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Horner, Francis

Horner, Francis (1778–1817). As Bagehot pointed out in ‘The First Edinburgh Reviewers’, Horner had an influence and standing out of all proportion to his career or achievements. It was not just a case of the Whigs buttering up each other: tributes at his death came from all sides of the House. Born and educated in Edinburgh, he was called to the bar in 1800. Two years later he joined Jeffrey and Smith in launching the Edinburgh Review as a radical Whig journal. He was brought into Parliament in 1806 and made a reputation as a financial expert, chairing an important committee on bullion. After a diffident start, he became a useful and experienced member of the Whig opposition, speaking particularly against the Corn Laws and in favour of catholic relief. He left England at the end of 1816 in search of better health and died in Italy aged 38. Smith related how, during a previous illness, Horner was told to read amusing books: on searching his library it appeared he had no amusing books—the nearest being The India Trader's Complete Guide.

J. A. Cannon

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