Portal:Featured texts/Overview

Featured texts
Featured texts overview
Listing all of the featured texts to date on one page.

NB: The August 2009, "Charles von Hügel," is listed as number zero because it was not on the list featured texts at the time this portal was created. It was only (re-)discovered after the sequential numbering was already in place.

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Charles von Hügel is a biography of an Austrian army officer, diplomat, botanist and explorer known for his travels in India. Compiled by his son, Anatole von Hügel, the work was privately published in 1903 and contains several memoirs and other materials that form much of the available information on von Hügel's life.

Charles Von Hügel portrait (Neugebauer, 1851).png

Among those in our country, who are gardeners and lovers of gardens, the thought arose of perpetuating the memory of Charles Baron von Hügel, the renowned promoter of horticulture in Austria. This inspiration has now been happily realized.

Near the scene of Hügel's successful exertions, in beautiful grounds accessible to the public, stands the bust which we unveil to-day, a work from the master-hand of Johann Benks. It is but fitting on this occasion to sketch the life-history of this never to be forgotten man.

Great as was his fame as a promoter of horticulture, that was not the only sphere in which his laborious life bore fruit. He laboured in many departments no less honourably, and, in some of these, with no less a measure of success. Indeed, I do not exaggerate when I say that it would be difficult to find anyone, sufficiently many-sided and possessed of enough detailed knowledge, to be capable of pronouncing an adequate judgment upon Hügel's various achievements.

(Read on...)
Featured August 2009


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The Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln's most famous speech and one of the most quoted political speeches in United States history, was delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863, during the American Civil War, four and a half months after the Battle of Gettysburg.

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this." (Read on...)

Featured June 2006

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Dulce et Decorum Est is a World War I–era poem written by the English poet and soldier Wilfred Owen. The title of the poem is taken from a famous line from an ode by Horace—"Dulce et decorum est / Pro patria mori" (meaning "It is sweet and proper to die for the fatherland")—but through the use of its horrific imagery criticizes such pro-war sentiment and has become one of the most famous written condemnations of war.

"Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge." (Read on...)

Featured August 2006

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The Time Machine is a novel by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895, later made into two films of the same title. This novel is generally credited with the introduction of the concept of time travel using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposefully and selectively.

The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us. His grey eyes shone and twinkled, and his usually pale face was flushed and animated. The fire burned brightly, and the soft radiance of the incandescent lights in the lilies of silver caught the bubbles that flashed and passed in our glasses. Our chairs, being his patents, embraced and caressed us rather than submitted to be sat upon, and there was that luxurious after-dinner atmosphere when thought roams gracefully free of the trammels of precision. And he put it to us in this way—marking the points with a lean forefinger—as we sat and lazily admired his earnestness over this new paradox (as we thought it) and his fecundity. (Read on...)

Featured September 2006

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Elegie II is a 1633 parody of clichéd Jacobean love poetry by John Donne. Donne composes metaphors out of the traditional elements, but arranges comparisons that would have been unappealing to his contemporaries. The result is a love poem that seemingly offers praise while actually meaning the opposite. A modernized edition is also available at Elegy II (1896).

Marry, and love thy Flavia, for, ſhee
Hath all things, whereby others beautious bee,
For, though her eyes be ſmall, her mouth is great,
Though they be Ivory, yet her teeth be jeat,
Though they be dimme, yet ſhe is light enough,
And though her harſh haire fall, her skinne is rough;
What though her cheeks be yellow, her haire's red,
Give her thine, and ſhe hath a maydenhead. (Read on.)

Featured November 2006

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Come not, when I am dead is a philosophical poem by Alfred Tennyson first published in The Keepsake in 1842.

Come not, when I am dead,
  To drop thy foolish tears upon my grave,
To trample round my fallen head,
  And vex the unhappy dust thou wouldst not save.
There let the wind sweep and the plover cry;
         But thou, go by. (Read on.)

Featured December 2006


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After Death is a philosophical poem by Christina Rossetti about tragic death with a twist, first published in Goblin Market and Other Poems in 1862.

The curtains were half drawn, the floor was swept
   And strewn with rushes, rosemary and may
   Lay thick upon the bed on which I lay,
Where through the lattice ivy-shadows crept.
He leaned above me, thinking that I slept...(Read on.)

Featured January 2007

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Anthem for Doomed Youth is one of the best-known and most popular of Wilfred Owen's poems. It employs the traditional form of a sonnet. Much of the imagery suggests Christian funeral rituals and the poem moves from infernal noise to mournful silence.

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    —Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,...
(Read on, listen.)

Featured February 2007

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Theodore Roosevelt wrote this resignation letter to the Mayor of New York, ceding his position as President of the New York Police Department, on 17 April 1897.

     I herewith tender you my resignation to take effect on April 19th. in accordance with our understanding.
     I wish to take this opportunity, sir, to thank you for appointing me,and to express my very deep appreciation of your attitude toward me, and toward the force, the direction of which you in part entrusted to my care. We have been very intimately associated with your work and I know, as all men who have been associated with you do know, the devotion with which you have given all of your time and all of your efforts to the betterment of our civic conditions, and the single mindedness with which at every crisis you have sought merely the good of the City. I have been able to work so zealously under you because you have never required of me but loyal service to what you conceived to be the best interest of New York City, and I well know that had I followed any other course it would have met with instant and sharp rebuke from you. (Read on.)

Featured March 2007

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Darkness by Lord Byron is a cynical funereal tale of mankind in its desperate final days after an apocalyptic event, inspired by the 1816 Year Without a Summer following the massive eruption of Mount Tambora and other volcanoes. It touches through various allegories such topics as religion, death, social classes, ethics and values.

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy Earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crownéd kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;... (Read on.)

Featured April 2007

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Lights by Sara Teasdale is a poem about simple love and familiarity as contrasted against the tired dissatisfaction of the masses.

When we come home at night and close the door,
 Standing together in the shadowy room,
 Safe in our own love and the gentle gloom,
Glad of familiar wall and chair and floor,

Glad to leave far below the clanging city;
 Looking far downward to the glaring street
 Gaudy with light, yet tired with many feet,
In both of us wells up a wordless pity; (Read on.)

Featured May 2007

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Arithmetic on the Frontier, first published in Departmental Ditties and Other Verses in 1886, is a sardonic poem describing the Second Anglo-Afghan war between highly-educated British soldiers and poor tribesmen. This poem is still relevant to many conflicts today, and is frequently cited in news articles and blogs.

A great and glorious thing it is
       To learn, for seven years or so,
The Lord knows what of that and this,
       Ere reckoned fit to face the foe—
The flying bullet down the Pass,
That whistles clear: "All flesh is grass."

Three hundred pounds per annum spent
       On making brain and body meeter
For all the murderous intent
       Comprised in "villanous saltpetre!"
And after—ask the Yusufzaies
What comes of all our 'ologies. (Read on)

Featured June 2007

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Cole's Old English Masters. John Opie, first published in Century Magazine in 1899, is a biographical essay about a painter who painted an author.

IN Sir Joshua's day fashionable London was subject to all sorts of crazes. Some new comet shot across the sky each week. The "beautiful Misses Gunning," who were so successfully married, were not more of a furor than the beautiful Misses Jefferies and Blandy, who were so successfully hanged. (Read on)
Featured August 2007

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Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration is a statement by Siegfried Sassoon read to the British House of Commons on 30 July 1917 and printed in the London Times. Due to his prominence as a decorated soldier, Sassoon did not face a court-martial and was instead ruled to be mentally ill and sent to Craiglockhart Hospital.

I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of agression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation. (Read on)

Featured September 2007


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The Black Cat, Edgar Allan Poe's 1843 study of the psychology of guilt, is one of the author's darkest tales.

"For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not—and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburden my soul. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified—have tortured—have destroyed me. Yet I will not attempt to expound them. To me, they have presented little but horror—to many they will seem less terrible than baroques. Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may be found which will reduce my phantasm to the commonplace—some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects. " (Read on...)

Featured January 2008

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Balade to Rosemounde, a love poem, is one of Geoffrey Chaucer's lesser-known works.

Original text Modern English

Ma dame ye ben of Al Beaute ſhryne
As fer As cercled is the mapamonde
For As the cristall glorious ye ſhyne
And lyke Ruby ben your chekys rounde

Madame, you are a shrine of all beauty,
As far encircling as the map of the world.
For you shine as the glorious crystal,
And your round cheeks are like Ruby.

(Read on...)
Featured February 2008

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"The Late Mr. Charles Babbage, F.R.S." is the obituary for Charles Babbage published in The London Times on October 23, 1871.

"Our obituary column on Saturday contained the name of one of the most active and original of original thinkers, and whose name has been known through the length and breadth of the kingdom for nearly half a century as a practical mathematician—we mean Mr. Charles Babbage. He died at his residence in Dorset-street, Marylebone, at the close of last week, at an age, spite of organ-grinding persecutors, little short of 80 years." (Read on...)
Featured March 2008

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"South Africa Act 1909" was an Act of the British Parliament, passed in 1909 and enacted in 1910, which created the Union of South Africa from the British Colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River Colony, and the Transvaal. This Act served as the South African constitution until 1961, when South Africa became a republic and left the Commonwealth.

"An Act to constitute the Union of South Africa.

[20 September 1909.]

WHEREAS it is desirable for the welfare and future progress of South Africa that the several British Colonies therein should be united under one Government in a legislative union under the Crown of Great Britain and Ireland:

And whereas it is expedient to make provision for the union of the Colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, the Transvaal, and the Orange River Colony on terms and conditions to which they have agreed by resolution of their respective Parliaments, and to define the executive, legislative, and judicial powers to be exercised in the government of the Union:

And whereas it is expedient to make provision for the establishment of provinces with powers of legislation and administration in local matters and in such other matters as may be specially reserved for provincial legislation and administration:

And whereas it is expedient to provide for the eventual admission into the Union or transfer to the Union of such parts of South Africa as are not originally included therein:

Be it therefore enacted by the King’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows :— "

(Read on...)
Featured April 2008

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"United States patent X1", titled the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process, is the first patent granted under the Patent Act of 1790, received by Samuel Hopkins on July 31st 1790, for a term of 14 years.

To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting.

