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rooms and the whispers of the backstairs, and which was even capable of selecting and dis

posing chairs of ebony and shields of rhinoce

ros-skin. One of his innumerable whims was an extreme dislike to be considered as a man of letters. Not that he was indifferent to literary fame. Far from it. Scarcely any writer has ever troubled himself so-much about the appearance which his works were to make before posterity. But he had set his heart on incompatible objects. He wished to be a celebrated author, and yet to be a mere idle gentleman— one of those epicurean gods of the earth who do nothing at all, and who pass their existence in the contemplation of their own perfections. He did not like to have any thing in common with the wretches who lodged in the little courts behind St. Martin's Church, and stole out on Sundays to dine with their bookseller. He avoided the society of authors. He spoke with lordly contempt of the most distinguished among them. He tried to find dut some way of writing books, as M. Jourdain's father sold cloth, without derogating from his character of gentilhomme. “Lui, marchand! C'est pure médisance: il ne l’ajamais été. Tout ce qu'il faisait, c'est qu'il était fort obligeant, fort officieux; et comme il se connaissait, sort bien en ätoffes, il en allait choisir de tous les côtés, les faisait apporter chez lui, et en donnait a ses amis pour de l'argent.” There are several amusing instances of his feeling on this subject in the letters now before us. Mann had complimented him on the learning which appeared in the “Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors;” and it is curious to see how impatiently Walpole bore the imputation of having attended to any thing so unfashionable as the improvement of his mind. “I know nothing. How should I? I who have always lived in the big busy world; who lie a-bed all the morning, calling it morning as long as you please; who sup in company; who have played at faro half my life, and now at loo till two and three in the morning; who have always loved pleasure, haunted auctions... How I have laughed when some of the Magazines have called me the learned gentleman. Pray don't be like the Magazines.” This folly might be pardoned in a boy. But a man of forty-threw, as Walpole then was, ought to be quite as much ashamed of playing at loo till three every morning, as of being so vulgar a thing as a learned gentleman. The literary character has undoubtedly its full share of faults, and of very serious and offensive faults. If Walpole had avoided those faults, we could have pardoned the fastidiousness with which he declined all fellowship with men of learning. But from those faults Walpole was not one jot more free than the garreteers from whose contact he shrank. Qf literary meannesses and literary vices, his life and his works contain as many instances as the life and the works of any member of Johnson's club. The fact is, that Walpole had the famlts of Grub street, with a large addition from St. James's street, the vanity, the jealousy, the irritability of a man of letters, the

affected superciliousness and apathy of a man of son. . His judgment of literature, of contemporary

literature especially, was altogether perverted by his aristocratical feelings. No writer surely was ever guilty of so much false and absurd criticism. He almost invariably speaks with contempt of those books which are now universally allowed to be the best that appeared in his time; and, on the other hand, he speaks of writers of rank and fashion as if they were entitled to the same precedence in literature which would have been allowed to them in a drawing-room. In these letters, for example, he says, that he would rather have written the most absurd lines in Lee than Thomson's “Seasons.” The periodical paper called “The World,” on the other hand, was by “our first writers.” Who, then, were the first writers of England in the year 1753? Walpole has told us in a note. Our readers will probably guess that Hume, Fielding, Smollett, Richardson, Johnson, Warburton, Collins, Akenside, Gray, Dyer, Young, Warton, Mason, or some of those distinguished men, were on the list. Not one of them. Our first writers, it seems, were Lord Chesterfield, Lord Bath, Mr. W. Whitehead, Sir Charles Williams, Mr. Soame Jenyns, Mr. Cambridge, Mr. Coventry. Of these seven gentlemen, Whitehead was the lowest in station, but was the most accomplished tuft-hunter of his time. Coventry was of a noble family, The other five had among them two peerages, two seats in the House of Commons, three seats in the Privy Council, a baronetcy, a blue riband, a red riband, about a hundred thousand pounds a year, and not ten pages that are worth reading. The writings of Whitehead, Cambridge, Coventry, and Lord Bath are forgotten, Soame Jenyns is remembered chiefly by John son's review of the foolish Essay on the Origin of Evil. Lord Chesterfield stands much lower in the estimation of posterity than he wr’d have done if his letters had never been p lished. The lampoons of Sir Charles Williams are now read only by the curious; and, though not without occasional flashes of wit, have always seemed to us, we must own, very poor performances.

