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he looks after his parks and woodlands. All day long he is in the open air, getting vigour from the sun. So he grows like one of his ancestral oaks. It must not be supposed that such vigour is unattainable from the great solar source upon a cloudy or rainy day. The light is there, though retarded : no cloud that ever overspread the sky could intercept the solar influence.
In taking as an instance of high physical health the typical country gentleman who abstains from politics, I may be accused of ignoring my theory that ideas are life. It is not so.
There are ideas beyond the limits of the House of Commons, the Stock Exchange, and the newspapers. The life of an English country-gentleman is singularly like the life of Homer's heroes who indeed were simply a set of Greek country-gentlemen, obliged to unite and punish the people of Troy, a city of sea-robbers and Sybarites. They relucted for a long time, just in the
English fashion, but they ultimately found the thing had to be done, and so they did it pretty effectively. Through Homer's “mythological machinery and poetic refraction all this is clear enough: and in reading Homer I am often amazed at the likeness of his characters to the country peers and squires of this day. It was through this quality in him that the late Earl of Derby, though no poet, caught so much of the spirit of the Iliad.
Well, will anyone tell me that Achilles and Odysseus, Agamemnon and Venelaus, were men without ideas? Their life was simple enough when no fighting had to be done. They lived in great houses amid pleasant gardens, and all their retainers and dependents lived with them. They rose early, looked weil after their estates, were not ashamed to drive the plough themselves, delighted to 20 wown among their labourers and refresh them from the wine-skin. They hunted boar and deer—and when the quarry
was brought home would cut it up and cook it themselves. They loved athletic sports, and had many a holiday for the youth to race and wrestle and throw weights. They loved the banquet, plentiful and with abundant wine ; and loved, when it was over, to hear the recitation of some wandering poet. They loved to entertain a stranger—to welcome him with the bath and clean raiment and a noble meal—and afterward to hear his adventures. When the Greek squire's linen was to be washed, his daughters and their maidens would drive in a four-horse waggon to some secluded river, and do the work quickly, and bathe thereafter, and end the summer day with a merry game at ball. For the father there was no Times, for the mother no Mudie, for the boys no short pipes, for the girls no croquet or curates. But, so far as I can judge from their historian, Homer—and his truthfulness none dare question—they lived in an atmosphere of ideas. Their utterances are pregnant with thought. A simple life is not necessarily stupid, nor a complex life intellectual. An old Chaldean shepherd beneath the midnight stars might have ideas beyond the reach of a modern stockbroker or civil engineer. Besides, in modern society you can scarcely ever be certain that an idea is your own, whereas in those times of isolation and simplicity there could not well be any doubt on the question.
I take it that the life of an English country gentleman is nearer to the Homeric life than could well be expected at a distance of thirty centuries. Still we might get closer to it by the establishment of such villages as I have indicated. They would be very like the old Greek cities : just as an English squire is about equivalent to an old Greek king. I fear however that in these prosaic days it would be impossible to revive the Homeric minstrel.
As we get sunshine on cloudy days, so we get sea-breath many miles from the sea. That same sea is a great physician ; it heals the world, and it heals individuals. To live long, one should live on an island ; I mean on an island of reasonable size, being of course aware that not to live on an island is impossible. To be in the arid and adust heart of Central Asia must necessarily shorten life. Here in England the sea-breath can make its way to most corners of the realm ; I think I have sniffed it at Warwick, the omphalos of the midland. When the wind comes from the south, I can inhale the seabreeze by walking up a hill close to my gate, from which Windsor Castle is visible. That breeze does infinite good. It cools and freshens the air. It destroys malaria. It brings ozone
and iodine. And it is not only the breath of the sea, but also its products, which I may note as medicinal. To restore the brain or purify