ADDISON was a fortunate man; the houses in which he lived testify it. His fame as a poet, though considerable in his own time, has now dwindled to a point which would not warrant us to include him in this work, were not his reputation altogether of that kind which inseparably binds him up with the poetical history of his country. He was not only a popular poet in his own day, but he was the friend and advocate of true poetry wherever it could be found. It was he who, in the Spectator, first sounded boldly and zealously abroad the glory of John Milton. In our time the revival of true poetry, the return to nature and to truth, have been greatly indebted to the old ballad poetry of the nation. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, Scott, and others, attribute the formation of their taste in the highest degree to the reading of Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. But it was Addison who long before had pointed out these sources, and these effects. It was he who brought forward again the brave old ballad of Chevy Chace; who reminded us that Sir Philip Sidney had said that it always stirred his heart like the sound of a trumpet. It was he who showed us the inimitable touches of nature and of true pathos in it. He showed us how alive was the old bard who composed it to all the influences of nature and of circumstances. How the stanza—
The hounds ran swiftly through the woods,
The nimble deer to take,
That with their cries the hub and dales
An echo shrill did make;
carried you at once to the scene. With what life and spirit and graphic power he introduced his heroes, and by their gallant bearing won at once your interest for them.
Lo, yonder doth Earl Douglas come,
His men in armour bright
Full twenty hundred Scottish spears
All marching in our sight.
All men of pleasant Tivy-dale,
Fast by the river Tweed
O cease your sport, Earl Percy said,
And take your bows with speed;
And now with me, my countrymen,
Your courage forth advance,
For there was never champion yet,
In Scotland or in France,
That ever did on horseback come,
But if my hap it were,
I durst encounter, man for man,
With him to break a spear.
Earl Douglas on his milk-white steed,
Most like a baron bold,
Rode foremost of the company,
Whose armour shone like gold.
Show me, said he, whose men you be,
That hunt so boldly here,
That, without my consent, do chase
And kill my fallow deer.
The first mail that did answer make
Was noble Percy, he
Who said, — We list not to declare,
Nor show whose men we be.
It was Addison who made his cotemporaries fully aware of the truly noble sentiments which animated that fine ballad; the challenge of Douglas, and its acceptance by Percy, being a splendid instance.
But trust me, Percy, pity it were
And great offence to kill
Any of these our guiltless men,
For they have done no ill.
Let thou and I the battle try,
And set our men aside,
Accursed be he, Earl Percy said,
By whom this is denied.
The life and vigour of the description of the battle — the impression given of the indomitable bravery of the British race — the exploit of Widdrington — the proud boast of the English monarch of the abundance of brave men in his kingdom-all were forcibly demonstrated by Addison; nor less the beautiful pathos of the poem.
Next day did many widows come
Their husbands to bewail;
They washed their wounds in brinish tears,
But all would not prevail.
Their bodies bathed in purple gore
They bare with them away,
They kissed them dead a thousand times,
Ere they were clad in clay.
Equally did Addison vindicate and commend to our hearts the sweet ballad of the Babes in the Wood, and others of the true school of nature and feeling. Who shall say that it was not owing to these criticisms, that Bishop Percy himself was led to the study and the collection of the precious relics of former ages, that lay scattered about amongst the people? The services of Addison to the poetry of England are far greater through what he recommended than what he composed; and the man who, more than all others, contributed to make periodical literature what it has become, and gave us, moreover, Sir Roger de Coverley, and the spirit of true old English life which surrounds him, with all those noble papers in which religion and philosophy so beautifully blend in the Spectator, must ever remain enshrined in the most grateful remembrance of his countrymen.
Addison, I have said, was a fortunate man. It is well for us that he was in that one case so fortunate. It was the service that his pen could render to the government of the time, that raised him from the condition of a poor clergyman's son, to a minister of state, and thus gave him afterwards leisure to pursue those beautiful speculations in literature which have had so decided and so permanent an influence on our literature and modes of thinking. Addison had his faults, and was not without a few of those thorns in the side which few escape in their progress through the wilderness of the world; but so far as we are concerned, we owe to him nothing but love and admiration. Thus much said, we must in this brief article leave all the details of his life and progress, of his travels and his literary contests and achievements, as matters well known, and confine ourselves to a survey of the abodes in which he lived.
