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biographer would have done ; such a phase in mental development, and more especially in the mental development of a man of a nervous and intellectual organisation, is not by any means the remarkable thing which Mrs. Kingsley appears to consider it : that, whilst it lasted, it should unsettle him in every way
- lead him into idleness, recklessness, perhaps dissipation; prompt him to throw up his studies, leave Cambridge, seek freedom in America, and become a wild hunter on the
prairies of the Far West—it all seems the natural course of the disease, as much as the red rash in scarlet fever, or the pustular eruption in small-pox.
During the year 1841, however, he was guided to a solution of the difficulties attendiug religious belief; in great measure, as we are allowed to infer, by the influence of Miss Grenfell, whom he had first met on July 6, 1839, and who, a few years later, became his wife. His letters at this time all imply the power which Miss Grenfell exercised over him; and to that is apparently due not only the establishment of his convictions, but perhaps also the form of faith to which he held, and the profession which he now resolved to adopt. That the impress of Miss Grenfell's mind was definitely stamped on his, is beyond doubt; it is to be seen on almost every page of these volumes; it is to be seen on almost every page that he ever gave to the world, where, amid the virile strength with which his language abounds, there is a continual underflow of gentleness and sweetness, which tells its own tale of a womanly source. Nor indeed does Kingsley make any secret of it; in 1842 he writes that the woman's part is to cultivate the affections and the imagination; that hers is the nobler task to teach the man how to apply his knowledge to men's hearts; and in 1873, as his life was drawing to a close, he repeats in public his testimony to the inspiration which we derive from woman's virtue, woman's counsel, woman's tenderness.
After taking his degree with some distinction, in January 1842, Kingsley went down into Devonshire to read divinity, and a few months afterwards, on July 10, he was ordained to the curacy of Eversley, in Hampshire, where he at once settled down to his work with the energy which through life he brought to bear on whatever work came before him. And the work of the curacy was not light; the parish had for years past been much neglected, and its state, from a clerical or educational point of view, was scandalous; the church and the rectory were fallen into a ruinous condition. There was not a grown-up man or woman of the labouring class who could read or write; and the school-room was a stifling den, ten feet square, • where cobbling shoes, teaching, and caning went on together, from which the boys and girls naturally escaped to field work as soon as they could.
In the spring of 1844 he married, and was appointed, shortly after, to the rectory of this same parish. The work which he had begun as curate was continued as rector; and for thirty-three years, till the end of his life, he remained there amongst the same people; and amongst these people his influence—born from the sympathetic feeling of a common humanity-was extraordinary. It was strictly amongst them that he laboured; he was daily with them, in their cottages and in the fields; he became personally intimate with every soul in the parish—with the men at their fieldwork, with the women at their wash-tubs, with the babies in their cradles. It was by social rather than by theological teaching that he endeavoured to reform them, to civilise them, to Christianise them. His sermons, his conversation, and his example all went to the same point. His sermons, many volumes of which have been published, his village sermons more particularly, show how practical this teaching was; there is nothing abstract about them, nothing which the clod-crushing mind could not readily lay hold of and understand. When he went up for his priest's orders, Dr. Sumner, the then Bishop of Winchester, objected to the sermons which he showed him, that they were too colloquial. It was this very peculiarity,' says Mrs. Kingsley, which arrested and attracted his hearers, and · helped to fill a very empty church.' To some, no doubt, this colloquialism may seem to verge on profanity; with Kingsley, it was strictly the expression of an intensity of religious feeling, which considered no work of God too small to be spoken of, and no work of the devil too homely to be denounced. Every object, every circumstance, had, to him, a spiritual import.
He scouted that half-faith which makes religion a thing apart.
Where all is full of God, he could see no inconsistency in making sermons whilst cutting wood; nor in talking one moment to one man about the points of a horse, and the next moment to another about the mercy of God. He tried, he says, to catch men by their leading ideas, and so to draw them off insensibly to his own; to win the respect of the wild young fellows so often considered hopeless, by showing them that he was neither 'a spooney Methodist' nor'an effemi‘nate ascetic,' but their superior in physical as well as in intellectual skill. The blood of generations of soldiers ran in Kingsley's veins ; though a clergyman he was still a warrior, as much so as the major-general who fought at Minden ; and in the warfare which he waged he acted as courage, common sense, and refined reason dictated.
But in all this there was much that was opposed to the custom, much which was repugnant to the prejudices, of the clerical world. An outcry was raised against his preaching and teaching, as subversive of the principles of Christianity, as mere heathenism, pagan morality, rationalistic infidelity. A few words or sentences taken away from their context, and twisted and contorted, seemed to confirm such exclusive opinions; and theological dogmatism and hard names with little meaning were hurled at his head by the more ignorant slaves of conventionality and punctilio. And they were not always received too patiently; so far as they affected himself only, Kingsley cared but little, but when they seemed likely to affect his work, to endanger the good that he felt he was doing, he replied, and with a straightforward boldness which has been misunderstood as a loss of temper. But his utterings, though vehement, were certainly not passionate; he probably never penned a line more carefully considered and more thoroughly meant than when, refusing the courtesies of war to an assailant who had anonymously published statements grossly insulting and manifestly untrue, he adapted a quotation from Pascal, and answered in plain words. Mentiris ' impudentissimè —thou liest most unblushingly; or when he added, “ Whosoever henceforth, either explicitly or by insinua* tion, says that I do not hold and believe ex animo, and in the
simple and literal sense, all the doctrines of the Catholic and * Apostolic Church of England, as embodied in her Liturgy or « Articles, shall have no answer from me but Father Valerian's * Mentiris impudentissimè.
