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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 117 pages of information about Varied Types.

But although Morris took little account of the terrible solidity of human nature—­took little account, so to speak, of human figures in the round, it is altogether unfair to represent him as a mere aesthete.  He perceived a great public necessity and fulfilled it heroically.  The difficulty with which he grappled was one so immense that we shall have to be separated from it by many centuries before we can really judge of it.  It was the problem of the elaborate and deliberate ugliness of the most self-conscious of centuries.  Morris at least saw the absurdity of the thing.  He felt it was monstrous that the modern man, who was pre-eminently capable of realising the strangest and most contradictory beauties, who could feel at once the fiery aureole of the ascetic and the colossal calm of the Hellenic god, should himself, by a farcical bathos, be buried in a black coat, and hidden under a chimney-pot hat.  He could not see why the harmless man who desired to be an artist in raiment should be condemned to be, at best, a black and white artist.  It is indeed difficult to account for the clinging curse of ugliness which blights everything brought forth by the most prosperous of centuries.  In all created nature there is not, perhaps, anything so completely ugly as a pillar-box.  Its shape is the most unmeaning of shapes, its height and thickness just neutralising each other; its colour is the most repulsive of colours—­a fat and soulless red, a red without a touch of blood or fire, like the scarlet of dead men’s sins.  Yet there is no reason whatever why such hideousness should possess an object full of civic dignity, the treasure-house of a thousand secrets, the fortress of a thousand souls.  If the old Greeks had had such an institution, we may be sure that it would have been surmounted by the severe, but graceful, figure of the god of letter-writing.  If the mediaeval Christians has possessed it, it would have had a niche filled with the golden aureole of St. Rowland of the Postage Stamps.  As it is, there it stands at all our street-corners, disguising one of the most beautiful of ideas under one of the most preposterous of forms.  It is useless to deny that the miracles of science have not been such an incentive to art and imagination as were the miracles of religion.  If men in the twelfth century had been told that the lightning had been driven for leagues underground, and had dragged at its destroying tail loads of laughing human beings, and if they had then been told that the people alluded to this pulverising portent chirpily as “The Twopenny Tube,” they would have called down the fire of Heaven on us as a race of half-witted atheists.  Probably they would have been quite right.

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