He was born at the parsonage of Milston, in Wiltshire, an humble dwelling, of which a view may be seen in Miss Aiken's life of him; his father being then incumbent of the parish. He was sent to schools at Shrewsbury and Lichfield, and then to the Charterhouse, where he formed that acquaintance with Richard Steele, which resulted in such lasting consequences to literature. Thence he went to Oxford, where he continued till the age of five-and-twenty, when, finding that, notwithstanding his fellowship and the resource of his pupils, he was so far from realizing a livelihood that he was greatly in debt, he gave up all thought of taking orders, and devoted himself to public business. Fully to qualify himself for this, he applied to Montague, afterwards Lord Halifax, with whose friendship he was already honoured, as well as with that of Lord Somers, and procured from government a pension of £300 a year to enable him to make the circle of European travel, and acquaint himself with the real condition of those countries with which every English statesman must come into continual practical contact. He first went over to France, saw Paris, and then settled down at Blois to make himself master of the language. He continued nearly a year and a half at Blois, and it was to his intense study during this time that he owed his great knowledge of French literature. He then sailed from Marseilles for Italy. "It was in December, 1700," says Miss Aikin, "that he embarked at Marseilles for Genoa, whence he proceeded through Milan, Venice, Ravenna, and Loretto to Rome; thence to Naples by sea, and proceeded by Florence, Bologna, and Turin, to Geneva; where he arrived exactly one year from his quitting Marseilles, and two and a half after his departure from England. At Geneva he was met by the news of the death of King William. This was followed by the dismissal of the Whigs from office, the consequent loss of his pension, and the blasting of all his hopes of further advantage from them for the present. Instead, therefore, of attending on Prince Eugene, as secretary from the English king, as was appointed for him, he turned aside on his own slender resources to take a survey of Germany. After making a pleasant tour through the Swiss cantons, he descended into the plains of Germany, but found the inhabitants all in arms, and full of apprehension of the Bavarian troops, and was advised not to trust himself in the territories of the Duke of Bavaria. He therefore lost all opportunity of seeing Munich, Augsburg and Ratisbon, and was obliged to make his way through the Tyrol to Vienna. In Vienna he felt himself in great anxiety on account of money, and made his way back through Holland home. Before reaching it, he received a proposal to go on a second tour of Europe for three years, with the son of the Duke of Somerset, but refused the Duke's offers. Soon after his return to England he was engaged to write a poem on the victory of Blenheim, to serve the Whig cause, and produced The Campaign; at the time a most successful poem, but now chiefly remembered by the passage in which he represents Marlborough, like the angel of divine vengeance, riding on the whirlwind and directing the storm." From this period his advance was rapid, and we here leave him to the biographer, and restrict ourselves to our proper task.
The change of circumstances, from the humble author to the minister and the friend of ministers; from the simple clergyman's son to the husband of a countess, and the father-in-law of an earl, cannot be more strikingly displayed than by the singular contrast of his abodes under these different characters.
D'Israeli, in his Curiosities of Literature, says, that Pope, when taking his usual walk with Harte in the Haymarket, desired Harte to enter a little shop, when going up three pair of stairs into a small room, Pope said, "In this garret Addison wrote his Campaign." That was certainly somewhat different to Bilton and Holland-house. But between the garret in the Haymarket, and these princely houses, there were some connecting and ascending steps in residence. Addison was always anxious to get to a quiet retreat, amidst trees and greenness, where he could write. Such was afterwards his abode at Sandy-end, a hamlet of Fulham. Here he appears to have occupied apartments in a lodging house, established at this place; whence several of the published letters of Steele are dated, written at times when he seems to have been the guest of Addison. From Sandy-end too, are dated some letters to Lord Warwick, his future son-in-law, then a boy, and very anxious to get news about birds and birds' nests, which Addison most cordially gives him. He then went to Ireland as chief secretary to the Earl of Wharton, on his appointment to the Lord-Lieutenancy, and resided for some time in that capacity in Dublin. After this, he removed to a lodging at Kensington, owing to his increasing intimacy at Holland-house, and was about this time a frequent guest at Northwick-park, with the first Lord Northwick, and there one of the best portraits of him, by Kneller, still remains.
