To Holland House came Elizabeth Vassall,
with wealth from her family’s plantations,
She had five children by Sir Geoffrey Webster
and, at twenty three, created quite a stir
when she left him for the third Baron Holland
and his more exalted social station.
She had attributes to surpass them all.
Beautiful if autocratic,
with a warm if calculating heart
though little taste for the democratic,
except a fashionable admiration
for Bonaparte.
Now, with a name aristocratic,
she felt smiled on by indulgent Fates.
Willingly she had exchanged Jamaican darkland
for monogrammed, wrought-iron gates,
and fifty-four acres of wooded parkland!

Lady Holland, Georgian siren
for whom the brightest luminaries of the Age,
Macauley, Scott, Disraeli, Dickens, Byron,
shined their spotlights on her stage;
her garden ballroom (once Jacobean stables),
her imported dahlias, peacocks, chestnut rides,
her liveried servants dispensing punch in ladles
and, no doubt, equivocal asides.

And yet, in not one hundred years,
those same Fates “blind with abhorred shears”
dropped on the House
she had dominated with such aplomb
a German incendiary bomb!

Sic transit.


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