Lord Shelburne

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There was a reference to the new house in Lady Shelburne's Diary, where on 14th January 1760 she wrote: "Lord Dunmore breakfasted here, and went afterwards with Lord Shelburne to the new house in Berkeley Square."

Although Lord Shelburne gave a sort of house-warming in his new possession on 1st August 1760, it was still in an unfinished state, as Lady Shelburne's Diary contains this entry for 20th August of the same year:

"I had the pleasure of coming to Shelburne House, from where I continue this diary. My Lord was just going to the Council, as I arrived, with Lord Granby; we had some little conversation upon the steps, and I had full time to walk over and examine the house. It is very noble and I am much pleased with it, though perhaps few people would have come to live in it in so unfinished a state."

Although Lord Shelburne held various high offices and was Prime Minister in 17823, being created Marquis of Lansdowne in the following year - and although, as McCarthy said, "most of his political ideas were in advance of his time, and his personal friendships prove him to have been a man of appreciative intelligence" - it seems to have been his misfortune rather than his fault that he could never attain a reputation for sincerity.

Also, considering that Dr. Priestley was Librarian at Lansdowne House in the time of Lord Shelburne, it is perhaps not surprising that Lord Brougham constituted its chief glory. The passage in the life of Priestley can, mutatis mutandis, be compared with Gibbon's more celebrated apotheosis of Fielding:

"With whatever difference of sentiment statesmen may at any time view Lansdowne House, the lovers of science in the latest ages will gaze with veneration on that magnificent pile, careless of its architectural beauties but grateful for the light which its illustrious founder caused to beam from there over the whole range of natural knowledge; and after the structure shall have yielded to the fate of all human works, the ground on which it once stood, consecrated to far other recollections than those of conquest or power, will be visited by the pilgrim of philosophy with a deeper fervour than any that fills the bosom near the Forum or the Capitol of ancient Rome."

Although Brougham made this statement with regard to Priestley alone, it is unlikely when he wrote it that he anticipated the illustrious people in all walks of life who would subsequently live near the third Marquis of Lansdowne in Berkeley Square.

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