William Hone to John Cam Hobhouse, [6 February], 1820 — An Electronic Edition

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William Hone to John Cam Hobhouse, [6 February?], 1820.1-TEI-

Dear Sir,

At eight o'clock this evening2 I will take tea with you as you desire — yesterday I would have shared in the indignation of every honest man in Court at the infamous conduct of the Judges, could I have been present, as I was the whole of Thursday.3 The death of my brother appeared then to be instantly at hand, and hence my absence from the shambles of our liberties.

I am Dear Sir
Most faithfully
W Hone

[Address:] John Cam Hobhouse, Esq.

British Library, Add. MS 36458, ff. 95-96. [return]
Sunday, 6 February, the date established by the association with Hobhouse's court appearance. The content of Hone's letter is perhaps less significant than the evidence the letter provides of Hone's close connection with Hobhouse during the tense months of Peterloo and the Cato Street Conspiracy. [return]
The reference is likely to Hobhouse's legal circumstances. Hobhouse had been incarcerated in the keeper's house at Newgate prison since 14 December, 1819, for writing a pamphlet (A Trifling Mistake, and Reform of Parliament, 1819) that the Parliament had deemed libellous. In an unusual legal maneuver, Hobhouse had appealled to the King's Court, arguing that the Parliament did not have the authority to impose and enforce such a prison sentence. At an initial hearing on Saturday, 5 February, the Judges seemed well disposed to the case, but then after conferring privately for a few minutes, they declined to hear Hobhouse's arguments at all and remanded him back to Newgate. The decision elicited much surprise and dismay from the assembled gallery. For further details, see Hobhouse's Proceedings in the House of Commons and in the King's Court Relative to the Author of the 'Trifling Mistake' (London: Stodart & Steuart, 1820). [return]
William Hone. Date: 2014-02-06