Manual The Water Babies (illustrated)

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During a new job at the posh 'Harthover', Tom loses his way and accidentally falls down the chimney into the wrong room. He lands in the bedroom of the squire's daughter, Ellie.

The Water Babies !

Tom examines the room and is 'puzzled' to see '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! On waking and seeing the dirty and 'ragged' Tom in her bedroom, Ellie began to scream, so alerting the rest of the household to the incident.

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A chase ensues, during which Kingsley cleverly uses the undergrowth and flora and fauna to show Tom in a different environment to the city; his usual surroundings. It reflects the freeness that Tom feels, as he runs away. Tom's realization of his dirtiness makes him desire to be clean: 'I will be a fish, and swim in the water. I must be clean, I must be clean'. With that, 'suddenly, he found himself, not in the outhouse on the hay, but in the middle of a meadow, over the road, with a stream just before him Left : An illustration by Alice B.

When Tom starts his journey to the sea, he is alone, but is always watched by the ever-present 'Queen of all fairies ' and his other 'brothers and sisters', who long to play with him, but are warned that he first needs to 'learn lessons from the animals'. Illustration by Warwick Goble.

During his adventures undersea, Tom meets many exciting and wonderful creatures that are all new to him, such as 'water-monkeys' and 'water-squirrels'. Unfortunately, 'he was very fond of hunting and teasing animals, just for fun' The water animals soon stay away from Tom and he becomes very lonely, until he happens upon a dragonfly, who becomes his friend and tells him stories. Some of the water-creatures, however, are not so pleasant.

He crosses paths with an otter and her family, who are intent on 'salmon for breakfast'. Later, he comes across them again, when he tries to help a 'clumsy' lobster who has been caught in a fisherman's pot.

The otter wants the lobster for dinner too! After a close escape helping the lobster, Tom almost immediately comes across a fellow water-baby - 'A real live water-baby, sitting on the white sand. Brandan's fairy isle. The water-babies in this chapter are shown to be 'all the little children whom the fairies carry off because people are not kind to them in the land-world'. Left : Tom is befriended by the Dragonfly.


Illustration by Anne Anderson. Tom is as happy as can be - but is soon up to his old tricks of tormenting the water-animals. Very soon, we are introduced to Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid, who serves out punishments to all the adults in the human world, who have been cruel to children. Then Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby comes to visit the water-babies, 'the most nice, soft, fat, smooth, pussy, cuddly, delicious creatures who ever nursed a baby'. She would mother and look after all the water-babies, singing them songs to nurse them to sleep.

There are more lessons to be learnt by Tom, after he gets himself into more trouble after stealing and eating too many sea-lollipops. He is taken by Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid, to be taught by Ellie, the same clean 'white lady', whose bedroom he had dropped into from the chimney all that time earlier. Ellie, who when a land-baby had believed in water-babies, had become a water-baby herself, after falling into a rock-pool and being given a pair of wings by the fairies. After many years of teaching by Ellie, Tom is sent on his own journey to 'somewhere he doesn't like to go', to 'help someone he doesn't like'.

He has to journey to the 'other-end-of-nowhere' to find Mr. Grimes and help him.

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To do this he must first go to 'Shiny wall, and through the white gate that was never opened. Linley Sambourne's cartoon "Man is but a Worm," appearing in Punch on 6 December , depicts the evolution of man from worm, to ape, to an archetypal top-hatted Victorian gentleman, concluding with an image that had fast become an emblem for evolutionary theory — the bearded Darwin himself. The cartoon ridicules the idea of a relation between the two species, using grotesque caricature to depict Darwin's theory as nothing more than comical absurdity.