In 1716, he married the Dowager Countess of Warwick; but five years before this, that is, in 1711, he had made the purchase of Bilton, as a suitable residence for a person of his position in the state, and of that high connexion towards which he was already looking. Before, however, we indulge ourselves with a view of Addison at Bilton, let us see the mode of his life in town, on the authority of Pope, Spence, and Johnson: — "Of the course of Addison's familiar day, before his marriage, Pope has given a detail. He had in the house with him, Budgell, and perhaps Philips. His chief companions were Steele, Budgell, Philips, Carey, Davenant, and Colonel Brett. With one or other of these he always breakfasted. He studied all morning; then dined at a tavern; and went afterwards to Button's.
"Button had been a servant in the Countess of Warwick's family; who, under the patronage of Addison, kept a coffeehouse on the south side of Russell-street, about two doors from Coventgarden. Here it was that the wits of that time used to assemble. It is said, when Addison had suffered any vexation from the countess, he withdrew the company from Button's house.
"From the coffee-house he went to a tavern, where he often sat late and drank too much wine. In the bottle discontent seeks for comfort, cowardice for courage, and bashfulness for confidence. It is not unlikely, that Addison was first seduced to excess by the manumission which he obtained from the servile timidity of his sober hours. He that feels oppression from the presence of those to whom he knows himself superior, will desire to set loose his powers of conversation; and who, that ever asked succours from Bacchus, was able to preserve himself from being enslaved by his auxiliary?
"Among those friends it was that Addison displayed the elegance of his colloquial accomplishments, which may easily be supposed such as Pope represents them. The remark of Mandeville, who, when he had passed an evening in his company, declared that he was a parson in a tye-wig, can detract little from his character; he was always reserved to strangers, and was not incited to uncommon freedom by a character like that of Mandeville." — Johnson's Life of Addison.
The statement made by Dr. Johnson, in his Lives of the Poets, and by Spence, that Addison's marriage, like that of Dryden, was not a happy one, has lately been strongly argued against by Miss Aikin. One would gladly be able to acquiesce in it, and if we could believe the painter as well as Miss Aikin, we should be inclined to believe the Countess of Warwick possessed both unusual sense and sweetness of temper. The current of tradition, however, runs strongly the other way; and I fear we have not now sufficient strength of evidence to avert it. As little do I anticipate that Miss Aikin will prove Addison a very sober man; the statements of his cotemporaries, and the voice of tradition, are against her. We must be content to take the man with his failings and his secret griefs, the foils to a great reputation and a great prosperity.
