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Daily Thoughts: selected from the writings of Charles Kingsley by his wife online

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Transcribed from the 1885 Macmillan and Co. edition by David Price, email
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Selected from the Writings




_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, _Edinburgh_.

_This little Volume_, _selected from the MS. Note-books_, _Sermons and
Private Letters_, _as well as from the published Works of my Husband_,
_is dedicated to our children_, _and to all who feel the blessing of his
influence on their daily life and thought_.

_F. E. K._

_July_ 10, 1884.


Welcome, wild North-easter!
Shame it is to see
Odes to every zephyr:
Ne'er a verse to thee.
. . . . .
Tired we are of summer,
Tired of gaudy glare,
Showers soft and steaming,
Hot and breathless air.
Tired of listless dreaming
Through the lazy day:
Jovial wind of winter
Turn us out to play!
Sweep the golden reed-beds;
Crisp the lazy dyke;
Hunger into madness
Every plunging pike.
Fill the lake with wild-fowl;
Fill the marsh with snipe;
While on dreary moorlands
Lonely curlew pipe.
Through the black fir forest
Thunder harsh and dry,
Shattering down the snow-flakes
Off the curdled sky.
. . . . .
Come; and strong within us
Stir the Viking's blood;
Bracing brain and sinew:
Blow, thou wind of God!

_Ode to North-east Wind_.

New Year's Day. January 1. {3}

Gather you, gather you, angels of God -
Freedom and Mercy and Truth;
Come! for the earth is grown coward and old;
Come down and renew us her youth.
Wisdom, Self-sacrifice, Daring, and Love,
Haste to the battlefield, stoop from above,
To the day of the Lord at hand!

_The Day of the Lord_. 1847.

The Nineteenth Century. January 2.

Now, and at no other time: in this same nineteenth century lies our work.
Let us thank God that we are here now, and joyfully try to understand
_where_ we are, and what our work is _here_. As for all superstitions
about "the good old times," and fancies that _they_ belonged to God,
while this age belongs only to man, blind chance, and the evil one, let
us cast them from us as the suggestions of an evil lying spirit, as the
natural parents of laziness, pedantry, fanaticism, and unbelief. And
therefore let us not fear to ask the meaning of this present day, and of
all its different voices - the pressing, noisy, complex present, where our
workfield lies, the most intricate of all states of society, and of all
schools of literature yet known.

_Introductory Lecture_, _Queen's College_.

Forward. January 3.

Let us forward. God leads us. Though blind, shall we be afraid to
follow? I do not see my way: I do not care to: but I know that He sees
His way, and that I see Him.

_Letters and Memories_. 1848.

The Noble Life. January 4.

Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever;
Do noble things, not dream them all day long;
And so make life, and death, and that For Ever
One grand sweet song.

_A Farewell_. 1856.

Live in the present that you may be ready for the future.


Duty and Sentiment. January 5.

God demands not _sentiment_ but _justice_. The Bible knows nothing of
"the religious sentiments and emotions" whereof we hear so much talk
nowadays. It speaks of _Duty_. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we _ought_
to love one another."

_National Sermons_. 1851.

The Everlasting Harmony. January 6.

If thou art living a righteous and useful life, doing thy duty orderly
and cheerfully where God has put thee, then thou in thy humble place art
humbly copying the everlasting harmony and melody which is in heaven; the
everlasting harmony and melody by which God made the world and all that
therein is - and behold it was very good - in the day when the morning
stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy over the new-
created earth, which God had made to be a pattern of His own perfection.

_Good News of God Sermons_. 1859.

The Keys of Death and Hell. January 7.

Fear not. Christ has the keys of death and hell. He has been through
them and is alive for evermore. Christ is the _first_, and was loving
and just and glorious and almighty before there was any death or hell.
And Christ is the _last_, and will be loving and just and glorious and
almighty as ever, in that great day when all enemies shall be under His
feet, and death shall be destroyed, and death and hell shall be cast into
the lake of fire.

_MS. Sermon_. 1857.

A Living God. January 8.

Here and there, among rich and poor, there are those whose heart and
flesh, whose conscience and whose intellect, cry out for the _Living_
God, and will know no peace till they have found Him. For till then they
can find no explanation of the three great human questions - Where am I?
Whither am I going? What must I do?

