[The identity of Mr. H will be revealed later in this article]

Mr. H. whose identity will be revealed later.

Born in Edinburgh in 1778, the eldest and first surviving of seven children, Mr. H. was a delicate child. He matriculatd at Edinburgh University and chose to study law, aspiring beyond that to public life, funded by his profession. He also studied political economy and joined several academies and societies. In 1799 he espoused “the ancient Whig politics of England, which are at present so much out of fashion, being hated by both parties”, his mentors being David Hume and the French physiocrats. He passed advocate in 1800, but finding little success he switched to the English bar, entering Lincoln’s Inn in 1802 and becoming, in the meanwhile, acquainted with the whig lawyers and literati Romilly, Abercromby, Mackintosh and Sharp, who welcomed him as a “Northern Light”. In the same period he helped found the Edinburgh Review. He found a place in the Parliament in 1806. He opposed the control of trade by export licence to counter Bonaparte’s continental system in 1808 and, critical of the naval battering of Copenhagen, voted for Whitbread’s peace motion. He supported Catholic relief and his role model Romilly’s bid to reform criminal law. Mr. H. felt he was “made, or educated, for the sunshine of an improving community”. He was a member of the Holland House circle and, in 1810, he clearly displayed his talents in the Bullion Committee, arguing that there had been an excessive issue of paper money since the stoppage of cash payments by the Bank of England in 1797, and that bullion importation was the solution. Later he criticized the East India Company’s trade monopoly, and advocated a presbyterian chaplaincy in India. He supported Whitbread’s peace bid and was a consistent opponent of the protectionist corn laws in 1813–14. He also quizzed Castlereagh on his failure to obtain universal abolition of the slave trade during peace negotiations. The Dictionary of National Biography of 1891 stated that: “H. was a man of sound judgment and unassuming manners, of scrupulous integrity, and great amiability of character. He was a correct and forcible speaker, and though without the gift of eloquence or humour, exercised a remarkable influence in the House of Commons, owing to his personal character. Few men, with such small advantages at the outset of their career, ever acquired in such a short space of time so great a reputation among their contemporaries. As a political economist Horner ranks deservedly high.”

H. suffered from a pulmonary ailment, and during the autumn of 1816, having been advised to winter in a warmer climate, he travelled to Pisa (Italy) with (more…)

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