Horace Walpole: A Biography

By R. W. Ketton-CremerLONGMANS, GREEN
THIS is a very solid book about a man who has always impressed the world as hollow. It is to the last degree thorough, and hardly a statement in it is not tacked down firmly in a footnote. It has the advantage of being based on large quantities of new material, mostly collected by Mr. Wilmarth S. Lewis of Farmington, Connecticut, whose collection of Walpoliana is unsurpassed. The author very modestly says that none of his discoveries are of outstanding importance, unless such information as the details of Walpole’s quarrel with Thomas Gray, for example, is important. Such questions are for scholars. It would be entirely unfair to convey an impression that the book is dull and merely erudite: it is really fascinating; and, while it cannot make us ever love the unique Horace, it certainly does greatly increase our respect for him. The description of Strawberry Hill and the account of Walpole’s alterations and additions to the buildings and grounds, the art gallery, the chapel, the Great Parlor, the Cloister, the Press, will alone bring some hours of joy to any lover of the eighteenth century. Since Walpole lived to be nearly eighty, his life is, more than that of almost any other person one could name, a history of that fascinating century, the more so because his interests were so many and varied and his ability to record his impressions unrivaled.