_Sermons on the Pentateuch_. 1862.

The Fairy Gardens. January 9.

Of all the blessings which the study of Nature brings to the patient
observer, let none, perhaps, be classed higher than this, that the
farther he enters into those fairy gardens of life and birth, which
Spenser saw and described in his great poem, the more he learns the awful
and yet comfortable truth, that they do not belong to him, but to One
greater, wiser, lovelier than he; and as he stands, silent with awe, amid
the pomp of Nature's ever-busy rest, hears as of old, The Word of the
"Lord God walking among the trees of the garden in the cool of the day."

_Glaucus_. 1855.

Love. January 10.

Oh! Love! Love! Love! the same in peasant and in peer! The more
honour to you, then, old Love, to _be_ the same thing in this world which
_is_ common to peasant and to peer. They say that you are blind, a
dreamer, an exaggerator - a liar, in short! They just know nothing about
you, then. You will not see people as they seem - as they have become, no
doubt; but why? Because you see them as they ought to be, and are in
some deep way eternally, in the sight of Him who conceived and created

_Two Years Ago_, chap. xiv. 1856.

Life - Love. January 11.

We must live nobly to love nobly.


The Seed of Good. January 12.

Never was the young Abbot heard to speak harshly of any human being.
"When thou hast tried in vain for seven years," he used to say, "to
convert a sinner, then only wilt thou have a right to suspect him of
being a worse man than thyself." That there is a seed of good in all
men, a divine word and spirit striving with all men, a gospel and good
news which would turn the hearts of all men, if abbots and priests could
but preach it aright, was his favourite doctrine, and one which he used
to defend, when at rare intervals he allowed himself to discuss any
subject, from the writings of his favourite theologian, Clement of

Above all, Abbot Philamon stopped by stern rebuke any attempt to revile
either heretics or heathens. "On the Catholic Church alone," he used to
say, "lies the blame of all heresy and unbelief; for if she were but for
one day that which she ought to be, the world would be converted before

_Hypatia_, chap. xxx. 1852.

Danger of Thinking vaguely. January 13.

Watch against any fallacies in your ideas which may arise, not from
disingenuousness, but from allowing yourself in moments of feeling to
think vaguely, and not to attach precise meaning to your words. Without
any cold caution of expression, it is a duty we owe to God's truth, and
to our own happiness and the happiness of those around us, to think and
speak as correctly as we can. Almost all heresy, schism, and
misunderstandings, between either churches or individuals who ought to be
one, have arisen from this fault of an involved and vague style of

_MS._ 1842.

The Possession of Faith. January 14.

I don't want to possess a faith, I want a faith which will possess me.

_Hypatia_, chap. xvii. 1852.

The Eternal Life. January 15.

Eternally, and for ever, in heaven, says St. John, Christ says and is and
does what prophets prophesied of Him that He would say and be and do. "I
am the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright Morning Star. And let
him that is athirst, come: and whosoever will, let him take of the Water
of Life freely." For ever Christ calls to every anxious soul, every
afflicted soul, to every man who is ashamed of himself, and angry with
himself, and longs to live a gentler, nobler, purer, truer, and more
useful life, "Come, and live for ever the eternal life of righteousness,
holiness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, which is the one true
and only salvation bought for us by the precious blood of Christ our
Lord." Amen.

_Water of Life Sermons_. 1865

The Golden Cup of Youth. January 16.

Ah, glorious twenty-one, with your inexhaustible powers of doing and
enjoying, eating and hungering, sleeping and sitting up, reading and
playing! Happy are those who still possess you, and can take their fill
of your golden cup, steadied, but not saddened, by the remembrance that
for all things a good and loving God will bring them to judgment!

Happier still those who (like a few) retain in body and soul the health
and buoyancy of twenty-one on to the very verge of forty, and, seeming to
grow younger-hearted as they grow older-headed, can cast off care and
work at a moment's warning, laugh and frolic now as they did twenty years
ago, and say with Wordsworth -

"So was it when I was a boy,
So let it be when I am old,
Or let me die."

_Two Years Ago_, chap. xix. 1856.

Work and Duty. January 17.

If a man is busy, and busy about his duty, what more does he require for
time or for eternity?

_Chalk Stream Studies_. 1856.

Members of Christ. January 18.

