MR. CHARLES KINGSLEY'S NEW CREED. EYRE is so noble, brave,
and chivalric a man, so un- 1. daunted a servant of the Crown, so illustrious as an explorer in Australia and a saviour of society in the West Indies, that Peers, actually Peers—my soul sinks with awe as I repeat Peers—members of the ' sacred' order, which represents chivalry, which adopts into its ranks all genius, all talent, all virtue, and all beauty, condescend, not indeed to give him a dinner—that would be too much—but to dine in the same room with him." Only imagine Charles Kingsley, apostle of muscular Christianity, author of Yeast, of Alton Locke, of the oritt song ever likely to be used as an agricultural Marseillaise, saying a speech which will condense into that at a public dinner, with reporters present I So odd is the explosion of flunkeyism, so utterly out of accord with the whole character of the man, yet so evidently genuine, that it is almost impossible to discuss it seriously, or animad- vert on it with the scorn it so thoroughly deserves. Such a speech is one of those surprises which provoke only a faintly amused laughter ; it is like a bad pun, mirthful only because of an absurd incongruity. That Mr. Kingsley should admire and defend Mr. Eyre we can understand, can, we think, ex- plain as a natural development of his mind, but that he should go down on his knees to the Peerage, declare the Red Book "sacred "—he, the Christian socialist—an institu- tion "second in sacredness to that most sacred of institu- tions, monarchy," and consequently more sacred than the Church, —was there ever a funnier little window opened in a man's mind ? The speaker is, be it remembered, no sycophant of all above him, no granter of propositions. He has risked his profes- sional advancement to defend a view of Providence too clement for the majority of his brethren, has denounced squires of whom the Peers are chief in language of ringing eloquence, has pleaded the cause of Chartists, and poachers, and buccaneers, and other non-respectable classes, and all this while he was in the depths of his heart worshipping the Peers, making the attainment of the Peerage the highest reward of the " English spirit " which has made us " fathers of the United States and conquerors of India." He who has written so lovingly of the heroes of the world has had for his own any Being entitled to wear a coronet ! He is a historian, yet he tells the Peers that they adopt into their ranks all genius, as if the peerage had ever been given to a great poet or scientific discoverer, to a Shakespeare or Newton; all talent, as if any talent useful to man rather than governments were ever officially recog- nized; all virtue, as if in our whole history a man had ever received a coronet for virtue of any kind ; and all beauty, as if it were an act of self-denial on the part of the richest class to pick out the prettiest women they can find, as they pick out the finest pictures, and the choicest wines. How can we wonder, when we hear such things from such a man,, that the British bourgeois, who did not conceive Tom Thurnall, and to whom Tregarva would be merely a gamekeeper with a tendency to prolixity, should think a vote well rewarded by a Peer's nod, should deem the verdict of society more important than that of either his countrymen, his conscience, or his God? When poets put on plush why should meaner souls despise tags? When muscular Christians speak with 'bated breath and whispering humbleness in the awful presence of the British Peer, why should' not feeble indifferentists lick the dust from peerage boots? The- truth is, we suppose, that by some strange twist in his mind, some- accidental association, some quaint exercise of his idealism, Mr. Kingsley has really come to regard chivalry and the peerage as synonymous„ to believe that big squires with labels on them are all full of pluck, and gallantry, and fair play, and so to reverence them, till he feels as men in the Crusades felt towards those who had suffered to deliver the Holy Land. We have nothing to say, except that it is an odd manifestation of the poetic spirit, and one very liable to be misunderstood by the public. A woman ideal- izing a curate into an apostle, is sometimes a touching as well as a melancholy spectacle, but a poet idealizing a peer into a " sacred being— !"
