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Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore. Edited
by the Right Honourable Lord John Russell, M.P. London:
Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1853-1856. It is the favourite notion of modern biographers that a man ought to be made to write his own life; that a vivid and faithful image can only be obtained, and can be fully obtained, from the self-delineation, conscious or unconscious, of the man himself, in memoirs or letters. This is one of those ideas which carry so plausible a self-recommendation with them, that they are accepted without examination; and it is not until they have been worked some time as undoubted truths, that, in the course of wear and tear, they begin to betray their alloy of error. The fact is, that though some degree of direct self-delineation may be necessary to supply any complete conception of a man, yet without accessory sources of information it can never be suffi. cient; and for this there are several simple and sufficient reasons. A man won't tell us all about himself, nor can he if he would. Even a man like Rousseau, who makes it his special boast to let shameless day into the most secret recesses of his life and heart, yet keeps a shade for the devouring cankers of vanity and selflove, which eat deeper and more festering sores than even his morbid taste can bear to probe. We all have two opinions of ourselves : sane men look at the better one, and shake off the terror of the other; and that occasional recurrence to it by which every now and then we balance our self-estimate is not a thing we can place at the disposal of those around us. Nor would we if we could. We can more easily bear to think ill of ourselves than to have others do so; and the allusion by our friends to
No. V. JULY 1856.