Whereas Samuel Hopkins of the City of Philadelphia and State of Pensylvania hath discovered an Improvement, not known or used before, such Discovery, in the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Proceſs; that is to say, in the making of Pearl ash 1st. by burning the raw Ashes in a Furnace, 2d. by disſolving and boiling them when so burnt in Water, 3rd. by drawing off and settling the Ley, and 4th. by boiling the Ley into Salts which then are the true Pearl ash; and also in the making of Pot ash by fluxing the Pearl ash so made as aforesaid; which Operation of burning the raw Ashes in a Furnace, preparatory to their Diſsolution and boiling in Water, is new, leaves little Residuum; and produces a much greater Quantity of Salt: These are therefore in pursuance of the Act, entituledAn Act to promote the Progreſs of useful Arts”, to grant to the said Samuel Hopkins, his Heirs, Administrators and Aſsigns, for the Term of fourteen Years, the sole and exclusive Right and Liberty of using, and vending to others the said Discovery, of burning the raw Ashes previous to their being diſsolved and boiled in Water, according to the true Intent and Meaning, of the Act aforesaid. In Testimony whereof I have caused these Letters to be made patent, and the Seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed. Given under my Hand at the City of New York this thirty first Day of July in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & Ninety.
(Read on...)
Featured May 2008

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ACLU v. NSA is a lawsuit filed on 17 January 2006 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to challenge President George W. Bush's so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program. On 17 August 2006, District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled that the NSA surveillance program was unconstitutional and illegal, and ordered that it be halted immediately.


Case No. 06-CV-10204
Hon. Anna Diggs Taylor


For the reasons set forth in an accompanying Memorandum Opinion, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Doc #4] is GRANTED. Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment [Doc #34] is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants, its agents, employees, representatives, and any other persons or entities in active concert or participation with Defendants, are permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly utilizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program (hereinafter "TSP") in any way, including, but not limited to, conducting warrantless wiretaps of telephone and internet communications, in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (hereinafter "FISA") and Title III;

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND DECLARED that the TSP violates the Separation of Powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III;

IT IS ALSO ORDERED that Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED with respect to Plaintiffs' data-mining claim and is DENIED regarding Plaintiffs' remaining claims;

IT IS ALSO ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED in its entirety.

Date: August 17, 2006

(signed) Anna Diggs Taylor

Detroit, Michigan
(Read on...)
Featured August 2008

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"The Wind in the Willows" is a 1908 classic of children's literature by Kenneth Grahame, focusing on three animal characters in a bucolic version of England. The book is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality and camaraderie. It can also be viewed as a commentary on class dynamics in British society.

This book is available in spoken word format, created by contributors at LibriVox, and is illustrated by Paul Bransom.

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of white-wash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said, “Bother!” and “O blow!” and also “Hang spring-cleaning!” and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged, and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, “Up we go! Up we go!” till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

(Read on...)
Featured September 2008

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Early Settlers Along the Mississippi is one of many essays by John James Audubon that were included in the letterpress of his 1831 Ornithological Biography. The essays were not present in later printings but this one was printed in various other collections such as Southern Life in Southern Literature (1917) by Maurice Garland Fulton.

Although every European traveler who has glided down the Mississippi at the rate of ten miles an hour has told his tale of the squatters, yet none has given any other account of them than that they are "a sallow, sickly-looking sort of miserable being," living in swamps and subsisting on pignuts, Indian corn, and bear's flesh. It is obvious, however, that none but a person acquainted with their history, manners, and condition can give any real information respecting them.

The individuals who become squatters choose that sort of life of their own free will. They mostly remove from other parts of the United States after finding that land has become too high in price, and they are persons who, having a family of strong and hardy children, are anxious to enable them to provide for themselves. They have heard from good authorities that the country extending along the great streams of the West is of all parts of the Union the richest in its soil, the growth of its timber, and the abundance of its game; that, besides, the Mississippi is the great road to and from all the markets in the world; and that every vessel borne by its waters affords to settlers some chance of selling their commodities, or of exchanging them for others. (Read on...)

Featured October 2008

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In order to research and pay tribute to military veterans, on July 23, 2007 John E. Anderson of veterantributes.org submitted a SF 180 - Request Pertaining To Military Records form to the United States National Personnel Records Center for information about the highly–decorated Vietnam-War era Prisoner of War George Thomas Coker under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552). The reply on August 20, 2007 was accompanied by the following documents:

Featured November 2008


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George Washington delivered the first State of the Union message before a combined assembly of the Senate and the House on 8 January 1790 in New York City, then the provisional U.S. capital:

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

I embrace with great satisfaction the opportunity which now presents itself of congratulating you on the present favorable prospects of our public affairs. The recent accession of the important State of North Carolina to the constitution of the United States (of which official information has been received), the rising credit and respectability of our country, and the general and increasing good will towards the government of the Union, and the concord, peace, and plenty with which we are blessed are circumstances auspicious in an eminent degree to our national prosperity.
Featured January 2009

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This is a transcript from a "friendly fire" incident involving two attack aircraft from the United States Air Force 190th Fighter Squadron and vehicles from the United Kingdom's D Squadron, The Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry. The incident took place on March 28, 2003 during the invasion of Iraq by armed forces of the United States and United Kingdom and was responsible for the death of Lance-Corporal of Horse Matty Hull:

Time and caller Message
13:36.30 control Manila Hotel POPOV from MANILA HOTEL. Can you confirm you engaged that tube and those vehicles?
13:36.36 pilot POPOV 35 Affirm Sir. Looks like I've got multiple vehicles in advance at about 800 meters to the north of your arty rounds. Can you switch fire, and shift fire, and try to get some arty rounds on those?
13:36.47 control Manila Hotel Roger, I understand that those are the impacts that you observed earlier on my timing?
13:36.51 pilot POPOV 35 Affirmative.
13:36.52 control Manila Hotel Roger, standby. Let me make sure they're not on another mission.
13:36.57 pilot POPOV 36 Hey, I got a four ship. Looks like they've got orange panels on them though. Do we have any friendlies up in this area?
Featured March 2009

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Published January 13, 1898 on the front page of the Paris daily, L'Aurore, J'accuse was written by Émile Zola, an influential French novelist, as an open letter to Félix Faure, President of the French Republic, and accuses the government of anti-Semitism in the Dreyfus Affair.

Mr. President,

Would you allow me, in my gratitude for the benevolent reception that you made me one day, to draw the attention of your rightful glory and to tell you that your star, if happy up to now, is threatened by great shame, by the most ineffaceable of blemishes?

You have remained healthy and free of base calumnies; you have conquered hearts. You appear radiant in the apotheosis of the patriotic festival that the Russian alliance was for France, and you prepare to govern the solemn triumph of our World Fair, which will crown our great century of work, truth and freedom. But what a spot of mud on your name—I was going to say on your reign—is this abominable Dreyfus business! A council of war, under order, has just dared to discharge Esterhazy, completely without any truth, any justice. And it is finished, France has this stain on its cheek, History will write that it is under your presidency that such a social crime could be committed.
(Read on...)
Featured April 2009

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The German Instrument of Surrender was the legal instrument by which the High Command of the German Armed Forces surrendered on 7 May 1945 to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force and the Soviet High Command at the end of World War II in Europe.

Act of Military Surrender

  1. We the undersigned, acting by authority of the German High Command, hereby surrender unconditionally to the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command all forces on land, sea, and in the air who are at this date under German control.
  2. The German High Command will at once issue orders to all German military, naval and air authorities and to all forces under German control to cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European time on 8 May and to remain in the positions occupied at that time. No ship, vessel, or aircraft is to be scuttled, or any damage done to their hull, machinery or equipment.
(Read on...)
Featured May 2009

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A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland was the first published book on the flora of Australia. Written by James Edward Smith and illustrated by James Sowerby, it was published by Sowerby in four parts between 1793 and 1795. It consists of 16 colour plates of paintings by Sowerby, mostly based on sketches by John White, and around 40 pages of accompanying text. It was presented as the first volume in a series, but no further volumes were released.

AMID all the beauty and variety which the vegetable productions of New Holland display in such profusion, there has not yet been discovered a proportionable degree of usefulness to mankind, at least with respect to food. This is our first and most natural enquiry in a scene of such novelty; but it is an enquiry natural to all the lower orders of sensible beings, as well as to man. It may perhaps mortify his pride to think how much more quickly and certainly inferior animals judge upon such a subject. Their powers however reach no farther. It is the peculiar privilege of reasoning man, not only to extend his enquiries to a multiplicity of attainable benefits to himself and his species, besides the mere animal necessity of food, but also to walk with God through the garden of creation, and be initiated into the different plants of his providence in the construction and œconomy of all these various beings; to study their dependencies upon one another in an infinitely complex chain, every link of which is essential; and to trace out all those various uses and benefits to every branch of the animal creation, of which each animal is a judge only for himself. In this point of view no natural production is beneath the notice of the philosopher, nor any enquiry trifling under the guidance of a scientific mind.

(Read on...)
Featured June 2009

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Fatal Fall of Wright Airship is a 1908 New York Times article describing the event that caused the first fatality associated with heavier-than-air flight. United States Army Lieutenant Thomas Etholen Selfridge was killed in the crash, and Orville Wright was injured.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17.―Falling from a height of 75 feet, Orville Wright and Lieut. Thomas E. Selfridge of the Signal Corps were buried in the wreckage of Wright's aeroplane shortly after 5 o'clock this afternoon. The young army officer died at 8:10 o'clock to-night. Wright is badly hurt, although he probably will recover. The flying machine is a mass of tangled wires, torn and twisted planes, and tattered canvas. The accident was due to the breaking of one of the blades of the propeller on the left side.

Although there had been but a handful of people at the aeronautical testing grounds at Fort Myer during the last few days, fully 2,000 had gathered by 4:30 this afternoon. The aeroplane was still in its shed, but Mr. Wright arrived a few minutes later and ordered it taken to the northern end of the field, to be placed on the starting track in readiness for a flight.

(Read on...)
Featured July 2009

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The Flight 93 Cockpit Transcript records the final conversations aboard United Airlines Flight #93, one of four airlines hijacked on 11 September 2001. It was the only one of the four planes that did not reach its intended target, instead crashing in an empty field about 150 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. Based partially on the evidence of this transcript, the 9/11 Commission concluded that the hijackers crashed the plane to keep the crew and passengers from gaining control of the airplane.

