ページの画像
PDF
ePub

be admitted. So it happened that the first theatre erected in Leeds

—that in Hunslet Lane—was sent into a more remote spot than was assigned to Puritanism and Nonconformity in the intolerant days of Charles the Merrie. It may not be ill for fin de siècle Victorians to catch a glimpse of the spot as known to the contemporaries of the Prince Regent. In July 1813, James Lauffin, an Irish cloth-dresser, was killed by lightning while taking shelter under an elm tree in Hunslet Lane. The site was only to be approached by the passage of a bog whose further extremity is yet known as Frogland. The adoption of such a site is the surest index of public opinion, and an undeniable proof of the existence of narrow bigotry. Had the conscience of Leeds been as honest or as fearless as that of York, the theatre of Leeds would not have remained in the outskirts of the town for a century after its erection.

W. WHEATER.

HOLLAND HOUSE AND ITS

ASSOCIATIONS.

"I HAVE seen most of the palaces and palatial residences of

I Europe, and if I were told to choose one to live in for the remainder of my life I should choose this." These words, it is related, were uttered by Henry Bulwer, Lord Dalling, one evening as he was leaving Holland House in company with a friend. The friend, we are told, responded

“And I said to myself, if there's peace in the world,

A heart that is humble might hope for it here." That the foregoing utterances were of a hyperbolical character it would be unjust to say. Of all the historical edifices of London we know of none that can outvie, and fewer still that can bear comparison with, Holland House. We should suppose that no Englishman, and certainly no foreigner that has made any acquaintance with our literary and political history, has omitted to secure a peep at least at Holland House from the Kensington and Hammersmith Road. Even those who are profoundly ignorant of its traditions and historical associations are arrested by the air of repose and of dignified and calm serenity which the grand old pile seems to wear as they catch distant glimpses of it. Surrounded by stately trees, it constitutes a veritable oasis in the hideous monotony of London brick and mortar. Not only does it occupy the proud position of the most celebrated dwelling-house in the metropolis, but of the one the destruction of which by the hateful rage for improvement and restoration, which is one of the curses of this fin de siècle, would be most regretted by all persons of cultivated tastes. Over and over again such a proposal has been mooted, and as often has it been received with a howl of virtuous indignation. Long may that howl of virtuous indignation have power to avert its fall, and to stay the ruthless hand of the restorer !

It was one of the cherished literary projects of the great Whig statesman, Sir James Mackintosh, to write the history of Holland

and

House, and our only regret is that he never lived to carry this project into execution. He left, however, behind him, at his death, copious notes for such a purpose, and these were turned to practical account some twenty years ago by the Princess Lichtenstein, an adopted daughter of the late Lady Holland, who was brought up in the house, and married a younger son of the illustrious Austrian house of Lichtenstein. Aided by her narrative, and by information obtained from other sources, we purpose to recall some of its associations, and to spread them out in as agreeable a fashion as we can before the reader.

Casting our retrospective glances backwards so far as the time of the Norman Conquest, we find that Kensington contained even then a substantial manor-house which went by the name of Holland House. This residence existed until 1610. In that year Sir Walter Cope caused it to be demolished and Cope Castle to be erected on its site. In course of time Sir Walter Cope paid the great debt to Nature, as all baronets do sooner or later, and his heiress entered into possession of Cope Castle. Isabel was soon courted by a certain Henry Rich, and was eventually married to him. Standing high in Court favour, he was sent by King James I. to Spain in order to render assistance in negotiating that Spanish marriage between the Infanta and Baby Charles which was, happily, never consummated. Rich returned to England and witnessed the death of James I. and the accession of his son. “The White King's ” partiality for the courtier was soon indicated by his creating him first Baron Kensington and then Earl of Holland. The result was that in consonance with the latter title his residence at Kensington was dubbed Holland House, a name which it has ever since retained.

At the outbreak of the Civil War the Earl of Holland was, as were a great many more, in doubt which way they were to walk. Loyal as he was, he could not but see that the conduct of the King towards his Parliaments had been simply suicidal, and that it was ten chances to one that he might be made to expiate his folly. The Earl long halted between two opinions. But the times required decision. The Earl was charged with treason, first by the King and subsequently by the Parliament. The consequence was that he was condemned to death before the tribunal of the latter. The 7th of March, 1648, witnessed the melancholy exhibition of his execution in Palace Yard, Westminster. He met death with an intrepidity in which previously he had been lamentably deficient. Bishop Warburton, in a note on Clarendon's “ History of the Rebellion,” says that he lived like a knave and died like a fool. This is a hard episcopal utterance, but we fear that ample justification for it may be found in the facts of his career,

VOL. CCLXXIV. NO. 1946.

