Mr. Dooley on The Simple Life

“Well, Chas Wagner has been havin’ th’ fine old time over here,” said Mr. Dooley.

“Is that th’ man that wrote th’ music?” asked Mr. Hennessy.

“No,” said Mr. Dooley; “that was Cal. This is Chas Wagner, an’ he’s th’ author iv th’ two hundherd thousandth book that Prisidint Rosenfelt has read since th’ first iv Novimber. ‘Tis called Th’ Simple Life. He cudden’t find it in France, so he come lookin’ f’r it among th’ simple an’ pasthral people in this counthry.

“He found it. He come over in a large but simple ship iv twinty thousan’ simple horse-power, an’ landed in th’ simple village iv New York, where he was met be a comity iv simple little village lads an’ lasses an’ escorted to th’ simple Waldorf an’ installed in a room simply decorated in purple plush. That avenin’ he attinded a meetin’ iv th’ Fifth Avnoo Female Simplicity Club. A lady wearin’ a collar iv dimons, whose value was simply fabulous, recited passages fr’m Th’ Simple Life. Afther this a simple supper iv terrapin an’ champagne was sarved. He thin took a simple Pullman thrain to Wash’nton, where he attinded a rayciption at which a lady iv th’ diplomatic core — which is all that is left iv diplomacy, nowadays — poked th’ wife iv a Congressman with a lorgnette f’r goin’ into supper ahead iv her. Later he was rayceived be th’ simple prisidint, who said to him: ‘Chas,’ he says, ‘I’ve been preachin’ ye’re book to me counthrymen,’ he says. ‘Simplicity an’ a sthrong navy is th’ watchword iv this administhration,’ he says.

“Since thin Chas has been whoopin’ up th’ simple life. They’ve showed him ivrything simple we have. He’s seen th’ subway, th’ dhrainage canal, th’ Stock Exchange, Tom Lawson, Jawn D. Rockefellar, an’ Mrs. Chadwick. He’s looped th’ loops, shot th’ shoots, had a ride in a pathrol-wagon, played th’ races, an’ met Dave Hill. Th’ las’ seen iv him he was climbin’ into a private car in a fur-lined coat an’ a plug hat. Whin he goes home to his simple life in Paris he’s goin’ to have a ticker put in his study. He is undherstood to favor sellin’ copper on bulges.

“I haven’t read his book, but Hogan says it’s a good wan, an’ I’m goin’ to read it afther I’ve read th’ Bible an’ Emerson, which Mike Ahearn ricommended to me th’ year iv th’ big fire. Th’ idee is that no matther what ye ar-re, ye must be simple. If ye’re rich, be simply rich; if ye’re poor, be simply poor; if ye’re nayether, be nayether, but be simple about it. Ye don’t have to be gin’rous to be simple. He makes a sthrong pint iv that. It isn’t nicissry to open ye’er purse, says Chas. If ye’re a miser, be a simple miser. It ain’t issintial to be poor to be simple. A poor man walkin’ th’ sthreet is far less simple thin a rich man lollin’ back in his carriage an’ figurin’ out simple inthrest on his cuff. Th’ poor man is envious iv th’ rich man, but th’ rich man is not envious iv th’ poor man. If ye’re a flower, says he, be a flower; if ye’re a bur-rd, be a bur-rd; if a horse, a horse; if a mule, a mule; if a hummin’-bur-rd, a hummin’bur-rd; if a polecat, a polecat; if a man, a man. But always be simple, be it ever so complex.

“Th’ on’y thing Hogan an’ I can’t make out fr’m th’ book is what is simplicity. I may be a simpleton, Hinnissy, but I don’t know. Father Tom Burke was forty years writin’ a book on ‘simplicity,’ an’ he niver got beyond th’ first sintince, which was: ‘It is simply impossible to define simplicity.’ It ain’t simple to be poor, it ain’t simple to be without clothes, it ain’t simple to be pious or sober. Ye’re pretty simple to believe all I tell ye, but ye may not be as simple as I think an’ hope. A lie may be as simple as th’ thruth. Th’ fact iv th’ matther is that th’ rale thruth is niver simple. What we call thruth an’ pass around fr’m hand to hand is on’y a kind iv a currency that we use f’r convenience. There are a good manny countherfeiters an’ a lot iv th’ countherfeits must be in circulation. I haven’t anny question that I take in manny iv thim over me intellechool bar ivry day, an’ pass out not a few. Some iv th’ countherfeits has as much precious metal in thim as th’ rale goods, on’y they don’t bear th’ govermint stamp.

