Saturday, 17 February 2018

Godfrey Blount in Kirtlington, 1894-5

Kelly’s Directory of Oxford, 1895 records Blount living in Nutlands, Kirtlington.  Blount was elected as a member of the Kirtlington Parish Council 1894, as written in my previous post here.  This is a Grade II listed building on Bletchingdon Road (OX5 3HF) which is now converted into flats.  The building is described by British Listed Buildings (here) as:

“House. c.1830 with later additions. Coursed squared limestone and some brick; Welsh-slate roofs with brick gable stacks. Probable central-stair plan with rear ranges. Regency style. 2 storeys.  Symmetrical 3-window front has large 12-pane sashes flanking a central half-glazed door and, at first floor, has smaller 12-pane sashes linked by an ashlar sill band which returns around the gable
ends. A hipped-roofed slated verandah extending across the front has ornamental trellis panels including segmental arches in front of the windows. Interior not inspected." 

Nutlands, Kirtlington, Oxford,
home of Godfrey Blount 1895
The first reference to Blount’s work that I have found is in Studio International (No. 13, April 1894) "A chest with panel in repousse work, is one of an admirable series of similar work by Mr Godfrey Blount, of Kirtlington, Oxford.  From the photographs we have seen it is possible to speak very warmly of the quality of Mr Blount’s work, especially the proportion of the framing and the massing of the ornamental details, without injury to the dignity on the whole.  It is so easy to fritter away the effect of decoration by too ornate adjuncts, that this reticence deserves commendation.”

Chest with panel in repousse work by Godfrey Blount
Studio: International art (No. 13, April 1894)

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Peasant love-songs

Mary Mudie wrote in The Vineyard in May 1914 the lead article entitled 'The Woman's Part in Peasant Life'.  This was the write-up of an "address given before the Peasant Arts Fellowship, March 11, 1914".  In this article, Mudie states:

Spine design from
The Vineyard
"The position and influence of women in any country, it seems to me, may best be shown by its love-songs, because they reflect man's ideal of womanhood.  Tried by this test Italy would stand high, for her love-songs set woman on a throne, and they are true folk-songs made by the people.  Women may well bear themselves with dignity whose lovers court them in such home-made lyrics as those sung among the Tuscan hills.  One begins:

O shining star!  O soul serene and mild,
I trust to make with thee a lasting peace ....

and the lover goes on to describe her gentle manner and lovely ways, and the speech so sweet and so noble that the birds stop their singing, the river its flow to listen to her words.

Even the best translation fails to render the simple yet exquisite music of the originals, but in her Folksongs of the Tuscans Hills, lately published, Miss barrack's translations may give some idea of the peasant woman as her lovers and her neighbours see her.  In one of the Fiori a little maid says to her lover:

Nettle flower fair!
Please do not mind my dress that is threadbare;
It is not in the clothes that Love doth dwell,
It is within the heart, - thou knows well.

His answer is:

For riches, O Sweetheart, I'd love thee ne-er,
Not if three mountains all of gold were thine;
But for thy lovely looks, thy manners fair:
Thy nobleness is worth a Duchy old,
A pearl thou art that's threaded in the gold:
Thy nobleness is worth a treasure found,
A pearly thou art upon a golden ground.

Sometimes it is the lover who regrets his poverty; he sings:

I'm born in poverty and have no claim
To court a maid so noble and so bright
For poverty indeed spoils every aim.
I've set myself upon too great a height.
Yet gentlehood I have in seeking thee,
So thou - for poverty dismiss not me.

What is her answer?:

How many folks there be who wed for wealth!
But he can work for goods who has good health,
Our goods they come and go as doth the wind -
What use for them without content of mind?
Riches!  they, like the sea, return, depart.
What use for them without content of heart?

When he has to go away to work he tell:

When from my village late I did depart,
Weeping I bade my love farewell - but she,
Who is most noble, courteous of heart,
Held me to ask when my return should be.

