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Horace Walpole to Thomas Gray, [c. 15 October 1735]

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In the style of Addison's Travels.
Dear Sir,

I believe you saw in the newspapers that I was going to make the tour of Italy; I shall therefore give you some account of the places I have seen, which are not to be found in Mr. Addison, whose method I shall follow. On 9th of Octr., 1735, we set out from LodoneLondon. (the Lugdunum of the Ancients), the capital city of Lombardy, in a chariot-and-four. About 11 o'clock, we arrived at a place the Italians call Tempialbulo.White-chapel. Virgil seems to have prophesied of this town when he says–

Amisit verum vetus Albula nomen.

By Time the founder's great design was crost, And Albula its genuine title lost.

Here are no remains of Roman antiquity but a statue of Marc Aurelius,Statue of King William at a stone-cutter's. which the Lombards call Guglielmo Terzo, one of their kings, and some learned menSee Addison, Trav., p. 26. St. George and the Dragon. It is an equestrian statue, and almost equal to that of Charlemagne, at the Great Cross,Statue of King Charles at Charing Cross. at Lodone. The church is an old Gothic building, and reckoned the most ancient in Italy. Here was some time ago an altar-piece of the Lord's Supper, in which the painter having quarrelled with the AbbotDr. White Kennet, Bishop of Peter-borough. of this church, represented him like Judas, with this epigram:–

Falleris, hâc qui te pingi sub imagine credis,
Non similis Judas est tibi–poenituit.

Think not, vain man, thou here art represented,
Thou art not like to Judas–he repented.

From thence we made the best of our way to a town, which in English we should call Stony-Stratford, and corresponds with the description which Virgil has given of it–

vivo praetervehor Ostia Saxo
Stratfordi, Megarosque sinus, Tapsumque iacentem.

Those that follow are little dirty towns, that seem to have been built only to be 'knockedExpression of Addison on this line.' on the head, like

Antitheum, Glaucumque, Medontaque, Thersilochumque.

The next town of note is Arc,Bow. so called from its being built in the shape of a bow–ab Eoo curvatur in Arcum. From Arc we travelled through a very pleasant country to Epino,Epping. whose forest is celebrated by Virgil in these lines:–

Sylva Epini latè dumis, atque ilice nigrâ
Horrida, quam densi complerant undique sentes;
Rara per occultos ducebat semita calles.

Epinum's woods with shrubs and gloomy oak
Horrid, and all with brambles thick o'ergrown,
Through which few narrow paths obscurely led.
Mr. Trap.

We were here shown, at a distance, the thickets rendered so famous by the robberies of Gregorio.Gregory, a noted highwayman. See Addison, Trav., p. 1. Here I was met by a very distant and troublesome relation. My namesake hints at such an one in those lines of his–

Accurrit quidam notus mihi nomine tantùm
Arreptâque manu, Quid agis, Cosinissime, rerum?

There stepp'd up one to me I hardly knew,
Embraced me, and cried, Cousin, how d'ye do?
Mr. Creech.

We lay that night at Oggerell,Hockerel. which is famous for nothing but being Horace's Oppidulo, quod versu dicere non est.

In our way to Parvulun,Littlebury. we saw a great castle,Audley Inn, the seat of the Earl of Suffolk. belonging to the Counts of Suffolcia: it is a vast pile of building, but quite in the old taste. Parvulun is a small village, but formerly remarkable for several miracles,Winstanley's Wonders, or Tricks in Mechanics. said to be performed there by a Welsh saint, who, like Jupiter, was suckled by a goat, whence they think it

Porrum et Caepe nefas violare. Juv.

The wonders of Parvulun are in great repute all over Lombardy. We have very bad ways from hence to Pont Ossoria,Bone Bridge. where are the ruins of a bridge that gives name to the town. The account they give of it is as follows:–St. Bona being desirous to pass over the river, met with a man who offered to carry her over; he took her up in his arms, and under pretence of doing her service, was going to ravish her; but she praying to the Virgin Mary for help, the wretch fell into the stream and was drowned, and immediately this bridge rose out of the water for her to go over. She was so touched with this signal deliverance, that she would not leave the place, but continued there till her death in exercises of devotion, and was buried in a little chapel at the foot of the bridge, with her story at length and this epitaph–Hâc sita sunt fossâ Bonae Venerabilis ossa!Epitaph of Venerable Bede.

From Pont Ossoria we travelled by land to Nuovo ForoNew-market. (the Novum Forum of Jockius), where are held the greatest races in all Italy. We were shown in the treasury of the Benedictines' Convent an ancient gold cup which cost an hundred guineas (a great sum in those days), and given, as the friar told us that attended us, by a certain German Prince, he did not very well know who, but he believed his name was one King George.See p. 78. The inhabitants are wonderfully fond of horses, and to this day tell you most surprising stories of one Looby, a Boltognian. I saw a book dedicated to the head of that family, intituled A Discourse on the Magnanimity of Bucephalus, and of the Duke of Boltogne's Horse Looby.See p. 30. Duke of Bolton.

I staid here three days, and in my way to PaviaCambridge. stopped at the Palace of Delfini,Lord Godolphin's house on Gogmagog Hills. which is built on the top of a large barren mountain, and at a distance looks like the Ark resting on Mount Ararat. This mountain is called Gog, and opposite to one called Magog. They are very dangerous precipices, and occasioned the famous verse –

Incidit in Gogum qui vult vitare Magogon.Incidit in Scyllam qui vult vitare Charibdim.

I need not repeat the history of Gog and Magog, it being known to every child, and to be found at large in most books of travels.

Pavia and its University are described by Mr. Addison, so I shall only mention a circumstance which I wonder escaped that learned gentleman. It is the name of the town, which is derived from the badness of the streets: Pavia à non pavendo, as Lucus à non lucendo.

Till next post, adieu!

Yours ever,
Letter ID: letters.0018 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Writer's age: 18
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 18


Date of composition: [c. 15 October 1735]
Date (on letter): 1735
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): From Cambridge


Languages: English, Latin
Incipit: I believe you saw in the newspaper that I was going to make the tour...
Mentioned: Addison, Joseph
Creech, Thomas
Epping Forest
Trapp, Joseph

Holding Institution

Morgan Library & Museum , New York, NY, USA <>
Availability: The original letter is extant, but there is no further information about its availability

Print Versions

  • The Correspondence of Gray, Walpole, West and Ashton (1734-1771), 2 vols. Chronologically arranged and edited with introduction, notes, and index by Paget Toynbee. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1915, letter no. 16, vol. i, 38-43
  • The Letters of Horace Walpole. Ed., with notes, by Mrs. P. Toynbee. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903-18, vol. i, 4-8
  • The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole's Correspondence. Ed. by W. S. Lewis. New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP; London: Oxford UP, 1937-83, vols. 13/14: Horace Walpole's Correspondence with Thomas Gray, Richard West and Thomas Ashton i, 1734-42, Horace Walpole's Correspondence with Thomas Gray ii, 1745-71, ed. by W. S. Lewis, George L. Lam and Charles H. Bennett, 1948, vol. i, 85-90
  • Correspondence of Thomas Gray, 3 vols. Ed. by the late Paget Toynbee and Leonard Whibley, with corrections and additions by H. W. Starr. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971 [1st ed. 1935], letter no. 17, vol. i, 29-33