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OBJECT OF THE BOOK.
VERY man's life is his own biography. He delineates himself in all his activities from childhood to the grave. President Allen's
favorite motto was Cromwell's direction to his artist, “Paint me as I am." In these pages we wish to present such a true picture of the man that those who read them may feel the power of his personal influence. With some there may be a desire to know of the childhood, the environments and the struggles that helped to mould his character.
We hope this book may bring to such, hours of pleasure and profit, and as their children shall know the life that he lived and the sermons that he preached to their fathers and mothers, the knowledge may help them onward and upward. Encouraged by this hope, and wishing to perpetuate his memory, we have prepared this tribute of love.
We trust that all students and friends of Alfred University, past, present, and future, will feel that it is to them, and for them, that this book has been prepared. That through these pages they may catch a glimpse of the noble, unselfish man so many of them have known and loved, is the fervent wish of the author,
A. A. ALLEN.
O one understands better than the author herself how far short of what President Allen was can any word picture portray him.
Those who knew him best continually found new surprises in the freshness and fullness of his investigations, in every phase of life and experience. We cannot do better than give his own ideas of biography, as he once wrote them :
“Biography, the personal history of life and character, is an interesting and instructive branch of literature. It is the best possible substitute for the personal presence of those who have lived and acted for us. Their deeds and experiences are here presented for example or warning. In it we see the moving forces in the development of society, the origination of customs, laws, governments. The moving, controlling spirits in the world's progress are here revealed as struggling up through difficulties, from small beginnings, to high stations and commanding influences, becoming ever-burning lights for the inspiration and guidance of others.
“When a great, good, or original character arises, all have a desire to know the springs of his power, the details of his living and doing. Whatever came to such in opportunity and achievement, whatever influence he started for human well being, becomes of especial interest. Strength of mind and character, patriotism, love of liberty, poetic fire, religious elevation, and all true greatness become highly instructive and finely inspirational. Truths thus come to us, not as abstractions, but embodied, living, thinking, willing, accomplishing, thereby influencing, developing character. It puts to the test of practice multitudinous and abstract truths, reducing them to a concrete form. We see one excelling in patience, another in justice, another in temperance, another in benevolence, while perhaps now and then one seems to shine forth with all of the graces combined. Such lives are powerful influences for en kindling a longing for like living in others. The love of knowledge which has kept a youth to his studies, seeking from afar the cloudcapped summits of science, kindles in others a like love, producing a like seeking. The patriot awakens a love of country; the philanthropist, a love
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of human kind; the reformer, a love of progress; the devout lights up the religious sentiments.
“In order for these goodly influences to become effective, biography must have for its subjects characters, not of the bad and ignoble, not given to dry, outward circumstances and conditions, not to accidental place and distinction, but rather of those which reveal the spiritual springs and processes, the power of great purpose, the force of high aims and earnest, persistent endeavor. Such make life real, earnest, inspirational, by permitting us to walk arm in arm with them, to walk face to face with them, breathe the same air, feel the same heat and light.
“Such being the influence of right biography, it evidently claims attention in all plans for reading, should occupy a prominent place in all libraries for the young. The wise, the good, the great, of all ages, should be permitted to walk with us, to cross the threshold of all our homes, sit by our firesides with us, enabling us to gather to ourselves those powers and methods by which they have helped on the world's progress, and thus enabling us to fitly meet the issues which they have bequeathed to us, thereby helping on the world to still higher issues."