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William Morris
by [?]

Thus we see why it is very necessary that we should exercise our highest and best. We are making character, building soul-fiber; and no rotten threads must be woven into this web of life. If you write a paper for a learned society, you are the man who gets the benefit of that paper–the society may. If you are a preacher and prepare your sermons with care, you are the man who receives the uplift–and as to the congregation, it is all very doubtful.

Work is for the worker.

We are all working out our own salvation. And thus do we see how it is very plain that John Ruskin was right when he said that the man who makes the thing is of far more importance than the man who buys it. Work is for the worker.

Can you afford to do slipshod, evasive, hypocritical work? Can you afford to shirk, or make-believe or practise pretense in any act of life? No, no; for all the time you are molding yourself into a deformity, and drifting away from the Divine. What the world does and says about you is really no matter, but what you think and what you do are questions vital as Fate. No one can harm you but yourself. Work is for the worker. And so I will answer the questions 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 satisfaction 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 volume. 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 supervision over to others, and took two days of the week, Saturday and Sunday, for literature.

Taking up the active work of literature when thirty-nine years of age, he followed it with the zest of youth for over twenty years–until death claimed him. William Morris thought literature should be the product of the ripened mind–the mind that knows the world of men and which has grappled with earth’s problems. He also considered that letters should not be a profession in itself–to make a business of an art is to degrade it. Literature should be the spontaneous output of the mind that has known and felt. To work the mine of spirit as a business and sift its product for hire, is to overwork the vein and palm off slag for sterling metal. Shakespeare was a theater-manager, Milton a secretary, Bobby Burns a farmer, Lamb a bookkeeper, Wordsworth a government employee, Emerson a lecturer, Hawthorne a custom-house inspector, and Whitman a clerk. William Morris was a workingman and a 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.

* * * * *

The great American Apostle of Negation expressed, once upon a day, a regret that he had not been consulted when the Universe was being planned, otherwise he would have arranged to make good things catching instead of bad.

The remark tokened a slight lesion in the logic of the Apostle, for good things are now, and 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 had not been there before. Possibly the psychologist would explain 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 can not speak–this only I know, that the young man said to me, “Whereas I was once blind, I now see.”