This post is composed of morsels of wisdom from “The Friendly Road,” written by Amherst resident David Grayson in 1913.
“There is a supreme faith among common people — it is, indeed, the very taproot of democracy — that although the unfriendly one may persist long in his power and arrogance, there is a moving Force which commands events.”
Grayson’s books are seldom read today, but they were well-known all over the English-speaking world in his lifetime, selling about 2 million copies.
“I think sometimes that people literally perish for want of a good, hearty, whole-souled, mouth-opening, throat-stretching, side-aching laugh.”
David Grayson was a pseudonym for Ray Stannard Baker, a well-known muckraking journalist. His real identity was a secret for 10 years, and was revealed only after imposters started giving lectures as David Grayson, as I describe in this previous post.
“Isn’t it the strangest thing in the world how long it takes us to learn to accept the joys of simple pleasures?”
Grayson’s books included “Adventures in Contentment,” “Adventures in Friendship,” “Adventures in Understanding” and “Adventures in Solitude.” They were the inspiration for half of this blog’s name.
“Thank God, we are beginning to learn that unity is as much a law of life as selfish struggle, and love a more vital force than avarice or lust of power or place.”
Baker, who was born in 1870, lived in many places during the first half of his life, but settled down in Amherst in 1909 (three years after he started writing as David Grayson) and lived here until his death in 1946.
“In a world so completely dominated by goods, by things, by possessions, and smothered by security, what fine adventure is left to a man of spirit save the adventure of poverty?”
David Grayson came into being because the editors of the magazine where Baker worked were desperate for copy, so he refashioned some sketches he wrote for his own amusement, and never expected them to be popular. I had a similar experience when I created the Amherst Bulletin police log 20 years ago, as I describe here.
“The important thing to me about a road, as about life and literature, is not that it goes anywhere, but that it is livable while it goes.”
Amherst’s most celebrated writer, Emily Dickinson, was unknown in her lifetime but is world-famous now. David Grayson was world-famous in his lifetime but is seldom read now.
“Believe me, of all people in the world, those who want the most are those who have the most. These people are also consumed with desires.”
Thousands of people wrote letters to David Grayson. One wrote, “You have said what I have thought and heard and felt but couldn’t express.” Another wrote, “Yours was a new gospel of life to us, urging to beauty, simplicity and the commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest things that come nearest happiness.”
“He considered himself poor and helpless because he lacked dollars, whereas people are really poor and helpless only when they lack courage and faith.”
For new readers of this blog, here’s a quick overview of more than 140 past posts in 13 categories, including simple living, frugality, living without, gardening, cooking and climate change.