31. Choice 19: Cole’s Copy of “The Castle of Otranto”

Choice 19: Cole’s Copy of “The Castle of Otranto”

by Wilmarth S. Lewis

“When in March 1925 I went to London on my first Walpolian trip Chauncey Tinker, who had also just begun to collect, asked me to get him a first edition of The Castle of Otranto. ‘Any copy will do–a nice one of course’ He paused, ‘and you may have the copy Walpole gave to William Cole.’ He picked on that one because Walpole’s two letters about how he wrote the book were written to Cole, his chief antiquarian correspondent.

“Maggs had a nice copy of the first Castle of Otranto, which I asked them to put with my books and to send Tink the next one they got. I justified this greediness by thinking, ‘Tink doesn’t collect Walpole  and I do.’ Fortunately, better behaviour saved me from what would have been an agonizing mistake, for on getting back to Farmington after giving the book to Tink I found a letter from Maggs that began, ‘We think you will be interested in a copy of The Castle of Otranto that has just come in. photo of a title pge of a book with manuscript notes in a neat printed handIt is the copy Walpole gave William Cole.’ Cole wrote his name and “1765” on the title-page and below Walpole’s pseudonym, ‘Onuphrio Muralto, Canon of the Church of St Nicholas at Otranto,’ he added, ‘Wrote by the honble Horace Walpole, Esq.’ He also transcribed Walpole’s two letters to him about writing the book. In the first one Walpole wrote, ‘If you will tell me how to send it, and are partial enough to me to read a profane work in the style of former centuries, I shall convey to you a little story-book, which I published some time ago, though not boldly with my own name, but it has succeeded so well, that I do not any longer entirely keep the secret: does the title, The Castle of Otranto, tempt you?’ Two weeks later Walpole added,

I had time to write but a short note with The Castle of Otranto, as your messenger called on me at four o’clock as I was going to dine abroad. Your partiality to me and Strawberry have I hope inclined you to excuse the wildness of the story. You will even have found some traits to put you in mind of this place. When you read of the picture quitting its panel, did not you recollect the portrait of Lord Falkland all in white in my gallery? Shall I even confess to you what was the origin of this romance? I waked one morning in the beginning of last June from a dream, of which all I could recover was, that I had thought myself in an ancient castle (a very natural dream for a head filled like mine with Gothic story) and that on the uppermost bannister of a great staircase I saw a gigantic hand in armour. In the evening I sat down and began to write, without knowing in the least what I intended to say or relate. The work grew on my hands, and I grew fond of it—add that I was very glad to think of anything rather than politics—In short I was so engrossed with my tale, which I completed in less than two months, that one evening I wrote from the time I had drunk my tea, about six o’clock, till half an hour after one in the morning, when my hand and fingers were so weary, that I could not hold the pen to finish the sentence, but left Matilda and Isabella talking, in the middle of a paragraph. You will laugh at my earnestness, but if I have amused you by retracing with any fidelity the manners of ancient days, I am content, and give you leave to think me as idle as you please.

“This last was also addressed to us.

“Cole transcribed verses ‘To the honourable and ingenious Author of the Castle of Otranto,’ that had appeared in the St James’s Chronicle.

Thou sweet Enchanter! at whose nod
The aery train of phantoms rise:
Who dost but wave thy potent Rod,
And marble bleeds and canvas sighs.
By thee decoy’d, with curious Fear
We tread thy Castle’s dreary Round:
Though horrid all we see, and hear,
Thy Horrors charm, while they confound.
Full well hast thou persued the Road,
The magic Road thy master laid;
And hast, with grateful skill, bestow’d
An off’ring worthy of his shade.
Again his manners he may trace,
Again his characters may see,
In soft Matild, Miranda’s grace,
And his own Prospero in Thee.

“This must have given Walpole great pleasure, for he said in the preface to the second edition of the book that Shakespeare was his model and he championed Shakespeare against Voltaire.”

Lewis continues with commentary about the decline of Shakespeare’s reputation in the eighteenth century and Walpole’s freely borrowing from the bard in the Castle of Otranto.

“The easy runner-up in this Choice is John Carter’s water-color drawing that Walpole described in ‘More Additions’ to the ’84 Description, ‘Procession in the Castle of Otranto, in water-color by John Carter.’ Carter added to this in the copy of the Description that Walpole bequeathed him and that is now at Farmington, ‘Was paid for it 20 guineas.’ On the back of the drawing Carter wrote, ‘Entry of Frederic into the Castle of Otranto, John Carter, inv. and del., 1790’ and he showed it at the Royal Academy exhibition of that year. Walpole’s willingness to pay such a large sum for a water-color drawing proves his continuing affection for the book. He chose Carter to illustrate it because Carter was an antiquarian, the author of Specimens of the Ancient Sculpture and Painting now remaining in this Kingdom, 1786, which he dedicated to Walpole. He wrote, ‘[I] first found in you a Patron. Your kind encouragement gave wings to my ambition to continue their [the Specimens’] publication, and under your Auspices, and the Public’s generous Assistance, I have been able to bring to a Conclusion the first Volume: which with Gratitude and Respect I dedicate to you, as some acknowledgment for the great obligations conferr’d on, Sir, Your very much obliged and faithful humble Servant, John Carter. Nov. 1786.’ Its frontispiece, in which Edward the Third and his family attended by warriors, courtiers, etc., makes a regal entrance into a courtyard, foreshadows Frederic’s entry into the courtyard of Otranto,'”

Lewis quotes the passage from the Castle of Otranto in which Frederic’s entry is described.

“How to get all this on a sheet of 23 by 19 inches would have daunted a lesser Goth Watercolor drawing of a busy crowd scene of people in medieval dress surrounded by gothic buildingsthan Carter, but he managed it beautifully. Frederic’s retinue that has already arrived can be seen riding and marching into the distant parts of the castle that had been inspired by King’s College Chapel and an Eleanor Cross (Carter ignored Walpole’s hint in his second preface that the Castle was Strawberry Hill). Walking beside Frederic is his beadsman telling his beads; behind may be glimpsed the fifty footguards with drums and trumpets. Immediately in front of him are men (hardly a hundred) carrying the great sword, with Frederic in full armor, visor down, lance at rest, entering on a superbly caparisoned horse. Gazing at him from a dias across the courtyard is Manfred, the villain, understandably perturbed, with Isabella, Frederic’s daughter and the heroine of the tale, and Friar Jerome who is, I think, a portrait of Horace Walpole himself. Behind Manfred are the plumes of the giant helmet that crushed, no one knew how, Isabella’s betrothed, the fifteen-year-old sickly Conrad, Manfred’s only child. In the foreground, guarded by armed men with armor and weapons, is the castle’s orchestra playing away. It includes a blind harpist, a bearded man thumping Turkish tabors, another man with a tuba, and two graceful girls, scantily clad, one of whom is playing a two-horned instrument, the other striking a triangle. Above and beyond the gate and drawbridge are towers inspired by German castles. I haven’t begun to do justice to the drawing, but I hope I’ve suggested that it is the quintessence of the Gothic Revival and deserving of serious attention.

“It was bought at the Strawberry Hill sale by the Rev. Horace Cholmondeley and descended to his great-grandson, the late General Sir Henry Jackson, a Dorset neighbor of Owen Morshead who brought us together. General Jackson very kindly let me have not only the drawing, but one of Walpole’s copies of Watteau mentioned in Choice 3 and his annotated copy of McArdell’s print after Walpole’s portrait by Reynolds, which is Choice 26. The three pieces hang in our side hall and are a daily reminder of the General and Owen Morshead as well as of Horace Walpole, John Carter, and Watteau.”

Lewis quotes several contemporary and subsequent reviews of the Castle of Otranto.

“The continuing success of The Castle of Otranto is one of the phenomena of English literature. There have been ninety editions of it, fifteen of them in this century including a recent one of 50,000 copies in Russia. The first of seven American editions was published in New York in 1801; later nineteenth-century editions appeared in Philadelphia and Hartford; three editions have been published in France, two in Germany, four in Italy where Bodoni of Parma printed the finest in 1791. Walpole’s copies of it and of the handsome 1795 translation in London are at Farmington in morocco bindings worthy of them. Two of the five or six printed by Bodoni on vellum are also at Farmington.

“In my Introduction to the edition published by the Oxford University Press in 1964 I quoted, as commentators on the Castle of Otranto always do, Walter Scott’s praise of the book in his 1811 edition. He called it ‘remarkable not only for the wild interest of the story, but as the first modern attempt to found a tale of amusing fiction upon the basis of the ancient romance of chivalry,’ and he conceded to Walpole the applause ‘which cannot be denied to him who can excite the passions of fear and of pity.’ I am struck by his speaking of ‘the wild interest of the story,’ for I confess, quite quietly here, I have never field any fear or pity in it; instead, I marvel how such a lucid and entertaining writer as Horace Walpole could have written so confused and clumsy a book. Gray’s and his friends’ delight in it came, I think from the novelty of the book’s setting, its pseudo-mediaeval speech, and its supernatural events. Richardson, Fielding, and Smollett had nothing like that. I am convinced by Henry James’s transitions to the supernatural, but I find Walpole’s ludicrous. Alfonso sighing and stepping out of his portrait is arresting, but when Manfred cries, ‘Lead on! I will follow thee to the gulph of Perdition,’ I do not yield to ‘the style of former centuries,’ but find Alfonso his own parody. Carter’s drawing, on the other hand, leads us into a magical courtyard with Horace Walpole as Friar Jerome watching us from the court and is welcomed by the Otranto heralds and orchestra. When Walpole was writing his letters he was talking easily to his correspondents, but when he wrote his novel he was being ‘literary.’ The Castle of Otranto must continue to be read by students as a landmark of English literature, yet it is not, I think, for others.

“The eighteenth century’s high regard for it is shown not only by the eighteen editions published then, but by contemporary illustrations of the story. There are thirty-four of them at Farmington bound in various copies of the book. Among them are two that suggest the artists failed to understand that Alfonso stepped off the canvas and down on the floor for they brought the whole picture down, frame and all. Much the best of these illustrations are four by Bertie Greatheed, aged fifteen, of Guy’s Cliff, Warwick. Walpole wrote his father,

Image of a manuscript letter in 18th century cursive hand

I have seen many drawings and prints made from my idle—I don’t know what to call it, novel or romance—not one of them approached to any one of your son’s four—a clear proof of which is, that not one of the rest satisfied the author’s ideas—It is as strictly, and upon my honour, true, that your son’s conception of some of the passions has improved them, and added more expression than I myself had formed in my own mind; for example, in the figure of the ghost in the chapel, to whose hollow sockets your son has given an air of reproachful anger, and to the whole turn of his person, dignity. Manfred in the last scene has an uncertain horror, that shows he has not yet had time to know what kind of agony he feels at what he has done. Such delineation of passions at so very youthful a period, or rather in boyhood, are indubitable indications of real genius, and cannot have issued from the instructions or corrections of a master.

“Was there any way, Walpole asked, in which he might secure the originals or copies of them? brown wash drawing of two men cringing away from a giant foot in a sandal above themThe rest of the correspondence is missing, but the drawings–which make one think of Blake–were bound by Walpole in his copy of Bodoni’s 1791 edition published in London by J. Edwards and are now at Farmington. These four drawings are far superior to the efforts of Greatheed’s older amateur contemporaries and we join Walpole in lamenting the early death of the outstanding amateur of his time.”

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called “Choice 19: Cole’s Copy of “The Castle of Otranto”” download or expand the link here:

N.B. a mini-conference focused on The Castle of Otranto was held at the Lewis Walpole Library on November 10, 2017 and the morning session and afternoon session are available on Yale’s YouTube channel.

30. Choice 18: Mary Berry’s Sketch Book

Choice 18: Mary Berry’s Sketch Book

by Wilmarth S. Lewis

Walpole wrote Lady Ossory, 11 October 1788:

“If I have picked up no recent anecdotes on our common, I have made a much more, to me, precious acquisition. It is the acquaintance of two young ladies of the name of Berry, whom I first saw last winter, and who accidentally took a house here with their father for this season. Their story is singular enough to entertain you. The grandfather, a Scot, had a large estate in his own country; £5000 a year, it is said; and a circumstance I shall tell you, makes it probable. The eldest son married for love a woman with no fortune. The old man was enraged and would not see him. The wife died and left these two young ladies. Their grandfather wished for an heir male, and pressed the widower to remarry, but could not prevail—the son declaring he would consecrate himself to his daughters and their education. The old man did not break with him again, but much worse, totally disinherited him, and left all to his second son, who very handsomely gave up £800 a year to his elder brother. Mr Berry has since carried his daughters for two or three years to France and Italy, and they are returned the best informed and the most perfect creatures I ever saw at their age. They are exceedingly sensible, entirely natural and unaffected, frank, and being qualified to talk on any subject, nothing is so easy and agreeable as their conversation, nor more apposite than their answers and observations. The eldest, I discovered by chance, understands Latin, and is a perfect Frenchwoman in her language. The younger draws charmingly, and has copied admirably Lady Di’s gypsies, which I lent her, though the first time of her attempting colours.

