Charles Kingsley, Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet

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In subsequent numbers (as afterwards in the "Christian Socialist," and the "Journal of Association") he dwells in detail on the several popular cries, such as, "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work," illustrating them from the Bible, urging his readers to take it as the true Radical Reformer's Guide, if they were longing for the same thing as he was longing for—to see all humbug, idleness, injustice, swept out of England. His other contributions to these periodicals consisted of some of his best short poems: "The Day of the Lord;" "The Three Fishers;" "Old and New," and others; of a series of Letters on the Frimley murder; of a short story called "The Nun's Pool," and of some most charming articles on the pictures in the National Gallery, and the collections in the British Museum, intended to teach the English people how to use and enjoy their own property.

I think I know every line which was ever published under the signature Parson Lot; and I take it upon myself to say, that there is in all that "burning language" nothing more revolutionary than the extracts given above from his letters to the Chartists.

But, it may be said, apart from his writings, did not Parson Lot declare himself a Chartist in a public meeting in London; and did he not preach in a London pulpit a political sermon, which brought up the incumbent, who had invited him, to protest from the altar against the doctrine which had just been delivered?

Yes! Both statements are true. Here are the facts as to the speech, those as to the sermon I will give in their place. In the early summer of 1848 some of those who felt with C. Kingsley that the "People's Charter" had not had fair play or courteous treatment, and that those who signed it had real wrongs to complain of, put themselves into communication with the leaders, and met and talked with them. At last it seemed that the time was come for some more public meeting, and one was called at the Cranbourn Tavern, over which Mr. Maurice presided. After the president's address several very bitter speeches followed, and a vehement attack was specially directed against the Church and the clergy. The meeting waxed warm, and seemed likely to come to no good, when Kingsley rose, folded his arms across his chest, threw his head back, and began—with the stammer which always came at first when he was much moved, but which fixed every one's attention at once—"I am a Church of England parson"—a long pause—"and a Chartist;" and then he went on to explain how far he thought them right in their claim for a reform of Parliament; how deeply he sympathized with their sense of the injustice of the law as it affected them; how ready he was to help in all ways to get these things set right; and then to denounce their methods, in very much the same terms as I have already quoted from his letters to the Chartists. Probably no one who was present ever heard a speech which told more at the time. I had a singular proof that the effect did not pass away. The most violent speaker on that occasion was one of the staff of the leading Chartist newspaper. I lost sight of him entirely for more than twenty years, and saw him again, a little grey shrivelled man, by Kingsley's side, at the grave of Mr. Maurice, in the cemetery at Hampstead.

The experience of this meeting encouraged its promoters to continue the series, which they did with a success which surprised no one more than themselves. Kingsley's opinion of them may be gathered from the following extract from a letter to his wife:—

"June 4, 1848, Evening.—A few words before bed. I have just come home from the meeting. No one spoke but working men, gentlemen I should call them, in every sense of the term. Even I was perfectly astonished by the courtesy, the reverence to Maurice, who sat there like an Apollo, their eloquence, the brilliant, nervous, well-chosen language, the deep simple earnestness, the rightness and moderation of their thoughts. And these are the Chartists, these are the men who are called fools and knaves—who are refused the rights which are bestowed on every profligate fop…. It is God's cause, fear not He will be with us, and if He is with us, who shall be against us?"