"WHAT! a book for girls as well as boys?" Well, is it not high time, when almost every wholesome book made for young folks in the score of years just past has been dedicated to the boys alone?
I am afraid most of you will say right here--"I always skip the introduction to a book; it is so stupid!" But if I could only sketch so boldly for you this sweet and Christ-like pagan that the picture would afford you a little of the pleasure the study of his works has brought to me, you would fain read the last word. Plutarch wrote a hundred books and was never dull. Most of these have been lost, but the portions which remain have found, with the exception of Holy Writ, more readers through eighteen centuries than the works of any other writer of ancient times. Besides the fifty "lives" and about twenty "comparisons" which are still extant, we have five large octavo volumes of essays, conversations, and dialogues, covering a vast range of topics. Lamprius, who is commonly thought to have been Plutarch's son, and who was himself something of a philosopher, has left us a catalogue of his father's writings; but, as Dryden capitally said, "you cannot look upon the list without the same emotions that a merchant must feel in perusing a bill of freight after he has lost his vessel." The writings which no longer exist are these--a marvel in themselves of human talent and industry:
The Lives of Hercules, Hesiod, Pindar, Crates, and Daiphantus, with a Parallel; Leonidas, Aristomenes, Scipio Africanus Junior, and Metellus, Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius . . .