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In putting forth this First Annual Report since the institution of our Society, the Committee cannot but regret, considering how widely-spread and rapid has been both the destruction and falsification of our ancient monuments during the last twenty years, that some such society as this was not long ago called into existence; a society with the principal aim of guarding the life and soul of those monuments, so to speak, and not their bodies merely; a society that might have impressed upon the public the duty of preserving jealously the very gifts that our forefathers left us, and not merely their sites and names. This lack heretofore of such a body as ours (the result among us, who love art and history, of timidity, or despair) perhaps is, ... (From: Marxists.org.)
(1) The London Daily News A meeting convened by the Committee to Promote the Free Navigation of the Straits of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus, and admitted by ticket, was held at Willis's Rooms yesterday afternoon, in favor of the objects of the committee, and to protest against any attempt to maintain the present conditions affecting those straits by the employment of military force. [....] [....] Mr. MORRIS, author of "The Earthly Paradise," denied the truth of the statement that there was no war party in the country. There was a war party in this country, and, what was more, a party for war at any price. (Cheers.) There were some good Liberals and Radicals who lived in '48 who thought that Russia was the same now as then. There were ... (From: Marxists.org.)
William Morris and Frank Kitz were the two delegates from the executive committee of the Socialist League to the International Socialist Congress in Paris (later known as the first Congress of the Second International) in July 1889. Morris gave a verbal report to the Congress on the state of the socialist movement in England, and submitted a handwritten text of the report to the Congress for later publication. The text was never published in its original form, and although it survives in the Guesde archive of the IISG it has become damaged over the years, losing most of the top of each page and some of the left side. However, the Congress was held in three languages: English, French, and German, and all the reports were translated twice. M... (From: Marxists.org.)
I can only thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and say that the best return I could receive would be to take a list out of my pocket at the next meeting of the Society of 20 or 30 new members. That would be a real vote of thanks to me. After all, what one wants is the opportunity to go on working in the same course. Bibliographical Note Title Response to a Vote of Thanks (1889). Deliveries 1. 3 July 1889: Before the Annual Meeting held at ?. Publication 1. [Untitled] in SPAB Report, 1889, (London 1889), p. 79. (From: Marxists.org.)
I am glad to see that the Daily Chronicle understands so well the danger of the threatened restoration of Rouen Cathedral. It would be impossible to over-estimate the interest of this most beautiful monument of art, which, taking it altogether, is second to none in the two great architectural countries, France and England. And though visitors to the ancient Norman capital are most often captivated by the extraordinary elegance of St Ouen, and in consequence somewhat neglect the cathedral, the latter has both more interest and more special beauty than the former. As to work to be done, of course it is possible that structural repairs are necessary; nay, on some scale or other they are sure to be, for in these huge buildings unceasing watchfu... (From: Marxists.org.)
I am not quite sure that I should wish to see Tewkesbury Minster `replaced in its former state,' or one of its many `former states'; but, as it is clearly impossible, when one comes to think of it, for ourselves or our buildings to live again either in the fifteenth century or the twelfth, it is hardly worth while to say much on this merely hypothetical matter of taste. On the other hand, I am sure that I do not wish the Minster to look like a modern building, and I think Sir Edmund Lechmere also would disclaim any such wish, though doubtless many others would not; and I assert that the more money is spent in altering its `present state' in the year 1877 and onwards, the more modern it will look. In truth, I am afraid that it will look much... (From: Marxists.org.)
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings ventures to ask you to publish the accompanying correspondence between it and the Dean of Westminster relative to the proposed restoration of Westminster Abbey. The society considers it the duty of all cultured Englishmen to watch carefully any such proposals, both because it is a difficult and delicate task to put modern work into an ancient and traditional work of art, and because the consequences of a mistake in dealing with this peerless national monument would be so disastrous and so irreparable. The society thought itself bound to seek information in the most direct way from those who are responsible to the nation for the treatment of one of its most precious possessions, wishing abo... (From: Marxists.org.)
Ten year ago with the publication of his beautiful and scholarly volume of translations from the early Italian poets, Mr Rossetti announced the preparation of a volume of original poems. This book, so eagerly looked for by those who knew the author by his great works in painting, has now been given to the public; nor is it easy to exaggerate the value and importance of that gift, for the book is complete and satisfactory from end to end. And in spite of the intimate connection between one art and another, it is certainly to be wondered at, that a master in the supremely difficult art of painting should have qualities which enable him to deal with the other supremely difficult one of poetry: and to do this not only with the utmost depth of f... (From: Marxists.org.)
