No. 45 Berkeley Square

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Around the beginning of the 20th century No. 45 Berkeley Square was the town house of the Earl of Powis. It appears to have been one of the first to be erected in the square, and, along with the adjoining house (later Mildmay's), was built by Kent. In Boyle (1795) it is numbered No. 8.

The house was distinguishable not only by the link extinguishers which flanked the doorway, but also as being one of the few London houses, if not the only one, which bore the name of the owner, not being a professional man, on a brass plate on the door itself.


No. 45 Berkeley Square also has another, more sombre claim to fame, as it was here that Lord Clive ended his great career. The man who, as it has been expressed, "could boast that between the ages of twenty-four and forty-four he had saved a province, conquered a kingdom, and substituted in the management of its affairs order for anarchy and justice for violence," committed suicide on 22nd November 1774.

According to his biographer, he had for a long time been taking large doses of laudanum for a painful internal disorder, and for some days before his death, paroxysms of agony had caused him to swallow still larger quantities.

Therefore it may well be assumed that the remedy, while alleviating the pain, produced a mental stupor which caused the loss of all self-control, and Macaulay stated that "his strong mind was fast sinking under many kinds of suffering."

It must have been some great despair which caused a man who had done so much and been so great and who had only just completed his fifty-ninth year, to use the razor or penknife with which, according to various accounts, the fatal deed was done.

Walpole, writing from Arlington Street on 23rd November, described the event: "The nation had another great loss last night Lord Clive went off suddenly. He had been sent for to town by some of his Indian friends and died. . . . Lord H. has just been here, and told me the manner of Lord Clive's death. Whatever had happened it had flung him into convulsions, to which he was very subject. Dr. Fothergill gave him, as he had done on like occasions, a dose of laudanum; but the pain was so violent, that he asked for a second dose. Dr. Fothergill said 'if he took another, he would be dead in an hour.' The moment Fothergill was gone, he swallowed another, for another, it seems, stood by him, and he is dead."

Macaulay, in his remarkable essay on Clive, said: "In the awful close of so much prosperity and glory, the vulgar saw only a confirmation of all their prejudices, and some men of real piety and genius so far forgot the maxims both of religion and philosophy, as confidently to ascribe the mournful event to the just vengeance of God, and to the horrors of an evil conscience."

"It is," he adds, "with very different feelings that we contemplate the spectacle of a great mind ruined by the weariness of satiety, by the pangs of wounded honour, by fatal diseases, and more fatal remedies."

No. 45 has been continuously in the possession of Lord Clive's descendants ever since, and this information was kindly passed on by the owner, the Earl of Powis.

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