Time (EDT) Transcript


Ladies and gentlemen: Here the captain, please sit down keep remaining seating. We have a bomb on board. So sit.


Er, uh…Calling Cleveland Center…You're unreadable. Say again slowly.


Don't move. Shut up.

(Read on...)
Featured September 2009

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"A Description of a City Shower" is a poem written in 1710 by Jonathan Swift. Considered one of his greatest works, the poem focuses on the theme of urban life and its artificiality.

Careful observers may foretell the hour
(By sure prognostics) when to dread a shower.
While rain depends, the pensive cat gives o'er
Her frolics, and pursues her tail no more.
Returning home at night, you'll find the sink
Strike your offended sense with double stink.
If you be wise, then go not far to dine;
You'll spend in coach-hire more than save in wine.
A coming shower your shooting corns presage,
Old aches will throb, your hollow tooth will rage:
Sauntering in coffee-house is Dulman seen;
He damns the climate, and complains of spleen.

(Read on...)
Featured October 2009

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"The Fight at Dame Europa's School" is an 1871 didactic satire written at the end of the Franco-Prussian War by Henry William Pullen, casting European countries as schoolchildren, and portraying their battles as schoolyard skirmishes.

Mrs. Europa kept a Dame's School, where Boys were well instructed in modern languages, fortification, and the use of the globes. Her connection and credit were good, for there was no other school where so sound and liberal an education could be obtained. Many of her old pupils held Masterships in other important establishments, two of which may be mentioned as consisting chiefly of dark, swarthy youths, decidedly stupid and backward for their years; while a third was a large modern Academy full of rather cocky fellows, who talked big about the institutions of their school, and talked, for the most part, through their nose.

(Read on...)
Featured November 2009

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"Descriptive account of the panoramic view, &c. of King George's Sound, and the adjacent country" pamphlet written in 1834 by Robert Dale, containing description and commentary on the Panoramic View of King George's Sound, Part of the Colony of Swan River, a panorama of King George's Sound painted by Robert Havell. Together with prints of the Panorama, it was sold to attendees of an exhibition given in the home of Thomas Pettigrew.

From documents deposited in the Colonial Office, and which I have had an opportunity of inspecting, I find the boundaries of Western Australia to extend from "Cape Londonderry, in latitude 13° 44' S., to West Cape Howe, in lat. 35° 8' S., and from Hertog's Island, on the west coast, in longitude 112° 15' to 129° E, including all the islands adjacent in the Indian and Southern Oceans, within the latitudes and longitudes aforesaid."

(Read on...)
Featured December 2009


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"The English Constitution" book first published in 1867 by Walter Bagehot, with this seventh edition being published in 1894. The book explores the constitution of the United Kingdom, specifically the functioning of Parliament and the British monarchy and the contrasts between British and American government.

There is a great difficulty in the way of a writer who attempts to sketch a living Constitution—a Constitution that is in actual work and power. The difficulty is that the object is in constant change. An historical writer does not feel this difficulty: he deals only with the past; he can say definitely, the Constitution worked in such and such a manner in the year at which he begins, and in a manner in such and such respects different in the year at which he ends; he begins with a definite point of time and ends with one also.

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Featured January 2010

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"Omnibuses and Cabs"

A work published in 1902, Omnibuses and cabs: their origin and history describes the vehicles, their operation, and the personalities associated with the English public transport systems. The author, Henry Charles Moore, includes material from the technical to anecdotal, along with a series of illustrations.

"A little bookcase, well filled, was fixed in each of his omnibuses at the end near the horses. Books were expensive in those days, and many people rode to Hammersmith and back for the sole purpose of reading a particular one which they knew to be in the omnibus library. But this admirable innovation was abused shamefully by the passengers, who appeared to consider it no sin to purloin the volumes.

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Featured February 2010

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"Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper" is a fairy tale translated and illustrated by the Brothers Dalziel. Published in 1865 by George Routledge and Sons, it embodies a classic folk tale myth-element of unjust oppression before triumphant reward. The still-popular story of Cinderella continues to influence popular culture internationally, lending plot elements, allusions, and tropes to a wide variety of media.

There was, many years ago, a gentleman who had a charming lady for his wife. They had one daughter only, who was very dutiful to her parents. But while she was still very young, her mamma died, to the grief of her husband and daughter. After a time, the little girl's papa married another lady. Now this lady was proud and haughty, and had two grown-up daughters as disagreeable as herself; so the poor girl found everything at home changed for the worse.

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Featured March 2010

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Diary of ten years eventful life of an early settler in Western Australia is the diary of George Fletcher Moore, one of the few records of early colonial Western Australia written from the perspective of an ordinary colonist. Tom Stannage describes the diary as "an immensely valuable social document" and "the best published guide we have to life in Swan River colony between 1830 and 1840." Here it is published with A descriptive vocabulary of the language of the aborigines.

In the year 1828, the British Government being anxious, for political reasons, to establish a colony on the West side of Australia, issued public notices, offering large tracts of land, on certain conditions, to any who would proceed to, and settle on, that district before the end of the year 1830. Attracted by the hope of obtaining possession of a good estate, and feeling that the prospect of success at the Irish Bar was but remote and uncertain, I applied to the Government on the subject of some official appointment, if I should go to the Colony as an emigrant. The answer was to the effect, that any appointment made here now might clash with the proceedings of Governor Stirling; but if I chose to go out at my own risk and expense, they would give me a favourable letter of introduction to the Governor. On this encouragement, I made up my mind to go at once.

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Featured April 2010

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"Anthony Roll" The Anthony Roll is the common name for a set of three vellum rolls that lists ships of the English navy of 1546, under the reign of king Henry VIII, drawn up by Anthony Anthony. It contains illustrations as well as information on tonnage, armament, equipment and size of crews. As a record of a royal state navy of the 16th century it is unique in containing so many illustrations of various types of ships.

Here After insuyth a declaration of the Kynges Majesties owne nave of sundere kyndes of shyppes belongyng unto hys grace, that ys to say shyppes, galliasses, pynnasses and roo baergys, with every shyppe and shyppys naem, with evere galliasse and galliasse naem, with evere pynnasse and pynnasse naem, and with evere roo baerges naem; as also the ordenaunce, artillary, munitions and habillmentes for the warre for the armyng of evry of them and for theyr deffence agaynst theyr ennymys apon the see: anno regni regis Henrici octavi xxxviij

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Featured May 2010

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"Celtic Fairy Tales" Celtic folk-tales are also the oldest of the tales of modern European races; some of them occurring in the oldest Irish vellums. They include (1) fairy tales properly so-called—i.e., tales or anecdotes about fairies, hobgoblins, &c., told as natural occurrences; (2) hero-tales, stories of adventure told of national or mythical heroes; (3) folk-tales proper, describing marvellous adventures of otherwise unknown heroes, in which there is a defined plot and supernatural characters (speaking animals, giants, dwarfs, &c.); and finally (4) drolls, comic anecdotes of feats of stupidity or cunning:— Notes edited by Joseph Jacobs.

HAT Irish man, woman, or child has not heard of our renowned Hibernian Hercules, the great and glorious Fin M'Coul? Not one, from Cape Clear to the Giant's Causeway, nor from that back again to Cape Clear. And, by-the-way, speaking of the Giant's Causeway brings me at once to the beginning of my story. Well, it so happened that Fin and his men were all working at the Causeway, in order to make a bridge across to Scotland;
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Featured June 2010

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"The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke" by C. J. Dennis.
A verse novel which tells the story of Bill, a larrikin of the Little Lonsdale Street push who meets the love of his life, Doreen. Their courtship and marriage sees his transition into a contented husband and father. It is written with a heavy Australian vernacular voice.

THE world 'as got me snouted jist a treat;
 Crool Forchin's dirty left 'as smote me soul;
An' all them joys o' life I 'eld so sweet
 Is up the pole.
Fer, as the poit sez, me 'eart 'as got
The pip wiv yearnin' fer—I dunno wot.

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Featured July 2010

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"A Study in Scarlet," the first of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

A detective mystery novel written which was first published in 1887. It is the first story to feature the character of Sherlock Holmes, who would later become one of the most famous literary detective characters, with long-lasting interest and appeal. The book's title derives from a speech given by Holmes to his companion Doctor Watson on the nature of his work, in which he describes the story's murder investigation as his "study in scarlet": "There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it." Excerpted from A Study in Scarlet on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as Assistant Surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in the enemy's country. I followed, however, with many other officers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment, and at once entered upon my new duties.

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Featured August 2010

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Makers of British botany; A collection of biographies by living botanists edited by F. W. Oliver ... "The sixteen chapters forming the book include (1) the ten lectures, which are printed essentially as they were delivered, (2) six additional chapters specially written under the circumstances just mentioned. As a rule each chapter will be found to deal with a single Botanist; with the exception of the first and last chapters. In the former Prof. Vines has linked together Morison and Ray, the founders of Systematic Botany in this country, whilst in the last Prof. Bayley Balfour has expanded what was originally intended as a sketch of his father, the late Prof. J. Hutton Balfour, into a very interesting account of his precedessors in the Edinburgh chair from the year 1670 almost down to the present time."

"The literature of Botany can be traced back to a quite respectable antiquity, to the period of Aristotle (B.C. 384—322) who seems to have been the first to write of plants from the truly botanical point of view. Unfortunately, his special treatise on plants—θεωρία περὶ φυτῶν—is lost; and although there are many botanical passages scattered throughout his other writings (which have been collected by Wimmer, Phytologiae Aristotelicae Fragmenta, 1836), yet none of them gives any indication of what his ideas of classification may have been. An echo of them is perhaps to be found in the works of his favourite pupil, Theophrastus Eresius (B.C. 371—286), who among all his fellows was the most successful in pursuing the botanical studies that they had begun under the guidance of the master. Theophrastus left behind him two important, though incomplete, treatises on plants, the oldest that have survived: the more familiar Latin titles of which are De Historia Plantarum and De Causis Plantarum."

