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Quotations From HORACE WALPOLE


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  • An ancient prophecy ... pronounced, That the castle and lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family, whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it!
    Horace Walpole (1717-1797), British author. The Castle of Otranto, ch. 1 (1764).

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  • I have sometimes seen women, who would have been sensible enough, if they would have been content not to be called women of sense—but by aiming at what they had not, they only proved absurd—for sense cannot be counterfeited.
    Horace Walpole (1717-1797), British author. Horace Walpole's Miscellany 1786-1795, p. 68, ed. Lars E. Troide, Yale University Press (1978). Originally written in 1788; Walpole reflects his age's reservations about female intelligence.

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  • How well Shakespeare knew how to improve and exalt little circumstances, when he borrowed them from circumstantial or vulgar historians.
    Horace Walpole (1717-1797), British author. Horace Walpole's Miscellany 1786-1795, p. 12, ed. Lars E. Troide, Yale University Press (1978). Originally written in 1786.
  • Justice is rather the activity of truth, than a virtue in itself. Truth tells us what is due to others, and justice renders that due. Injustice is acting a lie.
    Horace Walpole (1717-1797), British author. Horace Walpole's Miscellany 1786-1795, p. 62, ed. Lars E. Troide, Yale University Press (1978). Originally written in 1787.

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  • When Lady Mary Tufton married Dr. Duncan, an elderly physician, Mr. George Selwyn said, "How often will she say with Macbeth 'Wake, Duncan, with thy knocking—would thou couldst!'"
    Horace Walpole (1717-1797), British author. Horace Walpole's Miscellany 1786-1795, p. 26, ed. Lars E. Troide, Yale University Press (1978). Originally written in 1786; Selwyn was a noted wit, while the marriage of Lady Mary and Dr. Duncan was rumored to be unconsummated.
  • Alexander at the head of the world never tasted the true pleasure that boys of his own age have enjoyed at the head of a school.
    Horace Walpole (1717-1797), British author. Letter, May 6, 1736.

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  • Two clergymen disputing whether ordination would be valid without the imposition of both hands, the more formal one said, "Do you think the Holy Dove could fly down with only one wing?"
    Horace Walpole (1717-1797), British author. Horace Walpole's Miscellany 1786-1795, p. 38, ed. Lars E. Troide, Yale University Press (1978). Originally written in 1786.

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  • Dr. Calder [a Unitarian minister] said of Dr. [Samuel] Johnson on the publications of Boswell and Mrs. Piozzi, that he was like Actaeon, torn to pieces by his own pack.
    Horace Walpole (1717-1797), British author. Horace Walpole's Miscellany 1786-1795, pp. 18-19, ed. Lars E. Troide, Yale University Press (1978). Originally written in 1786; in Greek mythology, the huntsman Actaeon, having surprised the goddess Diana bathing, was turned by her into a stag and killed by his own hounds.

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  • Shakespeare had no tutors but nature and genius. He caught his faults from the bad taste of his contemporaries. In an age still less civilized Shakespeare might have been wilder, but would not have been vulgar.
    Horace Walpole (1717-1797), British author. Horace Walpole's Miscellany 1786-1795, p. 57, ed. Lars E. Troide, Yale University Press (1978). Originally written in 1787.

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  • [French] authors are more afraid of offending delicacy and rules, than ambitious of sublimity.
    Horace Walpole (1717-1797), British author. Horace Walpole's Miscellany 1786-1795, p. 57, ed. Lars E. Troide, Yale University Press (1978). Originally written in 1787.
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