The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

January 23, 2014

January 23, 1875

Charles Kingsley (June 12, 1819 to January 23, 1875) was a Victorian clergyman and author. He wrote poems and novels. His fiction was often set in previous centuries. During his adult life Kingsley was associated with the Eversley Church in Hampshire. His views were fervently Anglican and his books "oppose a social order based on competition and laissez-faire policies." His sympathies with the working classes informed much of his writing.

Our quotes in this post are from the Victorian web, or his own writing. I have not actually studied his novels, but his life demonstrates a rare humility and religious authenticity. You can even follow his logic when he makes what seem misjudged assessments, like 
calling  Ralph Waldo Emerson "Professor Windrush," and his transcendentalism "Anythingarianism."

His wife after his death edited 
Charles Kingsley: His Letters and Memories of His Life (the 1883 compressed edition) and here I found some of his pastoral advice interesting:

... You think too much! There is such a thing as mystifying one's self! Mystifying one's self is thinking a dozen thoughts in order to get to a conclusion, to which one might arrive by thinking one—getting at ideas by an unnecessarily subtle and circuitous path: then, because one has been through many steps, one fancies one has gone deep. This is one form of want of simplicity. This is not being like a little child, any more than analysing one's own feelings. A child goes straight to its point, and it hardly knows why. When you have done a thing, leave it alone. You mystify yourself after the idea, not before. Second thoughts may be best before action—they are folly after action, unless we find we have sinned. The consistent Christian should have no second thoughts, but do good by the first impulse. How few attain to this. I do not object to subtlety of thought; but it is dangerous for one who has no scientific guide of logic, &c.

Kingsley here shows a rare appreciation of the rational mind. "You think too much." I wonder if Kingsley was the first to use that phrase.

"Largely on the strength of his historical fiction Kingsley was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge in 1860; in 1861 he was appointed tutor to the Prince of Wales..."

Quoting again from his Letters, among many delicate glimpses of his gentleness, we have this: speak of his home without mentioning his love of animals would be to leave the picture incomplete. His dog and his horse were his friends, and they knew it, and understood his voice and eye. He was a perfect horseman, and never lost his temper with his horse, but would talk to and reason with it if it shied or bolted, as if it had been a rational being, knowing that, from the fine organization of the animal, a horse (like a child) will often get confused by a sort of panic fear, which punishment only increases. His dog Dandy, a fine Scotch terrier, was his companion in all his parish walks, attended at the cottage lectures and school lessons, and was his and the children's friend for thirteen years. He lies buried under the great fir trees on the Rectory lawn, with this inscription on his grave-stone, "Fideli Fideles;" and close by "Sweep," a magnificent black retriever, and "Victor," given to him by the Queen, a favourite Teckel, [a kind of daschund I think] with which he sat up during the two last suffering nights of the little creature's life. He took great delight in cats; the stable had always its white cat, and the house its black or tabby, whose graceful movements he never tired of watching. His love of animals was deepened by his belief in their having a future state, which he held in common with John Wesley, Agassiz, Bishop Butler, and many other thoughtful men.

There are never enough "other thoughtful men" of Kingsley's stature. 

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