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By Ray Stannard Baker

This publication is a facsimile reprint and should comprise imperfections reminiscent of marks, notations, marginalia and fallacious pages.

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Even though in secret I have smiled and pondered. How our life has been warped by books! We are not contented with realities: we crave conclusions. With what ardour our minds respond to real events with literary deductions. Upon a train of incidents, as unconnected as life itself, we are wont to clap a booky ending. An instinctive desire for completeness animates the human mind (a struggle to circumscribe the infinite). We would like to have life “turn out”—but it doesn’t—it doesn’t. Each event is the beginning of a whole new genealogy of events.

One becomes a sort of machine—unthinking, mechanical: and yet intense physical work, though making no immediate impression on the mind, often lingers in the consciousness. I find that sometimes I can remember and enjoy for long afterward every separate step in a task. It is curious, hard physical labour! One actually stops thinking. I often work long without any thought whatever, so far as I know, save that connected with the monotonous repetition of the labour itself—down with the spade, out with it, up with it, over with it—and repeat.

He does not require seasoning: the ordinary earth is good enough for him. He is likely to be sane—which means sound, healthy—in his outlook upon life. Of all hours of the day there is none like the early morning for downright good odours—the morning before eating. Fresh from sleep and unclogged with food a man’s senses cut like knives. The whole world comes in upon him. A still morning is best, for the mists and the moisture seem to retain the odours which they have distilled through the night.

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