THE value of the literary and artistic work of Eric Gill has yet to be estimated. In these pictures is illustrated not so much Gill the special artist, but Gill the daily workman as he lived in his own home among his family on a spur of the Chilterns.
Mr. and Mrs. Gill settled at Pigotts (near High Wycombe) in 1928. They chose this miniature farm-estate because it seemed eminently suitable for work and for family life, as Mr. Gill put it, " on non-industrial lines." Eighteen acres of land yielded a reasonable amount of home-grown food, the cows supplied the milk, the sheep were potential mutton and the lambs were toys for the children. Mass was said daily in their own chapel by their chaplain, the Rev. P. J. Flood, D.D., and later a school was started for the grandchildren under Father Flood's direction.
" The main idea and origin of this establishment," Mrs. Gill has explained, " was simply that of people who want workshops and homes and a bit of land to help with the food, and thus avoid as much as possible recourse to New Zealand mutton and Chinese eggs."
A priest, who signs himself "Vicarius," has sent this tribute to Eric Gill: Probably the great and the official will have clever and profound things to say truly of Eric Gill. But there are other's who loved him and who valued his friendship: these, too, would like, in their poor way, to speak their gratitude and admiration.
/ an one of the nameless and unimportant ones that Eric Gill befriended and encouraged. like so many others, I had only friendship to give him, Lack of any material advantage to himself showed the sincerity of his friendship. Upon me he poured his innate Christian charity, and h is for this I would like to show my gratitude.
Love of his neighbour—the " charity " of Saint Paul—was the keynote of all his life. Not only in his private and intimate dealings with people but it was the spur that encouraged him in his public work, in his books and his articles. Love of men for God's sake was the key to his anxiety that the dehumanising effects of modern civilisation and methods upon man's nature (" body and soul, both real and both good ") should be realised and abated. He loved God and the children of God too much to merit the label of " crank."
ALL-DAY CATHOLIC Long ago in the CATHOLIC eireseen ft was written that Eric Gill was " the gentlest of
men." The gentlest and the kindest. He was the first all-day Catholic I ever met. He was wholly spiritual and practical. He insisted upon elementary things like the Glory of God. He said physical labour should be holy and sacred. Ile did not say this to be clever; he said it because it was the truth, and because Its work was naturally to give glory and honour to God. With the simplicity of a child he demanded it of us, too. But we lack his soul and love of God.
His chief delight was to begin his day by serving Holy Mass and receiving Holy Communion. He did this at the risk of impaired health and for the same reasons as Thomas More. And it will be revealed by those more capable that of all the men of our time he alone would have satisfied and pleased the heart of the holy martyr.
Eric Gill served the Mass and the priest who celebrated thanked God gratefully, and with wonder in his heart, for the childlike simplicity and saintly charity of " the gentlest of men " who served him.
" . . . Christes lore, and his Apostles twelve,
He taught, but first he foNowed himself."