The Last Leaf

James Kendall Hosmer
The Last Leaf

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Title: The Last Leaf Observations, during Seventy-Five Years, of Men
and Events in America and Europe
Author: James Kendall Hosmer
Release Date: May 25, 2004 [EBook #12429]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
LEAF ***

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


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.

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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