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For MAY, 1822.

ART. I. Memoires of the last Ten Years of the Reign of George the Second. By Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford. From the Original MSS. 2 Vols. 4to. With 11 Plates. 51. 5s. Boards. Murray. 1822.

IN any future" Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors," the writer of that which we now possess will undoubtedly obtain a conspicuous place; and if few among the patrician votaries of the pen have been more liberal in their contributions to literature, few also have furnished more ample grounds for the appreciation and delineation of their own character. His writings have not only been various, but generally attractive; and the peculiarities of his mind and his style have been so marked and pervading, that, while his readers have been very numerous, he himself has perhaps been well understood by most of them. Not trusting to these sources and this probability, however, we shall find that in the Memoirs before us he has drawn his own portrait at full length; and with this document, and the additional aid of the whole narrative, it will be strange if he be not made clearly visible to the present age and to posterity. Yet his unsparing sarcasm, his free disclosure of state-secrets, and his injustice towards some classes of men, will excite hostility which may in turn be unjust to him; and as he will be accused of prejudice against others, so his delineation of himself will be distrusted as the offspring of partiality. Thus it is, and ever will be. We can only say that the discerning and the candid have sufficient materials before them; and that all others will sin with their eyes open, and at the hazard of ample evidence being brought against them.

The circumstances under which the manuscript of this singular work has been preserved are thus briefly explained by the editor, who has not sanctioned the statement by his name, but whom according to public rumour we may believe to be Lord Holland:

Among the papers found at Strawberry Hill, after the death of Lord Orford, was the following memorandum, wrapped in an VOL. XCVIII.



envelope, on which was written, "Not to be opened till after my will."

"In my library at Strawberry Hill are two wainscot chests or boxes, the larger marked with an A, the lesser with a B: - I desire, that as soon as I am dead, my executor and executrix will cord up strongly and seal the larger box, marked A, and deliver it to the Honourable Hugh Conway Seymour, to be kept by him unopened and unsealed, till the eldest son of Lady Waldegrave, or whichsoever of her sons, being Earl of Waldegrave, shall attain the age of twenty-five years, when the said chest, with whatever it contains, shall be delivered to him for his own. And I beg that the Honourable Hugh Conway Seymour, when he shall receive the said chest, will give a promise in writing, signed by him, to Lady Waldegrave, that he or his representatives will deliver the said chest unopened and unsealed, by my executor and executrix, to the first son of Lady Waldegrave who shall attain the age of twentyfive years. The key of the said chest is in one of the cupboards of the green closet within the blue breakfast room at Strawberry Hill, and that key, I desire, may be delivered to Laura, Lady Waldegrave, to be kept by her till her son shall receive the chest. "" March 21. 1790.

8 cc (Signed) HORACE WALPOLE, Earl of ORFORD.

"August 19. 1796.""

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In obedience to these directions, the box described in the preceding memorandum was corded and sealed with the seals of the Honourable Mrs. Damer, and the late Lord Frederick Campbell, the executrix and executor of Lord Orford, and by them delivered to the late Lord Hugh Seymour, by whose representatives it was given up, unopened and unsealed, to the present Earl of Waldegrave, when he attained the age of twenty-five. On examining the box, it was found to contain a number of manuscriptvolumes and other papers, among which were the Memoirs now published.'

The noble lord to whom we suppose ourselves indebted for the publication of these Memoirs, and also for the recent appearance of those of Lord Waldegrave, justly concludes that all these minute and particular injunctions were intended by the author merely to postpone the period when the MS., which he had so diligently composed and so carefully prepared as if for the press, should be ushered into the world, and not to prevent it from ever being promulgated. We are also assured that the work is a faithful copy of the original, excepting some trifling changes in orthography, (Lord Orford having been singularly whimsical on that subject, as the title Memoires' may evince,) the omission of one gross and ill authenticated story which was cut out from the MS. by the present Lord Waldegrave, the suppression of some sarcasms on the bodily infirmities of individuals, and the


substitution of asterisks in some few instances for the names at length, where the characters of ladies were concerned.

The volumes, as we might expect from the character of the author, are written with great vivacity and spirit, and are full of interest as far as they tend to develope the political intrigues and to illustrate the manners of the age. For the historian, likewise, they contain some valuable materials in the very full reports of the parliamentary debates, particularly from 1750 to 1755, and in the complete developement of that nefarious transaction, the judicial murder of Admiral Byng. The whole story, indeed, of the proceedings during and after the trial of that unfortunate officer is full of interest; and the anxiety personally shewn by Mr. Walpole on that occasion will, in the eyes of impartial and feeling readers, atone for many of those severities of remark, and ebullitions of spleen, with which his volumes abound: almost inducing them to believe the writer's character of himself as a man "strongly tinctured with tenderness, and whose satiric humour was accompanied with a most compassionate heart." Satire, however, was his ruling propensity; and, feeling strongly the ingratitude of some of his father's adherents, when the circumstances of that minister changed, he seems from early life to have indulged in very unfavorable notions of the human character: while this tendency to view events and motives through a discoloured medium was probably much aggravated by constitutional delicacy, and irritability of temperament. With a mind constantly alive to passing occurrences, and a bustling and ardent spirit, he united the frame of a valetudinarian, and a refined and fastidious taste. The restlessness of his temper, however, and those irregular sallies of vivacity which he experienced, preserved him from that morbid melancholy which occasionally preyed on his early friend Gray; and, instead of allowing him to be morose, occasioned him to indulge in that whimsical and splenetic sort of humour which is frequently most poignant where it seems most playful, and which, while it appears only to tickle the skin, is lacerating the flesh of its victim.

