Little Journeys
to the Homes of
English Authors




Done into print by the Roy-
crofters at the Roycroft
Shop, which is in
East Aurora,
New York,


Of this edition there were printed and illumined by
hand but nine hundred and twenty-five copies. This
book is Number 923

Elbert Hubbard



From "The Earthly Paradise."
Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing,
I cannot ease the burden of your fears,
Or make quick-coming death a little thing,
Or bring again the pleasure of past years,
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears,
Or hope again for aught that I can say,
The idle singer of an empty day.

But rather, when aweary of your mirth,
From full hearts and still unsatisfied ye sigh,
And feeling kindly unto all the earth,
Grudge every minute as it passes by,
Made the more mindful that the sweet days die,—
Remember me a little then, I pray,
The idle singer of an empty day.

The heavy trouble, the bewildering care
That weighs us down who live and earn our bread,
These idle versus have no power to bear,
So let me sing of names remembered,
Because the, living not, can ne'er be dead,
Or long time take their memory quite away
From a poor singer of an empty day.

Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight?
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme
Beats with light wing against the ivory gate,
Telling a tale not too importunate
To those who in the sleepy region stay,
Lulled by the singer of an empty day.



THE parents of William Morris were
well-to-do people who lived in the
village of Wathamstow, Essex. The
father was a London bill broker, cool-
headed, calculating & intensely prac-
tical. In the home of his parents
William Morris surely received small
impulse in the direction of art; he,
however, was taught how to make both
ends meet, and there were drilled into
his character many good lessons of
plain common sense—a rather unusual
equipment for a poet, but still one that
should not be waived nor considered
lightly. At the village school William
was neither precocious nor dull, neither
black nor white : his cosmos being
simply a sort of slatey-gray, which
attracted no special attention from
schoolfellows or tutors.
From the village school he went to
Marlborough Academy, where by pa-
tient grubbing he fitted himself for
Exeter College, Oxford.
Morris the elder, proved his good
sense by taking no very special inter-
est in the boy's education:—violence
of direction in education falls flat :


man is a lonely creature, and has to work out his career
in his own way. To help grub spin its cocoon is
quite unnecessary, and to play the part of Mrs. Gamp
with the butterfly in its chrysalis stage is to place a
quietus upon its career. The whole science of modern
education is calculated to turn out a good, fairish,
commonplace article; but the formula for a genius re-
mains a secret with deity. The great man becomes
great in spite of teachers and parents; and his
near kinsmen, being color-blind, usually pooh-pooh the idea
that he is anything more than mediocre.
At Oxford, William Morris fell in with a young
man of about his own age by the name of Edward
Burne-Jones. Burne-Jones was studying theology. He
was slender in stature, dreamy, spiritual, poetic. Mor-
ris was a giant in strength, blunt in speech, bold in
manner, and had a shock of hair like a lion's mane.
This was in the year 1853—these young men being
nineteen years of age. The slender, yellow, dreamy
student of theology and the ruddy athlete became fast
"Send your sons to college and the boys will educate
them," said Emerson. These boys read poetry together;
and it seems the first author that specially attracted
them was Mrs. Browning; & she attracted them sim-
ply because she had recently eloped with the man she
loved. This fact proved to Morris that she was a worthy
woman and a discerning. She had the courage of his
convictions. To elope with a poor poet, leaving a rich


father and a luxurious home—what a nobler ambition?
Burne-Jones, student of theology, considered her ac-
tion proof of depravity. Morris, in order to show his
friend that Mrs. Browning was really a rare and gentle
soul, read aloud to Burne-Jones from her books. In
fact, Morris himself had never read much of Mrs.
Browning's work, but in championing her cause and in-
teresting his friend in her, he grew interested himself.
Like lawyers, we champion a cause first and look for
proof later. In teaching another, Morris taught himself.
By explaining a theme it becomes luminous to us.
In passing, it is well to note that this impulse in the
heart of William Morris to come to the defense of an
accused person was ever very strong. His defense of
Mrs. Brownig led straight to "The Defense of Guin-
evere," begun while at Oxford and printed in book form
in his twenty-fourth year. Not that the offenses of
Guinevere and Elizabeth Barrett were parallel, but
Morris was by nature a defender of women. And it
should further be noted that Tennyson had not yet
written his "Idylls of the King," at the time Morris
wrote his poetic brief.
Another author that these young men took up at this
time was Ruskin. John Ruskin was fifteen years older
than Morris—an Oxford man, too—also the son of a
merchant and rich by inheritance. Ruskin's natural in-
dependence, his ability for original thinking and his ac-
tion in embracing the cause of Turner, the ridiculed,
won the heart of Morris. In Ruskin he found a


