America’s Doughboy Glorified (Nov. 11)

America’s Doughboy Glorified (Armistice Day) The youth of America—typified in the doughboy of the past war—was gloriously portrayed by Walt Whitman. He also sang of the vast plains and the beauty of America. Read: WHITMAN’S POEMS Vol. 42, pp. 1402-1412 WALT WHITMAN [1819-1892] 813 ONE’S-SELF I SING ONE’S-SELF I sing, a simple separate person, Yet … Continue reading

A Poet Who Piped for His Supper (Nov. 10)

A Poet Who Piped for His Supper Goldsmith traveled through Belgium, France, and Italy, winning his daily bread by playing at farmhouses. He wrote the most brilliant comedy, the best novel, and the finest poem of his age. (Oliver Goldsmith born Nov. 10, 1728.) Read: Goldsmith’s THE DESERTED VILLACE Vol. 41, pp. 509-520 THE DESERTED … Continue reading

Once War Songs, Now Pious Prayers (Nov. 9)

Once War Songs, Now Pious Prayers The Psalms have been an inspiration to men in many ages. They have become so associated with the peaceful spirit of Christianity that we forget some of them were once war songs and songs of triumph. Read from THE PSALMS Vol. 44, pp. 318-327 CXXXVII AN EXPERIENCE OF THE … Continue reading

Blind But Unconquered (Nov. 8)

Blind But Unconquered Milton’s indomitable courage kept him at his work even after he lost his sight. Blind, he dictated a sequel to his "Paradise Lost," which he called "Paradise Regained." (]ohn Milton died Nov. 8, 1674.) Read from Milton’s PARADISE REGAINED Vol. 4, pp. 359-369 PARADISE REGAINED 1665-1667 THE FIRST BOOK I, WHO erewhile … Continue reading

The Voice from a Stone-Dead City (Nov. 7)

The Voice from a Stone-Dead City Suddenly all the sinful city’s inhabitants were turned to stone. When a beautiful woman from Bagdad came to the dead city, night overtook her there. Sleeping in the palace, she was awakened by a man’s voice calling. Read from THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS Vol. 16, pp. 100-107 THE … Continue reading

A Genius Needs Few Tools (Nov. 6)

A Genius Needs Few Tools Two sticks, a table, and a pail were the commonplace implements used by Michael Faraday to demonstrate great scientific truths. (Faraday sends "Experimental Researches" to Royal Society, Nov. 6, 1845.) Read: Faraday’s FORCE OF GRAVITATION Vol. 30, pp. 13-21 Let me now give you another illustration of this power. You … Continue reading

Costly Opinion on Divorce (Nov. 5)

Costly Opinion on Divorce A divorce always means trouble for some one. So with Sir Thomas More when he refused to agree with King Henry over the king’s separation. More was made to pay one of the highest prices ever paid for a difference of opinion. Read from Roper’s LIFE OF SIR THOMAS MORE Vol. … Continue reading

Gold or Glory? (Nov. 4 )

Gold or Glory? Polyeucte, an Armenian noble, wanted to become a Christian. If he were baptized, he would have to give up his high position, his wealth and his pagan wife. Was the heavenly crown worth this sacrifice? Read from Corneille’s POLYEUCTE Vol. 26, pp. 87-97 ACT II SEVERUS. FABIAN Sev. Let Felix bow to … Continue reading

Letters to an Emperor (Nov. 3)

Letters to an Emperor Pliny sought the advice of the Emperor Trajan for dealing with the Christians who were alarmingly on the increase. He casually relates how he had tortured two Christians. Read from Pliny’s LETTERS Vol. 9, pp. 404-406 XCVI TRAJAN TO PLINY You cannot but be sensible, my dearest Secundus, how reserved I … Continue reading

Journey Through a Hot Country (Nov. 2)

Journey Through a Hot Country Dante recorded the awful scenes of a journey through the pits of the underworld, and wrote in such a vivid, realistic way that men tremble at the terrors depicted. Read from Dante’s DIVINE COMEDY Vol. 20, pp. 13-20 HELL 13 CANTO III ARGUMENT.—Dante, following Virgil, comes to the gate of … Continue reading

Last Strokes of Shakespeare’s Pen (Nov. 1)

Last Strokes of Shakespeare’s Pen Monsters of the earth, weird creatures of the air, magic romance, and shipwreck are mingled by a master hand in his thrilling drama. The fanciful, enchanting "Tempest" is the last work of the great bard of Stratford. ("The Tempest" performed at Queen Elizabeth’s court, Nov. 1, 1611.) Read from Shakespeare’s … Continue reading

Witches Walk To-night (Oct. 31)

