Sidor som bilder
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]


..... 115



... 153



...... 170


BIOGRAPHY is a subject of universal interest; it is one of the most attractive and delightful of studies, and has an abundant power both to charm and to instruct. It has been properly styled“ The Science of Human Life.” The advantages of this pleasing and popular branch of human knowledge are great almost beyond compare. In order to duly estimate them, we have only to review the tenor of our past life, and reflect how often we have been excited to virtue, or deterred from vice; how often we have been roused from indolence, animated to exertion, and impelled to pursuits which haveled to wealth or fame; to happiness, or to honour, by reading the lives of the illustrious dead, who have left examples of industry, fortitude, and perseverance, in the paths of virtue. “ If Cæsar wept before the statue of ALEXANDER ; if Burns felt the enthusiasm of a patriot possess his whole soul in perusing the valiant deeds of WILLIAM WALLACE; if the benevolence of the Catholic has been kindled by the example of St. VINCENT DE PAULE; if the British sailor will for ages to come feel his heart beat at the name of Nelson; all this, and a thousand times more, is owing to that most fascinating species of History which is called Biography *.”

Biography developes the efforts by which knowledge and virtue have been acquired, and by which ignorance

Encyclopædia Metropolitana, Part I. Hist. p. 7.


and vice have been exterminated; it shows by what errors felicity has been lost and overlooked, and sorrow and disgrace incurred. Man is certainly the most interesting object to Man. This is the mirror by which we adjust our moral dress, and learn to recognize ourselves. But it is needless to enlarge in recommendation of a subject which has already the general voice in its favour, against which not a single whisper has been heard, nor the slightest token of disapprobation perceived.

While, however, little is required in recommendation of a subject so important in itself, as Biography confessedly is, yet it is highly requisite that the present writer should give ample and satisfactory reasons to the reading Public for offering to them “ A New Universal Biography,” and that he should fully detail the proposed advantages of the work.

The two principal advantages of this “ New Biography,” will be found in the completeness of its reference, and the superiority of its arrangement. There is no work in existence, The General Biographical Dictionary of thirty-two volumes not excepted, but what will very frequently disappoint the reader as a work of general reference; many hundreds of names, of frequent occurrence to his mind, he will search for in vain. The present work will contain every name on record of any importance ; consequently it will be superior in reference to any other Biographical colleetion. This will be a very considerable recommendation. A much greater advantage, however, will be found in the superiority of its arrangement. All other General Biographies are arranged on the alphabetical plan ; a plan which labours under every possible disadvantage ; and indeed its sole advantage consists in convenience of reference; a mere petty accommodation, to which all chronology and classification are completely sacrificed! In the alphabetical assemblage the subjects presented to the view are generally so opposite, and so incongruous, that no reader, however patient, can long proceed in a continuoụs course of read

« FöregåendeFortsätt »