writer who expressed the thoughts that he believed.
He read Ruskin, and insisted that Burne-Jones should.
Together they read "The Nature of Gothic," and then
they went out upon the streets of Oxford & studied ex-
amples at first hand. they compared the old with the
new & came to the conclusion that the buildings erect-
ed two centuries before had various points to recom-
mend them which modern buildings had not. The mod-
ern buildings were built by contractors, while the old
ones were constructed by men who had all the time
there was, and so they worked out their conceptions of
the eternal fitness of things.
Then these young men, with several others, drew up a
remonstrance against "the desecration by officious res-
toration, & the tearing down of time-mellowed struct-
ures to make room for the unsightly brick pile of
boarding-house keepers."
The remonstrance was sent to the authorities, and
by them duly pigeon-holed, with a passing remark that
young fellows sent to Oxford to be educated had better
attend to their books and mind their own business.
Having espoused the cause of the Middle Ages in archi-
tecture, these young men began to study the history
of the people who lived in the olden time. They read
Spenser and Chaucer, and chance threw in their way a
dog-eared copy of Malory's "Morte D' Arthur," & this
was still more dog-eared when they were through with
it. Probably no book ever made more of an impression
on Morris than this one; and if he had written an ar-


ticle for the "Ladies Home Journal" on "Books that
Influenced Me Most," he would have placed Malory's
"Morte D' Arthur," first.
The influence of Burne-Jones on Morris was marked,
and the influence of Morris on Burne-Jones was pro-
found. Morris discovered himself in explaining things
to Burne-Jones, and Burne-Jones, without knowing it,
adopted the opinions of Morris; and it was owing to
Morris that he gave up theology.
Having abandoned the object that led him to college,
Burne-Jones lost faith in Oxford, and went down to
London to study art.
Morris hung on, secured his B.A. and articled himself
to a local architect with the firm intent of stopping the
insane drift for modern mediocrity, and bringing about
a just regard for the stately dignity of the Gothic.
A few months' experience, however, and he discovered
that an apprentice to an architect was not expected to
furnish plans nor even criticise those already made:
his business was to make detailed drawings form com-
pleted designs for the contractors to work from.
A year at architecture, with odd hours filled in at poet-
ry and art, and news came from Burne-Jones that he
had painted a picture, and sold it for ten pounds.
Now Morris had all the money he needed. His father's
prosperity was at flood, & he had but to hint for funds
and they came, yet to make things with your own hands
and sell them, was the true test of success.
He had written "Gertha's Lovers," "Tale of the


Hollow Land," and various poems and essays for the
college magazines; & his book, "The Defense of Guin-
evere," had been issued at his own expense, and the
edition was on his hands—a weary weight.
Thoreau wrote to his friends, when the house burned
and destroyed all copies of his first book, The edition
is exhausted," but no such happiness came to Morris.
And so when glad tidings of an artistic success came
from Burne-Jones, he resolved to follow the lead and
abandon architecture for "pure art."
Arriving in Lindon he placed himself under the tutor-
ship of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a poet, dreamer & artist
six years his senior, whom he had known for some
time, and who had also instructed Burne-Jones.
While taking lessons in painting at the rather shabby
house of Rossetti in Portland street, he was introduced
to Rossetti's favorite model—a young woman of rare
grace and beauty. Rossetti had painted her picture as
"The Blessed Damozel," leaning over the bar of Heav-
en, while the stars in her hair were seven. Morris the
impressionable fell in love with the canvas and then
the woman.
When they were married, tradition has it, that Ros-
setti withheld his blessing & sought to drown his sor-
row in fomentations, with dark, dank hints in baritone
to the effect that the Thames only could appreciate
his grief.
But grief is transient; and for many years Rossetti and
Burne-Jones pictured the tall, willowy figure of Mrs,