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Featured September 2010

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"The Life of Captain Matthew Flinders, R.N." by Ernest Scott.

Matthew Flinders was one of the most successful navigators and cartographers of the nineteenth century. As an author he wrote what may be the first work on early Australian exploration A Voyage to Terra Australis. This book was the first full biography of this important figure in Australian history.

Matthew Flinders was the third of the triad of great English sailors by whom the principal part of Australia was revealed. A poet of our own time, in a line of singular felicity, has described it as the "last sea-thing dredged by sailor Time from Space;" and the piecemeal, partly mysterious, largely accidental dragging from the depths of the unknown of a land so immense and bountiful makes a romantic chapter in geographical history. All the great seafaring peoples contributed something towards the result. The Dutch especially evinced their enterprise in the pursuit of precise information about the southern Terra Incognita, and the nineteenth century was well within its second quarter before the name New Holland, which for over a hundred years had borne testimony to their adventurous pioneering, gave place in general and geographical literature to the more convenient and euphonious designation suggested by Flinders himself, Australia.
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Featured October 2010

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"Houston: Where Seventeen Railroads Meet the Sea" by Jerome Hammond Farbar.

Early in the twentieth century, the city of Houston, Texas, was then a city focused on its burgeoning port and railroad industry, and yet one just starting to contend with oil discovery in 1901. This colour illustrated work, published in 1913, shows scenes of landscapes and buildings of local importance in a city starting to transition.

 he City of Houston was one of the first products of the new Republic of Texas. Founded by the Allen family and General Sam Houston after the defeat of the Mexicans at San Jacinto, April 21, 1836, and named in honor of the illustrious Texan who won Texas' independence, the new town was destined to be the chief city in the new Republic and today it maintains the same position as the chief city of the State of Texas, with a population of 125,000 or more persons.

When Mexico was forced to relinquish claims to Texas in 1836 the victorious Texans threw off the mantle of warfare to face a much more stupendous task—that of governing a great undeveloped empire, twice the size of Japan and 825 miles in length from north to south and 740 miles wide from east to west.

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Featured December 2010


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No Treason by Lysander Spooner.

In a three-part essay that has been called "the greatest case for anarchist political philosophy ever written", Spooner argues that the United States Constitution is an invalid contract, and therefore void, because individuals did not explicitly consent to be ruled by it.

Notwithstanding all the proclamations we have made to mankind, within the last ninety years, that our government rested on consent, and that that was the only rightful basis on which any government could rest, the late war has practically demonstrated that our government rests upon force—as much so as any government that ever existed.

The North has thus virtually said to the world: It was all very well to prate of consent, so long as the objects to be accomplished were to liberate ourselves from our connexion with England, and also to coax a scattered and jealous people into a great national union; but now that those purposes have been accomplished, and the power of the North has become consolidated, it is sufficient for us—as for all governments—simply to say: Our power is our right.

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Featured January 2011

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Mrs. Caudle's curtain lectures

Written by Douglas William Jerrold in 1866, Mrs. Caudle's curtain lectures are satirical and humorous "lectures" delivered each night by Mrs. Caudle to her husband.

Poor Job Caudle was one of the few men whom Nature, in her casual bounty to women, sends into the world as patient listeners. He was, perhaps, in more respects than one, all ears. And these ears, Mrs. Caudle—his lawful, wedded wife as she would ever and anon impress upon him, for she was not a woman to wear chains without shaking them—took whole and sole possession of. They were her entire property; as expressly made to convey to Caudle's brain the stream of wisdom that continually flowed from the lips of his wife, as was the tin funnel through which Mrs. Caudle in vintage time bottled her elder wine. There was, however, this difference between the wisdom and the wine. The wine was always sugared: the wisdom, never. It was expressed crude from the heart of Mrs. Caudle; who, doubtless, trusted to the sweetness of her husband's disposition to make it agree with him.

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Featured March 2011

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The Velveteen Rabbit, Or How Toys Become Real is the first book written for children by Margery Williams. It tells the story of a stuffed rabbit's quest to be loved by its owner and thereby become real. The story was originally published in 1922, and has since been adapted into film several times.

There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.

There were other things in the stocking, nuts and oranges and a toy engine, and chocolate almonds and a clockwork mouse, but the Rabbit was quite the best of all. For at least two hours the Boy loved him, and then Aunts and Uncles came to dinner, and there was a great rustling of tissue paper and unwrapping of parcels, and in the excitement of looking at all the new presents the Velveteen Rabbit was forgotten.

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Featured April 2011

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Poems by Wilfred Owen; with an introduction by Siegfried Sassoon and a portrait of the author. "He was a man of absolute integrity of mind. He never wrote his poems (as so many war-poets did) to make the effect of a personal gesture. He pitied others; he did not pity himself. In the last year of his life he attained a clear vision of what he needed to say, and these poems survive him as his true and splendid testament."—Sassoon

"In writing an introduction such as this it is good to be brief. The poems printed in this book need no preliminary commendations from me or anyone else. The author has left us his own fragmentary but impressive Foreword; this, and his Poems, can speak for him, backed by the authority of his experience as an infantry soldier, and sustained by nobility and originality of style."—Siegfried Sassoon

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Featured May 2011

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"Stops of Various Quills" by William Dean Howells.

With 43 poems and lavish illustrations by Howard Pyle adorning each page, Stops of Various Quills has been described as "a labor of love"—where the "great kinship" that existed between author and illustrator is evident in both text and picture. Written in 1895, it contributed to Howells being considered a "major force in the shaping of American literature."

  WEFT of leafless spray
Woven fine against the gray
Of the autumnal day,
And blurred along those ghostly garden tops
Clusters of berries crimson as the drops
That my heart bleeds when I remember
How often, in how many a far November,
Of childhood and my children's childhood I was glad,
With the wild rapture of the Fall,
Of all the beauty, and of all
The ruin, now so intolerably sad.

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Featured July 2011

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"A Witch Shall Be Born," one of the Conan the Cimmerian stories by Robert Ervin Howard, and the source of the famous crucifixion scene. First published in Weird Tales in December 1934, this print comes from the Avon Fantasy Reader (1949).

The story concerns a witch replacing her twin sister as queen of a city state, which brings her into conflict with Conan who had been the captain of the queen's guard. Themes of paranoia, and the duality of the twin sisters, are paramount in this story but it also includes elements of the conflict between barbarism and civilization that is common to the entire Conan series. The novella as a whole is considered an average example of the series though one scene stands out. - Excerpted from A Witch Shall Be Born on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Howard's stories of the wanderings of Conan the Cimmerian through the realms of the pre-Glacial era were based upon a carefully structed "history" of those ages devised before starting his series … this careful groundwork which makes these tales so colorfully realistic, so vivid, so varied in background. We sense that he has woven into his literary tapestry not merely varicolored threads but clothes of different textures, so that his prehistoric kingdoms are national not merely because he calls them by different names but because he has thought of them as different in culture, approach, tradition. — Excerpted from Avon Fantasy Reader (1949)

Taramis, Queen of Khauran, awakened from a dream-haunted slumber to a silence that seemed more like the stillness of nighted catacombs than the normal quiet of a sleeping place. She lay staring into the darkness, wondering why the candles in their golden candelabra had gone out. A flecking of stars marked a gold-barred casement that lent no illumination to the interior of the chamber. But as Taramis lay there, she became aware of a spot of radiance glowing in the darkness before her. She watched, puzzled. It grew and its intensity deepened as it expanded, a widening disk of lurid light hovering against the dark velvet hangings of the opposite wall. Taramis caught her breath, starting up to a sitting position. A dark object was visible in that circle of light—a human head.

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Featured August 2011

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Susan B. Anthony petition for remission of fine (1874)
United States v. Susan B. Anthony — On November 18, 1872, Anthony was arrested by a U.S. Deputy Marshal for voting in the 1872 Presidential Election two weeks earlier. … The sentence was a $100 fine, but not imprisonment …[ Susan B. Anthony ].

“Wikipedians in Residence” are volunteers placed with institutions, such as museums and libraries, to facilitate use of those institutions’ resources throughout Wikimedia. This year a Wikipedian residency at US National Archives enabled the release of this and other archival documents and they are being transcribed as part of the WikiProject NARA effort.

To the Congress of the United States.

The petition of Susan B. Anthony, of the city of Rochester in the county of Monroe and state of New York, respectfully represents.

That prior to the late Presidential election your petitioner applied to the board of registry in the eighth ward of the city of Rochester, in which city she had resided for more than 25 years, to have her name placed upon the register of voters, and the board of registry, after consideration of the subject, decided that your petitioner was entitled to have her name placed upon the register, and placed it there accordingly.

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Featured September 2011


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"Picturesque New Guinea" by John William Lindt featuring his own photographs.

John William Lindt was an award winning German-born photographer resident in Australia. When Sir Peter Scratchley was appointed High Commissioner for the Protectorate of New Guinea, Lindt volunteered to join the expedition as official photographer. Sir Peter accepted the offer and Lindt boarded the Governor Blackall en route to New Guinea in 1885. He presented his work to the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London in 1886 and published this book a year later.

This text was completed as Proofread of the Month for July 2011. This is a community wide project to increase the number of proofread texts on Wikisource and to help improve the overall quality of the project.

For years past, when perusing the account of exploring expeditions setting out for some country comparatively unknown, I always noticed with a pang of disappointment that, however carefully the scientific staff was chosen, it was, as a rule, considered sufficient to supply one of the members with a mahogany camera, lens, and chemicals to take pictures, the dealer furnishing these articles generally initiating the purchaser for a couple or three hours' time into the secrets and tricks of the "dark art," or when funds were too limited to purchase instruments, it was taken for granted that enough talent existed among the members to make rough sketches, which would afterwards be "worked up" for the purpose of illustrating perhaps a very important report.

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Featured February 2012

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Flatland, a Romance of Many Dimensions is an 1884 satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott.

Abbot intended his work as a critique on Victorian social hierarchy. Since its publication, however, it has been noted as an early piece of science fiction and, among mathematicians and physicists, for its examination of the concept of dimensions.

I call our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.

Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows—only hard and with luminous edges—and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said "my universe": but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things.

