Source: “The Abolition of Freedom of Speech in the Streets” Commonweal, Vol 2, No. 32, 21 August 1886, p.161;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
The trial of the Socialists which ended on Friday 13th was not so well reported by most of the newspapers as some ordinary petty larceny case would have been; the Pall Mall Gazette, for instance, which was so hot about the Dod Street affair last year, not even noticing it till the last of the three days. Nevertheless, it is a matter of importance to the public generally, and not to Socialists only; for both the counsel for the prosecution and the judge laid it down as a matter beyond doubt that no persons can meet in any part of the public highway, however little the traffic over the mee... (From: Marxists.org.) The annual presentation of prizes to the successful pupils of the School of Art took place in the small room at the Guildhall on Thursday evening, in the presence of a large number of ladies and gentlemen. [....]
Mr. W. Morris addressed the meeting as follows:─
In these days, when even those of us who love art most are apt sometimes to be discouraged by the carelessness for art that surrounds us, it is not wonderful that people should ask, some in triumph and some in sorrow, is the desire for beauty, and even fullness of form that produces art, an essential part of man's nature? or is it only one of the fleeting outcomes of the necessary energy of life, like many another fashion that has now passed away for ever?
That is an anxious... (From: Marxists.org.) It seems to me that my address falls naturally into two parts: that I have first to speak to the general public about the Art which your School represents, and next I have to speak to the students of the School about their position and aims. As to the first part, I fear some of you may think I am telling an old story once more; a story of which you are tired of hearing, if I am not tired of telling it. For, to say the truth, we are not yet quite on the right road towards a satisfactory condition of Art. When I say "we," I do not mean this country in especial; for, indeed, at home here we are somewhat better off than in other civilized countries, though at first sight it may not seem so, owing to the fact that in France, Germany, Italy, and ... (From: Marxists.org.) Mr Kenrick has said that I am going to address you on the subject of Art, but it is clear that that subject is a very wide one and that I must limit myself very considerably. Not only so, even if I were to speak about all the pictures exhibited here, the subject would be again such a very wide one, that there would be no end of it. So I must limit myself still further. Therefore I propose to speak to you almost entirely, according to the light I have, of that school of painters once called the pre-Raphaelites, and who perhaps should still be called pre-Raphaelites. There is all the more reason for my doing so because, as a matter of fact, their doctrines have been successful; they have impressed themselves upon the present generation, at an... (From: Marxists.org.) In speaking to you as English Liberals I shall scarcely perhaps need to excuse myself if I confess that I have from the first looked upon this Eastern Question chiefly from the point of view of its bearings upon English interests. I do not mean to say that I looked coldly upon peoples, who as I thought were struggling for their liberties against foreigners, tyrants and barbarians, or that I thought it unimportant for the world at large that the wrongs of poor people, of oppressed people, should be righted after many years: on the contrary I thought this all important both to England and to the world at large, and indeed for this very reason I could not help for ever asking myself how shall we deal with the matter; what will England do; will... (From: Marxists.org.) IN considering the Aims of Art, that is, why men toilsomely cherish and practice it, I find myself compelled to generalize from the only specimen of humanity of which I know anything; to wit, myself. Now when I think of what it is that I desire, I find that I can give it no other name than happiness. I want to be happy while I live; for as for death, I find that, never having experienced it, I have no conception of what it means, and so cannot even bring my mind to bear upon it. I know what it is to live, I cannot even guess what it is to be dead. Well, then, I want to be happy, and even sometimes, say generally, to be merry; and I find it difficult to believe that that is not the universal desire: so that, whatever tends toward that end I ... (From: Marxists.org.) As there seems to be an impression growing up in the mind of the public that the above Society is actuated by feelings of disregard for the structural preservation of ancient buildings, and as such an impression is likely to seriously interfere with the important objects which they have in view, I have been requested by the committee of the Society to ask you to insert their most emphatic denial of any such sentiment on their part. The urging on the public of the necessity of doing structural repairs to ancient buildings in time to prevent decay and keep out wind and weather is one of the primary objects of the Society; and they have on several occasions had to deplore, in the case of ancient buildings brought under their notice, that money... (From: Marxists.org.) The work of the past year has differed little from that of the previous one, except in two notable instances, which will be referred to presently. The Committee have, as before, received information, written letters of inquiry, protest, and advice, sometimes with obvious and encouraging results, sometimes with nothing apparent to show for the trouble. The Society is, doubtless, becoming well known, and the Committee believe its principles are taking root, and especially, they think, are influencing the great body of our Architects; a course of events which is both very encouraging and what might have been expected.
The Society has by no means lacked the support of the Press during the past year; articles advocating its principles have been... (From: Marxists.org.) The Committee has had a very busy year since it presented the last Annual Report to the Members. It must be acknowledged that it has had to protest against several schemes for the mere unnecessary or wanton destruction of ancient buildings. But it is not to be supposed that the fact of these being more in number than usual has any significance, as showing backsliding in public opinion; on the contrary, there are hopeful signs of the impression which the Society has made in this matter, which will be mentioned in the Report. On the other hand, the Committee feels itself compelled to repeat the warning it gave last year to those who care about our ancient monuments, and to beg Members, and the public in general, to note that this matter of th... (From: Marxists.org.) It will be seen from the following Report that the cases are very numerous in which, during the past year, the Society has taken action, either to induce the guardians of our ancient buildings to perform some necessary repairs, or in protesting against the falsification of old work which is often called "restoration."
The Society has engaged the services of a skilled professional Secretary, a great deal of whose time is taken up with the careful inspection of the old buildings which from time to time are considered by the Committee. They are thus able to offer to those under whose charge ancient buildings may happen to be, a careful report of their state, and advice as to the proper method of treating them. We are glad to say that there se... (From: Marxists.org.) Mr. MORRIS stated, in answer to this gentleman, that the Committee were fully aware of the importance of Blytheborough Church; that members had visited it, and that their report was all but ready to be presented to the Restoration Committee of Blytheborough, which report he believed would indicate a satisfactory way of dealing with this noble building so as to prevent it from becoming a ruin.
Answer to Query About Blytheborough Church (1882).
1. 9 June 1882: Before the Annual Meeting of SBAB held at the Society of Arts, John Street, Adelphi, London. The Hon. F. Bryce, M.P., was chairman.
1. [Untitled] in Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. The Fifth Annual... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Anti-Parliamentary” Commonweal, Vol 6, No. 230, 7 June 1890, p.180-181;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
Most of those into whose hands this paper will fall know that as the organ of the Socialist League the Commonweal advocates abstention from Parliamentary action; that the Socialist League neither puts forward candidates, nor advises its members to vote for this that or the other candidate; that the readers of these columns will indeed find Parliament mentioned in them, but never with respect, and most commonly only to point the moral of the corruption of these latter days of capitalism. Our policy is, in short, abstention from all attempts at using the constitutional machinery of government, whereas to some Socialis... (From: Marxists.org.) There are doubtless many sincere Radicals outside the party phalanx whose war-cry is "Our Leaders, Right or Wrong!" It behooves these sincere men to look round and consider their position, which they will and to be a sufficiently curious one; for as far as they have any power to carry out those reforms, the expectation of which gives the party its claim to existence, they are allied, whether they like it or not, first of all to the Whigs, that is to say to a kind of Liberals, who by virtue of their position among the privileged class are necessarily fossils, and next to the moderate Liberals, or Liberals simply, which ever you please to call them; that is to say, men possessed of property, but not of principles, whose consciences are just s... (From: Marxists.org.) There are doubtless many worthy people who shudder at the word Socialism, who, nevertheless wish sincerely to see the condition of the people bettered, and who generally console themselves when they hear of any of the horrors of our capitalist civilization by thinking, "well, at any rate, things are getting better steadily." Ask them how they are getting better, and they will answer you with, "the general spreading of education," "the growth of liberal ideas among the working-classes," and such-like vague stuff. Ask them how soon they think this gradual amelioration is likely, to abolish poverty for all but the vicious and idle and they will answer with vague commonplaces again; for the truth is their hope is a languid one. Amid whatever an... (From: Marxists.org.) We of this Society at least know the beauty of the weathered and time-worn surface of an ancient building, and have all of us felt the grief of seeing this surface disappear under the hands of a "restorer;" but though we all feel this deeply enough, some of us perhaps may be puzzled to explain to the outside world the full value of this ancient surface. It is not merely that it is in itself picturesque and beautiful, though that is a great deal; neither is it only that there is a sentiment attaching to the very face which the original builders gave their work, but dimly conscious all the while of the many generations which should gaze on it; it is only a part of its value that the stones are felt to be, as Mr. Ruskin beautifully puts it, sp... (From: Marxists.org.) In England, at least, if not on the Continent of Europe, there are some towns and cities which have indeed a name that recalls associations with the past, but have no other trace left them of the course of that history which has made them what they are. Besides these, there are many more which have but a trace or two left; sometimes, indeed, this link with the past is so beautiful and majestic in itself that it compels us when we come across it to forget for a few moments the life of to-day with which we are so familiar that we do not mark its wonders or its meannesses, its follies or its tragedies. It compels us to turn away from our life of habit which is all about us on our right hand and our left, and which therefore we cannot see, and ... (From: Marxists.org.) I fear what I have to tell you will be looked upon by you as an often-told tale; but it seems to me that at the inception of an enterprise for the popularizing and furtherance of the arts of life, the subject-matter of my paper is very necessary to be considered. I will begin by putting before you a kind of text, from which I will speak, so that you may understand from the first the drift of my paper; a plan which, I hope, will save both your time and mine.
