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PostBenedict Arnold House, London (Nigel Jones, UK, 07/10/18 4:31 am)
I thought I would share this picture with American WAISers. I apologise for the quality (taken with my phone) but I hope it is legible.
I noticed by chance while walking along a road called Gloucester Place in London's West End Marylebone district yesterday an old plaque on No. 62 (now a dental practice) commemorating the residence there of the most notorious traitor/turncoat in US history, Benedict Arnold. The plaque makes no mention of this, but calls him a "patriot" above crossed Union and Stars & Stripes flags.
There is a story that when dying Arnold asked to be buried in his old US uniform, adding: "Would I had never put on another." His children and descendants, I believe, became Brits. I guess there wouldn't be much future for them in the States, with their reviled name.
Coincidentally, I am writing a magazine article about Arnold and other famous turncoats from Warwick the Kingmaker in our Wars of the Roses down to Field Marshal Paulus, commanding the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad, who became a Soviet stooge after his surrender.
Incidentally, exactly opposite Arnold's house is another plaque recording the residence there half a century later of Wilkie Collins, prolific writer and friend of Dickens. With his novels The Woman in White and The Moonstone, Collins was the inventor, together with Edgar Allen Poe, of the crime/mystery/detective genre in fiction.
I love London's custom of adorning houses where the famous lived and died with these plaques. Does America do the same?
Finally, 89 years to the day after Arnold died (June 14, 1801), my own father was born in London. It doesn't seem so distant.
JE comments: Today's WAIS is kicking off with historic houses. Photo below. "X lived/slept here" plaques are common in the US, too, although we have to make do with less history.
Let us know when the article comes out, Nigel! Fascinating topic. Might we say that vilifying traitors is a cultural universal? Everyone hates a turncoat, even when they cross over to your side.
Gloucester Place, London
"This Island is a Little Paradise"
(John Heelan, UK
07/11/18 4:54 PM)
Nigel Jones (10 July) might like to add to his list of house-adorning plaques those on the Island [Isle of Wight, JE].
One such plaque remembers the stay of Karl Marx, who rented a house at 1 St Boniface Gardens for the winters of 1881-2 and 1882-3, having written to Engels after his first visit that "this island is a little paradise." Marx was/is right.
Another interesting local plaque is that adorning the house in St. Helens where c. 1795 - 1840, Baronne (Baroness) de Feuchères by marriage, was an English "adventuress" best known as a mistress of Louis Henry II, Prince of Condé. Daughter of Dickie Daws, local smuggler and drunk, she grew up in a workhouse later working in a London brothel. She made lucrative marriages and was termed "Queen of Chantilly."
"Adventuress" was a benign description, as she was later dismissed from the French King's court who described her witheringly as "naught more than a commoner street-wench yet tragically bereft of any skills of the trade." One wonders how he knew!
JE comments: Two extremely memorable individuals. Karl Marx may have missed his true calling: travel writer!