Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/25

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11
NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY

You are like a man wandering in a vast wilderness, which is springing up in every direction with tropical luxuriance; and you feel the necessity of having paths carried through it upon some intelligible system which will enable you to find your way to the required place and tell you in what directions further research would probably be thrown away.

Now it is to this want, or to provide the means of satisfying one part of this want, that the dictionary is intended in the first place to correspond. It ought to be—it is not for me to say how far it has succeeded in becoming—an indispensable guide to persons who would otherwise feel that they were hewing their way through a hopelessly intricate jungle. Every student ought, I will not say to have it in his library, but to carry it about with him (metaphorically speaking) in his pocket. It is true that, in a physical sense, it is rather large for that purpose, though fifty or sixty volumes represent but a small fragment of a decent library; but the judicious person can always manage to have it at hand. And then, though in its first intention it should be useful as an auxiliary in various researches, I shall venture to assert that it may also be not only