|The Reader of the Sacred Books|
But, as the first half of my title indicates, Kingsley was a reverend, and a very devout man, too. He was the big instigator of what came to be called "muscular Christianity": the belief that a pious man ought to be healthy, muscular, and rugged. Don't just sit around reading about the world, get out in it and explore! Conquer the Crimea, defeat cholera epidemics, and catalog the wonders of the shore! (Eventually his ideas spread to America, where they led to the existence of the YMCA, so without Kingsley I may have never learned how to swim.)
|Science is cool, kids-- |
it has volcanoes!
Kingsley actually wrote to Darwin to suggest that fauns, satyrs, elves, and dwarves were probably the missing links between man and animal: "That they should have died out, by simple natural selection, before the superior white race, you & I can easily understand." (Darwin's response is of the uh-huh-how-very-interesting variety, though he can't avoid being racist in a typical Victorian fashion: "In 500 years how the Anglo-saxon race will have spread & exterminated whole nations; & in consequence how much the Human race, viewed as a unit, will have risen in rank.")
In addition to all his religious and scientific writing, however, Kingsley was also the Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University from 1860 to 1869, where he was very popular with undergraduates but very unpopular with other faculty. I have the sense that Kingsley's historical credentials were dubious at best; he was slated for not doing very much original research, and he was also really into the "Great Man" version of history. But he seems to have been an excellent storyteller, so put him up at a podium and get him to lecture about Roman Britain, and you get something really quite enjoyable.
|Not that kind of "positive," Grumpy Cat|
courtesy Leigh Ann's Blog
For all the unpopularity this approach yielded amongst Cambridge's other faculty (William Whewell was kind of a dick to him, apparently), it did what Kingsley wanted it to do: there's a letter from a student to Kingsley that says, "Your whole series last term, and especially the grand concluding one on Comte, have made an expression just at the moment it was needed […and] put into the minds of many young men the same living belief in a living God" (qtd. in Klaver 602). And such was his reputation that during his time at Cambridge, Kingsley was also engaged as private history tutor to the Prince of Wales-- later King Edward VII.
Kingsley was also really into sanitary reform, but let me tell you, that is not easy to be interested in, or to say much interesting about.
|get a look at those sex maniacs|
(within the bounds of marriage)
courtesy Charles Kingsley:
The 20th Century Heritage
Chitty, Susan. The Beast and the Monk: A Life of Charles Kingsley. New York: Mason/Charter, 1975.
Kingsley, Charles. "The Limits of Exact Science as Applied to History." 1860. The Roman and the Teuton: A Series of Lectures Delivered before the University of Cambridge. London: Macmillan, 1891. 307-43.
---. Preface. Madam How and Lady Why, or First Lessons in Earth Lore for Children. 1870. New York: Macmillan, 1893. vii-xv.
Klaver, J. M. I. The Apostle of the Flesh: A Critical Life of Charles Kingsley. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.
Wright, C. J. "'My darling baby': Charles Kingsley's Letters to His Wife." British Library Journal 1984: 147-57.