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Showing posts from September, 2014

A Gentleman According to Emerson

Ralph Walso Emerson Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882). Essays and English Traits. Vol. 5, pp. 199-208 of The Harvard Classics An etiquette book and a good tailor do not always produce a gentleman - neither does the Social Register include only gentlemen. Emerson by quaint stories tells how fashion and manners combine to make that rare product - a gentleman. (Emerson's first marriage, Sept. 30, 1829.) Essays XII. Manners 1844 How near to good is what is fair! Which we no sooner see, But with the lines and outward air Our senses taken be. ——— Again yourselves compose, And now put all the aptness on Of Figure, that Proportion Or Color can disclose; That if those silent arts were lost, Design and Picture, they might boast From you a newer ground, Instructed by the heightening sense Of dignity and reverence In their true motions found. —BEN JONSON. H ALF  the world, it is said, knows not how the ot

Prophet of 400 Million People

Confucius The Sayings of Confucius . Vol. 44, pp. 5-14 of The Harvard Classics Confucius was a Chinese magistrate in 500 B. C. He lost the favor of the Emperor and wandered from city to city, teaching and giving counsel. After his death, Emperor and people alike bowed before his shrine. I [ 1 ]   T HE  M ASTER  said: “In learning and straightway practising is there not pleasure also? When friends gather round from afar do we not rejoice? Whom lack of fame cannot vex is not he a gentleman?” [ 2 ]     Yu-tzu  1  said: “A dutiful son and brother is seldom fond of thwarting those over him: a man unwilling to thwart those over him is never given to crime. A gentleman nurses the roots: when the root has taken, the truth will grow; and what are the roots of love, but the duty of son and of brother?” [ 3 ]     The Master said: “Honeyed words and

He Introduced the Germ

Louis Pasteur Louis Pasteur (1822–95). Scientific Papers . Vol. 38, pp. 364-370 of The Harvard Classics Proof that germs cause many contagious diseases was established by Louis Pasteur. His discoveries revolutionized modern science and lessened the ravages of every type of disease. (Louis Pasteur died Sept. 28, 1895.) The Germ Theory and Its Applications to Medicine and Surgery   1  T HE  S CIENCES  gain by mutual support. When, as the result of my first communications on the fermentations in 1857–1858, it appeared that the ferments, properly so-called, are living beings, that the germs of microscopic organisms abound in the surface of all objects, in the air and in water; that the theory of spontaneous generation is chimerical; that wines, beer, vinegar, the blood, urine and all the fluids of the body undergo none of their usual changes in pure air, both Medicine and Surgery received fresh stimulation. A French physician, Dr. Davaine, was fortunate in making

Pascal's Fundamentals of Religion

Blaise Pascal Blaise Pascal (1623–1662). Thoughts . Vol. 48. pp. 181-192 of The Harvard Classics To-day we have Fundamentalists and Modernists, each striving for the same goal. Pascal, two hundred and fifty years ago, gave his precepts of the fundamentals of religious thought. (Pascal confers with Descartes, Sept. 27, 1647.) Section VIII The Fundamentals of the Christian Religion 556 M EN  blaspheme what they do not know. The Christian religion consists in two points. It is of equal concern to men to know them, and it is equally dangerous to be ignorant of them. And it is equally of God’s mercy that He has given indications of both.   And yet they take occasion to conclude that one of these points does not exist, from that which should have caused them to infer the other. The sages who have said there is only one God have been persecuted, the Jews were hated, and still more the Christians. They have seen by the light of nature that if there be

And the World Rocked with Laughter

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). Don Quixote, Part 1 . Vol. 14, pp. 29-35 of The Harvard Classics The gaunt lunatic, Don Quixote, saw the world through glasses colored with romanticism that had gone out of style hundreds of years before he was born. Cervantes made the world laugh at the exaggerated stories it had been devouring. (Printing of Cervantes' "Don Quixote" licensed, Sept. 26, 1604.) III. Wherein Is Recounted the Pleasant Manner Observed in the Knighting of Don Quixote A ND  being thus tossed in mind, he made a short, beggarly supper; which being finished, he called for his host, and, shutting the stable door very fast, he laid himself down upon his knees in it before him, saying, ‘I will never rise from the place where I am, valorous knight, until your courtesy shall grant unto me a boon that I mean to demand of you, the which will redound unto your renown, and also to the profit of all human kind.’ The innkeeper seeing his g

