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Although Friendship has been a theme of the ages, its nature and history have not been treated with any degree of fulness by any writer of the ages. Poets and philosophers and essayists have recognized the force and beauty of friendship as a human sentiment, from the days of Homer and Plato and Cicero to those of Bacon and Montaigne and Tennyson; but no one of them has attempted a careful analysis of its elements or a comprehensive record of its more important historic illustrations. Therefore it is that this volume is presented as a unique study of a subject that deserves greater prominence than has hitherto been accorded to it.
It is because of my own indebtedness to friendship that I have sought to uplift this sentiment before others, in its true worth as an ideal and in its practical value as an attainment. In my earlier life I was privileged to know the measureless gain of having a friend, and of being mentally and spiritually ministered to and inspired thereby. In my maturer years I came to experience the surpassing advantage of being drawn out of myself in a reverent and persistent purpose of being unselfishly true as a friend, without looking for any recognition or return of my devotedness. Finding thus how much I owed to the incitements and aspirations and self-conquests of friendship, I set myself to discover how much others also were indebted to the influence of this transcendent sentiment; and so it was that I was led to track along the passing centuries the glowing evidences of friendship as the master-passion of humanity.
This volume must speak for itself, of the measure of thoroughness with which its subject is treated, and with which the fields that it calls attention to have been searched; yet I may say that its pages represent the work of years, and that in its gradual preparation I have had
, the invaluable help of friends, who were illustrating its theme while gathering material for its enriching. My hope is that what is here said and shown will quicken the interest of others in the lofty ideal thus presented, and will inspire them to fresh endeavors toward its realizing
H. CLAY TRUMBULL.
September 15, 1891.