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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.]
Fellow-Citizens:
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…

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.

I
[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 …

"If You Have Poison for Me, I Will Drink It"

William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Tragedy of King Lear. Vol. 46, pp. 293-303 of The Harvard Classics
Shaken and disillusioned by the treachery of his elder daughter, King Lear suspected even the faithful Cordelia of evil designs. Her most tender efforts to comfort him failed to drive away the insistent specter of his madness. (Shakespeare died April 23, 1616.)

Act IV Scene VI
[...]
Edg.  From the dread summit of this chalky bourn. 1 Look up a-height; 2 the shrill-gorg’d 3 lark so far Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up. Glou.  Alack, I have no eyes. Is wretchedness depriv’d that benefit, To end itself by death? ’Twas yet some comfort, When misery could beguile the tyrant’s rage, And frustrate his proud will. Edg.        Give me your arm. Up: so. How is ’t? Feel you your legs? You stand. Glou.  Too well, too well. Edg.        This is above all strangeness. Upon the crown o’ the cliff, what thing was that Which parted from you? Glou.        A poor unfortunate beggar. Edg.  As I stood here b…

Happiness as a Duty

Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals. Vol. 32, pp. 310-317 of The Harvard Classics
Immanuel Kant, the most influential of German philosophers, taught that it was man's duty to be happy, for an unhappy man is tempted to sin. Seekers after happiness find aid and inspiration in Kant's writings. (Immanuel Kant born April 22, 1724.)

First Section: Transition from the Common Rational Knowledge of Morality to the Philosophical
[…]
  To be beneficent when we can is a duty; and besides this, there are many minds so sympathetically constituted that, without any other motive of vanity or self-interest, they find a pleasure in spreading joy around them and can take delight in the satisfaction of others so far as it is their own work. But I maintain that in such a case an action of this kind, however proper, however amiable it may be, has nevertheless no true moral worth, but is on a level with other inclinations, e.g. the inclination to honour, which, if it is ha…

Books as Windows to the Past

Hippolyte Adolphe Taine (1863) Vol. 39, pp. 410-418 of The Harvard Classics
Through the pages of a book the reader sees the life of past days. Carnivals, processions, battles, coronations, voyages - the whole history of the world and its people is revealed in a stupendous pageant. Taine was a Frenchman who wrote an unsurpassed history of English literature; its introduction reveals the unusual combination of an imaginative and an analytical style. (H. A. Taine born April 21, 1828.)

Introduction to the History of English Literature
1 HISTORY, within a hundred years in Germany, and within sixty years in France, has undergone a transformation owing to a study of literatures.
  The discovery has been made that a literary work is not a mere play of the imagination, the isolated caprice of an excited brain, but a transcript of contemporary manners and customs and the sign of a particular state of intellect. The conclusion derived from this is that, through literary monuments, we can retrace the…

Byron Gave His Life for Freedom

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788–1824) Vol. 41, pp. 801-815 of The Harvard Classic
England's romantic poet died while fighting against the Turks on the side of the Greeks. His poems, "The Isles of Greece" and "The Prisoner of Chillon," proclaim freedom. (At Missolonghi, Greece, 37 guns honor Byron, April 20, 1824.)

The Prisoner of Chillon
MY hair is gray, but not with years,   Nor grew it white   In a single night, As men’s have grown from sudden fears; My limbs are bow’d, though not with toil, But rusted with a vile repose, For they have been a dungeon’s spoil, And mine has been the fate of those To whom the goodly earth and air Are bann’d, and barr’d—forbidden fare; But this was for my father’s faith I suffer’d chains and courted death; That father perish’d at the stake For tenets he would not forsake; And for the same his lineal race In darkness found a dwelling-place. We were seven—who now are one,   Six in youth, and one in age, Finish’d as they had begun,   P…

Battle of Concord

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) Vol. 42, pp. 1245-1246 of The Harvard Classics
Dr. Eliot says of the opening stanza of the "Concord Hymn": "In twenty-eight words here are the whole scene and all the essential circumstances . . . what an accurate, moving, immortal description is this!" (The Battle of Concord was fought on April 19, 1775.)

