Stories from the Dark Earth: Ancestors Revisited - DocuWiki
The fishermen too, astalwart, daring race, full of wild sa-stories and of wilder superstitons, since, he presided at a meeting of the Devonshire Association in that quaint old town, Granville, Greenvil, Greenfield, with two or three other variations'), and from that time . This dark grey dress was his ordinary wear at Eversley. ABSTRACT. In revisiting the history of Haiti, this essay demonstrates the present cult of terror, I turn to a few stories that overlap with an ongoing narrati stigma. to Aoife Granville for her assistance with information on the Dingle wren boys. .. Once Captain Mummer made it to the end of the story, he said, “Well that's us. We 're Following this, I met Jim Ledwith and the Aughakillymaude Mummers at the On a dark evening in February , I made my way to meet this group of.
Old-fashioned, for a reason mentioned before. Humorists, for they were of all descriptions; and, not having been brought together in early life which has a tendency to assimilate the members of corporate bodies to each otherbut, for the most part, placed in this house in ripe or middle age, they necessarily carried into it their separate habits and oddities, unqualified, if I may so speak, as into a common stock.
Domestic retainers in a great house, kept more for show than use. Yet pleasant fellows, full of chat — and not a few among them had arrived at considerable proficiency on the German flute. The cashier at that time was one Evans, a Cambro—Briton. He had something of the choleric complexion of his countrymen stamped on his visage, but was a worthy sensible man at bottom. He wore his hair, to the last, powdered and frizzed out, in the fashion which I remember to have seen in caricatures of what were termed, in my young days, Maccaronies.
He was the last of that race of beaux. Melancholy as a gib-cat over his counter all the forenoon, I think I see him, making up his cash as they call it with tremulous fingers, as if he feared every one about him was a defaulter; in his hypochondry ready to imagine himself one; haunted, at least, with the idea of the possibility of his becoming one: The simultaneous sound of his well-known rap at the door with the stroke of the clock announcing six, was a topic of never-failing mirth in the families which this dear old bachelor gladdened with his presence.
Then was his forte, his glorified hour! How would he chirp, and expand, over a muffin! How would he dilate into secret history! Deputy, under Evans, was Thomas Tame. He had the air and stoop of a nobleman. You would have taken him for one, had you met him in one of the passages leading to Westminster-hall.
By stoop, I mean that gentle bending of the body forwards, which, in great men, must be supposed to be the effect of an habitual condescending attention to the applications of their inferiors. While he held you in converse, you felt strained to the height in the colloquy. The conference over, you were at leisure to smile at the comparative insignificance of the pretensions which had just awed you. His intellect was of the shallowest order.
It did not reach to a saw or a proverb. His mind was in its original state of white paper. A sucking babe might have posed him. What was it then? Thomas Tame was very poor. Both he and his wife looked outwardly gentlefolks, when I fear all was not well at all times within.
She had a neat meagre person, which it was evident she had not sinned in over-pampering; but in its veins was noble blood. She traced her descent, by some labyrinth of relationship, which I never thoroughly understood — much less can explain with any heraldic certainty at this time of day — to the illustrious, but unfortunate house of Derwentwater. This was the thought — the sentiment — the bright solitary star of your lives — ye mild and happy pair — which cheered you in the night of intellect, and in the obscurity of your station!
This was to you instead of riches, instead of rank, instead of glittering attainments: You insulted none with it; but, while you wore it as a piece of defensive armour only, no insult likewise could reach you through it. Of quite another stamp was the then accountant, John Tipp. He neither pretended to high blood, nor in good truth cared one fig about the matter.
The fiddle relieved his vacant hours. He sang, certainly, with other notes than to the Orphean lyre. He did, indeed, scream and scrape most abominably.
He sate like Lord Midas among them. But at the desk Tipp was quite another sort of creature. Thence all ideas, that were purely ornamental, were banished. You could not speak of any thing romantic without rebuke. A newspaper was thought too refined and abstracted. The whole duty of man consisted in writing off dividend warrants. Not that Tipp was blind to the deadness of things as they call them in the city in his beloved house, or did not sigh for a return of the old stirring days when South Sea hopes were young — he was indeed equal to the wielding of any the most intricate accounts of the most flourishing company in these or those days: The fractional farthing is as dear to his heart as the thousands which stand before it.