Witches Walk To-night (All Hallows’ Eve.) Beware of magic! Once a year uneasy spirits are released and walk the earth from midnight until dawn. Spooks and goblins invade the most secure homes and the canniest must watch out for danger lurking in every dark corner. Read from BURNS’ POEMS Vol. 6, pp. 110-119 HALLOWEEN’ The … Continue reading

Geology’s Greatest Benefactor (Oct. 30)

Geology’s Greatest Benefactor Lyell has been called the founder of modern geology. Darwin, the master scientist, called him "Geology’s Greatest Benefactor." Lyell’s research revolutionized ideas on that subject. Read from Lyell’s THE PROGRESS OF GEOLOGY Vol. 38, pp. 385-391 THE PROGRESS OF GEOLOGY1 I Prepossessions in regard to the Duration of Past Time—Prejudices Arising from … Continue reading

Genius Rises from a Stable (Oct. 29)

Genius Rises from a Stable (John Keats born Oct. 29, 1795.) Though the son of a stable man, John Keats wrote the most exquisite and sublime poetry in our language. He was the friend of Shelley, Lord Byron, and the other literary leaders of the time— his genius recognized by all. Read: KEATS’ POEMS Vol. … Continue reading

How Dice Taught Spelling (Oct. 28)

How Dice Taught Spelling Locke taught children by means of games. He tells of a game whereby children were taught to spell with dice on which the letters of the alphabet were pasted. This was more than 200 years before modern kindergarten methods. Today’s children would respond to such wise direction as Locke recommends. (John … Continue reading

Fruit of Seven Years’ Silence (Oct. 27)

Fruit of Seven Years’ Silence Siddhartha Gautama, who became the god Buddha, renounced the world and spent seven years in meditation. Then one day, while sitting under a fig tree, he became inspired with exalted and sublime conceptions of life and death. The rest of his life was spent in teaching and converting mankind. Read … Continue reading

Franklin Learned the Secret (Oct. 26)

Franklin Learned the Secret Poor at twenty, rich at forty, internationally famous at fifty. Benjamin Franklin once walked the streets of Philadelphia alone, poor, and with no education. Yet he rose to be a leader because he learned the secret of careful reading. (Franklin made U. S. plenipotentiary in France, Aug. 26, 1778.) Read from … Continue reading

Greatly Encouraged Intrigue (Oct. 25)

Greatly Encouraged Intrigue After the publication of Machiavelli’s " The Prince," the Sultans became more addicted to strangling their brothers, tyrants became more merciless, and murderous plots increased. The influence of that book, as Macaulay points out, spread over Europe and Asia. (Thomas Babington Lord Macaulay born Oct. 25, 1800.) Read from Macaulay’s MACHIAVELLI Vol. … Continue reading

Clytemnestra Meets Her Rival (Oct. 24)

Clytemnestra Meets Her Rival Cassandra knew through a prophetic vision that a sword would pierce her heart. Agamemnon, her captor, took her to his home where an avenging wife, Clytemnestra, awaited. The tragedies of the doom that requited the sins of the House of Atreus are among the most powerful ever written. Read from AEschylus’ … Continue reading

When Caesar Turned the Tables (Oct. 23)

When Caesar Turned the Tables When only a boy, Caesar was captured by pirates. While awaiting ransom he entered into every sport and game with them. Once freed, he quickly returned with forces that captured the outlaws. Then he took deliberate revenge. Read from Plutarch’s CESAR Vol. 12, pp. 264-273 CAESAR AFTER Sylla became master … Continue reading

Swift’s Love Problems (Oct. 22)

Swift’s Love Problems Swift was embarrassed by two women; Stella, whom he really loved, and Vanessa, with whom he had flirted and who had taken him seriously. Marriage to either one would break the heart of the other. Read from Thackeray’s JONATHAN SWIFT Vol. 28, pp. 23-28 A remarkable story is told by Scott, of … Continue reading

No Fault to Find with Old Age (Oct. 21)

No Fault to Find with Old Age Cicero agrees with Browning that old age is the golden time of life, when the fruits of a well-spent life are harvested. Cicero, the wise Roman, welcomed old age for its gifts: wisdom, sound judgment, and contentment. Read from Cicero’s ON OLD AGE Vol. 9, pp. 45-56 ON … Continue reading

Odysseus Adrift on a Raft (Oct. 20)

Odysseus Adrift on a Raft The gods met in council and decreed that Odysseus be set adrift. Poseidon, God of the Sea, shattered the raft and Odysseus was cast ashore to encounter further adventures. Read from Homer’s ODYSSEUS Vol. 22, pp. 68-80 BOOK V The Gods in council command Calypso by Hermes to send away … Continue reading

Virtue in Smiles (Oct. 19)