Morris as the dream-woman, on tapestry and canvas;
and as the "Blessed Virgin," her beautiful face and
form are shown in many sacred places.
Truth need not be distorted in a frantic attempt to make
this an ideal marriage—only a woman with the intel-
lect of Minerva could have filled the restless heart of
William Morris. But the wife of Morris believed in her
lord, and never sought to hamper him, and if she failed
at times to comprehend his genius it was only because
she was human. Possibly she could not throw her net
over a sublime idea, but surely she was not a vampire.
Whistler once remarked that without Mrs. Morris to
supply stained glass attitudes and the lissome beauty
of an angel, the Pre-Raphaelites would have long since
gone down to dust and forgetfulness.
THE year which William Morris
spend at architecture, he con-
sidered as nearly a waste of
time, but it was not so in fact.
As a draughtsman he had devel-
oped a marvelous skill, and the
grace and sureness of his lines
were a delight to Burne-Jones,
Rossetti, Holman Hunt, Ford
Madox Brown and others of the
little artistic circle in which he found himself.
Youth lays great plans; youth is always in revolt
against the present order; youth groups itself in bands
and swears eternal fealty; and life, which is change,


dissipates the plans, subdues the revolt into conformity,
& the sworn friendships fade away into dull indifference.
Always? Well, no, not exactly. In this instance the
plans and dreams found form; the revolt was a revolu-
tion that succeeded; and the brotherhood existed for
near fifty years and then was severed only by death.
Without going into a history of the Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood, it will be noted that the band of enthu-
siasts in art, literature and architecture had been swung
by the arguments and personality of William Morris
into the strong current of his own belief, and this was
that Art and Life in the Middle Ages were much lov-
lier things than they are now.
That being so, we should go back to medieval times
for our patterns. A study of the best household deco-
ration of the Fifteenth Century showed that all the
furniture used then was made to fit a certain apart-
ment, and with a definite purpose in view. Of course
it was made by hand, and the loving marks of the
tool were upon it. It was made as good and strong
and durable as it could be made. Floors and walls were
of mosaic or polished wood, and these were partially
covered by beautifully woven rugs, skins and tapestries.
The ceilings were sometimes ornamented with pictures
painted in harmony with the use for which the room
was designed. Certainly there were no chromos, and
the pictures were few and these of the best, for the
age was essentially a critical one.
A modest circular was issued in which the fact was



made know that, "A company of historical artists
will use their talents in home decoration."
Dealers into whose hands this circular fell, smiled in
derision, & the announcement made no splash in Eng-
land's artistic waters. But the leaven was at work
which was bound to work a revolution in the tastes of
fifty million people.
Most of our best moves are accidents, and every good
thing begins as something else. In the beginning there
was no expectation of building up a trade or making a
financial success of the business. The idea was simply
that the eight young men who composed the band were
to use their influence in helping each other to secure
commissions, and corroborate the views of doubting
patrons as to what was art & what not. In other words,
they were to stand by each other. Ford Madox Brown,
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Burne-Jones & Arthur Hughes
were painters; Philip Webb an architect; Peter Paul
Marshall a landscape gardener and engineer; Charles
Joseph Faulkner, an Oxford don, was a designer, and
William Morris was an all 'round artist—ready to turn
his hand to anything.
These men undertook to furnish a home from garret to
cellar in an artistic way.
Work came and each set himself to help all the others.
From simply supplying designs for furniture, rugs, car-
pets and wall paper they began to manufacture these
things, simply because they could not buy or get others
to make the things thy desired.