A Courtship of Twenty Years

John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (1806–73). Autobiography . Vol. 25, pp. 116-120, 149 of The Harvard Classics John Stuart Mill in his autobiography boldly tells of his love for his friend's wife. After twenty years, she was freed from her first husband and was happily married to John Stuart Mill. Read the account of Mill's courtship. Chapter VI Commencement of the Most Valuable Friendship of My Life. My Father’s Death. Writings and Other Proceedings up to 1840 I T  was the period of my mental progress which I have now reached that I formed the friendship which has been the honour and chief blessing of my existence, as well as the source of a great part of all that I have attempted to do, or hope to effect hereafter, for human improvement. My first introduction to the lady who, after a friendship of twenty years, consented to become my wife, was in 1830, when I was in my twenty-fifth and she in her twenty-third year. With her husband’s family i

Citizens Lured from Their Homes

Plutarch (A.D. 46?–c.A.D. 120). Plutarch’s Lives . Vol. 12, pp. 13-23 of The Harvard Classics When the serpent of Minerva disappeared from her temple, the priests said that the goddess had left Athens for the sea. More­over, the oracles urged the Athenians to seek safety in their ships. Themistocles prompted these deceits. Why? Themistocles […]   Now, though Xerxes had already passed through Doris and invaded the country of Phocis, and was burning and destroying the cities of the Phocians, yet the Greeks sent them no relief; and, though the Athenians earnestly desired them to meet the Persians in Bœotia, before they could come into Attica, as they themselves had some forward by sea at Artemisium, they gave no ear to their request, being wholly intent upon Peloponnesus, and resolved to gather all their forces together within the Isthmus, and to build a wall from sea to sea in that narrow neck of land; so that the Athenians were enraged to see themselves

Dying Concerns Every Man

Michel de Montaigne Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592), That to Philosophise Is to Learne How to Die . Vol. 32, pp. 9-22 of The Harvard Classics The Romans made an art of dying. The Egyptians looked on death with complacency. Moderns fear it. Montaigne argues that the purpose of philosophy is to teach men how to die. C ICERO  saith, that to Philosophise is no other thing than for a man to prepare himselfe to death: which is the reason that studie and contemplation doth in some sort withdraw our soule from us, and severally employ it from the body, which is a kind of apprentisage and resemblance of death; or else it is, that all the wisdome and discourse of the world, doth in the end resolve upon this point, to teach us not to feare to die. Truly either reason mockes us, or it only aimeth at our contentment, and in fine, bends all her travell to make us live well, and as the holy Scripture saith, “at our ease.” All the opinions of the world conclude, that plea

A King for a Souvenir

Jean Froissart (c.1337–1410?). The Chronicles of Froissart. Vol. 35 pp. 42-53 of The Harvard Classics In the days when kings rode to battle leading their troops it was possible to make good the boast of the doughboy: "I'll bring you a king for a souvenir." (Froissart dates Battle of Poitiers, Sept. 22, 1356.) The Battle of Poitiers Of the Battle of Poitiers between the Prince of Wales and the French King W HEN  the prince saw that he should have battle and that the cardinal was gone without any peace or truce making, and saw that the French king did set but little store by him, he said then to his men: ‘Now, sirs, though we be but a small company as in regard to the puissance of our enemies, let us not be abashed therefor; for the victory lieth not in the multitude of people, but whereas God will send it;. If it fortune that the journey be ours, we shall be the most honoured people of all the world; and if we die in our right quarrel, I have

Æneas and the Old Witch

Virgil reading the Aenid to Augustus and Octavia Vergil (70 B.C.–19 B.C.). Æneid . Vol. 13, pp. 207-218 of The Harvard Classics The Sybil, an old witch, personally conducts Æneas through the gate and into the jaws of hell, where terrors abound on every hand and frightful mysterious forms rule. There he is told of the greatness and glory that was to come. (Virgil died Sept. 21, 19 B. C.) The Sixth Book of the Æneis THE ARGUMENT.—The Sibyl foretells Æneas the adventures he should meet with in Italy. She attends him to hell; describing to him the various scenes of that place, and conducting him to his father Anchises, who instructs him in those sublime mysteries of the soul of the world, and the transmigration; and shews him that glorious race of heroes which was to descend from him, and his posterity. H E  said, and wept; then spread his sails before The winds, and reach’d at length the Cumæan shore: Their anchors dropp’d, his crew the vessels mo

Women's Rights in the Harem

Chapters from the Koran . Vol. 45, pp. 967-974 of The Harvard Classics The Koran defines the powers of a husband over his wives. Thus a woman unfaithful to her lord may be walled up alive. (Mohammed arrives at Kuba after "The Flight," Sept. 20, 622.) Medina Suras The Chapter of Women   I N  the name of the merciful and compassionate God.   O ye folk! fear your Lord, who created you from one soul, and created therefrom its mate, and diffused from them twain many men and women. And fear God, in whose name ye beg of one another, and the wombs; verily, God over you doth watch.  1   And give unto the orphans their property, and give them not the vile in exchange for the good, and devour not their property to your own property; verily, that were a great sin. But if ye fear that ye cannot do justice between orphans, then marry what seems good to you of women, by twos, or threes, or fours; and if ye fear that ye cannot be equitable, then only

