Зображення сторінки

all the collective wisdom of the village knew how to set it up. Luckily we had a photograph of Giotto's Campanile, and by help of that the various parts were rightly put together. We then secured an old weaver, and one bright Easter morning saw our first piece of linen woven, — the first purely hand-spun and hand-woven linen produced in all broad England in our generation.” Such is the account of the beginning of the Langdale linen industry given by Mr. Fleming. This occurred in the winter of 1883, and is the first of a large number of similar revivals in different parts of the country. It was not designed as the complete basis of an industrial life, but only as a by-industry for the fireside in the evening after the day's work was done. In 1897 some twenty-five women were engaged in spinning and others in embroidering the linen, the best workers earning 5s. to 6s. a week. A great variety is produced for all sorts of domestic purposes, bleached or unbleached or dyed, according to fancy.

§ 8. The Home Arts and Industries Association, which holds an exhibition every year, and issues a report, is evidence of the great influence which Mr. Ruskin's teaching and example has exercised upon this movement in different parts of Great Britain and Ireland. The following statement of the aims of this Association is ample testimony to this influence. It seeks :

6 1. To train the eyes and fingers of its pupils, thereby not only adding to their resources and powers of employment, but increasing their value as workmen, and making them more fit to earn a livelihood in whatever occupation they may adopt.

1 “ Studies in Ruskin,” by Mr. E. T. Cook, p. 164, etc.

6 2. To fill up the idle hours of boys and girls, especially at the age when they have left school and not taken up a regular trade, by providing occupation of a kind which will keep them happily employed at home.

“3. To promote pleasant and sympathetic intercourse between the educated and the poor, and to enable the possessors of art-knowledge and culture to impart their gifts to those who are without either.

664. To revive the old handicrafts which once flourished in England, but which have now almost died out, and to encourage the labouring classes to take a pride in making their homes beautiful by their own work."

Classes organised in various places, largely by voluntary effort of unpaid teachers, are at work. In a few instances an already existing industry is organised and a market found for it, as in the hand-woven cloth of South Wales. In a few other cases a new art-industry has arisen, as in the “ Della Robbia Pottery” of Birkenhead, giving full remunerative employment to skilled artists in design and execution. But in most instances the lines which mark off the work of the Association from other organisations of a more strictly business order are closely observed, the work being of a voluntary and informal nature, more recreative and educational than professional, and not forming the basis of a complete commercial livelihood. The chief occupations are hand-spinning, weaving, and embroidery of different fabrics, and work in wood, metal, and clay, though a great variation of minor handicrafts are also practised, such as embossed and cut leather work, bookbinding, and basket-making. A few of the classes are associated with South Kensington Science and Art Department,

certain others are partly supported by County Councils, but most are free from official support and its accompanying control, and represent voluntary organisation and working

The rapid growth of this interesting movement is evidenced by the fact that, beginning with 40 classes in 1884, it has now considerably more than 500 classes at work. While many men and women of influence in art and in society have taken an active part in endowing and establishing centres of this work, notably Mr. and Mrs. G. F. Watts, and Lady Brownlow, the inspiration has in large measure come visibly from Mr. Ruskin. In the neighbourhood of his northern home a number of hand industries, the embodiments of his teaching, indicate his direct influence. Among the most interesting of these is one which bears his name, the “ Ruskin Linen Industry” of Keswick, in which teaching is given at cottage homes in spinning, weaving, embroidery, and lace, and the more ambitious experiment in teaching a variety of handicrafts undertaken by Mrs. and Miss Harris at Kirkby Lonsdale in Westmoreland.

Nor does this work stand by itself as a gallant attempt to stem the inevitable

the inevitable encroachments of machine industry, as some would represent. It is rather to be regarded as an informal educational current in a wider and more potent movement of modern taste, marking not a protest, but a progress, a demand for the free individual expression of art-power in all forms of plastic material both for use and decoration, and a corresponding demand on the part of the consumer that his individual tastes and needs shall be satisfied.

It is, in a word, a practical informal attempt of a

civilised society to mark out for itself the reasonable limits of machine-production, and to insist that “ cheapness shall not dominate the whole industrial world to the detriment of the pleasure and benefit arising from good work to the worker and the consumer.

Such a movement neither hopes nor seeks to restore mediævalism in industry, nor does it profess hostility to machinery, but it insists that machines shall be confined to the heavy, dull, monotonous, and therefore inhuman processes of work, while for the skill of human hand and eye shall be preserved all work which is pleasant and educative in its doing, and the skill and character of which contribute pleasure and profit to its use.



4. The general nature of Ruskin's protest. § 2. His teaching compared with that of Morris and Tolstoy. § 3. A union of Hebraism and Hellenism. § 4. Summary of economic teaching. $ 5. The unifying influences in Ruskin's thought. $ 6. Intellectual exclusiveness. $ 7. Ruskin's literary qualities as a source of influence. $ 8. A distinctively “practical” teacher.

In trying to mark as clearly as we may the place which Mr. Ruskin occupies among the social reformers of his age, it is of paramount importance to keep in mind his artistic temperament and training. For though the energy and inspiration of his social teaching was distinctively moral in character, the basis of his discontent with existing industrial and social conditions, and the forms of his constructive policy, are referable to the demands of an artistic nature. The definite social evils which first appealed to him were the bad workmanship imposed upon most workmen by the industrial conditions of their age, the degradation of the outward form of cities, and in particular of public and domestic architecture, the dominance which conventional and mechanical modes of work had obtained both in the fine arts and in the industries, and in general the power exercised by irresponsible wealth to corrupt the finest human qualities, and to uglify the outward aspects of life. It was

« НазадПродовжити »