"Great Cities," delivered at Bristol, Oct. 5th, 1857, we 
note the transition state of his own mind from that of 
the social to the sanitary reformer, which also serves 
to illustrate the close connection between the two, 
for it was here in this very city, as we have already 
shown in a previous chapter, that he got his first 
lesson in social politics. The end of his social philo- 
sophy is a deep conviction that physics and ethics 
cannot be disassociated, that the tendency downwards 
in the moral grade and the social revolt in the working 
poor must in a great measure be attributed to material 
conditions. " They sink," he says in this lecture, " they 
must sink, into a life on a level with the sights, sounds, 
aye the very smells, which surround them." Even the 
craving for drink is owing mainly to the wretchedness 
of their domicile ; " the main exciting cause of drunken- 
ness is, I believe firmly, bad air and bad lodging." He 
dwells upon the importance of prophylactic measures 
to prevent the canker of social disease at the root; 
instead of finding wretched palliatives to remove the 
symptoms, he expresses his full conviction "that 
reformatories, ragged schools, even hospitals and asylums, 
treat only the symptoms, not the actual causes, of the 
disease ; and that the causes are only to be touched 
by improving the simple physical conditions of this 
class; by abolishing foul air, foul water, foul lodging, 
overcrowded dwellings, in which morality is difficult 


and common decency impossible." This especially in 
view of the noble struggles under adverse circumstances 
of the poor themselves, " their stern, uncomplaining, 
valorous self-denial; and nothing more," he adds, "stirs 
my pity than to see them struggling to bring up a 
family in a moral and physical atmosphere where right 
education is impossible." He makes an earnest appeal 
to the philanthropic feelings of his audience, an appeal 
which, with others repeated under different circum- 
stances and in different places, has borne some fruit in 
public measures and private beneficence. It amounts 
to this — " Let the man who would deserve well of his 
city, well of his country, set his heart and brain to the 
great purpose of giving the workmen dwellings fit for 
a virtuous and civilized being, and, like the priest of 
old, stand between the living and the dead, that the 
plague may be stayed." 

A year later he writes again to John Bullar, expressing 
his determination thus : — 

" I see more and more that we shall work no deliverance 
till we teach people a little more common physical know- 
ledge, and I hail the Prince Consort's noble speech at 
Aberdeen as a sign that he sees his way clearly and deeply. 
I have refused this winter to lecture on anything but the 
laws of health ; and shall try henceforth to teach a sound 
theology through physics." 

To Kingsley " a bit of sanitary reform- work is a sacred 
duty." Those who were pillars in the cause of sanitary 
reform then — Mr., afterwards Sir Edwin Chadwick, Sir 
John, then Mr. J., Simon, and " dear old Southwood 


Smith " — were friends and correspondents. He did 
them good service in making the cause popular by his 
vigorous style of exposition and earnest exhortation, 
addressed crowds whom they could scarcely reach, still 
less persuade. Public opinion needed rousing on the 
subject, and public morality raising to a higher level. 
The pioneers of sanitary reform had to surmount 
numberless obstacles and at times virulent opposition 
to their efforts, for " the British nation," as Kingsley 
puts it, " reserves to itself, though it forbids to its 
armies, the right of putting to death unarmed and 
unoffending men, women, and children. . . . Public 
opinion has declared against the necessity of sanitary 
reform ; and is not public opinion known to be, in these 
last days, the Ithuriel's spear which is to unmask and 
destroy all the follies, superstitions, and cruelties of the 
universe ? " And again, " Sanitary reformers have turned 
again and again to her Majesty's Government. Alas 
for them ! The Government was ready and willing 
enough to help. The w T icked world said, ' Of course ! 
It will create a new department. It will give them 
more places to bestow.' But the real reason of the 
willingness of the Government seems to be that those 
who compose it are thoroughly awake to the importance 
of the subject." Not so the mob of respectable people 
in town or country, the " comfortable classes," who are 
ever on the side of the great goddess, " Leave alone," 
and by whom the command, " Touch not the unclean 
thing," was most sacredly obeyed since it was the 
easiest thing to keep it. The time had not yet come 


for that identification of the causes of moral and 
physical evil which Mr. S. Laing, in his interesting 
work, A Modem Zoroastrian, tells us is the charac- 
teristic of the age we live in, and that " our most 
earnest philanthropists and zealous workers in the 
fields of sin and misery in crowded cities are coming, 
more and more every day, to the conviction that an 
improvement in the physical conditions of life is the 
first indispensable condition of moral and religious 
progress" (p. 224). 

The visitation of the cholera was the most powerful 
ally since 1831 of the social reformers. But with its 
disappearance the fears it had provoked passed away 
from the public mind, and with them the anxiety to 
promote sanitation, though philanthropists, as Lord 
Shaftesbury's biographer tells us, " continued to preach 
the good doctrine that cleanliness is next to godliness," 
and conversely divines like Dr. Chalmers said "that 
the world is so constituted that if we were inwardly 
right w r e should be physically happy." Thus the Public 
Health Act w^as passed in 1848, by which a Central 
Board of Health was called into existence with Lord 
Ashley for its chairman, and Dr. Southwood Smith and 
Mr. Edwin Chadwick to support him — it was the latter 
who was the real spirit us rector of the Board. At 
first they were mainly engaged in taking measures to 
stay the invasion of the cholera and mitigate its horrors, 
especially in the following year. When appointed to 
this office, Lord Ashley writes in his diary, "It will 
involve trouble, anxiety, reproach, abuse, unpopularity. 


I shall become a target for private assault and the 
public press ; but how can I refuse ? " 

It Avas at this time that Kingsley preached the 
celebrated Cholera Sermons at Eversley, which were 
afterwards published, "peppered," as he says, "for 
London palates." In one of them, referring to the 
popular notion that the cholera was sent by God as a 
national punishment, for which the remedy suggested 
was the proclamation of a national fast and confession 
of national sins and repentance, he inquires — 

" Did they repent of and confess the covetousness, the 
tyranny, the carelessness, which in most great towns, and 
in too many villages also, forces the poor to lodge in un- 
drained, stifling hovels, unfit for hogs, amid vapours and 
smells which send forth on every breath the seeds of 
rickets and consumption, typhus and scarlet fever, and 
worst and last of all, the cholera ? ... To confess their 
sins in a general way cost them a few words ; to confess 
and repent of the real particular sins in themselves was a 
very different matter ; to amend them would have touched 
vested interests, would have cost money — the Englishman's 
god. It would have required self-sacrifice of pocket as 
well as of time. It would have required manful fighting 
against the prejudices, the ignorance, the self-conceit, the 
laziness, the covetousness of the wicked world. So they 
could not afford to repent of all that." And, therefore, 
" as soon as this panic of superstitious fear was past, 
carelessness and indolence returned." 

He does not deny that the cholera is a Divine 
visitation, but he shows that it is a punishment for 
transgressing the laws of nature, the inevitable con- 


sequences of natural causes according to the irreversible 
decrees of the Author of our being. 

" Yes, my friends, as surely and naturally as drunkenness 
punishes itself by a shaking hand and a bloated body, so 
does filth avenge itself by pestilence. Fever and cholera, 
as you would expect them to be, are the expression of God's 
judgment, God's opinion, God's handwriting on the wall 
against us for our sins of filth and laziness, foul air, foul 
food, foul drains, foul bedrooms. Where they are, there is 
cholera ; where they are not, there is none, and will be 
none, because they who do not break God's laws, God's 
laws will not break them." 

The Board, which had by its very efficiency incurred 
popular displeasure, that demanded the removal of Mr. 
Chadwick from his post, was reconstructed in 1858. 
After that its functions were divided between the 
Privy Council and the Home Office, with Sir John 
Simon for its medical officer. 1 

In 1866 another step in advance was made by the 
passing of a new Sanitary Act, which greatly strength- 
ened the position of the central authority, but also 
provided for the supervision of all sanitary administra- 
tion. Other Acts followed, all in aid of that " Sanitary 
Progress" which is so ably sketched in the article 
referred to in the note below, and more elaborately in 
Sir J. Simon's volume on English Sanitary Institutions 
(1890), on which it is based. For further particulars 
we must refer our readers to these publications, where, 
too, they will find statistics to show more completely 

1 See for more details an article on "Sanitary Progress" in the 
Edinburgh Review for January 1891. 


the actual nature of the progress of sanitation made 
thus far. 