“They are of pleasing figures; Mary, the eldest, sweet, with fine dark eyes, that are very lively when she speaks, with a symmetry of face that is the more interesting from being pale. Agnes, the younger, has an agreeable sensible countenance, hardly to be called handsome, but almost. She is less animated than Mary but seems out of deference to her sister to speak seldomer, for they dote on each other, and Mary is always praising her sister’s talents. I must even tell you, Madam, that they dress within the bounds of fashion, though fashionably; but without the excrescences and balconies with which modern hoydens overwhelm and barricado their persons. In short, good sense, information, simplicity and ease characterize the Berrys—and this is not particularly mine, who am apt to be prejudiced, but the universal voice of all that know them. The first night I met them, I would not be acquainted with them, having heard so much in their praise, that I concluded they would be all pretensions. The second time, in a very small company, I sat next to Mary, and found her an angel, inside and out. Now, I don’t know which I like best, except Mary’s face, which is formed for a sentimental novel but is ten times fitter for a fifty times better thing, genteel comedy.

“This delightful family comes to me almost every Sunday evening, as our region is too proclamatory to play at cards on the seventh day — I do not care a straw for cards, but I do disapprove of this partiality to the youngest child of the week, while the other poor six days are treated as if they had no souls to be saved.

“I forgot to tell you that Mr Berry is a little merry man with a round face, and you would not suspect him of so much feeling and attachment. I make no excuse for such minute details, for if your Ladyship insists on hearing the humours of my district, you must for once indulge me in sending you two pearls that I found in my path.

“The Berrys were aged twenty-four and twenty-three when they met Walpole. He was seventy. Pinkerton reports a rumour, which Macaulay, Thackeray, and Cunningham later spread, that before his death Walpole offered marriage to both Berrys in succession; but what actually took place is made clear by Charles Fulke Greville in his Journal of the Reign of Queen Victoria, 1832-1852. He called on Miss Berry one day in 1843 ‘and found her in great indignation at [T. Crofton] Croker’s recent article in the “Quarterly” upon the series just published of Lord Orford’s letters to Mann, angry on his account and on her own. Croker says, what has been often reported, that Lord Orford offered to marry Mary Berry, and on her refusal, to marry Agnes. She says it is altogether false. Walpole never thought of marrying Agnes, and what passed with regard to herself was this: The Duchess of Gloucester was very jealous of his intimacy with the Berrys, though she treated them with civility. At last her natural impetuosity broke out, and she said to him, “Do you mean to marry Miss Berry or do you not?” To which he replied, “That is as Miss Berry herself pleases”; and that, as I understood her, is all that passed about it.’ ‘Let me repeat to both,’ Walpole wrote 26 February 1791, ‘that distance of place and time can make no alteration in my friendship; It grew from esteem for your characters and understandings and tempers, and became affection from your good-natured attentions to me, where there is so vast a disproportion in our ages.’ It was a thoroughly common-sensical relationship on both sides. Walpole and the Berrys delighted in each other’s company, and that was that.”

Lewis describes the kind of content Walpole’s letters to the Berrys included: “The subjects he wrote about to the Berrys are much the same as those in his other intimate correspondences–great names and events and entertaining trivialities–but to the Berrys there is more neighbourhood gossip and more of his own hopes and fears.”

“When the Berrys returned from their long European sojourn in 1791, they moved into Little Strawberry Hill pencil sketch of house amidst trees and shrubberyand were the old man’s constant companions until he died six years later. This ideal arrangement for both sides developed a somewhat disturbed undercurrent. The young women were not free from restlessness and Mary had to conduct her furtive love-affair with General O’Hara, which came to naught, in fear of Walpole’s discovering it. I acquired four of Mrs. Damer’s small notebooks, 1791-97, in the second Waller Sale. They are addressed to Mary Berry although not by name. The sort of thing Mrs Damer wrote is:

“I love your dignity as much as my own and enter into every word you said about him this morn–you understand me–You looked so low, so uncomfortable and so tired tonight, that tho’ it is late I cannot go to bed in peace without telling you how much I felt and regretted it–for tho’ I can seldom have the comfort of relieving, I must ever share your disquiets–perhaps, nay, very likely, it proceeded from nothing particular. I know too well the numberless, nameless things that smart, and agonize a mind ‘too painfully alive all o’er.’ I know that there is but one relief, which is the sympathizing bosom of some kindred being–that being exists both to you and to me, and tho’ not always mutually within our reach–let us bless God . . . suffer, and be thankful.

“Twenty years earlier Mrs Damer had been the subject of ‘A Sapphick Epistle’ that made her partiality to her own sex clear. Strephon was perfectly safe with her, but Chloe was not.”

Lewis recounts Anne Damer’s husband’s suicide and her attitude towards Walpole, and he outlines the jealousy of Lady Mary Churchill and the Duchess of Gloucester towards the Berry sisters.

“The object I am saving in this Choice is aoval pencil drawing of young lady facing left with a scarf over her head, in a gold frame modest one, Mary Berry’s sketch book. We have at Farmington only two other objects that belonged  to a black lace parasol that came from her relations the Munro Ferguson family of Raith and a beautiful gold repeating watch that was made for Walpole in 1741 and given by him to her, as is noted on its back. We also have a miniature of her when young that I keep with them, but they are not as close to her as her rather shabby sketch book. It is oblong, covered with striped Italian paper in green, red, and low, and on it she wrote

 

MB

1790

Pisa

rectangular sketchbook covered in paper with horizontal pattern in red green & yellow

“Inside is her bookticket, a cluster of strawberry blossoms, leaves, and fruit between her name and Inter Folio Fructus. I bought it from Sotheran in 1923. Mary Berry's bookplate cluster of strawberries & flowersThe first drawing is a street, “Pisa 1791.” landscape sketch of a street in Pisa with buildings on either side of a street leading into the distanceMiss Berry was happier with buildings than with trees, which she drew with spectacular unsuccess. Village churches were her forte and there are two views of Goodwood that delighted Walpole because of his affection for the Richmonds–his large correspondence with whom has so unfortunately disappeared. Miss Berry’s sketch book is markedly inferior to Agnes’s, which is also at Farmington, but one feels it is closer to Walpole. ‘You are learning perspective to take views; I am glad,’ he wrote Mary, ‘can one have too many resources in one’s self? Internal armour is more necessary to your sex than weapons to ours. You have neither professions nor politics nor ways of getting money like men, in any of which, whether successful or not, they are employed. Scandal and cards you will both always hate and despise as much as you do now; and though I shall not flatter Mary so much as to suppose she will ever equal the extraordinary talent of Agnes in painting, yet as Mary like the scriptural Martha is occupied in many things, she is quite in the right to add the pencil to her other amusements.’

pencil landscape sketch showing the south front of Goodwood, a country house in Sussex England

“Our chief interest in Miss Berry’s later life is what she did for Walpole’s reputation. It was not forgotten that she had been the closest friend of his declining years and, allegedly, might have been his wife. She was at the center of the talk that began when his will was read. It was said that he had left too much to the Duchess of Gloucester, too little to Kirgate, and nothing at all, Pinkerton objected, to Pinkerton; he was blamed for the death of Chatterton; he had been hateful to Mme du Deffand; J.W. Croker and Lord Liverpool agreed that he was ‘as bad a man as ever lived’ because he had, they said, poisoned history at its source. Byron came to his rescue with equal extravagance in the Preface to Marino Faliero, 1821: ‘It is the fashion to underrate Horace Walpole; firstly, because he was a nobleman, and secondly, because he was a gentleman, but to say nothing of the composition of his incomparable letters, and of the Castle of Otranto, he is the “Ultimus Romanorum,” the father . . . of the first romance and of the last tragedy in our language, and surely worthy of a higher place than any living writer, be he who may.’

“Twelve years later in 1833 came Macaulay’s attach on Walpole in the Edinburgh Review. Macaulay, rising thirty-three, boasted to his sister, ‘I have laid it on Walpole so unsparingly that I shall not be surprised if Miss Berry should cut me.’ Two or three weeks later, however, he is off to Miss Berry’s soirée. ‘I do not know whether I told you that she resented my article on Horace Walpole so much that Sir Stratford Canning advised me not to go near her . . . You know that in Vivian Grey she is called Miss Otranto. I always expected that my article would put her into a passion, and I was not mistaken; but she has come round again, and sent me a most pressing and kind invitation the other day.’

“Macaulay’s essay has had more influence on Walpole’s reputation than all other comments on him combined. It is a caricature, but as in all good caricatures the victim is recognizable. Although every page contains untrue statements, there does emerge a distorted likeness. Miss Berry answered it seven years later in Bentley’s edition of Walpole’s Letters. Macaulay’s picture of Walpole’s character, she said, was ‘entirely and offensively unlike the original.’ She dismissed the untrue charges one by one, ending with the most serious, Walpole’s alleged coldness of heart. She had decided to publish his letters to her and her sister to give proof ‘that the warmth of his feelings, and his capacity for sincere affection, continued unenfeebled by age.’

“There is no record of Macaulay and Miss berry dining amicably after her defence, but there is at Farmington a statement not without interest written by George Bentley, the son of Miss Berry’s publisher. It was given me by our hostess at Upton, Mrs Richard Bentley. ‘Miss Berry,’ George Bentley wrote, ‘had inoculated [the first Richard Bentley] with a feeling of affection for Walpole’s character, and he could never bear to hear him ill spoken of . . . It was his great wish that his letters should be collected and chronologically arranged.

“‘Macaulay was consulted on the subject. His character of Walpole is so well known, but Macaulay’s opinion had modified in his later days as he confessed to Miss Berry, and as Miss Berry told my father.'”

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called “Choice 18: Mary Berry’s Sketch Book” download or expand the link here:

N.B. According to the catalog record, the Damer notebooks represent a “Manuscript, in a single hand, of a collection of excerpts of letters, in four volumes, from Mary Berry to Damer, transcribed and edited by Damer.”

29. Horace Walpole and Macaroni Fashion Fads

29. Horace Walpole and Macaroni Fashion Fads

by Peter McNeil, Distinguished Professor of Design History, University of Technology Sydney
Distinguished Professor, ‘FiDiPro’, Aalto University/
Professor of Fashion Studies, Stockholm University

Scholarly and also popular awareness of the ‘macaroni man’ has gained momentum among not just those interested in the fashion culture of the eighteenth century but the general public more widely. In an era that is questioning both gender binaries and boundaries, the ambiguity, playfulness and whimsy of macaroni men is just too powerful to ignore. Variously mocked as libidinous or sexually inept, ‘amphibious’ (a term used by Pope in the Dunciad – meaning ‘leading two lives’) or even ‘neuter’, he was an important masculine figure between the better known types of the French fop and the Regency English Dandy. The increasing attention to him reflects the growth of inter-disciplinary research into masculinity, consumer practices, print culture and sartorial fashions, as well as the new, keener interest in specific episodes of men’s dress, hitherto a somewhat neglected topic. Studying the macaroni over the past twenty years, including on two visits to the Lewis Walpole Library, I have woven together dress, biography, historical events and art spanning genres from the scurrilous caricature to respectful portrait. Celebrities hailed or mocked as different as the politician Charles James Fox, the painter Richard Cosway, the freed slave Julius ‘Soubise’ and the white collar criminal Reverend Dodd demand such an approach. Indeed it is possibly the eccentric amalgam of fashion-forward men from different social groups and milieux, often with startling life stories, that attracted the eye and pen of Horace Walpole more than 200 years ago, then much later the notations crafted by W.S. Lewis and his research team in Farmington, Connecticut working on Walpole’s Letters in the inter and post-war years of the twentieth century. The circle around W.S. Lewis including Sir Francis Watson did much to investigate the cultural meanings of eighteenth-century men’s dress in the 1960s, a time when the study was barely on the academic radar in the USA or UK [i] . Dress and fashionability was clearly of interest to Lewis, being the subject of many entries in the card catalogue, topic of many incursions in the annotated Letters of Walpole and referred to in the work of other associated authors such as Lars E. Troide.

Researchers now resist reading the macaroni as simply illustrative of something occurring in eighteenth-century life, for example, a particular world-view such as aristocratic excess or anxiety concerning war and the role of militia. Several reasons can be advanced for this shift. The first is the changing attitude towards the interpretation of caricature prints as complex visual artefacts; the second is the reassessment of dress fashion as an area of serious research within cultural history. Being fashionable or looking in turn at fashionable people is part of a complex power relationship that still fascinates today. Over the course of the eighteenth century fashion contributed to new ideas of self, personality, celebrity and spectatorship, all of which was both subject for and in turn amplified by the greatly increased incidence of satirical and other prints sold by canny print-seller entrepreneurs.

