WAR AND THE
selves. And yet we say, "I was as happy as a bird." We use the old phrase, in a sort of half-conscious way; and I suppose if some one pulled us up and asked: "Do you really mean that? Do you seriously imagine for an instant that a bird is in any intelligible, human sense happy?" we should at once begin to excuse ourselves and to explain, and to say that the old phrase was no doubt suggested by the apparent careless fleeting of the birds through the air, and we should end: "A metaphor, of course; a way of saying, 'I feel as irresponsible as a bird on the wing, as happy as if I had no duties to discharge, no anxieties to bother me, no office to go to.'"
Thus we make void the old wisdom, which is so curiously enshrined in popular and proverbial sayings, in scraps and tags of language: