By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Comfort Found in Good Old Books
Author: Fitch, George Hamlin, 1852-1925
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Comfort Found in Good Old Books" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber's Notes:

1. Passages in italics are surrounded by _underscores_.

2. Illustrations falling inside paragraphs have been relocated to the
   top or bottom. Where possible, text of Title Page Facsimles is
   provided, in addition to image captions.

4. Additional transcriber notes are located at the end of this e-text.

[Illustration (with text):

                MR. WILLIAM

                HISTORIES, &

Published according to the True Originall Copies.


 Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed. Blount. 1623


                  FOUND IN GOOD
                    OLD BOOKS

               GEORGE HAMLIN FITCH

          _I love everything that's old:
        old friends, old times, old manners,
              old books, old wine._




               _Copyright, 1911_
           _by_ PAUL ELDER AND COMPANY

               The articles in this
          book appeared originally in the
  Sunday book-page of the San Francisco _Chronicle_.
         The privilege of reproducing them
          here is due to the courtesy of
               M. H. de Young, Esq.

                  TO THE MEMORY
                 OF MY SON HAROLD,
              SELF, WHOSE DEATH HAS
                 TAKEN THE LIGHT
                    OUT OF MY



  INTRODUCTION                                                       ix

  COMFORT FOUND IN GOOD OLD BOOKS                                    xi

    Nothing Soothes Grief Like Sterling Old Books--How the
      Sudden Death of an Only Son Proved the Value of the
      Reading Habit.

  THE GREATEST BOOK IN THE WORLD                                      3

    How to Secure the Best that is in the Bible--Much Comfort
      in Sorrow and Stimulus to Good Life may be Found in its

  SHAKESPEARE STANDS NEXT TO THE BIBLE                               14

    Hints on the Reading of Shakespeare's Plays--How to
      Master the best of these Dramas, the Finest of Modern

  HOW TO READ THE ANCIENT CLASSICS                                   29

    Authors of Greece and Rome One Should
      Know--Masterpieces of the Ancient World that may be
      Enjoyed in Good English Versions.

  THE ARABIAN NIGHTS AND OTHER CLASSICS                              39

    Oriental Fairy Tales and German Legends--The Ancient
      Arabian Stories and the Nibelungenlied among World's
      Greatest Books.

  THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE                                   48

    An Eloquent book of Religious Meditation--The Ablest of
      Early Christian Fathers Tells of His Youth, His
      Friends and His Conversion.

  DON QUIXOTE, ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREAT BOOKS                        56

    Cervantes' Masterpiece a Book for All Time--Intensely
      Spanish, it Still Appeals to All Nations by its Deep
      Human Interest.

  THE IMITATION OF CHRIST                                            64

    Features of Great Work by Old Thomas à
      Kempis--Meditations of a Flemish Monk which have not
      Lost their Influence in Five Hundred Years.

  THE RUBÁ'IYÁT OF OMAR KHAYYÁM                                      74

    Popularity of an Old Persian's Quatrains--Splendid
      Oriental Imagery Joined to Modern Doubt Found in this
      Great Poem.

  THE DIVINE COMEDY BY DANTE                                         83

    Influence of One of the World's Great Books--The Exiled
      Florentine's Poem has Colored the Life and Work of
      Many Famous Writers.

  HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF BOOKS                                   92

    Is the Higher Education an Absolute Necessity?--Desire
      to gain Knowledge and Culture will make one Master of
      All the Best Books.

  MILTON'S PARADISE LOST AND OTHER POEMS                            100

    A Book that Ranks Close to the English Bible--It Tells
      the Story of Satan's Revolt, the Fall of Man and the
      Expulsion from Eden.


    Bunyan's Story full of the Spirit of the Bible--The
      Simple Tale of Christian's Struggles and Triumph
      Appeals to Old and Young.

  OLD DR. JOHNSON AND HIS BOSWELL                                   116

    His Great Fame Due to His Admirer's
      Biography--Boswell's Work makes the Doctor the best
      known Literary Man of his Age.

  ROBINSON CRUSOE AND GULLIVER'S TRAVELS                            124

    Masterpieces of Defoe and Swift Widely Read--Two
      Writers of Genius whose Stories have Delighted
      Readers for Hundreds of Years.

  BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                      133

    Notes on the Historical and best Reading Editions of
      Great Authors.

  INDEX                                                             159



  Title Page of the Celebrated First Folio Edition of Shakespeare _Title_

  A Page from the Gutenberg Bible (Mayence, 1455)                     4

  A Page from the Coverdale Bible, being the First Complete
    English Bible                                                    14

  Chandos' Portrait of Shakespeare                                   16

  Shakespeare's Birthplace at Stratford-on-Avon before the
    Restoration                                                      22

  The Anne Hathaway Cottage                                          22

  Bust of Homer in the Museum of Naples                              32

  Portrait of Virgil, taken from a Bust by L. P. Boitard             34

  Plato, after an Antique Bust                                       36

  Edmund Dulac's Conception of Queen Scheherezade, who
    told the "Arabian Nights" Tales                                  40

  The Jinnee and the Merchant--A Vignette Woodcut by
    William Harvey                                                   42

  Portrait of St. Augustine by the Famous Florentine Painter,
    Sandro Botticelli                                                50

  A Page from St. Augustine's "La Cite de Dieu"                      54

  Portrait of Cervantes, from an Old Steel Engraving                 58

  Don Quixote Discoursing to Sancho Panza                            62

  Thomas à Kempis, the Frontispiece of an Edition of "The
    Imitation of Christ"                                             64

  The Best-Known Portrait of Edward FitzGerald, Immortalized
    by his Version of the "Rubá'iyát"                                74

  A Page from an Ancient Persian Manuscript Copy of the
    "Rubá'iyát" with Miniatures in Color                             78

  One of the Gilbert James Illustrations of the "Rubá'iyát"          80

  Portrait of Dante, by Giotto di Bondone                            84

  Page from "Dante's Inferno," printed by Nicolo Lorenzo
    near the Close of the Fifteenth Century                          88

  Portrait of Milton, after the Original Crayon Drawing from
    Life by William Faithorne, at Bayfordbury, Herts                100

  Milton Dictating to his Daughters--After an Engraving by
    W. C. Edwards, from the Famous Painting by Romney               104

  Portrait of John Bunyan, after the Oil Painting by Sadler         108

  Facsimile of the Title Page of the First Edition of "The
    Pilgrim's Progress"                                             112

  Portrait of Dr. Johnson, from the Original Picture by Sir
    Joshua Reynolds, owned by Boswell                               116

  Portrait of James Boswell, after a Painting by Sir Joshua
    Reynolds--Engraved by E. Finden                                 118

  Facsimile of the Title Page of the First Edition of Boswell's
    "Life of Samuel Johnson"                                        120

  Painting by Eyre Crowe of Dr. Johnson, Boswell and Goldsmith
    at the Mitre Tavern, Fleet Street                               122

  Portrait of Daniel Defoe, from an Old Steel Engraving             124

  Illustration of "Robinson Crusoe" by George Cruikshank            126

  Frontispiece to the First Edition of "Gulliver's Travels"--A
    Portrait Engraved in Copper of Captain Lemuel Gulliver
    of Redriff                                                      128

  Facsimile of the Title Page of the First Edition of "Gulliver's
    Travels," issued in 1726                                        130


_These short essays on the best old books in the world were inspired by
the sudden death of an only son, without whom I had not thought life
worth living. To tide me over the first weeks of bitter grief I plunged
into this work of reviewing the great books from the Bible to the works
of the eighteenth century writers. The suggestion came from many readers
who were impressed by the fact that in the darkest hour of sorrow my
only comfort came from the habit of reading, which Gibbon declared he
"would not exchange for the wealth of the Indies." If these essays
induce any one to cultivate the reading habit, which has been so great a
solace to me in time of trouble, then I shall feel fully repaid._

_This book is not intended for those who have had literary training in
high school or university. It was planned to meet the wants of that
great American public which yearns for knowledge and culture, but does
not know how to set about acquiring it. For this reason I have discussed
the great books of the world from De Quincey's standpoint of the
literature of power, as distinguished from the literature of knowledge.
By the literature of power the author of the_ Confessions of an English
Opium Eater _meant books filled with that emotional quality which lifts
the reader out of this prosaic world into that spiritual life, whose
dwellers are forever young._

_No book has lived beyond the age of its author unless it were full of
this spiritual force which endures through the centuries. The words of
the Biblical writers, of Thomas à Kempis, Milton, Bunyan, Dante and
others who are discussed in this book, are charged with a spiritual
potency that moves the reader of today as they have moved countless
generations in the past. Could one wish for a more splendid immortality
than this, to serve as the stimulus to ambitious youth long after one's
body has moldered in the dust?_

_Even the Sphinx is not so enduring as a great book, written in the
heart's blood of a man or woman who has sounded the deeps of sorrow only
to rise up full of courage and faith in human nature._

_Comfort Found in Good Old Books_

  _Nothing Soothes Grief Like Sterling Old Books--How the
    Sudden Death of an Only Son Proved the Value of the
    Reading Habit._

_For the thirty years that I have spoken weekly to many hundreds of
readers of_ The Chronicle _through its book review columns, it has been
my constant aim to preach the doctrine of the importance of cultivating
the habit of reading good books, as the chief resource in time of
trouble or sickness. This doctrine I enforced, because for many years
reading has been my principal recreation, and I have proved its
usefulness in broadening one's view of life and in storing up material
from the world's greatest writers which can be recalled at will. But it
never occurred to me that this habit would finally come to mean the only
thing that makes life worth living. When one passes the age of forty he
begins to build a certain scheme for the years to come. That scheme may
involve many things--domestic life, money-getting, public office,
charity, education. With me it included mainly literary work, in which I
was deeply interested, and close companionship with an only son, a boy
of such lovable personal qualities that he had endeared himself to me
from his very childhood. Cut off as I have been from domestic life,
without a home for over fifteen years, my relations with my son Harold
were not those of the stern parent and the timid son. Rather it was the
relation of elder brother and younger brother._

_Hence, when only ten days ago this close and tender association of many
years was broken by death--swift and wholly unexpected, as a bolt from
cloudless skies--it seemed to me for a few hours as if the keystone of
the arch of my life had fallen and everything lay heaped in ugly ruin. I
had waited for him on that Friday afternoon until six o'clock. Friday is
my day off, my one holiday in a week of hard work, when my son always
dined with me and then accompanied me to the theater or other
entertainment. When he did not appear at six o'clock in the evening I
left a note saying I had gone to our usual restaurant. That dinner I
ate alone. When I returned in an hour it was to be met with the news
that Harold lay cold in death at the very time I wrote the note that his
eyes would never see._

_When the first shock had passed came the review of what was left of
life to me. Most of the things which I had valued highly for the sake of
my son now had little or no worth for me; but to take up again the old
round of work, without the vivid, joyous presence of a companion dearer
than life itself, one must have some great compensations; and the chief
of these compensations lay in the few feet of books in my library
case--in those old favorites of all ages that can still beguile me,
though my head is bowed in the dust with grief and my heart is as sore
as an open wound touched by a careless hand._

_For more than a dozen years in the school vacations and in my midsummer
holidays my son and I were accustomed to take long tramps in the
country. For five of these years the boy lived entirely in the country
to gain health and strength. Both he and his older sister, Mary,
narrowly escaped death by pneumonia in this city, so I transferred them
to Angwin's, on Howell Mountain, an ideal place in a grove of pines--a
ranch in the winter and a summer resort from May to November. There the
air was soft with the balsam of pine, and the children throve
wonderfully. Edwin Angwin was a second father to them both, and his wife
was as fond as a real mother. For five years they remained on the
mountain. Mary developed into an athletic girl, who became a fearless
rider, an expert tennis player and a swimmer, who once swam two miles at
Catalina Island on a foolish wager. She proved to be a happy, wholesome
girl, an ideal daughter, but marriage took her from me and placed half
the continent between us. Harold was still slight and fragile when he
left the country, but his health was firmly established and he soon
became a youth of exceptional strength and energy._

_Many memories come to me now of visits paid to Angwin's in those five
years. Coming home at three o'clock on winter mornings after a night of
hard work and severe nervous strain, I would snatch two or three hours'
sleep, get up in the chill winter darkness and make the tedious
five-hour journey from this city to the upper Napa Valley, in order to
spend one day with my boy and his sister. The little fellow kept a
record on a calendar of the dates of these prospective visits, and
always had some dainty for me--some bird or game or choice fruit which
he knew I relished._

_Then came the preparatory school and college days, when the boy looked
forward to his vacations and spent them with me in single-minded
enjoyment that warmed my heart like old wine. By means of constant talks
and much reading of good books I labored patiently to develop his mind,
and at the same time to keep his tastes simple and unspoiled. In this
manner he came to be a curious mixture of the shrewd man of the world
and the joyous, care-free boy. In judgment and in mental grasp he was
like a man of thirty before he was eighteen, yet at the same time he was
the spontaneous, fun-loving boy, whose greatest charm lay in the fact
that he was wholly unconscious of his many gifts. He drew love from all
he met, and he gave out affection as unconsciously as a flower yields
its perfume._

_In college he tided scores of boys over financial straits; his room at
Stanford University was open house for the waifs and strays who had no
abiding-place. In fact, so generous was his hospitality that the manager
of the college dormitory warned him one day in sarcastic vein that the
renting of a room for a term did not include the privilege of taking in
lodgers. His friends were of all classes. He never joined a Greek
letter fraternity because he did not like a certain clannishness that
marked the members; but among Fraternity men as well as among Barbarians
he counted his close associates by the score. He finished his college
course amid trying circumstances, as he was called upon to voice the
opinion of the great body of students in regard to an unjust ruling of
the faculty that involved the suspension of many of the best students in
college. And through arbitrary action of the college authorities his
degree was withheld for six months, although he had passed all his
examinations and had had no warnings of any condemnation of his
independent and manly course as an editor of the student paper. Few boys
of his age have ever shown more courage and tact than he exhibited
during that trying time, when a single violent editorial from his pen
would have resulted in the walking out of more than half the university

_Then came his short business life, full of eager, enthusiastic work for
the former college associate who had offered him a position on the Board
of Fire Underwriters. Even in this role he did not work so much for
himself as to "make good," and thus justify the confidence of the dear
friend who stood sponsor for him. Among athletes of the Olympic Club he
numbered many warm friends; hundreds of young men in professional and
business life greeted him by the nickname of "Mike," which clung to him
from his early freshman days at Stanford. The workers and the idlers,
the studious and the joy-chasers, all gave him the welcome hand, for his
smile and his gay speech were the password to all hearts. And yet so
unspoiled was he that he would leave all the gayety and excitement of
club life to spend hours with me, taking keen zest in rallying me if
depressed or in sharing my delight in a good play, a fine concert, a
fierce boxing bout or a spirited field day. Our tastes were of wide
range, for we enjoyed with equal relish Mascagni's "Cavalleria," led by
the composer himself, or a championship prize-fight; Margaret Anglin's
somber but appealing Antigone or a funny "stunt" at the Orpheum._

_Harold's full young life was also strongly colored by his close
newspaper associations. The newspaper life, like the theatrical, puts
its stamp on those who love it, and Harold loved it as the child who has
been cradled in the wings loves the stage and its folk. Ever since he
wore knickerbockers he was a familiar figure in the_ The Chronicle
_editorial rooms. He knew the work of all departments of the paper, and
he was a keen critic of that work. He would have made a success in this
field, but he felt the work was too exacting and the reward too small
for the confinement, the isolation and the nervous strain. After the
fire he rendered good service when competent men were scarce, and in the
sporting columns his work was always valued, because he was an expert in
many kinds of sports and he was always scrupulously fair and never lost
his head in any excitement. The news of his death caused as deep sorrow
in_ The Chronicle _office as would the passing away of one of the oldest
men on the force._

_Now that this perennial spirit of youth is gone out of my life, the
beauty of it stands revealed more clearly. Gone forever are the dear,
the fond-remembered holidays, when the long summer days were far too
short for the pleasure that we crowded into them. Gone are the winter
walks in the teeth of the blustering ocean breezes, when we "took the
wind into our pulses" and strode like Berserkers along the gray sand
dunes, tasting the rarest spirit of life in the open air. Gone, clean
gone, those happy days, leaving only the precious memory that wets my
eyes that are not used to tears._

_And so, in this roundabout way, I come back to my library shelves, to
urge upon you who now are wrapped warm in domestic life and love to
provide against the time when you may be cut off in a day from the
companionship that makes life precious. Take heed and guard against the
hour that may find you forlorn and unprotected against death's malignant
hand. Cultivate the great worthies of literature, even if this means
neglect of the latest magazine or of the newest sensational romance. Be
content to confess ignorance of the ephemeral books that will be
forgotten in a single half year, so that you may spend your leisure
hours in genial converse with the great writers of all time. Dr. Eliot
of Harvard recently aroused much discussion over his "five feet of
books." Personally, I would willingly dispense with two-thirds of the
books he regards as indispensable. But the vital thing is that you have
your own favorites--books that are real and genuine, each one brimful of
the inspiration of a great soul. Keep these books on a shelf convenient
for use, and read them again and again until you have saturated your
mind with their wisdom and their beauty. So may you come into the true
Kingdom of Culture, whose gates never swing open to the pedant or the
bigot. So may you be armed against the worst blows that fate can deal
you in this world._

_Who turns in time of affliction to the magazines or to those books of
clever short stories which so amuse us when the mind is at peace and all
goes well? No literary skill can bind up the broken-hearted; no beauty
of phrase satisfy the soul that is torn by grief. No, when our house is
in mourning we turn to the Bible first--that fount of wisdom and comfort
which never fails him who comes to it with clean hands and a contrite
heart. It is the medicine of life. And after it come the great books
written by those who have walked through the Valley of the Shadow, yet
have come out sweet and wholesome, with words of wisdom and counsel for
the afflicted. One book through which beats the great heart of a man who
suffered yet grew strong under the lash of fate is worth more than a
thousand books that teach no real lesson of life, that are as broken
cisterns holding no water, when the soul is athirst and cries out for

_This personal, heart-to-heart talk with you, my patient readers of many
years, is the first in which I have indulged since the great fire swept
away all my precious books--the hoarded treasures of forty years.
Against my will it has been forced from me, for I am like a sorely
wounded animal and would fain nurse my pain alone. It is written in the
first bitterness of a crushing sorrow; but it is also written in the
spirit of hope and confidence--the spirit which I trust will strengthen
me to spend time and effort in helping to make life easier for some poor
boys in memory of the one dearest boy who has gone before me into that
"undiscovered country," where I hope some day to meet him, with the old
bright smile on his face and the old firm grip of the hand that always
meant love and tenderness and steadfast loyalty._

_Among men of New England strain like myself it is easy to labor long
hours, to endure nervous strain, to sacrifice comfort and ease for the
sake of their dear ones; but men of Puritan strain, with natures as hard
as the flinty granite of their hillsides, cannot tell their loved ones
how dear they are to them, until Death lays his grim hand upon the
shoulder of the beloved one and closes his ears forever to the words of
passionate love that now come pouring in a flood from our trembling

_San Francisco, October 9, 1910._




Several readers of my tribute to my dead son Harold have asked me to
specify, in a series of short articles, some of the great books that
have proved so much comfort to me in my hours of heart-breaking sorrow.
In this age of cheap printing devices we are in danger of being
overwhelmed by a great tide of books that are not real books at all. Out
of a hundred of the new publications that come monthly from our great
publishing houses, beautifully printed and bound and often ornamented
with artistic pictures, not more than ten will live longer than a year,
and not more than a single volume will retain any life ten years from
the time it first saw the light. Hence it behooves us to choose wisely,
for our lives are limited to the Psalmist's span of years, and there is
no hope of securing the length of days of Methuselah and his kindred.

Business or professional cares and social duties leave the average man
or woman not over an hour a day that can be called one's very own; yet
most of the self-appointed guides to reading--usually college professors
or teachers or literary men with large leisure--write as though three or
four hours a day for reading was the rule, rather than the exception. In
my own case it is not unusual for me to spend six hours a day in
reading, but it would be folly to shut my eyes to the fact that I am
abnormal, an exception to the general rule. Hence in talking about books
and reading I am going to assume that an hour a day is the maximum at
your disposal for reading books that are real literature.


             (MAYENCE, 1455)

And in this preliminary article I would like to enforce as strongly as
words can express it my conviction that knowledge and culture should be
set apart widely. In the reading that I shall recommend, culture of the
mind and the heart comes first of all. This is more valuable than
rubies, a great possession that glorifies life and opens our eyes to
beauties in the human soul, as well as in nature, to all of which we
were once blind and dumb. And culture can be built on the bare rudiments
of education, at which pedagogues and pedants will sneer. Some of the
most truly cultured men and women I have ever known have been
self-educated; but their minds were opened to all good books by their
passion for beauty in every form and their desire to improve their
minds. Among the scores of letters that have come to me in my
bereavement and that have helped to save me from bitterness, was one
from a woman in a country town of California. After expressing her
sympathy, greater than she could voice in words, she thanked me warmly
for what I had said about the good old books. Then she told of her
husband, the well-known captain of an army transport, who went to sea
from the rugged Maine coast when a lad of twelve, with only scanty
education, and who, in all the years that followed on many seas,
laboriously educated himself and read the best books.

In his cabin, she said, were well-worn copies of Shakespeare, Gibbon,
Thackeray, Dickens, Burns, and others. These great worthies he had made
a part of himself by constant reading. Of course, the man who thinks
that the full flower of education is the ability to "parse" a sentence,
or to express a commonplace thought in grandiloquent language that will
force his reader to consult a dictionary for the meaning of unusual
words--such a man and pedant would look upon this old sea captain as
uneducated. But for real culture of mind and soul give me the man who
has had many solitary hours for thought, with nothing but the stars to
look down on him; who has felt the immensity of sea and sky, with no
land and no sail to break the fearful circle set upon the face of the
great deep.

In the quest for culture, in the desire to improve your mind by close
association with the great writers of all literature, do not be
discouraged because you may have had little school training. The schools
and the universities have produced only a few of the immortal writers.
The men who speak to you with the greatest force from the books into
which they put their living souls have been mainly men of simple life.
The splendid stimulus that they give to every reader of their books
sprang from the education of hard experience and the culture of the
soul. The writers of these books yearned to aid the weak and heavy-laden
and to bind up the wounds of the afflicted and sorely stricken. Can one
imagine any fame so great or so enduring as the fame of him who wrote
hundreds of years ago words that bring tears to one's eyes today--tears
that give place to that passionate ardor for self-improvement, which is
the beginning of all real culture?

And another point is to guard against losing the small bits of leisure
scattered through the day. Don't take up a magazine or a newspaper when
you have fifteen minutes or a half hour of leisure alone in your room.
Keep a good book and make it a habit to read so many pages in the time
that is your own. Cultivate rapid reading, with your mind intent on your
book. You will find in a month that you have doubled your speed and that
you have fixed in your mind what you have read, and thus made it a
permanent possession. If you persist in this course, reading always as
though you had only a few moments to spare and concentrating your mind
on the page before you, you will find that reading becomes automatic
and that you can easily read thirty pages where before ten pages seemed
a hard task.