Morris undertook the entire executive charge of affairs,
and mastered the details of half a dozen trades in or-
der that he might intelligently conduct the business.
The one motto of the firm was "Not how cheap, but
how good." they insisted that housekeeping must be
simplified, and that we should have fewer things and
have them better. To this end single pieces of furniture
were made and all sets of furniture discarded. I have
seen several houses furishned entire by William Morris,
and the first thing that impressed me was the sparsity
of things. Instead of a dozen pictures in a room there
were two or three—one on an easel and one or two
on the walls. Gilt frames were abandoned almost en-
tirely and dark stained woods were used instead.
Wide fireplaces were introduced and mantels of solid
oak. For upholstery, leather covering was usually used
instead of cloth. Carpets were laid in strips, not tacked
down to stay, and rugs were laid so as to show a goodly
glimpse of hard-wood floor; and in the dining room a
large round table was placed instead of a right angle
square one. This table was not covered with a table-
cloth: mats or doilies being used here and there. To
cover a table entire with a cloth or spread, was pretty
good proof that the piece of furniture was cheap and
shabby; so in no William Morris library or dining room
would you find a table entirely covered. The round din-
ing table is in very general use now, but few people
realize how its plainness was scouted when William
Morris first introduced it.


One piece of William Morris furniture has become de-
cidely popular in America, and that is the "Morris
Chair." The first chair of this pattern was made entirely
by the hands of the master. It was built by a man
who understood anatomy, unlike most chairs and all
church pews. It was also strong, durable, ornamental
and by a simple device the back could be adjusted so
as to fit a man' every mood.
There has been a sad degeneracy among William
Morris chairs; still, good ones can be obtained, nearly
as excellent as the one in which I rested at Kelmscott
House--broad, deep, massive, upholstered with curled
hair, & covered with leather that would delight a book-
binder. Such a chair can be used a generation and then
passed on to the heirs.
Furnishing of churches and chapels led naturally to
the making of stained glass windows, & hardly a large
city of Christendom but has an example of the Morris
Morris managed to hold that erratic genius, Dante
Gabriel Rossetti, in line and direct his efforts, which of
itself was a feat worthy of record. He made a fortune
for Rossetti, who was a child in this world's affairs,
and he also made a fortune for himself and every man
connected with the concern.
Burne-Jones stood by the ship manfully and proved his
good sense by never interfering with the master's plans,
or asking foolish, quibbling questions,—showing faith
on all occasions.


The Morris designs for wall paper, tapestry, cretonnes
and carpets are now the property of the world, but to
say just which is a William Morris design and which
a Burne-Jones is an impossibility, for these two strong
men worked together as one being with two heads and
four hands. At one time, I find the firm of Morris & Co.
had three thousand hands at work in its various man-
ufactories, the work in most instances being done by
hand and after the manner of the olden time.
William Morris was an avowed socialist long before so
many men began to grow fond of calling themselves
Christian Socialists. Morris was too practical not to
know that the time is not ripe for life on a communal
basis, but in his heart was a high and holy ideal that
he has partially explained in his books, "A Dream
of John Ball" and "news from Nowhere," and more
fully in many lectures. His sympathy was ever with
the workingman and those who grind fordone at the
wheel of labor. To better the condition of the toiler
was his sincere desire.
There is one criticism that has been constantly brought
against Morris, and although he answered this criticism
a thousand times during his life, it still springs fresh—
put forth by little men who congratulate themselves
on having scored a point.
They ask in orotund, "How could William Morris ex-
pect to benefit society at large, when all of the prod-
ucts he manufactured were so high in price that only
the rich could buy them?'


Socialism, according to William Morris, does not con-
sider it desirable to supply cheap stuff to anybody. The
socialist aims to make every manufactured article of
the best quality possible. it is not how cheap can this
be made, but how good. Make it as excellent as it can
be made to serve its end. Then sell it at a price that
affords something more than a bare existence to the
workmen who put their lives into its formation. In
this way you raise the status of the worker—you pay
him for his labor and give him an interest and pride in
the product. Cheap products make cheap men. The first
thought of socialism is for the worker who makes the
thing, not the man who buys it.
And so I will answer the question of the critics as to
how society has been benefited by, say, a William
Morris book:
1.—The workmen who made it found a pride and sat-
isfaction in their work.
2.—They received a goodly reward in cash for their
time and efforts.
3.—The buyers were pleased with their purchase, and
received a decided satisfaction in its possession.
4.—Readers of the book were gratified to see their
author clothed in such fitting and harmonious dress.
5.—Reading the text has instructed some; and possibly
inspired a few to nobler thinking.
After "The Defense of Guinevere" was published, it
was thirteen years before Morris issued another vol-
ume. His days had been given to art and the work of


