1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Horace Walpole

Isaac D'Israeli, in Calamities of Authors (1812; 1881) 50-51.



This whole spirit of this man was penury. Enjoying an affluent income he only appeared to patronise the arts which amused his tastes, — employing the meanest artists, at reduced prices, to ornament his own works, an economy which he bitterly reprehends in others who were compelled to practise it. He gratified his avarice at the expense of his vanity; the strongest passion must prevail. It was the simplicity of childhood in Chatterton to imagine Horace Walpole could be a patron — but it is melancholy to record that a slight protection might have saved such a youth. Gray abandoned this man of birth and rank in the midst of a journey through Europe; Mason broke with him; even his humble correspondent Cole, this "friend of forty years," was often sent away in a dudgeon; and he quarrelled with all the authors and artists he had ever been acquainted with. The Gothic castle at Strawberry-hill was rarely graced with living genius — there the greatest was Horace Walpole himself; but he had been too long waiting to see realised a magical vision of his hopes, which resembled the prophetic fiction of his own romance, that "the owner should grow too large for his house." After many years, having discovered that he still retained his mediocrity, he could never pardon the presence of that preternatural being whom the world considered a GREAT MAN.