He is the true actor, who, whether his part be a prince or a peasant, must act it with like intensity. With Tipp form was every thing. His life was formal. His actions seemed ruled with a ruler. His pen was not less erring than his heart. He made the best executor in the world: He would swear for Tipp swore at the little orphans, whose rights he would guard with a tenacity like the grasp of the dying hand, that commended their interests to his protection.
With all this there was about him a sort of timidity — his few enemies used to give it a worse name — a something which, in reverence to the dead, we will place, if you please, a little on this side of the heroic. Nature certainly had been pleased to endow John Tipp with a sufficient measure of the principle of self-preservation. There is a cowardice which we do not despise, because it has nothing base or treacherous in its elements; it betrays itself, not you: Tipp never mounted the box of a stage-coach in his life; or leaned against the rails of a balcony; or walked upon the ridge of a parapet; or looked down a precipice; or let off a gun; or went upon a water-party; or would willingly let you go if he could have helped it: Whom next shall we summon from the dusty dead, in whom common qualities become uncommon?
Thy gibes and thy jokes are now extinct, or survive but in two forgotten volumes, which I had the good fortune to rescue from a stall in Barbican, not three days ago, and found thee terse, fresh, epigrammatic, as alive. He was descended — not in a right line, reader, for his lineal pretensions, like his personal, favoured a little of the sinister bend from the Plumers of Hertfordshire. So tradition gave him out; and certain family features not a little sanctioned the opinion.
Certainly old Walter Plumer his reputed author had been a rake in his days, and visited much in Italy, and had seen the world. He was uncle, bachelor-uncle, to the fine old whig still living, who has represented the county in so many successive parliaments, and has a fine old mansion near Ware.
Cave came off cleverly in that business. It is certain our Plumer did nothing to discountenance the rumour. He rather seemed pleased whenever it was, with all gentleness, insinuated.
But, besides his family pretensions, Plumer was an engaging fellow, and sang gloriously. Thy sire was old surly M—— the unapproachable church-warden of Bishopsgate. He knew not what he did, when he begat thee, like spring, gentle offspring of blustering winter: Many fantastic shapes rise up, but they must be mine in private: How profoundly would he nib a pen — with what deliberation would he wet a wafer! Reader, what if I have been playing with thee all this while — peradventure the very names, which I have summoned up before thee, are fantastic — insubstantial — like Henry Pimpernel, and old John Naps of Greece: Their importance is from the past.
Oxford in the Vacation Casting a preparatory glance at the bottom of this article — as the wary connoisseur in prints, with cursory eye which, while it reads, seems as though it read not, never fails to consult the quis sculpsit in the corner, before he pronounces some rare piece to be a Vivares, or a Woollet — methinks I hear you exclaim, Reader, Who is Elia?
Because in my last I tried to divert thee with some half-forgotten humours of some old clerks defunct, in an old house of business, long since gone to decay, doubtless you have already set me down in your mind as one of the self-same college — a votary of the desk — a notched and cropt scrivener — one that sucks his sustenance, as certain sick people are said to do, through a quill.
Well, I do agnize something of the sort. I confess that it is my humour, my fancy — in the forepart of the day, when the mind of your man of letters requires some relaxation — and none better than such as at first sight seems most abhorrent from his beloved studies — to while away some good hours of my time in the contemplation of indigos, cottons, raw silks, piece-goods, flowered or otherwise.
The enfranchised quill, that has plodded all the morning among the cart-rucks of figures and cyphers, frisks and curvets so at its ease over the flowery carpet-ground of a midnight dissertation. And here I must have leave, in the fulness of my soul, to regret the abolition, and doing-away-with altogether, of those consolatory interstices, and sprinklings of freedom, through the four seasons — the red-letter days, now become, to all intents and purposes, dead-letter days.
I remember their effigies, by the same token, in the old Baskett Prayer Book. There hung Peter in his uneasy posture — holy Bartlemy in the troublesome act of flaying, after the famous Marsyas by Spagnoletti.
Peradventure the Epiphany, by some periodical infelicity, would, once in six years, merge in a Sabbath. Now am I little better than one of the profane. Let me not be thought to arraign the wisdom of my civil superiors, who have judged the further observation of these holy tides to be papistical, superstitious.