Mr. Kingsley's admiration of Mr. Eyre is more intelligible. He has worshipped force, strength, will, all his life, without much reference to the subjects on which those qualities are exercised, and Mr. Eyre is the embodiment of those qualities. His will snaps on a plan like a steel spring, and Mr. Kingsley admires will above all things,—would, we suspect, defend Simeon Stylites because, having decided to stand on a tall stone, he continued doing it for forty years. A Hindoo devotee measuring the road to Benares• with his own body might find in him an eloquent defender. He- looks to the quality, and the fact that it was used where it was not required, to the utter misery of thousands of innocent persons, does not strike him at all. Mr. Eyre put down a rebellion strongly, and the man who puts down rebellion strongly is to Mr. Kingsley as• admirable man. Did not Lord-Deputy Grey murder all his Spanish. prisoners in Ireland, and does not Mr. Kingsley in Westward Ho 1' most eloquently extenuate the deed ? And indeed to Mr. Eyre, the civil soldier of order, absolutelydetermined that half-civilized persons with cane-hooks in their hands shall not upset the laws, we have no serious objection to make, and never have made any. What- ever our moral claim to rule blacks, simply because they are blacks and we whites, they uncivilized and we civilized, may be originally worth, Mr. Eyre's clear duty was to suppress armed or violent resistance to the law. It is not to Mr. Eyre as Governor that we object, but to Mr. Eyre as Judge Jeffreys holding a Bloody Assize, hanging a man already in safe custody as a means of inspir- ing terror, allowing young officers and old planters, white sailors and black soldiers to slay and burn and flog at their own discretion. What "chivalry " or " pluck," or " gallantry " did it take to commit that colossal arson, the burning of a thousand homesteads, not to clear a way for artillery, or to deprive enemies of their vantage- ground, but simply to ruin subjugated rebels and their families a little more completely? Generals do not flog enemies to secure military success, and Mr. Eyre in not punishing those tortures with piano-wire simply allowed cruel and unusual punishments in the same manner and for the same motives as Judge Jeffreys and Haynau did. Of all this, of the horrible injustice committed in hanging a man because, being legally elected for that.especial purpose, he forcibly brought thagrievanoes of the labourers before the flovernmeut and the public of the colony, of the reourrence to torture for political Offences, of the families made desolate without a reason, the men outraged without an excuse, Mr. Kingsley sees nothing. He is neither statesman nor philan- thropist, but litterateur and poet, and he sees only the strong, self-willed figure which can do anything it pur- poses, bad or good, and be " takes it upon trust." So thoroughly does his pictorial imagination captivate his reason that when he essays to use the latter power he talks grotesque silliness --silliness as of a woman who says, " It is so because it is." Mr. Eyre is to •be allowed to flog anybody he likes because he is Mr. Eyre, and because he walked round the Gulf of Carpentaria. He being appointed protector of blacks and whites in Jamaica, crushed and tortured the blacks to save the whites from fear, but because when protector of blacks in Australia he protected them, he is to be held to have done his duty in both places equally well. John broke the cup, but not the saucer ; reward Jolla, for he preserves the china. " If they gave up taking men upon trust, especially rulers and official men, there would be nothing in the world but anarchy, which would be followed by despotism, and in due time by a big tyrant, who would not take the people upon trust. He took Governor Eyre upon trust, and he was happy to see the members of the House of Peers present had also taken him upon trust." John comes to Mr. Kingsley as coachman, with a capital 'character, gets drunk and spills his master, but his'master is not to dismiss him ; oh ! dear no ; trust is the nexus between man and man ; a good pedestrian never upsets a coach, and Mr. Kingsley must trust John, or there will be anarchy in the stable, oats where straw should be, and the horses in the mangers instead of the stalls. Pray does Mr. Kingsley, having intended to elect a Whig, withdraw his vote when his candidate turns out a Tory ? If he does not, he is simply a goose ; and if he does, what becomes of his theory? Mr. Kingsley probably meanttosay,— onlythe "sacred" Peers overcame him so much, that- it is wise when you get a strong man to let him rule without interference, which would be true if strength were the only capacity required in a ruler, but then it is not, any more than it is the only needful constituent in the cha- racter of the Christian hero. Mr. Kingsley, aapictorial litterateur, sees that clearly enough. Witness his sketch of Cyril, who in his hands becomes just whet we believe Mr. Eyre to be, a man of principle, who in his devotion to that principle—a e., :his own will --has not a scruple.in giving all Jews up to slaughter and devas- tation :—" Really I wish your Holiness well when I say so. If my notions seem to you somewhat secular, yours—forgive me— seem to me somewhat atheistic ; and I advise you honestly to take care.leat while you are busy tryieg to establish God's kiogdom, you forget what it is like, by shutting your eyes to those of its laws which are established already. I have no doubt that with your 'Holiness's great power you will succeed in establishing something. My only dread is, that when it is established, you should discover to your horror that it is the devil's kingdom, and not God's ' " As politician he sees nothing of the kind, thinks the scaffold and the lash absolutely essential to build up the order he desires, or rather ignores cat and rope if only his Cyril mayrule. In imagina- tion he dissects him, analyzes him, exposes the hardness of heart and will which make his subject's good qualities curses to man- kind, but in real life he " takes him on trust." The shrewd insight is for the book, •for life credulity is the best policy ; the intellect works clear on the unreal, and only breaks down on facts. At least it ought to break down, according to Mr. Kingsley, for we cannot do him the credit of believing that he holds any theory half so guileless, the truth being that he wanted to defend a man he admires whose conduct he knew to be indefensible, and " trust " being a muscular-Christian sort of word with a relation to "faith" on the religious side, and to " confidence " on the political side, he used that, and with the expected result, for the Peers, Common Councilmen, &a., cheered the silly remark to his heart's content. Elliston the actor, when dunned by a creditor, always laid his hand on his heart in that way, and thought himself quite ill used if after that invocation to " trust," anybody insisted on cash down. Mr. Eyre's case is in fact so bad that a map of genius could only defend him by appealing to human credulity as a sacred power. Credulity and the Peerage,—those are the present objects of worship to the Rev. Charles Kingsley, of all the men in the world !