Tuesday, May 12, 2015


insolvent consternation

So much to talk about - painting, spring book sales, bookselling, family, food, gardening, home life, world events, and of course the cat, the cat! - lots happening on all fronts - and yet all I want to do is write out perfect sentences from Horace Walpole's letters, both into my diary and then, here.  Nearly halfway through Volume II of The Letters of Horace Walpole, edited by Peter Cunningham.  Walpole is in his early 30s and has bought the house and grounds that will become his little gothic masterpiece, Strawberry Hill.  But more about that another day.  Back to the aforementioned perfect sentences:

"I can't afford to hate people so much at such a distance: my aversions find employment within their own atmosphere."  (p.67)

"I am going to tell you a long story, but you will please to remember that I don't intend to tell it well; therefore, if you discover any beauties in the relation where I never intended them, don't conclude, as you did in your last, that I know they are there."  (p.127)

"You will be diverted with a story I am going to tell you; it is very long, and so is my letter already; but you perceive I am in the country and have nothing to hurry me."  (p.141)

"I am come hither for a few days, to repose myself after a torrent of diversions, and am writing to you in my charming bow-window with a tranquillity and satisfaction which, I fear, I am grown old enough to prefer to the hurry of amusements, in which the whole world has lived for this last week.  (p.150)

"I now jump to another topic; I find all this letter will be detached scraps; I can't at all contrive to hide the seams: but I don't care."  (p.199)

"I have so little to say, that I don't care if I do tell you the same thing twice."  (p.215)

His use of language continues to delight me.  More words, from both Volumes I and II - some are repeats from an earlier post, I know, but see the quote directly above - a good writer could spin entire historical novels out of these little lists, it seems to me:




Should we start working these into daily conversation?  Perhaps yes?  I could go on, and in the future I'm sure I will.  However before I call it a day, I will just mention one recent happening of note.  While driving to the grocery store this weekend we passed a book sale in a local church.  I said, Noooo, don't stop... but Ryan did stop, because he had seen the sign on the door.  Which read, in part: 3$ PER BAG.  Mercy.  We bought and bought.  Eight bags, 130 books.  (You do the math.)  Most are for resale, but I do have a small(ish) stack set aside for perusal.  When that will be, on some post-Walpole day, I can only guess, but there they are, some of my up-nexts.  Ryan caught me coming out of the church, with two of the bags:  sheepish grin, really shouldn't be buying books, but...

I simply can't help myself - I never can, when it comes to books, especially buying books.  Insolvent consternation!  Voluminous calamities!  Indolent diversions!  Abominable prudence!         

Someone else who has read Walpole's letter! I read them about two years ago and found them utterly delightful. So glad to see you are enjoying them too. Wouldn't he have been a fun correspondent?
Hi Stefanie, thanks for your comment, yes - the letters are indeed wonderful, and highly addictive to boot! I wonder what their contemporary counterparts would be? Blog posts...? Text messages...? Ho-hum!

I am planning to read on, as long as I wish to do so - I have a 9-volume set on hand, but have long coveted the Yale 48-volume set. Even though I have neither funds nor bookshelf space for such a thing. So it goes.
Like you, Sarah, I have never been able to resist buying books, always more than one at a time, and often coming home from a far off city laden with bags full of books. The town where I live has few book shops so one must travel far afield to find anything worthwhile. Glad to see you’re still keeping up with Walpole. Good luck and happy reading :)

Thanks Gary, I am about to embark on Volume III of Walpole - still finding him wonderful!

My husband Ryan and I returned from our honeymoon, years ago, with our car full of books...
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