254 AUTOBIOGItiPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
I have had on the occurrence of my seventieth birthday from friends at home and abroad, I cannot do so. I only wish I could fitly express to you how highly I appreciate the compliment you bestow upon me by such a gathering of friends as are here to-night. Be assured I shall ever remember it as one of the happiest events of my life.
Years ago, when as a barefooted boy I followed the plow from early morn tifl late at night, I Uttle dreamed that the time would ever come when I would be the recipient of such an honor, and would be surrounded by so many kind and thoughtful friends. Often during my Ufe, when burdened with trials and anxieties, coupled as they sometimes were with bitter disappointments, I had almost concluded that Ufe was not worth the struggle I was engaged in; and had it not been unmanly to do so, I would have been tempted to step down and out; but, gathering new courage, I strug¬ gled on; and now, at the end of threescore and ten years, to receive such a royal welcome from so many warm friends touches me beyond what words can express.
As to my past Ufe and its results, I can only say I tried to do the best I could.
When as a young man I began work in the Une in which aU my after years were spent, we had none of the aids to progress that the young men of to-day have. There were no techiflcal schools where we could learn the theory and science of engineering; there were no papers or books out of which we coifld learn the practice and experience of others; whatever a boy then got in the way of knowledge came to him by hard knocks and often bitter experience; and so, when you are pleased to commend what I may have ac¬ compUshed, I esteem it doubly, for you know the school in which I was taught, and you are men fully competent to sit in judgment on such matters. Proud and grateful as I am for aU the kind things you have been pleased to say about