Long years ago it was my custom to reach home a half hour before dinner.
To avoid irritability which usually assailed me when hungry, I took up
Scott and read all the Waverley novels again. It required barely a year,
but those half hours made at the end of the period eight whole days. In
the same way in recent years I have reread Dickens, Thackeray, Kipling
and Hardy, because I wanted to read something as recreation which I
would not be forced to review. Constant practice in rapid reading has
given me the power of reading an ordinary novel and absorbing it
thoroughly in four hours. This permits of no dawdling, but one enjoys
reading far better when he does it at top speed.

Macaulay in his memoirs tells of the mass of reading which he did in
India, always walking up and down his garden, because during such
exercise his mind was more alert than when sitting at a desk.

Many will recall Longfellow's work on the translation of Dante's
_Inferno_, done in the fifteen minutes every morning which was required
for his chocolate to boil. Every one remembers the "Pigskin Library"
which Colonel Roosevelt carried with him to Africa on his famous hunting
trip. The books were all standard works of pocket size, bound in
pigskin, which defies sweat, blood, dirt or moisture, and takes on in
time the rich tint of a well-used saddle. Roosevelt read these books
whenever he chanced to have a few minutes of leisure. And it seems to me
the superior diction of his hunting articles, which was recognized by
all literary critics, came directly from this constant reading of the
best books, joined with the fact that he had ample leisure for thought
and wrote his articles with his own hand. Dictation to a stenographer is
an easy way of preparing "copy" for the printer, but it is responsible
for the decadence of literary style among English and American authors.

In selecting the great books of the world place must be given first of
all, above and beyond all, to the Bible. In the homely old King James'
version, the spirit of the Hebrew prophets seems reflected as in a
mirror. For the Bible, if one were cast away on a lonely island, he
would exchange all other books; from the Bible alone could such a
castaway get comfort and help. It is the only book in the world that is
new every morning: the only one that brings balm to wounded hearts.

Looked upon merely as literature, the Bible is the greatest book in the
world; but he is dull and blind indeed who can study it and not see that
it is more than a collection of supremely eloquent passages, written by
many hands. It is surcharged with that deep religious spirit which
marked the ancient Hebrews as a people set apart from alien races.
Compare the Koran with the Bible and you will get a measure of the
fathomless height this Book of books is raised above all others. Those
who come to it with open minds and tender hearts, free from the
worldliness that callouses so many fine natures, will find that in very
truth it renews their strength; that it makes their spirit "mount up
with wings as an eagle."

First read the Old Testament, with its splendid imagery, its noble
promises of rewards to those who shall be lifted out of the waters of
trouble and sorrow. Then read the New Testament, whose simplicity gains
new force against this fine background of promise and fulfilment. If the
verbiage of many books of the Old Testament repels you, then get a
single volume like _The Soul of the Bible_, arranged by Ulysses Pierce
and printed by the American Unitarian Association of Boston. This volume
of 500 pages contains the real essence of the Bible, revealed in all the
beauty of incomparable phrase and sublime imagery; sounding the deeps of
sorrow, mounting to the heights of joy; traversing the whole range of
human life and showing that God is the only refuge for the sorely
afflicted. How beautiful to the wounded heart the promise that always
"underneath are the everlasting arms."

Read _The Soul of the Bible_ carefully, and make it a part of your
mental possessions. Then you will be ready to take up the real study of
the Bible, which can never be finished, though your days may be long in
the land. This study will take away the stony heart and will give you in
return a heart of flesh, tender to the appeals of the sick and the
sorrowing. If you have lost a dear child, the daily reading of the Bible
will gird you up to go out and make life worth living for the orphan and
the children of poverty and want, who so often are robbed from the
cradle of their birthright of love and sunshine and opportunity for
development of body and mind.

If you have lost father or mother, then it will make your sympathy keen
for the halting step of age and the pathetic eyes, in which you see
patient acceptance of the part of looker-on in life, the only role left
to those who have been shouldered out of the active ways of the world to
dream of the ardent love and the brave work of their youth. So the
reading of the Bible will gradually transmute your spirit into something
which the worst blows of fate can neither bend nor break. To guard your
feet on the stony road of grief you will be "shod with iron and brass."
Then, in those immortal words of Zophar to Job:

    "Then shall thy life be clearer than the noonday;
    Though there be darkness, it shall be as the morning,
    And because there is hope, thou shalt be secure;
    Yea, thou shalt look about thee, and shalt take thy rest in safety;
    Thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid."

To this spiritual comfort will be added gain in culture through close
and regular reading of the Bible. Happy are they who commit to the wax
tablets of childish memory the great passages of the Old Testament.
Such was Ruskin, who owed much of his splendid diction to early study of
the Bible. Such also were Defoe and De Quincey, two men of widely
different gifts, but with rare power of moving men's souls. The great
passages of the Bible have entered into the common speech of the plain
people of all lands; they have become part and parcel of our daily life.
So should we go to the fountainhead of this unfailing source of
inspiration and comfort and drink daily of its healing waters, which
cleanse the heart and make it as the heart of a little child.



Next to the Bible in the list of great books of the world stands
Shakespeare. No other work, ancient or modern, can challenge this; but,
like the Bible, the great plays of Shakespeare are little read. Many of
today prefer to read criticism about the dramatist rather than to get
their ideas at first hand from his best works. Others spend much time on
such nonsense as the Baconian theory--hours which they might devote to a
close and loving study of the greatest plays the world has ever seen.
Such a study would make the theory that the author of the _Essays_ and
the _Novum Organum_ wrote _Hamlet_ or _Othello_ seem like midsummer
madness. As well ask one to believe that Herbert Spencer wrote _Pippa
Passes_ or _The Idyls of the King_.



The peculiarity of Shakespeare's genius was that it reached far beyond
his time; it makes him modern today, when the best work of his
contemporaries, like Ben Jonson, Marlowe and Ford, are unreadable. Any
theatrical manager of our time who should have the hardihood to put on
the stage Jonson's _The Silent Woman_ or Marlowe's _Tamburlaine_ would
court disaster. Yet any good actor can win success with Shakespeare's
plays, although he may not coin as much money as he would from a
screaming farce or a homespun play of American country life.

Those who have heard Robert Mantell in Lear, Richard III, Hamlet or Iago
can form some idea of the vitality and the essential modernism of
Shakespeare's work. The good actor or the good stage manager cuts out
the coarse and the stupid lines that may be found in all Shakespeare's
plays. The remainder reaches a height of poetic beauty, keen insight
into human nature and dramatic perfection which no modern work even
approaches. Take an unlettered spectator who may never have heard
Shakespeare's name and he soon becomes thrall to the genius of this
great Elizabethan wizard, whose master hand reaches across the centuries
and moves him to laughter and tears. The only modern who can claim a
place beside him is Goethe, whose _Faust_, whether in play or in opera,
has the same deathless grip on the sympathies of an audience.

And yet in taking up Shakespeare the reader who has no guide is apt to
stumble at the threshold and retire without satisfaction. As arranged,
the comedies are given first, and it is not well to begin with
Shakespeare's comedies. In reading any author it is the part of wisdom
to begin with his best works. Our knowledge of Shakespeare is terribly
meager, but we know that he went up to London from his boyhood home at
Stratford-on-Avon, that he secured work in a playhouse, and that very
soon he began to write plays. To many this sudden development of a raw
country boy into a successful dramatist seems incredible.


               GALLERY, LONDON]

Yet a similar instance is afforded by Alexander Dumas, the greatest
imaginative writer of his time, and the finest story-teller in all
French literature. Dumas had little education, and his work, when he
went to Paris from his native province, was purely clerical, yet he read
very widely, and the novels and romances of Scott aroused his
imagination. But who taught Dumas the perfect use of French verse? Who
gave him his prose style as limpid and flowing as a country brook? These
things Dumas doesn't think it necessary to explain in his voluminous
memoirs. They are simply a part of that literary genius which is the
despair of the writer who has not the gift of style or the power to move
his readers by creative imagination.

In the same way, had Shakespeare left any biographical notes, we should
see that this raw Stratford youth unconsciously acquired every bit of
culture that came in his way; that his mind absorbed like a sponge all
the learning and the literary art of his famous contemporaries. The
Elizabethan age was charged with a peculiar imaginative power; the verse
written then surpasses in uniform strength and beauty any verse that has
been written since; the men who wrote were as lawless, as daring, as
superbly conscious of their own powers as the great explorers and
adventurers who carried the British flag to the ends of the earth and
made the English sailor feared as one whose high courage and bulldog
tenacity never recognized defeat.

Given creative literary genius in greater measure than any other man was
ever endowed with, the limits of Shakespeare's development could not be
marked. His capacity was boundless and, living in an atmosphere as
favorable to literary art as that of Athens in the time of Pericles,
Shakespeare produced in a few years those immortal plays which have
never been equaled in mastery of human emotion and beauty and power of

There is no guide to the order in which Shakespeare wrote his plays,
except the internal evidence of his verse. Certain habits of metrical
work, as shown in the meter and the arrangement of the lines, have
enabled close students of Shakespeare to place most of the comedies
after the historical plays. Thus in the early plays Shakespeare arranged
his blank verse so that the sense ends with each line and he was much
given to rhymed couplets at the close of each long speech. But later,
when he had gained greater mastery of his favorite blank verse, many
lines are carried over, thus welding them more closely and forming verse
that has the rhythm and beauty of organ tones. As Shakespeare advanced
in command over the difficult blank verse he showed less desire to use

This close study of versification shows that _Love's Labor's Lost_ was
probably Shakespeare's first play, followed by _The Comedy of Errors_
and by several historical plays. One year after his first rollicking
comedy appeared he produced _Romeo and Juliet_, but this great drama of
young love was revised carefully six years later and put into the form
that we know. Three years after his start he produced _Midsummer Night's
Dream_ and _The Merchant of Venice_, and followed these with his
greatest comedies, _Much Ado About Nothing_, _Twelfth Night_ and _As You
Like It_, the latter the comedy which appeals most strongly to modern
readers and modern audiences.

Then came a period in which Shakespeare's world was somber, and his
creative genius found expression in the great tragedies--_Julius Cæsar_,
_Hamlet_, _Othello_, _King Lear_, _Macbeth_ and _Antony and Cleopatra_.
And finally we have the closing years of production, in which he wrote
three fine plays--_The Tempest_, _Cymbeline_ and _The Winter's Tale_.

According to the best authorities, Shakespeare began writing plays in
1590 and he ended early in 1613. Into these twenty-three years he
crowded greater intellectual activity than any other man ever showed in
the same space of time. Probably Sir Walter Scott, laboring like a
galley slave at the oar to pay off the huge debt rolled up by the
reckless Ballantyne, comes next in creative literary power to
Shakespeare; but Scott's work was in prose and was far easier of

Shakespeare, like all writers of his day, took his materials from all
sources and never scrupled to borrow plots from old or contemporary
authors. But he so transmuted his materials by the alchemy of genius
that one would never recognize the originals from his finished version.
And he put into his great plays such a wealth of material drawn from
real life that one goes to them for comfort and sympathy in affliction
as he goes to the great books of the Bible. In a single play, as in
_Hamlet_, the whole round of human life and passions is reviewed.
Whatever may be his woe or his disappointment, no one goes to _Hamlet_
without getting some response to his grief or his despair.

To give a list of the plays of Shakespeare which one should read is very
difficult, because one reader prefers this and another that, and each
can give good reasons for his liking. What I shall try to do here is to
indicate certain plays which, if carefully read several times, will make
you master of Shakespeare's art and will prepare you for wider reading
in this great storehouse of human nature. _Romeo and Juliet_, a tragedy
of young, impulsive love, represents the fine flower of Shakespeare's
young imagination, before it had been clouded by sorrow. The verse
betrays some of the defects of his early style, but it is rich in beauty
and passion. The plot is one of the best, and this, with the opportunity
for striking stage effects and brilliant costumes, has made it the most
popular of all Shakespeare's plays. The characters are all sharply drawn
and the swift unfolding of the plot represents the height of dramatic
skill. Next to this, one should read _The Merchant of Venice_. Shylock
is one of the great characters in Shakespeare's gallery, a pathetic,
lonely figure, barred out from all close association with his fellows in
trade by evil traits, that finally drive him to ruin. Then take up a
comedy like _As You Like It_, as restful to the senses as fine music,
and filled with verse as tuneful and as varied as the singing of a great

By this reading you will be prepared for the supreme tragedies--each a
masterpiece without a superior in any literature. These are _Hamlet_,
_Othello_, _King Lear_, _Julius Cæsar_, _Macbeth_ and _Antony and
Cleopatra_. In no other six works in any language can one find such
range of thought, such splendor of verse, such soundings of the great
sea of human passions--love, jealousy, ambition, hate, remorse, fear and
shame. Each typifies some overmastering passion, but _Hamlet_ stands
above all as a study of a splendid mind, swayed by every wind of
impulse, noble in defeat and pathetic in the final ruin of hope and
love, largely due to lack of courage and decision of character. Take it
all in all, _Hamlet_ represents the finest creative work of any modern
author. This play is packed with bitter experience of life, cast in
verse that is immortal in its beauty and melody.





_Macbeth_ represents ambition, linked with superstition and weakness of
will; the fruit is an evil brood--remorse struggles with desire for
power, affection is torn by the malign influence of guilt, as seen in
the unhinging of Lady Macbeth's mind. No one should miss the opportunity
to see a great actor or a great actress in _Macbeth_--it is a revelation
of the deeps of human tragedy. _King Lear_ is the tragedy of old age,
the same tragedy that Balzac drew in _Le Pere Goriot_, save that Lear
becomes bitter, and after weathering the storm of madness, wreaks
vengeance on his unnatural daughters. Old Goriot, one of the most
pathetic figures in all fiction, goes to his grave trying to convince
the world that his heartless girls really love him.

The real hero of _Julius Cæsar_ is Brutus, done to death by men of
lesser mold and coarser natures, who take advantage of his lack of
practical sense and knowledge of human nature. This play is seldom put
on the stage in recent years, but it is always a treat to follow it when
depicted by good actors. _Othello_ is the tragedy of jealousy working
upon the mind of a simple and noble nature, which is quick to accept the
evil hints of Iago because of its very lack of knowledge of women. Iago
is the greatest type of pure villainy in all literature, far more
vicious than Goethe's Mephistopheles, because he wreaks his power over
others largely from a satanic delight in showing his skill and resources
in evil. As a play _Othello_ is the most perfectly constructed of
Shakespeare's works. Finally in _Antony and Cleopatra_ Shakespeare shows
the disintegrating force of guilty love, which does not revolt even when
the Egyptian Queen ruins her lover's cause by unspeakable cowardice.
Cleopatra is the great siren of literature, and the picture of her
charms is fine verse.

And here let me advise the hearing of good actors in Shakespeare as a
means of culture. All the great Shakespearean actors are gone, but
Mantell remains, and he, though not equal to Booth, is, to my mind, far
more convincing than Irving. Mantell's Lear is the essence of great
acting--something to recall with rare pleasure. Edwin Booth I probably
saw in _Hamlet_ a score of times in twice that many years, but never did
I see him without getting some new light on the melancholy Dane. Even on
successive nights Booth was never just the same, as his mood tinged his
acting. His sonorous voice, his perfect enunciation, his graceful
gestures, above all his striking face, alive with the light of
genius--these are memories it is a delight to recall.

To develop appreciation of Shakespeare I would advise reading the plays
aloud. In no other way will you be able to savor the beauty and the
melody of the blank verse. It was my good fortune while an undergraduate
at Cornell University to be associated for four years with Professor
Hiram Corson, then head of the department of English literature. Corson
believed in arousing interest in Shakespeare by reading extracts from
the best plays, with running comment on the passages that best
illustrated the poet's command of all the resources of blank verse. His
voice was like a fine organ, wonderfully developed to express every
emotion, and I can recall after nearly forty years as though it were but
yesterday the thrilling effect of these readings. No actor on the stage,
with the single exception of Edwin Booth, equaled Corson in beauty of
voice or in power of expression.

The result of these readings, with the comment that came from a mind
stored with Shakespearean lore, was to stir one's ambition to study the
great plays. Recalling the liberal education that came from Corson's
readings, I have been deeply sorry for college students whom I have seen
vainly trying to appreciate Shakespeare's verse as read by professors
with harsh, rasping, monotonous voices that killed the beauty of rhyme
and meter as a frost kills a fine magnolia blossom breathing perfume
over a garden. When will college presidents awake to the fact that book
learning alone cannot make a successful professor of English literature,
when the man is unable to bring out the melody of the verse? Similar
folly is shown by the theological schools that continue to inflict upon
the world preachers whose faulty elocution makes a mock of the finest
passages of the Bible.

In my own case my tireless study of Shakespeare during four years at
college, which included careful courses of reading and study during the
long vacations, so saturated my mind with the great plays that they have
been ever since one of my most cherished possessions. After years of
hard newspaper work it is still possible for me to get keen pleasure
from reading aloud to myself any of Shakespeare's plays. My early study
of Shakespeare led me to look up every unfamiliar word, every phrase
that was not clear. This used to be heavy labor, but now all the school
and college editions are equipped with these aids to the student. The
edition of Shakespeare which always appealed to me most strongly was the
Temple edition, edited by Israel Gollancz. It is pocket size,
beautifully printed and very well edited. For a companion on a solitary
walk in city or country no book is superior to one of Shakespeare's
plays in this convenient Temple edition, bound in limp leather.

The best edition of Shakespeare in one volume is, to my mind, the
Cambridge edition, issued by the Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston,
uniform with the same edition of other English and American poets. This,
of course, has only a few textual notes, but it has a good glossary of
unusual and obsolete words. It makes a royal octavo volume of one
thousand and thirty-six double-column pages, clearly printed in
nonpareil type.

In this chapter I have been able only to touch on the salient features
of the work of the foremost English poet and dramatist, and, in my
judgment, the greatest writer the world has ever seen. If these words of
mine stimulate any young reader to take up the study of Shakespeare I
shall feel well repaid. Certainly, with the single exception of the
Bible, no book will reward a careful, loving study so well as



In choosing the great books of the world, after the Bible and
Shakespeare, one is brought face to face with a perplexing problem. It
is easy to provide a list for the scholar, the literary man, the
scientist, the philosopher; but it is extremely difficult to arrange any
list for the general reader, who may not have had the advantage of a
college education or any special literary training. And here, at the
outset, enters the problem of the Greek, Latin and other ancient
classics which have always been widely read and which you will find
quoted by most writers, especially those of a half century ago. In this
country literary fads have prevailed for a decade or two, only to be
dropped for new fashions in culture.

Take Emerson, for instance. His early development was strongly affected
by German philosophy, which was labeled Transcendentalism. A. Bronson
Alcott, who never wrote anything that has survived, was largely
instrumental in infecting Emerson with his own passion for the dreamy
German philosophical school. Emerson also was keenly alive to the
beauties of the Greek and the Persian poets, although he was so
broad-minded in regard to reading books in good translations that he
once said he would as soon think of swimming across the Charles river
instead of taking the bridge, as of reading any great masterpiece in the
original when he could get a good translation.

Many of Emerson's essays are an ingenious mosaic of Greek, Latin,
Persian, Hindoo and Arabic quotations. These extracts are always apt and
they always point some shrewd observation or conclusion of the Sage of
Concord; but that Emerson should quote them as a novelty reveals the
provincial character of New England culture in his day as strongly as
the lectures of Margaret Fuller.

The question that always arises in my mind when reading a new list of
the hundred or the fifty best books by some recognized literary
authority is: Does the ordinary business or professional man, who has
had no special literary training, take any keen interest in the great
masterpieces of the Greeks and Romans? Does it not require some special
aptitude or some special preparation for one to appreciate Plato's
_Dialogues_ or Sophocles' _OEdipus_, Homer's _Iliad_ or Horace's
_Odes_, even in the best translations? In most cases, I think the
reading of the Greek and Latin classics in translations is barren of any
good results. Unless one has a passionate sympathy with Greek or Roman
life, it is impossible, without a study of the languages and an intimate
knowledge of the life and ideals of the people, to get any grasp of
their best literary work. The things which the scholar admires seem to
the great public flat and commonplace; the divine simplicity, the lack
of everything modern, seems to narrow the intellectual horizon. This, I
think, is the general result.

But over against this must be placed the exceptions among men of
literary genius like Keats and Richard Jefferies, both Englishmen of
scanty school education, who rank, to my mind, among the greatest
interpreters of the real spirit of the classical age. Keats, like
Shakespeare, knew "small Latin and less Greek"; yet in his _Ode on a
Grecian Urn_ and his _Endymion_ he has succeeded in bringing over into
the alien English tongue the very essence of Greek life and thought.
Matthew Arnold, with all his scholarship and culture, never succeeded in
doing this, even in such fine work as _A Strayed Reveler_ or _Empedocles
on Etna_. In the same way Jefferies, who is neglected by readers of
today, in _The Story of My Heart_ has reproduced ancient Rome and made
Julius Cæsar more real than we find him in his own _Commentaries_.

If you can once reach the point of view of Keats or Jefferies you will
find a new world opening before you--a world of fewer ideas, but of far
more simple and genuine life; of narrower horizon, but of intenser power
over the primal emotions. This was a world without Christ--a world which
placidly accepted slavery as a recognized institution; which calmly
ignored all claims of the sick, the afflicted and the poverty-stricken,
and which admitted the right to take one's own life when that life
became burdensome through age or disease, or when self-destruction would
save one from humiliation and punishment.


                AUTHOR OF THE

These ideas are all reflected in the great masterpieces of the Greeks
and the Romans which have come down to us. Sometimes this reflection is
tinged with a modern touch of sentiment, as in the _Meditations_ of
Marcus Aurelius; but usually it is hard and repellant in its
unconsciousness of romantic love or sympathy or regard for human rights,
which Christianity has made the foundation stones of the modern world.
This difference it is which prevents the average man or woman of today
from getting very near to the classic writers. Even the greatest of
these, with all their wealth of beauty and pathos, fail to impress one
as do far less gifted writers of our own time.

At the head of the ancient classics stand Homer's _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_
and Virgil's _Æneid_. It is very difficult to get the spirit of either
of these authors from a metrical translation. Many famous poets have
tried their hand on Homer, with very poor results. About the worst
version is that of Alexander Pope, who translated the _Iliad_ into the
neat, heroic verse that suited so well his own _Essay on Man_ and his
_Dunciad_. Many thousand copies were sold and the thrifty poet made a
small fortune out of the venture. All the contemporary critics praised
it, partly because they thought it was good, as they did not even
appreciate the verse of Shakespeare, and partly because they feared the
merciless pen of Pope. The Earl of Derby translated the _Iliad_ into
good blank verse, but this becomes very tiresome before you get through
a single book. William Cullen Bryant, the American poet, gave far
greater variety to his verse and his metrical translation of the _Iliad_
and the _Odyssey_ is perhaps the best version in print. The best
metrical translation of the _Æneid_ is that of Christopher P. Cranch.
The very best translation for the general reader is the prose version of
Butcher and Lang. These two English scholars have rendered both the
_Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ into good, strong, idiomatic prose, and in
this form the reader who doesn't understand Greek can get some idea of
the beauty of the sonorous lines of the original poem. Conington and
Professor Church have each done the same service for Virgil and their
prose versions of the scholarly Latin poet will be found equally


            VIRGIL, 1753]

Homer and Virgil give an excellent idea of the ancient way of looking
upon life. Everything is clear, brilliant, free from all illusions;
there are no moral digressions; the characters live and move as
naturally as the beasts of the field and with the same unconscious
enjoyment of life and love and the warmth of the sun. The gods decree
the fate of men; the prizes of this world fall to him who has the
stoutest heart, the strongest arm and the most cunning tongue. Each god
and goddess of Olympus has favorites on earth, and when these favorites
are in trouble or danger the gods appeal to Jove to intercede for them.
None of the characters reveals any except the most primitive emotions.

