Critical and Historical Essays — Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 877 pages of information about Critical and Historical Essays Volume 1.
learned University found itself not only unable to keep the mass from moving, but unable to keep itself from moving along with the mass.  Nor was the effect of the discussions and speculations of that period confined to our own country.  While the Jacobite party was in the last dotage and weakness of its paralytic old age, the political philosophy of England began to produce a mighty effect on France, and, through France, on Europe.

Here another vast field opens itself before us.  But we must resolutely turn away from it.  We will conclude by advising all our readers to study Sir James Mackintosh’s valuable Fragment, and by expressing our hope that they will soon be able to study it without those accompaniments which have hitherto impeded its circulation.

HORACE WALPOLE

(October 1833)

Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, to Sir Horace Mann, British Envoy at the Court of Tuscany.  Now first published from the Originals in the Possession of the earl of Waldegrave.  Edited by lord Dover 2 vols. 8vo.  London:  1833.

We cannot transcribe this title-page without strong feelings of regret.  The editing of these volumes was the last of the useful and modest services rendered to literature by a nobleman of amiable manners, of untarnished public and private character, and of cultivated mind.  On this, as on other occasions, Lord Dover performed his part diligently, judiciously, and without the slightest ostentation.  He had two merits which are rarely found together in a commentator, he was content to be merely a commentator, to keep in the background, and to leave the foreground to the author whom he had undertaken to illustrate.  Yet, though willing to be an attendant, he was by no means a slave; nor did he consider it as part of his duty to see no faults in the writer to whom he faithfully and assiduously rendered the humblest literary offices.

The faults of Horace Walpole’s head and heart are indeed sufficiently glaring.  His writings, it is true, rank as high among the delicacies of intellectual epicures as the Strasburg pies among the dishes described in the Almanach des Gourmands.  But as the pate-de-foie-gras owes its excellence to the diseases of the wretched animal which furnishes it, and would be good for nothing if it were not made of livers preternaturally swollen, so none but an unhealthy and disorganised mind could have produced such literary luxuries as the works of Walpole.

He was, unless we have formed a very erroneous judgment of his character, the most eccentric, the most artificial, the most fastidious, the most capricious of men.  His mind was a bundle of inconsistent whims and affectations.  His features were covered by mask within mask.  When the outer disguise of obvious affectation was removed, you were still as far as ever from seeing the real man.  He played innumerable parts and

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