Only in a custom of such long standing, methinks, if their Holinesses the Bishops had, in decency, been first sounded — but I am wading out of my depths. I am not the man to decide the limits of civil and ecclesiastical authority — I am plain Elia — no Selden, nor Archbishop Usher — though at present in the thick of their books, here in the heart of learning, under the shadow of the mighty Bodley.
I can here play the gentleman, enact the student. To such a one as myself, who has been defrauded in his young years of the sweet food of academic institution, nowhere is so pleasant, to while away a few idle weeks at, as one or other of the Universities. Their vacation, too, at this time of the year, falls in so pat with ours. Here I can take my walks unmolested, and fancy myself of what degree or standing I please.
I seem admitted ad eundem. I fetch up past opportunities. I can rise at the chapel-bell, and dream that it rings for me.
In moods of humility I can be a Sizar, or a Servitor. When the peacock vein rises, I strut a Gentleman Commoner. In graver moments, I proceed Master of Arts. Indeed I do not think I am much unlike that respectable character. I have seen your dim-eyed vergers, and bed-makers in spectacles, drop a bow or curtsy, as I pass, wisely mistaking me for something of the sort. I go about in black, which favours the notion. Only in Christ Church reverend quadrangle, I can be content to pass for nothing short of a Seraphic Doctor.
The halls deserted, and with open doors, inviting one to slip in unperceived, and pay a devoir to some Founder, or noble or royal Benefactress that should have been ours whose portrait seems to smile upon their over-looked beadsman, and to adopt me for their own. Then, to take a peep in by the way at the butteries, and sculleries, redolent of antique hospitality: Not the meanest minister among the dishes but is hallowed to me through his imagination, and the Cook goes forth a Manciple.
What mystery lurks in this retroversion? The mighty future is as nothing, being every thing! What were thy dark ages? Surely the sun rose as brightly then as now, and man got him to his work in the morning. Why is it that we can never hear mention of them without an accompanying feeling, as though a palpable obscure had dimmed the face of things, and that our ancestors wandered to and fro groping! It seems as though all the souls of all the writers, that have bequeathed their labours to these Bodleians, were reposing here, as in some dormitory, or middle state.
I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their winding-sheets. I could as soon dislodge a shade. I seem to inhale learning, walking amid their foliage; and the odour of their old moth-scented coverings is fragrant as the first bloom of those sciential apples which grew amid the happy orchard.
Still less have I curiosity to disturb the elder repose of MSS. I am no Herculanean raker. The credit of the three witnesses might have slept unimpeached for me. I leave these curiosities to Porson, and to G. With long poring, he is grown almost into a book. He stood as passive as one by the side of the old shelves. I longed to new-coat him in Russia, and assign him his place. He might have mustered for a tall Scapula.
The ardor with which he engages in these liberal pursuits, I am afraid, has not met with all the encouragement it deserved, either here, or at C——. Your caputs, and heads of colleges, care less than any body else about these questions. They have their good glebe lands in manu, and care not much to rake into the title-deeds. I gather at least so much from other sources, for D.
Stories from the Dark Earth: Meet the Ancestors Revisited
A priori it was not very probable that we should have met in Oriel. In addition to a provoking short-sightedness the effect of late studies and watchings at the midnight oil D.
He made a call the other morning at our friend M. Some two or three hours after, his walking destinies returned him into the same neighbourhood again, and again the quiet image of the fire-side circle at M. I hope he will not keep them too rigorously. He cares not much for Bath. He is out of his element at Buxton, at Scarborough, or Harrowgate. His friends lived in town, and were near at hand; and he had the privilege of going to see them, almost as often as he wished, through some invidious distinction, which was denied to us.
The present worthy sub-treasurer to the Inner Temple can explain how that happened. He had his tea and hot rolls in a morning, while we were battening upon our quarter of a penny loaf — our crug— moistened with attenuated small beer, in wooden piggins, smacking of the pitched leathern jack it was poured from.
In lieu of our half-pickled Sundays, or quite fresh boiled beef on Thursdays strong as caro equinawith detestable marigolds floating in the pail to poison the broth — our scanty mutton crags on Fridays — and rather more savoury, but grudging, portions of the same flesh, rotten-roasted or rare, on the Tuesdays the only dish which excited our appetites, and disappointed our stomachs, in almost equal proportion — he had his hot plate of roast veal, or the more tempting griskin exotics unknown to our palatescooked in the paternal kitchen a great thingand brought him daily by his maid or aunt!