What does Horace Walpole and his archive tell us about the macaronis? Dictionaries note that the first recorded use of the term ‘macaroni’ occurred in the voluminous correspondence of Walpole, although this is not strictly true. Similar words had been used as names of characters in Garrick’s plays as early as 1757. Walpole’s trenchant eye did, however, provide the first detailed surviving impression of this phenomenon when it appeared amongst the aristocracy in London. It was something new. In February 1764 Walpole observed gambling losses amongst the sons of foreign visitors (Lewis’ team thought them to be Modenese men) at the ‘Maccaroni club, which is composed of all the travelled young men who wear long curls and spying-glasses’. This youth fashion was for shorter suit jackets which showed more of the rear (leading to moral condemnation at many times in history), striped or coloured silk stockings, red-heeled, slipper-like and thin-soled shoes, some with rosettes (thus alluding to the French court and only suited for city life), small, impractical tricorn hats, often carried not worn (known as ‘Nivernais’ or ‘Nivernois’ after the French Ambassador in London – the translator of Walpole’s essay on gardening into French), very large floral corsages at the bosom, a hanger-sword, pocket-watch and seals hanging from the waist, sometimes with a dummy watch (fausse-montre) for symmetry, canes, parasols (normally used by women in England at this date), and other luxury accessories such as steel buttons and shoe buckles, metal or enamel snuff and patch boxes and many types of magnifying glasses. The colours preferred were pastels from yellow to orange but also buff and blue, small spotted or chevron textiles (not the larger woven florals of earlier periods) and high quality silk, velvet or woollen broadcloth (the latter being plain and never printed).

uncolored etching showing from the rear a man with a bag wig

(M. Darly, The St. James Macaroni, 12 August 1772. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University)

Particular attention was paid to embroidered and trimmed waistcoats which were once described as having all the ‘debris of a magazin de mode’. Profligate gaming, associated with continental and specifically French manners, was strongly associated with the macaroni type. Gaming was highly fashionable and losses had reached epidemic proportions; Charles James Fox’s stakes of £3000 and total gambling debts of £140, 000 were public knowledge, mentioned in macaroni ditties and satires. Walpole, listing the things in the world that were best worth finding, included the longitude, the philosopher’s stone, the certificate of the Duchess of Kingston’s first marriage, the missing books of Livy, ‘and all that Charles Fox had lost’. Gaming and expenditure on fashion were a good fit, as the idea emerged that the endless cycle of fashion change would weaken men’s natural reserve as well as resources and lead to a type of fiscal and moral exhaustion.

A particular type of dress was associated with the inveterate gambler. The English made a ritual of their dress at the private clubs. Walpole noted:

They began by pulling off their embroidered clothes, and put on frieze great coats, or turned their coats inside outwards for luck. They put on pieces of leather, such as are worn by footmen when they clean the knives, to save their laced ruffles; and, to guard their eyes from the light, and to prevent tumbling their hair, wore high-crowned hats with broad brims, and adorned with flowers and ribbons.[ii]

uncolored etching showing men seated around a gaming table

(The macaroni cauldron, To be had with many other Macaronies pubd. by MDarly (39) Strand. [London]: Pubd. accordg. to act March 9, 1772, by MDarly, 39 Strand, [1772]. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University)

Uncolored etching showing mean seated by a table

The candle is lighted, we cannot blow out c1640 (British Museum)

Men spent such long hours at the table that an engraving depicted a special cap with a wide rim, worn to protect weary eyes from bright candlelight, possibly to deter cheating. Darly’s engraving The Macaroni Cauldron shows the caps mirroring and protecting the shapes of the high toupee wigs . The way in which the men are placed around the table is reminiscent of seventeenth-century English prints of the gathering around Martin Luther, as in The candle is lighted, we cannot blow out c1640 (British Museum).[iii]. This was not ultimately the guise that came to be associated in the public mind with the macaroni; instead, the fine clothing that they were protecting beneath comprised their fashionable dress. A play review described ‘the Nabob sitting at his table in his gambling dress, the silk night gown, straw bonnet, &c. which the virtuous gentlemen of Almack’s use when at play’.[iv] 

Walpole made further reference to macaronis in his Letters of 1764. In May he referred to a ‘young rich Mr Crewe‘ as ‘a Maccarone’ [sic]; in June he described a party without heating at which ‘All the beauties were disappointed, and all the macaronies afraid of getting the toothache.’[v] In November he indicated that macaroni dress was a style of the very young, when he observed at the Opera: ‘You see I am not likely, like my brother Cholmondeley… to totter into a solitaire at threescore.’[vi] Distinctive macaroni colour schemes for various seasons, probably copied from the vibrant combinations used in French and Italian silks and velvets, were indicated: ‘If I went to Almack’s and decked out my wrinkles in pink and green like Lord Harrington, I might still be in vogue.’[vii]

Mezzotint of man in profile facing right

(Daniel Gardner (painter), V. Green, (printmaker), George Simon Harcourt, Viscount Nuneham, 1772 [later 2nd Earl of Harcourt of Stanton], mezzotint, 32 x 22.7 cm. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University. Horace Walpole’s own copy).

The key to the macaroni was excess. Walpole characterised the macaroni as sporting massive nosegays or corsages: ‘Lord Nuneham’s garden is the quintessence of nosegays: I wonder some macaroni does not offer ten thousand pounds for it – but indeed the flowers come in their natural season, and take care to bring their perfumes along with them’.[viii] To the Countess of Upper Ossory he wrote that Nuneham (George Simon Harcourt, Viscount Nuneham) had a ‘flower-garden that would keep all Maccaronia in nosegays’.[ix] Walpole owned a copy of the elegant 1772 portrait by Daniel Gardner of Viscount Nuneham, which is respectful, not scurrilous, and indicates the mannerism of macaroni hair with its long tail andhigh toupee at the front.

Apart from the towering source of the annotated Letters, the Lewis Walpole Library is perhaps the most fruitful space in which to study macaroni materials.  It is an invaluable source for studying unseparated macaroni prints in the editions published by the Darly’s, many hand coloured, which were interwoven with other topical themes and jokes. Walpole’s personal scrapbook of 280 etchings, prints and drawings assembled by him between 1776 and 1782 includes an undated sketch, likely by Bunbury, in which a finely dressed macaroni is tailed by a child beggar.[x]

drawing on dark orange paper of a man facing right with a child behind holding out a cap

(‘THIS CLUB was instituted and kept at ALMACKS and called the MACCARONI [sic] society’, pen and ink drawing on tracing paper, in ‘Etchings by Henry William Bunbury, Esq. and After His Designs’; album collected by Horace Walpole, 2 vol. fol. 49/3563./v.1.2, at p. 2. LLWL 765 0 85dr. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University)

Bunbury, or another hand, noted beneath the sketch: ‘THIS CLUB was instituted and kept at ALMACKS and called the MACCARONI [sic] society.’[xi] Walpole linked Almack’s with the macaroni several other times in his correspondence; there were ‘Macaronis lolling out of windows at Almack’s like carpets to be dusted’.[xii] Furthermore, The Macaroni and Theatrical Magazine also referred to Almack’s, describing: ‘a compound dish of vermicelli and other pastes, which, unknown in England until then, was imported by our Connoscenti [sic] in eating, as an improvement to their subscription table at Almack’s’.[xiii] Walpole’s description of the macaroni club was designed to amuse his correspondents who were familiar with the ambience of these Whig establishments, notorious for gaming, feasting and carousing. The Edwardian biographer of the macaroni Walter Stanhope noted that macaroni was ‘always placed on the table at their dinners’; he had access to his papers but did not otherwise note the source of this claim.[xiv]  Almacks was later known as the ‘Scavoir Vivre’, an expression which occurs in comic journals of the period that include macaroni men.[xv]

References to macaroni in terms of luxury, fashion or folly, can be found in letters dated 1772 and 1773, and the connection in Walpole’s mind with the extravagant Whig circle around Charles James Fox was confirmed in July 1773. The macaroni became metaphor for problems with the currency and a general draining of the economy:

Ireland is drained and has not a shilling. The explosion of the Scotch banks has reduced them almost as low, and sunk their flourishing manufactures to low water ebb. The Maccaronis [sic] are at their ne plus ultra: Charles Fox is already so like Julius Caesar, that he owes an hundred thousand pounds… What is England now? – A sink of Indian wealth, filled by nabobs and emptied by Maccaronis! A senate sold and despised! A country over-run by horse-races! A gaming, robbing, wrangling, railing nation, without principles, genius, character or allies; the over-grown shadow of what it was!.[xvi]

Etching of a full figure of a man facing front with tents and a palm tree behind

(Unknown, Robert, Lord Clive Baron de Plassey Chevalier de l’order du Bain, vainqueur de la fameuse journée de plassey, et cidevant Gouverneur général de tous les établissements de la Compagnie angloise aux judes orientales. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University)

Walpole, as usual, exaggerated; he continued; ‘Lord bless me, I run on like a political barber – I must go back to my shop…’[xvii] An example of the Oriental richness and luxury that Walpole refers to may be seen in the engraving Robert Clive, Lord Clive Baron de Plassey… Gouverneur général de tour les établissements de la Compagnie angloise aux judes orientales. This plate is a good example of the incredibly varied and rich collection of loose prints, possibly once clipped from another source, acquired by W S Lewis from dealers in London, New York and elsewhere. Clive of India’s rich court dress matches the elaborate rococo frame, suggesting general richness and luxury with a palm tree and campaign tents indicating the foreign location.

Walpole enjoyed speckling his correspondence with the new term; even the Summer arrives  ‘à la Maccaroni three months too late’.[xviii] A decade later, in 1777 in his copy of Mason’s Heroic Epistle, Walpole mocked the word macaroni, stating that its very novelty was a symbol of what we might now call the fashion system:

Maccaroni is synonimous [sic] to Beau, Fop, Cox-comb, Petit Maître, &c. for Fashion having no foundation in Sense, or in the flower of sense, Taste, deals in forms & names, by altering which it thinks it invents. Maccaroni was a name adopted by or given to the young Men of fashion who returned from their Travels in the present reign, and is supposed to have been derived from the Italian paste of that denomination… The Chiefs of the Maccaronis [sic] became known beyond the limits of their fantastic Dominion by their excessive gaming…[xix]

Walpole very much liked attending and observing the behaviour at masquerade balls. The masquerade is central to the story of macaroni men – and women.  The masquerade complicated the visual logic of dress; it was a real and a fictive event at the same time, at which participants might wear ‘costume’ – imagined or fancy dress – or ‘real’ costume, that is, high fashion, that nonetheless might be suitable only for the space of this event.  Fashion here filled a theatrical role that in turn spilled over into the street if such clothes were worn in other settings. As Mrs Delany, writing to Mrs Port in March 1775 noted: ‘Nothing is talked of now so much as the ladies’ enormous dresses, more suited to the stage or a masquerade than for any civil or sober societies… It would be some consolation if their manners did not too much correspond with the lightness of their dress’.[xx] Writing to Sir William Hamilton, Walpole noted:

If you were to come over, you would find us a general masquerade.  The Macaronies, not content with producing new fashions every day – and who are great reformers, are going to restore the Vandyck dress, in concert with the Macaronesses – As my thighs would not make a figure in breeches from my navel to my instep, I shall wait till the dress of the Druids is revived, which will be more suitable to my age.[xxi]

Many engravings of masquerade scenes indicate that as well as wearing dominoes and fancy dress, many men attended masquerades wearing their own fashionable clothing. Thus, rather than wearing costume, they went as ‘themselves’. This is generally how they were caricatured, rather than appearing in a domino or fancy dress.

Colored Mezzotint showing men and women seated around a table

(William Humphrey, print-maker, The Pantheon in Oxford Street, Edwards delint.; Humphry fecit.[London], Printed for R. Eynon, near the Royal Exchange, Publish’d according to act of Parliament, Jany. 20, 1772, mezzotint. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University).

Pronunciation is also a part of the ‘lost history’ of fashion. The perceptive Walpole wrote to Horace Mann of it thus: ‘Not only the fashions in dress and manners change, but the ways of thinking, nay, of speaking an pronouncing [sic]’[xxii] Plays, joke books and ditties indicate some of the affectations of the macaroni: cowcumber (cucumber), Jarsey (Jersey), charrit (chariot), gould (gold), bal-cõny (bãl-cony) and Lunnon (London).[xxiii] Walpole understood that fashion is a type of constellation of behaviours criss-crossing the clothing itself, the body envelope or posture, gesture, speech and also confidence – or not. He could be arch about figures such as David Garrick (at one stage his rural neighbour) being not quite up to his standards (even though Garrick had the most stylish furnishings and interior by Chippendale) and had a keen eye for the appearance of young men. I gain the sense that Walpole, the ‘voluptuary of gossip’, was fonder and gentler in his descriptions of men’s fashion than women’s. He was very interested in dress, collecting materials and commencing a type of antiquarian study of it. His views on the fashion of men would also have been informed by his awareness of the medieval literary tradition of the folly but also charm of young men’s fashions and the earlier classical traditions. But a complete study of Walpole’s attitude to dress fashions is yet to be written.

