Thomas Hope

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Another interesting person who once lived in the Square was Thomas Hope, the author of Anastasius, an extraordinary work which has been described as "uniting the entertainment of a novel with the information of a book of travels."

This work is not the only one left by Thomas Hope, and although it was followed by a still more remarkable production, On the Origin and Prospects of Man, it is likely that its author is chiefly remembered as the creator of the classic "Deepdene," near Dorking.

That wonderful house shows what a catholicity of taste characterised its creator, and the varied collection of sculpture contained in it proves that he was in more than mere name the patron of such men as Flaxman, Thorwaldsen, Chantrey, and Canova. In a letter from Miss Mitford to Miss Jephson, the writer paid a tribute to the memory of Hope.

"Of all the persons I ever knew, I think he was the most delightful. There was a quick, glancing, delicate wit in his conversation such as I never heard before it came sparkling in, chequering his grave sense like the sunbeam in a forest," she said. "He had also (what all people of any value have) great truth and exactness of observation, and said the wisest things in the simplest manner."


Hope had the honour perhaps, considering the way he was mentioned, a questionable honour of being referred to by Byron in an unpublished stanza to Childe Harold:

"... that lesser wight,

The victim sad of vase-collecting spleen,

House-furnisher withal, one Thomas hight."

But he was to be the victim of a far more reprehensible attack when, having somehow offended a French painter named Dubost, the Frenchman sought revenge by painting a picture which he called "Beauty and the Beast," in which and Mrs. Hope were represented according to the well known fairy story.

Worse than that, the picture was publicly exhibited, reportedly drawing thirty pounds a day, and on one of these occasions Hope's brother thrust his sword through the canvas an action which caused some noise at the time.

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