In such a country, you will perceive at once that it is impossible that there should be anything of what you call a "solid" kind; but I dare say you will suppose that we could at least distinguish by sight the Triangles Squares and other figures moving about as I have described them. On the contrary, we could see nothing of the kind, not at least so as to distinguish one figure from another. Nothing was visible, nor could be visible, to us, except straight Lines; and the necessity of this I will speedily demonstrate.

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Featured March 2012

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"Shaving Made Easy: What the Man Who Shaves Ought to Know" is a 1905 illustrated textbook about shaving published by the 20th Century Correspondence School.

Shaving at home instead of going to the barber has recognised advantages in terms of time, money, and health; but it can also be more difficult. The work is particularly intended for those men who have difficulties in shaving themselves. It examines all aspects of shaving and all necessary objects. The purpose of this textbook is to make each man "able to shave himself easily and even better than the barber can do it for him."

First-class tools are necessary at the very outset. No matter how skillfully one may handle inferior tools, they will invariably produce poor results.

Probably as many failures have resulted from the use of poor razors, strops, or soap as from the lack of knowledge how to use them. In order that the best possible results may be attained, good tools and skill in using them should go hand in hand.

The shaving outfit should consist of one or two good razors, a first-class strop, a mirror, a cup, a brush, a cake of shaving soap, and a bottle of either bay rum, witch hazel, or some other good face lotion. These constitute what may be considered the necessary articles, and to these may be added a number of others, such as a good hone, magnesia or talcum powder, astringent or styptic pencils, antiseptic lotions, etc. which, while not absolutely requisite, will nevertheless add much to the convenience, comfort and luxury of the shave.

Featured April 2012

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"Popular Science Monthly," (vol. 1) the initial volume of the long-running magazine of science and technology.

The journal was launched in 1872 by Edward Livingston Youmans to disseminate scientific knowledge to the educated layman—changing in 1914 to target the general public—and became an outlet for the writings and ideas of many scientists, several of whom remain household names. Each issue features a collection of articles on various subjects within the fields of science and technology. This volume, containing the issues published from May-October 1872, includes such articles as "The Causes of Dyspepsia," "Darwinism and Divinity," "Action of Dark Radiations," "Astro-Meteorology," "Concerning Corpulence," "The Physiology of Sleep," and "Has our Climate Changed?"

The Popular Science Monthly has been started to help on the work of sound public education, by supplying instructive articles on the leading subjects of scientific inquiry. It will contain papers, original and selected, on a wide range of subjects, from the ablest scientific men of different countries, explaining their views to nonscientific people. A magazine is needed here, which shall be devoted to this purpose, for, although much is done by the general press in scattering light articles and shreds of information, yet many scientific discussions of merit and moment are passed by. It is, therefore, thought best to bring this class of contributions together for the benefit of all who are interested in the advance of ideas and the diffusion of valuable knowledge.

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Featured July 2012

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"Homes of the London Poor" (1875) a collection of magazine articles about social housing by Octavia Hill.

Hill was a late Victorian social reformer and pivotal in the development of social housing. The articles collected here were originally published in influential magazines from 1666 to 1875. These drew attention to the appalling housing conditions and her methods of remedying them. When they were compiled and published together, the collection was distributed around the world, helping to spread her ideas further. Hill's work became internationally recognised and her ideas were taken up and copied in continental Europe and the United States of America. The German translation of this collection was made by Princess Alice. This American edition was published in the same year as the British edition by Louisa Lee Schuyler, an enthusiastic supporter of Octavia's work.

The subject of dwellings for the poor is attracting so much attention, that an account of a small attempt to improve them may be interesting to many readers, especially as the plan adopted is one which has answered pecuniarily, and which, while it might be undertaken by private individuals without much risk, would bring them into close and healthy communication with their hard-working neighbors.
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Featured August 2012

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"Mexico, as it was and as it is" (1847) a travelogue and study of Mexico in the 19th century by Brantz Mayer.

Brantz Mayer was twice secretary of the United States legation to Mexico. On his final return to the United States of America in 1843 he published the first edition of this work, narrating his first term in that post. Mayer's letters and appendices cover anthropology, social mores, politics, religion and geography along with extensive notes on the benefit the Panama Canal would bring.

I left New-York on the 27th of October, 1841, with a fair wind, and on the twelfth day after, at sunrise, saw the lofty peak of Orizaba, towering above the distant line of the western horizon.

I have rarely beheld a more beautiful sight than this was. The maritime Alps, as seen from the Gulf of Lyons, present a spectacle of great majesty and beauty. But this grand and solitary peak, lifting its head more than 17,000 feet above the ocean, the sentinel, as it were, of a land toward which you may still sail for days before you arrive, has struck every traveller with wonder since the days when Cortez first hailed it on his adventurous voyage for the conquest of Mexico.

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Featured September 2012

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"Betelguese, a trip through hell," a 1908 lyrical poem by Jean Louis De Esque.

According to De Esque the writing of the poem began when he was "up at [his] desk mauling and drubbing the English language with a vengeance for thirty-six consecutive hours, and that [he] awoke at 12.30 A.M," and began writing "Betelguese," continuing to work on it until the early morning. He repeated this process over the next fifteen nights. The Los Angeles Herald wrote that the poem "immortalized the dreams of the opium eater." In describing its rich language, the Manchester Literary Club wrote that "an enthusiastic philologist ... will make a heaven of it."

Caressed by crystal dews and light
Beyond the realm of scale and fin,
Incarian Thought flits Fancy wings
To hazards where a crimson urn
Makes scarlet this eternal height
Of sunless suns and reigning sin,—
Flame-decked this plain of warring kings
Where poisoned fumes and beacons burn!

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One of four featured texts in October 2012

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"Le Corbeau" (The Raven), an 1875 French edition of the poem by Edgar Allan Poe with both English and French versions of the text.

The Raven is a narrative poem first published in January 1845. It is often noted for its musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. The poem tells of a talking raven's mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man's slow descent into madness. The lover, often identified as being a student, is lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore. Sitting on a bust of Pallas, the raven seems to further instigate his distress with its constant repetition of the word "Nevermore". The poem makes use of a number of folk and classical references.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping—rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—

Only this and nothing more."

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One of four featured texts in October 2012

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"The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1902) a Sherlock Holmes novel by Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third of four novels by Doyle featuring Holmes. Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it was the first Holmes piece Doyle had written in eight years, after killing the character in "The Final Problem"; he would revive the series two years later. The novel is set largely on Dartmoor in Devon in England's West Country and tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of the "monstrously evil" Richard Cabell and a fearsome, diabolical hound.

Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he stayed up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearth-rug and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night before. It was a fine, thick piece of wood, bulbous-headed, of the sort which is known as a “Penang lawyer.” Just under the head was a broad silver band, nearly an inch across. “To James Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his friends of the C.C.H.,” was engraved upon it, with the date “1884.” It was just such a stick as the old-fashioned family practitioner used to carry—dignified, solid, and reassuring.

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One of four featured texts in October 2012

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"The Door into Infinity" a 1938 novelette by Edmond Hamilton.

Hamilton was a prolific writer for the pulp magazines of the early 20th century; this short work was first published in the weird fiction pulp Weird Tales. It mixes the science-fiction-influenced cosmic horror that was popular in that magazine with the orientalism and east-end of London setting that would have been familiar to the wider readership of popular fiction of that era. Hamilton was at this time already popular as an author of space operas in other pulps and would later move on to writing for DC Comics.

"Where leads the Door?"

"It leads outside our world."

"Who taught our forefathers to open the Door?"

"They Beyond the Door taught them."

"To whom do we bring these sacrifices?"

"We bring them to Those Beyond the Door."

"Shall the Door be opened that They may take them?"

"Let the Door be opened!"

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One of four featured texts in October 2012

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"Bull-dog Drummond" (1920) by Herman Cyril McNeile (aka "Sapper")

The first of the successful Bulldog Drummond detective adventure series. Drummond is a demobilised ex-soldier, bored with life after the end of World War I, who seeks excitement as a private detective. The novels continued to be published until 1954 and were adapted for film (from 1922), stage (1925), radio (1941), and television (1957). The character was influential on many subsequent creations, such as Ian Fleming's James Bond.

Captain Hugh Drummond, D.S.O., M.C., late of His Majesty's Royal Loamshires, was whistling in his morning bath. Being by nature of a cheerful disposition, the symptom did not surprise his servant, late private of the same famous regiment, who was laying breakfast in an adjoining room.

After a while the whistling ceased, and the musical gurgle of escaping water announced that the concert was over. It was the signal for James Denny—the square-jawed ex-batman—to disappear into the back regions and get from his wife the kidneys and bacon which that most excellent woman had grilled to a turn. But on this particular morning the invariable routine was broken. James Denny seemed preoccupied, distrait.

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Featured November 2012

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"Black Beauty", an 1877 novel by Anna Sewell.

Sewell was disabled from her early teens and relied on horses to travel, fostering a respect for them in the process. The story of Black Beauty—a memoir of his life from colt, to taxicab horse, to retirement—broke new ground in literature as an autobiographical memoir of a horse. One of the best-selling books of all time, the novel was the forerunner of a sub-genre of children's "pony book" literature.

This is the 135th anniversary of the novel, which was first published on 24th November 1877.

The first place that I can well remember, was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water-lilies grew at the deep end. Over the hedge on one side we looked into a ploughed field, and on the other we looked over a gate at our master's house, which stood by the roadside; at the top of the meadow was a plantation of fir trees, and at the bottom a running brook overhung by a steep bank.

Whilst I was young I lived upon my mother's milk, as I could not eat grass. In the day time I ran by her side, and at night I lay down close by her. When it was hot, we used to stand by the pond in the shade of the trees, and when it was cold, we had a nice warm shed near the plantation.

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Featured December 2012


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United States Proclamation 95 by Abraham Lincoln, issued 1 January 1863, better known as the Final Emancipation Proclamation.

This month is the 150th anniversary of the issuing of this proclamation, which marked a significant turning point in American history. It was issued during the American Civil War by the President of the United States of America, rendering every slave in the opposing Confederate States of America permanently free, to be enforced by Union armed forces as territory was taken. It followed the earlier Proclamation 93, or Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, and together they are known as the Emancipation Proclamation. It did not apply to the United States, in which slaves were not freed until the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Now, Therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
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Featured January 2013

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"Rambles in New Zealand", an 1841 travelogue by John Carne Bidwill.

