Knight Errant of the Distressed: Horace Walpole and Philanthropy in Eighteenth-Century London
Wednesdays only, from 2 to 4:30 pm
Wednesday, May 11, 2022 - 2:00pm to Wednesday, June 28, 2023 - 4:30pm
Lewis Walpole Library
154 Main StreetFarmington, 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.