lord house time party uncle charles family
HOLLAND, HENRY Ricaunn VASSALL Fox, THIRD BARON (1773-1840), nephew of Charles James Fox and only son of Stephen Fox, second Lord Holland, was born at Winterslow House, Wiltshire, 21st November 1773. Of his ancestry an account is given in the article Fox (CtiAntEs JAMES). Not long after his birth he was with difficulty saved from the flames which destroyed the splendid family mansion in which he was born. When little more than a year old he succeeded, through the death of his father, to the peerage. On the death of his mother in his fifth year, the care of his early education nominally devolved upon her brother, the earl of Upper Ossory, but the character of his early training and studies was determined chiefly by his uncle Charles James Fox, of whom he wrote - " He seemed to take pleasure in awakening my ambition, and directing it both by conversation and correspondence, and yet more by talking to me of my studies and inspiring me with a love of poetry both ancient and modern." After spending eight or nine years at Eton, where he had as contemporaries J. Hookham Frere, Mr Canning, and Frederick Howard, fifth earl of Carlisle, he in 1790 entered Christ Church College, Oxford. Though the years of his early manhood were occupied more in amusement than in study, he acquired at school and the university a taste for classical literature which he more fully cultivated in after life. Before taking his seat in the House of Lords, he made two tours on the Continent, - in 1 1791, while still a student at Oxford, visiting Paris about the time when Louis XVI. accepted the revolutionary constitution ; and in 1793 making a prolonged stay in Spain, where he began the study of its language and literature. Thence he went in 1795 to Italy; and at Florence he ' formed the acquaintance of Lady Webster, wife of Sir Godfrey Webster, whom after her divorce from her husband who received £6000 damages in the action against Lord Holland - he married in 1797. After the marriage he assumed his wife's family name of Vassal], but its use was discontinued by his son, the fourth and last Lord Holland.
Lord Holland's early inheritance of a peerage must be regarded rather as a misfortune than an advantage, for it debarred him from a career in the House of Commons which might have proved as brilliant as that of his uncle Charles Fox, and raised him to an assembly, not only more listless and much less numerous, but where at the time he entered it the Whiff° party, of whose principles the influence of his uncle had induced him to become a strenuous supporter, could muster only a minority of six or seven in a house of eighty or ninety. He began his political career by a motion against the Assessed Tax Bill, and though his speech had, as was to be expected, no influence on the division, it proved that lie had inherited the oratorical abilities of his family, and pointed him out as the leader of his uncle's supporters in the Upper House. As his disapproval of most of the proceedings of the House of Lords was recorded by protests, his copiousness in this species of composition has perhaps never been equalled. These protests were afterwards collected and published by D. C. INIoylan under the title The Opinions of Lord Holland as recorded in the Journals of the House of Lords, from 1797 to 1841 (London, 1841), and, besides constituting, as they necessarily do, a full though condensed account of his political views and opinions, form one of the most authentic and original records of the course of Whig policy during the years to which they refer. After the peace of Amiens in 1802 Lord Holland proceeded to Paris, whence he went to Spain, staying in that country until the declaration of war in January 1805, when he returned to England. Of this second visit to Spain he doubtless took advantage for the purpose of acquiring a more complete mastery of the Spanish language and literature, and the fruit of this was seen by the publication in 1807 of The Life and Writings of Lope Felix de Vega Carpio, and in 1808 of Three Comedies from the Spanish. When the ministry of "Al] the Talents " came into office in 1806, Lord Holland was made a privy councillor, and was appointed along with Lord Auckland to negotiate with the American plenipotentiaries that treaty the refusal of whose ratification by Mr Jefferson resulted in the subsequent war with America. On the death of Mr Fox, 15th October following, Lord Holland received the privy seal, holding office till the dismissal of the ministry in 1807. When the Spaniards rebelled against the French yoke in 1808, Lord Holland's interest in the country induced him to pay it a third visit. He landed at Corunna almost simultaneously with the division of the British army under Sir David Baird, and did not return to England till the close of 1809. During the long period when the Whigs were excluded from power Lord Holland continued to afford them his strenuous and steady support. He did not join the Canning ministry of 1827, but when the Whigs were recalled in 1830 he became chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, an office which, with the exception of two short intervals when his party were temporarily excluded from power, he continued to hold till his death at Holland House, 22d October 1810.
