Introductory note on Egmont by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Volume 19, Harvard Classics)
Spain sent the Duke of Alva to subdue the Netherlands. In quelling disorder he killed the people's hero, Count Egmont. From this story Goethe made a famous play. (Volume 19, Harvard Classics) Egmont sentenced to death June 4, 1658.
Galileo, by holding his pulse while watching a swinging cathedral lamp, evolved a theory that made clocks possible. Harvey, by feeling his pulse, educed that arteries carry blood. (Volume 38, Harvard Classics) Dr. William Harvey died June 3, 1657.
A "Back to Nature" movement in the seventeenth century was headed by Rousseau, who believed that civilization was degrading. To save money for his work, he entrusted each of his children to the tender mercies of a foundling house. (Volume 34, Harvard Classics) Jean Jacques Rousseau born June 2, 1712.
For the best blank verse in English, read "Dr. Faustus," the masterpiece of Marlowe, who gave Shakespeare lessons in playwriting. This genius knew the secret of gripping drama. (Volume 19, Harvard Classics) Marlowe died June 1, 1593.
Walt Whitman is the most original and startling of modern poets. An irony of his life is that while he wrote for the contemporary masses, only a limited number of followers appreciated his genius, now universally recognized. (Volume 39, Harvard Classics) Walt Whitman born May 31, 1819.
At the close of the war, a torn and bleeding nation set about to rebuild its shattered frame. The result was a stronger nation rising from an almost disrupted union. (Volume 42, Harvard Classics) Memorial Day.
A Bagdad merchant dreamed of the money he would make from the sale of a tray of glassware, and of marrying the king's daughter. But, daydreaming, he kicked over the tray. (Volume 16, Harvard Classics)
To advance freedom of thought, Lessing published an essay of one hundred paragraphs outlining the history of religion. The wrath of orthodox churchmen was hurled at his head, and Lessing was left alone to defend his daring theories. (Volume 32, Harvard Classics)
Introductory note on King Lear by William Shakespeare (Volume 46, Harvard Classics)
Goneril and Regan falsely swore they loved their father, King Lear, more than life itself. Cordelia could find no words to express her sincere devotion. Then King Lear made the decision that started a series of exciting events. (Volume 46, Harvard Classics) Shakespeare's first daughter, Susanna, baptized May 26, 1583.
Emerson startled the world by fearlessly declaring his beliefs. Such apparent paradoxes as we find in his inspirational essay, "Heroism," makes him the most stimulating yet profound thinker America has produced. (Volume 5, Harvard Classics) Emerson born May 25, 1803.
Debts were not always paid in money. Not so long ago the butcher paid for his keg of beer with a slab of beef, and oxen were exchanged for land and wives. Adam Smith tells the interesting story of the origin and use of money. (Volume 10, Harvard Classics)
Because of a fancy for a peasant girl, the tyrannical lord of an Italian village sent desperadoes to threaten the priest if he married the girl to her village lover. (Volume 21, Harvard Classics) Manzoni died May 22, 1873.
The sharp tongue of Alexander Pope made him celebrated, yet widely feared. In a representative product of his versatile pen, he gracefully combines his flashing wit with sage advice. (Volume 40, Harvard Classics) Alexander Pope born May 21, 1688.