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Duchess, but who, there is every reason to believe, was her daughter by her royal lover.
At his house in Upper Grosvenor Street died, in 1765, William, Duke of Cumberland, memorable for the atrocities which he committed after the battle of Culloden; and in Grosvenor Street also breathed her last, in 1730, the frail, the beautiful, and warm-hearted actress, Mrs. Oldfield. Her corpse, having been decorated with fine Brussels lace, "a holland shift with a tucker and double ruffles of the same lace, and a pair of new kid gloves," was conveyed from her house in Grosvenor Street to the Jerusalem Chamber at Westminster, from whence, having lain in state during the day, it was carried at eleven o'clock at night to the Abbey, Lord De la Warr, Lord Hervey, Bubb Dodington, and other gentlemen supporting the pall.*
Running parallel with Upper Grosvenor Street is Upper Brook Street, remarkable for one of the most lamentable fires which occurred in London during the last century. Horace Walpole writes to Marshal Conway, on the 6th of May, 1763,“I must tell you of the most dismal calamity that ever happened. Lady Molesworth's house in Upper Brook Street was burnt to the ground between four and five this morning. She herself, two of her daughters, her brother, and six servants, perished. Two other of the young ladies jumped out of the two-pair of stairs and garret windows; one broke her thigh, the other (the eldest of all) broke her's too,
* Biog. Brit. Art. Oldfield.
and has bad it cut off. The fifth daughter is much burnt; the French governess leaped from the garret and was dashed to pieces ; Dr. Molesworth and his wife, who were there on a visit, escaped; the wife by jumping from the two pair of stairs, and saving herself by a rail, -he by hanging by his hands till a second ladder was brought, after a first had proved too short. Nobody knows how or where the fire began ; the catastrophe is shocking beyond what one ever heard, and poor Lady Molesworth, whose character and conduct were the most amiable in the world, is universally lamented.” It was to the credit of George the Third, that immediately upon hearing of this dreadful calamity, he sent the surviving young ladies a handsome present; ordered a house to be immediately prepared for their reception at his own expense; and not only continued to them a pension which had been enjoyed by their mother, but ordered it to be increased by two hundred pounds a year.
Crossing Oxford Street, we soon find ourselves in Portman Square, which was built about the year 1764, but of which I know little that is interesting, except that Montague House, the large house which stands alone at the north-west corner, was once the residence of the well-known Mrs. Montague, the Madame du Deffand of her day. Here, once a year, she feasted the chimney-sweepers in the garden of Montague House; here assembled the wit, the rank, and the talent of the last century; and here was the apartment, covered with
feather-hangings, which Cowper has rendered so celebrated ;
The birds put off their every hue,
And river-blanched, the swan his snow, &c. &c. Seymour Street, and Wigmore Street lead us into Cavendish Square. It is curious to find how, almost entirely, the streets in this vicinity have derived their names from the Harleys, Earls of Oxford, and from the different families with which they have intermarried. From the earldom of Mortimer and the barony of Harley of Wigmore, we trace the names of Mortimer Street, Harley Street, and Wigmore Street; from the marriage of Edward, second Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, with Henrietta Cavendish, daughter and heiress of John Holles, Duke of Newcastle, we derive Edward Street, Henrietta Street, Cavendish Square, and Holles Street; from the union of their only child, Margaret, to William Bentinck, second Duke of Portland, we trace Margaret Street, Bentinck Street, Duke and Duchess Street, and Portland Place; and, lastly, we derive Bulstrode Street from the family seat of the Dukes of Portland, and Welbeck Street from an estate formerly in the possession of the Dukes of Newcastle, which came into the possession of the Harleys, by the marriage
of the last female descendant of the former to the second Earl of Oxford.
Cavendish Square was built about the year 1718. Here Lady Mary Wortley Montagu held her court, composed of youth, rank, and beauty, before her long absence from England, * and, at the corner house of the Square and Harley Street, the Princess Amelia, daughter of George the Second, lived and died. In the same house afterwards lived Mr. Hope, the author of " Anastasius,” and subsequently Mr. Watson Taylor.
Harley Street, and other streets to the north, were not built till many years after the erection of Cavendish Square. This site was formerly known as Harley Fields, and, as late as 1768, we find thousands of persons assembling here in the open air to listen to the exhortations of the eminent preacher Whitfield. About the same time we find the celebrated John Wesley preaching on “execution days” on Kennington Common. In Harley Street lived Sir Philip Francis, previous to his removal to St. James's Square.
The streets, in the vicinity of Cavendish Square, furnish the names of several persons of celebrity who formerly resided in them. In Bentinck Street lived Gibbon the historian, and in Holles Street resided the mother of Lord Byron, and here the great poet was born in January 1788.9 Martha
• “ Letters and Works of Lady M. W. Montagu.” + “Correspondence of Henrietta, Countess of Suffolk." † “Miscellaneous Works." $ Moore's "Life of Byron." VOL. I.
Blount, beloved and immortalized by Pope, lived in Welbeck Street ;* in this street Lord George Gordon was residing at the time of the celebrated riots which bear his name; and here died, in 1769, at the age of ninety-seven, Edmund Hoyle, author of the famous treatise on the game of whist.
Castle Street, Cavendish Square, is interesting from having been the residence of two men of genius, Dr. Johnson and Barry the painter, who lived here, at different times, in the days of their distress. Opposite to Dr. Johnson's humble lodgings resided two sisters of the name of Cotterell. Sir Joshua Reynolds, then scarcely known to fame, was their frequent visitor, and at the house of the maiden ladies commenced the friendship between Johnson and Reynolds, which only terminated with their lives. “Sir Joshua,” says Boswell, “ told me a pleasant characteristical anecdote of Johnson about the time of their first acquaintance. When they were one evening together at the Miss Cotterells', the then Duchess of Argyle and another lady of high rank came in. Johnson, thinking that the Miss Cotterells were too much engrossed by them, and that he and his friend were neglected, as low company of whom they were somewhat ashamed, grew angry; and resolving to shock their supposed pride, by making their great visitors imagine that his friend and he were low indeed, he addressed
* Pope, in his will, speaks of her as Mrs. Martha Blount, late of Welbeck Street, Cavendish Square.