The narrator tells us that “this book has reached a great boundary that was called 1900.” He remarks on the anxiety of old men, who worry that virtue is gone from the world. On the other hand, these men also acknowledge that the 1800s were full of evil, corruption and greed, not to mention a terrible civil war.
Human history, just like humanity itself, is a delicate balance of good and evil. Old men remember the 18th century fondly—they were young, their bodies were healthy, they lived and loved as only young people can. But these memories are accompanied by harsh ones: of civil war, slavery, and corruption.