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Title: The World's Best Books
       A Key to the Treasures of Literature

Author: Frank Parsons

Release Date: October 19, 2011 [EBook #37795]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Copyright, 1889, 1891, 1893,

By Frank Parsons.



John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A.[iii]


At the request of the publishers the following statement is made as a substitute for the former indefinite arrangement in respect to authorship.

The plan and composition of the book were mine; the work of my colleagues, F. E. Crawford and H. T. Richardson, consisting of criticism, verifications, and assistance in gathering materials for the appendix,—services of great value to me, and of which I wish to express my high appreciation.

A few additions have been made in this edition, and the book has been carefully revised throughout.


Boston, January, 1893.



The public and the critics have met us with a welcome far more cordial than we had dared to expect, though not more so, of course, than we hoped for. When did a thing such as that ever happen? We are glad to discover that in forming our expectations we underrated their discernment, or our own merit (probably not the latter, judging by the remarks of two or three of our critics), and in real earnest we are grateful for their high appreciation of our work.

Some few—a very few—have found fault with us, and our thanks are due to them also; for honest, kindly, intelligent criticism is one of the most powerful means of growth. The fact that this little volume is not intended as an infallible guide, or as anything more than a stimulus to seek the best, and a suggestion of the method of guiding one's self and one's children, has been missed by some, though it appears[vi] distinctly in various places through the book, and is involved in what we deem the most useful part of our work,—the remarks following Table V., wherein we endeavor to show the student how he may learn to estimate the value of a book for himself. So far were we from wishing to decide matters which manifestly vary with the wants and capacities of each individual, that we emphatically advised the reader not to accept the opinions of any one as final, but to form his own judgments.

Some have failed to perceive that, in ranking the books, we have considered, not merely their intrinsic merit, but also the needs and abilities of the average English reader, making a compound test by which to judge, not the relative greatness of the books simply, but their relative claims on the attention of the ordinary reader. This also was set forth, as we thought, quite distinctly, and was in fact understood by nearly every one, but not by all, for some have objected to the order of the books in Table I., affirming, for example, that the "Federalist" and Bryce's "American Commonwealth" are far superior to "Our Country," and should be placed above it. That would be true if intrinsic greatness alone decided the matter. But the average reader with his needs and abilities is a factor in the problem, as well as the[vii] book with its subject and style. Now, the ordinary reader's time and his mental power are both limited. "Our Country" is briefer and simpler than the others, and its contents are of vital interest to every American, of even more vital interest than the discussions of the "Federalist" or Bryce; and so, although as a work of art it is inferior to these, it must rank above them in this book, because of its superior claims upon the attention of the average reader. In a similar manner other questions of precedence are determined on the principles contained in the remarks on Table V. It is not pretended, however, that the arrangement is perfect even in respect to our own tests, especially among the authors on the second shelf of Table I. The difficulties of making a true list may be illustrated by the fact that one critic of much ability affirms that Marietta Holley ought to head the tenth column, as the best humorist of all time; another says it is absurd to place her above the Roman wits Juvenal and Lucian; and a third declares with equal positiveness that she ought not to appear in the list at all. We differ from them all, and think the high place we have given Miss Holley is very near the truth.

Communications have been received from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Marietta Holley, Senator Hoar,[viii] Phillips Brooks, Bishop J. H. Vincent, Brooke Herford, Francis Parkman, ex-Gov. John D. Long, Gen. Benj. F. Butler, T. W. Higginson, and many other eminent persons, bringing to us a number of suggestions, most of which we have adopted to the great advantage of our book, as we hope and believe.

We have added a number of valuable works to the lists of the first edition, and have written a new chapter on the guidance of children, the means of training them to good habits of reading, and the books best adapted to boys and girls of various ages.

If any one, on noting some of the changes that have been made in this edition, feels inclined to raise the cry of inconsistency, we ask him to remember the declaration of Wendell Phillips, that "Inconsistency is Progress." There is room for still further inconsistency, we do not doubt; and criticism or suggestion will be gladly received.


Boston, January, 1891.



Introductory Remarks. PAGE

Purposes of the book briefly stated 1

System in reading 2

Purposes of reading 2

Its influence on health and mind 2

on character 3

on beauty and accomplishments 4

Its pleasures 5

Quantity and quality of reading 5

Selection of books 6

Order of reading 7

Method of reading 8

Importance of owning the books you read 9

Effect of bad books 10

useless books 11

good books 12-15

Abbreviations used in this Work 16

Note of Explanation 17,20

The First Two Shelves of the World's Library (Table.) 18-19

Remarks on Table I. 21-80

Religion and Morals 21-24

Poetry and the Drama 25-41


Science 41-46

Biography 46-48

History 49-52

Philosophy 53-56

Essays 56-57

Fiction 58-67

Oratory 67-68

Wit and Humor 68-71

Fables and Fairy Tales 71-73

Guides 75-76

Miscellaneous 76-80

Glimpses of the Great Fields of Thought, Arranged for the purpose of securing breadth of mind (Table II.) 82-83

A Series of Brief but very Choice Selections from general literature, constituting a year's course for the formation of a true literary taste (Table III.) 84-93

Groups I. and II., Poetry 85-91

Group III., Prose 91-92

Group IV., Wit and Humor 93

A Short Course Supplementary to the Last (Table IV.) 94-95

What To Give the Children 97-127

Special Studies 123-127

The Distribution of the World's Great Authors in time and space, with a parallel column of contemporaneous noted historic events (Table V.) 128-132

Remarks on Table V. 133-148

Definitions and divisions 133-135

Eight tests for the choice of books 135-139

Intrinsic merit 139-148


Periods of English Literature 150-160

The Pre-Shakspearian age 150-152

The Shakspearian age 152-155

The Post-Shakspearian age 155-160

Time of Milton 155-156

Dryden 156-158

Pope 158-159

The novelists, historians, and scientists 159-160

The greatest names of other literatures:—Greece, Rome, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Persia, Portugal, Denmark, Russia 161-164

The fountains of national literatures:—Homer, Nibelungenlied, Cid, Chansons, Morte D'Arthur, etc. 165-167


The Best Thoughts of Great Men about Books and Reading 171-190


Books Used in the Boston Public Schools as Supplementary Reading, Text-Books, etc. 191-207




This book is the result of much reading and thought, teaching, lecturing, and conversation, in the direction of its subject-matter. Its purpose is fivefold: First, to call attention to the importance of reading the best literature to the exclusion of all that is inferior, by setting forth the benefits that may be derived from the former and the injuries that are sure to result from the latter. Second, to select the best things from all the literatures of the world; to make a survey of the whole field of literature and locate the mines most worthy of our effort, where with the smallest amount of digging we may find the richest ore; and to do this with far greater precision, definiteness, and detail than it has ever been done before. Third, to place the great names of the world's literature in their proper relations of time and space to each other and to the great events of history,—accompanying the picture with a few remarks about the several periods of English Literature and the[2] Golden Age of literature in each of the great nations. Fourth, to discuss briefly the best methods of reading, and the importance of system, quantity, quality, due proportion, and thoroughness in reading, and of the ownership of books and the order in which they should be read. Fifth, to gather into a shining group, like a constellation of stars, the splendid thoughts of the greatest men upon these subjects.

The book is meant to be a practical handbook of universal literature for the use of students, business men, teachers, and any other persons who direct the reading of others, and for the guidance of scholars in departments other than their own.

1. System in reading is of as much importance as it is in the business of a bank or any other mercantile pursuit.

2. The Purposes of Reading should ever be kept in mind. They are the purposes of life; namely, health, mental power, character, beauty, accomplishments, pleasure, and the knowledge which will be of use in relation to our business, domestic life, and citizenship. Literature can aid the health, indirectly, by imparting a knowledge of the means of its attainment and preservation (as in works on physiology and hygiene); and directly, by supplying that exercise of the mind which is essential to the balance of the functions necessary to perfect health. A study of literature will develop the mind—the perception, memory, reason (especially true of science and philosophy), and the imagination (especially the study of [3] poetry and science)—directly, by exercising those all-important faculties; and indirectly, by yielding a knowledge of the conditions of their existence and strength. On the other hand, the mind may be greatly injured, if not wholly destroyed, by pouring into it a flood of filth and nonsense; or by a torrent of even the best in literature, so rapid and long continued that it cannot be properly absorbed and digested. The evil effects of cramming the mind are only too often seen about us.

Literature can build or destroy the character both directly and indirectly. Poetry, religion, philosophy, fiction, biography, history,—indeed, all sorts of writings in some degree make us more sympathetic, loving, tender, noble, generous, kind, and just, or the opposite, by the simple power of exercise, if for no other reason. If we freely exercise the muscles of the arm, we shall have more vigor there. If we continually love, our power and tendency to love will grow. The poet's passion, passing the gates of the eye and ear into our souls, rouses our sympathies to kindred states of feeling. We love when he loves, and weep when he weeps; and all the while he is moulding our characters, taking from or adding to the very substance of our souls. Brave words change the coward to a hero; a coward's cry chills the bravest heart. A boy who reads of crime and bravery sadly mixed by some foul traitor to the race, soon thinks that to be brave and grand he must be coarse and have the blood of villainy and rashness pulsing from [4] his misled heart. Not all the books that picture vice are harmful. If they show it in its truth, they drive us from it by its very loathsomeness; but if they gild it and plume it with pleasure and power, beware. Literature, too, can give us a knowledge of the means for the development of character, and the inspiration to make the best use of these means. Books of morals, religion, biography, science, poetry, and fiction especially hold these treasures.

In the attainment and enrichment of beauty, literature has a work to do. The choicest beauty is the loveliness of soul that lights the eye and prints its virtue in the face; and as our reading moulds the mind and heart to beauty, their servants at the doorways ever bend to their instructions and put on the livery of their lords. Even that beauty which is of the rounded form, the soft cheek's blooming tinge, the rosy mouth, and pearly lip, owes its debt to health; and that, as has been seen, may profit much by literature. And beyond all this we learn the means of great improvement in our comeliness,—how crooked may be changed to straight, and hollow cheeks to oval; frowns to smiles, and lean or gross to plump; ill-fitting, ill-adapted dress to beautiful attire; a shambling gait to a well-conducted walk,—and even the stupid stare of ignorance be turned to angel glances of indwelling power and interested comprehension.

Accomplishments, too, find help in written works of genius, not merely as affording a record of the best [5] methods of acquiring any given art, but directly as supplying the substance of some of the greatest of all accomplishments,—those of inspiring eloquent conversation, and of writing clear and beautiful English.

Pleasure manifestly is, by all these aids to beauty, health, and power, much beholden to the books we read; but more than this, the very reading of a worthy book is a delicious joy, and one that does not drain but fills the fount from which the happiness of others comes. Plato, Fénelon, Gibbon, and a host of others name the love of books the chiefest charm and glory of their lives.

3. The Quantity and Quality of what we read should have our careful thought. Whoever lives on literary husks and intoxicants, when corn and wheat and milk are just as easily within his reach, is certainly no wiser than one who treats his physical receptacle in the same way, and will as surely suffer from ill feeding in diminished vital force. Indeed, he may be glad if he escapes acquiring intellectual dyspepsia or spiritual delirium tremens. Even of the best of reading there may be too much as well as not enough. More than we can assimilate is waste of time and energy. Besides the regulation of the total quantity we read, with reference to our powers of digestion, we must watch the relative amounts of all the various kinds of literary sustenance we take. A due proportion ought to be maintained by careful mixture of religious, scientific, poetic, philosophic, humorous, and other reading. [6] A man who exercises but one small muscle all his days would violate the laws of health and power. The greatest mind is that which comes the nearest to attainment of a present perfect picture in the mind of all the universe, past, present, and to come. The greatest character is that which gets the greatest happiness for self through fullest and most powerful activities for others, and requires for its own work, existence, and delight, the least subtraction from the world's resources of enjoyment. The greatest man is he who combines in due proportion and completest harmony the fullest physical, emotional, and intellectual life.

4. The Selection of books is of the utmost importance, in view of their influence upon character. All the reasons for care that apply to the choice of friends among the living, have equal force in reference to the dead. The same tests avail in one case as in the other,—reputation and personal observation of the words and deeds of those we think to make companions. We may at will and at slight cost have all the great and noble for our intimate friends and daily guests, who will come when we call, answer the questions we put, and go when we wish. And better yet, however long we talk to them, no other friends will be kept waiting in the anterooms, longing to take our place. Our most engrossing friendship, though we keep them always with us, will produce no interference with their equal friendship with all the world [7] besides. We may associate with angels and become angelic, or with demons and become satanic.

Besides the difference in the nature of books, the very number of them commands a choice. In one library there are three million volumes; in the Boston Public Library about three hundred thousand, or five hundred thousand including pamphlets. In your short life you can read but a trifling part of the world's literature. Suppose you are fortunate enough to be able to read one book a week, in thirty years you would read but fifteen hundred books. Use, then, every care to get the best. If it were in your equal choice to go to one of two reputed entertainments and but one, it surely would be worth your while to know their character before selecting. One might be Beethoven's loveliest symphony, the other but a minstrel show.

5. The Order of our Reading must be carefully attended to. The very best books are not always to be first read. If the reader is young or of little culture, the simplicity of the writing must be taken into account, for it is of no use to read a book that cannot be understood. One of mature and cultivated mind who begins a course of systematic reading may follow the order of absolute value; but a child must be supplied with easy books in each department, and, as his powers develop, with works of increasing difficulty, until he is able to grasp the most complex and abstruse. If you take up a book that is recommended to you as one of the world's [8] best, and find it uninteresting, be sure the trouble is in you. Do not reject it utterly, do not tell people you do not like it; wait a few months or years, then try it again, and it may become to you one of the most precious of books.

6. The Method of your reading is an important factor in determining its value to you. It is in proportion to your conquest of what is worthy in literature that you gain. If you pour it into your mind so fast that each succeeding wave forces the former out before its form and color have been fixed, you are not better off, but rather worse, because the process washes out the power of memory. Memory depends on health, attention, repetition, reflection, association of ideas, and practice. Some books should be very carefully read, looking to both thought and form; the best passages should be marked and marginal notes made; reflection should digest the best ideas, until they become a part of the tissue of your own thought; and the most beautiful and striking expressions should be verbally committed. If you saw a diamond in the sand, surely you would fix it where it might adorn your person. If you find a sparkling jewel in your reading, fix it in your heart and let it beautify your conversation. Shakspeare, Milton, Homer, Bacon, Æschylus, and Emerson, and nearly all the selections in Table III. should be read in this way. Other books have value principally by reason of the line of thought or argument of which the whole book is an expression; such [9] for the most part are books of history, science, and philosophy. While reading them marks or notes should be made; so that when the book is finished, the steps of thought may several times be rapidly retraced, until the force and meaning of the book becomes your own forever. Still other books may be simply glanced through, it being sufficient for the purposes of the general reader to have an idea of the nature of their contents, so that he may know what he can find in them if he has need. Such books to us are the Koran, the works of the lesser essayists, orators, and philosophers. Ruskin says that no book should be read fast; but it would be as sensible to say that we should never walk or ride fast over a comparatively uninteresting country. Adaptation of method to the work in hand is the true rule. We should not read "Robert Elsmere" as slowly and carefully as Shakspeare. As the importance of the book diminishes, the speed of our journey through it ought to increase. Otherwise we give an inferior book equal attention with its superiors.

7. Own the Books you Read, if possible, so that you may mark them and often refer to them. If you are able, buy the best editions, with the fullest notes and finest binding,—the more beautiful, the better. A lovely frame adds beauty to the picture. If you cannot buy the best-dressed books, get those of modest form and good large type. If pennies must be counted, get the catalogues of all the cheap libraries that are multiplying so rapidly of late,—the [10] Elzevir, Bohn, Morley, Camelot, National, Cassel, Irving, Chandos, People's Library, World's Library, etc.,—and own the books you learn to love. Use the public libraries for reference, but do not rely on them for the standard literature you read. It is better far to have an eight cent Bunyan, twelve cent Bacon, or seven cent Hamlet within your reach from day to day, and marked to suit yourself, than to read such books from the library and have to take them back. That is giving up the rich companionship of new-found friends as soon as gained. The difference between talking with a sage or poet for a few brief moments once in your lifetime, and having him daily with you as your friend and teacher is the difference between the vales and summits of this life. The immense importance of possessing the best books for your own cannot be too strongly impressed upon you, nor the value of clothing your noble friends as richly as you can. If they come to you with outward beauty, they will claim more easily their proper share of your attention and regard. Get an Elzevir Shakspeare if you can afford no other, but purchase the splendid edition by Richard Grant White, if you can. Even if you have to save on drink and smoke and pie-crust for the purpose, you never will regret the barter.

8. Bad Books corrupt us as bad people do. Whenever they are made companions, insensibly we learn to think and feel and talk and act as they do in degree proportioned to the closeness that we hug [11] them to our hearts. Books may be bad, not only by imparting evil thoughts, awakening lust and gilding vice, but by developing a false philosophy, ignoble views of life, or errors in whatever parts of science or religion they may touch. Avoid foul books as you would shun foul men, for fear you may be like them; but seek the errors out and conquer them. Spend little time in following a teacher you have tested and found false, but do the testing for yourselves, and take no other person's judgment as to what is truth or error. Truth is always growing; you may be the first to catch the morning light. The friend who warns you of some book's untruth may be himself in error, led by training, custom, or tradition, or unclearly seeing in the darkness of his prejudice.

9. Useless Books. Many books that are not positively bad are yet mere waste of time. A wise man will not spend the capital of his life, or part with the wealth of his energies except he gets a fair equivalent. He will demand the highest market price for his time, and will not give his hours and moments—precious pieces of his life—for trash, when he can buy with them the richest treasures of three thousand years of thought. You have not time to drink the whole of human life from out the many colored bottles of our literature; will you take the rich cream, or cast that aside for the skimmed milk below, or turn it all out on the pathway and swallow the dirt and the dregs in the bottom?


10. Good Books.—A Short Sermon.—If you are a scholar, professor or lawyer, doctor or clergyman, do not stay locked in the narrow prison of your own department, but go out into the world of thought and breathe the air that comes from all the quarters of the globe. Read other books than those that deal with your profession,—poetry, philosophy, and travel. Get out of the valleys up on to the ridges, where you can see what relation your home bears to the rest of the world. Go stand in the clamor of tongues, that you may learn that the truth is broader than any man's conception of it and become tolerant. Look at the standards that other men use, and correct your own by them. Learn what other thinkers and workers are doing, that you may appreciate them and aid them. Learn the Past, that you may know the Future. Do not look out upon the world through one small window; open all the doorways of your soul, let all genius and beauty come in, that your life may be bright with their glory.

If you are a busy merchant, artisan, or laborer, you too can give a little time each day to books that are the best. If Plato, Homer, Shakspeare, Tennyson, or Milton came to town to-day, you would not let the busiest hour prevent your catching sight of him; you would stand a half day on the street in the sun or the snow to catch but a glimpse of the famous form; but how much better to receive his spirit in the heart than only get his image on the eye! His choicest thought is yours for the asking.[13]

If you are a thoughtless boy or silly girl, trying the arts that win the matrimonial prize, remember that there are no wings that fly so high as those of sense and thought and inward beauty. Remember the old song that ends,—

"Beauty vanish, wealth depart,
Wit has won the lady's heart."

Even as a preparation for a noble and successful courtship, the best literature is an absolute necessity. Perhaps you cannot travel: Humboldt, Cook, and Darwin, Livingstone, and Stanley will tell you more than you could see if you should go where they have travelled. Perhaps you cannot have the finest teachers in the studies you pursue: what a splendid education one could get if he could learn philosophy with Plato, Kant, and Spencer; astronomy with Galileo, Herschel, and Laplace; mathematics with Newton or Leibniz; natural history with Cuvier or Agassiz; botany with Gray; geology with Lyell or Dawson; history with Bancroft; and poetry with Shakspeare, Milton, Dante, and Homer! Well, those very teachers at their best are yours if you will read their books. Each life is a mixture of white and black, no one is perfect; but every worthy passage and ennobling thought you read adds to the white and crowds out the black; and of what enormous import a few brief moments daily spent with noble books may be, appears when we remember that each act brings after it an infinite[14] series of consequences. It is an awe-inspiring truth to me that with the color of my thought I tinge the stream of life to its remotest hour; that some poor brother far out on the ocean of the future, struggling to breast the billows of temptation, may by my hand be pulled beneath the waves, ruined by the influences I put in action now; that, standing here, I make the depths of all eternities to follow tremble to the music of my life: as Tennyson has put it so beautifully in his "Bugle Song,"—

"Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
"O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever."

How careful we should be of every moment if we had imaginative power enough to fully realize the meaning of the truth that slightly differing actions now may build results at last as wide apart as poles of opposite eternities! Even idleness, the negative of goodness, would have no welcome at our door. Some persons dream away two thirds of life, and deem quiescence joy; but that is certainly a sad mistake. The nearer to complete inaction we attain, the nearer we are clay and stone; the more activity we gain, that does not draw from future power, the higher up the cliffs of life we climb, and nearer to celestial life that never sleeps. Let no hour go idly by that[15] can be rendered rich and happy with a glorious bit of Shakspeare, Dante, or Carlyle. Let us never be deluded with the praise of peace, excepting that of heart and conscience clear of all remorse. It is ambition that has climbed the heights, and will through all the future. Give me not the dead and hopeless calm of indolent contentment, but far rather the storm and the battle of life, with the star of my hopes above me. Let me sail the central flow of the stream, and travel the tides at the river's heart. I do not wish to stay in any shady nook of quiet water, where the river's rushing current never comes, and straws and bubbles lie at rest or slowly eddying round and round at anchor in their mimic harbor. How often are we all like these imprisoned straws, revolving listlessly within the narrow circle of the daily duties of our lives, gaining no new truth, nor deeper love or power or tenderness or joy, while all the world around is sweeping to the sea! How often do we let the days and moments, with their wealth of life, fly past us with their treasure! Youth lies in her loveliness, dreaming in her drifting boat, and wakes to find her necklace has in some way come unfast, and from the loosened ribbon trailing o'er the rail the lustrous pearls have one by one been slipping far beyond her reach in those deep waters over which her slumbers passed. Do not let the pearls be lost. Do not let the moments pass you till they yield their wealth and add their beauty to your lives.[16]

11. Abbreviations.—

R. means, Read carefully.

D. means, Digest the best passages; make the thought and feeling your own.

C. means, Commit passages in which valuable thought or feeling is exquisitely expressed.

G. means, Grasp the idea of the whole book; that is, the train of the author's thought, his conclusions, and the reasons for them.

S. means, Swallow; that is, read as fast as you choose, it not being worth while to do more than get a general impression of the book.

T. means, Taste; that is, skip here and there, just to get an idea of the book, and see if you wish to read more.

e. means easy; that is, of such character as to be within the easy comprehension of one having no more than a grammar-school education or its equivalent; and it applies to all books that can be understood without either close attention or more than an ordinary New England grammar-school training.

m. means medium; that is, of such character as to require the close attention called "study," or a high-school education, or both; and it applies to books the degree of whose difficulty places them above the class e. and below the class d.

d. means difficult; that is, beyond the comprehension of an ordinary person having only a New England high-school education or its equivalent, even with close study, unless the reader already has a fair understanding of the subject of the book. In order to read with advantage books that are marked d., the mind should be prepared by special reading of simpler books in the same department of thought.




Transcriber's note: The original format of the table exceeded the width requirements for e-text. Therefore the table was reformatted. It is now organized from top to bottom in the order of importance. The first shelf and second shelf are arranged side by side.

Table I. contains a list of authors whose books, on principle and authority, have the strongest claims on the attention of the average reader of English. They are arranged from left to right in the order of importance of the divisions of the subject matter regarded as wholes, and from above downward in the order of their value in relation to the highest standard in their own department. The numbers have nothing to do with the ranking, but refer to notes that will be found on the pages following the table. There is also, at the head of the notes relating to each column of the table, a special note on the subject matter of that column.

The upper part of the table represents the first shelf of the world's library, and contains the books having the very strongest claims upon the attention of all,—books with which every one should endeavor to gain an acquaintance, at least to the extent indicated in the notes.

The lower part of the table represents the second shelf of the world's library, and contains books which in addition to those of the first shelf should enter into a liberal education.

It must be always kept in mind that intrinsic merit alone does not decide the position of a book in this table; for in order to test the claim of a book upon the attention of a reader we have to consider not only the artistic value of the author's work, and its subject matter, but also the needs and abilities of the reader. Thus it happens that it is not always the work of the greatest genius which stands highest in the list. Moreover, no claim is made that the ranking is perfect, especially on the second shelf. The table is an example of the application of the principles set forth in the remarks following Table V., to the [18] case of the general reader. For every one above or below the average reader the lists would have to be changed, and even the average list has no quality of the absolute. It is but a suggestion,—a suggestion, however, in which we have a good deal of confidence, one that is based on a very wide induction,—and we have no hesitation in affirming that the upper shelf represents the best literature the world affords.

In addition to Table I., there will be found in Tables III. and IV., and in the remarks upon the Guidance of Children following Table IV., a number of pieces of literary work of the very highest merit and value. Some of the most important are Lowell's "Vision of Sir Launfal," one of the very finest American poems; Browning's "Ivan Ivanovitch;" Guyot's "Earth and Man;" Mary Treat's "Home Book of Nature;" Burroughs' "Pepacton," "Signs and Seasons," "Wake Robin," etc.; Buckley's "Fairy Land of Science," etc.; Ragozin's "Chaldea;" Fénelon's "Lives of the Philosophers;" Bolton's "Poor Boys who became Famous;" Rives' "Story of Arnon;" Drake's "Culprit Fay;" Dr. Brown's "Rab and his Friends;" Mary Mapes Dodge's "Hans Brinker;" Andrews' "Ten Boys on the Road;" Arnold's "Sweetness and Light;" Higginson's "Vacations for Saints;" and General Booth's "In Darkest England, and the Way Out," a book of great power, which sets forth the most practical method yet proposed for the immediate relief of society from the burdens of pauperism and vice.


[See explanation on the preceding pages.]

(first shelf) (second shelf)
1. Religion & Morals.
Bible[1] Milton[11]
Bunyan[2] Keble[12]
Taylor[3] Cicero[13]
Kempis[4] Pascal[14]
Spencer[5] Channing[15]
M. Aurelius[6] Aristotle[16]
Plutarch[7] St. Augustine[17]
Seleca[8] Butler[18]
Epictetus[9] Spinoza[19]
2. Poetry & the Drama.
Shakspeare[20] Spenser[27]
Homer[21] Lowell[28]
Dante[22] Whittier[29]
Goethe[23] Tennyson[30]
Milton[24] Burns[31]
Æschylus[25] Scott[32]
Fragments[26] Byron[33]
  Beaumont & F.[55]
3. Science.
Physiology and Hygiene[85] De Tocqueville[99]
"Our Country"[86] Von Holst[100]
Federalist[88] Smith[101]
Bryce[89] Malthus[102]
Montesquieu[90] Carey[103]
Bagehot[90] Cairnes[104]
Mill[91] Freeman[105]
Bain[92] Jevons[106]
Spencer[93] Mulford[107]
Darwin[94] Hobbes[108]
Herschel[95] Machiavelli[109]
Proctor[95] Max Müller[110]
Lyell[96] Trench[111]
Lubbock[96] Taylor[112]
Dawson[96] White[113]
Wood[97] Cuvier[114]
Whewell[98] Cook[115]
4. Biography.
Plutarch[124] G. Smith[139]
Phillips[125] Bourrienne[140]
Boswell[126] Johnson[141]
Lockhart[127] Walton[142]
Marshall[128] Stanley[143]
Franklin[128] Irving[144]
Nicolay & H.[129] Southey[145]
Grant[129] Stanhope[146]
Carlyle[130] Moore[147]
Renan[130] Jameson[148]
Farrar[131] Baring-Gould[149]
Emerson[132] Field[150]
Greatest Men[133] Hamilton[151]
Parton[134] Darwin[151]
Hale[135] Alcott[151]
Drake[136] Talleyrand[151]
Fox[137] Macaulay[151]
Grimm[138] Bashkirtseff[151]
  American Statesmen[151]
  English Men of Letters[151]
5. History.
Green[152] Creasy [155a]
Bancroft[153] Lecky[156]
Guizot[154] Clarke[157]
Buckle[154] Moffat[158]
Parkman[155] Draper[159]
Freeman[155] Hallam[160]
Fiske[155] May[161]
Fyffe[155] Hume[162]
  Frothingham [169a]
6. Philosophy.
Spencer[186] Mill[192]
Plato[187] Mansel[193]
Berkeley[188] Büchner[194]
Kant[189] Edwards[195]
Locke & Hobbes[190] Bentham[196]
Comte[191] Maurice[197]
Lewes Hume[198]
or Ueberweg Hamilton[199]
or Schwegler Aristotle[200]
or Schlegel Descartes[201]
on the History of Philosophy Cousin[201]
  Hegel & Schelling[202]
7. Essays.
Emerson[209] Macaulay
Bacon[210] Leigh Hunt
Montaigne[211] Arnold
Ruskin[212] Buckle
Carlyle[212] Hume
Addison[212] Froude
  De Quincey
8. Fiction.
Scott[213] Rousseau[235]
Eliot[214] Saintine[235]
Dickens[215] Coffin[236]
Hawthorne[216] Reade[236]
Goldsmith[217] Warren[236]
Bulwer[218] Landor[237]
MacDonald[219] Turgenieff[237]
Thackeray[220] Sue[237]
Kingsley[221] Manzoni[237]
Wallace[222] Cottin[238]
Tourgée[223] Besant[238]
Hugo[224] Stevenson[238]
Dumas[224] Ward[239]
Defoe[225] Deland[239]
Hughes[225] Sewell[239]
Stowe[226] Bret Harte[239]
Cooper[226] Green[240]
Curtis[227] Mulock[240]
Warner[227] Disraeli[240]
Aldrich[228] Howells[240]
Hearn[228] Tolstoï[240]
Ebers[229] Sand[241]
Sienkiewicz[229] Black[241]
Austen[230] Blackmore[241]
Bronté[230] Schreiner[241]
Alcott[231] Bremer[242]
Burnett[231] Trollope[242]
Cable[232] Winthrop[242]
Craddock[232] Richardson[243]
Whitney[233] Smollett[243]
Jewett[233] Boccaccio[243]
Le Sage[234]
9. Oratory.
Demosthenes Sumner
Burke Henry
Fox Otis
Pitt Jay
Webster Madison
Clay Jefferson
Phillips Beecher
Lincoln Brooks
Everett Choate
Bright Garfield
  Saint Chrysostom
10. Wit & Humor.
Lowell[244] Ingersoll[248]
Holmes[245] Holley[249]
Dickens[246] Curtis[250]
Cervantes[247] Depew[251]
11. Fables & Fairy Tales.
Andersen[263] Bulfinch[268]
La Fontaine[264] Saxe[269]
Æsop[265] Florian[270]
Grimm[266] Kipling[270]
Goethe[267] Babrius[271]
Hawthorne[267] Hauff[272]
12. Travel.
Cook[274] Marco Polo[277]
Humboldt[275] Kane[278]
Darwin[276] Livingstone[279]
  Du Chaillu[281]
  Mungo Park[287]
13. Guides.
Foster[293] Brook[303]
Pall Mall[294] Leypoldt[304]
Morley[295] Richardson[305]
Welsh[296] Harrison[306]
Taine[297] Ruskin[307]
Botta[298] Bright[308]
Allibone[299] Dunlop[309]
Bartlett[300] Baldwin[309]
Ballou[301] Adams[309]
Roget's Thesaurus
14. Miscellaneous.
Smiles' Self-Help[310] Sheking[324]
Irving's Sketch Book[311] Analects of Confucius[325]
Bacon's New Atlantis[312] Mesnevi[326]
Bellamy[313] Buddhism[327]
Arabian Nights[314] Mahabharata[328]
Munchausen[315] Ramayana[329]
Beowulf[316] Vedas[330]
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle[317] Koran[331]
Froissart[318] Talmud[332]
Nibelungenlied[319] Hooker[333]
Icelandic Sagas[320] Swedenborg[333]
Elder Edda[321] Newton[333]
The Cid[322] Kepler[333]
Morte D'Arthur[323] Copernicus[333]




Religion and Morals, though not identical, are so closely related that they are grouped together. The books in Column 1 by no means exhaust these subjects, for they run like threads of gold through the whole warp and woof of poetry. Philosophy, fiction, and fable, biography, history, and essays, oratory and humor, seem rather satellites that attend upon moral feelings than independent orbs, and even science is not dumb upon these all-absorbing topics. If we are to be as broad-minded in our religious views as we seek to be in other matters, we must become somewhat acquainted with the worship of races other than our own. This may be done through Homer, Hesiod, Ovid, Confucius, Buddha, the Vedas, Koran, Talmud, Edda, Sagas, Beowulf, Nibelungenlied, Shah Nameh, etc. (which are all in some sense "Bibles," or books that have grown out of the hearts of the people), and through general works, such as Clarke's "Ten Great Religions."