Like Sambourne's cartoon, Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies parodies much of the discourse surrounding the origins debate. However, Kingsley does not choose to satirise the theory of natural selection itself; instead he parodies the reaction Darwin's ideas provoked. The novel "argues against purely physical definitions of humanity" Straley Kingsley takes a bone of contention in the origins debate, The Great Hippocampus Question which debated upon the similarities between the anatomy of apes and men and lampoons the debate as "the great hippopotamus debate," using humour to emphasis the absurdity of reducing humanity to anatomy.

"The Water-Babies, illustrated by Jesse Wilcox Smith" by Charles Kingsley

You may think that there are other more important differences between you and an ape, such as being able to speak Rather than ridiculing the idea of natural selection Kingsley takes the essence of the theory and transforms it into what he terms "Fairy Science" As Anne Chassagnol notes: "Darwin's theory is quite a fairy-like concept concerning as it does metamorphose Kingsley adopts these characteristics of science and re-imagines them as tenets of fairy-tale.

Tom's odyssey begins with his metamorphosis: like a butterfly he leaves his old husk behind and devolves into an eft in preparation for his moral evolution. In On the Origin of Species Darwin emphasises that the natural world is characterised by a struggle for survival. He urges us to remember that "birds which are idly singing around us mostly live on insects and are thus constantly destroying life" This struggle for survival is depicted in The Water Babies.

The trout "gobble the beetles and leeches The otter despairs over how men speared her "poor dead husband. This struggle is imperative to Tom's passage into adulthood. Gradually he moves up the evolutionary ladder no longer fraternising with the gnats, the dragonflies and the sea snails, and instead talking to Ellie and other water babies. Left: Tom has been warned against salmon, and is alarmed when he encounters one, begging it not to hurt him; but this is a very fine specimen.

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Right: Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid teaches Tom to be good: here, she places a pebble, not a sweet, in his mouth, in retribution for his teasing the sea-anemones in a similar way. The logical inversion of Darwin's theory, devolution, is made a concrete possibility in The Water Babies. As Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid asserts "if I can turn beasts into men, I can by the same law of circumstance and selection and competition, turn men into beasts" Tom observes many examples of this throughout his journey: some of the salmon become ill adapted through their atrophy and as a result "grow ugly and brown and spotted"; the Tomtoddies turn into radishes, as their brains are so filled with water due to their preoccupation with "The Examiner" ; the Doasyoulikes, a race of idle humans, "grow so stupid Tom himself is described at the beginning of the tale as a "little black ape" 18 which immediately emphasises his risk of degeneracy.

Furthermore, he is described to be quite at home in a chimney; "a mole underground" 16 , he is adapting to his uncivilized surroundings, and therefore is presented as being on the wrong evolutionary track. Kingsley uses Tom as a symbol for Victorian anxieties about the degeneration of the poor, who: unclean; uneducated and faithless seemed symptomatic of social degeneration on a national level. This connection between moral decay and evolutionary decline was unequivocally assumed, as although by the s the term "evolution" was used in its modern sense, prior to this it was "a term for individual growth," which "only further helped to forge an explicit connection between the two processes" Straley Kingsley responds to the anxiety of degeneration with the concept of recapitulation, an idea which suggested that "the development of the individual repeats the development of the human race".

Just as "the human foetus passes in the womb through the evolutionary stages of life on earth Illustrations of Kingsley's fantasy by the British illustrator Warwick Goble Left: When all the other children are asleep, naughty Tom creeps away to the fairy's cabinet, with lollipops in mind. Part of his punishment will be to grow prickles. Right: The "good" water babies give the crow a new set of feathers and turn her into the most beautiful bird of paradise.

In The Water Babies the fairies spirit Tom away from London, where he is at risk of evolving into a double of Mr Grimes; he imagines that when he himself is a master "he would bully [his apprentices] and knock them about, just as his master did to him" 6. They reduce him to an embryonic size and submerge him in a womb-like water-world, where Tom must "re-inhabit nature to achieve his own humanity, [in order to] transcend his origins" Straley Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid embodies nature's absolute justice; she "cannot help punishing people when they do wrong

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