Thursday, 14 August 2014

Peasants at War: Part 2 - If ever a test for commercial triumphs

The Editorial in The Vineyard's September 1914 edition explains the viewpoint of the Haslemere Peasant Arts movement to the probable outbreak of war.  As Maude Egerton King was the editor of The Vineyard, this view is presumably most closely aligned with Maude.

Entitled "For a While", this reflects that the The Vineyard had expected to be publishing again in 1915, a postponement in publishing of only 2 or 3 months:

"On the very point of bringing to a happy issue the plans for our new volume that was to begin in October, we are met by an unassailable interdict.  Our fifth year was to introduce the Vineyard in an enlarged form and with several new features.  While holding in no sort of abatement those principles which from its first appearance have been the inspiration of its pages, we had hoped - and do still hope - to strengthen its message by allocating certain of its pages every month to the more practical bearings of the country gospel.

'After a drawing by William Blake'
The Vineyard, September 1914

"Thus the October number was to introduce a series of notes and brief articles on all work actually in progress at home and abroad relating to the welfare of the peasant and his crafts, his home and his land. At the same time we were still determined to keep free of party politics.  However necessary legislation may be before the countryman can enjoy better conditions, without which no restoration of his rights, religious and educational, creative and festal, are possible, politics are not our province.  We had secured promises of regular news on all subjects concerning the revivifying and re-clothing of peasant life from distinguished writers in France and Italy, Bavaria and Sweden.  As regards work at home, we had arranged for our readers being kept in touch with every aspect of the land question, and hoped to secure articles on the economics of hand-work both on the land and regarding the other hand-crafts, so as to secure a joint comparison between these and machine - production.  We were determined to make it better understood that our advocacy of a return to those crafts and arts that have been the privilege and glory of the home - ever since man and woman first built them a hearth, until the beginnings of those evil days of progress - is emphatically not a sentimental outcome of a pious artisticism, but rather the result of a truer understanding of God and man than is possible to those who, dependent upon factory-made things, consider industrialism as final and unassailable.

"But to our dismay we are faced by a prohibition not to be withstood.  We are compelled to postpone our plans and the issue of the Vineyard until our beloved country can again set its house in order.  Then more than ever will our work be called for.  We assure those of our readers who have grown to love the Vineyard, and to whom we are deeply grateful for much strength and food in our uphill work, that, beyond such temporary difficulties as are inseparable from the common financial stress, it is not from lack of material resources that we feel ourselves compelled to postpone our issues for perhaps two or three months but that the time is in every way inopportune for a new departure such as we had been contemplating.

"If ever test could be devised for the commercial triumphs, the industrial systems, the fierce competitions, which lie at the very root of our civilisation, that test, surely as a fiery furnace, we are now to pass through.  God have mercy upon us all, alike in our victories and our disasters!…."

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