After the death of Henry Rich, first Earl of Holland, Holland House was tenanted by Fairfax. It is said that Lambert fixed his headquarters within its walls in July 1649, and that Cromwell used to take counsel with Ireton in the adjoining fields which formed part of the domain, on account of Ireton's deafness, and in order that no State secrets might be heard by eavesdroppers. How or in what circumstances the widowed Countess of Holland, who had been turned out of her residence by the martial saints, regained possession of it we have no means of knowing, but she did regain it ; and when the Puritanical fanatics closed the London theatres she courageously caused the proscribed stage-plays to be performed within its walls. This was partly as a backhander to the Cromwellian hypocrites, and partly as a means of saving the actors of the two London theatres from absolute starvation. From the Restoration to the accession of the first English king of the Brunswick dynasty, it appears that Holland House was let by its noble owners on brief leases and to a variety of persons, some among them being persons of no small importance in their day. Leigh Hunt, in his history of “The Old Court Suburb," which still ranks deservedly as the best and most interesting history of Kensington, has collected a list of the occupants. Among them was Arthur Annesley, created first Earl of Anglesea by Charles II. He was President of the Council at the termination of the Commonwealth, and opened correspondence with the exiled King. Sir John Chardin, a great traveller, was another occupant of Holland House. He was a French Protestant jeweller, and received the honour of knighthood at the hands of the Merry Monarch. A third occupant was Catharine Darnley, “the fantastical Duchess of Buckinghamshire" as she is styled by Leigh Hunt, a daughter of Charles II., who assumed the style and title of a princess. Anon we meet with the name of Mrs. Morice as a resident at Holland House. Mrs. Morice was a daughter of Francis Atterbury, the celebrated Jacobite prelate, and was the daughter who met the bishop in exile, and met him only to die. Atterbury's books were preserved in Holland House during his enforced exile, and his son-in-law was always careful to reserve apartments for him in expectation of his return. William Penn is, however, the greatest name on the roll of the temporary occupants of Holland House, and next in point of time and interest comes the sturdy Jacobite Shippen, whom Pope immortalised in his verse for his political disinterestedness :

I love to pour out all myself as plain
As downright Shippen or as Old Montaigne ;
In them as certain to be loved as seen,
The soul stood forth, nor kept a thought within.

Shippen had the honour of being sent to the Tower for saying of King George I., who was unable correctly to speak our tongue, that “the only infelicity of His Majesty's reign was, that he was unacquainted with our language and constitution.” The Whigs and Tories alike requested him to tone down this expression, but he was resolute in his refusal. The Prince of Wales, afterwards George II., being at loggerheads with his father, endeavoured to bribe him with a thousand pounds, but was equally unsuccessful. Shortly after the Revolution, Holland House came near to being inhabited by William III. His Majesty, it is said, inspected the residence, but finally selected that of the Earl of Nottingham adjoining, and converted it into Kensington Palace.

In 1673 the son of the Countess of Warwick succeeded his fifth cousin in the Earldom of Warwick, and made Holland House his chief abode. Edward, his son and successor, married Charlotte, a daughter of Sir Thomas Middleton, of Chirk Castle, in the county of Flint. After the Earl's death the Countess married Joseph Addison, one of the greatest essayists of the eighteenth century. With Addison's advent into its halls a new era, or rather second period of interest, begins in the history of Holland House. It was the beginning of that series of literary ceremonies, fêtes, and receptions, for a parallel to which we must go back to the days of Cosmo the Magnificent.

Joseph Addison, at the time he became acquainted with the Countess of Warwick, was one of the brightest ornaments of what has been erroneously termed the Augustan age of English literature. He had passed from a distinguished school to a distinguished college, in the University of Oxford, and had there saturated his mind with classic lore. He had travelled much abroad, and had mixed freely among men of diversified talents. In London he had won a high reputation as a staunch Whip, an elegant courtier, a man of exact and ripe scholarship, and as the author of those incomparable essays in the Spectator, to which, it is to be feared, in these degenerate days, even those who wish to acquire a style familiar but not vulgar, and elegant though not ostentatious, seldom give their days and nights, as Dr. Johnson recommends them to do. While living in the adjacent village of Chelsea, Addison and the Countess of Warwick had seen much of each other, and on the 9th of August, 1716, they became man and wife. In the following year Sunderland made Addison Assistant Secretary of State. It does not appear that the marriage was a happy one, but Addison bequeathed his large fortune to his wife, “a proof,” as Mackintosh remarks, “either that they lived on

« 前へ次へ »