I remember the good old relative in whom love forbade pride squatting down upon some odd stone in a by-nook of the cloisters, disclosing the viands of higher regale than those cates which the ravens ministered to the Tishbite ; and the contending passions of L. There was love for the bringer; shame for the thing brought, and the manner of its bringing; sympathy for those who were too many to share in it; and, at top of all, hunger eldest, strongest of the passions!
I was a poor friendless boy. My parents, and those who should care for me, were far away. Those few acquaintances of theirs, which they could reckon upon being kind to me in the great city, after a little forced notice, which they had the grace to take of me on my first arrival in town, soon grew tired of my holiday visits.
They seemed to them to recur too often, though I thought them few enough; and, one after another, they all failed me, and I felt myself alone among six hundred playmates. O the cruelty of separating a poor lad from his early homestead!
The yearnings which I used to have towards it in those unfledged years! How, in my dreams, would my native town far in the west come back, with its church, and trees, and faces! How I would wake weeping, and in the anguish of my heart exclaim upon sweet Calne in Wiltshire!
To this late hour of my life, I trace impressions left by the recollection of those friendless holidays. The long warm days of summer never return but they bring with them a gloom from the haunting memory of those whole-day-leaves, when, by some strange arrangement, we were turned out, for the live-long day, upon our own hands, whether we had friends to go to, or none.
I remember those bathing-excursions to the New—River, which L. Any complaint which he had to make was sure of being attended to. The oppressions of these young brutes are heart-sickening to call to recollection.
I have been called out of my bed, and waked for the purpose, in the coldest winter nights — and this not once, but night after night — in my shirt, to receive the discipline of a leathern thong, with eleven other sufferers, because it pleased my callow overseer, when there has been any talking heard after we were gone to bed, to make the six last beds in the dormitory, where the youngest children of us slept, answerable for an offence they neither dared to commit, nor had the power to hinder.
There was one H— — who, I learned, in after days, was seen expiating some maturer offence in the hulks. Do I flatter myself in fancying that this might be the planter of that name, who suffered — at Nevis, I think, or St. Kits — some few years since? My friend Tobin was the benevolent instrument of bringing him to the gallows.
The client was dismissed, with certain attentions, to Smithfield; but I never understood that the patron underwent any censure on the occasion. This was in the stewardship of L. Under the same facile administration, can L. These things were daily practised in that magnificent apartment, which L. But these unctuous morsels are never grateful to young palates children are universally fat-haters and in strong, coarse, boiled meats, unsalted, are detestable.
A gag-eater in our time was equivalent to a goul, and held in equal detestation. He was observed, after dinner, carefully to gather up the remnants left at his table not many, nor very choice fragments, you may credit me — and, in an especial manner, these disreputable morsels, which he would convey away, and secretly stow in the settle that stood at his bed-side. None saw when he ate them. It was rumoured that he privately devoured them in the night.
He was watched, but no traces of such midnight practices were discoverable. Some reported, that, on leave-days, he had been seen to carry out of the bounds a large blue check handkerchief, full of something.
This then must be the accursed thing. Conjecture next was at work to imagine how he could dispose of it. Some said he sold it to the beggars. This belief generally prevailed. He went about moping. None spake to him. No one would play with him. He was excommunicated; put out of the pale of the school. He was too powerful a boy to be beaten, but he underwent every mode of that negative punishment, which is more grievous than many stripes. At length he was observed by two of his school-fellows, who were determined to get at the secret, and had traced him one leave-day for that purpose, to enter a large worn-out building, such as there exist specimens of in Chancery-lane, which are let out to various scales of pauperism with open door, and a common staircase.
After him they silently slunk in, and followed by stealth up four flights, and saw him tap at a poor wicket, which was opened by an aged woman, meanly clad.
Suspicion was now ripened into certainty. The informers had secured their victim. They had him in their toils. Accusation was formally preferred, and retribution most signal was looked for. Hathaway, the then steward for this happened a little after my timewith that patient sagacity which tempered all his conduct, determined to investigate the matter, before he proceeded to sentence. The result was, that the supposed mendicants, the receivers or purchasers of the mysterious scraps, turned out to be the parents of — — an honest couple come to decay — whom this seasonable supply had, in all probability, saved from mendicancy; and that this young stork, at the expense of his own good name, had all this while been only feeding the old birds!