And I made the answer with such words as these:
My coming back shall be when God doth please -
And I made answer with humility,
 The coming back shall be unless I die - 
And I made answer with these words of faith,
The coming back shall be - unless for Death.

She, grieved at his tears, tries to keep up his courage and says:

Be happy, love, and if you needs must leave,
Do not take gloom upon you heart for load.
See! if I knew it 'twould be mine to grieve
That sadly you should go along your road.
By all means go - and quickly come again.
Leave sighing unto me - who must remain.

That is how the lover thinks of his girl; she is gentle, noble and courteous; she is to be the high white column of his home, and he longs for the day when he shall bring her, as the peasant custom is, to his father's house:

O! when will that one day of glory come
When softly thou shalt mount my stair and stand
With all thy brothers round thee in our home!
I shall be first to take thee by the hand.
O when will come, Sweetheart, that glorious day
When to the priest we go, our yes to say.

Long after they are married he still sings to the wife of many years, how she is like an olive tree which sheds its fruit but keeps its silver leaves; like the sea which winds and waves may trouble, but which keeps its level, however much rain may fall; she is like the tender grass of spring that every day grows lovelier to the sight."

Haslemere Peasants & the Appleton's weavers

I have been unable to find any direct reference between the Haslemere Peasants weaving on Kings Road, Haslemere and the manufacture of braid a few hundred metres further down the road at Appleton's, Sickle Mill, Sturt Road.  It would be remiss not to mention this similar manufacturing industry taking place in Haslemere at the same time as the Haslemere Peasant Industries.
Appletons, Sturt Road and the Haslemere Peasant Industries, Kings Road,
Haslemere, an 8 minute walk apart (Google Maps)
Appleton's mill in Haslemere would have been long established before the Haslemere Peasant movement began.  It's existence and proximity to the Haslemere Peasant Industries on Kings Road would have been known to the Kings and Blount's, and I wonder what part that knowledge played in their decision to establish a Weaving House and Tapestry Studio on Kings Road?  The journey between the two sites is 8 minutes on foot (according to Google Maps), and at the time there were no recorded buildings between them.

Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey & Sussex 1891 (p.211, online here) stated that "the principle trade or manufacture of the place (Haslemere) is hoop making."  Kelly's 1913 Directory, the next one I can find online, records a dramatic increase in the town and that the principal trades are "brick and tile making and the makings of braid, bindings and cord etc."  The reference to braid, bindings and cord being a reference to Appletons and not to the Haslemere Peasant Industries.

Military braid, perhaps similar to braid that was manufactured at Appletons,
Sickle Mill, Haslemere c.1900
The Shottermill Scrapbook records “Mrs Dunce died in 1944, at the age of 95.  It is interesting to recall that in her young days, she was employed by Mr Appleton, at Sicklemill, where he carried on a mill for making braid for soldiers uniforms and for making wick for candles.  It is believed that at one time, this was the only mill in the country making this braid, and in Mrs Dunce’s time, a good many people were employed there. 

Plaque outside Sickle Mill,
Sturt Road, Haslemere

“Sicklemill was a paper mill in 1762, and passed into the Appleton family at the beginning of the 19th century.”  (Haslemere Society website, online here)

Winter and Collyer record that “Sickle Mill was owned by James Simmons who made paper there until 1870.  Through the second half of the century Henry and Thomas Appleton manufactured braid for decorating military uniforms….Messrs Appleton, who also manufactured braid at Elstead, sold Sickle Mill at auction in 1911.” (Around Haslemere and Hindhead in Old Photographs, Alan Sutton Publishing, 1991).

