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PREFACE I began these memoirs when about twenty-five years old, having from youth kept a diary of some sort, which perhaps from habit made me think of recording my inner and secret life. When I began it, I had scarcely read a baudy book, none of which excepting "Fanny Hill" appeared to me to be truthful, that did, and it does so still; the others telling of recherche eroticisms, or of inordinate copulative powers, of the strange twists, tricks,... more...

You who know something of the irony of life in general, and still more of it in the present particular, will not be surprised that, having made two strict rules for my guidance in the writing of this book, I break them both in the first page! Indeed, I can hear you say, though without any touch of the satirical, that it was only natural that I should do so. The first of my two rules, heartily approved by you, let me add, is thatI should not... more...

INTRODUCTORY NOTE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN was born in Milk Street, Boston, on January 6, 1706. His father, Josiah Franklin, was a tallow chandler who married twice, and of his seventeen children Benjamin was the youngest son. His schooling ended at ten, and at twelve he was bound apprentice to his brother James, a printer, who published the "New England Courant." To this journal he became a contributor, and later was for a time its nominal editor. But... more...

MY BIRTH AND PARENTAGE.—THE TREATMENT OF SLAVES GENERALLY IN MARYLAND. I was born in the state of Maryland, which is one of the smallest and most northern of the slave-holding states; the products of this state are wheat, rye, Indian corn, tobacco, with some hemp, flax, &c. By looking at the map, it will be seen that Maryland, like Virginia her neighbour, is divided by the Chesapeake Bay into eastern and western shores. My birthplace... more...

CHAPTER I. Early Discoveries in the Fifteenth Century. LEGENDS OF THE SEA. Modern familiarity with navigation renders it difficult for us to appreciate adequately the greatness of the enterprise which was undertaken by the discoverers of the New World. Seen by the light of science and of experience, the ocean, if it has some real terrors, has no imaginary ones. But it was quite otherwise in the fifteenth century. Geographical knowledge was but... more...


'Life is not all beer and skittles,' said a reflective sportsman, and all books are not fairy tales. In an imperfect state of existence, 'the peety of it is that we cannot have all things as we would like them.' Undeniably we would like all books to be fairy tales or novels, and at present most of them are. But there is another side to things, and we must face it. '"Life is real, life is earnest," as Tennyson tells us,' said an orator to whom I... more...

I.--Héloïse to Abélard Heloise has just seen a "consolatory" letter of Abelard's to a friend. She had no right to open it, but in justification of the liberty she took, she flatters herself that she may claim a privilege over everything which comes from that hand. "But how dear did my curiosity cost me! What disturbance did it occasion, and how surprised I was to find the whole letter filled with a particular and melancholy... more...

I.--Right and Law All human eloquence, among all peoples and in all times, may be summed up as the quarrel of Right against Law. But this quarrel tends ever to decrease, and therein lies the whole of progress. On the day when it has disappeared, civilisation will have attained its highest point; that which ought to be will have become one with that which is; there will be an end of catastrophes, and even, so to speak, of events; and society... more...

Four American Leaders FRANKLIN The facts about Franklin as a printer are simple and plain, but impressive. His father, respecting the boy's strong disinclination to become a tallow-chandler, selected the printer's trade for him, after giving him opportunities to see members of several different trades at their work, and considering the boy's own tastes and aptitudes. It was at twelve years of age that Franklin signed indentures as an... more...

CHAPTER I. THE ANCESTRY, BIRTH, AND CHILDHOOD, OF JOHN QUINCY ADAMS. The Puritan Pilgrims of the May-Flower landed on Plymouth Rock, and founded the Colony of Massachusetts, on the 21st day of December, 1620. HENRY ADAMS, the founder of the Adams family in America, fled from ecclesiastical oppression in England, and joined the Colony at a very early period, but at what precise time is not recorded. He erected his humble dwelling at a place... more...