Helen of Troy sets the whole ancient world aflame, but it is only the
modern poets who put any words of remorse or shame into her beautiful
mouth. And yet these old stories are among the most attractive that have
ever been told. They appeal to young and old alike, and when one sees
the bright eyes of children flash over the deeds of the heroes of Homer,
he may get some idea of what these tales were to the early Greeks. Told
by professional story-tellers about the open fire at night, they had
much to do with the development of the Greek mind and character, as seen
at its best in the age of Pericles. Virgil took Æneas of Troy as his
hero and wrote his great national epic of the founding of Rome.

Only brief space can be given to the other worthies of the classical
age. Every one should have some knowledge of Plato, whose great service
was to tell the world of the life and teachings of Socrates, the wisest
of the ancients. Get Jowett's translation of the _Phædo_ and read the
pathetic story of the last days of Socrates. Or get the _Republic_ and
learn of Plato's ideal of good government. Jowett was one of the
greatest Greek scholars and his translations are simple and strong, a
delight to read.

Of the great Greek dramatists read one work of each--say, the _Antigone_
of Sophocles, the _Medea_ of Euripides and the _Prometheus_ of Æschylus.
If you like these, it is easy to find the others. Then there is
Plutarch, whose lives of famous Greeks and Romans used to be one of the
favorite books of our grandfathers. It is little read today, but you can
get much out of it that will remain as a permanent possession. The
Romans were great letter-writers, perhaps because they had not developed
the modern fads of society and sport which consume most of the leisure
of today, and in these letters you will get nearer to the writer than in
his other works.



Cicero in his most splendid orations never touched me as he does in his
familiar letters, while Pliny gives a mass of detail that throws a clear
light on Roman life. Pliny would have made an excellent reporter, as he
felt the need of detail in giving a picture of any event. There are a
score of other famous ancient writers whose work you may get in good
English translations, but of all these perhaps you will enjoy most the
two philosophers--Epictetus, the Greek stoic, and Marcus Aurelius, who
retained a refreshing simplicity of mind when he was absolute master of
the Roman world. Most of the Greek and Latin authors may be secured in
Bohn's series of translations, which are usually good.

This ancient world of Greece and Rome is full of stimulus to the general
reader, although he may have no knowledge either of Latin or Greek. More
and more the colleges are abandoning the training in the classics and
are substituting German or French or Italian for the old requirements
of Greek and Latin. As intellectual training, the modern languages
cannot compare with the classical, but in our day the intense
competition in business, the struggle for mere existence has become so
keen that it looks as though the leisurely methods of education of our
forefathers must be abandoned.

The rage for specializing has reached such a point that one often finds
an expert mining or electrical engineer graduated from one of our great
universities who knows no more of ancient or modern literature than an
ignorant ditch-digger, and who cannot write a short letter in correct
English. These things were not "required" in his course; hence he did
not take them. And it is far more difficult to induce such a man to
cultivate the reading habit than it is to persuade the man who has never
been to college to devote some time every day to getting culture from
the great books of the world.



The gap between the ancient writers and the modern is bridged by several
great books, which have been translated into all languages. Among these
the following are entitled to a place: _The Arabian Nights_; _Don
Quixote_, by Cervantes; _The Divine Comedy_, by Dante; _The Imitation of
Christ_; _The Rubá'iyát of Omar Khayyám_, _St. Augustine's Confessions_,
and The _Nibelungenlied_.

Other great books could be added to this list, such as _Benvenuto
Cellini's Autobiography_, _Boccaccio's Tales_, the _Analects of
Confucius_ and _Mahomet's Koran_. But these are not among the books
which one must read. Those that I have named first should be read by
any one who wishes to get the best in all literature. And another reason
is that characters and sayings from these books are so often quoted that
to be ignorant of them is to miss much which is significant in the
literature of the last hundred years. Whatever forms a part of everyday
speech cannot be ignored, and the _Arabian Nights_, _Don Quixote_ and
Dante's _Divine Comedy_ are three books that have made so strong an
impression on the world that they have stimulated the imagination of
hundreds of writers and have formed the text for many volumes. Dante's
great work alone has been commented upon by hundreds of writers, and
these commentaries and the various editions make up a library of over
five thousand volumes. _The Arabian Nights_ has been translated from the
original into all languages, although the primitive tales still serve to
amuse Arabs when told by the professional story-tellers of today.



In choosing the great books of the world first place must be given to
those which have passed into the common language of the people or which
have been quoted so frequently that one cannot remain ignorant of them.
After the Bible and Shakespeare the third place must be given to _The
Arabian Nights_, a collection of tales of Arabia and Egypt, supposed to
have been related by Queen Scheherezade to her royal husband when he was
wakeful in the night. The first story was told in order that he might
not carry out his determination to have her executed on the following
morning; so she halted her tale at a very interesting point and,
artfully playing upon the King's interest, every night she stopped her
story at a point which piqued curiosity. In this way, so the legend
goes, she entertained her spouse for one thousand and one nights, until
he decided that so good a story-teller deserved to keep her head.

Today these Arabian tales and many variants of _The Thousand and One
Nights_ are told by professional story-tellers who call to their aid all
the resources of gesture, facial expression and variety of tone. In
fact, these Oriental story-tellers are consummate actors, who play upon
the emotions of their excitable audiences until they are able to move
them to laughter and tears. This childlike character the Arab has
retained until today, despite the fact that he is rapidly becoming
expert in the latest finance and that he is a past master in the
handling of the thousands of tourists who visit Egypt, Arabia and other
Mohammedan countries every year.

The sources of the leading tales of _The Arabian Nights_ cannot be
traced. Such stories as _Sinbad the Sailor_, _Ali Baba and the Forty
Thieves_ and _Aladdin or the Wonderful Lamp_ may be found in the
literature of all Oriental countries, but the form in which these
Arabian tales have come down to us shows that they were collected and
arranged during the reign of the good Caliph Haroun al Raschid of
Bagdad, who flourished in the closing years of the eighth century. The
book was first made known to European readers by Antoine Galland in
1704. This French writer made a free paraphrase of some of the tales,
but, singularly enough, omitted the famous stories of _Aladdin_ and _Ali

The first good English translation was made by E. W. Lane from an Arabic
version, condensed from the original text. The only complete
translations of the Arabic version were made by Sir Richard Burton for a
costly subscription edition and by John Payne for the Villon Society.
Burton's notes are very interesting, as he probably knew the Arab better
than any other foreigner, but his literal translation is tedious,
because of the many repetitions, due to the custom of telling the
stories by word of mouth.


             "ARABIAN NIGHTS"]

The usual editions of _The Arabian Nights_, contain eight stories. Happy
are the children who have had these immortal stories told or read to
them in their impressionable early years. Like the great stories of the
Bible are these fairy tales of magicians, genii, enchanted carpets and
flying horses; of princesses that wed poor boys who have been given the
power to summon the wealth of the underworld; of the adventures of
Sinbad in many waters, and of his exploits, which were more remarkable
than those of Ulysses.

The real democracy of the Orient is brought out in these tales, for the
Grand Vizier may have been the poor boy of yesterday and the young
adventurer with brains and cunning and courage often wins the princess
born to the purple. All the features of Moslem life, which have not
changed for fourteen hundred years, are here reproduced and form a very
attractive study. For age or childhood _The Arabian Nights_ will always
have a perennial charm, because these tales appeal to the imagination
that remains forever young.

The great poem of German literature, _The Nibelungenlied_, may be
bracketed with _The Arabian Nights_, for it expresses perfectly the
ideals of the ancient Germans, the historic myths that are common to all
Teutonic and Scandinavian races, and the manners and customs that marked
the forefathers of the present nation of "blood and iron." _The
Nibelungenlied_ has well been called the German _Iliad_, and it is
worthy of this appellation, for it is the story of a great crime and a
still greater retribution.

It is really the story of Siegfried, King of the Nibelungs, in lower
Germany, favored of the Gods, who fell in love with Kriemhild, Princess
of the Burgundians; of Siegfried's help by which King Gunther, brother
of Kriemhild, secures as his wife the Princess Brunhilde of Iceland; of
the rage and humiliation of Brunhilde when she discovers that she has
been subdued by Siegfried instead of by her own overlord; of Brunhilde's
revenge, which took the form of the treacherous slaying of Siegfried by
Prince Hagen, and of the tremendous revenge of Kriemhild years after,
when, as the wife of King Etzel of the Huns, she sees the flower of the
Burgundian chivalry put to the sword, and she slays with her own hand
both her brother Gunther and Hagen, the murderer of Siegfried.

The whole story is dominated by the tragic hand of fate. Siegfried, the
warrior whom none can withstand in the lists, is undone by a woman's
tongue. The result of the shame he has put upon Brunhilde Siegfried
reveals to his wife, and a quarrel between the two women ends in
Kriemhild taunting Brunhilde with the fact that King Gunther gained her
love by fraud and that Siegfried was the real knight who overcame and
subdued her. Then swiftly follows the plot to kill Siegfried, but
Brunhilde, whose wrath could be appeased only by the peerless knight's
death, has a change of heart and stabs herself on his funeral pyre.
Intertwined with this story of love, revenge and the slaughter of a
whole race is the myth of a great treasure buried by the dwarfs in the
Rhine, the secret of which goes to the grave with grim old Hagen.

These tales that are told in _The Nibelungenlied_ have been made real to
readers of today by Wagner, who uses them as the libretto of some of his
finest operas. With variations, he has told in the greatest dramatic
operas the world has yet seen the stories of Siegfried and Brunhilde,
the labors of the Valkyrie, and the wrath of the gods of the old Norse
mythology. To understand aright these operas, which have come to be
performed by all the great companies, one should be familiar with the
epic that first recorded these tales of chivalry.

Many variants there are of this epic in the literature of Norway, Sweden
and Iceland, but _The Nibelungenlied_ remains as the model of these
tales of the heroism of men and the quarrels of the gods. Wagner has
used these materials with surpassing skill, and no one can hear such
operas as _Siegfried_, _The Valkyrie_, and _Gotterdammerung_ without
receiving a profound impression of the reality and the power of these
old myths and legends.

Perhaps for most readers Carlyle's essay on _The Nibelungenlied_ will
suffice, for in this the great English essayist and historian has told
the story of the German epic and has translated many of the most
striking passages. In verse the finest rendering of this story is found
in _Sigurd the Volsung_ by William Morris, told in sonorous measure that
never becomes monotonous. A good prose translation has been made by
Professor Shumway of the University of Pennsylvania. The volume was
brought out by Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston in 1909. His version
is occasionally marred by archaic turns of expression, but it comes far
nearer to reproducing the spirit of the original than any of the
metrical translations.



In reading the great books of the world one must be guided largely by
his own taste. If a book is recommended to you and you cannot enjoy it
after conscientious effort, then it is plain that the book does not
appeal to you or that you are not ready for it. The classic that you may
not be able to read this year may become the greatest book in the world
to you in another year, when you have passed through some hard
experience that has matured your mind or awakened some dormant faculties
that call out for employment.

Great success or great failure, a crushing grief or a disappointment
that seems to take all the light out of your world--these are some of
the things that mature and change the mind. So, if you cannot feel
interest in some of the books that are recommended in these articles put
the volumes aside and wait for a better day. It will be sure to come,
unless you drop into the habit of limiting your reading to the
newspapers and the magazines. If you fall into this common practice then
there is little hope for you, as real literature will lose all its
attractions. Better to read nothing than to devote your time entirely to
what is ephemeral and simply for the day it is printed.

_The Confessions of St. Augustine_ is a book which will appeal to one
reader, while another can make little of it. For fifteen hundred years
it has been a favorite book among priests and theologians and those who
are given to pious meditation. Up to the middle of the last century it
probably had a more vital influence in weaning people from the world and
in turning their thoughts to religious things than any other single book
except the Bible. And this influence is not hard to seek, for into this
book the stalwart old African Bishop of the fourth century put his whole
heart, with its passionate love of God and its equally passionate
desire for greater perfection. As an old commentator said, "it is most
filled with the fire of the love of God and most calculated to kindle it
in the heart."

This is the vital point and the one which it seems to me explains why
the _Confessions_ is very hard reading for most people of today. The
praise of God, the constant quotation of passages from the Bible and the
fear that his feelings may relapse into his former neglect of
religion--these were common in the writers who followed Augustine for
more than a thousand years. In fact, they remained the staple of all
religious works up to the close of the Georgian age in England. Then
came a radical change, induced perhaps by the rapid spread of scientific
thought. The old religious books were neglected and the new works showed
a directness of statement, an absence of Biblical verbiage and a closer
bearing on everyday life and thought. This trend has been increased in
devotional books, as well as in sermons, until it would be impossible to
induce a church congregation of today to accept a sermon of the type
that was preached up to the middle of the last century.



For this reason it seems to me that any one who wishes to cultivate St.
Augustine should begin by reading a chapter of the _Confessions_. If you
enjoy this, then it will be well to take up the complete _Confessions_,
one of the best editions of which will be found in Everyman's Library,
translated by Dr. E. B. Pusey, the leader of the great Tractarian
movement in England. Pusey frowns on the use of any book of extracts
from St. Augustine, but this English churchman, with his severe views,
cannot be taken as a guide in these days. Doubtless he thought _Pamela_
and _Coebs in Search of a Wife_ entertaining books of fiction; but
the reader of today pronounces them too dull and too sentimental to

Many there are in these days who preserve something of the old
Covenanter spirit in regard to the Bible and other devotional books. One
of these is Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell, superintendent of the Labrador
Medical Mission, an Oxford man, who cast aside a brilliant career in
England to throw in his life with the poor fishermen along the stormy
coast which he has made his home. Dr. Grenfell has come to have the same
influence over these uneducated men that General Gordon of Khartoum
gained over alien races like the Chinese and the Soudanese, or that
Stanley secured over savage African tribes. It is the intense
earnestness, the simple-minded sincerity of the man who lives as Christ
would live on earth which impresses these people of Labrador and gains
their love and confidence. Grenfell in a little essay, _What the Bible
Means to Me_, develops his feeling for the Scriptures, which is much the
same feeling that inspired Augustine, as well as John Bunyan. Grenfell
even goes to the length of saying that he prefers the Bible as a
suggester of thought to any other book, and he regrets that it is not
bound as secular books are bound, so that he might read it without
attracting undue attention on railroad trains or in public places while
waiting to be served with meals.

Gordon carried with him to the place where he met his death pieces of
what he firmly believed was wood of the real cross of Calvary, and on
the last day of his life, when he looked out over the Nile for the help
that never came, he read his Bible with simple confidence in the God of
Battles. Stanley believed that the Lord was with him in all his
desperate adventures in savage Africa, and this belief warded off fever
and discouragement and gave him the tremendous energy to overcome
obstacles that would have proved fatal to any one not keyed up to his
high tension by implicit faith in the Lord.

If you wish to know what personal faith in God means and what it can
accomplish in this world of devotion to mammon, read Stanley's
_Autobiography_, edited by his wife, that Dorothy Tennant who is one of
the most brilliant of living English women. It is one of the most
stimulating books in the world, and no young man can read it without
having his ambition powerfully excited and his better nature stirred by
the spectacle of the rise of this poor abused boy slave in a Welsh
foundlings' home to a place of high honor and great usefulness--a seat
beside kings, and a name that will live forever as the greatest of
African explorers.

It is this marvelous faith in God, which is as real as the breath in his
nostrils, that makes St. Augustine's _Confessions_ a vital and enduring
book. It is this faith that charges it with the potency of living words,
although the man who wrote this book has been dead over fifteen hundred
years. Augustine was born in Numidia and brought up amid pagan
surroundings, although his mother, Monica, was an ardent Christian and
prayed that he might become a convert to her faith. He was trained as a
rhetorician and spent some time at Carthage. When his thoughts were
directed to religion the main impediment in the way of his acceptance of
Christianity was the fact that he lived with a concubine and had had a
child by her. Finally came the death of his bosom friend, which called
out one of the great laments of all time, and then his gradual
conversion to the Christian church, largely due to careful study of St.

Following hard upon his conversion came the death of his mother, who had
been his constant companion for many years. Rarely eloquent is his
tribute to this unselfish mother, whose virtues were those of the good
women of all ages and whose love for her son was the flower of her life.
In all literature there is nothing finer than the old churchman's tender
memorial to his dear mother and his pathetic record of the heavy grief,
that finally was eased by a flood of tears. Here are some of the simple
words of this lament over the dead:


            A PAGE FROM
          FRANCE, IN 1486]

"I closed her eyes; and there flowed withal a mighty sorrow into my
heart, which was overflowing into tears; mine eyes at the same time, by
the violent command of my mind, drank up their fountain wholly dry; and
woe was me in such strife! * * * What then was it which did grievously
pain me within, but a fresh wound wrought through the sudden wrench of
that most sweet and dear custom of living together? I joyed indeed in
her testimony, when, in her last sickness, mingling her endearments with
my acts of duty, she called me 'dutiful,' and mentioned with great
affection of love that she never heard any harsh or reproachful sound
uttered by my mouth against her. But yet, O my Lord, who madest us, what
comparison is there betwixt that honor that I paid her and her slavery
for me?"

Augustine was the ablest of the early Christian fathers and he did
yeoman's service in laying broad and deep the foundations of the
Christian church and in defending it against the heretics. But of all
his many works the _Confessions_ will remain the most popular, because
it voices the cry of a human heart and shows the human side of a great



Among the great books of the world no contrast could be greater than
that between St. Augustine's _Confessions_ and _Don Quixote_ by
Cervantes, yet each in its way has influenced unnumbered thousands and
will continue to influence other thousands so long as this world shall
endure. Few great books have been so widely quoted as this masterpiece
of the great Spaniard; few have contributed so many apt stories and
pungent epigrams. Of the great imaginary characters of fiction none is
more strongly or clearly defined than the sad-faced Knight of La Mancha
and his squire, Sancho Panza. The grammar school pupil in his reading
finds constant allusions to Don Quixote and his adventures, and the
world's greatest writers have drawn upon this romance by Cervantes for
material to point their own remarks.

In this respect the only great author Spain has produced resembles
Shakespeare. His appeal is universal because the man behind the romance
had tasted to the bitter dregs all that life can offer, yet his nature
had remained sweet and wholesome. Byron in _Childe Harold_, with his
cunning trick of epigram, said that Cervantes "smiled Spain's chivalry
away," but chivalry was as dead in the days of Cervantes as it is now.
What the creator of _Don Quixote_ did was to ridicule the high-flown
talk, the absurd sentimentality that marked chivalry, while at the same
time he brought out, as no one else has ever done, the splendid
qualities that made chivalry immortal.

Don Quixote is a man who is absolutely out of touch with the world in
which he moves, but while you laugh at his absurd misconceptions you
feel for him the deepest respect; you would no more laugh at the man
himself than you would at poor unfortunate Lear. The idealistic quality
of Don Quixote himself is enhanced by the swinish nature of Sancho
Panza, who cannot understand any of his master's raptures. Into this
character of the sorrowful-faced knight Cervantes put all the results of
his own hard experience. The old knight is often pessimistic, but it is
a genial pessimism that makes one smile; while running through the whole
book is a modern note that can be found in no other book written in the
early days of the seventeenth century.

That Cervantes himself was unconscious that he had produced a book that
would live for centuries after he was gone is the best proof of the
genius of the writer. The plays and romances which he liked the best are
now forgotten, as are most of the works of Lope de Vega, the popular
literary idol of his day. The book is intensely Spanish, yet its appeal
is limited to no race, no creed and no age.


          "DON QUIXOTE"]

We have far more data in regard to the life of Cervantes than we have
concerning Shakespeare, yet the Spanish author died on the same day.
Cervantes came of noble family, but its fortune had vanished when he
entered on life. He spent his boyhood in Valladolid and at twenty went
up to Madrid, where he soon joined the train of the Papal Ambassador,
Monsignor Acquaviva, and with him went to Rome, then the literary center
of the world. There he learned Italian and absorbed culture as well as
the prevailing enthusiasm for the crusades against the Turks, who were
then menacing Venice and all the cities along the northern shore of the

The leader of the Christian host was Don John of Austria, one of the
great leaders of the world, who had the power of arousing the passionate
devotion of his followers. Cervantes joined the Christian troops and at
the battle of Lepanto, one of the great sea fights of all history, he
was captain of a company of soldiers on deck and came out of the battle
with two gun-shot wounds in his body and with his left hand so mutilated
that it had to be cut off. Despite the fact that he was crippled, his
enthusiasm still burned brightly and he saw service for the next five

Then, on his way home by sea, he was captured and taken to Algiers as a
slave. There he fell to the share of an Albanian renegade and afterward
he was sold to the Dey of Algiers. During all the five years of his
Moorish captivity Cervantes was the life and soul of his fellow slaves,
and he was constantly planning to free himself and his companions. The
personal force of the man may be seen from the fact that the Dey
declared he "should consider captives, and barks and the whole city of
Algiers in perfect safety could he but be sure of that handless
Spaniard." Finally Cervantes was ransomed and returned to his home at
the age of thirty-five. There he married and became a naval commissary
and later a tax collector. His mind soon turned to literature, and for
twenty years he wrote a great variety of verses and dramas, all in the
prevailing sentimental spirit of the age. At last he produced the first
part of _Don Quixote_ at the age of fifty-eight, and he lacked only two
years of seventy when the second and final part of the great romance was
given to the world.

Comment has often been made on the ripe age of Cervantes when he
produced his masterpiece, but Lockhart, who wrote an excellent short
introduction to _Don Quixote_, points out that of all the great English
novelists Smollett was the only one who did first-rate work while young.
_Humphrey Clinker_ and _Roderick Random_ are little read in these days,
but we have a noteworthy instance of the great success of a new English
novelist when past sixty years of age in William de Morgan, whose
_Joseph Vance_ made him famous, and who has followed this with no less
than three great novels: _Alice for Short_, _Somehow Good_ and _It Never
Can Happen Again_. And the marvel of it is that Mr. de Morgan actually
took up authorship at sixty, without any previous experience in writing.
Dickens and Kipling are about the only exceptions to the rule that a
novelist does his best work in mature years, but they are in a class by

_Don Quixote_ reflects all the varying fortunes of Cervantes. The book
was begun in prison, where Cervantes was cast, probably for attempting
to collect debts. All his remarkable experiences in the wars against the
Turks and in captivity among the Moors are embodied in the interpolated
tales. The philosophy put into the mouth of the Knight of La Mancha is
the fruit of Cervantes' hard experience and mature thought. He was a
Spaniard with the sentiments and the prejudices of his century; but by
the gift of genius he looked beyond his age and his country and, like
Shakespeare, he wrote for all time and all peoples.

