Thursday, 1 March 2018

Why Peasant? Part 2 - the future 3 groups of peasantry

The editorial of The Vineyard (New Series, Christmas 1918) continues in it's explanation of why the movement used the word "Peasant" by explaining about their vision of the future 3 groups of peasantry:

"This future peasantry will mainly consist of three groups.  there will be the land labourers, survivors of centuries of neglect or brutal legislation; and those other survivors - or some of them - from the War.  To the first we owe amends for immemorial abuse and neglect, and a share in the earth where they grew our bread under conditions we now shamefully acknowledge.  To the second we owe gratitude for immeasurable heroism: and since they took into their sacred flesh the wounds that kept us and our country whole, a foothold in it is surely none too high a reward.  - Let us hope that the politician and patriotic landowner are getting ready for the steadily increasing land-hungry crowds of them.  - Many of the settlers, being Cockney born, or with a city bent from early days, will not enter fully into their country inheritance; but their children, born in the country, should inherit to the full.  But this they certainly will not unless we see to it that they are born into right rich country conditions and not into one of the schemes newly devised for "brightening rural life," where the "Cheapest Cottage Competition," the Cinema and Extension Lecture, as compensation for dung-hill duties, loom so large.  The country-born, in right conditions, will not play by proxy, asking for tram or motor to carry him to football or cricket-field or music-hall, where the tired factory hand gapes at the professional whom he pays to express his emotions for him.  Traditional country life, being rooted in the vital earth and therefore capable of indefinite growth and enrichment on its own lines, will, as ever, blossom in seasonal festivals and inspire its own arts and games.

"The sun bonnet"
from Old West Surrey
Gertrude Jekyll, Longmans, Green and Co.,
To these two groups will be gradually added another; at first in individuals and families, and later, when the pioneers have tackled the first difficulties, in increasing numbers.  These are the men and women whom a surfeit a civilisation has left healthily dissatisfied, and who will be peasants by choice, not by birth.  Certain of them have money, some are poorer since the war, and all will probably become much poorer still: but by no means is it money or its lack that is going to determine the choice in most cases.  Here and there pilgrims from the City of destruction have long ago found salvation in the rigours and joys of land life.  With others, the war-time handling of broom and spade has been a bit magical, convincing them that the slavish grind in city office and over-furnished house which the upkeep of snobbery used to demand was sheer waste of life.  For them, if it is permissible to misquote Shakespeare in a good cause,

"Life has suffered a war-change
Into something rich and strange."

one of the best firsts of poverty being the discovery of the richness and the strangeness of daily life when quit of this silly tyranny and with its face toward adventure.  If as parents they will no longer wear themselves out to send boys to Harrow and girls to Roedean, but are content that farm and carpenter's workshop and smithy should widen earlier scholarship, who that knows the Scottish peasantry will fear lest this preclude the better sort of culture?

In this coming country revival, the Vineyard and the Peasant Arts Guild are ready to play a real if unpretentious part.  They will advocate and teach useful and beautiful handicrafts: but to affect the atmosphere in which revival and reform are brought about is still more nearly their concern: to show why the best traditional peasant life is vitally desirable, and why certain thriving social enterprises manifesting themselves in model barracks which radiate through neat public gardens from the vast co-operative factory in their midst (while admittedly less evil than what went immediately before) are not desirable, and are quite incompatible with the building of Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land.

Ticino spinner,
early 1900s postcard, online here
...Beautiful things" that is, good art and craftsmanship, "cannot be had for the asking or learning, but are the natural outcome of healthy conditions and innocent feelings...The love of money is the root of all evil.  It made machines and it made the modern manufacturing city.  If you are one of their victims, struggling for freedom, do not rest your hope on any possible turn of fortune's wheel which might lift you into the seat and circumstance of your masters.  That would make you only ten times more the servants of Mammon.  Aim, instead, at something equally remote from the minds of both master and servant, employers and employed.  Place what faith you can summon in a new motive for your labour, however distant its realisation may seem to be, in the resurrection of the life you have lost, the birthright of the imagination you have bartered away.  Resist the temptations of novelty, luxury, and competition.  Make for simplicity and peace, for kindness and enthusiasm, and for those good things which are summed up in the real business and the real delights of country life."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...