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Into this volume have been collected a number of Theodore Parker's more scholarly and critical essays, originally published in the various reviews with which he was connected in one or another capacity. To these have been added three or four studies of great preachers. The title of the initial essay, at first used as a college address, has been thought an appropriate one for the whole volume.
The essays on Follen, Beecher, and Macaulay have not before been reprinted from the reviews in which they first appeared. That on Dr. Follen was printed in The Dial, and was the first of Parker's remarkable series of character studies. As the work of a young man it will be found worthy to lead the way to the studies of Adams and Webster. The essay on Macaulay appeared in the Massachusetts Quarterly Review, and by what oversight Miss Cobbe failed to include it in her edition, it is impossible now to say. Parker's only contribution to The Atlantic Monthly, in its first volume, was the essay on Henry Ward Beecher. It was his last work of this kind, and probably concluded his many contributions to magazine literature. It shows how highly he appreciated the great Brooklyn preacher.
All of these essays show forth Parker's humanity, and his great admiration for real men. They also indicate his keen critical insight into social causes, as well as his fearless regard for the truth. He did not write to