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“Paint me as I am,” said Cromwell to Lely; "if you leave out the scars and wrinkles, I will not pay you a shilling."
Thus it is we purpose to portray JOHNSON, intellectually and socially ; to reproduce him exactly as he was in the study, in the street, in the club, and at the dinner-table; which, with all due respect to his innumerable biographers, has never yet been done. If Boswell, the prince of biographers, has over-rated him, Lord Macaulay, on the other hand, has under-rated him, as was natural for an enthusiastic Whig to do in writing the life of an inveterate Tory.
As JOHNSON himself said, “No man can write the life of another unless he has lived in social intercourse with him." Conscious of this truth, our work is that of the artistic photographer, who, having selected the point at which the angle of the rays of light fall, so that the whole picture may be seen at its best, uncovers the lens, stands aside, and allows the sun to paint the picture. We too shall stand aside and allow Garrick, Goldsmith, Reynolds, Burke, Boswell, the Thrales, and others who lived in social intercourse with him, combinedly to paint for us a faithful intellectual portrait of him who, for a quarter of a century, was the intellectual dictator of the British nation.
Whether we have succeeded in our endeavour, the public must judge.
Considering that Johnson's works are now almost forgotten, and that it is a century ago this very year since the grave closed over all that was mortal of this immortal man, we venture to think that this centenary memorial is not inappropriate.
KIRN, 10th June, 1884.