IN the congregation of St. Ambrose at Milan, in the latter part of the fourth century, there was a young man with whom many persons are better acquainted than with some of their intimate friends. He wrote an account of his life, in which he set down with exceeding frankness not only what he had done, but what he had thought. And this account remains to this day. It is the earliest of autobiographies. Here, for the first time since the world began, did a man write a book about himself. Even now, after these fifteen hundred years, it is still the best of such books.
Benvenuto Cellini gave an interesting and entertaining account of himself, telling honestly how faithfully he prayed and how frequently he broke the Ten Commandments, and thereby revealing the mediæval conscience. John Bunyan, in "Grace Abounding", recounted his religious experience, with a statement of his faults so frank that it went beyond the fact, and revealed thereby the self-accusing conscience of the Puritan. But the supreme autobiography is the "Confessions" of St. Augustine.