Sickle Mill (Winter & Collyer, Around Haslemere and Hindhead in Old Photographs,
Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, 1991)

The industry was described as “the manufacture of worsted lace and epaulettes for the trimming of military uniforms” by Surrey’s Industrial Past (online here).  The Appleton family of father Henry and son Thomas from London first set up machinery for spinning and weaving in Pitfold Mill, Haslemere in 1835, a mill owned by James Simmons, a local papermaker.  Thomas Appleton moved to nearby Elstead and began manufacturing there in an old corn mill.  In 1851 Thomas Appleton, then 35, was described in the census as “master manufacturer of small ware employing 100 hands”.  In 1854 he bought Sickle Mill from Simmons.  Surrey's Industrial Past reports that the firm left the district in the 1880s.  By contrast Winter and Collyer report that Appleton bought Sickle Mill c.1870 and sold the mill in 1911.  However Kelly's Directory in 1913 records a John B. Appleton, surely a relative of Henry and Thomas, residing at Sickle Mill.

Sickle Mill today, from Google Maps
Appletons is still in business today!  A few years ago I got in touch with Diana Cawdron, the current owner, to see if she had any information to share, unfortunately she had none and explained "I bought the company in March 2013 and it had been in the family for 180 years.  Very little of the company history was preserved but I do know that it was very involved in military uniforms such as embroidery and goldwork so I’m sure there would have been braiding too.  I met an elderly lady whose mother as a girl had made plumes and cockades for military hats for Appletons.  Unfortunately I have no record of connection to Haslemere.  When we took over the company was reduced to selling only tapestry wool and was based in Chiswick and Epsom."

Looking at their website today, it is interesting to read that Appleton's recently provided the tapestry wool for completing the missing sections of the Bayeux Tapestry!  I wish the continuation of the firm every success.

from Appleton's website here

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Tolstoy Frontispieces in The Vineyard, 1911

In Volume 1 of The Vineyard, two of the frontispieces illustrations on January 1911 and February 1911, a photographs of Tolstoy.  The photos are both credited as having been taken by V. Tchertkoff.  In my previous posts I had written about the links between Tchertkoff and Godfrey Blount (here), and Greville MacDonald (here).

Autographed specially for the Editor of The Vineyard,
Frontispiece, The Vineyard,
 January 1911
In the January 1911 frontispiece the signed photograph of Leo Tolstoy is described as specially written for the editor, it is dated over two years earlier, August 1908.  I had first assumed that this meant Maude Egerton King who is described as being the editor of The Vineyard, but I think that Maude was not the editor of The Vineyard at this point.  The November 1910 issue (also in Volume 1)  for example has the editorial 'The Withered Hand', the editorials are not attributed, but 'The Withered Hand' by Greville MacDonald is No.4 of the Peasant Arts Guild Papers.

In the January 1911 issue of The Vineyard MacDonald has an article titled 'Tolstoy', to commemorate the life of Tolstoy after his death in November 1910.  MacDonald  writes:

"In The Slavery of our Times Tolstoy puts the truth about industrialism with a power that not even Ruskin has reached..But what has Tolstoy done for the World?  Neither reformer nor specialist, philosopher nor theologian, he has yet stirred the world's heart to know itself and to seek more life.  He has pleaded, as no man we can recall ever pleaded before, for submission the ancient sources of life: Love which brought it to pass, which teaches it through joy and sorrow; and Truth which fed it from the breasts of inspiration that it might wax strong into manhood and come back home.  Man's home is the Kingdom of Heaven; joy in life in his inheritance.  Not by politics or riches or conquests will that kingdom come.  It lies waiting within; for Love and Truth alone hold man to man and all to God.

"The Prophet is taken from us."

The loss of Tolstoy continues to be marked in the February 1911 edition of The Vineyard as Tolstoy again has the frontispiece and the quote below states "If I say, really meaning it in my heart: 'Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth,' i.e. both in the temporal life and in the life everlasting, I need neither confirmation nor any proofs of immortality.  Live by that part of your soul which is conscious of being immortal, not fearing death.  This part of the soul is Love.'"

Christ and Machinery by Greville MacDonald

Greville MacDonald's article 'Christ and Machinery' was the lead article in The Vineyard, February 1912.  The reference to the factory and power-looms were of particular interest to me.

"At first sight the different between this age and all others seems great, because now clever and powerful men have set up something between the poor and themselves to save their consciences: they have machinery.  They no longer compel the multitudes to till their lands and fight their battles; their machines, whether power-looms or Government offices, do the enslaving for them.  The weaker and poorer people are quite as much benefited, they assure us, as themselves; for they also have lost their simple independence along with all the simple art and, like the mighty in their seats, are become salves to complex mechanic contrivance.  The poor now, like the rich, have won an inheritance of parasitism, and find it almost as hard as the rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven...

design by Godfrey Blount,
The Vineyard, Feb 1912

"Will the world never understand why it is so hard for the rich man to reach Jerusalem, whose fields he sows with dragon's teeth, whose portals he fortifies with blast furnaces, whose harbours he guards with Dreadnoughts, whose empyrean he curtains with nebulous filth - all, lest himself get access to the joy within?  Christ's message concerns the sleeping birthright of man's own humanity, the gifts of his divinity that set him free from the dominance of those very things, all of which shall be given  into his hands when his spirit is inspired by love, worship, humbleness, so that he can use them and not be enslaved by them.  The Grace of God cannot be other than this gift of the Truth that makes us free.  It deals with the ancient simplicities of life - service, sacrifice, forgiveness - the things that count neither the cost nor the reward - the things that must be true, must be served,  must be submitted to, just because they are the Christ in us, the only way, the real nature of man.

"The rich man, dependent upon slaves, money, machines, to save him from labour and service, can hardly enter the Kingdom of Heaven, because that Kingdom is the consummation of the natural divine Life which he despises and crucifies.  And now the poor factory hand has not much more chance, because in him also he natural divine life - the way of Christ - even though he would still serve whom he loves, is starved and may die.  Christ's message to-day, as it was nineteen hundred years ago, is this, that the slave, be he rich or poor, cannot find place in this Kingdom, just because he would starve there.  Either we have never known what that message meant, or with open eyes we do actually uphold those machine-systems of art and thrift, government and scholarship, charity and peace, which, in exact proportion to their efficiency, plot for the final humiliation of Christ in more success than even Judas Iscariot in his greed or Pontius Pilate in his smith could encompass.

"But the Resurrection is eternal."

Greville MacDonald & Vladimir Chertkov

I have explored Arthur C. Fifield's links with Vladimir Chertkov (in my previous post), Fifield being Godfrey Blount's publisher and joint beneficiary in Blount's will.  Greville MacDonald writes about also knowing Tchertkoff (Chertkov).  MacDonald gives more accurate details of Chertkov's exile from Russia, and provides an interesting insight into the Tuckton House colony.  In Reminiscences of a Specialist (1932) he recalls:

“(A)musing, if no more profitable, were my adventures in comradeship with the Tolstoyans, and my intimacy with Vladimir Tchertkoff, Tolstoy’s greatest friend, with whom, it will be remembered, that mighty, unstable intransigent finally left his home to die.

Vladimir Chertkof,
from Wikipedia 
Once an officer in the Russian Imperial Guard, Tchertkoff had been exiled for publishing a defence of that sect of Dukhobors which claimed to follow literally, in social and individual conduct, the Christian Beatitudes.  Tchertkoff had to choose between Siberia for a number of years and permanent exile with confiscation of his estates.  He preferred the latter.  His mother, however, was wealthy and, though an “evangelical,” was, I take it, the support of that delightfully absurd community of multifold dissentients, whether Siberian criminals, or English extremists, which her son established and autocratically controlled.  I was happy in meeting this lady once when on a visit to London.  She seized the opportunity for imploring me to rescue her son from his free-thinking and the inevitable “wrath to come.”  I tried to show her that, so far from being an unbeliever, he was, in his own domain (known as Tuckton House, Christchurch, Hants) following Christ’s teachings, even if he could not accept Church dogmas.  And I think she was in a measure comforted.”

