previous next

[38] into the mystery of existence centuries ago. The dead generations live again in these old selfbiog-raphies. Incidentally, unintentionally, yet in the simplest and most natural manner, they make us familiar with all the phenomena of life in the by gone ages. We are brought in contact with actual flesh-and-blood men and women, not the ghostly outline figures which pass for such, in what is called History. The horn lantern of the biographer, by the aid of which, with painful minuteness, he chronicled, from day to day, his own outgoings and incomings, making visible to us his pitiful wants, labors, trials, and tribulations of the stomach and of the conscience, sheds, at times, a strong clear light upon contemporaneous activities; what seemed before half fabulous, rises up in distinct and full proportions; we look at statesmen, philosophers, and poets, with the eyes of those who lived perchance their next-door neighbors, and sold them beer, and mutton, and household stuffs, had access to their kitchens, and took note of the fashion of their wigs and the color of their breeches. Without some such light, all history would be just about as unintelligible and unreal as a dimly remembered dream.

The journals of the early Friends or Quakers are in this respect invaluable. Little, it is true, can be said, as a general thing, of their literary merits. Their authors were plain, earnest men and women, chiefly intent upon the substance of things, and having withal a strong testimony to bear against carnal wit and outside show and ornament. Yet, even the scholar may well admire the power of

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: