Source: “Socialism and Politics (An Answer to ‘Another View’)” Commonweal, Vol I, No. 6, July 1885, pp. 61;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
A friend, R.F.E. Willis, whose letter we publish, seems inclined to answer the question, ‘Shall Socialists enter the Parliamentary struggle?’ in the affirmative. The question is such a serious one that I make no excuse for answering our friend at some length.
I must admit that as a matter of policy it might be prudent to affect a belief in the Parliamentary method of revolution, even if we did not really believe in them, and this all the more in the face of the coming election, which has aroused such hopes in the minds of Democrats — hopes likely to be disapp... (From: Marxists.org.) In one of Edgar Allen Pe's tales he recounts how a little group of wrecked seafarers on a water logged vessel, at the last extremity of starvation, are suddenly made delirious with joy at seeing a sail approaching them. As she came near them she seemed to be managed strangely and unseamanly as though she were scarcely steered at all, but come near she did, and their joy was too great for them to think much of this anomaly. At last they saw the seamen on board of her, and noted one in the bows especially who seemed to be looking at them with great curiosity, nodding also as though encouraging them to have patience, and smiling at them constantly, showing as he did so a set of very white teeth, and apparently so anxious for their safety that ... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Socialism in Dublin and Yorkshire” Commonweal, Vol 2, No. 17, 8 May 1886, p.43;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
I have to say a few words of another lecture tour, which I hope may be of some interest to our readers. I started on the night of Thursday 8th April, made memorable by the introduction of the Home Rule Bill and Mr Gladstone’s speech, which more by token I found awaiting us on our landing next morning at Kingstown. The next day I addressed an audience mostly of ‘ladies and gentlemen’ at the Molesworth Hall, on the ‘Aims of Art’. There were a few workmen scattered among the audience, and our comrades of the Dublin Branch put in an appearance, and two, I think, spoke in the discuss... (From: Marxists.org.) Some three years ago anyone who had predicted the new birth of Socialism in England would have been looked upon as a dreamer, if not crazy; whatever hopes democracy had were centered on the more advanced wing of the Liberal party, which had just carried that queer composite body to victory almost in spite of itself: many words need not be wasted in the columns of "JUSTICE" in talking of the speedy disappointment of any hopes for the party of the people which had been founded on that Liberal victory, and to those of us who had most faith in progress as an idea, the outlook seemed to be nothing better than a dreary waste of perpetual Whig-Liberal rule, feeble and pedantic, except where coercion was dealt out with a liberal hand to the Irish, ... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Socialism in the Provinces” Commonweal, Vol 2, No. 14, April 1886, p.30;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
I am asked by some comrades to give a brief report of my lecturing tour to Sheffield, Liverpool, and Norwich. I do so, therefore, believing it of some use to give the impressions of a Londoner as to our prospects in other parts of the country.
I gave two lectures at Sheffield on Sunday February 28th, in the Secularist Hall: both were well attended, although I was told that the religious rancor which runs high in Sheffield would keep many people away from the Secularist Hall. Both lectures were well received, the evening one, the more plain-spoken and less historical of the two, particularly so: indeed I have never... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Socialism Militant in Scotland” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 117, 7 April 1888, p.106-7;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
Since a year may make a good deal of difference in the position of a party, even when it is being carried on by quiet propaganda, I give a brief account of my lecturing tour in Scotland and my impressions of the position of Socialism there. On the 21st March I lectured at Kilmarnock, a not very important town on the edge of the mining district. The chief industry in the town itself is that of the railway works — a tolerably good indication, by the way, of labor being cheap in the neighborhood; accordingly I was informed that the iron-miners in the neighborhood are earning about nine shillings a-week... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Socialism Militant in Scotland” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 117, 7 April 1888, p.106-7;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
Since a year may make a good deal of difference in the position of a party, even when it is being carried on by quiet propaganda, I give a brief account of my lecturing tour in Scotland and my impressions of the position of Socialism there. On the 21st March I lectured at Kilmarnock, a not very important town on the edge of the mining district. The chief industry in the town itself is that of the railway works — a tolerably good indication, by the way, of labor being cheap in the neighborhood; accordingly I was informed that the iron-miners in the neighborhood are earning about nine shillings a-week... (From: Marxists.org.) ... the blessings of irresponsible poverty which have been sung and said in verse and prose for many a year by rich men and their dependents, who, if the said blessings had been showered on their own heads, would have thought them little better than a violent death.
... as you well know, while I speak, "the amelioration of the lot of the working classes" is or seems to be, if we are to trust words, the main object of our statesmen, clergy and employers of labor. If it were only the main object of the working-classes themselves there would be nothing lacking to the equipment of modern Society for building its own funeral pyre which shall transform it into a society of useful and happy persons unoppressed by any wrongs, and without opportuni... (From: Marxists.org.) Some people will perhaps not be prepared to hear that Socialism has any ideal of art, for in the first place it is so obviously founded on the necessity for dealing with the bare economy of life that many, and even some Socialists, can see nothing save that economic basis; and moreover, many who might be disposed to admit the necessity of economic change in the direction of Socialism believe quite sincerely that art is fostered by the inequalities of condition which it is the first business of Socialism to do away with, and indeed that it cannot exist without them. Nevertheless, in the teeth of these opinions I assert first that Socialism is an all-embracing theory of life, and that as it has an ethic and a religion of its own, so also it h... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Socialist Work at Norwich” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 137, 25 August 1888, p.268;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
I am sure our comrades generally will be glad to hear a little of the course of Socialist propaganda in Norwich and its neighborhood, which for some reason or other has become a stronghold of the cause.
Our comrades had determined on a rally in Norwich, and invited several of us Leaguers, together with Mrs Besant and Herbert Burrows, to help them. Faulkner, Mrs Schack, Mainwaring, and Morris got down to the old city on Saturday evening, and were most cordially received by the Branch at the Gordon Hall, where there was singing and recitation, and agreeable converse generally.
On the Sunday morning Mainwaring ... (From: Marxists.org.) By the word pattern-design, of which I have undertaken to speak to you to-night, I mean the ornamentation of a surface by work that is not imitative or historical, at any rate not principally or essentially so. Such work is often not literally flat, for it may be carving or molded work in plaster or pottery; but whatever material relief it may have is given to it for the sake of beauty and richness, and not for the sake of imitation, or to tell a fact directly; so that people have called this art ornamental art, though indeed all real art is ornamental.
Now, before we go further, we may as well ask ourselves what reason or right this so-called ornamental art has to existence? We might answer the question shortly by saying that it seems cle... (From: Marxists.org.) The Middle Ages may be called the epoch of writing par excellence. Stone, bronze, wooden rune-staves, waxed tablets, papyrus, could be written upon with one instrument or another; but all these - even the last, tender and brittle as it was - were but makeshift materials for writing on; and it was not until parchment and vellum, and at last rag-paper, became common, that the true material for writing on, and the quill pen, the true instrument for writing with, were used. From that time till the period of the general use of printing must be considered the age of written books. As in other handicrafts, so also in this, the great period of genuine creation (once called the Dark Ages by those who had forgotten the past, and whose ideal of the fu... (From: Marxists.org.) On behalf of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, a Society whose objects are explained by the circular enclosed herewith, I beg most respectfully to address you with regard to the works proposed to be done to the Collegiate Church of Southwell Minster.
The Society recognizes with satisfaction that since the building has been under the control of the Commissioners thesecurity of the fabric has been considered and its condition as regards stability improved, but at the same time many alterations have been made which in the view of the Society have been destructive of its artistic and historical character.
The removal of the modern fittings of the choir, which were in themselves of no great value, but inasmuch as the removal... (From: Marxists.org.) The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings has had under consideration your architect's observations in reply to the letter addressed you in April last.
The Society is glad to find that the building is in charge of an architect so careful and conservative as Mr. Christian, though it disagrees with the opinions expressed in his letter. Bearing in mind the objects of the Society, this letter is neither satisfactory nor reassuring. Believing that your architect concurs in its estimation of the responsibility which attaches to the custodians of a national record such as Southwell Minster, and of their obligation to preserve it from change, the Society brings the following further remarks to the notice of your Board.
As regards the fi... (From: Marxists.org.) Let me in the first place say that I think the Society have done absolutely right in pressing the point of the advertisements which disfigure rural scenery rather than making too much of the point of the disfigurement in towns. As soon as you get anything like public opinion to desire some reasonable regulation of advertisements in the towns, there are the municipalities - and some of them, like our own London County Council, would be very anxious, I believe, to do all they possibly could to force public opinion. We owe a debt of thanks to that member of the County Council who succeeded in getting passed the other day a resolution to the effect that the London County Council should take cognizance of every valuable piece of historical build... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “A Speech from the Dock” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 115, 24 March 1888, p.93;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
Our comrade John Burn’s speech before Mr Justice Charles has been printed in full. It is one of those documents which will one day be eagerly sought after as illustrating a remarkable period in the Social Revolution in which we are now all of us taking a part. It is called a speech in defense of the defendant but in point of fact, considering the nature of the evidence brought forward in support of the ridiculous charges made against our friends Burns and Graham, no defense was needed, except against the legal quibble by which the defendants were found guilty of illegal assembly and sent to jail for having co... (From: Marxists.org.) Ladies and gentlemen, - In this, the eighth anniversary - the eighth birthday of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, I do not intend to take up your time for very long, especially as our friend Mr. Norwood is prepared to give us a very interesting address; and what I do say will be mostly with regard to what may be called the business of the occasion. We are now past that stage in our history when we were troubling ourselves with too many hopes and fears about this matter. It is possible that some of us - though not myself - may have begun to agitate on the subject of the preservation of ancient buildings in rather a sanguine spirit. It is probable that that over-sanguine hope with which some of us began has been by this ti... (From: Marxists.org.) WILLIAM MORRIS: Two things are to be noticed. First, that the children of the poor are always the victims. Second, the terrible and miserable unhappiness of the whole affair. There is much talk of immorality. Whatever is unhappy is immoral. It is unhappiness that must be got rid of. We have nothing to do with the mere immorality. We have to do with the causes that have compelled this unhappy way of living; the causes that drive girls and women into the streets, to sell their love, not to give it. These causes are the same that make a man degrade himself by over-hours and competition. There is the closest of relations between the prostitution of the body in the streets and of the body in the workshops. Women's wages are not even subsistence ... (From: Marxists.org.) Ladies and Gentlemen, - The first thing we have to do is to put before you the Annual Report. I think you have all got a copy of that Report, and as it is rather long you would scarcely be inclined to hear the Secretary read it. With your permission, therefore, we will take the Report as read, and it is now my duty, according to custom, to move its adoption. I shall, perhaps, have a word or two to say about the action of the Society later on, but I may say now that this time, at all events, we have got the privilege of meeting in one of those old buildings which it is our duty and privilege to protect, and that I think is a very considerable gain. I need not call much attention to it, because you can see with your own eyes what a very valua... (From: Marxists.org.) Everywhere I fancy it will be admitted that the study of history is a most important part of the cultivation of the present day; nor will many be found to deny that the architectural monuments of the past are a great help to that study; but perhaps not everybody understands how great a help they are, or how differently it would fare with the study of history, as it is now followed, if we lacked those monuments; for you must remember how different that modern historical research is to the chronicling, the story-telling of times past. The ancient chroniclers were laborious and conscientious men who loved their subject, and often dealt with it most dramatically and forcibly; all honor to their memory: doubtless the best modern historians honor... (From: Marxists.org.) Ladies and Gentlemen, - I was rather surprised to find my name put down as the seconder of this motion, because, to tell you the truth, for the last six or eight months I have been rather remiss in my duties in attending the committee-meetings of the Society. However, I have been conscious of a good deal of what has been going on, and it seems to me we have been going on in very much the usual way. We have, however, scored one great success - I mean, in connection with the Charterhouse. It does seem to me, and to most of us, that the original scheme of the people who wanted to destroy it was one of the most audacious attempts at robbery of the public that has ever been attempted, and that it ought to have been treated harder than it was. I ... (From: Marxists.org.) I think we all owe our hearty thanks to the Chairman for the extremely sympathetic and most eloquent speech which he made, as well as for his kindness in presiding here to-day. It encourages us much to know that a man of his education and culture, and general sympathy with all human progress, is so entirely with us in our work. I am also glad to see him here as a representative of the University of Oxford, which we have just been quarreling with in our Report, and not without reason. I know very well there are many who, like him, are sorely grieved at the destruction which has gone on there, though they have not been able to prevent it in the teeth of the general Philistinism of the place. I think that some of our members who spoke on the s... (From: Marxists.org.) This speech was reported in both Justice (paper of the SDF) and The Labor Leader (paper of the ILP). The report in Justice gives more context, while the report in the Labor Leader, under the title 'William Morris's Confession', is more complete. Both are given below.
George Lansbury moved:- "That this meeting of Social-Democrats, assembled at the beginning of the New Year, send fraternal greetings to their fellow-workers in the cause of humanity in all lands; enter their earnest protest against the efforts of filibusters and financiers to stir up strife among the people of the different countries; and pledge themselves to work steadfastly forward for the overthrow of the infamous capitalist system, and the realization of that t... (From: Marxists.org.) As honorary secretary of the "Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings," I cannot help expressing my satisfaction, which I have no doubt will be shared by all my colleagues, at the letter which appears in The Times of to-day from Lord Carnarvon, as chairman of the Society of Antiquaries of London, with reference to the contemplated alteration of the roof of St. Albans Abbey.
I have no doubt that the opinion expressed by Lord Carnarvon represents the feeling of antiquaries and men of taste throughout the country very generally.
Our society has already written to the "Restoration Committee" of St. Albans deprecating the contemplated alterations.
Letter to the Times, 2 August 1878. (From: Marxists.org.) Though the Committee for the restoration of St Albans Cathedral have determined to alter that church by putting a high-pitched roof on the nave in the place of the present flat one, the Committee of our Society cannot give up all hope that the public in general may yet interest itself in the matter, and refuse to support a scheme regarded by so many archaeologists as rash and destructive: in this hope we beg the favor of space in your columns to enable us to protest once more against what at the least we must call a dangerous alteration of an ancient and famous building.
Into the artistic matter of the relative advantage of ahigh or a low roof in the abstract, and the respective merits of the earlier or later styles represented at St Alban... (From: Marxists.org.) By Socialism, the Hammersmith Socialist Society understands the realization of a condition of true society all-embracing and all-sufficing.
It believes that this great change must be effected by the conscious exertions of those who have learned to know what Socialism is.
This change, it believes, must be an essential change in the basis of society: the present basis is privilege for the few and consequent servitude for the many; the further basis will be equality of condition for all, which we firmly believe to be the essence of true society.
As soon as any community begins to make differences in the condition and livelihood of its members, according to some imagined standard of estimation of their qualities, it finds itself driven to us... (From: Marxists.org.) The information of an official character given yesterday in your columns confirms remarkably that which we received a month ago from our correspondent at Venice. The fact that the works had been taken out of the hands of the local authorities and that a Commission was to be called to consider in what way they were to be carried further, while it made us anxious lest those works should be of a yet more sweeping character than what had hitherto been done, yet seemed to afford an opportunity of urging the opinion that the exercise of the utmost conservatism was needed if St. Marks's was not to be practically destroyed by well-meant efforts to restore it.
That opinion we still think is worth the consideration of the Commission now sitting, esp... (From: Marxists.org.) I note with great pleasure the remarks your Italian Correspondent quotes as expressing the opinions of the Ministry of Public Instruction in Italy, but the answer to their retort on our newly-acquired tenderness for their gloriousmonument is as simple as that retort is natural and reasonable. It is that 15 years ago we had but little tenderness for our own buildings, nor do I think in the long run they will feel aggrieved at our eagerness to save them from some of the same loss that we ourselves have suffered: perhaps they scarcely know with what pleasure some of us would hail their interference with our affairs of a like kind here. Meantime, Sir, I beg to appeal, through your columns, most earnestly to those Italian gentlemen, mentioned by... (From: Marxists.org.) I have just received information, on the accuracy of which I can rely, that the restoration of the west front of St. Mark's at Venice, which has long been vaguely threatened, is to be taken in hand at once. A commission is called for next month, to examine its state and to determine whether it is to be pulled down immediately or to be allowed to stand till next year. The fate of such a building seems to me a subject important enough to warrant me in asking you to grant me space to make an appeal to your readers to consider what a disaster is threatened hereby to art and culture in general. Though this marvel of art and treasure of history has suffered some disgraces, chiefly in the base mosaics that have supplanted the earlier ones, it is i... (From: Marxists.org.) Now the rowers lifted the ash-blades, and fell to rowing towards shore: and almost with the first of their strokes, the Sea-eagle moaned out:
"Would we were there, oh, would we were there! Cold groweth eld about my heart. Raven's Son, thou art standing up; tell me if thou canst see what these folk of the land are doing, and if any others have come thither?"
Said Hallblithe: "There are none others come, but kine and horses are feeding down the meadows. As to what those four are doing, the women are putting off their shoon, and girding up their raiment, as if they would wade the water toward us; and the carle, who was barefoot before, wendeth straight towards the sea, and there he standeth, for very little are the waves become."
The old ma... (From: Marxists.org.)