Nor must it be forgotten that, politically speaking, 
sanitary progress is only " a single breaker in the 
general tide of reform," and has gone on pari passu 
with the progress of scientific discovery and its practical 
application. Of this close connection of science and the 
science of health Kiogsley was throughout an eloquent 
exponent, as when in his essay, The Air Mothers, he 
incidentally dwells on the importance of teaching the 
rudiments of sanitation in public schools and colleges, 
as a branch of that social science with which the sons 
of the governing classes ought to be thoroughly or at 
least tolerably well acquainted. It is worth while 
mentioning here that Lord Shaftesbury, in his address 
as President of the Health Section at the Social Science 
Congress at Liverpool in 1858, stated that the pre- 
ventive mortality of the country amounted to 90,000 
annually, and it is gratifying to find the evangelical 
philanthropist uttering words which bear a remarkable 
resemblance to some sayings of Kingsley's on the same 
topic. " But when people say we should think more of 
the soul and less of the body, my answer is, that the 
same God who made the soul made the body also." 
In that very year Kingsley, in the essay which appeared 
in Fraser, appeals to all, in spite of " theological differ- 
ences," to join in this " sacred crusade against dirt, 
degradation, disease, and death " ; as, indeed, ten years 
before he had suggested that " sanitary league," of 
which Maurice, with his " dread of societies," did not 


approve, but one of which Kingsley's friend, Charles 
Mansfield, actually founded. It is to these efforts of 
Kingsley's that Dean Stanley refers in the funeral 
sermon — 

" Artisans and working-men of London," said the dean, 
" you know how he desired, with a passionate desire, that 
you should have pure air, habitable dwellings ; that you 
should be able to show the courtesies, the refinements, the 
elevation of citizens, and of Englishmen." 

And in this Kingsley's share — for there were not a 
few besides, like Sir Arthur Helps, who with pen and 
tongue helped on the work of sanitary reform — consisted 
as much in teaching others how to do it, as doing it 
himself. This he did in his own vivacious and eager 
manner of embracing a cause, which helped in stimu- 
lating more sluggish natures, and producing a ferment 
of enthusiasm in quarters where such stimulants were 
required. Thus in his speech on the " Massacre of the 
Innocents," at the first meeting in Willis's Rooms of the 
" Ladies' National Sanitary Association," he shows that 
the premature death of infants is not the " will of God," 
but " stupid neglect, stupid ignorance, or, what is just 
as bad, stupid indulgence " on the part of men and 
women, closing the speech in these forcible words 
addressed to mothers : " And will you remember that 
it is not the will of your Father that is in Heaven that 
one little one that plays in the kennel outside should 
perish, either in body or in soul?" At the Royal 
Institution, in a lecture showing the importance of 
applied science to the preserving of health, he shows 



how if only parents would read and perpend such books 
as Andrew Combe's, and those of other writers on 
physical education, we should not then see the children, 
even of the rich, done to death piecemeal by improper 
food, improper clothes, neglect of ventilation, &c, &c. 
In his town sermons, such as the notable sermon 
preached in Liverpool on behalf of the Kirkdale Ragged 
School, he speaks of the " human soot " in a town 
where " capital is accumulated more rapidly by wasting 
a certain amount of human life, human health, human 
intellect, human morals, by producing or throwing 
away a regular percentage of human soot " ; and warns 
his hearers, as he had done in his social novels, that as 
foul vapours destroy vegetation and injure health, "so 
does the Nemesis fall on man — so does that human 
soot, these human poison gases, infect the whole society 
which has allowed them to fester under its feet." At 
the same time he looks forward to a more scientific and 
more truly Christian era, when " our human refuse 
shall be utilized, like our material refuse, when man as 
man, even down to the weakest and most ignorant, 
shall be found to be (as he really is) so valuable that it 
will be worth while to preserve his health to the level 
of his capabilities, to save him alive, body, intellect, and 
character, at any cost; because men will see that a man 
is, after all, the most precious and useful thing in the 
earth, and that no cost spent on the development of 
human beings can possibly be thrown away." In the 
same tone he exhorts his hearers at the Chapel Royal, 
St. James's, in his sermon on loyalty, after referring to 


the fact that 200,000 persons had died of preventible 
fever since the Prince Consort's death a few years 
before ; and in allusion to the recent recovery of the 
Prince of Wales from an attack of the same disease, he 
exhorts his hearers to show their loyalty by attending 
to this duty of sanitary reform, which they owe to their 
sovereign, their country, and their God, until no fever 
alley or malarious ditch is left in any British city, 
so that through his exertions and theirs they " might 
deliver the poor from dirt, disease, and death." 

Here Kingsley's scientific knowledge and habits 
acquired by scientific studies were of great advantage 
to him, and it will not be out of place to say a few 
words here on his scientific attainments, as a help to 
his sanitary efforts. 

In all his lectures and addresses it was ever his aim 
to show not only this connection between science and 
sanitation, but also the intimate relation which existed 
between scientific studies and the practical conduct of 
life, between a knowledge of the physical and spiritual 
laws of human life. From a child he had a taste for 
natural studies, as his schoolfellow, Mr. Powles, mentions 
in his reminiscences incorporated in the first volume 
of the Letters and Memories, and this taste for science 
he retained to the end. Writing to Matthew Arnold in 
1870, Kingsley says: "Ah, that I could see you and 
talk with you ! But here I am, trying to do my quiet 
work ; and given up now, utterly, to physical science — 
which is my business in the Hellenic direction." It is 
also worth mentioning here that these studies had a 


sanitative effect on his own mind, keeping it from 
falling into the snare of the fallacies of exaggeration 
and exclusion towards which, by reason of his intensity 
and emotional fervour, he was constantly gravitating. 
, Science taught him that reverence for fact which he 
dwells upon constantly in his scientific lectures, and 
; also the importance of this inductive habit of mind. 
And such were his powders of intense vision and 
of dramatic representation in reproducing the vivid 
impressions of facts on his own mind, that he could 
state in a concrete and tangible form the most difficult 
subjects of scientific import; therefore we venture to 
express an opinion that Kingsley was really at his best 
as a popular lecturer on scientific subjects. 

One more trait in Kingsley's method of teaching 
science has to be mentioned. He never dogmatizes ; he 
is suggestive, not doctrinal. " Find out for yourselves," 
he says to his hearers or readers. Thus in this very 
lecture, after propounding several questions in natural 
history which appear difficult to answer, he does not try 
to theorize at all. " Who can answer these questions ? 
I answer — Who but you, or your pupils after you, if you 
will but try." In the same way and before a more 
critical audience, himself in the seat of authority, on 
assuming the Cambridge Professorship, he says to the 
crowd of listeners before him, "I am not hear to teach 
you history. I am here to teach you how to teach 
yourselves history." In this way he stimulates inquiry 
and the spirit of adventure in quest of scientific 
discoveries; and this, as he says in the lecture on 


Thoughts in a Gravel-pit, " is the only way to get 
gold wisely, and spend it wisely " — i. e. by not being 
afraid of digging down deep for ourselves with open 
eyes for hidden secrets. " We will call our pit no more a 
gravel-pit, but a wisdom-pit, a mine of wisdom." His 
natural modesty, enhanced by scientific pursuits, comes 
out in a thousand ways; it was this which struck all 
that came across him, especially during his residence 
in Cambridge, sweet humility not being exactly one 
of the graces most cultivated by the average run of 
University tutors and professors. 

And this modesty produces in him a reverence for 
scientific facts, which will in the end teach rever- 
ence for divine things, for nature reveals God. He 
attributes Carlyle's marvellous influence through his 
writings to the fact that they are " instinct with the 
very spirit of science," for in them he has taught men 
moral and intellectual courage to face facts boldly 
while they confess the divineness of facts ; not to be 
afraid of nature, and not to worship nature ; to believe 
that men can know truth ; and tha/t only in as far as they 
know truth can they live worthily on earth. Besides, 
there is nothing like a knowledge of unpleasant facts, 
for it leads to effort for the purpose of facing them 
manfully. If nature is the " spotted Panther," and 
many facts support this view, then, as panthers can be 
hunted down or tamed, so too nature can be brought 
into subjection by obedience to her laws. This has a 
sanitary bearing; physical evil can be prevented by a 
knowledge of therapeutic science, diseases can be cured, 


and thus life saved. For this reason he would establish 
sanitary professorships in the Universities, and recom- 
mends the study of natural sanitary science to boys in 
the higher schools, and also a fund for the promotion 
of " the teaching the teachers in common schools the 
laws of health " ; in this way, to quote the concluding 
words of the ode composed on the installation of the 
late Duke of Devonshire as Chancellor of the University 
of Cambridge — 

" Spreading round the teeming earth, 
English science, manhood, worth." 

