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J. MENZIES & CO.
HE present Life of Henry Ward Beecher is the first that
has ever been published. Several magazine sketches
have appeared from time to time during the last thirty years, but not one comprehensive and trustworthy biography. At the close of the civil war the people made many urgent requests for a Life ; but he strongly and persistently objected, and begged his friends to desist, which they stoutly refused to do, however, until it was ascertained that his gifted sister, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, was preparing a biographical volume, entitled “Men of our Time," which would include a sketch of Mr. Beecher. That brief outline of forty or fifty pages is by far the best and most reliable that we have. Mr. Haweis published a very interesting article in the “Contemporary Review," which was extensively read on both sides the Atlantic, and which was copied into other periodicals. Professor Henry Fowler's essay, in his “American Pulpit,” will always be regarded as containing, on the whole, a pretty fair statement of Mr. Beecher's theological position, though, having been pub
lished in about six years after Mr. Beecher came to Brooklyn, it contains but few biographical facts.
This Life, as will be seen by the accompanying letter, appears by the express permission of Mr. Beecher; and had it not been for such permission, the present volume would have never been written. The materials for this work were culled from many different
Mrs. Stowe's “Men of our Time,” The American Pulpit,” by Professor Fowler, and Mr. Haweis's excellent article were very helpful; but the mass of information contained here was taken from Mr. Beecher's own books, which are full of autobiographical references. Among these the following were found of constant assistance : -“ Lectures on Preaching,” first, second, and third series; “Liberty and War ;” “Norwood, or Village Life in New England ;" “Life Thoughts ;” “Sunshine in the Soul ;” “ Lecture-Room Talks ;” “Royal Thoughts ;” and six or seven volumes of sermons. No other man's discourses are so profusely illustrated with incidents in his own life. It is not often that he delivers a sermon without drawing upon his own history. This is certainly a commendable habit, especially in a great man, every single fact in whose life is of deepest interest to the public.
It will be observed that no mention is made in this volume of a long and painful trial through which he was made to pass a few years ago. Suffice it to say that, in the judgment of the great majority of the best people in the States, he was perfectly innocent of the fearful charge brought against him by wicked persons. The whole affair originated in jealousy. Advantage was taken of his childlike simplicity and proverbially generous impulses. His chief assailant was a disappointed man, who