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bad not the absence of art, and the want of order, been considered as charms of the landscape. Maxima est ars celare artem : but bere, as no art was required, there was none to be concealed. The native graces would only have been injured by the heavy labour of formality.
In our language it is believed there is only one legitimate collection of this kind, the Table Talk of Selden—and the form and Jize of this little volume is calculated to be arranged by the curious on the same shely. But from the date of Luther's Table Talk (which might admit of an interesting abstract), down to the latest French Ana, such produce tions have always been considered as 'altars erected to merit, as chief testimonies of literary esteem. And so exuberant were Mr. Walpole's mental riches, in the ready cafi of anccdote, wit, judicious remark, epistolary elegance, that his warmeft or coldest friends need not tremble at this publication of his colloquial sentiments. When the idea was fuggested, his modesty declined it, on the ground of the non-importance (as he always insisted) of his literary character: but be furnished the editor with many anecdotes, &c. in his own hand-writing ; and as the secret was buried in the editor's bofom, Mr. Walpole himself must have mentioned it to one or two, for, in a letter to Doctor Warton, he justly ridicules the idea of his undertaking such a
work himself. Julius Cæfar and Tacitus made collections of the pointed sayings of others ; but it is no wonder that the idea of his preserving his own should have appeared absurd to a mind to replete with a sense of decorun and propriety. As the design was of necefity posthumous, delicacy on the one side, and modesty on the other, prevented its be. ing mentioned above once or twice ; and the only allusion to it in bis letters, is in that of August 1789, “ I do not want you to throw a few daisies en my grave," &c.
Several specimens of this miscellany have already appeared in one of our best literary journals", and have been favourably received. It is hoped the work, now published, complete, will meet with cqual candour. A few other anecdotes may perhaps arise to memory, or be communicated by others"; but in no case shall the present form of one small volume be exceeded. The editor of the Menagiana to one small volume, first published, added by degrees three others, consisting mostly of compilations of his own, a mixture justly to be reprobated.
Yet, however anxious the probity of an editor may be, in a collection of this kind, depending much on exactness of memory, it is
# The Monthly Magazine.
imposible to avoid mistakes. A tale told fifteen years ago, may innocently be ascribed to a : wrong perfon; or an expresión miftated. Such unintentional lapses the reader will forgive ; nor will he, it is hoped, be inclined to blame few excurfions, usual in the French Ana, the introduction of short papers, quotations, &c.: only referred to, or silently read over, in the real conferences. Such a latitude has always been allowed in miscellanies of this denomination, as tending to enrich and variegate the original matter. *
Some of the letters are very brief, and unimportant; but Mr. Walpole's epistolary Style was so graceful, that even fragments of it become valuable ; and the reader's curiosity may be occasionally as much gratified by a short grote from such a pen, as by a finished epifle. To borrow a metaphor from his favourite art, the Nightest sketch by a master-painter will always be highly valued by connoisseurs.
Of the anecdotes, &c. many, perhaps all, may have been heard from Mr. Walpole's mouth, by numerous other friends besides the editor. As to apophthegnis and jests, fo few have pretensions to real novelty, that some of the freshest in our daily papers may be found in Plutarch and Hierocles. In such baubles B 4
* Mr. Walpole himself has perhaps too much extend. ed the term ana, by calling a collection of portraits, to illuftrate Sevigné's Letters, Sevigniana.
the manner and selection are chiefly to be moted; the gold may be as old as Adam, but the fabric constitutes it a modern toy.
Mr. Walpole made fuch repeated visits to Paris, and passed so much of his time in the first companies there ; he was besides ro fond of French manners, and French books ; that a considerable share of his conversation was occupied with anecdotes of that joil
. Hence the number of this defeription to be found in the present compilation ; many of which, no doubt, may exist in French publications, as a bon-mot is never lof in that country; and fome he may have repeated from recent reading
EARL OF ORFORD.
Had this elegant writer, who united
D , the good-sense of Fontenelle with the attic salt and graces of Count Antony Hamilton, composed memoirs of his own life, an example authorised by eminent names ancient and modern, every other pen must have been dropped in despair. But his literary modesty was invincible : his efforts as an author he always undervalued ; and in plain truth, independently of this character, his life would have afforded few and barren materials. An idle life muft always be a dull one, in