“What th’ divvle is simplicity, annyhow? Simple is a foolish wurrud whin ye come to think it over. Simple, simple, simple. It’s a kind iv a mixture iv silly an’ dimple. I don’t know how to go about bein’ simple. Th’ Lord didn’t make me that way. I can imagine simplicity, but I can’t just put me hand on it. No more can Chas Wagner. Tell me, Chas how to lead th’ simple life. Tell me, Thaydore Rosenfelt, simple soul, what I must do. I’ll go as far as ye like. Hand out th’ receipt. I’ll make mesilf a simple man if I have to bake in a slow oven to do it. What ‘ll I do? Throw away th’ superflooties, says Hogan out iv Chas, his book. But what ar-re th’ superflooties? I’ll turn out th’ ilicthric light, shut off th’ furnace, an’ desthroy th’ cash raygister be which complex’ macheen I keep mesilf fr’m robbin’ mesilf. But am I anny more simple because I’m holdin’ out on mesilf with frozen fingers be a tallow dip? Was th’ wurruld iver anny more simple thin it is to-day? I doubt it. I bet ye there was a good dale iv talk about Adam an’ Eve dhressin’ ostentatiously an’ havin’ th’ King of Biljum’s ancesthor to supper with thim.

Hogan was readin’ me out iv a book th’ other day about th’ simple fathers iv th’ counthry. It was a turr’ble shock to me. This fellow says that Robert Morris, who I supposed sacrificed his fortune f’r liberty injooced th’ govermint to pay good money f’r bad; Jawn Adams wanted to make a kingdom iv th’ counthry; while as f’r George Wash’nton, he acted like a coal-oil Jawnny whin he wint to th’ White House, an’ his wife put on insuff’rable airs an’ had such bad table manners that this here pathrite was compelled to lave th’ room an’ run home to put it down in his diary.

“An’ there ye ar-re. Th’ more I think th’ less simple simplicity becomes. Says Wagner via Hogan, a man shud be like a lamp, an’ th’ more light he sheds th’ betther man he is. That’s th’ throuble with ivrybody that thries to advise me to be somethin’ I ain’t. Whin I run him into a corner an’ say: ‘Come on now an’ make good. Show me th’ way,’ he tells me I’m a lamp, or a three, or a snowflake blown be th’ winds, or a bur-rd in a gilded cage, or a paint-brush, or a ship, or something else. But says I: ‘I’m none iv these fine things. I’m a kind iv a man, an’ I’m not mintioned in th’ botany or th’ mail ordher list. Tell me what I must do.’ An’ he looks me in th’ eye an’ says he: ‘Be a man.’ An’ there ye ar-re. If a man’s a lamp it’s because he smokes, don’t show up well in th’ sunlight, an’ will wan day be blown out. There ar-re other simple uses f’r lamps besides givin’ light, which is wan iv th’ poorest things they do nowadays. Rothschild thrades in thim, th’ German imp’ror thinks they ar-re on’y useful to throw at his inimies, an’ my business is to fill thim with karosene.

“No, sir, they ain’t anny simple life. There’s on’y life. It’s a kind iv an obstacle race. Sinnin’, repintin’; sinnin’, repintin’. Some can jump high; some can’t jump at all. Thim that jump highest have farthest to fall. Those that go farthest are ruled off f’r foulin’. A man’s no more thin a man, an’ he has as many things in him, anny wan iv thim li’ble to go wrong without a moment’s notice, as all th’ injines, tools, lamps, an’ other hardware figures iv speech in a prize pome. He has to make his clumsy repairs while undher full headway. Lucky man if he staggers into port without havin’ caused too manny shipwrecks on th’ way over. It isn’t th’ most succissful passage that has caused th’ most shipwrecks.

“Ye see, Hinnissy, I’m a kind iv a Chas Wagner mesilf, only betther. He gets his out iv a Fr-rinch head, an’ I got mine out iv th’ Third Reader that a little boy left in here who come f’r a pint iv simple refreshmint f’r his father’s complex thirst.”

“I don’t think ye know such a lot about it,” said Mr. Hennessy.

“I know more about th’ sample life,” said Mr. Dooley.

(Dissertations by Mr. Dooley)