WALPOLE, Horace, 4th Earl of Orford (1717-1797). Autograph letter signed ('Hor. Walpole') to Hannah More, Strawberry Hill, 17 August 1788, a number of passages cancelled for publication, a few words and phrases more heavily scored through, 3 pages, 4to, integral address panel (seal tear, affecting three words). Provenance: First published, with omissions, in William Roberts's Memoirs of Hannah More (1834), ii. 117-119; thereafter untraced until c.1925, when it belonged to Mrs Turner of Parkstone, Dorset; acquired at Godspeeds, Boston, c.1960 by a New England collector.
'BOOKSELLERS & BIRMINGHAM GIVE EQUAL VENT TO WHAT IS NOT STERLING': on letters, forgeries, and the newly-discovered Roman manuscripts at Herculaneum. After beginning with an oblique complaint of his gout ('[a] disorder ... chronical & rarely dangerous'), and a mocking criticism of Hannah More's birthplace of Bristol, comparing it with Toulouse, 'the Theatre of so much Fanaticism', Walpole turns to 'the great Discovery of a new Mine of Madam de Sevignè's letters. My Faith, I confess, is not quite firm: Do people sell houses wholesale without opening their Cupboards? This Age too deals so much in false coinage that Booksellers & Birmingham give equal vent to what is not Sterling ... Have we not seen, besides all the Testaments politiques, the spurious letters of Ninon de Lenclos, of Pope Ganganelli, & the memoires of the Princesse Palatine? This is a little mortifying, while we know that there actually exists at Naples a whole library of genuine Greek & Latin Authors, most of whom probably have never been in print ... yet at the rate in which they proceed to unroll, it would take as many centuries to bring them to light, as have elapsed since they were overwhelmed ... Omar is stigmatized for burning the Library of Alexandria -- is the King of Naples less a Turk? is not it almost as unconscientious to keep a Seraglio of Virgin Authors under the Custody of Mutes, as of blooming Circassians? Consider, my dear Madam, I am past 70, or I shoud not be so ungalant as to make the smallest comparison between the Contents of the two Harams -- but for the sake of the Public I do wish the Objects of both were to be had in sheets -- en tout bien & honneur s'entend. Your picture, which hangs near my Elbow, woud frown, I am sure, if I had any light meaning'. Correspondence, vol. 31, pp.276ff.