management. But now the business had gotten on to
such a firm basis that he turned the immediate super-
vision over to others and took two days of the week,
Saturday and Sunday, for literature.
Taking up the active work of literature when thirty-
seven years of age, he followed it with the zest of youth
for twenty years—until death claimed him.
William Morris thought literature should be the prod-
uct of the ripened mind—the mind that knows the
world of men & which has grappled with earth's prob-
lems; and in this he had the strong corroboration of
several philosophers. He also considered that letters
should not be a profession itself—to make a business
of an art is to degrade it. Literature should be the spon-
taneous output of the mind that has known and felt. To
work the mine of spirit as a business and sift its prod-
uct for hire, is to overwork the vein and palm off slag
for useful metal. Shakespeare was a theatre manager,
Milton a secretary, Bobby Burns a farmer, Lamb a
book-keeper, Wordsworth a government employee,
Emerson a lecturer, Hawthorne a custom-house in-
spector & Whitman a clerk. William Morris was a
workingman and manufacturer,—and would
have been Poet Laureate of England had
he been willing to call himself a student
of sociology instead of a socialist.
Socialism itself (whatever it
may be) is not offensive
—the word is.


ONCE upon a day the great Amer-
ican Apostle of Negation ex-
pressed a regret that he had not
been consulted when the Uni-
verse was being planned, other-
wise he would have arranged to
make good things catching in-
stead of bad.
The remark tokened a slight le-
sion in the logic of the Apostle,
for good things are now, & ever have been, infectious.
Once upon a day, I met a young man who told me
that he was exposed at Kelmscott House for a brief
hour, and caught it, and ever after there were in his
mind, thoughts, feelings, emotions and ideals that were
not there before. Possibly the psychologist would ex-
plain that the spores of all these things were simply
sleeping, awaiting the warmth and sunshine of some
peculiar presence to start them into being, but of that
I cannot speak—this only I know, that the young man
said to me, "Whereas I was once blind, I now see.
"William Morris was a giant in physical strength and
a giant in intellect. His nature was intensely mascu-
line in that he could plan and act without thought of
precedent. Never was a man more emancipated from
the trammels of convention and custom than William
Kelmscott House at Hammersmith is in an ebb-tide
district where once wealth and fashion held sway; but


now the vicinity is given over to factories, tenement
houses and all that train of evil and vice that follow in
the wake of faded gentility.
At Hammersmith you will see spacious old mansions
used as warehouses; others as boarding-houses; still
others converted into dance halls with beer gardens in
the rear, where once bloomed and blossomed milady's
flower beds.
The broad stone steps and wide hallways and iron
fences, with glimpses now and then of ancient door-
plates or more ancient knockers, tell of generations
turned to dust.
Just why William Morris, the poet and lover of har-
mony, should have selected this locality for a home is
quite beyond the average ken. Certainly it mystified the
fashionable literary world of London with whom he
never kept goose-step, but that still kept track of him—
for fashion has a way of patronizing genius—and some
of his old friends wrote him asking where Hammer-
smith was, & others expressed doubts as to its existence.
I had no difficulty in taking the right train for Ham-
mersmith, but once there no one seemed to have ever
heard of the Kelmscott Press. When I inquired, grave
misgivings seemed to arise as to whether the press re-
ferred to was a cider press, a wine press or a press
for "cracklings."
Finally I discovered a man—a workingman—whose face
beamed at the mention of William Morris. Later I
found that if a man knew William Morris, his heart


