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THE HARVARD CLASSICS

The Five-Foot Shelf of Books

THE HARVARD CLASSICS
EDITED BY CHARLES W. ELIOT , L.L.D.

Fifteen Minutes a Day

The Reading Guide


[Introduction] [January] [February] [March] [April] [May] [June] [July] [August] [September] [October] [November] [December]

Also check out:
An older perspective on words in books.
An MIT Museum article on Charles Eliot.


60 FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY

JULY

Rosy summer next advancing, . . .
On Calpe's olive-shaded steep
Or India's citron-cover'd isles. . . .
CAMPBELL (Vol. 41, p. 772)

1 Darwin Not First Evolutionist
While Darwin was working on his theory of evolution, another scientist independently arrived at the same conclusions. Darwin, then, was not the first to study evolution.
(Darwin publishes outline of "Origin of Species" July 1, 1858.)
Read from Darwin's ORIGIN OF SPECIES Vol. 11, pp. 5-17

2 "Julius" Becomes "July"
So that the date for certain festivals would not fall one year in midwinter and in the heat of summer another year, Cæsar reformed the calendar. July was named for him.
Read from Plutarch's CÆSAR Vol. 12, pp. 310-315

3 Gettysburg by an Eyewitness
An officer in that momentous battle narrates every major action of both armies. Thus we see the swarming lines of Confederates advance - the hand-to-hand struggle.
(Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3. 1863.)
Read from Haskell's BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG Vol. 43, pp. 326-335 (end)

4 Some Chose to Remain British Subjects
(Independence Day.)
Some Americans preferred to be loyal to England and did not want independent government. Their hesitation is better understood when the finality of the Declaration is realized.
Read: DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE Vol. 43, pp. 150-155

5 A Tailor Entertains a King
Here is another of those fanciful Oriental stories that proclaims the democracy of Eastern despotism. A tailor might talk with a king and receive either a death sentence or the office of Grand Vizier as a reward.
Read from THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS Vol. 16, pp. 149-162

FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY 61

JULY Reading Guide

6 The Origin of "Utopia"
When Europe was suffering from evil rulers, heavy taxes, and despair, Sir Thomas More dreamed of a happy land where an intelligently managed state perfected happiness.
(Sir Thomas More executed, July 6, 1535.)
Read from More's UTOPIA Vol. 36, pp. 135-142

7 Scandal That Lurked Behind Lace and Powder
The painted lips of the eighteenth century ladies and gallants vied with one another in whispering scathing gossip, in gleefully furthering the destruction of a good name. Sheridan depicts this gay world with a brilliant spicy pen.
(Sheridan buried in Westminster Abbey, July 7, 1816.)
Read from Sheridan's SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL Vol. 18, pp. 115-128

8 Italy's Fair Assassin
When the monstrous Cenci forced his daughter Beatrice into a horrible situation, she revolted and boldly struck for freedom. Shelley tells her pitiful story in one of his best works.
(Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned, July 8, 1822.)
Read from Shelley's CENCI Vol. 18, pp. 288-300

9 A Little Lying Now and Then
"What is Truth?" asked Pilate. For an answer Bacon discourses not on human nature as it should be, but as it is. These shrewd observations on making a life and a living admit occasional departures from truth.
(Bacon becomes Privy Councilor, July 9, 1616.)
Read from BACON'S ESSAYS Vol. 3, pp. 7-19

10 America's First Immigrants
The shadow of a phantom cast upon the cradle of Snorri, the first white child born in America, was a warning of an Indian attack on the settlement of courageous Norsemen who had risked the terrors of unknown seas to visit "Wineland."
Read from THE VOYAGES TO VINLAND Vol. 43, pp. 14-20

11 Star Gazing - A Cure for Tired Minds
The greatest spectacle offered man is a view of the magnificent vault of heaven. Under the stupendous arch of the Milky Way the cares of the world roll off.
(Newcomb died July 11, 1909.)
Read: Newcomb's (more) THE EXTENT OF THE UNIVERSE Vol. 30, pp. 311-321

62 FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY

JULY Reading Guide

12 But He Walked!
Thoreau's individuality was unique and original. He had no profession; he never married; he never went to church; he never voted or paid taxes; he never smoked; he never drank wine. His amusement was walking, to observe and meditate.
(Henry David Thoreau born July 12, 1817.)
Read from Thoreau's WALKING Vol. 28, pp. 395-405

13 Athenians Also Complained of Taxes
Pericles used public money to beautify Athens. The citizens protested against the expense, as citizens in all ages do. By a clever stroke Pericles won their support to his ambitious plans.
Read from Plutarch's PERICLES Vol. 12, pp. 47-57

14 The French People Triumph
(The Bastille surrendered, July 14, 1789.)
What the Fourth of July is to Americans, the Fourteenth of July is to Frenchmen. It commemorates an oppressive tyranny overthrown by a freedom-loving people.
Read from Burke's THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE vol. 24, pp. 268-273

15 When Elizabeth Dined
Meals in the houses of the gentry and noblemen in Elizabethan England were taken most seriously. No one spoke. Holinshed records the strange table etiquette of our ancestors.
(Queen Elizabeth entertained at Kenilworth, July 15, 1575.)
Read from HOLINSHED'S CHRONICLES Vol. 35, pp. 271-288

16 The Mohammedan Jesus
The sacred book of the Moslems, the Koran, gives an account of the birth of Christ. The Koran gives Jesus a high position among the prophets but holds the first place for Mohammed.
(Beginning of Moslem era of time, July 16, 622 A. D.)
Read from THE KORAN Vol. 45. pp. 908-913

