Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys

Excerpt

The portrait which biography and history give us of celebrated people in all probability seldom corresponds absolutely with the contemporary estimate of the person in question. A contemporary estimate is composed of a number of fleeting and incomplete impressions, personal contacts, intimate and superficial, and the passing gossip which we all hear about one another. Most people have to stand or fall by the outside estimate made of them.

A biography is more accurate because it is more complete. But the tendency of biographers to idealise their subjects is apt to furnish posterity with a more favourable picture than that which those who lived with and knew the man or woman in the flesh would have been prepared to accept. This is more especially likely to be the case when we do not begin making our portrait till long after our subject and his acquaintances have passed away. We only began writing about Samuel Pepys over one hundred and twenty years after his death.

Considering all the books and plays and essays and articles which have been written on Pepys, round Pepys and through Pepys's eyes on the Pepysian period, it . . .

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