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.
it eagerly; but do you imagine, Sir, that, idle as I am, I am, idiot enough to think that Sir Isaac had better have amused me for half an hour, than enlightened mankind and all ages?  I was so fair as to confess to you that your work was above me, and did not divert me:  you was too candid to take that ill, and must have been content with silently thinking me very silly; and I am too candid to condemn any man for thinking of me as I deserve.  I am only sorry when I do deserve a disadvantageous character.

Nay, Sir, you condescend, after all, to ask My opinion of the best way of treating antiquities; and, by the context, I suppose you mean, how to make them entertaining.  I cannot answer you in one word -, because there are two ways, as there are two sorts of readers.  I should therefore say, to please antiquaries of judgment, as you have treated them, with arguments and proofs; but, if you would adapt antiquities to the taste of those who read only to be diverted, not to be instructed, the nostrum is very easy and short.  You must divert them in the true sense of the word diverto; you must turn them out of the way, you must treat them with digressions nothing or very little to the purpose.  But, easy as I call this recipe, you, I believe, would find it more difficult to execute, than the indefatigable industry you have employed to penetrate chaos and extract the truth.  There have been professors who have engaged to adapt all kinds of knowledge to the meanest capacities.  I doubt their success, at least on me:  however, you need not despair; all readers are not as dull and superannuated as, dear Sir, yours, etc.

(664) Now first collected.

Letter 341 To John Pinkerton, Esq,(665) Strawberry Hill, August 19, 1789. (PAGE 434)

I will not use many words, but enough, I hope, to convince you that I meant no irony in my last.  All I said of you and myself was very sincere- It is my true opinion that your understanding is one of the strongest, most manly, and clearest I ever knew; and, as I hold my own to be of a very inferior kind and know it to be incapable of sound, deep application, I should have been very foolish if I had attempted to sneer at you or your pursuits.  Mine have always been light and trifling, and tended to nothing but my casual amusement; I will not say, without a little vain ambition of showing some parts but never with industry sufficient to make me apply to any thing solid.  My studies, if they could be called so, and my productions, were alike desultory.  In my latter days I discovered the utility both of my objects and writings:  I felt how insignificant is the reputation of an author of mediocrity; and that, being no genius, I only added one name more to a list of writers that had told the world nothing but what it could as well be without.

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