Physical science, physical education, and their prac- 
tical uses is his constant theme. In a lecture to the 
officers of the Royal Artillery (1872) on the study of 
nature, he points out its important bearing on the 
health of the soldiers committed to their care, and 
shows how the men of science, though they do not wear 
Queen's uniform, are fighting with the army though 
against different enemies, against ignorance of the laws 
of health, which causes death and disease. He hints that 
every officer in the army is really, or ought to be, a 
health officer. " The wise and humane officer, when once 
his eyes are opened to the practical value of physical 
science, will surely try to acquaint himself somewhat 
with those laws of drainage and of climate — geological, 
meteorological, chemical — which influence, often with 
terrible suddenness and fury, the health of whole armies." 

How far did Kingsley succeed in all these varied 
efforts to promote the study of sanitary science ? In 
his beautiful essay on the Air Mothers, he himself 


seems to anticipate slow progress in this direction, 
though it was written three years after the important 
Health Act of 1866, when, as Sir John Simon puts it, 
for the first time "the grammar of common sanitary 
legislation acquired the novel virtue of the imperative 
mood," and at a "moment of popular piety towards 
the cause of sanitary reforms." This, like all pious 
emotions in the individual and the community, is 
given to spasmodic efforts succeeded by relapses, and 
has to be stimulated into life again by appeals to the 
law if men will not obey the gospel. " We shall be," 
says Kingsley in this essay, " like the tortoise in the 
fable, and not the hare ; and by moving slowly, but 
surely, win the race at last." He was not very far 
wrong in his prognostic. But in the very year of his 
death was passed the Health Act, which had for its 
object " the consolidation of central functions," which 
enables the Government to watch over, assist, revise 
the action of local sanitary authorities, which promises 
fairly for the future progress of sanitary reform, and 
which made Lord Shaftesbury say with a sense of 
relief, Jan. 11th, 1875— 

" Sanitary questions, of which I saw the dawn, and had 
also the early labours, are passed into ' Imperial ' subjects. 
Boards are everywhere, laws have been enacted, public 
attention roused, and Ministers have declared themselves 
willing to bring to bear on them the whole force of Govern- 
ment. Not only am I not wanted, but my interference 
would be superfluous and an incumbrance." 

We will not say that the voice of Kingsley was no 


longer wanted after this public acknowledgment of the 
duty of the preservation of life on the part of the 
country and its Government. But it may be affirmed 
that the work of pioneering, in which he was principally 
engaged, had well-nigh come to an end. It is gratifying 
to read, in the article of the Edinburgh Review on 
sanitary progress, already referred to, the following 
sentence in allusion to statistics of sanitary results 
previously quoted — "These figures alone are an elo- 
quent defence of the sanitary work which has been 
going on, for nowhere is sanitary progress so clearly 
seen as in a lowered death-rate for children of tender 
years." But, we are told, "the conclusion is irre- 
sistible that the sanitary progress of this country is 
sure, if somewhat slow." This is fully borne out by Sir 
John Simon's work on English Sanitary Institutions, 
and the two volumes of Public Health Reports by the 
same writer, re-published by the Sanitary Institute. 
When writing to this veteran of sanitary reform in 1854, 
Kingsley, complimenting him on his City Cholera Report, 
its cautious modesty, eloquence, and completeness, says, 
"I only wish that I may have half as fair an account 
of solid work ; done to render at the last account, 
as that report contains," and closes the letter thus : 
" Unless the physical deterioration of the lower classes 
is stopped by bold sanitary reforms, such as you have 
been working out, we shall soon have rifles but no men 
to shoulder them, at least to use the butts of them 
when required." 

No one will agree with Kingsley in this modest 


estimate of his own work in sanitary reform, and all 
will be glad to note the success which has crowned 
his labours. There are those who have complained 
that Kingsley, in his excessive zeal for health of 
the body, approaches at times the border-line which 
divides the spiritual and fleshly schools of thought. 
But this is in complete forgetfulness that he always 
bears in mind the close connection between a healthy 
body and a healthy soul ; as when he shows in the 
lecture on the "Science of Health," "that wherever we 
find a population generally weakly, stunted, scrofulous, 
we find in them a corresponding type of brain which 
cannot be trusted to do good." So, too, in the lecture 
on the " Two Breaths," he points out the close connection 
between physical conditions and morality, how from ill- 
lungs we get not only bodily disease, but " folly, temper, 
laziness, intemperance, madness, and let me tell you 
fairly, crime." For this reason he quarrels with the 
hermits, whose good qualities he knows how to value in 
a separate volume, but whom he dislikes because they 
looked upon " dirt as a sign of sanctity." 

In 1857 he gives a sketch of possible sanitary improve- 
ments, which has since been filled up in Dr. Richard- 
son's Presidential Address in the Health Department of 
the Social Science Association at the Brighton meeting 
in 1875, entitled in its printed form, " Hygeia, a City of 
Health." Many of the things adumbrated by Kingsley 
at that remote date have actually come into existence, 
as the result of private or associated philanthropy or 
legislative measures, such as extended factory and work- 


shop legislation, the establishment of public lavatories, 
drinking fountains, public baths, gymnasiums, and pro- 
visions made by urban authority so as to procure for the 
masses pure air, pure sunlight, pure water, pure dwell- 
ing-houses, pure food. Any one reading the two volumes 
of Sir John Simon's reports during the course of his 
official life, with the history of sanitary institutions, 
showing what has been accomplished thus far in carrying 
out the recommendations contained in those reports, or 
watching recent efforts more fully to carry out the 
spirit of those laws apart from obediently following the 
letter, cannot help feeling how much has been done in this 
direction, and how much this country owes to Kingsley 
for stimulating others to take the work in hand. His 
chief share consisted in removing prejudices against 
\ sanitary measures by authority, and with others help- 
ing to educate public opinion to the extent of making 
such Acts of Parliament more acceptable, and by them 
| to exercise that widely accelerative influence for the 
betterment of local sanitary government, which re- 
quires more propelling power and moral momentum 
to make it work effectually even in the present day. 1 
But apart from " State Hygiene," much is done now by 
independent associations, such as the Ladies' Sanitary 
Association founded in 1856, Canon Kingsley being one 
of its earliest and most devoted friends, and where his 

1 It is only since the passing of the Local Government Act of 
1888 that an "easy way has been opened for rural sanitary 
administration." — Sanitary Institutions, by Sir John Simon, p. 
420 ; cf. Public Health Reports, by the same, vol. ii. p. 364, seq. 


memory is still cherished, as we are told — and we can 
well believe it — by its present able and active secretary. 
From its report for the year 1888 we learn that know- 
ledge is growing on the subject among all classes, and 
with it a determination " efficiently to mitigate suffering 
and disease," and that there is a growing feeling among 
thoughtful women in favour of sanitary reform, and we 
wish the committee success in its expressed intention 
to " broaden out the lines on which reverent womanly 
preventive work may turn." This is exactly what 
Charles Kingsley strove and laboured for throughout. 
From its report for 1891 we learn that 10,000 sanitary 
tracts were disseminated in the previous year, making 
a registered total, since 1857, of 1,676,609. The 
general work of the society is very succinctly stated 
in its report presented to the Seventh International 
Congress of Hygiene and Demography held in the past 
year. It consists of lectures to ladies on physiology, 
applied to health and education, sanitary lectures for 
the artisan classes, instruction in educational gymnastics, 
depot work in poor localities, providing baths, pails, 
tubs, brooms, &c, to promote personal cleanliness. The 
society has also opened a college for the technical 
training of girls of a higher grade in "hygiene and 
household science," and to provide lectures on nursing of 
the sick. In such and similar work it is carrying out 
those principles of sanitary reform of which Kingsley 
was the advocate, and on the lines indicated by him. 

The National Health Society, to which he refers in 
favourable terms in one of his scientific lectures, 


organizes lectures in drawing-rooms and elsewhere on 
domestic hygiene, and by means of "Homely Talks" at 
mothers' meetings and workmen's clubs, endeavours to 
spread a knowledge of home-nursing and the preven- 
tion of infectious diseases. It holds examinations, 
awards prizes and a medal to those who prove them- 
selves proficients in these subjects, and lately has 
worked in conjunction with county councils, providing 
lectures on food and cookery and the laws of preserving 
or restoring health. It, too, has a lengthy list of tracts 
to boast of. The Sanitary Institute, with its Parkes 
Museum in Margaret Street, founded a year after 
Kingsley's death, is an institution promoting similar 
objects. It holds sessional meetings, provides for 
lectures for sanitary officers, examines those who aspire 
to such offices, holds an annual congress like that on 
hygiene and demography already referred to, has a valu- 
able library, and publishes works on sanitary subjects. 

