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This Essay was first printed at Mr. Walpole's private press at Strawberry Hill in 1771, when it appeared at the end of the fourth volume of “ Anecdotes of Painting in England” under the title: "The Modern Taste in Gardening."
It was translated into the French by the Duke of Nivernois and reprinted in French and English at Strawberry Hill in 1785 in an edition of 400 copies.
The present reprint is an exact type facsimile of the edition of 1785 and the first reprint since that date.
All the errors of the original have been retained.
ROPHETIC—as it was poetic—was the fancy of the painter who limned the demure and debonair little figure of the child Horace Walpole; in his earliest portrait. Mincingly correct and elegant, in garments which are in miniature those of a court-gallant, be poses in a garden by a great stone sun-dial, while discreet Cupid points to the figure 10 on the dial-face; thereby denoting cleverly that the years of this formal young courtier bad reached merely that immature age; while by his carriage, demeanor and sobriety be might have claimed an abnormal dial-face numbered forty.
In this childish portrait are plainly displayed the dominating traits and likings of the man Horace in later years;
the precise handsome dress indicates bis unvarying choice of rich but carefully-restrained garments, while his presence in a garden speaks of bis interest in garden-craft. His life was guided by a frankly-indulged and frankly-acknowledged love of women -or, to be exact-of women's companionship. This, like the proper Cupid of the portrait, was a distinctly well-regulated, circumspect affection; one which led him throughout his life into the most scandal-loving and scandal-making London set; but guided him so skilfully, so cautiously, that though he closed his days the most be-gossipped man in London, yet of him nothing could be told at all scandalous or shocking.
In the sixth day's auction in April, 1842, of the “classic contents of Strawberry Hill,” were sold the choicest autographs and manuscripts of Horace Walpole's collection; among these was :—to quote the catalogue
“Lord Orford's Treatise on Modern Gardening;
of penmanship.” It is to be regretted that one of the grandiloquent flights of pompous Salesman Robbins did not relate to this manuscript. It sold for four pounds fourteen shillings and sixpence.
At this auction Walpole's own copy of this Essay on Modern Gardening, extra-illustrated, with manuscript notes, fetched two pounds and five shillings. The last sale at auction (of which I chance to have a record) of this Strawberry Hill imprint, was in London on April 30, 1902. It brought nine pounds and five shillings. This was a copy in sheets, wrapped in gray paper, on-which Walpole himself had written “One pick'd Essay on Gardening.”
The French gentleman who translated this Essay on Modern Gardening was a fellow-author after Walpole's own heart.