It must not be inferred that I am opposed to what may be called “high life” in toto. With those who have abundant means, and no children “Society” life is easy, and even delightful. But it is selfish. It is folly for those whose means are limited to ape others of large means. There is in human nature a natural desire to show well to your superiors, either in wealth, or social position. This is apt to induce ostentation, and hauteur but, happily, only among people of low breeding, and deficient worth. Such ostentation is properly despised by the common-sense of the community.
No truly well-bred person, no properly-balanced and socially poised man or woman ever “looks down on” others! much less make an acquaintance suffer by reason of any mere discrepancy suffer by reason of any mere discrepancy in means or sense of inferiority. To make those less fortunately financed feel mean or “cheap” is the infallible fate of the “parvenu” and the “codfish aristocrat.” Nobles of the blood accept at par or at a premium exalted qualities of heart and mind regardless of the bank balance of their possessor. Louis XIV was not too proud to dine with poor Moliere the playwright.
I have reserved for the close of this chapter a few things which lie very near to my heart. It is not for me to say how much or how little “culture” I may have, but I may say that I owe all that I have to my high souled, God-fearing ancestry and to my passionate love of the mother of us all – Nature. From my earliest youth I have loved Nature and studied her works. Every home I have had has been close to Nature and surrounded by its beauties. Variety of color, form, design and proportion. The Japanese Garden at our Cabanne home with its wonderful variety of trees, shrubs, flowers, vines and exotics is the visible evidence of the reverence I always felt for the works of God and the treasures of Nature. All of my children will testify that I have neglected no opportunity to impart to them that love of the things of beauty and charm in the world about us. Our happiest days have been spent together in the woods and fields or by the sea, the lakes and the water courses, where Nature is sovereign and her wealth most untrammelled. Not one of my eight grown children ever thought of the wild creatures except as friends. They have learned to know trees, flowers, rocks, lichens, insects, beasts and reptiles. Even the snakes of the rocks are objects of interest rather than of terror and they learned early how to handle and study them without harm or fear. Communion with Nature prepares for communion with fellowmen. Knowledge of Nature carries knowledge of mankind. Love of Nature implies love of humanity. Reverence for the lovely things of Nature forms the habit of reverence for the good and noble things of mankind. The true lover of Nature has no patience with the petty snobberies of foolish people. Study Nature and you learn to see the true proportions of life and good in everything.
Therefore, I say, lead your children to the loving study and the close companionship of Nature as much as possible. They will be happier, purer and more capable men and women.