Nationality in literature never had a more striking example than is
furnished by _Don Quixote_. It is Spanish through and through; an
open-air romance, much of the action of which takes place on the road or
in the wayside inns where the Knight and his squire tarry for the night.
It swarms with characters that were common in the Spain of the close of
the sixteenth and the early days of the seventeenth centuries. Cervantes
never attempts to paint the life of the court or the church; he never
introduces any great dignitaries, but he is thoroughly at home with the
common people, and he tells his story apparently without any effort, yet
with a keen appreciation of the natural humor that seasons every scene.
And yet through it all Don Quixote moves a perfect figure of gentle
knighthood, a man without fear and without reproach. You laugh at him
but at the same time he holds your respect. Genius can no further go
than to produce a miracle like this: the creation of a character that
compels your respect in the face of childish follies and


             IN THE CLARK EDITION]

No one can read _Don Quixote_ carefully without getting rich returns
from it in entertainment and culture. The humor is often coarse, but it
is hearty and wholesome, and underlying all the fun is the sober
conviction that the hero of all these adventures is a man whom it would
have been good to know. It is difficult for any one of Anglo-Saxon
strain to understand those of Latin blood, but it seems to me that the
American of New England ancestry is nearer to the Spaniard than to the
Frenchman or the Italian.

Underneath the surface there is a lust for adventure and an element of
enduring stubbornness in the Spaniard which made him in the heyday of
his nation the greatest of explorers and conquerors. And as a basis of
character is his love of truth and his sterling honesty, traits that
have survived through centuries of decay and degeneracy, and that may
yet restore Spain to something of her old prestige among the nations of
Europe. So, in reading _Don Quixote_ one may see in it an epitome of
that old Spain which has so glorious a history in adventures that stir
the blood, as in the conquests of Cortez and Pizarro, and in that higher
realm of splendid sacrifice for an ideal, which witnessed the sale of
Isabella's jewels to aid Columbus in his plans to discover a new world.



The great books of this world are not to be estimated by size or by the
literary finish of their style. Behind every great book is a man greater
than his written words, who speaks to us in tones that can be heard only
by those whose souls are in tune with his. In other words, a great book
is like a fine opera--it appeals only to those whose ears are trained to
enjoy the harmonies of its music and the beauty of its words. Such a
book is lost on one who reads only the things of the day and whose mind
has never been cultivated to appreciate the beauty of spiritual
aspiration, just as the finest strains of the greatest opera, sung by a
Caruso or a Calve, fail to appeal to the one who prefers ragtime to real


              AMEN CORNER, 1883]

In this world, in very truth, you reap what you sow. If you have made a
study of fine music, beautiful paintings and statuary and the best
books, you cannot fail to get liberal returns in the way of spiritual
enjoyment from the great works in all these arts. And this enjoyment is
a permanent possession, because you can always call up in memory and
renew the pleasure of a great singer's splendid songs, the strains of a
fine orchestra, the impassioned words of a famous actor, the glory of
color of an immortal painting, or the words of a poem that has lived
through the centuries and has stimulated thousands of readers to the
higher life.

One of the smallest of the world's famous books is _The Imitation of
Christ_ by Thomas à Kempis. It may be slipped into one's coat pocket,
yet this little book is second only to the Bible and Shakespeare in the
record of the souls it has influenced. It may be read in two hours, yet
every paragraph in it has the potency of spiritual life. Within the
cloister, where it was written, it has always been a favorite book of
meditation, surpassing in its appeal the _Confessions of St. Augustine_.

In the great world without, it has held its own for five hundred years,
gaining readers from all classes by sheer force of the sincerity and
power of the man, who put into it all the yearnings of his soul, all the
temptations, the struggles and the victories of his spirit. It was
written in crabbed Latin of the fifteenth century, without polish and
without logical arrangement, much as Emerson jotted down the thoughts
which he afterward gathered up and strung together into one of his
essays. Yet the vigor, truth, earnestness and spiritual passion of the
poor monk in his cell fused his language into flame that warms the
reader's heart after all these years.

Thomas à Kempis was plain Thomas Haemerken of Kempen, a small town near
Cologne, the son of a poor mechanic, who had the great advantage of a
mother of large heart and far more than the usual stock of book
learning. Doubtless it was through his mother that Thomas inherited his
taste for books and his desire to enter the church. He followed an elder
brother into the cloister, spending his novitiate of seven years at the
training school of the Brothers of the Common Life at Deventer, in the
Netherlands. Then he entered as postulant the monastery of Mount St.
Agnes, near Zwolle, of which his brother John was prior. This monastery
was ruled by the Canons Regular of St. Augustine, and it was filled by
the Brothers of the Common Life. For another seven years he studied to
fit himself for this life of the cloister, and finally he was ordained a
priest in 1413. As he entered upon his religious studies at the tender
age of 13, he had been employed for fourteen years in preparing himself
for his life work in the monastery.

The few personal details that have been handed down about him show that
he was of unusual strength, with the full face of the people of his
race, and that he kept until extreme old age the strength of his voice
and the fire of his eye. For sixty years he remained a monk, spending
most of his time in transcribing the Bible and devotional treatises and
in teaching the neophytes of his own community. His devotion to books
was the great passion of his life and doubtless reconciled a man of so
much native strength of body and mind to the monotony of the cloister.
His favorite motto was: "Everywhere have I sought for peace, but nowhere
have I found it save in a quiet corner with a little book." The ideal of
the community was to live as nearly as possible the life of the early
Christians. The community had the honor of educating Erasmus, the most
famous scholar of the Reformation.

Thomas à Kempis drew most of the inspiration for _The Imitation of
Christ_ from the Bible, and especially from the New Testament. The book
is a series of eloquent variations on the great central theme of making
one's life like that of Christ on earth. And with this monk, who lived
in a community where all property was shared in common and where even
individual earnings must be put into the general fund, this idea of
reproducing the life of Christ was feasible. Cut off from all close
human ties, freed from all thought of providing for food and shelter,
the monastic life in a community like that of the Brothers of the Common
Life was the nearest approach to the ideal spiritual existence that this
world has ever seen. To live such a life for more than the ordinary span
of years was good training for the production of the _Imitation_, the
most spiritual book of all the ages.

Every page of this great book reveals that the author had made the Bible
a part of his mental possessions. So close and loving had been this
study that the words of the Book of Books came unwittingly to his lips.
All his spiritual experiences were colored by his Biblical studies; he
rests his faith on the Bible as on a great rock which no force of nature
can move. So in the _Imitation_ we have the world of life and thought as
it looked to a devout student of the Bible, whose life was cut off from
most of the temptations and trials of men, yet whose conscience was so
tender that he magnified his doubts and his failings.

Over and over he urges upon his readers to beware of pride, to cultivate
humility, to keep the heart pure and the temper meek, so that happiness
may come in this world and the assurance of peace in the world to come.
Again and again he appeals to us not to set our hearts upon the
treasures of this world, as they may fail us at any time, while the love
of worldly things makes the heart callous and shuts the door on the
finest aspirations of the soul.

In every word of this book one feels the sincerity of the man who wrote
it. The monk who jotted down his thoughts really lived the life of
Christ on earth. He gained fame for his learning, his success as a
teacher and his power as a writer of religious works; but at heart he
remained as simple, sincere and humble as a little child. All his
thoughts were devoted to gaining that perfection of character which
marked the Master whom he loved to imitate; and in this book he pours
out the longings that filled his soul and the joys that follow the
realization of a good and useful life. In all literature there is no
book which so eloquently paints the success of forgetting one's self in
the work of helping others.

The _Imitation_, like the Bible, should be read day by day, if one is to
draw aid and inspiration from it. Read two or three pages each day, and
you will find it a rare mental tonic, so foreign to all present-day
literature, that its virtues will stand out by comparison. Read it with
the desire to feel as this old monk felt in his cell, and something of
his rare spirit will come to you, healing your grief, opening your eyes
to the many chances of doing good that lie all about you, cleansing your
heart of envy, greed, covetousness and other worldly desires. Here are
a few passages of the _Imitation_, selected at random, which will serve
to show the thought and style of the book:

   "Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life giveth
   ease to the mind, and a pure conscience inspireth great
   confidence in God.

   "That which profiteth little or nothing we heed, and that
   which is especially necessary we lightly pass over, because
   the whole man doth slide into outward things, and unless he
   speedily recovereth himself he willingly continueth immersed

   "Here a man is defiled by many sins, ensnared by many
   passions, held fast by many fears, racked by many cares,
   distracted by many curiosities, entangled by many vanities,
   compassed about with many errors, worn out with many labors,
   vexed with temptations, enervated by pleasures, tormented with
   want. When shall I enjoy true liberty without any hindrances,
   without any trouble of mind or body?"

Many famous writers have borne testimony to the great influence of _The
Imitation of Christ_ upon their spiritual development. Matthew Arnold
often refers to the work of Thomas à Kempis, as do Ruskin and others.
Comte made it a part of his Positivist ritual, and General Gordon, that
strange soldier of fortune, who carried with him what he believed to be
the wood of the true cross, and who represented the ideal mystic in this
strenuous modern life, had _The Imitation of Christ_ in his pocket on
the day that he fell under the spears of the Mahdi's savage fanatics at
Khartoum. Perhaps the most eloquent tribute to the power of the
_Imitation_ is found in George Eliot's novel, _The Mill on the Floss_.
The great novelist makes Maggie Tulliver find in the family garret an
old copy of the _Imitation_. Then she says:

"A strange thrill of awe passed through Maggie while she read, as if she
had been wakened in the night by a strain of solemn music, telling of
beings whose souls had been astir, while hers was in a stupor. She knew
nothing of doctrines and systems, of mysticism or quietism; but this
voice of the far-off ages was the direct communication of a human soul's
belief and experience, and came to Maggie as an unquestioned message.
And so it remains to all time, a lasting record of human needs and human
consolations; the voice of a brother who ages ago felt and suffered and
renounced, in the cloister; perhaps, with serge gown and tonsured head,
with a fashion of speech different from ours, but under the same silent,
far-off heavens, and with the same passionate desires, the same
stirrings, the same failures, the same weariness."

Many editions of _The Imitation of Christ_ have been issued, but for one
who wishes to make it a pocket companion none is better than the little
edition in The Macmillan Company's _Pocket Classics_, edited by Brother
Leo, professor of English literature in St. Mary's College, Oakland.
This accomplished priest has written an excellent introduction to the
book, in which he sketches the life of the old monk, the sources of his
work and the curious controversy over its authorship which raged for
many years. Buy this inexpensive edition and study it, and then, if you
come to love old Thomas, get an edition that is worthy of his sterling



A few of the world's greatest books have been given their popularity by
the genius of their translators. Of these the most conspicuous example
is _The Rubá'iyát of Omar Khayyám_, which has enjoyed an extraordinary
vogue among all English-speaking people for more than a half century
since it was first given to the world by Edward FitzGerald, an
Englishman of letters, whose reputation rests upon this free translation
of the work of a minor Persian poet of the twelfth century. What has
given it this extraordinary popularity is the strictly modern cast of
thought of the old poet and the beauty of the version of the English
translator. Each quatrain or four-line verse of the poem is supposed to
be complete in itself, but all are closely linked in thought, and the
whole poem might well have been written by any skeptic of the present
day who rejects the teachings of the various creeds and narrows life
down to exactly what we know on this earth.


                  THACKERAY AND

The imagery of the poem is Oriental and many of the figures of speech
and the illustrations are purely Biblical; but in its essence the poem
is the expression of a materialist, who cannot accept the doctrine of a
future life because no one has ever returned to tell of the
"undiscovered country" that lies beyond the grave. Epicureanism is the
keynote of the poem, which rings the changes on the enjoyment of the
only life that we know; but the poem is saved from rank materialism by
its lofty speculative note and by its sense of individual power, that
reminds one of Henley's famous sonnet.

Omar Khayyám was born at Naishapur, in Persia, and enjoyed a good
education under a famous Imam, or holy man, of his birthplace. At this
school he met two pupils who strangely influenced his life. One was
Nizam ul Mulk, who in after years became Vizier to the Sultan of
Persia; the other was Malik Shah, who gained unenviable notoriety as the
head of the Assassins, whom the Crusaders knew as "The Old Man of the
Mountains." These three made a vow that should one gain fortune he would
share it equally with the other two.

When Nizam became Vizier his schoolmates appeared. Hassan was given a
lucrative office at court, but soon became involved in palace intrigues
and was forced to flee. He afterward became the head of the Ismailians,
a sect of fanatics, and his castle in the mountains south of the Caspian
gave him the name which all Christians dreaded. His emissaries, sent out
to slay his enemies, became known as Assassins. Omar made no demand for
office of his old friend, but begged permission to live in "a corner
under the shadow of your fortune." So the Vizier gave him a yearly
pension, and Omar devoted his remaining years to the study of astronomy,
in which he became very proficient, and which earned him many favors
from the Sultan.

Omar became widely celebrated for his scientific knowledge and his skill
in mathematics, and he formed one of the commission that revised the
Persian calendar. His heretical opinions, shown in the _Rubá'iyát_,
gained him many enemies among the strict believers, and especially among
the sect of the Sufis, whose faith he ridiculed. But the poet was too
well hedged about by royal favor for these religious fanatics to reach
him. So Omar ended his life in the scholarly seclusion which he loved,
and the only touch of romance in his career is furnished by the
provision in his will that his tomb should be in a spot where the north
wind might scatter roses over it. One of his disciples relates that
years after Omar's death he visited Naishapur and went to his beloved
master's tomb. "Lo," he says, "it was just outside a garden, and trees
laden with fruit stretched their boughs over the garden wall and dropped
their flowers upon his tomb, so that the stone was hidden under them."

Edward FitzGerald, the translator, who made Omar known to the western
world, and especially to English-speaking readers, was one of the
quaintest Englishmen of genius that the Victorian age produced. A
college chum of men like Tennyson, Thackeray and Bishop Donne, he so
impressed these youthful friends with his rare ability and his engaging
personal qualities that they remained his warm admirers throughout life.
Apparently without ambition, FitzGerald studied the Greek and Latin
classics and made several noteworthy translations in verse, which he
printed only for private circulation. Through a friend, Professor
Cowell, a profound Oriental scholar, FitzGerald mastered Persian, and it
was Cowell who first directed his attention to Omar's _Rubá'iyát_, then
little known even to scholars.

The poem evidently made a profound impression on FitzGerald and in 1858
he gave the manuscript of his translation of the _Rubá'iyát_ to the
publisher, Quaritch. It was printed without the translator's name, but
soon gained notice from the praises of Rossetti, Swinburne, Burton and
others who recognized the genius of the anonymous author. Ten years
later FitzGerald revised his first version and added many new quatrains,
but the text as we have it today was the fifth which he gave to the
public. Unlike Tennyson, FitzGerald appeared to improve everything he
labored over, with the single exception of the first quatrain of the
_Rubá'iyát_. In the commonly printed fifth edition he omits a splendid
figure because he happened to use it in another poem. Aside from this
the changes are all improvements, which is more than can be said for the
revisions of Tennyson.



The authorship of the _Rubá'iyát_, which soon ceased to be a secret,
gave FitzGerald great fame during the closing years of his life.
FitzGerald also translated a work of Jami, a Persian poet of the fifth
century, and he put into English verse a free version of the _Agamemnon_
of Æschylus, two _OEdipus_ dramas of Sophocles, and several plays by
Calderon, the great Spanish dramatist.

The _Rubá'iyát_ is far longer than Gray's _Elegy_, but it occupies much
the same position in English literature as this classic of meditation,
because of the finish of its verse and a certain beguiling attraction in
its thought. The reader of the period who makes a study of the
_Rubá'iyát_ cannot escape the conviction that old Omar is secretly
laughing at his readers. In fact, we come to the conclusion that he had
much of FitzGerald's quizzical humor, and consequently believed in few
of the heresies that he voices so poetically in his work.

That he was an epicurean and a materialist is very difficult to believe
when one considers the simple life that he led and the fact that he
voluntarily gave up high official place and the means of securing much
wealth. To live the life of a scholar, to dwell in the world of thought
and abstraction is not the habit of the man who loves pleasure for its
own sake. Hence, though Omar indulges in many panegyrics on the juice of
the grape, it is pretty safe to say, from the record left by his
disciples, that he cared little for wine and less for kindred pleasures
of the senses that he sings of so well. That he could not accept the
mystical Moslem faith of his day is not strange, for he had a modern
cast of mind. His religion was that of thousands today who long to
believe in a future life, but who have not the faith to accept it on



This lack of faith is finely expressed in several quatrains, which might
have been written by a poet of today so modern are they in tone, so
thoroughly do they embody the new doctrine that happiness or misery
depends upon one's own character and acts. The man who cheats and
over-reaches his neighbor, who lies and deceives those who trust him,
who indulges in base pleasures through lack of self-restraint, such a
man lives in a real hell on earth, plagued by fears of exposure and ever
in a mental ferment of unsatisfied desires. Old Omar Khayyám has
pictured this doctrine in these two exquisite quatrains, which give a
good idea of the quality of his thought, as well as the beauty of
FitzGerald's version:

    Strange, is it not? that of the myriads who
    Before us pass'd the door of Darkness through,
      Not one returns to tell us of the Road
    Which to discover we must travel too.

    I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
    Some letter of that After-life to spell;
      And by and by my Soul return'd to me,
    And answer'd "I Myself am Heav'n and Hell."

The best known quatrain of the _Rubá'iyát_, the one which is always
quoted as typical of Omar's epicurean attitude toward life, is this:

    A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
    A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou
      Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
    Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

Here we will take leave of Omar. His _Rubá'iyát_ is good to read because
FitzGerald has clothed his Oriental imagery in beautiful words that
appeal to any one fond of melodious verse. If you wish to see what a
great artist can evoke from the thoughts of this Persian poet, look over
Elihu Vedder's illustrations of the _Rubá'iyát_--a series of
memory-haunting pictures that are as full of majesty and beauty as the
visions of the poet of Naishapur.



Some of the world's great books are noteworthy for the profound
influence that they have exerted, not only over the contemporaries of
the writers, but over many succeeding generations. Some there are which
seem to have in them a perennial stimulus to all that is best in human
nature; to stretch hands across the gulf of the centuries and to give to
people today the flaming zeal, the unquestioning religious faith, the
love of beauty and of truth that inspired their authors hundreds of
years ago. Among the small number of these transcendently great books
stands Dante's _Divine Comedy_, one of the greatest poems of all ages
and one of the tremendous spiritual forces that has colored and shaped
and actually transformed many lives.

History is full of examples of the vital influence of Dante's great work
only a few years after it was given to the world. Then came a long
period of neglect, and it was only with the opening of the nineteenth
century that Dante came fairly into his own. The last century saw a
great welling up of enthusiasm over this poet and his work. The _Divine
Comedy_ became the manual of Mazzini and Manzoni and the other leaders
of New Italy, and its influence spread over all Europe, as well as
throughout this country. Preachers of all creeds, scholars, poets, all
acclaimed this great religious epic as one of the chief books of all the
ages. In it they found inspiration and stimulus to the spiritual life.
Their testimony to its deathless force would fill a volume.



Yet in taking up the _Divine Comedy_ the reader who does not know
Italian is confronted with the same difficulty as in reading the Greek
or Latin poets without knowledge of the two classical languages. He must
be prepared to get only a dim appreciation of the beauties of the
original, because Dante is essentially Italian, and the form in which
his verse is cast cannot be reproduced in English without great loss. On
this subject of translating poetry George E. Woodberry, one of the
ablest of American literary critics, says:

"To read a great poet in a translation is like seeing the sun through
smoked glass. * * * To understand a _canzone_ of Dante or Leopardi one
must feel as an Italian feels; to appreciate its form he must know the
music of the form as only the Italian language can hold and eternize it.
Translation is impotent to overcome either of these difficulties."

This is the scholar's estimate; yet Emerson, who saw as clearly as any
man of his time and who grasped the essentials of all the great books,
favored translations and declared he got great good from them. At any
rate, the average reader has no time to learn Italian in order to
appreciate Dante. The best he can do is to read a good translation and
then help out his own impressions by the comment and appreciation of
such lovers of the great poet as Ruskin, Carlyle, Lowell and Longfellow.
The best translation is Cary's version, which was revised and brought
out in its present form in 1844, just before the translator's death. It
is written in blank verse, easy and melodious.

To understand even an outline of the _Divine Comedy_ one must know a few
facts about the life of Dante and the experiences that matured his mind
and found expression in this great poem. Dante was born in Florence in
1265, of a good Italian family, but reduced to poverty. At eighteen he
wrote his first poems, which were recognized by Cavalcanti, the foremost
Italian poet of his day. He became a soldier and he was involved in the
petty wars between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines. In 1290 Beatrice, the
woman whom he adored and who served as the inspiration of all his
poetry, died, and soon after he gathered under the title _Vita Nuova_,
or _New Life_, the prose narrative, studded with lyrics, which is one of
the great love songs of all ages. This is the highest essence of
romantic love, a love so sublimated that it never seeks physical
gratification. Praise of his lady, contemplation of her angelic beauty
of face and loveliness of mind and character--these are the forms in
which Dante's love finds its exquisite expression. And this same love
and adoration of Beatrice will be found the chief inspiration of the
_Divine Comedy_.

For ten years after the death of Beatrice Dante was immersed in
political conflicts. He took a prominent part in the government of
Florence, but in 1302 he was sentenced with fifteen other citizens of
that city to be burned alive should he at any time come within the
confines of Florence. For three years the poet hoped to succeed in
regaining his power in Florence, but when these hopes finally failed he
turned to the expression of his spiritual conquests, to let the world
know how the love of one woman and the desire to "keep vigil for the
good of the world" could transform a man's soul. So in poverty and
distress, wandering from one Italian city to another, Dante wrote most
of his great epic. His final years were spent in Ravenna, where many
friends and disciples gathered about him. The _Divine Comedy_ was
completed only a short time before Dante's death, which occurred on
September 14, 1321.

This great poem waited nearly six hundred years before its merits were
fully appreciated. In form it was drawn directly from the sixth book of
Virgil's _Æneid_, and to make this likeness all the stronger Dante
makes Virgil his guide on the imaginary journey that he describes
through hell and purgatory. Yet though everything on this journey is
pictured in minute detail, the whole is purely symbolical. Dante depicts
himself carried by Virgil, who represents Human Philosophy, through the
horrors of hell and purgatory to the abode of happiness in the _Earthly

This narrative is full of allusions to the life of Italy of his day. His
Inferno is really Italy governed by corrupt Popes and political leaders,
and he shows by the torments of the damned how the souls of the
condemned suffer because they have elected evil instead of good. In the
Purgatory we have the far more cheerful view of man, removing the vices
of the world and recovering the moral and intellectual freedom which
fits him for a blessed estate in the _Earthly Paradise_.



