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William Morris
by [?]

The Doves Bindery, as all good men know, is managed by Mr. Cobden-Sanderson, who married one of the two daughters of Richard Cobden of Corn-Law fame.

Just why Mr. Sanderson, the lawyer, should have borrowed 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 one loves, especially 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 a most sensible woman, agreed with William Morris.

So Cobden-Sanderson, acting on Th’ Ole Man’s suggestion, rented the quaint and curious mansion next door to the old house occupied by the Kelmscott Press, and went to work binding books.

When we were once inside the Bindery, the Chaucerian 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 and 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 at first supposed, for it all ended in a laugh and easily ran off into a quiet debate as to the value of Imperial Japan versus 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 polished 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 Child was justified in his construction of the Third Canto of the “Canterbury Tales.” Under cover of the smoke I quietly 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 again, some days after, at the shop of Emery Walker 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 occasion he told me he had read “Huckleberry Finn,” and doted on “Uncle Remus.” He also spoke with affection 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 Vagabondia.”

* * * * *

The housekeeping world seems to have been in thrall to six haircloth chairs, a slippery sofa to match, and a very cold, marble-top center table, from the beginning 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 plaster-of-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 dissolution through the law of gravitation.