[1] Especially Job, and Psalms 19, 103, 104, 107, in the Old Testament; and in the New the four Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles. (m. R. D. C. G.)

[2] Next to the Bible, probably no book is so much read by the English peoples as Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," a simple, vivid, helpful story of Christian life and its obstacles. No writer has so well portrayed the central truths of Christianity as this great, untrained, imaginative genius, pouring his life upon the deathless pages of his poetic allegory during the twelve long years in the latter part of the 17th century, when he was imprisoned, under the Restoration, merely because of his religious principles. (e. R. D.)

[3] Taylor's "Holy Living and Dying" is a wise, frank talk about the care of our time, purity of intention, practice of the presence of God, temperance, justice, modesty, humility, envy, contentedness, etc. Some portions of the first hundred and fifty pages are of the utmost practical value. Even Ruskin admits that Taylor and Bunyan are rightly placed among the world's best. (Eng., 17th cent.—m. R. D.)

[4] "Imitation of Christ" is a sister book to the last, written in the 15th century by Thomas à Kempis, a German monk, of pure and beautiful life and thought. It is a world-famous book, having been translated into every civilized language, and having passed through more than five hundred editions in the present century. (m. R. D.)


[5] Spencer's "Data of Ethics" is one of the most important books in literature, having to the science of ethics much the same relation as Newton's "Principia" to astronomy, or Darwin's "Origin of Species" to biology. Note especially the parts concerning altruistic selfishness, the morality of health, and the development of moral feeling in general. (Eng., 19th cent.—d. R. D. G.) Spencer's "First Principles" is also necessary to an understanding of the scientific religious thinking of the day. In connection with Spencer's works, "The Idea of God" and the "Destiny of Man," by Fiske, may be read with profit. The author of these books is in large part a follower and expounder of Spencer.

[6] The "Meditations" of M. Aurelius is a book that is full of deep, pure beauty and philosophy; one of the sweetest influences that can be brought into the life, and one of Canon Farrar's twelve favorites out of all literature. (Rome, 2d cent.—m. R. D.)

[7] Plutarch's "Morals" supplied much of the cream used by Taylor in the churning that produced the "Holy Living and Dying." Emerson says that we owe more to Plutarch than to all the other ancients. Many great authors have been indebted to him,—Rabelais, Montaigne, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Shakspeare, Bacon, and Dryden, among the number. Plutarch's "Morals" is a treasure-house of wisdom and beauty. There is a very fine edition with an introduction by Emerson. (Rome, 1st cent.—m. R. D.)

[8] Seneca's "Morals" is a fit companion of the preceding six books, full of deep thought upon topics of every-day import, set out in clear and forceful language. The Camelot Library contains a very good selection from his ethical treatises and his delightful letters, which are really moral essays. (Rome, 1st cent.—m. R. D.)


[9] Epictetus was another grand moralist, the teacher of Marcus Aurelius. Next to Bunyan and Kempis, the books of these great stoics, filled as they are with the serenity of minds that had made themselves independent of circumstance and passion, have the greatest popularity accorded to any ethical works. Epictetus was a Roman slave in the 1st century a. d. (m. R. D.)

[10] The little book on "Tolerance" by Phillips Brooks ought to be read by every one. See Table III. side No. 23. The sermons of Dr. Brooks and of Robertson are among the most helpful and inspiring reading we know. Drummond's "Natural Law in the Spiritual World" is a book of ingenious and often poetic analogies between the physical and spiritual worlds. If read as poetry, no fault can be found with it; but the reader must be careful to test thoroughly the laws laid down, and make sure that there is some weightier proof than mere analogy, before hanging important conclusions on the statements of this author. A later book by Drummond entitled "The Greatest Thing in the World" is also worthy of attention. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[11] "Areopagitica." A noble plea for liberty of speech and press. (Eng., early 17th cent.)

[12] Keble's beautiful "Christian Year."

[13] Cicero's "Offices" is a very valuable ethical work. It directs a young Roman how he may attain distinction and the respect and confidence of his fellow-citizens. Its underlying principles are of eternal value, and its arrangement is admirable. Dr. Peabody's translation is the best. (Rome, 1st cent. b. c.)

[14] "Pensées." Pascal's "Thoughts" are known the world over for their depth and beauty. (France, 17th cent.)

[15] "The Perfect Life" and other works. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[16] Ethics. (Greece, 4th cent. b. c.)

[17] "Confessions" and "The City of God." (Rome, 4th cent.)

[18] Analogy of Religion. (Eng., 18th cent.)

[19] Ethics and theologico-political speculation. (Dutch, 17th cent.)



The faculty which most widely distinguishes man from his possible relatives, the lower animals, and the varying power of which most clearly marks the place of each individual in the scale of superiority, is imagination. It lies at the bottom of intellect and character. Memory, reason, and discovery are built upon it; and sympathy, the mother of kindness, tenderness, and love, is itself the child of the imagination. Poetry is the married harmony of imagination and beauty. The poet is the man of fancy and the man of music. This is why in all ages mankind instinctively feel that poetry is supreme. Of all kinds of literature, it is the most stimulating, broadening, beautifying, and should have a large place in every life. Buy the best poets, read them carefully, mark the finest passages, and recur to them many, many times. A poem is like a violin: it must be kept and played upon a long time before it yields to us its sweetest music.

The drama, or representation of human thought and life, has come into being, among very many peoples, as a natural outgrowth of the faculty of mimicry in human nature. Among the South Sea Islanders there is a rude drama, and in China such representations have existed from remote ages. Greece first brought the art to high perfection; and her greatest tragic artists, Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, of the fifth century b. c., are still the highest names in[26] tragedy. The Greek drama with Æschylus was only a dialogue. Sophocles introduced a third actor. It would be a dull play to us that should fill the evening with three players. In another thing the Grecian play was widely different from ours. The aim of ancient playwrights was to bring to view some thought in giant form and with tremendous emphasis. The whole drama was built around, moulded, and adapted to one great idea. The aim of English writers is to give an interesting glimpse of actual life in all its multiplicity of interwoven thought and passion, and let it speak its lessons, as the great schoolmistress, Nature, gives us hers. The French and Italian drama follow that of Greece, but Spain and England follow Nature.

Mystery and miracle plays were introduced about 1100 a. d., by Hilarius, and were intended to enforce religious truths. God, Adam, the Angels, Satan, Eve, Noah, etc., were the characters. In the beginning of the 15th century, morality plays became popular. They personified faith, hope, sadness, magnificence, conceit, etc., though there might seem little need of invention to personify the latter. About the time of Henry VIII., masques were introduced from Italy. In them the performers wore extravagant costumes and covered the face, and lords and ladies played the parts. It was at such a frolic that King Henry met Anne Boleyn. The first English comedy was written in 1540, by Udall; and the first tragedy in 1561, by Sackville and Norton. It was called "Ferrex and Porrex." From this time the English[27] drama rapidly rose to its summit in Shakspeare's richest years at the close of the same century. At first the theatre was in the inn-yard,—just a platform, with no scenery but what the imagination of the drinking, swearing, jeering crowd of common folk standing in the rain or sunlight round the rough-made stage could paint.

On the stage sat a few gentlefolk able to pay a shilling for the privilege. They smoked, played cards, insulted the pit, "who gave it to them back, and threw apples at them into the bargain." Such were the beginnings of what in Shakspeare's hands became the greatest drama that the world has ever seen.

The manner of reading all good poetry should be: R. D. C. G.

If the reader wishes to study poetry critically, he will find abundant materials in Lanier's "Science of English Verse" and Dowden's "Mind and Art of Shakspeare" (books that once read by a lover of poetry will ever after be cherished as among the choicest of his possessions); Lowell's "Fable for Critics," "My Study Windows," and "Among my Books;" Arnold's "Essays;" Hazlitt's "English Poets;" "English Men of Letters;" Poe's "Essay on the Composition of the Raven;" Taine's "English Literature;" Swinburne's "Essays and Studies;" Stedman's "Victorian Poets;" Shairp's "Studies in Poetry;" Warton's "History of English Poetry;" Ward's "History of English Dramatic Literature;" and Schlegel's "Dramatic Literature."[28]


[20] Shakspeare is the summit of the world's literature. In a higher degree than any other man who has lived on this planet, he possessed that vivid, accurate, exhaustive imagination which creates a second universe in the poet's brain. Between our thought of a man and the man himself, or a complete representation of him with all his thoughts, feelings, motives, and possibilities, there is a vast gulf. If we had a perfect knowledge of him, we could tell what he would think and do. To this ultimate knowledge Shakspeare more nearly approached than any other mortal. He so well understood the machinery of human nature, that he could create men and women beyond our power to detect an error in his work. This grasp of the most difficult subject of thought, and the oceanic, myriad-minded greatness of his plays prove him intellectually the greatest of the human race. It is simple nonsense to suppose that Bacon wrote the dramas that bear the name of Shakspeare. They were published during Shakspeare's life under his name; and Greene, Jonson, Milton, and other contemporaries speak with unmistakable clearness of the great master. Donnelly's Cryptogram is a palpable sham; and to the argument that an uneducated man like Shakspeare could not have written such grand poetry, while Bacon, as we know, did have a splendid ability, it is a sufficient answer to remark that Shakspeare's sonnets, the authorship of which is not and cannot be questioned, show far higher poetical powers than anything that can be found in Bacon's acknowledged works. Richard Grant White's edition is the best; and certainly every one should have the very best of Shakspeare, if no other book is ever bought. (16th cent.) See Table III. No. 1.

With Shakspeare may be used Dowden's "Shakspeare Primer," and "The Mind and Art of Shakspeare," Abbott's "Shakspearian Grammar," Lanier's "Science of English Verse," Hazlitt's "Characters of Shakspeare's Plays" and "Age of Elizabeth," Lamb's "Tales from Shakspeare," Ward's "English Dramatic Literature, and History of the Drama," Lewes' "Actors and the Art of Acting," Hutton's "Plays and Players," Leigh Hunt's "Imagination and Fancy," and Whipple's "Literature of the Age of Elizabeth."

[21] Homer is the world's greatest epic poet. He is the brother of Shakspeare, full of sublimity and pathos, tenderness, simplicity, and inexhaustible vigor. Pope's translation is still the best on the whole, but should be read with Derby's Iliad and Worsley's Odyssey. In some parts these are fuller of power and beauty; in others, Pope is far better. Flaxman's designs are a great help in enjoying Homer, as are also the writings of Gladstone, Arnold, and Symonds. (Greece, about 1000 b. c.) See Table III. No. 2.

[22] Ruskin thinks Dante is the first figure of history, the only man in whom the moral, intellectual, and imaginative faculties met in great power and in perfect balance. (Italy, 14th cent.) Follow the advice given in Table III. No. 5, and, if possible, read Longfellow's translation. See note 24, p. 30.

Among writings that will be found useful in connection with Dante, are Rossetti's "Shadow of Dante," Lowell's Essay in "Among my Books," Symonds' "Introduction to the Study of Dante," Farrar's "Lecture on Dante," Mrs. Ward's "Life of Dante," Botta's "Dante as a Philosopher," and Carlyle's "Heroes and Hero Worship."


[23] Goethe is unquestionably the greatest German, and one of the first six names in literature. His "Faust" is a history of the soul. Read Bayard Taylor's translation, and the explanation of the drama's meaning given in Taylor's "Studies in German Literature." "Faust" was the work of half a century, and completed in 1818, when Goethe was past eighty.

As a preparation for Goethe it is interesting to study the story of Faust in Butterworth's "Zigzag Journeys," and read Marlowe's "Drama of Faustus." The novel "Wilhelm Meister" has been splendidly translated by Carlyle, and is full of the richest poetic thought, crammed with wisdom, and pervaded by a delicious sweetness forever provoking the mind to fresh activity. As a work of genius, it is preferred by some critics even to Hamlet. See Table III. No. 15.


[24] Milton stands in his age like an oak among hazel-bushes. The nobility of his character, the sublimity of his thought, and the classic beauty of his style give him, in spite of some coldness and some lack of naturalness in his conception of the characters of Adam and Eve, the second place in English literature. His "Lycidas" is a beautiful elegy. His "Comus" is the best masque in English, and certainly a charming picture of chastity and its triumph over temptation. It should be read along with Spenser's "Britomart." His "L' Allegro" and "Il Penseroso," on mirth and melancholy, are among the best lyrics of the world. His "Paradise Lost" is the greatest epic in English, and the greatest that any literature has had since Dante's "Divine Comedy." The two books should be read together. Milton shows us Satan in all the pride and pomp and power this world oft throws around his cloven Majesty. Dante tears away the wrappings, and we see the horrid heart and actual loathsomeness of sin. (Eng., 17th cent.) See Table III. No. 2.

The writings of Stopford Brooke, Macaulay, Dr. Johnson, De Quincey, and Pattison about Milton may be profitably referred to.

[25] Æschylus was the greatest of the noble triumvirate of Greek tragedy writers. Sublimity reached in his soul the greatest purity and power that it has yet attained on earth. One can no more afford to tread in life's low levels all his days and never climb above the clouds to thought's clear-ethered heights with Æschylus, than to dwell at the foot of a cliff in New Mexico and never climb to see the Rockies in the blue and misty distance, with their snowy summits shining in the sun. Read, at any rate, his "Prometheus Bound" and his "Agamemnon." (5th cent. b. c., the Golden Age of Grecian literature.) See Table III. No. 4.

The student of Æschylus will find much of value to him in Mahaffy's "Greek Literature," "Old Greek Life," and "Social Life in Greece;" Schlegel's "Dramatic Literature;" Donaldson's "Theatre of the Greeks," and Froude's "Sea Studies." Following the "Prometheus" of Æschylus, it is a good plan to read the works of Goethe, Shelley, Lowell, and Longfellow on the same topic. We thus bring close the ideas and fancies of five great minds in respect to the myth of Prometheus.


[26] Many a selection in Table III. is of very high merit, and belongs on the world's first shelf, although the poetic works of the author as a whole cannot be allowed such honor. In the section preceding Table V. also will be found a number of short writings of the very highest merit. See explanatory note to Table I.

[27] Edmund Spenser is the third name in English literature. No modern poet is more like Homer. He is simple, clear, and natural, redundant and ingenuous. He is a Platonic dreamer, and worships beauty, a love sublime and chaste; for all the beauty that the eye can see is only, in his view, an incomplete expression of celestial beauty in the soul of man and Nature, the light within gleaming and sparkling through the loose woven texture of this garment of God called Nature, or pouring at every pore a flood of soft, translucent loveliness, as the radiance of a calcium flame flows through a porcelain globe. Spenser was Milton's model. The "Faërie Queen," the "Shepherd's Calendar," and the "Wedding Hymn" should be carefully read; and if the former is studied sufficiently to arrive at the underlying spiritual meaning, it will ever after be one of the most precious of books. (Eng., 16th cent.) See Table III. No. 6. See also Lowell's "Among my Books," Craik's "Spenser and his Poetry," and Taine's "English Literature."

[28] Lowell is one of the foremost humorists of all time. No one, except Shakspeare, has ever combined so much mastery of the weapons of wit with so much poetic power, bonhomie, and common-sense. Every American should read his poems carefully, and digest the best. (Amer., 19th cent.) See Table III. Nos. 12 and 24.

[29] Whittier is America's greatest lyric poet. Read what Lowell says of him in the "Fable for Critics," and get acquainted with his poetry of Nature and quiet country life, as pure as the snow and as sweet as the clover. (Amer., 19th cent.) See Table III. No. 11.

[30] Tennyson is the first poet of our age; and though he cannot rank with the great names on the upper shelf, yet his tenderness, and noble purity, and the almost absolutely perfect music of much of his poetry commands our love and admiration. Read his "In Memoriam," "Princess," "Idylls of the King," etc. (Eng., 19th cent.) See Table III. No. 11.


[31] Burns is like a whiff of the pure sea air. He is a sprig of arbutus under the snow; full of tenderness and genuine gayety, always in love, and singing forever in tune to the throbs of his heart. Read "The Jolly Beggars," "The Twa Dogs," and see Table III. No. 11. (Scot., 18th cent.)

[32] Probably nothing is so likely to awaken a love for poetry as the reading of Scott. (Scot., 19th cent.) See Table III. No. 7.

[33] Byron is the greatest English poet since Milton, and except Goethe the greatest poet of his age in the world. His music, his wonderful control of language, his impassioned strength passing from vehemence to pathos, his fine sense of the beautiful, and his combination of passion with beauty would place him high on the first shelf of the world's literature if it were not for his moral aberration. Read his "Childe Harold." (Eng., 1788-1824.) See Table III. No. 13.

[34] Shelley is indistinct, abstract, impracticable, but full of love for all that is noble, of magnificent poetic power and marvellous music. Read "Prometheus Unbound," and see Table III. No. 13. (Eng., 19th cent.)


[35] Keats is the poetic brother of Shelley. He is deserving of the title "marvellous boy" in a far higher degree than Chatterton. If the lives of Shakspeare, Milton, and Wordsworth had ended at twenty-five, as did the life of Keats, they would have left no poetry comparable with that of this impassioned dreamer. Like Shakspeare, he had no fortune or opportunity of high education. Read "Hyperion," "Lamia," "Eve of Saint Agnes," "Endymion," and see Table III. No. 13. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[36] Campbell clothed in romantic sweetness and delicate diction, the fancies of the fairy land of youthful dreams, and poured forth with a master voice the pride and grandeur of patriotic song. Read his "Pleasures of Hope," "Gertrude of Wyoming," and see Table III. No. 12. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[37] Moore is a singer of wonderful melody and elegance and of inexhaustible imagery. Read his "Irish Melodies." (Eng., 19th cent.) See Table III. No. 11.

[38] Thomson is one of the most intense lovers of Nature, and sees with a clear eye the correspondences between the inner and outer worlds upon which poetry is built. Read his "Seasons" and "The Castle of Indolence." (Eng., 18th cent.)

[39] Read Macaulay's "Lays of Ancient Rome." "Horatius" cannot fail to make the reader pulse with all the heroism and patriotism that is in his heart, and "Virginia" will fill each heart with mutiny and every eye with tears. (Eng., 19th cent.) See Table III. No. 12.

[40] Dryden's song is not so smooth as Pope's, but doubly strong. His translation of Virgil has more fire than the original, though less elegance. He was the literary king of his time, but knew better how to say things than what to say. (Eng., 17th cent.) See Table III. No. 14.

[41] Collins was a poet of fine genius. Beauty, simplicity, and sweet harmony combine in his works, but he wrote very little. Read his odes, "To Pity," "To Evening," "To Mercy," "To Simplicity." See Table III. No. 14. (Eng., 18th cent.)

[42] Jean Ingelow's poems deserve at least tasting, which will scarcely fail to lead to assimilation. (Eng., 1862.) See Table III. No. 14.


[43] Bryant's "Thanatopsis," written at eighteen, gave promise of high poetic power; but in the life of a journalist the current of energy was drawn away from poetry, and America lost the full fruitage of her best poetic tree. He is serene and lofty in thought, and strong in his descriptive power and the noble simplicity of his language. (Amer., 19th cent.) See Table III. No. 13.

[44] Longfellow's poetry is earnest and full of melody, but as a whole lacks passion and imagery. Relatively to a world standard he is not a great poet and has written little worthy of universal reading, but as bone of our bone he has a claim on us as Americans for sufficient attention at least to investigate for ourselves his merits. (Amer., 19th cent.) See Table III. No. 10.

[45] Lowell says that George Herbert is as "holy as a flower on a grave." (Eng., 1631.) See Table III. No. 13.

[46] Goldsmith's "Deserted Village" and "Traveller" will live as long as the language. They are full of wisdom and lovely poetry. His dramas abound in fun. Read "The Good-Natured Man" and "She Stoops to Conquer." (Eng., 18th cent.) See Table IV.

[47] Read Coleridge's "Christabel," and get somebody to explain its mysterious beauty to you; also his "Remorse," "Ode to the Departing Year," "Ancient Mariner," and "Kubla Khan." The latter is the most magnificent creation of his time, but needs a good deal of study for most readers to perceive the beautiful underlying thought, as is the case also with the "Mariner." Coleridge is difficult reading. He wrote very little excellently, but that little should be bound in gold, and read till the inner light of it shines into the soul of the reader. The terrible opium habit ruined him. Read his life; it is a thrilling story. (Eng., 1772-1834.) Table III. No. 11.

[48] Lowell says, in his "Fable for Critics," that he is always discovering new depths

"in Wordsworth, undreamed of before,—
That divinely inspired, wise, deep, tender, grand—bore."

Nothing could sum up this poet better than that. His intense delight in Nature and especially in mountain scenery, and his pure, serene, earnest, majestic reflectiveness are his great charms. His "Excursion" is one of the great works of our literature, and stands in the front rank of the world's philosophical poetry. Its thousand lines of blank verse roll through the soul like the stately music of a cathedral organ. (Eng., 19th cent.) See Table III. No. 13.

[49] Pope is the greatest of the world's machine poets, the noblest of the great army who place a higher value on skilful execution than on originality and beauty of conception. The "Rape of the Lock" is his most successful effort, and is the best of all mock-heroic poems. "The sharpest wit, the keenest dissection of the follies of fashionable life, the finest grace of diction, and the softest flow of melody adorn a tale in which we learn how a fine gentleman stole a lock of a lady's hair." Read also his "Essay on Man," and glance at his "Dunciad," a satire on fellow-writers. (Eng., 1688-1744.) See Table III. No. 13, and Table IV.

[50] Southey had great ideas of what poetry should be, and strove for purity, unity, and fine imagery; but there was no pathos or depth of emotion in him, and the stream of his poetry is not the gush of the river, but the uninteresting flow of the canal. Byron says, "God help thee, Southey, and thy readers too." Glance at his "Thalaba the Destroyer" and "Curse of Kehama." (Eng., 1774-1843.)

[51] Walton's "Compleat Angler" is worthy of a glance. (Eng., 1653.)


[52] Browning is very obscure, and neither on authority nor principle a first-rate poet; but he is a strong thinker, and dear to those who have taken the pains to dig out the nuggets of gold. Canon Farrar puts him among the three living authors whose works he would be most anxious to save from the flames. Mrs. Browning has more imagination than her husband, and is perhaps his equal in other respects. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[53] Read Young's "Night Thoughts."

[54] Jonson, on account of his noble aims, comparative purity, and classic style, stands next to Shakspeare in the history of English drama. Read "The Alchemist," "Catiline," "The Devil as an Ass," "Cynthia's Revels," and "The Silent Woman." The plot of the latter is very humorous. (Eng., 1700.)

[55] The dramas of Beaumont and Fletcher are poetically the best in the language except those of Shakspeare. Read "Philaster," "The Fair Maid of the Inn," "Thierry and Theodoret," "The Maid's Tragedy." (Eng., 17th cent.)

[56] Marlowe's "Mighty Line" is known to all lovers of poetry who have made a wide hunt. His energy is intense. Read "The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus," based on that wonderfully fascinating story of the doctor who offered his soul to hell in exchange for a short term of power and pleasure, on which Goethe expended the flower of his genius, and around which grew hundreds of plays all over Europe. (Eng., 17th cent.)

[57] For whimsical and ludicrous situations and a rapid fire of witticisms, Sheridan's plays have no equals. Read "The School for Scandal" and "The Rivals." (Eng., 18th cent.)

[58] Carleton's poetry is not of a lofty order, but exceedingly enjoyable. Read his "Farm Ballads." (Amer., 19th cent.)


[60] Virgil is the greatest name in Roman literature. His "Æneid" is the national poem of Rome. His poetry is of great purity and elegance, and for variety, harmony, and power second in epic verse only to his great model, Homer. (Rome, 1st cent. b. c.) Read Dryden's translation if you cannot read the original.

[61] The Odes of Horace combine wit, grace, sense, fire, and affection in a perfection of form never attained by any other writer. He is untranslatable; but Martin's version and commentary will give some idea of this most interesting man, "the most modern and most familiar of the ancients." (Rome, 1st cent. b. c.)

[62] Lucretius is a philosophic poet. He aimed to explain Nature; and his poem has much of wisdom, beauty, sublimity, and imagination to commend it. Virgil imitated whole passages from Lucretius. (Rome, 1st cent. b. c.)

[63] Ovid is gross but fertile, and his "Metamorphoses" and "Epistles" have been great favorites. (Rome, 1st cent. b. c.)

[64] The "Antigone" and "Œdipus at Colonus" of Sophocles are of exquisite tenderness and beauty. In pathos Shakspeare only is his equal. (Greece, 5th cent. b. c.)

[65] Euripides is the third of the great triumvirate of Greek dramatists. His works were very much admired by Milton and Fox. Read his "Alcestis," "Iphigenia," "Medea," and the "Bacchanals." (Greece, 5th cent. b. c.)

[66] Aristophanes is the greatest of Greek comedy writers. His plays are great favorites with scholars, as a rule. Read the "Clouds," "Birds," "Knights," and "Plutus." (Greece, 5th cent. b. c.)

[67] Pindar's triumphal odes stand in the front rank of the world's lyric poetry. (Greece, 5th cent. b. c.)


[68] Hesiod's "Theogony" contains the religious faith of Greece. He lived in or near the time of Homer.

[69] Heine is the most remarkable German poet of this century. He has written many gems of rare beauty, and many sketches of life unmatched for racy freshness and graphic power.

[70] Schiller is the second name in German literature; indeed, as a lover of men and as a poet of exquisite fancy, he far excels Goethe. He was a great philosopher, historian, and critic. Read his "Song of the Bell," and his drama of "Wallenstein," translated by Coleridge. (Germany, 18th cent.)


[71] Corneille, Racine, and Molière are the great French triumvirate of dramatists. Their object is to produce one massive impression. In this they follow the classic writers. A French, Greek, or Roman drama is to a Shakspearean play as a statue to a picture, as an idea carved out of Nature and rendered magnificently impressive by its isolation and the beauty of its modelling, to Nature itself. The historical and ethical value of the French plays is very great. Corneille is one of the grandest of modern poets. Read "The Cid" ("As beautiful as the Cid" became a proverb in France), and "Horace" (which is even more original and grand than "The Cid"), and "Cinna" (which Voltaire thought the best of all). Racine excels in grace, tenderness, and versatility. Read his "Phèdre." Molière was almost as profound a master of human nature on its humorous side as Shakspeare. He hates folly, meanness, and falsehood; he is always wise, tender, and good. Read "Le Misanthrope," or "The Man-Hater," and "Tartuffe," or "The Impostor." (17th cent.)

[74] Alfred de Musset is a famous French poet of this century, and is a great favorite with those who can enjoy charming and inspiring thoughts though mixed with the grotesque and extravagant.

[75] Calderon de la Barca is one of the greatest dramatists of the world. His purity, power, and passion, his magnificent imagination and wonderful fertility, will place him in company with Shakspeare in the eternal society of the great. Read Shelley's fragments from Calderon, and Fitzgerald's translation, especially "Zalamea" and "The Wonder-Working Magician," two of his greatest plays. (Spain, 17th cent.)

[76] Petrarch's lyrics have been models to all the great poets of Southern Europe. The subject of nearly all his poems is his hopeless affection for the high-minded and beautiful Laura de Sade. His purity is above reproach. He is pre-eminent for sweetness, pathos, elegance, and melody. (Italy, 14th cent.)

[77] Ariosto is Italy's great epic poet. Read his "Orlando Furioso," a hundred-fold tale of knights and ladies, giants and magicians. (Italy, 1474-1533).

[78] Tasso is the second name in Italian epic poetry; and by some he is placed above Ariosto and named in the same breath with Homer and Virgil. Read his "Jerusalem Delivered," and "Aminta," and glance at his minor poems composed while in confinement. (Italy, 16th cent.)

[79] Camoens is the glory of Portugal, her only poet whose fame has flown far beyond her narrow borders. Read his grand and beautiful poem, the "Lusiad," a national epic grouping together all the great and interesting events in the history of his country. (16th cent.)

[80] Omar Khayyám, the great astronomer poet of Persia, has no equal in the world in the concise magnificence with which he can paint a grand poetic conception in a single complete, well-rounded, melodious stanza. Read Fitzgerald's translation. (12th cent.)


[81] Firdusi, the author of the "Shah Nameh," or Poetic History of the great deeds of the sultans. Hafiz, the poet of love, and Saadi are other great Persian poets deserving at least a glance of investigation. (11th-14th cents.)

[82] Arnold's "Light of Asia" claims our attention for the additions it can make to our breadth of thought, giving us as it does briefly and beautifully the current of thinking of a great people very unlike ourselves. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[83] Pushkin is called the Byron of Russia. Russian songs have a peculiar, mournful tenderness. "They are the sorrows of a century blended in one everlasting sigh." (19th cent.)

[84] Lermontoff is the Russian Schiller. (19th cent.)


The most important sciences for the ordinary reader are Physiology, Hygiene, Psychology, Logic, Political Economy, Sociology and the Science of Government, Astronomy, Geology, and Natural History; but an elementary knowledge of all the sciences is very desirable on account of the breadth of mind and grasp of method which result therefrom. The International Scientific Series is very helpful in giving the brief comprehensive treatment of such subjects that is needed for those who are not specialists. The best books in this department are continually changing, because science is growing fast, and the latest books are apt to be fuller and better than the old ones. The best thing that can be done by one who wishes to be sure of obtaining the finest works upon any given subject in the region of scientific research, is[42] to write to a professor who teaches that subject in some good university,—a professor who has not himself written a book on the subject,—and get his judgment on the matter.


[85] Physical health is the basis of all life and activity, and it is of the utmost importance to secure at once the best knowledge the world has attained in relation to its procurement and preservation. This matter has far too little attention. If a man is going to bring up chickens, he will study chicken books no end of hours to see just what will make them lay and make them fat and how he may produce the finest stock; but if he only has to bring up a few children, he will give no time to the study of the physical conditions of their full and fine development. Some few people, however, have a strange idea that a child is nearly as valuable as a rooster. There is no book as yet written which gives in clear, easily understood language the known laws of diet, exercise, care of the teeth, hair, skin, lungs, etc., and simple remedies. Perhaps Dalton's "Physiology," Flint's "Nervous System," Cutter's "Hygiene," Blaikie's "How to get Strong," and Duncan's "How to be Plump," Beard's "Eating and Drinking," Bellows' "Philosophy of Eating," Smith on Foods, Holbrook's "Eating for Strength," "Fruit and Bread," "Hygiene for the Brain," "How to Strengthen the Memory," and Kay's book on the Memory, Walter's "Nutritive Cure," Clark's "Sex in Education," Alice Stockham's "Tokology" or "Hygiene for Married Women," and Naphy's "Transmission of Life" will together give some idea of this all-valuable subject, though none of these books except the first are in themselves, apart from their subject, worthy of a place on the first shelf.

[86] Dr. Strong's little book, "Our Country," is of the most intense interest to every American who loves his country and wishes its welfare. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[88] The "Federalist" was a series of essays by Hamilton, Jay, and Madison, in favor of the Federal Constitution, and is the best and deepest book on the science of government that the world contains. (Amer., 1788.)

[89] Bryce on the American Commonwealth is a splendid book, a complete, critical, philosophic work, an era-making book, and should be read by every American who wishes to know how our institutions appear to a genial, cultured, broad-minded foreigner. Mr. Bryce has the chair of Political Economy in Oxford, and is a member of Parliament. His chief criticism of our great republic is that it is hard to fix responsibility for lawlessness under our institutions, which is always an encouragement to wrongdoers. His book should be read with De Tocqueville. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[90] Montesquieu's "Spirit of Laws" is a profound analysis of law in relation to government, customs, climate, religion, and commerce. It is the greatest book of the 18th century. Read with it Bagehot's "Physics and Politics."

[91] Mill's "Logic" and "Political Economy" are simply necessities to any, even moderately, thorough preparation for civilized life in America. (Eng., 19th cent.)


[92] Read Bain on the "Emotions and the Will," "Mind and Body," etc. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[93] Herbert Spencer is the foremost name in the philosophic literature of the world. He is the Shakspeare of science. He has a grander grasp of knowledge, and more perfect conscious correspondence with the external universe, than any other human being who ever looked wonderingly out into the starry depths; and his few errors flow from an over-anxiety to exert his splendid power of making beautiful generalizations. Read his "First Principles," "Data of Ethics," "Education," and "Classification of the Sciences," at any rate; and if possible, all he has written. Plato and Spencer are brothers. Plato would have done what Spencer has, had he lived in the 19th century.