throbbed at the mention of his name, and he at once
grew voluble and confidential and friendly. It was the
"Open Sesame." And if a person did not know Will-
iam Morris, he simply did n't, and that
was all there was about it.
But the man I met knew "Th' Ole Man," which was
the affectionate title used by all the hundreds and
thousands who worked with William Morris. And to
prove that he knew him, when I asked that he should
direct me to the Upper Mall, he simply insisted on go-
ing with me. Moreover, he told a needless lie and de-
clared he was on the way there, although when we met
the was headed in the other direct. By a devious
walk of half a mile we reached the high iron fence of
Kelmscott House. We arrived amid a florid description
of the Icelandic Sagas as told by my new-found friend
and interpreted by Th' Ole Man. My friend had not
read the Sagas, but still he recommended them; and so
we passed through the wide open gates & up the stone
walk to the entrance of Kelmscott House.
On the threshold we met Mr. F. S. Ellis & Mr. Emery
Walker, who addressed my companion as "Tom." I
knew Mr. Ellis slightly and also had met Mr. Walker,
who works Rembrandt miracles with a camera.
Mr. Ellis was deep in seeing the famous "Chaucer"
through the press, & Mr. Walker had a print to show,
so we turned aside, past a great pile of paper in crates
that cluttered the hallway, and entered the library.
There, leaning over the long, oaken table, in shirt-


sleeves, was the master. Who could mistake that great
shaggy head, the tangled beard, and frank, open-eyed
look of boyish animation?
The man was sixty and more, but there was no ap-
pearance of age in eye, complexion, form or gesture—
only the whitened hair! He greeted me as if we always
had known each other, and Ellis and piles of Chaucer
proof led straight to old Professor Childs of Harvard,
whose work Ellis criticised and Morris upheld. They
fell into hot argument, which was even continued as
we walked across the street to the Doves Bindery.
The Doves Bindery, as all good men know, is man-
aged by Mr. Cobden-Sanderson, who married one of
the two daughters of Richard Cobden of Corn-Law
Just why Mr. Sanders, the lawyer, should have bor-
rowed his wife's maiden name and made it legally a
part of his own, I do not know. Anyway I quite like
the idea of linking one's name with that of the woman
he loves, especially so when it has been so honored
by the possessor as the name of Cobden.
Cobden-Sanderson caught the rage for beauty from
William Morris, and began to bind books for his own
pleasure. Morris contended that any man who could
bind books as beautifully as Cobden-Sanderson should
not waste his time with law. Cobden-Sanderson talked
it over with his wife, and she being the most sensible
woman agreed with William Morris. So Cobden-San-
derson, acting on the suggestion of Th' Ole Mand, rent-


ed the time-mellowed mansion next door to the old
house occupied by the Kelmscott Press and went to
work binding books.
When we were once inside of the Bindery, the Chau-
cerian argument between Mr. Ellis and Th' Ole Man
shifted off into a wrangle with Cobden-Sanderson.
I could not get the drift of it exactly—it seemed to be
the continuation of some former quarrel, about an oak
leaf or something. Anyway, Th' Ole Man silenced his
opponent by smothering his batteries—all of which
will be better understood when I explain that Th' Ole
Man was large in stature, bluff, bold & strong-voiced,
whereas Cobden-Sanderson is small, red-headed, meek,
and wears bicycle trousers.
The argument, however, was not quite so serious an
affair as I first supposed, for it all ended in a laugh
and easily ran off into a quiet debate as to the value of
Imperial Japan vs. Whatman.
We walked through the various old parlors that now
do duty as workrooms for bright-eyed girls, then over
through the Kelmscott Press, and from this to another
old mansion that had on its door a brass plate so pol-
ished and repolished, like a machine-made sonnet too
much gone over, that one can scarcely make out its
intent. Finally I managed to trace the legend, "The
Seasons." I was told it was here that Thomson, the
poet, wrote his book. Once back in the library of
Kelmscott House, Mr. Ellis and Th' Ole Man leaned
over the great oaken table and renewed, in a gentler


key, the question as to whether Professor Childs was
justified in his construction of the Third Canto of the
"Canterbury Tales." Under cover of the smoke I quiet-
ly disappeared with Mr. Cockerill, the Secretary, for
a better view of the Kelmscott Press.
This was my first interview with William Morris. By
chance I met him once again for a few moments, some
days after, at the shop of Emery Waler in Clifford
Court, Strand. I had been told on divers occasions by
various persons that William Morris had no sympathy
for American art and small respect for our literature.
I am sure this was not wholly true, for on this occa-
sion he told me he had read "Huckleberry Finn," and
doted on "Uncle Remus." He also spoke with af-
fection and feeling of Walt Whitman, and
told me that he had read every printed
word that Emerson had written. And
further he congratulated me on
the success of my book,
"Songs from Vaga-


