Knight Errant of the Distressed: Horace Walpole and Philanthropy in Eighteenth-Century London

Black on orange background image shows arms of the Foundling Hospital at top with Knight Errant of the Distressed in gothic font and Horace Walpole and Eighteenth-Century London in italics below.

Wednesdays only, from 2 to 4:30 pm

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 - 2:00pm to Friday, June 30, 2023 - 4:30pm
Lewis Walpole Library
154 Main Street
Farmington, CT 06032
Was Horace Walpole really a “miser,” as William Hazlitt claimed? 
This exhibition uses images, manuscripts, artefacts and extracts from publications and correspondence to situate Walpole within the burgeoning philanthropic culture of his age. It reveals Walpole’s secret giving to prisoners and other good causes and examines the principles that underlay his philanthropy. A main aim of the exhibition is to stimulate discussion about philanthropy today. Walpole wrote that “if it ever is justifiable to good sense to act romantically, it is by being the knights errant of the distressed.” The exhibition  unravels contradictions in Walpole’s approach to philanthropy, illuminates the importance of charitable giving in the eighteenth century, and opens up for the first time this most intimate, often hidden, aspect of Walpole’s life.