Whereas the incentive to labor is usually assumed to be the necessity of earning a livelihood, and whereas in our modern society this is really the only incentive among those of the working-class who produces wares of which some form of art is supposed to form a part, it is impossible t... (From: Marxists.org.) I must first tell you what I mean by the words Art and Labor; and first, by art I mean something wider than is usually meant by the word, something which I fear it is not very easy to explain to some of you born and bred in this great manufacturing city, and living under conditions which I will say would have made art impossible to be if men had always lived so.
Well you must understand that by art, I do not mean only pictures and sculpture, nor only these and architecture, that is beautiful building properly ornamented; these are only a portion of art, which comprises, as I understand the word a great deal more; beauty produced by the labor of man both mental and bodily, the expression of the interest man takes in the life of man upon the... (From: Marxists.org.) Mr. William Morris lectured before the members of the Guild of Lithographic Artists, at their Technical Schools, 35, Clerkenwell Road, London, on "Art and Labor."
He said that it was right and necessary that all men should have work to do. That work must be useful to others, pleasant to those who have the doing of it, and of a nature that shall be neither overburdensome nor wearisome. Let this fact be once acknowledged, and the whole face of society as at present constituted would be changed. Let them consider for a moment what a revolution such a change would mean. Let them take a walk down any of their principal streets and look at the things exposed for sale in the shop windows; the articles there displayed were for the most part such a... (From: Marxists.org.) The well-known poet and art critic, Mr. Wm. Morris, of London, delivered a lecture, under the auspices of the Preston Eclectic Society at their meeting place, Percy Street, on Wednesday evening, on "A Socialist’s view of Art and Labor.” There was a numerous and representative audience, and the chair was occupied by the Rev. W. Sharman.
The CHAIRMAN, in introducing Mr. Morris, said the democratic cause, from time time, had had melancholy reason to repeat Browning’s poem of "The Lost Leader,” but that night a gentleman came before them who took the place of the "lost leader"—who devoted his genius to the cause of the improvement of the people, and that gentleman was Mr. Wm. Morris, whom he now introduced to them... (From: Marxists.org.) My friends, I want you to look into the relations of Art to Commerce, using the latter word to express what is generally meant by it; namely, that system of competition in the market which is indeed the only form which most people now-a-days suppose that Commerce can take.
Now whereas there have been times in the world's history when Art held the supremacy over Commerce; when Art was a good deal, and Commerce, as we understand the word, was a very little; so now on the contrary it will be admitted by all, I fancy, that Commerce has become of very great importance and Art of very little.
