Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/30

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
16
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

people chiefly concerned were utterly obscure: Charles Blount and Edmund Bohun necessarily vanish from Macaulay's pages as soon as they have played their little drama. But it is natural to inquire what these two men otherwise were, who were incidentally involved in a really critical turning-point. A reference to the dictionary will not only answer the question, but help to make more distinct the conditions under which English writers won a most important privilege. The historian can only deal with the particular stage at which an obscure person emerges into public, but the significance of the event may start out more vividly when we can trace his movements below the surface. Now to help in this search the biographer has before him an immense mass of material already partially organised. Nobody who has dipped into the subject is ignorant of the immense service rendered by Anthony a Ward in the famous Athenæ Oxonienses. It gives brief, but very shrewd, accounts of all men connected with Oxford, and records the results of a laborious personal inquiry during his own period, which, but for him, would have been forgotten. For the same period we have all the collections due to the zeal of various religious sects; the lives of the