Friday, 30 December 2016


William Morris's Socialist Diary

edited and annotated by Florence Boos

SCHEU, ANDREAS 1844-1927

Scheu was a Viennese furniture designer who had been a confederate of Johann Most and an active figure in German anarchist politics before his trial by the Austrian government in 1870. Upon coming to London in 1874 he joined the German leftist Rose Street Club, but became disaffected with German emigre factionalism, and joined the DF and SDF. One of the events which precipitated the 1885 SDF/SL split was Hyndman's denunciation of Scheu, and Scheu left to form the SL with Morris; in Thompson's view his dislike of Hyndman's chauvinism caused him to urge Morris to assume leadership (p.343). Scheu worked closely with Morris until his move to Edinburgh in 1885, where he became a salesman for Jaeger. Morris trusted him, wrote him some of his fullest and most reflective letters, and in an 1885 letter to May speaks of his 'tremendous energy and his knowledge of organisation'. (BL Add. MS 45,341). Articles by Scheu entitled 'Sincerity and Devotion' and a three-part 'What's to be Done?' appeared in the April, May, June and September 1885 Commonweals. That Scheu was considered an effective speaker is indicated by the Council's choice of him to debate with Bradlaugh; he was also a good singer and, like Morris, wrote Socialist songs (see his 'Song of Labour' with two settings, in Chants of Labour, ed. Edward Carpenter, London 1888, pp.60-63). Although he was less active in the '90s, the Labour Annual of 1900 lists him in their 'Directory of Social Reformers', giving his address as 78, St John's Park, Blackheath, London, SE. After receiving a pension in 1911, he returned to Germany, and in 1923 published his reminiscences, Umsturzkeime: Erlebnisse Eines Kaempfers (Vienna), which emphasise his early revolutionary activities, but include a strongly laudatory chapter on Morris, Morris's letters to Scheu in German translation, and several of his songs. He seems someone who would have been more influential had he not had to divide his efforts between two countries and languages; his relationship with Morris merits further study.



GLASSE, JOHN, MA 1848-1918

A minister of Old Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, Glasse was educated at New College, Edinburgh, and ordained a minister in 1877. He became a prominent advocate of Christian Socialism, active Freemason, president of the Edinburgh Burns Club, early member of the SDF and Socialist League, and the author of several books on poverty and Christian Socialism. See also footnote [133].
133 Thompson considers the Rev John Glasse (not to be confused with the anarchist Henry Glasse) one of the League's few steady provincial allies (p.555). Several of Morris's letters to Glasse were reprinted by R. Page Arnot, in Unpublished Letters of William Morris, Labour Monthly Pamphlet, 1951 Series, no.6. According to Arnot (p.3), Glasse had been a member of the SDF before joining the SL. When visiting Edinburgh Morris stayed with Glasse and his wife at their home at 16 Tantallon Place, and he invited Glasse to visit him in London as the Edinburgh Branch's Conference delegate in May, 1887. Glasse declined, and after the Conference Morris wrote him a long letter defining his position. He seems to have considered Glasse a moderate ally, who was anxious above all to avoid another split within the League.

The 27 February Edinburgh demonstration of the SDL and SL to express sympathy with striking Scottish miners was reported in the 5 March Commonweal, p.77.


Morris was somewhat exasperated at the prospect of two disconnected trips north within a month's time; he wrote Jenny on 9 March:
I find, much to my disgust , that I shall have to make a flying visit to Edinburgh next Monday. It seems I made the appointment last year, and of course forgot about it, and they stupidly didn't remind me of it or I would have made my Glasgow visit which now comes off later fit in with it. However I don't mind except for the expense. A long railway journey with a book to read and Homer, and the window is a kind of rest to me after all; for I will not go by night, which is beastly. (BL Add. MS. 45,339)
At the time the Edinburgh trip took about 10 hours by train; according to Bradshaw's Railway Almanack for that year, Morris could have left from Kings Cross on the Great Northern Railway at 5.15 am and arrived in Edinburgh at 3.40 pm, and there were several alternate possibilities.
Free Tron Hall was at 4 Park Street; Morris lectured March 14th on "Socialism: The End and the Means," to a meeting sponsored by the Scottish Land and Labour League, chaired by the Rev. John Glasse. On Tuesday March 15th the Scottish Leader printed a lengthy report on p.7, col.5, "Mr William Morris on Socialism," including an approximately 1000 word summary of his speech. Morris spoke of the Unionist-Tory alliance as one founded on fear, then delivered his familiar prediction:
This change of parties would go on until there were none left but the Socialists on the one hand, and the haters of the people on the other. Then would come the struggle, and whatever form that struggle took, it would not be a long one. It would be sure to result in victory for Socialism, and upon that victory the new world would rise to crown the efforts of the past, and to stimulate to new efforts in the future. (Loud applause)
The Edinburgh Evening News published a similar report on the same day, p.2, col.3.

 On the evening of 14 April Morris wrote Jenny that a meeting on 5 April had passed their resolution despite hostility,
. . . after a rather stormy debate, owning to the stupidity of a cut and dried opponent one Job Bone, who always opposes everything and is known in Edinburgh as the 'Bone of Contention'. (Letters, p.270)
Commonweal report of an Edinburgh meeting on 18 March 1888 described a 'brisk discussion', in which 'the indefatigable Job Bone, a pillar of capitalism well known to Socialist lecturers, was severely handled' (Commonweal, 24 March).

Thompson considers the Rev John Glasse (not to be confused with the anarchist Henry Glasse) one of the League's few steady provincial allies (p.555). Several of Morris's letters to Glasse were reprinted by R. Page Arnot, in Unpublished Letters of William Morris, Labour Monthly Pamphlet, 1951 Series, no.6. According to Arnot (p.3), Glasse had been a member of the SDF before joining the SL. When visiting Edinburgh Morris stayed with Glasse and his wife at their home at 16 Tantallon Place, and he invited Glasse to visit him in London as the Edinburgh Branch's Conference delegate in May, 1887. Glasse declined, and after the Conference Morris wrote him a long letter defining his position. He seems to have considered Glasse a moderate ally, who was anxious above all to avoid another split within the League.

134 Cassell's Old and New Edinburgh (London 1887) describes Roslin, a town directly south of the city, as 'a retreat of rural quietness, and the abode of workers in the bleaching-fields and powder-mills' (p.352). The latter may be the 'manufactories' which Morris mentions. Bartholomew's 1912 Survey Atlas of Scotland, plate 62, shows a carpet mill and river nearby.

135 Cassell's guide notes that the chapel was founded in 1446, and quotes a historian who describes its baroque ornamentation:

It is impossible to designate the architecture of this building by any given or familiar term, for the variety and eccentricity of its parts are not to be defined by any words of common acceptation. (p.350)

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