Charles Kingsley, Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet: Ch. 41

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Chapter XLI: Freedom, Equality, and Brotherhood

Before the same Father, the same King, crucified for all alike, we had partaken of the same bread and wine, we had prayed for the same spirit. Side by side, around the chair on which I lay propped up with pillows, coughing my span of life away, had knelt the high-born countess, the cultivated philosopher, the repentant rebel, the wild Irish girl, her slavish and exclusive creed exchanged for one more free and all-embracing; and that no extremest type of human condition might be wanting, the reclaimed Magdalene was there—two pale worn girls from Eleanor's asylum, in whom I recognized the needlewomen to whom Mackaye had taken me, on a memorable night, seven years before. Thus—and how better?—had God rewarded their loving care of that poor dying fellow-slave.

Yes—we had knelt together: and I had felt that we were one—that there was a bond between us, real, eternal, independent of ourselves, knit not by man, but God; and the peace of God, which passes understanding, came over me like the clear sunshine after weary rain.

One by one they shook me by the hand, and quitted the room; and Eleanor and
I were left alone.

"See!" she said, "Freedom, Equality, and Brotherhood are come; but not as you expected."

Blissful, repentant tears blinded my eyes, as I replied, not to her, but to
Him who spoke by her—

"Lord! not as I will, but as thou wilt!"

"Yes," she continued, "Freedom, Equality, and Brotherhood are here. Realize them in thine own self, and so alone thou helpest to make them realities for all. Not from without, from Charters and Republics, but from within, from the Spirit working in each; not by wrath and haste, but by patience made perfect through suffering, canst thou proclaim their good news to the groaning masses, and deliver them, as thy Master did before thee, by the cross, and not the sword. Divine paradox!—Folly to the rich and mighty—the watchword of the weak, in whose weakness is God's strength made perfect. 'In your patience possess ye your souls, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.' Yes—He came then, and the Babel-tyranny of Rome fell, even as the more fearful, more subtle, and more diabolic tyranny of Mammon shall fall ere long—suicidal, even now crumbling by its innate decay. Yes—Babylon the Great—the commercial world of selfish competition, drunken with the blood of God's people, whose merchandise is the bodies and souls of men—her doom is gone forth. And then—then—when they, the tyrants of the earth, who lived delicately with her, rejoicing in her sins, the plutocrats and bureaucrats, the money-changers and devourers of labour, are crying to the rocks to hide them, and to the hills to cover them, from the wrath of Him that sitteth on the throne—then labour shall be free at last, and the poor shall eat and be satisfied, with things that eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, but which God has prepared for those who love Him. Then the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea, and mankind at last shall own their King—Him. in whom they are all redeemed into the glorious liberty of the Sons of God, and He shall reign indeed on earth, and none but His saints shall rule beside Him. And then shall this sacrament be an everlasting sign to all the nations of the world, as it has been to you this day, of freedom, equality, brotherhood, of Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good-will toward men. Do you believe?"