Concord Hymn Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, July 4, 1837
BY the rude bridge that arched the flood,   Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood   And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;   Alike the conqueror silent sleeps; And Time the ruined bridge has swept   Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,   We set to-day a votive stone; That memory may their deed redeem,   When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare   To die, and leave their children free, Bid Time and Nature …

Ready for Adventures and Conquests

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). Don Quixote, Part 1. Vol. 14, pp. 17-28 of The Harvard Classics
Reading too many romances of knights and valorous deeds caused a poor Spanish gentleman to polish up his great-grandfather's armor, rechristen his old nag, and sally forth. "Don Quixote," besides holding a secure niche in literature as the work that quashed the romantic school of knight-errantry, is at the same time one of the most widely-read stories in the world. (Cervantes receives the last sacraments April 18, 1616.)

The First Part I. Wherein Is Rehearsed the Calling and Exercise of the Renowned Gentleman, Don Quixote of the Mancha
THERE lived not long since, in a certain village of the Mancha, the name whereof I purposely omit, a gentleman of their calling that use to pile up in their halls old lances, halberds, morions, and such other armours and weapons. He was, besides, master of an ancient target, a lean stallion, and a swift greyhound. His pot consisted daily …

Benjamin Franklin - Book Salesman

Benjamin Franklin. (1706–1790). His Autobiography. Vol. 1, pp. 66-77 of The Harvard Classics
In 1731 there were not many books in America. Franklin saw the need for more books and by house-to-house canvassing persuaded Philadelphians to aid him in founding a public library which to-day stands as a lasting memorial to Franklin. (Benjamin Franklin died April 17, 1790.)

  But this affair having turned my thoughts to marriage, I look’d round me and made overtures of acquaintance in other places; but soon found that, the business of a printer being generally thought a poor one, I was not to expect money with a wife, unless with such a one as I should not otherwise think agreeable. In the mean time, that hard-to-be-governed passion of youth hurried me frequently into intrigues with low women that fell in my way, which were attended with some expense and great inconvenience, besides a continual risque to my health by a distemper which of all things I dreaded, though by great good luck I escap…

Inside the Gates of Hell

Dante Alighieri (1265–1321). The Divine Comedy. Vol. 20, pp. 32-39 of The Harvard Classics
The city of Dis, within the gates of Hell, was guarded by monsters and surrounded by a moat filled with the tormented. Dante, protected by Virgil, entered the forbidden city, and viewed sights never before seen by living man. (Dante urges attack on the city of Florence, April 16, 1311.)

Inferno [Hell] Canto VIII
ARGUMENT.—A signal having been made from the tower, Phlegyas, the ferryman of the lake, speedily crosses it, and conveys Virgil and Dante to the other side. On their passage, they meet with Filippo Argenti, whose fury and torment are described. They then arrive at the city of Dis, the entrance whereto is denied, and the portals closed against them by many Demons.

O Captain! My Captain!

Walt Whitman (1819–1892) Vol. 42, pp. 1412-1420 of The Harvard Classics
(Lincoln died April 15, 1865.) The rugged, genuine Lincoln was idealized by Walt Whitman - the founder of the new school of American poetry. Two of Whitman's finest poems were inspired by Lincoln.

O Captain! My Captain!
O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;       But O heart! heart! heart!         O the bleeding drops of red,           Where on the deck my Captain lies,             Fallen cold and dead.

A Raid on Spanish Treasure in America

Captain Walter Bigges, Drake's Great Armada Vol. 33, pp. 229-242 of The Harvard Classics
Spanish towns in the New World were rich in treasure and tempting booty for English soldiers of fortune, who were venturesome and merciless. "Ho! for the Spanish Main!" was the rallying cry for all freebooters and buccaneers.

[NARRATIVE MAINLY BY CAPTAIN WALTER BIGGES]

A Summary and True Discourse of SIR FRANCIS DRAKE’S West Indian Voyage, begun in the year 1585. Wherein were taken the cities of SANTIAGO, SANTO DOMINGO,CARTHAGENA,and the town of ST. AUGUSTINE,in FLORIDA.Published by MASTERTHOMAS CATES.

  THIS worthy knight, for the service of his prince and country, having prepared his whole fleet, and gotten them down to Plymouth, in Devonshire, to the number of five and twenty sail of ships and pinnaces, and having assembled of soldiers and mariners to the number of 2,300 in the whole, embarked them and himself at Plymouth aforesaid, the 12. day of September, 1585, being accompanied …

Michelangelo His Boon Companion

Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571).  Autobiography. Vol. 31, pp. 23-35 of The Harvard Classics
Kings, emperors, the greatest artists and sculptors of the Renaissance at its most magnificent period, walk through the pages of his autobiography - not as cold, austere, historical characters but as the intimate friends of Cellini.

