Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/24

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10
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

it almost seems as though we had made up our minds that nothing was ever to be forgotten.

It may be doubted whether this huge accumulation of materials has been an unmixed benefit to history. Undoubtedly we know many things much more thoroughly than our ancestors. Still, in reading, for example, the later volumes of Macaulay or Froude, we feel sometimes that it is possible to have too much State-paper. The main outlines, which used to be the whole of history, are still the most important, and instead of being filled up and rendered more precise and vivid, they sometimes seem to disappear behind an elaborate account of what statesmen and diplomatists happened to think about them at the time—and, sometimes, what such persons thought implied a complete misconception of the real issues. But in any case one conclusion is very obvious, namely, that with the accumulation of material there should be a steady elaboration of the contrivances for making it accessible. The growth of a great library converts the library into a hopeless labyrinth, unless it is properly catalogued as it grows. To turn it to full account, you require not only a catalogue, but some kind of intelligent guide to the stores which it contains.