Among cultivated people at present there is a good deal of interest felt or affected in the ornamental arts and their prospects. Since all these arts are dependent on the master-art of architecture almost for their existence, and cannot be in a healthy condition if it is sick, it may be worth while to consider what is the condition of architecture in this country; whether or no we have a living style which can lay claim to a dignity or beauty of its own, or whether our real style is merely a habit of giving certain forms not worth noticing to an all-pervading ugliness and meanness. In the first place, then, it must be admitted on all sides that there has been in this century something like a revival of architecture; the question follows wh... (From: Marxists.org.)
For some time past there has been a good deal of interest shown in what is called in our modern slang Art Workmanship, and quite recently there has been a growing feeling that this art workmanship to be of any value must have some of the workman's individuality imparted to it beside whatever of art it may have got from the design of the artist who has planned, but not executed the work. This feeling has gone so far that there is growing up a fashion for demanding handmade goods even when they are not ornamented in any way, as, for instance, woolen and linen cloth spun by hand and woven without power, hand-knitted hosiery, and the like. Nay, it is not uncommon to hear regrets for the hand-labor in the fields, now fast disappearing from even ... (From: Marxists.org.)
Title: “The Revolt of Ghent”, Part 1 Author: William Morris Source: Commonweal, Volume 4, Number 130, pp. 210 7 July 1888 (The first of seven parts.) Transcribed by: Ted Crawford Proofing and HTML:Graham Seaman The events of which an account is here given took place towards the close of the fourteenth century among a people of kindred blood to ourselves, dwelling not many hours journey (as we travel now) from the place where we dwell; and yet to us are wonderful enough, if we think of them. Few epochs of history, indeed, are more interesting than this defeated struggle to be free of the craftsmen of Flanders whether we look upon the story as a mere story, a true tale, of the Middle Ages at their fullest development, r... (From: Marxists.org.)
Title: “The Revolt of Ghent”, Part 2 Author: William Morris Source: Commonweal, Volume 4, Number 131, pp. 217-218 14 July 1888 (The second of seven parts.) Transcribed by: Ted Crawford Proofing and HTML:Graham Seaman Having thus very briefly told you as to the political and social condition of the great Flemish towns, I must now get to my story, as given us by Froissart. I have mentioned the English alliance with James van Artevelde, which took place at the very beginning of the war with France ; this went on till at the siege of Tourney by Edward III., James van Artevelde sent sixty thousand men to help that king ; and in the year 1346, Edward III., lying at Sluys, we find Van Artevelde using his influence to get the... (From: Marxists.org.)
The Revolt of Ghent (Part 3)William Morris. Commonweal 1888 The Revolt of Ghent (Part 3) Title: “The Revolt of Ghent”, Part 3 Author: William Morris Source: Commonweal, Volume 4, Number 132, pp. 226-227 21 July 1888 (The third of seven parts.) Transcribed by: Ted Crawford Proofing and HTML:Graham Seaman Peace being made, the Earl is rather shy of Ghent, and takes up his quarters at Bruges, no doubt playing his old game of setting the towns against one another. The citizens of Ghent (one may suppose the respectables chiefly) are anxious for their Feudal Lord to come among them, so that they may be sure that the peace is really kept. After much persuasion, the Earl comes ungraciously enough and the first thing he ... (From: Marxists.org.)
Title: “The Revolt of Ghent”, Part 4 Author: William Morris Source: Commonweal, Volume 4, Number 133, pp. 234 28 July 1888 (The fourth of seven parts.) Transcribed by: Ted Crawford Proofing and HTML:Graham Seaman Under the sore discouragement caused by these defeats, the rich men began to murmur and look towards submission as the only end. Peter du Bois was their only leader left, and I suppose, judging from Froissart’s story, that he was not a man of much initiative as we say now-a-days ; anyhow, he looked round for support in the present straits, and says Froissart: “He remembered him of a man the which was not greatly not taken heed of in the town of Ghent ; he was a wise man, but his wisdom was not know... (From: Marxists.org.)
Title: “The Revolt of Ghent”, Part 5 Author: William Morris Source: Commonweal, Volume 4, Number 134, pp. 242-243 4 August 1888 (The fifth of seven parts.) Transcribed by: Ted Crawford Proofing and HTML:Graham Seaman Says the old chronicler:— “When Philip van Artevelde and his company entered again into Ghent, a great number of the common people desiring nothing but peace, were right joyful of their coming, trusting to hear some good tidings ; they came against him, and could not restrain, but demanded tidings, saying, ‘Ah, dear sir, Philip van Artevelde, rejoice us with some good word, let us know how ye have sped’ : to which demands Philip gave none answer, but passed by, holding down his hea... (From: Marxists.org.)
Title: “The Revolt of Ghent”, Part 6 Author: William Morris Source: Commonweal, Volume 4, Number 135, pp. 250 11 August 1888 (The sixth of seven parts.) Transcribed by: Ted Crawford Proofing and HTML:Graham Seaman Froissart goes on to say:— “This Saturday in the morning Philip van Artevelde ordained and commanded that every man should make him ready to God, and caused masses to be sung in divers places by certain friars that were with him ; and so every man confessed him, and prayed to God for grace and mercy. And there were certain sermons made, enduring an hour and a half ; there it was shewed to people by these friars, figuring them to the people of Israel, whom King Pharoah kept long in servitude : and... (From: Marxists.org.)
Title: “The Revolt of Ghent”, Part 7 Author: William Morris Source: Commonweal, Volume 4, Number 136, pp. 258-259 18 August 1888 (The last of seven parts.) Transcribed by: Ted Crawford Proofing and HTML:Graham Seaman Froissart goes on:— “In the mean time that the Earl was at his lodging, and sent forth the clerks of every ward from street to street, to have every man to draw to the market place, to recover the town. The Ghentois pursued so fiercely their enemies, that they entered into the town with them of Bruges ; and as soon as they were within the town, the first thing they did, they went straight to the market place, and there set themselves in array. The Earl then had sent a knight of his, called Sir... (From: Marxists.org.)
The Revolt of Ghent By William Morris Morris's history of the revolt of Ghent is mainly a retelling of the story as originally recounted by the mediæval historian Froissart; Morris even repeated large sections from Froissart verbatim. But the framework and the episodes selected are chosen to emphasize one of Morris's particular interests: the development of the conflict between the craft guilds on the one hand and the merchant guilds and aristocracy on the other. The story is the urban, contintental counterpart to the English Peasant's Revolt and the Dream of John Ball. Morris presented the story as a talk to the Hammersmith Branch of the Socialist League on 29 January 1888 and to the Clerkenwell Branch on 20th June 1888 befo... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “Revolutionary Calendar: Wat Tyler” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 126, 9 June 1888, p.182; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. Wat Tyler, i.e., Walter, the tiler or thatcher, was an artisan of Dartford, in Kent, and became a leader in the great peasant rebellion which took place in England in the early years of Richard II (1381), and which was much more dangerous to the tyranny of the day than is usually supposed; it spread from the north of East Anglia, all through Essex and Kent, and along the south coast to Exeter. The immediate occasion of Wat Tyler's own rebellion as related by the chroniclers, was his resistance to a bailiff, who, calling for the poll-tax then being levied by the very unpopular Government, treated his young... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “The Reward of Labor — A Dialogue” Commonweal, Vol 3, No. 71, 21 May 1887, p. 165; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. Persons: An Earnest Enquirer, an East-end Weaver, a West-end Landowner Scene: Outside a philanthropical meeting on Social Science. Earnest Enquirer. Excuse me, gentle — h'm, gentlemen! neither of you seem quite comfortable after the noble sentiments showing the harmony that should exist between the rich and the poor, and the inculcation of altruism, and self-sacrifice on both sides, which we have heard in there. You, sir (to the Weaver), whom I take to be a soldier in the noble army of industry, seem discontented; a little sour — sulky even, if I may say so. And you, sir (to the Landown... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “The Reward of Labor — A Dialogue 2” Commonweal, Vol 3, No. 72, 28 May 1887, p. 170-171; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. Persons: An Earnest Enquirer, an East-end Weaver, a West-end Landowner SCENE: Outside a philanthropical meeting on Social Science. E.E. (continuing to W.) But I am a stranger in London, and will you believe it, don’t know what the East-end of London is like; but I have heard of so much being done for the benefit of the East-end, People’s Palaces, Mosaic pictures, and the like, that I suppose by now it is quite a pleasant place; that small and squalid as your house is, you can get out of it at once into fresh air, pleasant gardens, roomy squares; and that it is well supplied with l... (From: Marxists.org.)
So now being out of the wood, they went peaceably and safely along the Portway, the Runaways mingling with the Dalesmen. Strange showed amid the health and wealth of the Dale the rags and misery and nakedness of the thralls, like a dream amid the trim gaiety of spring; and whomsoever they met, or came up with on the road, whatso his business might be, could not refrain himself from following them, but mingled with the men-at-arms, and asked them of the tidings; and when they heard who these poor people were, even delivered thralls of the Foemen, they were glad at heart and cried out for joy; and many of the women, nay, of the men also, when they first came across that misery from out the heart of their own pleasant life, wept for pity and l... (From: Marxists.org.)