In these two parts of his poem Dante shows how love is the transfiguring
force in working the miracle of moral regeneration. And this love is
without any trace of carnal passion; it is the supreme aspiration, which
has such power that it makes its possessor ruler over his own spirit and
master of his destiny. What power, what passion resided in the mind of
this old poet that it could so charge his words that these should
inspire the greatest writers of an alien nation, six hundred years after
his death, to pay homage to the moving spirit of his verse. In all
literature nothing can be found to surpass the influence of this poem of
Dante's, struck off at white heat at the end of a life filled with the
bitterness of worldly defeats and losses, but glorified by these visions
of a spiritual conquest, greater than any of the victories of this

Little space is left here to dwell on the most remarkable feature of
Dante's great poem--its influence in fertilizing minds centuries after
the death of its author. Florence, which once drove the poet into exile,
has tried many times to recover the body of the man who has long been
recognized as her greatest son. And the New and United Italy, which was
ushered in by the labors of Mazzini and others, regards Dante as the
prophet of the nation, the symbol of a regenerated land. All the great
modern writers bear enthusiastic testimony to the influence of Dante.

Carlyle said of him: "True souls in all generations of the world who
look on this Dante will find a brotherhood in him; the deep sincerity of
his thoughts, his woes and hopes, will speak likewise to their
sincerity; they will feel that this Dante was once a brother."

Lowell, who attributed his love of learning to the study of the
Florentine poet, says: "It is because they find in him a spur to noble
aims, a secure refuge in that defeat which the present day seems, that
they prize Dante who know and love him best. He is not only a great
poet, but an influence--part of the soul's resources in time of

This tribute to the greatness of Dante cannot be ended more effectively
than by referring to the sonnets of Longfellow. Our New England poet
found solace in his bitter grief over the tragic death of his wife in
translating the _Divine Comedy_ in metrical form. Six sonnets he wrote,
depicting the comfort and peace that he found in the study of the great
Florentine. The last sonnet, in which Longfellow eloquently describes
the increasing influence of Dante among people in all lands, is among
the finest things that he ever wrote and forms a fitting end to this
brief study of Dante:

    O star of morning and of liberty!
      O bringer of the light, whose splendor shines
      Above the darkness of the Apennines,
      Forerunner of the day that is to be!
    The voices of the city and the sea,
      The voices of the mountains and the pines,
      Repeat thy song, till the familiar lines
      Are footpaths for the thought of Italy!
    Thy fame is blown abroad from all the heights,
      Through all the nations, and a sound is heard,
      As of a mighty wind, and men devout,
    Strangers of Rome, and the new proselytes,
      In their own language hear thy wondrous word,
      And many are amazed and many doubt.



In changing from the ancient and medieval world to the modern world of
books there is a gap which cannot be bridged. A few writers flourished
in this interval, but they are not worth consideration in the general
scheme of reading which has been laid down in these articles. So the
change must be made from the works that have been noticed to the first
great writers of England who deserve a place in this popular course of
reading. But before starting on these English writers of some of the
world's great books I wish to say a few words on the general subject of
books and reading, prompted mainly by a letter received from a Shasta
county correspondent. The writer is a man who has evidently devoted
thought to the subject, and his opinions will probably voice the
conclusions of many others who are eager to read the best books, but who
fancy that they lack the requisite mental training. Here is the gist of
this letter, which is worth reproduction, because it probably represents
the mental attitude of a large number of people who have lacked early
opportunities of study:

    "The trouble with the 'Five-foot shelf of books' is that it
    is too long for the average man and intellectually it is up
    out of his reach. He can, perhaps, manage the Bible, for he
    can get commentaries on almost any part of it, and on
    occasion can hear sermons preached, but he will get very
    little benefit from a perusal of most of the others for the
    simple reason that he has not education enough in order to
    understand them. To read Shakespeare one should have at least
    a high school education, and about all the others need
    something even better in the way of schooling. Is it not
    possible to obtain this comfort, instruction and
    entertainment by a perusal of more modern books that the
    average man can understand?

    "We are apt to look back to the days of our youth as a time
    of sunshine and flowers, a time, in fact, of all things good;
    so, also, we are prone to give the men of ancient days some a
    golden crown, and some a halo, and ascribe to them an
    importance beyond their real value to us of these later days.
    Modern times and modern nations are rich in material well
    worth reading. Such books have the advantage in that the
    average man can understand them, and can be entertained and
    edified thereby.

    "People who are already in possession of culture and
    education are not so much in need of advice concerning their
    choice of books, for they have the ability to make proper
    discrimination. It is the common people, those who have been
    unable to obtain this higher education and culture, that need
    the assistance to promote the proper growth of their
    intellectual and spiritual lives."

There is much in this letter which is worthy of thought. It is evidently
the sincere expression of a man who has tried to appreciate the world's
great classics and has failed, mainly because he has had this mental
consciousness that he was not prepared to read and appreciate them. It
is this attitude toward the world's great books which I wished to remove
in these articles. It has been my aim to write for the men and women who
have not had the advantage of a high school or college education. Any
higher education is of great benefit, but my experience has shown me
that the person who has a genuine thirst for knowledge will gain more
through self-culture than the careless or indifferent student who may
have all the advantages of the best high school or university training.

The man or woman who is genuinely in earnest and who wishes to repair
defects of early training will go further with poor tools and limited
opportunities than the indolent or careless student who has within reach
the best equipment of a great university. All that is necessary to
understand and appreciate the great books which have been noticed in
this series of articles is an ordinary grammar school education and the
desire to gain knowledge and culture. Given this strong desire to know
and to appreciate good books and one will go far, even though he may be
handicapped by a very imperfect education.

My correspondent declares that he does not think Shakespeare and other
great books mentioned may be appreciated without the benefit of a high
school education. This seems to me an overstatement of the case. Of
course, blank verse is more difficult to follow than prose, but much of
Shakespeare's work, though he uses a far richer vocabulary than the King
James' translators of the Bible, is nearly as simple, because the
dramatist appeals to the fundamental passions and emotions of men, which
have not changed materially since the days of Elizabeth.

That this is true is shown whenever a play of Shakespeare's is given by
a dramatic company which includes one or two fine actors. The people in
the audience who are accustomed to cheap melodrama will be as profoundly
affected by Othello or Shylock, or even by Hamlet, as those who are
intimately familiar with the text and have seen all the great actors in
these roles from the time of the elder Booth. Actors and dramatic
critics have often commented on the power that resides in Shakespeare's
words to move an uncultured audience far more strongly than it can be
moved by turgid melodrama. And even in a play like _Hamlet_, which is
introspective and demands some thought on the part of the audience,
there is never any listlessness in front of the footlights when a really
great actor depicts the woes and the indecision of the melancholy Dane.

The same thing holds good in reading, if one will only bring to the work
the same keen interest that moves the audience in the theater. Here are
the same words, the same unfolding of the plot, the same skillful
development of character, the same fatality which follows weakness or
indecision that may be seen on the stage; only the reader, whether he
works alone or in company with others, must bring to his labor a keen
desire to understand the dramatist, and he must be willing to accept the
aid of the commentators who have made Shakespearean study so simple and
attractive a task.

Get an ordinary school or college edition of one of Shakespeare's plays,
read the notes, look up any words that are unfamiliar to you, even
though the editor may have ignored them. Then, after you have mastered
the text, read what the best critics have said of the play and its
characters. You will now be in a condition to enjoy thoroughly the
careful reading of the play as literature, and it is from such reading,
when all the difficulties of the text have been removed, that literary
culture comes. Always read aloud, when possible, because in this way
alone can you train the ear to the cadence of the verse and learn to
enjoy the music of the best poetry.

From my own experience, I would suggest the formation of small reading
clubs of four or six persons, meeting at regular times. The members
should be of congenial tastes, and it should be understood that
promptness and regularity of attendance are vital. Such a club will be
able to accomplish far more work than the solitary reader, and the
stimulus of other minds will keep the interest keen and unflagging. The
best scheme for such a club is to set a certain amount of reading and
have each member go over the allotted portion carefully before the club
meeting. Then all will be prepared to make suggestions and to remove any

Such a club, meeting two or three evenings in a week, will be able to
get through a very large amount of good reading in a few months, and
what seemed labor at first will soon become a genuine pleasure and a
means of intellectual recreation. No one knows better than myself the
up-hill work that attends solitary reading or study. Not one in a
thousand can be counted on to continue reading alone, month after month,
with no stimulus, except perhaps occasional talks with some one who is
interested in the same books. It is dreary work at best, relieved only
by the joy of mental growth and development. To share one's pleasure in
a book is like sharing enjoyment in a splendid view or a fine work of
art: it helps to fix that book in the mind. One never knows whether he
has thoroughly mastered a book until he attempts to put in words his
impressions of the volume and of the author. To discuss favorite books
with congenial associates is one of the great pleasures of life, as well
as one of the best tests of knowledge.

With all the equipment that has been devised in the way of notes and
comment by the best editors, the text of the great books of the world
should offer no difficulties to one who understands English and who has
an ordinary vocabulary. The very fact that some of these old writers
have novel points of view should be a stimulus to the reader; for in
this age of the limited railroad train, the telephone, the automobile
and the aeroplane, it is well occasionally to be reminded that
Shakespeare and the writers of the Bible knew as much about human nature
as we know today, and that their philosophy was far saner and simpler
than ours, and far better to use as a basis in making life worth



In beginning with the great books of the modern world two works stand
out in English literature as preëminent, ranking close to the Bible in
popular regard for nearly four hundred years. These are Milton's
_Paradise Lost_ and Bunyan's _Pilgrim's Progress_. To those of New
England blood whose memory runs back over forty years these two books
fill much of the youthful horizon, for, besides the Bible, these were
almost the only books that were allowed to be read on Sunday. It seems
strange in these days of religious toleration that Sunday reading should
be prescribed, but it was a mournful fact in my early days and it forced
me, with many others, to cultivate Milton and Bunyan, when my natural
inclinations would have been toward lighter and easier reading. But that
old Puritan rule, like its companion rule of committing to memory on
Sunday a certain number of verses in the Bible, served one in good
stead, for it fixed in the plastic mind of childhood some of the best
literature that the world has produced.



Milton's fame rests mainly on his _Paradise Lost_ and on his sonnets and
minor poems, although he wrote much in prose which was far in advance of
his age in liberality of thought. He was a typical English Puritan, with
much of the Cromwellian sternness of creed, but with a fine Greek
culture that made him one of the great scholars of the world. His early
life was singularly full and beautiful, and this peace and delight in
all lovely things in nature and art may be found reflected in such poems
as _L'Allegro_ and _Il Penseroso_, and in the perfect masque of _Comus_.

His later life, after many years of good service to the state, was
clouded by blindness and loss of fortune and menaced by fear of a
shameful death on the gallows. And it was in these years, when the sun
of his prosperity had set and when large honors had been succeeded by
contumely and final neglect, that the old poet produced the great work
which assured his fame as long as the English language endures.

Milton came of a good English family and he had the supreme advantage of
splendid early training in all the knowledge of his time. The great
Greek classics exercised the strongest influence over his youthful mind,
but he knew all that the Latin writers had produced, and he acquired
such a mastery of the native tongue of Virgil and Cicero that he wrote
it like his own, and produced many Latin poems which have never been
surpassed for easy command of this ancient language. Then for twenty
years succeeded a period in which Milton devoted his great talents to
the defense of his country in controversial papers, that are still the
delight of scholars because of their high thought, their keen logic and
their sonorous prose.

The noblest of these papers is that plea for the liberty of a free press
which is buried under the long Greek name, _Areopagitica_. It contains
some of the finest passages in defense of freedom of thought and
speech. As Foreign Secretary to the Council of State under Cromwell,
Milton labored ten years, and it was his voice that defended the acts of
the Puritan government, and it was his pen that sounded the warning to
monarchy, which was not heard again until the roaring French mob sacked
the Bastile and mocked the King and Queen at Versailles.

At the age of forty-five Milton was stricken with total blindness, but
he did not give up any of his activities under this crushing affliction.
In these dark days also he learned what it was to have a home without
peace or comfort and to be vexed daily by ungrateful children. When the
monarchy was restored Milton was forced into retirement, and narrowly
escaped the gallows for his part in sending Charles I to the block.

Thus in his old age, beaten down by misfortune, galled by neglect, he
turned to the development of that rich poetic faculty which had lain
fallow for a score of years. And in three years of silent meditation he
produced _Paradise Lost_, which ranks very close to the Bible in
religious fervor and in splendor of genuine poetic inspiration. It is
Biblical in its subject, for it includes the revolt of the rebellious
angels, the splendid picture of the Garden of Eden and the noble
conception of the creation of the world. It is Biblical, also, in a
certain sustained sweep of the imagination, such as is seen in the great
picture of the burning lake, in which Satan first awakes from the shock
of his fall, and in the impressive speeches that mark his plan of
campaign against the Lord who had thrown him and his cohorts into outer

Yet this poem is modeled on the great epics of antiquity, and much of
the splendor of the style is due to allusions to Greek and Roman history
and mythology, with which Milton's mind was saturated. In other men this
constant reference to the classics would be called pedantry; in him it
was simply the struggle of a great mind to find fitting expression for
his thoughts, just as in a later age we see the same process repeated in
the essays of Macaulay, which are equally rich in references to the
writers of all ages, whose works had been made a permanent part of this
scholar's mental possessions.


          BY ROMNEY]

Some present-day critics of Milton's _Paradise Lost_ have declared that
his subject is obsolete and that his verse repels the modern reader. As
well say that the average unlettered reader finds the Bible dull and
commonplace. Even if you do not know the historical fact or the
mythological legend to which Milton refers, you can enjoy the music of
his verse; and if you take the trouble to look up these allusions you
will find that each has a meaning, and that each helps out the thought
which the poet tries to express. This work of looking up the references
which Milton makes to history and mythology is not difficult, and it
will reward the patient reader with much knowledge that would not come
to him in any other way. Behind Milton's grand style, as behind the
splendid garments of a great monarch, one may see at times the man who
influenced his own age by his genius and whose power has gone on through
the ages, stimulating the minds of poets and sages and men of action,
girding up their loins for conflict, breathing into them the spirit
which demands freedom of speech and conscience.

Milton's style in _Paradise Lost_ is unrhymed heroic verse, which seems
to move easily with the thought of the poet. The absence of rhyme
permits the poet to carry over most of his lines and to save the verse
from that monotony which marks the artificial verse of even great
literary artists like Dryden and Pope. Here is a passage from the
opening of the second book, which depicts Satan in power in the Court of
Hades, and which may be taken as a specimen of Milton's fine style:

    High on a throne of royal state, which far
    Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,
    Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand
    Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,
    Satan exalted sat.

And here, in a short description of the adventures of a body of Satan's
fallen angels in their quest for escape from the lower regions to which
they had been condemned, may be found all the salient features of
Milton's style at its best:

        Through many a dark and dreary vale
    They passed, and many a region dolorous,
    O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp,
    Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens and shades of death--
    A universe of death, which God by curse
    Created evil, for evil only good;
    Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds,
    Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
    Abominable, inutterable and worse
    Than fables yet have feigned or fear conceived,
    Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimæras dire.

In contrast to this resounding verse, which enables the poet to soar to
lofty heights of imagination, turn to some of Milton's early work, the
two beautiful classical idyls, _L'Allegro_ and _Il Penseroso_, the fine
_Hymn to the Nativity_, and the mournful cadences of _Lycidas_, the
poet's lament over the death of a beloved young friend. But in parting
with Milton one should not neglect his sonnets, which rank with
Wordsworth's as among the finest in the language. This brief notice
cannot be ended more appropriately than with Milton's memorable sonnet
on his blindness:

    When I consider how my light is spent
      Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
      And that one talent which is death to hide
      Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
    To serve therewith my Maker and present
      My true account, lest He returning chide,
      "Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
      I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
    That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
      Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
      Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
    Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
      And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
      They also serve who only stand and wait."



No contrast could be greater than that between Milton and John Bunyan
unless it be the contrast between their masterpieces, _Paradise Lost_
and _Pilgrim's Progress_. One was born in the purple and had all the
advantages that flow from wealth and liberal education; the other was
the son of a tinker, who had only a common school education and who from
boyhood was forced to work for a living. Milton produced a poem nearly
every line of which is rich in allusions to classical literature and
mythology; Bunyan wrote an allegory, as simple in style as the English
Bible, but which was destined to have a sale in English-speaking
countries second only to the Bible itself, from which its inspiration
was drawn.


         BY SADLER]

Milton knew many lands and peoples; he was one of the great scholars of
all ages, and in literary craftsmanship has never been surpassed by any
writer. Bunyan never traveled beyond the bounds of England; he knew only
two books well, the Bible and Fox's _Book of Martyrs_, yet he produced
one of the great literary masterpieces which profoundly influenced his
own time and which has been the delight of thousands of readers in
England and America, because of the simple human nature and the
tremendous spiritual force that he put into the many trials and the
ultimate victory of Christian.

John Bunyan was born in 1628 near Bedford, England, and he lived for
sixty years. His father was a tinker, a calling that was held in some
disrepute because of its association with wandering gypsies. The boy was
a typical Saxon, large and strong, full of rude health; but by the time
he was ten years old he began to show signs of an imagination that would
have wrecked a weaker body. Bred in the rigid Calvinism of his day, he
began to have visions of the consequences of sin; he began to see that
he was perilously near to the consuming fire which the preachers
declared was in store for all who did not repent and seek the Lord.

The stories of his early years remind one of the experiences of
Rousseau. Between the man of supreme literary genius and the epileptic
there is a very narrow line, and more than once Bunyan seemed about to
overstep this danger line. At seventeen the youth joined the
Parliamentary army and saw some service. The sudden death of the soldier
next to him in the ranks made a profound impression upon his sensitive
mind; he seemed to see in it the hand of the Lord which had been
stretched out to protect him.

On his return from the wars he married a country girl, who brought him
as a marriage portion a large number of pious books. These Bunyan
devoured, and they served as fuel to his growing sense of the terrible
results of sin. Of his spiritual wrestlings in those days he has given a
very good account in _Grace Abounding_, a highly colored autobiography
in which he is represented as the chief of sinners, driven to repentance
by the power of God. The fact is that he was a very fine young Puritan
and his only offense lay in his propensity to profane swearing.

Out of this mental and moral turmoil Bunyan emerged as a wayside
preacher who finally came to address small country congregations. Soon
he became known far and wide as a man who could move audiences to tears,
so strong was the feeling that he put into his words, so convincing was
the picture that he drew of his own evil life and the peace that came
when he accepted the mercy of the Lord. He went up and down the
countryside and he preached in London.

Finally, in 1660, he was arrested under the new law which forbade
dissenters to preach and was thrown into Bedford jail. He had then a
wife and three children, the youngest a blind girl whom he loved more
than the others. To provide for them he learned to make lace. The
authorities were anxious to free Bunyan because his life had been
without reproach and he had made many friends, but he refused to take
the oath that he would not preach. For twelve years he remained in
Bedford jail, and it is in these years that he conceived the plot of
_Pilgrim's Progress_ and wrote most of the book, although it was three
years after his release before the volume was finally in form for

Bunyan in a rhymed introduction to the book apologizes for the story
form, which he feared would injure the work in the eyes of his Puritan
neighbors, but the allegory proved a great success from the outset. No
less than ten editions were issued in fourteen years. It made Bunyan one
of the best known men of his time and it added greatly to his influence
as a preacher. He wrote a number of other works, including a fine
allegory, _The Holy War_, but none of these approached the _Pilgrim's
Progress_ in popularity.

When one takes up the _Pilgrim's Progress_ in these days it is always
with something of the same feeling that the book inspired in childhood.
Then it ranked with the _Arabian Nights_ as a thrilling story, though
there were many tedious passages in which Christian debated religious
topics with his companions. Still, despite these drawbacks, the book was
a great story, full of the keenest human interest, with Christian
struggling through dangers on every hand; with Giant Despair and
Apollyon as real as the terrible genii of Arabian story, and with
Great-heart a champion who more than matched the mysterious Black Knight
in _Ivanhoe_.

[Illustration (with text):

          Pilgrim's Progress
              THIS WORLD
        That which is to come:

   Delivered under the Similitude of a


         Wherein is Discovered,
     The manner of his setting out,
     His Dangerous Journey; And safe
     Arrival at the Desired Countrey.

  _I have used Similitudes, Hos. 12. 10._

           By _John Bunyan_.

  Licensed and Entred according to Order.

Printed for _Nath. Ponder_ at the _Peacock_
  in the _Poultrey_ near _Cornhil_, 1678.


Bunyan, out of his spiritual wrestlings, imagined his conflict with the
powers of evil as a journey which he made Christian take from his home
town along the straight and narrow way to the Shining Gate. Reproduced
from his own imaginative sufferings were the flounderings in the Slough
of Despond and his experiences in the Vale of Humiliation, the Valley of
the Shadow of Death and in Vanity Fair, where he lost the company of

It is difficult, unless one is very familiar with the book, to separate
the adventures in the first part from those in the second part, which
deals with the experiences of Christiana and her children. It is in this
second part that Great-heart, the knightly champion of the faith,
appears, as well as the muck-raker, who has been given so much
prominence in these last few years as the type of the magazine writers,
who are eager to drag down into the dirt the reputations of prominent
men. In fact, Bunyan's allegory has been a veritable mine to all
literary people who have followed him. For a hundred years his book
remained known only to the poor for whom it was written. Then its
literary merits were perceived, and since then it has held its place as
second only to the Bible in English-speaking lands.

Bunyan, in his years in prison, studied the Bible so that his mind was
saturated with its phraseology, and he knew it almost by heart. Every
page of _Pilgrim's Progress_ bears witness to this close and loving
study. The language of the Bible is often used, but it blends so
perfectly with the simple, direct speech of Bunyan's characters that it
reads like his own work. The only thing that betrays it is the reference
to book and verse. A specimen of Bunyan's close reading of the Bible may
be found in this list of curiosities in the museum of the House
Beautiful on the Delectable Mountains:

    "They showed him Moses' rod; the hammer and nail with which
    Jael slew Sisera; the pitcher, trumpets and lamps, too, with
    which Gideon put to flight the armies of Midian. Then they
    showed him the ox's goad wherewith Shambar slew six hundred
    men. They showed him also the jaw-bone with which Samson did
    such mighty feats. They showed him, moreover, the sling and
    stone with which David slew Goliath of Gath; and the sword,
    also, with which their Lord will kill the Man of Sin, in the
    day that he shall rise up to prey."

And here is a part of Bunyan's description of the fight between Apollyon
and Christian in the Valley of Humiliation:

    "Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the
    way, and said: 'I am void of fear in this matter; prepare
    thyself to die, for I swear by my infernal den that thou
    shalt go no further; here will I spill thy soul.' * * * In
    this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard
    as I did, what yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon made, nor
    what sighs and groans burst from Christian's heart. I never
    saw him all the while give so much as one pleasant look, till
    he perceived he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged
    sword; then, indeed, he did smile, and look upward; but it
    was the dreadfulest sight that I ever saw."

The miracle of this book is that it should have been written by a man
who had little education and small knowledge of the great world, yet
that it should be a literary masterpiece in the simple perfection of its
form, and that it should be so filled with wisdom that the wisest man
may gain something from its pages. Literary genius has never been shown
in greater measure than in this immortal allegory by the poor tinker of


    HIS AGE.

