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CHAPTER I THE AGE OF ELECTRICITY THE year 1847 marked a period of great territorial acquisition by the American people, with incalculable additions to their actual and potential wealth. By the rational compromise with England in the dispute over the Oregon region, President Polk had secured during 1846, for undisturbed settlement, three hundred thousand square miles of forest, fertile land, and fisheries, including the whole fair Columbia... more...

No golden eagle, warm from the stamping press of the mint, is more sharply impressed with its image and superscription than was the formative period of our government by the genius and personality of Thomas Jefferson. Standing on the threshold of the nineteenth century, no one who attempted to peer down the shadowy vista, saw more clearly than he the possibilities, the perils, the pitfalls and the achievements that were within the grasp of the... more...

CHAPTER I Childhood and Youth James Watt, born in Greenock, January 19, 1736, had the advantage, so highly prized in Scotland, of being of good kith and kin. He had indeed come from a good nest. His great-grandfather, a stern Covenanter, was killed at Bridge of Dee, September 12, 1644, in one of the battles which Graham of Claverhouse fought against the Scotch. He was a farmer in Aberdeenshire, and upon his death the family was driven out of... more...

CHAPTER I. IRON AND CIVILIZATION. "Iron is not only the soul of every other manufacture, but the main spring perhaps of civilized society."—FRANCIS HORNER. "Were the use of iron lost among us, we should in a few ages be unavoidably reduced to the wants and ignorance of the ancient savage Americans; so that he who first made known the use of that contemptible mineral may be truly styled the father of Arts and the author of... more...

ZENOBIA OF PALMYRA: THE GIRL OF THE SYRIAN DESERT. [Afterward known as "Zenobia Augusta, Queen of the East."] A.D. 250. MANY and many miles and many days' journey toward the rising sun, over seas and mountains and deserts,—farther to the east than Rome, or Constantinople, or even Jerusalem and old Damascus,—stand the ruins of a once mighty city, scattered over a mountain-walled oasis of the great Syrian desert, thirteen hundred feet... more...


HIPPOCRATES. Owing to the lapse of centuries, very little is known with certainty of the life of Hippocrates, who was called with affectionate veneration by his successors "the divine old man," and who has been justly known to posterity as "the Father of Medicine." He was probably born about 470 B.C., and, according to all accounts, appears to have reached the advanced age of ninety years or more. He must, therefore, have lived during a period... more...

CHAPTER I THE FIRST BENTINCK A HERO What a delightful story is that of the Portland peerage, in which fidelity, heroism, chivalry and romance are blended and interwoven in the annals of the noble families of England. Who that has been to Welbeck Abbey, that magnificent palace in the heart of Sherwood Forest, with its legends of Robin Hood and his merrie men, with its stately oaks and undulating woodlands, stretching away to fertile pastures,... more...

PREFACE. This volume of memoirs has a double character—historical and intimate. The life of a period, the XIX Century, is bound up in the life of a man, VICTOR HUGO. As we follow the events set forth we get the impression they made upon the mind of the extraordinary man who recounts them; and of all the personages he brings before us he himself is assuredly not the least interesting. In portraits from the brushes of Rembrandts there are... more...

ANCESTORS To arrive at a full understanding of the complex and unusual character of Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson, which perhaps played as large a part as her beauty and intellectual charm in drawing to her the affections of one of the greatest romance writers of our day, one must go back and seek out all the uncommon influences that combined to produce it—a long line of sturdy ancestors, running back to the first adventurers who left their... more...

HORATIO, son of Edmund and Catherine Nelson, was born September 29, 1758, in the parsonage-house of Burnham Thorpe, a village in the county of Norfolk, of which his father was rector. His mother was a daughter of Dr. Suckling, prebendary of Westminster, whose grandmother was sister of Sir Robert Walpole, and this child was named after his godfather, the first Lord Walpole. Mrs. Nelson died in 1767, leaving eight out of eleven children. Her... more...