This is a tale book. An odd little book of ' Hieroglyphic Tales' appeared in 1785, of which only six copies are said to have been printed. The 'Tales' were written by Walpole during the years 1771 and 1772. He described them as 'even wilder than the Castle of Otranto', and assured his friends that, despite appearances, they were not written 'in the gout' nor when he was 'out of his senses'. Yet the eighteenth-century earl would probably not have felt out of place in this sketch, for the Pythons continue a peculiar strain of British tradition distinguished by absurdity, ridicule, wordplay, wit, wickedness, and plain madness (not to mention cheesiness) that unquestionably reached one of its peaks in these extraordinary (and virtually unknown, even in England) Hieroglyphic Tales.