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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY 880172
ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS 1919
Norwood Press Set up and electrotyped by J. S. Cushing Co., Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
Presswork by S. J. Parkhill & Co., Boston, Mass., U.S.A.
Of the dead it is easier to write than of the living. Of the dead, it is true, we speak with charity, our judgment is tempered even when it is critical, but the historian is able to deal fairly and dispassionately with the men who have passed; with approximate accuracy he can measure not only their intentions but appraise their achievements; the causes of failure are not difficult to determine. Spread before him are motives, policies, ambitions, the sum of all that make men great or ignoble, and historical values are determined by results. The perspective of history is the past.
The contemporary writer is denied these advantages. He is too near the events of which he writes. Often he is an actor, although his is a very minor rôle, in the unfolding drama. He is the scene shifter to whom the royal jewels are paste, but to the audience, looking at the stage through the sorcery of softened lights and the benevolence of distance, they are real. He is perplexed in his attempt to render judgment, to reconcile conflicting qualities, to be the impartial recorder ; resisting the temptation to allow his feelings to accord undue praise or to indulge in unwarranted severity. The contemporary writer is brought in contact not