some cases our actual knowledge of men who are believed to have taken a conspicuous part in the drama of their times is so meagre and uncertain that critical disputes have arisen respecting the very existence of such personages.
Homer for example--was he myth or man? The Christ? Where was he and how did he pass his life from his twelfth year to the beginning of his ministry? What were the dates of his birth and death? Shakespeare? Why should not the details of his life, or some considerable portion of the facts, compare in plenitude and authenticity with the events in Dr. Johnson's career?
It seems to be the law of biography that those characters who are known to the world by a few brilliant strokes of genius have as a rule only a meagre personal history, while they whose characters have been built up painfully and slowly out of the commonplace, like the coral islands of the Atlantic, have a great variety and multitude of materials ready for the hands of the biographer.
James Otis belonged to th