The Quest of the Simple Life eBook

William Johnson Dawson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 147 pages of information about The Quest of the Simple Life.
Israel.’  Here was something he did know, and it was something not worth knowing.  I found that my boys had been educated on much the same principle.  They could do a simple problem of mathematics after a fashion; that is, they could recite it; but it had never once been suggested to them as an exercise of reason.  It was the same with history; they could recite dates and facts, but they had no perception of principles.  It may be imagined that I had to go to school again myself before I could attempt to instruct them.  I had to take down again my long disused Virgil and Cicero, and work through many a forgotten passage.  At first the task was distasteful enough, but it soon became fascinating.  My love of the classics revived.  I began to read Homer and Thucydides, Tacitus and Lucretius, for my own pleasure.  It was delightful to observe what interest my boys took in Virgil, as soon as they discovered that Virgil was not a mere task-book, but poetry of the noblest order.  By avoiding all idea of mere unintelligent task-work, I soon got them to take a real interest in their work, until at last they came to anticipate the hour of these common studies.  I took care also to never make the burden of study oppressive.  Two hours of real study is as much as a young boy can bear at a time.  He should rise from his task, not with an exhausted, but with a fresh and quickened, mind.  On very fine days it was understood that no books should be opened.  Such days were spent in fishing, in mountain-climbing, or in long cycling excursions, and the store of health laid up by these days gave new vigour to the mind when the work of education was resumed.

When the summer came on, life became a daily lyric of delight.  By five in the morning, sometimes by four, we were out fishing.  In the narrow part of the glen there was a place where the rocks met in a wild miniature gorge, and through them the water poured into a large circular rock-basin, about forty feet in diameter.  This was our bathing-pool, and the cool shock and thrill of those exquisitely pure and flowing waters runs along my nerves still as I write.  We often spent more than an hour there in the early morning, swimming from side to side of our natural bath, diving off a rock which rose almost in the centre of the pool, passing to and fro under the cascade, or sitting out in the sun, till sheer hunger drove us home to breakfast.  Writers who boast a sort of finical superiority will no doubt disdain these barbarian delights, and wonder that memory should be persistent over mere physical sensations.  But I am not sure that these physical sensations are not recollected with more acuteness than mental ones, and there is no just reason why they should be despised.  I have forgotten a good many aesthetic pleasures which at the time gave me keen delight—­some phrase in oratory, some movement in concerted music, and such like—­but I never forget the sensation of wind blowing over my bare flesh as I coasted down

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The Quest of the Simple Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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