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27 Beekman Street,
interet awrlind to act or Congress 10.1372,7y Johnson.fb.in the urtice i’ the librarian or corujress at Hashington,
IOGRAPHY,” says Archbishop Whately, “is allowed on all hands to be
one of the most attractive and profitable kinds of reading.” The reason of this is obvious. It has, when properly treated, the ease and variety of the most agreeable forms of literature, and its subject-matter most nearly concerns the reader. In its very nature it is bound to a certain interest of progress and development, such as we look for in the Drama. Reaching back frequently into the story of an ancient lineage, the infant human life is introduced with a species of historic interest in the concerns and opportunities of the family. The formative years of childhood succeed, with the influences of education which, if they do not create the character, go far to shape its manifestation to the world. How infinitely varied are these forms of development, how peculiar the action of the individual mind! Then comes the great struggle for success as the years roll on, till the man, with noble endeavor, obtains the mastery, and whether in art, science, literature or public affairs, places himself on a pinnacle where he will be surveyed through all coming time. The end which crowns the work of the personal career is yet to be reached; and as we have watched the rising of the hero with hope and anxiety, we look upon his departure with sympathy and admiration. To observe and chronicle the achievements and vicissitudes of every year of busy life is the province of the biographer, and there are no resources of literature which may not on occasion be serviceable to the work. Hence, books of biography are more and more, in the hands of consummate masters of the art, claiming the highest rank in our libraries. They are no longer scant and meagre records of a few personal details, but, in the case of men of eminence, require for their perfection a vast deal of the resources of history and philosophy. In the hands of Macaulay and Carlyle, biography, in its most attractive exhibition, is made to do the work of history, and nobly it accomplishes the design. Nor is this simply a daring achievement of men of genius. The greater part of the knowledge which we have of history, it may safely be said, is at this day conveyed through the lives of distinguished personages.
Looking at the work before us—the exhibition of the LIVES OF EMINENT MEN AND WOMEN OF EUROPE AND AMERICA, from the period of the Revolution to the present day—we find, when we have made up the list, a singularly general representaton of the nationalities of the present century as well as of