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[Leigh Hunt]
[On Political Calumny].
The Examiner  No. 548  (28 June 1818)  411.
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No. 548. SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 1818.

[ ... ] We have spoken of the London and Southwark elections in another place. We omitted however to allude to a scandalous attack which was attempted to be played off against Mr. Waithman, when the Corruptionists were threatened with his success. It was a charge against him of having suffered his own mother to be in want;—a very shocking one certainly, and which, if substantiated, might reasonably have injured his pretensions to legislate in the cause of his fellow-creatures. He utterly denied it however, and dared his accuser to come forward;—nobody came, and it recoiled on the conscience of the inventor. Since this circumstance, we have heard an anecdote of Mr. Waithman, from a quarter totally unconnected with him, which we are happy to relate. A Gentleman happened to meet some time ago with a relation of Mr. Waithman's, who was in some difficulties, and who abstained from applying to him, from a feeling that his applications had already been numerous. The Gentleman, however, much to his honour, measuring the propriety of another application by the real necessity of it, and the good conduct of the necessitous person, went himself to Mr. Waithman; and the latter, after stating that he was not so wealthy as was supposed, but that he would still do what he could, took a little time to enquire into the matter, and on a second interview gave his kinsman, in addition to former sums, a hundred pounds. This is not like a man who would, or could, neglect his own mother.

We have too much reason to believe that charges of this nature, thrown into the teeth of a man who stands opposed to inhumanity and trickery in general, are made with the greatest impudence and hypocrisy by those who most deserve such accusations themselves. It is, unfortunately in one sense, no possible to charge ourselves with any neglect of a parent; but as a specimen of the calumnies directed against those who enrage the world by differing with them, and who will practise neither their want of charity towards others, nor their gross and exclusive indulgence towards themselves, we lay before our readers the following extraordinary accusations. We do not know whether our contempt of their falsity would have allowed us to do this had they been mentioned to us in a different style; but we think we can perceive, that the writer of the letter on the subject is really a well-wisher, and we will give an answer to a single honest and kind person, which we might deny to thousands of malignant accusers and unconscious flatterers, like the Quarterly Reviewers,—miserable gabblers behind walls,—who take care at once to accuse and to exempt,—to endeavour to injure, and to save themselves from the consequences of their falsehood. Our Correspondent, after saying that the Editor of this paper must be astonished— but he had better publish the whole letter at once.

June 11, 1818.

Sir,—If your character really is such as the readers of the Examiner imagine it to be, (and that is the only source from whence I can form a judgment), you must certainly require a key to understand the illiberal attack that is made upon you in the last Number of the Quarterly Review: and to enable you to do so, I inform you, that report speaks of you as a perfect tyrant in your family, and your wife as the most abject of your slaves, (of course not a willing one), that you are so entirely devoted to the gratification of your passions, and so completely given up to sensuality, that no female of your acquaintance is secure from your addresses, for not any ties are considered by you as sacred, if they come in contact with your inclination; and that a sister of Mrs Hunt’s resides with you, who is the mother of at least one child, of which you are the father. When I heard this account, my first thought was to send it to you instantly, in order that I might judge, by the notice you took of it whether it was true; my second dismissed it altogether as a vile fabrication, nor has it ever occurred to my memory since, till I read the article in the Quarterly, where the writer so evidently accuses you of these things, which, if you are innocent of, you certainly cannot comprehend his meaning, that in justice I have been induced to send you every information in my power, to enable you to repel and prove his accusation false. In the hope that you can, and will do so, I remain your sincere


An assailant of all the women that came in his way! A tyrant to his wife! And the father of children by her sister!—Really, the Editor of this paper never knew his prodigious effect on the bigotted and the worldly-minded till now! He was prepared for and has borne a good deal of calumny both real and imaginary, in differing with them; and he has always let it run silently from off him, like rain from a bird’s wings. He must give the present shower a shake, if it is only to oblige his well-wisher. He says, then, that the whole of these charges are most malignantly and ridiculously false, so as to make those who are in habits of intercourse with him alternately give way to indignation and laughter. He knows several ladies, whom he respects and admires, and even (with permission of poor Giffard) likes to see happy; but he believes they are no more afraid of him than of the light at their windows: and as to being a tyrant to his wife, and the father of nieces and nephews,—whatever may be the charity of his opinions, the charge is really a little too ludicrously uncharitable towards them, under all circumstances. He looks at his wife and his family, and shakes his shoulders and their own with laughing,—which, the way, is rather an iniquitous custom of his. It might as well be said of him that he had Mr Giffard’s temper, or used his grandmother’s shin-bone for a switch.