Diaries and Essays

Letter from Charles Rowley describing Morris's lectures to the Ancoats Brotherhood, B. L. MS. 45,347, ff. 93-99.

The first time I came to personal touch with Morris was in 1883. A friend asked me to dine with him before he addressed a joint meeting of the Manchester Literary Club and the Academy of Arts in the old lecture theatre of the Royal Institution. It was the only time I saw Morris in evening [94] dress. The lecture was on “Wealth and Riches.” The obvious distinction of these terms seemed a surprise to the audience, but the lecturer pounded into their minds for an hour the vast and deadly differences of these symbols. We were steeped in the facts of mere accumulation and well being was too often secondary [95] matter. A well known banker moved he vote of thanks and abused Morris for his references to John Bright and the Manchester School.

A while after that Mr. Emery Walker thought that Morris would come to our workers audience at Ancoats. He came many times and we always had a noble audience of 100 or more [96] mostly hard headed men. At our little social tea after these lectures we had the usual heckling. The same old questions were asked and the questioners were invariably floored good humorouredly. One dear old frriend, a delightlful Quaker lady, stuck like a leech much to her discomfiture and his amusement. She was [97] one of the very best of well to do women, full of good works, but evidently wondering how she and her like would make a living if it had to be earned under any plan first advocate by this [group?] of workers. To many laboring over the gospel was welcome though I cannot say that Morris’s wonderful and beautiful literary way of putting the case was [98] clear to those not full of books or learning. The language, the method of production did not strike on their box. They required something far more obvious. But all the same that glowing personality has left an impression on all of us which nothing can efface. To some few of us it is all an abiding memory [99] and a constant inspiration.



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