MacDonald describes visiting Chertkov at Tuckton House, Christchurch:
“his religion was only ethical; and his numerous guests and dependants had to repudiate all the customs and conventions generally thought necessary to social happiness.  Vegetarians and teetotallers they must be.  All were equal, so long as they did not entertain theories that clashed with their host’s.  The only person unshackled by this non-conformity was Madame Tchertkoff.  She had her boudoir, tastefully furnished, and a grand piano at which she would gloriously sing to me passionate Russian peasant-songs.  She took her meals alone, and, her invalidism unquestioned, was allowed animal food.  The rest of us, English guests or Siberian refugees, of whom there was a constant influx, fed in the kitchen.  Each filled his own plate from a dish of beans or the huge bowl of vegetable soup which the cook constantly replenished from her stock-pot.  The deal table was bare but clean.  Yet the knives and forks needed no ill-bred inspection to discover blemishes not quite insignificant.  Nor was it obligatory to use those substitutes for fingers: indeed, my host’s son – a lad of sixteen, enthusiastic for Reform and the New Art – sucked his soup from the bowl with gibbous lips, and so audibly offensive was his eating that I saw the wisdom of an evolutional improving upon Nature’s providings.

“At my first meal I was certainly out of my element.  While Vladimir Tchertkoff was lavish of his transcendental philosophy, grandly and simply maintained, he failed to see that I, too conventional to reach across my fellow-guests and grab at the beans, got nothing to eat.  Yet the cook, fortunately English, understood my difficulty and kept me supplied.”

Tolstoy & Chertkov
from Pinterest
MacDonald then describes giving a speech to a group that evening and feeling like “a fish out of water.  My subject was “The Evolution of Religious Instincts.”  Tchertkoff was in the chair.  One of the audience rose while I was still speaking, and asked, in a voice trembling with passion, how I dared tell rationalists like themselves things I knew to be false.  But the chairman smoothed away all friction with his tactful eloquence…Later, my friend almost quarrelled with me, and his liking waned.  For in a subsequent talk, so strenuously did I uphold the need to man of a personal God – not merely the concept of God – if our religion was to help us through the anguish of life for which He was responsible, that Tchertkoff’s philosophic anger, like the working-man’s at the lecture, was set blazing.  Then I remembered what the knout had been to my friend’s forefathers, and was glad not to be a Russian peasant….”

Greville writes “For at Tuckton he had installed a printing-press; and the colony’s chief business was the reissue of Tolstoy’s works on thinnest Indian paper.  With the Russian’s marvellous instinct for circumventing the law, my friend smuggled into his beloved land millions of these censored books, distributing them among the peasantry as free gifts.  He even wanted to translate and similarly issue my own little book on The Religious Instinct, and he autocratically bowdlerized it for copy.  But after our quarrel the matter was dropped…

“With Tchertkoff all life was sacred: we had no more right to destroy even the humblest inhabitant than, say, the Czar had any right to compel his subjects to kill his enemies.  The subject cropped up at breakfast after the first occasion when I addressed his followers.  It had a peculiarly personal interest for me, because a lively fellow-creature, with convictions of its right to live upon others – hitherto Siberian convicts – had chosen to share my bed and deny me sleep.  Without, of course, hinting at my discomfort, I asked my host if he would have any compunction in circumventing a flea’s interference with a child’s rest.

“Yes,” he replied in measured emphasis, “and no! for we never kill even an insect.  But in such a case, I certainly catch the innocent thing – and I have satisfied myself that a finger-and-thumb’s grip doesn’t damage or even hurt it.”