Virtue in Smiles Weep if you must. It is far better than to repress your tears. But Leigh Hunt finds greater virtue in cheerfulness. Fanciful and graceful—his writings exerted a wholesome influence on all nineteenth century journalism. (James Henry Leigh Hunt born Oct. 19, 1784.) Read: Hunt’s ESSAYS Vol. 27, pp. 285-295 DEATHS OF LITTLE … Continue reading

"If Winter Comes" (Oct. 18)

"If Winter Comes" From the title of a recently popular novel, we know that one prominent fiction writer of to-day was inspired by the verses of Shelley. Many others have also felt the stirring vigor of his poetry. What is your reaction? Read: SHELLEY’S POEMS Vol. 41, pp. 829-835 To A SKYLARK HAIL to thee, … Continue reading

Reason His Only Religion (Oct. 17)

Reason His Only Religion The religion of Thomas Browne—a liberal man in a most intolerant time—was not taken from either Rome or Geneva, but from his own reason. (Browne visited by Evelyn of "Evelyn Diary," Oct. 17, 1671.) Read from Browne’s RELIGIO MEDICI Vol. 3, pp. 253-265 RELIGIO MEDICI THE FIRST PART FOR my Religion, … Continue reading

When Medicine Was a Mystery (Oct. 16)

When Medicine Was a Mystery Once physicians treated the sick with a mixture of medicine and charms. In those days medicine was regarded as a dark art like magic, and those practicing it formed guilds to protect themselves. Read: HIPPOCRATES’ OATH AND LAW Vol. 38, pp. 3-5 THE OATH OF HIPPOCRATES ISWEAR by Apollo the … Continue reading

First Families of America (Oct. 15)

First Families of America "They are a people smooth and clean of body because of continually washing themselves—they eat all their enemies whom they kill or capture." Amerigo Vespucci thus writes of the New World inhabitants. (Amerigo Vespucci returns from first American voyage, Oct. 15, 1498.) Read: VESPUCCI’S ACCOUNT OF HIS FIRST VOYAGE Vol. 43, … Continue reading

No Spice and Little Gold (Oct 14)

No Spice and Little Gold All colonies are founded to gain territory or treasure. Spain expected spice and gold from Columbus’s expedition, but got no spice and little gold. Adam Smith tells the true motive of the colonizing Greeks, Romans, English, and Spaniards. Read from Adam Smith’s WEALTH OF NATIONS Vol. 10, pp. 395-404 CHAPTER … Continue reading

Pagan Virtue Perpetuated (Oct. 13)

Pagan Virtue Perpetuated A man of virtue, although a pagan, Marcus Aurelius ruled with benevolence and wisdom. Cruel in persecution of Christians as lawbreakers, no trace of this sternness appears in his writings. Read from Marcus Aurelius’ MEDITATIONS Vol. 2, pp. 193-199 THE MEDITATIONS OF MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS I ROM my grandfather Verus [I learned] … Continue reading

Columbus’ Letter Miraculously Found (Oct. 12)

Columbus’ Letter Miraculously Found {Columbus Day.) Historical documents, now priceless, were often used as wrapping paper. Rescued by chance was a letter of Columbus telling of his voyages—of the amazing bargains made with timid natives— of Amazon women who fought like men and made marriage treaties with cannibals. Read: LETTER OF COLUMBUS Vol. 43, pp. … Continue reading

AEneas Flees from an Inconsolable Love (Oct. 11)

AEneas Flees from an Inconsolable Love AEneas, mythological founder of the Roman race, leaving Carthage and its lovely Queen Dido, was driven by a storm to the coast of Sicily. There the hospitality of King Acestes helped him to forget his relinquished love. Read from Virgil’s JENEID Vol. 13, pp. 178-188 THE FIFTH BOOK OF … Continue reading

A Fugitive in Boy’s Clothes (Oct.10)

A Fugitive in Boy’s Clothes The romance-stricken Don Quixote sees a fair youth seated by the side of a stream, "his feet like two crystals, his hands like snowflakes." The youth was a charming girl! (Cervantes aided in the capture of Tunis, Oct. 10, 1573.) Read from Cervantes’ DON QUIXOTE Vol. 14, pp. 252-266 THE … Continue reading

Songs Shake the Walls of Jericho (Oct. 9)

Songs Shake the Walls of Jericho Do you know that many of your favorite hymns have echoed for hundreds of years through vast cathedrals, and resounded from the walls of Jericho during the Crusades? (Newman, author of "Lead, Kindly Light," baptized Oct. 9, 184;.) Read: LATIN HYMNS Vol. 45, pp. 546-556; also pp. 567-568 LATIN … Continue reading

Fielding’s Parody Becomes History (Oct. 8)

