Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/29

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15
NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY

the first office of the biographer is to facilitate what I may call the proper reaction between biography and history; to make each study throw all possible light on the other; and so to give fresh vitality to two different lines of study, which, though their mutual dependence is obvious, can yet be divorced so effectually by the mere Dryasdust. And this remark supplies a sufficient answer to one question which has often been put to me. What entitles a man to a place in the dictionary? Why should it include 30,000 instead of 3000 or 300,000 names? Mr. Lee has given an answer which is, I think, correct in its proper place; but, before referring to it, I must point out that there is another, and what would be called a more 'objective' criterion which necessarily governs the solution in the first instance. In order, that is, to secure the proper correlation between the biographer and the historian, it is plainly necessary to include every one who is sufficiently noticed in the ordinary histories to make some further inquiry probable. To give the first instance that occurs, Macaulay tells a very curious story about a certain intrigue which led to the final abolition of licensing the Press in England. The fact itself is one of great interest in the history of English literature. The two