Decoding caricatures in the past required a forensic and patient mind. Many women were involved with this work. In 1905 ‘George Paston’, actually Miss Emily Morse Symonds, an unmarried feminist (who also wrote on the eighteenth-century flower artist Mrs Delaney) included a lengthy and perceptive discussion on the topic of the macaroni in her Social Caricature in the Eighteenth Century.[xxiv] This, along with M. Dorothy George’s detailed catalogue of the holdings of the British Museum, as well as George’s richly-illustrated social history studies of Georgian life, provided the main references to the macaroni until historians of dress and costume began to take some interest in them in the 1970s and 1980s.[xxv]  Dorothy George was married to an artist, and she worked for British Intelligence in World War I. Her particular and meticulous approach to her cataloguing of the prints was therefore well matched with her previous career.[xxvi] Parts of her work find a mirror in the role of the major Horace Walpole collector, Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis, in being made Chief of the Central Intelligence Division in Washington during World War II, setting up a ‘pre-computer’ cross-referencing system for the CIA. As George Haggerty notes, it is startling to think that the way in which governments gather information about people and places emerged from nascent eighteenth-century print studies.[xxvii] Next time we look at a fashion caricature, we are also looking at an artefact that not only created the taste for biting cartoons and satires in our press and on our smartphones, but helped shape classification and judgments that still reverberate today.

 The Lewis Walpole Library provided a haven for my macaroni research over the past twenty years. From the facilities of a converted squash court to the elegant purpose-built library, the institution has always been remarkable in my view for the connection of an extraordinary collection or printed and other materials – W S Lewis’s ‘train to the eighteenth century’ to its idyllic country town setting, a specialist library peopled by friendly, expert professionals. I remember the groundsman driving me in his pick-up truck from a bus stop at a fixed time near West Hartford around 1995, bemused taxi drivers who had never met an Australian – let alone one without a car in this well-to-do area – and the noise of the old porch door grating on the pavers in the Root House (the scholar’s residence, now renovated and very smart). At that time the visiting researchers used the pink monogrammed towels from Mrs Lewis’ vast linen closet and drank coffee from one of her potted services. Gloves were not necessary in the library (as Mr Lewis had specified) and there was often a lunchtime nap in the summer heat for the researchers after croquet. They were different times. But the Lewis Walpole Library retains its extraordinary collections, its bucolic air and many of the same staff still work there. I am grateful to them all.

Peter McNeil’s Pretty Gentlemen’: Macaroni Men and the Eighteenth-Century Fashion World is published with Yale University Press in 2018. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Lewis Walpole Library in 2007-8. His first visit there was undertaken around 1997.

[i] Here F.J.B. Watson’s work on Thomas Patch is relevant. The LWL holds special printings and annotated extra-illustrated copies of his articles sent to W.S. Lewis. LWL Quarto 75 P27 S940 Extra Ill.

[ii] Cit. in Trevelyan, Early History of Charles James Fox, 483-484.

[iii] Sheila O’Connell, The Popular Print in England 1550-1850 (London: British Museum, 1999), 132.

[iv] London Magazine, cited in O’Quinn, Staging Governance, 67.

[v] Walpole to Lord Hertford, 8 June 1764, Lewis, Correspondence, vol. 38, 401.

[vi] Walpole to Lord Hertford, 25 Nov 1764, Lewis, Correspondence, vol. 38, 470.

[vii] Walpole to the Countess of Upper Ossory, 19 Feb 1774, Lewis, Correspondence, vol. 32, 191.

[viii] Walpole to Rev. William Mason, 3 September 1773, Lewis, Correspondence, vol. 28, 105.

[ix] 9 August 1773, Lewis, Correspondence, vol. 32, 136.

[x] Etchings by Henry William Bunbury, Esq. and After His Designs: Horace Walpole’s scrapbook collection of 280 etchings, prints and drawings in the Lewis Walpole Library’, 2 vol. fol. 49/3563./v.1.2, at p. 2], prepared by Walpole c1776-1782 LLWL 765 0 85dr.). The Walpole Bunbury album includes St James’s Macaroni (BM 4712); The Fish-Street Macaroni (BM 4713); The Houndsditch Macaroni (BM 4715); The Full-Blown Macaroni (BM 4714) and The Sleepy Macaroni (BM 4649).

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Walpole to Lord Harcourt, 27 July 1773, Lewis, Correspondence, vol. 35, 458.

[xiii] Cited in Stephens and Hawkins, Catalogue, 826.

[xiv]  A.M.W. Stirling, Annals of a Yorkshire House from the Papers of a Macaroni & his Kindred. 2 vols. (London: John Lane, 1911), 323.

[xv] Bon Ton, November 1791, 357.

[xvi] Walpole to Horace Mann, 13 July 1773, Lewis Correspondence, vol. 23, 498-499.

[xvii] Walpole to Horace Mann, 13 July 1773, Lewis, Correspondence, vol. 23, 499.

[xviii] Walpole to the Countess of Upper Ossory, 29 September 1777, Lewis, Correspondence, vol. 32, 382.

[xix] Paget Toynbee (ed), Satirical Poems Published anonymously by William Mason with Notes by Horace Walpole, now first printed from his manuscript (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926), 69-70; see also Lewis, Correspondence, vol. 10, 139, note 11.

[xx] Paston, Social Caricature, 22.

[xxi] Walpole to Sir William Hamilton, 22 February 1774, in Lewis, Correspndence, vol. 35, 419.

[xxii] LWL card. cat., typed and dated 30 March 1949.

[xxiii] Stirling, Annals, 322.

[xxiv] George Paston [pseudonym of Miss E. M. Symonds], Social Caricature in the Eighteenth Century (London: Methuen and Co., 1905).

[xxv] M. Dorothy George, London Life in the Eighteenth Century (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966 [1925]); England in Johnson’s Day (London: Methuen and Co. 1928); Hogarth to Cruikshank: Social Change in Graphical Satire (London: Allen Lane/Penguin Press, 1967).

[xxvi] Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[xxvii] George E. Haggerty, ‘Walpoliana’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol. 34, no. 2 (2001): 232-233.

22. Mortarboarding Horace Walpole – or Who moved the Gates?

22. Mortarboarding Horace Walpole – or Who moved the Gates?

By Nicholas J.S. Knowles, Independent Scholar

An amusing little homage to Horace Walpole as the indubitable high priest of the picturesque imagination can be found in the Lewis Walpole library in the form of a print, The Temple at Strawberry Hill, depicting a solitary capped and gowned scholar seated in the garden, absorbed in reading a book (Figure 1).

A view of the front of the temple at Horace Walpole's home Strawberry Hill includes the circular garden and the ornamental urns planted with small trees leading to the temple's entrance. To the left the doors of the large iron gates are closed. A man sits reading in a bench in the middle of the image, beside the circular garden in front of the temple.

Figure 1 Temple at Strawberry Hill. Thomas Rowlandson. (Lewis Walpole Library)

wrapper label for sketches from nature

Figure 2 Wrapper label for Sketches from Nature 1822 (Beinecke Library, Yale)

The Lewis Walpole Library impression, signed in the plate Rowlandson del 1822 and lettered drawn & etched by Rowlandson, Stadler aquatinta [i] is one of seventeen plates from Thomas Rowlandson’s Sketches from Nature, a collection of views of beauty spots in England, mostly in the West Country but including several taken along the Thames, that make up one of Rowlandson’s most engaging exercises in the picturesque. The series was first published in parts in 1809 by Thomas Tegg [ii]; an advertisement in Jacksons Oxford Journal for 23 Sept 1809 [iii] tells us: “Rowlandsons Sketch book / or, Choice Views from Nature. This day is published in Royal 4to. Containing four beautiful Views from drawings, made on the spot by T.Rowlandson. Esq price in colours to imitate drawings, 2s.6d. No 1. (to be continued every fortnight) The whole intended to assist the young artist, in the various branches of this delightful and fascinating science. All the prints will be etched by T.Rowlandson Esq. from original drawings, by himself, during a tour made in various counties of England in the summers of the years 1803-4-5-6-7 and 8.”

Rowlandson’s frequent presence in the vicinity of the upper Thames as he made his scenic tours is borne out by numerous (enough for a whole exhibition [iv]) surviving drawings of the area from the period, including several relating to Strawberry Hill and one of which, the well known North Entrance of Strawberry Hill, is also in the LWL collection. Whether designing The Temple at Strawberry Hill print actually involved a

Fragment from Rowlandson's Grotesque Borders for Rooms & Halls, Thomas Rowlandson Collection (GC112), Graphic Arts Collection, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

Figure 3 Fragment from sheet 14 of
Grotesque Borders for Rooms and Halls, Thomas Rowlandson Collection (GC112), Graphic Arts Collection, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

visit to Strawberry Hill at all by Rowlandson is moot, as discussion in this blogpost will show, but the appearance of the print in the same year as the first appearance of Rowlandson & Combe’s bestselling parody, Dr Syntax in search of the Picturesque (first published in parts in Ackermann’s Poetical Magazine), is a definite and affectionate nod to Walpole as the figurehead of the picturesque tradition and underlines of his continuing aesthetic reputation as the progenitor of Gothicism after his death in 1797.

An earlier droll comment by Rowlandson on the raging fashion for the Gothick can be found in one of the twenty-four sheets of Ackermann’s Grotesque Borders for Rooms and halls) (Figure 3), a series of comic friezes intended for decorating rooms, full of topical jokes and allusions [v].

The Gothick revival continued apace in the early 1800’s with William Porden’s extravagantly gothic Eaton Hall (extravagantly built at a cost of over £100,000 between 1803 and 1812 for the 2nd Earl Grosvenor), which was even to be visited by Doctor Syntax himself in a sequel; Dr Syntax’s Second Tour in Search of Consolation (1820). Rowlandson depicts the Reverend Doctor in one of Eaton Hall’s ornate chambers, engaged in a dialogue with his guide on the relative merits of the gothic and the classical styles.  Syntax proves to be a good Walpolean disciple, advocating Gothic as the appropriate style for the stately homes of old families, in words that assert its chivalric connotations and bring Horace himself to mind:

“The new rais’d structure should dispense

The style of old magnificence:

The grandeur of a former age

Should still the wond’ring eye engage,

And the last Heir be proud to raise

A mansion as of former days.

The last successor claims the praise,

For virtue in these later days,

And walls bedeck’d with traceries;

Windows with rainbow colour’s bright,

With many a fancied symbol dight;

And when he views the turret rise

In bold irregularities;

He feels what no Corinthian pile

Would tell, though of the richest style,

That warriors, statesmen, learned sages,

Had borne his name in former ages,

While he, by ev’ry virtue known,

Does honour to it in his own.” [vi]

Portrait of Horace Walpole in his Library

Figure 4 Portrait of Horace Walpole in his Library 1755-59
(image Lewis Walpole Library)

In the Temple at Strawberry Hill print, Rowlandson upholds the fictionalising, idealising Walpolean fancy; he shows two of the sights of Strawberry Hill, the ‘Chapel in the Woods’ (Figure 8) and the ‘Garden Gate’ (now lost), which in reality were some distance apart, placed in artificial but harmonious proximity, adds a high-backed gothic chair from Walpole’s collection; and furthermore inserts a young hermit-scholar lost in sublime contemplation – surely intended to be read as a teasing reference to Horace Walpole himself as the genius loci – and who also serves neatly to place the viewer in the picture as well. That the slight figure is intended for Walpole is hinted by the characteristic cross legged pose, seen in the 1750’s drawing of Horace Walpole in his Library by Johann Heinrich Müntz (Figure 4).

A likely basis for the print, in reverse and with some small variations, is a drawing by Rowlandson of the same scene, now in the Courtauld Institute in London, (Figure 5) [vii].

Garden and entrance to a Neo-Gothic house - Strawberry Hill, 1809 (circa), Thomas Rowlandson (1757 - 1827). Accession number D.1952.RW.3600. © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London.

Figure 5 Garden and entrance to a Neo-Gothic house – Strawberry Hill, © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London.

In the drawing, the similarly posed figure of a reader has not been guyed with a mortarboard and gown, but rather has short, natural hair and the knee stockings of the Müntz portrait. He sits serenely absorbed amidst Rowlandson’s swirling rococo penmanship, the lush vegetation flowing into the gothic ornament. Richard Jeffree suggests the drawing is itself fictional iv;  a pastiche based on two prints that are among the illustrations to Walpole’s own guide to Strawberry Hill (for which see the Birthday Blog post #15; Walpole’s Two Chief Copies of his “Description of Strawberry Hill,” Printed there in 1774 and 1784). Firstly, a print etched by John Godfrey after a drawing by William Pars of the tiny ‘temple’, whose design Walpole had based closely on the perpendicular gothic Chantry Chapel in the chancel of Salisbury Cathedral; “The Chapel in the south-west corner of the wood, is built of brick, with a beautiful front of Portland stone, executed by Mr. Gaysere of Westminster, and taken from the tomb of Edmund Audley bishop of Salisbury, in that cathedral” [viii].

View of the Chapel in the Garden at Strawberry Hill, uncolored print

Figure 6 View of the Chapel in the Garden (Lewis Walpole Library)

Godfrey’s print (Figure 6) shows the same four plants on pedestals flanking the entrance to the chapel that are found in Rowlandson’s versions, as well as the two tall trees with distinctive foliage either side, definitely “hanging down poetical” [ix] and the semi-circular lawn in front.

Garden gate print from the "Description of the Villa"

Figure 7 The Garden Gate. Description of Strawberry Hill 1774 (Lewis Walpole Library)

The second component of Rowlandson’s image, the Garden Gate, was also based on a 13th century tomb, described by Walpole as “The piers of the Garden-gates are of artificial stone, and taken from the tomb of William de Luda bishop of Ely, in that Cathedral[x] and illustrated in Walpole’s description by a print by Thomas Morris after a drawing by Edward Edwards (Figure 7).

The design for the gates is mentioned originally in a letter by Walpole to Henry Cole in a sally almost as contrived as the artificial stone from which they were to be made: “Imprimis then, here are the directions for Mr Essex for the piers of my gates. Bishop Luda must not be offended at my converting his tomb into a gateway. Many a saint and confessor, I doubt, will be glad soon to be passed through, as it will at least secure his being passed over[xi]. In the ‘Plan of the Estate’ made about c1790, posted into HW’s extra-illustrated copy of the 1784 Description, the ‘Gothic Gate’ is marked as being located on the southeast boundary, some distance from the chapel. Mainly on the strength of Rowlandson’s drawing, WS Lewis suggests that the gate might have been subsequently moved to a position near the chapel [xii].  However Rowlandson was seldom concerned with exact topographical niceties and it is surely more likely that he transposed it by a stroke of his pen than that Walpole did so with a team of workmen – especially if Rowlandson invented his whole scene from Walpole’s prints in the first place. As can be seen from many other drawings by Rowlandson of known locations, the play of pattern and composition are more important in his depiction of places than precision. This is well illustrated by two very different images of Strawberry Hill  by him taken from more or less the same vantage point and shown below in Figure 10. Rowlandson freely takes liberties with the road and building elements to create the movement and composition he wants.

Color Photo of the Chapel in the Woods at Strawberry Hill

Figure 8 The Chapel in the woods today (Trip Advisor)

While it is of course also perfectly possible that elements of Rowlandson’s sketch of The Temple were actually drawn from life, the similarity of various aspects of the design, in particular, the façade, the window tracery, the half open door, and the curious patterning of the foliage, support the idea that it is based on prints in Walpole’s Description rather than being taken direct [xiii]. This would be entirely unsurprising – there are numerous other examples of Rowlandson using another print as the source for a background; for example, for several of the series of twelve comic prints of Oxford and Cambridge that Rowlandson made for Ackerman between 1809 & 1811, he simply copies prints of Oxford Colleges taken from the Oxford Almanack [xiv] and populates them with lively figures cavorting in the foreground. (This is taken to its logical conclusion in Ackermann’s massive Microcosm of London (1808-1810) where Rowlandson provides the figures for over 130 backgrounds provided by Pugin and others).

hand-colored etching of "Monastic Fare"

Figure 9 Monastic Fare (Lewis Walpole Library)

The scholar figure in The Temple is clearly fanciful; Rowlandson’s other drawings of Strawberry Hill have similarly invented figures appropriate to the spirit to Walpole’s creation. In North Entrance of Strawberry Hill [with Procession], also in the LWL, a procession of nuns and monks are introduced amidst the stream of carriages and pedestrians. Given that Rowlandson’s views on monasticism are very typically represented by prints such as The Holy Friar  (1807) or Monastic Fare (Figure 9), just two of a steady output of anti-clerical satirical prints made throughout his life, and monks are almost invariably depicted by him for comic effect, the procession can happily be read as a jeu d’esprit playing along to Walpole’s medieval fantasy. That said, it is not impossible that Rowlandson actually encountered real monks in the vicinity ─ a significant number of refugee monks and nuns from both English Catholic and French orders had fled to England in the previous decade to escape repression, especially after the September massacres of 1792 [xv]. Walpole himself subscribed to a fund for their relief (though “much against my will and practice”) [xvi]. And in the sketch of Strawberry Hill with a Procession of Monks which, by its loose and rapid pen work, of all Rowlandson’s drawings of Strawberry Hill is most suggestive of a drawing actually made on the spot (Figure 10a), there is indeed a band of monks; forming a dejected crocodile trudging up the road on the left. The second view, from the V&A, shows Rowlandson’s carefree editing of the elements to create his own composition.

Drawing by Rowlandson "SStrawberry Hill with a procession of monks"

Figure 10a. [Strawberry Hill With a Procession of Monks]. Private Collection
Image from Lowell Libson 2016. Catalogue entry #24 in Jefferee 1992 iv

Drawing by Rowlandson [Strawberry Hill from the West]

Figure 10b. [Strawberry Hill from the West], Victoria & Albert Museum London DYCE.79. Catalogue entry #25 in Jefferee 1992 iv

Figures 10a & b Two views of Strawberry Hill

The drawing of the chapel in the Woodward is not the only drawing by Rowlandson of Strawberry Hill that is almost certainly fictive. Another illustration from Walpole’s Description, a print of the Tribune by Thomas Morris, is highly plausible as the source for Rowlandson’s drawing of Nuns at Prayer in the Tribune at Strawberry Hill (Figure 11) in which a group of pretty young nuns kneel in ardent supplication before an altar flanked by large candlesticks. This should be read in particular as mischievous ─ nuns appear almost invariable with an erotic charge in Rowlandson prints of the period, ranging from the mildly titillating , such as this 1811 Tegg satire of a visit to a nunnery, to the out and out pornographic; such as this illustration to a Fable by La Fontaine, (undated, but probably made between 1800 and 1810). One cannot fault Rowlandson’s Walpolean sensibilities here however, since Walpole himself wrote of the Tribune that he intended “a cabinet, that is to have all the air of a Catholic chapel – bar consecration!” [xvii]

Nuns at Prayer Rowlandson

Figure 11a Nuns at Prayer. Private Collection

Figure 11b The cabinet at Strawberry Hill, by Edward Edwards, (Lewis Walpole Library), Folio 49 3582 fol.55 .From Horace Walpole’s extra-illustrated copy of A Description of the Villa…at Strawberry-Hill (Strawberry Hill, 1784, fol.55)

Figures 11a & b The Tribune at Strawberry Hill

By rather a biting irony, both Walpole and Rowlandson’s visions of the chapel proved to be truly visionary – in 1923 Strawberry Hill was bought by the Catholic Education Council for use as a Catholic Teacher Training College and the Vincentian fathers subsequently consecrated the Tribune room as a chapel.[xviii] The joke is definitely on Rowlandson. Would this fate have pleased the shade of Walpole one wonders? Certainly he would be delighted to see his “paper buildings” lasting into another age to become a revered ancient monument in their own right,  but his enthusiasm for the architecture, ornaments and ‘relicks’ of the old Catholic Church seems to have belied a dislike of its priggishness  and of religious enthusiasm in general; “For the Catholic religion, I think it very consumptive. With a little patience, if Whitfleld, Wesley, my lady Huntingdon, and that rogue Madan live, I do not doubt but we shall have something very like it here. And yet I had rather live at the end of a tawdry religion, than at the beginning; which is always more stern and hypocrite”[xix]Elsewhere his put down of Catholic bigotry and its excesses is mordant: ‘You know I have ever been averse to toleration of an intolerant religion” going on to observe tartly how religions encourage and feed off the conflict they generate “for modes of religion are but graver fashions: nor will anything but contradiction keep fashion up[xx] The designer of a Catholic closet does not come over as a closet Catholic.

Can other references to Walpole be found in Rowlandson’s work? While antiquaries and connoisseurs, always ancient and invariably grotesque, sporadically feature as the butt of caricatures throughout Rowlandson career – from the Chamber of Taste (1786); to Modern Antiques; (1811) to or  The Antiquaries Last Will and Testament (1816) – yet none of the depictions appear particularly slanted at the elegant Walpole.

Gillray print "Tales of Wonder"

Figure 12 Tales Of Wonder!
James Gillray on Lewis Mark’s The Monk . (Lewis Walpole Library)

But there is, apart from the Strawberry Hill drawings and print, one other, slightly surprising place where one can find Rowlandson burning the Walpolean flame, albeit with somewhat fishy oil. The author of the Castle of Otranto and the Mysterious Mother (LWL Birthday Blog #19) , stands of course as progenitor of The Gothic Novel, which, besides its many legitimate literary heirs, Vathek, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Monk, Frankenstein, etc, also begat an entire bastard genre of cheap and popular ‘tales of sensation’.

The downmarket publisher Thomas Tegg, for whom Rowlandson made over 200 large caricatures between 1807 and 1815 ─and who published the 1809 edition of Sketches from Nature ─ also in the same period published a successful series of inexpensive chap books for the burgeoning mass market for such fare. Printed advertisement--page of text within a border. Headed "Teggs New Pamphlets"Figure 13 Wrapper for Castle of the Appennines with advertisement for Tegg’s New Pamphlets (Author’s Collection)Tegg’s New Pamphlets came loose stitched in a duodecimo paper wrapper; the advertisement printed on the front (Figure 13) lists nineteen such works and shows that at least fourteen of them are gothic or exotic tales (the rest are popular songs – and a book on fortune telling). At least eight of them include frontispieces and title page vignettes etched by the prolific Rowlandson [xxi].  Compared to his illustrations to Smollett or Fielding from the 1790’s they are slight works, but nonetheless helped to carry the thrills of Walpole’s Gothic sensationalism out to a wider audience. Rowlandson enters wholeheartedly into their world of high melodrama and preposterous terror ridden plots of lost heirs, lost parents; imprisoned maidens, decayed noble families, cloisters, ghosts and banditti, choosing lurid scenes and  illustrating them vigorously and with exemplary accuracy to their parody-defying text (Figures 14a & b), to make a cracking sixpennyworth of illustrated schlock.

Castle of the Appennines title page spread

Figure 14a The Castle of the Appennines, c1808 (AC)

Figure 14a. p14: … the sigh was repeated, when a door opened opposite to that by which he had entered, now was made visible by a gentle bluish light, which shone through the dungeon. Appalled and in anxious expectation, he fixed his eyes on it; it slowly opened and a tall figure enveloped in a travelling cloak entered the vault and walked with solemn steps to the centre….

“Tell me,” said Alberto, “who thou art, and whither do you lead me?”

The stranger, without answering, slowly unfolded the cloak, and discovered to the astonished Alberto the form of his beloved father. His face was pallid, and wore the yellow hue of the grave; in his side appeared a ghastly wound, from which issued streams of blood; with a mournful smile he surveyed his son, and in hollow accents thus addressed him :-

“Alberto, your savage uncle Cavigni inflicted this wound, having, under a false pretence, decoyed me from the castle. In a cavern near the west end of the forest you will find my remains; till you pay them due honour I can never rest. Your Emily is still in the power of the Murderer; be quick! Rescue her, and revenge me!”

p18: “You have no doubt heard” said she “of your father’s sudden departure from his castle, in consequence of intelligence he received at a late hour of the night. …. For several hours we travelled through the gloom of night, when, as we emerged from a thicket through which we had been passing, the cabriolet was stopped by a band of ruffians, who bore torches in their hands. Petrified with surprise, the Marchese inquired what they wanted, and commanded them to let him proceed without obstruction. Vain were my cries, vain supplication and resistance; the remorseless villains dragged the Marchese from the carriage and plunged their daggers into his body. Horror struck at the agonizing sight, I sank into insensibility, from which I recovered only to the appalling sense of the miseries which surrounded me. ”

Book "Female Intrepidity, or the Heroic Maiden", c1808 (AC) title page spread

Figure 14b. Female Intrepidity, or the Heroic Maiden, c1808 (AC)

Figure 14b. p6: Maud, petrified at the spirit of Judaism which she thought prevailed in the soul of the babe, wildly seized the knife and was going to stab her infant to the heart, when ‘suddenly the door flew open; her husband rushed into the room, and wrenching the knife from the vengeful mother’s hands, at the same time exclaimed, “Is this the careful mother? Heavens! what a sight I have returned to witness!” “Quit your hold !” exclaimed Maud, in a fiend-like voice. p21: When they separated that night Maud endeavoured to read, as she found herself not inclined to sleep. After perusing several pages she happened to raise her eyes, when to her great astonishment, she saw a female form seated opposite her. Maud composedly trimmed the lamp, and then held it up to view her unknown companion. She seemed an emaciated female of the middling size, a long thin nose, which nearly met her chin, a pair of small eyes, which were almost hid under a high forehead; her dress appeared as if she had stripped a coffin of its shroud; in one bony hand she held a crutch, while the other was placed on the table, which displayed long fingers with hideous sharp nails. “Do you forget me, Maud?” said the hag…”

Figures 14a & b Gothic chap books illustrations by Rowlandson with relevant excerpts

Rowlandson’s drawings of Strawberry Hill, together with the tales of sensation, show a playful engagement with Walpole’s visual and aesthetic legacy. The fanciful invention of both Walpole and Rowlandson is celebrated par excellence in The Temple at Strawberry Hill, a print  that still invites the modern reader,  even as it would have the 18 viewer, a gripping gothic novel in hand, to contemplate Walpole’s beautiful fictions of an imaginary past ─ with or without their tongue in cheek.

_____________________________________

[i] There are three separate impressions of the Temple at Strawberry Hill at Yale, all from the 1822 edition; a second detached copy is in the Beinecke Library Francis Harvey Album https://brbl-dl.library.yale.edu/vufind/Record/3958773. The Yale Center for British Art has a full set of Sketches from Nature. [ND497.R78 S54 1822+ Oversize]. The 1822 edition was originally issued in a wrapper with a title page in letterpress – Yale also has a very rare surviving example of the wrapper label, found in volume 14 of Frances Harvey album along with the title page. (Figure 2)

[ii] A plain impression of the first state of the plate from my own collection shows a date of 1809 in the plate and Tegg’s imprint additionally below; the removal of the imprint in the later impressions implies a different publisher for the 1822 edition. Some of the copper printing plates for Sketches from Nature may have been owned by Rowlandson himself – one of them is listed by name in lot 449 of the catalogue for the 1828 Sotheby sale of Rowlandson’s studio & collection and survives to this day.

[iii] Payne, Matthew & Payne, James Regarding Thomas Rowlandson Hogarth Press, London, 2012.

[iv] Jeffree, Richard; Mr Rowlandson’s Richmond. Thomas Rowlandson’s drawings of Richmond upon Thames, Museum Of Richmond 1992.

[v] Detail from the copy in Princeton University Library [GA 2014.00795]

[vi] Combe, William The second tour of Dr. Syntax in search of Consolation : a poem . Ackermann, London 1820.

[vii] Witt, bequest; D.1952.RW.3600. Also illustrated #143 p207 in  John Hayes, Rowlandson Watercolours and Drawings, London 1972.  Hayes dates the drawing as c1815 but the 1809 print would necessarily place it earlier. A second version of the drawing in the Art Institute of Chicago is probably not by Rowlandson; for example, the trees do not “hang poetic” enough for a Rowlandson.

[viii] Walpole, Horace. A description of the villa of Horace Walpole, youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole Earl of Orford at Strawberry-Hill, near Twickenham with an inventory of the furniture, pictures, curiosities. Strawberry Hill, 1774.

[ix] 2. Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Yale Edition: To BENTLEY, 19 December 1753 (Vol35 p157): “Walpole telling him [Mr Ashe , a nurseryman at Twickenham; he had served Pope] he would have his trees planted irregularly, he said, ‘Yes, Sir, I understand: you would have them hang down somewhat poetical’.”

[x] P.G. Lindley: The Tomb of William de Luda: An Architectural Model at Ely Cathedral.  Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society. Volume: 73 (1984)

[xi] HWC: To COLE, 15 July 1769 (Vol1 p178)

[xii] Ibid: The footnote on i.p178 of the Yale edition takes the Rowlandson drawing as evidence that the gate was subsequently moved to the chapel.

[xiii] On the 24th day of the 1842 sale of the Strawberry Hill contents, Lot 85 under ‘The Chapel in the Grounds’ is described as “A very fine ancient Stained Glass Window, in Seventeen Compartments”. The window depicted in both Parr and Rowlandson’s prints, which has distinctive asymmetric compartments, was presumably replaced after the sale with what we see now. However both Parr and Rowlandson’s prints show twenty three compartments rather than the seventeen described in the catalogue, consistent with Rowlandsons having made a copy of the print rather than looking at the real window.

[xiv] Petter, Helen Mary. The Oxford Almanacks OUP 1974.

[xv] Moutray, Tonya J. –Refugee Nuns, the French Revolution, and British Literature and Culture, Routledge Abingdon 2016

[xvi] HWC: To HANNAH MORE, 23 March 1793. (Vol31 p383)

[xvii] HWC: To MANN, 8 July 1759 (Vol21 p306)Letter CCXXXVIII July 8 1759 p400 Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford to Sir Horace Man, Vol 2, Edited by Lord Dover, Dearborn New York 1833

[xviii] Young, Robert A History of Roman Catholicism in Strawberry Hill. The newsletter of the Strawberry Hill Residents’ Association. December 2010 in Bulletin no 144.

[xix] HWC: To COLE 19 December 1767 (Vol1 p124)

[xxi] HWC: To MANN, 8 November 1784  (Vol 25 p541)

[xx1] Gothic and exotic chapbooks for Tegg illustrated by Rowlandson include The Irish Assassin, The Castle of the Black Isles, Female Intrepidity, The School For Friends, The Iron Chest, The History of the Young King of the Black Islands, Sindbad The Sailor, The History of the Nourreddin, The history of Agib. Another chapbook The Complete Fortune Teller,  uses an image by Rowlandson recycled by Tegg in a chapbook edition of Breslaw’s last Legacy, a book of magic tricks. A different hand (probably George Cruikshank and others)  illustrated  other Tegg Pamphlet titles named on the advertisement, viz: The foundling of the Lake, Vancenza, The Enchanted Ring, The Daemon of Venice,  The Fatal Vows,   The Solemn Warning, Itanoka the Noble Minded Negro.

19. Choice 11: Lady Diana Beauclerk’s Drawings for “The Mysterious Mother”

19. Choice 11: Lady Diana Beauclerk’s Drawings for “The Mysterious Mother”

By Wilmarth S. Lewis

“Before 1962 when I was asked, ‘What would you most like to find?’ I answered promptly, ‘Lady Diana Beauclerk’s drawings for The Mysteriouos Mother.’ After praising Gibbon’s recently published Decline and Fall, Walpole asked Mason, ‘Do I know nothing superior to Mr Gibbon? Yes . . . I talk of great original genius. Lady Di Beauclerk has made seven large drawings in soot-water for scenes of my Mysterious Mother. Oh! such drawings! Guido’s grace, Albano’s children, Poussin’s expression, Salvator’s boldness in landscape and Andrea Sacchi’s simplicity of composition might perhaps have equalled them had they wrought all together very fine.’ High praise, but not a bit too high for Lady Di’s drawings. He wrote Mann, ‘Lady Di Beauclerk has drawn seven scenes of [The Mysterious Mother] that would be fully worthy of the best of Shakespeare’s plays–such drawings that Salvator Rosa and Guido could not surpass their expression and beauty. I have built a closet on purpose for them here at Strawberry Hill. It is called the Beauclerk Closet; and whoever sees the drawings, allows that no description comes up to their merit–and then, they do not shock and disgust like their original, the tragedy.’ Walpole described the Beauclerk Closet in an Appendix to the ’74 Description and bound the manuscript of it in Choice 8.

“‘[The Closet] is a hexagon, built in 1776, and designed by Mr Essex, architect, of Cambridge, who drew the ceiling, door, window, and surbase. . . . The closet is hung with Indian blue damask, and was built on purpose to receive seven incomparable drawings of Lady Diana Beauclerk for Mr Walpole’s tragedy of the Mysterious Mother. The beauty and grace of the figures and of the children are inimitable; the expression of the passions most masterly, particularly in the devotion of the countess with the porter,

“‘of Benedict in the scene with Martin,

“‘and the tenderness, despair, and resolution of the countess in the last scene; in which is a new stroke of double passion in Edmund, whose right hand is clenched and ready to strike with anger, the left hand relents.

“‘In the scene of the children, some are evidently vulgar, the others children of rank; and the first child, that pretends to look down and does leer upwards, is charming.’

“A writing-table of ‘Clay’s ware’ in the Closet contained ‘the play of The Mysterious Mother, to explain the drawings, bound in blue leather and gilt,’ a modest description of a beautiful book that is now at Farmington. Walpole wrote in it, ‘This copy to be kept in the Beauclerc Closet to explain Lady Di Beauclerc’s Drawings. H.W.’

                       

“Where, I used to wonder, had these drawings got to? They were bought at the Strawberry Hill sale by Lord Portarlington, but his descendant to whom I wrote knew nothing about them. Then one morning in 1962 I walked into the back office of Pickering and Chatto’s shop in London where the proprietor, Dudley Massey, an old friend from 1925, as I tell in Choice 13, was expecting me. The drawings were turned over on his desk and were switched round so that Walpole’s notes on their backs were upside down. I stared at them, transfixed in the doorway, for I recognized them immediately. When I asked without moving, ‘What do you want for them?’ Dudley dropped a land mine. To my question at lunch, ‘Where did I go wrong?’ he answered promptly, ‘You asked the price too quickly,’ adding truthfully, ‘You would have given even more.’ One of the seven drawings is still missing, but those that Walpole described are now at Farmington.

The Mysterious Mother, A Tragedy is set in the dawn of the Reformation; the scene is a castle, of course. There are two villainous friars, a faithful friend, a faithful porter, damsels, orphans, mutes. The plot turns on a double incest. Sixteen years before the play begins its chief character, the Countess of Narbonne, took the place of a girl she knew her son was about to seduce and now sixteen years later she fails to stop him from marrying their daughter. Byron called the play ‘a tragedy of the highest order, and not a puling love-play,’ and I agree with those who rank it above The Castle of Otranto as a work of art. Walpole tried to forestall possible criticism; but the subject, he said, was ‘so truly tragic in the two essential springs of terror and pity’ that he had to write it. To palliate the countess’s crime, and to raise her character he bestowed upon her, he tells us, ‘every ornament of sense, unbigoted piety, and interesting contrition.’ Although he protested that the subject was too ‘horrid’ for the stage, he hoped to see it acted; unfortunately, no one was up to playing the Countess and she has yet to be performed.*

“Walpole kept nearly all fifty copies of the play he printed at the Press. Those he gave away were eagerly read; five transcripts are at Farmington. In thirteen years he let Dodsley publish the play in London to forestall a pirated edition. Four more editions of it appeared before 1800, after which there was none until Chiswick Press brought it out in 1925 with The Castle of Otranto and and introduction by Montague Summers. The Mysterious Mother is known today only to student of eighteenth-century tragedy, a small audience.

“Seven copies of the Strawberry edition are at Farmington. On the most interesting one Walpole wrote, ‘With MSS alterations by Mr. Mason.’ In his ‘Postscript to the Alterations’ Mason wrote that they were ‘To make the foregoing scenes proper to appear upon the stage.’ Walpole thanked him with deepest gratitude, which he repeated years later, but what he really thought of the alterations is shown in his note written on Mason’s letter to him of 8 May 1769 (now at Farmington) that accompanied Mason’s alterations: ‘N.B. I did not adopt these alterations because they would totally have destroyed my object, which was to exhibit a character whose sincere penitence was not degratded by superstitious bigotry.’ Mason’s copy of the play was the Walpole item bought by Maggs in the Milnes Gaskell Sale of 1924. A dozen years later I discovered the new owner who obligingly took me to Messrs Robinsons’ in Pall Mall for me to see it. As he dropped me off at Brown’s Hotel afterwards he said, ‘I don’t care much about this book, but you want it so badly I think I’ll keep it.’ When death, the ally of collectors, took him away members of his family kindly turned the book over to me. Two of my letters to their relative, written on the Yale Walpole letter-head, were inside. They show that I had not yet learned to perform sedately the English gavotte of letter-writing, a clumsiness that has frustrated countless American scholars.

“In my Mellon Lectures Horace Walpole, 1960, I wrote of The Mysterious Mother, ‘the twentieth century has been initiated into the mysteries of the unconscious and needs no gloss on The Mysterious Mother, but one point should perhaps be noted for what it may be worth. When Walpole came to arrange his works for posthumous publication he printed his “Epitaph on Lady Walpole,” with its praise of her sensibility, charity, and unbigoted piety, immediately after The Mysterious Mother.'”

Lewis goes on to discuss other drawings by Lady Diana Beauclerk in the Lewis Walpole Library collection as well as the ebony Beauclerk cabinet. This is followed by a brief biographical sketch, including notes about her abusive husband, and a consideration of talented women and other amateurs. Lewis concludes his Choice 11 with “The discovery of talent in persons of quality whose gifts were generally unrecognized gave Walpole, the champion of the neglected, great pleasure. His gallery of well-born geniuses was assembled to do justice to their talents. At its head was Lady Di who had suffered so cruelly and had borne her lot with such fortitude and dignity.”

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called Choice 11: Lady Diana Beauclerk’s Drawings for “The Mysterious Mother” download or expand the link here:

*N.B. The Lewis Walpole Library is staging an on-book reading of an abridged version of The Mysterious Mother on May 2, 2018, 5:30 pm, Yale Center for British Art Lecture Hall, 1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT. Open to the public.

 

15. Walpole’s Two Chief Copies of His “Description of Strawberry Hill,” Printed there in 1774 and 1784

15. Choices 8 and 9: Walpole’s Two Chief Copies of His Description of Strawberry Hill, Printed there in 1774 and 1784

                 Description of the Villa title page

By Wilmarth S. Lewis

“A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole Youngest Son of Sir Robert Walpole Earl of Orford, at Strawberry Hill near Twickenham, with an inventory of the Furniture, Pictures, Curiosities, Etc. first appeared in 1774, a small quarto in an edition of 100 copies with six more on large paper, four of which are at Farmington, with ten of the smaller sizse. The second edition of 200 copies was printed in 1784, a large quarto with twenty-seven plates.

“The importance of the Description in Walpolian studies cannot be exaggerated. Choice 8 is Walpole’s copiously annotated copy of the first edition. His notes are on almost every page and there are fifty additional pages of drawings and text.

page of text heavily annotated in manuscript

“Most of the notes report objects acquired after 1774; nearly all of them were used in the 1784 edition. An exception tells how in the Little Library in the Cottage ‘three of the antique sepulchral earthen lamps and some of the vases on the mantel were broken in 1777 when an own fell down the chimney.’ Besides the scores of marginal notes in Choice 8 Walpole added ten pages that he printed in the 1784 edition. They include ‘Explanation of the different coats of arms about the house at Strawberry Hill.’ ‘Collections [56 of them] from which were purchased many of the Curiosities at Strawberry Hill,’ a ‘List of the books printed at Strawberry Hill,’ and a list of ‘Works of Genius at Strawberry Hill by Persons of rank and Gentlemen not Artists,’ that will appear in Choice 11.

Manuscript list of Works of Genius         Manuscript list of Principal Curiosities 

“There are also sixty-seven ‘Principal Curiosities’; among which were the silver bell designated by Benvenuto Cellini, ‘a bronze bust of Caligula with silver eyes at the beginning of his madness,’ ‘Callot’s Pocket Book’ which we met in choice 2, and a clock that the Description tells us was of ‘silver gilt, richly chased, engraved, and ornamented with fleurs des lys, little beads, etc. On the top sits a lion holding the arms of England, which are also on the sides. This was a present from Henry 8th to Anne Boleyn; and since, from Lady Elizabeth Germaine to Mr. Walpole. On the weights are the initial letters of Henry and Anne, within true lovers knots; at top, Dieu et mon Droit; at bottom The most happy.–One of the weights, agreeably to the indelicacy of that monarch’s gallantry, is in a shape very comfortable to the last motto.’ The clock, which is now at Windsor, has been a source of not altogether merriment since 1533. The drawing I value most in Choice 8 is Walpole’s own crude sketch, ‘Front of Strawberry hill to the garden as it was in 1747 before it was altered,’ the only view we have of it at that time.”

Walpole sketch of Strawberry Hill before and after

Lewis’s chapter, like the Descriptions themselves, covers the history of the house, its interiors and contents, and it provides details of graphic, printed, and manuscript additions to Walpole’s collection. Walpole, his friends, visitors, and subsequent writers are included. The chapter concludes with an account of the Strawberry Hill Sale of 1842.

“The Preface of the 1784 Description tells us that ‘. . . the following account of pictures and rarities is given with the view to their future dispersion . . . The several purchasers will find a history of their purchases; nor do the virtuosos dislike to refer to such a catalogue for authentic certificates of their curiosities. The following collection was made out of the spoils of many renowned cabinets; as Dr Mead’s, Lady Elizabeth Germaine’s, Lord Oxford’s, the Duchess of Portland’s, and of about forty more of celebrity. Such well attested descent is the genealogy of the objects vertu–not so noble as those of the peerage, but on a par with those of race-horses. It is all three, especially the pedigrees of peers and rarities, the line is often continued by many insignificant names,’ a classic description of ‘provenance,’ Walpole’s copies at Farmington of Lady Elizabeth Germain’s, Lord Oxford’s, and the Duchess of Portland’s sale catalogues, in which he noted his purchases and what he paid for them, illustrate the importance he gave ‘provenance.’ In the Duchess of Portland’s catalogue he pasted a four-page account of her that I printed for the Grolier Club in 1934.

“The fifty pages of drawings and manuscripts at the back of the ’74 copy I am saving begin with Sir Edward Walpole’s verses and drawings mentioned in Choice 3 and continue with sketches by Thomas Walpole, Horace’s favorite Wolterton cousin. There are caricatures of the Dukes of Cumberland and Newcastle by Walpole’s kinsman Lord Townshend, ‘the father of English caricature,’ and sketches by Lady Diana Beauclerk (whom we come to in Choice 11), by Mrs. Damer and other talented persons of quality. Finally, there is a printed title-page, the only one known, Catalogue of Pictures and Drawings in the Holbein-chamber at Strawberry Hill, wich is followed by plans that show where the pictures hung in the room.”

plan of the pictures on the chimney side of the Gallery at Strawberry Hill

Choice 9, Walpole’s extra-illustrated 1784 Description inlaid to elephant folio with his arms on the sides, was mentioned in Choice 4 because it contained the mezzotint of the Ladies Waldegrave. Choice 9 has two dozen water-color drawings of Strawberry by the ‘topographical’ artists who are at last coming into their own. Paul Sandby, Edward Edwards, J.C. Barrow, John Carter, William Pars, and J.H. Müntz.”

Sandby South Front of Strawberry Hill watercolor drawingBarrow View from Holbein Chamber watercolor drawing

“There are twenty-seven copies of the ’84 Description at Farmington.* The second in importance to Choice 9 is Richard Bull’s copy, which I owe to H.M. Hake who was then Director of the National Portrait Gallery. It was his friendly practice on visits to country houses for purposes of probate to report whatever he knew would interest me. Bull’s copy of the Description with two other books from Strawberry Hill turned up in Nottinghamshire, and thanks to Hake’s intervention the new owners were happy to let me have them.Decorated title page to Bull's copy of the Description

“Many of the drawings in Bull’s Description  are finer than those in Choice 9, for Bull employed John Carter, one of the best topographical artists. Carter’s own set of the drawings is at the Huntington; a few of them are in Choice 9.”

Carter's watercolor of the Library at Strawberry Hill

*As of autumn 2017, the LWL now holds 31 copies of the 1784 edition of the Description.

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called Choices 8 and 9: Walpole’s Two Chief Copies of His Description of Strawberry Hill, Printed there in 1774 and 1784 download or expand the link here:

N.B. Choice 8, Walpole’s heavily annotated 1774 edition bears the call number 49 2523 at the Lewis Walpole Library. It is sometimes referred to as the Spencer copy because it had been sold in 1919 for the Spencer Collection at the New York Public Library from which Lewis acquired it by exchange. It appears in A.T. Hazen’s Bibliography of the Strawberry Hill Press (1973 ed.) as no. 22, copy 3 and as catalogue number 2523 in A.T. Hazen’s Catalogue of Horace Walpole’s Library (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969). Choice 9, Walpole’s copiously extra-illustrated 1784 edition of the Description has the call number Folio 49 3892 and appears in Hazen, A.T. Bibliography of the Strawberry Hill Press (1973 ed.) as no. 30, copy 12 and as catalogue number 3582 in A.T. Hazen’s Catalogue of Horace Walpole’s Library (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969). The call number for the copy that belonged to Richard Bull is Folio 33 30 copy 11. It, too, appears in Hazen’s Bibliography and Catalogue. 

11. Designs by Mr. R. Bentley, for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray

Choice 6: Bentley’s Designs for Gray’s Poems

             

By Wilmarth S. Lewis

“‘Short Notes’ records, ‘This year [1753] published a fine edition of poems by Mr T. Gray with prints from designs by Mr R. Bentley.’ He might have added that the fine edition had an ‘Explanation of the Prints’ by himself. A sample is:

“Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat,

Frontispiece.

 “The cat standing on the brim of the tub, and endeavouring to catch a gold fish. Two cariatides of a river god stopping his hears to her cries, and Destiny cutting the nine threads of life, are on each side. Above, is a cat’s head between two expiring lamps, and over that, two mouse-traps, between an mandarin-cat sitting before a Chinese pagoda, and angling for gold fish into a china jar; and another cat drawing up a net. At the bottom are mice enjoying themselves on the prospect of the cat’s death; a lyre and pallet.

“Walpole published the book through Robert Dodsley in London to help his two friends. In the absence of his correspondence with Dodsley about the book we don’t know the terms of its publication apart from Dodsley’s payment of £42 to Gray for the copyright of his poems. Designs of Mr R Bentley for Six Poems by Mr T. Gray finally appeared in 1753, a royal quarto of thirty-six pages so cut that it looks like a small folio. The price was high, half a guinea, the equivalent today of what–fifty dollars? Dr. Johnson in his chapter on Gray in Lives of the Poets annoyed the poet and his friends by saying that the poems were printed on one side of each leaf ‘That they might in some form or other make out a book,’ but Bentley’s Designs went through three editions in 1753 and four more from 1765 to 1789. In our own day it has been hailed as a landmark of English book illustration by Osbert Sitwell and Kenneth Clark who called it ‘the most graceful monument to the Gothic Rococo.’

“Both Bentley’s original drawings and Walpole’s copy of the printed book are at Farmington. I am saving the book of drawings. Walpole noted in it. ‘These are the original drawings by Mr Bentley from which Grignion and Müller engraved the plates. Hor. Walpole.’ He pasted the drawings where the prints were to be. His usual binding was plain calf, but he had this book bound in red morocco with elaborate gilt tooling, a beautiful book. William Beckford paid eight guineas for it in the Strawberry Hill sale through his bookseller, Bohn, as we know from their correspondence about the sale at Farmington. Bohn reported that the drawings are so like engravings he had to look pretty carefully to satisfy himself that they are not engravings, an uncertainty shared by all then and since. After the Beckford Sale in 1882 they went to the ardent Walpolian Laurence Currie and came to me from Maggs in 1933.

“The publication of the Designs did not proceed smoothly. Gray objected to numbering the stanzas and the numbers were removed; he insisted that ‘Mr’ be put before his and Bentley’s names for fear that their omission would make him appear as ‘a classic.’ Walpole saw no ‘affectation in leaving out the Mr before your names; it is a barbarous addition. . . . Without ranging myself among classics, I assure you, were I to print anything with my name, it should be plain Horace Walpole; Mr is one of the Gothicisms I abominate,’ but Gray insisted on having it. Although he disliked Walpole’s ‘Explanation of the Prints,’ he conceded, ‘If you think it necessary to print these explanations for the use of people that have no eyes, I could be glad they were a little altered.’ Gray, always the candid friend with Walpole, wrote that he, Gray, would ‘revise the press, for you know you can’t.’ He became seriously alarmed when Dodsley, to make the book look more for its money, had Eccardt’s portrait of Gray at Strawberry Hill engraved for the frontispiece. On hearing this the poet wrote Walpole, ‘Sure you are out of your wits! this I know, if you suffer my head to be printed, you infallibly will put me out of mine. I conjure you immediately to put a stop to any such design. Who is at the expense of engraving it I know not, but if it be Dodsley, I will make up the loss to him. The thing as it was, I know, will make me ridiculous enough, but to appear in proper person at the head of my works, consisting of half a dozen ballads in thirty pages, would be worse than the pillory. I do assure you, if I had received such a frontispiece without any warning, I believe it would have given me a palsy.’ The print appears in only a few copies, including Walpole’s own. He lettered ‘Thomas Gray’ neatly on it and below the print, ‘Eccardt pinx, Müller Inv. In the collection of Mr H. Walpole.’

“With the removal of Gray’s portrait the frontispiece became Bentley’s illustration for the ‘Elegy’ that shows the poet musing by the babbling brook. There has been some speculation on the poet’s identity, whether he was Gray, Richard West, or just anybody. Comparison of Bentley’s original drawing with Müller’s print of it shows that the musing figure was originally Gray, adenoids and all, and that Müller’s figure, in compliance with Gray’s wishes, is nobody in particular. Walpole’s annotations in his printed copy of the book point out Gray’s indebtedness in the poems to Richard III, As You Like It, La Bruyère, and the Spectator. Walpole also noted that the Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes belonged to himself and that the authority for Chancellor Hatton’s dancing in ‘A Long Story’ is found in Anthony Bacon’s papers, vol. I, p. 56. Walpole bound in an excellent sketch by Gray of Stoke House in A Long Story opposite Bentley’s drawing of it and when we put these two drawings beside Grignion’s engraving of Bentley’s drawing we have Stoke House from start to finish.”