For some time past there have been rumors afloat that it was intended to `restore' the Royal tombs in Westminster Abbey. These seem traceable to the fact that the President of the Society of Antiquaries had had his attention called to the alleged bad condition of the monuments. The result of this has been that Mr J. T. Micklethwaite, whose knowledge both of the past and the present of the Abbey probably surpasses that of any other person now living, was commissioned to report on the state of the Royal monuments to the executive committee of the Society of Antiquaries. His report disposes of the alarmist view that there is any serious deterioration going on in these monuments. They have indeed suffered from the effects of violence that took ... (From: Marxists.org.)
SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF ANCIENT BUILDINGS. The thirteenth annual meeting of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings was held last evening in the old hall of Barnard's Inn, Holborn. Mr. Walter Crane presided, and in opening the proceedings said that they had there that evening two very excellent photographs which might serve as illustrations of what modern restoration meant. They illustrated the restoration of the south transept of St. Albans Abbey - a very noble building, of which England was justly proud. It might be said, "Look here upon this picture, and on this," for they represented the state of the building before and after it had been "Grimthorped," as a friend of his expressively put it. The one photograph was a... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “The Sequel of the Scotch Letter” Commonweal, Vol 2, No. 26, 10 July 1886, p.114; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. On Sunday 27th June I lectured on the ‘Political Outlook’ at the Waterloo Rooms, Glasgow, the same place where my Thursday’s lecture was given; this was under the auspices of the Branch, and our comrade Muirhead took the chair. There was a larger attendance than on the Thursday; howbeit several got up and went out almost as soon as I began: it seems there was some mistake as to my subject, as there was a religious meeting elsewhere on the premises, and some of the proper audience thereof had wandered into our hall. Moreover I suspect that some found themselves ‘caught’ by my ti... (From: Marxists.org.)
Signs of Change is a collection of talks and writing for the Commonweal produced by William Morris during the 1880s, and first published as a book in 1888. Together they make the best summaries of William Morris's fusion of Marxism with his deep knowledge of medieval history and his unique ideas on art and the nature of work. This version is taken from the from the 1896 Longmans, Green, and Co. edition, originally prepared by David Price for Project Gutenberg, and converted to XHTML by Graham Seaman. Introduction by Graham Seaman, 9th May 2003 (From: Marxists.org.)
The Labor Leader A Single Socialist Party Wm. Morris, speaking at Kelmscott House on Sunday last, said he thought the time had arrived when an attempt might be made to form a single Socialist party, which should exist as a party, not destroying the existing Socialist organizations, the biggest of which, he said, could not claim to be more than a propagandist society. The party must include the whole of the genuine Labor movement, by which he meant all those who accepted the principle of equality of condition, also all the definitely Socialistic among the middle classes. It should have a simple test of membership, the following statement of principle: "The realization of a new society founded on equality of condition for all, and gener... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “The Skeleton at the Feast” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 127, 16 June 1888, p.188; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. The consolation dinner to Mr Jesse Collings was rather a comical business in so far as it was a party coddling-up of the poor well-intentioned feeble gentleman who got practically turned out of the society which he himself had planted and watered so carefully; and the speeches delivered at this queer celebration would afford amusement enough to a cynical man with a good memory for things nor worth remembering — to wit, the politics of the last three years. In days which people who have serious work on hand are forgetting speedily, Mr Collings manufactured a sort of stage landscape of a happy village, over ... (From: Marxists.org.)
In answer to our comrade Blackwell's suggestion and in default of someone else beginning that free discussion he speaks of, I wish to note down a few thoughts suggested by reading the clauses of the Anarchist Congress at Valentia, as stated by our comrade; premising that I do so in no polemical spirit, but simply giving my own thoughts and hopes for the future for what they may be worth. I will begin by saying that I call myself a Communist, and have no wish to qualify that word by joining any other to it. The aim of Communism seems to me to be the complete equality of condition for all people; and anything in a Socialist direction which stops short of this is merely a compromise with the present condition of society, a halting-place on th... (From: Marxists.org.)
It is good, however much we may plume ourselves on our practicality, that is, I suppose, on our setting out towards an end which we are likely to attain, to set before us the actual end at which we aim. It is true that it is the custom of very practical people to taunt those whose end is or seems to be a long way off with being idealists: nevertheless I venture to think that without these idealists practical people would be in a much worse plight than they now are; they would have but a dull history of the past, a poor life in the present, and no hope for the future; on the other hand the idealists in their turn would make a great mistake if they were, in their vision of better things, to despise the `practical people,' even the narrowest o... (From: Marxists.org.)

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