CHAPTER II — THE BEGINNINGS OF GOTHIC ROMANCE.
To Horace Walpole, whose Castle of Otranto was published on Christmas Eve, 1764, must be assigned the honour of having introduced the Gothic romance and of having made it fashionable. Diffident as to the success of so “wild” a story in an age devoted to good sense and reason, he sent forth his mediaeval tale disguised as a translation from the Italian of “Onuphrio Muralto,” by William Marshall. It was only after it had been received with enthusiasm that he confessed the authorship. As he explained frankly in a letter to his friend Mason: “It is not everybody that may in this country play the fool with impunity." That Walpole regarded his story merely as a fanciful, amusing trifle is clear from the letter he wrote to Miss Hannah More reproving her for putting so frantic a thing into the hands of a Bristol milkwoman who wrote poetry in her leisure hours. The Castle of Otranto was but another manifestation of that admiration for the Gothic which had found expression fourteen years earlier in his miniature castle at Strawberry Hill, with its old armour and “lean windows fattened with rich saints." The word “Gothic” in the early eighteenth century was used as a term of reproach. To Addison, Siena Cathedral was but a “barbarous” building, which might have been a miracle of architecture, had our forefathers “only been instructed in the right way." Pope in his Preface to Shakespeare admits the strength and majesty of the Gothic, but deplores its irregularity. In Letters on Chivalry and Romance, published two years before The Castle of Otranto,