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Pinnock will admit you) into a girls' school: the naughty young minx who can't understand the Use of the Globes, but who draws felicitously abominable caricatures of the Lady Principal and her subordinates, will make a better wife than the stolid young persons who learn their lessons to the latest inch. It would be easy to multiply examples.
Hence, I say to those who desire to live long ... Take life easily. Its troubles are trivial in comparison with its enjoyments. With a clear brain, a good digestion, and no ambition or avarice, a man ought to be perfectly happy. If he is not, it is because he has not learnt the elementary conditions of happiness.
THERE are a thousand things on which I could in this connexion descant most eloquently. Everywhere nature is filled with beautiful devices to make men enjoy life ... and therefore to make them prolong life. Everywhere you are tempted to waste a moment on your way, by some lovely appeal to sight or smell or hearing. The honeysuckle hinders the evening traveller, a mystic fragrance from the hedgerow : the nightingale causes him to linger, a passionate outburst of song
beside his ear : the great sunset suddenly causes him to stop, for it is the instant autograph of God. Avarice and ambition tempt men to lose no moment ... to press forward everywhere and always, doing their uttermost to gain coin and fame. But those who are misled to act thus are doubly betrayed—for the man who works for money becomes the slave of his desire, and, when he has obtained fiftyfold beyond his first anticipations, he is quite unable to enjoy it ; and the man who works for ambition, and desires to place himself high above his fellows, finds, when he is a Lord Chancellor or an Archbishop, that the world's eye is fixed, not on him, but on some brilliant young Marquis with a million a-year.
For avarice, I presume, is a desire to attain money: and ambition, a desire to attain notoriety.
But, as I have indicated, men of these sordid aims sustain very often a double defeat. For there enters the arena a man of genius, without either avarice or ambition; without avarice, since he values money merely as a means of obtaining other things;
without ambition, since he knows there is no power on earth to promote one whom God has made great. And this man, indolently, by sheer innate power, shall win the fortune or the position coveted by his rivals. Whoever has had any experience of life has seen this happen a hundred times.
If we recapitulate, it comes to this. The first element of longevity is the Idea ; the second, Independence; the third, Indolence. Keep the spirit open to all impressions ; avoid all unnecessary connexions, political or otherwise; learn to be lazy. These things achieved, you may make a mark on the world ; you will certainly enjoy life; you may possibly live so long as to be an archæological curiosity.
Idea ... Independence ... Indolence-a modern triad. They combine the two mysteries of happiness and longevity-whereof the latter depends on e former. Look at it. A constant current of ideas keeps the brain joyous and resourceful. A perfect spirit of
independence makes a man devoid of fear, and enables him to walk erect, not only among poets and philosophers, but among Kings and Emperors and other inferior per
And a knowledge of what indolence means has a two-fold delight, for it enables a man to live voluptuously while he is thinking profoundly ... allows the pearl to ripen in the oyster while the oyster enjoys itself and absorbs iodine and bromine.
I do not profess to have proved that a man can live as long as he pleases. I will not deny it: the soul's influence on the body is miraculous, and it may be more scientifically directed. What I think obvious is that men who have many ideas, an isolated position, and a capacity for enjoying existence, are likely to live long. We know that the soul reproduces the body in a higher form : knowing this, let us live the ideal independent indolent life.
This done, we may claim and obtain our Century.