KINGSLEY, CHARLES: English clergyman and author; b. at Holne (20 m. s.w. of Exeter), Devonshire, June 12, 1819; d. at Eversley (26 m. n.e. of of Winchester), Hampshire, Jan. 23, 1835. He was a precocious child, fond of athletics and romantic in disposition; the scenery with which he was surrounded made a profound impression on his character. He received his education at Clifton, Helston, King's College, London, and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he studied fitfully and allowed himself to he distracted by manifold interests. He had at this time little taste for theology, but finally decided to take orders, and was ordained in July, 1842, to the curacy of Eversley. There his duties were practical rather than theoretical, for the parish was in a state of utter decay. In 1845 he received the honorary appointment of canon of Middleham. His literary activities had already begun, and at London in 1848 appeared his drama The Saint's Tragedy, a play based on St. Elizabeth of Hungary, in which he voiced his disapproval of medieval asceticism, which, in his opinion, detracted
His wife's health now obliged Kingsley to spend the winter and spring at Torquay and Bideford, his studies of natural history at the former place giving him the foundation for his Glaucus (1855) and the latter for his great historical novel Westward Ho! (1855). At Bideford, moreover, he formed a drawing class for young men in the same spirit of practicality with which he had lectured for a year on English literature at Queen's College in 1848. The unpopularity and prejudice against which Kingsley had thus far struggled were now ending. In 1859 he was appointed one of the queen's chaplains and in the following year received the professorship of modern history at Cambridge. Yet his tenure of office, which ended in his retirement in 1869, can scarcely be termed successful, for his mind was too versatile and too superficial for him to be a reliable historian. In 1864, moreover, he became involved in a controversy with John Henry Newman. In a review of a work by James Anthony Froude he accused the Roman Catholic clergy in general and Newman in particular of having but faint regard for truth for its own sake. Newman retorted, and upon Kingsley's replying with a pamphlet What, then, does Dr. Newman mean? his antagonist completely routed him with his famous Apologia pro vita sua (1864). About this time he wrote his Water Babies (1863) and a few years later his historical novel Hereward the Wake (1866), but his health was beginning to fail, and in 1864 he was obliged to make a trip to France, while in the following year he was likewise forced to take a vacation of three months on the Norfolk coast. After resigning his professorship at Cambridge he was for a time prominent in the Educational League and also acted as president of the section for education at the Social Science Congress at Bristol in Oct., 1869. In the same year he made a visit to the West Indies, embodying the result of his observations in his At Last (1870). He now took up his residence at Chester, where he had been appointed canon, and founded a class in botany, his interests in science becoming more and more pronounced, so that he finally regarded Darwinism as in harmony with theology. He remained at Chester only three years, however, for in 1873 he, was appointed canon of Westminister. His enfeebled health again forced him to seek a change of scene, and in 1874 he made a tour of America, but returned to England with little benefit from his trip, dying on a visit to his old parish.
Charles Kingsley was an earnest and consistent advocate of what was somewhat derisively called "muscular Christianity," and his enthusiasm for practical work among the poor, like his interest in science, especially in its popular aspects, was unfeigned. He can scarcely be regarded, on the other hand, as a theologian, although he was throughout his life a firm adherent of the Broad-church party, his opposition to the Tractarian movement being so pronounced as to lead Pusey and his colleagues in the High-church wing to make a successful protest against conferring an Oxford degree on him. The inscription on his tomb in the churchyard at Eversley strikingly attests the affection of his parishioners: Amavimus, amamus, amabimus, "We loved, love, and shall love (him)." His chief theological works were his Twenty-five Village Sermons (London, 1849); Sermons on National Subjects (2 vols., 1852-54); Sermons for the Times (1855); The Good News of God (1859); Town and Country Sermons (1861); Sermons on the Pentateuch (1863); David (four University sermons, 1867); The Water of Life and Other Sermons (1867); Discipline and other Sermons (1868); Westminster Sermons (1874); and the posthumous All Saints' Day and Other Sermons (1878).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The chief source is Charles Kingsley, His Letters and Memories of his Life, edited by his Wife, London, 1877. Consult further: J. H. Rigg, Modern Anglican Theology, with a Memoir of Canon Kingsley, ib. 1880; A Memoir is prefixed by T. Hughes to Alton Locke, ib. 1881; M. Kaufmann, Charles Kingsley, Christian Socialist and Social Reformer, ib. 1892; J. A. R. Marriott, Charles Kingsley, Novelist, ib. 1892; E. Groth, Charles Kingsley als Dichter und Sozialreformer, Leipsic, 1893; C. W. Stubbs, Charles Kingsley and the Christian Social Movement, London, 1899; DNB, xxxi. 175-181.
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