17 A Throne for Son or Stepson?
Phædre first persecuted Hippolytus, her handsome stepson, then loved him. Suddenly he and her own son became rivals for the throne. Should she push her son's claims or let Hippolytus take the crown?
(Racine elected to French Academy, July 17, 1673.)
Read from Racine's (more) PHÆDRE Vol. 26, pp. 133-148

FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY 63

JULY Reading Guide

18 They Loved in Vain
"Browning's play has thrown me into a perfect passion of sorrow," wrote Charles Dickens of "The Blot in the 'Scutcheon." Like Shakespeare's Juliet, Browning's Mildred plays the role of a youthful lover in a tragic drama.
Read from Browning's BLOT IN THE 'SCUTCHEON Vol. 18, pp. 359-368

19 She Wanted Heroes All to Herself
The famous gallant who spread his gorgeous cloak so the dainty slipper of his queen would be unspotted, soon lost the high favor this action won for him. In spite of his glorious voyages, Raleigh condemned himself when he fell in love with another woman.
(Sir WaIter Raleigh imprisoned July 19, 1603.)
Read from Raleigh's (more) DISCOVERY OF GUIANA Vol. 33, pp. 311-320

20 A Cobbler in Jail
John Bunyan, imprisoned for preaching without a license, gave to the world "Pilgrim's Progress," the greatest allegory in any language, second only to the Bible.
Read from Bunyan's PILGRIM'S PROGRESS Vol. 15, pp. 59-69

21 Scotland's Own Poet
The songs of Burns are the links, the watchwords, the symbols of the Scots. He is the last of the ballad singers. In his works are preserved the best songs of his people.
(Robert Burns died July 21, 1796.)
Read from BURNS' POEMS Vol. 6, pp. 70-79

22 Trapped in a Cave with a Frenzied Giant
Odysseus was wrecked with his men on an island inhabited by one-eyed giants. Trapped in the cave of a giant who gobbled up some of the crew for supper, the cunning Odysseus blinded the giant and rescued the survivors of his crew.
Read from Homer's ODYSSEY Vol. 22, pp. 120-129

23 Friendship Above Love?
There are styles in friendship as well as in clothes. The mode of friendship of Bacon's time went out with plumed hats and long hose. But Bacon knew the true test of a friend.
(Francis Bacon knighted, July 23, 1603.)
Read from BACON'S ESSAYS Vol. 3 pp. 65-72

64 FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY

JULY Reading Guide

24 Indian Sorcery Blamed for an Earthquake
Darwin visited a South American city ruined by an earthquake. There he heard the superstitious account of the phenomenon. The ignorant people accused Indian women of bewitching the volcano. But Darwin has another explanation.
Read from Darwin's VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE Vol. 29, pp. 306-316

25 A Goddess and Her Mortal Lover
Brynhild, Woden's daughter, carried the dead heroes to Valhalla where they could feast and fight without dying; until a sin di≠vested her of divinity, and she fell in love with Sigurd.
Read: LAY OF BRYNHILD Vol. 49, pp. 391-395

26 Peace Amid Strife
While Europe was shaken with wars, Thomas à Kempis lived in happy seclusion in his convent. His writings convincingly reflect the serenity and happiness of a man who has found peace - a peace that surpasses all understanding.
(Thomas à Kempis died July 26, 1471.)
Read from Thomas à Kempis Vol. 7, pp. 205-211

27 Once Surgeons Operated in Frock Coats
The use of antiseptics in surgery is new. Hardly more than a half century ago surgeons operated in frock coats. Lord Lister, surgeon to Queen Victoria, was among the first to advocate scrupulous cleanliness in dressing wounds.
(Lister publishes paper on antiseptic treatment, July 27, 1867.)
Read: ON THE ANTISEPTIC PRINCIPLES Vol. 38, pp. 257-267

28 An Idyl of Agriculture
Cowley portrays the ideal life - that of a farmer, and blazons it forth in heraldry. "A plow in a field arable" - to him, the most honorable of all emblems.
(Abraham Cowley died July 28, 1667.)
Read: Cowley's OF AGRICULTURE Vol. 27, pp. 61-69

29 Stonehenge - England's Unsolved Mystery
Stonehenge, that group of huge, rudely architectural stones on a vast plain in England, was erected no man knows when, nor why, nor how. Emerson, America's greatest thinker, visited this monument and was amazed at the "uncanny stones."
Read: Emerson's STONEHENGE Vol. 5, pp. 453-462

FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY 65

JULY Reading Guide

30 The First English Colony in North America
When the whole coast of America north of Florida was free to the first comer, Sir Humphrey Gilbert naÔvely chose to settle on the rugged shores of Newfoundland. Read the glowing account of his great adventure "to plant Christian inhabitants in places convenient."
(Gilbert lands at Newfoundland near St. John's, July 30, 1583.)
Read: Gilbert's VOYAGE TO NEWFOUNDLAND Vol. 33, pp. 263-273

31 Charm School for Women
Lack of education, writes Defoe, makes a woman "turbulent, clamorous, noisy - " Defoe defied his generation and preached equal education for women. To-day we have co-education, but have we the benefits Defoe predicted?
(Defoe pilloried for defiance of public opinion, July 31, 1703.)
Read: Defoe's EDUCATION OF WOMEN Vol. 27, pp. 148-150

Between the Devil and the Deep Sea
"Between the Devil and the Deep Sea" was originated by Homer, who wrote it "Between Scylla and Charybdis." Sailing through this narrow channel was one of the many exciting adventures of Odysseus. (See Reading Assignment for July 22d.)

THE TRUE UNIVERSITY OF OUR DAYS IS A COLLECTION OF BOOKS. - CARLYLE. (longer introduction)

[Introduction] [January] [February] [March] [April] [May] [June] [July] [August] [September] [October] [November] [December]

Also check out:
An older perspective on words in books.
An MIT Museum article on Charles Eliot.


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