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"And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."
And the Lord said unto him: ". And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.'”—I Kings xix, 11-19.
Rip Van Winkle was no less in touch with affairs in the valley of the Hudson on his return home after his twenty years' sleep among the Catskills than my wife, my daughter, and myself were with those of these United States when we descended from our sleeper to the upper platform of the Grand Central Station upon our return to New York City in the autumn of 1917. In many respects, allowing for the greater velocity of life in the twentieth century, our cases were not dissimilar. For ten months, under a doctor's orders, we had wandered in the Orient, and returned home to find ourselves in what was presently to prove a new world.
I had been a fairly prosperous bond merchant, the junior partner in a well-connected and reputable Wall Street house; not one of the Grecian-temple variety, with pillars of Carrara and floors of onyx and jasper, but a modest establishment up one flight, where we did a legitimate business in strictly investment securities, dividing among the three of us a yearly net profit of approximately forty thousand dollars. Morris, Lord & Stanton is our firm name, and I was and still am the Stanton John Stanton, A.B., Harvard '86.
If you care, now or later, to take the trouble to look me up in “Who's Who” you will learn that the author of these memoirs was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, December 23, 1865; the son of John Adams Stanton, a banker of that place, and Mary Stuart Thayer, his wife; that he attended the schools of his native city and afterward St. Paul's, at Concord, New Hampshire; graduated in due course from Harvard as above; went into business in New York City; married Helen Morris—the sister of his present partner-on April 30, 1887; is the father of two children and the author of “Bonds Versus Stocks—a Handbook for Investors," a "History of American Stock Exchanges," and "American Railroad Securities.” In my capacity as my own biographer I also included in the personal sketch with which I furnished the editors of that interesting publication the valuable information that I was a Republican, an Episcopalian, and had “never as yet held public office."
That was the history of the John Stanton who shook the dust of Wall Street from his feet toward the end of the year 1916 to seek health in regions beyond the reach of the telephone and the daily newspaper. Sometimes I am inclined to feel that the life of that particular John Stanton ended there and then. At any rate, if he still lives he is, in fact, another and different man. The first followed a soft, ease-loving, thoughtless sort of life, content to go with the crowd, spending his money as freely as he made it, running to seed spiritually and intellectually, his only ambition being to build up so extensive a business that he could retire at the earliest possible moment and amuse himself-presumably as much as possible at the wateringplaces of continental Europe.
To-day~ Well, it is the other and I trust the better John Stanton who writes these pages. Indeed, I not only view my ten months in the Pacific as a long sleep, but I account the whole fifty-two previous years of my life as no less spent in dreaming—the dreaming of the materialistic, essentially selfish, if good-natured, American business man, the dreamer of full-fed dreams. It was only when I stepped out of that transcontinental train that I began to wake up. It was only then that I felt the first faint anticipatory quiver of the shock I was soon to get-the shock of the earthquake that in the next thirty days was to set my brain to reeling, to turn my domestic existence topsyturvy, and to leave me clutching at my heart with weak and trembling hands.
The year 1915 had seen munition and industrial stocks generally rocketing starward; bonds had been strong and trade brisk. We at the office gave the