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Stickley, Gustav, 1858-1942. / Craftsman homes
(1909)

"The simplification of life:" a chapter from Edward Carpenter's book called "England's ideal",   pp. 1-5


Page 1

³THE SIMPLIFICATION OF LIFE:² A CHAPTER FROM
EDWARD CARPENTER¹S BOOK CALLED ³ENGLAND¹S
IDEAL²
                 we remember the sincere reformers of the world, do we not
             always recall most gladly the simple men amongst them, Savon-
             arola rather than Tolstoi, Gorky rather than Goethe, and would
             it not be difficult to associate this memory of individual effort
             for public good with consciously elegant surroundings.  Could
             we, for instance, picture Savonarola with a life handicapped,
per-
             haps, by eager pursuit of sartorial eccentricities, with a bias
for
elaborate cuisine and insistence upon unearned opulence, or the earning of
luxury
atlthe sacrifice of other¹s lives or happiness?  it does not somehow
fit into the
frame.  In remembering those who have dedicated their lives to the benefit
of their own lands, we inevitably picture them as men of simple ways, who
have
asked little and given much, who have freed their shoulders from the burdens
of luxury, who have stripped off from their lives the tight inflexible bandages
of unnecessary formalities, and who have thus been left free for those great
essen-
tials of honest existence, for courage, for unselfishness, for heroic purpose
and,
above all, for the clear vision which means the acceptance of that final
good,
honesty of purpose, without which there can be no real meaning in life.
  Such right living and clear thinking cannot find abiding place except among
those whose lives bring them back close to Nature¹s ways, those who
are content
to be clad simply and comfortably, to accept from life only just compensation
for useful toil, who prefer to live much in the open, finding in the opportunity
for labor the right to live; those who desire to rest from toil in homes
built to
meet their individual need of rest and peace and joy, homes which realize
a per-
sonal standard of comfort and beauty; those who demand honesty in all expres-
sion from all friends, and who give in return sincerity and unselfishness,
those
who are fearless of sorrow, yet demand joy; those who rank work and rest
as
equal means of progress<in such lives only may we find the true regeneration
for any nation, for only in such simplicity and sincerity can a nation develop
a condition of permanent and properly equalized welfare.
  By simplicity here is not meant any foolish whimsical eccentricity of dress
or manner or architecture, colonized and made conspicuous by useless wealth,
for eccentricity is but an expression of individual egotism and as such must
in-
evitably be short-lived.  And what our formal, artificial world of today
needs
is not more of this sort of eccentricity and egotism, but less; not more
conscious
posing for picturesque reform, but greater and quieter achievement along
lines
of fearless honesty; not less beauty, but infinitely more of a beauty that
is real
and lasting because it is born out of use and taste.
  From generation to generation every nation has the privilege of nourishing
men and women (but a few) who think and live thus sincerely and beautifully,
and who so far as possible strive to impress upon their own generation the
need
of such sincerity and beauty in daily life.    One of the rarest and most
honest
of these sincere personalities in modern life is Edward Carpenter, an English-
man who, though born to wealth and station, has stripped his life of superfluous
social paraphernalia and stepped out of the clumsy burden of tradition, up
(not
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