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The Best Collection of Thomas Hughes

Alton Locke, Tailor And Poet

Loyola and the Educational System

Tom Brown at Oxford

Tom Brown at Rugby

Tom Brown's School Days

Alton Locke, Tailor And Poet by Rev. Charles Kingsley et al





























































































The tract appended to this preface has been chosen to accompany this reprint of Alton Locke in order to illustrate, from another side, a distinct period in the life of Charles Kingsley, which stands out very much by itself. It may be taken roughly to have extended from 1848 to 1856. It has been thought that they require a preface, and I have undertaken to write it, as one of the few survivors of those who were most intimately associated with the author at the time to which the works refer.

No easy task; for, look at them from what point we will, these years must be allowed to cover an anxious and critical time in modern English history; but, above all, in the history of the working classes. In the first of them the Chartist agitation came to a head and burst, and was followed by the great movement towards association, which, developing in two directions and by two distinct methods--represented respectively by the amalgamated Trades Unions, and Co-operative Societies--has in the intervening years entirely changed the conditions of the labour question in England, and the relations of the working to the upper and middle classes. It is with this, the social and industrial side of the history of those years, that we are mainly concerned here. Charles Kingsley has left other and more important writings of those years. But these are beside our purpose, which is to give some such slight sketch of him as may be possible within the limits of a preface, in the character in which he was first widely known, as the most outspoken and powerful of those who took the side of the labouring classes, at a critical time--the crisis in a word, when they abandoned their old political weapons, for the more potent one of union and association, which has since carried them so far.

To no one of all those to whom his memory is very dear can this seem a superfluous task, for no writer was ever more misunderstood or better abused at the time, and after the lapse of almost a quarter of a century the misunderstanding would seem still to hold its ground. For through all the many notices of him which appeared after his death in last January, there ran the same apologetic tone as to this part of his life's work. While generally, and as a rule cordially, recognizing his merits as an author and a man, the writers seemed to agree in passing lightly over this ground. When it was touched it was in a tone of apology, sometimes tinged with sarcasm, as in the curt notice in the "Times"--"He was understood, to be the Parson Lot of those 'Politics for the People' which made no little noise in their time, and as Parson Lot he declared in burning language that to his mind the fault in the 'People's Charter' was that it did not go nearly far enough." And so the writer turns away, as do most of his brethren, leaving probably some such impression as this on the minds of most of their readers--"Young men of power and genius are apt to start with wild notions. He was no exception. Parson Lot's sayings and doings may well be pardoned for what Charles Kingsley said and did in after years; so let us drop a decent curtain over them, and pass on."

Now, as very nearly a generation has passed since that signature used to appear at the foot of some of the most noble and vigorous writing of our time, readers of to-day are not unlikely to accept this view, and so to find further confirmation and encouragement in the example of Parson Lot for the mischievous and cowardly distrust of anything like enthusiasm amongst young men, already sadly too prevalent in England. If it were only as a protest against this "surtout point de zèle" spirit, against which it was one of Charles Kingsley's chief tasks to fight with all his strength, it is well that the facts should be set right. This done, readers may safely be left to judge what need there is for the apologetic tone in connection with the name, the sayings, and doings of Parson Lot.

My first meeting with him was in the autumn of 1848, at the house of Mr. Maurice, who had lately been appointed Reader of Lincolns Inn. No parochial work is attached to that post, so Mr. Maurice had undertaken the charge of a small district in the parish in which he lived, and had set a number of young men, chiefly students of the Inns of Court who had been attracted by his teaching, to work in it. Once a week, on Monday evenings, they used to meet at his house for tea, when their own work was reported upon and talked over. Suggestions were made and plans considered; and afterwards a chapter of the Bible was read and discussed. Friends and old pupils of Mr. Maurice's, residing in the country, or in distant parts of London, were in the habit of coming occasionally to these meetings, amongst whom was Charles Kingsley. He had been recently appointed Rector of Eversley, and was already well known as the author of The Saint's Tragedy, his first work, which contained the germ of much that he did afterwards.

His poem, and the high regard and admiration which Mr. Maurice had for him, made him a notable figure in that small society, and his presence was always eagerly looked for. What impressed me most about him when we first met was, his affectionate deference to Mr. Maurice, and the vigour and incisiveness of everything he said and did. He had the power of cutting out what he meant in a few clear words, beyond any one I have ever met. The next thing that struck one was the ease with which he could turn from playfulness, or even broad humour, to the deepest earnest. At first I think this startled most persons, until they came to find out the real deep nature of the man; and that his broadest humour had its root in a faith which realized, with extraordinary vividness, the fact that God's Spirit is actively abroad in the world, and that Christ is in every man, and made him hold fast, even in his saddest moments,--and sad moments were not infrequent with him,--the assurance that, in spite of all appearances, the world was going right, and would go right somehow, "Not your way, or my way, but God's way." The contrast of his humility and audacity, of his distrust in himself and confidence in himself, was one of those puzzles which meet us daily in this world of paradox. But both qualities gave him a peculiar power for the work he had to do at that time, with which the name of Parson Lot is associated.

