« НазадПродовжити »
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
FROM THE LIBRARY OF
APRIL 25, 1939
FROM AUTHOR'S ADVANCE SHEETS.
Stereotyped at the
WOMEN'S PRIXTING HOUSE,
GEORGE STOVIN VENABLES, Q.C.
HISTORY is the summary of biographies, and I must appeal to the indulgence of a forty years' friendship in submitting these biographical sketches to the attention of so complete a historian of the past, and so acute an historical critic of present times.
But if you, for reasons of your own, have selected the vehicle of the anonymous press for the communication of your large and accurate knowledge and the exercise of your vigorous and humorous judgment, it the more becomes those who have long known and followed your literary course, to remind your weekly and daily readers to whom they owe so much solid learning, and so much agreeable illustration.
The artistic form of biography, in which the personality of the portrait is made subservient to the skill of the painter, and which from Tacitus to Johnson has charmed mankind, is now classed with romantic fiction,
and shares the fate of the old decorous history that has fallen beneath the arms which Niebuhr forged for our youth, which Carlyle and Lewis have wielded with gigantic force, and with which men of the intellectual diversity of Froude and Freeman are still contending against dear tradition.
It is therefore difficult to determine in what shape it is best to preserve to after-times the deeds and words of best or better men. To throw before the public what in a brute material sense may literally be called their Remains is the easiest and most common process, and, whatever may be gathered together by affectionate and discriminating hands, much is properly left to the vultures and beasts of prey. Yet it seems to me that a truthful impression may
be produced by a combination of general and personal observation, which, while it leaves the characters in the main to speak for themselves, aims at something like a literary unity of design. And when, as in the greater part of the following notices, this interest is cemented by individual sympathy, there is a chance of the production of a more than transitory record. Although I am not aware that in these
personality of the writer is unduly prominent, I am not sorry to have this opportunity of vindicating the advantage of an intimate personal relation between the describer and the described. It may indeed sometimes