[94] Darwin's "Origin of Species" stands in history by the side of Newton's "Principia." The thought of both has to a great extent become the common inheritance of the race; and it is perhaps sufficient for the general reader to refer to a good account of the book and its arguments, such as may be found in the "Encyclopædia Britannica." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[95] Read Herschel and Proctor in Astronomy, to broaden and deepen the mind with the grand and beautiful conceptions of this most poetic of the sciences. Proctor's books are more fascinating than any fiction. (Eng., 19th cent.)


[96] For a knowledge of what has been going on in this dim spot beneath the sun, in the ages before man came upon the stage, and for an idea about what kind of a fellow man was when he first set up housekeeping here, and how long ago that was, read Lyell's "Geology;" Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," "Origin of Civilization and Primitive Condition of Man," and Lyell's "Antiquity of Man" (Eng., 19th cent.); and Dawson's "Chain of Life." (U. S., 19th cent.)

[97] Read Wood's beautiful and interesting books on Natural History; especially his "Evidences of Mind in Animals," "Out of Doors," "Anecdotes of Animals," "Man and Beast," "Here and Hereafter." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[98] Whewell's "History of the Inductive Sciences" is a very broadening book.

[99] De Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" is one of the great books, and is superior in depth and style even to Bryce. The two books supplement each other. See note 89: (France, 18th cent.)

[100] "Constitutional History of the United States." (Ger., 19th cent.)

[101] "Wealth of Nations," "Moral Sentiments." (Eng., 18th cent.)

[102] "Principles of Population." One of the most celebrated of books. (Eng., 18th cent.)

[103] "Principles of Social Philosophy." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[104] "Essays on Political Economy," "Leading Principles of Political Economy." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[105] "Comparative Politics." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[106] "The Theory of Political Economy," "The Logic of Statistics." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[107] "The Nation, the Foundation of Civil Order and Political Life in the United States." (U. S., 19th cent.)

[108] "Leviathan." See note 190. (Eng., 16th cent.)

[109] "The Prince." (Italy, 1469-1527.)

[110] "Chips from a German Workshop," and various works on Philology. (Ger., 19th cent.)

[111] "Study of Words," etc. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[112] "Words and Places." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[113] "Natural History of Selborne." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[114] "Animal Kingdom." (France, early 19th cent.)

[115] "Voyages." (Eng., 18th cent.)

[116] "Heat as a Mode of Motion," "Forms of Water," etc. (Eng., 19th cent.)


[117] "On Sound." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[118] "Scientific Researches." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[119] "Conservation of Energy." In a book on this subject edited by E. L. Youmans. (Ger., 19th cent.)

[120] "Man's Place in Nature." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[121] Botany. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[122] "Methods of Study in Natural History." (U. S. 19th cent.)

[123] Physics. (U. S., 19th cent.)


Biography carefully read will cast a flood of light before us on the path of life. Read Longfellow's "Psalm of Life," and try to find the teachings he refers to in the lives of great men. The world still lacks what it very much needs,—a book of brief biographies of the greatest and noblest men and women of every age and country, by a master hand. The aim should be to extract from the past what it can teach us of value for the future; and to do this biography must become a comparative science, events and lives must be grouped over the whole range of the years, that by similarities and contrasts the truth may appear. Smiles's "Self-Help" is a partial realization of this plan.

The manner of reading should be: R. D.


[124] Plutarch's "Lives" comes nearer to a comparative biography than any other book we have. He contrasts his characters in pairs, a Greek and a Roman in each couplet. It is one of the most delightful of books, and among those most universally read by cultured people of all nations. Dryden's translation revised by Clough is the best. (Rome, 1st cent.)

[125] In Wendell Phillips's oration on "Toussaint L'Ouverture," there is a fascinating comparison of the noble negro warrior with Napoleon. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[126] Boswell's "Johnson" is admittedly the greatest life of a single person yet written. (Eng., 18th cent.)

[127] Lockhart's "Life of Scott" is a favorite with all who read it. Wilkie Collins especially recommends it as finely picturing genius and nobility of character. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[128] Marshall's "Life of Washington" is an inspiring book. Gladstone said to Mr. Depew: "Sixty years ago I read Chief-Justice Marshall's 'Life of Washington,' and I was forced to the conclusion that he was quite the greatest man that ever lived. The sixty years that have passed have not changed that impression; and to any Englishman who seeks my advice in the line of his development and equipment I invariably say, 'Begin by reading the Life of George Washington.'" (U. S., 19th cent.)

Franklin's "Autobiography" is brief, philosophic, and delightfully frank and clear. (U. S., 18th cent.)

[129] "The Life of Lincoln," by Nicolay and Hay, is a book that has very strong claims to the attention of every American, and every lover of liberty, greatness, nobility, and kindliness. (U. S., 19th cent.)

Grant's "Memoirs" deserves reading for similar reasons. The great General lived an epic, and wrote a classic. (U. S. 19th cent.)


[130] Read Carlyle's "Life of John Sterling," "Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches," and "Heroes and Hero Worship." (Eng., 19th cent.)

Renan's "Life of Christ." (France, 19th cent.)

[131] Canon Farrar's little "Life of Dante" is, considering its brevity, one of the best things in this department. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[132] Emerson's "Representative Men" most strongly stirs thought and inspires the resolution. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[133] "The Portrait Collection of the Hundred Greatest Men," published by Sampson, Low, & Co., 1879.

[134] Read Parton's "Sketches of Men of Progress." (U. S., 19th cent.)

[135] "Lights of Two Centuries." (U. S., 19th cent.)

[136] "Our Great Benefactors." (U. S., 19th cent.)

[137] "Book of Martyrs." (Eng., early 16th cent.)

[138] "The Life and Times of Goethe," and "Michaelangelo." Most interesting books. (Germany, 19th cent.)

[139] "English Statesmen." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[140] "Life of Napoleon." (France, 19th cent.)

[141] "Lives of the Poets." (Eng., 18th cent.)

[142] Walton's "Lives." (Eng., 17th cent.)

[143] "Life of Dr. Arnold." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[144] "Life of Washington." (U. S., 19th cent.)

[145] "Life of Nelson." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[146] "Life of Pitt." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[147] "Life of Byron." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[148] "Lives of Female Sovereigns and Illustrious Women." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[149] "Lives of the Saints." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[150] "Memories of many Men." (U. S., 19th cent.)

[151] "Reminiscences." (U. S., 18th cent.)

The Life and Letters of Darwin, Talleyrand, and Macaulay; the Journals of Miss Alcott, Marie Bashkirtseff, and Eugénie de Guerin; the Autobiography of Joseph[49] Jefferson; the "American Statesmen" series, edited by John T. Morse, Jr., and the "English Men of Letters" series are all valuable books. The Journals of Miss Alcott and Marie Bashkirtseff are stories of heart struggles, longings, failures, and triumphs, and are of exceeding interest and great popularity. The Journal of Eugénie de Guerin deserves to be better known than it is, for the delicate sweetness of feeling that fills its pages.


Remarks may be made about History very similar to those in the special remarks concerning Biography. The field is too vast for an ordinary life, and there is no book that will give in brief compass the net results and profits of man's investment in experience and life,—the dividends have not been declared. Guizot and Buckle come nearer to doing this than any other writers; but the book that shall reduce the past to principles that will guide the future has not yet been written. The student will be greatly assisted by the "Manual of Historical Literature," by C. K. Adams. It is an admirable guide. Putnam's series, "The Stories of the Nations," and Scribner's "Epoch" series are very useful, especially for young people.

The manner of reading the best history should be: R. D. G.


[152] Green's "History of the English People" has probably the first claims on the general reader. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[153] Bancroft's "History of the United States" should be read by every American citizen, along with Dr. Strong's "Our Country." (U. S., 19th cent.) The only trouble with Bancroft is that he does not bring the history down to recent times. Hildreth for the student, and Ridpath for practical business men supply this defect. Doyle's "History of the United States" is perhaps the best small book, and his "American Colonies" is also good. McMaster's "History of the People of the United States" is a brilliant work, given largely to an account of the social life of the people.

[154] Guizot's "History of Civilization" and "History of France" (France, 19th cent.) are among the greatest books of the world; and with Buckle's "History of Civilization" (Eng., 19th cent.) will give a careful reader an intellectual breadth and training far above what is attained by the majority even of reading men.

[155] Parkman is the Macaulay of the New World. He invests the truths of sober history with all the charms of poetic imagination and graceful style. His literary work must take its place by the side of Scott and Irving. Read his "France and England in North America," "Conspiracy of Pontiac," and "The Oregon Trail."

Freeman, Fiske, and Fyffe are also great historians, who require notice here. Freeman's "Comparative Politics," "History of the Saracens," "Growth of the English Constitution," "History of Federal Government," and "General Sketch of History" are all great works,—the last being the best brief account of general history that we possess. (Eng., 19th cent.)

Fiske's "Civil Government," "War of Independence," and "Critical Period of American History" are standard books. (U. S., 19th cent.)[51]

Fyffe's "Modern Europe" is called the most brilliant picture of the Revolutionary Period in existence. It is certainly one of the best of histories.

[155a] "Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[156] "History of England in the 18th Century," "History of European Morals." These books take very high rank in respect to style, accuracy, and completeness. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[157] "Ten Great Religions," by James Freeman Clarke. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[158] "Comparative History of Religion."

[159] "Intellectual Development of Europe." A work of great power. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[160] "Middle Ages." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[161] "Constitutional History of England." Bagehot's "English Constitution" should be read with the works of Hallam, Freeman, and May on this topic, because of its brilliant generalizations and ingenious suggestions. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[162] "History of England." (Eng., 18th cent.)

[163] "History of England." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[164] "History of England." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[165] "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." (Eng., 18th cent.)

[166] "History of Greece." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[167] "History of New England." (U. S., 19th cent.)

[168] "Conquest of Mexico," "Peru," "Ferdinand and Isabella," etc. Prescott's style is of the very best, clear, graphic, and ever interesting. (U. S., 19th cent.)


[169] "Rise of the Dutch Republic." (U. S., 19th cent.)

[169a] "Rise of the Republic of the United States." (U. S., 19th cent.)

[170] "Ancient Egyptians." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[171] "History of Rome." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[172] "History of the Germans." (Ger., 1798.)

[173] "Latin Christianity." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[174] "History of the Papacy in the 16th and 17th Centuries." Ranke is one of the strongest names in history. (Ger., 19th cent.)

[175] "Italian Republics." (France, 1773-1842.)

[176] "History of France." (France, 19th cent.)

[177] "French Revolution." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[178] "History of France," "Norman Conquest of England." (France, 19th cent.)

[179] "Germania." His "Life of Agricola" is also worthy of note for the insight into character, the pathos, vigor, and affection manifested in its flattering pages. (Rome, 1st cent.)

[180] "History of Rome." (Rome, 1st cent. b. c.)

[181] "The War of Catiline." (Rome, 1st cent. b. c.)

[182] History of nearly all the nations known at the time he wrote. (Greece, 5th cent. b. c.)

[183] "Anabasis, the Retreat of the Greek Mercenaries of the Persian King." (Greece, 5th cent. b. c.)

[184] "History of the Athenian Domination of Greece." (Greece, 5th cent. b. c.)

[185] "History of the Jewish Wars." (Jerusalem, 1st cent.)

Mackenzie's "History of the Nineteenth Century" is the best English book on the subject.

Rawlinson's "Five Great Monarchies" is strongly recommended.[53]


There have been, since the waters of thought began to flow, two great streams running side by side,—Rationalism and Mysticism. Those who sail upon the former recognize Reason as king; those upon the latter enthrone some vague and shadowy power, in general known as Intuition. The tendency of the one is to begin with sense impressions, and out of these to build up a universe in the brain corresponding to the outer world, and to arrive at a belief in God by climbing the stairway of induction and analogy. The tendency of the other is to start with the affirmed nature of God, arrived at, the thinker knows not how, and deduce the universe from the conception of the Divine Nature. If this matter is kept in mind, the earnest student will be able to see through the mists sufficiently to discover what the philosophers are talking about whenever it chances that they themselves knew. Spencer, Plato, Berkeley, Kant, Locke, are all worthy of a thorough reading; and Comte's philosophy of Mathematics is of great importance.

The manner of reading good philosophic works should be: R. D. G.


[186] Spencer's Philosophy is the grandest body of thought that any one man has ever given to the world. No one who wishes to move with the tide can afford to be unfamiliar with his books, from "First Principles" to his Essays. He believes that all ideas, or their materials, have come through the avenues of the senses. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[187] Plato and Socrates are a double star in the sky of Philosophy that the strongest telescopes have failed to resolve. Socrates wrote nothing, but talked much. Plato was a pupil of his, and makes Socrates the chief character in his writings. Ten schools of philosophy claimed Socrates as their head, but Plato alone represented the master with fulness. Considering the times in which he lived, the grandeur of his thought, the power of his imagination, and the nobility, elegance, originality, and beauty of his writings, Plato has no superior in the whole range of literature. With Plato, ideas are the only realities, things are imperfect expressions of them, and all knowledge is reminiscence of what the soul learned when it was in the land of spirit, face to face with ideas unveiled. Read his dialogues, especially "Phædo" and the "Republic." (Greece, 429-348 b. c.)

[188] A most acute idealist, whose argument against the existence of matter is one of the great passages of literature. (Eng., 18th cent.)

[189] Kant argues that the forms of thought, time, and space are necessarily intuitive, and not derived from sensation, since they are prerequisites to sensation. Read the "Critique of Pure Reason," "Critique of Practical Reason," in which he treats moral philosophy, and "Observations on the Sublime and Beautiful." (Germany, 18th cent.)

[190] Locke bases knowledge on sensation. His "Essay on the Conduct of the Understanding" is one of the most valuable books in the language. Spencer, Mill, and Locke have so fully imbibed all that was good in Hobbes that it is scarcely necessary to read him. (Eng., 17th cent.)


[191] Comte's "Positive Philosophy" rejects intuitive knowledge. It is characterized by force of logic, immense research, great power of generalization (which is frequently carried beyond the warrant of facts), and immense bulk. (France, 19th cent.)

[192] Sensationalist. A very strong writer. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[193] "Limits of Religious Thought." A very powerful exposure of the weakness of human imagination. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[194] "Matter and Force." A powerful presentation of Materialism. (Ger., 19th cent.)

[195] "Freedom of the Will." A demonstration of the impossibility of free will. (Amer., 18th cent.)

[196] A very acute English philosopher. (Eng., 1748-1832.)

[197] Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[198] A deep, clear thinker, of sceptical character, who laid bare the flaws in the old philosophies. (Eng., 1711-1776.)

[199] One of the most profound metaphysicians the world can boast, and inventor of quaternions, the latest addition to Mathematics. (Scot., 19th cent.)

[200] Aristotle was the Bacon of the Old World. His method was the very opposite of Plato's. He sought knowledge chiefly by carefully looking out upon the world, instead of by introspection. No one has exerted a greater influence on the thought of the world than this deep and earnest thinker. (Greece, 4th cent. b. c.)


[201] A very beautiful writer of the idealist school, though he claims to be eclectic. (France, 19th cent.)

[202] Hegel endeavored, by the method set forth in his "Absolute Logic," to reduce all knowledge to one science. (Ger., 1770-1831.) Schelling, in his "Philosophy of Identity," tries to prove that the same laws hold in the world of spirit as in the world of matter. Schelling bases his system on an intuition superior to reason, and admitting neither doubt nor explanation. (Ger., 1775-1854.)

[203] Fichte carries the doctrines of Kant to their limit: to him all except the life of the mind is a delusion. (Ger., 18th cent.)

[204] A great German philosopher of the time of Luther (16th cent.), very learned, refined, and witty. Read his "Familiar Colloquies."

[205] "Cosmic Philosophy." (Amer. 19th cent.)

[206] "Rational Cosmology, or the Eternal Principles and Necessary Laws of the Universe." (U. S., 19th cent.)

[207] Scottish Philosophy. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[208] Theologico-politico-moral, voluminous dissertations. (Amsterdam, 17th cent.)


Next to Shakspeare's Plays, Emerson's Essays and Lectures are to me the richest inspiration. At every turn new and delightful paths open before the mind; and the poetic feeling and imagery are often of the best. Only the music and the power of discriminating the wheat from the chaff were lacking to have made one of the world's greatest poets. To pour into the life the spirit of Emerson, Bacon, and Montaigne is a liberal education in itself. Addison's[57] "Spectator" is inimitable in its union of humor, sense, and imagination. A number of eminent men, Franklin among them, have referred to it as the source of their literary power.

Read these essays: R. D. C. G.

[209] Emerson's Essays and Lectures certainly deserve our first attention in this department, because of their poetic beauty and stimulating effect upon the imagination and all that is pure and strong and noble in the character. (Amer., 19th cent.)

[210] Nowhere can be found so much wit and wisdom to the square inch as in Bacon's Essays. (Eng., 1600.)

[211] Montaigne is the most popular of all the world's essayists, because of his common-sense, keen insight, and perfect frankness. The only author we certainly know to have been in Shakspeare's own library. (France, 1580.)


[212] Ruskin's "Ethics of the Dust," "Crown of Wild Olives," "Sesame and Lilies," while somewhat wild in substance as well as in title, are well worthy of reading for the intellectual stimulus afforded by their breadth of view, novelty of expression and illustration, and the intense force—almost fanaticism—which characterizes all that Ruskin says. Ruskin is one of three living writers whom Farrar says he would first save from a conflagration of the world's library. Carlyle is another of the same sort. Read his "Past and Present," a grand essay on Justice. (Eng., 19th cent.)

So far as style is concerned, Addison's Essays in the "Spectator" are probably the best in the world.


In modern times much that is best in literature has gone into the pages of the novel. The men and women of genius who would in other days have been great poets, philosophers, dramatists, essayists, and humorists have concentrated their powers, and poured out all their wealth to set in gold a story of human life. Don't neglect the novels; but be sure to read good ones, and don't read too many.

In fiction, England, America, and France are far ahead of the rest of the world. Scott may well be held to lead the list, considering the quantity and quality of what he wrote; and Dickens, I presume, by many would be written next, though I prefer the philosophic novelists, like George Eliot, Macdonald, Kingsley, Hugo, etc. Fielding, Richardson, Goldsmith, Sterne, and Defoe, Jane Austen, Cooper, and Marryat all claim our attention on one account or another.

The United States can boast of Hawthorne, Tourgée, Wallace, Hearn, Aldrich, Warner, Curtis, Jewett, Craddock, and many others.

France has a glorious army, led by Victor Hugo, George Sand, Balzac, Dumas, Gautier, Mérimée, etc. But the magnificent powers of these artists are combined with sad defects. Hugo is the greatest literary force since Goethe and Scott; but his digressions are sometimes terribly tedious, his profundity darkness,[59] and his "unities," his plot, and reasons for lugging in certain things hard to find. Balzac gives us a monotony of wickedness. George Sand is prone to idealize lust. "Notre Dame" and "Les Misérables," "Le Père Goriot" and "Eugénie Grandet," "Consuelo" and "La Mare au Diable," "Capitaine Fracasse" and "Vingt Ans Après," are great books; but they will not rank with "Tom Jones" artistically, nor with the "Vicar of Wakefield," "Ivanhoe," "Adam Bede," "Romola," or "The Scarlet Letter," considering all the elements that go to make a great novel.

Germany, Italy, and Spain have no fiction that compares with ours.

No doubt many will be surprised to find Fielding, Balzac, Tolstoï, and others placed so low in the list as they are. The reason is that the moral tone of a book is, with us, a weightier test of its claims on the attention of the general reader, than the style of the author or the merit of his work from an artistic point of view. There might be some doubt whether or no we ought not to exclude from our tables entirely all books that are not noble enough in character to admit of their being read aloud in the family. The trouble is that much of the finest literature of the world would have to be excluded. So there seems to be no course but to admit these men, with a note as to their character.

One who wishes to make a study of the novel will be interested in Dunlop's "History of Fiction," Tuckerman's "History of English Prose Fiction," Hazlitt's[60] "English Novelists," Lanier's "Novel," Masson's "British Novelists and their Styles," and Jeaffreson's "Novels and Novelists."

The best fiction should be read: R. D. G.

[213] "Heart of Midlothian," "Waverley," "Ivanhoe," "Kenilworth," "Guy Mannering," "The Antiquary," "Rob Roy," "Old Mortality," "Red Gauntlet," etc. Scott is by very many—and among them some of the greatest—loved more than any other novelist. The purity, beauty, breadth, and power of his works will ever place them among the most desirable reading. (Eng., 19th cent.) Hutton's "Sir Walter Scott," Carlyle's "Essay on Scott," Hazlitt's Essay in "The Spirit of the Age," and other books referred to in the head notes to Poetry and Fiction will be useful to the student of Scott.

[214] "Adam Bede," "Mill on the Floss," "Romola," "Silas Marner," etc. Deep philosophy and insight into character mark all George Eliot's writings. (Eng., 19th cent.) Lanier's "Development of the Novel" is practically only an enthusiastic study of George Eliot.

[215] "Pickwick," "David Copperfield," "Bleak House," "Martin Chuzzlewit," "Old Curiosity Shop," etc. Dickens needs no comment. His fame is in every house. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[216] Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter," "Marble Faun," "Great Stone Face," etc., are by universal consent accorded the first place in the lists of American novels, and are among the best to be found anywhere. (U. S., 19th cent.)


[217] "Vicar of Wakefield." One of Goethe's earliest favorites. (Eng., 18th cent.)

[218] "Rienzi," "Last Days of Pompeii," "Last of the Barons," etc. Most powerful, delightful, and broadening books. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[219] "Malcolm," "Marquis o' Lossie," "David Elginbrod," etc. Books of marvellous spiritual helpfulness. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[220] "Esmond," "Vanity Fair," etc. Very famous books. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[221] "Westward, Ho!" "Two Years Ago," etc. Among the best and most famous pictures of true English character. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[222] "Ben Hur." This book has been placed close to the Bible and Bunyan. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[223] "Hot Plowshares," "The Fool's Errand," "The Invisible Empire," "Appeal to Cæsar," etc. Books widely known, but whose great merit is not fully recognized. Tourgée, though uneven, seems to us a writer of very great power. His "Hot Plowshares" is a powerful historical novel; and few books in the whole range of literature are so intensely interesting, and so free from all that is objectionable in subject or execution. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[224] "Les Misérables," "Notre Dame de Paris," "Les Travailleurs de la Mer," etc. Wraxall's translations of these great French novels are most excellent. (France, 19th cent.)

Some critics think that no characters in Shakspeare are better drawn than those of Dumas. "Monte Cristo," "The Vicomte de Bragelonne" (Stevenson's favorite), "The Three Musketeers," "Twenty Years After," "The Marie Antoinette Romances," etc., are powerful and intensely interesting novels. (France, 19th cent.)


[225] "Robinson Crusoe." There are few persons who do not get delight and inspiration from Defoe's wonderful story. (Eng., 1661-1731.)

"Tom Brown at Rugby" and "Tom Brown at Oxford," by Thomas Hughes, are delightful books for boys. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[226] Mrs. Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," was God's bugle-call to the war against slavery. Her "Oldtown Folks" and "Sam Lawson's Fireside Stories" are very humorous sketches of New England life. (U. S., 19th cent.)

Cooper's "The Spy," "The Pilot," "Leather Stocking," "Deerslayer," "Pathfinder," etc., are books that interfere with food and sleep, and chain us to their pages. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[227] "Prue and I," by George William Curtis, is one of the most suggestive stories in print, and is in every way a delightful book. "Potiphar Papers," "Our Best Society," "Trumps," "Lotus Eaters,"—in fact, everything Mr. Curtis writes, is of the highest interest, and worthy of the most careful attention. (U. S., 19th cent.)

The same may be said of the works of Charles Dudley Warner,—"Being a Boy," "A Hunting of the Deer," "In the Wilderness," "Backlog Studies," "My Summer in a Garden," etc. (U. S., 19th cent.)


[228] T. B. Aldrich, while perhaps not destined to rank with Scott, Eliot, and Hawthorne, is nevertheless one of the most wholesome and interesting of living authors. "The Stillwater Tragedy" is his strongest book. "Prudence Palfrey," "The Story of a Bad Boy," "Margery Daw," and "The Queen of Sheba" will doubtless be read by those who once become acquainted with the author. (U. S., 19th cent.)

The first part of Hearn's "Chita" exceeds in beauty and strength any other piece of descriptive writing with which we are familiar. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[229] Ebers' "Homo Sum," "Uarda," and "An Egyptian Princess" are very powerful studies of Egyptian life and history. (Ger., 19th cent.)

"With Fire and Sword," and its sequels, "The Deluge" and "Pan Michael," by Henryk Sienkiewicz, are among the greatest books of modern times. They are historical romances of the conflict between Russia, Poland, and Sweden; and their power may be guessed from the fact that critics have compared the author favorably with Scott, Dumas, Schiller, Cervantes, Thackeray, Turgenieff, Homer, and even Shakspeare. (Poland, 19th cent.)

[230] Miss Austen's "Emma," "Pride and Prejudice" (Eng., 19th cent.), and Charlotte Bronté's "Jane Eyre" (Eng., 19th cent.), are all noble and renowned novels.

[231] Louisa Alcott's "Little Women" is a lovely story of home life; and its exceeding popularity is one of the most encouraging signs of the growth of a taste for pure, gentle, natural literature. (U. S., 19th cent.)

Mrs. Burnett's "Little Lord Fauntleroy" deservedly met at once a high reward of popularity, and was placed in the front rank among stories of child-life. As a teacher of gentleness and good manners it is invaluable. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[232] Cable's "Grande Pointe," "The Grandissimes," etc., should be read by all who wish to know the best living novelists. (U. S., 19th cent.)

Craddock's "Where the Battle was Fought," "Despot of Broomsedge Cove," "Prophet of Great Smoky Mountain," "Story of Keedon Bluffs," and "Down the Ravine" are fascinating stories, the last two being fine books for children. (U. S., 19th cent.)


[233] Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney's "Sights and Insights," though somewhat too wordy for this busy world, is worthy a place here, because of its spiritual beauty and its keen common-sense in respect to marriage and courtship. (U. S., 19th cent.)

Sarah Orne Jewett has won a good name by her excellent stories, "Deephaven," "Betty Leicester," etc. Her "Play Days" is a fine book for girls. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[234] Fielding, Le Sage, and Balzac are writers of great power, whose works are studied for their artistic merit, their wit, and the intense excitement some of them yield; but the general moral tone of their writings places them below the purer writers above spoken of in respect to their value to the general reader, one of whose deepest interests is character-forming.

Fielding's "Tom Jones" is by many considered the finest novel in existence; and it undoubtedly would be, if along with its literary skill it possessed the high tone of Curtis or Scott. "Jonathan Wild" is also a powerful story. (Eng., 18th cent.)

"Gil Blas," by Le Sage, is one of the most famous and widely read books in the world. (France, 1668—1747.)

Balzac's best are "Le Père Goriot" (and especially the magnificent preface to this book), "La Recherche de l'Absolu," "Eugénie Grandet," "La Peau de Chagrin," etc. (France, 19th cent.)

[235] Rousseau's "Emile" has been called the greatest book ever written; but we presume that bias and limitation of knowledge on the part of critics (not rare accomplishments of theirs) might procure a similar judgment in respect to almost any strong and peculiar book. Rousseau's "Confessions" are worth some attention. (France, 18th cent.)

Saintine's "Picciola" is a beautiful story. (France, 19th cent.)


[236] Coffin's "Boys of '76," "Boys of '61," "Story of Liberty," etc., are splendid books for young people. The last describes the march of the human race from slavery to freedom. (U. S., 19th cent.)

Charles Reade's "Hard Cash," "Peg Woffington," "Cloister and Hearth" are fascinating stories. (Eng., 19th cent.)

Warren's "Ten Thousand a Year."

[237] Landor's "Imaginary Conversations of Great Men." (Eng., 18th cent.)

Turgenieff's "Liza," "Smoke," and "Fathers and Sons." (Russia, 19th cent.)

Eugene Sue's "Wandering Jew."

Manzoni's "I promessi Sposi."

[238] Cottin's "Elizabeth."

Besant's "All Sorts and Conditions of Men." (Eng., 19th cent.)

Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." A book that teaches the danger of giving way to the evil side of our nature.

[239] Mrs. Ward's "Robert Elsmere" is a famous picture of the struggle in the religious mind to-day. (Eng., 19th cent.)

Margaret Deland's "John Ward, Preacher," is a book of the same class as the last, but is not as interesting as her "Florida Days" or her Poems. (U. S., 19th cent.)

Anna Sewell's "Black Beauty" is the autobiography of a noble horse, and is tender and intelligent. A book that every one who has anything to do with horses, or indeed with animals of any sort, cannot afford to neglect. (Eng., 19th cent.)

Bret Harte's "Luck of Roaring Camp" is an interesting picture of Western life, and opens a new vein of fiction. (U. S., 19th cent.)


[240] Green's "Hand and Ring," "Leavenworth Case," etc., are splendid examples of reasoning, without any of the objectionable features usually found in detective stories. (U. S., 19th cent.)

Miss Mulock's "John Halifax, Gentleman," is a great and famous book. (Eng., 19th cent.)

Disraeli's "Lothair," "Endymion," etc., are strong books; requiring the notice of one who reads widely in English fiction. (Eng., 19th cent.)

Howells' "A Modern Instance," "The Undiscovered Country," "A Hazard of New Fortunes," "A Chance Acquaintance," "Lady of the Aroostook," etc., are not objectionable. (U. S., 19th cent.)

Tolstoï's "Anna Karénina" deserves mention, though we cannot by any means agree with Howells that Tolstoï is the greatest of novelists. The motive and atmosphere of his books are not lofty, and some of his work is positively disgraceful. (Russia, 19th cent.)

[241] George Sand's "Consuelo" is a great book in more senses than one; and although it deserves a place in this lower list, yet there are so many better books, that if one follows the true order, life would be likely to depart before he had time to read a four-volume novel by an author of the tone of George Sand. (France, 19th cent.)

Black's "Strange Adventures of a Phaeton," "Princess of Thule." (Eng., 19th cent.)

Blackmore's "Lorna Doone." (Eng., 19th cent.)

Olive Schreiner's "Story of an African Farm" is powerful, but not altogether wholesome. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[242] Bremer's "The Neighbors." (Norway, 19th cent.)

Trollope's "Last Chronicles of Barsetshire." (Eng., 19th cent.)

Winthrop's "Cecil Dreeme," "John Brent." (U. S., 19th cent.)[67]

[243] Richardson's "Pamela" and "Clarissa Harlowe" are interesting, because they were the beginning of the English novel; but they are not nice or natural, and have no attractions except their historic position. (Eng., 1689-1761.)

Smollett's "Humphrey Clinker" is his strongest work. "Peregrine Pickle" is very witty, and "Adventures of an Atom" altogether a miserable book. Smollett possessed power, but his work is on a very low plane. (Eng., 18th cent.)

Boccaccio's "Decameron" is a series of splendidly told tales, from which Chaucer drew much besides his inspiration. The book is strong, but of very inferior moral tone.


Great and successful oratory requires deep knowledge of the human mind and character, personal force, vivid imagination, control of language and temper, and a faculty of putting the greatest truths in such clear and simple and forceful form, that they may not only be grasped by untrained minds, but will break down the barriers of prejudice and interest, and fight their way to the throne of the will. Oratory is religion, science, philosophy, biography, history, wit, pathos, and poetry in action. This department of literature is therefore of the greatest value in the development of mind and heart, and of the power to influence and control our fellows. Especially read and study Demosthenes on the Crown, Burke's "Warren Hastings' Oration," Webster's[68] "Reply to Hayne," Phillips' "Lovejoy" and "Toussaint L'Ouverture," and Lincoln's "Gettysburg," his debates with Douglas, and his great speeches in New York and the East before the War, in which fun, pathos, and logic were all welded together in such masterly shape that professors of oratory followed him about from city to city, studying him as a model of eloquence. There is a book called "Great Orations of Great Orators" that is very valuable, and there is a series of three volumes containing the best British orations (fifteen orators), and another similar series of American speeches (thirty-two orators).


In what wit consists, and why it is we laugh, are questions hard to answer (read on that subject Spencer and Hobbes, and Mathews' "Wit and Humor; their Use and Abuse"); but certain it is that a little seasoning of fun makes intellectual food very palatable, and much better adapts it for universal and permanent assimilation. Most men can keep what is tied to their memories with a joke. Considering all things, Lowell, Holmes, Dickens, and Cervantes are the best humorists the world affords. See Table III. Group 4. They exhibit a union of power and purpose that is not found elsewhere. They always subordinate wit to wisdom, always aim at something far[69] higher than making fun for its own sake, never appear to make any effort for their effects, and always polish their work to perfection. A great deal of the keenest wit will be found in books whose general character puts them in some other column,—Poetry, Fiction, Oratory, etc. The works of Shakspeare, Addison, Eliot, Sheridan, Goldsmith, Irving, Higginson, Carleton, Thackeray, Hood, Saxe, Fielding, Smollett, Aristophanes, Molière, etc., abound in wit and humor.