It was at one of these gatherings, towards the end of 1847 or early in 1848, when Kingsley found himself in a minority of one, that he said jokingly, 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 Parson Lot was then and there suggested, and adopted by him, as a familiar nom de plume, He used it from 1848 up to 1856; at first constantly, latterly much more rarely. But the name was chiefly made famous by his writings in "Politics for the People," the "Christian Socialist," and the "Journal of Association," three periodicals which covered the years from '48 to '52; by "Alton Locke"; and by tracts and pamphlets, of which the best known, "Cheap Clothes and Nasty," is now republished.

In order to understand and judge the sayings and writings of Parson Lot fairly, it is necessary to recall the condition of the England of that day. Through the winter of 1847-8, amidst wide-spread distress, the cloud of discontent, of which Chartism was the most violent symptom, had been growing darker and more menacing, while Ireland was only held down by main force. The breaking-out of the revolution on the Continent in February increased the danger. In March there were riots in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, and other large towns. On April 7th, "the Crown and Government Security Bill," commonly called "the Gagging Act," was introduced by the Government, the first reading carried by 265 to 24, and the second a few days later by 452 to 35. On the 10th of April the Government had to fill London with troops, and put the Duke of Wellington in command, who barricaded the bridges and Downing Street, garrisoned the Bank and other public buildings, and closed the Horse Guards.

When the momentary crisis had passed, the old soldier declared in the House of Lords that "no great society had ever suffered as London had during the preceding days," while the Home Secretary telegraphed to all the chief magistrates of the kingdom the joyful news that the peace had been kept in London. In April, the Lord Chancellor, in introducing the Crown and Government Security Bill in the House of Lords, referred to the fact that "meetings were daily held, not only in London, but in most of the manufacturing towns, the avowed object of which was to array the people against the constituted authority of these realms." For months afterwards the Chartist movement, though plainly subsiding, kept the Government in constant anxiety; and again in June, the Bank, the Mint, the Custom House, and other public offices were filled with troops, and the Houses of Parliament were not only garrisoned but provisioned as if for a siege.

From that time, all fear of serious danger passed away. The Chartists were completely discouraged, and their leaders in prison; and the upper and middle classes were recovering rapidly from the alarm which had converted a million of them into special constables, and were beginning to doubt whether the crisis had been so serious after all, whether the disaffection had ever been more than skin deep. At this juncture a series of articles appeared in the Morning Chronicle on "London Labour and the London Poor," which startled the well-to-do classes out of their jubilant and scornful attitude, and disclosed a state of things which made all fair minded people wonder, not that there had been violent speaking and some rioting, but that the metropolis had escaped the scenes which had lately been enacted in Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and other Continental capitals.

It is only by an effort that one can now realize the strain to which the nation was subjected during that winter and spring, and which, of course, tried every individual man also, according to the depth and earnestness of his political and social convictions and sympathies. The group of men who were working under Mr. Maurice were no exceptions to the rule. The work of teaching and visiting was not indeed neglected, but the larger questions which were being so strenuously mooted--the points of the people's charter, the right of public meeting, the attitude of the labouring-class to the other classes--absorbed more and more of their attention. Kingsley was very deeply impressed with the gravity and danger of the crisis--more so, I think, than almost any of his friends; probably because, as a country parson, he was more directly in contact with one class of the poor than any of them. How deeply he felt for the agricultural poor, how faithfully he reflected the passionate and restless sadness of the time, may be read in the pages of "Yeast," which was then coming out in "Fraser." As the winter months went on this sadness increased, and seriously affected his health.

"I have a longing," he wrote to Mr. Ludlow, "to do something--what, God only knows. You say, 'he that believeth will not make haste,' but I think he that believeth must make haste, or get damned with the rest. But I will do anything that anybody likes--I have no confidence in myself or in anything but God. I am not great enough for such times, alas! 'nè pour faire des vers,' as Camille Desmoulins said."

This longing became so strong as the crisis in April approached, that he came to London to see what could be done, and to get help from Mr. Maurice, and those whom he had been used to meet at his house. He found them a divided body. The majority were sworn in as special constables, and several had openly sided with the Chartists; while he himself, with Mr. Maurice and Mr. Ludlow, were unable to take active part with either side. The following extract from a letter to his wife, written on the 9th of April, shows how he was employed during these days, and how he found the work which he was in search of, the first result of which was the publication of "those 'Politics for the People' which made no small noise in their times"--

"April 11th, 1848.--The events of a week have been crowded into a few hours. I was up till four this morning--writing posting placards, under Maurice's auspices, one of which is to be got out to-morrow morning, the rest when we can get money. Could you not beg a few sovereigns somewhere to help these poor wretches to the truest alms?--to words, texts from the Psalms, anything which may keep even one man from cutting his brother's throat to-morrow or Friday? Pray, pray, help us. Maurice has given me a highest proof of confidence. He has taken me to counsel, and we are to have meetings for prayer and study, when I come up to London, and we are to bring out a new set of real "Tracts for the Times," addressed to the higher orders. Maurice is à la hauteur des circonstances--determined to make a decisive move. He says, if the Oxford Tracts did wonders, why should not we? Pray for us. A glorious future is opening, and both Maurice and Ludlow seem to have driven away all my doubts and sorrow, and I see the blue sky again, and my Father's face!"

