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Lives of Remarkable Characters, Vol. 1 of 3

Lives of Remarkable Characters, Vol. 1 of 3

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Excerpt from Lives of Remarkable Characters, Vol. 1 of 3: Who Have Distinguished Themselves From the Commencement of the French Revolution, to the Present Time; From the French

The value of Biography depends chiefly on the authenticity of the materials from which it is drawn. For this reason, Memoirs of Distinguished Persons of Modern Times will always claim a higher estimation than those of former ages; they interest us more strongly, and, being laid before the Public with an implicit appeal to living witnesses, they are more easily, brought to the test of thrift. Narratives of this nature are, in fact the least exceptionable records of recent occurrences; for, without assuming the authoritative and decided tone of history, they present a voluminous and varied mass of evidence, which,. subjected to the severe scrutiny of public opinion, passes to posterity as matter for an impartial verdict.

There are certain seasons in which this species of writing is, of all others, the most useful. Those political revolutions, which from time to time subvert existing establishments and change the course of human affairs, are the peculiar province of Biography. At such epochs the passions of men are raised to a ferment; every variety and degree of talent is called, into activity; all the virtues which exalt our nature, and all the vices which vilify and deform it, are carc ried to their extreme. The order of society is broken; all gradations of rank am confounded; and a succession of convulsions takes place, which unsettles the political system to its very basis. At length the agitation Vol. I. a.

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