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TO

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

HENRY LABOUCHERE, M.P.,

These Volumes are Inscribed,

AS A TRIBUTE OF

PUBLIC RESPECT AND PERSONAL REGARD,

BY HIS ATTACHED FRIEND,

THE AUTHOR.

PREFACE.

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The biography of a man of genius ought to be the history of his thoughts. If he has been a man of action, the narrative of his life will necessarily consist in the chronicle of his deeds : if he has been a man of letters, his ideas must be sought for in his works; and the story of his life will best be told by accounting for these,-how they came to be designed, and under what circumstances they were executed. Autobiography—which for clearness of outline and truth of colouring is generally regarded as the best—often fails in the particular just mentioned. It is a true picture, but it is of the pre-Raphaelite school. The most faithful self-analyst, as he gazes intently at his own image in the glass, is apt to become unconscious or unmindful of the many incidents that have con

tributed to make him what he is. Artist though he be, he forgets perspective; and in the want of background we lose much of the reality of the portrait. A few of kindred spirit and quick fancy, may indeed supply at will the deficiency for themselves : but after all, it is for the unimaginative many that biography is written.

On the other hand, we seem to have fallen too much of late into the practice of enumerating commonplace details, which only serve to prove how numerous are the points of identity between the outward lot of those possessing high intellectual gifts, . and that of those around them. I do not question the tendency of such proof to check the vanity of some who may, on insufficient grounds, persuade themselves that they too belong to nature's privileged class : and every day's observation shows how insatiable public curiosity becomes, when once accustomed to biographic catalogues of casual acquaintances, inventories of household stuff, and all the indescribable trivialities of social life. It seems to me that there is hardly time for reading such as this; and that what is chiefly worth knowing of remarkable men, is wherein

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