The arrangements for the publication of "Politics for the People" were soon made; and in one of the earliest numbers, for May, 1848, appeared the paper which furnishes what ground there is for the statement, already quoted, that "he declared, in burning language, that the People's Charter did not go far enough" It was No. 1 of "Parson Lot's Letters to the Chartists." Let us read it with its context.

"I am not one of those who laugh at your petition of the 10th of April: I have no patience with those who do. Suppose there were but 250,000 honest names on that sheet--suppose the Charter itself were all stuff--yet you have still a right to fair play, a patient hearing, an honourable and courteous answer, whichever way it may be. But my only quarrel with the Charter is that it does not go far enough in reform. I want to see you free, but I do not see that what you ask for will give you what you want. 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 mistake 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. The French cry of 'organization of labour' is worth a thousand of it, but yet that does not go to the bottom of the matter by many a mile." And then, after telling how he went to buy a number of the Chartist newspaper, and found it in a shop which sold "flash songsters," "the Swell's Guide," and "dirty milksop French novels," and that these publications, and a work called "The Devil's Pulpit," were puffed in its columns, he goes on, "These are strange times. I thought the devil used to befriend tyrants and oppressors, but he seems to have profited by Burns' advice to 'tak a thought and mend.' I thought the struggling freeman's watchword was: 'God sees my wrongs.' 'He hath taken the matter into His own hands.' 'The poor committeth himself unto Him, for He is the helper of the friendless.' But now the devil seems all at once to have turned philanthropist and patriot, and to intend himself to fight the good cause, against which he has been fighting ever since Adam's time. I don't deny, my friends, it is much cheaper and pleasanter to be reformed by the devil than by God; for God will only reform society on the condition of our reforming every man his own self--while the devil is quite ready to help us to mend the laws and the parliament, earth and heaven, without ever starting such an impertinent and 'personal' request, as that a man should mend himself. That liberty of the subject he will always respect."--"But I say honestly, whomsoever I may offend, the more I have read of your convention speeches and newspaper articles, the more I am convinced that too many of you are trying to do God's work with the devil's tools. What is the use of brilliant language about peace, and the majesty of order, and universal love, though it may all be printed in letters a foot long, when it runs in the same train with ferocity, railing, mad, one-eyed excitement, talking itself into a passion like a street woman? Do you fancy that after a whole column spent in stirring men up to fury, a few twaddling copybook headings about 'the sacred duty of order' will lay the storm again? What spirit is there but the devil's spirit in bloodthirsty threats of revenge?"--"I denounce the weapons which you have been deluded into employing to gain you your rights, and the indecency and profligacy which you are letting be mixed up with them! Will you strengthen and justify your enemies? Will you disgust and cripple your friends? Will you go out of your way to do wrong? When you can be free by fair means will you try foul? When you might keep the name of Liberty as spotless as the Heaven from which she comes, will you defile her with blasphemy, beastliness, and blood? When the cause of the poor is the cause of Almighty God, will you take it out of His hands to entrust it to the devil? These are bitter questions, but as you answer them so will you prosper."

In Letter II. he tells them that if they have followed, a different "Reformer's Guide" from his, it is "mainly the fault of us parsons, who have never told you that the true 'Reformer's Guide,' the true poor man's book, the true 'Voice of God against tyrants, idlers, and humbugs, was the Bible.' The Bible demands for the poor as much, and more, than they demand for themselves; it expresses the deepest yearnings of the poor man's heart far more nobly, more searchingly, more daringly, more eloquently than any modern orator has done. I say, it gives a ray of hope--say rather a certain dawn of a glorious future, such as no universal suffrage, free trade, communism, organization of labour, or any other Morrison's-pill-measure can give--and yet of a future, which will embrace all that is good in these--a future of conscience, of justice, of freedom, when idlers and oppressors shall no more dare to plead parchments and Acts of Parliament for their iniquities. I say the Bible promises this, not in a few places only, but throughout; it is the thought which runs through the whole Bible, justice from God to those whom men oppress, glory from God to those whom men despise. Does that look like the invention of tyrants, and prelates? You may sneer, but give me a fair hearing, and if I do not prove my words, then call me the same hard name which I shall call any man, who having read the Bible, denies that it is the poor man's comfort and the rich man's warning."

In subsequent numbers (as afterwards in the "Christian Socialist," and the "Journal of Association") he dwells in detail on the several popular cries, such as, "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work," illustrating them from the Bible, urging his readers to take it as the true Radical Reformer's Guide, if they were longing for the same thing as he was longing for--to see all humbug, idleness, injustice, swept out of England. His other contributions to these periodicals consisted of some of his best short poems: "The Day of the Lord;" "The Three Fishers;" "Old and New," and others; of a series of Letters on the Frimley murder; of a short story called "The Nun's Pool," and of some most charming articles on the pictures in the National Gallery, and the collections in the British Museum, intended to teach the English people how to use and enjoy their own property.

