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The Autobiography of Christopher Kirkland, Vol. 1. Linton, E. Lynn (Elizabeth Lynn), 1822–1898.
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IT is impossible to write an absolutely candid autobiography. Our relations with others, and the artistic proportions of events, forbid that completeness which, to be perfect, should include every circumstance of the life. For just as plants and organisms are built up and developed by microscopic cells, so are our characters and minds formed by all the circumstances which surround us, how minute soever each may be in itself. At the best then, no more can be given than those salient points of thought and action which furnish an intelligible outline but do not include fractional details—which page: vi show the completed fabric but not the whole process of construction.

Within these limits every autobiography which is clear and symmetrical so far as it goes, has its value. As no human being is absolutely unparalleled, but each embodies in his degree the moral and intellectual characteristics of certain orderly types already established, it necessarily follows that no personal history can be without the interest which comes from sympathy and likeness. The ways by which some have arrived at certain landing-stages must needs be those by which others have gone or are going; and the experience of one serves another as warning or guidance, according to the secret bent of his nature and his dread or desire to be led to the right or turned to the left.

For this reason, I, a pilgrim rapidly nearing the great Mecca of the grave, write here as faithful an autobiography as I may page: vii or can. It will not be useless to show where a man who has ardently desired to know the Truth, and who has been neither afraid of his own conclusions nor ashamed to confess his convictions, finds himself at last. The Isis at whose feet he stands will hold in her hand, or a torch to light forward or a flaming sword to stay, the advancing steps of those who read, as they may sympathize with the process or be repelled by the result.


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