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Conduct Of Life:
Manners When Travelling
How To Dress
Achieve Happiness
Of A Happy Life And Wherein It Consists
Man The Maker Of Happiness
Happiness Through The Pursuit And Use Of Money
The Art Of Having Time
The Miracle Of Tact
Frienship - Part 1
Friendship - Part 2
Friendship - Part 3
The Simple Life
The Essence Of Simplicity
Right Living As A Fine Art

Right Living As A Fine Art

( Originally Published 1913 )

The Divine Carpenter and his immortal band dwelt far from luxury. Poor indeed were Socrates, the reformer, and Epictetus, the slave, and Virgil, the poet. Burns, too, and Wordsworth and Coleridge, with Keats and Shelley-all these dwelt midway between poverty and riches. When that young English scholar learned that his relative had willed him a fortune of 5,000 pounds he wrote the dying man begging him to abandon his design, saying that he already had one servant, and that added care and responsibility meant the cutting off of a few minutes for study in the morning and a few minutes for reflection at night.

Here are our own Hawthorne and Longfellow-`content with small means.' Here is Emerson resigning his church in Boston and leaving fame behind him, that upon the little farm at Concord he might escape the thousand and one details that robbed his soul of its simplicity. Here is Thoreau building his log cabin by Walden Pond, living on forty dollars a year because he saw that man was being `destroyed by his unwieldly and overgrown establishment, cluttered with much furniture and tripped with his own traps, ruined by luxury and heedless expense, whose only hope was in rigid economy and Spartan simplicity.'

Ours is a world where Cervantes writes Don Quixote living upon three bowls of porridge brought by the jailer of the prison. The German philosopher asked one cluster of grapes, one glass of milk and a slice of bread twice each day. Having completed his philosophy, the old scholar looked back upon forty happy years, saying that every fine dinner his friends had given him had blunted his brain for one day, while indigestion consumed an amount of vital energy that would have sufficed for one page of good writing.

A wise youth will think twice before embarking upon a career involving large wealth. Some others are possessed of vast property whose duty it is to carry bravely their heavy burden in the interest of society and the increase of life's comforts, conveniences and happiness. Yet wise Agur's prayer still holds: `Give me neither poverty nor riches.' Whittier, on his little farm, refusing a princely sum for a lecture, was content with small means. Wendell Phillips, preferring the slave and the contempt of Boston's merchants and her patrician society, chose to `be worthy, not respectable.' Some Ruskin, distributing his bonds and stocks and lands to found workingmen's clubs, art schools and colleges, that he might have more leisure for enriching his imagination and heart, chose to `be wealthy, not rich.' Needing many forms of wisdom, our age needs none more than the grace to `live content with small means, seeking elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion.'

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