1762 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Warton

Horace Walpole to Thomas Warton, 21 August 1762; Wooll, Biographical Memoirs of Joseph Warton (1806) 281-83.



Strawberry-hill, Aug 21st, 1762.

Sir,

I was last week surprized with a very unexpected present in your name; and still more, when, upon examining it, I found myself so much and so undeservedly distinguished by your approbation. I certainly ought to have thanked you immediately, but I chose to defer my acknowledgments till I had read your volumes very attentively. The praise you have bestowed on me, debars me, Sir, from doing all the justice I ought to your work: the pleasure I received from it would seem to have grown out of the satisfaction I felt in what, if it would not be ungrateful, I should be humble enough to call flattery; for how can you, Sir, approve such hasty, superficial writings as mine, you, who in the same pursuits are so much more correct, and 'have gone so much deeper? for instance, compare your account of Gothic architecture with mine; I have scarce skimmed the subject; you have ascertained all its periods. If my Anecdotes should ever want another edition, I shall take the liberty of referring the readers to your chronicle of our buildings.

With regard to the Dance of Death , I must confess you have not convinced me. Vertue (for it was he not I that first doubted of that painting at Basil) persuaded me by the arguments I found in his MSS., and which I have given, that Holbein was not the author. The latter's prints, as executed by Hollar, confirmed me in that opinion: and you must forgive me if I still think the taste of them superior to Albert Durer. This is mere matter of opinion, and of no consequence, and the only point in your book, Sir, in which I do not submit to you and agree with you.

You will not be sorry to be informed, Sir, that in the library of the Antiquarian Society there is a large and very good print of Nonsuch, giving a tolerable idea of that pile, which was not the case of Speed's confused scrap. I have myself drawings of the two old palaces of Richmond and Greenwich; and should be glad to shew them to you, if at any time of leisure you would favour me with a visit here. You would see some attempts at Gothic, some miniatures of scenes which I am pleased to find you love — Cloysters, screens, round towers, and a printing house, all indeed of baby dimensions, would put you a little in mind of the age of Caxton and Wynken. You might play at fancying yourself in a Castle described by Spenser. You see, Sir, by the persuasions I employ, how much I wish to tempt you hither!

I am, Sir,

Your most obliged and obedient servant,

HOR. WALPOLE.

P.S. You know to be sure that in Ames's Typogr. Antiquities are specified all the works of Stephen Hawes.