CHAPTER TWELVE BIOGRAPHY AND HISTORY

THE BIOGRAPHER appeared on the stage of letters hand in hand with the historian; hand in hand they walk there still. Biography may be termed a form of history--a form applied not to nations or groups of people, but to the single man or woman; history is certainly from one point of view a compound of innumerable biographies. All study of the past, whether for pleasure, instruction, or moral growth, must be based upon a reading of both history and biography, and it is a poor literary prescription which demands one at the expense of the other. While some men have a preference for life in general, and some for the life of the individual, each so illustrates the other that neither can be put aside. The commemorative instinct of mankind found expression in biography as early as in history, and very nearly as vigorously. In the Bible, the story of Noah, the story of Abraham, the story of Isaac, and above all the story of Joseph (its length considered, almost a model biography), belong to the category of lives rather than history. Xenophon's Memoirs of Socrates is not in strict form a biography, being a defence of the philosopher against his defamers, but in its effect it is a brief biographical masterpiece. During the first century of the Christian era Plutarch produced a book which has ever since been "a pasturage of great minds," his parallel lives of forty-six Greek and Roman heroes; and in the second century Suetonius wrote his untrustworthy but unforgettable Lives of the Twelve Caesars. Since the birth of modern memoirwriting in France and Britain, since Rohan and De Retz,

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