Lewis continues the chapter by discussing the friendship between Gray and Walpole, including their experiences during their Grand Tour travels and afterwards, and their quarrels and reconciliations. He notes, “Bentley’s Designs for Gray’s Poemswas inspired by Walpole’s eagerness to help his friends who he believed were geniuses.”

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called Choice 6: Bentley’s Designs for Gray’s Poems download or expand the link here:

8. J.H. Müntz’s designs for Dickie Bateman’s Grove House, Old Windsor

J.H. Müntz’s designs for Dickie Bateman’s Grove House, Old Windsormuntz drawings of r bateman's room

by Matthew Reeve, Associate Professor and Queen’s National Scholar, Department of Art History & Art Conservation, Queen’s University

In one of Horace Walpole’s clever commentaries on the new Gothic style, he described the transformation of Dickie Bateman’s villa at Old Windsor in two characteristically witty turns of phrase: “[I] converted Dicky Bateman from a Chinese to a Goth…I preached so effectively that every pagoda took the veil”; and that Bateman’s house had “changed its religion […] I converted it from Chinese to Gothic”. Walpole positions himself as a teacher and Bateman as a disciple whom he convinced to change his tastes from Chinoiserie (“the fashion of the instant”) to the Gothic, the style “of the elect”.[1]

“The elect” was not a socio-economic category, but a tongue-in-cheek reference to Walpole’s own circle of friends and associates and their shared Gothic idiom. Walpole’s allegory of stylistic change as national and religious conversion was based in part on the fact that he provided the conduit for two of his closest designers in the Strawberry Committee—Richard Bentley (1708-82) and Johann Heinrich Müntz (1727-98)—to design Gothic additions to the Priory. Rebuilt and expanded in the fashionable mode of Strawberry Hill and by its designers, from Walpole’s perspective at least, Bateman’s works at Old Windsor served to reinforce his role as arbiter of the Gothic taste and Strawberry Hill as its paradigm. Plans to renovate the house began in 1758, coinciding with Walpole’s visit in that year.[2]

The three drawings at the Lewis Walpole Library are for Bateman’s new dining room and are dated to 1761. They are now part of LWL Folio 75 M92 761, the Library’s stunning oversized portfolio of Müntz’s works. They are important testaments to Bateman’s architectural patronage and they provide vital visual testimony of the eighteenth-century history of the house of which precious little now survives.[3] Another part of the house is probably also preserved at the Lewis Walpole Library—Richard Bentley’s drawing of a cloister very likely relates to the original cloister at Old Windsor that connected the house to Müntz’s dining room (49 3585c). Although aspects of the ornament of the dining room is common to Müntz’s other drawings—particularly the screen of St Alban’s Abbey that he favoured—the octagonal form is unprecedented in Walpole’s oeuvre.

Walpole’s account of Bateman’s Old Windsor demands nuancing. Framing himself as the reigning doyen of the Gothic taste, he carefully sidelines Dicky Bateman, a senior man of taste, who in fact built some of the most significant statements of the Gothic and Chinese taste in the 1730s through 1750s at Shobdon Church and Court in Herefordshire, the early building works at Old Windsor, and in a series of garden and “interior design” commissions for aristocratic patrons. His role as an arbiter of the modern styles and of Chinoiserie in particular was celebrated in Robert Levrac-Tournières’s 1741 portrait (now Birmingham Art Gallery) and Walpole’s description of him as “the founder of the Sharadwagi [Chinese] style”.[4] A member of the homoerotic circle around Lord Hervey, Stephen Fox, and others, Bateman was a leading man of taste in London when Walpole returned from the Grand Tour and one of the models Walpole emulated in the early 1740s and 1750s. Emulation of Bateman undoubtedly informed Walpole’s thwarted attempt to acquire the White House at Old Windsor directly beside Bateman in 1746 (then owned by their mutual friend Sir Charles Hanbury Williams), prior to purchasing Strawberry Hill.[5] Old Windsor was, as Walpole hoped Strawberry Hill would be, a cause célèbre of London society from the 1730s through 1760s. But it was also a building that visitors understood to elide Bateman’s queer persona with the its fussy, hybrid style. Described as “fribble” or “fribblish”, the house was considered an architectural projection of the outrageously effeminate character Mr Fribble from David Garrick’s 1747 Miss in Her Teens, who was, in turn, apparently based on Bateman himself or on Walpole.[6]

[1] Yale Correspondence vol. 37, 359; Yale Correspondence vol. 10, 43.

[2] Yale Correspondence vol. 14, 102.

[3] The fullest account of the house is now Matthew M. Reeve, “Dickie Bateman and the Gothicization of Old Windsor: Architecture and Sexuality in the Circle of Horace Walpole”, Architectural History 56 (2013), 99-133.

[4] Yale Correspondence vol. 35, 359.

[5] Yale Correspondence vol. 9, 39 to Montagu 2 Aug 1746; T. Eustace Harwood, Windsor Old and New, 319–20.

[6] On the reception of Old Windsor, see Reeve, “Dickie Bateman”, 118-24.

Bibliography

Harwood, T. Eustace. Windsor Old and New, (London: 1929).

Lewis, W. S. (ed.). The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, 48 vols
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937–83).

Reeve, Matthew. “Dickie Bateman and the Gothicization of Old Windsor: Architecture and Sexuality in the Circle of Horace Walpole”, Architectural History 56 (2013), 99-133.

7. The Ladies Waldegrave (Lady Elizabeth Laura, Lady Charlotte Maria & Lady Anne Horatia, daughters to James late Earl of Waldegrave Knight of the Garter)

Choice 3: Walpole’s Mezzotint of The Ladies Waldegrave

[Lady Elizabeth Laura, Lady Charlotte Maria & Lady Anne Horatia, daughters to James late Earl of Waldegrave Knight of the Garter]

By Wilmarth S. Lewis

To begin his Choice 3 in Rescuing Horace Walpole, Lewis details Horace Walpole’s relationship with his brother Edward before turning his attention to Edward’s mistress and children.

“Edward had four children by his mistress, Dorothy Clement, who Horace said was ‘a milliner’s apprentice at Durham.’ The children were Laura, Maria, Edward, and Charlotte. They appear together in a most attractive conversation piece by Slaughter that is now in the Minneapolis Art Museum. When they were ill Uncle Horace took them to Strawberry Hill and looked after them, an instance of his ‘great disposition’ to Edward’s children. Laura married a Keppel who became Bishop of Exeter. Maria’s first husband was the second Earl Waldegrave; her second husband, whom she married secretly without her Uncle Horace’s approval, was George III’s younger brother, the Duke of Gloucester. Charlotte married the fifth Earl of Dysart. Walpole reported the death of the younger Edward to Horace Mann: ‘My brother has lost his son, and it is no misfortune, though he was but three and thirty, and had very good parts; but he was sunk into such a habit of drinking and gaming, that the first ruined his constitution, and the latter would have ruined his father.’

“Maria, the beauty of the family, was her Uncle Horace’s favorite. He boasted to Horace Mann of how he brought about her marriage to Lord Waldegrave who was twenty-one years her senior. ‘A month ago,’ Horace wrote, ‘I was told that he liked her. . . . I jumbled them together, and he has already proposed. For character and credit he is the first match in England–for beauty, I think she is. She has not a fault in her face or person, and the detail is charming. A warm complexion tending to brown, fine eyes, brown  hair, fine teeth, and infinite wit, and vivacity. . . . My brother has luckily been tractable, and left the whole management to me.’ A pastel of her, very beautiful in her coronation robes, has appeared since I wrote this chapter. It hangs in the center of the new library at Farmington next to her father. Horace’s affectionate concern for Maria extended to her three Waldegrave daughters, Elizabeth Laura who married her cousin the fourth Earl Waldegrave, Charlotte Maria, Duchess of Grafton, and Anna Horatia, who married her cousin Lord Hugh Seymour Conway after the death of her first betrothed, the Duke of Ancaster. These three are ‘The Ladies Waldegrave’ of Reynolds’s conversation piece that shows them sewing at their work table. The original picture is now in the National Gallery of Scotland; Reynolds’s bill for it, 300 guineas, is at Farmington and so is Walpole’s copy of Valentine Green’s mezzotint of it, a proof before letters. It is what I have chosen to save from all the objects relating to Edward and his family at Farmington. Walpole pasted it into his copy of the 1784 Description of Strawberry Hill saved in Choice 9. That copy was acquired in 1919 for £1650 by Sabin and Co. of Bond Street. They removed the mezzotint of The Ladies Waldegrave and held it for 2000 guineas because they said it is ‘the finest English mezzotint in existence.’ The book itself came to Farmington in 1927 at a greatly reduced figure. During the next eleven years I would stop in at Sabin’s to pay my wistful respects to the print. Its price wilted during the Depression and I was not surprised when on the day war was declared my cabled offer of $500 was promptly accepted. The beautiful print sailed safely through the newly laid German mine fields to Farmington where it hangs beside drawings of Strawberry Hill that were formerly with it in the book. Drawings of Charlotte, Horatia, and Elizabeth Laura are also at Farmington along with a lock of the latter’s hair, braided, in a gold case.”

Lewis moves on to address the other members of the family and their portraits and correspondence now at the Library.

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called Choice 3: Walpole’s Mezzotint of The Ladies Waldegrave download or expand the link here: 

N.B. The identity of the woman in the pastel portrait Lewis describes above has since been reassigned. It is now thought to be a portrait of Maria Walpole (1725?-1801) illegitimate daughter of Sir Robert Walpole, prime minister and his mistress Maria Skerrett; the daughter later became the wife of Colonel Charles Churchill.

1. Drawings and designs by Richd. Bentley, only son of Dr. Bentley, Master of Trinity-College, Cambridge

Choice 5*: Richard Bentley’s Drawings for Strawberry Hill

by Wilmarth S. Lewis

W.S. Lewis wrote Rescuing Horace Walpole in 1978, the result of a fantasy he described in the beginning of that book:

The Fantasy

Two years ago the Almighty called me into His office and said, ‘I am going to destroy every object in your house except one, and you have twenty minutes to choose it.”

I replied, “Lord, I don’t need twenty seconds. I’ll take Bentley’s Drawings and Designs for Strawberry Hill.”

The Almighty nodded solemnly. “For that answer you may save twenty-five more objects.” After a pause He added, “You seem a little dazed, but I know you’re not very good at arithmetic.” In a louder voice He explained, “Twenty-five and one make twenty-six, and what I’m telling you is you may save twenty-six objects.” He paused to see if I understood. Then he continued, “I don’t care what they are–books, manuscripts, pictures, furniture–anything you like.”

I managed to say, “Sir, I hope I may have more time to choose them.”

“How much time do you want?”

“At least a year.”

“A year!” His voice was terrible.

“I think, Sir, I can make the choices fairly quickly, but I would like to write them up as I go along.”

And that’s the end of the fantasy and the beginning of this book.

___________________

Lewis began his chapter on Richard Bentley’s Drawings for Strawberry Hill by reminding us that “This is the book that the Almighty agreed is the most important object in my house.” Lewis purchased the album of drawings in May,1926.

“The drawings are pasted in a calf-bound folio scrapbook with gray leaves. Walpole probably did the pasting himself; certainly he had the title-page printed at the Strawberry Hill Press, the sole copy known.”

“It is mentioned in the first Common Place Book…’I have a large book of [Bentley’s] drawings,’ Walpole wrote, ‘and his original designs for Mr Gray’s poems…. He drew the ceiling of the Library at Strawberry Hill, designed the lanthorn, staircase, north front, and most of the chimney-pieces there; and other ornaments.” Walpole annotated many of the drawings, stating if they were not executed; Bentley initialed a few and gave some dimensions. Thirty of the drawings are for Strawberry Hill, fifty are for other buildings and objects.” (p.53)

“Why do I value Bentley’s drawings and designs for Strawberry Hill so highly? It is because of their primary importance in the Gothic Revival and the light they throw on Walpole himself.” (p. 57)

Click here to read Lewis’s entire chapter on Richard Bentley’s Drawings for Strawberry Hill.

Mentioned in: first Common Place Book(49 2616 I)

Bibliography:

Bentley, Richard. Drawings and designs by Richd. Bentley, only son of Dr. Bentley, Master of Trinity-College, Cambridge. [Strawberry Hill, ca. 1760]

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the cover, title page, “Fantasy” and “Problem” from Rescuing Horace Walpole, download or expand the link here: 

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called “Choice 5*: Richard Bentley’s Drawings for Strawberry Hill,” download or expand the link here: 

*Lewis explains in his preface, “The order in which the Choices of Rescuing Horace Walpole will appear follows Walpole’s life more or less chronologically and is not the order of my preference for them.” (p. 11)