The student of humor will be interested in Hazlitt's "English Comic Writers," Thackeray's "English Humorists," and Besant's "French Humorists."

[244] "Fable for Critics," "Biglow Papers." Considering the keenness and variety of wit, the depth of sarcasm, the breadth of view, and the importance of its subject, the "Biglow Papers" is the greatest humorous work of all history. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[245] "Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table," "Professor at the Breakfast-Table," etc. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[246] "Pickwick Papers." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[247] "Don Quixote." (Spain, 1547-1616.)


[248] Along with much violent scoffing, and calling of his betters by hard names, Ingersoll's speeches contain some of the keenest wit in the language. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[249] Marietta Holley's "Sweet Cicely," "Samantha at the Centennial," "Betsey Bobbet," "My Wayward Pardner," "Samantha at Saratoga," "Samantha among the Brethren," etc., are full of quaint fun, keen insight, and common-sense. They are somewhat more wordy than we wish they were, but they are wholesome, and the author's purpose is always a lofty one. Her fun is not mere fun, but is like the laughing eye and smiling lip of one whose words are full of thought and elevated feeling. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[250] G. W. Curtis's "Potiphar Papers" is a good example of quiet, refined humor. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[251] Chauncey M. Depew's Orations and After-Dinner Speeches are worthy of perusal by all lovers of wit and sense. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[252] Mark Twain is the greatest of those who make humor the primary object. He does not, like Artemus Ward, make it the sole object,—there is a large amount of keen common-sense in his "A Yankee in King Arthur's Court," and there is also in it an open-mindedness to the newest currents of thought that proves the author to be one of the most wide-awake men of the day. "Innocents Abroad," "The Prince and the Pauper," "Roughing It," etc., are very amusing books, the only drawback being that the reader is sometimes conscious of an effort to be funny. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[253] Charles Dudley Warner's "In the Wilderness" gives some exceedingly amusing sketches of backwoods life. See also other books mentioned under the head of Fiction. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[254] S. K. Edwards' "Two Runaways, and Other Stories" is a book that no lover of humor can afford to be without. (U. S., 19th cent.)


[255] E. E. Hale's "My Double, and How He Undid Me," and other stories contain much innocent recreation. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[256] Nasby's "Ekoes from Kentucky" and "Swingin' round the Circle" are full of the keenest political sarcasm. Lincoln was so impressed with Nasby's power, that he said he had rather possess such gifts than be President of the United States. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[257] "Artemus Ward His Book," is funny, but lacks purpose beyond the raising of a laugh. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[258] "Caudle Lectures," "Catspaw," etc. Jerrold is one of the sharpest of wits. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[259] Voltaire was the Ingersoll of France, only more so. His "Dictionnaire" is full of stinging sarcasm and fierce wit. (France, 18th cent.)

"English Bards and Scotch Reviewers." The sharpest edge of Byron's keen mind. (Eng., 1788-1824.)

[260] "Hudibras." A tirade against the Puritans. (Eng., 17th cent.)

"Gulliver's Travels," "Tale of a Tub," etc. Coarse raillery. (Eng., 18th cent.)

[261] "Gargantua and Pantagruel." Immense coarse wit. (France, 16th cent.)

"Tristram Shandy." Not delicate, but full of humor. (Eng., 18th cent.)

[262] Juvenal is one of the world's greatest satirists. (Rome, 1st cent.)

Lucian is the Voltaire of the Old World. In his "Dialogues of the Gods" he covers with ridicule the religious notions of the people. (Greek Lit, 2d cent. a. d.)


Fables and fairy tales are condensed dramas, and some of them are crystal drops from the fountains of poetic thought. Often they express in picture language the deepest lessons that mankind have learned;[72] and one who wishes to gather to himself the intellectual wealth of the nations must not neglect them. In the section of the book devoted to remarks upon the Guidance of Children, the literature of this subject receives more extended attention. Among the books that will most interest the student of this subject may be mentioned the works of Fiske and Bulfinch, named below, Baldwin's "Story of the Golden Age," Ragozin's "Chaldea," Kingsley's "Greek Heroes," Cox's "Tales of Ancient Greece," Hanson's "Stories of Charlemagne," Church's "Story of the Iliad" and "Story of the Æneid," and the books mentioned in connection with the "Morte D'Arthur," note 323 following:—

[263] "Fairy Tales," "Shoes of Fortune," etc. (Denmark, 19th cent.)

[264] The inimitable French poet of Fable. (France, 17th cent.)

[265] The world-famous Greek fabulist. His popularity in all ages has been unbounded. Socrates amused himself with his stories. (Greece, 6th cent. b. c.)

[266] "Household Tales." (Ger., early 19th cent.)

[267] "Reineke Fox." (Bohn Lib.) (Ger., early 19th cent.)

Kipling's "Indian Tales." (Eng., 19th cent.)

[268] "Age of Fable," "Age of Chivalry," etc. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[269] Fables in his poems. (U. S., 19th cent.)


[270] A French fabulist, next in fame to La Fontaine. (18th cent.)

[271] Greek Fables. (About com. Christ. era.)

[272] "Tales." (Ger., 19th cent.)

[273] "Metamorphoses." An account of the mythology of the ancients. Ovid was one of Rome's greatest poets. (Rome, 1st cent. b. c.)

Curtin's "Myths and Folk-Lore of Ireland," "Myths and Folk-Tales of the Russians," etc. (U. S., 19th cent.)

Fiske's "Myths and Myth Makers." (U. S., 19th cent.)


Nothing favors breadth more than travel and contact with those of differing modes of life and variant belief. The tolerance and sympathy that are folding in the world in these modern days owe much to the vast increase of travel that has resulted from growth of commerce, the development of wealth, and the cheapness and rapidity of steam transportation. Even a wider view of the world comes to us through the literature of travel than we could ever gain by personal experience, however much of wealth and time we had at our disposal; and though the vividness is less in each particular picture of the written page than if we saw the full original reality that is painted for us, yet this is more than compensated by the breadth and insight and perception of the meaning of the scenes portrayed, which we can take at once from the writer, to whom perhaps the gaining of what he gives so easily has been a very costly, tedious process, and would be so to us if we had to rely on[74] personal observation. Voyages and travels therefore are of much importance in our studies, and delightful reading too. Stanley's opinions have been much relied on in selecting the following books:—

[274] Voyages. (Eng., 18th cent.)

[275] Cosmos; Travels. (Ger., 1762-1832.)

[276] Naturalist on the Beagle. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[277] Travels. (Venice, 14th cent.)

[278] Arctic Explorations. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[279] South Africa. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[280] Through the Dark Continent; In Darkest Africa. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[281] Travels in Africa. (France, 19th cent.)

[282] On Egypt. (Germany, 19th cent.)

[283] Abyssinia. (Eng., 19th cent.)

[284] India.

[285] Niger.

[286] South America.

[287] Upper Niger.

[288] Persia.

[289] Central Africa.

[290] West Coast of Africa.

[291] Travelled for thirty years, then wrote the marvels he had seen and heard; and his book became very popular in the 14th and 15th centuries. (Eng., 14th cent.)


[292] The Nile.


In this column of "Guides" are placed books that will be useful in arriving at a fuller knowledge of literature and authors, in determining what to read, and in our own literary efforts.

[293] "What to Read on the Subject of Reading," by William E. Foster, Librarian of the Providence Public Library. Every one who is interested in books should keep an eye on this thorough and enthusiastic worker, and take advantage of the information he lavishes in his bulletins.

[294] The "Pall Mall Extra," containing Sir John Lubbock's "List of the Best Hundred Books," and letters from many distinguished men.

[295] English Literature.

[296] English Literature.

[297] "English Literature." The most philosophic work on the subject; but it is difficult, and requires a previous knowledge of the principal English authors.

[298] Handbook of Universal Literature.

[299] Dictionary of Authors.

[300] Bartlett's "Familiar Quotations" is one of the most famous and valuable of books.

[301] "Edge-Tools of Speech." Brief quotations arranged under heads such as Books, Government, Love, etc.


[302] "Library of Poetry and Song;" but for the general reader Palgrave's exquisite little "Golden Treasury" is better.

[303] "Primer of English Literature." The best very brief book on the subject.

[304] Bibliographical Aids.

[305] "Motive and Habit of Reading."

[306] "Choice of Books."

[307] "Sesame and Lilies."

[308] "The Love of Books."

[309] "History of Prose Fiction."

Baldwin's "Book Lover" is valuable for its lists of books bearing on special topics.

C. K. Adams' "Manual of Historical Literature" is invaluable to the student of history. There ought to be similar books relating to Philosophy, Fiction, Science, etc.


In the column "Miscellaneous" are placed a number of books which should be at least glanced through to open the doors of thought on all sides and to take such account of their riches as will place them at command when needed.

[310] One of the noblest little books in existence; to read it is to pour into the life and character the inspiration of hundreds of the best and most successful lives. Every page should be carefully read and digested. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[311] An exquisite book; one of Robert Collyer's early favorites. Put its beauty in your heart. (U. S., 19th cent.)

[312] A book that should be read for its breadth. (Eng., early 17th cent.)


[313] Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward" is one of the same class of books to which Bacon's "New Atlantis," More's "Utopia," etc., belong, and may be read with much pleasure and profit along with them. It is really a looking forward to an ideal commonwealth, in which the labor troubles and despotisms of to-day shall be adjusted on the same principle as the political troubles and despotisms of the last century were settled; namely, the principle that each citizen shall be industrially the equal of every other, as all are now political equals. It is a very famous book, and has been called the greatest book of the century, which, happily for the immortality of Spencer and Darwin, Carlyle and Ruskin, Parkman and Bancroft, Guizot and Bryce, Goethe and Hugo, Byron and Burns, Scott and Tennyson, Whittier and Lowell, Bulwer and Thackeray, Dickens and Eliot, is only the judgment of personal friendship and blissful ignorance. But while the book cannot feel at home in the society of the great, it is nevertheless a very entertaining story, and one vastly stimulative of thought. The idea of a coming industrial democracy, bearing more or less analogy to the political democracy, the triumph of which we have seen, is one that has probably occurred to every thoughtful person; and in Bellamy's book may be found an ingenious expansion of the idea much preferable to the ordinary socialistic plans of the day, though not wholly free from the injustice that inheres in all social schemes that do not aim to secure to each man the wealth or other advantage that his lawful efforts naturally produce. (U. S., 19th cent.)


[314] Everywhere a favorite. It opens up wide regions of imagination. Ruskin says he read it many times when he might have been better employed, and crosses it from his list. But the very fact that he read the book so often shows that even his deep mind found irresistible attraction in it. (First introduced into Europe in 17th cent.)

[315] The most colossal lies known to science. (Ger., 18th cent.)

[316] The poem of "Beowulf" should be looked into by all who wish to know the character of the men from whom we sprang, and therefore realize the basic elements of our own character. (Eng., early Saxon times.)

[317] Should be glanced at for the light it throws on English history and development. (9th-12th cents.)

[318] Froissart's "Chronicles" constitute a graphic story of the States of Europe from 1322 to the end of the 14th century. Scott said that Froissart was his master. Breadth demands at least a glance at the old itinerant tale-gatherer. Note especially the great rally of the rebels of Ghent.

[319] This masterpiece of Old German Minstrelsy is too much neglected by us. Read it with the three preceding. (Early German.)

[320] Saga means "tale" or "narrative," and is applied in Iceland to every kind of tradition, true or fabulous. Read the "Heimskringla," Njal's Saga, and Grettir's Saga, (9th-13th cents.)

[321] Along with the last should be read the poems of the elder Edda. (Compiled by Samund the Wise, 12th cent.)

[322] The epic of Spain, containing a wonderful account of the prowess of a great leader and chief. (Spain, before the 13th cent.)


[323] A collection of fragments about the famous King Arthur and his Round Table. They crop out in every age of English literature. Read the book with Tennyson's "Idylls of the King,"—a poem inspired by Malory's "Morte D'Arthur,"—Cervantes' "Don Quixote," and Twain's "Yankee in the Court of King Arthur," Lanier's "Boy's King Arthur," Ritson's "Ancient English Metrical Romances," Ellis' Introduction to the Study of the same, Preston's "Troubadours and Trouvères," Sismondi's "Literature of Southern Europe," Chapon's "Troubadours," and Van Laun's "History of French Literature" may be referred to with advantage by the student of Malory.

[324] A collection of Chinese odes.

[325] This and the last are recommended, not for intrinsic merit, but for breadth, and to open the way to an understanding of and sympathy with four hundred millions of mankind who hold these books in profound veneration. (China, as early as 5th cent. b. c.)

[326] This is the Bible of the Sufis of Persia, one of the manifestations of that great spirit of mysticism which flows like a great current through the world's history, side by side with the stream of Rationalism. It found certain outlets in Schelling, Swedenborg, Emerson, etc., and is bubbling up even now through the strata of worldliness in the United States in the shape of Theosophy. (7th cent.)

[327] Read Saint Hilaire's "Buddha" and Arnold's "Light of Asia." They will open great regions of thought.

[328, 329] These are epitomized by Talboys Wheeler in his "History of India." Very interesting and broadening. (Very ancient.)


[330-332] Not valuable reading intrinsically, but as opening the doors of communication with the minds and hearts of whole races of men, most useful. The Vedas are the Bible of the Hindus, and contain the revelation of Brahma (15th cent.). The Koran is the Mohammedan Bible (6th cent.). The Talmud belongs to the Rabbinical literature of the Jews, and is a collection of Jewish traditions (3d cent.).


[333] The works of Hooker, Swedenborg, Newton, Kepler, Copernicus, Laplace, should be actually handled and glanced through to form a nucleus of experience, around which may gather a little knowledge of these famous men and what they did. This remark applies with more or less of force to all the names on the second shelf. Few can hope to read all these books, but it is practicable by means of general works, such as those mentioned in Column 13, to gain an idea of each man, his character and work; and there is no better way to put a hook in the memory on which such knowledge of an author may be securely kept, than to take his book in your hands, note its size and peculiarities (visual and tactual impressions are more easily remembered than others as a rule), glance through its contents, and read a passage or two.


When the reader has a special purpose in view, it is of the greatest advantage to arrange in systematic order the books that will be most helpful in the accomplishment of his purpose, study them one after the other, mark them, compare them, make cross references from one to another, digest and assimilate the vital portions of each, and seek to obtain a mastery of all that the best minds of the past have given us in reference to the object of his effort. For example: a person who has devoted himself exclusively to one line of ideas will be greatly benefited by reading a short course of books that will give him a glimpse of each of the great fields of thought. One who is lacking in humor should get a good list of fine humorous works and devote himself to them, and to the society of fun-loving people, until he can see and enjoy a good joke as keenly as they do,—not only to quicken his perception of humor, but that the organ of fun (the gland that secretes wit and humor) may be roused into normal activity. Again, if a gentleman finds that he does not appreciate Shakspeare, Dante, Irving, etc., as he sees or is told that literary people do; if he prefers his newspaper to the English classics as a source of pleasure and profit; if he sees little difference between Tennyson and Tupper, enjoys Bill Nye as much or more than Holmes, and is able to compare the verses he writes to his sweetheart with Milton without any very distinct feeling except perhaps a disgust for Milton,—if any of these things are true, he has need of a course to develop a literary taste.

In the three tables following will be found a suggestion of several important short courses, and others will be found on page 123 et seq.


A short special course, to gather ideas of practical importance to every life, and to make a beginning in the gaining of that breadth of mind which is of such vital value by reason of its influence on morals and the aid it gives in the attainment of truth.

1. Physiology and Hygiene. Read and digest the best books. See Table I. Col. 3.

2. "Our Country," by Strong; the Constitution of the United States; the Declaration of Independence, and Washington's Farewell. (All m. R. D.)

3. Mill's Logic; at any rate, the Canons of Induction and the Chapter on Fallacies, (m. R. D. C. G.)

4. Smiles's "Self-Help." (m. R. D.)

5. Wood's books on Natural History; especially his anecdotes of animals, and evidences of mind, etc., in animals (e. R. D.). Proctor's books on Astronomy, "Other Worlds than Ours," etc. (e. R. G.). Lubbock's "Primitive Condition of Man" (m. R.). Dawson's "Chain of Life" (m. R.). In some good brief way, as by using the "Encyclopædia Britannica," read about Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Darwin, Herschel, Lyell, Harvey, and Torricelli.

6. Spencer's "First Principles." (d. R. D. G.)

7. Green's "Short History of the English People" (m. R. D. G.). Bancroft's "History of the United States" (m. R. D. G). Guizot's "History of Civilization" (m. R. D. G.).



8. Max Müller's philological works, or some of them (m. R.). Taylor's "Words and Places" (m. R.).

9. In some public library, if the books are not accessible elsewhere, get into your hands the books named in Columns 12 and 13 of Table I., and not already spoken of in this table, and glance through each, reading a little here and there to make a rapid survey of the ground, acquire some idea of it, and note the places where it may seem to you worth while to dig for gold.[84]


A short course of the choicest selections from the whole field of general literature. It may easily be read through in a year, and will form a taste and provide a standard that will enable the reader ever after to judge for himself of the quality and value of whatever books may come before the senate of his soul to ask for an appropriation of his time in their behalf.

Very few books are requisite for this course, but it will awaken a desire that will demand a library of standard literature. No. 1, No. 2, etc., refer to the numbers of the "100 Choice Selections." Monroe's "Sixth Reader" and Palgrave's "Golden Treasury" are also referred to, because they contain a great number of these gems, and are books likely to be in the possession of the reader.

For the meaning of the other abbreviations, see the last section of the Introductory Remarks.[85]

Group I.Poetry.

[*] in headings denotes "Degree of Difficulty."

  [*] Manner
Where found.
1. Shakspeare.      
Hamlet, especially noting Hamlet's conversations with the Ghost, with his mother and Ophelia, his advice to the players, his soliloquy, and his discourse on the nobleness of man d. R.D.C.G. Shakspeare's Plays are published separately, and also together, Richard Grant White's edition being the best.
Merchant of Venice, especially noting the scene in court, and the parts relating to Portia e. R.D.C.G.  
Julius Cæsar, especially noting the speeches of Brutus and Antony, and the quarrel of Brutus and Cassius m. R.D.C.G.  
Taming of the Shrew e. R.G.  
Henry the Eighth m. R.D.  
Henry the Fourth, read for the wit of Falstaff m. R.D.  
Henry the Fifth, noting especially the wooing m. R.D.  
Coriolanus, noting especially the grand fire and force and frankness of Coriolanus m. R.D.C.G.  
Sonnets in Palgrave's Golden Treasury, Nos. 3, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 36, 46 m. R.D.C.  
2. Milton.      
The Opening of the Gates of Hell, one of the sublimest conceptions in literature. It is in Paradise Lost, about six pages from the end of Book II. Read sixty lines beginning, "Thus saying, from her side the fatal key, Sad instrument of all our woe" d. R.D.G. Milton's Poems.
Satan's Throne, ten lines at the beginning of Book II. m. R.D.G.  
Opening of Paradise Lost, 26 lines at the beginning of Book I. m. R.D.G.  
The Angels uprooting the Mountains and hurling them on the Rebels. Fifty lines beginning about the 640th line of Book VI., "So they in pleasant vein," etc. m. R.D.G.  
"Hail, Holy Light," fifty-five lines at the beginning of Book III. m. R.D.G.  
[86]Comus, a masque, and one of the masterpieces of English literature d. R.D.C.G. Milton's Poems. The last three of this list are in Palgrave.
L' Allegro, a short poem on mirth d. R.D.C.G.  
Il Penseroso, a short poem on melancholy d. R.D.C.G.  
Lycidas, a celebrated elegy d. R.G.  
3. Homer.     Homer has had many translators, Pope, Derby, Worsley, Chapman, Flaxman, Lang, Bryant, etc.
Pope's translation. At least the first book of the Iliad. A simple, clear story of battles and quarrels, and counsels, charming in its sublimity, pathos, vigor, and naturalness. The world's greatest epic e. R.D.C.G.  
4. Æschylus.     Potter, Morshead, Swanwick, Milman, and Browning have translated Æschylus. The first two are the best. Flaxman's designs add much.
Prometheus Bound, the sublimest of the sublime. Be sure to reach and grasp the grand picture of the human race and its troubles which underlies this most magnificent poem d. R.D.C.G.  
Agamemnon, the grandest tragedy in the world m. R.D.G.  
5. Dante.      
Divine Comedy. Read Farrar's little Life of Dante (John Alden, N. Y.), and then take the Comedy and read the thirty-third canto, the portions relating to the Hells of Incontinence and of Fraud, thepicture of Satan, and the whole of the Purgatorio d. R.D.G. Translated by Longfellow, Carey, John Carlyle, Butler, and Dean Church.
6. Spenser.      
Faerie Queen, noting specially the first book and the book of Britomart, endeavoring to grasp and apply to your own life the truths that underlie the rich and beautiful imagery d. R.D.G. Spenser's Poems. The Calendar is published separately.
Hymn in Honor of his own Wedding d. R.D.G.  
Fable of the Oak and the Briar, in Shepherd's Calendar, February m. R.  
7. Scott.      
Lady of the Lake e. R. Scott's Poems, or separate.
Marmion e. R.  
Transcriber's note: Numbers 8 and 9 are missing in the original.

Group II.—Short Poetical Selections.


  [*] Manner
Where found.
10. Payne.      
Home, Sweet Home e. C.  
Psalm of Life. Paul Revere's Ride e. R.D.C. Longfellow's Poems.
The Building of the Ship (These may be found in most of the reading-books.) e. R.  
Suspiria, and the close of Morituri Salutamus m. R.D.  
Nautilus; the last stanza commit. e. R.D. Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table.
The Stars and Flowers, a lovely little poem,—the first verses in the Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table e. R.D.  
Abou Ben Adhem e. R.D. Monroe.
The True Beauty e. R.D. Palgrave, 87.
Elegy in a Country Churchyard m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 147.
Hymn to Adversity m. R.D. Palgrave, 159.
Progress of Poesy m. R.D. Palgrave, 140.
The Bard m. R.D. Palgrave, 123.
The Blind Men and the Elephant e. R.D. No. 4.
Jackson.     Poems of H. H. Jackson.
The Release m. R.D.  
11. Hood.      
Bridge of Sighs m. R.D. Palgrave, 231.
Song of the Shirt e. R.D. No. 2.
Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie Doon e. R.D. Palgrave, 139.
To a Field-mouse e. R.D. Palgrave, 144.
Mary Morrison e. R.D. Palgrave, 148.
Bonnie Lesley e. R.D. Palgrave, 149.
Jean e. R.D. Palgrave, 155.
John Anderson e. R.D. Palgrave, 156.
A Man's a Man for a' that e. R.D. Burns's Poems.
Auld Lang Syne e. R.D.  
Robert Bruce's Address to his Army e. R.D.  
Come rest in this Bosom e. R.D. Irish Melodies
[88]At the Mid Hour of Night e. R.D. Irish Melodies
Those Evening Bells e. R.D. Monroe.
Rime of the Ancient Mariner d. R.D.G. Coleridge's Poems.
Vale of Chamouni e. R. Monroe.
The Farmer's Wooing, in Among the Hills m. R.D.C. Whittier's Poems.
The Harp at Nature's Advent Strung, etc., in Tent on the Beach m. R.D.C.  
Snow Bound, Centennial Hymn (No. 13), and at least glance at his Voices of Freedom m. R.D.C.  
Barefoot Boy e. R.D.C.  
"Break, break, break, on thy cold gray Stones, O Sea" m. R.D.C. Tennyson's Poems.
"Ring out, wild Bells," in the In Memoriam m. R.D.C.  
Bugle Song, in The Princess m. R.D.C. No. 2.
Charge of the Light Brigade e. R.D.C. No. 2.
The Brook e. R.D.C. Monroe.
The Clerk's Tale, or the Story of Grisilde, in the Canterbury Tales m. R. Chaucer's Poems.
12. Key.      
The Star-Spangled Banner e. C. No. 4.
The American Flag e. R. No. 1.
"My Country, 'tis of thee" e. C.  
The Black Regiment e. R. No. 1.
Campbell, full of fire and martial music.      
Ye Mariners of England m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 206.
Battle of the Baltic m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 207.
Soldier's Dream m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 267.
Hohenlinden m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 215.
Lord Ullin's Daughter m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 181.
Love's Beginning m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 183.
Ode to Winter m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 256.
Rule Britannia m. R.C. Palgrave, 122.
The Crisis d. R.D.C.G. Lowell's Poems.
Harvard Commemoration Ode d. R.D.C.G.  
The Fountain e. R.D.C.G.  
Marco Bozzaris e. R. No. 1.
Lays of Ancient Rome, especially Horatius, and Virginia, also the Battle of Ivry e. R.D. No. 2.
The Bivouac of the Dead m. R.D. No. 5.
Rienzi's Address m. R. No. 1.
Belshazzar m. R. No. 4.
13. Shelley.     Shelley's Poems.
Ode to the West Wind m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 275.
Ode to a Skylark m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 241.
To a Lady with a Guitar m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 252.
Italy m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 274.
Naples m. R.D.C. Palgrave, 227.
The Poet's Dream d. R.D.C. Palgrave, 277.
The Cloud, Sensitive Plant, etc. m. R.D.C.  
Byron.     Byron's Poems.
All for Love m. R.D. Palgrave, 169.
Beauty m. R.D. Palgrave, 171.
Apostrophe to the Ocean, and The Eve of Waterloo m. R.D.C. Monroe.
The Field of Waterloo (These are among the most magnificent poems in any language.) m. R.D.C. No. 1.
Thanatopsis m. R.C.G. No. 1.
The Closing Year m. R.C.G. No. 1.
The Bells; The Raven m. R.C.G. No. 1.
Annabel Lee m. R. No. 5.
Keats.     Keats's Poems.
The Star m. R. Palgrave, 198.
Ode to a Nightingale m. R. Palgrave, 244.
Ode to Autumn m. R. Palgrave, 255.
Ode on the Poets m. R. Palgrave, 167.
A Beautiful Woman e. R.C. Palgrave, 174.
The Reaper m. R. Palgrave, 250.
Simon Lee m. R. Palgrave, 219.
Intimations of Immortality Palgrave, 367.
Gifts of God e. R.D.C. Palgrave, 74.
Drifting m. R.D.C. No. 1.
Sheridan's Ride e. R. No. 1.
Melancholy e. R. Palgrave, 104.
Rape of the Lock m. R. Pope's Poems.
14. Ingelow.      
The Brides of Enderby High Tide, etc. m. R. No. 2.
Loss of the Royal George e. R. Palgrave, 129.
Solitude of Selkirk m. R. Palgrave, 160.
Alexander's Feast d. R. Palgrave, 116.
The Passions d. R. Palgrave, 141.
Hymn to Diana m. R. Palgrave, 78.
Cato's Soliloquy m. R. No. 1.
Rosaline m. R. Palgrave, 16.
Counsel to Girls e. R. Palgrave, 82.
The Poetry of Dress e. R. Palgrave, 92.
15. Goethe.      
Raphael Chorus,—a wonderful chorus of three stanzas in Faust. Read Shelley's translations, both literal and free, in his Fragments m. R.C.G. Shelley's Poems.
Omar Khayyám.      
Rubáiyát, especially the "moving shadow-shape" and the "phantom caravan" stanzas, for their magnificent imagery m. R.C.G. Fitzgerald's Translation.
Chorus in Medea—Campbell's translation m. R.C.G. Campbell's Poems.
Read Shelley's Fragments m. R.C.G. Shelley's Poems.
Schiller.     Schiller's Poems.
The Battle m. R. No. 4.
The Song of the Bell m. R. Publ. separately.
Tartuffe, or The Hypocrite e. R.D. Molière's Plays.
Le Misanthrope, or The Man-Hater e. R.D.  

Group III.—Short Prose Selections.

  [*] Manner
Where found.
16. Lincoln.      
Gettysburg Oration. Famous for its calm, clear, simple beauty, breadth, and power m. R.C. No. 2.
Irving, our greatest master of style; his prose is poetry.      
Rip Van Winkle e. R.D.C. Sketch Book.
The Spectre Bridegroom e. R.D.C. Sketch Book.
The Art of Book-Making e. R.D.C. Sketch Book.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow e. R.D.C. Sketch Book.
17. Bacon.      
Essay on Studies. Note the clearness and completeness of Bacon, and his tremendous condensation of thought m. R.D.C. Bacon's Essays.
Apostrophe to Columbus, p. 193 of Past and Present,— Carlyle's finest passage m. R.D.C.  
Await the Issue m. R.D.C. Monroe.
The account of the conversational powers of Coleridge, given in Carlyle's Life of Sterling e. R.D.C.  
18. Webster.[92]      
Liberty and Union,—a selection from the answer to Hayne in the United States Senate, on the question of the power of a State to nullify the acts of Congress, and to withdraw from the Union,—the greatest of American orations, and worthy to rank side by side with the world's best m. R.D.C. No. 1.
Comparison of Toussaint L'Ouverture with Napoleon, in his oration on Toussaint m. R.D.C. Phillips's Speeches.
19. Everett.      
Discoveries of Galileo m. R. No. 1.
One Niche the Highest e. R. No. 7.
20. Hugo.      
The Monster Cannon, one of the great Frenchman's master strokes,—a very thrilling scene, splendidly painted e. R. No. 11.
Rome and Carthage m. R. No. 6.
De Quincey.      
Noble Revenge m. R. No. 7.
21. Poe.      
Murders in the Rue Morgue d. R. Little Classics.
Oration at the funeral of his brother m. R. Ingersoll's Prose Poems.
22. Scott.      
Thirty-sixth chapter of the Heart of Midlothian m. R.  
Nations and Humanity m. R. No. 11.
23. Taylor.      
The sections on Temperance and Chastity in the Holy Living and Dying m. R.D.  
Pamphlet on Tolerance,—the best book in the world on a most vital subject m. R.D.  

Group IV.—Wit and HumorShort List.


  [*] Manner
Where found.
24. Lowell.      
Biglow Papers e. R.D. Lowell's Poems.
Fable for Critics d. R.D.  
The Courtin' e. R.D.  
Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table m. R.D.  
25. Carleton.      
Farm Ballads, especially the Visit of the School Committee, and The Rivals e. S.  
Laughin' in Meetin' e. S. No. 11.
On New England Weather e. S. No. 13.
European Guides, and Turkish Baths e. S. Innocents Abroad.
26. Dickens.      
Pickwick Papers e. S.  
James De Mille.     Cumnock's Choice Readings.
A Senator Entangled e. S.
The Gridiron e. S. Cumnock's Choice Readings.
Historic Doubts regarding Napoleon e. S. Publ. separately.




In addition to the short courses set forth in Tables II. and III., at the same time, if the reader has a sufficiency of spare hours, but always in subordination to the above courses, it is recommended that attention be given to the following books:—

Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. (e. R. D.)

Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. (e. S.)

Dickens' Christmas Carol (m. R. D.); Cricket on the
Hearth. (m. R. D.)

Ruskin's Crown of Wild Olive (m. R. D.); Ethics of
the Dust (m. R. D.); Sesame and Lilies. (m. R. D.)

Emerson's Essays (d. R. D. C.); especially those on
Manners, Gifts, Love, Friendship, The Poet, and on Representative

Demosthenes on the Crown. (m. R. D. C. G.)

Burke's Warren Hastings Oration. (m. R. D. C. G.)

Phillips' Speeches on Lovejoy and Garrison. (m. R.
D. C. G.)

La Fontaine's Fables. (m. R. D.)

Short Biographies of the World's Hundred Greatest Men.
(m. R. D.)

Marshall's Life of Washington. (m. R. D. G.)

Carlyle's Cromwell. (m. R. D. G.)

[95]Tennyson's In Memoriam. (d. R. D. C.)

Byron's Childe Harold. (m. R. D. C.)

Burns' Cotter's Saturday Night. (m. R. D.)

Keats' Endymion. (d. R. D. C.)

Shelley's Prometheus Unbound. (d. R. D. C. G.)

Campbell's Pleasures of Hope. (m. R. D. C.)

Goldsmith's Deserted Village. (m. R. D. C.)

Pope's Essay on Man. (m. R. D. C.)

Thomson's Seasons. (m. R. D. C.)



