« ZurückWeiter »
TRUE history is the lives of great men. The life of one man, faithfully told, is frequently the history of a century, as it is the history of a country. If we can learn what he did, and the motives by which he was influenced, we shall learn all that is needed to be known in relation to the period, and the changes in the period in which he lived. It will frequently be found, also, that a single incident gave special direction to the thoughts and actions of men who have subsequently become celebrated. Such men, while they embraced the tide of opportunity, were not servile or compliant slaves to circumstances : they controlled circumstances-circumstances did not control them.
That portion of history which promises, perhaps, the greatest interest is the interviews which have been held between celebrated men. These interviews, apparently accidental, and thought to be unimportant at the time, have largely moulded and shaped the destiny of the world. It requires but little imagination to call up many of these interviews, which would have had an interest of the most absorbing kind, and which, had we been present, would have left a vivid impress upon our memory. It has been thought, in a diminished sense, that this interest may be reawakened or created by the recital of a few of the more prominent of these interviews. Such recitals are not less important than they are interesting. They are the records of difficulties overcome, of obstacles surmounted, of conquests achieved over matter and men. In silently pointing to what has been done, they direct to what may be done. By their study the timid and irresolute may be made strong; the diffident and wavering bold and resolved; the weak and puny energetic and defiant: wavering purposes may give place to confirmed resolutions; and an objectless life to a life in which there is an aim and an intention. If this should be the result of a thoughtful study of the following pages, the Author will have reaped a rich reward for his labours.