I think I know every line which was ever published under the signature Parson Lot; and I take it upon myself to say, that there is in all that "burning language" nothing more revolutionary than the extracts given above from his letters to the Chartists.

But, it may be said, apart from his writings, did not Parson Lot declare himself a Chartist in a public meeting in London; and did he not preach in a London pulpit a political sermon, which brought up the incumbent, who had invited him, to protest from the altar against the doctrine which had just been delivered?

Yes! Both statements are true. Here are the facts as to the speech, those as to the sermon I will give in their place. In the early summer of 1848 some of those who felt with C. Kingsley that the "People's Charter" had not had fair play or courteous treatment, and that those who signed it had real wrongs to complain of, put themselves into communication with the leaders, and met and talked with them. At last it seemed that the time was come for some more public meeting, and one was called at the Cranbourn Tavern, over which Mr. Maurice presided. After the president's address several very bitter speeches followed, and a vehement attack was specially directed against the Church and the clergy. The meeting waxed warm, and seemed likely to come to no good, when Kingsley rose, folded his arms across his chest, threw his head back, and began--with the stammer which always came at first when he was much moved, but which fixed every one's attention at once--"I am a Church of England parson"--a long pause--"and a Chartist;" and then he went on to explain how far he thought them right in their claim for a reform of Parliament; how deeply he sympathized with their sense of the injustice of the law as it affected them; how ready he was to help in all ways to get these things set right; and then to denounce their methods, in very much the same terms as I have already quoted from his letters to the Chartists. Probably no one who was present ever heard a speech which told more at the time. I had a singular proof that the effect did not pass away. The most violent speaker on that occasion was one of the staff of the leading Chartist newspaper. I lost sight of him entirely for more than twenty years, and saw him again, a little grey shrivelled man, by Kingsley's side, at the grave of Mr. Maurice, in the cemetery at Hampstead.

The experience of this meeting encouraged its promoters to continue the series, which they did with a success which surprised no one more than themselves. Kingsley's opinion of them may be gathered from the following extract from a letter to his wife:--

"June 4, 1848, Evening.--A few words before bed. I have just come home from the meeting. No one spoke but working men, gentlemen I should call them, in every sense of the term. Even I was perfectly astonished by the courtesy, the reverence to Maurice, who sat there like an Apollo, their eloquence, the brilliant, nervous, well-chosen language, the deep simple earnestness, the rightness and moderation of their thoughts. And these are the Chartists, these are the men who are called fools and knaves--who are refused the rights which are bestowed on every profligate fop.... It is God's cause, fear not He will be with us, and if He is with us, who shall be against us?"

But while he was rapidly winning the confidence of the working classes, he was raising up a host of more or less hostile critics in other quarters by his writings in "Politics for the People," which journal was in the midst of its brief and stormy career. At the end of June, 1848, he writes to Mr. Ludlow, one of the editors--

"I fear my utterances have had a great deal to do with the 'Politics'' unpopularity. I have got worse handled than any of you by poor and rich. There is one comfort, that length of ears is in the donkey species always compensated by toughness of hide. But it is a pleasing prospect for me (if you knew all that has been said and written about Parson Lot), when I look forward and know that my future explosions are likely to become more and more obnoxious to the old gentlemen, who stuff their ears with cotton, and then swear the children are not screaming."

"Politics for the People" was discontinued for want of funds; but its supporters, including all those who were working under Mr. Maurice--who, however much they might differ in opinions, were of one mind as to the danger of the time, and the duty of every man to do his utmost to meet that danger--were bent upon making another effort. In the autumn, Mr. Ludlow, and others of their number who spent the vacation abroad, came back with accounts of the efforts at association which were being made by the workpeople of Paris.

The question of starting such associations in England as the best means of fighting the slop system--which the "Chronicle" was showing to lie at the root of the misery and distress which bred Chartists--was anxiously debated. It was at last resolved to make the effort, and to identify the new journal with the cause of Association, and to publish a set of tracts in connection with it, of which Kingsley undertook to write the first, "Cheap Clothes and Nasty."

So "the Christian Socialist" was started, with Mr. Ludlow for editor, the tracts on Christian Socialism begun under Mr. Maurice's supervision, and the society for promoting working-men's associations was formed out of the body of men who were already working with Mr. Maurice. The great majority of these joined, though the name was too much for others. The question of taking it had been much considered, and it was decided, on the whole, to be best to do so boldly, even though it might cost valuable allies. Kingsley was of course consulted on every point, though living now almost entirely at Eversley, and his views as to the proper policy to be pursued may be gathered best from the following extracts from letters of his to Mr. Ludlow--

"We must touch the workman at all his points of interest. First and foremost at association--but also at political rights, as grounded both on the Christian ideal of the Church, and on the historic facts of the Anglo-Saxon race. Then national education, sanitary and dwelling-house reform, the free sale of land, and corresponding reform of the land laws, moral improvement of the family relation, public places of recreation (on which point I am very earnest), and I think a set of hints from history, and sayings of great men, of which last I have been picking up from Plato, Demosthenes, &c."

