Mr. Howells once said to me: Every mans life is interesting to himself. I suppose that is true, though in the cases of some men it seems a difficult thing to understand. At any rate it is not because of personal interest in my own life that I am writing this book. I was perfectly sincere in wanting to call these chapters The Autobiography of an Unimportant Man, but on reflection I remembered Franklins wise saying that whenever he saw the phrase without vanity I may say, some peculiarly vain thing was sure to follow. I am seventy years old. My life has been one of unusually varied activity. It has covered half the period embraced in the republics existence. It has afforded me opportunity to see and share that development of physical, intellectual, and moral life conditions, which has been perhaps the most marvelous recorded in the history of mankind. Incidentally to the varied activities and accidents of my life, I have been brought into contact with many interesting men, and into relation with many Interesting events. It is of these chiefly that I wish to write, and if I were minded to offer an excuse for this books existence, this would be the marrow of it. But a book that needs excuse is inexcusable. I make no apology.
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