FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY
JULY RREADING GUIDE
(Please proceed to the “Harvard Classics” under the section “Categories” on a daily basis)
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, Caesar reformed
the calendar. July was named for him.
Read from Plutarch’s CAESAR 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
4. Some Chose to Remain British Subjects
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
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. “J 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 T r u t h ? ” 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
(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 h ad
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 THE EXTENT OF THE UNIVERSE Vol. 30, pp. 311-321
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 w o n 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, 157$.)
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. T h e 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?
Phaedre 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
(Racine elected to French Academy, July 17, 1673.)
Read from Racine’s PHAEDRE Vol. 26, pp. 133-148
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 w i t h another woman.
(Sir Walter Raleigh imprisoned July 19, 1603.)
Read from Raleigh’s 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 \nighted, July 23, 1603.)
Read from BACON’S ESSAYS Vol. 3, pp. 65-72
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 THE 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 divested
her of divinity, and she fell in love w i t h Sigurd.
Read: LAY OF BRYNHILD Vol. 49, pp. 391-395
26. Peace Amid Strife
While Europe was shaken with wars, Thomas a 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 a Kempis died July 26, 1471.)
Read from Thomas a 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
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 naively chose to settle
on the rugged shores of Newfoundland. Read the glowing account
of his great adventure “to plant Christian inhabitants in
(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” 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