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The Simple Life   By: (1852-1916)

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First Page:

THE SIMPLE LIFE

By CHARLES WAGNER Author of The Better Way

Translated from the French by Mary Louise Hendee

GROSSET & DUNLAP Publishers, New York

Copyright, 1901, by McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO.

CONTENTS

Page

I. OUR COMPLEX LIFE 1

II. THE ESSENCE OF SIMPLICITY 15

III. SIMPLICITY OF THOUGHT 22

IV. SIMPLICITY OF SPEECH 39

V. SIMPLE DUTY 52

VI. SIMPLE NEEDS 68

VII. SIMPLE PLEASURES 80

VIII. THE MERCENARY SPIRIT AND SIMPLICITY 96

IX. NOTORIETY AND THE INGLORIOUS GOOD 111

X. THE WORLD AND THE LIFE OF THE HOME 128

XI. SIMPLE BEAUTY 139

XII. PRIDE AND SIMPLICITY IN THE INTERCOURSE OF MEN 151

XIII. THE EDUCATION FOR SIMPLICITY 167

XIV. CONCLUSION 188

THE SIMPLE LIFE

I

OUR COMPLEX LIFE

At the home of the Blanchards, everything is topsy turvy, and with reason. Think of it! Mlle. Yvonne is to be married Tuesday, and to day is Friday!

Callers loaded with gifts, and tradesmen bending under packages, come and go in endless procession. The servants are at the end of their endurance. As for the family and the betrothed, they no longer have a life or a fixed abode. Their mornings are spent with dressmakers, milliners, upholsterers, jewelers, decorators, and caterers. After that, comes a rush through offices, where one waits in line, gazing vaguely at busy clerks engulfed in papers. A fortunate thing, if there be time when this is over, to run home and dress for the series of ceremonial dinners betrothal dinners, dinners of presentation, the settlement dinner, receptions, balls. About midnight, home again, harassed and weary, to find the latest accumulation of parcels, and a deluge of letters congratulations, felicitations, acceptances and regrets from bridesmaids and ushers, excuses of tardy tradesmen. And the contretemps of the last minute a sudden death that disarranges the bridal party; a wretched cold that prevents a favorite cantatrice from singing, and so forth, and so forth. Those poor Blanchards! They will never be ready, and they thought they had foreseen everything!

Such has been their existence for a month. No longer possible to breathe, to rest a half hour, to tranquillize one's thoughts. No, this is not living!

Mercifully, there is Grandmother's room. Grandmother is verging on eighty. Through many toils and much suffering, she has come to meet things with the calm assurance which life brings to men and women of high thinking and large hearts. She sits there in her arm chair, enjoying the silence of long meditative hours. So the flood of affairs surging through the house, ebbs at her door. At the threshold of this retreat, voices are hushed and footfalls softened; and when the young fianc├ęs want to hide away for a moment, they flee to Grandmother.

"Poor children!" is her greeting. "You are worn out! Rest a little and belong to each other. All these things count for nothing. Don't let them absorb you, it isn't worth while."

They know it well, these two young people. How many times in the last weeks has their love had to make way for all sorts of conventions and futilities! Fate, at this decisive moment of their lives, seems bent upon drawing their minds away from the one thing essential, to harry them with a host of trivialities; and heartily do they approve the opinion of Grandmamma when she says, between a smile and a caress:

"Decidedly, my dears, the world is growing too complex; and it does not make people happier quite the contrary!"

I also, am of Grandmamma's opinion... Continue reading book >>




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