. . . Would you be humble, daughter?
You must look up, not down, and see yourself
A paltry atom, sap-transmitting vein
Of Christ's vast vine; the pettiest joint and member
Of His great body. . . .

. . . Let thyself die -
And dying, rise again to fuller life.
To be a whole is to be small and weak -
To be a part is to be great and mighty
In the one spirit of the mighty whole -
The spirit of the martyrs and the saints.

_Saint's Tragedy_, Act ii. Scene vi.

Beauty a Sacrament. January 19.

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful. Beauty is God's
handwriting - a way-side sacrament; welcome it in every fair face, every
fair sky, every fair flower, and thank Him for it, who is the Fountain of
all loveliness, and drink it in simply and earnestly with all your eyes;
it is a charmed draught, a cup of blessing.

_True Words to Brave Men_. 1844.

The Ideal of Rank. January 20.

With Christianity came in the thought that domination meant
responsibility, that responsibility demanded virtue. The words which
denoted Rank came to denote, likewise, high moral excellencies. The
_nobilis_, or man who was known, and therefore subject to public opinion,
was bound to behave nobly. The gentle-man - gentile-man - who respected
his own gens, or family, or pedigree, was bound to be gentle. The
courtier who had picked up at court some touch of Roman civilisation from
Roman ecclesiastics was bound to be courteous. He who held an "honour,"
or "edel" of land, was bound to be honourable; and he who held a
"weorthig," or "worthy," thereof, was bound himself to be worthy.

_Lectures on Ancien Regime_. 1866.

An Indulgent God. January 21.

A merely indulgent God would be an unjust God, and a cruel God likewise.
If God be just, as He is, then He has boundless pity for those who are
weak, but boundless wrath for the strong who misuse the weak. Boundless
pity for those who are ignorant, misled, and out of the right way; but
boundless wrath for those who mislead them and put them out of the right

_Discipline Sermons_. 1867.

The Fifty-First Psalm. January 22.

It is such utterances as these which have given for now many hundred
years their priceless value to the little Book of Psalms ascribed to the
shepherd outlaw of the Judean hills, which have sent the sound of his
name into all lands throughout all the world. Every form of human
sorrow, doubt, struggle, error, sin - the nun agonising in the cloister;
the settler struggling for his life in Transatlantic forests; the pauper
shivering over the embers in his hovel and waiting for kind death; the
man of business striving to keep his honour pure amid the temptations of
commerce; the prodigal son starving in the far country and recollecting
the words which he learnt long ago at his mother's knee; the peasant boy
trudging afield in the chill dawn and remembering that the Lord is his
Shepherd, therefore he will not want - all shapes of humanity have found,
and will find to the end of time, a word said here to their inmost
hearts. . . .

_Sermons on David_. 1866.

Waiting for Death. January 23.

Death, beautiful, wise, kind Death, when will you come and tell me what I
want to know? I courted you once and many a time, brave old Death, only
to give rest to the weary. That was a coward's wish - and so you would
not come. . . . I was not worthy of you. And now I will not hunt you
any more, old Death. Do you bide your time, and I mine. . . . Only when
you come, give me not rest but work. Give work to the idle, freedom to
the chained, sight to the blind!

_Two Years Ago_, chap. xv. 1856.

The One Refuge. January 24.

Safe! There is no safety but from God, and that comes by prayer and

_Hypatia_. 1852.

Future Identity. January 25.

I believe that the union of those who have loved here will in the next
world amount to perfect identity, that they will look back on the
expressions of affection here as mere meagre strugglings after and
approximation to the union which then will be perfect. Perfect!

_Letters and Memories_. 1842.

Friendship. January 26.

A friend once won need never be lost, if we will be only trusty and true
ourselves. Friends may part, not merely in body, but in spirit, for a
while. In the bustle of business and the accidents of life, they may
lose sight of each other for years; and more, they may begin to differ in
their success in life, in their opinions, in their habits, and there may
be, for a time, coldness and estrangement between them, but not for ever
if each will be trusty and true. For then they will be like two ships
who set sail at morning from the same port, and ere night-fall lose sight
of each other, and go each on its own course and at its own pace for many
days, through many storms and seas, and yet meet again, and find
themselves lying side by side in the same haven when their long voyage is

_Water of Life Sermons_.

