A Treasury of the World's Great Letters: From Ancient Days to Our Own Time

A Treasury of the World's Great Letters: From Ancient Days to Our Own Time

A Treasury of the World's Great Letters: From Ancient Days to Our Own Time

A Treasury of the World's Great Letters: From Ancient Days to Our Own Time

Excerpt

Letters make the most interesting reading in the world--especially other people's.

That, at least, is the conviction that has directed the many years of research and collecting that have gone into the making of this anthology.

Actually, the letters of men have interested me as much and as long as the men of letters. Man and boy, I have been tracking down and hoarding "the great letters of history" since 1915, when I was first enthralled by the rhapsodies that Ludwig van Beethoven poured out on paper to "the immortal beloved." About the same time, I was also thrilled by Captain Robert Falcon Scott's letter from the South Pole, in which he declared that "these rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale" of an ill-starred and heroic adventure.

Such letters, together with a number of historic and dramatic communications of Spinoza, Dr. Johnson, Franklin, Lincoln, and Stevenson, which enlivened my youthful explorations in biography, literature, and history, formed the beginning of my collection. From sheer emotional excitement, the hoard grew with the years.

Gradually my accumulation of letters soon began to take more or less systematic form, and in 1923 the first vague pattern of an anthology developed. Since then my collection has grown at a geometric rate. I found myself hunting and saving the famous and durably significant letters of history, annotating, weeding, ar . . .

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