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oranges whose rind was worthless when the juice was suckedwranglers to whom, when disturbed by the paltry squabbles of which he complains, an earl's brother, who had a Gothic plaything of a castle and sis acres of ground, might cry, like the French officer to the Parisian pit, Accordez vous, canaille--danglers to be kept in attendance in the anti-chamber, and called in, at the intervals afforded by music and cards, to make sport, like Sampson before the Philistine nobles. lle lived, however, to learn by experience that Sampson might pull down the temple on the heads of the lordly audience; and that there is no child's play in coufining the power of a steam-engine to turn a lathe for a toyshop, or in barring the powers of intellect from aspiring to their proper rank in the system of society.
In Britain the opinion of an individual, bowever distinguished, can be of little consequence, save to himself; and it is accordingly upon Mr. Walpole's own genius that his narrow and jealouslyaristocratic feelings produced their natural effect. He was born with talents to have distinguished himself in the higher departments of literature, of which the Mysterious Mother,' however disgusting the subject, must always be a splendid monument. It is true, to use one of his own expressions in the volume before us, that when chusing a topic so dreadful it seemed as if he had loved melancholy till it palled on his taste, and was obliged to dram with horror. But the good old English blank verse, the force of character expressed in the wretched mother, and in several of the inferior persons, argue a strength of conception and vigour of expression capable of great things, and which involuntarily carry us back to the earlier æra of the English drama, * when there were giants in the land.'
This composition however is the principal, if not the only proof which Walpole has bequeathed us of the great things which he might have performed, had he been left at liberty, instead of being immured within the imaginary Bastile of his rank, the airy yet impassable walls of which, like the operation of a magician's spell, condemned him to such a mincing pace, and trifling tone, as suited the petty circle to which he was limited by his imaginary consequence. His Castle of Otranto, notwithstanding the beauty of the style, and the chivalrous ideas which it summons up, cannot surely be termed a work of much power. In his vers de société we perpetually discover a laborious effort to introduce the lightness of the French badinage, into a masculine and somewhat rough language. His Lives are in the style of French Mémoires, and the criticism much of the same superficial and slight cast. In short, all the writings published in his lifetime were such as in Charles the Second's time might have suited ' a man of wit and
pleasure about town;' or rather a French marquis of a later period, to whom it might indeed be permitted to take up a pen for an idle hour, but not to retain it until it soiled his fingers. And, we say it with some regret,-except in his letters, of which we shall presently speak,-our author seems, in these occasional compositions, to have ceased to possess the strong and sound feeling of an Englishman, without acquiring the light and graceful elegance of the rival country. What he would have wished to be thought may be conjectured from the following passage:
* You cannot imagine how astonished a Mr. Seward, a learned clergyman was, who came to Ragley while I was there. Strolling about the house, he saw me first sitting on the pavement of the lumber room with Louis, all over cobwebs and dirt and mortar; then found me in
wards lying on the grass in the court with the dogs and the children, in my slippers and without my hat. He had had some doubt whether I was the painter or the factotum of the family ; but you would have died at his surprise when he saw me walk in to dinner dressed and sit by Lady Hertford. Lord Lytileton was there, and the conversation turned on literature: finding me not quite ignorant added to the parson's wonder; but he could not contain himself any longer, when after dinner he saw me go to romps and jumping with the two boys; he broke out to my Lady Hertford, and begged to know who and what sort of a man I really was, for he had never met with any thing of the kind.' -160.
Walpole probably wished Mr. Seward to infer that this versatility of employment indicated a man who only needed to give himself the trouble of study to become a second Admirable Crichton, but whose rank and station rather inclined him to “ daff the world aside and bid it pass.' But most of our readers will regret to see a man of real genius frittering away his time in trifles to' astonish the natives,' and say of the passage, with Sir Hugh Evans, Why this is affectations.'
It must however be allowed to Horace Walpole, that if he was so much deceived by his imaginary importance as to rest his literary ambition on becoming rather the Hamilton or Saint Simon, than the Fletcher or the Massinger of the age, he has fully attained his end, and left us one, and only one literary name to oppose to those of France
• Who shine unrivald in the light memoir.' His Reminiscences of the reigus of George I. and II. make us better acquainted with the manners of these princes and their courts, than we should be after perusing an hundred heavy historians; and futurity will long be indebted to the chance which threw into his vicinity, when age rendered him communicative, the accomplished ladies to whom these anecdotes were communi
cated. cated. In this point of view, his character, as given by Madame du Deffand, is likely to prove as true in the future as in the past. • Vous avez du discernement, le tact très-fin, le goût très-juste, le ton excellent; vous auriez été de la meilleure compagnie du monde dans les siècles passés ; vous l'êtes dans celui-ci, et vous le seriez dans ceux à venir.'--His certainty of success with posterity indeed wilt rest upon his letters and his Reminiscences. The last partake of the character of his correspondence, being written without study, arrangement, or that embarrassing constraint which usually attends an express purpose of publication, especially in a character like that of Walpole, who was internally solicitous about the general opinion of the public, which he affected to despise, and would at any time rather have struck out a beauty than have hazarded the encounter of a mauvaise plaisanterie. In his epistolary correspondence he was under no controul - he wrote to his selected friends without fear of derogationthat miserable apprehension which haunted him on other occasions, and which he endeavoured to propitiate by the use of the limited edition and the private press, like amateur actors who secure a favourable audience by taking no money at the door.
The Letters of Horace Walpole accordingly are master-pieces in their way. He never indeed touches upon important subjects of discussion either in science or in the fine arts; he was too much of a gentleman to take the trouble of it; neither is he so superfluous as to trouble himself much about the right and wrong in national measures. He only details the political changes of the times to indulge the curiosity of his correspondents, or his own talent for acute and satirical observation. Far less are we to look in his letters for any traces of deep or agitating passion, for fashion frames as many stoics as ever were trained by philosophy. The sorrows for a friend's death, or for the robbery of his pond of gold fishes, as they are expressed in his letters with becoming philosophy, may be read without violent sympathy. But that in which Walpole's letters shine unrivalled, is their accurate reflexion of the passing scenes of each day, pointed by remarks equally witty and sarcastic. A new Democritus seems to have assumed the pen, to sneer at the grave follies of the human species.
The variety of these letters, as well as their peculiar and lively diction, renders them very entertaining, and as the correspondence extends from 1736 to about 1770, it embraces many changes of scene both political and fashionable. The narratives of remarkable historical events, told without the form of history, and with those circumstances which add an interest and authenticity which history, dignified and fastidious as Walpole himself, sometimes discards too readily, come upon us unexpectedly, with an air of
novelty and veracity which reminds us that we hear the testimony of an eye-witness.' We should look in vain to history for such traits of character as those which our author records of stout old Lord Balmerino when under sentence of death. When the death warrant came down he was at dinner, and his lady fainted. said, “ Lieutenant, with your dd warrant you have spoiled my lady's stomach !" In the same tone of resolution, at getting into the coach he said to the jailor, “ take care, or you will break my shins with this d- -d
31. We have also an odd illustration of the truth of the first line in the following couplet, which begins an epigram ascribed to Johnson.
• Pitied by gentle minds Kilmarnock died,
The brave, Balmerino, were on thy side • It will be difficult to make you believe to what heights of affectation or extravagance my lady Townshend carries her passion for my lord Kilmarnock, whom she never saw but at the bar of bis trial, and was smitten with his falling shoulders. She has been under his windows, sends messages to him, has got his dog and his snuff-box, has taken lodgings out of town for to-morrow and Monday night; and then goes to Greenwich, forswears conversing with the bloody English, and has taken a French master. She insisted on lord Hervey's promising her be would not sleep a whole night for my lord Kilmarnock, “ and in return,” says she, never trust me more if I am not as yellow as a jonquil for him.” She said gravely t'other day, “ Since I saw my lord Kilmarnock, I really think no more of Sir Harry Nisbett, than if there was no such man in the world.” But of all her flights yesterday was the strongest. George Selwyn dined with her, and not thinking her affliction so serious as she pretends, talked rather jokingly of the execution. She burst into a flood of tears and rage, told him she now believed all his father and mother had said of him, and with a thousand other reproaches flung up stairs. George coolly took Mrs. Dorcas, her woman, and made her sit down to finish the bottle:
“ and pray, sir," said Dorcas, “ do you tbink my lady will be prevailed upon to let me go see the execution? I have a friend that has promised to take care of me, and I can lie in the Tower the night before.” My lady has quarrelled with Sir Charles Windham for calling the two lords malefactors,' p. 35.
George Selwyn's passion for attending executions is as well remembered as his wit. Mr. Walpole has preserved many ludicrous instances of both.
• You know George never thinks but à la téte tranchée: he came to town i'other day to have a tooth drawn, and told the man that he would drop his handkerchief for the signal.'-p. 39.
This reminds us of another story of the same facetious person. When upbraided by a lady with the barbarity of going to see Lord Lovat's head cut off, he replied, that if he had been guilty
of impropriety to his lordship in that respect, he had done what he could to make amends, for he had gone to see it sewed on again.
The characters of those who played remarkable parts in the political drama during this correspondence are marked with characteristic touches. The hubble-bubble Duke of Newcastle, who, by dint of endless shuffling, cutting, and dealing, contrived, betwixt greatness and meanness, and without one atom of merit, to hold a conspicuous station in almost every administration of the period, is admirably sketched in one or two passages.
• Those hands that are always groping, and sprawling, and fluttering and hurrying on the rest of his precipitate person ; but there is no describing them but as Monsieur Courcelle, a French prisoner, did t'other day. Je ne sçais pas, dit il, je ne sçaurois m'exprimer, mais il a un certain tatillonage. If one could conceive a dead body hung in chains always wanting be hung somewhere else, one should have a comparative idea of him?-p. 17.
The conduct and appearance of the same personage at his old master George the Second's funeral is also admirably described; we are tempted to insert the whole passage, which is very striking, the grave part as well as the conic.
• Do you know, I had the curiosity to go to the burying r'other night; I had never seen a royal funeral ; nay, I walked as a rag of quality, which I found would be, and so it was, the easiest way of seeing it. It is absolutely a noble sight. The prince's chamber, hung with purple, and a quantity of silver lamps, the coffin under a canopy of purple velvet, and six vast chandeliers of silver on high stands, had a very good effect. The ambassador from Tripoli and his son were carried to see that chamber. The procession, through a line of foot-guards, every seventh man bearing a torch, the horse-guards lining the outside, their officers with drawn sabres and crape sashes on horseback, the drums muffied, the fifes, bells tolling, and minute guns,-all this was very solemn. But the charm was the entrance of the abbey, where we were received by the dean and chapter in rich robes, the choir and almamen bearing torches; the whole abbey so illuminated, that one saw it to greater advantage than by day; the tombs, long aisles, and frelted roof, all appearing distinctly, and with the happiest chiaro scuro. There wanted nothing but incense, and little chapels here and there, with priests saying mass for the repose of the defunct; yet one could not complain of its not being catholic enough. I had been in dread of being coupled with some boy of ten years old; but the heralds were not very accurate, and I walked with George Grenville, taller and older to keep me in countenance. When we came to the chapel of Henry the Seventh, all solemnity and decorum ceased; no order was observeri, people sat or stood where they could or would; the yeomen of the guard were crying out for help, oppressed by the immense weight of the coffin ; the bishop read sadly, and blundered in the prayers; the ine chapter, man that is burn of a woman, was chaunted, not read; and the