More direct, honest confession of faith it is impossible for anyone, clergy or layman, to make. To that confession he adhered throughout his life. By the light which this declaration throws on the whole course of his teaching and writing, he must as a clergyman be judged or justified; nor is it to be put on one side or forgotten because he did not deem it necessary to be continually repeating it; though, in point of fact, he did repeat, over and over again, that he will admit of no consciencecheating equivocation; that words, whether in the Gospels or Epistles, or in the Articles of the Church, are to be taken as meaning what they say, and are not to be distorted to suit the wild ideas or doctrinal quibbles of heretics and fanatics. But all this has been ignored, and he has been called a materialist, a rationalist, or what not, because he acted and spoke as a man; because he believed and taught tható a priest con• taineth a man, and is a man and something over, viz., his
priesthood;' and that “if a priest show himself no man, he • shows himself all the more no priest.' He would, therefore, have felt shame to shirk any manly duty or manly responsibility lest it should be considered unclerical. One instance will be sufficient to illustrate this. He had gone to visit a man sick with fever; every aperture in the room was, as usual in the sick-rooms of the poor, closed, and the atmosphere was horrible. Before he said a word he ran upstairs, and with a large auger bored several ventilating-holes through the floor above the bed's head. Under the circumstances, he held that pure air was of more immediate consequence than anything he might have to say.
It was during Kingsley's first year as rector of Eversley, in July 1844, that his admiration for the published works of Professor Maurice induced him to write to that excellent man, asking for advice and assistance. “I know,' he said, 'that the * request is informal according to the ways of the world, but I . have faith enough in you to be sure that you will take the re
quest for what it is--an earnest struggle to get wisdom at all • risks from any quarter where it may be found. This letter led to a correspondence and a friendship which lasted till death dissolved it in 1872. Maurice, a man of strong calm mind, exercised a peculiar charm on all who came under his personal influence. Kingsley, who was fourteen years younger, considered himself throughout rather as Maurice's pupil than friend, and habitually addressed him as · My dear, or my dearest, Master.' When, then, we consider that Maurice's clerical work lay in London, and to some extent, by reason of his connexion with Guy's Hospital, amongst the lowest class of the London population; and, on the other hand, that Kingsley never held any parochial charge in London or in any other town, we may conclude that it was by his association with Maurice that he got his knowledge and experience of London life; and that, however much his natural energy forced him to make the subject his own, and notwithstanding his familiar acquaintance with the wants and debasement of the agricultural poor, the theories of social reform, which afterwards brought him for a time into an unfortunate notoriety, were, in part at least, suggested by his senior, and had in them as much of Maurice as of Kingsley
Meanwhile, and from his first going down into Devonshire after taking his degree, he had been working at a short tale, which, after being written in various forms, in prose and verse, finally appeared in 1848 as the Saint's Tragedy.' This, notwithstanding Bunsen's exaggerated praise, was never popular in the ordinary sense of the word; the story is repugnant to popular feeling; the language is, as Maurice wrote in his preface to the first edition, a little too bold for the taste and * temper of the age;' and the social problems in it have been discussed by the author himself in his later works, and in more telling prose. It must, in fact, be considered as the unskilled utterance of the hopes and dreams of a young ardent soul yearning after truth and love. Reading it by the light of the present biography, it is difficult to avoid the conviction that his own mental struggles and aspirations are therein portrayed; that Walter, Conrad, and the heretic preacher were to him living personages; that he had in some way-dim, unacknowledged it might be-associated his future wife with the outline of Elizabeth's character; and that some real memory dictated the lines, when Lewis exclaims :
I have wandered in the mountains, mist-bewildered,
Gleam ready for my grasp.' But the six years' thought, study, and labour bestowed on the · Saint's Tragedy’were Kingsley's apprenticeship to literary work; his command of language, his power of expression, was enlarged and strengthened, and his later works were written off or dictated at first hand, and almost without correction
- the free outpouring of a vivid conception. What he had made his own-what he had seen, heard, read, studied-he could realise and reproduce with extraordinary rapidity. His power of description is remarkable both for correctness and intensity of language. This is the strong point, the great artistic charm, of his writings, which in some other respects betray a want of creative power; for the characters which he has placed in his landscapes, grand as many of them are, are too often so unreal that they are apt to appear as lay figures rather than as living men and women, and the more so that he has continually reproduced the same ideal. The big, strong, fearless, Godless, self-contained man, with a keen sense of duty, brought to a knowledge of his own utter weaknesswhether he is called Lancelot Smith, or Raphael Aben-Ezra, Amyas Leigh, Thomas Thurnall, or even Hereward-constantly appears before us, decked out, indeed, in new clothes, with new paint and new surroundings, but the same ideal figure throughout; and for his favourite women, the characters which he has delineated with the greatest care-Elizabeth of Hungary, Argemone, Hypatia, Mrs. Leigh, Grace Harvey