As a result of these and other agencies at work, 
Sir Joseph Fayrer, speaking on "Preventive Disease" 
at this congress, presided over by H.R.H. the Prince 
of Wales, and attended by thousands of visitors 
showing an enthusiastic interest in its proceedings, 
could state that in reference to sanitary progress in 
the country, great improvements have gradually been 
made (among the people) in the mode of living ; the 
houses are better constructed, the drainage and venti- 
lation are now complete, the land is better cultivated, 
and the subsoil drained .... the death-rate is con- 
siderably reduced, and the expectancy of life enhanced. 


Water is purer, food is more varied and nutritious, 
clothing is better adapted to climate, the noxious 
character of many occupations has been mitigated, 
and the mental, moral, and physical aspects of the 
people altogether improved. Education is general, a 
better form of government prevails, and the social 
conditions are far in advance of what they have been. 1 
" But," he proceeds to say, " preventible disease still 
kills yearly about 125,000," and, "it has been calculated 
that 78i millions of days of labour are lost annually, 
which means £7,750,000 per annum." 

Lord Basing, who was enabled to pass through Parlia- 
ment the Public Healths Act in 1875, could boast at 
the same congress that in consequence of the adminis- 
tration of public health laws which that Act codifies and 
consolidates, the death-rate during twenty years has 
been reduced by one-seventh. Mr. John Hamer (hon. 
secretary of the Mansion House Council on the Dwellings 
of the Poor) recommended, in the Section of State 
Hygiene, that railway companies should be compelled 
to run cheap trains within a fixed zone round every city 
for labourers and artisans coming from the suburbs and 
adjacent country; that lodging-houses should be pro- 
vided by the enterprise of municipal authorities ; and 
that medical officers of health should be State servants, 
not subject to property owners or the local authority, 
&c, &c. 

From what has been said by such high authori- 
ties on the achievements of sanitary reforms, it is not 
1 Times, Aug. 12th, 1891. 


too much to expect the favourable consideration of 
such desiderata, and the acceptance of such a sugges- 
tion as that of Dr. Seaton, in his opening address as 
President of the British Medical Association last year — 
namely, the appointment of county healths officers, who 
would be independent of local influences and authorities. 
What has been done in the past augurs well for future 
possibilities, and even so cautious and competent a judge 
of such matters as Sir John Simon arrives at a hopeful 
conclusion after a careful historical survey of the past 
history of sanitary reform, so that in pronouncing his 
sursum corda, he adds : " My thankfulness is not more 
for the great interpreters of nature than for the men 
who in nearer and more distinctive senses have been 
the organizers of help for their kind, and have made 
human sympathy a power in politics." 

Among such men Charles Kingsley deserves a dis- 
tinguished place. 



The professorial career of Kingsley was cut short at 
Queen's College for Ladies, Harley Street, to which he 
was appointed on May 13th, 1848, and which he re- 
luctantly resigned through ill-health in the spring of 
1849. At Cambridge, where he held the Professorship 
of Modern History from 1860 to 1869, he never felt 
quite at ease, for both his unexpected appointment 
and his work during the tenure of his office, as 
Professor of Modern History, were made subject to 
sharp criticisms, both within and outside the University. 
Kingsley was too sensitive to bear these persistent 
attacks with even-minded indifference, and too sensible 
of his own deficiencies to regard them as entirely 
groundless. Nevertheless, in his capacity as a lecturer 
to young people of both sexes he exercised a potent 
influence in helping to form opinions on historical, 
moral, and social questions in his hearers and pupils 
which have borne fruit since. Both in the Ladies' 
College and at Cambridge, though in the first he still 


was in the stage of youthful effervescence, whereas in the 
latter he had passed into that of ripened manhood, he 
tried and succeeded in stimulating and directing the ap- 
pointed studies with a constant view to the social well- 
being of the nation. It was but natural that at Queen's 
College he should dwell chiefly on woman's sphere 
in the social system, whilst at Cambridge he would 
draw attention to the social lessons taught by history. 
Happily, his inaugural lectures in both places are avail- 
able in a published form, so as to enable us to form an 
opinion on his collegiate work in this respect, and in 
them we have the pith and marrow of his teaching, his 
views on the relation of culture to social duty. These 
lectures should, however, be read in conjunction with 
some of his historical and general lectures and essays 
on sanitary and social questions delivered at the Royal 
Institution in London, the- Philosophical Institution at 
Edinburgh, and other localities, for in them too he 
speaks as it were ex cathedra. They throw light on 
each other, and when taken together show more ade- 
quately than taken separately the balance and equipoise 
of Kingsley's mind, which some are inclined to give him 
little credit for. Note, for example, his strictures on 
the individualizing power which led to social dissolu- 
tion in Alexandria during the Ptolemaic era, contained 
in his lectures on Neo-Platonism, and compare this 
with his qualified praise on the great work of the 
French Revolution in claiming the rights of a "God- 
given individuality," declaring, as he puts it, as 
Christianity had done eighteen centuries before, that 


" man is not the puppet of institutions " ; and compare 
this again with his statements on the evil effects of 
excessive individualism, on which we have dwelt already, 
as the abuse of this divine right of personal freedom and 
responsibility ; and from this comparative view on one 
single subject we may see how complete was Kingsley's 
grasp, though each taken singly would expose him to 
the charge of one-sidedness. 

The two inaugural addresses at Queen's College are 
full of happy remarks on health and education, on 
woman's mission as a helpmate to man in the salvation 
of body and soul. In the introduction to his lecture 
on English Composition, written about the same time, 
he shows his lady pupils that the way to work out 
their great destiny is to educate themselves, since 
" woman is by her sex an educator," employed in the 
training of children ; and so he concludes his lecture by 
reminding them " that it is the primary idea of this 
College to vindicate women's right to an education in 
all points equal to that of men ; the difference between 
them being determined not by any fancied inferiority 
of mind, but simply by the distinct offices and character 
of the sexes." 

So, again, at the commencement of his introduction 
to the study of English Literature, which also formed 
part of his teaching as lecturer at Queen's College, he 
expresses a fervent hope " that if this Institution shall 
prove, as I pray God it may, a centre of female education 
worthy of the wants of the coming age, the method and 
practice of the College will be developing, as years bring 



experience, a wider eye-range, till we become truly able 
to teach the English woman of the nineteenth century 
to bear her part in an era which, as I believe, more 
and more bids fair to eclipse, in faith and in art, in 
science and in polity, any and every period of glory 
which Christendom has yet beheld." 

And since knowledge puffeth up and charity edifieth, 
he reminds his female audience that it is woman's 
vocation to become " the priestess of Charity," that it 
should be " one of the highest aims of woman to preach 
charity, love, and brotherhood ; but in this nineteenth 
century, hunting everywhere for law and organization, 
refusing loyalty to anything which cannot range itself 
under its theories, she will never get a hearing till her 
knowledge of the past becomes more organized and 
methodic." Thus he concludes, in a fine peroration 
which deserves to be transcribed in full, since it gives 
an eminently sane and forceful view of woman's destiny, 
fairly comparing with the best that has been written on 
this subject, even by the greatest master of style — we 
refer to the author of Sesame and Lilies and Ethics of the 
Dust. Speaking of the purpose of the College, he says — 

" Our teaching must be no sexless, heartless abstraction. 
We must try to make all which we tell them bear on the 
great purpose of unfolding to woman her one calling in all 
ages — her especial calling in this one. We must incite them 
to realize the chivalrous belief of our old forefathers amongst 
their Saxon forests, that something divine dwelt in the 
counsels of woman ; but, on the other hand, we must con- 
tinually remind them that they will attain that divine 
instinct, not by renouncing their sex, but by fulfilling it ; 


by becoming true women, and not bad imitations of men ; 
by educating their heads for the sake of their hearts, not 
their hearts for the sake of their heads ; by claiming woman's 
divine vocation as the priestess of purity, of beauty, and of 
love ; by educating themselves to become, with God's blessing, 
worthy wives and mothers of a mighty nation of workers, in 
an age when the voice of the ever-working God is proclaim- 
ing through the thunder of falling dynasties and crumbling 
idols : ' He that will not work, neither shall he eat.' " 

