« ZurückWeiter »
Art. I.-Letters from the Honourable Horace Walpole, to George
Montague, Esq. from the year 1736, to the year 1770. Quarto:
pages 446. London, 1818. HO ORACE WALPOLE, the author of this publication, was the
third son of sir Robert Walpole, by miss Shorter, daughter of sir John Shorter, mayor of London. He was born in 1717, and died in 1797; having passed through a long life of literary ease, with as few cares to molest him, apparently, as any man of his day. He was the author of many works, some of them of a high class; all of them exhibiting, however, decided marks of a correct and elegant taste, and an acquaintance with the best company of antiquity, as well as of his own times. Had his fortune been as scanty as it was ample, we should probably have possessed at this day, proofs of his industry and attainment that would have done honour to his memory. But what motive has a person of large fortune to embark in great literary exertion? All the consideration that society has to bestow, is usually conferred on wealth; especially if accompanied by elegant attainment and polished manners. Still, although these qualifications are well calculated to add to the happiness of the individual, they greatly lessen his utility; a quality which is rarely recompensed in proportion to its value. We cannot therefore impute to Horace Walpole much blame, that he lived more for himself than for the world; and that with talents and acquirements that might have raised him high in literary eminence, he was colitented to pass through life as an elegant trifler.
Much of his youth was passed in French society, particularly in the elegant circle of madame du Deffand. In France, society is on a different footing from what we find it in this country, or even in England. It is frequented not merely for the purpose of passing a few pleasant hours, but those who frequent it, feel the obli. gation of endeavouring to make others pass their time as pleasantly as themselves. They feel, that in return for the entertainment they receive from the conversation of those whom they visit, they are bound to pay the admission price of their own endeavours to entertain, without intrusion; and social converse becomes something VOL. XIII.