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Transcript of Water Babies
Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)
The Geat Hippocampus Question/Test - The debate inspired by Kingsley's satire sermon, also seen in WB
Children from age 6, but also as young as 4 were employed as chimney sweeps to fit the narrow flues of the chimneys
The boys were apprenticed to a Master Sweep, who often starved the children (to keep them small), neglected, and beat them.
The flues (most 14in by 9in) could be cleaned when hot, and a boy could be forced by a fire at the bottom or another boy using pins or nails to further him along
"He said what?!"
"Poor ould Ireland does not prosper like England and Scotland, and some other places, where folk have taken up a ridiculous fancy that honesty is the best policy" (1013)
"When a man becomes a confirmed poacher, the only way to cure him is to put him under water for twenty-four hours, like Grimes." (1153)
Biography, Evolution, Child Labor, Class, and Prejudice
After receiving an advanced copy of Origin of the Species, Kingsley became one of its first advocates
He attended both King's College London and the University of Cambridge
Rector, a chaplain for Queen Victoria, and even a private tutor for the Prince of Wales
Chester Society of Natural Science, Literature and Art
1. In light of the knowlege of Kingsley's obsession with evolution, how are races, classes, and ages grouped? Is the novel critcizing these social structures or reaffirming them, to show eugenics?
Charles "The Muscular Christian" Kingsley
The boys often died young. They were malnourished, and prone to death within the Chimney's they cleaned which could be burning. And if they did not, many ended up with scrotal cancer, or Chimney Sweeps Cancer, leading to a painful death that spread from scrotum to abdomen.
The Problem of Sir John
How is Sir John depicted in the novel, especially against others like Grimes and the Irish Woman?
The Triumph of Galatea
"The next thing he saw, and that too puzzled him, was a washing-stand, with ewers and basins, and soap and brushes, and towels, and a large bath full of clean water-what a heap of things all for washing!" (246)
Why might Irishmen lie, or men poach?
Does Kingsley represent the life of a Chimney Sweep accurately?
Does the novel show a reason for the wretched state of these young boys? And does it advocate for something better?
With the obvious survival of the "fitest" throughout, can we take criticism's of child labor seriously?
"Not only did he own all the land about for miles; not only was he a jolly, honest, sensible squire, as ever kept a pack of hounds, who would do what he thought right by his neighbors...What was more, he weighed fifteen stone, was nobody knew how many inches round the chest, and could have thrashed Mr. Grimes himself in a fair fight..." (95)
2. Is the novel an example of social reform?
3. How does the Christian theology work throughout the "fairytale?"
The debate focused on similarities between the brain structure of humans and apes
“And no one has a right to say that no water-babies exist, till they have seen no water-babies existing; which is quite a different thing, mind, from not seeing water-babies; and a thing which nobody ever did, or perhaps ever will do.”
"Charles Kingsley." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.
"Chimney Sweep." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Sept. 2013. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.
"Eugenics." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.
"Eugenics Movement Reaches Its Height 1923." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.
Levy, David M., and Sandra J. Peart. "Eugenics Rides a Time Machine." Reason.com. N.p., 26 Mar. 2002. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.
Mayhew, Henry. "London Labour and the London Poor:." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.
Olsen, Kristin. ""Do What You're Bidden": Work and Wages." Daily Life in 18th Century England. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.
Simkin, John. "Charles Kingsley : Biography." Spartacus Educational. Spartacus Educational, Sept. 1997. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.
"The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.
Uffleman, Larry K. "Charles Kingsley: A Biography." Charles Kingsley: A Biography. The Victorian Web, 2 Aug. 2010. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.
Waldron, H. A. "A Brief History of Scrotal Cancer." Occupational and Environmental Medicine 40.4 (1983): 390-401. Print.
“After passing through the chimney and descending to the second angle of the fireplace the Boy finds it completely filled with soot, which he has dislodged from the sides of the upright part. He endeavours to get through, and succeeds in doing so, after much struggling as far as his shoulders; but finding that the soot is compressed hard all around him, by his exertions, that he can recede no farther; he then endeavours to move forward, but his attempts in this respect are quite abortive; for the covering of the horizontal part of the Flue being stone, the sharp angle of which bears hard on his shoulders, and the back part of his head prevents him from moving in the least either one way or the other. His face, already covered with a climbing cap, and being pressed hard in the soot beneath him, stops his breath. In this dreadful condition he strives violently to extricate himself, but his strength fails him; he cries and groans, and in a few minutes he is suffocated. An alarm is then given, a brick-layer is sent for, an aperture is perforated in the Flue, and the boy is extracted, but found lifeless. In a short time an inquest is held, and a Coroner's Jury returns a verdict of 'Accidental Death.'” (Waldron)
“A science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed” Merriam Webster Online
"Its conclusions told many people what they wanted to hear: that certain "racial stock" was superior to others in such traits as intelligence, hard work, cleanliness, and so on.” (PBS)
“This evolutionary nightmare reflected Victorian ideas about race and hierarchy, and about the undesirable direction that evolution might take if the better sort of people didn't intervene. These concerns are in fact a notable and recurring aspect of Victorian literature. Charles Kingsley's 1862-63 children's novel, The Water-Babies, for example, features a race that is free to "DoAsYouLike"; it devolves into apes. Kingsley's tale merges Thomas Carlyle's Gospel of Obedience with a version of evolutionary biology of the day.” (Levy, Peart)
How might eugenics influence WB, or does the social reform of the text counter such science?
Joined with Frederick Denison Maurice and Thomas Hughes to form the Christian Socialist movement. The men discussed how the Church could help to prevent revolution by tackling what they considered were the reasonable grievances of the working class” (Simkin)
“Church of England parson, novelist, Christian Socialist, Protestant controversialist, "muscular Christian," poet, and amateur naturalist--stands importantly at the center of the Victorian age.” (Uffleman)
“Touches upon most of Kingsley's favorite themes: the working conditions of the poor, in this case those of chimney sweeps; education; sanitation and public health; pollution of rivers and streams; and evolutionary theory.” (Uffleman)