So far we have spoken of reading for grown people. Now we must deal with the reading of young folks,—a subject of the utmost importance. For to give a child good habits of reading, to make him like to read and master strong, pure books,—books filled with wisdom and beauty,—and equally eager to shun bad books, is to do for him and the world a service of the highest possible character; and to neglect the right care of a child in this matter is to do him an injury far greater than to mutilate his face or cut off his arm.[97]


Parents, teachers, and others interested in the welfare of young people have not only to solve the problem of selecting books for their own nourishment, but also the more difficult problem of providing the young folks with appropriate literary food. As literature may be made one of the most powerful influences in the development of a child, the greatest care should be taken to make the influence true, pure, and tender, and give it in every respect the highest possible character, which requires as much care to see that bad books do not come into the child's possession and use, as to see that good books do. The ability to read adds to life a wonderful power, but it is a power for evil as well as good. As Lowell says, "It is the key which admits us to the whole world of thought and fancy and imagination,—to the company of saint and sage, of the wisest and wittiest at their wisest and wittiest moments. It enables us to see with the keenest eyes, hear with the finest ears, and listen to the sweetest voices of all time. More than that, it annihilates time and space for us,—reviving without a miracle the Age of Wonder, and endowing us with the shoes of swiftness and the cap of darkness." Yes, but it opens[98] our minds to the thoughts of the vile as well as to those of the virtuous; it unlocks the prisons and haunts of vice as well as the school and the church; it drags us through the sewer as well as gives us admission to the palace; it feeds us on filth as well as the finest food; it pours upon our souls the deepest degradation as well as the spirit of divinity. Parents will do well to keep from their children such books as Richardson's "Pamela" and "Clarissa Harlowe;" Fielding's "Joseph Andrews," "Jonathan Wild," and "Tom Jones;" Smollett's "Humphrey Clinker," "Peregrine Pickle," and "Adventures of an Atom;" Sterne's "Tristram Shandy;" Swift's "Gulliver," and their modern relatives. Many of these coarse pictures of depravity and microscopic analyses of filth I cannot read without feeling insulted by their vulgarity, as I do when some one tells an indecent story in my presence. Whatever the power or wit of a book, if its motive is not high and its expression lofty, it should not come into contact with any life, at least until its character is fixed and hardened in the mould of virtue beyond the period of plasticity that might receive the imprint of the badness in the book. There are plenty of splendid books that are pure and ennobling as well as strong and humorous,—more of them than any one person can ever read,—so that there is no necessity of contact with imperfect literature. If a boy comes into possession of a book that he would not like to read aloud to his mother or sister, he has something that is not good for him to[99] read,—something that is not altogether the very best for anybody to read. Some liberty of choice, however, ought to be allowed the children. It will add much to the vigor and enthusiasm of a boy's reading if, instead of prescribing the precise volume he is to have at each step, he is permitted to make his own selection from a list of three or four chosen by the person who is guiding him. What these three or four should be, is the problem. I cannot agree with Lowell, when he says that young people ought to "confine themselves to the supreme books in whatever literature, or, still better, choose some one great author and make themselves thoroughly familiar with him." It is possible to know something of people in general about me without neglecting my best friends. It is possible to enjoy the society of Shakspeare, Goethe, Æschylus, Dante, Homer, Plato, Spencer, Scott, Eliot, Marcus Aurelius, and Irving, without remaining in ignorance of the power and beauty to be found in Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Byron, Burns, Goldsmith, Keats, Shelley, Tennyson, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, and Lowell, Ingersoll, Omar, Arnold, Brooks, and Robertson, Curtis, Aldrich, Warner, Jewett, Burroughs, Bulwer, Tourgée, Hearn, Kingsley, MacDonald, Hawthorne, Dickens, Thackeray, Carlyle, Ruskin, Hugo, Bronté, Sienkiewicz, and a host of others. Scarcely a day passes that I do not spend a little time with Shakspeare, Goethe, Æschylus, Spencer, and Irving; but I should be sorry to have any one of those I have named beyond call at any[100] time. There are parts of Holmes, Lowell, Brooks, Emerson, Omar, Arnold, Tourgée, and Hearn that are as dear to me as any passages of equal size in Goethe or Irving. So it does not seem best to me to confine the attention to the supreme books; a just proportion is the true rule. Let the supreme books have the supreme attention, absorb them, print them on the brain, carry them about in the heart, but give a due share of time to other books. I like the suggestion of Marietta Holley: "I would feed children with little sweet crumbs of the best of books, and teach them that a whole rich feast awaited them in the full pages," only taking care in each instance that the crumb is well rounded, the picture not torn or distorted. There are paragraphs and pages in many works of the second rank that are equal to almost anything in the supreme books, and superior to much the latter contain. These passages should be sought and cherished; and the work of condensing the thought and beauty of literature—making a sort of literary prayer-book—is an undertaking that ought not to be much longer delayed. Until it is done, however, there is no way but to read widely, adapting the speed and care to the value of the volume. Some things may be best read by deputy, as Mark Twain climbed the Alps by agent; newspapers, for example, and many of the novels that flame up like a haystack on fire, and fade like a meteor in its fall, striking the earth never to rise again. The time that many a young man spends upon newspapers[101] would be sufficient to make him familiar with a dozen undying books every year. Newspapers are not to be despised, but they should not be allowed to crowd out more important things. I keep track of the progress of events by reading the "Outlook" in the "Christian Union" every week, and glancing at the head-lines of the "Herald" or "Journal," reading a little of anything specially important, or getting an abstract from a friend who always reads the paper. A good way to economize time is for a number of friends to take the same paper, the first page being allotted to one, the second to another, and so on, each vocally informing the others of the substance of his page. If time cannot be found for both the newspaper and the classic, the former, not the latter, should receive the neglect.

This matter of the use of time is one concerning which parents should strive to give their children good habits from the first. If you teach a child to economize time, and fill him with a love of good books, you ensure him an education far beyond anything he can get in the university,—an education that will cease only with his life. The creation of a habit of industrious study of books that will improve the character, develop the powers, and store the mind with force and beauty,—that is the great object.

A good example is the best teacher. It is well for parents to keep close to the child until he grows old enough to learn how to determine for himself what he should read (which usually is not before fifteen or[102] twenty, and in many cases never); for children, and grown folks too for that matter, crave intellectual as much as they do physical companionship.

The methods of guiding the young in the paths of literature fall naturally into two groups,—the first being adapted to childhood not yet arrived at the power of reading alone, the second adapted to later years. There is no sharp line of division or exclusion, but only a general separation; for the methods peculiarly appropriate to each period apply to some extent in the other. Some children are able to read weighty books at three or four years of age, but most boys and girls have to plod along till they are eight or ten before they can read much alone. I will consider the periods of child life I have referred to, each by itself.

The Age of Stories.—It is not necessary or proper to wait until a child can read, before introducing it to the best literature. Most of the books written for children have no permanent value, and most of the reading books used in primary and grammar schools contain little or no genuine literature, and what they do contain is in fragments. Portions of good books are useful, if the story of each part is complete, but children do not like the middle of a story without the beginning and end; they have the sense of entirety, and it should be satisfied. And it is not difficult to do this. Literature affords a multitude of beautiful stories of exceeding interest to children, and of permanent attractiveness through all the after years of[103] their lives. Such literature is as available, as a means of teaching the art of reading, as is the trash in dreary droning over which the precious years of childhood are spent in our public schools. The development of the child mind follows the same course as the development of the mind of the race. The little boy loves the wonderful and the strong, and nearly everything is wonderful to him except himself. Living things especially interest him. Every child is a born naturalist; his heart turns to birds and beasts, flowers and stars. He is hungry for stories of animals, giants, fairies, etc. Myths and fairy tales are his natural food. His power of absorbing and retaining them is marvellous. One evening a few weeks ago a little boy who is as yet scarcely able to read words of two and three letters asked me for a story. I made an agreement with him that whatever I told him, he should afterward repeat to me, and then gave him the story of the elephant who squirted muddy water over the cruel tailor that pricked his trunk with a needle. No sooner had I finished than he threw his arms around my neck and begged for another story. I told him eight in rapid succession, some of them occupying three or four minutes, and then asked him to tell me about the elephants, dogs, bears, etc., that I had spoken of. He recited every story with astonishing accuracy and readiness, and apparently without effort, and would have been ready for eight more bits of Wood or Andersen, if his bedtime had not intervened. If parents would[104] take as much pains to satisfy the mind hunger of their children as they do to fulfil their physical wants, and give them the best literature as well as the best beef and potatoes, the boys and girls would have digested the greater part of mythology, natural science, and the best fiction by the time they are able to read. Children should be fed with the literature that represents the childhood of the race. Out of that literature has grown all literature. Give a child the contents of the great books of the dawn, and you give him the best foundation for subsequent literary growth, and in after life he will be able to follow the intricate interweaving of the old threads throughout all modern thought. He has an immense affinity for those old books, for they are full of music and picturesqueness, teeming with vigorous life, bursting with the strange and wonderful. In the following list parents and teachers will find abundant materials for the culture of the little ones, either by reading aloud to them, or still better by telling them the substance of what they have gathered by their own reading of these famous stories and ditties. Pictures are always of the utmost value in connection with books and stories, as they impart a vividness of conception that words alone are powerless to produce. One plea for sincerity I must make,—truth and frankness from the cradle to the grave. Do not delude the children. Do not persuade them that a fairy tale is history. I have a sad memory of my disgust and loss of confidence in human probity when[105] I discovered the mythical character of Kriss Kringle, and I believe many children are needlessly shocked in this way.

List of Materials for Story-telling and for the Instruction and Amusement of Childhood.

"Mother Goose," "Jack and the Bean-Stalk," "Jack the Giant-Killer," "Three Bears," "Red Riding-Hood," "The Ark," "Hop o' my Thumb," "Puss in Boots," "Samson," "Ugly Duckling," "The Horse of Troy" (Virgil), "Daniel in the Lion's Den," etc.

Andersen's "Fairy Tales." Delightful to all children.

Grimm's "Fairy Tales."

De Garmo's "Fairy Tales."

Craik's "Adventures of a Brownie."

"Parents' Assistant," by Maria Edgeworth, recommended by George William Curtis, Mary Mapes Dodge, Charles Dudley Warner, etc.

"Zigzag Journeys," a series of twelve books, written by Hezekiah Butterworth, one of the editors of the "Youth's Companion." As might be supposed, they are among the very best and most enduringly popular books ever written for young people.

Wood's books of Anecdotes about Animals, and many other works of similar character, that may be obtained from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 19 Milk Street, Boston. The literature distributed by this Society is filled with the spirit of love and tenderness for all living things, and is one of the best influences that can come into a child's life.

Mary Treat's "Home Book of Nature." One of the best books of science for young people.[106]

Bulfinch's "Age of Fable." A book that is exhaustive of Greek and Roman mythology, but meant for grown folks.

Bulfinch's "Age of Chivalry."

Fiske's "Myths and Myth Makers." Brief, deep, and suggestive.

Hawthorne's "Wonder Book" and "Tanglewood Tales." Books that no house containing children should lack.

Cox's "Tales of Ancient Greece."

Baldwin's "Stories of the Golden Age."

Forestier's "Echoes from Mist Land." An interesting study of the Nibelungenlied.

Lucian's "Dialogues of the Gods." Written to ridicule ancient superstitions.

Curtin's "Folk Lore of Ireland."

Stories of Greek Heroes, Kingsley.

Stories from Bryant's Odyssey.

Stories from Church's "Story of the Iliad."

Stories from Church's "Story of the Æneid."

Stories from Herodotus, Church.

Stories from the Greek Tragedians, Church.

Stories of Charlemagne, Hanson.

Stories from "Arabian Nights," Bulfinch.

Stories from "Munchausen," and Maundeville.

Stories from Chaucer, especially "Griselda." (From Chaucer, or from Mrs. Haweis' book.)

Stories told to a Child, by Jean Ingelow.

Stories from the "Morte D'Arthur," Malory or Lanier.

Stories from Lanier's "Froissart."

Stories from Shakspeare.

Stories of the Revolution, Riedesel.

Stories from American and English History about the Magna Charta, Henry VIII., Queen Elizabeth, Cromwell,[107] Pitt, Gladstone, Boston Tea Party, Declaration of Independence, Washington, Rebellion, Lincoln, etc.

Stories of American life, from "Oldtown Folks," "Sam Lawson's Fireside Stories," and from the best novels.

Stories from the "Book of Golden Deeds," Miss Yonge.

Stories from Bolton's "Poor Boys who became Famous," and "Girls who became Famous."

Stories from Smiles's "Self-Help." Full of brief, inspiring stories of great men.

Stones from Todd's "Students' Manual."

Stories from Irving's "Sketch Book," Rip Van Winkle, etc.

Stories from Green's "Short History of the English People."

Stories from Doyle's "History of the United States." One of the very best brief histories.

Stories from Mackenzie's "History of the Nineteenth Century."

Stories from Coffin's "Story of Liberty."

Stories from Freeman's "General Sketch of History."

Stories from the "Stories of the Nations." (Putnam's Series.)

Stories from the books of Columns 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, and 14 of Table I.

The story of Christ and his Apostles. (It is scarcely needful to mention Bible stories in general. Every child born into a civilized family is saturated with them; but the simple story of Christ's life as an entirety is too seldom told them.)

The story of Buddha, from the "Light of Asia."

The story of Mahomet, Irving.

The story of Confucius.

The story of Socrates drinking the hemlock, from Plato, or from Fénelon's "Lives of the Philosophers," which contains many splendid Greek stories.[108]

The story of Prometheus, from Æschylus.

The story of Diogenes in his Tub.

The story of Thermopylæ and other battles, from Cressy.

The story of Carthage, from Putnam's series of the "Stories of the Nations." (Nine to eleven years.)

The story of Roland, Baldwin.

The story of the Cid, Southey.

The story of the Nibelungenlied. (See Baldwin's "Story of Siegfried.")

The story of Faust, from "Zigzag Journeys."

The story of "Reynard the Fox," Goethe.

The story of Pythagoras and the transmigration of souls.

The story of Astronomy, from Herschel, Proctor, etc.

The story of Geology, from Lyell, Dawson, Miller, etc., or from Dana's "The Geological Story, Briefly Told."

The story of Athena, Pluto, Neptune, Apollo, Juno, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Charon, Vulcan, Zeus, Io, Orpheus, and Eurydice, Phaeton, Arachne, Ariadne, Iphigenia, Ceres, Vesta, Herakles, Minerva, Venus, Scylla and Charybdis, Hercules, Ulysses, Helen, Achilles, Æneas, etc., from Bulfinch's "Age of Fable," "Zigzag Journeys," etc.

The story of William Tell, the Man in the Moon, etc., from S. Baring Gould's "Curious Myths."

The story of the Courtship of Miles Standish.

The story of the Nürnburg Stove, from Ouida's "Bimbi."

The story of Robert Bruce.

The story of Circe's Palace, from "Tanglewood Tales."

The story of Pandora's Box, from the "Wonder Book."

The story of Little Nell, from "The Old Curiosity Shop."

The story of the Boy in "Vanity Fair."

Many other books might be placed on the list of parent-helpers. Indeed, the perfect guidance of youth would re[109]quire a perfect knowledge of literature throughout its breadth and depth; but the above suggestions, if followed in any large degree, will result in a far better training than most children now receive.


As the child learns to read by itself, the books from which were drawn the stones it has heard may be given to it, care being taken that every gift shall be adapted to the ability of the little one. The fact that the boy has heard the story of Horatius at the Bridge does not diminish, but vastly increases, his desire to read the "Lays of Ancient Rome." When he comes to the possession of the book, it seems to him like a discovery of the face of a dear friend with whose voice he has long been familiar. I well remember with what delight I adopted the "Sketch Book" as one of my favorites on finding Rip Van Winkle in it.

Below will be found a list of books intended as a suggestion of what should be given to children of various ages. The larger the number of good books the child can be induced to read each year, the better of course, so long as his powers are not overtaxed, and the reading is done with due thoroughness. But if only four or five are selected from each year's list, the boy will know more of standard literature by the time he is sixteen, than most of his elders do. Each[110] book enters the list at the earliest age an ordinary child would be able to read it with ease, and it may be used then or at any subsequent age; for no books are mentioned which are not of everlasting interest and profit to childhood, manhood, and age. Many of the volumes named below may also be used by parents and teachers as story-mines. There is no sharp line between the periods of story-telling and of reading. Most children read simple English readily at eight or ten years of age; many do a large amount of reading long before that, and nearly all do some individual work in the earlier period. The change should be gradual. For the stimulus that comparison gives, story-telling and reading aloud should be continued long after the child is able to read alone; in truth, it ought never to cease. Story-telling ought to be a universal practice. Stories should be told to and by everybody. One of the best things grown folks can do is to tell each other the substance of their experience from day to day; and probably no finer means of education exists than to have the children give an account at supper or in the hour or two following, of what they have seen, heard, read, thought, and felt during the day. In the same way reading solus should lap over into the early period as far as possible. One of the greatest needs of the day is a class of books that shall put solid sense into very simple words. A child can grasp the wonderful, strong, loving, pathetic, and even the humorous and critical, long before it can overcome the mechanical[111] difficulties of reading. By so much as we diminish these, we push education nearer to the cradle. Charles Dudley Warner says, "As a general thing, I do not believe in books written for children;" and Phillips Brooks, Marietta Holley, Brooke Herford, and others express a similar feeling. But the trouble is not with the plan of writing for children, but with the execution. If the highest thoughts and feelings were written in the simplest words,—written as a wise parent tells them to his little ones,—then we should have a juvenile literature that could be recommended. As it is, most writers for babies seem to have far less sense than the babies. Their books are filled with unnatural, make-believe emotions, and egregious nonsense in the place of ideas. The best prose for young people will be found in the works of Hawthorne, Curtis, Warner, Holmes, Irving, Addison, Goldsmith, Burroughs, and Poe; and the best poets for them are Longfellow, Lowell, Whittier, Burns, and Homer. Books that flavor sense with fun, as do those of Curtis, Holmes, Lowell, Holley, Stowe, Irving, Goldsmith, Warner, Addison, and Burroughs, are among the best means of creating in any heart, young or old, a love for fine, pure writing. P. T. Barnum, a man whose great success is largely due to his attainment of that serenity of mind which Lowell calls the highest result of culture, says: "I should, above almost everything else, try to cultivate in the child a kindly sense of humor. Wherever a pure, hearty laugh rings through literature, he should be permitted and taught to enjoy[112] it." This judgment comes from a knowledge of the sustaining power a love of humor gives a man immersed in mental cares and worriments. Lincoln is, perhaps, the best example of its power.

It is often an inspiration to a boy to know that a book he is reading has helped and been beloved by some one whose name is to him a synonym of greatness,—to know, for example, that Franklin got his style from the "Spectator," which he studied diligently when a boy; that Francis Parkman from fifteen to twenty-one obtained more pleasure and profit from Scott than from any other writer; that Darwin was very fond of Mark Twain's "Treatise on the Frog;" that Marietta Holley places Emerson, Tennyson, and Eliot next to the Bible in her list of favorites; that Senator Hoar writes Emerson, Wordsworth, and Scott next after the Bible and Shakspeare; that Robert Collyer took great delight in Irving's "Sketch Book," when a youth; that the great historian Lecky is said to be in the habit of taking Irving with him when he goes to bed; that Phillips Brooks read Jonson many times when a boy, and that Lockhart's Scott was a great favorite with him, though the Doctor attaches no special significance to either of these facts; that Susan Coolidge thinks "Hans Brinker" is the best of all American books for children, etc. Similar facts may be found in relation to very many of the best books, and will aid much in arousing an interest in them.

Plato, Bacon, Goethe, Spencer, Emerson, and many[113] others of the best are for the most part too difficult to be properly grasped until the mind is more mature than it usually is at sixteen. No precise rules, however, can be laid down on this subject, I have known a boy read Spencer's "First Principles" and Goethe's "Faust" and "Wilhelm Meister" at sixteen, and gain a mastery of them. All I have attempted to do is to make broad suggestions; experiment in each case must do the rest.

Literature adapted to a Child Six or Eight Years of Age and upward.

Little Lord Fauntleroy. A book that cannot fail to delight and improve every reader.

King of the Golden River, Ruskin.

"Rosebud," from "Harvard Sophomore Stories."

Christmas all the Year round, Howells.

Mrs. Stowe's "Laughin' in Meetin'." An exceedingly funny story.

"Each and All" and "Seven Little Sisters," by Jane Andrews. Used in the Boston Public Schools as supplementary reading.

Classics in Babyland, Bates.

Scudder's "Fables and Folk Stories." Fine books for little ones.


Rainbows for Children, Lydia Maria Child.

Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. The autobiography of a splendid horse, and the best teacher of kindness to animals we know of.[114]

Burroughs' "Birds and Bees." In fact, all his beautiful and simple stories of Nature—"Pepacton," "Fresh Fields," "Wake Robin," "Winter Sunshine," "Signs and Seasons," etc.—are the delight of children as soon as they can read.

Winslow's "Fairy Geography."

By Sea-side and Wayside, Wright.

Literature adapted to a Child Eight to Nine Years of Age and upward.

Sandford and Merton, Day. One of the very best of children's books.

Play Days, Sarah Orne Jewett.

Andersen's "Fairy Tales." Cannot be too highly praised.

Stories from King Arthur, Hanson. A good foundation for the study of Malory, Tennyson, etc.

"Winners in Life's Race," and "Life and her Children," by Miss Arabella Buckley. Books that charm many children of eight or nine.

Fairy Frisket; or, Peeps at Insect Life. Nelson & Sons.

Physiology, with pictures.

Queer Little People, Mrs. Stowe.

Kingsley's "Water Babies." A beautiful book, as indeed are all of Kingsley's.

Longfellow's "Building of the Ship."

The Fountain, Lowell.

Ye Mariners of England, Campbell.

Carleton's "Farm Ballads and Farm Legends." Humorous, pathetic, sensible.


Literature adapted to a Child Nine to Ten Years of Age and upward.

Story of a Bad Boy, Aldrich. A splendid book for boys.

Boys of '76, Coffin. An eight-year-old boy read it five times, he was so pleased with it.

New Year's Bargain, Coolidge.

Pussy Willow, Stowe.

Hanson's "Homer and Virgil." Brief, clear, simple, clean.

Stories from Homer, Hanson.

Stories from Pliny, White.

Grimm's "Fairy Tales."

Legend of Sleeping Beauty.

Clodd's "The Childhood of the World." A splendid book to teach children the development of the world.

"Friends in Feathers and Fur," "Wings and Fins," "Paws and Claws," by Johonnot. Books much liked by the little ones.

First Book of Zoölogy, Morse.

Halleck's "Marco Bozzaris."

Wordsworth's "Peter Bell."

Mary, Queen of Scots, Strickland.

The Prince and the Pauper, Twain. A book that mingles no small amount of sense with its abounding fun and occasional tragedy.

Literature adapted to a Child Ten or Eleven Years of Age and upward.

Being a Boy, Warner.

Little Women, Alcott. One of the most popular books of the day.

A Dog's Mission, Stowe.[116]

Two Years before the Mast, Dana. Recommended by Sarah Orne Jewett, George William Curtis, and others.

Ten Boys on the Road, Andrews. A great favorite with the boys.

Jan of the Windmill, Ewing. The story of a poor boy who becomes a famous painter.

Hawthorne's "Celestial Railroad."

Little People of Asia, Miller.

Hawthorne's "Tanglewood Tales" and "Wonder Book" should belong to every child old enough to read ordinary English.

Adventures of a Brownie, Craik.

Stories from Chaucer, Seymour.

Stories from Livy, Church.

Lives of the Philosophers, Fénelon. An excellent book.

What Darwin saw in his Trip round the World in the Ship Beagle.

Fairy Land of Science, Miss Buckley. An author who writes for children to perfection.

Animal Life in the Sea and on the Land, Cooper. Very fine indeed.

Darwin's chapter on the "Habits of Ants" (in the "Origin of Species") is very interesting and amusing to little ones, and together with Burroughs' books prepares them to read such works as Lubbock's "Ants, Bees, and Wasps."

Ragozin's "Chaldea." One of the indispensable books for children.

Longfellow's "Psalm of Life."

Longfellow's "Hiawatha."

Lowell's "Under the Old Elm."

Wordsworth's "White Doe of Rylstone."

Lamb's Essay on Roast Pig. A piece of fun always enjoyed by boys and girls.


Literature adapted to a Child Eleven to Twelve Years of Age and upward.

Shakspeare's "Merchant of Venice."

Marcus Aurelius. In a school where the book was at their call children from ten to thirteen carried it to and from school, charmed with its beautiful thoughts.

Hans Brinker, Mary Mapes Dodge. One of the very best stories for children.

Dickens' "Christmas Carol."

Hawthorne's "Great Stone Face." Highly appreciated by the young folks.

Uncle Tom's Cabin, Mrs. Stowe. A book that every child should have as soon as he is able to read it.

Another Flock of Girls, Nora Perry.

At the Back of the North Wind, Macdonald. A beautiful story, with a high motive.

A Hunting of the Deer, Warner.

Crusade of the Children, Gray. A thrilling story.

Bryant's translation of the Odyssey.

Story of the Iliad, Church.

Stories from Herodotus, Church.

Mary Treat's "Home Book of Nature."

Half Hours with the Stars, Proctor.

Guyot's "Earth and Man." A most excellent book.

First Book in Geology, Shaler.

First Steps in Chemistry, Brewster.

First Steps in Scientific Knowledge, Best.

Abou Ben Adhem, Hunt.

Scott's "Lady of the Lake."

Macaulay's "Lays of Ancient Rome."[118]

Longfellow's "Tales of a Wayside Inn."

Whittier's "Snow Bound."

How they Brought the Good News to Aix, Browning.

Wordsworth's "We are Seven."

Franklin's Autobiography.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Speech.

Samantha at the Centennial.

Literature adapted to a Child Twelve to Thirteen Years of Age and upward.

Shakspeare's "Julius Cæsar."

Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan. Indispensable.

Meditation of Thomas à Kempis. A strong influence for sweetness and purity.

Vicar of Wakefield, Goldsmith. Full of fun and good feeling; one of the most indispensable of books.

Cooper's novels, especially "The Spy" and the "Last of the Mohicans." Books that are fascinating and yet wholesome.

"My Summer in a Garden," and "In the Wilderness," Warner. Very humorous.

"The Dog of Flanders," from "Little Classics."

Picciola, Saintine. A great favorite.

The Story of Arnon, Amélie Rives.

Drake's "Culprit Fay."

Dr. Brown's "Rab and his Friends."

"The Man without a Country," "My Double and How He Undid Me," etc., by E. E. Hale. The cast is extremely funny.

The Hoosier Schoolmaster, Eggleston.

Boots and Saddles, Mrs. Custer.

Story of the Æneid, Church.[119]

Stories from Greek Tragedians, Church.

Plumptre's "Sophocles."

Ruskin's "Athena."

Boys and Girls in Biology, Stevenson.

Other Worlds than Ours, Proctor.

Captains of Industry, Parton.

Lowell's "Vision of Sir Launfal." One of the great poet's finest productions.

Byron's "Eve of Waterloo."

Longfellow's "Evangeline."

Scott's "Marmion."

Milton's "Comus."

"The Two Runaways," "The Born Inventor," "Idyl of Sinkin' Mountain," etc., by Edwards. Very funny.

Literature adapted to a Child Thirteen to Fourteen Years of Age and upward.

Shakspeare's "Coriolanus" and "Taming of the Shrew."

Scott's "Ivanhoe," "Heart of Midlothian," "Guy Mannering," etc. It is the making of a boy if he learns to love Scott. He will make a gentleman of him, and give him an undying love of good literature.

Journal of Eugénie de Guerin. Full of delicacy and quiet strength.

Tom Brown, Hughes. An universal favorite.

Curtis' "Prue and I." One of the very choicest books, both in substance and expression,—especially remarkable for its moral suggestiveness.

Craddock's "Floating down Lost Creek." Most excellent.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson. A story with a[120] powerful moral,—if we give scope to our evil nature, it will master us.

Goldsmith's "Good-Natured Man."

Carlyle's "Heroes and Hero Worship."

Ben Hur, Wallace.

The Fool's Errand, Tourgée.

The Boys' King Arthur, Lanier.


Physiology for Girls, Shepard.

Physiology for Boys, Shepard.

What Young People should Know, Wilder. A book that no boy or girl should be without.

How Plants Behave, Gray.

Goethe's "Erl King."

Browning's "Ivan Ivanovitch." A favorite.

The Forsaken Merman, Matthew Arnold. An exquisite poem.

Longfellow's "Miles Standish."

Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel."

The Veiled Statue of Truth, Schiller.

Gütenburg, and the Art of Printing.

Doyle's "United States History."

John Bright's "Speeches on the American Question."

Backlog Studies, Warner.

"Encyclopædia of Persons and Places," and "Encyclopædia of Common Things," by Champlin, should be within the reach of every child over twelve or thirteen years of age.


Literature adapted to a Child Fourteen to Fifteen Years of Age.

Shakespeare's "Henry Fourth" and "Henry Fifth."

Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, Holmes; and Irving's "Sketch Book." Two of the best books in all the world.

George Eliot's novels, especially "Silas Marner," "The Mill on the Floss," "Romola," and "Adam Bede."

The Wit and Wisdom of George Eliot.

Our Best Society, Curtis.

Bulwer's "Rienzi."

The Marble Faun, Hawthorne.

Sad Little Prince, Fawcett.

Chita, or Youma, by Hearn, a master of English style.

Grande Pointe, Cable.

La Fontaine's Fables.

Plutarch's "Morals."

Ethics of the Dust, Ruskin.

Lady How and Madam Why, Kingsley.

Sketches of Creation, Winchell. Very interesting to children of fourteen or fifteen.

The Geological Story, Briefly Told, Dana.

Ready for Business, or Choosing an Occupation, Fowler and Wells.

Ode to a Skylark, Shelley.

Birds of Aristophanes, Frere.

Alfred the Great, Hughes.

Plutarch's "Lives."

Green's "Short History of the English People."

Demosthenes on the Crown. The finest of all orations.

The Biglow Papers, Lowell. The best of fun and sense.

Sweet Cicely, Holley. Quiet humor and unfailing wisdom.

Higginson's "Vacations for Saints." A splendid example of humorous writing.


Literature adapted to a Child Fifteen to Sixteen Years of Age and upward.

Shakspeare's "Hamlet" and "The Tempest."

Dante's "Inferno."

Dickens' "Pickwick Papers," "David Copperfield," "Old Curiosity Shop," etc.

Thackeray's "Vanity Fair."

Tourgée's "Hot Plowshares," and "With Fire and Sword," by Sienkiewicz. Two of the greatest historical novels.

Carlyle's "Past and Present."

Arnold's "Sweetness and Light."

Ruskin's "Crown of Wild Olive."

Emerson's Essays on "Manners," "Self-Reliance," "Eloquence," "Friendship," "Representative Men," etc.

Mrs. Whitney's "Sights and Insights." A book that is filled with beautiful thoughts and unselfish actions.

Spencer's "Data of Ethics." Indispensable to a complete understanding of ethical subjects.

"The Light of Asia." A book that cannot fail to broaden and deepen every life it touches.

Ten Great Religions, Clarke.

Omar. Superb poetry.

Bryant's "Thanatopsis."

Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner." A lesson of the awfulness of cruelty.

Auld Lang Syne, Burns.

Toilers of the Sea, Hugo.

Huxley's "Man's Place in Nature."

Tyndall's "Forms of Water."

Our Country, Strong. A book that ought to be in the hands of every young person.[123]

Bryce's "American Commonwealth."

Guizot's "History of Civilization."

Mill's "Logic." No young man can afford to remain unacquainted with this book.

The Hand and Ring, Green. One of the finest examples of reasoning in the language.

Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" is another such example, and his "Gold Bug" is another.

Phillips' Speeches

Webster's "Liberty and Union."

Golden Treasury, Palgrave.

The Spectator. One of the very best books to study, in order to form a good style. Franklin and others attribute their success largely to reading it carefully in boyhood.

The Fable for Critics, Lowell.

The Yankee at the Court of King Arthur, Twain. Fun and sense welded together to make the most delightful book the author has written.


Next in value to a love of good reading is a habit of concentrating the attention upon one subject through a long course of reading. In this way only can any thorough mastery be obtained. The child should be taught not to be satisfied with the thought of any one writer, but to investigate the ideas of all upon the topic in hand, and then form his own opinion. Thus he will gain breadth, depth, tolerance, independence, and scientific method in the search for truth. Of course it is impossible in a work of this kind to[124] map out lines of study for the multitudinous needs of young people. The universities and the libraries provide the means of gaining full information as to the literature of any subject that may be selected. A few topic-clusters may, however, be of use here in the way of illustration. Many examples will be found in Baldwin's "The Book Lover."

The Industrial Question.—Suppose a young man desired to study the industrial question, which is one of the most important subjects of to-day, the proper method would be to go to one of the great libraries, or examine the catalogues of the large publishing-houses, to discover the names of recent books on the given topic, or on such subjects as Labor and Capital, Socialism, Co-operation, etc. Such books usually refer to others, and name many kindred works on the last pages. Thus the student's list will swell. I have myself investigated more than two hundred books on this topic and those it led me to. A few of the more important I will name as a starting-point for any one wishing to follow this research.