"When Kingsley was compelled to give up his lecture- 
ship at the College, he writes to his successor in office, 
" Don't be afraid of talking about marriage. We must 
be real and daring at Queen's College, or nowhere;" 
which was evidently meant as a hint, which at this 
time he thought fit to drop on all occasions, that 
" marriage is an honourable estate," not only as against 
the old and modern ascetics, as he does in the Saint's 
Tragedy, but also as against the fanatics of female 
education and idol- worshippers of art and culture, to 
declare once and for all, as Ruskin did, that education 
does not mean learned prudery or pharisaic pride in 
mental superiority, but is to be " enterprized," like 
marriage, not for the purposes of individual self-exalt- 
ation, but as a means of going on to perfection in the 
family or social unit, as the first step in the Avork of per- 
fecting society as a whole. " The question of the better 
or worse education of women," he says in his lecture on 
"Thrift," delivered at Winchester in 1869, "is one far 
too important for vague sentiment, wild aspirations, or 
Utopian dreams." And further on, speaking of the 


effects of education on female character and habits, he 
says to the parents of women — 

" If any parents wish then daughter to succumb at least 
to some quackery or superstition, whether calling itself 
scientific or religious — and there are many of both just now 
— they cannot more certainly effect then purpose than by 
allowing her to grow up ignorant, frivolous, luxurious, or 
vain ; with her emotions excited, but not satisfied, by the 
reading of foolish and even immoral novels . . . the im- 
mortal spirit, finding no healthy satisfaction for its highest 
aspiration, is but too likely to betake itself to an unhealthy 
and exciting superstition. Ashamed of its own long self- 
indulgence, it is but too likely to flee from itself into a 
morbid asceticism . . . never having been taught to guide 
and teach itself, it is but too likely to deliver itself to the 
guidance and teaching of those who, whether they be quacks 
or fanatics, look on uneducated women as their natural 

So, too, speaking on technical education, which has 
made of late such important strides in the direction 
indicated by Charles Kingsley, he expresses an intention 
of " restoring woman to her natural share in that sacred 
office of healer, which she held in the Middle Ages, and 
from which she was thrust out during the sixteenth 
century. 1 ' 

In the inaugural address to the study of English 
literature, he had spoken of History as a subject " most 
adapted to the mind of woman," because of the personal 
interest attaching to the men and women of whom 
history treats ; " the living human souls of English men 
and English women," and the interest in mankind, 
simply as mankind, which historical studies must have 


for woman, " with her blessed faculty of sympathy, that 
pure and tender heart of flesh, which teaches her al- 
ways to find her highest interest in mankind, to see the 
Divine most completely in the human ... to see, and 
truly, in the most common tale of village love and 
sorrow, a mystery deeper and more Divine than lies in 
all the theories of politicians, or the fixed ideas of the 

So, too, when appointed to the chair of Modern 
History in Cambridge, he still adhered to this method 
of directing the historical studies in his pupils. History 
was but his text, his chief aim was that of the teacher 
and preacher, and as an eloquent interpreter of the 
purposes of history before an audience of young men, 
to whom history is but too often a mere succession of 
events to be learnt by heart, and to be ready for periodical 
examinations, he achieved what he wished to achieve. 1 
Accordingly, we find him saying in his inaugural 
lecture on " the Limits of Exact Science as applied to 
History," which appears as an appendix in the later 
edition of the Roman and the Teuton, that, as he is 
the greatest statesman who makes history because he 
understands men, so he is the true student of history 
who studies it because of, and only because of, the human 
interest in it. 

1 See F. Max Miiller, Preface to Tlie Roman and the Teuton, a 
series of lectures delivered before the University of Cambridge by- 
Charles Kingsley, p. xii. This really is an apology on the part of 
the Oxford Professor, of his friend, bearing reference to the attacks 
of professed historians on Kingsley's want of accuracy and 


" Names, dates, genealogies, geographical details, cos- 
tumes, fashions, manners, crabbed scraps of old law, which 
you used, perhaps, to read up and forget again, because 
they were not rooted, but stuck into your brain as pins are 
into a pincushion, to fall out at the first shake — all these 
you will remember, because they will arrange and centralize 
themselves around the central human figure. . . . 

" Without doubt history obeys, and always has obeyed 
in the long run, certain laws. But those laws assert them- 
selves, and are to be discovered not in things, but in 
persons .... though the rapid progress of Science is 
tempting us to look at human beings rather as things than 
as persons." 

Thus, he would wish them to take the Roman's motto 
for their own : Homo sum, nil Jiumani a me alienum 

) It is interesting to follow Kingsley, who was both a 
(scientific and a literary man, in tracing the connection 
between physical and moral or historical science, in 
showing under what limitations history may be admitted 
into what he calls elsewhere the "Choir of Sister 
Sciences." In drawing the line of demarcation be- 
tween the laws which govern natural phenomena and 
human actions, he picks out an example in point which 
is specially interesting in relation to the subject of this 
volume, and to the economic controversies connected 
with it. He speaks of the error of the early or laissez- 
faire school of political economy. 

" It was too much inclined to say to men, ' You are the 
puppets of certain natural laws ' ... no less certainly was 
the same blame to be attached to the French Socialist 
school . . . namely, that man was the creation of circum- 


stances ; and denied him just as much as its antagonist the 
possession of free will, or at least the right to use free will 
on a large scale. . . . Both of them erred, surely, in ignoring 
that self-arbitrating power of man, by which he can, for 
good or for evil, rebel against and conquer circumstance." 

He objects to the interpretation, therefore, of "moral 
phenomena by physical, or at least economic laws"; 
as a believer in the " self-determining power of the 
Individual," he holds that the inventive reason of 
man has been in all ages interfering with anything like 
an inevitable sequence or orderly progress of humanity. 

His opinion as aj^plied to this particular case is now 
accepted by nearly all the modern representatives of 
political economy and scientific socialism. Whether 
his argument applied universally, as against the opposite 
school of thinkers, will hold good, is another question. 
The preponderating influence of genius, and incalcul- 
able aberrations of the unreasoning multitude, as well 
as the unforeseen disturbances in the regular course of 
human action caused by monsters of virtue or of vice, 
make undoubtedly against the " regular sequence in 
human progress." There are things, as he shows with 
great force, which make it difficult to calculate before- 
hand the " effect of inevitable laws on human conduct " ; 
there is, as he quotes from Goethe, in human nature a 
demoniac element defying all law and all induction. 

Still it is questionable whether he gives here a 
complete reply to such arguments as those advanced by 
the late Professor Clifford, in some well-known Essays, 
or those underlying the philosophy of George Eliot's 


novels on the close correspondence of the physical and 
moral laws of our being. We take it that Kingsley 
did not quite understand the terms of the controversy. 
All that scientific interpreters of human action mean 
is the existence of necessary laws of conduct, as sure 
and unfailing as those which prevail in the physical 
world ; and even Locke, in his work on the Human Under- 
standing, gives a hint of the possibility of knowing at 
some future date those moral laws of cause and effect 
which would enable us beforehand to calculate events 
in future history, though with our present limited 
knowledge these do defy "exact computation." But 
Kingsley was right in pointing out the danger of 
identifying physical and moral laws, ajDart from tracing 
analogies between them, as tending to weaken the force 
of the latter, since a materialistic conception of the laws 
which govern human conduct acts as a moral solvent, and 
must of necessity retard man's spiritual development. 
Also in taking up the spiritual, as distinguished from the 
mechanical view of social progress, he comes to a right 
conclusion, though by a circuitous route of reasoning : 
" If there be an order, or progress, it must be moral ; 
lit for the guidance of moral beings; limited by the 
obedience which those moral beings pay to what they 
know." To this his opponents could not take ex- 
ception. But when he says, " man can break the laws 
of his own being, whether physical, intellectual, or 
moral," and on it founds his argument against necessary 
laws, they would retort, and with a fair show of reason, 
" Yes, and get broken on the wheels of natural necessity, 


which ever revolve in the same round of cause and 
effect, whether you call it natural or supernatural law." 