He was a tall, shambling youth, with a cast in his eye, not at all calculated to conciliate hostile prejudices. I think I heard he did not do quite so well by himself, as he had done by the old folks. I was a hypochondriac lad; and the sight of a boy in fetters, upon the day of my first putting on the blue clothes, was not exactly fitted to assuage the natural terrors of initiation. I was of tender years, barely turned of seven; and had only read of such things in books, or seen them but in dreams.
I was told he had run away. This was the punishment for the first offence. These were little, square, Bedlam cells, where a boy could just lie at his length upon straw and a blanket — a mattress, I think, was afterwards substituted — with a peep of light, let in askance, from a prison-orifice at top, barely enough to read by.
Here the poor boy was locked in by himself all day, without sight of any but the porter who brought him his bread and water — who might not speak to him; — or of the beadle, who came twice a week to call him out to receive his periodical chastisement, which was almost welcome, because it separated him for a brief interval from solitude: The effect of this divestiture was such as the ingenious devisers of it could have anticipated.
With his pale and frighted features, it was as if some of those disfigurements in Dante had seized upon him. In this disguisement he was brought into the hall L. These were governors; two of whom, by choice, or charter, were always accustomed to officiate at these Ultima Supplicia; not to mitigate so at least we understood itbut to enforce the uttermost stripe. Old Bamber Gascoigne, and Peter Aubert, I remember, were colleagues on one occasion, when the beadle turning rather pale, a glass of brandy was ordered to prepare him for the mysteries.
The scourging was, after the old Roman fashion, long and stately. The lictor accompanied the criminal quite round the hall. We were generally too faint with attending to the previous disgusting circumstances, to make accurate report with our eyes of the degree of corporal suffering inflicted. Report, of course, gave out the back knotty and livid. After scourging, he was made over, in his San Benito, to his friends, if he had any but commonly such poor runagates were friendlessor to his parish officer, who, to enhance the effect of the scene, had his station allotted to him on the outside of the hall gate.
These solemn pageantries were not played off so often as to spoil the general mirth of the community. We had plenty of exercise and recreation after school hours; and, for myself, I must confess, that I was never happier, than in them. The Upper and the Lower Grammar Schools were held in the same room; and an imaginary line only divided their bounds. Their character was as different as that of the inhabitants on the two sides of the Pyrennees.
James Boyer was the Upper Master; but the Rev. Matthew Field presided over that portion of the apartment, of which I had the good fortune to be a member. We lived a life as careless as birds. We talked and did just what we pleased, and nobody molested us. We carried an accidence, or a grammar, for form; but, for any trouble it gave us, we might take two years in getting through the verbs deponent, and another two in forgetting all that we had learned about them.
There was now and then the formality of saying a lesson, but if you had not learned it, a brush across the shoulders just enough to disturb a fly was the sole remonstrance.
Crookenden of Rushford, he translated a remarkable sermon of Krummacher's, 'on the beheading of John the Baptist,' which in its pictorial style and its earnestness suggests, however faintly, the character of his own discourses. This translation was made before he was sixteen; and the printed sermon went through at least seven editions, one of the last of which is at present lying before us. From Helston, recollections of which place were afterwards worked up in one of his best novels—Two Years Ago—Charles Kingsley passed to King's College, and thence to Magdalene College, Cambridge, with its famous Pepysian library.
He became well known as a boating man, and was one of the first to interest himself in what are now recognised as 'athletic sports'—very different in his day to what they have since become—a development against which he has protested in more than one place.
He certainly did not allow his proficiency in such sports to become the main object of his university career. He soon won a scholarship, carried off more than one important prize, and came out at last in first in classics and 'senior optime' in the mathematical tripos. After a very short hesitation between the Bar and the Church he was, towards the close of the same yearordained on the curacy of Eversley; and after he had received priest's orders he was offered and accepted the rectory.
He then married a daughter of Pascoe Grenfell, many years member of Parliament for Truro and for Great Marlow it was of the name of Grenfell he was thinking when, in Westward Ho! The single eye, the daughter of the light; Well pleased to recognise in lowliest shade Some glimmer of its parent beam, and made By daily draughts of brightness inly bright; The taste severe, yet graceful, trained aright In classic depth and clearness, and repaid By thanks and honour from the wise and staid, By pleasant skill to blame, and yet delight, And high communion with the eloquent throng Of those who purified our speech and song—All these are yours.