Labor, Thornton.

Conflict of Labor and Capital, Bolles; also, Howell.

Political Economy, Mill.

Progress and Poverty, George.

Profit-Sharing, Gilman.

In Darkest England, Booth.

Wages and the Wages Class, Walker.

Book of the New Moral World, Owen.

Communistic Societies of the United States, Nordhoff.

[125]Dynamic Sociology, Ward.

Looking Backward, Bellamy.

Destinée Sociale, Considérant.

More's "Utopia."

Co-operative Societies, Watts.

History of Co-operation, Holyoake.

The Margin of Profits, Atkinson.

Gronlund's "Co-operative Commonwealth."

Capital, Karl Marx.

The State in relation to Labor, Jevons.

Organisation du Travail, Louis Blanc.

Co-operative Stores, Morrison.

Labor and Capital, Jervis.

Newton's "Co-operative Production and Co-operative
Distribution in the United States."

Property and Progress, Mallock.

Principles of Sociology, Spencer.

Mill on Socialism.

The Progress of the Working Classes, Giffen.

Ely's "French and German Socialism," "Problems of To-day,"
and "Labor Movement in America."

Dilke's "Problems of Greater Britain."

Contemporary Socialism, Rae.

Outlines of an Industrial Science, Symes.

Early History of Land-holding among the Germans,
Ross; etc.

Malthusianism.—To take a smaller example. Suppose the student wishes to make a thorough study of the doctrine of Malthusius in regard to population, he will have to refer to Macaulay's "Essay on Sadler," and the works on Political Economy of Ricardo, Chalmers, Roscher, etc., in support of Malthus, and[126] to George's "Progress and Poverty," Spencer's "Biology" (Vol. II.), Sadler's "Law of Population," and the works of Godwin, Greg, Rickards, Doubleday, Carey, Alison, etc., against him.

For an example of a very different kind, cluster about the myth of Cupid the poems "Cupid and my Campaspe," by Lilly; "The Threat of Cupid," translated by Herrick; "Cupid Drowned," by Leigh Hunt; and "Cupid Stung," by Moore.

A great deal depends on selecting some department of thought and exhausting it. To know something of everything and everything of something is the true aim. If a child displays fine musical or artistic ability, among the books given it ought to be many that bear upon music and art,—the "Autobiography of Rubenstein;" the Lives of Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Mendelssohn; and Rocksho's "History of Music," Upton's "Woman in Music," Clayton's "Queens of Song," Lillie's "Music and the Musician," Haweis' "Music and Morals," Jameson's "Lives of the Painters," Crowest's "Tone Poets," Clement's "Painting and Sculpture," Mereweather's "Semele, or the Spirit of Beauty," etc.

Probably these examples, with those to be found in the notes to Table I., are amply sufficient to show what is meant by grouping the lights of literature about a single point so as to illuminate it intensely; but one more specimen will be given, because of the interest the subject has for us now and is likely to have for many years.[127]

The Tariff Question may be studied in Ely's "Problems of To-day," Greeley's "Political Economy," Carey's "Principles of Social Science," E. P. Smith's "Manual of Political Economy," Byles's "Sophisms of Free Trade," Thompson's "Social Science and National Economy," Bastiat's "Sophisms of Protection," Mill's "Political Economy," Sumner's "Lectures on the History of Protection in the United States," Fawcett's "Free Trade and Protection," Mongredien's "History of the Free Trade Movement," Butt's "Protection Free Trade," Walters' "What is Free Trade," "The Gladstone-Blaine Debate," etc.[128]


Showing the Distribution of the Best Literature in Time and Space, with a Parallel Reference to some of the World's Great Events.

[It was impossible to get the writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries into the unit space. The former fills a space twice the unit width, and the latter, when it is complete, will require five units.]

Greece B.C.
David, The Psalms
  800   Rome founded
Æsop 700    
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon
Republic established at Rome
The Golden Age of Grecian Literature
Pindar Æschylus Herodotus
  Sophocles Thucydides
Pericles Euripides Xenophon
500 Mahabharata
(Epics of India)
Darius, king of Persia
Battle of Marathon
Battle of Thermopylæ
Battle of Salamis
Cincinnatus at Rome
Ezra at Jerusalem[129]
400   Alexander
The Gauls burn Rome
  300   Wars of Rome against Carthage
Hannibal in Italy
  200   Greece becomes a Roman Province

The Gracchi, Marius, and Sylla
Rome. Augustan Age, 31 b. c. to a. d. 14.
Reatinus   Ovid                      
Sallust Livy                      
Cicero Lucretius                      
100   Rome
Julius Cæsar
Civil War, Empire established
Plutarch Juvenal                      
A.D. Josephus Jerusalem taken by Titus
Pompeii overwhelmed
Romans conquer Britain
                      Marcus Aurelius                      
100   Church Fathers
  200   Aurelian conquers Zenobia
[130]  300   Under Constantine Christianity becomes the State religion
Roman Empire divided
  400   Angles and Saxons drive out the Britons
Huns under Attila invade the Roman Empire
  500   Christianity carried to England by Augustine
English Literature                                            
600 Arabia
700   France
Charlemagne founds the Empire of the West
Ælfred, 850-900                                            
800   Danes overrun England
Ælfred's glorious reign
  900   Chivalry begins
Capetian kings in France

Saint Dunstan
Papal supremacy
[131]  1000 Persia
Firdusi's Shah Nameh
Chivalry begins
Capetian kings in France

Canute the Great
1066. Norman Conquest

Peter the Hermit
First Crusade
Geoffrey of Monmouth                                            
1100 Persia
Omar Khayyám
Chronicle of the Cid
Richard I.

Second and Third Crusades
Saint Bernard
Roger Bacon                                            
1200 Persia
1215. Runnymede, Magna Charta
Edward I.
Wycliffe Chaucer                      
1300 Italy

Chivalry at its height
The Black Prince

Battles of Crecy, Poictiers, and Agincourt
1400 Germany
Thomas à Kempis
Arabian Nights (probably)
Henry VIII. shook off the Pope
Movable Type
Discovery of America
Joan of Arc
Wars of the Roses
More Ascham                      
Lyly Sackville                      
Marlowe      Fox                      
Spenser Hooker                      
1500 Italy

The Armada
Henry VIII., Elizabeth
1515. Luther's Reformation
Massacre of St. Bartholomew
Jonson Bacon Herbert
Shakspeare Newton J.Taylor
Chapman                       Hobbes
Beaumont & Fletcher                       Walton
Milton Locke S. Butler
Bunyan Pepys                      
1600 Spain.
La Fontain
1620. Plymouth Rock and the "Mayflower"
1649 Cromwell
1660 Restoration
1688 Revolution
William and Mary
Louis XIV.
Addison      Cowper      Otis
Steele Burns Jay
Pope Rogers Adams
Defoe Hume Hamilton
Swift Edwards Madison
Berkeley A. Smith Jefferson
J. Butler Bentham Pitt
Moore Gibbon Burke
Thomson Johnson Fox
Young Boswell Erskine
Gray               Malthus               P. Henry.
Goldsmith Mackintosh                      
Sterne Paine                      
1700 France
Le Sage

1776. American Revolution
1789-94. French Revolution

Scott Herschel DeQuincey
Byron Whewell Whately
Bryant Ricardo Jeffrey
Drake Carey Brougham
Wordsworth      Faraday S. Smith
Keats Lyell C. North
Shelley Agassiz N. Webster
Payne Whitney H. H. White
Keble A. Gray D. Webster
Halleck Hallam Sparks
Key Prescott Story
Macaulay Lewes Gould
Hood Milman Cooper
Poe Buckle Disraeli
Read Merivale Dickens
Tennyson Hildreth Thackeray
Browning Freeman Bronté
Lowell Draper Hawthorne
Longfellow Froude Irving
Carleton Walpole Hughes
Ingelow Lecky Kingsley
Whittier Parkman Eliot
Mill Bancroft Collins
Spencer Whipple Macdonald
Ruskin Twain Hunt
Arnold Jerrold Wallace
Curtis Choate Clarke
Holmes Lincoln Landor
Mansel Phillips Tourgée
Carlyle Everett Holland
Emerson Sumner Howells
Darwin Garfield Mrs. Whitney
Huxley Gladstone Miss Alcott
Dana A. D. White    Bellamy
Tyndall Beecher Gronlund
Lubbock P. Brooks Gilman
Proctor Lamb Holley
Davy Hazlitt Dodge
Proctor Lamb Jewett
Davy Hazlitt Burroughs
Bright Rives Stowe
Fiske Aldrich Hearn
Curtin Warner Burnett
Hale Curtis  
Edwards Higginson  
1800 Germany

La Place
De Tocqueville



1807. Fulton's Steamboat
1815. Waterloo
1815. White wives sold in England
1830. Passenger railway
1833. Matches

1844. Telegraph
1845. Mexican War

1860. Rebellion
1863. Emancipation

1870. Franco-German War
1874. The Telephone
Emancipation of serfs in Russia



Definitions and Divisions.—Literature is life pulsing through life upon life; but only when the middle life imparts new beauty to the first is literature produced in any true and proper sense. The last life is that of the reader; the middle one that of the author; the first that of the person or age he pictures. Literature is the past pouring itself into the present. Every great man consumes and digests his own times. Shakspeare gives us the England of the 16th century, with the added qualities of beauty, ideality, and order. When we read Gibbon's "Rome," it is really the life of all those turbulent times of which he writes that is pouring upon us through the channels of genius. Dante paints with his own sublime skill the portraits of Italy in the 14th century, of his own rich, inner life, and of the universal human soul in one composite masterpiece of art. In one of Munchausen's stories, a bugler on the stage-top in St. Petersburg was surprised to find that the bugle stopped in the middle of the song. Afterward, in Italy, sweet music was heard, and upon investigation it was found that a part of the song had been frozen in the instrument in Russia, and thawed in the warmer air of Italy. So the music of river and breeze, of battle and banquet, was frozen in the verse of Homer[134] nearly three thousand years ago, and is ready at any time, under the heat of our earnest study, to pour its harmony into our lives.

It is the fact that beauty is added by the author which distinguishes Literature from the pictures of life that are given to us by newspaper reporters, tables of statistics, etc. Literature is not merely life,—it is life crystallized in art. This is the first great line dividing the Literary from the Non-Literary. The first class is again divided into Poetry and Prose. In the first the form is measured, and the substance imagery and imagination. In the latter the form is unmeasured, and the substance direct. Imagery is the heart of poetry, and rhythm its body. The thought must be expressed not in words merely, but in words that convey other thoughts through which the first shines. The inner life is pictured in the language of external Nature, and Nature is painted in the colors of the heart. The poet must dip his brush in that eternal paint-pot from which the forests and fields, the mountains, the sky, and the stars were painted. He must throw human life out upon the world, and draw the world into the stream of his own thought. Sometimes we find the substance of the poetic in the dress of prose, as in Emerson's and in Ingersoll's lectures, and then we have the prose poem; and sometimes we find the form of poetry with only the direct expression, which is the substance of prose, or perhaps without even the substance of literary prose, as in parts of Wordsworth,[135] Pope, Longfellow, Homer, Tennyson, and even sometimes in Shakspeare; see, for example, Tennyson's "Dirge."

Tests for the Choice of Books.—In deciding which of those glorious ships that sail the ages, bringing their precious freight of genius to every time and people, we shall invite into our ports, we must consider the nature of the crew, the beauty, strength, and size of the vessel, the depth of our harbor, the character of the cargo, and our own wants. In estimating the value of a book, we have to note (1) the kind of life that forms its material; (2) the qualities of the author,—that is, of the life through which the stream comes to us, and whose spirit is caught by the current, as the breezes that come through the garden bear with them the perfume of flowers that they touch; (3) the form of the book, its music, simplicity, size, and artistic shape; (4) its merits, compared with the rest of the books in its own sphere of thought; (5) its fame; (6) our abilities; and (7) our needs. There result several tests of the claims of any book upon our attention.

I. What effect will it have upon character? Will it make me more careful, earnest, sincere, placid, sympathetic, gay, enthusiastic, loving, generous, pure, and brave by exercising these emotions in me, and more abhorrent of evil by showing me its loathsomeness; or more sorrowful, fretful, cruel, envious, vindictive, cowardly, and false, less reverent of right and more attracted by evil, by picturing good as[136] coming from contemptible sources, and evil as clothed with beauty? Is the author such a man as I would wish to be the companion of my heart, or such as I must study to avoid?

II. What effect will the book produce upon the mind? Will it exercise and strengthen my fancy, imagination, memory, invention, originality, insight, breadth, common-sense, and philosophic power? Will it make me bright, witty, reasonable, and tolerant? Will it give me the quality of intellectual beauty? Will it give me a deeper knowledge of human life, of Nature, and of my business, or open the doorways of any great temple of science where I am as yet a stranger? Will it help to build a standard of taste in literature for the guidance of myself and others? Will it give me a knowledge of what other people are thinking and feeling, thus opening the avenues of communication between my life and theirs?

III. What will be the effect on my skills and accomplishments? Will it store my mind full of beautiful thoughts and images that will make my conversation a delight and profit to my friends? Will it teach me how to write with power, give me the art of thinking clearly and expressing my thought with force and attractiveness? Will it supply a knowledge of the best means of attaining any other desired art or accomplishment?

IV. Is the book simple enough for me? Is it within my grasp? If not, I must wait till I have come upon a level with it.[137]

V. Will the book impart a pleasure in the very reading? This test alone is not reliable; for till our taste is formed, the trouble may not be in it but in ourselves.

VI. Has it been superseded by a later book, or has its truth passed into the every-day life of the race? If so, I do not need to read it. Other things equal, the authors nearest to us in time and space have the greatest claims on our attention. Especially is this true in science, in which each succeeding great book sucks the life out of all its predecessors. In poetry there is a principle that operates in the opposite direction; for what comes last is often but an imitation, that lacks the fire and force of the original. Nature is best painted, not from books, but from her own sweet face.

VII. What is the relation of the book to the completeness of my development? Will it fill a gap in the walls of my building? Other things equal, I had better read about something I know nothing of than about something I am familiar with; for the aim is to get a picture of the universe in my brain, and a full development of my whole nature. It is a good plan to read everything of something and something of everything. A too general reader seems vague and hazy, as if he were fed on fog; and a too special reader is narrow and hard, as if fed on needles.

VIII. Is the matter inviting my attention of permanent value? The profits of reading what is merely of the moment are not so great as those accruing from[138] the reading of literature that is of all time. To hear the gossip of the street is not as valuable as to hear the lectures of Joseph Cook, or the sermons of Beecher and Brooks. On this principle, most of our time should be spent on classics, and very little upon transient matter. There is a vast amount of energy wasted in this country in the reading of newspapers and periodicals. The newspaper is a wonderful thing. It brings the whole huge earth to me in a little brown wrapper every morning. The editor is a sort of travelling stage-manager, who sets up his booth on my desk every day, bringing with him the greatest performers from all the countries of the world, to play their parts before my eyes. Yonder is an immense mass-meeting; and that mite, brandishing his mandibles in an excited manner, is the great Mr. So-and-So, explaining his position amid the tumultuous explosions of an appreciative multitude. That puffet of smoke and dust to the right is a revolution. There in the shadow of the wood comes an old man who lays down a scythe and glass while he shifts the scenes, and we see a bony hand reaching out to snatch back a player in the midst of his part, and even trying to clutch the showman himself. For three dollars a year I can buy a season ticket to this great Globe theatre, for which God writes the dramas, whose scene-shifter is Time, and whose curtain is rung down by Death.[1] But theatre-going, if kept up continuously, is very enervating. 'T is [139]better far to read the hand-bills and placards at the door, and only when the play is great go in. Glance at the head-lines of the paper always; read the mighty pages seldom. The editors could save the nation millions of rich hours by a daily column of brief but complete statements of the paper's contents, instead of those flaring head-lines that allure but do not satisfy, and only lead us on to read that Mr. Windbag nominated Mr. Darkhorse amid great applause, and that Mr. Darkhorse accepted in a three-column speech skilfully constructed so as to commit himself to nothing; or that Mr. Bondholder's daughter was married, and that Mrs. So-and-So wore cream satin and point lace, with roses, etc.

[1] Adapted from Lowell.

Intrinsic Merit.—It must be noted that the tests of intrinsic merit are not precisely the same as the tests for the choice of books. The latter include the former and more. Intrinsic merit depends on the character impressed upon the book by its subject-matter and the author; but in determining the claims of a book upon the attention of the ordinary English reader, it is necessary not only to look at the book itself, but also to consider the needs and abilities of the reader. One may not be able to read the book that is intrinsically the best, because of the want of time or lack of sufficient mental development. Green's "Short History of England" and Dickens' "Child's History of England" may not be the greatest works in their department, but they may have the greatest claims on the attention of one whose time or ability is[140] limited. A chief need of every one is to know what others are thinking and feeling. To open up avenues of communication between mind and mind is one of the great objects of reading. Now it often happens that a book of no very high merit artistically considered—a book that can never take rank as a classic—becomes very famous, and is for a time the subject of much comment and conversation. In such cases all who would remain in thorough sympathy with their fellows must give the book at least a hasty reading, or in some way gain a knowledge of its contents. Intrinsically "Robert Elsmere" and "Looking Backward" may not be worthy of high rank (though I am by no means so sure of this as many of the critics seem to be); but their fame, joined as it is with high motive, entitles them to a reading.

It is always a good plan, however, to endeavor to ascertain the absolute or intrinsic merit of a book first, and afterward arrive at the relative value or claim upon the attention by making the correction required by the time and place, later publications in the same department, the peculiar needs and abilities of readers, etc.

In testing intrinsic worth we must consider—


Motive.—The purpose of the author and the emotional character of the subject matter are of great importance. A noble subject nobly handled begets nobility in the reader, and a spirit of meanness brought into a book by its subject or author also impresses itself upon those who come in contact with it. Kind, loving books make the world more tender-hearted; coarse and lustful books degrade mankind. The nobility of the sentiment in and underlying a work is therefore a test of prime importance.

Whittier's "Voices of Freedom,"
Lowell's "Vision of Sir Launfal,"
Tennyson's "Locksley Hall,"
Warner's "A-Hunting of the Deer,"
Shakspeare's "Coriolanus,"
Macaulay's "Horatius" and "Virginia,"
Æschylus' "Prometheus,"
Dickens' "Christmas Carol,"
Sewell's "Black Beauty,"
Chaucer's "Griselda,"
Browning's "Ivan Ivanovitch,"
Arnold's "Forsaken Merman," and "The Light of Asia,"

are fine examples of high motive.

Magnitude.—The grander the subject, the deeper the impression upon us. In reading a book like "The Light of Asia," that reveals the heart of a great religion, or Guizot's "Civilization in Europe," that deals with the life of a continent, or Darwin's "Origin of Species," or Spencer's "Nebular Hypothesis,"[142] that grapples with problems as wide as the world and as deep as the starry spaces,—in reading such books we receive into ourselves a larger part of the universe than when we devote ourselves to the history of the town we live in, or the account of the latest game of base ball.

Unity.—A book, picture, statue, play, or oratorio is an artistic unity when no part of it could be removed without injury to the whole effect. True art masses many forces to a single central purpose. The more complex a book is in its substance (not its expression),—that is to say, the greater the variety of thoughts and feelings compressed within its lids,—the higher it will rank, if the parts are good in themselves and are so related as to produce one tremendous effect. But no intrusion of anything not essentially related to the supreme purpose can be tolerated. A good book is like a soldier who will not burden himself with anything that will not increase his fighting power, because, if he did, its weight would diminish his fighting force. In the same way, if a book contains unnecessary matter, a portion of the attention that should be concentrated upon the real purpose of the volume, is absorbed by the superfluous pages, rendering the effect less powerful than it would otherwise be. Most of the examples of high motive named above, would be in place here, especially,—

The Forsaken Merman.
The Light of Asia.

Other fine specimens of unity are,—

Holmes's "Nautilus."
Hood's "Bridge of Sighs."
Gray's "Elegy."
Hunt's "Abou Ben Adhem."
Longfellow's "Psalm of Life."
Whittier's "Barefoot Boy."
Shelley's "Ode to a Skylark."
Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind."
Byron's "Eve of Waterloo."
Bryant's "Thanatopsis."
Reed's "Drifting."
Drake's "Culprit Fay."
Irving's "Art of Bookmaking," etc. (in "Sketch Book").
Rives' "Story of Arnon."
Dante's "Divine Comedy."
Schiller's "Veiled Statue of Truth."
Goethe's "Erl King."

Humor alone has a right to violate unity even apparently; and although wit and humor produce their effects by displaying incongruities, yet underlying all high art, in this department as in others, there is always a deep unity,—a truth revealed and enforced by the destruction of its contradictories accomplished by the sallies of wit and humor.

Universality.—Other things equal, the more people interested in the subject the more important the book. A matter which affects a million people is of more consequence than one which affects only a single person. National affairs, and all matters of magnitude, of course possess this quality; but magnitude[144] is not necessary to universality,—the thoughts, feelings, and actions of an unpretentious person in a little village may be types of what passes in the life of every human being, and by their representativeness attain a more universal interest for mankind than the business and politics of a state.

The rules of tennis are not of so wide importance as an English grammar, nor is the latter so universal as Dante's "Inferno" or "The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius,"—these being among the books that in the highest degree possess the quality under discussion. Other fine examples are—

Goethe's "Faust."
Shakespeare's Plays and Sonnets.
Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress."
Arnold's "Light of Asia."
Bacon's and Emerson's Essays.
"Uncle Tom's Cabin."
Sewell's "Black Beauty."
Eliot's "Romola."
Curtis' "Prue and I."
Cooper's "Last of the Mohicans."
Tourgée's "Hot Plowshares."
Irving's "Sketch Book."
Plato, Spencer, etc.

In fact, all books that express love, longing, admiration, tenderness, sorrow, laughter, joy, victory over nature or man, or any other thought or feeling common to men, have the attribute of universality in greater or less degree.[145]

Suggestiveness.—Every great work of art suggests far more than it expresses. This truth is illustrated by paintings like Bierstadt's "Yosemite" or his "Drummer Boy," Millet's "Angelus," or Turner's "Slave Ship." Statues like the "Greek Slave" or "The Forced Prayer;" speeches like those of Phillips, Fox, Clay, Pitt, Bright, Webster, and Brooks; songs like "Home, Sweet Home," "My Country," "Douglas," "Annie Laurie;" and books like

Emerson's Essays.
Æschylus' "Prometheus."
Goethe's "Faust" and "Wilhelm Meister."
Dante's "Divine Comedy."
"Hamlet" and many other of Shakspeare's Plays.
Curtis' "Prue and I."
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.
The Sermons of Phillips Brooks and Robertson.
"My Summer in a Garden," by Warner; etc.

A single sentence in Emerson often suggests a train of thought that would fill a volume; and a single inflection of Patti's voice in singing "Home, Sweet Home" will fill the heart to overflowing.

Expression.—Like a musician, an author must study technique. A book may possess high motive, artistic unity, universality, suggestiveness, magnitude of thought, and yet be lacking in clearness, purity, music, smoothness, force, finish, tone-color, or even in proper grammatical construction. The style ought to be carefully adapted to the subject and to the[146] readers likely to be interested in it. Force and beauty may be imparted to the subject by a good style. In poetry beauty is the supreme object, the projection of truth upon the mind being subordinate. Poetry expresses the truths of the soul. In prose, on the other hand, truth is the main purpose, and beauty is used as a helper. As a soldier studies his guns, and a dentist his tools, so a writer must study the laws of rhythm, accent, phrasing, alliteration, phonetic syzygy, run-on and double-ending lines, rhyme, and, last but not least, the melodies of common speech. The first three and the last are the most important, and should be thoroughly studied in Shakspeare, Addison, Irving, and other masters of style by every one who wishes to write or to judge the work of others. Except as to rhyme, the arts of writing prose and poetry are substantially the same. Theoretically there is a fundamental difference in respect to rhythm,—that of a poem being limited to the repetition of some chosen type, that of prose being unlimited. A little study makes it clear, however, that the highest poetry, as that of Shakspeare's later plays, crowds the type with the forms of common speech; while the highest efforts of prose, as that of Addison, Irving, Phillips, Ingersoll's oration over his dead brother, etc., display rhythms that approach the order and precision of poetry. In practice the best prose and the best poetry approach each other very closely, moving from different directions toward the same point.[147]

It is of great advantage to form the habit of noticing the tunes of speech used by those around us; the study will soon become very pleasurable, and will be highly profitable by teaching the observer what mode of expression is appropriate to each variety of thought and feeling. There is a rhythm that of itself produces a comic effect, no matter how sober the words may be; and it is the same that we find in "Pinafore," in the "Mariner's Duet" in the opera of "Paul Jones," and in the minstrel dance. For fifteen centuries all the great battle-songs have been written in the same rhythm; they fall into it naturally, because it expresses the movement of mighty conflict. See Lanier's "Science of English Verse," pages 151 et seq., 231 et seq. This is the best book upon technique; but Spencer's Essay on the Philosophy of Style, and Poe's Essay on his composition of "The Raven" should not be overlooked. Franklin and many others have discovered the laws of style simply by careful study of the "Spectator."

Of course it is not easy to decide the true rank of a book, even when we have tested it in respect to all the elements we have named. One book may be superior in expression, another in suggestiveness, and so on. Then we have to take note of the relative importance of these various elements of greatness. A little superiority in motive or suggestiveness is worth far more than the same degree of superiority as to unity or magnitude. A book filled with noble sentiment, though lacking unity, should rank far[148] above "Don Juan," or any other volume that expresses the ignoble part of human nature, however perfect the work may be from an artistic point of view. Having now examined the tests of intrinsic merit, let me revert for a moment to my remark, a few pages back, to the effect that "Looking Backward" and "Robert Elsmere" deserve a high rank. They are books of lofty aim, great magnitude of subject and thought, fine unity, wide universality, exhaustless suggestiveness, and more than ordinary power of expression. Doubtless they are not absolute classics,—not books of all time,—for their subjects are transitional, not eternal. They deal with doubts, religious and industrial; when these have passed away, the mission of the books will be fulfilled, and their importance will be less. But they are relative classics,—books that are of great value to their age, and will be great as long as their subjects are prominent.[149]


in the
Literatures of England, America, Greece, Rome, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Persia, Portugal, Denmark, Russia.



The highest summit of our literature—and indeed of the literature of the world—is Shakspeare. He brings us life in the greatest force and volume, of the highest quality, and clothed in the richest beauty. His age, which was practically identical with the reign of Elizabeth, is the golden age of English letters; and taking it for a basis of division, we have the Pre-Shakspearian Age from 600 to 1559, the Shakspearian Age from 1559 to 1620, and the Post-Shakspearian Age from 1620 to the present.

The first age is divided into three periods.

First, the Early Period, from 600 to the Norman Conquest in 1066, which holds the names of Beowulf,[2] Cædmon,[3] Bæda,[4] Cynewulf, and Ælfred, the great king who did so much for the learning of his country, bringing many great scholars into England from all over the world, and himself writing the best prose that had been produced in English, and changing the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle"—till his time a [151]mere record of noble births and deaths—into a valuable periodical, the progenitor of the vast horde that threatens to expel the classics in our day. The literature of this period has little claim upon us except on the ground of breadth. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the poems of Beowulf, Cædmon, and Cynewulf, should be glanced at to see what sort of people our ancestors were.

[2] An epic poem, full of the life, in peace and war, of our Saxon fathers before they came to England.

[3] The writer of a paraphrase on the Bible; a feeble Milton.

[4] A very learned man, who gathered many scholars about him, and who finished translating the Gospel of John on his death-bed and with his latest breath.

Second, the Period of Chaucer, from 1066 to the death of Chaucer in 1400. The great books of this period were Mandeville's Travels, Langland's "Piers the Ploughman." Wycliffe's translation of the Bible (these two books, with Wycliffe's tracts, went all over England among the common people, rousing them against the Catholic Church, and starting the reformation that afterward grew into Puritanism, and gained control of the nation under Cromwell), Gower's Poems, and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Those in italics are the only books that claim our reading. Mandeville travelled thirty years, and then wrote all he saw and all he heard from the mouth of rumor. Chaucer is half French and two-thirds Italian. He drank in the spirit of the Golden Age of Italy, which was in the early part of his own century. Probably he met Petrarch and Boccaccio, and certainly he drew largely from their works as well as from Dante's, and he dug into poor Gower as into a stone quarry. He is still our best story-teller in verse, and one of our most musical poets; and every one should know something of this "morning star of[152] English poetry," by far the greatest light before the Elizabethan age, and still easily among the first five or six of our poets.

Third, the Later Period, from 1400 to 1559, in which Malory's Morte D'Arthur, containing fragments of the stories about King Arthur and the knights of his round table, which like a bed-rock crop out so often in English Literature, should be read while reading Tennyson's "Idylls of the King," which is based upon Malory; and Sir Thomas More's Utopia also claims some attention on the plea of breadth, as it is the work of a great mind, thoroughly and practically versed in government, and sets forth his idea of a perfect commonwealth.

In this age of nine and a half centuries there were, then, ten noteworthy books and one great book; eight only of the eleven, however, have any claim upon our attention, the last three being all that are entitled to more than a rapid reading by the general student; and only Chaucer for continuous companionship can rank high, and even he cannot be put on the first shelf.

In the Shakspearian Age the great books were (1) Roger Ascham's Schoolmaster, which was a fine argument for kindness in teaching and nobility in the teacher, but has been superseded by Spencer's "Education." (2) Sackville's Induction to a series of political tragedies, called "A Mirror for Magistrates." The poet goes down into hell like Dante,[153] and meets Remorse, Famine, War, Misery, Care, Sleep, Death, etc., and talks with noted Englishmen who had fallen. This "Mirror" was of great fame and influence in its day; and the "Induction," though far inferior to both Chaucer and Spenser, is yet the best poetic work done in the time between those masters. (3) John Lyly's Euphues, a book that expressed the thought of Ascham's "Schoolmaster" in a style peculiar for its puns, antitheses, and floweriness,—a style which made a witty handling of language the chief aim of writing. Lyly was a master of the art, and the ladies of the court committed his sentences in great numbers, that they might shine in society. The book has given a word to the language; that affected word-placing style is known as euphuistic. The book has no claims upon our reading. (4) Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, a romance in the same conceited style as the "Euphues," and only valuable as a mine for poetic images. (5) Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, which was a defence of the church system against the Puritans. The latter said that no such system of church government could be found in the Bible, and therefore should not exist. Hooker answered that Nature was a revelation from God as well as the Bible; and if in Nature and society there were good reasons for the existence of an institution, that was enough. The book is not of importance to the general reader to-day, for the truth of its principles is universally admitted. (6) The Plays of Marlowe, a very powerful but gross writer. His[154] "Dr. Faustus" may very properly receive attention, but only after the best plays of Shakspeare, Jonson, Calderon, Racine, Molière, Corneille, Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes have been carefully read. (7) The Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher, which are filled with beauty and imagination, mingled with the immodesty and vulgarity that were natural to this age. The remark just made about Marlowe applies here. (8) Fox's Book of Martyrs, which for the sake of breadth should be glanced at by every one. The marvellous heroism and devotion to faith on one side, and cruelty on the other that come to us through the pages of this history, open a new world to the modern mind. (9) Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene, which combines the poetry of a Homer with the allegory of a Bunyan. It presents moral truth under vast and beautiful imagery. In English poetry it claims our attention next to Shakspeare and Milton. (10) Ben Jonson's Plays, which stand next to those of Shakspeare in English drama. (11) The Plays of Shakspeare, which need no comment, as they have already been placed at the summit of all literature; and (12) Bacon's Works, including the Novum Organum, the New Atlantis, and the Essays, the first of which, though one of the greatest books of the world, setting forth the true methods of arriving at truth by experiment and observation and the collation of facts, we do not need to read, because the substance of it may be found in better form in Mill's Logic.[155] The "Essays," however, are world-famed for their condensed wit and wisdom on topics of never-dying interest, and stand among the very best books on the upper shelf. The "New Atlantis" also should be read for breadth, with More's "Utopia;" the subject being the same, namely, an ideal commonwealth.

From this sixty-one years of prolific writing, in which no less than two hundred and thirty authors gathered their poems together and published them, to say nothing of all the scattered writings, twelve volumes have come down to us with a large measure of fame. Only the last seven call for our reading; but two of them, Shakspeare and Bacon, are among the very most important books on the first shelf of the world's library.

The Post-Shakspearian Age is divided into four times, or periods,—the Time of Milton; the Time of Dryden; the Time of Pope; and the Time of the Novelists, Historians, and Scientists.

