The spiritual history of a man is never without interest to his fellows. How a great man lived and moved and had his being; how he met and faced this cunning, cheating world; how he bore himself to his fellows, and how he accomplished the work that lay to his hand; these are matters which are fall of deep interest, of true pathos to men who are amongst their fellows; to men who are striving to live justly and honestly in this present world. Each other life that we come to know and feel with, has not lived for itself, but for us. Other men have suffered that we may be free from pain. The victory of another may be ours through the magic of sympathy. There is a deep perennial truth in this matter of vicarious suffering. We find it illustrated in the sacrifices of all religions, and in the central doctrine of Christianity itself. It is in this aspect that hero-worship is excellent. “We may make our lives divine,” and the way to succeed in that endeavour is by means of a thorough knowledge of, a deep and noble sympathy with, that which is divine in our fellow men. The examples such men leave are indeed noble benefactions to the race. A Peabody bequest is a small thing in comparison with the living records of a life well spent. That being so, the value of biography can be understood, and if the infinite significance of a true life of a real man is appreciated, the sorrow which must be felt on account of the rarity of such works cannot but be great. True there is no lack of so-called “Biographies,” but these fall far short of the requirements of the perfect record of a life. In these, for the most part, we find not the life of a man but a number of the circumstances which he lived through. How these modified him, how he moulded the iron of circumstance, for the most part, we hear not.
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