Both the subject and intention of this inaugural 
lecture, and the academical career of which it formed 
the commencement, suggest a comparison with one 
whose character and personal history were singularly 
like that of Charles Kingsley ; we speak of Frederick 
Ozanam, sometime Professor of the Sorbonne, who, 
though a layman, made it the chief object of his life 
to defend Christianity against Scepticism, and to 
vindicate in the Professor's chair the spiritual as 
against the materialistic view of history. He too, like 
Kingsley, tried hard to impress the religious world 
with a sense of the importance of the social question, 
and its solution from the Christian standpoint. In his 
devotion to science, and the unrivalled power he 
possessed in attracting the young ; in his belief in the 
sacred mission of art, as well as in the intensity of 
his own faith, and the corresponding power of raising it 
in others, he was the counterpart of Charles' Kingsley. 
Both were firm believers in the power of Christianity 
to effect a social palingenesis. They were contempor- 
aries, Ozanam being Kingsley's senior by about six years. 
Both men also resembled each other in this, that they 
had their moments of weariness and decouragement, which 
seems to be a peculiar trait of highly sensitive natures. 

Ozanam, like Kingsley, became at an early age the 
recognized mouthpiece of the Christian party, and by his 
impassioned and sympathetic eloquence won brilliant 
triumphs in debate. Like the young law-students who 


followed the lead of Maurice, a band of young French- 
men with similar aims and aspirations gathered round 
M. Bailly, and followed his advice to become the medium 
of moral assistance and administration of physical 
comforts to the poor of given localities; and out of 
this sprang the powerful Society of St. Vincent de 
Paul. Each member had a poor family to look 
after ; they met, like the band of Christian Socialists in 
the house of Maurice, every week to report their ex- 
periences, discuss the wants of their prottgis, and the 
means of relieving them. 1 Moreover, the relation of 
Ozanam to the Socialists of France was not unlike that 
of Kingsley towards the wilder sort of Chartists. " Free- 
masonry," says Ozanam, and he speaks here as a devout 
Catholic in the south of Europe, " and Socialism trade 
upon the misery and the angry passions of these suffer- 
ing multitudes, and God alone knows what the future has 
in store for us if Catholic charity does not interfere in 
time to arrest the servile war that is at our gates." 
"Here are now (in 1840) 2000 young men enrolled in 
this peaceful crusade of charity . . . giving everywhere 
the password, reconciliation and, love." 

It was the aim of both to " rehabilitate Christianity " 
as the poor man's religion and the working-man's 
friend, and both dwell, therefore, in their University 
lectures by way of preference — Ozanam in a more 
comprehensive manner than Kingsley — on the relation 

1 See an interesting memoir of Frederick Ozanam, his Life and 
his Works, by Kathleen O'Meara (Grace Ramsay), with a Preface 
by Cardinal Manning, 1878, pp. 79 and seq. 


of Christianity to paganism, and the regenerative in- 
fluence of Christianity socially in the early centuries 
of our era ; and this with its bearing on present social 
difficulties. It is in 1848 that Ozanam thus speaks on 
the eve of the " violent shock " which perturbed England 
as well as France, and we hear almost the voice of 
Kingsley in what he says — "It is a social question; do 
away with misery, Christianize the people, and you will 
make an end of revolutions." The Ere Nouvelle took 
in France the place of Politics for the People in England ; 
it was founded by Ozanam, and there are in it passages 
from Ozanam's pen describing the haunts of the poorer 
working-people in Paris, which bear a striking resem- 
blance to similar descriptions in Alton Locke. 

Like Kingsley, Ozanam belonged to the broader 
school of religious thinkers and workers, who endeavour 
to attract by affection rather than to compel by author- 
ity. He bewailed the extreme Ultramontane tendencies 
of the school of De Maistre, represented in the Univers, 
which only alienated the people in presenting the 
Church and Christianity in their most repulsive aspects. 
The aim of his own school, that of Chateaubriand, 
Gerbet, and Lacordaire, was like that to which in this 
country Kingsley belonged : " to search out all the 
secret fibres of the human heart that can attach it to 
Christianity, awakening in it the love of the true, the 
good, and the beautiful, and then showing it in revealed 
faith the ideal of those three things to which every soul 
aspires. Its mission is to bring back those who have 
gone astray, and to increase the number of Christians." 


In the same way Kingsley showed indirectly in his 
lectures on Neo-Platonism that the secret of its failure, 
and the success of Christianity as a popular philosophy 
for all, consisted in this, that " there was a truly practical 
human element here in Christian teaching, purely 
ethical and metaphysical, and yet palpable to the simplest 
and the lovjest, which gave to it a regenerating force 
which the highest efforts of Neo-Platonisrn could never 
attain." And this because the latter "refused to ac- 
knowledge a common Divine nature with the degraded 
man." Hence the "Alexandrian impotence for any 
practical and social purposes." 

When in London during the Exhibition in 1851, 

Ozanam remarks on the wide gulf he observes to exist 

here between rich and poor ; and he says, referring to 

this strange display of the extremes of wealth and 

poverty — " It looks to me like a seal of reprobation on 

their riches that they do not serve to ameliorate the lot 

of humanity — the lot, that is, of the greater number — 

and that the most opulent city in the world is also that 

which treats its poor most harshly." There is no need 

after all that has been said in this volume to quote 

passages from Kingsley of a similar nature. Enough 

has been said in drawing this pai-allel, which has an 

interest of its own, but serves more especially to bring 

out more clearly by way of comparison and contrast 

the characteristic traits of Charles Kingsley. 1 But in 

1 We may be permitted to refer here to an article originally- 
published in the Contemporary Review, and afterwards re- 
published in the author's work on Christian Socalism, on 
" Lamennais and Kingsley, a comparison and a contrast," 


connection with the subject immediately before us in 
this chapter, we cannot avoid showing how both men, 
and for the reasons given already, were attracted to the 
same historical period in the selection of a subject for 
their academical lectures, because it afforded an oppor- 
tunity for showing, as we said, the power of Christianity 
as a socializing influence, and its power for raising a 
society which was " expiring of over-luxury and wealth," 
and " its own corrupt excesses." From this they deduced 
the theorem that the same Christianity can save, too, 
our modern society. Ozanam, who " lived in the Middle 
Ages," takes for his watchword Passons aux Barbaras ! 
by which he meant the Germanic hordes, who after 
overrunning the Roman Empire were converted to 
Christianity. So far he and Kingsley are wide 
apart. But when we are told by Ozanam's biographer 
that his idea was " that religion could constitute this 
cohesive element in the State, that the Church would 
create the bond of unity, which would enable society to 
govern itself," we see that he was not so far apart from 
Kingsley's standpoint as might be imagined from the 
nature of the case. And in that portion of the volume 
on The Roman and the Teuton in which Kingsley dwells 
on the civilizing and organizing and colonizing work of 
the medieval Church and monastic institutions, he is no 
less eloquent than his French neighbour, and no less 
ready than he to draw a lesson from it, that as " in the 
Middle Ages the masses rose by religion," so now the 
only hope of raising them permanently is through the 
power of Christianity. 


The want of accuracy, and other faults of style and 
treatment in these Cambridge lectures have been made 
much of — too much we think — by Kingsley's severe 
critics. We need not dwell on this unpleasant subject 
here. Admitting the facts with some of Kingsley's most 
devoted friends, accepting his own self-depreciating 
remarks on his shortcomings in historical scholarship, 
we cannot help thinking that he was hardly dealt with. 
To him may be applied what he says in one of his lectures 
on the Ancien Regime (1869) — " Better for his race, and 
better, I believe, in the sight of God, the confusions 
and mistakes of that one sincere brave man, than the 
second-hand, cowardly correctness of all the thousand." 

The great lesson Kingsley tried to impress on his 
hearers in the crowded lecture-room at Cambridge was 
the same as that w r hich Ozanam, placed in a similar 
position, and as unfairly criticized at times by opponents, 
tried to convey to his pupils at the Sorbonne, that the 
future welfare of society depends on a new outburst of 
the latent forces of Christ's religion. 

We have been informed by some who attended the 
Cambridge lectures, that in them there was little of 
social teaching, but those who have told us so 
attended only a few of these lectures. Every one who 
has taught in lecture-rooms or class-rooms, unless he 
is addicted to the vicious and wooden system of 
slavishly adhering to his manuscript or notes, knows 
how casual remarks, incidental thoughts, the result of 
sudden inspiration, come to the lecturer's lips, and are 
given utterance to and find lodgment in the hearer's 


memory. Certain it is that Kingsley stirred up the 
interest of young men, and in some way did divert 
their minds to social questions of the hour, as in the 
case of one whose letter Mrs. Kingsley quotes in the 
Memoirs of her husband, as one out of many express- 
ing the general regret of the undergraduates when 
Kingsley left Cambridge — 

"Speaking from the experience of these ten years, there 
is no comparison between our state of thought now and 
that of 1860 — chiefly if not entirely due to you. We are 
learning, I trust, to look very differently at our relations 
to our fellow-men, at those social duties which seldom appear 
important to young men in our position, until we come 
across a mind like yours to guide us." 