Fielding’s Parody Becomes History Fielding wrote a lengthy story to burlesque a novel of Richardson. But the travesty overshot its mark. Instead of a mere parody, it became a masterpiece. (Henry Fielding died Oct. 8, 1764.) Read: Fielding’s PREFACE TO JOSEPH ANDREWS Vol. 39, pp. 176-181 PREFACE TO JOSEPH ANDREWS BY HENRY FIELDING (1742) THE … Continue reading

An Uncanonized American Saint (Oct. 7)

An Uncanonized American Saint John Woolman was the foremost leader of the early Quakers and contributed much to the spiritual life of the American Colonies. He was a pioneer in the crusade against slavery. (John Woolman died Oct. 7, 1772.) Read from THE JOURNAL OF JOHN WOOLMAN Vol. 1, pp. 283-288 CHAPTER X 1769, 1770 … Continue reading

The Atrocious Spectacle of October 6th (OCT. 6)

The Atrocious Spectacle of October 6th Wakened by the death cries of her sentry, Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, fled by a secret passage from the fury of a vile mob. The royal family was arrested and taken to Paris to await their fate. Read from Burke’s REVOLUTION IN FRANCE Vol. 24, pp. 208-217 A … Continue reading

Amateur Athlete in Old Athens (Oct. 5)

Amateur Athlete in Old Athens A boxer in public games desired to study philosophy at Athens. There were no furnaces to tend, no tables to wait on, no books or magazines to peddle, yet this sturdy young Greek managed to work his way through college. Read from Newman’s UNIVERSITY LIFE AT ATHENS Vol. 28, pp. … Continue reading

His Mouth Full of Pebbles (Oct. 4)

His Mouth Full of Pebbles The man w h o put pebbles in his mouth and orated to the sea, shaved one-half of his head so that he would be obliged to stay at home until he had perfected his oratory—a strange method of attaining eminence, but a successful one. Read from Plutarch’s DEMOSTHENES Vol. … Continue reading

Good Enough for Chaucer (Oct. 3)

Good Enough for Chaucer When polite English society conversed in French—considering English a vulgar tongue, fit only for servants and working people— Chaucer, nevertheless, wrote poems in this "vulgar" English, which charm us because of their quaint words. Read: CHAUCER’S POEMS Vol. 40, pp. 11-20 GEOFFREY CHAUCER [I34O(?)-I4OO] THE PROLOGUE TO THE CANTERBURY TALES WHAN … Continue reading

Veteran Tells of Indian War (Oct. 2)

Veteran Tells of Indian War Just before Darwin visited Bahia Blanca, an Indian insurrection had been ruthlessly put down. A veteran of the Indian war told Darwin how Indians had been treated. (Darwin returns from South America, Oct. 2, 1836.) Read from Darwin’s VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE Vol. 29, pp. 107-111 During my stay at … Continue reading

Princes To-day and Yesterday (Oct. 1)

Princes To-day and Yesterday To-day the chief duty of a prince is to be the nation’s friend maker. Years ago princes desired supreme power and, by fair means or foul, strove for control. Machiavelli was a guide for such ambitious princes. (Machiavelli’s model prince sent to France as papal legate, Oct. 1 , 1498.) Read … Continue reading

A Gentleman According to Emerson (Sept. 30)

A Gentleman According to Emerson 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.) Read from Emerson’s MANNERS Vol. 5, pp. 199-208 … Continue reading

Prophet of 400 Million People (Sept. 29)

Prophet of 400 Million People 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. Read from SAYINGS OF CONFUCIUS Vol. 44, pp. 5-14 THE SAYINGS OF CONFUCIUS I … Continue reading

He Introduced the Germ (Sept. 28)

He Introduced the Germ 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.) Read: Pasteur’s THE GERM THEORY Vol. 38, pp. 364-370 THE GERM THEORY AND ITS APPLICATIONS TO MEDICINE AND SURGERY1 … Continue reading

Pascal’s Fundamentals of Religion (Sept. 27)

Pascal’s Fundamentals of Religion 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.) Read from PASCAL’S THOUGHTS Vol. 48, pp. 181-192 SECTION VIII THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION … Continue reading

And the World Rocked with Laughter (Sept. 26)

And the World Rocked with Laughter 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.) Read … Continue reading

A Courtship of Twenty Years (Sept. 25)

A Courtship of Twenty Years 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. Read from Mill’s AUTOBIOGRAPHY Vol. 25, pp. 116-120, 149 CHAPTER VI … Continue reading

Citizens Lured from Their Homes (Sept. 24)

Citizens Lured from Their Homes 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? Read from Plutarch’s THEMISTOCLES Vol. 12, pp. 13-23 Now, though Xerxes had … Continue reading

Dying Concerns Every Man (Sept. 23)

Dying Concerns Every Man 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. Read from Montaigne’s To LEARN HOW TO DIE Vol. 32, pp. 9-22 THAT TO PHILOSOPHISE IS TO LEARNE HOW TO … Continue reading