1849.--"This is a puling, quill-driving, soft-handed age--among our own rank, I mean. Cowardice is called meekness; 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 pick-axe 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."

1849.--"The question of property is one of these cases. We must face it in this age--simply because it faces us."--"I want to commit myself--I want to make others commit themselves. No man can fight the devil with a long ladle, however pleasant it may be to eat with him with one. A man never fishes well in the morning till he has tumbled into the water."

And the counsels of Parson Lot had undoubtedly great weight in giving an aggressive tone both to the paper and the society. But if he was largely responsible for the fighting temper of the early movement, he, at any rate, never shirked his share of the fighting. His name was the butt at which all shafts were aimed. As Lot "seemed like one that mocked to his sons-in-law," so seemed the Parson to the most opposite sections of the British nation. As a friend wrote of him at the time, he "had at any rate escaped the curse of the false prophets, 'Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you.'" Many of the attacks and criticisms were no doubt aimed not so much at him personally as at the body of men with whom, and for whom, he was working; but as he was (except Mr. Maurice) the only one whose name was known, he got the lion's share of all the abuse. The storm broke on him from all points of the compass at once. An old friend and fellow-contributor to "Politics for the People," led the Conservative attack, accusing him of unsettling the minds of the poor, making them discontented, &c. Some of the foremost Chartists wrote virulently against him for "attempting to justify the God of the Old Testament," who, they maintained, was unjust and cruel, and, at any rate, not the God "of the people." The political economists fell on him for his anti-Malthusian belief, that the undeveloped fertility of the earth need not be overtaken by population within any time which it concerned us to think about. The quarterlies joined in the attack on his economic heresies. The "Daily News" opened a cross fire on him from the common-sense Liberal battery, denouncing the "revolutionary nonsense, which is termed Christian Socialisms"; and, after some balancing, the "Guardian," representing in the press the side of the Church to which he leant, turned upon him in a very cruel article on the republication of "Yeast" (originally written for "Fraser's Magazine"), and accused him of teaching heresy in doctrine, and in morals "that a certain amount of youthful profligacy does no real permanent harm to the character, perhaps strengthens it for a useful and religious life."

In this one instance Parson Lot fairly lost his temper, and answered, "as was answered to the Jesuit of old--mentiris impudentissime." With the rest he seemed to enjoy the conflict and "kept the ring," like a candidate for the wrestling championship in his own county of Devon against all comers, one down another come on.

The fact is, that Charles Kingsley was born a fighting man, and believed in bold attack. "No human power ever beat back a resolute forlorn hope," he used to say; "to be got rid of, they must be blown back with grape and canister," because the attacking party have all the universe behind them, the defence only that small part which is shut up in their walls. And he felt most strongly at this time that hard fighting was needed. "It is a pity" he writes to Mr. Ludlow, "that telling people what's right, won't make them do it; but not a new fact, though that ass the world has quite forgotten it; and assures you that dear sweet 'incompris' mankind only wants to be told the way to the millennium to walk willingly into it--which is a lie. If you want to get mankind, if not to heaven, at least out of hell, kick them out." And again, a little later on, in urging the policy which the "Christian Socialist" should still follow--

1851.--"It seems to me that in such a time as this the only way to fight against the devil is to attack him. He has got it too much his own way to meddle with us if we don't meddle with him. But the very devil has feelings, and if you prick him will roar...whereby you, at all events, gain the not-every-day-of-the-week-to-be-attained benefit of finding out where he is. Unless, indeed, as I suspect, the old rascal plays ventriloquist (as big grasshoppers do when you chase them), and puts you on a wrong scent, by crying 'Fire!' out of saints' windows. Still, the odds are if you prick lustily enough, you make him roar unawares."

The memorials of his many controversies lie about in the periodicals of that time, and any one who cares to hunt them up will be well repaid, and struck with the vigour of the defence, and still more with the complete change in public opinion, which has brought the England of to-day clean round to the side of Parson Lot. The most complete perhaps of his fugitive pieces of this kind is the pamphlet, "Who are the friends of Order?" published by J. W. Parker and Son, in answer to a very fair and moderate article in "Fraser's Mazagine." The Parson there points out how he and his friends were "cursed by demagogues as aristocrats, and by tories as democrats, when in reality they were neither." And urges that the very fact of the Continent being overrun with Communist fanatics is the best argument for preaching association here.

But though he faced his adversaries bravely, it must not be inferred that he did not feel the attacks and misrepresentations very keenly. In many respects, though housed in a strong and vigorous body, his spirit was an exceedingly tender and sensitive one. I have often thought that at this time his very sensitiveness drove him to say things more broadly and incisively, because he was speaking as it were somewhat against the grain, and knew that the line he was taking would be misunderstood, and would displease and alarm those with whom he had most sympathy. For he was by nature and education an aristocrat in the best sense of the word, believed that a landed aristocracy was a blessing to the country, and that no country would gain the highest liberty without such a class, holding its own position firmly, but in sympathy with the people. He liked their habits and ways, and keenly enjoyed their society. Again, he was full of reverence for science and scientific men, and specially for political economy and economists, and desired eagerly to stand well with them. And it was a most bitter trial to him to find himself not only in sharp antagonism with traders and employers of labour, which he looked for, but with these classes also.

