HIS firm, by reason of its peculiar constitution,
  T stands unique in the history of business ventures.
Forty years since, had its scheme been offered to practical
men of affairs, it would have been rejected with sarcasm
and ridicule. Even now to the prudent-minded, a similar
enterprise would seem to be lacking in the elements which
assure success. Two features of its organization call for
special comment. Firstly: It was composed of artists,
students and literary men whose aspirations and occupa-
tions drew them away from the method of the shop and
the counting-room. Secondly: It was founded for the
production of objects demanding the highest originality of
conception and the most accomplished skill in execution,
upon a capital which was merely nominal.
                         The idea of the Firm     rose
almost equally from   two impulses on the part of its
members: the desire for an intimate association together,
which should extend to all the concerns of life; the desire
also to furnish and decorate a single house which was to
be the permanent home of William Morris.
                         In undergraduate days at Ox-
ford, Morris and Burne-Jones had devised a religious
brotherhood in which they both hoped to live, cloistered
and as celibates. But as their thought was gradually
secularized by years and by London experiences, they
came to realize that the demand of modern times is for
work and not meditation. So, the dream of the monastery
condensed into a real. workshop, and the brothers of the
religious order evolved into handicraftsmen.
                         The house built for Morris by
his, friend and fellow-student in architecture, Philip Webb,
was completed as to its work in brick and wood in 1859.
But owing to what has been called by a critic: "The