“And then?” I asked
“We keep a match-box, with a perch conveniently fixed, and carefully put the flea in it.  In the morning we set it free in the garden.”
“But it’s not a vegetarian,” I objected.
To which there was no response, unless this question sufficed:
“But have you seen my son’s poultry yards?”
I was then conducted over the whole grounds; and the boy showed me with justifiable pride an enclosure in which hundreds of magnificent cocks were crowded, but no hens.  They kept poultry for the sake of the eggs; but, as a certain number of cockerels were incontinently hatched out and must not be eaten, they were kept separate and in perpetual conflict: this being sanctioned because not contrary to their nature.  I extorted the equivocal fact that as soon as the cocks became too many they were sold; and, being exceptional fine, thanks to careful cross-bred, they were supposed to be ensured against roasting or boiling.”

Spot the Siberian convict?
Original photographs from the Free Age Press and Tuckton House, Christchurch
for sale on Abebooks here
“..My last meeting with Tchertkoff was delightful, if astonishing.  I was once again lecturing to his Brotherhood in Bournemouth, but as I had to leave early the next day preferred staying at an hotel.” Although perhaps he preferred to not share a bed with a Siberian convict!

“He was so far anxious to rectify our differences that, although he had absented himself from the meeting, he brought a Russian peasant to me in the early morning and allowed me to do a small operation on him.  He then took breakfast with me, though the patient was sent home.  Tchertkoff’s clothing must have amazed the hotel guests.  But that a certain grandeur of demeanour, in spite of shocking shoes, the repudiation of a shirt, the home-spun, well-darned knickerbockers and a pullover for a jacket, proclaimed him the aristocrat, I think the manager might have protested.  The morning being cold, he had added to his absurd raiment a red flannel chest-protector pinned outside his pullover!  After doing full justice to the breakfast, he went with me to the station…” (ibid.)

You can read more about “Bournemouth’s radical Russian printers” in this article on Dorset Life:

Monday, 5 February 2018

Arthur Fifield and Chertkov: The Free Age Press

After writing my previous post I have found this article online by Holman which gives more details of Arthur Fifield and Chertkov (‘Translating Tolstoy for the Free Age Press: Vladimir Chertkov and His English Manager Arthur Fifield’, Holman, Michael J. De K., The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol 66, No 2, April 1988).  The article included information from a record written by Fifield.  “In 1933, at the request of Chertkov, with whom he had had no contact for a quarter of a century, Fifield wrote an account of his time as Manager of the FAP.  The account, a typewritten copy of which has been given to the present writer by A. Brandt Esq., bears the heading: THE FREE AGE PRESS (English Branch).  Joint Editors: V. Tchertkoff, A. C. Fifield, Manager: A. C. Fifield.  1900-1902.  A Brief Statement of Its Work, by A. C. Fifield, 1933.  Fifield’s Statement, which runs to some twenty-three closely typed pages, has been of considerable assistance to the present writer in the preparation of this article.”

“It was at Tamworth Hall that Chertkov first met Arthur Fifield.  Fifield, fourteen years Chertkov’s junior, was then in his late twenties.  He was a regular attender at the Brotherhood Church and, from September 1897, acted at Secretary for its weekly gatherings.  Of primary importance to Chertkov, however was the fact that, in addition to his Tolstoyan sympathies, Fifield had first-hand experience of the production and distribution of books in Britain. …When Chertkov left London for Essex, they remained in regular contact, exchanging letters and often coming together to discuss matters concerning  Chertkov’s translating, editing and publishing problems.  It was not until early 1900, however, that Chertkov formally rote to Fifield, inviting him to leave his work in London and join him in the country in order to establish a small publishing business initially devoted entirely to the production of cheap, un-copyrighted editions of translations of Tolstoy, asking ‘It is not a question of whether you will accept, but whether you dare refuse.’”

Fifield had been working for the James Bowden firm, which had just closed down.  His last work there had been the “manufacturing and marketing of penny editions of Charles Sheldon’s religious novels, selling three million copies in six months! Chertkov could hardly have hoped to equal these sales, but the fact that Fifield had first-hand experience of publishing literature of a quasi-religious nature for mass distribution made him a particularly valuable acquisition.  Although well aware of the difficulties of working with Chertkov, Fifield enthusiastically took up the offer, writing in his ‘Statement’:

I was not sorry to change for something much nearer to my heart.  I wanted to be a ‘good Tolstoyan’, to be useful in the world, to take little and give much, and not to compete but to originate.  I was 32 years old, had been married six years, and my wife shared my ideals.”

The Free Age Press was funded not be Chertkov but by Alexander Nikolayevich Konshin.  “According to Fifield, Konshin, who came of a family of wealthy cotton-spinners based in the textile town of Serpukhov, was the sole source of capital first providing an outright gift of £300 and a year later giving a further £200.  It was from these donations that Fifield’s own salary was paid, to begin with £2 10s. 0d. and later, at Konshin’s wish. Once the business was under way, £3 per week…

The FAP did not print ‘in-house’ and required no elaborate equipment.  The office was a back bedroom in Fifield’s home, first at Catford in South East London and later at Wick Cottage in Southbourne, Hampshire.  Thus, although the imprint on the early FAP editions was ‘Maldon, Essex’, physically there was never a Free Age Press at Maldon.    Instead, Fifield maintained regular contact with Chertkov by letter and made frequent visits to Purleigh to consult with him, but when ready to print he engaged outside printers, often the Edinburgh firm of Morrison and Gibb. 

from Open Plaques

Tolstoy wrote with his appreciation
“Dear Friends,
I have received the first issues of your books, booklets and leaflets containing my writings, as well as the statements concerning the object and plan of The Free Age Press.

The publications are extremely neat and attractive, and – what to me appears most important – very cheap, and therefore quite accessible to the great public, consisting of the working classes. 

I also warmly sympathize with the announcement on your translations that no rights are reserved.  Being well aware of all the extra sacrifices and practical difficulties that this involves for a publishing concern at the present day, I particularly desire to express my heartfelt gratitude to the translators and participators in your work, who in generous compliance with my objection to copyright of any kind, thus help to render yor English version of my writings absolutely free to all who may wish to make sue of it. 

Should I write anything more which I may think worthy of publication, I will with great pleasure forward it to your without delay.

With heartiest wishes for the further success of your efforts,
Leo Tolstoy."

"…All unused to business by nature and training as he was, even despising its claims on time and attention, and impatient with any new chains of obligations, Tcherkoff yet bowed his neck to my English yoke and subdued himself for three years sufficiently to enable me to issue no less than forty three separate publications of a total length of 2,2024 pages, in the translation of which he took a very large share, with a total circulation of 209,000 copies besides a quarter of a million leaflets.  And multiplying the page length by the circulation attained one can say that The Free Age Press put before the English-speaking world no less than 424 million of pages of Tolstoy’s writings, on a self-supporting basis, with no personal profit; besides permitting very extensive reproduction of the articles and stories in magazines and newspapers.

"The relationship was improbable, and the achievement, even when viewed from a distance of nearly ninety years, truly remarkable.  Yet a doubt still remains.  With only a few exceptions, the FAP concerned itself exclusively with Tolstoy’s political and religious works.  As such it certainly helped focus British attention in the early years of this century on Tolstoy’s unequal struggle against Russian authoritarianism.  It also made a considerable contribution to English-language pacifist and Christian-anarchist writing in the period leading up to the First World War.  It was, however, very much part of a religious and political crusade directed against current Russian conditions, and for this, and the urgency that inevitably accompanies such a crusade, there was a price to pay, especially in terms of continuing relevance and lasting value.  Conditions in Russia changed, first after the 1905 Revolution, then again, far more radically, in 1917.  And although Tolstoy did address himself to problems of a universal relevance, supreme propagandist that he was he considered them in a contemporary context that is only with difficulty accessible to the modern reader.  For this reason, if not other, when the modern reader hears the name Tolstoy, it is to War and Peace and Anna Karenina that his thoughts first turn, and not to FAP editions of The Slavery of Our Times, The Kingdom of God, and I Cannot Be Silent.”
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