Friday, 2 January 2015

The New Year, the New Heaven and Earth, January 1911

My collection of The Vineyard is always a good source of Christmas commentary, they also had some wise words for the new year in 1911.  The editorial begins:

found on

"Very rarely and yet now again in the days between Advent and the Three Kings, the postbag will still bring in a pictured card of seasonable greetings which give those of us who were young rather a long time ago a reminiscent thrill.  In those days, we seem to remember now, not one but every card was such as this.  Instead of reminding us, as do our latter-day cards, of all the most distressing contemporary facts, such as motor-cars, airships, and our friends' pugs and pomeranians, each was a window that opened on Fairyland, showing us Santa Claus in his reindeer sledge, or a Christmas tree lighted up in the gloom of a gnome-haunted forest, or the waits playing under a lighted window on a snowy country midnight, or a robin redbreast on a frosty log: it is hard to write with measured praise of such delectable, almost vanished things.  The last in order of these punctual pleasures was very precious as such; for after there would follow a careless waste till Easter, and the lilies and crosses of that season had no direct appeal for childhood.  It was very variously pictured within the rigid limits of its symbol, and gave us the Old Year as an aged man hobbling out of doors, and the New Year as a little child, unseasonably clad in a shift and a halo with his date around it, toddling in.  The pathos of the burdened figure might have been too much for tender hearts, had they no had an undefined sense that there was something closer than kinship between the Old and New, that here was renewal rather than ousting.  Certain it is that even among such brief and not very heavily sin or sorrow-laden lives, the charming youngsters with his air of good hope and a fresh chance, a new leaf ready for the turning and the infinite possibility of the unknown, was welcomed with prophetic joy.

Cover of Puck, 28 December 1910
Library of Congress
"Perhaps we should have done well had we searched through our mid-Victorian scrap-books for such a card, and then borrowed it from the past as a frontispiece for our future; for one of the causes of The Vineyard lives to plead for is the cause of the New Year, of all the New Years that are coming in every day and hour in the persons of little children to refurnish and refresh an otherwise hopeless world.  With every child the world is created over again.  There are just as many millions of fresh chances for it as there are babies.  That we neglect or spoil most of these chances does not alter the fact of their being such: here, if we will have them, are a new heaven and earth.  We miss this hope and become pessimistic because we are surrounded by the leavings of all the Old Years - their sins and stains, their elaborate experiments whose plant is too costly to justify its destruction in spot of its proven failure, the fruited earth they have made barren and the heaven they have befogged or forgotten: in our despair we miss the significance of the Child, breaking, like a crocus through rotten leaves, up from the heart of the creative, which are also the redemptive, fires….

found on CreativeInn
"…The day of the English people, save as an urban and industrial population, is practically over, they say; it is in some ways a pity, but one cannot turn back the hands of the clock.  To this he replies that if our day, save as an urban and industrial nation, is over, then it will soon be over altogether, because a live nation's roots cannot ultimately grow out of paving-stones or asphalt, but only out of the earth; and that, far from wishing to turn back the clock's hands, he is only anxious we should not be wasting time. That, however, is just what we are doing: all the multitudes of happy New Years come trooping and tumbling in, so radiant and rosy and possible, and we have nothing ready for them but the leavings of the Old Years - without, the barren earth and the factory-fogged heaven; within, the outlook and ideals of the lady's maid, the mill hand and the clerk.  "

found on eBay
found on eBay

found on eBay


  1. 'With every child the world is created over again'----Good quote that!!!
    So much of your blog here reminds us that as 100 years ago when much of the old ways were disappearing- being replaced by the motor car and airoplanes-life did actually improve greatly for the peasants as we hope it does today

  2. Thanks Dunc. Whilst some aspects of life may have improved, the Peasants Arts movement would have disagreed! "Can a nation's roots grow out of paving-stones or asphalt?"


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