chapter  54
9 Pages

WALPOLE on the Life of Pope, 1781

Boswell remarked with notable understatement that Horace Walpole (1717-97) ‘never was one of the true admirers of Johnson’ (Life, iv. 314). Walpole’s barbed comments on Johnson are numerous; one must suffice: ‘Johnson was an odious and mean character…with all the pedantry he had all the gigantic littleness of a country schoolmaster’ (Memoirs of the Reign of George III, 1845, iv. 297). William Mason, to whom he wrote the letter below, himself regarded Johnson as ‘a bear upon stilts’ (Boswell, Life, ii. 347 n. 3).