Night and Morning. January 27.

It is morning somewhere or other now, and it will be morning here again
to-morrow. "Good times and bad times and all times pass over." I learnt
that lesson out of old Bewick's Vignettes, and it has stood me in good
stead this many a year.

_Two Years Ago_, chap. i. 1856.

Communion with the Blessed Dead. January 28.

Shall we not recollect the blessed dead above all in Holy Communion, and
give thanks for them there - at that holy table at which the Church
triumphant and the Church militant meet in the communion of saints? Where
Christ is they are; and, therefore, if Christ be there, may not they be
there likewise? May not they be near us though unseen? like us claiming
their share in the eternal sacrifice, like us partaking of that spiritual
body and blood which is as much the life of saints in heaven as it is of
penitent sinners on earth? May it not be so? It is a mystery into which
we will not look too far. But this at least is true, that they are with
Him where He is.

_MS. Sermon_.

The Great Law. January 29.

True rest can only be attained as Christ attained it, through labour.
True glory can only be attained in earth or heaven through
self-sacrifice. Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; whosoever
will lose his life shall save it.

_All Saints' Day Sermons_. 1870.

The Coming Kingdom. January 30.

There is a God-appointed theocracy promised to us, and which we must wait
for, when all the diseased and false systems of this world shall be swept
away, and Christ's feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, and the
twelve apostles shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of
Israel! All this shall come, and blessed is that servant whom his Lord
when He cometh shall find ready! All this we shall not see before we
die, but we shall see it when we rise in the perfect material and
spiritual ideal, in the kingdom of God!

_Letters and Memories_.

Christ's Coming. January 31.

Christ may come to us when our thoughts are cleaving to the ground, and
ready to grow earthy of the earth - through noble poetry, noble music,
noble art - through aught which awakens once more in us the instinct of
the true, the beautiful, and the good. He may come to us when our souls
are restless and weary, through the repose of Nature - the repose of the
lonely snow-peak and of the sleeping forest, of the clouds of sunset and
of the summer sea, and whisper Peace. Or He may come, as He comes on
winter nights to many a gallant soul - not in the repose of Nature, but in
her rage - in howling storm and blinding foam and ruthless rocks and
whelming surge - and whisper to them even so - as the sea swallows all of
them which _it_ can take - of calm beyond, which this world cannot give
and cannot take away.

And therefore let us say in utter faith, Come as Thou seest best - but in
whatsoever way Thou comest, Even so come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

_Last Sermon_. _MS._ 1874.


Since we gave up at the Reformation the superstitious practice of praying
to the saints, Saints' Days have sunk - and, indeed, sunk too much - into
neglect. We forget too often still, that though praying to any saint or
angel, or other created being, is contrary both to reason and Scripture,
yet it is according to reason and to Scripture to commemorate them. That
is, to remember them, to study their characters, and to thank God for
them, - both for the virtues He bestowed on them, and the example which He
has given us in them.

_MS. Sermon_.

The Epiphany,
Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.

On this day the Lord Jesus was first shown to the Gentiles. The word
Epiphany means "showing." The Wise Men were worshippers of the true God,
though in a dim confused way; and they had learnt enough of what true
faith, true greatness was, not to be staggered and fall into unbelief
when they saw the King of the Jews laid, not in a palace, but in a
manger, tended by a poor village maiden. And therefore God bestowed on
them the great honour that they first of all - Gentiles - should see the
glory and the love of God in the face of Jesus Christ. God grant that
they may not rise up against us in the Day of Judgment and condemn us!
They had but a small spark, a dim ray, of the Light which lighteth every
man who cometh into the world; but they were more faithful to that little
than many of us, who live in the full sunshine of the Gospel, with
Christ's Spirit, Christ's Sacraments, Christ's Churches, - means of grace
and hopes of glory of which they never dreamed.

_Town and Country Sermons_.

Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle and Martyr.

How did St. Paul look on his past life? There is no sentimental
melancholy in him. He is saved, and he knows it. He is an Apostle, and
he stands boldly on his dignity. He is cheerful, hopeful, joyful. And
yet, when he speaks of the past, it is with noble shame and sorrow that
he calls himself the chief of sinners, not worthy to be called an
Apostle, because he persecuted the Church of Christ. What he is, he will
not deny; what he was, he will not forget; lest he should forget that in
him, that is, in his flesh - his natural character - dwelleth no good
thing; lest he should forget that the good which he does, _he_ does not,
but Christ which dwelleth in him; lest he should grow careless, puffed
up, self-indulgent; lest he should neglect to subdue his evil passions;
and so, after preaching to others, himself become a castaway.

