University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Page View

The craftsman
Vol. V, No. 5 (February 1904)

Chips from the Craftsman workshop,   pp. 518-520 PDF (1.1 MB)

Page 518

HE CRAFTSMAN, closed in his
        shop by the rigors of an American
        winter, can no longer work and sing
        at his door, in the sunshine, after
the manner of his predecessors in the Middle
Ages, whom he strives in all things to imi-
tate: in enthusiasm for his work, in content-
ment with his lot, in gaining pleasure from
the small things of life.
   Thus removed temporarily from the view
and the sounds of the outside world, de-
prived of the sight of growth which in itself
affords companionship, the usually patient
worker feels himself grow irritable and sad.
That which is inappropriate and discordant
grates upon his sensibilities and causes him
to voice opinions which, in a more normal
and happier mood, he could easily repress.
Latterly, the current of his thought has
been greatly disturbed by the information
that business enterprise is about to bring the
Protestant Parisian pastor, Charles Wag-
ner, before American audiences in the ca-
pacity of a lecturer.
   The Craftsman feels such action to be
unreasonable, unfitting and almost sacrileg-
ious; for the author of "The Simple Life,"
when taken away from his surroundings,
will be like a great oak which, sheltering
and life-giving in its original place of
growth, withers and dies, if transplanted in
its maturity. M. Wagner belongs to Paris,
or rather to a particular quarter of Paris
from which neither curiosity nor commer-
cialism should be permitted to allure him.
This region, far removed from the Champs
Elys6es and the Opera, bears no trace of the
luxury of the capital of art and pleasure.
It is near the site of the Bastille, and is
inhabited largely by workingmen. In sum-
mer, the sun blazes on the asphalt, while
reverberated light from the white-washed
fronts of monotonous rows of houses adds
to the general sense of discomfort pervad-
ing the place. The lovely gardens of the
Luxembourg and the Tuileries are distant,
and life seems hard and sordid, even to the
passing visitor.
  The oasis of this populous desert lies in
the home of Wagner, and it were a sin to
disturb the mind of the great teacher to
whom the fatigued and the dispirited of the
city come to be refreshed. That he is ab-
solutely sincere in his utterances, that he is
without thought of self, or desire for repu-
tation, can be learned from the inhabitants
of the quarter. For it is impossible to
deceive the poor and the humble. At in-
quiries made for the house of the Protestant
pastor, the artisans remove their caps, leave
their work and guide the visitor to the little
lodge of a concierge who seems herself to
lead the "simple life," in all its spirit of
good will and cheerfulness. The Crafts-
man will not soon forget the words which
he interchanged with her, her pleasant,
homely face, and her miniature room in
which stood a proportionate stove heating
a coffee-pot scarcely smaller than itself, and
a woman sat making a gown; while neatness
and brightness everywhere prevailed.
  The people of the quarter, daily sights
such as the one just described, the hopeless
aspect of the Boulevard Beaumarchais and
its tributary streets: such are influences to
quicken the mind and heart of the pastor
and to make them yield their most perfect
fruit. M. Wagner should be left to live,
labor and die among the body of working

Go up to Top of Page