The mintage of wisdom is to know that
rest is rust, and that real life is in love,
laughter and work.
I have been asked to write an article about myself and the work in which I am engaged. I think I am honest enough to sink self, to stand outside my own personality, and answer the proposition.
Let me begin by telling what I am not, and thus reach the vital issue by elimination.
First, I am not popular in “Society,” and those who champion my cause in my own town are plain, unpretentious people.
Second, I am not a popular writer, since my name has never been mentioned in the “Atlantic,” “Scribner’s,” “Harper’s,” “The Century” or the “Ladies’ Home Journal.” But as a matter of truth, it may not be amiss for me to say that I have waited long hours in the entryway of each of the magazines just named, in days agone, and then been handed the frappe.
Third, I am not rich, as the world counts wealth.
Fourth, as an orator I am without the graces, and do scant justice to the double-breasted Prince Albert.
Fifth, the Roycroft Shop, to the welfare of which my life is dedicated, is not so large as to be conspicuous on account of size.
Sixth, personally, I am no ten-thousand-dollar beauty: the glass of fashion and the mold of form are far from mine.
Then what have I done concerning which the public wishes to know? Simply this:
In one obscure country village I have had something to do with stopping the mad desire on the part of the young people to get out of the country and flock to the cities. In this town and vicinity the tide has been turned from city to country. We have made one country village an attractive place for growing youth by supplying congenial employment, opportunity for education and healthful recreation, and an outlook into the world of art and beauty.
All boys and girls want to make things with their hands, and they want to make beautiful things, they want to “get along,” and I’ve simply given them a chance to get along here, instead of seeking their fortunes in Buffalo, New York or Chicago. They have helped me and I have helped them; and through this mutual help we have made head, gained ground upon the whole.
By myself I could have done nothing, and if I have succeeded, it is simply because I have had the aid and co-operation of cheerful, willing, loyal and loving helpers. Even now as I am writing this in my cabin in the woods, four miles from the village, they are down there at the Shop, quietly, patiently, cheerfully doing my work–which work is also theirs.
No man liveth unto himself alone: our interests are all bound up together, and there is no such thing as a man going off by himself and corraling the good.
When I came to this town there was not a house in the place that had a lavatory with hot and cold water attachments. Those who bathed, swam in the creek in the Summer or used the family wash tub in the kitchen in Winter. My good old partner, Ali Baba, has always prided himself on his personal cleanliness He is arrayed in rags, but underneath, his hide is clean, and better still, his heart is right. Yet when he first became a member of my household, he was obliged to take his Saturday-night tub out in the orchard, from Spring until Autumn came with withered leaves.
He used to make quite an ado in the kitchen, heating the water in the wash-boiler. Six pails of cistern-water, a gourd of soft soap, and a gunny-sack for friction were required in the operation. Of course, the Baba waited until after dark before performing his ablutions. But finally his plans were more or less disturbed by certain rising youth, who timed his habits and awaited his disrobing with o’erripe tomatoes. The bombardment, and the inability to pursue the enemy, turned the genial current of the Baba’s life awry until I put a bathroom in my house, with a lock on the door.