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The “Pope” of Holland House
John Whishaw to Thomas Smith, 14 February 1820

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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Feb. 14, 1820.

I write a few lines to excuse, or rather to account for, my silence, which has been occasioned partly by business and partly by my having become a Bencher of Gray’s Inn, where I have often dined during term-time, and their hours being early, I am obliged to hurry from the office where I am often kept till near four, and then I have no time to write letters. The society of the Bench table is not particularly good, nor the conversation very enlightened; we are two Whigs (Bell and myself) to about fourteen Tories. But there is great civility and an excellent dinner; and the variety produced by the old customs, the venerable Hall, and the general air of antiquity is altogether very agreeable.

We look shortly for a dissolution of Parliament, which I am afraid will be unfavourable to the Whigs. The country, I am afraid, at present, is in a very different state from what was the case at the last General Election. But the meditated charge against the Queen may perhaps infuse a little spirit into the public. It is expected to be brought forward immediately, as Her Majesty is not to be prayed for in the churches.


Hobhouse is considered as not having been well used by the Judges, but he lost little, probably, by not being heard. His argument, as published in the papers, is a strange mass of ill-digested information, and shows no legal acuteness.

Burckhardt’s book on Africa is far from interesting, and not worth the purchase. The most curious part of his travels (to Mecca and Medina) is withheld for the present—for what reason is not stated. I hope soon to send you an engraving of poor Sir Samuel Romilly, which I hope you will hang up in your breakfast-room.