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WINTER AT HOME-BRIGHT SUMMER DAYS - THE CROWDED CHURCH-CHARLOTTE BRONTÉ SPECULATION AND PRACTICE- - WORK BEYOND THE GRAVE-TO AN INDEPENDENT -TOM BROWN RECREATION "Go HARK!"— LOVE beyond the GRAVE - "Two YEARS AGO"-INDIAN MUTINY "CHRIST REIGNS"- HUMOR DIVINE - TEMPORARY FAILURE OF ASSOCIATIONS.
"There is a mean curiosity, as of a child opening a forbidden door, or a servant prying into his master's business;- and a noble curiosity, questioning in the front of danger, the source of the great river beyond the sand, the place of the great continents beyond the sea; a nobler curiosity still, which questions of the source of the River of Life, and of the space of the Continent of Heaven, things which the Angels desire to look into."
"I have boundless faith in 'time and light.' I shall see what is the truth some day, and if I do not some one else will, which is far more important. .." C. K.
HE year 1857 opened brightly on Charles Kingsley, for it found him, for the first winter for three years, in his own home at Eversley, with his wife and his three children, and in the fullest vigor of his manhood.
"I am writing nothing now; but taking breath, and working in the parish never better than I am at present; with many blessings, and, awful confession for
mortal man, no sorrows! I sometimes think there must be terrible arrears of sorrow to be paid off by that I may be as other men are! God help me in that day! . . ."
He had finished his "Two Years Ago." The year was rich in letters and lectures and friends; and he writes to Mr. Peter Wood, then rector of Devizes, where he was to give a lecture on the study of natural history:
"I look forward to seeing you with great delight, as a renewing of the days of my youth, at least of the better element of them, for I trust you will find me a better and calmer, if not a wiser man than you knew me in old times, though just as great a boy as ever. . . . Of the local geology of Devizes I know nought. I am not a man of chalk (save in reference to trouts), but a man of clays, and gravels, and sands, who wanders these moorlands till I have all but exhausted their flora, fauna, and geological features, though I hope to stumble on fresh wonders some day, by the aid of the microscope."
"... I am better off now than I have been for years!" he writes to Mr. Hughes. "God be thanked, and God grant, too, that I may not require to be taken down by some terrible trouble. I often fancy I shall be. If I am, I shall deserve it, as much as any man who ever lived. I say so now-justifying God beforehand, lest I should not have faith and patience enough to justify Him when the punishment comes. . . . Many thanks for your wholesome letter- the rightest letter I have had for many a day. It has taught me a great deal, dear old man; and you are nearer to God than I am, I see well. . .
The "terrible trouble" came, but not in the shape of personal grief or domestic affliction; and, till the awful news from India burst upon England, all went well. He was made this year a Fellow of the Linnean Society, which had been one of the ambitions of his life. He preached in his own church as distinctly as he did in his "Two Years Ago" (to those who could read between the lines) those views on the Intermediate State and the Future Life, which he held sacred to the last, basing his interpretation of Scripture on quotations from the Fathers. He lectured at Bristol and in the diocese, on "Great Cities: their Influence for Good and Evil," Thoughts in a Gravel Pit, and on Chaucer, and worked hard at sanitary and educational subjects. He wrote "The Winter Garden," the most perfect of all his Prose Idylls, this year. A strange medley of visitors proposed themselves, and were made welcome, at the Rectory. One day a Unitarian minister, clergymen of the Church of England, Dissenters, Americans—all came on missions of their own, and opened their hearts to him as they could to no other man. Visits from many dear friends, Max Müller, Anthony Froude, Cowley Powles, and Tom Hughes, refreshed his spirit. And on the lawn, under the old fir-trees on bright summer days, he and his guests discussed all things in heaven and earth-theology, natural science, poetry, and art, each in turn. And as by day he would revel in the sights of Nature, so on still summer nights he would interpret her sounds. He loved to gather his friends and children round him on the grass under his favorite 1 Published in the Miscellanies.
acacia-tree; and while intently listening himself to the well-beloved sounds wafted across the glebe, he would teach them to distinguish what, but for his acute senses, might have escaped notice the strange note of the night-hawk- the croaking of frogs in the far-off ponds on the common -the nightingale in the mount answering those in the garden - the call of the pheasant in Coombes's Wood - the distant bark of a fox and close at hand the clicking and cracking of the ripe fir cones. In his presence life was at its full — all nature spoke the silence was full of sound the darkness full of light the air, of fragrance. And "there has passed away a glory" from that little spot of "earth" which can never return though rays of it still linger in the memories of those who knew it in his time.
Sunday after Sunday he had the keen delight of seeing Crimean officers from Aldershot and Sandhurst in his congregation. Among others, one who had been dangerously wounded in the Redan, at Sevastopol, and who, when lying between life and death at Scutari, had read "Yeast," and determined, if he ever came back alive, "to go and hear the clergyman preach who could give such a picture of a hunting scene as the one in the opening chapter." One Sunday he came — while still on crutches-a stranger to Mr. Kingsley, but soon to become a friend, a constant attendant at church, and always a welcome guest at the Rectory early Sunday dinner.
TO REV. F. MAURICE. "I find that the Aldershot and Sandhurst mustachios come to hear these discourses of mine every Sunday - and my heart goes out to them
in great yearnings. Dear fellows — when I see them in the pews, and the smock frocks in the open seats, I feel as if I was not quite useless in the world, and that I was beginning to fulfil the one idea of my life, to tell Esau that he has a birthright as well as Jacob. I do feel very deeply the truth which John Mill has set forth in a one-sided way in his new book on Liberty (pp. 88-90, I think), about the past morality of Christendom having taken a somewhat abject tone, and requiring, as a complement, the old Pagan virtues, which our forefathers learnt from Plutarch's Lives, and of which the memory still lingers in our classical education. I do not believe, of course, that the want really exists: but that it was created, principally by the celibate misanthropy of the patristic and medieval church. But I have to preach the divineness of the whole manhood, and am content to be called a Muscular Christian, or any other impertinent name, by men who little dream of the weakness of character, sickness of body, and misery of mind, by which I have bought what little I know of the human heart."
Besides the military men who came, the little church was often full of strangers; and one Sunday, when twelve carriages were standing in and outside the stable-yard, the sexton was heard to say, he could not think why there was "such flitting to and fro to our church on Sundays." Having heard the same preaching for fifteen years himself, he could not tell what the wonder of it was. To the Rector this increasing notoriety was painful: "I cannot bear having my place turned into a fair on Sundays, and all this talking after church." And to avoid the greetings of acquaintances and the observation of strangers in the churchyard, he had a little back gate made