Humor That Survived Slavery

Miguel de Cervantes Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). Don Quixote, Part 1 . Vol. 14, pp. 48-54 of The Harvard Classics Held as a Moorish slave for five years, Cervantes was submitted to almost daily tortures. But even the horrors of slavery could not dull his sense of humor, as evinced by his most witty and amusing novel. (Cervantes ransomed from slavery, Sept. 19, 1580.) The First Part VI. Of the Pleasant and Curious Search Made by the Curate and the Barber of Don Quixote’s Library W HO  slept yet soundly. The curate sought for the keys of the library, the only authors of his harm, which the gentleman’s niece gave unto him very willingly. All of them entered into it, and among the rest of the old woman; wherein they found more than a hundred great volumes, and those very well bound, besides the small ones. And as soon as the old woman had seen them, she departed very hastily out of the chamber, and eftsoons returned with as great speed, with

Home After Storms and Adventures

Richard Henry Dana, Jr. Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1815–1882). Two Years before the Mast . Vol. 23, pp. 348-356 of The Harvard Classics Every sight was full of beauty. We were coming back to our homes, and the signs of civilization from which we had been so long banished - " wrote Dana, as his ship entered Boston Harbor. (Dana returns from two-year voyage, Sept. 18, 1836.) Chapter XXXVI Soundings—Sights from Home—Boston Harbor—Leaving the Ship F RIDAY,  S EPT.  16 TH.  Lat. 38š N., long. 69š 00' W. A fine south-west wind; every hour carrying us nearer in toward land. All hands on deck at the dog watch, and nothing talked about, but our getting in; where we should make the land; whether we should arrive before Sunday; going to church; how Boston would look; friends; wages paid;—and the like. Every one was in the best of spirits; and, the voyage being nearly at an end, the strictness of discipline was relaxed; for it was not necessary to orde

Romance on a New England Farm

John Greenleaf Whittier John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892), Selected Poems. Vol. 42, pp. 1351-1364 of The Harvard Classics For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been.'" On this theme Whittier based the story of a fair farmer girl and a rich judge. (Whittier died Sept. 17, 1892.) Maud Muller M AUD  M ULLER  on a summer’s day Raked the meadow sweet with hay. Beneath her torn hat glowed the wealth Of simple beauty and rustic health. Singing, she wrought, and her merry glee The mock-bird echoed from his tree. But when she glanced to the far-off town, White from its hill-slope looking down, The sweet song died, and a vague unrest And a nameless longing filled her breast,— A wish that she hardly dared to own, For something better than she had known.

Penalty for Silence

A Description of Elizabethan England. Vol. 35, pp. 363-370 of The Harvard Classics "Such felons as stand mute [do not confess] are pressed to death by huge weights laid upon a board that lieth over their breast and a sharp stone under their backs." Old English punishments, recorded by Holinshed, make startling reading. Chapter XVII Of Sundry Kinds of Punishment Appointed for Offenders [1577, Book III., Chapter 6; 1587, Book II., Chapter 2.] I N  cases of felony, manslaughter, robbery, murder, rape, piracy, and such capital crimes as are not reputed for treason or hurt of the estate, our sentence pronounced upon the offender is, to hang till he be dead. For of other punishments used in other countries we have no knowledge or use; and yet so few grievous crimes committed with us as elsewhere in the world. To use torment also or question by pain and torture in these common cases with us is greatly abhorred, since we are found always to be such as

Refused to Serve Three Terms

George Washington Washington’s Farewell Address (1796) Vol. 43, pp. 233-249 of The Harvard Classics George Washington retired to private life in 1796, entrusting "the preservation of the Union" to the "love of liberty." His last appeal is a vital message to American citizens, as pertinent today as when he penned it. (George Washington published "Farewell Address," Sept. 15, 1796.) [Washington refused to be a candidate for a third term of the Presidency; and in May, 1796, he sent to Hamilton a rough draft of his farewell address, asking for his criticism. After much revision by both the document was published on Sept. 19, and was read to the House of Representatives. The advice contained in it has ever since exercised a profound influence on the policy of the nation.] Friends and Fellow-Citizens: T HE PERIOD  for a new election of a Citizen, to administer the Executive Government of the United States, being not far distant, an

Dante and St. Peter

Dante Alighieri Dante Alighieri (1265–1321). The Divine Comedy . Vol. 20, pp. 387-395 of The Harvard Classics Dante, having journeyed through Hell and Purgatory, comes at last to St. Peter on his throne. St. Peter calls for the aid of St. James and St. John before passing final judgment on Dante's righteousness. (Dante died Sept. 14, 1321.) Inferno [Hell] Canto XXIV ARGUMENT.—Under the escort of his faithful master, Dante not without difficulty makes his way out of the sixth gulf; and in the seventh, sees the robbers tormented by venomous and pestilent serpents. The soul of Vanni Fucci, who had pillaged the sacristy of St. James in Pistoia, predicts some calamities that impended over that city, and over the Florentines. I N  the year’s early nonage,  1  when the sun Tempers his tresses in Aquarius’ urn, And now toward equal day the nights recede; Whenas the rime upon the earth puts on Her dazzling sister’s image, but not long Her

Good That Came from a Game Pit

John Bunyan John Bunyan (1628–1688). The Pilgrim’s Progress. Vol. 15, pp. 13-23 of The Harvard Classics From cockfighting, bear baiting, and like sports, the wife of John Bunyan converted him to a life of humility and reverence. While imprisoned for preaching, he used his idle time in writing a fantastic story of a soul's salvation - probably the most famous allegory ever written. (John Bunyan liberated and pardoned, Sept. 13, 1672.) The Pilgrim’s Progress, in the Similitude of a Dream; The First Part A S  I walk’d through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a Den, and I laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a Dream. I dreamed, and behold I saw a Man cloathed with Rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a Book in his hand, and a great Burden upon his back. I looked, and saw him open the Book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able long

Love Letters of Elizabeth Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861), Sonnets from the Portuguese. Vol. 41, pp. 923-932 of The Harvard Classics In all literary history there is no happier love story than that of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. During their secret courtship Miss Barrett sent Browning many beautiful love letters written in verse. (Browning married Elizabeth Barrett, Sept. 12, 1846.) I I  THOUGHT  once how Theocritus had sung Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years, Who each one in a gracious hand appears To bear a gift for mortals, old or young: And, as I mused it in its antique tongue, I saw, in gradual vision through my tears, The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years, Those of my own life, who by turns had flung A shadow across me. Straightway I was ’ware, So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair; And a voice said in mastery, while I strove,— “Guess now who h

Wages - Why and How Much?

Adam Smith Adam Smith. (1723–1790). Wealth of Nations . Vol. 10, pp. 66-74 of The Harvard Classics What regulates wages, on what do they depend? Adam Smith, world's authority on economic problems, advances his theories on these matters. Book I VIII. Of the Wages of Labour T HE PRODUCE  of labour constitutes the natural recompence or wages of labour.   In that original state of things, which precedes both the appropriation of land and the accumulation of stock, the whole produce of labour belongs to the labourer. He has neither landlord nor master to share with him.

Famous Poet-Physician

Oliver Wendell Holmes Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894), Selected Poems. Vol. 42, pp. 1365-1370 of The Harvard Classics One of America's famous New Englanders, Oliver Wendell Holmes, devoted his life principally to medicine. His name, however, was made famous through his poem, "Old Ironsides," by which he saved America's most famous battleship from de­struction when her fighting days were ended. The Chambered Nautilus T HIS  is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,         Sails the unshadowed main,—         The venturous bark that flings     On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings     In gulfs enchanted, where the siren sings,         And coral reefs lie bare, Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

When Nature Beckons

Ralph Waldo Emerson Ralph Waldo Emerson. (1803–1882), Nature . Vol. 5, pp. 223-230 of The Harvard Classics "There are days during the year," says Emerson, "when the world of nature reaches perfection." Can anyone escape this call, especially in the glorious Indian Summer? (Emerson retires from the ministry, Sept. 9, 1832.) The rounded world is fair to see, Nine time folded in mystery: Though baffled seers cannot impart The secret of its laboring heart, Throb thine with Nature’s throbbing breast, And all is clear from east to west, Spirit that lurks each form within Beckons to spirit of its kin; Self-kindled every atom glows, And hints the future which it owes. T HERE  are days which occur in this climate, at almost any season of the year, wherein the world reaches its perfection, when the air, the heavenly bodies, and the earth, make a harmony, as if nature would indulge her offspring; when, in these bleak upper sides o

When Europe Lay Under Ice

Hermann von Helmholtz Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894), Ice and Glaciers. Vol. 30, pp. 211-223 of The Harvard Classics There was a time when the snow fell and did not melt in sum­mer. Then from the frozen north there descended huge masses of ice that covered northern Europe and most of North America. Glaciers reveal a new world to us. (Helmholtz died Sept. 8, 1894.) A Lecture Delivered at Frankfort-on-the-Main, and at Heidelberg, in February, 1865 (Translated by Edmund Atkinson) T HE WORLD  of ice and of eternal snow, as unfolded to us on the summits of the neighbouring Alpine chain, so stern, so solitary, so dangerous, it may be, has yet its own peculiar charm. Not only does it enchain the attention of the natural philosopher, who finds in it the most wonderful disclosures as to the present and past history of the globe, but every summer it entices thousands of travellers of all conditions, who find there mental and bodily recreation. While some con