LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The “Pope” of Holland House
John Whishaw to Thomas Smith, 18 December 1819

Chapter I: 1813
Chapter II: 1814
Chapter III: 1815
Chapter IV: 1816
Chapter V: 1817
Chapter VI: 1818
Chapter VII: 1819
Chapter VIII: 1820
Chapter IX: 1821
Chapter X: 1822
Chapter XI: 1824-33
Chapter XII: 1833-35
Chapter XIII: 1806-40
Chapter XIV: Appendix
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Produced by CATH
Dec. 18th.

When I said that I considered the meeting of the 18th of August to be illegal, I meant that the Judges would certainly hold it to be so, and that they would have sufficient authorities for that opinion. It must be observed, however, that the law respecting tumultuous meetings, and the right of the magistrates

1 Publication of anonymous pamphlet, “A Trifling Mistake,” for which he was prosecuted for breach of privilege.

to interfere, is unfortunately rather vague, and ought to be settled by some definitive enactments. The poor people who were assembled and the principal actors in the meeting certainly thought they were acting legally, and were justified in their opinion by the acquiescence of Government in what had passed at Smithfield and other places.

The Opposition have certainly been of great use in modifying the restrictive measures of the Government. In their present shape, with some exceptions, they are not on the whole very objectionable. Lord Castlereagh’s partial and qualified acquiescence in Lord J. Russell’s motion1 was very gratifying, and a great surprise to the House. It was an approach, though a very slight one, to the principles of Parliamentary reform. But I do not believe that the Bill will be suffered to pass.

I am much concerned for Hobhouse, though he is probably fortunate in having escaped an Information by the Attorney-General, which would have been followed by an imprisonment for two years. I consider what has passed as a vindictive act, on the part of Canning, in return for the anonymous letter; Wortley and Courtenay being his particular friends, and the latter entirely his dependent. In the late number of the Quarterly Review there is an attack upon Hobhouse unquestionably from the same quarter.

I am glad you are so much pleased with Lord J. Russell’s book, which is very creditable to him.2 A work on the East by Mr. Henry Hope has been

1 For the disfranchisement of Grampound.

2 The Life of William, Lord Russell.

lately published, called “
Anastatius,” the fictitious history of a Greek interspersed with anecdotes and observations collected by the author during his travels. I have a great dislike to such mixtures of truth and fiction, which have usually the effect of spoiling both. The present work seems to be an exception to this general remark.

I am obliged to conclude, being surrounded by the young Romillys, who are just come from school, and are going into Wales on Monday.

Much is said about the Prince’s divorce being brought forward in Parliament. His Royal Highness is much bent upon it, but Lord Liverpool and the Chancellor are disinclined to it, and I think the latter will prevail, but time is not propitious.