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The Last Leaf Observations, during Seventy-Five Years, of Men and Events in America and Europe   By: (1834-1927)

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The Last Leaf

Observations, during Seventy five Years, of Men and Events in America and Europe

By James Kendall Hosmer, LL.D.

Member of the Minnesota Historical Society, Corresponding Member of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Colonial Society of Massachusetts

Author of "A Short History of German Literature," "The Story of the Jews," the Lives of Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Sir Henry Vane, etc.



Standing on the threshold of my eightieth year, stumbling badly, moreover, through the mutiny, well justified, of a pair of worn out eyes, I, a veteran maker of books, must look forward to the closing of an over long series.

I retain in my memory certain films, which record impressions of long ago. Can I not possibly develop and present these film records for a moving picture of the men and events of an eventful period?

We old story tellers do our talking under a heavy handicap. Homer, long ago, found us garrulous, and compared us to cicadas chirping unprofitably in the city gate. In the modern time, too, Dr. Holmes, ensconced in smug youth, could "sit and grin" at one of our kind as he

"Totters o'er the ground With his cane."

He thought

"His breeches and all that Were so queer."

The "all that" is significant. To the callow young doctor, men of our kind were throughout queered, and so, too, think the spruce and jaunty company who are shouldering us so fast out of the front place. In their thought we are more than depositors of last leaves, in fact we are last leaves ourselves, capable in the green possibly of a pleasant murmur, but in the dry with no voice but a rattle prophetic of winter. I hope Dr. Holmes lived to repent his grin. At any rate he lived to refute the notion that youthful fire and white hairs exclude each other. If we must totter, what ground we have to totter over, with two generations and more behind us! The ground is ours. We only have looked into the faces of the great actors, and have taken part in the epoch making events. As I unroll my panorama I may totter, but I hope I shall not dodder.

Retiring, as I must soon do from my somewhat Satanic activity, from "going to and fro in the earth and walking up and down in it," I can claim, like my ill reputed exemplar, to have encountered some patient Jobs, servants of the Lord, but more who were impatient, yet not the less the Lord's servants, and the outward semblance of these I try to present. My pictures have to some extent been exhibited before, in the Atlantic Monthly , the New York Evening Post , and the Boston Transcript , and I am indebted to the courtesy of the publishers of these periodicals for permission to utilise them here. I am emboldened by the favour they met to present them again to the public, retouched, and expanded. I attempt no elaborate characterisation of men, or history of events or exposition of philosophies. My films are snap shots, caught from the curbstone, from the gallery of an assembly, in a scholar's study, or by the light of a camp fire. I have ventured to address my reader as friend might talk to a friend, with the freedom of familiar intercourse, and I hope that the reader may not be conscious of any undue intrusion of the showman as the figures and scenes appear. Go, little book, with this setting forth of what you are and aim to do.


MINNEAPOLIS, October, 4, 1912.




"Tippecanoe and Tyler too." Millard Fillmore. Abraham Lincoln at Church. Stephen A. Douglas. Daniel Webster. William H. Seward. Edward Everett. Robert C. Winthrop. Charles Sumner. John A. Andrew.



U.S. Grant. Philip H. Sheridan. George G. Meade. W.T. Sherman. Jacob D. Cox. N.P. Banks. B.F. Butler. John Pope. Henry W. Slocum. O.O. Howard. Rufus Saxton. James H. Wilson. T.W. Sherman. Horatio G. Wright. Isaac I. Stevens. Harvard Soldiers. W.F. Bartlett. Charles R. Lowell. Francis C. Barlow.



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