In Their Words

Margaret Whiting's Philosophy

Read Aloud

In 'industries' Benevolence sees her chance to benefit others. The American folk gallantly respond to the idea: Let us found a village industry! Let us establish an arts and crafts society! Such-and-such a village needs to be helped to a chance to make money; so-and-so wants to sell his (or, more often, her) work. Far be it from me to suggest that the village, and the man, or the woman, does not need to make money, and to earn a living, but these well-intentioned social reformers and philanthropical theorists defeat their own ends. It is not charity but art which founds and maintains a craft. Art cares naught for human needs, or social betterment: she must be served alone, with a single minded devotion to her altar-fires. No craft,however ardently pursued, can continue that is not the inevitable result of the artistic impulse. No craft is worth cherishing that does not owe its energy to the pure desire to serve Art. If Art is served, and Honesty remembered, and Utility not forgotten, a craft so conceived and produced needs no more help nor encouragement than it ought to find in the open market where it may squarely meet both the machine and the hand products and demand public recognition for its inborn merits.... Labor falters when it takes to a crutch, and Art disappears when her fires are fed with the curse of charity.

Margaret Whiting's notes on village industries and the DSBWN, c. 1901 Transcription of manuscript (Deerfield Town Papers, Box 1, Folder 9), PVMA Library.