The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,055 pages of information about The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 4.

(662) Now first collected.

(663) In reply to this, Miss More says, “You not only do all you can to turn my head by printing my trumpery verses yourself. but you call in royal aid to complete my delirium.  I comfort myself you will counteract some part of the injury you have done, my principles this summer, by a regular course of abuse when we meet in the winter:  remember that you owe this to my moral health; next to being flattered I like to be scolded; but to be let quietly alone would be intolerable.  Dr. Johnson once said to me, ’I Never mind whether they praise or abuse your writings; any thing is tolerable except oblivion.’” Memoirs, vol. ii.  P. 169.-E.

Letter 340 To John Pinkerton, Esq.(664) Strawberry Hill, Aug. 14, 1789. (PAGE 433)

I must certainly have expressed myself very awkwardly, dear Sir, if you conceive I meant the slightest censure on your book, much less on your manner of treating it; which is as able, and clear, and demonstrative as possible.  No; it was myself, my age, my want of apprehension and memory, and my total ignorance of the subject, which I intended to blame.  I never did taste or study the very ancient histories of nations.  I never had a good memory for names of persons, regions, places, which no specific circumstances concurred to make me remember; and now, at seventy-two, when, as is common, I forget numbers of names most familiar to me, is it possible I should read with pleasure any work that consists of a vocabulary so totally new to me?  Many years ago, when my faculties were much less impaired, I was forced to quit Dow’s History of Indostan, because the Indian names made so little impression on me, that I went backward instead of forward, and was every minute reverting to the former page to find about whom I was reading.  Your book was a still more laborious work to me; for it contains such a series of argumentation that it demanded a double effort from a weak old head; and, when I had made myself master of a deduction, I forgot it the next day, and had my pains to renew.  These defects have for some time been so obvious to me, that I never read now but the most trifling books; having often said that, at the very end of life, it is useless to be improving one’s stock of knowledge, great or small, for the next world.  Thus, Sir, all I have said in my last letter or in this, is an encomium on your work, not a censure or criticism.  It -would be hard on you, indeed, if my incapacity detracted from your merit.

Your arguments in defence of works of science and deep disquisition are most just; and I am sure I have neither power nor disposition to answer them.  You have treated your matter as it ought to be treated.  Profound men or conversant on the subject, like Mr. Dempster, will be pleased with it, for the very reasons that made it difficult to me.  If Sir Isaac Newton had written a fairy tale, I should have swallowed

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