_Town and Country Sermons_.


. . . Every winter,
When the great sun has turned his face away,
The earth goes down into the vale of grief,
And fasts, and weeps, and shrouds herself in sables,
Leaving her wedding garments to decay;
Then leaps in spring to his returning kisses.

_Saint's Tragedy_, Act iii. Scene i.

Out of the morning land,
Over the snow-drifts,
Beautiful Freya came,
Tripping to Scoring.
White were the moorlands,
And frozen before her;
Green were the moorlands,
And blooming behind her.
Out of her gold locks
Shaking the spring flowers,
Out of her garments
Shaking the south wind,
Around in the birches
Awaking the throstles,
Love and love-giving,
Came she to Scoring.
. . . . .

_The Longbeard's Saga_. 1852.

Virtue. February 1.

The first and last business of every human being, whatever his station,
party, creed, capacities, tastes, duties, is morality; virtue, virtue,
always virtue. Nothing that man will ever invent will absolve him from
the universal necessity of being good as God is good, righteous as God is
righteous, holy as God is holy.

_Sermons on David_. 1866.

Happiness. February 2.

God has not only made things beautiful; He has made things happy;
whatever misery there is in the world there is no denying that. Misery
is the exception; happiness is the rule. No rational man ever heard a
bird sing without feeling that the bird was happy, and that if God made
that bird He made it to be happy, and He takes pleasure in its happiness,
though no human ear should ever hear its song, no human heart should ever
share in its joy.

_All Saints' Day Sermons_. 1871.

A Dream of the Future. February 3.

God grant that the day may come when in front of the dwellings of the
poor we may see real fountains - not like the drinking-fountains, useful
as they are, which you see here and there about the streets, with a tiny
dribble of water to a great deal of expensive stone, but real fountains,
which shall leap, and sparkle, and plash, and gurgle, and fill the place
with life and light and coolness; and sing in the people's ears the
sweetest of all earthly songs - save the song of a mother over her
child - the song of "The Laughing Water."

_The Air Mothers_. 1872.

Bondage of Custom. February 4.

Strive all your life to free men from the bondage of _custom_ and _self_,
the two great elements of the world that lieth in wickedness.

_MS. Letter_. l842.

Henceforth let no man peering down
Through the dim glittering mine of future years
Say to himself, "Too much! this cannot be!"
To-day and custom wall up our horizon:
Before the hourly miracle of life
Blindfold we stand, and sigh, as though God were not.

_Saint's Tragedy_, Act i. Scene ii.

The Childlike Mind. February 5.

There comes a time when we must _narrow_ our sphere of thought much, that
we may _truly enlarge_ it! we must, _artificialised_ as we _have_ been,
return to the rudiments of life, to children's pleasures, that we may
find easily, through their transparent simplicity, spiritual laws which
we may apply to the more intricate spheres of art and science.

_MS. Letter_. 1842.

Unselfish Prayer. February 6.

The Lord's Prayer teaches that we are members of a family, when He tells
us to pray not "_My_ Father" but "Our Father;" not "_my_ soul be saved,"
but "Thy kingdom come;" not "give _me_" but "give _us_ our daily bread;"
not "forgive me," but "forgive _us_ our trespasses," and that only as we
forgive others; not "lead _me_ not," but "lead _us_ not into temptation;"
not "deliver _me_," but "deliver _us_ from evil." After _that_ manner
our Lord tells us to pray, and in proportion as we pray in that manner,
just so far, and no farther, will God hear our prayers.

_National Sermons_. 1850.

God is Light. February 7.

All the deep things of God are bright, for God is Light. God's arbitrary
will and almighty power may seem dark by themselves though deep, but that
is because they do not involve His moral character. Join them with the
fact that He is a God of mercy as well as justice; remember that His

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Online LibraryCharles KingsleyDaily Thoughts: selected from the writings of Charles Kingsley by his wife → online text (page 1 of 10)