The Quest of the Simple Life eBook

William Johnson Dawson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 172 pages of information about The Quest of the Simple Life.
a long mountain road on a broiling day in August, nor the poignant thrill of that rushing water in my morning bathes.  And mixed with it all is the aromatic scent of the pines beside the stream, the freshness of the meadows, and the song of falling water.  Sometimes, when the river was in summer flood, there was just that spice of danger in our bathing which gave it a memorable piquancy.  On such occasions we had to use skill and coolness to avoid disaster; we were tossed about the boiling water like bubbles; incredible masses of water flowed over us, warm and strong, in a few seconds, and we came out of the roaring pool so beaten and thrashed by the violence of the stream that every nerve quivered.  Breakfast was a great occasion after these adventures.  Then came a stroll round our small estate, and an hour or so over books.  Matthew Arnold’s Thyrsis was a favourite poem with us all on these mornings.  It breathed the very spirit of the life we lived, but for its sadness—­this we did not feel.  But we did appreciate its wonderfully exact and beautiful interpretation of Nature, and we had but to look around us to see the very picture Arnold painted when he wrote: 

  Soon will the high midsummer pomps come on,
    Soon will the musk carnations break and swell,
  Soon shall we have gold-dusted snapdragon,
    Sweetwilliam with his homely cottage smell,
    And stocks in fragrant blow: 
  Roses that down the alley shine afar,
    And open, jasmine-muffled lattices,
    And groups under the dreaming garden trees,
  And the full moon, and the white evening star.

Such was the life we lived.  If we looked back at all to the life we had left, it was with that sort of sick horror which a prisoner may feel who has endured and survived a long term of imprisonment.  It seemed to us that we had never really lived before.  The past was a dream, and an evil dream.  We had moved in a world of bad enchantment, like phantoms, barely conscious of ourselves.  We had now recovered proprietorship in our own lives.  Work, that had been a curse, was a blessing.  Life, that had gone on maimed feet, was now virile in every part.  This mere fulness of health was in itself ample compensation for the loss of a hundred artificial pleasures which we had once thought necessary to existence.  We knew that we had found a delight in mere living which must remain wholly incredible to the tortured hosts that toil in cities; and we knew also that when at last we came to lie down with kings and conquerors in the house of sleep, we should carry with us fairer dreams than they ever knew amid all the tumult of their triumph.



There is a wonderful passage in Timon of Athens which appears to express in a few strokes, at once broad and subtle, the picture and the ideal of a perfect city: 

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