The last of the worthies of old English literature is Dr. Samuel
Johnson, whose monumental figure casts a long shadow over most of his
contemporaries. The man whom Boswell immortalized and made as real to us
today as though he actually lived and worked and browbeat his associates
in our own time, is really the last of the great eighteenth century
writers in style, in ways of thought and in feeling. Gibbon, who was his
contemporary, appears far more modern than Johnson because, in his
religious views and in his way of appraising historical characters, the
author of the _Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_ was a hundred years
in advance of his time. Dr. Johnson therefore may be regarded as the
last of the worthies who have made English literature memorable in the
eighteenth century, and his work may fittingly conclude this series of
articles on the good old books.



Yet in considering Dr. Johnson's work we have the curious anomaly of a
man who is not only far greater than anything he ever wrote, but who
depends for his fame upon a biographer much inferior to himself in
scholarship and in literary ability. _The Life of Samuel Johnson by
James Boswell Esquire_ is the title of the book that has preserved for
us one of the most interesting figures in all literature. Commonly it is
known as _Boswell's Johnson_. Though written over a hundred years ago,
it still stands unrivaled among the world's great biographies.

Boswell had in him the makings of a great reporter, for no detail of
Johnson's life, appearance, talk or manner escaped his keen eye, and for
years it was his custom to set down every night in notebooks all the
table talk and other conversation of the great man whom he worshiped. In
this way Boswell gathered little by little a mass of material which he
afterward recast into his great work. Jotted down when every word was
fresh in his memory, these conversations by the old doctor are full of

If Johnson was ever worsted in the wit combats that took place at his
favorite club, then Boswell fails to record it; but hundreds of
instances are given of the doughty old Englishman's rough usage of an
adversary when he found himself hard pressed. As Goldsmith aptly put it:
"If his pistol missed fire, he would knock you down with the butt end."

Samuel Johnson was the son of a book-seller of Litchfield. He was born
in 1709 and died in 1784. His early education was confined to a grammar
school of his native town. The boy was big of figure, but he early
showed traces of a scrofulous taint, which not only disfigured his face
but made him morose and inclined to depression. But his mind was very
keen and he read very widely. When nineteen years of age he went up to
Oxford and surprised his tutors by the extent of his miscellaneous



His college life was wretched because of his poverty, and the historical
incident of the youth's scornful rejection of a new pair of shoes, left
outside his chamber door, is probably true. Certain it is that he could
not have fitted into the elegant life of most of the undergraduates of
Pembroke College, although today his name stands among the most
distinguished of its scholars. In 1731 he left Oxford without a degree,
and, after an unhappy experience as a school usher, he married a widow
old enough to be his mother and established a school to prepare young
men for college. Among his pupils was David Garrick, who became the
famous actor. In 1737 Johnson, in company with Garrick, tramped to
London. In the great city which he came to love he had a very hard time
for years. He served as a publisher's hack and he knew from personal
experience the woes of Grub-street writers.

His first literary hit was made with a poem, _London_, and this was
followed by the _Life of Richard Savage_, in which he told of the
miseries of the writer without regular employment. Next followed his
finest poem, _The Vanity of Human Wishes_. Then Johnson started a weekly
paper, _The Rambler_, in imitation of _The Spectator_, and ran it
regularly for about two years. For some time Johnson had been
considering the publication of a dictionary of the English language. He
issued his prospectus in 1747 and inscribed the work to Lord
Chesterfield. He did not secure any help from the noble lord, and when
Chesterfield showed some interest in the work seven years after, Johnson
wrote an open letter to the nobleman, which is one of the masterpieces
of English satire. In 1762 Johnson accepted a Government pension of £300
a year, and after that he lived in comparative comfort. The best
literary work of his later years was his _Lives of the Poets_, which
extended to ten volumes.

Johnson was not an accurate scholar, nor was he a graceful writer, like
Goldsmith; but he had a force of mind and a vigor of language that made
him the greatest talker of his day. He was one of the founders of a
literary club in 1764 which numbered among its members Gibbon, Burke,
Goldsmith, Sir Joshua Reynolds and other famous men of genius. Though he
was unpolished in manners, ill dressed and uncouth, Johnson was easily
the leader in the debates of this club, and he remained its dominating
force until the day of his death.

[Illustration (with text):

                      THE LIFE OF
                  SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.


                  AND NUMEROUS WORKS,




                 NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.


                    IN TWO VOLUMES.
                 BY JAMES BOSWELL, Esq.

                          ----Quò fit ut OMNIS
        Votiva pateat veluti descripta tabella
        VITA SENIS.----                     HORAT.

                   VOLUME THE FIRST.

                      M DCC XCI

               FACSIMILE OF THE

The best idea of Dr. Johnson's verse may be gained from _London_ and
_The Vanity of Human Wishes_. These are not great poetry. The verse is
of the style which Pope produced, but which the modern taste rejects
because of its artificial form. Yet there are many good lines in these
two poems and they reflect the author's wide reading as well as his
knowledge of human life. _The Lives of the Poets_ are far better written
than Johnson's early work, and they contain many interesting incidents
and much keen criticism. These, with some of Johnson's prayers and his
letter to Lord Chesterfield, include about all that the modern reader
will care to go through.

The Chesterfield letter is a little masterpiece of satire. Johnson, it
must be borne in mind, had dedicated the prospectus of his Dictionary to
Chesterfield, but he had been virtually turned away from this patron's
door with the beggarly gift of £10. For seven years he wrought at his
desk, often hungry, ragged and exposed to the weather, without any
assistance; but when the end was in sight and the great work was passing
through the press, the noble lord deigned to write two review articles,
praising the work. And here is a bit of Dr. Johnson's incisive sarcasm
in the famous letter to the selfish nobleman:

"Is not a Patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man
struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground,
encumbers him with help? The notice which you have pleased to take of my
labors, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I
am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot
impart it; till I am known, and do not want it."

Of Boswell's _Life of Dr. Johnson_ only a few words can be said. To
treat it properly one should have an entire article like this, for it is
one of the great books of the world. A good preparation for taking it up
is the reading of the reviews of it by Macaulay and Carlyle. These two
essays, among the most brilliant of their authors' work, give striking
pictures of Boswell and of the man who was the dictator of English
literature for thirty years. Then take up Boswell himself in such a
handy edition as that in Everyman's Library, in two volumes. Read the
book in spare half hours, when you are not hurried, and you will get
from it much pleasure as well as profit. It is packed with amusement and
information, and it is very modern in spirit, in spite of its
old-fashioned style.



Through its pages you get a very strong impression of old Dr. Johnson.
You laugh at the man's gross superstitions, at his vanity, his
greediness at table, his absurd judgments of many of his contemporaries,
his abuse of pensioners and his own quick acceptance of a pension. At
all these foibles and weaknesses you smile, yet underneath them was a
genuine man, like Milton, full of simplicity, honesty, reverence and
humility--a man greater than any literary work that he produced or
spoken word that he left behind him. You laugh at his groanings, his
gluttony, his capacity for unlimited cups of hot tea; but you recall
with tears in your eyes his pathetic prayers, his kindness to the old
and crippled pensioners whom he fed and clothed, and his pilgrimage to
Uttoxeter to stand bare-headed in the street, as penance for harsh words
spoken to his father in a fit of boyish petulance years before.



Two famous books that seem to follow naturally after _Pilgrim's
Progress_ are Defoe's _Robinson Crusoe_ and Swift's _Gulliver's
Travels_. Not to be familiar with these two English masterpieces is to
miss allusions which occur in everyday reading even of newspapers and
magazines. Probably not one American boy in one thousand is ignorant of
_Robinson Crusoe_. It is the greatest book of adventure for boys that
has ever been written, because it relates the novel and exciting
experiences of a castaway sailor on a solitary island in a style so
simple that a child of six is able to understand it. Yet the mature
reader who takes up _Robinson Crusoe_ will find it full of charm,
because he can see the art of the novelist, revealed in that passion for
minute detail to which we have come to give the name of realism, and
that spiritual quality which makes the reader a sharer in the fears, the
loneliness and the simple faith of the sailor who lived alone for so
many years on Juan Fernandez Island.


             NOT AUTHENTIC]

In all English literature there is nothing finer than the descriptions
of Robinson Crusoe's solitary life, his delight in his pets, and his
care and training of Friday. Swift's work, on the other hand, is not for
children, although young readers may enjoy the ludicrous features of
Gulliver's adventures. Back of these is the bitter satire on all human
traits which no one can appreciate who has not had hard experience in
the ways of the world. These two books are the masterpieces of their
authors, but if any one has time to read others of their works he will
be repaid, for both made noteworthy contributions to the literature that

Daniel Defoe, the son of a butcher, was born in 1661 and died in 1731.
Much of his career is still a puzzle to literary students because of his
extraordinary passion for secrecy. He gained no literary fame until
after fifty years of age, although he had written many pamphlets and had
conducted a review which gave to Addison the idea of _The Spectator_.
Defoe engaged in mercantile business and failed. He also wrote much for
the Government, his pungent and persuasive style fitting him for the
career of a pamphleteer. But his independence and his lack of tact
caused him to lose credit at court and he fell back upon literature. He
may be called the first of the newspaper reporters, before the day of
the daily newspaper, and he first saw the advantage of the interview. No
one has ever surpassed him in the power of making an imaginary narrative
seem real and genuine by minute detail artfully introduced.

The English-reading public was captured by _Robinson Crusoe_. Four
editions were called for in four months, and Defoe met the demand for
more stories from his pen by issuing in the following year _Duncan
Campbell_, _Captain Singleton_ and _Memoirs of a Cavalier_. It is
evident that Defoe had written these works in previous years and had not
been encouraged to print them. Readers of today seldom look into these
books, but the _Memoirs_ are noteworthy for splendid descriptions of
fights between Roundheads and Cavaliers, and _Captain Singleton_
contains a memorable narrative of an expedition across Africa, then an
unknown land, which anticipated many of the discoveries of Mungo Park,
Bruce, Speke, and Stanley.


         DEFOE'S ROMANCE, 1831]

Defoe's other works are _Moll Flanders_, _Colonel Jack_, _Roxana_, and
_Journal of the Plague Year_. Years ago I read all the novels of Defoe,
taking them up at night after work hours. They are not to be commended
as books that will induce sleep, because they are far too entertaining.
Defoe's story of the great plague in London is far more striking than
the records of those who actually lived through the terrible months when
a great city was converted into a huge charnel-house by the pestilence
that walketh by noonday. Pepys in his _Diary_ has many passages on the
plague, but these do not appeal to one as Defoe's story does, probably
because Pepys did not have the literary faculty.

The three other stories all deal with life in the underworld of London.
Defoe in Moll Flanders and Roxana depicts two types of the courtesan
and, despite several coarse scenes, the narratives of the lives of
these women are singularly entertaining. The only dull spots are those
in which he indulges in his habit of drawing pious morals from the vices
of his characters. From these stories one may get a better idea of the
London of the early part of the eighteenth century than from books which
were specially written to describe the customs and manners of the time,
because Defoe regarded nothing as too trivial to set down in his

Defoe wrote his masterpiece from materials furnished by a sailor,
Alexander Selkirk, who returned to London after spending many years of
solitude on the Island of Juan Fernandez. The records of the time give a
brief outline of his adventures, and there is no question that Defoe
interviewed this man and received from his lips the suggestion of his
immortal story. But everything that has made the book a classic for
three hundred years was furnished by Defoe himself.

The life of the story lies in the artfully written details of the daily
life of the sailor from the time when he was cast ashore on the desolate
island. Even the mature reader takes a keen interest in the salvage by
Crusoe of the many articles which are to prove of the greatest value to
him, while to any healthy child this is one of the most absorbing
stories of adventure ever written. The child cannot appreciate Crusoe's
mental and moral attitude, but the mature reader sees between the lines
of the solitary sailor's reflexions the lessons which Defoe learned in
those hard years when everything he touched ended in failure.


              OF REDRIFF]

Jonathan Swift may be bracketed with Defoe, because he was born in 1667
and died in 1745, only fourteen years after death claimed the author of
_Robinson Crusoe_. As Defoe is known mainly by his story of the island
castaway, so Swift is known by his bitter satire, _Gulliver's Travels_,
although he was a prolific writer of political pamphlets. Swift is
usually regarded as an Irishman, but he was of English stock, although
by chance he happened to be born in Ireland. He was educated at Trinity
College, Dublin, and he had the great advantage of several years'
residence at the country seat of Sir William Temple, one of the most
accomplished men of his time.

There he was associated with Esther Johnson, a poor relation of Temple's
who later became the Stella who inspired his journal. Swift, through
the influence of Temple, hoped to get political preferment, but though
he wrote many pamphlets and a strong satire in verse, _The Tale of a
Tub_, his hopes of office were disappointed. Finally he obtained a
living at Laracor, in Meath, and there he preached several years, making
frequent visits to London and Dublin.

Like Defoe, Swift wrote English that was modern in its simplicity and
directness. He never indulged in florid metaphor or concealed his
thought under verbiage. Everything was clear, direct, incisive. While
Defoe accepted failure frankly and remained untinged with bitterness,
Swift seemed to store up venom after every defeat and every humiliation,
and this poison he injected into his writings.

Although a priest of the church, he divided his attentions for years
between Stella, the woman he first met at Sir William Temple's, and
Vanessa, a young woman of Dublin. He was reported to have secretly
married Stella in 1716, but there is no record of the marriage. Seven
years later he broke off all relations with Vanessa because she wrote to
Stella asking her if she were married to Swift, and this rupture brought
on the woman's death. Stella's death followed soon after, and the
closing years of Swift were clouded with remorse and fear of insanity.

[Illistration (with text):

              INTO SEVERAL
             Remote Nations
                 OF THE

             In FOUR PARTS.

          By _LEMUEL GULLIVER_,
   First a SURGEON, and then a CAPTAIN
           of several SHIPS.

                VOL. I.

   _Printed for_ BENJ. MOTTE, _at the
  Middle_ Temple-Gate _in_ Fleet-Street.

             "ROBINSON CRUSOE"]

In _Gulliver's Travels_ Swift wrote several stories of the adventures of
an Englishman who was cast away on the shores of Lilliput, a country
whose people were only six inches tall; then upon Brobdingnag, a land
inhabited by giants sixty feet high; then upon Laputa, a flying island,
and finally upon the land of the Houyhnhnms, where the horse rules and
man is represented by a degenerate creature known as a Yahoo, who serves
the horse as a slave. In the first two stories Gulliver's satire is
amusing, but the picture of the old people in Laputa who cannot die and
of the Yahoos, who have every detestable vice, are so bitter that they
repel any except morbid readers. Yet the style never lacks clearness,
simplicity and force, and one feels in reading these tales that he is
listening to the voice of a master of the English tongue.


  _Notes on the Historical and Best Reading Editions of Great Authors._

_In this bibliography no attempt has been made to give complete guides
to the various books. In fact, to give the Bible alone its due would
require all the space that is allotted here to the thirteen great books
discussed in this volume. All that has been attempted is to furnish the
reader lists of the historical editions that are noteworthy, with others
which are best adapted for use, as well as any commentaries that are
especially helpful to the reader who has small leisure._

_In securing cheap editions of good books the reader of today has a
decided advantage over the reader of five years ago, for in these years
have appeared two well-edited libraries of general literature that not
only furnish accurate texts, well printed and substantially bound, but
furnish these at merely nominal prices. The first is Everyman's Library,
issued in this country by E. P. Dutton & Company of New York. It
comprises the best works from all departments of literature selected by
a committee of English scholars, headed by Ernest Rhys, the editor of
the Library. Associated with him were Lord Avebury, George Saintsbury,
Sir Oliver Lodge, Andrew Lang, Stopford Brooke, Hilaire Belloc, Gilbert
K. Chesterton, A. C. Swinburne and Dr. Richard Garnett. The result is a
collection of good literature, each volume prefaced with a short but
scholarly introduction. The price is 35 cents in cloth and 70 cents in

_The other series is known as the People's Library, and is issued by the
Cassell Company of London and New York. This Library is sold at the
remarkably low price of 25 cents a volume, well printed and fairly bound
in cloth._


    The Bible is the one "best seller" throughout the world. Last
    year Bible societies printed and circulated 11,378,854
    Bibles. The Bible is now printed in four hundred languages.
    Last year the British and Foreign Bible Society printed
    6,620,024 copies, or an increase of 685,000 copies over the
    previous year. Even China last year bought 428,000 Bibles.

    The first English translation of the Bible which had a great
    vogue was what is known as the Authorized Version issued in
    the reign of King James I. For centuries after the Christian
    Era the Bible appeared only in the Latin Version, called the
    Vulgate. As early as the seventh century English churchmen
    made translations of the Psalter, and the Venerable Bede made
    an Anglo-Saxon version of St. John's gospel. Toward the close
    of the fourteenth century appeared Wyclif's Bible, which
    gained such general circulation that there are still extant
    no less than one hundred and fifty manuscript copies of this

    Then came Tyndale, whose ambition was to make a translation
    that any one could understand. He said: "If God spare me
    life, ere many years I will cause the boy that driveth the
    plough to know more of the Scriptures than you priests do."
    His version of a few books of the Bible was published first
    at Cologne, but its acceptance in England was greatly
    hindered by the translator's polemical notes. Tyndale was
    burned at the stake in Belgium for the crime of having
    translated the Bible into the speech of the common people. He
    will always be remembered as the pioneer who prepared the way
    for the Authorized Version.

    After Tyndale came Rogers, who carried on his work as far as
    Isaiah. He was followed by Coverdale who wrote fine sonorous
    English prose, but was weak in scholarship. His translation
    was superseded by the Geneva Version, made in 1568 by English
    refugees in the Swiss city. The Geneva translation is
    noteworthy as the first to appear in Roman type, all the
    others being in black letter.

    The King James Bible was first proposed at the Hampden
    Conference in 1604. The Bishops opposed the scheme, but the
    King was greatly taken with it, and in his usual arbitrary
    way he appointed himself director of the work and issued
    instructions to the fifty-four scholars chosen. One-third of
    these were from Oxford, one-third from Cambridge and the
    remainder from Westminster. They worked three years at the
    task and produced what is known as the Authorized Version.
    There seems to be a strong prejudice against King James
    because of his eccentricities, and most writers on the Bible
    declare that this version was never authorized by King, Privy
    Council, Convocation or Parliament. This is wrong, for King
    James authorized the book, and it owed its existence directly
    to him. Anglicans and Puritans in this famous Conference were
    bitterly hostile to each other, and if they had had their way
    we should never have had this fine version of the Bible. The
    King was president of the Conference, but the two factions
    were ready to fly at each other's throats over such questions
    as the baptism of infants, the authority of the Bishop of
    Rome and others. The King, however, brushed all these
    questions aside. He said that the Geneva Bible taught
    sedition and disobedience, and by royal mandate he ordered
    Bishop Reynolds and his associates to make the best version
    in their power. So the credit which the King received by
    having his name joined to the Bible was well deserved.

    The King James Bible or the Authorized Version has had
    greater influence on the style of English authors than any
    other work, and it remains today a model of the simplest and
    best English, with few obsolete words. Out of the small
    number of 6,000 words used in the Bible, as against 25,000 in
    Shakespeare, not more than 250 words are now out of every-day

    The best short essay on the Authorized Version is by Albert
    S. Cook, Professor of the English Language and Literature in
    Yale University (N. Y., G. P. Putnam's, 1910). This was
    originally contributed to the Cambridge History of English
    Literature, but in book form it contains some matter not
    printed in the History. Professor Cook shows that the King
    James Bible today contains fewer obsolete or archaic words
    than Shakespeare, and that this version put into the speech
    of the common people a score of phrases that now are scarcely
    thought of as purely Biblical, so completely have they passed
    into every-day speech. Among these are "highways and hedges,"
    "clear as crystal," "hip and thigh," "arose as one man,"
    "lick the dust," "a thorn in the flesh," "a broken reed,"
    "root of all evil," "sweat of his brow," "heap coals of
    fire," "a law unto themselves," "the fat of the land," "a
    soft answer," "a word in season," "weighed in the balance and
    found wanting," and so forth.

    Between the Authorized Version and the New Revised Version a
    number of individual translations appeared. The Long
    Parliament made an order in 1653 for a new translation of the
    Bible, and three years later a committee was appointed, but
    as Parliament was dissolved shortly after, the project fell
    through. The individual versions for a hundred years are not
    noteworthy, but in 1851 the American Bible Society issued a
    "Standard" Bible which it circulated for five years. It was
    simply the King James Bible free from errors and
    discrepancies. Another important revision was made by the
    American Bible Union in 1860 and a second revision followed
    in 1866. Its salient feature was the adoption of the
    paragraph form.

    In 1870 a new revised version of the Bible, which should
    receive the benefit of the labors of modern scholars, was
    decided on. The Upper House of Convocation of Canterbury
    appointed a committee to report on revision. A joint
    committee from both houses a few months later was elected and
    was empowered to begin the work. Two committees were
    established, one for the Old and one for the New Testament.
    Work was begun June 22, 1870, but in July it was decided to
    ask the coöperation of American divines. An American
    Committee of thirty members was organized, and began work
    October 4, 1872. The English Committees sent their revision
    to the American Committee, which returned it with suggestions
    and emendations. Five revisions were made in this way before
    the work was completed. Special care was taken in the
    translation of the Greek text of the New Testament.

    In 1881 the Revised New Testament appeared. Orders for three
    million copies came from all parts of the English-speaking
    world. The Revised Old Testament appeared in 1885. The
    preferences of the American Committee were placed in a
    special appendix in both books. In 1901 the American
    Committee issued the American Standard Revised Version, which
    is in general circulation in this country.

    The tercentenary of the King James Version was celebrated in
    March, 1911, and it brought out many interesting facts in
    regard to the book that has been one of the chief educational
    forces in England and in all English-speaking countries since
    it was issued.

    Among the famous Bibles are the Gutenberg Bible, which was
    the first to be printed from movable types; the "Vinegar"
    Bible, because of the printer's misprint of vinegar for
    vineyard; the "Treacle" Bible, which owed its name to the
    phrase "treacle in Gilead" for "balm in Gilead"; the "Wicked"
    Bible, so called because the printers omitted the "not" in
    the Seventh Commandment.

    Of famous manuscript Bibles may be named the Codex
    Alexandrinus, presented by the Sultan of Turkey to Charles
    II of England, and the Codex Sinaiticus, discovered in a
    monastery on Mount Sinai by the great Hebrew scholar,

    Dr. Grenfell, who has made an international reputation by his
    work among the fishermen of Labrador and by his books on the
    Bible, suggests that the Scriptures should not be brought out
    with any distinctive binding. He believes the Bible would
    gain many more readers if it were bound like an ordinary
    secular book, so that one could read it on trains or boats
    without exciting comment. His suggestion is a good one and it
    is to be hoped it will be acted on by Bible publishers.
    Anything that will help to make people read the Bible
    regularly deserves encouragement.

    One of the best Bibles for ordinary use is _The Modern
    Reader's Bible_, edited with introduction and notes by
    Richard G. Moulton, Professor of Literary Theory and
    Interpretation in the University of Chicago. The editor has
    abolished the paragraph form and he has printed all the
    poetry in verse form, which is a great convenience to the
    reader. It makes a volume of 1733 pages, printed on thin but
    opaque paper. (New York: The Macmillan Company. Price, $2.00

    _The Soul of the Bible_ (Boston: American Unitarian
    Association) is the very best condensation of the Scriptures.
    It is arranged by Ulysses G. B. Pierce and consists of
    selections from the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha.
    The editor has brought together parts of the Bible which
    explain and supplement each other. The result is that in five
    hundred and twenty pages one gets the very soul of the Bible.
    Nothing could be better than this book as an introduction to
    the careful reading and systematic study of the Bible, which
    is the best means of culture of spirit and mind that the
    world affords.