Addison purchased the estate of Bilton for £10,000, and the money was principally advanced by his brother Gulston Addison, governor of Fort St. George, at Madras. Thither he conveyed his paintings, his library, and his collection of medals, which, as connected with his Dialogues on Medals, was very valuable. Here it may be supposed that, during the five years previous to his marriage, he passed much of his leisure time. It was a beautiful retirement, well calculated to dispose to thought, and worthy of the author of the Spectator. If we are to believe tradition, that he planted most of the trees now standing around it, he must have taken great pleasure in its embellishment. On his death he left it to his only child, Charlotte Addison, who could not have been much more than two years old. Here she spent her long life, from the death of her mother, the countess, dying in 1797, at about eighty years of age. Miss Addison, for she was never married, is said to have been of weak intellect, a fact by many traced to the want of real and spiritual union between her parents, a supposition which the researches of our own times into the nature of man, tend greatly to confirm. With the usual effect of aristocratic prejudice on a feeble mind, she is said to have been especially proud of her mother, but to have rarely mentioned her father. Being left to the care and education of her mother, this does not very strongly corroborate the case which Miss Aikin labours to establish. It does not tell very eloquently for that true affection which she tells us the countess bore towards Addison, and which she endeavours to prove by proving Addison's affection for her, evidenced by his making her his sole executrix, and guardian of his child. By the fruits we must judge of the woman as well as the tree, and the fruit of Lady Warwick's education of her child was, by all accounts, this, — that she left her ashamed of her father the commoner, though an immortal man, and proud of her mother, a lady — and nothing more. There are many stories of the eccentricities and increasing fatuity of poor Miss Addison floating in the village and neighbourhood of Bilton, which may as well die out with time. The disposal of her property marks the tendency of her feelings. Her grandfather, Dr. Lancelot Addison, was a native of Cumberland. There, at the time of Miss Addison making her will, still remained many near and poor relations, whom she entirely passed over, as she had done in her life-time, and bequeathed Bilton to the Honourable John Bridgman Simpson, brother to Lord Bridgman, whose representative is now Earl of Bradford. This gentleman she chose to consider her nearest relation, because her mother's relation, though very near he could not be. Her mother, the countess, was the daughter of Sir Thomas Middleton, of Chirk castle, Denbighshire, by a daughter of Sir Orlando Bridgman; so that this Mr. Bridgman Simpson, a relative of her grandmother, could be no very near relative of her own, while she must have had first cousins of the paternal line in plenty. Those relatives of her own name, and who would have handed down the property, bound up with the name of Addison, as a monument of their family fame, disputed her will, but ineffectually. She is buried there in the chancel of the church, but the gratitude of that aristocratic person on whom, to the prejudice of her own name and blood, she bestowed her whole estate, has never to this hour proved warm enough to furnish a single stone, or a single line, to mark where she lies. As if the name of Addison were something noxious or disgraceful, and should be carefully kept out of all mention which might decide its connexion with Bilton. "The sole daughter of his house and heart" lies buried in that oblivious silence which cannot but be confessed to be a rich piece of poetical justice, though of very unpoetical ingratitude. Soon after Miss Addison's death, the library was removed to London, and in May 1799, was sold by auction for £456 2s. 9d., and Addison's collection of medals for £92 2s. 2d. The poet's screen, drinking cup, teapot, etc. are now in the possession of William Ferdinand Wratislaw, Esq. of Rugby, the descendant of one of the most ancient families in Europe, — no other than the royal family of Bohemia, of which our "good Queen Ann," the wife of Richard II. was a princess; and of which, that is of Mr. Wratislaw, of Rugby, the present head of the house, the young Count Adam Wratislaw, allied to Queen Victoria by his aunt the Princess of Leiningen, is a near relative. They could not be in better hands.
Since Miss Addison's death, the house at Bilton has been successively occupied by Mrs. Brookes and Miss Moore; by Mr. Apperley, the well-known Nimrod of sporting literature; by Sir Charles Palmer, Bart.; by the Vernon family; by the Misses Boddington; and lastly, by Mr. Simpson himself. Mr. Simpson has considerably improved the house, rebuilding the back part facing the garden; but, on the other hand, he cut down a considerable part of a fine avenue of limes, stretching along one side of the garden down to a wood below, called Addison's Walk. This avenue is said to have been planted by Addison, and terminated in a clump of evergreens, where was an alcove called Addison's Seat. It was not till about half this avenue was felled, that Mr. Simpson heard that it was Addison's Walk, and caused the destruction to stop. He is now a very old man, and has not resided at Bilton since the death of his wife. The house is, however, furnished; and after reading Miss Aikin's statement, that "a small number of pictures collected by Addison, still, it is believed, remain in the house, which are mostly portraits of his cotemporaries, and intrinsically of small value," how great was my delight and surprise to find what and how many these paintings were! But let us make a more regular approach to this gem of an old house, to the actual country seat of our "dear short-face" the Spectator.
