Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/26

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

useful for the more exalted purpose of satisfying the commemorative instinct, but—I do not fear to say so, though my friends sometimes laugh at my saying—it may turn out to be one of the most amusing works in the language.

I will start, however, by saying something of the assertion which is more likely to meet with acceptance. The utility of having this causeway carried through the vast morass of antiquarian accumulation is obvious in a general way. The remark, however, upon which Mr. Lee has insisted, indicates a truth not quite so clearly recognised as might be desirable. The provinces of the historian and the biographer are curiously distinct, although they are closely related. History is of course related to biography inasmuch as most events are connected with some particular person. Even the most philosophical of historians cannot describe the Norman Conquest without reference to William and to Harold. And, on the other side, every individual life is to some extent an indication of the historical conditions of his time. The most retired recluse is the product at least of his parents and his schooling, and is affected by contemporary thought. And yet, the curious thing is the degree in which this fact can be