He once told a Fellow of the college with whom he was 
pacing round the cloisters in Neville's Court in Trinity 
after dinner, that all along he had been disappointed 
with his Cambridge residence and professorial successes, 
and, adds our informant, to whom the words were 
addressed, when Kingsley had lost confidence in him- 
self owing to so much adverse criticism, which he was 
too modest to call in question, he lost the power 
of inspiring it in others. This may well be, and 
probably for this reason he left the University without 
resentment indeed, for there was no guile in him, and 
he was incapable of malignity, but also, we fear, with- 
out happy reminiscences. His gallant struggle to 
introduce a more humane study of history in Cambridge 
was a comparative failure. But, as he says somewhere 
in his historical studies, " no struggle after a noble aim, 
however confused or fantastic, is ever in vain." 



We have now followed Kingsley through the greater 
part of his life, carefully keeping within the limits of 
the task undertaken in this volume, and that is to pre- 
sent him simply in the light of the social and sanitary 
reformer. We have shown how he was the man needed 
for the times, equipped by nature and prepared by 
circumstances and training for his work, and how ably 
and faithfully from first to last he did it, and this in 
the face of numerous obstacles, and at times under a 
deep sense of discouraging disappointment. We have 
seen him as the country parson practically carrying out 
those principles of social beneficence and self-devoted 
service to others which are so eloquently set forth in 
the Saint's Tragedy and his two social novels. We 
have seen him given up later on to the work of sanitary 
reform, and last of all as the Cambridge Professor, still 
adhering in the main to those social theories with which 
his name was identified in early life. Little remains to 
be said by way of summarizing his achievements, nor 


is it an easy task to form a correct estimate of an 
influence so varied as that which Kingsley exercised 
over the men and women of his day, an influence which, 
though real and extensive, was scarcely tangible enough 
to enable us to calculate its exact value and significance. 
Moreover, as we have taken pains at the close of each 
chapter to show what has been clone since his day in 
the direction marked out by him, it is not needful here 
to dwell on these effects of his pioneering work. But 
the indirect influences of such a man are much greater 
than those which are patent to the eye. For Kingsley 
had a remarkable power over others, and much that 
they did was the result of his promptings and the effect 
of his propelling power, the magic force of his person- 
ality communicated to those who were under its spell. 
And this should not be left out in estimating the effect 
of all he was, and said, and did. But we might as well 
try to calculate with mathematical precision the circum- 
ference of all the circles formed at the most distant 
shores of the ocean by the ripples produced in the throw 
of stones by one standing at the opposite shore, and 
standing, as in this case, at some considerable distance 
from us both in time and space. Perhaps the best 
summary of Kingsley 's varied gifts and graces, and the 
use he made of them, is that given by Professor Max 
Miiller in the preface to the lectures on the Roman and 
the Teuton to which we have drawn attention already. 
" As one looked on that marble statue which only some 
weeks ago had so warmly pressed one's hand, his whole 
life flashed through one's thoughts. One remembered 



the young curate and the Saint's Tragedy ; the Chartist 
parson and Alton Locke ; the happy poet and the sands 
of Dee ; the brilliant novel-writer and Hypatia and 
Westward Ho ! the Rector of Eversley and his village 
sermons ; the beloved Professor at Cambridge, the busy 
Canon of Chester, the powerful preacher in Westminster 
Abbey. One thought of him by the Berkshire chalk- 
streams and on the Devonshire coast, watching the 
beauty and wisdom of Nature, reading her solemn 
lessons, chuckling too over her inimitable fun. One saw 
him in town alleys, preaching the gospel of godliness 
and cleanliness while smoking his pipe with soldiers 
and navvies. One heard him in drawing-rooms, listened 
to with patient silence, till one of his vigorous or quaint 
speeches bounded forth, never to be forgotten. How 
children delighted in him ! How young wild men 
believed in him, and obeyed him too ! How women 
were captivated by his chivalry, older men by his 
genuine humility and sympathy ! All that was now 
passing away — was gone. But as one looked on him 
for the last time on earth, one felt that greater than the 
curate, the poet, the professor, the canon had been the 
man himself, with his warm heart, his honest purposes, 
his trust in his friends, his readiness to spend himself, 
his chivalry and humility, worthy of a better age. Of 
all this the world knew little, yet few men excited 
wider and stronger sympathies." 

Perhaps among these, one of the last-mentioned, his 
chivalry, was the most noteworthy, and Kingsley's 
insistence on the truth that, contrary to the well-known 


dictum of Burke, the age of chivalry is not past. 
" Some say," he preached in the chapel of Windsor 
Castle, " that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit 
of Romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past 
so long as there is a wrong left unredressed on earth, or 
a man or woman left to say, ' I will redress that wrong, 
or spend my life in the attempt.' The age of chivalry 
is never past, so long as we have faith enough to say, 
' God will help me to redress that wrong, or if not me, 
He will help those that come after me, for His eternal 
will is to overcome evil with good.' " And in his own 
life he proved, as his wife has told us in a passage of 
touching pathos, that the age of chivalry has not passed 
away for ever, for " Charles Kingsley fulfilled the ideal 
of ' a most true and perfect knight ' to the one woman 
blest with that love in time and to eternity." On 
account of this trait mainly, we venture to think, in his 
charming personality, Kingsley, as a man, as a minister, 
and as a man of letters, was so eminently successful in 
his social and sanitary mission. His modest manliness 
proved an irresistible attraction to all classes, to men 
of varied views, attainments, prepossessions, and even 
prejudices, and women were won over to the cause he 
advocated with so much genuine tenderness and heart- 
felt sympathy. His thoroughness, a rare quality at all 
times, not least so in his own day, imparted to all he 
said and did a living force which told powerfully on 
others. We come across a curious illustration of this 
in a letter of George Eliot, in which she says to Sarah 
Hennell (Nov. 26th, 18G2)— 


"You will be interested to know that there is a new 
muster of scientific and philosophic men lately established, 
for the sake of bringing people who care to know and speak 
the truth as well as they can, into regular communication. 
. . . The plan is to meet and dine moderately and cheaply, 
and no one is to be admitted who is not • thorough ' in the 
sense of being free from the suspicion of temporizing and 
professing opinions on official grounds. The plan was 
started at Cambridge. Mr. Huxley is president, and 
Charles Kingsley is vice. . . . Mr. Robert Chambers 
(who lives in London now) is very warm about the matter. 
Mr. Spencer, too, is a member." x 

How many clergymen at that date could be admitted 
on such conditions to such a club ? — how many still in 
our own ? 

As a minister, Kingsley's power of persuasiveness 
again chiefly lay in the earnestness of his tone, the 
spiritual force of a man who deeply felt all he said and 
more, where every syllable was felt to be the outcome 
of a highly- wrought and finely-moulded mind ; it was 
the human element in him which endeared him to all 
hearts, as it was the forcefulness of his character which 
retained the esteem of those he had won by his affection. 
For this reason he never felt quite at home as a 
preacher in a university church. Here he never could 
get near enough to his hearers. In his village church 
and in Westminster Abbey he felt at home, for in both 
he could identify himself with his audience. Every- 
body loved him in his own parish, and all who cared 
for his preaching in London came to the Abbey to hear 

1 George Eliot's Life, by J. W. Cross, vol. ii. pp. 342. 343. 


him if they could. In both places his sensitive nature 
was upheld by the responsive feeling of the audience ; 
he was en rapport with his hearers. He was somehow 
conscious of the absence of this receptiveness in Cam- 
bridge. And this produced awkwardness, inward hesi- 
tation, and a corresponding lack of force. So, too, since 
the effect of spiritual force is in a given ratio to the 
effort expended according to the laws of conservation 
of spiritual energy, his work done so faithfully became 
in those who knew how to appreciate it a stored-up 
energy for good, an energy the effects of which are still 
felt in our own day. — 