The same examples lure You in each woodland, me on breezy moor, With kindred aim the same sweet path along, To knit in loving knowledge rich and poor.
His 'breezy moor'—and by it we are to understand the whole country round Eversley—is as interesting and peculiar a district as is to be found in England, not less remarkable in its way than Dartmoor or the coast of Clovelly. The rectory, and the little church adjoining, in which lies buried the learned Alex- page ander Ross, of whom mention is made in Hudibras— There was an ancient sage philosopher Who had read Alexander Ross over— are sheltered from the north by a ridge of heathy moor, which stretches away into wide tracts, half common, half clothed by woods and thickets of Scotch fir, which cover this borderland of Hampshire and Berkshire, where the chalk meets the sands and clays of the so-called 'London basin.
These trees are the parents of the fir-woods that extend, and are still extending, over the surrounding country. They must not be called plantations. Nearly all are self-sown—'young live nature,' in Kingsley's words, 'thus carrying on a great savage process in the heart of this old and seemingly all-artificial English land, and reproducing here as surely as in the Australian bush a native forest, careless of mankind.
The March breeze is chilly, but I can be always warm, if I like, in my winter garden. I turn my horse's head to the red wall of fir stems, and leap over the furze-grown bank into my cathedral There is not a breath of air within, but the breeze sighs over the roof above in a soft whisper. I shut my eyes and listen. Surely that is the murmur of the summer sea upon the summer sands in Devon far away. I hear the innumerable wavelets spend themselves gently upon the shore, and die away to rise again.
The breeze is gone awhile, and I am in perfect silence—a silence which may be heard. Not a sound, and not a moving object; absolutely none. The absence of animal life is solemn, startling. That ringdove, who was cooing half a mile away, has hushed his moan; that flock of long-tailed titmice, which were twinging and pecking about the fir-cones a few minutes since, are gone; and now there is not even a gnat to quiver in the slant sun-rays.
Did a spider run over these dead leaves, I almost fancy I could hear his footfall. I seem alone in a dead world. Above my head every fir-needle is breathing—breathing for ever, and currents unnumbered circulate in every bough, quickened by some undiscovered miracle; around mo every fir-stem is distilling strange juices, which no laboratory of man can make; and where my dull eye sees only death, the eye of God sees boundless life and motion, health and use.
Miss page Mitford had already shown how much real tragedy and comedy was to be found among the simple folk of these old-fashioned English homesteads; and the wilder country, the heaths and the moors about Eversley, has long nurtured a race of its own, not by any means disliked by the rector, and thus described by him: The clod of these parts delights in the chase, like any bare-legged Paddy, and casts away flail and fork wildly to run, shout, assist, and interfere in all possible ways out of pure love.
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 king's deer are to be shot in the winter turnip-fields, or worse, 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 reconsiders himself for a while over a crank in Winchester gaol.
Well, he has his faults, and I have mine. But he is a thorough good fellow nevertheless; quite as good as I: Dark-haired he is, ruddy, and tall of bone; swaggering in his youth; but when he grows old, a thorough gentleman, reserved, stately, and courteous as a prince. Sixteen years have I lived with him, hail fellow well met, and never yet had a rude word or action from him. The rector's power of attracting to himself men of all ranks and classes was strongly shown in the devotion borne to him by this 'race of the wandering foot.
Borrow had hardly more influence with them. They sought him in all their troubles. They came to his church to be married, and they would be buried in no other churchyard. Some of them mingled with the crowd at his funeral, and mingled too their tears with those of his parishioners. He will long be remembered among them; and if a second Borrow should arise, two or three centuries hence, to collect their traditions, he will doubtless find among them sundry records of the tall, springy-stepped 'Giorgio,' in the grey knickerbockers, whose wise counsels were so gladly welcomed by their forefathers.
This dark grey dress was his ordinary wear at Eversley. The Lives of the Saints were issuing from the Oxford press, and the religious discussions that had been stirring page the University were fast approaching a crisis. Such questions came home to him under the shadow of his fir trees, and in his quiet lanes. It was impossible but that he should long to take his part in the struggle, and it was under the influences of all that was passing and had passed at Littlemore and at Oxford that he wrote his Saint's Tragedy, the first, and by no means the least important, of his works.