Walpole judged of French literature after the same fashion. He understood and loved the French language. Indeed, he loved it too well. His style is more deeply tainted with Gallicisms than that of any other English writer with whom we are acquainted. His composition often reads, for a page together, like a rude translation from the French. We meet every minute with such sentences as these, “One knows what temperaments Annibal Caracci painted.” “The impertinent personage " " She is dead rich.” “Lord Dalkeith is dead of the small-pox in three days." “What was ridiculous, the man who seconded the motion happened to be shut out.” “It will now be seen whether he or they are most pa triot.”

His love of the French language was of a peculiar kind. He loved it as having been foo a century the vehicle of all the polite nothings

of Europe; as the sign by whish the freewa

sons of fashion recognised each other in every capital from Petersburg to Naples; as the sanguage of raillery, as the language of anecdote, as the language of memoirs, as the language of correspondence. Its higher uses he altogether disregarded. The literature of France has been to ours what Aaron was to Mosesthe expositor of great truths, which would else have perished for want of a voice to utter them with distinctness. The relation which existed between Mr. Bentham and M. Dumont is an exact illustration of the intellectual relation in which the two countries stand to each other. The great discoveries in physics, in metaphysics, in political science, are ours. But no foreign nation except France has received them from us by direct communication. Isolated in our situation, isolated by our manners, we found truth, but we did not impart it. France has been the interpreter between England and mankind. In the time of Walpole, this process of interpretation was in full activity. The great French writers were busy in proclaiming through Europe the names of Bacon, of Newton, and of Locke. The English principles of toleration, the English respect for personal liberty, the English doctrine that all power is a trust for the public good, were making rapid progress. There is scarcely anything in history so interesting as that great stirring up of the mind of France, that shaking of the foundations of all established opinions, that uprooting of old truth and old error. It was plain that mighty principles were at work, whether for evil or for good. It was plain that a great change in the whole social system was at hand. Fanatics of one kind might anticipate a golden age, in which men should live under the simple dominion of reason, in perfect equality and perfect amity, without property, or marriage, or king, or God. A fanatic of another kind might see nothing in the doctrines of the philosophers but anarchy and atheism, might cling more closely to every old abuse, and might regret the good old days when St. Dominic and Simon de Montfort put down the growing heresies of Provence. A wise man would have seen with regret the excesses into which the reformers were running, but he would have done justice to their genius and to their philanthropy. He would have censured their errors; but he would have remembered that, as Milton has said, error is but opinion in the making. While he condemned their hostility to religion, he would have acknowledged that it was the natural effect of a system under which religion had been constantly exhibited to them, in forms which common sense rejected, and at which humanity shuddered. While he condemned some of their political doctrines as incompatible with all law, all property, and all civilization, he would have acknowledged that the subjects of Louis the Fifteenth had every excuse which men could have for being eager to pull down, and for being ignorant of the far higher art of otting up. While anticipating a fierce con*iel, a great and wide-wasting destruction, he *uld yet have looked forward to the final

close with a good hope for France and for mankind. Walpole had neither hopes nor fears. Though the most Frenchified English writer of the eighteenth century, he troubled himself. little about the portents which were daily to be discerned in the French literature of his time. While the most eminent Frenchmen were studying with enthusiastic delight English politics and English philosophy, he was study: ing as intently the gossip of the old court of France. The fashions and scandal of Versailles and Marli, fashions and scandal a hundred years old, occupied him infnitely more than a great moral revolution which was taking place in his sight. He took a prodigious interest in every noble sharper whose vast volume of wig and infinite length of riband had figured at the dressing or at the tucking up of Louis the Fourteenth, and of every profligate woman of quality who had carried her train of lovers backward and forward from king to Parliament, and from Parliament to king, during the wars of the Fronde. These were the people of whom he treasured up the smallest memorial, of whom he loved to hear the most trisling anecdote, and for whose likenesses he would haye given any price. Of the great French writers of his own time, Montesquieu is the only one of whom he speaks with enthusiasm. And even of Montesquieu he speaks with less enthusiasm than of that abject thing, Crebillon the younger, a scribbler as licentious as Louvet and as dull as Rapin. A man must be strangely constituted who can take interest in pedantic journals of the blockades laid by the Duke of A. to the hearts of the Marquise de B. and the Com tesse de C. This trash Walpole extols in lan guage sufficiently high for the merits of “Don Quixote.” He wished to possess a likeness of Crebillon, and Liotard, the first painter of miniatures then living, was employed to preserve the features of the profligate twaddler. The admirer of the Sopha and of the Lettres .Athéniennes had little respect to spare for the men who were then at the head of French literature. He kept carefully out of their way. He tried to keep other people from paying them any attention. He could not deny that Voltaire and Rousseau were clever men; but he took every opportunity of depreciating them. Of D'Alembert he spoke with a contempt, which, when the intellectual powers of the two men are compared, seems exquisitely ridiculous. D'Alembert complained that he was, accused of having written Walpole's squib against Rousseau. “I hope,” says Walpole, “that nobody will attribute D'Alembert's works to me.” He was in little danger. It is impossible to deny, however, that Walpole's works have real merit, and merit of a very rare, though not of a very high kind. Sir Joshua Reynolds used to say, that though nobody would for a moment compare Claude to Raphael, there would be another Raphael before there was another Claude. And we own that we expect to see fresh Humes and fresh Burkes before we again fall in with that

peculiar combination of moral and intellectual

*. to which the writings of Walpole owe eir extraordinary popularity. It is easy to describe him by negatives. He had not a creative imagination. He had not a pure taste. He was not a great reasoner. There is indeed scarcely any writer, in whose works it would be possible to find so many contradictory judgments, so many sentences of extravagant nonsense. - Nor was it only in his familiar correspondence that he wrote in this flighty and inconsistent manner; but in

long and elaborate books, in books repeatedly

transcribed and intended for the public eye. We will give an instance or two; for, without instances, readers not very familiar with his works will scarcely understand our meaning. In the “Anecdotes of Painting,” he states, very truly, that the art declined after the commencement of the civil wars. He proceeds to inquire why this happened. The explanation, we should have thought, would have been easily found. The loss of the most munificent and judicious patron that the fine arts ever had in England—for such undoubtedly was Carles—the troubled state of the country, the distressed condition of many of the aristocracy, perhaps also the austelity of the victorious party—these circumstances, we conceive, fully account for the phenomenon. But this solution was not odd enough to satisfy Walpole. He discovers another cause for the decline of the art, the want of models. Nothing worth painting, it seems, was left to paint. “How picturesque,” he exclaims, “was the figure of an Anabaptist!” As if puritanism had put out the sun and withered the trees; as if the civil wars had blotted out the expression of character and passion from the human lip and brow; as if many of the men whom Vandyke painted, had not been living in the time of the Commonwealth, with faces little the worse for wear; as if many of the beauties afterwards portrayed by Lely were not in their prime before the Restoration; as if the costume or the features of Cromwell and Milton were less picturesque than those of the round-faced peers, as like each other as eggs to eggs, who look out from the middle of the periwigs of Kneller. In the “Memoirs,” again, Walpole sneers at the Prince of Wales, afterwards George the Third, for presenting a collection of books to one of the American colleges during the Seven Years' War, and says that, instead of books, His Royal Highness ought to have sent arms and ammunition; as if a war ought to suspend all study and all education; or as if it were the business of the Prince of Wales to supply the colonies with military stores out of his own pocket. We have perhaps dwelt too long on these passages, but we have done so because they are specimens of Walpole's manner. Everybody who reads his works with atten: tion, will find that they swarm with loose and foolish observations like those which we have cited; observations which might pass in conversation or in a hasty letter, but which are unpardonable in books deliberately written and repeatedly corrected. He appears to have thought that he saw very far into men' but we are under the ne