On the other hand many of the views and habits of those with whom he found himself associated were very distasteful to him. In a new social movement, such as that of association as it took shape in 1849-50, there is certain to be great attraction for restless and eccentric persons, and in point of fact many such joined it. The beard movement was then in its infancy, and any man except a dragoon who wore hair on his face was regarded as a dangerous character, with whom it was compromising to be seen in any public place--a person in sympathy with sansculottes, and who would dispense with trousers but for his fear of the police. Now whenever Kingsley attended a meeting of the promoters of association in London, he was sure to find himself in the midst of bearded men, vegetarians, and other eccentric persons, and the contact was very grievous to him. "As if we shall not be abused enough," he used to say, "for what we must say and do without being saddled with mischievous nonsense of this kind." To less sensitive men the effect of eccentricity upon him was almost comic, as when on one occasion he was quite upset and silenced by the appearance of a bearded member of Council at an important deputation in a straw hat and blue plush gloves. He did not recover from the depression produced by those gloves for days. Many of the workmen, too, who were most prominent in the Associations were almost as little to his mind--windy inflated kind of persons, with a lot of fine phrases in their mouths which they did not know the meaning of.

But in spite of all that was distasteful to him in some of its surroundings, the co-operative movement (as it is now called) entirely approved itself to his conscience and judgment, and mastered him so that he was ready to risk whatever had to be risked in fighting its battle. Often in those days, seeing how loath Charles Kingsley was to take in hand, much of the work which Parson Lot had to do, and how fearlessly and thoroughly he did it after all, one was reminded of the old Jewish prophets, such as Amos the herdsman of Tekoa--"I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son, but I was an herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: and the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and said unto me, Go prophesy unto my people Israel."

The following short extracts from his correspondence with Mr. Ludlow, as to the conduct of the "Christian Socialist," and his own contributions to it, may perhaps serve to show how his mind was working at this time:--

Sept., 1850.--"I cannot abide the notion of Branch Churches or Free (sect) Churches, and unless my whole train of thought alters, I will resist the temptation as coming from the devil. Where I am I am doing God's work, and when the Church is ripe for more, the Head of the Church will put the means our way. You seem to fancy that we may have a Deus quidam Deceptor over us after all. If I did I'd go and blow my dirty brains out and be rid of the whole thing at once. I would indeed. If God, when people ask Him to teach and guide them, does not; if when they confess themselves rogues and fools to Him, and beg Him to make them honest and wise, He does not, but darkens them, and deludes them into bogs and pitfalls, is he a Father? You fall back into Judaism, friend."

Dec., 1850.--"Jeremiah is my favourite book now. It has taught me more than tongue can tell. But I am much disheartened, and am minded to speak no more words in this name (Parson Lot); and yet all these bullyings teach one, correct one, warn one--show one that God is not leaving one to go one's own way. 'Christ reigns,' quoth Luther."

It was at this time, in the winter of 1850, that "Alton Locke" was published. He had been engaged on it for more than a year, working at it in the midst of all his controversies. The following extracts from his correspondence with Mr. Ludlow will tell readers more about it than any criticism, if they have at all realized the time at which it was written, or his peculiar work in that time.

February, 1849.--"I have hopes from the book I am writing, which has revealed itself to me so rapidly and methodically that I feel it comes down from above, and that only my folly can spoil it, which I pray against daily."

1849.--"I think the notion a good one (referring to other work for the paper which he had been asked to do), but I feel no inspiration at all that way; and I dread being tempted to more and more bitterness, harsh judgment, and evil speaking. I dread it. I am afraid sometimes I shall end in universal snarling. Besides, my whole time is taken up with my book, and that I do feel inspired to write. But there is something else which weighs awfully on my mind--(the first number of Cooper's Journal, which he sent me the other day). Here is a man of immense influence openly preaching Strausseanism to the workmen, and in a fair, honest, manly way which must tell. Who will answer him? Who will answer Strauss? [Footnote: He did the work himself. After many interviews, and a long correspondence with him, Thomas Cooper changed his views, and has been lecturing and preaching for many years as a Christian.] Who will denounce him as a vile aristocrat, robbing the poor man of his Saviour--of the ground of all democracy, all freedom, all association--of the Charter itself? Oh, si mihi centum voces et ferrea lingua! Think about that."

January, 1850.--"A thousand thanks for your letter, though it only shows me what I have long suspected, that I know hardly enough yet to make the book what it should be. As you have made a hole, you must help to fill it. Can you send me any publication which would give me a good notion of the Independents' view of politics, also one which would give a good notion of the Fox-Emerson-Strauss school of Blague-Unitarianism, which is superseding dissent just now. It was with the ideal of Calvinism, and its ultimate bearing on the people's cause, that I wished to deal. I believe that there must be internecine war between the people's church--i.e., the future development of Catholic Christianity, and Calvinism even in its mildest form, whether in the Establishment or out of it--and I have counted the cost and will give every party its slap in their turn. But I will alter, as far as I can, all you dislike."

August, 1850.--"How do you know, dearest man, that I was not right in making the Alton of the second volume different from the first? In showing the individuality of the man swamped and warped by the routine of misery and discontent? How do you know that the historic and human interest of the book was not intended to end with Mackay's death, in whom old radicalism dies, 'not having received the promises,' to make room for the radicalism of the future? How do you know that the book from that point was not intended to take a mythic and prophetic form, that those dreams come in for the very purpose of taking the story off the ground of the actual into the deeper and wider one of the ideal, and that they do actually do what they were intended to do? How do you know that my idea of carrying out Eleanor's sermons in practice were just what I could not--and if I could, dared not, give? that all that I could do was to leave them as seed, to grow by itself in many forms, in many minds, instead of embodying them in some action which would have been both as narrow as my own idiosyncrasy, gain the reproach of insanity, and be simply answered by--'If such things have been done, where are they?' and lastly, how do you know that I had not a special meaning in choosing a civilized fine lady as my missionary, one of a class which, as it does exist, God must have something for it to do, and, as it seems, plenty to do, from the fact that a few gentlemen whom I could mention, not to speak of Fowell Buxtons, Howards, Ashleys, &c., have done, more for the people in one year than they have done for themselves in fifty? If I had made her an organizer, as well as a preacher, your complaint might have been just. My dear man, the artist is a law unto himself--or rather God is a law to him, when he prays, as I have earnestly day after day about this book--to be taught how to say the right thing in the right way--and I assure you I did not get tired of my work, but laboured as earnestly at the end as I did at the beginning. The rest of your criticism, especially about the interpenetration of doctrine and action, is most true, and shall be attended to.--Your brother,

"G. K."

The next letter, on the same topic, in answer to criticisms on "Alton Locke," is addressed to a brother clergyman--

"EVERSLEY, January 13, 1851.

"Rec. dear Sir,--I will answer your most interesting letter as shortly as I can, and if possible in the same spirit of honesty as that in which you have written to me.

"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, for I have seen some few such already. I believe hundreds of thousands more would be so, if their businesses were put on a Christian footing, and themselves given by education, sanitary reforms, &c., the means of developing their own latent capabilities--I think the cry, 'Rise in Life,' has been excited by the very increasing impossibility of being anything but brutes while they struggle below. I know well all that is doing in the way of education, &c., but I do assert that the disease of degradation has been for the last forty years increasing faster than the remedy. And I believe, from experience, that when you put workmen into human dwellings, and give them a Christian education, so far from wishing discontentedly to rise out of their class, or to level others to it, exactly the opposite takes place. They become sensible of the dignity of work, and they begin to see their labour as a true calling in God's Church, now that it is cleared from the accidentia which made it look, in their eyes, only a soulless drudgery in a devil's workshop of a World.

"Third, From the advertisement of an 'English Republic' you send, I can guess who will be the writers in it, &c., &c., being behind the scenes. It will come to nought. Everything of this kind is coming to nought now. The workmen are tired of idols, ready and yearning for the Church and the Gospel, and such men as your friend may laugh at Julian Harney, 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 to harvest. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He may send forth labourers into His harvest.

"Fourth, As to the capacities of working-men, I am afraid that your excellent friend will find that he has only the refuse of working intellects to form his induction on. The devil has got the best long ago. 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. If he goes on as he is doing, lecturing on history, poetry, science, and all the things which the workmen crave for, and can only get from such men as H----, Thomas Cooper, &c., mixed up with Straussism and infidelity, he will find that he will draw back to his Lord's fold, and to his lecture room, slowly, but surely, men, whose powers will astonish him, as they have astonished me.

"Fifth, The workmen whose quarrels you mention are not Christians, or socialists either. They are of all creeds and none. 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 persons) is only to be found in loyalty and obedience to Christ. They do quarrel, but if you knew how they used to quarrel before association, the improvement since would astonish you. And the French associations do not quarrel at all. I can send you a pamphlet on them, if you wish, written by an eyewitness, a friend of mine.

"Sixth, If your friend wishes to see what can be made of workmen's brains, let him, in God's name, go down to Harrow Weald, and there see Mr. Monro--see what he has done with his own national school boys. I have his opinion as to the capabilities of those minds, which we, alas! now so sadly neglect. I only ask him to go and ask of that man the question which you have asked of me.

"Seventh, May I, in reference to myself and certain attacks on me, say, with all humility, that I do not speak from hearsay now, as has been asserted, from second-hand picking and stealing out of those 'Reports on Labour and the Poor,' in the 'Morning Chronicle,' which are now being reprinted in a separate form, and which I entreat you to read if you wish to get a clear view of the real state of the working classes.

