CHAPTER IX
RETROSPECT AND CONTRAST

IT is no more possible to draw definite lines dividing one part of life from another than it is to separate historical periods with exactness by the rigid number of a given century. Yet when a man passes from the irresponsibility of the years of school and college, when the artificial period fixed by law for coming of age is attained and coincides, as it did in my case, with marriage, with the assumption of responsibilities, and with the first vague questionings as to what one is to do with life, there seems at that moment as one contemplates the past a natural separation between that which has befallen us since the annus mirabilis and that which has gone before. The early days appear to be shut off from those which follow, although in reality they glided quite imperceptibly into each other. Looking back one instinctively pauses at this point, for just here the temptation to compare the world and society as one knew them at the outset of life and as one knows them to-day, after forty years have wrought their changes, becomes irresistible.

That human environment has altered more in the last seventy years, since the first application of steam and electricity to transportation and communication, than it had in two thousand or, indeed, in six thousand years previously, is a truism to those who have taken the trouble to consider this subject. Moreover, since the first application of steam and electricity the revolution in the conditions of human existence has gone forward with constantly accelerating force and rapidity. When I was born the fundamental change

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