The Citizens’ League has shown such public spirit in the past that I venture to bring before them a scheme which, if they adopt it, would, I feel, in the years to come, not only help the city, but redound to their credit. I do not ask them to swallow the scheme whole, and I am quite willing that it should be amended and bettered. I take as my text these words of Browning:-
O Earth as God made it all is beauty,
And knowing this is love, and Love is Duty.
And solemnly believing as I do that the duty of the citizen is to foster a patriotic love of the Homeland, and to make it possible for every man, woman, and child in Carlisle to feel that this old Border City has some peculiar attraction which haunts them for life, that gives them a pride in it and a homing instinct, which wherever they are obliges them to return in thought to it, I ask myself what we are doing to encourage this patriotic love, and how best we can minister to it. The Loss of Natural Beauty. I believe the first thing we ought to do is to realise that every child born into our city and trained in our schools has a natural aptitude for love of the beautiful in form and colour; that this natural love can be dwarfed and in the long run killed by unlovely surroundings, but that on the contrary the natural beauty of earth and sky, of bird, flower, and tree life, the beauty of form in buildings are all educators to right thought and good life, and that a healthy love of these things ministers to the happiness of every individual. I believe the curse of our manufacturing towns to-day is that not only they destroy the health-giving power of sunlight but they rob the working people of the happiness which was intended for them by killing the very power of the soul to enjoy beauty and to obtain rest and peace in its enjoyment. I feel that for all of us whose lives have been brightened and bettered by our sense of the beautiful it is a duty to hand on the great heritage of natural beauty that is ours in Great Britain, both in town and country, undiminished to those who come after us, and to do all in our power to work for this common good and leave the world, not less fair, but fairer than we found it. One thing I am certain of is that to love the beautiful when we see it implies education, and the sooner we set about such education the better…. After careful inquiry as to what is being done elsewhere, at Middlesbrough, at Oldham, Leicester, Warrington, and Manchester, I feel justified in urging that a “Beautiful Carlisle Society” should be set on foot:—
- To preserve existing beauty which adds to the attractiveness of the city, and to endeavour to minimise all that is unsightly.
- To utilise waste and open spaces for tree-planting, gardening, etc.
- To encourage the cultivation of flowers in spaces adjoining public buildings, schools, mills, houses, backyards, etc.
- To encourage window gardening.
- To cultivate the love of tree and flower life amongst school children.
- To educate young and old as to the selfishness of the litter nuisance.
I am not without hope that such a Society would succeed, for there is an awakening to the love of the natural beauty not only amongst our school children but in the homes of the workers. There is hardly a house in some quarters in which the “aspidistra,” that forgiving plant which survives neglect, is not to be seen. And there are other signs of improvement. Messrs. W. H. Smith and Sons have shown us throughout England the value of right lettering on the name-sign of their shop fronts, and we are all indebted to the Liquor Control Board for the dignified decoration of their houses and the beautiful Roman lettering with which they, as well as Messrs. W. H. Smith, have enriched the city, bringing back Roman art from Trojan’s Column again to its ancient home. Good things grow from small beginnings.
(Carlisle Journal, 12 December 1919, p. 6)