XIII
NOW let us return to Piero Torrigiani, who, with my drawing in his hand, spoke as follows: “This Buonarroti and I used, when we were boys, to go into the Church of the Carmine, to learn drawing from the chapel of Masaccio. 1 It was Buonarroti’s habit to banter all who were drawing there; and one day, among others, when he was annoying me, I got more angry than usual, and clenching my fist, gave him such a blow on the nose, that I felt bone and cartilage go down like biscuit beneath my knuckles; and this mark of mine he will carry with him to the grave.” 2 These words begat in me such hatred of the man, since I was always gazing at the masterpieces of the divine Mich…

The Perfect Argument

George Berkeley (1685–1753). Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous in Opposition to Sceptics and Atheists. Vol. 37, pp. 230-240 of The Harvard Classics
You would doubtless like to know how to hold your own in any argument. Read what Leslie Stephen declares the finest specimen in our language of the conduct of argument.

The Second Dialogue
Phil. Besides spirits, all that we know or conceive are our own ideas. When, therefore, you say all ideas are occasioned by impressions in the brain, do you conceive this brain or no? If you do, then you talk of ideas imprinted in an idea causing that same idea, which is absurd. If you do not conceive it, you talk unintelligibly, instead of forming a reasonable hypothesis.
Hyl. I now clearly see it was a mere dream. There is nothing in it.
Phil. You need not be much concerned at it; for after all, this way of explaining things, as you called it, could never have satisfied any reasonable man. What connexion is there between a motion in the nerves, a…

Danger in Being Young and Fair

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832). Faust. Part I. Vol. 19, pp. 115-131 of The Harvard Classics
The virgin beauty of Margaret enchanted Faust, who dazzled her with the brilliance of many gems. Margaret innocently took his gifts, believing that beauty should not "blush unseen" - but unmindful of consequences to follow.

MEPHISTOPHELES
That I my anxious zeal may prove, Your pangs to sooth and aid your love, A single moment will we not delay, Will lead you to her room this very day.
FAUST
And shall I see her?—Have her?
MEPHISTOPHELES
                No! She to a neighbour’s house will go; But in her atmosphere alone, The tedious hours meanwhile you may employ, In blissful dreams of future joy.

Americans - by Will of the King

First Charter of Virginia (1606) Vol. 43, pp. 49-58 of The Harvard Classics
Before English adventurers could attempt settlement in America it was necessary first to get permission from the King. The charter of King James to the oldest American colony is an extremely important historical document. (King James grants charter to Virginia, April 10, 1606.)

First Charter of Virginia (1606)
[This charter, granted by King James I. on April 10, 1606, to the oldest of the English colonies in America, is a typical example of the documents issued by the British government, authorizing “Adventurers” to establish plantations in the New World. The name “Virginia” was at that time applied to all that part of North America claimed by Great Britain.]

I JAMES, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. WHEREAS our loving and well-disposed Subjects, Sir Thomas Gates, and Sir George Somers, Knights, Richard Hackluit, Prebendary of Westminster, and Edward…

A Perfect Land in a Wilderness of Waters

Francis Bacon. (1561–1626). The New Atlantis. Vol. 3, pp. 145-155 of The Harvard Classic
West of Peru there was reported to be a land where Truth and Science were used to promote the happiness and freedom of man. Here is Bacon's description of this ideal commonwealth. (Francis Bacon died April 9, 1629.)

WE SAILED from Peru, (where we had continued by the space of one whole year,) for China and Japan, by the South Sea; taking with us victuals for twelve months; and had good winds from the east, though soft and weak, for five months space, and more. But then the wind came about, and settled in the west for many days, so as we could make little or no way, and were sometimes in purpose to turn back. But then again there arose strong and great winds from the south, with a point east, which carried us up (for all that we could do), towards the north; by which time our victuals failed us, though we had made good spare of them. So that finding ourselves, in the midst of the greatest wilder…

Beware the Vengeful Hounds!

