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The craftsman
Vol. VII, No. 5 (February 1905)

Chips from the Craftsman workshop,   pp. 610-611 PDF (630.1 KB)


Page 610


CHIPS FROM THE CRAFTSMAN WORKSHOPS
HE          CRAFTSMAN, sometimes
        disposed toward melancholy, suf-
        fers, especially during the winter
season, from the attacks of his bitter ene-
my. He is fearful lest he shall not be able
to supply his barest needs, and often, in
childish terror, he feels the impulse to
unbar his door, to see if the wolf be not
waiting outside.
  At such times, he is under the influence
of a masterly picture remembered through
long years, and in which the story of pov-
erty was told with overwhelming truth,
yet humorously, by the half-open door of
a cottage, a protruding, ragged trouser
leg and boot, with above the back of a can-
vas, and a sinister black animal peering
around its corner in the effort to see the
artist working at its face. This picture
the Craftsman recalls to his mind and
shudders.
   It would seem that he, being solitary
and a recluse, would have nothing to fear,
since his rental is a mere trifle and his
wants only such as require the plainest of
food and coarse attire; while he is alto-
gether free from the haunting terror felt
by the father of a family, lest he see the
dear faces about him contracted by press-
ing anxiety and whitened by physical priva-
tions.
   But he is not free from the visits of the
spectres of sickness and old age. To drive
them away he clings to his present pit-
tance; often weeping over coins as they
lie in his hand, when the premonition
comes to him that, perhaps in the near
future, they will have passed beyond his
grasp.
   Usually, such obsessions are illogical
and their source can not be determined.
But the Craftsman, being a bit of a phil-
osopher, knows that his melancholy, his
visions, and his gloomy forecast of the fu-
ture have their exciting cause in his grow-
ing belief that a new type of workman will
supersede him, before Death shall call
him to lay down his tools. This new type
is the specialist, about whom he reads so
-much in the Magazine Room of the Pub-
lic Library, and hears so much in the talks
of his friends, the college students, with
whom he still remains in daily intercourse.
   These youths tell him that there is no
longer room for the old-time professional
man, or craftsman, who, having finished
his course, or apprenticeship, went out to
put in practise the generalities which he
had studied; that the world now demands
highly specialized skill, which it is ready
to purchase at any price, in order to pro-
mote its enterprises or its pleasure, or to
heal its diseases.  These assertions ring
in the ears of the humble workman, as if
they were sounding the death-knell of the
feeble hopes which remain to him as a
fast-aging man. At such moments, he al-
most regrets his civilization and humanity;
recalling that certain tribes of barbarians,
certain families of animals and insects put
to death their members whose weakness
renders them useless to share in the work
and the active life of the community. In
the judgment of the Craftsman this ap-
parent cruelty is but an expression of ab-
solute justice; since his most cherished
article of faith is that all should be pro-
ducers, and no one, solely a consumer.
Therefore, he wraps himself closer and
closer in his sorrow, and works in silence,
handling his tools with the affectionate
61o       I


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