The materials for a life of Willis are rich enough to be embarrassing. Most of his writings are, in a greater or less degree, autobiographical; and it would be possible to make a very tolerable life of him, by arranging passages from these in the right order, and linking them together with a few paragraphs of cold facts. Then, he lived very much in the world's eye, and was constantly talked and written about, so that there is abundant mention of him in newspaper files, and in volumes of "Recollections," etc., by his contemporaries. In addition to these printed sources, I have been furnished, by the kindness of Mrs. N. P. Willis, Miss Julia Willis, and Mrs. Imogen Willis Eddy, with private letters, journals, and other MS. memoranda by Willis, which extend from his school days at Andover down to a few weeks before his death—of course not without lacunæ. Although I have not quoted very freely from these letters, they have been of the greatest service, by supplying facts which I have incorporated with the body of the narrative, and by correcting or verifying data otherwise obtained. A biography of Willis could have been written without them, but this particular biography could not; and I take occasion hereby to acknowledge my debt to the ladies whose courtesy gave me access to this material.
There are many others who have helped my undertaking in various ways—too many for me to thank them all by name. But I cannot withhold mention of my obligations to Mr. Richard S. Willis and to Mr. Morris Phillips, the editor of the "Home Journal."
HENRY A. BEERS.