Aeschylus (525–456 B.C.). The Libation-Bearers. Vol. 8, pp. 111-121 of The Harvard Classics
Orestes, holding an avenging sword over his mother, is told: "Beware thy mother's vengeful hounds." How he pays for disregarding his mother's warning is told in this drama where a mother is slain to avenge a father's ghost.

Hither and not unsummoned have I come; For a new rumour, borne by stranger men Arriving hither, hath attained mine ears. Of hap unwished-for, even Orestes’ death. This were new sorrow, a blood-bolter’s load Laid on the house that doth already bow Beneath a former wound that festers deep. Dare I opine these words have truth and life? Or are they tales, of woman’s terror born, That fly in the void air, and die disproved? Canst thou tell aught, and prove it to my soul?

Nature Guided His Pen

William Wordsworth (1770–1850) Vol. 41, pp. 639-651 of The Harvard Classics
Wordsworth was so closely in touch with Nature that the simple beauty of flowers, woods, and fields is reflected in his poems as if Nature herself took up the pen and wrote. (Wordsworth born April 7, 1770.)

The Daffodils
I WANDER’D lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils, Beside the lake, beneath the trees Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Who Is Bad?

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. (121–180). The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Vol. 2, pp. 243-253 of The Harvard Classics
Badness has many interpretations, a different definition has been the dictate of each new generation. The solution of the eternal riddle was earnestly sought by Marcus Aurelius. (Marcus Aurelius born April 6, 121 A. D.)

VII
1. WHAT is badness? It is that which thou hast often seen. And on the occasion of everything which happens keep this in mind, that it is that which thou hast often seen. Everywhere up and down thou wilt find the same things, with which the old histories are filled, those of the middle ages and those of our own day; with which cities and houses are filled now. There is nothing new; all things are both familiar and short-lived.
  2. How can our principles become dead, unless the impressions [thoughts] which correspond to them are extinguished? But it is in thy power continuously to fan these thoughts into a flame. I can have that opinion about anything,…

You and Your Dreams

Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679). Of Man, Being the First Part of Leviathan. Vol. 34, pp. 313-322 of The Harvard Classics
Dreams and their causes interested Hobbes. Without superstition, the philosopher weighed the evidence of ghosts, goblins, and witches. (Hobbes born April 5, 1588.)

Chapter II Of Imagination
THAT when a thing lies still, unless somewhat else stir it, it will lie still for ever, is a truth that no man doubts of. But that when a thing is in motion, it will eternally be in motion, unless somewhat else stay it, though the reason be the same, namely that nothing can change itself, is not so easily assented to. For men measure not only other men but all other things, by themselves; and, because they find themselves subject after motion to pain and lassitude, think everything else grows weary of motion, and seeks repose of its own accord; little considering whether it be not some other motion wherein that desire of rest they find in themselves consisteth. From hence it is that the s…

The Mistakes of a Night

Oliver Goldsmith (1730?–1774). She Stoops to Conquer. Vol. 18, pp. 205-215 of The Harvard Classics
Genial and rollicking fun are provided in this highly entertaining story of a man who mistakes a private house for an inn, and who treats his host's daughter like a serving maid. (Oliver Goldsmith born April 4, 1774.)

Act the First
SCENE—A Chamber in an old-fashioned House
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLEand MR. HARDCASTLE Mrs. Hardcastle
I VOW, Mr. Hardcastle, you’re very particular. Is there a creature in the whole country but ourselves, that does not take a trip to town now and then, to rub off the rust a little? There’s the two Miss Hoggs, and our neighbour Mrs. Grigsby, go to take a month’s polishing every winter. Hard.  Ay, and bring back vanity and affection to last them the whole year. I wonder why London cannot keep its own fools at home! In my time, the follies of the town crept slowly among us, but now they travel faster than a stage-coach. Its fopperies come down not only as inside passe…

Romance with a Happy Ending

Izaak Walton (1593–1683). The Lives of John Donne and George Herbert. Vol. 15, pp. 392-404 of The Harvard Classics
"As a conqueror enters a surprised city; love made such resolutions as neither party was able to resist. She changed her name into Herbert the third day after this first interview." (George Herbert born April 3, 1593.)