In vol. ii. p. 334. he has thus drawn his own character, speaking in the third person :

'Horace Walpole, without the least tincture of ambition, had a propensity to faction, and looked on the mischief of civil disturbances as a lively amusement. Indignation at the persecution raised against his father, and prejudices contracted by himself, conspired with his natural impetuosity of temper to nourish this passion. But coming into the world, when the world was growing weary of faction, and some of the objects dying, or being removed, B 2


against whom his warmth had been principally directed, maturity of reason and sparks of virtue extinguished this culpable ardour. Balanced for a few years between right and wrong, happily for him virtue preponderated early enough to leave him some merit in the option. Arts, books, painting, architecture, antiquities, and those amiable employments of a tranquil life, to which in the warmest of his political hours he had been fondly addicted, assumed an entire empire over him. The circumstances of the times contributed to make him withdraw from the scene of business. With Newcastle he had determined never to connect. Fox's behaviour on the case of Mr. Byng had rooted out his esteem, and the coldness discovered by Fox on Walpole's refusing to concur in all his politics had in a manner dissolved their friendship. Of Pitt he retained the best opinion; but the wanton exposure of so many lives at the affair of St. Cas, and in those other visionary attempts on the coast of France, had painted Pitt on his mind as a man whose thirst of glory was inconsistent with humanity; and being himself strongly tinctured with tenderness, he avoided any further intercourse with a minister, who was Great with so little reluctance.

Thus, without disgrace, disappointment, or personal disgust, Walpole, at the age of forty-one, (at the end of 1758,) abandoned the theatre of affairs: and retaining neither resentment to warp, nor friendship to bias him, he thinks himself qualified to give some account of transactions, which few men have known better, and of which scarce any can speak with equal impartiality. He has not falsified a circumstance to load any man; he has not denied a wrong act to excuse himself. Yet lest even this unreserve should not be thought sufficient, lest some secret motives should have been supposed to have influenced his opinions, at least his narrative, he will lay open to the reader his nearest sentiments. Severity in some of the characters will be the most striking objection. His dislike to a few persons probably sharpened his eyes to their faults, but he hopes never blinded him to their virtues - lest it should have done, especially in so inflammable a nature, he admonishes the reader of his greatest prejudices, as far as they could have risen from any provocation. From the Duke of Cumberland, Mr. Pelham, and Lord Hardwicke, he had received trifling offence. To the two last he avows he had strong aversion. From Mr. Fox, as I have said, he had felt coldness and ingratitude. By his uncle and the Duke of Devonshire he had been injured. - by the former basely betrayed; yet of none of these has he omitted to speak with praise, when he could find occasion. Of Lord Hardwicke, had he known a virtue, he would have told it: for now, when his passions are subsided, when affection and veneration for truth and justice preponderate above all other considerations, would he sacrifice the integrity of these Memoires, his favourite labour, to a little revenge that he shall never taste? No; let his narration be measured by this standard, and it will be found that the unamiableness of the characters he blames imprinted those dislikes, as well as private distaste to some of them. The King, the Duke of



Newcastle, and others, who do not appear in these writings with any signal advantage, never gave him the most distant cause of


How far his own character may have concurred towards forming his opinions may be calculated from the following picture, impartial as far as a man can know himself.

Walpole had a warm conception, vehement attachments, strong aversions; with an apparent contradiction in his temper for he had numerous caprices, and invincible perseverance. His principles tended to republicanism, but without any of its austerity; his love of faction was unmixed with any aspiring. He had great sense of honour, but not great enough, for he had too much weakness to resist doing wrong, though too much sensibility not to feel it in others. He had a great measure of pride, equally apt to resent neglect, and scorning to stoop to any meanness or flattery. A boundless friend, a bitter, but a placable enemy. His humour was satyric, though accompanied with a most compassionate heart. Indiscreet and abandoned to his passions, it seemed as if he despised or could bear no constraint; yet this want of government of himself was the more blameable, as nobody had greater command of resolution whenever he made a point of it. This appeared in his person; naturally very delicate, and educated with too fond a tenderness, by unrelaxed temperance, and braving all inclemency of weathers, he formed and enjoyed the firmest and unabated health. One virtue he possessed in a singular degree - disinteterestedness and contempt of money, if one may call that a virtue, which really was a passion. In short, such was his promptness to dislike superiors, such his humanity to inferiors, that, considering how few men are of so firm a texture as not to be influenced by their situation, he thinks, if he may be allowed to judge of himself, that had either extreme of fortune been his lot, he should have made a good prince, but not a very honest slave.'

In spite of some drawbacks from the avowed prejudice of the author, as in the case of Lord Hardwicke, or from his more secret prejudice, as in the instance of Lord Mansfield, the characters delineated in these volumes abound with discernment and with admirable touches of nature. We are most pleased with some of them which are struck off in a few words, and as it were en passant: those which are more fully drawn being perhaps too elaborate, and too full of antithesis and affectation. Lawyers and clergymen seem, either from some accident respecting the members of those professions at the time in question, or from some particular antipathy of the writer, to have been remarkably obnoxious to his censure, It is but seldom, indeed, that any of the bishops can obtain a good word from him. The whole Bench in 1751 is thus characterized: (vol. i. p. 128.)

Religious animosities were out of date; the public had no turn for controversy; the Church had no writers to make them fond of

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