Skip to main content


Washington's Dictum on Private Life

George Washington Vol. 43, pp. 225-228 of The Harvard Classics
Washington declared that the strength of the new nation lay in the "pure and immutable principles of private morality." A free government, fortified by the virtues and affection of its citizens, can command the respect of the world. (Washington inaugurated April 30, 1789.)

Washington’s First Inaugural Address (1789)
[At the first election held under the Constitution, George Washington, who had been chairman of the convention which framed the Constitution, was unanimously chosen President. The inaugural address was delivered in Federal Hall, at Wall and Nassau Streets, New York, April 30, 1789.]
AMONG the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties, than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration an…
Recent posts

How I Got Rich - by Sindbad the Sailor

Stories from the Thousand and One Nights. Vol. 16 pp. 231-242 of The Harvard Classic
Sindbad, a poor man, recited woeful verses before the magnificent dwelling of Sindbad of the Sea. The great Sindbad, hearing him, invited the poor Sindbad to a feast and told the wonderful story of his fabulous fortune.

Nights 537–566
The Story of Es-Sindibad of the Sea and Es-Sindibad of the Land
THERE was, in the time of Khalifeh, the Prince of the Faithful, Harun Er-Rashid, in the city of Baghdad, a man called Es-Sindibad the Porter. He was a man in poor circumstances, who bore burdens for hire upon his head. And it happened to him that he bore one day a heavy burden, and that day was excessively hot; so he was wearied by the load, and perspired profusely, the heat violently oppressing him. In this state he passed by the door of a merchant, the ground before which was swept and sprinkled, and there the air was temperate; and by the side of the door was a wide mastabah. The porter therefore put down his…

"Vanity of Vanities," Saith the Preacher

Ecclesiastes. Vol. 44 pp. 335-341 of The Harvard Classics
Three hundred years before Christ, a preacher in Jerusalem complained that there was no new thing under the sun. Everything considered new had really existed in the time of the fathers. Sophisticated and modern is this writer of 2,300 years ago.

[1]  THE WORDS of the 1 Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
[2]  Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.
[3]  What profit hath man of all his labor wherein he laboreth under the sun?

He Dared to See Forbidden Beauty

Ralph Waldo Emerson. (1803–1882). Essays and English Traits. Vol. 5, pp. 297-310 of The Harvard Classics
The Puritan world feared Beauty. Emerson, great American essayist and philosopher, declared that the world was made for beauty, and openly worshipped at beauty's shrine. (Emerson died April 27, 1882.)

Essays XVIII. Beauty 1860
THE SPIRAL tendency of vegetation infects education also. Our books approach very slowly the things we most wish to know. What a parade we make of our science, and how far off, and at arm’s length, it is from its objects! Our botany is all names, not powers: poets and romancers talk of herbs of grace and healing; but what does the botanist know of the virtues of his weeds? The geologist lays bare the strata, and can tell them all on his fingers: but does he know what effect passes into the man who builds his house in them? What effect on the race that inhabits a granite shelf? what on the inhabitants of marl and of alluvium?

Do Miracles Still Happen

David Hume (1711–76). An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Vol. 37, pp. 375-385 of The Harvard Classics
Just what constitutes a miracle? Does Science endorse miracles? One wonders why such marvelous things do not happen often nowadays. Hume tells why. (David Hume born April 26, 1711.)
Of Miracles Part I
THERE is, in Dr. Tillotson’s writings, an argument against the real presence, which is as concise, and elegant, and strong as any argument can possibly be supposed against a doctrine, so little worthy of a serious refutation. It is acknowledged on all hands, says that learned prelate, that the authority, either of the scripture or of tradition, is founded merely in the testimony of the Apostles, who were eye-witnesses to those miracles of our Saviour, by which he proved his divine mission. Our evidence, then, for, the truth of the Christian religion is less than the evidence for the truth of our senses; because, even in the first authors of our religion, it was no greater; and it is…

Mighty Rome Feared These Men

Tacitus, Germany Vol. 33, pp. 106-120 of The Harvard Classics
Men who danced among sharp swords - who gambled with their lives - who took their women to the battlefields to encourage the brave and shame the cowardly - these were the primitive Germans who made Roman emperors tremble.

 For their drink, they draw a liquor from barley or other grain; and ferment the same, so as to make it resemble wine. Nay, they who dwell upon the bank of the Rhine deal in wine. Their food is very simple; wild fruit, fresh venison, or coagulated milk. They banish hunger without formality, without curious dressing and curious fare. In extinguishing thirst, they use not equal temperance. If you will but humour their excess in drinking, and supply them with as much as they covet, it will be no less easy to vanquish them by vices than by arms.

Nineteen Million Elephants

Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882). Origin of Species. Vol. 11, pp. 74-86 of The Harvard Classics
At the rate at which elephants naturally increase, Darwin estimated that in 750 years there could be nearly 19,000,000 elephants. But did Darwin consider the ravages of civilization and circuses?

II. Struggle for Existence Geometrical Ratio of Increase
A STRUGGLE for existence inevitably follows from the high rate at which all organic beings tend to increase. Every being, which during its natural lifetime produces several eggs or seeds, must suffer destruction during some period of its life, and during some season or occasional year, otherwise, on the principle of geometrical increase, its numbers would quickly become so inordinately great that no country could support the product. Hence, as more individuals are produced than can possibly survive, there must in every case be a struggle for existence, either one individual with another of the same species, or with the individuals of distinct …