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I have not aimed to be exhaustive, or to give minute criticism on comparatively unimportant points; but the passions and interests which have agitated nations, the ideas which great men have declared, and the institutions which have grown out of them, have not, I trust, been uncandidly described, nor deductions from them illogically made.
Inasmuch as the interest in the development of those great ideas and movements which we call Civilization centres in no slight degree in the men who were identified with them, I have endeavored to give a faithful picture of their lives in connection with the eras and institutions which they represent, whether they were philosophers, ecclesiastics, or men of action.
And that we may not lose sight of the precious boons which illustrious benefactors have been instrumental in bestowing upon mankind, it has been my chief object to present their services, whatever may have been their defects; since it is for servicesthat most great men are ultimately judged, especially kings and rulers. These services, certainly, constitute the gist of history, and it is these which I have aspired to show.