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CHARACTER OF LORD ORFORD.
on the death of his nephew, he became EARL of ORFORD, an elevation which, at his age, seems to have given him more trouble than satisfaction. He amused himself to the last with adding to the treasures and decorations of STRAWBERRY HILL, where he was, in 1795, honoured by a visit from the QUEEN and Royal Family. The gout, which had, in spite of his temperance, harassed him through life and emaciated his frame, put an end to his mortal course in March, 1797, and in the seventy-ninth year of his age. His Works, , in five quarto volumes, which appeared in 1798, have been already mentioned. His Letters make up a great part of them; written with true epistolary ease and vivacity. Burke was unjustly severe when he characterised LORD ORFORD as an elegant trifler, and STRAWBERRY HILL as a Gothic toy! Dr. Aikin has thus justly drawn his character in these words :-“ Horace Walpole, though forming his plan of life chiefly upon a system of personal enjoyment, possessed kind and social affections, and was capable of very generous actions to his friends. He had seen too much of the world to give easy credit to professions and appearances; but he respected Virtue, and had warm feelings for the rights and interests of MANKIND. As an anthor, if he does not merit a place in the higher ranks, he has done enough to preserve his name from oblivion."
To shew soinething of the character of LORD ORTORD, a curious LETTER to a female correspondent
shall be added, written only six weeks previous to his decease:
My dear Madam, “ You distress me infinitely by shewing my idle notes, which I cannot conceive can amuse any body. My old-fashioned breeding impels ine every now and then to reply to the letters you honour me with writing, but, in truth, very unwillingly, for I seldom can have any thing particular to say; I scarce go out of my own house, and then only to two or three very private places, where I see nobody that really knows any thing, and what I learn comes from newspapers that collect intelligence from coffee-houses, consequently what I neither believe nor report. At home I see only a few charitable Elders, except about fourscore nephews and nieces of various ages, brought to me, once a year, to stare at me as the Methusalem of the family, and they can only speak of their own contemporaries, which interests me no more than if they talked of their dolls, or bats and balls ! Must not the result of all, Madam, make me a very entertaining correspondent? And can such letters be worth shewing? Or can I have any spirit, when so old and reduced, to dictate ? O! my GOOD MADAM, dispense with me from such a task, and think how much it must add to it to apprehend such letters being shewn. Pray send me no more such laurels, which I desire no more than their leaves when
LORD ORFORD'S LOVE OF PAINTING.
decked with a scrap of tinsel and stuck on twelfthcakes that lie on the shop-boards of pastry-cooks at Christmas. I shall be quite content with a sprig of rosemary thrown after me when the parson of the parish commits my dust to dust! Till then pray, Madam, accept the resignation of your
If LORD ORFORD might be said to have one prea dominant passion, it was, the love of PAINTING! His incessant visits, both at home and abroad, to collections of paintings; his Anecdotes of Painting, so much admired by the profession, and his decora. tion of Strawberry Hill with pictures, even to profusion, shew that this branch of the fine arts yielded him an exquisite satisfaction. I shall, therefore, here introduce a curious piece from his WORKS, entitled A SERMON from a passage of Scripture, novel in its application, correct in its description, and useful in its tendency.
* See the Author's JUVENILE Pieces, including the Student's Dream, the Vision of Female Eloquence, and the Painter's Panegyrist, fifth Edition. The latter agitates the question; Which yields the greatest pleasure, music, painting or poetry! The volume is the Author's earliest composition, and devoted to the rising generation.
A SERMON ON PAINTING,
BY THE LATE LORD ORFORD,
Preached before the Earl of Orford, at Houghton, 1742,
Psalm cxv.--Verse 5. They ha:e mouths, but they speak not : eyes have they, but they
see not : neither is there any breath in their nostrils.
" I cannot but reflect on that infinite goodness, whose thought for our amusement and employment is scarce less admirable than his care for our being and preservation. Not to mention the various arts which he has planted in the heart of man, to be elaborated by study, and struck out by application; I will only mention this one of Painting. Himself from the dust could call forth this glorious scene of worlds; this expanse of azure heavens and golden sans; these beautiful landscapes of hill and dale, of forest and of mountain, of river and of ocean! From nothing he could build this goodly frame of man, and animate his uni. versal picture with images of himself. To us, not endowed with omnipotence, nor masters of creation, he has taught with formless masses of colours and diversifications of light and shade to call forth little worlds from the blank canvass, and to people our mimic landscapes with almost living inhabitants; figures, who, though they see not, yet have eyes; and have mouths that scarce want speech. Indeed, so great is the perfection to which he hath permitted us to arrive, that one is less amazed at the poor vulgar
SERMON ON PAINTING.
who adore what seems to surpass the genius of human nature; and almost excuse the credulity of the populace, who see miracles made obvious to their senses by the hand of a Raphael or Guido. Can we wonder at a poor illiterate creature's giving faith to any legend in the life of the Romish Virgin, who sees even the doctors of the * church disputing with such energy on the marvellous circumstances ascribed to her by the catholics? He must be endowed with a courage, a strength of reasoning above the common standard, who can reject fables when the sword enforces, and the pencil almost authenticates, the belief of them. Not only birds have pecked at painted fruit, and horses neighed at the coloured female: Apelles himself, the prince of the art, was deceived by one of its performances. No wonder then the ignorant should adore, when even the master himself could be cheated by a resemblance.
" When I thus soften the crime of the deceived, I would be understood to double the charge on the real criminal; on those ministers of idolatry, who, calling themselves servants of the Living God, transfer his service to inanimate images. Instead of pointing out his attributes in those objects that might make religion more familiar to the common conceptions, they enshrine the frail works of mortality, and burn incense to canvass and oil,
See the picture by Guido, in the gallery.