London, England: Macmillan and Co., Limited,  1922. Warwick Goble. Hardcover. Octavo. Red cloth boards with gilt illustration of water baby ridng a finned fish to front, and gilt lettering to spine. Top edge gilt. Book slightly cocked. Moderate rubbing to extremities, with upper corners "nudged". Clean and bright within, with sixteen marvelous color illustrations by Warwick Goble. 274 pp. Good Plus. Item #84945
Charles Kingsley had received an advance copy of Charles Darwin's On The Origin of The Species, and was among its earliest champions. THE WATER BABIES is his classic tale -- at once a children's fairy tale, moral lecture, and Christian allegory. "The book tells the story of the boy chimney-sweep, Tom, who goes beneath the water and [after drowning] becomes a ‘water-baby’. In many ways the tale of a child slipping underwater into an alternate world of fantasy, and of course foreshadows other classics of children’s literature such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which appeared just two years after The Water-Babies Later on, C.S. Lewis's The Lion,The Witch and the Wardrobe. In each there is the particular "gate" to the imagined world -- down the rabbit hole to an underground universe, underwater as a water baby, through the back of the wardrobe to Narnia.
"...The most famous character in the novel, after Tom himself, is Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby, which points up the moral message of the novel – the so-called Golden Rule that is central to many religions and philosophies, including Christianity – pretty clearly. Kingsley believed that water could purify the soul as well as the body, and he once went so far as to say, in one of his sermons, ‘If you will only wash your bodies your souls will be all right...’ (from a WebLog [aka BLOG] by Dr. Oliver Tearle).