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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 4

          THE SIMPLIFICATION OF LIFE
in sewing that there was before.   But he is ignorant of human nature.  
     To
his surprise he finds that there is no difference in the time.  The difference
is
in the plaits and flounces<they put ten times as many on their dresses.
    Thus
we see    ow Ii tie external reforms avail.   If the desire for simplicity
is not really
present, no labor-saving appliances will make life simpler.
  ³As a rule all curtains, hangings, cloths and covers, which are not
absolutely
necessary, would be dispensed with.     They all create dust and stiffness,
and
all entail trouble and recurring expense, and they all tempt the housekeeper
to keep out the air and sunlight<two things of the last and most vital
importance.
I like a room which looks its best when the sun streams into it through wide
open
doors and windows.       If the furnishing of it cannot stand this test<if
it looks
uncomfortable under the operation<you may be sure there is something un-
wholesome about it.      As to the question of elegance or adornment, that
may
safely be left to itself.  The studied effort to make interiors elegant has
only
ended<in what we see.      After all, if things are in their places they
will always
look well.   What, by common consent, is more graceful than a ship<the
sails,
the spars, the rigging, the lines of the hull?  Yet go on board and you will
scarce-
ly find one thing placed there for the purpose of adornment.       An imperious
necessity rules everything; this rope could have no other place than it has,
nor
could be less thick or thicker than it is; and it is, in fact, this necessity
which
makes the ship beautiful.    * *  * *
³I 1 71T11 regard to clothing, as with furniture and the other things,
it can
 VV       be much simplified if one only desires it so. Probably, however,
most
          people do not desire it, and of course they are right in keeping
to the
complications.  Who knows but what there is some influence at work for some
ulterior purpose which we do not guess, in causing us to artificialize our
lives to
the extraordinary extent we do in modern times?        Our ancestors wore
woad,
and it does not at first sight seem obvious why we should not do the same.
 With-
out, however, entering into the woad question, we may consider some ways
in which
clothing may be simplified without departing far from the existing standard.
It seems to be generally admitted now that wool is the most suitable material
as a rule.  I find that a good woolen coat, such as is ordinarily worn, feels
warmer
when unlined than it does when a layer of silk or cotton is interposed between
the woolen surface and the body.   It is also lighter; thus in both ways
the sim-
plification is a gain.   Another advantage is that it washes easier and better,
and
is at all times cleaner.   No one who has had the curiosity to unpick the
lining
of a tailor-made coat that has been in wear a little time, will, I think,
ever wish
to have coats made on the same principle again.        The rubbish he will
find
inside, the frettings and frayings of the cloth collected in little dirt-heaps
up and
down, the paddings of cotton wool, the odd lots of miscellaneous stuff used
as
backings, the quantity of canvas stiffening, the tags and paraphernalia connected
with the pockets, bits of buckram inserted here and there to make the coat
³sit²
well<all these things will be a warning to him.      * *  *   *
  ³And certainly, nowadays, many folk visibly are in their coffins.
        Only
the head and hands are out, all the rest of the body clearly sickly with
want  of light and       air, atrophied, stiff in   the joints, strait-waistcoated,
4


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