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    Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.  With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor. The ancient philosophers, Chinese, Hindoo, Persian, and Greek, were a class than which none has been poorer in outward riches, none so rich in inward.  We know not much about them.  It is remarkable that we know so much of them as we do.  The same is true of the more modern reformers and benefactors of their race.  None can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty.  Of a life of luxury the fruit is luxury, whether in agriculture, or commerce, or literature, or art.  There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers.  Yet it is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live.  To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.  It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically.  The success of great scholars and thinkers is commonly a courtier-like success, not kingly, not manly.  They make shift to live merely by conformity, practically as their fathers did, and are in no sense the progenitors of a noble race of men.  But why do men degenerate ever? What makes families run out?  What is the nature of the luxury which enervates and destroys nations?  Are we sure that there is none of it in our own lives?  The philosopher is in advance of his age even in the outward form of his life.  He is not fed, sheltered, clothed, warmed, like his contemporaries.  How can a man be a philosopher and not maintain his vital heat by better methods than other men?
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