Holland House

AFTER their return from the Continent in the late 1790s and a parliamentary inquiry in to the minor scandal of their marriage, Henry Richard Fox, third Baron Holland, and his wife Elizabeth (née Vassal), Lady Holland, moved into the property just outside London that became Holland House. From then until Fox’s death in 1840, the house was a social and political focus for Foxite or liberal Whiggism: ‘the last debate was discussed in one corner, and the last comedy of Scribe in another’ while Wilkie gazed with modest admiration on Reynolds’ Baretti; while Mackintosh turned over Thomas Aquinas to verify a quotation; while Talleyrand related his conversations with Barras at the Luxembourg or his ride with Lannes over the field of Austerlitz’. Under Lady Holland’s sometime imperious orchestration, every meal was an opportunity for wit and debate. Edinburgh contributor and ideologue, John Allen, resided there as the Hollands’ physician and major domo and Sydney Smith and James Mackintosh were regulars while living in London, as was the Italian exile Ugo Foscolo, who also wrote for the Edinburgh. Holland also enjoyed the power of patronage conferred upon him as a birthright, and used it to help launch a number of subsequently successful careers – amongst them Horner, Brougham, and Macaulay, all of them central to the Edinburgh enterprise.


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