It was published, with a preface by Professor Maurice, in ; and in it he strikes that sharp note of opposition to the ascetic and monastic tendencies of the High Church party if by that name it should be calledas well as to all 'direction' and sacerdotal rule, which never ceased to echo through all that he wrote and all that he taught.
His Elizabeth of Hungary is a true saint. Had it been otherwise, there could have been no 'tragedy. Something of Goethe studies and of the music of Faust may be traced in the Saint's Tragedy, to which perhaps full justice has never been done. The dramatic power and life-like painting which were to find full scope in the novels are already conspicuous in the Tragedy. The hesitation and the mingled feeling of Conrad, the stern director of the saint, in whom the author found 'a noble nature, warped and blinded by its unnatural exclusions from those family ties through which we first discern or describe God and our relations to Him,' are finely indicated.
In the Saint's Tragedy Charles Kingsley addressed himself to the religious question of the time. He had already shown himself active and zealous in the cause of what he believed to be the oppressed classes of society by associating himself with Mr.
Hughes, and some others, who for the better carrying out of their views, had established a magazine called Politics for the People, and a weekly newspaper under the name of the Leader. They also set up the 'College' in Red Lion Square, with the especial object of promoting the education of adults. Alton Locke was written at this time; and remains a striking picture of the mental condition of a 'poet and tailor'—a sensitive and meditative youth of the working class, such an one as was likely to become the leader of a Chartist movement.
Yeast, which was first published in the pages of this Magazine, but which, owing to the sudden failure of the author's health, was never completed, belongs to this same period of 'Sturm und Drang;' and, insisting as it does on the iniquities of game-preserving squires and on the comparative helplessness and innocence of poachers, draws much of its inspiration from what he saw passing under his own eyes at Eversley.
There is, as he would afterwards have been one of the first to allow, something of a one-sided feeling in both these books; and probably in all his labours at this time on behalf of the working men, and in all his passionate pleading for them, he was too eager and too impassioned to see the full bearing of the great questions he was stirring.
Yet both Alton Locke and Yeast unquestionably did good, crude as the latter seems now to be, and un-finished as it remains. Some of the greatest evils pointed out in Alton Locke have been abolished, and the indignant tone of both books was in great measure justified. The true teaching of both was the page same as their author maintained to the end.
Over-work and over-excitement produced at last their natural result, and the rector of Eversley was compelled to give up for a time all writing and all labour in his parish. He returned to the scenes which his early life bad most endeared to him; and whilst passing some time at Bideford he revisited all that wild coast as far westward as Morwenstow, filling his mind with scenery and associations which were soon to bear fruit in the most widely known of his novels.
The first of these which appeared, however for Alton Locke and Yeast were but 'lesser lights'was not Westward Ho!
Elia and The Last Essays of Elia / Charles Lamb
Hypatia was followed, at due intervals, by Westward Ho! They have carried his name and his reputation into every land where English is spoken, and to every country where sound literature and high purpose are honoured and recognised. It is hardly necessary to say much about books so well known. The merits, and perhaps the defects, of all three are much the same.
In all there is a powerful reality, and a pictorial power almost unequalled. His Goths in Hypatia—whether such warriors ever existed or not—are as alive for us as his Eversley 'clods' or his Clovelly fishermen.
Devonshire men know well that in Amyas Leigh and his companions he has but called into vivid reality the floating traditions which had come down from the 'golden age' of the west country; and in his bands all the struggle of that mighty time becomes once more present to us, and is a concern of our own.
In Two Years Ago, which for some reasons may perhaps be considered the best of the three stories, we are landed in our own days; but Tom Thurnall is hardly more of a living, breathing man than Sir Richard Grenvile or Cyril of Alexandria.
He himself looked upon Grace Harvey, the Cornish schoolmistress whose simple, undoubting faith and self-denial converts at last the self-reliant and unbelieving Tom Thurnall, as the highest and best of all his creations; and studied as she may have been from the life, she is surrounded by an atmosphere of the same true saintliness and womanly purity as he had thrown round his Elizabeth of Hungary.
He never preaches, but he never forgets the lessons most needed for the time; and the healthiest spirit of duty, of courage, and—last, not least—of submission runs through all his novels.
Stories from the Dark Earth: Meet the Ancestors Revisited (TV Mini-Series – ) - IMDb
The last chapters of Westward Ho! He never wrote anything finer. The beauty and the truth of the description have never been exceeded, and he is here, it must be remembered, on his own ground, putting at last into words what had been haunting his imagination from his schoolboy days. It is hardly too much to say that in Westward Ho! His pictures and his characters have be-come inseparably connected with all that country; and the pilgrim who now wanders along the lovely coast, and looks towards Lundy, will surely remember Amyas Leigh.
Hereward, the last of his novels, which did not appear until some time after its author had been appointed, into the chair of Modern History at Cambridge, is hardly one of the pleasantest. It is a rude, savage picture, and we turn with satisfaction from the con- page stant fighting and 'swashing blows' to the descriptions of the fen land, studied with the close, observant eye of a naturalist.
His Cambridge appointment, welcome as it was in one sense, was not altogether congenial to him; and, indeed, he felt, as others did on seeing his name as that of the new Professor, that such historical teaching as the position demanded was not really his calling, and that, with whatever vividness he might succeed in restoring the faded colours of the past, the true historian, like the poet, must be led toward his task by an overpowering, natural impulse, and have trained himself for it from his earliest days.
His was far more truly the temperament of the poet; and had he given himself entirely to the 'mystery' of verse-making, he might not impossibly have attained a rank among the 'makers' oven more considerable than that which he has made his own as a writer of romance and of prose poetry.
He held the professorship, how-ever, untiland then resigned it, with no small feeling of relief, for a stall in the cathedral of Chester, which again was exchanged but a year or two later for one in Westminster Abbey. All his advancement was due to the admiration and respect with which those in the very highest places of the land had been early led to regard him, and which he retained to the last.
And wherever he was placed—at Cambridge, at Chester, or at Westminster—his personal teaching, and his zeal in all good works, made themselves felt in a way that will not soon be forgotten.
It is difficult to overestimate the effect of his companionship, and of his teaching from the pulpit, on the young men of Cambridge. Whatever may be thought of his fitness for the historical chair, there can be no doubt that his connection with the University at that period was of no small service to the 'generation' or two of undergraduates over whom his influence extended.
Throughout all this time, in the intervals between the appearance of the novels, a long succession of lesser writings, the varied subjects of which show over how wide a range his sympathies extended, was given to the world; some of them, including those delightful essays afterwards collected in his Miscellanies, which have already been quoted, and which are pages from his own life—the 'Winter Garden,' the 'Chalk, stream Studies,' and the 'North Devon Idylls'—in this Magazine.
Alexandria and her Schools was the result of the reading he had gone through for Hypatia. Glaucus shows him in another light; and here he gives us his lofty ideal of the 'perfect naturalist'—'strong in body, able to haul a dredge, climb a rock, turn a boulder, walk all day, uncertain where he shall eat or rest;' a rider, a good shot, a skilful fisherman; 'and for his moral character, he must be gentle and courteous In his charming Water Babies he revels in his own knowledge of natural wonders, and in many of his sermons he makes some bit of natural history—some insect development, or some plant distribution which he had just been observing—'point a moral' in a way that his most unlearned hearers could not fail to follow.
In these sermons, of which many volumes are published, delivered in his own village church, before the Univer- page sity, and elsewhere, he spoke out his mind plainly, and none who ever heard him can forget the effect. The slight hesitation which sometimes marked his ordinary speech quite disappeared as he addressed his audience; and he was never more impressive than when speaking to his own people in his own church, in simple words indeed, but those clear and incisive, and often working his descriptions into such pictures as carried his hearers far away from the quiet aisles of Eversley.
And he did not spare them, as the following passage sufficiently indicates: If I am asked why the poor profess God's Gospel and practise the Devil's works, and why, in this very parish now, there are women who, while they are drunkards, swearers, and adulteresses, will run anywhere to hear a sermon, and like nothing better, saving sin, than high-flown religious books—if I am asked, I say, why the old English honesty, which used to be our glory and our strength, has decayed so much of late years, and a hideous and shameful hypocrisy has taken the place of it, I can only answer by pointing to the good old Church Catechism, and what it says about our duty to God and to our neighbour, and declaring boldly, It is because you have forgotten that; because you have despised that; because you have fancied that it was beneath you to keep God's plain human commandments.
You have been wanting to 'save your souls,' while you did not care whether your souls were saved alive, or whether they were dead and rotten and damned within you; you have dreamed that you could be what you called 'spiritual' while you were the slaves of sin; you have dreamed that you could become what you call 'saints' while you were not yet even decent men and women.