THE housekeeping world seems
to have been in thrall to six hair-
cloth chairs, a slippery sofa to
match, & a very cold, marble-
top center table, from the be-
ginning of this century down to
comparatively recent times.
In all the best homes there was
also a marble mantel to match
the center table; on one end of
this mantel was a blue glass vase containing a bouquet
of paper roses, and on the other a plater-Paris cat.
Above the mantel hung a wreath of wax flowers in a
glass case. In such houses were usually to be seen
gaudy-colored carpets, imitation lace curtains, and a
what-not in the corner that seemed ready to go into
dissoluton through the law of gravitation.
Early in the seventies lithograph presses began to
make chromos that were warranted just as good as oil
paintings, and these were distributed in millions by en-
terprising newspapers as premiums for subscriptions.
Looking over an old file of the "Christian Union"
for the year 1871, I chanced upon an editorial where-
in it was stated that the end of painting pictures by
hand had come, and the writer piously thanked heaven
for it—& added, "Art is now within the reach of all."
Furniture, carpets, curtains, pictures and books were
being manufactured by machinery, and to blue things
together and give them a look of gentility and get them


into a house before they fell apart, was the seeming
desideratum of all manufacturers.
The editor of the "Christian Union" surely had a
basis of truth for his statement; art had received a
sudden chill: palettes and brushes could be bought for
half-price, and many artists were making five-year
contracts with lithographers; while those too old to
learn to draw on lithograph stones saw nothing left for
them but to work designs with worsted in perforated
To the influence of William Morris does the civilized
world owe its salvation from the mad rage & rush for
the tawdry and cheap in home decoration. It will not
do to say that if William Morris had not called a halt
some one else would, nor to cavil by declaring that
the inanities of the Plush-Covered-Age followed the
Era of the Hair-Cloth Sofa. These things are frankly
admitted, but the refreshing fact remains that fully
one-half the homes of England & America have been
influenced by the good taste and vivid personality of
one strong, earnest man.
William Morris was the strongest all 'round man the
century has produced. He was an Artist and a Poet in
the broadest and best sense of these much bandied
terms. William Morris could do more things, and do
them well, than any man of either ancient or modern
times whom we can name.
In a magazine article a short time ago, I saw Mr.
Hopkinson Smith referred to as "the Leonardo da


Vinci of America," and the article in question, I do
not believe was written by Mr. Smith, either,
Mr. Hopkinson Smith is a talented man, and I surely
would not descry his various gifts. He is a writer, an
artist, and orator and a civil engineer. He is eminently
sane, possesses common sense plus, and always has
one eye well fixed on the Main Chance. He is practi-
cal. Mr. Smith is not a college man, and when in 1894
he gave a course of lectures at Harvard, the throngs
that crowded Sander's Theater to its utmost limit,
testified to the fact that of Harvard's three hundred
professors and teachers, not one could match this light-
house builder in point of personality.
However, the Plutarch who writes the parallel lives
of Hopkinson Smith and William Morris will place the
American at a great disadvantage. William Morris
could do everything that Smith can, even to building
an Eddystone Light, and beside this, was master of
six trades. He was a weaver, a blacksmith, a wood-
carver, a painter, a dyer and a printer. And he was a
musical composer of no mean ability.
Better than all, he was an enthusiastic lover of his
race: his heart throbbed for humanity, and believing
that society could be reformed only from below, he
cast his lot with the toilers, dressed as one of them, &
in the companionship of workingmen found a response
to his holy zeal which the society of an entailed aris-
tocracy denied.
The man who could influence the entire housekeeping


of half a world, and give the kingdom of fashion a list
to starboard; who could paint beautiful pictures; com-
pose music; speak four languages; write sublime verse;
address a public assemblage effectively; produce
plays; resurrect the lost art of making books
—books such as were made only in the
olden time as a loving, religious ser-
vice; who lived a clean, whole-
some, manly life—beloved by
those who knew him best
—shall we not call
him Master?








Published @ COVE

April 2022