The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 25th

A glass of port for today’s birthday girl:

Elizabeth Vassell Fox, Lady Holland

25th March 1771-1845

Elizabeth had an affair with Henry Fox and gave birth to his child while she was married to her first husband Godfrey Webster. She married Fox immediately following her divorce from Webster and became hostess to many Whig party soirees. She had a reputation for rudeness and domineering, yet she continued to hold parties long after her husband died, which presumably she enjoyed, and people came to, when she no longer had political influence to make them put up with her. She undoubtedly quarreled with people, notably Caroline Lamb, and it was a time for people to air their grievances in public, but equally to sing their praises.

Lady Holland has certainly organised a good system of society—ten people every day at dinner, and a few in the evening, and there is always an author for the good of one’s mind, and a doctor to prevent one’s dropping down dead, and the rest are people who know each other well, and have the same politics.

Emily Eden  May 1833

Elizabeth’s journal for 1791 to 1811 is available on-line as is her travel journal of 1802 and 1805 when she travelled to Spain. Charles Greville described her as

a social light which illuminated and adorned England, and even Europe, for half a century.

Elizabeth was also responsible for dahlias being established as a favourite flower in England, which is something she does need to be forgiven for. Never mind. My favourite quotation from Elizabeth herself:

As nobody can do more mischief to a woman than a woman, so perhaps might one reverse the maxim and say nobody can do more good

NPG D41029; Sampson and Dalilah by John Doyle, published by  Charles Etienne Pierre Motte, after  Thomas McLeanElizabeth Satirised.

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