Holland House – Great Britain And Ireland

Of Holland House, the last residence of Addison, it would require a long article to give a fitting idea. This fine old mansion is full of historic associations. It takes its name from Henry Rich, earl of Holland, whose portrait is in Bilton. It was built by his father-in-law, Sir Walter Cope, in 1607, and affords a very good specimen of the architecture of that period. The general form is that of a half H. The projection in the center, forming at once porch and tower, and the two wings supported on pillars, give great decision of effect to it. The stone quoins worked with a sort of arabesque figure, remind one of the style of some portions of Heidelberg Castle, which is what is called on the Continent roccoco. Here it is deemed Elizabethan; but the plain buildings attached on each side to the main body of the house, with their shingled and steep-roofed towers, have a very picturesque and Bohemian look. Altogether, it is a charming old pile, and the interior corresponds beautifully with the exterior. There is a fine entrance-hall, a library behind it, and another library extending the whole length of one of the wings and the house upstairs, one hundred and five feet in length. The drawing-room over the entrance-hall, called the Gilt Room, extends from front to back of the house, and commands views of the gardens both way; those to the back are very beautiful.

In the house are, of course, many interesting and valuable works of art; a great portion of them memorials of the distinguished men who have been accustomed to resort thither. In one room is a portrait of Charles James Fox, as a child, in a light blue dress, and with a close, reddish, woolen cap on his head, under which show lace edges. The artist is unknown, but is supposed to be French. The countenance is full of life and intelligence, and the “child” in it is, most remarkably, “the father of the man.” The Iikeness is wonderful. You can imagine how, by time and circumstance, that child’s countenance expanded into what it became in maturity. There is also a portrait of Addison, which belonged to his daughter. It represents him as much younger than any other that I have seen. In the Gilt Room are marble busts of George IV. and William IV. On the staircase is a bust of Lord Holland, father of the second earl and of Charles Fox, by Nollekens. This bust, which is massy, and full of power and expression, is said to. have brought Nollekens into his great repute. The likeness to that of Charles Fox is very striking. By the same artist there are also the busts of Charles Fox, the late Lord Holland, and the present earl. That of Frere, by Chantry, is very spirited. There are also, here, portraits of Lord Lansdowne, Lord John Russell, and family portraits. There is also a large and very curious painting of a fair, by Callot, and an Italian print of it.

In the library, downstairs, are portraits of Charles James Fox—a very fine one; of the late Lord Holland; of Talleyrand, by Ary Scheffer, perhaps the best in existence, and the only one which he said that he ever sat for; of Sir Samuel Romilly ; Sir James Mackintosh ; Lord Erskine, by Sir Thomas Lawrence; Tierney; Francis Horner, by Raeburn, so like Sir Walter Scott, by the same artist, that I at first supposed it to be him; Lord Macartney, by Phillips; Frere, by Shea; Mone, Lord Thanet; Archibald Hamilton; late Lord Darnley; late Lord King, when young, by Hoppner; and a very sweet, foreign fancy portrait of the present Lady Holland. We miss, however, from this haunt of genius, the portraits of Byron, Brougham, Crabbe, Blanco White, Hallam, Rogers, Lord Jeffrey, and others. In the left wing is placed the colossal model of the statue of Charles Fox, which stands in Blooms-bury Square.

In the gardens are various memorials of distinguished men. Among several very fine cedars, perhaps the finest is said to have been planted by Charles Fox. In the quaint old garden is an alcove, in which are the following lines, placed there by the late earl:

“Here Rogers sat—and here for ever dwell With me, those pleasures which he sang so well.”

Beneath these are framed and glazed a copy of verses in honor of the same poet, by Mr. Luttrell. There is also in the same garden, and opposite this alcove, a bronse bust of Napoleon, on a granite pillar, with a Greek inscription from the Odyssey, admirably applying the situation of Ulysses to that of Napoleon at St. Helena: “In a far-distant isle he remains under the harsh surveillance of base men.”

The fine avenue leading down from the house to the Kensington road is remarkable for having often been the walking and talking place of Cromwell and General Lambert. Lambert then occupied Holland House; and Cromwell, who lived next door, when he came to converse with him on state affairs, had to speak very loud to him, because he was deaf. To avoid being over-heard, they used to walk in this avenue.

The traditions regarding Addison here are very slight. They are, simply, that he used to walk, when composing his “Spectators,” in the long library, then a picture gallery, with a bottle of wine at each end, which he visited as he alternately arrived at them; and that the room in which he died, tho not positively known, is supposed to be the present dining-room, being then the state bedroom. The young Earl of Warwick, to whom he there addrest the emphatic words, “See in what peace a Christian can die!” died also, himself, in 1721, but two years afterward. The estate then devolved to Lord Kensington, descended from Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick, who sold it, about 1762, to the Right Honorable Henry Fox, afterward Lord Holland. Here the early days of the great statesman, Charles James, were passed.