Simple Life, The

Simple Life, The
Catalog # SKU1715
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Charles Wagner


Simple Life

Charles Wagner
Translated from the French
by Mary Louise Hendee

The complexity of our life appears in the number of our material needs. It is a fact universally conceded, that our needs have grown with our resources.


This is not an evil in itself; for the birth of certain needs is often a mark of progress. To feel the necessity of bathing, of wearing fresh linen, inhabiting wholesome houses, eating healthful food, and cultivating our minds, is a sign of superiority. But if certain needs exist by right, and are desirable, there are others whose effects are fatal, which, like parasites, live at our expense: numerous and imperious, they engross us completely.

Could our fathers have foreseen that we should some day have at our disposal the means and forces we now use in sustaining and defending our material life, they would have predicted for us an increase of independence, and therefore of happiness, and a decrease in competition for worldly goods: they might even have thought that through the simplification of life thus made possible, a higher degree of morality would be attained. None of these things has come to pass. Neither happiness, nor brotherly love, nor power for good has been increased. In the first place, do you think your fellow-citizens, taken as a whole, are more contented than their forefathers, and less anxious about the future?

I do not ask if they should find reason to be so, but if they really are so. To see them live, it seems to me that a majority of them are discontented with their lot, and, above all, absorbed in material needs and beset with cares for the morrow. Never has the question of food and shelter been sharper or more absorbing than since we are better nourished, better clothed, and better housed than ever. He errs greatly who thinks that the query, "What shall we eat, and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?" presents itself to the poor alone, exposed as they are to the anguish of morrows without bread or a roof. With them the question is natural, and yet it is with them that it presents itself most simply.

You must go among those who are beginning to enjoy a little ease, to learn how greatly satisfaction in what one has, may be disturbed by regret for what one lacks. And if you would see anxious care for future material good, material good in all its luxurious development, observe people of small fortune, and, above all, the rich. It is not the woman with one dress who asks most insistently how she shall be clothed, nor is it those reduced to the strictly necessary who make most question of what they shall eat to-morrow.

As an inevitable consequence of the law that needs are increased by their satisfaction, the more goods a man has, the more he wants.

The more assured he is of the morrow, according to the common acceptation, the more exclusively does he concern himself with how he shall live, and provide for his children and his children's children. Impossible to conceive of the fears of a man established in life-their number, their reach, and their shades of refinement.

From all this, there has arisen throughout the different social orders, modified by conditions and varying in intensity, a common agitation-a very complex mental state, best compared to the petulance of a spoiled child, at once satisfied and discontented.

IF we have not become happier, neither have we grown more peaceful and fraternal. The more desires and needs a man has, the more occasion he finds for conflict with his fellow-men; and these conflicts are more bitter in proportion as their causes are less just. It is the law of nature to fight for bread, for the necessities.

This law may seem brutal, but there is an excuse in its very harshness, and it is generally limited to elemental cruelties. Quite different is the battle for the superfluous-for ambition, privilege, inclination, luxury. Never has hunger driven man to such baseness as have envy, avarice, and thirst for pleasure. Egotism grows more maleficent as it becomes more refined.

We of these times have seen an increase of hostile feeling among brothers, and our hearts are less at peace than ever.


1. Our Complex Life

2. The Essence Of Simplicity

3. Simplicity Of Thought

4. Simplicity Of Speech

5. Simple Duty

6. Simple Needs

7. Simple Pleasures

8. The Mercenary Spirit And Simplicity

9. Notoriety And The Inglorious Good

10. The World And The Life Of The Home

11. Simple Beauty

12. Pride And Simplicity In The Intercourse Of Men

13. The Education For Simplicity

14. Conclusion

Softcover, 5¼" x 8¼", 160+ pages

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