Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/44

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

unsuspectedness, any of the queer little morsels of oddity or pathos that may drift past him. The old Gentleman's Magazine is charming in that way, but I do not know that one can find a much better hunting-ground than the dictionary. I take down a volume—honestly at random—and simply dip into it to see what will turn up. I range, as it happens, over all the centuries from Caradoc (Caractacus, the Romans called him), who fought against a Roman army backed by an elephant corps, before A.D. 50, to a gentleman of the same name, who became Lord Howden, and died in 1873; from Carausius, who was a bit of a pirate and something of an emperor, in the third century, and whose biographer pathetically observes that the exact dates of his life and adventures are 'not absolutely certain,' to Carlyle, in whose case the full blaze of modern biography has left not even the minutest detail untouched. There is Canute, who is not here introduced to the tide—the biographer finds out, by the way, that an anecdote is simply the polite name of a lie—and mediæval churchmen, like the admirable Chad, thanks to whom, according to Scott, the fanatic Brooke got his deserts at Lichfield, and William de St. Carilef, whose character, we regret