Charles Kingsley, Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet

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But while he was rapidly winning the confidence of the working classes, he was raising up a host of more or less hostile critics in other quarters by his writings in "Politics for the People," which journal was in the midst of its brief and stormy career. At the end of June, 1848, he writes to Mr. Ludlow, one of the editors—

"I fear my utterances have had a great deal to do with the 'Politics'' unpopularity. I have got worse handled than any of you by poor and rich. There is one comfort, that length of ears is in the donkey species always compensated by toughness of hide. But it is a pleasing prospect for me (if you knew all that has been said and written about Parson Lot), when I look forward and know that my future explosions are likely to become more and more obnoxious to the old gentlemen, who stuff their ears with cotton, and then swear the children are not screaming."

"Politics for the People" was discontinued for want of funds; but its supporters, including all those who were working under Mr. Maurice—who, however much they might differ in opinions, were of one mind as to the danger of the time, and the duty of every man to do his utmost to meet that danger—were bent upon making another effort. In the autumn, Mr. Ludlow, and others of their number who spent the vacation abroad, came back with accounts of the efforts at association which were being made by the workpeople of Paris.

The question of starting such associations in England as the best means of fighting the slop system—which the "Chronicle" was showing to lie at the root of the misery and distress which bred Chartists—was anxiously debated. It was at last resolved to make the effort, and to identify the new journal with the cause of Association, and to publish a set of tracts in connection with it, of which Kingsley undertook to write the first, "Cheap Clothes and Nasty."

So "the Christian Socialist" was started, with Mr. Ludlow for editor, the tracts on Christian Socialism begun under Mr. Maurice's supervision, and the society for promoting working-men's associations was formed out of the body of men who were already working with Mr. Maurice. The great majority of these joined, though the name was too much for others. The question of taking it had been much considered, and it was decided, on the whole, to be best to do so boldly, even though it might cost valuable allies. Kingsley was of course consulted on every point, though living now almost entirely at Eversley, and his views as to the proper policy to be pursued may be gathered best from the following extracts from letters of his to Mr. Ludlow—

"We must touch the workman at all his points of interest. First and foremost at association—but also at political rights, as grounded both on the Christian ideal of the Church, and on the historic facts of the Anglo-Saxon race. Then national education, sanitary and dwelling-house reform, the free sale of land, and corresponding reform of the land laws, moral improvement of the family relation, public places of recreation (on which point I am very earnest), and I think a set of hints from history, and sayings of great men, of which last I have been picking up from Plato, Demosthenes, &c."

1849.—"This is a puling, quill-driving, soft-handed age—among our own rank, I mean. Cowardice is called meekness; to temporize is to be charitable and reverent; to speak truth, and shame the devil, is to offend weak brethren, who, somehow or other, never complain of their weak consciences till you hit them hard. And yet, my dear fellow, I still remain of my old mind—that it is better to say too much than too little, and more merciful to knock a man down with a pick-axe than to prick him to death with pins. The world says, No. It hates anything demonstrative, or violent (except on its own side), or unrefined."

1849.—"The question of property is one of these cases. We must face it in this age—simply because it faces us."—"I want to commit myself—I want to make others commit themselves. No man can fight the devil with a long ladle, however pleasant it may be to eat with him with one. A man never fishes well in the morning till he has tumbled into the water."