Bidwill was one of the first Europeans to travel into the centre of the North Island of New Zealand. As a part of his travels he climbed Mount Ngauruhoe. As the Māori regarded the mountain as tapu he was quite possibly the first person ever to do so. Although primarily a botanist (he later became the first director of Sydney's botanic gardens), in this book he discusses philology, geology and anthropology of the pre-colonisation Māori.

February 6, 2013 is the 173rd anniversary of the foundation of the nation of New Zealand.

I arrived at Sydney in September 1838, and soon received the first of those useful lessons which disappointment teaches. I allude to the system observed in the sale of crown lands, which, instead of being surveyed and ready for auction, so that the emigrant may commence operations with undiminished capital, compels him to waste months in idleness and expense ill adapted to the cultivation and advancement of a new colony. As the spot I had selected was at a considerable distance from Sydney, and the time to be wasted between the application and sale proportionately long, I determined to render it as little irksome and unprofitable as possible by rambling in search of information.

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Featured February 2013

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The Art of Nijinsky is a 1913 book by Geoffrey Whitworth with illustrations by Dorothy Mullock.

Whitworth examines the art and career of the Russian ballet dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, who has been described as the greatest male dancer of the early twentieth century. As part of its coverage of Nijinsky, the book also touches on Russian ballet in general. Whitworth himself was the founder of the British Drama League, a campaigner for a National Theatre in the UK and an important figure in his own right in the history of British theatre. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of this book.

The last edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, published in 1910, contains an excellent little essay on the Ballet, which ends, after bewailing the modern degeneracy of the art, with these ill-omened words:

"It seems unlikely that we shall see any revival of the best period and style of dancing until a higher standard of grace and manners becomes fashionable in society. Only in an atmosphere of ceremony, courtesy, and chivalry can the dance maintain itself in perfection."

Well, it is a dangerous thing to be a prophet; and that this particular prophet has proved most happily at fault will be plain to everyone. The passage is quoted here, however, not at all for the simple pleasure of refuting it, but rather because it aptly indicates some of those more than ordinary difficulties which lie in wait for any English critic of the Russian Ballet. For it must be remembered that our author of the Encyclopædia was hardly, if at all, behind the times in which he wrote. M. Diaghilew's company did not make its first appearance in London till the summer of 1911, and though before then there had been considerable evidence of a revival in individual dancing, concerted dancing on a definite theme (which we may take as a practical definition of the ballet) had seldom reached a lower stage of insignificance. In those days, few even of the best informed among the critics were aware of what was going on in Russia, and it is scarcely strange that London's first experience of the Russian Ballet took the majority of us utterly by surprise.

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Featured March 2013

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"A Jewish State" (Der Judenstaat) is a 1917 edition of an 1896 book by Theodor Herzl, translated from the German by Sylvie d'Avigdor and Jacob De Haas.

This book, subtitled "An attempt at a modern solution of the Jewish Question", is one of the most important texts of early Zionism; and popularised the term itself. Herzl proposed the creation of a Jewish State as a way to solve the widespread anti-Semitism encountered in Europe. He opposed the "gradual infiltration of Jews" into Palestine by immigration, which he felt would be resisted by the native population. Instead, he advocated a diplomatic agreement with either the Ottoman Empire, the colonial rulers of Palestine at that time, or the sparsely-populated republic of Argentina. Herzl's book does more than present the idea; it also sets out a practical method of accomplishing his goal, through the creation of a Society of Jews and a Jewish Company.

16th April 2013 marks the 65th Israeli Independence Day. This work demonstrates Wikisource's dynamic layout function.

It is astonishing how little insight many of the men who move in the midst of active life possess of the science of economics. Hence it is that even Jews faithfully repeat the cry of the Anti-Semites: "We depend for sustenance on the nations whose guests we are, and if we had not hosts to support us we should die of starvation." This is a point that shows how greatly unjust accusations may weaken our self-knowledge. But what are the true grounds for this statement concerning the nations which take us in? Where it is not based on limited physiocratic views it is founded on the childish error that commodities pass from hand to hand in continuous rotation. We need not wake from long slumber, like Rip van Winkle, to realize that the world is considerably altered by the production of new commodities. The technical progress made during this wonderful era enables even a man of most limited intelligence to note with his short-sighted eyes the appearance of innumerable new commodities. The spirit of enterprise has created them.

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Featured April 2013

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"Amazing Stories" (volume 1, number 1) is a 1926 pulp magazine edited by Hugo Gernsback.

Amazing Stories was the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction, or "scientifiction" as Gernsback called the genre. It helped define the field, launched an entirely new brand of pulp fiction, and led to the formation of science fiction fandom as a semi-formal association of people. This, the first issue of the magazine (published April 1926), collected reprints of fiction Gernsback deemed fit into his new category of fiction. This includes three reprints of ninteenth century scientific romances: Jules Verne's "Off on a Comet" (the first part of a serialisation), H. G. Wells' "The New Accelerator" and Edgar Allan Poe's "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" (both complete). Newer material was reprinted from other magazines. Austin Hall's "The Man Who Saved the Earth" had been published in All-Story Weekly, while G. Peyton Wertenbaker's "The Man from the Atom" and George Allan England's "The Thing from—'Outside'" had both previously appeared in Science and Invention, one of Gernsback's existing magazines.

Another fiction magazine!

At first thought it does seem impossible that there could be room for another fiction magazine in this country. The reader may well wonder, "Aren't there enough already, with the several hundreds now being published?" True. But this is not "another fiction magazine," Amazing Stories is a new kind of fiction magazine! It is entirely new—entirely different—something that has never been done before in this country. Therefore, Amazing Stories deserves your attention and interest.

There is the usual fiction magazine, the love story and the sex-appeal type of magazine, the adventure type, and so on, but a magazine of "Scientifiction" is a pioneer in its field in America.

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Featured May 2013

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"Laura Secord: A Study in Canadian Patriotism" (1907) by George Bryce.

A short, early text on Laura Secord, heroine to Canadians of the War of 1812. After the Americans invaded the Niagara Peninsula in 1813, they planned further invasions into Upper Canada; Secord overheard their plans, and stole away on 23 June to British-controlled territories to warn them. The British won against the invading Americans at the Battle of Beaver Dams the next day. This month includes the 200th anniversary of Secord's historic walk.

Rev. Dr. Bryce was the guest of the Canadian Club at their luncheon yesterday afternoon, and delivered an address on the gallant deed of Laura Secord, the heroine of 1812. A personal touch, as Professor Osborne, the chairman, remarked, was lent to the occasion by the presence at the luncheon of Mrs. Cockburn, a grand-daughter of Laura Secord.

Like the Rhenish frontier of Alsace and Lorraine, the banks of the Niagara river have for several centuries been the debatable land—the scene of conflict in North America. Long before the coming of the White man, Iroquois and Hurons; Sioux and Ojibways; Eries and Caughnawagas regarded the Niagara peninsula as the march-land between east and west. Its backbone of Burlington heights, the great gorge of Niagara, and its contiguous lakes Erie and Ontario gave scope for strategic movements in war far exceeding the plains of Flanders.

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Featured June 2013

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"Magic" by Ellis Stanyon.

Stanyon was one of Britain's finest sleight-of-hand exponents in the twentieth century. In this book he gives detailed instructions on how to perform well-known illusions, as well as many new ones of his own invention. There is also a chapter on Shadowgraphy.

There are one or two leading principles to be borne in mind by any one taking up the study of magic. The first and foremost is, Never tell the audience what you are going to do before you do it. If you do, the chances of detection are increased tenfold, as the spectators, knowing what to expect, will the more readily arrive at the true method of bringing about the result.

It follows as a natural consequence that you must never perform the same trick twice in the same evening. It is very unpleasant to have to refuse an encore; and should you be called upon to repeat a trick study to vary it as much as possible, and to bring it to a different conclusion. There will generally be found more ways than one of working a particular trick. It is an axiom in conjuring that the best trick loses half its effect on repetition.

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Featured July 2013

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"Tracks of McKinlay and party across Australia" (1863) a travelogue by John Davis.

Davis was part of the South Australian Burke Relief Expedition of 1861, led by John McKinlay, a search party sent by the government to find the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition. Davis was in charge of the four camels taken along with the party due to his experience in India. After discovering the fate of the prior expedition, McKinlay's party continued to explore. Meeting difficult terrain while attempting to transnavigate the continent, they diverted from the Northern Territory into Queensland and reached Port Denison (modern Bowen) almost exactly one year later. This book tells the story of the expedition based on Davis' journal of the events.

McKinlay's expedition set out from Adelaide on 16 August 1861—152 years ago this month—and left Port Denison by boat, to return to Adelaide, on 17 August 1862.

The present work records one of several successful expeditions that have lately resolved for us the long standing problem of Central Australia. "Who shall cross this great 'Terra Australis' from sea to sea?" was a question so long before our eyes, and so long unanswered, that we did not expect so overwhelming a response as the last three years have given. And yet, within that brief interval, this previously unattainable result has been accomplished no less than six times over, if we regard Stuart's first two journeys as a virtual crossing of the country; a distinction we can hardly withhold from them, although neither of them quite crosses Australia, as was the case with the third. So much for a bold pioneering, and the confidence that arises from some little experience of the way. So far these preliminaries may serve to show how imaginary are many difficulties, even those of a long standing, and how often the "will makes the way."

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Featured August 2013

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"The Yellow Wall Paper" (1901) a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman originally published in the January 1892 issue of The New England Magazine.

The story follows the narrator's descent into madness after her Doctor husband confines her to the upstairs bedroom of a rented house after diagnosing female hysteria. The title refers to her growing obsession with only source of stimulation in the room. This is an early piece of American feminist literature which condemns the treatment of women by the 19th century medical establishment.

This work was transcribed as part of a proofread-a-thon at the GLAM Boot Camp, which was held at the National Archives in Washington D.C. during April 2013. Prior to that it existed as only an unsupported import from Project Gutenberg. During the proofreading process it was discovered that the previous version contained numerous errors, including a missing line of text. The current and featured version is fully supported by page scans and has been validated as matching the text of the 1901 printed edition.

