A Bit of Everyday Philosophy

A useful verb.

The love of simple pleasures.

On human and other songsters.

The French have a verb for which we English have no equivalent. It is “savourer,” which in one dictionary is translated “To savour; taste with pleasure; relish; enjoy.” It sounds rather a greedy word, and would indeed be so if it applied only to the pleasures of the table. But fortunately there are for most of us other delights in life than those connected with the gustatory organs, and it is these that we would fain savourer, as Linnæus did when he fell on his knees on first seeing gorse in bloom, and thanked God. “How gross,” remarks a character in a modern novel, “to give thanks for beef and pudding, but none for Carpaccio, Bellini, Titian!” Just so. And apart from the deep appreciation of genius, have we not a thousand daily joys for which we might give thanks, if only we could attain to the realisation of them? We let them pass us by, and but vaguely recognise them as bits of happiness which, if duly woven into the woof of life, would brighten it as no jewels ever could. It is good to encourage the love of simple pleasures. It is the way to keep our souls from shrinking. For some of us the song of the lark is as exquisite a pleasure as any to be found in the crowded concert-room. Both are delights, but the compass of the spirit may not always be great enough to embrace the two. To listen to the voice of a Patti is not possible to us all, even only once in a lifetime, and alas! there is but one Patti! Du Maurier says a lovely thing about her singing: “Her voice still stirs me to the depths, with vague remembrance of fresh girlish innocence turned into sound.” With other singers the critical spirit of the audience is apt to awake and spoil everything. Music must be perfect, to be perfectly enjoyed. And how often do we find perfection in the concert—room? With how many singers can we let ourselves float far from reality into the region of the ideal, secure from jar of false note, or twisted phrase to suit the singer? And have we not often to shut our eyes because the frame in which the golden voice is bodied is in dissonance with its beauty? With the lark we are safe, and the nightingale sings no false note. The robin is plump, but never fat and shiny! The plaintive cry of the plover is not spoiled for us by a vision of some thirty teeth and pink parterres of gum. Our enjoyment of the blackbird’s mellow whistle is not marred by a little printed notice to the effect that he craves the indulgence of the audience as he has been attacked by hoarseness; and the flute-like melody of the thrush has not its romance eliminated by a stumpy figure or want of taste in dress. Do I not remember a great contralto singing to us some stirring strains and wearing the while an agony in yellow and grass-green? And did not even S—himself alter the last mournful phrase of “The Harp that once” into a wild top-yell in order to suit his voice? No! With nature’s choristers we are safe.

Our ungrateful folly.

But do we half appreciate them? Not half, I am very sure. Do we give thanks for the blue of the skies, the green of the trees, the sweet air that we breathe, the glowing sunset, and the starlit heavens? It is true philosophy to savourer bien these inexpensive joys; and, oddly enough, the more we do so the less we shall feel inclined to grumble and feel discontented when a pall of dingy fog hides away the blue and dims the green and gives us sulphur to breathe instead of the lovely air that invigorates and rejoices.

Things to be thankful for.

We owe an enormous debt to the writers of books, and especially to biographers of interesting lives, to novelists, travellers who write of what they have seen and thus share their experiences with us, poets who sing down to us of the sunny heights of the ideal life, and those photographic storytellers who delineate for us the workers of our world, of whose lives we should otherwise know so little. It almost rises to the height of epicurean philosophy to increase the joys of life by realising them to the full as they deserve to be realised. An hour spent with some delightful author may seem a little thing, but it is well worth saying grace for.

Gratefulness indeed!

  By PanEris using Melati.

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