Issuing from Rugby, Bilton salutes you from the hill on the opposite side of the valley which you have to cross in order to reach it. A lofty mass of trees, on a fine airy elevation; a small grey church with finely tapering spire in front of them, shew you where Bilton lies; but house or village you do not discern till you are close upon them. It was not till I had approached within a few hundred yards of Addison's house, or the hall; as it is called, that I saw the cottages of the village stretching away to my right hand; and a carriage road diverging to my left towards the church, brought me within view of the house; there it stood in the midst of the fine old trees. A villager informed me that no one lived there but the gardener, nor had done for years. The autumn had dyed all the trees with its rich and yet melancholy hues; they strewed the ground in abundance, and there was a feeling of solitude and desertion about the place which was by no means out of keeping, when I reflected that I was approaching the house of Addison, so long quitted by himself. A fine old avenue of lime-trees, winding with the carriage drive, brought me to the front of the house. It is a true Elizabethan mansion, not too large for a poet, yet large enough for any country gentleman who is not overdone with his establishment. The front of the main portion is lofty, handsome, and in excellent repair. A projecting tower runs up from the porch to the roof. Over the door is cut, in freestone, some mathematical or masonic sign — a circle enclosing two triangles; and near the top is the date of 1623. On the right hand, a wing of lower buildings runs forward from the main erection, forming, as it were, one side of a court. These buildings turn their gables towards you, and are covered with ivy. On the left hand, but standing back in a stable-yard, are the out-buildings, seeming, however, to balance the whole fabric, and giving it an air of considerable extent. All round, adjoining the buildings and along the avenue, grow evergreens in tall and luxuriant masses.
On the other side of the house lies the old garden, retaining all the characters of a past age. The centre consists of a fine lawn; the upper part of which, near the house, has recently been laid out in fancy flower beds, in the form of a star, and corner beds to make up the square. The rest appears as it might be when Addison left it. On the right a square-cut holly hedge divides it from the fields, which are scattered with lofty trees, amongst which are foreign oaks, said to be raised from acorns brought home by the poet. To the left, the garden is bounded by a still more massy square-clipped hedge of yew, opening half-way down into a large kitchen garden, being at the same time at the upper end an old Dutch flower garden. At the far side of this garden, opposite to the entrance through the yew hedge, is an alcove, and down that side extends the lime avenue, called Addison's Walk. At the bottom of this garden are fishponds, and in the field below an oak wood. Thus amidst lofty trees, some of them strong, old and crooked, presenting a scene worthy of making part of a picture of Claude Lorraine, you look down over the garden to rich fields descending into the country below. At the bottom right-hand corner is an alcove, shut in by a group of evergreen shrubs and pine-trees from the house, but overlooking the fields and woodlands, called Addison's Seat; and a very pleasant seat it is, full of quiet retirement. Such is the exterior of Bilton. The interior of the main part of the house consists principally of two large rooms, a dining and drawing room. These extend quite through, are lighted at each end, and the projection in front forms a sort of little cabinet in each room. These two fine large rooms are hung round with the paintings placed here by Addison: whether they are few and of no intrinsic value will soon be seen.
In the dining room are, first, full-lengths of James I, by Mark Garrard; Lord Crofts, Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, by Balthazar Gerbier; the Duke of Hamilton, Henry Rich, Earl of Warwick, Prince Rupert, and Prince Maurice, all by Vandyck; Sir Thomas Middleton, the Countess of Warwick's father, by Sir Peter Lely; and in the small division in front of the room, Chief Justice the Earl of Nottingham, by Michael Dahl; Mr. Secretary Craggs, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, a man of fair complexion, and handsome, amiable countenance, in a light bright blue dress; Sir John Vanburgh, by Verelst; and Lord Halifax, by Kneller. These are chiefly three-quarter figures.