I say this will be generally admitted, but different persons will hold very different opinions not only as to whether this is well or ill, but even as to ... (From: Marxists.org.) We are here in the midst of a population busied about a craft which may be called the most ancient in the world, a craft which I look upon with the greatest interest, as I well may, since, except perhaps the noble craft of house-building, it is second to none other. And in the midst of this industrious population, engaged in making goods of such importance to our households, I am speaking to a School of Art, one of the bodies that were founded all over the country at a time when it was felt there was something wrong as between the two elements that go to make anything which can be correctly described as a work of industrial art, namely the utilitarian and the artistic elements. I hope nothing I may say to-night will make you think that I un... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Artist and Artisan as an Artist Sees It” Commonweal, Vol 3, No. 87, 10 September 1887, p. 291;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
I have nothing to object to in our comrade’s remarks, but a word or two may be pardoned in explanation of the fact that an artist is looked upon as a gentleman (a sort of one), and sometimes receives a certain portion of the respect accorded to that class, which, however, is dealt out so much more liberally to the mere moneymaker in other trades; to the landowner, manufacturer, contractor, stockjobber, or what not; in short, it is dealt out to members of the proprietary class exactly in proportion to the obviousness of their living by owning wealth and not creating it. In other words the... (From: Marxists.org.) Dyeing is a very ancient art; from the earliest times of the ancient civilizations till within about forty years ago there had been no essential change in it, and not much change of any kind. Up to the time of the discovery of the process of Prussian-blue dyeing in about 1810 (it was known as a pigment thirty or forty years earlier), the only changes in the art were the result of the introduction of the American insect dye (cochineal), which gradually superseded the European one (kermes), and the American wood-dyes now known as logwood and Brazil-wood: the latter differs little from the Asiatic and African Red Saunders, and other red dye-woods; the former has cheapened and worsened black-dyeing, in so far as it has taken the place of the in... (From: Marxists.org.) The workman of the present day may well think that art is not a matter which concerns him much. To speak bluntly, he is not wealthy enough to share in such art (there is little enough of it told) as is going in civilized countries. His earnings are precarious, and his lodging precarious also, and, to boot, stowed away almost always in the dirtiest corners of our dirty cities; so that, at the risk of offending worthy people who are feebly trying to bestow some scraps of art on their "poorer brethren," it must be said that the workman's home must be bare of art. Indeed, the attempt to bring beauty into such homes would be a task to break the heart of the most patient artist in Europe. That shabby gift of the crumbs that fall from the children... (From: Marxists.org.) "Applied Art" is the title which the Society has chosen for that portion of the arts which I have to speak to you about. What are we to understand by that title? I should answer that what the Society means by applied art is the ornamental quality which men choose to add to articles of utility. Theoretically this ornament can be done without, and art would then cease to be "applied" - would exist as a kind of abstraction, I suppose. But though this ornament to articles of utility may be done without, man up to the present time has never done without it, and perhaps never will; at any rate he does not propose to do so at present, although, as we shall see presently, he has got himself into somewhat of a mess in regard to his application of ar... (From: Marxists.org.) You may well think I am not here to criticize any special school of art or artists, or to plead for any special style, or to give you any instructions, however general, as to the practice of the arts. Rather I want to take counsel with you as to what hindrances may lie in the way towards making art what it should be, a help and solace to the daily life of all men. Some of you here may think that the hindrances in the way are none, or few, and easy to be swept aside. You will say that there is on many sides much knowledge of the history of art, and plenty of taste for it, at least among the cultivated classes; that many men of talent, and some few of genius, practice it with no mean success; that within the last fifty years there has been so... (From: Marxists.org.) Your correspondent of this morning, who states that `the chief part of what was remarkable in the interior (of this house) wasdestroyed by a former Dean and Chapter' must surely have seen the interior from the exterior. Last summer I had the pleasure of seeing it in the way that most mortals see an interior, and I must assert as a fact, that the interior of the hall and staircase (with the quite remarkable `lantern'), together with the reception rooms, was still `remarkable' for something unusual in London, which I took to be architectural beauty, and which the architects and archaeologists, including the late Dean Stanley, who had been kind enough to ask me to accompany them, thought was still in pretty much the same condition as it had be... (From: Marxists.org.) An Objections to Socialism founded on the difficulty of getting necessary work done when people will be free to choose their own work are common in the mouths of antisocialists; and also it has been and still is not uncommon to hear persons saying that no great works of art or no productions of a high intellect will be possible under a condition of things in which a reward is not given for such work out of all proportion to the average of work, the hewing of wood and drawing of water. Even Socialists themselves are sometimes hazy on these subjects; and sometimes they seem ready to accept the view that when people are free they will no longer care for anything more than what are now called the necessities of life. Let us look into this matte... (From: Marxists.org.) Now it is clear to me from reading the catalog of this exhibition that the promoters of it think that the working men, as we call them, of these parts do most seriously need some education in the fine arts, that they need to be told something about them which they do not know, in order that, when they look at pictures or other things professing to be works of art in future, they may be impressed by them in a different way from what they have been used to do: in other words, they want to educate people to look at pictures so that the pictures themselves may educate them afterwards. I agree with the promoters of this exhibition that the working men hereabouts do sorely need this double education, nor do I think that the richer classes would b... (From: Marxists.org.)