IT is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.

A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity, — but that would be asking too much of fate!

Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it.

Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted?

John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.

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Featured September 2013

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"The Canterville Ghost" (1887) a short story by Oscar Wilde.

A humorous ghost story about an American family moving into a haunted British country house. Wilde uses the story to contrast British and American culture. The humour comes from the American family's complete lack of fear in the ghost and its increasing frustration at this. The roles become reversed and the ghost becomes the victim of the family. The story was very popular and has been adapted into plays, operas, television dramas and films.

WHEN Mr. Hiram B. Otis, the American Minister, bought Canterville Chase, every one told him he was doing a very foolish thing, as there was no doubt at all that the place was haunted. Indeed, Lord Canterville himself, who was a man of the most punctilious honour, had felt it his duty to mention the fact to Mr. Otis when they came to discuss terms.

"We have not cared to live in the place ourselves," said Lord Canterville, "since my grandaunt, the Dowager Duchess of Bolton, was frightened into a fit, from which she never really recovered, by two skeleton hands being placed on her shoulders as she was dressing for dinner, and I feel bound to tell you, Mr. Otis, that the ghost has been seen by several living members of my family, as well as by the rector of the parish, the Rev. Augustus Dampier, who is a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. After the unfortunate accident to the Duchess, none of our younger servants would stay with us, and Lady Canterville often got very little sleep at night, in consequence of the mysterious noises that came from the corridor and the library."

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One of two featured texts in October 2013

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"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1864) an edition of the 1820 short story by Washington Irving.

The story of a headless horseman chasing a schoolmaster is one of the earliest examples of enduringly popular American fiction. The nature of the horseman is left for the reader to decide. The story borrows elements from the folklore of several European countries and transplants them to late 18th century New York state. The story has been widely reprinted and adapted since its publication in 1820 in a collection called The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon. This is a later, self contained, 1864 edition published by G. P. Putnam with additional illustrations.

ON the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail, and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market-town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market-days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic. Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley, or rather lap of land, among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of a quail, or tapping of a woodpecker, is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquillity.

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One of two featured texts in October 2013

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"The Laws of Hammurabi, King of Babylonia" (1903) by H. Otto Sommer, translating the ancient Akkadian work of Hammurabi, sixth king of Babylonia.

This is the first translation of the Hammurabi's code made into English, and only the third to be made following the its discovery by modern archaeologists. Prior to Sommer's translation it only existed in French and German among modern languages. The Laws of Hammurabi were written circa 1772 BC, in the Middle Bronze Age. They are one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world and the longest from the Old Babylonian period. The entire legal code is made up of 282 enumerated laws, here rendered into legal terminology by attorney William Earl Ambrose, almost half of which concerns contract law and a third concerns family law. It contains very early examples of familiar legal concepts, such as the presumption of innocence and both parties presenting evidence. This translation is accompanied by detailed photographs of the entire original Akkadian text of the laws for those who can read cuneiform.

The ruins of Susa now being excavated by the distinguished explorer M. de Morgan have already yielded important results. He was led to undertake the excavation of ancient Susa from inscriptions found in the ruins of Babylon, from which he learned that many of the most important monuments of the Babylonian kings had been carried, as trophies of war by the Elamite kings, to their capital, Susa. When he left Egypt in 1888 it was for the purpose of recovering from the ruins of Susa these monuments. He had not been long at work in Susa before he found the stele of Narâm-Sin c. 3,800 B.C., which showed a high state of art in the Tigro-Euphrates valley nearly 6,000 years ago. This discovery was rapidly followed by others. The most important of which is the stele of Hammurabi, upon which was engraved his code of laws, c. 2,250 B.C.

This code is the oldest collection of public laws that has yet been discovered. It is a reflection of the social conditions existing in Babylonia 4,000 years ago. The jurist of to-day will recognize in it most of the fundamental principles on which our social legislation is based.

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Featured November 2013

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"Vanity Fair", an 1848 novel by William Makepeace Thackeray.

Transcribed and proofread as part of a proofread of the month collaboration earlier this year, this version of Thackeray's classic replaced an incomplete text partially copied from Project Gutenberg. In addition to finishing the abandoned work, Wikisource is now able to offer the previously missing illustrations, as well as page scans for reference.

Subtitled "A novel without a hero", the book is a satire of mid-nineteenth century British society. It was initially serialised in twenty monthly pamphlets before being published as a complete novel, as was customary at the time. The story was acclaimed by critics even before the last instalment was issued, although some criticised its bleakness and, eventually, the downbeat ending. It is now considered a classic of English literature.

This month is the 150th anniversary of Thackeray's death.

While the present century was in its teens, and on one sun-shiny morning in June, there drove up to the great iron gate of Miss Pinkerton's academy for young ladies, on Chiswick Mall, a large family coach, with two fat horses in blazing harness, driven by a fat coachman in a three-cornered hat and wig, at the rate of four miles an hour. A black servant, who reposed on the box beside the fat coachman, uncurled his bandy legs as soon as the equipage drew up opposite Miss Pinkerton's shining brass plate, and as he pulled the bell, at least a score of young heads were seen peering out of the narrow windows of the stately old brick house. Nay, the acute observer might have recognised the little red nose of good-natured Miss Jemima Pinkerton herself, rising over some geranium-pots in the window of that lady's own drawing-room.

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Featured December 2013


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"The Corsair" is an 1814 tale in verse by George Gordon Byron.

It is about a privateer named Conrad, who is rejected by society as a young man because of his actions, and who later fights against mankind, although not against women. The tale is divided into three cantos.

January 2014 is the bicentennial of the publication of this work.

"O'er the glad waters of the dark blue sea,
"Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free,
"Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam,
"Survey our empire and behold our home!
"These are our realms, no limits to their sway—
"Our flag the sceptre all who meet obey.
"Ours the wild life in tumult still to range
"From toil to rest, and joy in every change.
"Oh, who can tell? not thou, luxurious slave!
"Whose soul would sicken o'er the heaving wave;
"Not thou, vain lord of wantonness and ease!
"Whom slumber soothes not—pleasure cannot please—
"Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried,
"And danc’d in triumph o'er the waters wide,
"The exulting sense—the pulse's maddening play,
"That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way?

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Featured January 2014

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"The Clipper Ship Era", a 1911 history book by former sea captain Arthur Hamilton Clark.

Clark's history represents the pinnacle of wooden sailing ships in the mid-nineteenth century (1843–1869). The period is illustrated through "biographies" of some of the greatest ships of the day and accounts of their races across oceans to get their cargo, from tea to opium, to market.

The Clipper Ship Era began in 1843 as a result of the growing demand for a more rapid delivery of tea from China; continued under the stimulating influence of the discovery of gold in California and Australia in 1849 and 1851, and ended with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. These memorable years form one of the most important and interesting periods of maritime history. They stand between the centuries during which man navigated the sea with sail and oar—a slave to unknown winds and currents, helpless alike in calm and in storm—and the successful introduction of steam navigation, by which man has obtained mastery upon the ocean.

After countless generations of evolution, this era witnessed the highest development of the wooden sailing ship in construction, speed, and beauty. Nearly all the clipper ships made records which were not equalled by the steamships of their day; and more than a quarter of a century elapsed, devoted to discovery and invention in perfecting the marine engine and boiler, before the best clipper ship records for speed were broken by steam vessels. During this era, too, important discoveries were made in regard to the laws governing the winds and currents of the ocean; and this knowledge, together with improvements in model and rig, enabled sailing ships to reduce by forty days the average time formerly required for the outward and homeward voyage from England and America to Australia.

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Featured February 2014

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Association Football and How to Play It is a 1908 guidebook about the sport by John Cameron.

The book is a basic guide to playing football, focussing on advice rather than technical matters, with some background about the sport as it was in the Edwardian period. Cameron was a British football player who, at the time of publication, had just left Tottenham Hotspur, where he had held the position of player-manager and led the team to win the FA Cup. Prior to that he had played for Everton, Queen's Park, and (his first team) Ayr Parkhouse, as well as one game for Scotland in 1896.

Time alters everything, and it has undoubtedly done so in football. Where one used to play with half the village on one side and the same on the other, it is now restricted to sides composed of eleven players. As I have been requested to write on the modern game it is not worth while dwelling upon how it was played a hundred years ago. Football is really supposed to be a Scottish game, but it was in England that a proper Association with defined rules was first started.

This was in the early sixties, and since then the F.A. has grown to be one of the most powerful bodies connected with sport of any shape or form. They are a most wealthy association, and their power is paramount. It must be said that they have had everything to do with making the game what it is at present. Although autocratic, they deal thoroughly and honestly with both clubs and players, and it will be a bad day for the game when any body of clubs break away. At the time of writing rumours are very rife, but it is to be sincerely hoped that once again "rumour is a lying jade." Friendly matches were the order of the day in the early stages of the game. Then came the establishment of the English Cup Competition for all clubs in the Kingdom. This was in the year 1871, and it was only after eleven years had elapsed that the Cup went to the North, when Blackburn Olympic were the winners. May we say en passant that a Scottish club, namely, the Queen's Park of Glasgow, took part in the final contest in 1884 and 1885, but were beaten by the Blackburn Rovers in both cases. After that the Cup had a long sojourn in the North, and it was not until 1901 that my old club, Tottenham Hotspur, managed to bring it back to the South. Again, since then, the North have had a monopoly of it, and Southern enthusiasts are longing for it to have its resting-place somewhere in the South.

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Featured March 2014

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"Daisy Miller: A Study" was Henry James' breakthrough story. It is a psychological study of a beautiful American girl, living in Europe, who engages in flirtatious behaviours that shock and scandalize her fellow expatriates. Though she is condemned as corrupt by her peers, the story ultimately leaves open the question whether Daisy is truly corrupt, or in fact naïvely innocent to the point of social oblivion.