    The first folio edition of Shakespeare was published by J.
    Heminge and H. Condell in 1623. A copy of the first folio is
    now very valuable. A reprint of the first folio was issued in
    1807 in folio. The first photolithographic reproduction was
    brought out in 1866. The first folio text is now being
    brought out, with a volume to each play, by the T. Y. Crowell
    Company of New York.

    Four folio editions were brought out in all, the last in

    Of the famous editions may be mentioned Rowe's, the first
    octavo, in 1709; Alexander Pope's in 1723; Theobald's in
    1733; Warburton's in 1747; Dr. Johnson's in 1765; Malone's,
    the first variorum, in ten volumes, in 1790. The first
    American edition was issued at Philadelphia in 1795. Among
    modern editions may be mentioned Boydell's illustrated
    edition in 1802; Charles Knight's popular pictorial edition
    in eight volumes in 1838; Halliwell's edition in sixteen
    volumes from 1853 to 1865; Dyce's edition in 1857; Richard
    Grant White's edition in twelve volumes, published in Boston

    The most noteworthy edition issued in this country is Dr. H.
    H. Furness' variorum edition, begun in Philadelphia in 1873
    and still continued by Dr. Furness' son. A volume is devoted
    to each play and the various texts as well as the notes and
    critical summaries make this the ideal edition for the
    scholar. The Cambridge Edition, edited by W. Aldis Wright in
    nine octavo volumes, is the standard modern text. This text
    is also given in the Temple Edition, so popular with
    present-day readers, issued in forty handy sized volumes with
    prefaces and glossaries by Israel Gollancz. The expurgated
    text edited by W. J. Rolfe has been used generally in
    schools, as also the Hudson Shakespeare, edited by Rev. H. N.

    The best concordance for many years was that of Mary Cowden
    Clarke, first issued in 1844. The concordance by John
    Bartlett was published more recently.

    The best biography of Shakespeare is by Sydney Lee, in a
    single volume, _A Life of Shakespeare_. (New York: The
    Macmillan Company.)

    Other interesting books that deal with the playwright and his
    plays are _Shakespeare's London_, by H. T. Stephenson; _The
    Development of Shakespeare as a Dramatist_, by George Pierce
    Baker; _Shakespeare_, by E. Dowden; _Shakespeare Manual_, by
    F. L. Fleay; _The Text of Shakespeare_, by Thomas R.
    Lounsbury; _Shakespearean Tragedy_, by A. C. Bradley, and _An
    Introduction to Shakespeare_, by H. N. McCracken, F. E.
    Pierce and W. H. Durham, of the Department of English
    Literature in the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale
    University. This is the most valuable book for a beginner in
    the study of Shakespeare.

    A valuable book for the reader who cannot grasp readily the
    story of a Shakespeare play is _Stories of Shakespeare's
    Comedies_, by H. A. Guerber. (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company,
    1910.) The best book for the plots is Charles and Mary Lamb's
    _Tales from Shakespeare_.

    If you are interested in the subject look up these books in
    any good library and then decide on the volumes you wish to
    buy. Never buy a book without looking it over, unless you
    wish to court disappointment.

    The Shakespeare-Bacon controversy was first touched upon by
    J. C. Hart in _The Romance of Yachting_, issued in New York
    in 1848. Seven years later W. H. Smith came out with a work,
    _Was Bacon the Author of Shakespeare's Plays?_ In 1857 Delia
    Bacon wrote the _Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare
    Unfolded_. She created a great furore for a time in England
    but interest soon declined. In recent years the principal
    defender of the theory that Bacon wrote the plays of
    Shakespeare was Ignatius Donnelly of Minneapolis, who wrote
    two huge books in which he developed at tedious length what
    he claimed was a cipher or cryptogram that he had found in
    Shakespeare's plays, but he died before he cleared up the
    mystery or gave any adequate proofs.


    The versions of Homer's _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ are numerous
    but most readers who do not know Greek prefer the prose
    rendering of the _Iliad_ by Lang, Leaf and Myers and the
    prose version of the _Odyssey_ by Butcher and Lang. In
    language that is almost Biblical in its force and simplicity
    these scholars give far more of the spirit of the original
    Greek than any of the translators in verse. Chapman's Homer
    is known today only through the noble sonnet by Keats. It has
    fine passages but it is unreadable. Cowper's Homer in blank
    verse is also intolerably dull. The best blank verse
    translations are by Lord Derby, William Cullen Bryant and
    Christopher P. Cranch.

    For supplementary reading on Homer these works will be found
    valuable: Jebb, _Introduction to Homer_ (Glasgow, 1887);
    Matthew Arnold, _Lectures on Translating Homer_; Andrew Lang,
    _Homer and the Epic_ (London, 1893); Seymour, _Introduction
    to the Language and Verse of Homer_ (Boston, 1889); Professor
    J. P. Mahaffy's books on ancient Greece and Greek life will
    be found helpful.

    Virgil's _Æneid_ has been translated by many hands. Dryden
    produced a fair version and William Morris, Cranch, Conington
    and others have written excellent translations. Conington
    furnished a good translation in prose.

    Jowett's translation is the standard English version of
    Plato, while good sidelights on the author of the _Republic_
    and _Phædo_ may be gained from Emerson's essay on Plato in
    _Representative Men_ and from Walter Pater's _Plato and

    Professor A. J. Church's _The Story of the Iliad_ and _The
    Story of the Æneid_ while intended for the young will appeal
    to many mature readers.

    No translation of Horace has ever been perfectly
    satisfactory. The quality of the poet seems to elude
    translation. Some of the most successful versions are
    Conington, _Odes and Epodes_ (London, 1865); Lord Lytton,
    _Odes and Epodes_ (London, 1869), and Sargent, _Odes_
    (Boston, 1893); supplementary matter may be found in Sellar's
    _Horace and the Elegiac Poets_ (Oxford, 1892).

    Short sketches and critical estimates of all the great Greek
    and Latin writers may be found in _The New International
    Encyclopedia_ (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1904.). These
    are written mainly by Harry Thurston Peck, for many years
    Professor of Latin in Columbia University and conceded to be
    one of the best Latin scholars in this country. They give all
    the facts that the general reader cares to know with an
    excellent bibliography of each writer.


    The exact title is _The Book of the Thousand and One Nights_.
    It contains two hundred and sixty-two tales, although the
    original edition omits one of the most famous, the story of
    _Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp_. Antoine Galland was the
    first translator into a European language. His French version
    was issued in 1717, in twelve volumes. Sir Richard Burton,
    who translated an unexpurgated edition of _The Arabian
    Nights_, with many notes and an essay on the sources of the
    tales, ascribed the fairy tales to Persian sources. Burton's
    edition gives all the obscene allusions but he treated the
    erotic element in the tales from the scholarly standpoint,
    holding that this feature showed the Oriental view of such
    matters, which was and is radically different from the
    Occidental attitude.

    Burton's work was issued by subscription in 1885-1886 in ten
    volumes and is a monument to his Oriental scholarship. Burton
    left at his death the manuscript of another celebrated
    Oriental work, _The Scented Garden_, but Lady Burton, who was
    made his executrix, although offered £25,000 for the
    copyright, destroyed the manuscript. She declared that she
    did this to protect her husband's name, as the world would
    look upon his notes as betraying undue fondness for the
    erotic, whereas she knew and his close friends knew that this
    interest was purely scholarly. Scholars all over the world
    mourned over this destruction of Burton's work.

    Another noteworthy unexpurgated translation was by John
    Payne, prepared for the Villon Society, and issued in

    The best English translation is by E. W. Lane, an English
    Orientalist, whose notes are valuable. The editions of _The
    Arabian Nights_ are endless, and many famous artists have
    given the world their conception of the principal characters
    in these Arabian wonder stories.


    _The Nibelungenlied_ is the German Iliad and dates from the
    thirteenth to the sixteenth century. No less than
    twenty-eight manuscripts of this great epic have come down
    through the ages. From the time of the Reformation down to
    the middle of the eighteenth century it seemed to be
    forgotten. Then a Swiss writer, Bodmer, issued parts of it in
    connection with a version of the _Klage_, a poem describing
    the mourning at King Etzel's Court over the famous heroes who
    fell to satisfy the vengeance of Kriemhild.

    The real discoverer, who restored the epic to the world, was
    Dr. J. H. Oberiet, who found a later version of the poem in
    the Castle of Hohenems in the Tyrol, June 29, 1755.

    C. H. Myller in 1782 published the first complete edition,
    using part of Bodmer's version. It was not until the opening
    of the nineteenth century and during the Romantic movement in
    Germany that _The Nibelungenlied_ was seriously studied.
    Partsch, a German critic, developed the theory that _The
    Nibelungenlied_ was written about 1140 and that rhyme was
    introduced by a later poet to take the place of the stronger
    assonances in the original version.

    The legend of Siegfried's death, resulting from the quarrel
    of the two queens, and all the woes that followed, was the
    common property of all the German and Scandinavian people.
    From the banks of the Rhine to the northernmost parts of
    Norway and Sweden and the Shetland Isles and Iceland this
    legend of chivalry and revenge was sung around the
    camp-fires. William Morris' _Sigurd the Volsung_ is derived
    from a prose paraphrase of the Edda songs.

    Many English versions of _The Nibelungenlied_ have been made
    but most of them are harsh. Carlyle's summary of the epic in
    his _Miscellanies_ is the most satisfactory for the general
    reader. A good prose version of _The Nibelungenlied_ is by
    Daniel Bussier Shumway, Professor of German Philology in the
    University of Pennsylvania. It contains an admirable essay on
    the history of the epic. (Boston, 1909.)

    William Morris has made fine renderings in verse of portions
    of _The Nibelungenlied_ but he has drawn much of his material
    from the kindred Norse legends. Two translations into English
    verse are those of W. N. Lettson, _The Fall of the
    Nibelungen_ (London, 1874), and of Alice Harnton, _The Lay of
    the Nibelungs_ (London, 1898).

    A complete bibliography of works in English dealing with _The
    Nibelungenlied_ may be found in F. E. Sandbach's _The
    Nibelungenlied and Gudrun in England and America_ (London,

    Other books dealing with _The Nibelungenlied_ are F. H.
    Hedge, _Hours With the German Classics_ (Boston, 1886); G. T.
    Dippold, _The Great Epics of Mediæval Germany_ (Boston,
    1882); G. H. Genung, _The Nibelungenlied_ in Warner's
    _Library of the World's Best Literature_, Volume xviii (New
    York, 1897).


    The first translation of the _Confessions_ to gain general
    circulation was in Dr. Pusey's _Library of the Fathers_
    (Oxford, 1839-1855). Pusey admits his edition is merely a
    version of W. Watts' version, originally printed in London
    in 1650, but Pusey added many notes as well as a long
    preface. An American edition was issued by Dr. W. G. T. Shedd
    of Andover, Mass., in 1860; it consisted of this same
    translation by Watts with a comparison by Shedd between
    _Augustine's Confessions_ and those of Rousseau.

    An elaborate article on St. Augustine, dealing with his life,
    his theological work and his influence on the Church, may be
    found in the second volume of _The Catholic Encyclopedia_
    (Robert Appleton Company, New York, 1907). It is written by
    Eugene Portalie, S. J., Professor of Theology at the Catholic
    Institute of Toulouse, France.


    _Don Quixote_ first appeared in Madrid in 1605 and the second
    part in 1615. Other noteworthy Spanish editions were by
    Pellicier (Madrid, 1797-1798) and by Diego Clemencia (Madrid,
    1833-1839). The first English version of the great Spanish
    classic appeared in London in 1612. The translator was T.
    Skelton. Other later English editions were J. Philips, 1687;
    P. Motteux, 1700-1712; C. Jarvis, 1742; Tobias Smollett,
    1755; A. J. Duffield, 1881; H. E. Watts, 1888, 1894. Watts'
    edition contains a full biography.

    A noteworthy edition of Cervantes is the English version by
    Daniel Vierge in four volumes, with many fine illustrations,
    which give the reader a series of sketches of Spanish life as
    it is depicted in the pages of _Don Quixote_. Vierge's
    edition is the most satisfactory that has ever been issued.
    It is brought out in beautiful style by Charles Scribner's
    Sons, New York.

    A standard _Life of Cervantes_ is that by T. Roscoe, London,
    1839. H. E. Watts has written a fine monograph in Great
    Writers' Series, 1891. Other lives are by J. F. Kelly, 1892,
    and A. F. Calvert, 1905. Lockhart's introduction is printed
    in the Everyman edition of _Don Quixote_, the translation by
    Motteux. This introduction makes thirty pages and gives
    enough facts for the general reader, with a good estimate of
    _Don Quixote_ and Cervantes' other works.


    The early editions of Thomas à Kempis' great work were in
    manuscript, many of them beautifully illuminated. A
    noteworthy edition was brought out in 1600 at Antwerp by
    Henry Sommalius, S. J. The works of Thomas à Kempis in three
    volumes were issued by this same editor in 1615.

    The first English version of the _Imitation_ was made by
    Willyam Atkynson and was printed by Wykyns de Worde in 1502.
    In 1567 Edward Hake issued a fine edition. Among the best
    English editions are those of Canon Benham, Sir Francis
    Cruise, Bishop Challoner and the Oxford edition of 1841. The
    best edition for the beginner is that edited by Brother Leo,
    F. S. C., Professor of English Literature in St. Mary's
    College, Oakland, California. It is in the Macmillan's Pocket
    Classics and has an admirable introduction of fifty-three
    pages. The notes are brief but very helpful.

    Some of the best articles on Thomas à Kempis are to be found
    in _The Catholic Encyclopedia_ and _The Schaff-Herzog
    Encyclopedia of Religious Thought_.

    There has been much controversy over the authorship of _The
    Imitation of Christ_, but the weight of evidence is
    conclusive that Thomas à Kempis was the writer of this book,
    which has preserved his name for five hundred years. The book
    was issued anonymously and some manuscript copies of it bore
    the name of St. Bernard and others that of John Gerson. As
    Thomas à Kempis spent most of his life copying sacred books
    it was assumed that he had merely copied the text of another
    monk's work.

    A Spanish student in 1604 found a sentence from the
    _Imitation_ quoted in a sermon attributed to Bonaventura, who
    died in 1273, two hundred years before the death of Thomas.
    This caused a great literary sensation and it was some time
    before it was established that the sermon was not by
    Bonaventura but belonged to the fifteenth century. In casting
    about for the real author of the _Imitation_ the Superior of
    the Jesuit College at Arona, Father Rossignoli, found an
    undated copy of the _Imitation_ in the college library with
    the signature of Johannis Gerson. The college had been
    formerly conducted by the Benedictines, so it was assumed
    that Gerson was the real author. It was only after much
    research that it was proved that this manuscript copy of the
    _Imitation_ was brought to Arona from Genoa in 1579.
    Constantine Cajetan, a fanatic in his devotion to the order
    of St. Benedict, found in a copy of the _Imitation_ printed
    in Venice in 1501 a note saying, "this book was not written
    by John Gerson but by John, Abbot of Vercelli." A manuscript
    copy was also found by him bearing the name of John of
    Carabuco. Out of these facts Cajetan built up his theory that
    John Gerson of Carabuco, Benedictine Abbot of Vercelli, was
    the real author of the _Imitation_.

    Thus began the most famous controversy in the annals of
    literature, which raged for several hundred years. Among the
    claimants to the honor of having written this book were
    Bernard of Clairvaux, Giovanni Gerso, an Italian monk of the
    twelfth century; Walter Hilton, an English monk; John
    Gerson, Chancellor of Paris; John Gerson, Abbot of Vercelli,
    and Thomas à Kempis.

    What would seem to be conclusive evidence that Thomas à
    Kempis was the author is the fact that the _Imitation_ was
    written for chanting. Carl Hirsche compared the manuscript
    copy of the _Imitation_ of 1441 which he found in the
    Bourgogne Library in Brussels with other writings of Thomas à
    Kempis, also marked for chanting, and found great similarity
    between the _Imitation_ and the works admitted to have been
    written by Thomas à Kempis.

    The _Imitation_ has been a favorite book with many persons.
    Mrs. Jane L. Stanford, who showed such remarkable faith in
    the university which Leland Stanford founded and who made
    many sacrifices to save it in critical periods, always
    carried a fine copy of Thomas à Kempis with her. Miss Berger,
    who was Mrs. Stanford's secretary and constant companion for
    over fifteen years, told me that whenever Mrs. Stanford was
    in doubt or trouble she took up the _Imitation_, opened it at
    random and always found something which settled her doubts
    and gave her comfort.


    Edward FitzGerald's version of the _Rubá'iyát_ was the first
    to appeal to the western world. It has been reproduced in
    countless editions since it was first issued in London in
    1859. Dole in the _Rubá'iyát of Omar Khayyám_ (Boston, 1896)
    gives a fairly complete bibliography of manuscripts,
    editions, translations and imitations of the Quatrains.

    Five hundred quatrains from the original Persian, translated
    metrically by E. H. Whinfield, were issued in London, 1883,
    while Payne made a poetical translation, reproducing all the
    metrical eccentricities of the original Persian, which he
    called "_The Quatrains of Omar Khayyám_, now first completely
    done into English Verse from the Persian, with a Biographical
    and Critical Introduction" (London, 1898). Heron Allen has
    added a valuable book in _The Rubá'iyát of Omar Khayyám_: A
    Facsimile of the Manuscript in the Bodleian Library,
    Translated and Edited (Boston, 1898).

    One of the best editions of the _Rubá'iyát_ is a reprint of
    FitzGerald's various editions, showing the many changes, some
    of which were not improvements, and the quatrains that were
    dropped out of the final version, with a commentary by Batson
    and an introduction by Ross (New York, 1900).

    Another excellent edition of FitzGerald's final version,
    issued by Paul Elder & Company, is edited by Arthur Guiterman
    and contains _The Literal Omar_, that lovers of the
    astronomer-poet may see, stanza for stanza, how the old
    Persian originally phrased the verses that the Irish recluse
    so musically echoed in English.


    The best known English translation of the _Divine Comedy_ is
    that of Cary, first published in 1806. Other English versions
    are by Dayman, Pollock and J. A. Carlyle. Longfellow made a
    translation in verse which is musical and cast in the _terza
    rima_ of the original.

    A mass of commentary on Dante has been issued of which only a
    few noteworthy books can be mentioned here. Among these are
    Botta, _Introduction to the Study of Dante_ (London, 1887);
    Maria Francesca Rossetti, _A Shadow of Dante_ (London,
    1884); Butler, _Dante: His Times and His Work_ (London,
    1895); Symonds, _Introduction to the Study of Dante_
    (Edinburgh, 1890); Lowell, _Among My Books_, one of the
    finest essays on the great poet and his work (Boston, 1880);
    Macaulay, _Essays_, Vol. I; Carlyle in _Heroes and Hero

    One of the largest Dante libraries in the world was collected
    by the late Professor Willard Fiske of Cornell University. At
    his death this splendid library was given to the university
    which Professor Fiske served for over twenty years as head of
    the department of Northern European languages. Professor
    Melville B. Anderson, recently retired from the chair of
    English Literature at Stanford University, is now completing
    a translation of Dante, which has been a labor of love for
    many years.


    The first edition of Milton's _Paradise Lost_, in ten books,
    bears date of August 10, 1667. Seven years later, with many
    changes and enlarged by two books, it appeared in a second
    edition. All that Milton received for this poem was £10.
    _Paradise Regained_ was first printed with _Samson Agonistes_
    in 1671.

    The standard biography of Milton is by Masson in six volumes
    (London, 1859-1894). The best short sketch is Mark Pattison's
    in John Morley's _English Men of Letters Series_ (New York,
    1880). Another good short sketch is in Richard Garnett's
    volume in _Great Writers' Series_ (London, 1890).

    One of the best editions of Milton's _Prose Works_ is in the
    Bohn Library, five volumes, edited by St. John.

    _The Poetical Works_, edited by Masson, appeared in 1890 in
    three volumes. Buching of Oxford issued in 1900 reprints of
    the first editions under the title, _Poetical Works After the
    Original Texts_.

    Among famous essays on Milton may be named those by Dr.
    Johnson, Macaulay, Lowell and Trent. Dr. Hiram Corson's
    _Introduction to Milton's Works_ will be found valuable, as
    will also Osgood's _The Classical Mythology of Milton's
    English Poems_. In Hale's _Longer English Poems_ there are
    chapters on Milton which are full of good suggestions.


    The _Pilgrim's Progress_, which has been translated into
    seventy-one languages and has passed through more editions
    than any other book except the Bible, originally appeared in
    1678, a second edition came out in the same year and a third
    edition in 1679. Bunyan made numerous additions to the second
    and third editions. The second part of _Pilgrim's Progress_
    appeared in 1684.

    Bunyan's literary activity was phenomenal when it is
    remembered that he had little early education. In all he
    produced sixty books and pamphlets, all devoted to spreading
    the faith to which he devoted his life. Among the best known
    of his works besides _Pilgrim's Progress_ is _The Holy War_,
    _The Holy City_, _Grace Abounding in the Chief of Sinners_,
    _The Life and Death of Mr. Badman_.

    The best short life of Bunyan is that by James Anthony Froude
    in _English Men of Letters Series_ (New York, 1880).
    Macaulay's essay on Bunyan ranks with his noble essay on
    Milton. Other lives are those by Southey, Dr. J. Brown and
    Canon Venables.


    The first edition of _Boswell's Johnson_ appeared in 1791 and
    made a great hit. There was a call for a second edition in
    1794 and Boswell was preparing a third edition in 1795 when
    he died. This uncompleted third edition was issued by Edward
    Malone in 1799, who also superintended the issue of the
    fourth, fifth and sixth editions. Malone furnished many notes
    and he also received the assistance of Dr. Charles Burney,
    father of the author of _Evelina_, and others who knew both
    Boswell and Johnson. An edition in 1822 was issued by the
    Chalmers, who contributed much information of value. All
    these materials with much new matter went into the edition of
    John Wilson Croker in 1831. Croker was cordially hated by
    Macaulay and the result was the bitter criticism of Croker's
    edition of Boswell's great work that is now included among
    the famous essays of Macaulay. Bohn brought out Croker's
    edition in ten volumes in 1859, and it has been reproduced in
    this country by the John W. Lovell Company in four volumes.
    Carlyle's _Essay on Boswell's Johnson_ is one of the best pen
    pictures of the old Doctor and his biographer that has ever
    been written.

    Percy Fitzgerald's _Life of Boswell_ (London, 1891) is good
    and Rogers' _Boswelliana_ gives many anecdotes of the writer
    of the best biography in the language. _Dr. Johnson and Mrs.
    Thrale_, by A. M. Broadley, furnishes much curious
    information about the relations of the old Doctor with the
    woman who studied his comfort for so many years. It is rich
    in illustrations from rare portraits and old prints and in
    reproductions of letters (New York: John Lane Company,


    The first edition of _Robinson Crusoe_ appeared in 1719. It
    made an immediate hit and was quickly translated into many
    languages. A second part was added but this was never so
    popular as the first. The first publication was in serial
    form in a periodical, _The Original London Post_ or
    _Heathcote's Intelligencer_. So great was its success that
    four editions were called for in the same year, three in two
    volumes and one, a condensed version, in a single volume.

    In 1720 Defoe brought out _Serious Reflections During the
    Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, with His Vision of
    the Angelic World_. This was poorly received, although it has
    since been included in many of the editions of this story.

    Of the making of editions of _Robinson Crusoe_ there is no
    end. Nearly every year sees a new edition, with original
    illustrations. A noteworthy edition is that of Tyson's,
    published in London, with many fine engravings from designs
    by Granville, and another in 1820 in two volumes, with
    engravings by Charles Heath.

    A fine edition of _Robinson Crusoe_ in two volumes was issued
    by Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston in 1908, with
    illustrations from designs by Thomas Stothard.

    The standard life of Defoe is that by Wm. Hazlitt, published
    in London (1840-1843) in three volumes. Sir Walter Scott
    edited a good edition of Defoe's complete works in 1840, in
    twenty volumes. About fifteen years ago J. M. Dent of London
    issued a fine edition of Defoe's works, with an excellent
    introduction to each book. A good selection of some of
    Defoe's best work is _Masterpieces of Defoe_, issued by the
    Macmillan Company in a series of prose masterpieces of great

        "There are few books one can read through and through so,
          With new delight, either on wet or dry day,
        As that which chronicles the acts of Crusoe,
          And the good faith and deeds of his man Friday."


    Swift foretold very accurately the great vogue that
    _Gulliver's Travels_ would have. In writing to Arbuthnot he
    said: "I will make over all my profits (in a certain work)
    for the property of _Gulliver's Travels_ which, I believe,
    will have as great a run as John Bunyan." The success of the
    book when issued anonymously in November, 1726, was enormous.
    Swift derived his chief satisfaction from the fact that he
    had hoodwinked many readers. Arbuthnot told of an
    acquaintance who had tried to locate Lilliput on a map and
    another told him of a shipmaster who had known Gulliver well.
    Many editions of the book were called for in England, and in
    France it had a great success and was dramatized.

    A large paper copy of the first edition, with Swift's
    corrections on the margin, which appeared in later editions,
    is now in the South Kensington Museum. It shows how carefully
    Swift revised the work, as the changes are numerous. Toward
    the close of 1726 the work was reissued, with a second
    volume. In 1727 appeared the first new edition of both
    volumes. Swift's changes were mainly in "Laputa," which had
    been severely criticized. On Dec. 28, 1727, Swift in a letter
    suggests illustrations for the new edition and says of the
    book: "The world glutted itself with that book at first, but
    now it will go off but soberly, but I suppose will not be
    soon worn out."

    A Dublin edition of 1735 contained many corrections and it
    also included a "Letter from Gulliver to his cousin Simpson,"
    a device of Swift to mystify the public and make it believe
    in the genuineness of Gulliver.

    The best life of Swift is in two volumes, by Henry Craik (New
    York: The Macmillan Company, 1894). The best short life is by
    Leslie Stephen in the _English Men of Letters Series_.


  ADDISON, JOSEPH, suggestion of the _Spectator_ given by Defoe, 126.

  AGAMEMNON, THE, FitzGerald's version, 79.

  ÆNEID, THE, features of great Latin epic, 33, 34.


  ALCOTT, A. BRONSON, introduced Emerson to German philosophy, 30.


  ANTIGONE, the greatest of Sophocles' tragedies, 36.


  APOLLYON, his famous fight with Christian, 115.


  ARNOLD, MATTHEW, his imitation of Greek lyrics, 32;
    his fondness for _The Imitation of Christ_, 71.

  AREOPAGITICA, THE, one of Milton's finest prose works, 102.

  BACONIAN THEORY, its absurdity, 14, 15.

  BALZAC, _Le Pere Goriot_, a study of a father's unselfish
        sacrifices, 23.

  BIBLE, THE, xx: 9-13.
    Comfort in time of sorrow, 11, 12.
    Culture from study of it, 12, 13.
    Greatness compared with other books, 10.
    Men who formed their style on it, 12, 13.
    _Soul of the Bible, The_, a fine condensation of the Scriptures, 11.
    Zophar's words to Job, 12.



  BOOTH, EDWIN, his magnificent interpretation of Hamlet, 24, 25.

  BOSWELL, JAMES, his _Life of Dr. Johnson_, 117.

  BROBDINGNAG, the land of giants in Swift's _Gulliver's Travels_, 131.

  BRUNHILDE, one of the heroines of _The Nibelungenlied_, 45.

  BRYANT, WILLIAM CULLEN, his metrical version of the _Iliad_ and the
        _Odyssey_, 34.

  BUNYAN, JOHN, 100, 109.
    Biography, 109-111.
    Comparison between Bunyan and Milton, 108, 109.
    _Holy War, The_, a good allegory, 112.
    Life in Bedford jail, 111.
    Saturated with the Bible, 114.

  BURTON, SIR RICHARD, his unexpurgated edition of the _Arabian
        Nights_, 42.

  BYRON, LORD, epigram on Cervantes, 57.

  CALDERON, FitzGerald's version of several plays of, 79.

  CAPTAIN SINGLETON, one of Defoe's romances dealing with African
        adventure, 126, 127.

  CARLYLE, THOMAS, Essay on the _Nibelungenlied_, 46.
    Essay on _Boswell's Johnson_, 127.
    Tribute to Dante, 89, 90.

  CERVANTES, his adventurous career, 58-60.
    Life at Rome, 59.
    Wounded at Lepanto, 59.
    Wrote _Don Quixote_ at age of fifty-eight, 60.

  CHESTERFIELD, LORD, Dr. Johnson dedicated his Dictionary to him, 120.
    Johnson's bitter satirical letter to him as patron, 121, 122.


  CICERO, eloquence in his letters, 37.

  CLEOPATRA, pictured by Shakespeare as the greatest siren of
        history, 24.

  COLONEL JACK, an entertaining picaresque romance by Defoe, 127.


  COMTE, AUGUSTE, made the _Imitation_ part of his Positivist
        ritual, 72.

    Influence on Churchmen, 49.
    Reveals marvelous faith in God, 53.

    a great interpreter of Shakespeare, 25.

  CRANCH, CHRISTOPHER P., author of one of the best metrical versions of
        the _Æneid_, 34.

  CULTURE, not confined to college graduates, xix.
    An old sea captain's self culture, 5, 6.

  DANTE, biography, 86, 87.
    His _Divine Comedy_ one of the world's great books, 39.
    Love of Beatrice his chief inspiration, 86.

  DEFOE, DANIEL, biography, 125, 126.
    _Robinson Crusoe_ his greatest work, 128.
    _Colonel Jack_, _Moll Flanders_, _Roxana_, _Captain Singleton_,
        _Memoirs of a Cavalier_, _Duncan Campbell_ and _Journal of the
        Plague Year_, his other best known works, 126, 127.
    One of the greatest of pamphleteers, 126.
    Secrecy about life puzzle to biographers, 126.
    Style formed on study of the Bible, 13.

  DE MORGAN, WILLIAM, took up authorship at sixty, 61.

  DE QUINCEY, THOMAS, his distinction between the literature of power
        and the literature of knowledge, x.
    His style full of Biblical phrases, 13.

  DERBY, EARL OF, blank verse translation of the _Iliad_, 34.

  DICKENS, CHARLES, novelist who gained fame in youth, 61.

  DIVINE COMEDY, influence on great poets and prose writers, 89, 90.
    Inspiration of Mazzini and New Italy, 84.
    Mirrors the Italy of Dante's day, 88.
    One of the greatest of the world's poems, 83, 84.
    Tributes by Carlyle, Lowell and Longfellow, 89, 90, 91.

  DON JOHN OF AUSTRIA, leader under whom Cervantes fought against
        Moslems, 59.

  DON QUIXOTE, character of hero, 58.
    Greatest book in Spanish literature, 57.
    Mirrors Spanish life and character, 62.
    Written in prison, 61.

  DRYDEN, JOHN, his verse, 106.

  DUNCAN CAMPBELL, a story of second sight, by Defoe, 126.

  DUMAS, ALEXANDRE, the elder, his remarkable literary development, 17.

  ELIOT, DR. CHARLES W., his "five-foot shelf of books," xix.

  ELIOT, GEORGE, her tribute to Thomas à Kempis, 72.

  ELIZABETHAN AGE, its richness in great writers, 17.

  EMERSON, RALPH WALDO, Essays mosaic of quotations, 30.
    How he wrote his essays, 66.
    Influenced by Oriental poets, 30.
    Recommends translations of classic and modern foreign authors, 85.

  EPICTETUS, the Greek stoic, 37.

  EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA, one of Matthew Arnold's finest poems, 32.


  FITZGERALD, EDWARD, Biography, 77, 78.
    Friend of Tennyson and Thackeray, 77.
    His version of the _Rubá'iyát_ made Omar's work famous, 78, 79.
    Other translations, 79.



  GALLAND, ANTOINE, introduced the _Arabian Nights_ to Europe, 42.

  GARRICK, DAVID, the famous English actor who, as a youth, tramped to
        London with Dr. Johnson, 119.

  GIBBON, EDWARD, in advance of his age, 116, 117.
    On love of reading, ix.
    Member of Dr. Johnson's Club, 120.

  GOETHE, his _Faust_ ranks with Shakespeare's best plays, 16.
    Comparison between Mephistopheles and Iago, 23.

  GOLDSMITH, OLIVER comment on Dr. Johnson's method in argument, 118.

  GORDON, GENERAL, influence over barbarous races, 51, 52.
    Had the _Imitation_ in his pocket when he fell at Khartoum, 72.

  GRACE ABOUNDING, one of Bunyan's minor works, 110.

  GRENFELL, DR. WILFRED T., medical missionary to Labrador and one of
        the most stimulating of the writers of the day, 51.
    _What the Bible Means to Me_; full of helpful suggestions, 52.

  GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, Swift's greatest work, 129-131.
    Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, and the land of the Houyhnhnms, 131.

  HAMLET, the finest creative work of Shakespeare, 20, 22, 24, 96.


  HOLY WAR, THE, one of Bunyan's religious allegories, 112.

  HOMER, 31, 33, 34, 35.
    _The Iliad_ leads all classical works, 33, 34.
    Many translators of the _Iliad_, 34.
    Pictures of old Greek Life, 35.

  HORACE, no satisfactory translation of his odes, 31.

  HOUYHNHNMS, THE, Land in _Gulliver's Travels_, in which the Horse is
        King and men are vile slaves called Yahoos, 131.

  ILIAD, THE, the greatest literary masterpiece of antiquity, 34.

  IL PENSEROSO, one of Milton's finest lyrics, 107.

  IMITATION OF CHRIST, THE, by Thomas à Kempis, 39, 64-71.
    Appeal for the spiritual life, 70.
    Best editions, 73.
    Famous writers bear testimony to its influence, 71, 72.
    Its inspiration drawn directly from the Bible, 68.
    Some quotations, 71.

  IVANHOE, 113.

  JEFFERIES, RICHARD, a young English writer who reproduced the very
        spirit of classical life, 31.
    _The Story of My Heart_, 32.

  JOHNSON, DR. SAMUEL, 116-122.
    Biography, 118-120.
    His best poems, _London_ and _The Vanity of Human Wishes_, 119, 121.
    His best prose, _The Lives of the Poets_, and _Life of Richard
        Savage_, 119, 120.
    His famous letter to Lord Chesterfield, 121, 122.
    Rare qualities of old Doctor's character, 123.
    Boswell's Life of, 117, 122, 123.

  JOHNSON, ESTHER (STELLA) one of the two women Swift loved to their
        cost, 129.

  JONSON, BEN, 15.

  JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR, a work of fiction by Defoe which surpasses
        any genuine picture of London's great pestilence, 127.

  JOWETT, DR. BENJAMIN, an Oxford professor and the best Greek scholar
        of his time who made the finest version of Plato's _Phædo_, 36.

  JUAN FERNANDEZ ISLAND, scene of Robinson Crusoe's adventures, 125.

  JULIUS CÆSAR, one of Shakespeare's greatest historical tragedies, 23.

  KEATS, JOHN; without knowing Greek or Latin, he reproduced
  most perfectly the spirit of classical life in his _Ode to a Grecian
        Urn_, and other poems, 31, 32.

  KEMPIS, THOMAS À, author of _The Imitation of Christ_, 65-68.
    Biography, 66-68.

  KING LEAR, the tragedy of old age and children's ingratitude, 23.

  KIPLING, RUDYARD, his great literary success at early age, 61.

  KORAN, THE, its inferiority to the Bible, 10.

  KRIEMHILD, the heroine in the _Nibelungenlied_, whose revenge resulted
        in the slaughter of the Burgundian heroes, 44.

  L'ALLEGRO, one of Milton's finest lyrics, 107.

  LANE, EDWARD W., who wrote the best translation of the _Arabian
        Nights_, 42.

  LANG, ANDREW, joint author with Butcher of a prose translation of the
        _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_, 34.

  LAPUTA, the floating island in _Gulliver's Travels_, 131.

  LEO, BROTHER, Professor of English Literature in St. Mary's College,
        Oakland, Calif., the editor of a good cheap edition of _The
        Imitation of Christ_, 73.

  LILLIPUT, a land in _Gulliver's Travels_ inhabited by pygmies, 131.

  LOCKHART, JOHN GIBSON, Scott's son-in-law and biographer, who edited a
        good edition of _Don Quixote_, 60.

  LONGFELLOW, HENRY WADSWORTH, translated the _Divine Comedy_ by working
        fifteen minutes every morning, 8.
    His tribute to Dante, 90, 91.

  LOPE DE VEGA, the most prolific of Spanish playwrights, 58.

  LOWELL, JAMES RUSSELL, attributed his love of learning to reading
        Dante, 90.

  LYCIDAS, Milton's exquisite lament over the death of a young
        friend, 107.

  MACAULAY, THOMAS BABINGTON, his wide reading in India, 8.
    Essays rich in allusions to many authors, 104.
    Essay on Boswell's Johnson, 122.

  MACBETH, Shakespeare's tragedy of guilty ambition, 22, 23.

  MANTELL, ROBERT, one of the greatest living interpreters of
        Shakespeare on the stage, 15.

  MANZONI, 84.

  MARCUS AURELIUS, his _Meditations_, 33.
    Simplicity of character when master of the Roman world, 37.

  MARLOWE, CHRISTOPHER, a contemporary of Shakespeare, whose plays are
        almost unreadable today, 15.

  MAZZINI, GIUSEPPE, the the Italian patriot who regarded Dante as the
        prophet of the New Italy, 84, 89.

  MEDEA, one of the greatest of the tragedies of Euripides, 36.

  MEDITATIONS of Marcus Aurelius, one of the famous Latin classics that
        is very modern in feeling, 33.

  MEMOIRS OF A CAVALIER, one of Defoe's graphic romances of the time of
        Cromwell, 126.

  MERCHANT OF VENICE, one of the most popular of Shakespeare's
        plays, 21.

  MILL ON THE FLOSS, one of George Eliot's best novels, in which Maggie
        Tulliver feels the influence of Thomas à Kempis, 72.

  MILTON, JOHN, 100-103.
    Biography, 101-103.
    _Paradise Lost_, dictated in blindness, 103.
    Sonnet on his blindness, 107.

  MOLL FLANDERS, the romance of a London courtesan, by Defoe, 127.

  MORRIS, WILLIAM, his _Sigurd the Volsung_, 46.

  NAISHAPUR, the home of Omar Khayyám, 75.

  NIBELUNGENLIED, THE, a German epic poem of the first half of the
        Thirteenth Century, 44, 47.
    Story of the murder of Siegfried and the revenge of Kriemhild told
        in Wagner's operas, 45, 46.

  NIZAM UL MULK, Vizier of Persia and school friend of Omar Khayyám, who
        gave the poet a pension, 75, 76.

  ODYSSEY, THE, one of Homer's great epics, 34.

  OLD TESTAMENT, its splendid imagery, 10.

  OMAR KHAYYÁM, author of _The Rubá'iyát_, 74-77.
    Biography, 75-77.

  OTHELLO, Shakespeare's tragedy of jealousy, 23.

  PARADISE LOST, 100-106.
    Modeled on the classical epics, 104.
    Richness of imagery and allusions to classical mythology, 104.
    Blank verse of the poem unsurpassed in English literature, 106.
    Specimens of style, 106.

  PAYNE, JOHN, translator of the _Arabian Nights_ for the Villon
        Society, 42.

  PEPYS' DIARY, description of the great plague in London, 127.

  PHÆDO, Plato's version of the _Dialogues of Socrates_, 36.

  PILGRIM'S PROGRESS, Bunyan's great romance, 108-113.
    Evidences of close study of the Bible in this book, 114.
    Fight between Christian and Apollyon, 115.
    A literary masterpiece by a poor, self-educated
    English tinker, 115.

  PIGSKIN LIBRARY, THE, a collation of books carried by Colonel
        Roosevelt on his African game-hunting trip, 9.

  PLATO, the _Dialogues of Socrates_, 31.
    Jowett's translation of the _Phædo_, 36.

  PLINY, his letters bring the classical world very near to us, 37.


  POPE, ALEXANDER, translation of the _Iliad_, 33, 34.
    Artificial verse of, 106.

  PROMETHEUS, BOUND, a tragedy of Æschylus, 36.

  PUSEY, DR. E. B., leader of the Tractarian movement in England, who
        translated the _Confessions of St. Augustine_, 51.

  RAMBLER, THE, weekly journal written and published by Dr. Johnson,
        which suggested the _Spectator_ to Addison, 119.

  READING CLUBS, suggestions for forming them, 97, 98.

  REPUBLIC, THE, Plato's picture of an ideal commonwealth, 36.

  REYNOLDS, SIR JOSHUA, famous artist and associate of Dr. Johnson, 120.

    The world's greatest book of adventure for children, 124, 125.
    Instant success of the book, 126.
    Materials furnished by a castaway on Juan Fernandez Island, 128.
    Art shown in describing Crusoe's solitude and his moral and
        religious reflections, 128, 129.

  ROMEO AND JULIET, Shakespeare's great tragedy of unhappy love, 21.

  ROOSEVELT, COL., his Pigskin library, 9.
    His best literary work done in _African Game Trails_, 9.

  ROXANA, one of Defoe's romances of a woman of London's
        tenderloin, 127.

  RUBÁ'IYÁT, THE, Omar Khayyám's great poem, 39, 74, 78-81.
    Its world-wide vogue due to FitzGerald's splendid free
        version, 74, 75.
    Its Oriental imagery, 75.
    Omar's Epicureanism largely imaginary, 80.
    Specimen quatrains from FitzGerald's version, 81.

  RUSKIN, JOHN, his splendid diction due to early Bible study, 13.

  SANCHO PANZA, squire to Don Quixote, 56.

  ST. AUGUSTINE, the most famous father of the Latin church of the
        fourth century, author of the _Confessions_, 39, 49, 50, 54, 55.
    Biography, 53-55.
    Influence of the _Confessions_, 54.
    His tribute to his mother, Monica, 55.

  SCOTT, SIR WALTER, among English authors next to Shakespeare in
        creative power, 20.

  SELKIRK, ALEXANDER, the English sailor whose adventures gave Defoe
        the materials for _Robinson Crusoe_, 128.

    Ranks next to Bible, 14.
    His plays very modern, 15.
    Robert Mantell in his finest roles, 15, 16.
    Rhymes in the blank verse give clue to order of the plays, 18.
    Comedies the work of his early years, 19.
    The period of great tragedies, 19, 20.
    His last three plays, _The Tempest_, _Cymbeline_, and _The Winter's
        Tale_, 20.
    Enormous creative activity, 20.
    _Hamlet_ sums up human life, 20, 21, 22.
    _Romeo and Juliet_, 21.
    _The Merchant of Venice_, 21.
    _As You Like It_, 22.
    _Macbeth_, 22, 23.
    _Julius Cæsar_, 23.
    _Othello_, 23.
    _Antony and Cleopatra_, 24.
    Best means of studying Shakespeare, 25.
    Some of the best editions of Shakespeare, 26, 27.

  SHEHEREZADE, the Queen in _The Arabian Nights_ who saved her life by
        relating the tales of _The Thousand and One Nights_ to her
        husband, Sultan Schariar of India, 41.

  SIEGFRIED, one of the heroes of _The Nibelungenlied_ who is foully
        slain by Prince Hagen, 45.

  SMOLLETT, TOBIAS, an English novelist who wrote _Humphrey Clinker_ and
        _Roderick Random_, 60.


  SOPHOCLES, _OEdipus_, 31.

  SOUL OF THE BIBLE, THE, a condensed version of the Old and New
        Testaments which will be found useful by Bible students, 11.

  STORY OF MY HEART, THE, an eloquent book by Richard Jefferies in which
        the spiritual aspirations of a self-educated young man are
        vividly described, 32.

  STRAYED REVELER, A, one of Matthew Arnold's finest lyrical poems, 32.

  STANLEY, HENRY M., his autobiography records the great work done by a
        poor foundling whose spirit in boyhood was nearly crushed by
        cruelty, 53.

  STELLA, the pet name given by Dean Swift to Esther Johnson, a young
        woman whom he immortalized by his journal, written for her
        amusement, 129, 130, 131.

  SWIFT, JONATHAN, Dean of St. Patrick's, one of the greatest of English
        writers and author of _Gulliver's Travels_, 129, 130.

  TALE OF A TUB, THE, a vitriolic satire in verse by Swift, 130.

  TEMPLE, SIR WILLIAM, an English statesman and author and patron of
        Swift, 129.

  TENNANT, DOROTHY, widow of Stanley, who edited his _Autobiography_, 53.

  UTTOXETER, a Staffordshire town where Dr. Johnson did penance for
        harsh words spoken years before to his father, 123.

  VANESSA, the name given by Swift to Esther Vanhomrigh, a brilliant
        pupil who fell in love with him and was ruined, like
        "Stella," 129, 130.

  VEDDER, ELIHU, the American artist who illustrated the _Rubá'iyát_, 82.

  VIRGIL, difficulty in translating his work, 33.
    Story of the _Æneid_, 35, 36.

  WAGNER, RICHARD, his great operas drawn from the principal incidents
        of _The Nibelungenlied_ and allied Norse epics, 45, 46.

  WOODBERRY, GEORGE E., his opinion that Dante is untranslatable, 85.

  YAHOO, in _Gulliver's Travels_ a race of slaves with the form of men
        but with none their of virtues, 131.


       *       *       *       *       *

Minor punctuation corrections have been made without comment.

Corrected spelling on p. 46, "Sigura" to "Sigurd" (Sigurd the Volsung,
by William Morris).

Added page number (82) to "Index" listing for "VEDDER, ELIHU" on p. 171.

Word Variations:

  "Alexander" (1) and "Alexandre" (1) (---- Dumas)
  "every-day" (2) and "everyday" (3)
  "Scheherezade" (3) and "Sheherezade" (1)

Words using the [OE] and [oe] ligatures, which have been changed
to "OE" and "oe" in this e-text are: OEdipus and Coelebs

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Comfort Found in Good Old Books" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.