Sunday, March 21, 2010

The People's MP

"March 21 (1826).—Perused an attack on myself, done with as much ability as truth, by no less a man than Joseph Hume, the night-work man of the House of Commons, who lives upon petty abuses, and is a very useful man by so doing. He has had the kindness to say that I am interested in keeping up the taxes; I wish I had anything else to do with them than to pay them. But he lies, and is an ass, and not worth a man's thinking about. Joseph Hume, indeed!—I say Joseph Hum,—and could add a Swiftian rhyme, but forbear."

- From Scott's Journal.

According to Sir Robert Peel, Hume was "one of the most useful members to sit in the House of Commons".  He was known for challenging every expenditure in the budget.  Hume was in favor of free trade, and opposed to the Corn Laws.  His nickname as the People's MP had to do partly with his efforts against "combination laws" that favored masters, and hindered laborers.  William Wordsworth and Charles Lamb would have been attuned to Scott's feelings on the subject of Joseph Hume.  These men saw their pensions severed, due, as Lamb put it, to "the foul enchanter, Joseph Hume".

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