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power of discerning the finer shades of cha

racter. He practised an art, however, which, though easy and even vulgar, obtains for those who practise it the reputation of discernment with ninety-nine people out of a hundred. He sneered at everybody, put on every action the worst construction which it would bear, “spelt every man backward;" to borrow the Lady Hero's phrase, “Turned every man the wrong side out, And never gave to truth and virtue that Which simpleness and merit purehaseth.” In this way any man may, with little sagacity and little trouble, be considered, by those whose good opinion is not worth having, as a great judge of character. It is said that the hasty and rapacious Kneller nsed to send away the ladies who sate to him ster sketching their faces, and to paint the , ure and hands from his housemaid. It was much in the same way that Walpole portrayed the minds of others. He copied from the life only those glaring and obvious peculiarities, which could not escape the most superficial observation. The rest of the canvass he filled up in a careless dashing way, with knave and fool, mixed in such proportions as pleased Heaven. What a difference between these daubs and the masterly portraits of Clarendon 1 There are contradictions without end in the sketches of character which abound in Walpole's works. But if we were to form our opinion of his eminent contemporaries from a general survey of what he has written concerning them, we should say that Pitt was a strutting, ranting, mouthing actor; Charles Townshend, an impudent and voluble jackpudding ; , Murray, a demure, cold-blooded, cowardly hypocrite ; Hardwicke, an insolent upstart, with the understanding of a pettifogger and the heart of a hangman; Temple, an impertinent poltroon; Egmont, a solemn coxcomb; Lyttleton, a poor creature, whose only wish was to go to heaven in a coronet; Onslow, a pompous proser; Washington, a braggart; Lord Camden, sullen; Lord Townshend, malevolent ; Secker, an atheist who had shammed Christian for a mitre; Whitefield, an impostor who swindled his converts out of their watches. The Walpoles fare little better than their neighbours. Old Horace is constantly represented as a coarse, brutal, niggardly buffoon, and his son as worthy of such a father. In short, if we are to trust this discerning judge of human nature, England in his time contained little sense and no virtue, except what was distributed between himself, Lord Waldgrave, and Marshal Conway. Os such a writer it is scarcely necessary to say, that his works are destitute of every charm which is derived from elevation or from tenderness of sentiment. When he chose to be humane and magnanimous—for he some" times, by way of variety, tried this affectation —he overdid his part most iudicrously. None of his many disguises sate so awkwardly upon

him. For example, he tells us that he did how choose to be intimate with Mr. Pitt; and why? Because Mr. Pitt had been among the persecutors of his father; or because, as he repeatedly assures us, Mr. Pitt was a disagreeable man in private life? Not at all; but because Mr. Pitt was too fond of war, and was great with too little reluctance. Strange, that an habitual scoffer like Walpole should imagine that this cant could impose on the dullest reader! If Molière had put such a speech into the mouth of Tartuffe, we should have said that the fiction was unskilsul, and that Orgon could not have been such a fool as to be taken in by it. Of the twenty-six years during which Walpole sat in Parliament, thicteen were years of war. Yet he did not, during all those thirteen years, utter a single word, or give a single vote, tending to peace. His most intimate friend, the only friend, indeed, to whom he appears to have been sincerely attached, Conway, was a soldier, was fond of his profession, and was perpetually entreating Mr. Pitt to give sim employment. In this, Walpole saw nothing but what was admirable. Conway was a hero for soliciting the command of expeditions, which Mr. Pitt was a monster for sending out. What them is the charm, the irresistible eharm of Walpole's writings? It consists, we think, in the art of amusing without exeiting. He never convinces the reason, nor fills the imagination, nor touches the heart; but he keeps the mind of the reader constantly attentive and constantly entertained. He had a strange ingenuity peculiarly his own, an ingenuity which appeared in all that he did, in his building, in his gardening, in his up. holstery, in the matter and in the manner of his writings. If we were to adopt the classification—not a very accurate classification— which Akenside has given of the pleasures of the Imagination, we should say that with the Sublime and the Beautiful Walpole had nothing to do, but that the third province, the Odd, was his peculiar domain. The motto which he prefixed to his “Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors,” might have been inscribed with perfect propriety over the door of every room in his house, and on the titlepage of every one of his books. “Dove diavolo, Messer Ludovico, avete pigliate tante coglionerie?” In his villa, every apartment is a museum, every piece of furniture is a curiosity; there is something strange in the form of the shovel; there is a long story belonging to the bell-rope. We wander among a profu. sion of rarities, of trifling intrinsic value, but so quaint in fashion, or connected with such remarkable names and events, that they may well detain our attention for a moment. A moment is enough. Some new relic, some new unique, some new carved work, some hew enamel, is forthcoming in an instant. One cabinet of trinkets is no sooner closed than another is opened. It is the same with Walpole's writings. It is not in their utility, it is not in their beauty, that their attraction lies. They are to the works of great histori.