The Time of Milton, from 1620 to 1674, was contemporary with the Golden Age of literature in France. The great English books of this time were (1) Chapman's Translation of Homer, which is superseded by Pope's. (2) Hobbes's Leviathan, a discourse on government. Hobbes taught that government exists for the people, and rests not on the divine right of kings, but on a compact or agreement of all the citizens to give up a portion of their liberties in order by social co-operation the better[156] to secure the remainder. He is one of our greatest philosophers; but the general reader will find the substance of Hobbes's whole philosophy better put in Locke, Mill, and Herbert Spencer. (3) Walton's Complete Angler, the work of a retired merchant who combined a love of fishing with a poetic perception of the beauties of Nature. It will repay a glance. (4) S. Butler's Hudibras, a keen satire on the Puritans who went too far in their effort to compel all men to conform their lives to the Puritan standard of abstinence from worldly pleasures. In spite of its vulgarity, the book stands very high in the literature of humor. (5) George Herbert's Poems, many of which are as sweet and holy as a flower upon a grave, and are beloved by all spiritually minded people. (6) Jeremy Taylor's Holy Living and Dying, a book that in the strength of its claim upon us must rank close after the Bible, Shakspeare, and the Science of Physiology and Hygiene. (7) Milton's Poems, of which the "Paradise Lost" and "Comus," for their sublimity and beauty, rank next after Shakspeare in English poetry. Æschylus, Dante, and Milton are the three sublimest souls in history.

From this time of fifty-four years seven great books have come to us, Milton and Taylor being among our most precious possessions.

The Time of Dryden.—From the death of Milton, in 1674, to the death of Dryden, in 1700, the latter held undisputed kingship in the realm of letters.[157] This and the succeeding time of Pope were marked by the development of a classic style and a fine literary and critical taste, but were lacking in great creative power. The great books were (1) Newton's Principia, the highest summit in the region of astronomy, unless the "Mécanique Céleste" of Laplace must be excepted. Newton's discovery of the law of gravitation, and his theory of fluxions place him at the head of the mathematical thinkers of the world. His books, however, need not be read by the general student, for in these sciences the later books are better. (2) Locke's Works upon Government and the Understanding are among the best in the world, but their results will all be found in the later works of Spencer, Mill, and Bryce; and the only part of the writings of Locke that claims our reading to-day is the little book upon the Conduct of the Understanding, which tells us how to watch the processes of our thought, to keep clear of prejudice, careless observation, etc., and should be in the hands of every one who ever presumes to do any thinking. (3) Dryden's Translation of Virgil is the best we have, and contains the finest writing of our great John. (4) Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress picturing in magnificent allegory the journey of a Christian soul toward heaven, and his "Holy War," telling of the conflict between good and evil, and the devil's efforts to capture and hold the town of "Mansoul," should be among the first books we read. The "Progress" holds a place in the affections of all English-speaking[158] peoples second only to the Bible. (5) Sam Pepys's Diary is the greatest book of its kind in the world, and is much read for its vividness and interesting detail. It has, however, no claims to be read until all the books on the first shelf of Table I. have been mastered, and a large portion of the second shelf pretty thoroughly looked into.

Of the five great works of these twenty-six years, Bunyan and Locke are far the most important for us.

The Time of Pope, or the Time of the Essayists and Satirists, covers a period of forty years, from 1700 to 1740, during which the great translator of Homer held the sceptre of literary power by unanimous assent. The great works of this time were (1) The Essays of Addison and Steele in the "Tatler" and "Spectator," which, though of great merit, must rank below those of Emerson, Bacon, and Montaigne. (2) Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, the boy's own book. (3) Swift's Satires,—the "Tale of a Tub," "Gulliver's Travels," and the "Battle of the Books,"—all full of the strongest mixture of grossness, fierceness, and intense wit that the world has seen. The "Battle of the Books" may be read with great advantage by the general reader as well as by the student of humor. (4) Berkeley's Human Knowledge, exceedingly interesting for the keenness of its confutation of any knowledge of the existence of matter. (5) Pope's Poems—the "Rape of the Lock" (which means the theft of a lock of hair), the "Essay on Man," and his translation of Homer[159]—must form a part of every wide course of reading. Their mechanical execution, especially, is of the very finest. (6) Thomson's Seasons, a beautiful poem of the second class. (7) Butler's Analogy, chiefly noted for its proof of the existence of God from the fact that there is evidence of design in Nature.

Of these writers, Pope and Defoe are far the most important for us.

We have, down to this time of 1740, out of a literature covering eleven and a half centuries, recommended to the chief attention of the reader ten great authors,—Chaucer and Spenser, Shakspeare and Bacon, Milton and Taylor, Bunyan and Locke, Pope and Defoe. We now come to the Time of Novelists, Historians, and Scientists, a period in the history of our literature that is so prolific of great writers in all the vastly multiplied departments of thought, that it is no longer possible to particularize in the manner we have done in regard to the preceding ages. A sufficient illustration has been given of the methods of judging books and the results of their application. With the ample materials of Table I. before him, the reader must now be left to make his own judgments in regard to the relative merits of the books of the modern period. We shall confine our remarks on this last time of English literature to the recommendation of ten great authors to match the ten great names of former times. In history, we shall name Parkman, the greatest of American historians; in philosophy, Herbert Spencer, the greatest name[160] in the whole list of philosophers; in poetry, Byron and Tennyson, neither of them equal to Shakspeare and Milton, but standing in the next file behind them; in fiction, Scott, Eliot, and Dickens; in poetic humor, Lowell, the greatest of all names in this department; and in general literature, Carlyle and Ruskin, two of the purest, wisest, and most forcible writers of all the past, and, curiously enough, both of them very eccentric and very wordy,—a sort of English double star, which will be counted in this list as a unit, in order to crowd in Emerson, who belongs in this great company, and is not by any means the least worthy member of it. One more writer there is in this time greater than any we have named, except Spencer and Scott; namely, the author of "The Origin of Species." Darwin stands by the side of Newton in the history of scientific thought; but, like his great compeer, the essence of his book has come to be a part of modern thought that floats in the air we breathe; and so his claims to being read are less than those of authors who cannot be called so great when speaking of intrinsic merit.

Having introduced the greatest ten of old, and ten that may be deemed the greatest of the new, in English letters, we shall pass to take a bird's-eye view of what is best in Greece and Rome, France, Italy, and Spain, and say a word of Persia, Germany, and Portugal.[161]


Greece, in her thirteen centuries of almost continuous literary productiveness from Homer to Longus, gave the world its greatest epic poet, Homer; the finest of lyric poets, Pindar; the prince of orators, Demosthenes; aside from our own Bacon and Spencer, the greatest philosophers of all the ages, Plato and Aristotle; the most noted of fabulists, Æsop; the most powerful writer of comedy, Aristophanes (Molière, however, is much to be preferred for modern reading, because of his fuller applicability to our life); and the three greatest writers of pure tragedy, Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides,—the first remarkable for his gloomy grandeur and gigantic, dark, and terrible sublimity; the second for his sweet majesty and pathos; and third for the power with which he paints men as they are in real life. Euripides was a great favorite with Milton and Fox.

To one who is not acquainted with these ten great Greeks, much of the sweetest and grandest of life remains untasted and unknown. Begin with Homer, Plato's "Phædo" and "Republic," Æschylus' "Prometheus Bound," Sophocles' "Œdipus," and Demosthenes' "On the Crown."[162]

A liberal reading must also include the Greek historians Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon.

Rome taught the world the art of war, but was herself a pupil in the halls of Grecian letters. Only three writers—Plutarch, Marcus Aurelius (who both wrote in Greek), and Epictetus—can claim our attention in anything like an equal degree with the authors of Athens named just above. Its literature as a whole is on a far lower plane than that of Greece or England. A liberal education must include Virgil's "Æneid," the national epic of Rome (which, however, must take its place in our lives and hearts far after Homer, Shakspeare, Milton, Dante, and Goethe), for its elegance and imagination; Horace, for his wit, grace, sense, and inimitable witchery of phrase; Lucretius, for his depth of meditation; Tacitus, for knowledge of our ancestors; Ovid and Catullus, for their beauty of expression; Juvenal, for the keenness of his satire; and Plautus and Terence, for their insight into the characters of men. But these books should wait until at least the three first named in this paragraph, with the ten Greek and twenty English writers spoken of in the preceding paragraphs, have come to be familiar friends.

Italy, in Chaucer's century, produced a noble literature. Dante is the Shakspeare of the Latin races. He stands among the first creators of sublimity. Æschylus and Milton only can claim a place beside him. Petrarch takes lofty rank as a lyric poet, breathing the heart of love. Boccaccio may be put with Chaucer.[163] Ariosto and Tasso wrote the finest epics of Italian poetry. A liberal education must neglect no one of these. Every life should hold communion with the soul of Dante, and get a taste at least of Petrarch.

France has a glorious literature; in science, the best in the world. In history, Guizot; in jurisprudence, in its widest sense, Montesquieu; and in picturing the literary history of a nation, Taine, stand unrivalled anywhere. Among essayists, Montaigne; among writers of fiction, Le Sage, Victor Hugo, and Balzac; among the dramatists, Corneille the grand, Racine the graceful and tender, and Molière the creator of modern comedy; and among fabulists, the inimitable poet of fable, La Fontaine, demand a share of our time with the best. Descartes, Pascal, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Comte belong in every liberal scheme of culture and to every student of philosophy.

Spain gives us two most glorious names, Cervantes and Pedro Calderon de la Barca,—the former one of the world's very greatest humorists, the brother spirit of Lowell; the latter, a princely dramatist, the brother of Shakspeare.

Germany boasts one summit on which the shadow of no other falls. Goethe's "Faust" and "Wilhelm Meister" and his minor poems cannot be neglected if we want the best the world affords; Schiller, too, and Humboldt, Kant and Heine, Helmholtz and Haeckel must be read. In science and history, the[164] list of German greatness is a very long and bright one.

Persia calls us to read her magnificent astronomer-poet, Omar Khayyám; her splendid epic, the Shah Nameh of Firdusi, the story of whose labors, successes, and misfortunes is one of the most interesting passages in the history of poetry; and taste at least of her extravagant singer of the troubles and ecstasies of love, Hafiz.

Portugal has given us Camoens, with his great poem the "Luciad." Denmark brings us her charming Andersen; and Russia comes to us with her Byronic Pushkin and her Schiller-hearted poet, Lermontoff, at least for a glance.

We have thus named as the chiefs, twenty authors in English, ten in Greek, three of Rome, two of Italy, ten of France, two of Spain, seven of Germany, three of Persia, one of Portugal, one of Denmark, and two of Russia,—sixty-one in all,—which, if read in the manner indicated, will impart a pretty thorough knowledge of the literary treasures of the world.[165]


In the early history of every great people there has grown up a body of songs celebrating the heroism of their valiant warriors and the charms of their beautiful women. These have, generation after generation, been passed by word of mouth from one group of singers to their successors,—by each new set of artists somewhat polished and improved,—until they come to us as Homer's Iliad, the "Nibelungenlied" of the Germans, the "Chronicle of the Cid" of the Spanish, the "Chansons de Gestes," the "Romans," and the "Fabliaux" of the French, and "Beowulf" and the "Morte D'Arthur" of English literature. These great poems are the sources of a vast portion of what is best in subsequent art. From them Virgil, Boccaccio, Chaucer, Rabelais, Molière, Shakspeare, Calderon, and a host of others have drawn their inspiration. Malory has wrought the Arthurian songs into a mould of the purest English. The closing books, in their quiet pathos and reserved strength,—in their melody, winged words, and inimitable turns of phrase,—rank with the best poetry of Europe. Southey called the "Cid" the finest poem in the Spanish language, and Prescott said it was "the most remarkable performance[166] of the Middle Ages." This may be going rather too far; but it certainly stands in the very front rank of national poems. It has been translated by Lockhart in verse, by Southey in prose, and there is a splendid fragment by Frere. Of the French early epics, the "Chanson de Roland" and the "Roman du Renart" are the best. The "Nibelungenlied" is the embodiment of the wild and tragic,—the highest note of the barbaric drama of the North. That last terrific scene in the Hall of Etzel will rest forever in the memory of every reader of the book. Carlyle has given a sketch of the poem in his "Miscellanies," vol. iii., and there exists a complete but prolix and altogether miserable translation of the great epic, but we sadly need a condensed version of the myth of "Siegfried" the brave, and "Chriemhild" the beautiful, in the stirring prose of Malory or Southey. No reader will regret a perusal of these songs of the people; it is a journey to the head-waters of the literary Nile.

The reader of this little book we hope has gained an inspiration—if it were not his before—that, with a strong and steady step, will lead him into all the paths of beauty and of truth. Each glorious emotion and each glowing thought that comes to us, becomes a centre of new growth. Each wave of pathos, humor, or sublimity that pulses through the heart or passes to the brain, sets up vibrations that will never die, but beautify the hours and years that follow to the end of life. These waves that pass into the soul do not conceal their music in the heart, but echo[167] back upon the world in waves of kindred power; and these return forever from the world into the heart that gave them forth. It is as on the evening river, where the boatman bends his homeward oar. Each lusty call that leaves his lips, or song, or bugle blast that slips the tensioned bars, and wings the breeze, to teach its rhythm to the trees that crown the rocky twilight steep o'er which the lengthening shadows creep, returns and enters, softened, sweet, and clear, the waiting portal of the sender's ear. The man who fills his being with the noblest books, and pours their beauty out in word and deed, is like the merry singers on the placid moonlit lake. Backward the ripples o'er the silver sheet come on the echoes' winged feet; the hills and valleys all around gather the gentle shower of sound, and pour the stream upon the boat in which the happy singers float, chanting the hymns they loved of yore, shipping the glistening wave-washed oar, to hear reflected from the shore their every charmèd note. Oh, loosen from thy lip, my friend, no tone thine ear would with remorseful sorrow hear, hurling it back from far and near, the listening landscape oft repeat! Rather a melody send to greet the mountains beyond the silver sheet. Life's the soul's song; sing sweetly, then, that when the silence comes again, and ere it comes, from every glen the echoes shall be sweet.[169][168]





Addison. "Books are the legacies that genius leaves to mankind."

"Knowledge of books is a torch in the hands of one who is willing and able to show those who are bewildered the way which leads to prosperity and welfare."

Alcott, A. B. "My favorite books have a personality and complexion as distinctly drawn as if the author's portrait were framed into the paragraphs, and smiled upon me as I read his illustrated pages."

"Next to a friend's discourse, no morsel is more delicious than a ripe book,—a book whose flavor is as refreshing at the thousandth tasting as at the first."

"Next to a personal introduction, a list of one's favorite authors were the best admittance to his character and manners."

"A good book perpetuates its fame from age to age, and makes eras in the lives of its readers."

Atkinson, W. P. "Who can over-estimate the value of good books,—those ships of thought, as Bacon so finely calls them, voyaging through the sea of time, and carrying their precious freight so safely from generation to generation?"[172]

Arnott, Dr. "Books,—the miracle of all possessions, more wonderful than the wishing-cap of the Arabian tales; for they transport instantly, not only to all places, but to all times."

Bacon. "Studies serve for pastimes, for ornaments, for abilities. Their chief use for pastimes is in privateness and retiring; for ornaments, in discourse; and for ability, in judgment.... To spend too much time in them is sloth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules is the humor of a scholar. They perfect nature, and are themselves perfected by experience. Crafty men contemn them, wise men use them, simple men admire them; for they teach not their own use, but that there is a wisdom without them and above them won by observation. Read not to contradict, nor to believe, but to weigh and consider.... Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready, and writing an exact man. Therefore, if a man write little, he had need of a great memory; if he confer little, he hath need of a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning to seem to know that he doth not know. Histories make men wise, poets witty, the mathematicians subtile, natural philosophy deep, moral grave, logic and rhetoric able to contend."

Barrow. "He who loveth a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counsellor, a cheerful companion, or an effectual comforter."

Bartholin. "Without books God is silent, justice dormant, natural science at a stand, philosophy lame, letters dumb, and all things involved in Cimmerian darkness."

Beaconsfield, Lord. "The idea that human happiness is dependent on the cultivation of the mind and on the discovery of truth is, next to the conviction of our immortality,[173] the idea the most full of consolation to man; for the cultivation of the mind has no limits, and truth is the only thing that is eternal."

"Knowledge is like the mystic ladder in the patriarch's dream. Its base rests on the primeval earth, its crest is lost in the shadowy splendor of the empyrean; while the great authors, who for traditionary ages have held the chain of science and philosophy, of poesy and erudition, are the angels ascending and descending the sacred scale, and maintaining, as it were, the communication between man and heaven."

Beecher, Henry Ward. "A book is good company. It seems to enter the memory, and to hover in a silvery transformation there until the outward book is but a body, and its soul and spirit are flown to you, and possess your memory like a spirit."

"Books are the windows through which the soul looks out. A home without books is like a room without windows...."

Bright, John. "What is a great love of books? It is something like a personal introduction to the great and good men of all past time."

Brooks, Phillips. "Is it not a new England for a child to be born in since Shakspeare gathered up the centuries and told the story of humanity up to his time? Will not Carlyle and Tennyson make the man who begins to live from them the 'heir of all ages' which have distilled their richness into the books of the sage and the singer of the nineteenth century?"

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett.

"When we gloriously forget ourselves and plunge
Soul forward, headlong into a book's profound,
Impassioned for its beauty, and salt of truth—
'Tis then we get the right good from a book."

Bruyère. "When a book raises your spirit, and inspires you with noble and courageous feelings, seek for no other rule to judge the event by; it is good, and made by a good workman."

Bury, Richard de. "You, O Books! are golden urns in which manna is laid up; rocks flowing with honey, or rather, indeed, honeycombs; udders most copiously yielding the milk of life, store-rooms ever full; the four-streamed river of Paradise, where the human mind is fed, and the arid intellect moistened and watered; fruitful olives, vines of Engaddi, fig-trees knowing no sterility; burning lamps to be ever held in the hand."

"In books we find the dead, as it were, living.... The truth written in a book ... enters the chamber of intellect, reposes itself upon the couch of memory, and there congenerates the eternal truth of the mind."

Carlyle. "Evermore is Wisdom the highest of conquests to every son of Adam,—nay, in a large sense, the one conquest; and the precept to every one of us is ever, 'Above all thy gettings get understanding.'"

"Of all the things which man can do or make here below, by far the most momentous, wonderful, and worthy are the things we call books."

"All that mankind has done, thought, gained, and been, is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books."

Channing, Dr. Wm. E. "God be thanked for books! They are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages. Books are the true levellers. They give to all who will faithfully use them the society, the spiritual presence, of the best and greatest of our race. No matter how poor I am; no matter though the prosperous of my own time will not enter my obscure dwelling:[175] if the sacred writers will enter and take up their abode under my roof,—if Milton will cross my threshold to sing to me of Paradise; and Shakspeare, to open to me the worlds of imagination and the workings of the human heart; and Franklin, to enrich me with his practical wisdom,—I shall not pine for want of intellectual companionship, and I may become a cultivated man, though excluded from what is called the best society in the place where I live."


"And as for me, though that I know but lyte[5]
On bokès for to rede I me delyte,
And to them give I (feyth[6]) and ful credence,
And in myn herte have them in reverence
So hertily that there is pastime noon,[7]
That from my bokès maketh me to goon
But yt be seldom on the holy day,
Save, certeynly, whan that the monethe of May
Is comen, and I here the foulès synge,
And that the flourès gynnen for to sprynge;
Farewell my boke, and my devocioun."

[5] Little.

[6] Faith.

[7] None.

Cicero. "Studies are the aliment of youth, the comfort of old age, an adornment of prosperity, a refuge and a solace in adversity, and a delight in our home."

Clarke, James Freeman. "When I consider what some books have done for the world, and what they are doing,—how they keep up our hope, awaken new courage and faith, give an ideal life to those whose homes are hard and cold, bind together distant ages and foreign lands, create new worlds of beauty, bring down truths from Heaven,—I give eternal blessings for this gift, and pray that we may use it aright, and abuse it not."


Coleridge. "Some readers are like the hour-glass. Their reading is as the sand; it runs in and runs out, but leaves not a vestige behind. Some, like a sponge, which imbibes everything, and returns it in the same state, only a little dirtier. Some, like a jelly-bag, which allows all that is pure to pass away, and retains only the refuse and dregs. The fourth class may be compared to the slave of Golconda, who, casting away all that is worthless, preserves only the pure gems."

Collyer, Robert. "Do you want to know how I manage to talk to you in this simple Saxon? I will tell you. I read Bunyan, Crusoe, and Goldsmith when I was a boy, morning, noon, and night; all the rest was task work. These were my delight, with the stories in the Bible, and with Shakspeare, when at last the mighty master came within our doors. These were like a well of pure water; and this is the first step I seem to have taken of my own free will toward the pulpit. From the days when we used to spell out Crusoe and old Bunyan, there had grown up in me a devouring hunger to read books.... I could not go home for the Christmas of 1839, and was feeling very sad about it all, for I was only a boy; and sitting by the fire, an old farmer came in and said, 'I notice thou's fond o' reading, so I brought thee summat to read.' It was Irving's 'Sketch Book.' I had never heard of the work. I went at it, and was 'as them that dream.' No such delight had touched me since the old days of Crusoe."

Curtis, G. W. "Books are the ever-burning lamps of accumulated wisdom."

De Quincey. "Every one owes to the impassioned books he has read many a thousand more of emotions than he can consciously trace back to them.... A great scholar depends[177] not simply on an infinite memory, but also on an infinite and electrical power of combination,—bringing together from the four winds, like the Angel of the Resurrection, what else were dust from dead men's bones into the unity of breathing life."

Diodorus. "Books are the medicine of the mind."

Emerson. "The profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader."

Erasmus. "A little before you go to sleep read something that is exquisite and worth remembering, and contemplate upon it till you fall asleep; and when you awake in the morning call yourself to an account for it."

Farrar, Canon. "If all the books of the world were in a blaze, the first twelve which I should snatch out of the flames would be the Bible, the Imitation of Christ, Homer, Æschylus, Thucydides, Tacitus, Virgil, Marcus Aurelius, Dante, Shakspeare, Milton, Wordsworth. Of living writers I would save, first, the works of Tennyson, Browning, and Ruskin."

Fénelon. "If the crowns of all the kingdoms of the empire were laid down at my feet in exchange for my books and my love of reading, I would spurn them all."

Freeman, E. A. (the historian). "I feel myself quite unable to draw up a list (of the best books), as I could not trust my own judgment on any matters not bearing on my special studies, and I should be doubtless tempted to give too great prominence to them."

Fuller, Thomas. "It is thought and digestion which make books serviceable, and give health and vigor to the mind."

Gibbon. "A taste for books is the pleasure and glory of my life. I would not exchange it for the glory of the Indies."[178]

Gladstone. "When I was a boy I used to be fond of looking into a bookseller's shop; but there was nothing to be seen there that was accessible to the working-man of that day. Take a Shakspeare, for example. I remember very well that I gave £2 16s. 0d. for my first copy; but you can get any one of Shakspeare's Plays for seven cents. Those books are accessible now which were formerly quite inaccessible. We may be told that you want amusement, but that does not include improvement. There are a set of worthless books written now and at times which you should avoid, which profess to give amusement; but in reading the works of such authors as Shakspeare and Scott there is the greatest possible amusement in its best form. Do you suppose when you see men engaged in study that they dislike it? No!... I want you to understand that multitudes of books are constantly being prepared and placed within reach of the population at large, for the most part executed by writers of a high stamp, having subjects of the greatest interest, and which enable you, at a moderate price, not to get cheap literature which is secondary in its quality, but to go straight into the very heart,—if I may so say, into the sanctuary of the temple of literature,—and become acquainted with the greatest and best works that men of our country have produced."

Godwin, William. "It is impossible that we can be much accustomed to such companions without attaining some resemblance to them."

Goldsmith. "An author may be considered as a merciful substitute to the legislature. He acts not by punishing crimes, but by preventing them."

Hale, Sir Matthew. "Read the Bible reverently and attentively, set your heart upon it, and lay it up in your memory,[179] and make it the direction of your life; it will make you a wise and good man."

Hamerton, P. H. "The art of reading is to skip judiciously."

Harrison, Frederic. "The best authors are never dark horses. The world has long ago closed the great assize of letters, and judged the first places everywhere."

"The reading of great books is usually an acquired faculty, not a natural gift. If you have not got the faculty, seek for it with all your might."

"Of Walter Scott one need as little speak as of Shakspeare. He belongs to mankind,—to every age and race; and he certainly must be counted as in the first line of the great creative minds of the world. His unique glory is to have definitely succeeded in the ideal reproduction of historical types, so as to preserve at once beauty, life, and truth,—a task which neither Ariosto and Tasso, nor Corneille and Racine, nor Alfieri, nor Goethe, nor Schiller,—no, nor even Shakspeare himself, entirely achieved.... In brilliancy of conception, in wealth of character, in dramatic art, in glow and harmony of color, Scott put forth all the powers of a master poet.... The genius of Scott has raised up a school of historical romance; and though the best work of Chateaubriand, Manzoni, and Bulwer may take rank as true art, the endless crowd of inferior imitations are nothing but a weariness to the flesh.... Scott is a perfect library in himself.... The poetic beauty of Scott's creations is almost the least of his great qualities. It is the universality of his sympathy that is so truly great, the justice of his estimates, the insight into the spirit of each age, his intense absorption of self in the vast epic of human civilization."[180]

Hazlitt, William. "Books let us into the souls of men, and lay open to us the secrets of our own."

Heinsius. "I no sooner come into the library but I bolt the door to me, excluding Lust, Ambition, Avarice, and all such vices, whose nurse is Idleness, the Mother of Ignorance and Melancholy. In the very lap of eternity, among so many divine souls, I take my seat with so lofty a spirit and sweet content, that I pity all that know not this happiness."

Herbert, George. "This book of stars [the Bible] lights to eternal bliss."

Herschel, Sir J. "Give a man this taste [for good books] and the means of gratifying it, and you can hardly fail of making a happy man. You place him in contact with the best society in every period of history,—with the wisest, the wittiest, the tenderest, the bravest, and the purest characters who have adorned humanity. You make him a denizen of all nations, a contemporary of all ages."

Hillard, George S. "Here we have immortal flowers of poetry, wet with Castilian dew, and the golden fruit of Wisdom that had long ripened on the bough.... We should any of us esteem it a great privilege to pass an evening with Shakspeare or Bacon.... We may be sure that Shakspeare never out-talked his 'Hamlet,' nor Bacon his 'Essays.'... To the gentle hearted youth, far from his home, in the midst of a pitiless city, 'homeless among a thousand homes,' the approach of evening brings with it an aching sense of loneliness and desolation. In this mood his best impulses become a snare to him; and he is led astray because he is social, affectionate, sympathetic, and warm-hearted. The hours from sunset to bedtime are his hours of peril. Let me say to such young men that books are the friends of the friendless, and that a library is the home of the homeless."[181]

Holmes, O. W. "Books are the 'negative' pictures of thought; and the more sensitive the mind that receives the images, the more nicely the finest lines are reproduced."

Houghton, Lord. "It [a book] is a portion of the eternal mind, caught in its process through the world, stamped in an instant, and preserved for eternity."

Irving. "The scholar only knows how dear these silent yet eloquent companions of pure thoughts and innocent hours become in the season of adversity."

Johnson, Dr. "No man should consider so highly of himself as to think he can receive but little light from books, nor so meanly as to believe he can discover nothing but what is to be learned from them."

Jonson, Ben. "A prince without letters is a pilot without eyes."

King, Thomas Starr. "By cultivating an interest in a few good books, which contain the result of the toil or the quintessence of the genius of some of the most gifted thinkers of the world, we need not live on the marsh and in the mists; the slopes and the summits invite us."

Kingsley, Charles. "Except a living man, there is nothing more wonderful than a book!—a message to us from the dead, from human souls whom we never saw, who lived, perhaps, thousands of miles away; and yet these, on those little sheets of paper, speak to us, amuse us, vivify us, teach us, comfort us, open their hearts to us as to brothers."

Lamb, Charles. "Milton almost requires a solemn service of music to be played before you enter upon him. But he brings his music, to which who listens had need bring docile thoughts and purged ears."

Landor, Walter Savage. "The writings of the wise are the only riches our posterity cannot squander."[182]

Langford. "Strong as man and tender as woman, they welcome you in every mood, and never turn from you in distress."

Lowell. "Have you ever rightly considered what the mere ability to read means? That it is the key that admits us to the whole world of thought and fancy and imagination, to the company of saint and sage, of the wisest and the wittiest at their wisest and wittiest moments? That it enables us to see with the keenest eyes, hear with the finest ears, and listen to the sweetest voices of all time?... One is sometimes asked by young people to recommend a course of reading. My advice would be that they should confine themselves to the supreme books in whatever literature, or, still better, to choose some one great author, and make themselves thoroughly familiar with him."

Luther. "To read many books produceth confusion, rather than learning, like as those who dwell everywhere are not anywhere at home."

Lyly, John. "Far more seemly were it ... to have thy study full of books than thy purse full of money."

Lytton, Lord.

"Laws die, books never."
"Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword."
"Ye ever-living and imperial Souls,
Who rule us from the page in which ye breathe."
"The Wise
(Minstrel or Sage) out of their books are clay;
But in their books, as from their graves, they rise,
Angels—that, side by side, upon our way,
Walk with and warn us!"
"We call some books immortal! Do they live?
If so, believe me, Time hath made them pure.
In Books the veriest wicked rest in peace,—
God wills that nothing evil should endure;
The grosser parts fly off and leave the whole,
As the dust leaves the disembodied soul!"

Macaulay. "A great writer is the friend and benefactor of his readers."

Milton. "As good almost kill a man as kill a good book. Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book kills reason itself,—kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond."

Montaigne. "To divert myself from a troublesome fancy, 'tis but to run to my books."

"As to what concerns my other reading, that mixes a little more profit with the pleasure, and from whence I learn how to marshal my opinions and qualities, the books that serve me to this purpose are Plutarch and Seneca,—both of which have this great convenience suited to my humor, that the knowledge I seek is discoursed in loose pieces that do not engage me in any great trouble of reading long, of which I am impatient.... Plutarch is frank throughout. Seneca abounds with brisk touches and sallies. Plutarch, with things that heat and move you more; this contents and pays you better. As to Cicero, those of his works that are most useful to my design are they that treat of philosophy, especially moral; but boldly to confess the truth, his way of writing, and that of all other long-winded authors, appears to me very tedious."[184]

Morley, John. "The consolation of reading is not futile nor imaginary. It is no chimera of the recluse or the bookworm, but a potent reality. As a stimulus to flagging energies, as an inspirer of lofty aim, literature stands unrivalled."

Morris, William. "The greater part of the Latins I should call sham classics. I suppose that they have some good literary qualities; but I cannot help thinking that it is difficult to find out how much. I suspect superstition and authority have influenced our estimate of them till it has become a mere matter of convention. Of modern fiction, I should like to say here that I yield to no one, not even Ruskin, in my love and admiration for Scott; also that, to my mind, of the novelists of our generation, Dickens is immeasurably ahead."

Müller, Max. "I know few books, if any, which I should call good from beginning to end. Take the greatest poet of antiquity, and if I am to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I must say that there are long passages, even in Homer, which seem to me extremely tedious."

Parker, Theodore. "What a joy is there in a good book, writ by some great master of thought, who breaks into beauty, as in summer the meadow into grass and dandelions and violets, with geraniums and manifold sweetness.... The books which help you most are those which make you think most.... A great book ... is a ship of thought deep freighted with thought, with beauty too. It sails the ocean, driven by the winds of heaven, breaking the level sea of life into beauty where it goes, leaving behind it a train of sparkling loveliness, widening as the ship goes on. And what treasures it brings to every land, scattering the seeds of truth, justice, love, and piety, to bless the world in ages yet to come."[185]

Peacham, Henry. "To desire to have many books and never to use them, is like a child that will have a candle burning by him all the while he is sleeping."

Petrarch. "I have friends whose society is extremely agreeable to me; they are of all ages and of every country. They have distinguished themselves both in the cabinet and in the field, and obtained high honors for their knowledge of the sciences. It is easy to gain access to them, for they are always at my service; and I admit them to my company and dismiss them from it whenever I please. They are never troublesome, but immediately answer every question I ask them. Some relate to me the events of past ages, while others reveal to me the secrets of Nature. Some teach me how to live, and others how to die. Some, by their vivacity, drive away my cares and exhilarate my spirits; while others give fortitude to my mind, and teach me the important lesson how to restrain my desires and to depend wholly on myself. They open to me, in short, the various avenues of all the arts and sciences, and upon their information I safely rely in all emergencies."

Phelps, E. J. (United States Minister to the Court of St. James). "I cannot think the finis et fructus of liberal reading is reached by him who has not obtained in the best writings of our English tongue the generous acquaintance that ripens into affection. If he must stint himself, let him save elsewhere."

