Thursday, 7 June 2012

Charles Kingsley

For many year quotes from Charles Kingsley have illustrated the walks and field courses I lead from Malham Tarn Field Centre - whether on Pond dipping, Grasses and Sedges, General Walks or Flowers. - including the flowers walk I led yesterday
When we ran A-level biology Weeks in the 1980s, Henry Disney (then the Warden and Director) would stop near the little stream spring in the field below what had been the Estate School and say "Charles Kingsley visited Walter Morrison at Malham Tarn House and used to take the children from the school for Nature Walks and tell them about the Water Babies at this stream."

There is a lot of science and chat about science in the Water Babies... do read it.
Charles Kingsley wrote an excellent poem about a stream, which I print near the end of this post.

He wrote the hymn: From Thee all skill and science flow (You can hear the music here too)
Note especially the penultimate lines:-When ever blue the sky shall gleam, and ever green the sod.
From Thee all skill and science flow,
All pity, care and love,
All calm and courage, faith and hope;
O pour them from above.
And part them, Lord, to each and all,
As each and all shall need,
To rise, like incense, each to Thee,
In noble thought and deed.
And hasten, Lord, that perfect day
When pain and death shall cease;
And Thy just rule shall fill the earth
With health, and light, and peace.
When ever blue the sky shall gleam,
And ever green the sod;
And man’s rude work deface no more
The paradise of God.
 There are two earlier verses as well about consecrating a house
Here is "The river's song"  that Tom heard in the Water Babies:
However, down he went; like a brave little man as he was, though he was very footsore, and tired, and hungry, and thirsty; while the church-bells rang so loud, he began to think that they must be inside his own head, and the river chimed and tinkled far below; and this was the song which it sang:—
Clear and cool, clear and cool,
By laughing shallow, and dreaming pool;
Cool and clear, cool and clear,
By shining shingle, and foaming wear;
Under the crag where the ouzel sings,
And the ivied wall where the church-bell rings,
Undefiled, for the undefiled;
Play by me, bathe in me, mother and child.
Dank and foul, dank and foul,
By the smoky town in its murky cowl;
Foul and dank, foul and dank,
By wharf and sewer and slimy bank;
Darker and darker the farther I go,
Baser and baser the richer I grow;
Who dares sport with the sin-defiled?
Shrink from me, turn from me, mother and child.
Strong and free, strong and free,
The floodgates are open, away to the sea,
Free and strong, free and strong,
Cleansing my streams as I hurry along,
To the golden sands, and the leaping bar,
And the taintless tide that awaits me afar.
As I lose myself in the infinite main,
Like a soul that has sinned and is pardoned again.
Undefiled, for the undefiled;
Play by me, bathe in me, mother and child.
So Tom went down; and all the while he never saw the Irishwoman going down behind him.
On reading Charles Kingsley's biography (1819-1775), I discovered that he campaigned much on Sanitation Issues -
That may not sound romantic- but improving water and sanitation has improved peoples health more than medicine!!
Here is an excellent brief biography:-
Quoting from this:-
   In 1849 a cholera epidemic started in Jacob's Island in London's Bermondsey district. Kingsley and his friends, manifesting the practical stress of the Christian Socialist movement, worked incessantly in the district to arrest the outbreak. Indeed, he later became so well known for his work in sanitary reform that he was asked in the spring of 1854 to speak before the House of Commons on the unhygienic conditions prevalent in urban areas and the low remuneration of parish medical officers. The following year he led a deputation on the issue of sanitary reform to the prime minister.
      Kingsley's horror at the frequently atrocious sanitary conditions in Victorian cities accounts for some of the most striking episodes and passages in his novel Alton Locke (1859). This work, purporting to be the autobiography of a working-class Chartist poet, had as a principal aim the exposure of the dreadful working conditions, especially the shocking lack of hygiene, of tailors in London's West End....

 In 1855 Kingsley published Glaucus; or, The Wonders of the Shore (1855), an introduction to natural history and one of the first books of its kind to be written specifically for children. Manifest in Glaucus is the author's firm belief in evolution. Kingsley, uncommon among clerics battling with the religious and moral problems introduced by Darwinian theories, saw no conflict between the teachings of science and the teachings of religion. Indeed, he consistently emphasized that by studying science one was in effect studying the work of God and getting to know him better.   Kingsley's knowledge of science was such that he became a fellow of both the Linnaean and Geological Societies and was even cited by Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man (1871).

1848:-  Soon, together with Maurice and the barristers John Malcolm Ludlow and Thomas Hughes, author of Tom Brown's Schooldays (1856), Kingsley was fully committed to the Christian Socialist movement. He was never particularly radical, however, and as he grew older he increasingly became an establishment figure.

He died in 1875 of pneumonia.
I'll leave this post, descending with Tom down the cliff -

You would have been giddy, perhaps, at looking down: but Tom was not. He was a brave little chimney-sweep; and when he found himself on the top of a high cliff, instead of sitting down and crying for his baba (though he never had had any baba to cry for), he said, “Ah, this will just suit me!” though he was very tired; and down he went, by stock and stone, sedge and ledge, bush and rush, .......

So I'll go and prepare for my next sedges and rushes and grasses course..

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