of Florence. Walpole is constantly showing us things—not of very great value indeed—yet things which we are pleased to see, and which we can see nowhere else. They are baubles; but they are made curiosities either by his grotesque workmanship, or by some association belonging to them. His style is one of those peculiar styles by which everybody is attract. ed, and which nobody can safely venture to imitate. He is a mannerist whose manner has become perfectly easy to him. His affectation is so habitual, and so universal, that it can hardly be called affectation. The affectation is the essence of the man. It pervades all his thoughts and all his expressions... If it were taken away, nothing would be left. He coins new words, distorts the senses of old words, and twists sentences into forms which make grammarians stare. But all this he does, not only with an air of ease, but as if he could not help doing it. His wit was, in its essentiai properties, of the same kind with that of Cowley and Donne. Like theirs, it consisted in an exquisite perception of points of analogy, and points of contrast too subtle for common observation. Like them, Walpole perpetually startles us by the ease with which he yokes together ideas between which there would seem, at first sight, to be no connection. But he did not, like them, affect the gravity of a lecture, and draw his illustrations from the laboratory and from the schools. His tone was light and fleering; his topics were the topics of the club and the ball-room. And therefore his strange combinations and far. fetched allusions, though very closely resembling those which tire us to death in the poems of the time of Charles the First, are read with pleasure constantly new. No man who has written so much is so seldom tiresome. In his books there are scarcely any of those passages which, in our school days, we used to call skip. Yet he often wrote on subjects which are generally considered as dull; on subjects which men of great talents have in vain endeavoured to render popular. When we compare the “Historic Doubts” about Richard the Third with Whitaker's and Chalmer's book on a far more interesting question, the character of Mary Queen of Scots; when we compare the “Anecdotes of Painting” with Nichols's “Anecdotes,” or even with Mr. D'Israeli's “Quarrels of Authors,” and “Calamities of Authors,” we at once see Walpole's superiority, not in industry, not in learning, not in accuracy, not in logical power, but in the art of writing what people will like to read. He rejects all but the attractive parts of his subject. He keeps only what is in itself amusing, or what can be made so by the artifice of his diction. The coarser morsels of antiquarian learning he abandons to others; and sets out an entertainment worthy of a Roman epicure, an entertainment consisting of nothing but delicacies—the brains of singing birds, the roe of mullets, the sunny halves

of peaches. This, we think, is the great merit of his “Romance.” There is little skill in the

. and Poets, what Strawberry Hill is to the delineation of the characters. "Manfred is as *m of Sir Hans Sloane, or to the Gallery | commonplace atyrano,Jerome as commonplace