On the staircase is one of the four well-known equestrian Charles the Firsts, by Vandyck, the horse by Stone, one of which is at Hampton Court, and another at Warwick Castle. Opposite to it is a full-length figure of Anne of Austria, Queen of France, by Mignard.
In the drawing room, a full-length figure of a lady, labelled as Lady Isabel Thynne, daughter of the Earl of Holland, has a bit of paper stuck behind it by some artist, stating that at Knowle there is a precisely similar picture marked as Lady Frances Grenfield, daughter of the Earl of Middleton, and fifth Countess of Dorset; as well as a copy of it, likewise, at Knowle. Next to this is a singular picture, which might be one of Lely's, but bears no name of the artist. There is an exact fac-simile of it at Penshurst. It contains two half-length figures of Lady Lucy Percy, Countess of Carlisle, and Lady Dorothy Percy, Countess of Leicester, two of the most flattered and remarkable women of the day, and the latter the mother of Algernon Sidney; next is the Duke of Northumberland, their father, by Lely; and full lengths of the unfortunate Arabella Stuart, a very pretty and interesting looking woman, and Rich. Earl of Holland, by Vandyck. On the opposite side of the room are the Countess of Warwick, Addison's wife, by Kneller, in a bright blue dress. She is here represented as decidedly handsome, having a high broad forehead, dark hair falling in natural ringlets, and with a sweet expression of countenance. To her right is her son, Lord Warwick, as a boy of twelve or fourteen years old, also in a light blue dress, and red scarf, by Dahl. On her left is a head of Lord Kensington, by Lely. A mother and daughter in two separate pictures, supposed to be by Lely; and the Earl of Warwick again as a boy.
Within the small department of the room, we find a half-length of Addison himself, also in light blue, which seems the almost universal colour of Kneller's drapery. He appears here about forty years of age, his figure fuller, and the countenance more fleshy and less spiritual than in either of the portraits at Holland-house and Northwick. Besides this, there is another portrait of the Earl of Warwick, by Kneller, as a young man; a head of Gustavus Adolphus, by Meirveldt; and lastly of the heiress of the house, Miss Addison herself. She is here a child, nor is there any one of her of a later age. If this portrait of her was done during Addison's life, it must have been represented as older than she really was; she could not be much more than two, and here she appears at least five years of age. It is a full length. The child stands by a table, on which is a basket of flowers, and she holds a pink flower in her hand against her bosom. She has the air of an intelligent child, and, as usual, wears one of Kneller's light blue draperies, with a lace-bordered apron, and stomacher of the same.
Such are the paintings at Bilton. They include a most interesting group of the friends and cotemporaries of Addison, besides others. It is a rare circumstance that they have been permitted to remain there, when his library and his medals have been dispersed. Altogether Bilton is one of the most satisfactory specimens of the homes and haunts of our departed literary men.
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 an half H. The projection in the centre, 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 ever 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, woollen 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 likeness 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 an 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, down stairs, 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 sate 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 Shee; 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 Jeffery, and others. In the left wing is placed the colossal model of the statue of Charles Fox, which stands in Bloomsbury Square.
In the gardens are various memorials of distinguished men. Amongst 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 honour of the same poet, by Mr. Luttrell. There is also in the same garden, and opposite this alcove, a bronze 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 overheard, 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, though not positively known, is supposed to be the present dining room, being then the state bed-room. The young Earl of Warwick, to whom he there addressed the emphatic words — "See in what peace a Christian can die!" died also, himself, in 1721, but two years afterwards. The estate then devolved to Lord Kensington, descended from Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick, who sold it, about 1762, to the Right Honourable Henry Fox, afterwards Lord Holland. Here the early days of the great statesman, Charles James, were passed; and here lived the late patriotic translator of Lope de Vega, amid the society of the first spirits of the age. It has been rumoured that the present amiable and intelligent possessor, his son, contemplated pulling down this venerable and remarkable mansion. Such a thought never did and never could for a moment enter his mind, which feels too proudly the honours of intellect and taste, far above all mere rank, which there surround his name and family.