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To staid pedestrians sacred is the shade
Kensington Church is situate in the centre of the village,—or town as it might more properly be termed, and is a plain structure, with a low embattled tower of brick, surmounted by a wooden turret. This parish boasted a “Vicar of Bray,” in the person of one Thomas Hodges, collated to the living by Archbishop Juxon ; he kept his preferment during the civil war and interregnum, by joining alternately with either party; although a frequent preacher before the Long Parliament, and one of the Assembly of
Divines, he was made Dean of Hereford after the Restoration, but continued to his death Vicar of Kensington.
William Courten, the traveller and naturalist, who amassed in various countries a large collection of antiquities and natural curiosities, with which he fitted up a museum said to have occupied ten rooms in the Middle Temple, is buried here; and his name is worthy of record, from the fact that the bequest of his collection to Sir Hans Sloane was the nucleus of the British Museum.
The family of Rich, Earls of Warwick and Holland, and Barons of Kensington, have monuments in this church. There is also a monument to the memory of Francis Colman, British Minister at Florence, and father of George Colman the elder, who is interred here. This witty and eccentric character was educated at Westminster School, and afterwards became a barrister of Lincoln's Inn; but relinquished the drudgery of the law for pursuits more congenial to his nature. George Colman the elder is known to the world both as a classical scholar and dramatic writer. He translated the plays of Terence, and the Art of Poetry of Horace; his dramatic reputation rests chiefly upon the “ Jealous Wife,” and the “Clandestine Marriage,” in which last he was assisted by Garrick. His theatrical management began with Covent Garden theatre; but after a few years he became sole patentee of the Haymarket, and so continued until his death. James Elphinstone, who translated Martial, better known as the friend of Dr. Johnson, with whose concurrence he published an Edinburgh edition of “The Rambler,” kept a school for many years, first at Brompton, and afterwards at Kensington.
Holland House, an ancient and noble mansion, erected by Sir Walter Cope, father-in-law of the Earl of Holland, in the reign of James I., and affording a fine example of the architecture of that period, takes its name from one of the family of Rich, sometime Earls of Holland.
In this mansion is a celebrated chamber, called the Gilt-room, still remaining in its original state, presenting a very favourable example of the art of interior decoration in that day. The wainscot is in compartments, ornamented with crosslets and fleurs-de-lis, with the arms of the families of Rich and Cope, and the punning motto, Ditior est qui se—“Who more rich than he ?”
The library is about one hundred and five feet in length, the collection of
books extensive and valuable; the rooms are adorned with busts and pictures. The grounds include about three hundred acres, of which sixty-three are disposed in pleasure-grounds. Over a rural seat is inscribed the following couplet, from the pen of the late Lord Holland, whose literary tastes and acquirements are generally known :
“ Here Rogers sat; and here for ever dwell
With me those Pleasures' that he sang so well.”
A tribute so pleasing, so considerate, and so just to the
just to the memory of the social and conversational excellences of this amiable nobleman, has been paid by an intimate friend well calculated to do the memory of Lord Holland every justice, that we imagine, especially as it is an agreeable picture of manners in high literary life, that portion of it more particularly associated with Holland House may be acceptable to some of our readers.
Speaking of the mansion, the writer eloquently, and we fear prophetically, says :-“Yet a few years, and the shades and structures may follow their illustrious masters. The wonderful city which, ancient and gigantic as it is, still continues to grow as a young town of logwood by a water privilege in Michigan, may soon displace those turrets and gardens, which are associated
with so much that is interesting and noble; with the courtly magnificence of Rich, with the loves of Ormond, with the counsels of Cromwell, with the death of Addison. The time is coming when perhaps a few old men, the last survivors of our generation, will in vain seek, amid new streets, and squares, and railway stations, for the site of that dwelling, which in their youth was the favourite resort of wits and beauties, of painters and poets, of scholars, philosophers, and statesmen; they will then remember with strange tenderness many objects familiar to them—the avenue and terrace, the busts and the paintings, the carving, the grotesque gilding, and the enigmatical mottoes. With peculiar tenderness they will recall that venerable chamber, in which all the antique gravity of a college library was so singularly blended with all that female grace and wit could devise to embellish a drawing-room. They will recollect, not unmoved, those shelves loaded with the varied learning of many lands and many ages; those portraits, in which were preserved the features of the best and wisest Englishmen of two generations: they will recollect how many men, who have guided the politics of Europe, who have moved great assemblies by reason and eloquence, who have put life into bronze or canvas, or who have left to posterity things so written that it will not willingly let them die, were there mixed with all that is loveliest and gayest in the society of the most splendid of capitals. They will remember the singular character which belonged to that circle, in which every talent and accomplishment, every art and science, had its place. They will remember how 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. They will remember, above all, the grace, and the kindness far more admirable than
with which the princely hospitality of that ancient mansion was dispensed; they will remember the venerable and benignant countenance and the cordial voice of him who bade them welcome; they will remember that temper, which years of sickness, of lameness, of confinement, seemed only to make sweeter and sweeter ; and that frank politeness, which at once relieved all the embarrassment of the youngest and most timid writer or artist, who found himself for the first time among ambassadors and earls. They will remember that, in the last lines which he traced, he expressed his joy that
he had done nothing unworthy of the friend of Fox and Grey; and they will have reason to feel similar joy, if, in looking back on many troubled years, they cannot accuse themselves of having done anything unworthy of men who were distinguished by the friendship of Lord Holland.”
On the death of the last Lord Holland of the Rich family, this mansion descended through the female line to William Edwardes, created Lord Kensington; and was sold by him to Henry Fox, whose family is now ennobled by the title of Lord Holland.
Holland House is rich in historical and classical associations. The celebrated Earl of Holland, who suffered death for his attachment to his Royal master Charles I., after having sided alternately with him and the Parliament, was imprisoned here in his own house, once by the king, and again by the House of Commons.
Addison became possessed of Holland House by his marriage with the Countess Dowager of Warwick and Holland. Whatever prestige he might have acquired by this alliance, it does not seem much to have augmented his store of happiness. It was remarked by the author of an Essay on Addison's life and writings, that "Holland House is a large mansion; but it cannot contain Mr. Addison, the Countess of Warwick, and one guest, Peace.” The poet died at Holland House. He had formerly been tutor to the young Earl of Warwick, and tried anxiously, but in vain, to check the licentiousness of his pupil's manners. As a last effort, he requested him to come into his room when he lay at the point of death, hoping that the solemnity of the scene might work upon his feelings. When the young nobleman came to receive his commands, his expiring friend stretched out his hand, and told him that he had sent for him “to see how a Christian could die.”
Addison is buried in Westminster Abbey, near the entrance to the north aisle of Henry the Seventh's Chapel. There is, we regret to say, no tablet, monument, or inscription, to his memory.
Tickell, the poet, never wrote to more advantage than when his muse, inspired by the memory of his friendship with Addison, thus elegantly apostrophised the former residence of his friend and benefactor :
" Thou hill, whose brow the antique structures grace,
Reared by bold chiefs of Warwick's noble race ;