Although Lord Holland for the greater period of his life had to lead the forlorn hope of his party in the House of Lords, his influence on the polities of his country was of an importance far beyond what was manifest at the time, and without his persistent support in parliament and his aid in maintaining his party's courage and discipline, the triumph of many of the measures he advocated would in all probability not hive been so speedy and complete. Few have been more closely identified with all the great political changes of the first half of the present century, more especially the extension of the suffrage, the abrogation of Catholic disabilities, the abolition of the Test and Corporation Acts, the repeal of the corn laws, and the repression of the slave trade. A sympathizer with the French Revolution, he differed from his party in his admiration and esteem for Napoleon, against whose imprisonment he protested as an outrageous violation both of good faith and of what was due to fallen greatness. The character of Lord Holland's oratory very closely resembled that of his uncle Charles Fox, and was inferior to it only perhaps because his natural indolence was not counteracted by the stimulus of a popular assembly encouraging him to a more careful study of the art of eloquence, and affording him more adequate opportunities for its display. He excelled principally in close reasoning rendered clear and easy of apprehension by copious illustration, and - as was to be expected from the fact that he trusted little to previous preparation - was more happy in reply than in original statement. The effect of the best passages of his speeches was often marred by a more aggravated form of that tendency to hesitation which was one of the principal oratorical defects of Fox, the rush of ideas seeming to be too rapid to permit him to select with ease from his copious vocabulary the word most appropriate for his purpose. According to Lord Brougham - " The same delicate sense of humour which distinguished Mr Fox he also showed, and much of the exquisite Attic wit which formed so large and so effective a portion of that great orator's argumentation, never uselessly introduced, always adapted nicely to the occasion, always aiding and as it were directing the reasoning." The language both of his spoken and written style was graceful, pure, flowing, and vigorous, and entirely devoid of extravagance, singularity, or affectation. In addition to his poetical translations, he was the author of fugitive verses of some elegance. Two of his works were published posthumously by his son Henry Edward, fourth Lord Holland - Foreign Reminiscences (1850), and Memoirs of the Whig Party during my Time (2 vols. 1852-54).
It is, however, as the restorer of Holland House, and as the host of the brilliant company which he there assembled, that Lord Holland in all probability will be chiefly remembered by posterity. Though his temper was quick and excitable, his amiable disposition rendered his manners in private uniformly cordial and engaging. His conversation, easy, unconstrained, and of great variety both as to manner and matter, was enlivened by a peculiarly genial wit, and a never-failing supply of racy anecdote to which his powers of mimicry gave additional point and zest. The width of his sympathies and his manifold acquirements enabled him to enjoy the society of persons of every species of intellectual eminence. Holland House, which owes its name to Henry Rich, first earl of Holland, - who was no relation of the Fox family, - and which had been afterwards the home of Addison and of other tenants of various kinds of distinction, was restored by Lord Holland in a manner worthy of the company of European statesmen, artists, and men of letters, of which it became the common meeting-place. Much of the attraction of these brilliant gatherings was due to the management and personal influence of Lady Holland, who had the peculiar gift of making herself both feared and fascinating at the same time. Of her the Princess Liechtenstein writes - " Beautiful, clever, and well-informed, she exercised a natural authority over those around her. But a habit of contradiction - which, it is fair to add, she did not mind being reciprocated upon herself - occasionally lent animation, not to say animosity, to the arguments in which she engaged. It is easy for some natures to say a disagreeable thing, but it is not always easy to carry a disagreeable thing off cleverly. This Lady Holland could do."
See Macaulay's Essays ; Brougham's Statesmen. of the Time of George III. and /V; ; Royward's Essays ; Sir Henry Holiand's Recollections ; and Ifollanq _House, by Princess :]uric Liechtenstein, 2 vols., 1874.