At the little town of Vevay, in Switzerland, there is a particularly comfortable hotel. There are, indeed, many hotels; for the entertainment of tourists is the business of the place, which, as many travellers will remember, is seated upon the edge of a remarkably blue lake—a lake that it behooves every tourist to visit. The shore of the lake presents an unbroken array of establishments of this order, of every category, from the "grand hotel" of the newest fashion, with a chalk-white front, a hundred balconies, and a dozen flags flying from its roof, to the little Swiss pension of an elder day, with its name inscribed in German-looking lettering upon a pink or yellow wall, and an awkward summer-house in the angle of the garden. One of the hotels at Vevay, however, is famous, even classical, being distinguished from many of its upstart neighbors by an air both of luxury and of maturity. In this region, in the month of June, American travellers are extremely numerous; it may be said, indeed, that Vevay assumes at this period some of the characteristics of an American watering-place. There are sights and sounds which evoke a vision, an echo, of Newport and Saratoga. There is a flitting hither and thither of "stylish" young girls, a rustling of muslin flounces, a rattle of dance-music in the morning hours, a sound of high-pitched voices at all times. You receive an impression of these things at the excellent inn of the "Trois Couronnes," and are transported in fancy to the Ocean House or to Congress Hall. But at the "Trois Couronnes," it must be added, there are other features that are much at variance with these suggestions: neat German waiters, who look like secretaries of legation; Russian princesses sitting in the garden; little Polish boys walking about, held by the hand, with their governors; a view of the sunny crest of the Dent du Midi and the picturesque towers of the Castle of Chillon.

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Featured April 2014

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"I beg you to accompany me in an attempt to reach a world which, to many, is probably strange, by the help of a bean. It is, as you know, a simple, inert-looking thing. Yet, if planted under proper conditions, of which sufficient warmth is one of the most important, it manifests active powers of a very remarkable kind."
Evolution and Ethics (1893) Huxley


Featured May 2014

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"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1865) by Lewis Carroll.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is an 1865 novel by Lewis Carroll, which is widely regarded to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children.

This is the 1866 edition based on the 1865 first edition, with original illustrations by John Tenniel.

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"

So she was considering in her own mind, (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid,) whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a white rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

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Featured June 2014

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"Doctor Syn" by Russell Thorndike.

Doctor Syn is the first in the series of Doctor Syn novels by Russell Thorndike. It is the first appearance of the Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn, the vicar of the little town of Dymchurch. Although it is the first book in the series, the events described in it are preceded by the following books.

This book was completed as part of the Tenth Anniversary Contest.

To those who have small knowledge of Kent let me say that the fishing village of Dymchurch-under-the-wall lies on the south coast midway between two of the ancient Cinque ports, Romney and Hythe.

In the days of George III, with Trafalgar still unfought, our coast watchmen swept with keen glasses this broad bend of the Channel; watched not for smugglers (for there was little in Dymchurch to attract the smuggler, with its flat coastline open all the way from Dover cliffs around Dungeness to Beachy Head), but for the French men-o'-war.

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Featured July 2014

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"Tyrannosaurus and Other Cretaceous Carnivorous Dinosaurs" (1905) a paper by Henry Fairfield Osborn.

As the research paper which first described the dinosaur species Tyrannosaurus rex, this paper is of great scientific and historic significance. Tyrannosaurus rex, or T. rex as it is often known, is one of the best-known species of dinosaur, and was a large carnivore that lived during the Cretaceous Period. It was one of the last non-avian dinosaur species to become extinct during the Cretaceous-Palaeogene mass extinction event, which took place around 65 million years ago.

In 1902, the American Museum expedition in Montana, led by Mr. Barnum Brown, and accompanied by Professor R. S. Lull, secured considerable portions of the skeleton of one of the great Carnivorous Dinosaurs of Upper Cretaceous or Laramie age. Additional portions of this skeleton (Amer. Mus. No. 973) are now (1905) being taken out. I propose to make this animal the type of the new genus Tyrannosaurus, in reference to its size, which greatly exceeds that of any carnivorous land animal hitherto described.

I also briefly characterize as Dynamosaurus another carnivorous dinosaur, with dermal plates, found by Mr. Brown in 1900. The carnivorous group has hitherto been considered as belonging to the single genus Dryptosaurus, but it is probably little less diversified than its herbivorous contemporaries among the Iguanodontia and Ceratopsia. The generic distinctions which are herein indicated by partially studied remains will probably be intensified by future research. Geological, geographical, and morphological considerations render it a priori probable not only that the above genera as well as Deinodon are distinct from Dryptosaurus but that a fifth Cretaceous genus of somewhat more primitive character, which may be called Albertosaurus, is represented in the British Columbia skulls hitherto described as Dryptosaurus.

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Featured August 2014

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"Wikipedia is pushing the boundaries of scholarly practice but the gender gap must be addressed" is a 2013 blog post by Adrianne Wadewitz.

Wadewitz was a feminist scholar of 18th-century British literature. She contributed to Wikipedia and commented upon it, particularly with regard to the “gender gap,” i.e., the disproportionate predominance of men among editors. This post appeared in the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog.

Wikipedia is the largest reference work the world has ever created. It is the sixth-largest website in the world. It is the most visited reference work on the internet. It is available in over 285 languages. If you want to affect how the world understands a particular topic, you must edit Wikipedia.

As academics, we already possess many of the skills necessary to be excellent writers of encyclopedia entries: specialized knowledge and finely-honed research and writing abilities. It is incumbent upon us to share our knowledge with the world, where it will be read not only by our fellow academics but by anyone curious about our topics.

The gender gap: every edit is political

Wikipedia bills itself as “the free encyclopedia and anyone can edit” – but not everyone does. Approximately 90% of Wikipedia’s editors are male. For Wikipedia, this has resulted in problems of bias, overrepresentation/underrepresentation of topics, and an environment hostile towards female editors. A lack of diversity amongst editors means that, for example, topics typically associated with femininity are underrepresented and often actively deleted.

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Featured October 2014

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"A Christmas Carol", an 1843 novella by Charles Dickens.

Never out of print since being written over the course of six weeks in 1843, A Christmas Carol introduced the name "Scrooge" and his exclamation "Bah! Humbug!" to the English language. Although the book did not bring Dickens the income he had hoped for, the theme of families gathered together at Christmas had a strong influence on the celebrations of early Victorian England. At the same time the morality tale style portrayal of the redemption of Scrooge caused a sudden burst of charitable giving shortly after publication.

Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

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Featured December 2014


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"The Russian School of Painting" is a 1916 translation by Avrahm Yarmolinsky of the 1904 book on art by Russian art critic Alexandre Benois (Алекса́ндр Никола́евич Бенуа́).

Written at the end of the Tsarist era, the book covers the history of almost all art in Russia up to the rise of the Soviet Union. Benois was an important artist and art critic of the era from Saint Petersburg, who edited the influential art magazine Mir iskusstva and was scenic director at the Mariinsky Theatre at the time of writing.

THE history of Russian Painting of the Western type begins with Peter the Great. The works of art belonging to Peter's times show almost no trace of the art of old Russia. Only in church painting did the old style persist for any length of time; but it is just this branch of Russian painting that, even before the time of Peter the Great, had already lost its original and traditional character. The Russian icon-painting of the seventeenth century, which had just begun to free itself from the Byzantine canon and to absorb elements of national taste, mainly in the choice of colours and the treatment of ornaments, turns aside at about the middle of the century, and, under the influence of South-Russian and Polish cultures, acquires an unmistakably "German" bent. The Church offered almost no resistance to this current. True it is that the Church sturdily upheld the integrity of Byzantine traditions as far as the outward demands of iconography were concerned, such as: the choice of subject matter, the postures, the grouping and, to some extent, the vestures. Yet the Church was indifferent to the fact that the very type of the saints, under the influence of German engravings, began to assume a sluggish character, and that the style of the icons became broken, flabby, as remote as possible from the stern grandeur of the Byzantine manner. About the age of Peter, and for some time after, this current became even stronger; and in the middle of the eighteenth century it degenerated into a bizarre mixture of the Byzantine pattern with the wild eccentricities of the German rococo. Academicism wiped out the last traces of Byzantinism from Russian iconography, and in the first half of the nineteenth century we find no traces of it. Only in the popular peasant arts and crafts has the ancient ecclesisatic art survived to this very day.

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Featured January 2015

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"Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan", a 1920 translation of the diaries of three 11th-century Japanese women: "Lady Sarashina", Murasaki Shikibu, and Izumi Shikibu.

All three women were ladies-in-waiting in the Japanese court during the Heian Period. Lady Murasaki is the author of The Tale of Genji, often attributed to be the world's first novel,—she and Lady Izumi were also poets—despite the restricted lives of women in this period.

The translation into English was made by Annie Shepley Omori (an American artist resident in Japan) and Kōchi Doi (a Japanese Professor of English at the Imperial University in Tokyo). The Wikisource edition was proofread as part of the Proofread of the Month collaborative exercise.

I was brought up in a distant province which lies farther than the farthest end of the Eastern Road. I am ashamed to think that inhabitants of the Royal City will think me an uncultured girl.

Somehow I came to know that there are such things as romances in the world and wished to read them. When there was nothing to do by day or at night, one tale or another was told me by my elder sister or stepmother, and I heard several chapters about the shining Prince Genji. My longing for such stories increased, but how could they recite them all from memory? I became very restless and got an image of Yakushi Buddha made as large as myself. When I was alone I washed my hands and went secretly before the altar and prayed to him with all my life, bowing my head down to the floor. "Please let me go to the Royal City. There I can find many tales. Let me read all of them."

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Featured February 2015

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The Problems of Philosophy is a 1912 book by British philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell.

Russell wrote it as a quick and accessible guide to some of the issues of philosophy. The reader is introduced not only to Russell's theories but also those of other philosophers such as Hume, Locke and Kant. The selection of problems concentrates on the theory of knowledge (epistemology) rather than metaphysics. This involves the distinction between types of knowledge, an important part of Russell's philosophy, and to what degree something can truly be known with any certainty.

The text on Wikisource also features an accompanying audiobook version from LibriVox.

Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it? This question, which at first sight might not seem difficult, is really one of the most difficult that can be asked. When we have realised the obstacles in the way of a straightforward and confident answer, we shall be well launched on the study of philosophy—for philosophy is merely the attempt to answer such ultimate questions, not carelessly and dogmatically, as we do in ordinary life and even in the sciences, but critically, after exploring all that makes such questions puzzling, and after realising all the vagueness and confusion that underlie our ordinary ideas.

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Featured March 2015

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