"But remember always, as I told you at first, that this is all a fairy tale, and only fun and pretence: and, therefore, you are not to believe a word of it, even if it is true."
These seemingly contradictory lines are from the book 'The Water Babies' by CHARLES KINGSLEY which urges us to believe the unseen yet not to believe and follow blindly. To keep the moral compass correct and mind alert.
It is an underwater adventure saga written for children much back in the year 1862!
A chimney sweeper orphan Tom, went to sweep chimneys in a palace like mansion with his master Mr. Grimes (apt name!) . There due to a misunderstanding and a false alarm he had to run away and while ducking and dodging from his pursuers he accidentally reached under water in a river, where beautiful and compassionate water fairies took over him to make him a changeth person!
The story unfolds while meeting various characters in between.
Beautifully accurate sketches of aquatic creatures and other marine characters, pretty verses and the biological accuracy of the description made for my lack of finding novelty in it. As a study it is good. The book somehow seemed to me to be written by Charles Darwin as a break from writing biological books!!! as it supports his theories of evolution and questions those who beg to differ.
I like is the introductory part where we feel sympathy for little Tom and the pages seemed to be from a Dickens classic.
It has BEAUTIFUL short moral lessons in it, tucked away nicely to be understood by an observant reader and I'll not present that to spoil it for you.
If we talk about quotes almost all lines are quotes. Its amazing how Kingsley in those times thought about a child-centric environment , an atmosphere of love, care and freedom of thought , about the probabilities of science...he seems so progressive and advance to me .
look at these lines-
'Did not learned men, too, hold, till within the last twenty-five years, that a flying dragon was an impossible monster? And do we not now know that there are hundreds of them found fossil up and down the world? People call them Pterodactyles: but that is only because they are ashamed to call them flying dragons, after denying so long that flying dragons could exist'
How do you know that? Have you been there to see? And if you had been there to see, and had seen none, that would not prove that there were none ... 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
AWE- INSPIRING !
The only lacking was that....
It must have been quite good to read before the discovery kids era ..as for now I found it a trifle hard to captivate me as a story..
If you like scientific stories woven with morals and manners into their DNA and ONLY if you like to get the feel of progressive ideas at Victorian times, then this one is Good for you.