As a man of letters he was not so much a " master 
of sentences," if by this be meant correctness of style 
and calm stateliness of diction, as he was able to express 
what he had to say with a racy, vigorous, " nervous grasp 
of words," introducing colloquialisms, and even slang 
when it served his purpose. There are occasional bursts 
of eloquence full of sublimity and pathos, and these are 
to be found by the side of quaint humorisms and 
grotesque turns of thought and expression, which 
produce the sense of unevenness in his best writings, 
and more so in the writings connected with our subject, 
for here he wrote and spoke over-mastered by his own 
emotions, which are too strong for controlled utterance. 
'• With Kingsley," says Max Miiller, " his life and his 
work were one. All he wrote was meant for the day he 
wrote it. He did his best at the time and for the time." 
That is, he wrote not for posterity, and, unless we are 
mistaken, for this very reason the immediate effect of 


his words was so great, and gave such a powerful 
impact to enthusiasms in young spirits, who were 
fascinated by his simple grandeur and naturalness. In 
this way he stirred up high-minded men and women of 
h's own day, and did much through them for intellectual 
and moral culture. Yet even among the best of these 
there would be some who felt as did George Eliot when 
she says, referring to Kingsley in one of her letters 
(we quote from memory) — " If you love him as much 
as I do, and are riled as much as I am by his faults." 
But what are minor faults, which offend the fastidious 
taste of the literary epicure, compared with the real 
force which made one of the wisest and most refined 
scholars of that day to say of him that, as he " walked 
amongst ordinary men," his walk " was often as of a 
waker amongst drowsy sleepers, as a watchful sentinel 
in advance of the slumbering host " ? A man of this 
sort struggling for utterance in the imminence of 
danger could not stay to pick his words. He could 
cry aloud and spare not, without giving heed to the 
tuneful modulations of his voice, or the measured 
cadence of his sentences. Hail he done so, the dreamers 
would not have been awakened, as others, indeed, there 
were ready to lull them by their lullabies into pleasant 
optimistic dreams. 

'/ If we are asked what was the sum and substance of 
Kingsley's social teaching, we are inclined to reply in 
the happy phrase of a lady correspondent, speaking of 
Socialism, " What a curious copy and at the same time 
reversal of Christianity Socialism is ! " It was the great 


aim of Kingsley to show how far Socialism could, and 
how far it could not, be reconciled with Christianity ; 
how far they go together, and how far they were utterly 
at issue. Few in his day, and not too many religious 
and irreligious people in our own, taking an interest in 
this question, were as clear-sighted as he was, and as 
plain-spoken in pointing out the true and the false, 
the attainable and the impossible, in the vague social 
aspirations of the time, and in drawing a marked 
distinction between the right and the wrong way, each 
promising to lead to the goal. One of the greatest 
services he rendered to his age was this, that he made 
plain-speaking on such subjects popular, and. so inspired 
more timid Churchmen to have the courage of their 
opinions then, and since, and to speak out their minds 
without fear or favour, when by dint of intellectual 
hardihood they had tackled with the social problem 
honestly. Such plainness of speech, vigorous in pro- 
portion to its colloquial simplicity, as in his tract on 
betting and gambling, or in his story Westward Eo ! 
could gain the ear of those for whom it was intended 
by reason of its healthy masculine tone, which strikes 
the ear of the young as a familiar sound. And more 
or less this is true of most of his writings ; hence their 
popularity among young readers, and their lasting effect 
for good in fostering in them what virtue they possess, 
and guarding them from harm and vices such as they 
were prone to by reason of their youth. The young 
officer and the young squire could read or listen to 
Kingsley, but lent a deaf ear to all the dull discourses 


of clerical pedants and respectable nonentities, who 
never depart a hair-breadth from the conventional 
tone whether in logic or in language, because of their 
bomt attachment to systematic artificiality. There are 
the " spasmodic jerks and joltings as the steam-engine 
fights its way, with many an impatient snort, to its 
destination," as a contemporary critic complains, speak- 
ing of Kingsley's style, but there is also what the young 
call " go " in him. Even in the lecture-room, says the 
same critic, the extravagance of thought and language 
breaks out, "as if the shooting-jacket were peeping out 
under the Professor's gown ; the exuberance of animal 
spirits which explodes in slang, his fearless champion- 
ship of what he believes to be truth, are the character- 
istics of one who retains the freshness and elasticity of 
mind which others have left behind them." And for 
this very reason, we reply, he was such an eminent 
Mentor of youths. 

Kingsley was not exactly the founder of a new school, 
but he helped in forming a new school of the Prophets, 
a new order of truth-seeking and truth-speaking young 
clerics, whose distinctive characteristic is clergy-man- 
liness, who in directness, spontaneity, and earnest 
simplicity which avoids the sanctimonious tone, but 
looks to true sanctity as the aim of all Christian 
teaching and life, are more or less influenced by the 
example of what Sir Mount Stuart E. Grant Duff calls 
the ojpenairness in the tone and teaching of Charles 
Kingsley. These gradually displace the popular parson 
of the last generation. But the merit does not consist 


only in helping to reproduce those of his traits which 
are thought worthy of imitation in others, but also, as 
the critic quoted above puts it fairly enough — and 
coming as it does from an impartial contemporary it 
carries great weight — 

" If we look deeper we see in him a man fearless in 
asserting the truth, as he conceives it, for its own sake, 
and at all hazards, without being the slave of party ; 
who in an age of fastidious luxury not merely writes and 
talks about the poor, but shows that he indeed feels with 
them and for them ; who keeps a practical aim in view, 
while many lose themselves in impracticable doubts and 
purposeless questionings ; and who, while the world at 
large is more prone than ever to bow the knee to 
intellectual ability, is not ashamed to pay the honour 
which they deserve to obscure labourers in the cause of 
duty, rather than those who stand above their fellows 
in the pride of knowledge and refinement. He sends 
men back from unprofitable attempts to grasp what is 
beyond their reach, to see that religion is really, as our 
catechism teaches, the mainspring of morality, and that 
the creeds of the Church Catholic find their fittest 
counterpart in all that is noblest in man. He reminds 
us that men are most truly 'manly' when they are 
' godly,' that true manliness and true holiness are one. 
An influence like this is especially efficacious among 
young men, whose moral sense revolts from pharisaical 
denunciations of the world as unmixedly evil, and from 
the narrow timidity which, as in the Donatists of old, 
so now in certain quarters, merges Christianity in the 


cry, ' Shall I be saved ? ' They welcome in him a 
thorough Englishman, not exempt indeed from the 
weakness of his nation; an Englishman in politics, 
averse alike to a centralizing Imperialism and to a 
Republicanism equally subversive of domestic life ; an 
Englishman in his religious belief, with nothing of 
Italian sentiment, of German scepticism, or of Calvinistic 
austerity about him, and whose watchword is that of 
our English Prayer-book, 'Fear God, and love your 
neighbour.' " 1 

Such an influence as here described by an inde- 
pendent authority, cannot but be efficacious for good, 
as the writer here quoted loyally acknowledges, and 
the question to be asked in the last place is, How far 
was it lasting ? what will it be in the immediate future ? 
Kingsley was eminently a "prophet of the present." 
He could not say with Carlyle a few days before his 
death, "They call me a great man, but not one 
believes what I told them." It was not true of Carlyle, 
for they would not read his books if they utterty dis- 
believe their contents. For the same reason it may be 
answered that the continued popularity of Kingsley's 
books are in some measure a proof of their vitality as 
a teaching power in the present day. But once more 
to quote Professor Max Miiller, so high an authority, 
who knew Kingsley so well and lived with him on 
terms of intimacy both as a relative and a friend, and 

1 Faith and Philosophy : Essays on some tendencies of the day, 
by the Rev. T. Gregory Smith, late Fellow of Brasenose College, 


to apply what he says of the University lectures to 
Kingsley's writings generally : " They will be valued 
chiefly for the thoughts which they contain, for the 
imagination and eloquence which they display, and 
last, not least, for the sake of the man — a man, it is 
true, of a warm heart rather than of a cold judgment, 
but a man whom for that very reason many admired, 
many loved, many will miss, almost every day of their 

It is because in the words of Kingsley we hear the 
true ring of the human voice, addressed in tenderness 
to human beings like himself in search of a higher 
Human Ideal, that those words will find an echo in all 
human hearts, all at least not utterly void — if such 
there be, which God forbid ! — of such higher individual 
and social aspirations, which to realize, Kingsley spent 
the whole of his life, and into which he threw all the 
strength of his noble soul, and thus " he being dead, yet 


Richard Cloy d- Sons, Limited, London <Ss Bungay. 



This book is due on the last date stamped below, or 

on the date to which renewed. 

Renewed books are subject to immediate recall. 




I J&J 

Prr "D LD 


MAY 21958 


lNov ' 60RT 

rrn 8 1053 G8 



OCT 18 I960 

rCD 111966 

» .- . * 

MAY 91976 



__ _ 

- . 

JAN 2 9 1963 

fifc CIR. FfR 8 3 7979 

LD 21A-50m-8,'57 

General Library 

University of California