Varied Types eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 117 pages of information about Varied Types.
feeling for things.  Trifling details may be inaccurate, Jack may not have climbed up so tall a beanstalk, or killed so tall a giant; but it is not such things that make a story false; it is a far different class of things that makes every modern book of history as false as the father of lies; ingenuity, self-consciousness, hypocritical impartiality.  It appears to us that of all the fairy-tales none contains so vital a moral truth as the old story, existing in many forms, of Beauty and the Beast.  There is written, with all the authority of a human scripture, the eternal and essential truth that until we love a thing in all its ugliness we cannot make it beautiful.  This was the weak point in William Morris as a reformer:  that he sought to reform modern life, and that he hated modern life instead of loving it.  Modern London is indeed a beast, big enough and black enough to be the beast in Apocalypse, blazing with a million eyes, and roaring with a million voices.  But unless the poet can love this fabulous monster as he is, can feel with some generous excitement his massive and mysterious joie-de-vivre, the vast scale of his iron anatomy and the beating of his thunderous heart, he cannot and will not change the beast into the fairy prince.  Morris’s disadvantage was that he was not honestly a child of the nineteenth century:  he could not understand its fascination, and consequently he could not really develop it.  An abiding testimony to his tremendous personal influence in the aesthetic world is the vitality and recurrence of the Arts and Crafts Exhibitions, which are steeped in his personality like a chapel in that of a saint.  If we look round at the exhibits in one of these aesthetic shows, we shall be struck by the large mass of modern objects that the decorative school leaves untouched.  There is a noble instinct for giving the right touch of beauty to common and necessary things, but the things that are so touched are the ancient things, the things that always to some extent commended themselves to the lover of beauty.  There are beautiful gates, beautiful fountains, beautiful cups, beautiful chairs, beautiful reading-desks.  But there are no modern things made beautiful.  There are no beautiful lamp-posts, beautiful letter-boxes, beautiful engines, beautiful bicycles.  The spirit of William Morris has not seized hold of the century and made its humblest necessities beautiful.  And this was because, with all his healthiness and energy, he had not the supreme courage to face the ugliness of things; Beauty shrank from the Beast and the fairy-tale had a different ending.

But herein, indeed, lay Morris’s deepest claim to the name of a great reformer:  that he left his work incomplete.  There is, perhaps, no better proof that a man is a mere meteor, merely barren and brilliant, than that his work is done perfectly.  A man like Morris draws attention to needs he cannot supply.  In after-years we may have perhaps a newer and more daring Arts and Crafts Exhibition.  In

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Varied Types from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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