a confessor, Theodore as commonplace a young gentleman, 1sabella and Matilda as commonplace a pair of young ladies, as are to be found in any of the thousand Italian castles in which condottieri have revelled, or in which imprisoned duchesses have pined. "We cannot say that we much admire the big man whose sword is dug up in one quarter of the globe, whose helmet drops from the clouds in another, and who, after clattering and rustling for some days, ends by kicking the house down. But the story, whatever its value may be, never flags for a single moment. There are no digressions, or unseasonable descriptions, or long speeches. Every sentence carries the action forward. The excitement is constantly renewed. Absurd as is the machinery, and insipid as are the human actors, no reader probably ever thought the book dull. Walpole’s “Letters” are generally considered as his best performances, and we think with reason. His faults are far less offensive to us in his correspondence than in his books. His wild, absurd, and ever-changing opinions about men and things are easily pardoned in familiar letters. His bitter, scoffing, depreciating disposition, does not show itself in so unmitigated a manner as in his “Memoirs.” A writer of letters must be civil and friendly to his correspondent at least, if to no other person. He loved letter-writing, and had evidently studied it as an art. It was, in truth, the very kind of writing for such a man; for a man very ambitious to rank among wits, yet nervously afraid that, while obtaining the reputation of a wit, he might lose caste as a gentleman. There was nothing vulgar in writing a letter. Not even Ensign Northerton, not even the captain described in Hamilton's Baron— and Walpole, though the author of many quartos, had some feelings in common with those gallant officers—would have denied that a gentleman might sometimes correspond with a friend. Whether Walpole bestowed much labour on the composition of his letters, it is impossible to judge from internal evidence. There are passages which seem perfectly unstudied. But the appearance of ease may be the effect of labour. There are passages which have a very artificial air. But they may have been produced without effort by a mind of which the natural ingenuity had been improved into morbid quickness by constant exercise. We are never sure that we see him as he was. We are never sure that what appears to be nature is not an effect of art. We are never sure that what appears to be art is not merely habit which has become second nature. In wit and animation the present collection is not superior to those which have preceded it. But it has one great advantage over them all. It forms a connected whole—a regular journal of what appeared to Walpole the most important transactions of the last twenty years of George the Second's reign. It contains much new information concerning the history of that time, the portion of English history of which common readers know the least. Vol. II.-28

The earlier letters contain the most lively and interesting account which we possess of that “great Walpolean battle,” to use the words of Junius, which terminated in the retirement of Sir Robert. Horace Walpole entered the House of Commons just in time to witness the last desperate struggle which his father, surrounded by enemies and traitors, maintained, with a spirit as brave as that of the column at Fontenoy, first for victory, and then for ho. nourable retreat. Horace was, of course, on the side of his family. Lord Dover seems to have been enthusiastic on the same side, and goes so far as to call Sir Robert “the glory of the Whigs.” Sir Robert deserved this high eulogium, we think, as little as he deserved the abusive epithets which have often been coupled with his name. A fair character of him still remains to be drawn; and, whenever it shall be drawn it will be equally unlike the portrait by Coxe and the portrait by Smollett. He had, undoubtedly, great talents and great virtues. He was not, indeed, like the leaders of the party which opposed his government, a brilliant orator. He was not a profound scholar, like Carteret, or a wit and a fine gentleman, like Chesterfield. In all these respects, his deficiencies were remarkable. His literature consisted of a scrap or two of Horace, and an anecdote or two from the end of the Dictionary. His knowledge of history was so limited, that, in the great debate on the Excise Bill, he was forced to ask Attorney-General Yorke who Empson and Dudley were. His manners were a little too coarse and boisterous even for the age of Westerns and Tophalls. When he ceased to talk of politics, he could talk of nothing but women; and he dilated on his favourite theme with a freedom which shocked even that plain-spoken generation, and which was quite unsuited to his age and station. The noisy revelry of his summer festivities at Houghton gave much standal to grave people, and annually drove his kinsman and colleague, Lord Townshend, from the neighbouring mansion of Rainham. But, however ignorant he might be of general history and of general literature, he was better acquainted than any man of his day with what it concerned him most to know, mankind, the English nation, the court, the House of Commons, and his own office. Of foreign affairs he knew little; but his judgment was so good, that his little knowledge went very far. He was an excellent parliamentary debater, an excellent parliamentary tactician, an excellent man of business. No man ever brought more industry or more method to the transacting of affairs. No minister in his time did so much ; yet no minister had so much leisure. He was a good-natured man, who had for thirty years seen nothing but the worst parts of human nature in other men. He was familiar with the malice of kind people, and the perfidy of honourable people. Proud men had licked the dust before him Patriots had bes: ged him to come up to the orice of their puffed

and advertised integrity. He said, alter his T

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