BioText home
Etext home

Law vs. Humanity

This Charles Williams engraving (published by S. W. Fores, December 1817) depicts the occasion in May 1817 when Hone was first brought before Lord Ellenborough after having been arrested on ex officio charges of libel. Hone's health was not very good at the moment and he asked Ellenborough if he might sit down during the proceedings. Ellenborough apparently exclaimed a very loud and emphatic "No!" to Hone's request. As Hone recounts the event, Ellenborough's seeming cruelty was actually bracing to Hone who became all the more set in his opposition to such seemingly cruel and arbitrary treatment. During his first trial, Hone recalled the incident while making his case before the jury. (See First Trial [1818], p. 12.)

The image itself requires little explication. Lord Ellenborough sits at the left; Hone and his companions are at the bar at right; Samuel Shepherd, the Attorney General, is the figure in the center with the ear trumpet. At Hone's feet are two papers entitled "The Society of the Poor Man's Friend" and "The Beggar Girl." Ellenborough's "No!" is loud and long enough to shatter a window in the upper right.

"Law vs. Humanity or a Parody on British Liberty"

(click for larger format image):

Law vs. Humanity

[Image courtesy of the Hone Collection, Adelphi University.]