The Life of Mr. George Herbert
  I shall now proceed to his marriage; in order to which, it will be convenient that I first give the reader a short view of his person, and then an account of his wife, and of some circumstances concerning both. He was for his person of a stature inclining towards tallness; his body was very straight, and so far from being cumbered with too much flesh, that he was lean to an extremity. His aspect was cheerful, and his speech and motion did both declare him a gentleman; for they were all so meek and obliging, that they purchased love and respect from all that knew him.

A Spoon Dances in the Moonlight

Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882). The Voyage of the Beagle. Vol. 29, pp. 462-471 of The Harvard Classics
A huge spoon dressed in human finery, placed on a grave, appears to become convulsed when the moon's rays fall on it and dances to the tune of chanting natives. Weird sights, according to Darwin, abound in the South Seas.

Chapter XX
[…]
  After dinner we stayed to see a curious half superstitious scene acted by the Malay women. A large wooden spoon dressed in garments, and which had been carried to the grave of a dead man, they pretend becomes inspired at the full of the moon, and will dance and jump about. After the proper preparations, the spoon, held by two women, became convulsed, and danced in good time to the song of the surrounding children and women. It was a most foolish spectacle; but Mr. Liesk maintained that many of the Malays believed in its spiritual movements. The dance did not commence till the moon had risen, and it was well worth remaining to behold her bright…

Free April Sampler eBook!

For anyone seeking escape and mental stimulation during these trying times, I've made a whole month's worth of the Harvard Classics 365 project available for free download. 
This April sampler provides enough reading material for a whole month, including extracts from:
Darwin's Voyage of the BeagleThe Lives of John Donne and George HerbertThe Meditations of Marcus AureliusThe Autobiography of Benvenuto CelliniPoetry by Browning, Wordsworth
And much more!
The April Sampler is available in PDF, ePub and Mobi formats, to enable you to read on your e-reader device. Feel free to download and share to your heart's content, I only ask that you attribute the sampler to the Harvard Classics 365 Project.
Download your preferred format:
PDF ePub Mobi
If you enjoy this free sampler, please consider purchasing the complete eBook, Harvard Classics 365: A Liberal Education in a Year from the Kindle store. It's currently priced at only $2.99 USD, that's less than a cup of coffee …

"Oh! to Be in England Now That April's There"

Robert Browning (1812–1889) Vol. 42, pp. 1068-1074 of The Harvard Classics
Everyone knows the pangs of homesickness in the spring. Even bright, sparkling Italy could not wean Browning's affection from the green hedgerows of misty England.

Home-thoughts, from Abroad
O, TO be in England Now that April’s there, And whoever wakes in England Sees, some morning, unaware, That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf, While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough In England—now!

The Ghastly Whim of John Donne

Izaak Walton (1593–1683). The Lives of John Donne and George Herbert. Vol. 15, pp. 364-369 of The Harvard Classics
Monuments are usually made from death masks, but John Donne took pleasure in posing for his, wrapped from head to foot in a shroud. Isaak Walton tells of this in his fascinating biography of the eccentric poet. (John Donne died March 31, 1631.)

The Life of Dr. Donne
  I must here look so far back, as to tell the reader that at his first return out of Essex, to preach his last sermon, his old friend and physician, Dr. Fox—a man of great worth—came to him to consult his health; and that after a sight of him, and some queries concerning his distempers, he told him, “That by cordials, and drinking milk twenty days together, there was a probability of his restoration to health;” but he passionately denied to drink it. Nevertheless, Dr. Fox, who loved him most entirely, wearied him with solicitations, till he yielded to take it for ten days; at the end of which time he told Dr. F…

The Plague of Milan

Alessandro Manzoni (1785–1873). I Promessi Sposi. Vol. 21, pp. 500-512 of The Harvard Classics
"I Promessi Sposi," a seventeenth century novel, vividly describes the devastating plague of Milan. Then whole families sickened in a few hours and died in less than a day's time of strange and violent complaints whose symptoms were unknown to physicians. (Capuchin monks given charge of the plague hospital in Milan, March 30, 1630.)

Chapter XXXI
THE PLAGUE, which the Board of Health had feared might enter with the German troops into the Milanese, had entered it indeed, as is well known; and it is likewise well known, that it paused not here, but invaded and ravaged a great part of Italy. Following the thread of our story, we now come to relate the principal incidents of this calamity in the Milanese, or rather in Milan almost exclusively: for almost exclusively of the city do the records of the times treat, nearly as it always and everywhere happens, for good reasons or bad. And,…