Plato. "Books are the immortal sons deifying their sires."

Plutarch. "We ought to regard books as we do sweetmeats,—not wholly to aim at the pleasantest, but chiefly to respect the wholesomest."

Potter, Dr. "It is nearly an axiom that people will not be better than the books they read."[186]

Raleigh, Walter. "We may gather out of history a policy no less wise than eternal, by the comparison and application of other men's fore-passed miseries with our own like errors and ill-deservings."

Richardson, C. F. "No book, indeed, is of universal value and appropriateness.... Here, as in every other question involved in the choice of books, the golden key to knowledge, a key that will only fit its own proper doors, is purpose."

Ruskin. "All books are divisible into two classes,—the books of the hour and the books of all time." Books of the hour, though useful, are, "strictly speaking, not books at all, but merely letters or newspapers in good print," and should not be allowed "to usurp the place of true books."

"Of all the plagues that afflict mortality, the venom of a bad book to weak people, and the charms of a foolish one to simple people, are without question the deadliest; and they are so far from being redeemed by the too imperfect work of the best writers, that I never would wish to see a child taught to read at all, unless the other conditions of its education were alike gentle and judicious."

Ruskin says a well-trained man should know the literature of his own country and half a dozen classics thoroughly; but unless he wishes to travel, the language and literature of modern Europe and of the East are unnecessary. To read fast any book worth reading is folly. Ruskin would not have us read Grote's "History of Greece," for any one could write it if "he had the vanity to waste his time;" "Confessions of Saint Augustine," for it is not good to think so much about ourselves; John Stuart Mill, for his day is over; Charles Kingsley, for his sentiment is false, his tragedy frightful. Hypatia is the most ghastly story in Christian tradition,[187] and should forever have been left in silence; Darwin, for we should know what we are, not what our embryo was, or our skeleton will be; Gibbon, for we should study the growth and standing of things, not the Decline and Fall (moreover, he wrote the worst English ever written by an educated Englishmen); Voltaire, for his work is to good literature what nitric acid is to wine, and sulphuretted hydrogen to air.

Ruskin also crosses out Marcus Aurelius, Confucius, Aristotle (except his "Politics"), Mahomet, Saint Augustine, Thomas à Kempis, Pascal, Spinoza, Butler, Keble, Lucretius, the Nibelungenlied, Malory's Morte D'Arthur, Firdusi, the Mahabharata, and Ramayana, the Sheking, Sophocles, and Euripides, Hume, Adam Smith, Locke, Descartes, Berkeley, Lewes, Southey, Longfellow, Swift, Macaulay, Emerson, Goethe, Thackeray, Kingsley, George Eliot, and Bulwer.

His especial favorites are Scott, Carlyle, Plato, and Dickens. Æschylus, Taylor, Bunyan, Bacon, Shakspeare, Milton, Dante, Spenser, Wordsworth, Pope, Goldsmith, Defoe, Boswell, Burke, Addison, Montaigne, Molière, Sheridan, Æsop, Demosthenes, Plutarch, Horace, Cicero, Homer, Hesiod, Virgil, Aristophanes, Herodotus, Xenophon, Thucydides, and Tacitus, he condescends to admit as proper to be read.

Schopenhauer. "Recollect that he who writes for fools finds an enormous audience."

Seneca. "If you devote your time to study, you will avoid all the irksomeness of this life."

"It does not matter how many, but how good, books you have."

"Leisure without study is death, and the grave of a living man."[188]

Shakspeare. "A book! oh, rare one! be not, as in this fangled world, a garment nobler than it covers."

"My library was dukedom large enough."

Sidney, Sir Philip. "Nature never set forth the earth in so rich tapestry as divers poets have done."

Smiles, Sam. "Men often discover their affinity to each other by the mutual love they have for a book."

Smith, Alexander. "We read books not so much for what they say as for what they suggest."

Socrates. "Employ your time in improving yourselves by other men's documents; so shall you come easily by what others have labored hard to win."

Solomon. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise."

Spencer, Herbert. "My reading has been much more in the direction of science than in the direction of general literature; and of such works in general literature as I have looked into, I know comparatively little, being an impatient reader, and usually soon satisfied."

Stanley, Henry M. "I carried [across Africa] a great many books,—three loads, or about one hundred and eighty pounds' weight; but as my men lessened in numbers,—stricken by famine, fighting, and sickness,—one by one they were reluctantly thrown away, until finally, when less than three hundred miles from the Atlantic, I possessed only the Bible, Shakspeare, Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, Norie's Navigation, and the Nautical Almanac for 1877. Poor Shakspeare was afterwards burned by demand of the foolish people of Zinga. At Bonea, Carlyle and Norie and the Nautical Almanac were pitched away, and I had only the old Bible left."

Swinburne, A. C. "It would be superfluous for any educated[189] Englishman to say that he does not question the pre-eminence of such names as Bacon and Darwin."

Taylor, Bayard. "Not many, but good books."

Thoreau. "Books that are books are all that you want, and there are but half a dozen in any thousand."

Trollope, Anthony. "The habit of reading is the only enjoyment I know in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade."

Waller, Sir William. "In my study I am sure to converse with none but wise men; but abroad, it is impossible for me to avoid the society of fools."

Whateley, Richard. "If, in reading books, a man does not choose wisely, at any rate he has the chance offered him of doing so."

Whipple, Edwin P. "Books,—lighthouses erected in the sea of time."

White, Andrew D., President of Cornell, speaking of Scott, says: "Never was there a more healthful and health-ministering literature than that which he gave to the world. To go back to it from Flaubert and Daudet and Tolstoi is like listening to the song of the lark after the shrieking passion of the midnight pianoforte; nay, it is like coming out of the glare and heat and reeking vapor of a palace ball into a grove in the first light and music and breezes of the morning.... So far from stimulating an unhealthy taste, the enjoyment of this fiction created distinctly a taste for what is usually called 'solid reading,' and especially a love for that historical reading and study which has been a leading inspiration and solace of a busy life."

Whitman, Walt. "For us, along the great highways of time, those monuments stand,—those forms of majesty and beauty. For us those beacons burn through all the night."[190]

Wolseley, Gen. Lord. "During the mutiny and China war I carried a Testament, two volumes of Shakspeare that contained his best plays; and since then, when in the field, I have always carried a Book of Common Prayer, Thomas à Kempis, Soldier's Pocket Book, depending on a well-organized postal service to supply me weekly with plenty of newspapers."

Wordsworth. "These hoards of wealth you can unlock at will."[191]




Moss' First Greek Reader. Tomlinson's Latin for Sight Reading. Walford's Extracts from Cicero (Part I.). Jackson's Manual of Astronomical Geography. Ritchie's Fabulae Faciles.


Sheldon's Greek and Roman History. Ritchie's Fabulae Faciles.


Books required for admission to Harvard College.

A list of suitable books, carefully prepared under the direction of the Committee on Text-Books, is presented to the Board for adoption. After this list has been adopted, a master may make requisition on the Committee on Supplies for one set (of not more than thirty-five copies) of a book. This committee, after the approval of the Committee on Text-Books has been obtained, will purchase the books and send them to the school for permanent use. No book will be purchased until called for in the manner described.[192]

English.—Barnes's History of Ancient Peoples; Church's Stories from the East, from Herodotus; Church's Story of the Persian War, from Herodotus; Church's Stories from the Greek Tragedians; Kingsley's Greek Heroes; Abbott's Lives of Cyrus and Alexander; Froude's Cæsar; Forsythe's Life of Cicero; Ware's Aurelian; Cox's Crusades; Masson's Abridgment of Guizot's History of France; Scott's Abbot; Scott's Monastery; Scott's Talisman; Scott's Quentin Durward; Scott's Marmion (Rolfe's Student series); Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel (Rolfe's Student series); Kingsley's Hereward; Kingsley's Westward Ho; Melville's Holmby House; Macaulay's Essay on Frederic; Macaulay's Essay on Clive; Macaulay's Essay on Dr. Johnson; Motley's Essay on Peter the Great; Thackeray's Henry Esmond; Thackeray's The Virginians; Thackeray's The Four Georges; Dickens' Tale of Two Cities; George Eliot's Silas Marner; Irving's Alhambra; Irving's Bracebridge Hall; Miss Buckley's Life and her Children; Miss Buckley's Winners in Life's Race; Bulfinch's Age of Fable (revised edition); The Boy's Froissart; Ballads and Lyrics; Vicar of Wakefield; Essays of Elia; Tennyson's Selected Poems (Rolfe's Student series); Tennyson's Elaine; Tennyson's In Memoriam; Byron's Prisoner of Chillon; Goldsmith's Deserted Village; Goldsmith's Traveller; Coleridge's Ancient Mariner; Wordsworth's Excursion; Monroe's Sixth Reader; Webster—Section 2 [Annotated English Classics, Ginn & Co.]; Wordsworth's Poems—Section 2 [Annotated English Classics, Ginn & Co.]; Sheldon's Greek and Roman History; Monroe's Fifth Reader (old edition).

French.—St. German's Pour une Épingle; Achard's Le Clos Pommier; Feuillet's Roman d'un Homme Pauvre; Dumas's La Tulipe Noire; Vigny's Cinq Mars; Lacombe's La Petite Histoire du Peuple Français.[193]

German.—Andersen's Märchen; Simmondson's Balladenbuch; Krurnmacher's Parabeln; Goethe's Iphigenie auf Tauris; Goethe's Prose; Schiller's Jungfrau von Orleans; Schiller's Prose; Boisen's German Prose; Bernhardt's Novellen Bibliothek.


Class VI. (about Ten Years old).

Seven Little Sisters, first half-year. Each and All, second half-year. This is simple, interesting class-reading, which will aid the geography, and furnish material for both oral and written language lessons. Hooker's Child's Book of Nature; those chapters of Parts I. and II., which will supplement properly the observational studies of plants and animals, and those chapters of Part III., on air, water, and heat, which will aid the instruction in Geography. Our World Reader, No. 1. Our World, No. 1; the reading to be kept parallel with the instruction in Geography through the year. Poetry for Children; selections appropriate for reading and recitation.

Class V. (about Eleven Years old).

Stories of American History; for practice in reading at sight, and for material for language lessons. Guyot's Introduction to Geography; the reading to be kept parallel with the instruction in Geography through the year. Hooker's Child's Book of Nature, and Poetry for Children; as in Class VI. Robinson Crusoe.

Class IV. (about Twelve Years old).

The Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales, as collateral to the oral instruction in Stories in Mythology. Hooker's[194] Child's Book of Nature, and Poetry for Children; as in Classes VI. and V. Readings from Nature's Book (revised edition). Robinson Crusoe.

Class III. (about Thirteen Years old).

Hooker's Child's Book of Nature; as supplementary to oral lessons. American Poems, with Biographical Sketches and Notes; appropriate selections therefrom.

Class II. (about Fourteen Years old).

Selections from American authors; as in part collateral to the United States History. American Poems; appropriate selections therefrom.

Class I. (about Fifteen Years old).

Selections from American authors. Early England—Harper's Half-Hour Series, Nos. 6 and 14. American Poems; selections therefrom. Green's Readings from English History. Phillips's Historical Readers, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4.

Any Class.

Six Stories from the Arabian Nights. Holmes' and Longfellow Leaflets, published by Houghton, Mifflin, & Co. Book of Golden Deeds. Jackson's Manual of Astronomical Geography. Parkman Leaflets, published by Little, Brown, & Co.

Circulating Library for Grammar Schools.

Zigzag Journeys in Europe (revised edition); Zigzag Journeys in the Orient (revised edition); Scudder's Boston Town; Drake's The Making of New England; Towle's Pizarro; Towle's Vasco da Gama; Towle's Magellan; Fairy Land of Science; Hawthorne's True Stories; Higginson's[195] Young Folks' Book of Explorers; Scott's Ivanhoe; Longfellow's Evangeline; Little Folks in Feathers and Fur; What Mr. Darwin saw in his Voyage around the World in the Ship Beagle; Muloch's A Noble Life; M. E. Dodge's Hans Brinker; Lambert's Robinson Crusoe; Lamb's Tales from Shakspeare (revised edition, Houghton, Mifflin, & Co.); Abbott's Jonas on a Farm in Summer; Smiles' Robert Dick, Geologist and Botanist; Eyes Right; Alcott's Little Men; Alcott's Little Women; Stoddard's Dab Kinzer; Scott's Kenilworth; Tom Brown's School-Days at Rugby; Abbott's Mary Queen of Scots; Abbott's Charles I.; Taylor's Boys of Other Countries; How Marjory Helped; Little People in Asia; Gilman's Magna Charta Stories; Overhead; Yonge's Lances of Linwood; Memory Gems; Geographical Plays; Ten Boys Who Lived on the Road from Long Ago till Now; Scott's Tales of a Grandfather; Hayes' Cast Away in the Cold; Sharp Eyes and other Papers; Lessons on Practical Subjects; Stories of Mother Nature; Play Days; Jackanapes; Children's Stories of American Progress; Little Lord Fauntleroy; Gilman's Historical Readers (three volumes); Pilgrims and Puritans; The Patriotic Reader; Ballou's Footprints of Travel.


Permanent Supplementary Reading.

Easy Steps for Little Feet. Popular Tales (first and second series.) Parker & Marvel's Supplementary Reading (first book). Tweed's Graded Supplementary Reading. Modern Series Primary Reading, Part I. An Illustrated Primer (D. C. Heath & Co.).[196]

Circulating Supplementary Reading.

First Readers.—Monroe's, Monroe's Advanced First, Appleton's, Harvey's, Eclectic, Sheldon's, Barnes' New National, Sheldon & Co.'s, Harper's, The Nursery Primer, Parker & Marvel's Supplementary Reading (second book), Wood's First Natural History Reader, Stickney's First Reader, Stickney's First Reader (new edition), McGuffey's Alternate First Reader.

Second Readers.—Monroe's, Monroe's Advanced Second, Appleton's, Harvey's, Lippincott's, Sheldon & Co.'s, Barnes' New National, Analytical, Macmillan's, Swinton's, New Normal, Stickney's Second Reader (new edition), Harper's Easy Book (published by Shorey), Turner's Stories for Young Children, Our Little Ones, Golden Book of Choice Reading, When I was a Little Girl, Johonnot's Friends in Feathers and Fur, Woodward's Number Stories, Wood's Second Natural History Reader, Young Folks' Library, Nos. 5 and 6 (Silver, Burdett, & Co.).



Class I. (about Fifteen Years old).

Longfellow's Poems.

Class II. (about Fourteen Years old).

Hans Brinker. Mary Mapes Dodge.

How Marjory Helped. M. Caroll.

Magellan's Voyages.

Ivanhoe. Scott.[197]

Class III. (about Thirteen Years old).

American Explorers. Higginson.

Class IV. (about Twelve Years old).

Playdays. Sarah O. Jewett.

Water Babies. Kingsley.


A Child's Book of Nature. W. Hooker.

Class V. (about Eleven Years old).

Stories of American History. N. S. Dodge.

Guyot's Geography.

Class VI. (about Ten Years old).

The Arabian Nights' Entertainments. Six stories by Samuel Eliot.

Our World. Mary L. Hall.

The Seven Little Sisters. Jane Andrews.

Each and All. Jane Andrews.

Poetry for Children. Samuel Eliot.



Third Class.—Franklin Primer and Advanced First Reader. Munroe's Primary Reading Charts.

Second Class.—Franklin Second Reader. Franklin Advanced Second Reader. First Music Reader.[198]

First Class.—Franklin Third Reader. [8]New Franklin Third Reader. First Music Reader.

[8] To be furnished at the discretion of the Committee on Supplies.

Upper Classes.[9]Franklin Primary Arithmetic. First Lessons in Natural History and Language, Parts I. and II. Child's Book of Language, Nos. 1, 2, 3. [By J. H. Stickney.]

[9] Each Primary-School building occupied by a first or second class to be supplied with one set of the Franklin Primary Arithmetic; the number in a set to be sixty, or, if less be needed, less than sixty; the Committee on Supplies are authorized to supply additional copies of the book at their discretion, if needed.

All the Classes.—American Text-books of Art Education. First Primary Music Chart. Prang's Natural History Series, one set for each building.

Magnus & Jeffries's Color Chart; "Color Blindness," by Dr. B. Joy Jeffries.—One copy of the Chart and one copy of the book for use in each Primary-School building.

Normal Music Course in the Rice Training School and in the schools of the third and sixth divisions. National Music Course (revised edition) in the schools of the first and second divisions.


Sixth Class.—Franklin Advanced Third Reader. [10]Warren's Primary Geography. Intermediate Music Reader. Franklin Elementary Arithmetic. [11]Greenleaf's Manual of Mental Arithmetic. Worcester's Spelling-Book.

[10] Swinton's Introductory Geography allowed in Charlestown Schools.

[11] To be used in the manner recommended by the Board of Supervisors in School Document No. 14, 1883; one set of sixty copies to be supplied for the classes on each floor of a Grammar-School building occupied by pupils in either of the four lower classes, and for each colony of a Grammar School.

Fifth Class.—Franklin Intermediate Reader. [12] New Franklin Fourth Reader. Franklin Elementary Arithmetic. [13]Greenleaf's Manual of Mental Arithmetic. [14]Warren's Primary Geography. Intermediate Music Reader. Worcester's Spelling-Book.


[12] To be furnished at the discretion of the Committee on Supplies.

[13] To be used in the manner recommended by the Board of Supervisors in School Document No. 14, 1883; one set of sixty copies to be supplied for the classes on each floor of a Grammar-School building occupied by pupils in either of the four lower classes, and for each colony of a Grammar School.

[14] The revised edition to be furnished at the discretion of the Committee on Supplies to schools where this book is used. Swinton's Grammar-School Geography allowed in Charlestown Schools.

Fourth Class.—Franklin Fourth Reader. [15]New Franklin Fourth Reader. Worcester's Comprehensive Dictionary. Franklin Written Arithmetic. [16]Greenleaf's Manual of Mental Arithmetic. [17]Warren's Common-School Geography. Intermediate Music Reader. Worcester's Spelling-Book. [18]Blaisdell's How to Keep Well.

[15] To be furnished at the discretion of the Committee on Supplies.

[16] To be used in the manner recommended by the Board of Supervisors in School Document No. 14, 1883; one set of sixty copies to be supplied for the classes on each floor of a Grammar-School building occupied by pupils in either of the four lower classes, and for each colony of a Grammar School.

[17] The revised edition to be furnished at the discretion of the Committee on Supplies to schools where this book is used. Swinton's Grammar-School Geography allowed in Charlestown Schools.

[18] One set of not more than sixty copies, or, if determined by the Committee on Supplies to be necessary, more than one set, be placed in each Grammar School, for use as collateral reading in the third and fourth classes.

Third Class.—Franklin Fifth Reader. [19]New Franklin Fifth Reader. Franklin Written Arithmetic. [20]Greenleaf's Manual of Mental Arithmetic. [21]Warren's Common-School Geography. Swinton's New Language Lessons. Worcester's Comprehensive Dictionary. Higginson's History of the United States. [22]Fourth Music Reader. [Revised edition.] [23]Blaisdell's How to Keep Well.

[19] To be furnished at the discretion of the Committee on Supplies.

[20] To be used in the manner recommended by the Board of Supervisors in School Document No. 14, 1883; one set of sixty copies to be supplied for the classes on each floor of a Grammar-School building occupied by pupils in either of the four lower classes, and for each colony of a Grammar School.

[21] The revised edition to be furnished at the discretion of the Committee on Supplies to schools where this book is used. Swinton's Grammar-School Geography allowed in Charlestown Schools.

[22] The revised edition to be supplied as new books are needed.

[23] One set of not more than sixty copies, or, if determined by the Committee on Supplies to be necessary, more than one set, be placed in each Grammar School, for use as collateral reading in the third and fourth classes.

Second Class.—Franklin Fifth Reader. [24]New Franklin Fifth Reader. Franklin Written Arithmetic. [25]Warren's Common-School Geography. Tweed's Grammar for Common Schools. Worcester's Comprehensive Dictionary. Higginson's History of the United States. [26]Fourth Music Reader. [Revised edition.] Smith's Elementary Physiology and Hygiene.

[24] To be furnished at the discretion of the Committee on Supplies.


[25] The revised edition to be furnished at the discretion of the Committee on Supplies to schools where this book is used. Swinton's Grammar-School Geography allowed in Charlestown Schools.

[26] The revised edition to be supplied as new books are needed.

First Class.—Franklin Sixth Reader. Franklin Written Arithmetic. Meservey's Book-keeping, Single Entry. [27]Warren's Common School Geography. Tweed's Grammar for Common Schools. Worcester's Comprehensive Dictionary. Stone's History of England. Cooley's Elements of Philosophy. [28]Fourth Music Reader. [Revised edition.]

[27] The revised edition to be furnished at the discretion of the Committee on Supplies to schools where this book is used. Swinton's Grammar-School Geography allowed in Charlestown Schools.

[28] The revised edition to be supplied as new books are needed.

Fifth and Sixth Classes.—First Lessons in Natural History and Language. Parts III. and IV.

All Classes.—American Text-books of Art Education. Writing-Books: Duntonian Series; Payson, Dunton, and Scribner's; Harper's Copy-books; Appleton's Writing-Books. Child's Book of Language; and Letters and Lessons in Language, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4. [By J. H. Stickney.] Prang's Aids for Object Teaching, "Trades," one set for each building.

Normal Music Course in the Rice Training School and the schools of the third and sixth divisions. National Music Course (revised edition) in the schools of the first and second divisions.


English.—Abbott's How to Write Clearly. Hill's or Kellogg's Rhetoric. Meiklejohn's English Language. Scott's Lady of the Lake. Selections from Addison's Papers in the Spectator, with Macaulay's Essay on Addison. Irving's Sketch-Book. Trevelyan's Selections from Macaulay. Hales' Longer English Poems. Shakspeare,—Rolfe's or Hudson's Selections. Selections from Chaucer. Selections from Milton. [Clarendon Press Edition. Vol. I.] Worcester's Comprehensive Dictionary.


Latin.—Allen & Greenough's Latin Grammar. [Roxbury, W. Roxbury, and Brighton High Schools.] Harkness' Latin Grammar. [English, Girls', Dorchester, Charlestown, and East Boston High Schools.] Harkness' Complete Course in Latin for the first year. Gildersleeve's Latin Primer. Collar & Daniell's Beginners' Latin Book. [Roxbury, West Roxbury, and Brighton High Schools.] Harkness' Cæsar. Lindsey's Cornelius Nepos. Chase's, Frieze's, or Greenough's Virgil, or any edition approved by the Committee on Text-Books. Greenough's or Harkness' Cicero. Chase's or Lincoln's Horace, or any edition approved by the Committee on Text-books.

History.[29]Anderson's New General History. Martin's Civil Government.

[29] To be dropped from list of authorized text-books, July 1, 1890.

Mythology.—Berens's Hand-book of Mythology.

Mathematics.—Meservey's Book-keeping. Bradbury & Emery's Academic Algebra. [30]Wentworth & Hill's Exercises in Algebra. Bradbury's Elementary Geometry, or Chauvenet's Geometry, or Wells's Geometry. Greenleaf's Trigonometry. [31]Metric Apparatus.

[30] This book is not intended to, and does not in fact displace any text-book now in use, but is intended merely to furnish additional problems in algebra.

[31] Not exceeding $15 for each school.

Physics.—Cooley's New Text-book of Physics. Avery's Physics, or Gage's Introduction to Physical Science.

Astronomy.—Sharpless & Phillips' Astronomy.

Chemistry.—Williams's Chemistry. Williams's Laboratory Manual. Eliot & Storer's Elementary Manual of Chemistry, edited by Nichols. Eliot & Storer's Qualitative Analysis. Hill's Lecture Notes on Qualitative Analysis. Tables for the Determination of Common Minerals. [Girls' High School.] White's Outlines of Chemical Theory.


Botany.—Gray's School and Field Book of Botany.

Zoölogy.—Morse's Zoölogy and Packard's Zoölogy.

Physiology.—Hutchinson's Physiology. Blaisdell's Our Bodies and How We Live.

Drawing.—American Text-books of Art Education.

Music.—Eichberg's High-School Music Reader. Eichberg's Girls' High-School Music Reader. [Girls' High School.]


Latin.—White's Abridged Lexicon. Harkness' Grammar. Harkness' Reader. Harkness' Complete Course in Latin for the first year. Harkness' Prose Composition, or Allen's Latin Composition. Harkness' Cæsar. Lindsey's Cornelius Nepos. Greenough's Catiline of Sallust. Lincoln's Ovid. Greenough's Ovid. Greenough's Virgil. Greenough's or Harkness' Orations of Cicero. Smith's Principia Latina, Part II.

Greek.—Liddell & Scott's Abridged Lexicon. Goodwin's Grammar. White's Lessons. Jones' Prose Composition. Goodwin's Reader. The Anabasis of Xenophon. Boise's Homer's Iliad. Beaumlein's Edition of Homer's Iliad.

English.—Soule's Hand-book of Pronunciation. Hill's General Rules for Punctuation. Tweed's Grammar for Common Schools (in fifth and sixth classes). Hawthorne's Wonder Book. Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales. Plutarch's Lives of Famous Greeks and Romans. Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome. Higginson's History of the United States. Hughes' Tom Brown's School-Days at Rugby. Dana's Two Years before the Mast. Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakspeare. [Revised Edition, Houghton, Mifflin, & Co.] Scott's Ivanhoe. Hawthorne's True Stories.[203] Greene's Readings from English History. [32]Church's Stories from Homer. [32]Church's Stories of the Old World. Selections from American Authors,—Franklin, Adams, Cooper, and Longfellow. American Poems, with Biographical Sketches and Notes. Irving's Sketch-Book. Selections from Addison's Papers in the Spectator. Ballads and Lyrics. Hales' Longer English Poems. Three plays of Shakspeare,—Rolfe's or Hudson's Selections.

[32] No more copies of Church's Stories from Homer to be purchased, but as books are worn out their place to be supplied with Church's Stories of the Old World.

History.—Leighton's History of Rome. Smith's Smaller History of Greece. Long's or Ginn & Heath's Classical Atlas. Smith's Smaller Classical Dictionary,—Student's Series.

Mythology.—Bulfinch's Age of Fable.

Geography.—Geikie's Primer of Physical Geography. Warren's Common-School Geography.

Physiology.—Macé's History of a Mouthful of Bread. Foster's Physiology (Science Primer). Blaisdell's Our Bodies and How We Live.

Botany.—Gray's School and Field Book of Botany.

Zoölogy.—Morse's Zoölogy and Packard's Zoölogy.

Mineralogy.—Tables for the Determination of Common Minerals. [Girls' Latin School.]

Mathematics.—The Franklin Written Arithmetic. Bradbury's Eaton's Algebra. [33]Wentworth & Hill's Exercises in Algebra. Chauvenet's Geometry. Lodge's Elementary Mechanics.

[33] This book is not intended to, and does not in fact, displace any text-book now in use, but is intended merely to furnish additional problems in algebra.

Physics.—Arnott's or Avery's Physics, or Gage's Physics.


Drawing.—American Text-books of Art Education.

Music.—Eichberg's High-School Music Reader. Eichberg's Girls' High-School Music Reader. [Girls' Latin School]


French.—Keetel's Elementary Grammar. Keetel's Analytical French Reader. Super's French Reader. [34]Sauveur's Petites Causeries. Hennequin's Lessons in Idiomatic French. Gasc's French Dictionary. Erckmann-Chatrian's Le Conscrit de 1813. Erckmann-Chatrian's Madame Thérèse. Bôcher's College Series of French Plays. Nouvelles Genevoises. Souvestre's Au Coin du Feu. Racine's Andromaque. Racine's Iphigénie. Racine's Athalie. Molière's Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Molière's Precieuses Ridicules. Corneille's Les Horaces. Corneille's Cid. Herrig's La France Littéraire. Roemer's French Course, Vol. II. Ventura's Peppino. Halévy's L'Abbé Constantin. La Fontaine's Fables. About's La Mère de la Marquise. Daudet's Siège de Berlin. Daudet's Extraits. Daudet's La Belle Nivarnaise.

[34] To be furnished as new French Readers are needed. The use of the book confined for this year to the English, Charlestown, Roxbury, and West Roxbury High Schools.

German.—Whitney's German Dictionary. Whitney's Grammar. Collar's Eysenbach. Otto's or Whitney's Reader. Der Zerbrochene Krug. Schiller's Wilhelm Tell. Schiller's Maria Stuart. Goethe's Hermann und Dorothea. Putlitz's Das Herz Vergessen. Grimm's Märchen. Goethe's Prose. Schiller's Prose. Stein's German Exercises. Heine's Die Harzreise. Im Zwielicht. Vols. I. and II. Traumerein. Buckheim's German Poetry for Repetition.



The text-books used in this school shall be such of the text-books used in the other public schools of the city as are needed for the course of study, and such others as shall be authorized by the Board.

Normal Music Course.


Such text-books shall be supplied to the Horace Mann School as the committee on that school shall approve.


Benn Pitman's Manual of Phonography. Reporter's Companion. The Phonographic Reader. The Reporter's First Reader. Bradbury's Elementary Geometry.

The text-books used in this school shall be such of the text-books authorized in the other public schools as are approved by the Committee on Evening Schools and the Committee on Supplies.

East Boston Branch.—Graded Lessons in Shorthand. Parts 1 and 2, by Mrs. Mary A. Chandler.


Munroe's Charts. Franklin Primer. Franklin Reader. Stories of American History. Harper's Introductory Geography. The Franklin Elementary Arithmetic. The Franklin Written Arithmetic. [35]Andersen's Märchen. Writing-books, Plain Copy-books; and such of the text-books authorized in the other public schools as are approved by the Committee on Evening Schools and the Committee on Supplies.

[35] In schools in which the English language is taught to German pupils.


Boston School Kitchen Text-book, by Mrs. D. A. Lincoln.




Worcester's Comprehensive Dictionary. National Music Teacher. Munroe's Vocal Gymnastics. Lessons in Color (one copy for each Primary-School teacher's desk). White's Oral Lessons in Number (one copy for each Primary-School teacher's desk). Smith's Primer of Physiology and Hygiene (one copy for each Primary-School teacher's desk).

Observation Lessons in the Primary Schools, by Mrs. L. P. Hopkins (one copy for each Primary-School teacher's desk).

Simple Object Lessons (two series), by W. Hewitt Beck. Natural History Object Lessons, by G. Ricks (one set of books of each title for each Primary-School teacher's desk).


Appleton's American Encyclopædia or Johnson's Encyclopædia. Chambers's Encyclopædia. Anthon's Classical Dictionary. Thomas's Dictionary of Biography and Mythology.

Worcester's Quarto Unabridged Dictionary. Webster's Quarto Unabridged Dictionary. Webster's National Pictorial Dictionary.

Lippincott's Gazetteer. Johnson's Atlas. Reclus' Earth. Reclus' Ocean. Flammarion's Atmosphere. Weber's Universal History. Bancroft's History of the United States. Battle Maps of the Revolution. Palfrey's History of New England. Martin's Civil Government. Frothingham's Rise of the Republic. Lossing's Field-book of the Revolution. Shurtleff's Topographical History of Boston. Frothingham's Siege of Boston. Lingard's History of England. Smith's Primer of Physiology and Hygiene (one copy for the desk of each teacher of the fifth and sixth classes).[207]

Goold-Brown's Grammar of English Grammars. Wilson's Punctuation. Philbrick's Union Speaker. Methods of Teaching Geography (one copy for each teacher of Geography).

First Classes.—Physiography (Longmans & Co.). Copies for teachers' desks.

Second Classes.—Harper's Cyclopædia of United States History.

Maps and Globes.—Cutter's Physiological Charts. Charts of the Human Body (Milton Bradley & Co.). White's Manikin. Cornell's Series Maps, or Guyot's Series Maps, Nos. 1, 2, 3. (Not exceeding one set to each floor.) Hughes's Series of Maps. Joslyn's fifteen-inch Terrestrial Globe, on Tripod (one for each Grammar School). Nine-inch Hand Globe, Loring's Magnetic (one for each Grammar School room). Cosmograph. O. W. Gray & Son's Atlas. (To be furnished as new atlases are needed.)


Lingard's History of England. Harper's Latin Lexicon. Liddell & Scott's Greek Lexicon, unabridged. Eugène's French Grammar. Labberton's Historical Atlas and General History (one book for the desk of each teacher). Guyot's and Cameron's Maps of the Roman Empire, Greece, and Italy. Strang's English Lessons (for use on teachers' desks).


Observation Lessons in Primary Schools, by Mrs. L. P. Hopkins (one set).


Charts of Life. Wilson's Human Anatomical and Physiological Charts. Hough's American Woods.

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