"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. With earnest prayer, in fear and trembling, I wrote my book, and I trust in Him to whom I prayed that He has not left me to my own prejudices or idols on any important point relating to the state of the possibilities of the poor for whom He died. Any use which you choose you can make of this letter. If it should seem worth your while to honour me with any further communications, I shall esteem them a delight, and the careful consideration of them a duty.--Believe me, Rev. and dear Sir, your faithful and obedient servant,


By this time the society for promoting associations was thoroughly organized, and consisted of a council of promoters, of which Kingsley was a member, and a central board, on which the managers of the associations and a delegate from each of them sat. The council had published a number of tracts, beginning with "Cheap Clothes and Nasty," which had attracted the attention of many persons, including several of the London clergy, who connected themselves more or less closely with the movement. Mr. Maurice, Kingsley, Hansard, and others of these, were often asked to preach on social questions, and when in 1851, on the opening of the Great Exhibition, immense crowds of strangers were drawn to London, they were specially in request. For many London incumbents threw open their churches, and organized series of lectures, specially bearing on the great topic of the day. It was now that the incident happened which once more brought upon Kingsley the charge of being a revolutionist, and which gave him more pain than all other attacks put together. One of the incumbents before referred to begged Mr. Maurice to take part in his course of lectures, and to ask Kingsley to do so; assuring Mr. Maurice that he "had been reading Kingsley's works with the greatest interest, and earnestly desired to secure him as one of his lecturers." "I promised to mention this request to him," Mr. Maurice says, "though I knew he rarely came to London, and seldom preached except in his own parish. He agreed, though at some inconvenience, that he would preach a sermon on the 'Message of the Church to the Labouring Man.' I suggested the subject to him. The incumbent intimated the most cordial approval of it. He had asked us, not only with a previous knowledge of our published writings, but expressly because he had that knowledge. I pledge you my word that no questions were asked as to what we were going to say, and no guarantees given. 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."

Kingsley took his text from Luke iv. verses 16 to 21: "The spirit of the Lord is upon me because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor," &c. What then was that gospel? Kingsley asks, and goes on--"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 those three great words; that in as far as he so 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 man"; 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." Then he goes on to warn his hearers how there is always a counterfeit in this world of the noblest message and teaching.

Thus there are two freedoms--the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where a man is free to do what he ought.

Two equalities--the false, which reduces all intellects and all characters, to a dead level, and gives the same power to the bad as to the good, to the wise as to the foolish, ending thus in practice in the grossest inequality; 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, and nothing else proclaims as she does.

Two brotherhoods--the false, where a 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 three special possessions and treasures. The Bible, which proclaims man's freedom, Baptism his equality, the Lord's Supper his brotherhood.

At the end of this sermon (which would scarcely cause surprise to-day if preached by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Chapel Royal), the incumbent got up at the altar and declared his belief that great part of the doctrine of the sermon was untrue, and that he had expected a sermon of an entirely different kind. To a man of the preacher's vehement temperament it must have required a great effort not to reply at the moment. The congregation was keenly excited, and evidently expected him to do so. He only bowed his head, pronounced the blessing, and came down from the pulpit.

I must go back a little to take up the thread of his connection with, and work for, the Society for Promoting Working Men's Associations. After it had passed the first difficulties of starting, he was seldom able to attend either Council or Central Board. Every one else felt how much more important and difficult work he was doing by fighting the battle in the press, down at Eversley, but he himself was eager to take part in the everyday business, and uneasy if he was not well informed as to what was going on.

Sometimes, however, he would come up to the Council, when any matter specially interesting to him was in question, as in the following example, when a new member of the Council, an Eton master, had objected to some strong expressions in one of his letters on the Frimley murder, in the "Christian Socialist":--

1849.--"The upper classes are like a Yankee captain sitting on the safety valve, and serenely whistling--but what will be will be. As for the worthy Eton parson, I consider it infinitely expedient that he be entreated to vent his whole dislike in the open Council forthwith, under a promise on my part not to involve him in any controversy or reprisals, or to answer in any tone except that of the utmost courtesy and respect. Pray do this. It will at once be a means of gaining him, and a good example, please God, to the working men; and for the Frimley letter, put it in the fire if you like, or send it back to have the last half re-written, or 'anything else you like, my pretty little dear.'"

But his prevailing feeling was getting to be, that he was becoming an outsider--

"Nobody deigns to tell me," he wrote to me, "how things go on, and who helps, and whether I can help. In short, I know nothing, and begin to fancy that you, like some others, think me a lukewarm and timeserving aristocrat, after I have ventured more than many, because I had more to venture."

The same feeling comes out in the following letter, which illustrates too, very well, both his deepest conviction as to the work, the mixture of playfulness and earnestness with which he handled it, and his humble estimate of himself. It refers to the question of the admission of a new association to the Union. It was necessary, of course, to see that the rules of a society, applying for admission to the Union, were in proper form, and that sufficient capital was forthcoming, and the decision lay with the Central Board, controlled in some measure by the Council of Promoters.

An association of clay-pipe makers had applied for admission, and had been refused by the vote of the central board. The Council, however, thought there were grounds for reconsidering the decision, and to strengthen the case for admission, Kingsley's opinion was asked. He replied:--

"EVERSLEY, May 31, 1850.