1834 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Horace Walpole

Samuel Egerton Brydges, in Autobiography (1834) 2:122-23.



Did such a man as Lord Orford represent himself what he was, or only such as he wished to appear? He was a mingled character, which it is difficult to analyze. He was frank enough in owning some of his own petty passions, but his imagination was turned to certain classes of artificiality in manners and arts. When therefore he was frank, he was frank of artificial feelings. He had a species of aristocracy which is now gone out; perhaps too much gone out. Gray had the good part, without the bad part, of it. When Gray in his Letters lets out his private feelings, there is always a spell in them that electrifies. I do not recollect a single passage of this kind in Lord Orford: yet his Castle of Otranto is a fiction of genius, and there are in it a few touches even of pathos. He had a great portion of the French esprit, with more imagery; and he cultivated the love of the ridiculous with an assiduity in which there was not a little spite. He had no great ideas, but always saw the trivial parts of another's character.